Monday, April 04, 2011

Carroll Struggles With Liverpool's Inability To Set Up Supply Lines

Shortly after Stan Collymore joined Liverpool, for a then-record £8.5m in 1995, he gave an interview in which he observed that most companies, if they spent millions on a new piece of equipment, would have had a plan as to how they were going to use it. Liverpool, Collymore said, had bought him without realizing his style of play and theirs were incompatible. The partnership did not last long.

At first glance the club would seem to have made the same mistake with their latest record signing, Andy Carroll, for Liverpool have a squad which is totally unsuited to the centre-forward's strengths.

For much of their first defeat to West Bromwich Albion in three decades on Saturday, Liverpool were narrow and devoid of any crossing capability. Largely through injury and lack of alternatives Kenny Dalglish mostly deployed four centre-halves in defence, and three central midfielders and a striker in midfield. There were wingers on the pitch, and overlapping full-backs, but they all played for West Brom.

As a result Carroll's aerial strength was negated in open play. "Carroll is an excellent player," said Roy Hodgson, Albion's manager, "one of those who is a real handful when the ball is played into the penalty area." He added that when facing such players "you have to accept you won't win every ball" but should focus on the knock-downs and flick-ons, and keep them away from the box.

Hodgson said Albion had concentrated on preventing a supply of crosses – a task made easier by their opponents' lack of width. As a consequence Liverpool began to play long, towards Carroll's head but, observed Hodgson, "were struggling to get their midfield players up in support of the long balls". It was, he concluded, "a really satisfying performance for us tactically."

Dalglish bristled when it was put to him that Liverpool played long, and he correctly noted that Abion's second penalty followed "a launch which travelled 50 yards", adding there was nothing wrong with hitting the long ball at times. Liverpool's problem was that it was done too often and without appropriate support for Carroll.

With Raul Meireles drifting inside, Dalglish eventually sent Luis Suarez on to the left wing but Carroll remained unserviced. That, however, will not be the case next season, insisted Dalglish "We signed Andy Carroll for five-and-a-half years, not for three weeks. [In the summer] we'll analyse what we need. Andy is going to be part of our team, so is Suarez, so we need a combination of players who are going to be complementary to what we have."

For now Dalglish must make do with what he has, and his squad has been further depleted by the loss of Glen Johnson (hamstring tear), Daniel Agger (knee) and Steven Gerrard (a new groin problem). With none likely to return quickly, Liverpool's pursuit of fifth, and a place in Europe, may fade. They had looked like closing the gap on Spurs when Martin Skrtel headed in Meireles' corner early in the second period but Peter Odemwingie twice outwitted Sotirios Kyrgiakos to win a brace of penalties converted by Chris Brunt.

For Albion the task remains avoiding relegation – with 36 points they are four clear of the drop zone with seven matches remaining. "This is an important win psychologically but I think relegation will remain in question until the last game," said Hodgson, who added: "I feel the magical 40 points safety mark will be well and truly shattered this season."

Liverpool FC Will Bounce Back Against Man City, Says Jay Spearing

Jay Spearing believes Liverpool will take out their frustration on Manchester City at Anfield next Monday night.

The Reds’ European hopes were dented by a disappointing 2-1 defeat at West Brom on Saturday.

“We will never give up the fight for Europe and there are still plenty of points to play for,” the midfielder said.

“With Tottenham only drawing it was a great opportunity to close the gap but it was a massive disappointment for ourselves.

“When Martin Skrtel got our first goal we thought we were in a great position to get the three points, but we just stopped playing and a couple of lapses in concentration cost us.

“We were disappointed with our performance on Saturday but we need a big response against Manchester City.

“We know we are good enough to beat them and we will be giving it everything we have got to make that happen.”

Liverpool Target Sylvain Marveaux Closer To Free Anfield Switch

Liverpool are reportedly closing in on a deal for French winger Sylvain Marveaux.

The Rennes star has rejected a new deal at the Ligue 1 club, and is poised to make a free summer switch amidst interest from a host of club across Europe.

Kenny Dalglish has been linked with the player for several months now, and the Sunday Mirror claims that Liverpool are 'set to secure' the player's signature on a free transfer under the Bosman Ruling.

Damien Comolli, director of football at Anfield, has been monitoring the situation at the Route de Lorient for some time, and is a known admirer of the versatile winger.

The national newspaper report goes on to claim the Frenchman is moving quickly to tie up a deal for the player as competition to Liverpool grows for the signature both in England and abroad.

24-year-old Marveaux has made over 100 league appearances for the club after graduating from the youth team in 2006, and was capped 11 times at Under 21 level for Les Bleus.

The versatile midfielder can play on either flank, and with Dalglish known to be in the market for a winger it's no surprise that the link has grown stronger between Liverpool and the player.

A left back, striker and defensive midfielder are also thought to be on the agenda at Anfield, with the Scottish boss looking to spend in the summer as he puts his own stamp on the team at Liverpool.

It's the wing position that has led to much speculation though, with Ashley Young, Matt Jarvis and Eden Hazard all thought to be on a shortlist of players being put together by the Reds.

Marveaux's free availability makes him an attractive target for a number of clubs, although club owners Fenway Sports Group proved in January that they are willing to back the manager financially in the transfer market.

Dalglish is poised for a busy summer come the end of the season, but with Comolli eager to secure the signing of his compatriot, Marveaux could become one of the first to join the Reds were they able to secure a pre-contract agreement in the coming weeks.

Liverpool Plot To 'Hijack' Milan Move For Spanish Defender

Liverpool are reportedly prepared to go toe-to-toe with AC Milan in pursuit of Newcastle defender Jose Enrique.

According to the Sunday Mirror, Milan are confident they can land the Spaniard with the lure of Champions League football, but Liverpool are ready to ‘hijack’ the Italian giants’ swoop for the 25-year-old.

It was initially reported by talkSPORT that Liverpool were set to complete a deal for Enrique when the summer transfer window reopens, but it now appears they will have their work cut out to land the highly-rated full-back.

Liverpool is known to be in the market for a permanent fixture at left-back, with the Anfield club relatively light in that area at the present time.

The departure of Paul Konchesky - albeit temporarily - from Anfield has left Liverpool short on options at full-back and the acquisition of reinforcements remains a priority for the Merseyside club.

Glen Johnson has been deployed on the left by Kenny Dalglish of late, but the Liverpool boss is after a more long-term solution and a host of potential signings have been linked with the seemingly problematic role.

Liverpool are also allegedly after Celtic's Emilio Izaguirre and former Kop favourite John Arne Riise, and the signing of recognized full-back is high on the Reds’ summer to do list.

Gerrard And Agger May Miss Out On Reds' Run-In

Liverpool may be without both Steven Gerrard and Daniel Agger for the final seven games of the season as the injury crisis afflicting Kenny Dalglish's side deepened before, during and after this defeat.

Gerrard underwent groin surgery last month and had been in line to return against West Brom, but Dalglish revealed that his captain had suffered a recurrence in training on Friday.

Dalglish said the latest injury was "in the same area of his groin but not the same thing," but it is feared that Gerrard may not recover from the setback in time to feature in any of the remaining games this campaign.

Agger, meanwhile, was substituted in the first half -- along with Glen Johnson -- after sustaining a tendon injury and reports in Denmark yesterday suggested the problem would put an end to the defender's troubled season.

Dalglish is already without Martin Kelly for the remainder of the campaign, while Fabio Aurelio and Johnson have been plagued by niggling complaints.

Reds 'Keeper Can't Handle Suarez And Carroll

Liverpool goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi says Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll provide him with plenty of work to do in training.

Although they have yet to fire in unison, Suarez and Carroll have been backed to form a devastating partnership for the Reds sooner rather than later and have already shown glimpses of what they have to offer as a front pairing.

Gulacsi, who joined Liverpool from MTK Hungaria in 2007, knows first-hand how potent the strike duo can be, and the 20-year-old has revealed the £58 million men keep him busy at Melwood.

"People can see how good they are and Luis and Andy are always a real threat for any defence," Gulacsi told

"Andy can keep hold of the ball so well and can challenge for everything, Luis can play just behind him and he has a lot of skill.

"I'm sure both of them will have a great future at Liverpool and they can be a big help for us now in our push for a European place.

"It's difficult facing them in training as both are fantastic players. Luis is really tricky and you don't know what to expect when he faces you.

"You have to be ready for the challenge as he has a powerful shot. I have to say they have scored a few goals past me in training!

"I always have some good banter with Luis on the training ground because I always tell him I am going to keep a clean sheet against him.

"When he scores he comes up to me and gives me a little bit of stick! That's happened a few times I have to say."

Jones Rubbishes Reds Exit Talk

On-loan goalkeeper Brad Jones has rubbished reports he is set to leave Liverpool in the summer.

The Australian signed from Middlesbrough for £2.3million last August as a back-up to Jose Reina but has played just twice, in the Carling Cup defeat at home to Northampton and the Europa League against Utrecht in December.

He was loaned out to Championship side Derby and made his debut in Saturday's 4-1 defeat at Cardiff.

Jones wrote on Twitter: "Completely untrue and really a poor attempt at a story."

Alonso Is Still A Liverpool Fan And Wants His Son To Be Too

World Cup-winning Real Madrid star Xabi Alonso has revealed that he intends to bring up his son as a Liverpool supporter.

The midfielder left Anfield for the Bernabeu in 2009 but admits that he still retains a soft-spot for the club and considers himself a Liverpool fan.

'I am still a Liverpool fan and will be forever, absolutely,' Alonso said.

'The things that I have lived and the experiences I had during those five years are deep in my heart and the passion and respect I had for the club and its supporters are still the same.

'Hopefully I can transmit to my son what Liverpool Football Club means and how special it is, as he was born in the city and he will visit it in the future.'

Alonso, 29, has enjoyed a highly successful career so far - winning the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005 and the World Cup with Spain in 2010 - and he will be hoping to beat Tottenham in Madrid on Tuesday night.

Alonso still follows Liverpool closely and he has impressed by their recent up-turn in form since Kenny Dalglish took charge.

He said: 'I think they have regained their confidence and despite being knocked out of the Europa League (by Braga) their form in the Premier League has improved a lot.

'I think they can rebuild a competitive team, especially as it looks like there is now stability at the club again. Now they have to think about the sport side and create a plan for the following years.'

Selection Headache For Segura

Pep Segura admits he faces a selection headache as Liverpool Reserves head to Villa Park to take on Aston Villa tonight.

With Rodolfo Borrell's U18s also in action against Manchester United today, Segura will not be able to call on the Academy starlets for the trip to the Midlands - a match you can watch live on LFC TV and LFC TV Online tonight from 6.30pm.

Segura told "This is a difficult situation for us because in the last games we have used players from the Academy like Toni Silva, Stephen Sama, Adam Hajdu and Henoc Mukendi, but I won't be using them in this game.

"We must protect the U18s because they also have a chance of winning their league so for that reason I respect that.

"The U18s have a difficult game against Manchester United and I will help Rodolfo Borrell with this.

"Okay, I would like to have the best players available for my team but the most important thing is the club and making good decisions, not selfish ones."

Villa's second string is managed by former Anfield double winner Kevin MacDonald and play in the Southern section of the Barclays Premier Reserve League.

They started the year with an incredible 10-1 win over Arsenal and Segura knows they have a talented side.

"Aston Villa will be a tough game for us, but also for them," he added.

"It was a strange result to see them beat Arsenal 10-1 because it is not a logical one, but what I do know is Villa are a good team with some good players.

"I am expecting a difficult game but what I want to see from my players is a good performance in every game.

"They all need to understand their responsibility on the pitch and keep their concentration for the whole 90 minutes.

"Winning is always fantastic but it's how you win that is important.

"If we win a game and we don't play well then I can't be happy. I need to say to the team that wasn't good enough and we must improve.

"I have been pleased with the players in our last two league games. We were unlucky to lose at Arsenal and then we played very well against Everton.

"The spirit and character of the team was very good and they have trained well. I need to help the players to grow and get to a level when they can be ready for the first team. This is my job."

Segura also explained his reasoning behind changing Steven Irwin's position from a full-back role to playing just off the striker.

He added: "We understand this is a new position for Steven to what he is normally used to.

"I needed to change a few things and this is a position I believe he can play in and he has done well in this position."

With four games remaining in the Barclays Premier Reserve League North Group B, Segura's side are six points behind leaders Blackburn with two games in hand.

There is still a chance Liverpool could win a 19th reserve league title, but that is not the Spaniard's main focus.

He said: "Our idea is game by game and I like to win always, but I need to understand also what is my job here.

"My job first is to help the players and get them ready so they can play for the first team.

"When I was at Barcelona with the U18s we won the league and cup in the same season and I said to the players this is not important. What is important is how many players from that side get to the first team.

"Winning is fantastic and makes me very happy but the players need to understand they must work hard every day if they want to get to the first team.

"If we were to win the reserve league it would be fantastic but I prefer to see the players grow. If we can do both then, fantastic."