Saturday, February 05, 2011

John W Henry: Kenny Dalglish Has 'Exceeded Expectations' As Manager

Liverpool co-owner John Henry has praised caretaker manager Kenny Dalglish in his efforts since taking over from Roy Hodgson for "exceeding expectations", whilst the American also believes that the team's future remains at Anfield.

There is much discussion on whether the club legend will permanently take the reigns at Anfield, but Henry's comments cannot harm his chances of being in the Red's hot-seat come next season.

The American told The Guardian: "We didn't know Kenny well prior to him coming aboard as manager, but he has exceeded our expectations on all fronts. It would be inappropriate to comment publicly on what happens beyond the end of this season."

Meanwhile, it seems that he has at least made his mind up on whether the club will be on the move in its geography, after several years of speculation, Henry looks to keep the team at Anfield

He added: "It's not a coincidence that the last two ownership groups could not get a new stadium built. What they proposed or hoped for just didn't make any economic sense or they would have been built. A lot of time and effort is being put into study and creatively looking at all options."

Liverpool's finances have long been a talking point as well in past seasons, but thanks to the purchase of the club by the recently re-branded Fenway Sports Group, the £200 million worth of debt was wiped clean, but still looks to spend wisely.

The deadline day of last month's transfer window saw Liverpool spend around £57m of two players, however, with the sales of Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel bringing in over £55m, the club were able to keep any expenditure to a minimum.

Henry explained: "The fee for Torres was dependent on what Newcastle asked for [Andy] Carroll. The negotiation for us was simply the difference in prices paid by Chelsea and to Newcastle.

"Those prices could have been £35m [from Chelsea for Torres] and £20m [to Newcastle for Carroll], 40 and 25 or 50 and 35. It was ultimately up to Newcastle how much this was all going to cost. They [Newcastle] made a hell of a deal. We felt the same way."
This example of spending is the basis of how Henry claims he plans to go about his business in rebuilding Liverpool and his group will not be throwing money at the club to spend without a calculated process.

Henry claimed: "We intend to get younger, deeper and play positive football. Adding two top players [Carroll and Luis Suárez] who have just turned 22 and 24 is a good first step."

Carroll Eyes Gerrard Link

Andy Carroll admits he can’t wait to link up with Steven Gerrard and hopes his move to Liverpool can take his game to the next level.

The new Reds No.9 believes his switch to Anfield will provide him with a fresh challenge and has set his sights on making an impact on the European stage.

"Liverpool's an instant draw, it's massive," he said. "Kenny Dalglish is a great bloke, a fantastic manager and I'm looking forward to working with him.

"Newcastle was my hometown and I loved it and the fans.

"That's what I've come here for - a new challenge and hope I can do the same here. I want to love the fans as I did up there.

"At Newcastle there were great players, here at Liverpool you've got Steven Gerrard who's outstanding and that's what I'm looking forward to, playing on a higher stage, like in Europe.

"I've got to concentrate on Liverpool and everything else will fall into place. If I get a call from England it's great.

"But Liverpool is number one at the minute. I know what I can do, people can say whatever, I'll still go out and do my best.

"It has been a massive change in the last year or so; getting promoted, getting the number nine shirt, getting in the England squad and then coming to one of the world’s greatest clubs.

"It’s very different to playing in the Championship. It has been so fast and thinking about it now, it does seem a very big change.

"It's a great chance for me to show what I can do. I've been in Newcastle all my life, but stepping away from people I've known is a big change."

The decision to swap his beloved Newcastle for Merseyside may have come out of the blue for Carroll, but he insists he already feels settled in the north-west.

He explained: "I said it felt like home after three days because of the welcome I've had. I know a lot of people here through Joey and Ryan Taylor so I've got a lot of friends down here who were practically up in Newcastle every week.

"My girlfriend is already down here so we're looking for places to stay. I'm looking forward to it."

Carroll is the latest in a long line of No.9s that achieved hero-status on Tyneside.

He admits he has modelled his game on former Magpies star, Alan Shearer and was quick to secure his idol's old shirt when it became available.

"I watched Shearer as a fan. It was the (No.9) shirt I wanted to wear when I was growing up," he said.

"So, getting it and being handed it was a great feeling.

"I knew the number nine shirt was empty. So, I thought I'd go in and ask for it. I'd had a couple of days off and they pulled me in and gave me it.

"I know I can play football, I know I can score goals and so I know I can handle the spotlight. I don't feel any pressure because I believe in myself to score goals and create them.

"Everyone knows what the Newcastle No.9 shirt means, and what it means at Anfield as well, with players like Fowler and Rush. But I want it because I know I can handle it.

"Now I've got the number nine at Liverpool which is great as well."

Despite receiving an ovation from the Kop ahead of Wednesday's victory over Stoke, Carroll has yet to feature at Anfield after missing out on his only chance back in May 2009.

Carroll said: "I was on the bench at Anfield when I was younger here, but Joey (Barton) got sent off when I was supposed to be coming on.

"I was stripped ready to come on, but got pushed back to the bench.

"That was the only time."

Sylvain Marveaux Close To Premier League Switch

Liverpool wing wizard target Sylvain Marveaux is reportedly close to signing a pre-contract agreement with Newcastle.

The 24-year-old Frenchman emerged as an Anfield target after the arrival of Damien Comolli, director of football strategy for Liverpool, in November.

Comolli was thought to be keen on using his contacts in France to persuade the player that Liverpool was the place to be, but the Daily Mail reports that Marveaux is close to agreeing a deal elsewhere.

Alan Pardew appears to be winning the race for the player, whose contract expires at Rennes in the summer and could sign a pre-contract agreement with a team outside of Ligue 1 immediately.

Marveaux has already seen the Reds in action this season, and was in the director's box for Liverpool's home defeat against Wolves back in November.

Searching for a move away from France, the player hasn't featured for Les Rouges et Noirs since the same month and now appears to be out-in-the-cold at the Route de Lorient.

Whilst Liverpool are still thought to hold hope of bringing the player to Merseyside, the Toon have stolen a march on the Reds and could attempt to seal the deal as soon as possible.

'Serious' Liverpool Interest Confirmed In Eredivisie Sensation

Liverpool were interested in bringing PSV Eindhoven attacker Balazs Dzsudzsak to Anfield in January, according to his agent.

The 24-year-old was heavily linked with a move away from the Eredivisie last month but opted to pledge his future to PSV, despite interest from a number of potential suitors.

Liverpool were one of four clubs to make an enquiry about the Hungarian winger, but his representative would not confirm whether or not they made an official approach.

"The most serious teams were Lille, Wolfsburg, Liverpool and Juventus," Jozsef Vorosbaranyi told

"Some of them made a concrete offer but Balazs decided to stay in Eindhoven."

A deal for the €13 million-rated wideman would have represented quite a coup for Liverpool as they set about reinforcing their attacking ranks during the transfer window.

New Liverpool owners, New England Sports Ventures, spent a hefty £58 million to bring Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez to Anfield and were disappointed not to get others - like Dzsudzsak - to Merseyside before Monday's deadline.

"They said when they came in they wanted to take the club back to where it should be. This was their first opportunity to show that," said Liverpool boss, Kenny Dalglish.

"They are actually a bit disappointed we didn't get more players in. That's a good thing."

Liverpool Attacker Wanted By Bundesliga Outfit

Liverpool attacker Dirk Kuyt is being monitored by German outfit who are expected to make a bid for the 30 year old Dutchman at the end of the season.

With the new strike force at Anfield it is quite possible that Kuyt’s future first team appearances will be limited and there is no guarantees that he forms any part of manager Kenny Dalglish future plans and so a move away from Liverpool will come as no surprise to the Anfield faithful.

Kuyt has been consistently the subject of transfer speculation, however with new owners and a new manager on board the rumours this time probably have a lot more credibility to them.

No fee has been mentioned but Kuyt will hardly break the bank and will fall within what Wolfsburg can afford.

Darby Hopes His Future Is At Liverpool

Stephen Darby hopes Liverpool is his future, so he looked to Anfield with interest when the Reds sold Fernando Torres to Chelsea for a British record fee of £50m and promptly spent almost £58m on strikers Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll on the final day of the transfer window.

Darby, 22, is a promising defender, and has already made his bow for Liverpool on two of the biggest stages, the Premier League and Champions League.

He is intent on a career at Anfield ultimately, to play alongside the likes of Steven Gerrard, and now Suarez and Carroll, whose £35m transfer to Liverpool is now a record for a British player.

For now though, Darby is entirely focused on the present, and playing for Notts County.

After a hugely impressive month at Meadow Lane at the end of last year, right-back Darby has returned on loan from Liverpool until the end of the season.

He enjoyed one of the most memorable moments of his career playing for the Magpies a day before the exit of Torres and arrival of Suarez and Carroll at Anfield.

How he must wish Reds' boss Kenny Dalglish was watching as he and Notts produced a magnificent performance against Manchester City in the fourth round of the FA Cup at Meadow Lane and almost claimed a famous win.

Neal Bishop scored his first goal at Meadow Lane to put Notts ahead against the world's richest club and they led City until their new £27m striker Edin Dzeko decisively equalized in the closing stages.

"It was a great occasion for the club and a great tie to play in," said Darby.

"I really enjoyed playing against some of the top players and we almost beat them.

"We were all disappointed when they scored a late goal but a 1-1 draw against Manchester City is not a bad result and we can look forward to another big occasion in the replay now.

"We showed in the first game what we are capable of, so you never know what we could do at Eastlands."

Today, Darby will make his tenth league start for Notts just six miles from Anfield and 12 miles from his hometown of Maghull when they face Tranmere Rovers in League One.

Members of his family will be at Prenton Park – as "Notts fans for the day" he said – and he also has friends who are Rovers' fans.

It is a hugely important game for the Magpies, who are intent on climbing away from their current position towards the bottom of League One.

They are currently just two points above the drop zone, only two places and one point above Tranmere.

"I wasn't playing at Liverpool so it was important for to me to go out on loan, and I've enjoyed it at Notts," said Darby.

"The gaffer (Paul Ince) has given me a chance and I'm grateful for that.

"I've played in most of the games while I've been at Meadow Lane, which is great for my development at this stage of my career.

"It's going to be a tough game at Tranmere. They have already beaten us this season, but we were a bit unlucky to lose that day.

"We had a lot of chances in that game but didn't take any of them and were punished. We will have to take the chances we create today.

"We will have to work hard for each other and show a bit of character to grind out a victory."

Darby could play at left-back at Prenton Park if Jon Harley fails to recover from a thigh injury suffered in Notts' 1-1 draw against Walsall on Wednesday night.

The Magpies' assistant manager Alex Rae said Harley, who has only missed one league game this season, was making 'steady' progress and it was hoped he would be fit.

Like Darby, Rae is expecting a tough encounter against Rovers.

"I think all our games are important," he said.

"Tranmere are in and around us, so we'll be looking to put some points on the board to catapult ourselves up the table.

"If we had won against Walsall we would have climbed five places and we would have been moving in the right direction, so the draw was a big disappointment for everyone.

"It almost felt like a defeat because we had so much control of the game and conceded so late.

"We've got to re-group and get ready to go again."

Notts unjustly lost 1-0 to Tranmere at Meadow Lane in November.

"They turned us over earlier in the season, so we know they have got players who can make an impact," added Rae.

"We will give them the respect they deserve and appreciate they are fighting for their lives as well.

"It will be a typical League One game and I'm sure there will be plenty of blood and thunder."

Fernando Torres Explains Quitting Liverpool For Chelsea

Chelsea new boy Fernando Torres said he left Liverpool because they were a club in transition and a long way from delivering the success he craves.

Torres, 26, signed for a British record £50m on Monday, said: "Things had changed a lot in the last year.

"I think they have great ambition and they are doing the right things to get back, but it will take time. I didn't have that time."

Torres said he would not celebrate if he scores against Liverpool on Sunday.

Chelsea's deadline-day capture of Torres was the catalyst for a manic Monday of spending, in which Liverpool replaced the Spaniard by signing Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez for £35m and £22.7m respectively.

Torres, a 2010 World Cup winner and 2008 European champion with Spain, spent three-and-a-half years at Liverpool after joining from Atletico Madrid for a fee of £20m, scoring 81 goals in 142 matches.

But the manner of his departure, which came three days after the Spaniard put in a transfer request, angered some Liverpool fans, who are likely to make their feelings known at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

"I only have good things to say about Liverpool people," said Torres. "They made me feel really good there for three-and-a-half fantastic seasons.

"I understand they will be angry and will not understand my decision. Maybe in a few days or weeks I will explain all the reasons.

"When I was an Atletico Madrid fan growing up, I couldn't understand it when a big player left. But with time I could understand they did the best for themselves, their families and their careers.

"I'm not asking them to understand me but I'm sure over time they will see what I did there.

"Football is like this. From one day to the other, people can love you or hate you."

Torres' commitment to the cause at Liverpool had been criticized this season but he said: "I never lost my ambition.

"Too many people are talking about that - that's just opinions. I was playing out of form for a month."

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti said he had not decided whether to start Torres or keep faith with the team that beat Sunderland 4-2 on Tuesday.

Asked if he would celebrate a goal against his former club, Torres said: "First I have to play, and then I have to score but I have big respect for Liverpool fans so I don't think I will."

Torres revealed that he made up his mind to leave Liverpool midway through the January transfer window and told the club he wanted to leave as soon as he knew of Chelsea's interest.

The Spaniard, whose fee was the fourth highest in football history, added that he did not feel pressurized by his price tag.

"The ambition of this team is to win trophies every year," he said. "That is my ambition too.

"I have been in this situation before when I signed for Liverpool. Big money means big expectation. I'm more than ready for the challenge. I'm excited abut a new life and new era."

Benitez Wants To Return To Liverpool

The Liverpool coach Kenny Dalglish is doing very well since taking over from Roy Hodgson, but he still only has a temporary contract at Anfield until the end of the season and a lot could happen between now and then.

There have rumblings from Spain that Jose Mourinho is looking to return to the Premier League, and probably this summer, so he just has to be a live candidate if he chooses to be, but another coach that is also very keen is Rafael Benitez, who was only sacked from Liverpool six months ago!

Benitez told the BBC this week: “To be manager of Liverpool is a dream for me. This time, I know that Kenny is doing really well.

“I have to wait and keep watching games, but if you say to me in the future would you like to be manager, for sure, no doubt about this. When, that is the question. I have to move forward, anyway.”

That sounds like he is fully expecting to return under the new owners, if Dalglish doesn’t fulfil expectations at least.

Liverpool To Unleash Their Secret Weapon ‘Better Than Baggio’

Amidst all the talk about Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez, as well as the many other leading names currently being linked with a move to Anfield, you could understand those Liverpool fans that have forgotten about another international star that is already on the books on Merseyside – Joe Cole.

The 29-year-old England midfielder has had an injury plagued start to his Liverpool career since he signed on a free transfer last summer on a four year deal, and its fair to say that Kop fans are yet to see anything like his best form.

As a West Ham apprentice, Cole was one of the hottest properties in English football with Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal all keen to land the youngster but the grounded 16-year-old instead chose to sign professional terms at Upton Park where he had played since the age of ten.

When Paolo di Canio began training with Cole at West Ham, he delivered the following verdict:

'I played with Alessandro del Piero when he was Cole's age. In terms of ability they are similar, though perhaps Cole has an edge.

“I also played with Roberto Baggio and, I can tell you, Cole is a stronger version of Baggio.”

Make no mistake, Cole has fulfilled some of the promise that was shown in the very early stages of his career.

After West Ham were relegated in 2003 he left the Hammers for Chelsea where he spent seven glorious years, winning three Barclays Premier League titles and two FA Cups during his stay at Stamford Bridge.

But after making the switch to Anfield in the summer, Cole had a difficult start to his Reds career. He was sent off on his Liverpool debut against Arsenal, suspension followed, and then he was hit with a hamstring injury that put an end to his first month on Merseyside.

A string of niggling injuries meant that Cole rarely featured before the turn of the year, but he didn’t wait long to get off to a fresh start in 2011 when he scored his first league goal for Liverpool on New Year’s Day – a 90th minute winner against Bolton.

Just as he was starting to find his rhythm with the Reds, Cole picked up another injury which will cruelly keep him out of this weekend’s tantalizing fixture between Liverpool and Chelsea, and therefore prevent him from a return to his old stomping ground Stamford Bridge.

A combination of injuries, tactics, confidence, luck and a new club that was not stable when he first arrived has hardly helped Cole’s situation over the past six months.

But with the new-look Liverpool side and their array of attacking talent that Kenny Dalglish now has at his disposal, providing he gets himself fit enough for selection and overcomes those long-term injury problems, Joe Cole may prove to be the secret weapon in Liverpool’s bid to restore their club to its former glories.