Monday, February 14, 2011

Raul Meireles Confident Liverpool Can Still Achieve Champions League Spot

Midfielder Raul Meireles has been in top form of late having scored four goals in Liverpool’s last five unbeaten games and has revealed that he now feels more part of the Reds family than before.

The 27-year-old joined Anfield in the summer for a £11.5million fee from Porto but failed to shine under Roy Hodgson.

However, the Portuguese midfielder has adjusted to Kenny Dalglish’s managerial style and been in great form, most notably being the match-winning hero in Liverpool's 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge last Sunday. Meireles admits that he now feels very connected to the Kop and gets emotional when his name is chanted by the Reds fans.

He told The Sun: "The fans have been with me from my arrival, but now my goals mean their support for me is bigger. I am a hard man but I get very emotional when they sing my name during matches.

"As a foreigner watching Liverpool on television, I always sensed something special about the club but it's only possible to really understand it when you are here.

"To perform at Anfield and score a goal is fantastic. I am privileged to play for Liverpool and perhaps in time I will think that I have fulfilled the biggest dream of my sporting life."

Liverpool has resuscitated their season since Dalglish took the helm and while they were languishing in the relegation zone at the new manager's arrival, they are now in the chase to secure a spot in the Champions League.

New signings Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll give some fresh hopes to the Reds who had to bid goodbye to their starlet Fernando Torres in the process, but not everyone was pleased to see the Spaniard leave.

"I would prefer to have Torres in my squad than play against him but I respect what's happened,” Meireles said.

"He is a worldwide star who helped me integrate at this club, which shows what sort of person he is. But football is a professional business, Fernando no longer leads our attack and we respect the situation. The manager insists he is the past and we must forget him. I believe that's right.

"Suarez is a big striker who has shown his quality with Ajax and Uruguay. He scored on his debut and this is important. We are all helping him to adapt and I am optimistic Luis will be a big star in the Premier League.

Asked why Liverpool is doing better since Kenny Dalglish replaced Hogdson, Meireles said:
"Hodgson was a very serious coach without much direct contact with the players.

"He tried to reinforce the defence more than the attack. Now things have changed.

"Dalglish speaks with people and offers more freedom of movement in the midfield line to help the forwards. My mission is not to score goals but to help my companions in attack.

"But Dalglish has demanded that I shoot in each match to test the keepers and I've had some success.

"To qualify for the Champions League will be a big prize for us after the bad beginning to our season. The victory at Stamford Bridge has improved our morale

"But I am convinced our series of bad results has ended and our best moments have arrived.

"The challenge is to improve match by match in the league and to dedicate total effort in the Europa League.

"To finish fourth is not easy, but the dressing room has decided to take on the challenge. If we fail in a couple of matches along the way it will be nearly impossible.

"We are in a race against the clock but there are still many points to play for."

"As for me, I suffered here to begin with but never thought I made an error in signing. I intend to improve on my performances. You've not seen the best of Meireles yet."

Dalglish Admits 'Unfair' Suarez Treatment

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish has confessed he may have pushed Luis Suarez too far by making him play 90 minutes in the 1-1 draw against Wigan.

Dalglish had hoped to withdraw Suarez, a £23 million signing from Ajax in January, but Liverpool's need for a goal forced him to leave the Uruguayan on the pitch.

The 24-year-old had only played 27 competitive minutes in the previous two months following a seven-match ban and the Eredivisie's winter break.

He was unable to conjure a winner for the Reds, who saw their winning run ended when Steve Gohouri struck to cancel out Raul Meireles' opener.

"It was maybe unfair to keep Luis on for 90 minutes because he's not had too many games but we kept hoping he would get a goal," Dalglish said. "His energy and enthusiasm and movement is going to cause a lot of people a lot of problems.

"He never did anything which surprised us because he didn't do anything we've not seen before. He is a good footballer playing with good footballers so I am not going to be surprised by anything that he does. He will be a favourite with supporters I think."

Manchester United Ready To Rival Liverpool & Spurs For Charlie Adam

Manchester United is reportedly considering a summer move for Liverpool and Tottenham target Charlie Adam.

The Blackpool captain has been in impressive form during his debut Barclays Premier League season and – despite missing out on the chance to leave Bloomfield Road in January – he seems almost certain to depart when the transfer window reopens.

Liverpool tried in vain to bring Adam to Anfield last month – failing in several attempts to sign the Scot.

Blackpool rejected three offers from Liverpool who were keen to sign the 25-year-old to add an extra creative dimension to their midfield.

Despite the persistence of Liverpool director of football strategy, Damien Comolli, the Reds never came close to Blackpool’s valuation of Adam – believed to be around £10 million – but Spurs did match the price on the head of the ex-Rangers midfielder.

However, Tottenham registered their interest too late on deadline day – ultimately failing to sign Adam by a number of minutes.

Reports initially surfaced in January that Manchester United were ready to rival Liverpool and Spurs for Adam after Sir Alex Ferguson suggested the Tangerines talisman’s corners were worth a hefty sum on their own.

Now, according to the Sunday Express, United will weigh up a move for the Scotland international in June – with a bidding war seemingly likely to ensue between the Red Devils and their Barclays Premier League rivals.

Adam’s rise to prominence in English football has been quite dramatic and the Scotland international is now even drawing comparisons to former United hero, David Beckham.

Ex-Tartan Army goalkeeper Andy Goram – who played with Beckham at Old Trafford in 2001 – believes he is well placed to compare the two players and claims Adam will only continue to improve.

“Charlie Adam reminds me of a boy I once played with,” Goram wrote in the Scottish Sun.

“This lad had everything. He could pass, he could shoot, he could lead and he could inspire.

“He was already well on his way to superstardom when I met him for the first time. Now? Well, quite simply, he's a global icon.

“His name? David Beckham. For me, Adam has all of Becks' star qualities.

“He can cross, shoot and is blessed with a range of passing that takes your breath away at times.”

Whether Adam follows in Beckham's footsteps at Old Trafford remains to be seen but – should they register their reported interest – it is sure to be a fascinating summer battle between themselves, Liverpool and Spurs.

Liverpool Ready To Reignite Interest In £8m Hotshot

Liverpool is reportedly planning to rekindle their interest in Chelsea youngster Daniel Sturridge.

The 21-year-old has failed to make a meaningful impact at Stamford Bridge since his move from Manchester City in 2009 but is currently enjoying a new lease of life on loan at Bolton.

Sturridge scored his third goal in as many games for the Trotters on Sunday and speculation is now rife that Chelsea will have to fight off interest for him in the summer – namely from Liverpool.

It was initially reported by that Liverpool had made an enquiry about the England under 21 striker in December with a view to a sealing a temporary deal.

However – despite their also being reports suggesting Chelsea were willing to use Sturridge in a cash-plus-player offer for Fernando Torres – a move to Anfield never came to fruition but Liverpool are allegedly monitoring his progress closely.

According to, Liverpool are plotting an £8 million move for Sturridge when the transfer window reopens as they look to further bolster their goalscoring ranks.

Not only would a swoop for Sturridge provide Liverpool with an added attacking option, but it would also serve as evidence of Reds owners New England Sports Ventures (NESV) fulfilling their promise to invest in young talent.

The future appears to be bright at Liverpool after the acquisition of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll – aged 24 and 21, respectively – and the Merseysiders are likely to bring more players to Anfield in the summer with plenty of potential to improve and develop.

Ian Rush: Fernando Torres' Move To Chelsea Makes Liverpool A ‘More Complete’ Team

Anfield hero Ian Rush has showered praise on Kenny Dalglish for his management of Fernando Torres’ move to Chelsea and believes Liverpool are stronger without the World Cup winner.

A former team-mate of Dalglish, the Welshman insists the swift acquisitions of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll after Torres' departure underlines the capabilities of Dalglish as a manager and will go a long-way in taking Liverpool forward.

"Fernando Torres is a fantastic player, but if someone hands in a transfer request and says he doesn't want to play for Liverpool Football Club then you let them go,” Rush told the club's official website.

“The way Kenny Dalglish handled the situation was absolutely fantastic - he got two brilliant players in to replace Torres and we'll be a better team for it.”

Still Liverpool’s all time leading goalscorer, Rush also feels the behaviour of Torres showed a lack of respect to Reds' fans who took the Spaniard to their hearts following his move from Atletico Madrid in 2007.

“As good as Torres was, he was only one player. I wish Fernando success in what he does in the future but the thing that I can't get out of my head is the way he disappointed the fans,” added Rush.

“I think the supporters felt let down by him. They absolutely loved Fernando Torres and gave him everything they could in terms of their support. He was idolized by the Kop and I think they thought he would repay their support by staying with the Club for a long, long time but he had other ideas and now we've moved on and I think we've got the better deal.”

The signings of Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez excite Rush and he is confident the different qualities each player possesses will give Liverpool greater flexibility in breaking down tough opposition.

Rush added: "In Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll, Liverpool has got two amazing signings who can write themselves into Liverpool folklore in the future.

“Suarez scored on his debut, hit the bar and hit the post in his first start against Wigan and he's eager. He's running around and closing defenders down which is what I like about him. That's what you want to see from a Liverpool striker.

“Fabio Aurelio and Martin Kelly can both cross a ball very well and Andy Carroll will thrive off that kind of service.

“Fernando Torres was fantastic for Liverpool, one look at his goalscoring ratio at Anfield proves that point, but I think we may find that with Suarez and Carroll, we're a more complete team with more options to call on to break teams down."

Rush formed a formidable partnership with Dalglish during his playing days and is thrilled with the impact the Scot has had since his return to the Anfield hot-seat.

He added: “We've got some great players at the club but I think Kenny has restored the confidence in the side and we've seen the work-rate and the effort markedly improve over the last month or so and it's no surprise the results have improved too."

Kenny Dalglish Reveals Long-Term Thinking After Wigan Hold Liverpool

If you wanted a hint that Kenny Dalglish is no longer just for the short term it came when the Liverpool manager was debating the impact of the midweek friendlies on his side's performance. Dalglish was arguing that the late-night flights carrying his players back to John Lennon Airport from Wednesday's internationals had dulled Liverpool's edge.

In fact, only four of his starting line-up – Raul Meireles, Lucas Leiva, Glen Johnson and Dirk Kuyt – had been seriously involved internationally, although Daniel Agger, injured in training with Liverpool after returning from England's 2-1 win in Copenhagen, would have been a fifth. Wigan, who also had players away including Maynor Figueroa who returned from Honduras on Friday morning, had as much cause for complaint.

More interestingly, the man who is nominally in charge only until the end of May added: "We had a look at the fixtures for next season, which starts on 13 August, but there is a friendly on the 10th. That is a Wednesday but why not play it on a Tuesday? We could have the players for the extra day and that might be beneficial for everybody. They have tried it in the European Championship qualifiers, where they have played on Fridays and Tuesdays, so maybe they can change it for next season."

Despite seeing Dalglish's run of four straight wins grind to a stop against a Wigan side who have been a jagged thorn in Liverpool's flesh for a number of seasons, there would be nobody at Anfield who would not want the Scot to continue.

In November Liverpool had drawn 1-1 with Wigan after a display against Chelsea that was as impressive as their victory at Stamford Bridge at the start of this month. That initial win over Chelsea was Roy Hodgson's fourth in a row as Liverpool manager, a run that featured his only away league victory, at Bolton, and a jaw-dropping Steven Gerrard-fuelled comeback against Napoli. Finally, it seemed he could look further ahead than the next crisis only for the ground to be cut from beneath his feet for the last time.

Dalglish runs no such danger; he has too much credit in Liverpool's bank and his is on the gold standard. Hodgson's was based on IOUs and promissory notes. It might, however, have amused Hodgson as he sat in the directors' box at The Hawthorns, watching his new charges dragged back to earth by West Ham, to have learned that Meireles had scored his fifth goal for Liverpool. None had been for him.

When asked why, the Wigan manager, Roberto Martínez, suggested that Meireles, coming from Portuguese football, would always have required time to adapt, the kind of time Hodgson was never offered. Lucas Leiva thought the answer lay in the way Dalglish employed him.

"He has given him a more advanced role and the belief to score goals," he said. "The little advice he gives to us is massive. He wants us to play like Liverpool did in previous seasons. Every day he gives you a piece of advice that makes you think."

Martínez, whose side earned a point when Steve Gohouri prodded in an equalizer, acknowledged this had been a different Liverpool from the one he encountered three months ago. Luis Suárez may know when to fall to the floor but his two drives against the frame of Ali al-Habsi's goal were further proof he is an electric footballer. "The intensity they play with now is a lot higher and it makes it far more difficult to face them," said Martínez. "You can see this Liverpool side plays with huge belief and the result they had at Chelsea shows that the players are starting to settle in."

Martínez, unlike Dalglish, can only think in the short term. This was Wigan's fourth game without defeat but only one was a victory and they face both Manchester clubs, Tottenham and Chelsea in their next five fixtures. Dalglish, the stopgap manager, knows what he will be doing on 13 August. Martínez will be far less certain.

John Henry Is Prone To Redeveloping Anfield

Latest rumours claim that NESV will be taking a decision on either redeveloping Anfield or going for a new-build option in the coming weeks. There is anxiety amongst all supporters, especially those living in Liverpool, to know what the outcome will be.

John Henry has recently stated his desire to possibly redevelop Anfield. For hopeless romantics like me, the reasoning behind this, to preserve the ‘Magic of Anfield’, is a powerful enough argument to give this option the credit it deserves. Some argue that redeveloping and/or expanding Liverpool will be more costly than building a new stadium altogether, and that the increase in capacity will not be worth the cost, but I feel that the final decision of what will be done will not take the financial aspect as the determining factor. Having made this claim, I am also sure that if NESV are seriously considering this option, then they would be confident that it would make economical sense.

Considering how NESV went about with their other prized assets’ stadium, Fenway Park (home of the Boston Red Sox), it is not difficult to see where the new owners of LFC are coming from. Preservation of heritage seems to be a high priority for them and in many ways any fan would support this way of thinking. Fenway Park is very similar to Anfield in that it is surrounded by buildings on all sides, and brining these down was not an option. NESV gave modernization priority over capacity, as the home of the Boston Red Sox is arguably the oldest baseball shrine in North America.

At Anfield, the situation is slightly more delicate and intricate. This is because for the stands to increase in capacity, they will have to go higher, but they will also need to move backward, inevitably encroaching on any structure situated in close proximity. Rumours again talk about a possible 10,000/15,000 increase in capacity bringing the total capacity up to around 60,000 (practically the same capacity as the proposed new stadium at Stanley Park which also had an option to be increased to 70,000).

Should John Henry go for the redevelopment route, then there will be the need for the entire peripheral area to be redeveloped. Housing arrangements will be a necessity. Heritage issues with some surrounding buildings may prove to be an obstacle. There is no reason why this could not be the right occasion for the entire area to be given a much needed facelift.

Moving away from Anfield would be sad, and the ‘feel’ will not be the same again. Clubs like Man Utd and Arsenal are making double the £43 million Liverpool make each season from gate sales. The need for the Club to boost income will become an urgent priority once the new UEFA rules come into play. It’s really a delicate balance of capital expenditure and revenues. NESV have promised that LFC will never be burdened with debt again, and this is one promise we all would want them to keep. So at the end of the day it’s a question of keeping the Anfield heritage, allowing a bigger audience to watch our home games, going for an economically viable option that will benefit the operation of the Club in financial terms, and ultimately giving Liverpool Football Club a modern sporting venue in line with the Club’s history and the worldwide respect it commands.

Liverpool FC Must Wait For Judge’s Verdict Over Damages Claims Of Sale

A judge has three months to hand down a written judgement on legal issues surrounding the sale of Liverpool FC.

The latest stage of the legal battle ended at the High Court on Friday.

Mr. Justice Floyd must decide on a variety of issues that will affect what legal action can be taken in future by former US owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

Firstly he must decide whether to lift or extend indefinitely an injunction stopping Hicks and Gillett suing for damages abroad.

Former chairman Sir Martin Broughton, RBS, and new owners New England Sports Ventures are asking the court to extend the injunction.

The “anti suit” injunction was taken out when Mr. Hicks launched a $1.6bn lawsuit in Dallas trying to halt the £300m sale of the club last October.

Hicks and Gillett want the restriction removed leaving them free to pursue a legal claim against RBS and Sir Martin in the USA.

Sir Martin also wants the court to confirm he acted "honestly and reasonably" in the £300m sale of the club to New England Sports Ventures.

RBS also wants a "clean bill of health" from the court that it acted appropriately.

On Friday Sir Martin Broughton's barrister Philip Marshall told the court there was absolutely no substance in claims Hicks and Gillett were kept out of the loop over the sale. He said the pair had agreed that bids the former chairman received could be kept confidential.

The court had previously heard the sensational revelation that former LFC managing director Christian Purslow described selling the club to NESV as a "bottom of the barrel" deal just a month before it was concluded.

In an email to fellow LFC directors, he also said he did not believe NESV had the money for a new stadium, that their bid was at the "extreme bottom end" of what was wanted, and that the only positive was that they actually "existed".

It has emerged that the offer from NESV was subsequently improved and increased to the £300m that was paid after Mr Purslow’s original email.

On the final day of the case barristers for RBS and Sir Martin accused Hicks and Gillett's legal team of "highly selective" use of emails.