Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Kenny Dalglish Hints At Signing Wide Players In The Summer

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has hinted that he could bring in wide players during the summer.

The Scot signed Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll in January from Ajax and Newcastle United respectively, and could now invest in wingers to provide service to the strike duo.

"That’s something we will analyze," Dalglish said, according to The Mirror.

"Andy is part of our team, so is Luis Suarez so we need to get players who complement them.

"Whatever we need we will go for."

Liverpool have been linked with a move for Aston Villa's Ashley Young in the past, with Manchester United also reported to be interested in acquiring the services of the England international, and are also rumoured to be weighing up a summer bid for Wolves winger Matt Jarvis.

Dirk Kuyt Calls For Referees To Give Andy Carroll More Protection

Dirk Kuyt has claimed his fellow Liverpool forward Andy Carroll lost his composure at West Bromwich Albion due to a lack of protection from the referee, Martin Atkinson.

Kuyt was among several Liverpool players who sought to calm Carroll at The Hawthorns, where the towering £35m striker was infuriated by several decisions that went against him during his side's 2-1 defeat.

The Holland international said: "I thought the referee was right with the two penalty decisions but it appears that referees have problems with things our strikers are doing – it was the same with Fernando [Torres]. Every time they go up in the air, they seem to have free-kicks given against them and I don't think the way Andy was treated was very fair.

"It is very frustrating as you see strikers on other teams doing exactly the same thing yet they don't get punished. It's difficult to understand sometimes and referees need to look at the situation. That's why Andy was so frustrated during the game. He felt he should have got a couple of free-kicks. We spoke to him just to try and help him calm down."

Kuyt is expected to sign a 12-month extension to his Liverpool contract in the coming days. The club is also waiting to discover the full extent of Steven Gerrard's latest groin injury amid concerns he faces another extended spell on the sidelines having aggravated a problem in training on Friday.

Liverpool Track £12m 'Japanese Maradona'

Japanese playmaker Keisuke Honda is top of Liverpool's wanted list with the club ready to launch a £12 million for the CSKA Moscow player, according to caughtoffside.com.

The 24-year-old stared for Japan at last year's World Cup as they progressed to the second round in South Africa, which has led to comparisons with Maradona, such is his skill and awareness on the ball.

Despite attracting plenty of attention during the tournament, Honda stayed put in Russia, but now is expected to make the next step up, with Liverpool ready to make him a Premier League player this summer.

Director of Football Damien Comolli has placed the playmaker at the top of his preferred midfield targets, with Liverpool still searching for someone to service striker Andy Carroll.

Liverpool have been linked with a host of midfielders of late, with Ashley Young, Charlie Adam and Matt Jarvis all strongly tipped to join the club this summer, along with the Japanese starlet.

The former Grampus Eight man is expected to fetch £12 million and with Juventus and Marseille both reportedly interested, the Anfield club has competition for his signature.

Liverpool Starlet Drops Huge Hint To 'King Kenny'

Liverpool starlet Daniel Pacheco gave a timely reminder to Kenny Dalglish on loan debut for Norwich City.

The versatile Spaniard has joined the promotion push at Carrow Road, with the Reds boss allowing the 20-year-old to gain valuable first team experience in the Championship.

It was a debut to remember for the forward, who can also play in the attacking midfield position, with a handful of assists and some impressive passes drawing rave reviews from pundits and management alike.

“The tempo of the game was great, the new lads have certainly given the place a lift and the way we played was excellent. I thought his debut was as good as I’ve seen. I thought he was brilliant, he lifted the crowd," Lambert said on Pacheco's performance.

“The hype about him was over the top. People thought he was just going to come in here like Lionel Messi. He’s only a 20-year-old kid learning the game, but I thought his performance was fantastic.”

Pacheco has had limited opportunities in the first team at Anfield, making a total of 14 appearances for Liverpool since his debut for the club in December 2009.

Regarded as a potential star of the future, Pacheco joined the Merseysiders from Barcelona back in 2007 and quickly graduated through the club's academy and reserve sides.

His first team breakthrough has been less emphatic, but Liverpool are still hoping for big things from the Spanish U21 international and will see his loan move as a progressive step in the career ladder.

If the debut performance is anything to go by, then the Liverpool starlet has a bright future ahead of him, and could become a Canaries cult hero if he helps fire the East Anglian outfit into the Barclays Premier League.

Alberto Aquilani To Know Juventus Future 'Soon'

Juventus midfielder Alberto Aquilani says he is focused on doing well for the Bianconeri rather than his future with the Turin club.

The 26-year-old signed a season-long loan from Liverpool, but there has been recent discussion suggesting the midfielder may return to the Reds, as the Bianconeri refuse to meet the €16 million fee wanted by the English club.

Aquilani has been in good form, and has been rewarded with a recall to the Italy national team, recently playing against Slovenia and Ukraine.

"I have been playing well for a while," he told the club's official website. "The performances of the individual have been overshadowed by the club's results.

"But this Juventus side is maturing and getting better.

"I will know my future soon. For the moment, I aim to finish the season off well and will be giving it my all, as Juventus has given me a chance to return to Italy and regain the Azzurri jersey," he concluded.

Juventus currently sit in seventh position on 48 points.

Liverpool Tipped To Make Move For La Liga Wing Star

Valencia will do everything in their power to keep hold of Juan Mata this summer as Liverpool and Manchester City reportedly chase the winger.

Having been forced to cash-in on David Villa and David Silva last summer, Los Che are reluctant to lose another of their star turns when the transfer window reopens, despite reports in Spain suggesting Mata is gathering interest from England.

According to skysports.com, Liverpool is one of the clubs pursuing the 25-year-old while City have allegedly already made contact over a potential summer swoop.

However, Valencia president Manuel Llorente says he has no intention of letting the Spain international leave the Mestalla.

"The kid is un-negotiable because he is a key man in our project," Llorente told Provincias.

City are reportedly keen to see Mata link up with former teammate Silva at Eastlands, although the player's father has moved to quash speculation that talks have already been held with the Manchester club.

Juan Mata Snr said: "I have not spoken with City."

Meanwhile, Liverpool is known to be in the market for more potent wide options and appear to have identified Mata as a potential acquisition.

More likely, however, would be the purchase of Aston Villa attacker Ashley Young, who has been widely linked with a move to Liverpool - even more so in recent days.

The Mirror reports that Liverpool is chasing Young and Wolves' Matt Jarvis to provide extra penetration on the flanks and link up with record-signing Andy Carroll.

Liverpool director of football strategy has already been outed as a fan of Young and has previously admitted the Reds would be interested in the 25-year-old should Villa be prepared to sell.

But, according to the Daily Mail, Liverpool will have to go toe-to-to with fierce rivals Manchester United if they hope to bring him to Anfield.

Anfield Debate

The enigma of Liverpool's proposed new stadium resurfaced last week in the wake of the club's newly-promoted managing director, Ian Ayre, repeating his preference to sell the naming rights.

Liverpool's owners, Fenway Sports Group (FSG), have been taking their time over a decision between a construction of a home in Stanley Park, or the redevelopment and expansion of Anfield.

Existing planning permission consents from Liverpool City Council (LCC) are due to expire later in April and in June, which adds expectation on a critically-important selection.

The process has received much scrutiny ever since Liverpool's former co-owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, failed to construct a replacement for Anfield, particularly after what has since become an infamous statement about spades going in the ground.

Architecturally-advised redesigns, the global recession and debates over a potential ground-share with Everton delayed Hicks and Gillett's plans, but the American pair were, of course, dramatically bought out by compatriots FSG last autumn.

Liverpool's new principal owner, John Henry, and chairman, Tom Werner, cited the stadium issue following their takeover in mid-October and it remains a topic of debate in their grand plan to restore the glory days of the 18-time champions of England and five-time kings of Europe.

It was thought that the approved plans for a 60,000-seater new stadium in Stanley Park, which had been favoured by Hicks and Gillett, would be followed by FSG. But in February, having been influenced by the atmosphere and nostalgia upon visiting Anfield, Henry hinted that he could expand or redevelop what has been Liverpool's famous home since 1892.

It is a difficult decision for FSG and information obtained by skysports.com from LCC illustrates that planning permission, community impact and travel links are among a number of factors that need to be taken into account.

Hicks and Gillett preferred a new stadium in Stanley Park, adjacent to Anfield, because it guaranteed increases in capacity and corporate hospitality opportunities, while the construction period would not interfere with the current stadium attendance and, as a result, matchday revenue.

LCC has granted consent on two alternative plans for a 60,000-seater stadium in Stanley Park, one by AFL Architects in 2006 and a second, most recently commissioned by Hicks and Gillett in 2008, by Ryder HKS.

But the consent for AFL's plans expires on 12th April, 2011. Ryder's consent expires on 19th June, 2011.

The schemes have included a number of commitments to the restoration of Stanley Park, which have already taken place, including landscaping and public facilities. There are also future pledges to traffic management and monitoring, public football pitches, tennis courts and a multi-use games area.

The necessary demolition of existing properties 47-71 on Anfield Road has already happened. At the same time, Outline Planning Permission (OPP), which agrees the basic principles of plans with some items still to be agreed, has been granted for the development of an 'Anfield Plaza' on the site of the current Anfield. The Plaza would incorporate a residential scheme, offices, retail, a hotel, and ensure there is no loss in public open space.

Ryder's plans include much the same as AFL, but also propose a club museum and shop, and a screened car park. Both the AFL and Ryder schemes require Liverpool to deliver improved transport links, including park and ride spaces and 17 Football Match Parking Zones (FMPZ), with the latter catering for residents on a permit-only basis, due to the increase in stadium capacity and a determination to avoid additional matchday car journeys.

The FMPZ already exist. If the park and ride spaces are not delivered, consent only allows a stadium capacity of 51,900. But for every 500 park and ride spaces provided the capacity would increase by 1,350 to a maximum of 60,000.

A new stadium would likely include a version of The Kop in an attempt to maintain the atmosphere of the existing Anfield, while, as much as fans may disapprove, Ayre's maintained stance on selling stadium naming rights could generate an estimated income of £120million-plus.

The debate regarding the impact of a new stadium on the surrounding community is a talking point. Opposing perspectives, which include that of the English Heritage body, balance the pros and cons of losing public parkland against the need, and the much-disputed capability, for a private-commercial venture to ensure suitable benefits for the Walton constituency with regards to history, housing, visual amenity, business, employment, open space and facilities.

Planning permission has yet to be submitted to LCC for any redevelopment or expansion of the current Anfield stadium. An expansion of 15,000 seats from a current 45,000 capacity and an increase of hospitality suites for increased corporate opportunities would be anticipated.

This would likely be achieved by building additional tiers on top of the Anfield Road Stand, Centenary Stand and Main Stand, while The Kop would remain untouched to preserve its prestige. A greater number of executive/corporate hospitality boxes are vitally important because this is where Liverpool have a significant deficit when compared to the likes of Old Trafford or Emirates Stadium.

Increasing the size of Anfield's current stands, which still have areas of restricted viewing, and improving the included facilities and access would also be expected to earn a higher rating in Uefa regulations.

Expanding Anfield would be favoured by most fans, who view the stadium as a part of the club's DNA. But the obvious hindrance to remaining at Anfield would be that there would be limited potential for expansion beyond 60,000 if so desired in the future.

Staying at Anfield would be subject to planning permission, and this would probably consider factors such as Right To Light in a congested urban area, while Anfield Road itself would likely require redirection.

The commitment to transport links, such as park and ride, would still be essential to cater for the increase in capacity.

Expansion would lead to a significant amount of interference to Anfield in the construction/building period in the coming seasons, when capacity, resulting matchday revenue and atmosphere would all be damaged. These could ultimately drive the cost up above that of constructing a new stadium.

Title Bid On As Reds Sink United

Adam Morgan continued his hot streak in front of goal as Liverpool U18s clinched an impressive 2-1 win at Manchester United on Monday afternoon.

The Reds' No. 9 struck for the 10th match in succession as he took his tally for the season to 16 in all competitions with a clinical opener.

Tom Lawrence did restore parity for the hosts soon after but an own goal from Alberto Massacci in first-half injury time proved enough to clinch all three points for Rodolfo Borrell's side.

The youngsters went into the contest with a double incentive; to avenge last month's FA Youth Cup exit and close the gap on leaders Everton.

The Toffees had edged further clear at the summit of Academy League Group C with a victory at the weekend and Borrell would have been looking for his side to respond following a 4-2 defeat at home to Nottingham Forest last time out.

The contest got off to a typically cagey start and there were few moments of any real quality until the 15th minute when Morgan turned well 25 yards from goal and fired in a shot that was deflected just wide of the near post.

The chance seemed to give Liverpool the impetus to step up their usual passing game and eight minutes later they stole ahead.

A bright interchange between Michael Ngoo and Krisztian Adorjan ended with the Hungarian rolling a well weighted pass into the path of Morgan and he made no mistake with a cool finish.

The hosts had done very little as an attacking force but on 31 minutes they finally carved out an opening. Paul Pogba did brilliantly to cut the ball back from the left hand byline but JacK Rudge saw his side footer drift inches off target.

If it was a warning then the visitors did not take heed of it and within 60 seconds they were punished.

A ball was fed into the edge of the box for Lawrence. The winger did brilliantly to back spin his flick in behind Stephen Sama and when he reached it ahead of the Reds defender, he showed good composure to toe poke an equalizer under Jamie Stephens.

It looked like being the last of the goal action in the opening 45 minutes but deep into stoppage time Liverpool restored their lead courtesy of a huge slice of fortune.

Adam Hajdu flashed a dangerous right-wing cross into the area where Massacci contrived to bullet a firm header beyond his own 'keeper.

In truth it was no more than the away team deserved and they continued to make the better of the chances following the interval.

First Ngoo and Sterling combined to tee up Morgan but the striker was crowded out just when he looked set to make it three.

Then a typically mazy run from Ngoo ended with a curler that missed the top corner by inches after Charni Ekangamene had forced Jamie Stephens to pull off a superb save following a blockbusting volley.

United had done little to suggest they could find a way back into the contest but almost did just that when substitute William Keane snatched at a gilt-edged chance on the hour mark.

With time running out Liverpool continued to look the more likely but they couldn't add to their margin of victory despite going close via Adorjan's shot off the post.

Shelvey Figures In Villa Defeat

Jonjo Shelvey played for almost an hour as Liverpool Reserves crashed to a disappointing 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa at Villa Park on Monday night.

The midfielder made his first appearance since early February as he continues his recovery from a knee injury, but was unable to prevent the Reds from slipping to a loss in the Midlands.

The reserves made a dominant start, but were made to pay for a succession of missed chances as Marc Albrighton put the hosts into the lead just after the half-hour mark with a well-taken volley.

Gary Gardner doubled Villa's advantage three minutes before half-time when he netted from the penalty spot after Andre Wisdom's foul on Harry Forrester in the box and the home side's No.10 headed his second of the evening shortly after the break to make it three.

Shelvey exited the action on 56 minutes just prior to Toni Silva reducing the deficit with a fine solo effort.

However, despite their best efforts, Liverpool was unable to breach Villa's defence again making it a night to forget at Villa Park.

The second string went into the game searching for their first win under the command of Pep Segura.

The Spaniard had overseen two narrow defeats and a battling mini-derby draw in his opening three matches, but his hopes of securing a maiden victory were boosted by the inclusion of first-team players Shelvey and David Ngog in the starting XI.

It was to be Shelvey's first appearance since figuring as a substitute in the senior side's 2-0 win against Stoke City on February 4 after picking up a knee injury.

There was an additional pre-match boost for Liverpool after news reached Villa Park of Chelsea's 2-0 triumph over Blackburn Rovers earlier in the day, meaning the Reds could close the gap on the Lancashire side at the top of the Barclays Premier Reserve League North to just three points with a victory.

And Segura's contingent almost made a dream start to the contest as Ngog burst beyond Nathan Baker before crossing for Tom Ince, whose close-range effort was saved by the sprawling Andy Marshall inside 30 seconds.

The Villa stopper had to be alert to keep out Shelvey's curler moments later as Liverpool quickly assumed control of the contest.

Then, on 10 minutes, Ince spurned another gilt-edged chance when the winger was sent surging through on Marshall's goal by Suso's pin-point through pass, only to see his low strike repelled by the legs of the diving 'keeper.

The best Villa could muster in the opening exchanges was a wayward volley from Moustapha Salifou that failed to concern Martin Hansen.

On 26 minutes, Ngog's swivel and strike on the edge of the box almost found the top corner but Villa were millimetres away from taking the lead soon after when a slick move between Gary Gardner and Forrester sliced open the Reds rearguard and resulted in the latter crashing a shot against the bar from 10 yards.

However, they did break the deadlock on 31 minutes. Forrester ghosted into the area to collect Ellis Deeney's reverse pass before delivering a deep cross to the back post, where the unmarked Albrighton was able to steer a first-time volley beyond the reach of Hansen.

The striker then lofted an effort onto the roof of the net as the hosts began to dictate.

And their pressure was rewarded three minutes before the break when Andre Wisdom's push on Forrester inside the box saw Villa awarded a penalty.

Gardner took responsibility and made no mistake in dispatching beyond Hansen from the spot to send the Midlanders in two goals to the good at the break.

Any hopes Liverpool had of staging a similar fight back to the one that secured a point in the recent mini derby were dealt a blow moments after the re-start when Villa extended their lead even further.

Albrighton collected possession on the right corner of the Reds' box and his delivery towards the back post made Gardner's task of heading home from close range a simple one.

But Silva reduced the arrears on 57 minutes when the Portuguese forward danced beyond two defenders before stabbing into the bottom corner.

Ngog then cannoned a strike against the legs of Baker and Silva headed over when well placed as Liverpool threatened a second goal.

With 13 minutes left on the Villa Park scoreboard, Emmanuel Mendy's cross intended for the head of Ngog rattled the frame of the goal and bounced to safety, while Suso's clever free-kick carved out a shooting chance for Ince, who struck over.

Matty Regan wasted a good chance at the death as Villa retained their two-goal advantage to seal the win.

Despite the result, Liverpool remain just six points off table-toppers Blackburn with two games in hand - though they'll require a much-improved display against Bolton next time out.