Saturday, March 19, 2011

Liverpool Bosses Want Kenny Dalglish To Make The Job Permanent

Liverpool's owners have begun talks with Kenny Dalglish about offering their caretaker manager the position on a permanent basis.

John W Henry and Tom Werner, principal backers of the Fenway Sports Group consortium that owns the club, arrived on Merseyside on Thursday and, despite watching Liverpool's limp elimination from the Europa League at the hands of Braga, yesterday formally started negotiations with Dalglish over a two-year deal.

The 59-year-old, who replaced Roy Hodgson in January, is believed to want a four-year deal.

Dalglish has required just 14 games -- of which he has lost four -- to convince Henry and Werner that he is the man to whom they should entrust the task of rebuilding the club, which is testament to how quickly and efficiently he has stabilised Anfield after 18 months of chaos.

When FSG arrived at Anfield in October, buying the club for £300m and ending the unhappy reign of Tom Hicks and George Gillett, they favoured replacing Hodgson at the end of their first campaign with a young manager, used to working under a sporting director, around whom they could build a new dynasty.

Hodgson's failure to arrest Liverpool's early-season slide led to his departure, so Dalglish was initially appointed purely to ensure the club ended the season in relative calm. The master plan remained the same.

The search for the right candidate to replace the Scot continued, with FSG examining the credentials of a number of European managers.

Andre Villas-Boas of FC Porto, Jurgen Klopp, who has guided Borussia Dortmund to the top of the Bundesliga, and Marseille's Didier Deschamps are all known to have been considered.

But, despite lingering concerns over how viable a prospect he is in the long term -- as evidenced by the length of the contract on offer -- it has become increasingly clear to FSG that dismissing Dalglish was simply not an option.

The Scot has overseen victories over both Manchester United and Chelsea, while Liverpool's form has been such that a top-six finish seems guaranteed, though the vagaries of the FA Cup draw means that they may miss out on a place in Europe for the first time in more than a decade.

FSG had hoped to wait for as long as possible before confirming Dalglish's appointment -- as well as that of his first-team coach, Steve Clarke -- but Henry and Werner recognize the need to act quickly if they are to rebuild the playing squad this summer.
After overseeing the recruitment of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll on transfer deadline day -- effectively spending the money raised by the sales of Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel -- FSG are expected to sanction a substantial foray into the transfer market this summer.

That will be shaped by Dalglish's wishes, though he will have to work alongside director of football strategy Damien Comolli as he looks to reshape his squad with as many as six new faces.

The Frenchman, appointed to oversee recruitment, will need to live up to the reputation that brought him to Anfield if he is to attract top-class talent to a team who may not be able even to offer the enticement of European football.

However, goalkeeper Pepe Reina is yet to admit defeat in the chase to return to continental combat, which used to be regarded as routine at Anfield.

"There are still nine games to play and we still have a chance of getting that fifth position," said the Spaniard.

"There's no doubt it's difficult with no Europe, because we are so used to watching Liverpool in midweek and those European nights at Anfield are really famous."

Though Suarez may be a hit with the Anfield faithful, two of his opponents may be reluctant to shake his hands after tomorrow's match against Sunderland.

The Uruguay international's deliberate handball in last summer's World Cup quarter-finals denied Ghana a place in the semi-finals: Suarez will face two of his opponents from that controversial night in Johannesburg at the Stadium of Light, with Steve Bruce able to call on both John Mensah and Asamoah Gyan.

After Suarez was dismissed for palming Dominic Adiyiah's injury-time header off the line with the score level, it was Gyan who missed the subsequent penalty; the match went to a shoot-out, Uruguay went through and ended Ghana's dreams of becoming the first African nation to reach the semi-finals.

Kenny Dalglish Wants Response After Europa League Exit

It cut deep but Kenny Dalglish knows there’s no time to wallow in self pity after Thursday night’s European exit.

If Liverpool FC is going to rescue anything for this season there can be no hangover from their disappointing failure to get past Braga.

Crashing out of the Europa League may have delivered a potentially fatal blow to the Reds’ hopes of playing in continental competition next term but the manager is refusing to throw in the towel.

With Tottenham six points better off with a game in hand, reaching fifth spot between now and May is a tall order.

However, Dalglish is up for the fight and is determined to ensure his players give everything they’ve got over the remaining nine games – starting at the Stadium of Light tomorrow.

Prior to their struggles against the Portuguese, Liverpool had outplayed and outfought Premier League leaders Manchester United and the Scotsman wants those heights to be reached again.

“Winning the Europa League was an opportunity for us to get back into Europe for next season,” Dalglish said.

“We can still do that through the Premier League so we have just got to try and get as many wins as we can. We have to have a go for it. I don’t know whether being out of Europe is a blessing or not.

“We’re just going to have to brush ourselves down after Thursday night and then go to Sunderland to do the best we can to get a result for everyone.

“It is very difficult to predict how many points we will need for anything. The next game is the most important and we will give it our best to get as many points out of it as we can.”

Dalglish is hoping for better fortune this time than Liverpool’s last trip to the Stadium of Light when they were infamously undone by a beach ball.

In October 2009 Darren Bent’s strike left Pepe Reina helpless after it was deflected in off the inflatable thrown on to the pitch from the away end. Referee Mike Jones wrongly allowed the goal to stand and Liverpool failed to respond.

“I just hope there are no beach balls lying about this time,” Dalglish said.

“I was there last season. I knew what happened at the time and I know what should have happened as well.

“In happens in training all the time – someone shoots and there’s another ball lying there.

“The keeper doesn’t go for the one that’s been struck but he goes for the one that’s been struck by the ball. If you’ve trained then you would know instinctively what happened.”

Eighth placed Sunderland are only four points adrift of the Reds and forced a 2-2 draw at Anfield last September.

Dalglish is full of praise for the way boss Steve Bruce has established the Black Cats in the top flight.

“I know they lost their last home game against Tottenham but they’ll be a difficult side to beat up there as they were down here,” he said.

“Steve Bruce has done a fantastic job. He allowed the sale of Darren Bent, their leading scorer, which I don’t necessarily think would have been his choice, but it’s a real gesture from him because it brings some money back into the club.

“His chairman has also done a great job in supporting Steve and he has done a fantastic job on and off the pitch.

“It will be tough but hopefully it will be tough for them as well.”

Luis Suarez will return to the Liverpool side tomorrow after being ineligible against Braga but Dalglish must decide whether to partner him with Andy Carroll from the start for the first time.

Their partnership is eagerly anticipated but Dalglish will leave it late before deciding on Carroll’s fitness.

The £35m man, who terrorised Sunderland in Newcastle’s 5-1 win earlier in the season, played his first 90 minutes since December 28 against Braga and could be left on the bench.

“We will see how Andy looks and will do our best to keep him going with his recovery,” Dalglish said.

“We will do what’s best in our interests. Maybe playing him for 90 minutes against Braga wasn’t the wisest thing to do but lots of things he did in the game was encouraging. He’s still got a fair bit of fitness to come.

“Andy has tremendous assets and we have got to learn how to get the best out of them. But Andy has also got to learn how to get the best out of the assets in the rest of the side.

“Overall, I was pleased to see him back on the pitch and can’t be disappointed with his contribution in any way on Thursday. He was unfortunate not to have scored when his header just went wide.”

Liverpool, who has taken 17 points out of 27 since Dalglish returned to the Anfield hot seat, will come up against former Reds midfielder Bolo Zenden tomorrow.

The Dutchman made 47 appearances for the Reds between 2005 and 2007, his last appearance was in the 2007 Champions League final defeat to AC Milan.

“When I was at Liverpool, I played in a Champions League final, we were in the top four, there was no instability and everything was fine,” Zenden said. “Then because I left everything collapsed!”

“But King Kenny has come back and there is a really positive vibe about the club.”

Liverpool Playmaker Target Set For Move

Liverpool midfielder target Niko Kranjcar is reportedly 'tempting' Kenny Dalglish.

The Croatian international is thought to be one of the top summer targets on Anfield, although a number of players in a variety of positions are being linked in a similar fashion with Liverpool.

Kranjcar appears to be one of the more concrete links though, with the Reds thought to be chasing the Spurs star for several months now after contemplating a move in January.

After falling down the pecking order at White Hart Lane, the former Portsmouth ace is thought to be after a move in an effort to gain first team football next season.

Whether Liverpool can offer the player that is up for debate, but Dalglish is thought to be keen on a €7 million move that could see the player join the ranks on Merseyside.

The Metro claims Harry Redknapp is resigned to losing the player in the next transfer window, with German side Werder Bremen also thought to be keen on the player.

It's Liverpool who leads the charge in the Barclays Premier League though, with Dalglish looking to add further signings following the double addition in January.

NESV, the club's owners, proved that they are willing to back the Liverpool boss financially after spending over £55 million in the winter, and will look to do so again at the end of the current campaign.

Liverpool Keen On £18m Chelsea Bench Warmer

Liverpool are reportedly considering a move to sign Chelsea wide man Yuri Zhirkov and would make an offer for the Russian if indeed Carlo Ancelotti wished to offload the former CSKA Moscow man this summer. Having arrived at Stamford Bridge for a fee of £18m the 27 year old has failed to secure a regular starting spot and has been linked with a Blue exit for some time.

Kenny Dalglish is looking for a new left back and Damien Comolli is apparently an admirer of the attack minded left sided player but the Anfield side will not offer over £10m for the Chelsea man and the success of any deal would depend greatly on whether the West London club is willing to accept substantially less than the fee they paid for Zhirkov.

Liverpool have had to use Glen Johnson as a make shift left back in recent weeks and seem unlikely to keep Emiliano Insua and Paul Konchesky who are both currently out on loan. There is a lack of natural wide players at the Merseyside club who are now actively looking for new additions to resolve the issue.

Ancelotti doesn’t appear to rate the player too highly, having handed him just 16 Premier League starts and the player himself has spoken of his desire to play regularly and his intention to leave the club if he didn’t begin to see more Chelsea action.

Yuri Zhirkov rose in prominence following his performances at Euro 2008 where he was instrumental in helping Russia to the Semi-Finals which in turn led to his big money move to Chelsea but the excellent crosser has failed to oust Florent Malouda from the left wing spot and was never likely to replace the consistent Ashley Cole in the left back role.

Luis Suarez Is The Perfect Striker - Lucas Leiva

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva has heaped praise on new signing and friend Luis Suarez, believing he is at the club for the long haul.

The Uruguayan international arrived at Anfield for £22 million from Dutch giants Ajax in the January transfer window and is performing as though he has been there for five years.

So far, the former Groningen man has one goal and three assists in the Liverpool shirt, and Lucas is one of his many new fans.

Speaking to, Lucas said: “It was a great signing for Liverpool. In the Premier League he has already done a lot of things for the team.

“He's scored one and a half goals - the other half was Dirk [Kuyt]! He's also got three assists, so we are really happy with the way he's settled.

"He's here for a long time and hopefully he'll keep doing well. He is really strong, he can beat players and score goals, and I think he's the perfect striker for the Premier League."

Although the two players are from different countries and more than 600 miles separate their respective places of birth, Lucas is glad to have a fellow South American at the club.

He continued: “To have another South American is always important for me because the culture is more similar to what I know in Brazil.

"As soon as he signed his contract I went out with him for dinner to try to introduce him. Maxi is always helping him too.

“The South American and Spanish guys are trying to help him because the language is the same."

The Uruguayan is currently learning English in an attempt to fully fit in with the lifestyle in England, but Lucas believes that although his English isn’t yet perfect, the atmosphere at the club and stadium has helped him settle quickly nonetheless.

He added: “He is a funny guy, always joking. The atmosphere in the club is very good and that's why he's doing really well.

“When you change clubs and countries it's always difficult to settle - but the atmosphere at Melwood and Anfield has helped him to settle very quickly."

The Brazilian international also went on to speak about current manager Kenny Dalglish, someone he believes is highly important to the club, and someone he respects greatly.

He said: “We know how important he is for the club and for the fans. The players know how good he was.

"Everything he says makes sense and we believe that what he says is to help us improve our game as a team and as players.

“We are really happy and we have the confidence now to go anywhere and try to win. That's what he gives to us.

"He likes to talk about tactics but the message is always to believe in ourselves and to make sure we do everything with commitment and desire.

“He talks about tactics and then he gives us a lot of confidence to go onto the pitch."

The Reds haven’t played a league match since they beat Manchester United 3-1 at Anfield on March 6, and despite being knocked out of the Europa League, Lucas is confident they can replicate the kind of performance they produced against United.

He concluded: “It's an example of how we should play in every game, though it's not easy.

“If we play like we did against Manchester United we can dream and look to be in a better position at the end of the season."

Fabio Capello Warned By Dalglish Not To Gamble On Andy Carroll's Fitness

Kenny Dalglish has warned Fabio Capello that he needs to "be responsible" in not relying on Andy Carroll for England's internationals against Wales and Ghana.

Carroll has only just returned to fitness, and made his first Liverpool start on Thursday after suffering a thigh injury before he signed for £35 million in January. But the 22-year-old striker is set to be included in a probable 25-man squad for the Euro 2012 qualifier in Cardiff next Saturday and the friendly at home the following Tuesday.

Capello, the England manager, may give an opportunity to in-form Wolves winger Matt Jarvis, although he could also recall Stewart Downing or promote Jordan Henderson from the under-21s.

The Italian is unlikely to take any risks for the friendly match which is why he is choosing a larger than expected squad. However, he is keen to include Carroll against the Welsh with Peter Crouch, Darren Bent and Wayne Rooney also set to be included, which may spell bad news for Jermain Defoe.

Dalglish, the Liverpool manager, said of Carroll: "I don't know if Fabio wants to pick him or not, but there is no point in us being as guided as we have been in his recuperation and doing such a good job to get him to where he is now if someone else is going to waste all that.

"England have to be responsible with him. There is nothing we can do to stop them picking him, but common sense has to prevail. We fully understand somebody wanting to pick his best players for England, but they also have to understand the fact that he not really there yet for fitness."

Robert Green is likely to be selected as one of three goalkeepers, with David Stockdale missing out as he has not played for Fulham recently. Aaron Lennon is in line to play his first game for England since the World Cup, having being troubled with injury this season.

With Steven Gerrard injured, Capello is planning to give 19-year-old Jack Wilshere his first competitive start. John Terry is set to lead the side in the absence of Rio Ferdinand.

Capello has signalled that he intends to restore Terry to the role permanently, although sources have suggested that he would first test the reaction of the other players – and possibly the home support at Wembley. The match is sold out and Ghana will have 20,000 supporters. Capello has yet to talk to Ferdinand about his controversial decision.

Luis Suárez Is The Most Hated Man In Ghana, Says Asamoah Gyan

Liverpool striker Luis Suárez is still “the most hated man in Ghana” after his deliberate handball for Uruguay in last summer’s World Cup quarter-final denied the African country victory, according to Sunderland forward Asamoah Gyan.

Suarez will face two of his opponents from that controversial night in Johannesburg when Kenny Dalglish’s side travel to the Stadium of Light on Sunday, with Steve Bruce able to call on both John Mensah and Gyan, the striker who became the ultimate victim of the Liverpool player’s gamesmanship.

After Suarez was dismissed for palming Dominic Adiyiah’s injury-time header off the line with the score level, it was Gyan who missed the subsequent penalty and the match went to a shoot-out which sent Uruguay through and ended Ghana’s dreams of becoming the first African nation to reach the semi-finals.

Suarez’s jubilation at the end of the game — even going so far as to insist that he had inherited the “Hand of God” from Diego Maradona — prompted fury across Africa.

While Gyan admits he would have done the same as Suarez had roles been reversed, he acknowledges that those fans left distraught by his act are not so forgiving.

“He is not popular in Ghana,” said Gyan. “He is the most hated person in Ghana. I really am sorry to say it, because I am a good sportsman and I understand why he did it, but will the fans understand what happened? Not really, and for that he is the most hated person in Ghana.

Liverpool Starlet Eyeing Loan Move

Liverpool starlet Thomas Ince has opened the door to another loan move after returning from a productive spell under his dad Paul at Notts County.

The left winger made a big impression for the League One club during his three months at Meadow Road, scoring twice in seven appearances.

And although his long-term target is establishing himself at Anfield, Ince is hopeful of securing another short-term move before the Football League loan window shuts later this month.

"I'm definitely open to another loan move," said Ince, who played and scored for Liverpool reserves against Arsenal on Wednesday.

"At the moment I'm here and I want to be in that first team. I believe I've got the ability; I just need to show that whether it's here or on loan.

"There's always someone watching so I've just got to keep my head down week to week and try and push for that first team, whether it's starting or on the bench."

And Ince junior also revealed how his dad, who made his name as a fearsome central midfielder for Manchester United, Inter Milan and Liverpool, has not mellowed as a manager - and he found out the hard way.

"I got it much worse than anyone else from him," said the 19-year-old. "On the training ground, on the pitch, it was 10 times worse for me - but I expected that.

"With my dad being there it was hard to go because there was a lot of judgment put on me. But on the training ground he knew the belief he had in me and didn't only sign me because he's my dad. On the pitch it's manager and at home it's father and son. I think that's why it works so well."

Liverpool Defender Still Fighting For Europe

Liverpool’s rookie defender Danny Wilson is focusing on qualifying for the Europa League next season, despite being knocked out last night by Braga in the round of 16 clash.

"We'll just have to move on from this," Wilson told the official Liverpool website after the 1-0 defeat.

"All the lads are disappointed with the result but we've got to look to try and finish as high as possible in the league.

"We're all confident we can still finish the season on a high even after falling out of this competition. We have to make sure we give our best and hopefully that'll be enough.”

Liverpool is currently sixth on the Barclays Premier League table, six points behind fifth placed Tottenham.

A Europa spot is given to the fifth placed side at the end of the season, and with Birmingham sealing the Carling Cup winner’s place, and Bolton or Stoke set to take the FA Cup runners-up place at worst, Liverpool were relying on winning the Europa League to garner automatic qualification.

Now that Liverpool are out of the tournament, Wilson says the Kop are concentrating on winning as many league games as possible to keep the pressure on Tottenham.

"The good thing is we've got a game straight away to get over this. We'll look forward to that,” he said.

Wenger Questions Reds Owners

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has implied that Liverpool’s new owners should have given more time to former manager Roy Hodgson to prove his worth at Anfield.

Hodgson, now at West Bromwich Albion, will be leading the Baggies out at The Hawthorns this weekend as they face the Gunners in a rematch of their shock 3-2 win over Wenger’s men in North London earlier this season.

However, the Arsenal boss is convinced that it wouldn’t have hurt Liverpool’s cause if Hodgson – who guided Fulham to the Europa League final less than a year ago – remained in charge at Anfield.

When asked whether he feels sorry for Hodgson, Wenger told “Yes (he was unlucky). When you have a change of ownership (as Liverpool did), it can happen sometimes that as a manager you are not the desired person. You have not been employed by the people who have been the owners.”

The Anfield outfit’s new owners are not likely to be pleased with Wenger’s remarks as the club’s domestic performances have improved significantly since their appointment of Kenny Dalglish despite last night’s disappointing exit in the Europa League.

In fact, the Gunners boss could yet pay the price for challenging the post-Hodgson Liverpool side when the Merseysiders travel to The Emirates in a potential title-decider a few weeks later.