Thursday, April 07, 2011

Dalglish: Why Players Deserve Praise

Kenny Dalglish has paid tribute to his players for keeping Liverpool's fight for a European place alive.

When the manager took over the Anfield reins in January, thoughts of a place in the top six looked optimistic, but a turnaround in form saw the Reds quickly climb the table.

Despite Saturday's 2-1 defeat at West Bromwich Albion, Dalglish's charges are still just five points behind Tottenham Hotspur in the chase for fifth place - and Harry Redknapp's side have yet to visit Anfield.

While the manager prefers not to look too far ahead, insisting his only concern is Monday's crunch Barclays Premier League clash with Manchester City, he believes his squad deserve a great deal of credit for the way they have responded since he returned to the hotseat.

Dalglish told "I still don't think sixth place is the position we actually want to be in, but credit to the players because there have only been two transfers out and two in, and the lads that have got us to where we are deserve great credit for it.

"I don't think they could have done much more. I think they've done more than they possibly could.

"We've won some games maybe people thought we couldn't win and we've lost other games we thought we should win, but at the end of the day, as we keep saying, we will add up the points at the end of the season and see where we are.

"If we were to finish sixth it would be an achievement for the players that they have got that far in such a short space of time but we just need to keep going and see what happens.

"The Tottenham game is our second to last match of the season but we are only looking as far ahead as Man City, because as we've always said the next game is the most important one and that's all we can concentrate on.

"Whatever happens between now and when we play Aston Villa, which is our last game, will dictate whether we are closer to Tottenham or further away.

"We will just put all our energy towards getting a result against Manchester City first."

With no midweek fixture and no game until Manchester City visit Anfield on Monday, Dalglish has had time to work with his squad and prepare them thoroughly for the clash with Roberto Mancini's outfit.

The boss believes spirits are high in the camp, with the players itching to get back out on the field and produce a good response to Saturday's defeat at the Hawthorns.

He added: "We've had a strange week really, a 3pm kick-off at West Brom on Saturday and then a free week but the boys are still training well and preparing.

"If there is anyone with a couple of bumps and bruises then it gives them the opportunity to get rid of them and be fit, but the way our luck is going at the moment we'll probably pick something up in training on Sunday morning.

"I don't know whether it's beneficial or detrimental because after a defeat you want to get back out there and play a game as quickly as you can just to get the taste out of your mouth.

"We've not had that opportunity but we've had the opportunity of getting Jonjo Shelvey fitter with his outing for the reserves and having Fabio Aurelio back.

"The players were disappointed to lose the game at West Brom but they have trained really well, so we'll get ourselves ready and the closer we get to Monday's game the more preparation we will do."

French Winger Set For Reds understands Liverpool have agreed a pre-contract to sign Rennes midfielder Sylvain Marveaux.

Marveaux, who is out of contract at Rennes at the end of the season, has been a long-term target for the Reds.

Rennes are resigned to losing the 24-year-old when his contract expires and Liverpool are thought to have agreed a deal to bring Marveaux to Anfield.

The Premier League outfit is thought to have beaten off interest from a number of clubs to land the highly-rated winger.

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Reds boss Kenny Dalglish is keen to bolster his options in wide areas and he sees Marveaux as someone who will help provide ammunition for new strikeforce Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez.

Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli has been pushing for a deal for Marveaux and he is expected to be the first of many arrivals at Liverpool this summer.

Liverpool Look To Benfica Winger To Provide Carroll Service

Liverpool are reportedly closely monitoring Benfica winger Nicolas Gaitan as they ramp up their search for potential summer acquisitions.

The 23-year-old Argentina international moved to Benfica from Boca Juniors last summer and has scored seven times during his debut season in Portugal.

According to the Mirror, Liverpool has dispatched scouts to compile a report on the fleet-footed attacker and a bid for Gaitan's services could be in the offing.

Liverpool is known to be keen to bring wide players to Anfield who can produce quality delivery that will optimize the performances of Andy Carroll.

The Reds are seemingly lacking much natural width and Damien Comolli has previously stated that Liverpool are after more potent options to play on the flanks.

Along with Gaitan, Liverpool are also said to be chasing Sevilla wideman Diego Perotti and Aston Villa's Ashley Young - with the latter also a reported target for Manchester United.

Liverpool Lead Race For Andre Ayew Signature

Liverpool is interested in Olympique Marseille winger Andre Ayew.

The 21-year-old Ghana international signed a new deal with Marseille until 2014 only last year.

Ayew’s qualities suit Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish, who has confirmed plans to buy wingers in the summer.

Arsenal have also been linked with Ayew, the son of Abedi Pele, but Marseille sources say Liverpool is now in pole position – with their French football chief Damien Comolli driving negotiations.

Liverpool Linked With Moves To Capture £22m Ajax Pair

Fresh from capturing Luis Suarez from Dutch giants Ajax, Liverpool are reportedly preparing a moves to sign two more of the club’s top talents. Anfield director of football Damien Comolli is keen on bringing in highly rated defender Jan Vertonghen whilst continuing to pursue Danish teenager Christian Eriksen.

Liverpool’s owners are ready to hand Kenny Dalglish significant transfer funds this summer with the emphasis on youthful additions who can be the nucleus of a new era for the Merseyside club and with that in mind the club secured the likes of Suarez and Newcastle United striker Andy Carroll.

With two of Liverpool’s centre back’s being the wrong side of 30, Jamie Carragher and Sotiris Kyrgiakos, a move for talented Belgian international Jan Vertonghen would make a great deal of sense. The 23 year old can play in a number of positions and is a determined centre back who also thrives as a defensive midfielder and with almost 200 top level appearances to his name has a great deal of experience.

The likes of Arsenal and Man United have also been linked with moves for the powerfully built determined customer who is said to be valued at around £8-10m. Given that Ajax are experiencing financial problems that could be worsened if they once again fail to secure Champions League football next term, then deals could be had a bargain prices.

Christian Eriksen is a player that Liverpool have been monitoring for some time now and the and the 19 year old attacking midfielder is rightly considered one of the hottest prospects in his age group. Already a regular in the Danish international set-up, the talented flair player may be persuaded to leave Holland if he felt that a move could further his career.

A move to Liverpool could appeal to teenager but the hopes of nabbing Eriksen could be hampered by the apparent interest from Barcelona.

Comolli & Dalglish Plot Stunning Transfer For Spanish Pair

Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli are trying to right a wrong that goes back quite a while at Anfield, the clubs of width has inhibited them for a while, and with their new Geordie giant it really is time they sorted out that problem.

It appears that the Liverpool club has made a winger their top priority this summer as they look to build a more competitive side for next season’s campaign. They are believed to have made Jesus Navas their top priority with long term target Diego Perotti as a fall back plan.

Navas has been at Sevilla since he joined their academy in 2000 when he was just 15. He came through the ranks and played a while for the clubs ‘b’ side before breaking into the first team during the 03-04 campaign. He became a regular for the 04-05 season and from there he has never looked back. His success with Sevilla has brought about international caps, he is now an important member of the national setup and he was involved in Spain’s success at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Navas is known for his excellent dribbling skills and his quick feet, he is capable of taking on a man and beating them. He is exactly the sort of player that Liverpool has been missing. Although he is most comfortable on the right, he can play down the left if required.

Liverpool have identified a list of wide men for next season and Navas is their first choice, if they can’t convince him to move it is believed that their second choice is team mate at Sevilla Diego Perotti. Obviously it is unlikely that Sevilla would sell both of them, however with the Spanish clubs financial problems it is thought that they would be persuaded to sell one, and Navas is the man that Kenny Dalglish has his heart set on.

There is a slightly less glamorous third option should they capture neither of the Sevilla wide man and that is Wolves winger Matt Jarvis, but it is believed that the flair and creativity that would come with the Spaniards make them far more desirable to the Liverpool hierarchy.

The Anfield club is desperate for width this summer and with one of these 2 they will have secured one of the best widemen in Europe and that will be of massive help to them moving forward and it could actually demonstrate quite a coup for the Merseyside club.

Agger Ruled Out For The Rest Of Season

Liverpool's defensive crisis was exacerbated yesterday by news that Daniel Agger will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Manager Kenny Dalglish confirmed that he would be without the Denmark international for Liverpool's final seven matches. Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly will both miss the next three weeks, as Liverpool struggle for defenders ahead of Monday's game against Manchester City.

Agger was injured in the first half of Saturday's 2-1 defeat at West Bromwich Albion, and Dalglish yesterday said that the 26-year-old would not be able to train for the next few months. "Daniel has a problem with the tendon behind his knee and won't be involved again this season," Dalglish said. "He'll be out for a couple of months before he can start training."

The defensive injury problems were not limited to Agger, however, as Dalglish explained with reference to Johnson and Kelly: "Glen Johnson has a hamstring problem which is usually about three or four weeks and it's the same for Martin Kelly.

"It's disappointing for the players because they want to play in every game," said Dalglish. "We're getting towards the end of the season but if you're injured you're injured. We feel for them but the most important people at the football club are the ones who are fit and able to play. We have to get on with what we've got. Fabio Aurelio and Jonjo Shelvey are training again and David Ngog had a game for the reserves on Monday. So we've lost some but we've got a few back"

Dalglish also confirmed that there would be further tests on Steven Gerrard's hamstring injury. The Liverpool captain was hoping to return at West Brom following a groin operation but suffered a recurrence in training on Friday. "We will know about Steven at the end of the week. He will be assessed and we'll see what the story is," Dalglish added.

LeBron James Joins Liverpool

United States basketball star LeBron James has become a minority stakeholder in Liverpool after signing a representation deal with club owners Fenway Sports Group.

The Wall Street Journal claims that FSG has struck a deal to partner the Miami Heat player's sports-marketing firm, LRMR Branding & Marketing, to become his exclusive worldwide representative.

The newspaper said Maverick Carter, chief executive of LRMR, had expressed his desire to build James' portfolio internationally and find opportunities for him to gain equity in companies throughout the world as his commercial interests have largely been limited to sponsorship and endorsement deals.

The report also said James received an undisclosed minority stake in Liverpool as part of the deal.

''We're not interested in talent or athlete representation but we think he is one of the most remarkable athletes of his time,'' FSG - and Liverpool - chairman Tom Werner told the paper. ''We believe we can open doors for LeBron and LeBron can open doors for us.

''Without purchasing Liverpool, we never would have been able to have this conversation.''

James, 26, said: ''The first time I stepped on an NBA court I became a businessman. This is a great opportunity for me.''

Referring to Liverpool's title honours James added: ''Eighteen championships. I see myself trying to do the same things they have.''

James is also going into business with the Boston Red Sox, as FSG is also the parent company of the Red Sox and a co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing.

"What FSM does for Roush Fenway, Liverpool and the Red Sox, we will now do for LeBron James," Fenway Sports Marketing (a sister company of FSG) president Sam Kennedy said. "We will aggressively pursue business opportunities for him.

"We are fortunate to have blue-chip brands like the Red Sox, Liverpool and Roush Fenway. This represents the next step in our evolution, to represent one of the most recognizable athletes on the planet."