Thursday, February 10, 2011

Steve Clarke Believes Recent Run Is Down To Improved Defence

Liverpool coach Steve Clarke has revealed that the recent run of success has been down to the tightening at the back, but the players should be taking the plaudits for adapting quickly to changes implemented by the staff.

The Reds have had four wins on the bounce, keeping clean sheets in all. A 1-0 victory at the weekend against Chelsea came after victories over Stoke City, Wolves and Fulham.

This run of form has seen the Reds climb the table into sixth place and they are now in contention for a Champions League spot.

But while Clarke has been praised for the defensive qualities which Liverpool have demonstrated in the previous few games, he believes it is down to the players on the pitch.

"Your success is always based on how you defend," he told reporters.

"If you defend well as a team and don't concede goals then you will always give yourself a chance to win the game.

"It has been good for us in the last few games not to have let any goals in. It's good for Pepe [Reina], it's good for the confidence of everybody and hopefully we can continue that."

Clarke’s influence has also affected the way Liverpool line up. In games against Stoke City and Chelsea the Reds changed to three at the back with attacking full backs, which so far has proved to be very successful, but the former right-hand man to Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge maintains that it is because the players have adapted quickly they have got the results.

"Most of the credit has to go to the players," he continued. "They are the people that go on the pitch and they have to put that into practice and they've done that very well recently.

"I have been impressed with their attitude since I first came to the club.

"Even at the start when it was more difficult to get a result on the training ground you could see the players were working and they were hungry.

"They wanted to take on board what we trying to tell them and hopefully the recent results are a reflection on how they have trained."

Liverpool is now fighting for a Champions League spot which only a couple of months ago seemed unimaginable.

However, the Reds must keep up winning if they are to have any chance of getting into Europe and on Saturday they will face a true test of character against a Wigan Athletic side who have won four of their last six meetings against Liverpool.

Clarke remains defiant though that his side can go from strength to strength.

"The club when we came here were in a false position and it was important to put that right,” he added.

"The only way you do that is by winning games and we have shown that when you string together a good couple of wins then you quickly go up the table.

"We are in a better position now but we are certainly not in a position that Liverpool Football Club should be at, we want to be higher.

"But I think you only have to look at recent results in the Barclays Premier League to know that everybody is dangerous.

"We have to be on our guard but we also have to be confident and sure of ourselves and think we are looking like a good side again.”

Glen Johnson Unfazed By Left-Back Role

Liverpool defender Glen Johnson has revealed that he is not bothered which position he plays as long as he is in the team.

A right-back by trade, the 26-year-old has been switched to the opposite flank by boss Kenny Dalglish as a result of Martin Kelly's impressive form and a dearth of options down the left.

But the England international admits that he is not perturbed by where he plays as long as the team is winning and he is consistently performing.

The former Chelsea player has adapted well at left-back and in the six games that Dalglish has been at the helm that is where the Scot has elected him to play with impressive results.

Liverpool has put a run together of four wins and four clean sheets to boot.

"There were no real discussions about it," he told LFC Weekly. "Kenny said I was playing left-back and that was just fine with me.

"The team isn't about me so if I'm asked to do a job elsewhere, whether it be in the short or long-term, I'm happy to give it my best.

"Everyone knows I'm a right-back by trade, but if the team is winning and I'm in the team - it doesn't bother me where I play."

Johnson has been used further up the park with former clubs and he revealed he’d happily play there as well without any hesitance.

“Like with left-back, if the manager asked me to play there, I'd do it, no question - without any complaints,” he continued.

"I played in a more advanced role quite a few times at Chelsea. I remember when we beat United at Old Trafford to practically clinch the title and I enjoyed it out there [as a right midfielder].

"I think all of the Liverpool squad has the same attitude now - do your best at whatever you're asked to do. It's not about individuals here."

While Johnson has been deployed on the left side of defence, young Kelly has been used on the right and the senior star praised the prospect for the impressive performances he has put in so far.

"Since coming in against Manchester United, he has been very consistent in everything he has done and acted very maturely about the place," he added.

"He deserves to be where he is at the moment and it can only be for the good of the club if it is producing its own again.

"Fans like to see local boys come through and when they do, it gives everyone a lift."

Liverpool Reportedly Want AC Milan's Kevin-Prince Boateng

Liverpool has been linked with a move for AC Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng.

According to Italian website,, the Ghanian is being tracked by the Merseyside club and Sportingo reports that the Reds 'will make' a bid for his services.

The 23-year-old moved to Genoa from Portsmouth and was immediately loaned out to AC Milan. He is now co-owned by both Italian clubs and has put in a number of impressive displays for Milan this season.

However, Liverpool are reportedly planning an attempt to prise him away from Serie A, with a potential offer of £10 million mooted for his services.

Boateng has plenty of Barclays Premier League experience, having played for Pompey and Spurs, so will no doubt be able to adapt quickly should he seal a switch to Liverpool.

The Reds are understood to be in the market for an energetic creative midfielder to play alongside Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and - although they already have Raul Meireles - the addition of Boateng would further enhance their squad.

Liverpool are expected to move for a number of midfielders when the transfer window reopens in the summer, and Boateng is just one of several names on a long list of potential acquisitions.

Rennes star, Sylvain Marveaux, will be available on a free transfer at the end of the season and Liverpool is believed to have been monitoring his progress, while Villarreal's Santi Cazorla has also been linked with a transfer to Anfield.

Liverpool are also likely to reignite their interest in Blackpool captain, Charlie Adam, come the end of the campaign as Reds' owners New England Sports Ventures look to make their mark on the transfer market again.

Liverpool Line Up Summer Move For £20m Napoli Star

Liverpool is ready to further bolster their attacking options by landing Napoli hitman Ezequiel Lavezzi in the summer.

The Reds sold Fernando Torres in January but splashed out £58m on Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez.

Now director of sporting strategy Damien Comolli has identified Lavezzi as the next striker on the club’s wish list.

The Argentina international has formed a lethal partnership with Edinson Cavani this season with the pair hitting 23 goals in 24 games between them in Serie A.

But, according to reports in Italy, Liverpool are now lining up a big-money bid for the 25-year-old who is valued at around £20m by Napoli.

Liverpool Swoop For World Cup Winning Free Transfer Coup

AC Milan have decided to hold back on contract negotiations with leading star Andrea Pirlo until April, and as a result the Rossoneri now risk losing him on a free transfer when his current deal runs out this summer.

A number of leading European clubs have been alerted by the questionable decision that means Pirlo is free to talk to and sign a pre-contract agreement with another club.

The Gazzetta dello Sport in Italy claims that Inter Milan, Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid are all coveting the World Cup winning playmaker as well as English interest coming from Liverpool.

Since a change of ownership at Anfield, new Liverpool owners New England Sports Ventures (NESV) have outlined their plans to win the Barclays Premier League within two seasons but are also looking to build a squad that will benefit the long-term future of the club.

Liverpool director of football strategy Damien Comolli has been tasked with bringing Europe’s brightest young stars to Merseyside and as a result the Reds have been linked with a host of up-and-coming players from around the world.

At 31, Pirlo is seen as a surprise target, but the fact that he could be available on a free transfer would give Anfield boss Kenny Dalglish the chance to bring in an experienced European heavyweight to help ease the younger generation into the limelight.
Liverpool are known to be keen to add more inventive minds to their midfield ranks, which was demonstrated in their ill-fated chase for Blackpool captain Charlie Adam in the January window.

The only potential stumbling block is the widespread interest from other clubs but with Liverpool’s European pedigree they should be able to tempt the Italian into a move to the Barclays Premier League.

The excessive wage that Pirlo commands, thought to be in the region of £4million per year may also rule out lesser clubs. But with the money saved on a transfer fee, a move to Liverpool could be very much on the cards.

Liverpool's 'Interest Confirmed' In Race For Record-Breaking Striker

Liverpool had a January offer for Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez rejected, it has emerged.

BBC Sport reports that Chelsea also made a move for the German, but Bayern resisted the temptation to sell Gomez, with the Blues then switching their attention Fernando Torres.

Gomez, 25, moved to Munich from Stuttgart in 2009 for a Bundesliga record fee - reportedly in the region of €35 million - but struggled to make a significant impact during his first season at the Allianz Arena.

This led to speculation that he could leave Bavaria after just one year, and speculation was rife in the summer that Liverpool had tried to secure his services on a season-long loan deal.

Indeed, the player soon confirmed that Liverpool had made contact with Bayern over a proposed deal.

"I have said that if I leave Bayern I will go abroad,” he told German newspaper Bild.

"Then came this interesting offer from Liverpool. I took the loan offer seriously and discussed it with my family and girlfriend because I just want to play.

"But Bayern gave me the impression that they see a future for me. And therefore a change was not an issue anymore."

Bayern's faith in the Germany international soon paid dividends, as Gomez netted nine times in seven games by early November - a tally he has consistently added to in order to take him to the top of the Bundesliga scoring charts.

Despite a change in ownership from the previous summer, it appears Liverpool remained keen on Gomez and - after they realized they had no chance of keeping Torres at Anfield - they made a formal offer to Bayern.

However, after missing out on the muscular forward, Liverpool swooped for Newcastle's Andy Carroll; agreeing a club record fee of £35 million to secure his services.

"Ince Has Been Terrorizing People"

Notts County are hoping to re-loan Liverpool’s Thomas Ince to unite the young forward with his father and Magpies manager Paul Ince.

Assistant manager Alex Rae told the League One club is hopeful of bringing the player back to Meadow Lane to bolster their depleted squad that was reduced to only 17 for the abandoned game against Tranmere over the weekend.

Rae said: “We were disappointed we couldn’t keep a hold of Thomas [after he returned to Liverpool in January].

“But from what I understand it’s still ongoing and we’re hoping to get him back out [to Meadow Lane].”

Ex-red Paul Ince joined the East Midlands club in October and raided his former club for the promising Thomas Ince and defender Stephen Darby.

After initially taking a little time to settle in Thomas Ince soon impressed the home faithful and Rae, who joined County’s coaching staff in November.

“Before he came I hadn’t seen Thomas play but heard a lot about him,” Rae said.

“I heard he was a bright player and played for Liverpool throughout their academy but you just don’t know what you’re going to get.

“He came in and it maybe took him a couple weeks to find his feet in terms of being around the 1st team and in a new environment and then he just took off.

Thomas Ince scored his first goal in a 2-0 victory over his father’s previous side MK Dons, making six league appearances in total.

“He really took off. He scored a couple goals and was terrorizing people.”

“Hopefully when the loan transfer window opens back up again on Monday we’ll be looking to add again.”

Liverpool's Past And Present Owners Do Battle At High Court

Liverpool's former chairman Sir Martin Broughton, the club's new owners New England Sports Ventures and the Royal Bank of Scotland all did battle with the club's former owner, Tom Hicks, at the high court on Wednesday.

Hicks wants to take his complaint against the enforced sale of the Premier League club, which he claims cost him £140m, through the United States courts.

However, he has been prevented from doing so by a series of high court injunctions. RBS has argued that the prior rulings protect the terms and conditions of the original lending agreement to Hicks, which stated that any ensuing legal dispute must be heard through the UK and European judicial systems.

NESV is applying for the prior injunctions to be extended into a permanent action preventing any future lawsuits against the club, NESV or RBS outside the UK and Europe. Broughton has laid forth a damages claim against Hicks in relation to the American's conduct while owner. Hicks's lawyer, Paul Girolami QC, has applied to Mr. Justice Floyd to strike out or dismiss Broughton's claims. The case is expected to run until Friday.