Tuesday, April 26, 2011

John Aldridge: Kenny Dalglish Is Untouchable And Will Definitely Sign As Liverpool FC’s Permanent Manager

There’s a real optimism around the club at the moment and it’s enjoyable being a Liverpudlian again. You can feel it around the ground and in the pubs. The mood has been transformed and it’s amazing to think that only a few months ago it was all doom and gloom.

I share that excitement about the future. The signs are very promising but it’s important nobody gets carried away.

If Liverpool really is going to challenge in the Premier League next season then we need to make three or four top signings this summer. Kenny Dalglish will know there’s a lot of work to be done.

There’s a minimum of 10 players who need to be off-loaded this summer. There’s too much dead wood who aren’t good enough for the club.

Moving them on is going to be crucial because it will boost Kenny’s kitty for signings.

If we can get Jose Enrique, Gary Cahill, Ashley Young and Charlie Adam I’ll be happy.

Left-back has been a problem position for us all season and Newcastle’s Enrique has impressed me. We also need another centre-half and Cahill at Bolton fits the bill.

Everyone would love Young in their side and he would be a great buy. We all know Liverpool need some width and pace.

Adam came close to joining us in January and it wouldn’t be a surprise if we went back in for him to strengthen the midfield.

One person definitely signing will be Kenny himself. With the way he’s turned things around, Kenny really is untouchable. It’s just about sorting out the right deal for him and the right deal for the club.

It was a very enjoyable afternoon on Saturday. Birmingham are no mugs but we hammered them.

The work ethic running through the side was great to see. Everyone is playing for each other.

I’m not a big fan of Maxi Rodriguez but fair play to him because that was by far his best game for Liverpool. Anyone who walks away with the match ball after scoring a hat-trick has to be man of the match.

Lucas Leiva was also excellent, while Luis Suarez and Dirk Kuyt were a real handful with their movement and work rate.

Jay Spearing had a really good game and full-backs John Flanagan and Jack Robinson were very solid.

Their performance was a tribute to the way Kenny has nurtured them. A lot of managers would have played Sotirios Kyrgiakos in recent games and shifted Jamie Carragher to full-back.

But Kenny has put his faith in the kids. He believes in the youth system and it’s clear the youngsters believe in him.

I liked the fact Kenny had Andre Wisdom, a young centre-half with tremendous potential, warming up with the players before the game on Saturday. We also had Conor Coady on the bench.

Our Academy lads have done brilliantly since they made the step up to the first team. They have ensured there are positives to come out of the negative of having so many injuries.

They have a huge part to play in Liverpool’s future but we still need to build the squad up with some quality additions this summer.

Maxi Rodriguez: Liverpool Can Pip Tottenham To Fifth Place

Liverpool midfielder Maxi Rodriguez believes that the club can still beat Tottenham to fifth place in the Premier League and in doing so qualify for European football next season.

The Argentine international scored a hat-trick in Saturday’s thumping 5-0 win over Birmingham and believes that with Tottenham slipping up against West Bromwich Albion they could overtake Harry Redknapp's side in the chase for fourth position.

“It is definitely a great feeling to score a hat-trick but it is not just about me scoring the goals," he told the club's official website.

“The team played really well and that is the most important thing.

“Tottenham's draw means we have closed the gap to fifth place and we still have a chance of qualifying for Europe. We will keep fighting right until the end and hopefully we can finish the season in a positive way.”

Maxi’s hat-trick on Saturday was his first for the club and he admitted he was taken aback by the reception of the crowd after he was taken off in the closing stages of the game.

He added: “It's definitely my best moment in a Liverpool shirt.

“I think it's more special because we scored a lot of goals, it was my first hat-trick for the club and also because I scored it at Anfield in front of our fans.

“I have to say that it was also a great moment when I was substituted in the last minute. The whole ground gave me a reception I will never forget and Kenny also said he was very happy with my performance, so I have to be delighted with what was a perfect day for me.”

Liverpool Chase South American 'Gareth Bale'

Udinese wing back Pablo Armero has been linked with Liverpool this week as a potential solution to the Reds’ left back problem, but who is he?

Armero is Colombian and started out life playing for America de Cali in his native country. The wing back had already played and impressed for Colombia’s U17s, making him a player with tremendous promise for his club. He made his debut for America in 2004, and during his four year stay with the team, he helped the club win its 13th national championship.

With his registration not owned by his club however, but by Sport Agency Turbo Sports, he was loaned out to Brazilian side Palmeiras in 2009. Still young, he made an impression in the Brazilian first division with his speed, crossing ability and attacking intent. He can play either as a full back and left winger, and he stated himself he feels most comfortable in a wing back role where he has the ability to both defend and get forward.

After a season at Palmeiras, where he made 36 appearances and score two goals, he was on the verge of signing for Italian club Parma last summer. Armero had signed a pre contract agreement with the Serie A team, but due to Parma having too many non-EU players in their squad, the move collapsed.

Despite the disappointment over the failed moved to Parma, it was no long before the 25 year old received interest from another Italian club. On 28th August 2010, Armero signed for Udinese. Already an experienced international with 21 caps to his name after making his debut in 2008, he linked up with compatriots Christian Zapata and Juan Guillermo Cuadrado in Udine, and the trio has helped the Italian club push towards a European place this season.

Udinese are still in with a chance of qualifying for the Champions League, and have backed up their credentials with wins over Napoli and Inter Milan this season. In both matches, Armero starred as he performed well in his wing back position, causing trouble especially for Inter full back Maicon. It has been rumoured that he has been watched by Barcelona and he recently stated that he would like to play for a team that plays attacking football.

Armero’s contract only has 12 months to run, according to reports, and while he is currently valued at £9million by Udinese, the lack of time left on his deal could persuade the Italian club to lower their asking price.

Academy Football: Liverpool Under-18s Ready For Crunch Derby Title Clash With Everton

It is almost a winner-takes-all derby at Finch Farm this morning as Liverpool under-18s look to go back ahead of rivals Everton in the race for the Group C title in the Barclays Premier Academy League.

Rodolfo Borrell’s youngsters went above long-time North West section leaders Everton last week with an excellent 2-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion.

Hungarian striker Krisztian Adorjan was on target and Halewood youngster Adam Morgan completed the victory when he scored for the 14th consecutive game - 13 of which have been for the U18s.

Liverpool led on goal difference until Everton’s win over Manchester United on Saturday. But victory for Borrell’s side today would mean they would be favourites to finish top as they have two games in hand on their Mersey neighbours and a vastly superior goal difference.

And Liverpool go into the match in sparkling form having sealed 12 straight Academy League victories with the success over the Baggies. They only defeat they have suffered in 2011 was in the FA Youth Cup quarter-final against Manchester United at Anfield. Although they have avenged that since with two wins over the Red Devils, the latest a 6-0 success at the Kirkby Academy.

In their 24 matches in the Academy League, Liverpool has scored a massive 66 goals and has a goal difference 14 better than Everton. But the Blues will provide the sternest test Liverpool has faced this season, having only lost once in the league since October.

Lucas Vows To Fight For Place Next Season

Lucas Leiva is determined not to be pushed back on the periphery by Liverpool’s anticipated transfer spree this summer.

Club owners Fenway Sports Group have already intimated they are prepared to spend heavily to strengthen the squad and help propel the Anfield outfit back into the Champions League.

It means many senior players could find their futures under threat by the expected influx of incomings that will follow the January arrivals of £58million duo Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez. Click here to follow us on Twitter for the latest Liverpool FC updates.

But having recently penned a new contract, Lucas believes he has demonstrated he deserves a regular starting place after winning over the doubters with his performances during the last 18 months.

“A new season is a new season, but I don’t think I would have signed a new contract if the club did not have a plan for me,” said the central midfielder. “I am just happy with the way I am playing.

“A lot of players have come already and I am still here, still playing, so that means that the club believes in my football and my qualities. I am just trying to play well.

“We will sign some players for next season that is for sure, but I think I am showing that I am capable of playing in the team all the time.”

Lucas made his 43rd appearance of the season in Saturday’s 5-0 romp against Birmingham City, with only Martin Skrtel and Pepe Reina having played more games.

And the Brazilian added: “Last season I think I played 46 games, but this season I am trying to take more responsibility than I did last season because some players left and I am trying to step up and to show my real quality.

“I am really confident and happy with the way I am playing and I just have to improve and next season fight for my place.”

Among those extra responsibilities is helping teenagers such as Jack Robinson and John Flanagan, who have been pressed into action in recent weeks due to Liverpool’s lengthy injury list.

And with Kenny Dalglish’s side having moved to within three points of Tottenham Hotspur, Lucas has not given up hope of a top-five finish.

“With the youngsters that are in the team now, we have to make sure they are as comfortable as they can be,” he said. “They will make mistakes, everyone does, but at the end of the day I think they are doing really well.

“We are delighted because the way they came in when some important players were injured has been brilliant. We are on a good run at the moment and I think they deserve to be playing at the moment.

“We just have to try and finish as high in the table as possible and the way we are playing at the moment I think we deserve to be higher than sixth place where we are at the moment.”

A knee injury to Carroll meant a first outing in more than a month for Maxi Rodriguez. And Lucas believes that the Argentine responded with his first hat-trick for the club underlines the unity and morale of the squad.

“Maxi is an important player for us, he has not played for a few weeks but he showed what he can do,” he added. “It is not just about the goals, but his work-rate too. He always plays for the team and we are all delighted for him.

“The way in which he slotted straight back into the team shows everyone is together and the team is playing with confidence.”

Liverpool Midfielder Will Quit Club To Further Career

FC Copenhagen is ready to offer Danish midfielder Christian Poulsen a way out of his Anfield nightmare, with international manager Morten Olsen claiming the 31-year-old must quit the club if he wants to retain a place for his country.

After being signed by Roy Hodgson for almost £5 million, Poulsen has struggled to impress the Liverpool fans, despite initially being signed as a potential replacement for Argentine Javier Mascherano.

Since arriving at the club, Poulsen has been subject to a change in management with Hodgson leaving for West Brom, and new boss Kenny Dalglish seems uninterested in what the experienced Dane has to offer.

Having started three of Dalglish’s first four games in charge, Poulsen lost his place in the team and has only featured in two Europa League fixtures since.

Poulsen has steadily slipped down the pecking order, finding himself below the likes of Steven Gerrard, Lucas, Jay Spearing, Raul Mereiles and Jonjo Shelvey. As he continues to sit out on most of Liverpool’s affairs, Denmark boss Morton Olsen has warned Poulsen that he could be dropped from the squad if he does not get more regular first-team football.

"I don't know if he is going to get in the Liverpool team during the remainder of this season,” Olson revealed. “If he isn't, he will not be in my squad for the Euro qualifying game against Iceland on June 4.”

Whilst Kenny Dalglish has insisted no player has already had his future decided by the management, Poulsen is likely to be one of the current squad preparing for a move away from Anfield.

After a tumultuous spell at the Merseyside club, Poulsen now looks set to be offered a way out by Superliga champions FC Copenhagen. With Poulsen regarding his international future as being of the utmost importance, a return to his homeland may be the spark required to reignite his international fortunes with the Euro’s edging closer.

However, with Kenny Dalglish refusing to condemn Poulsen to the scrapheap, the Dane's agent Jorn Bonnesen has stated his client will continue to fight for a place in the Liverpool team until his contract is up in two years time.

"Danish football is in no way interesting to Christian this summer," Bonnesen revealed to bold.dk. "That is not in his mindset. Christian is happy in Liverpool and it is both on and off the pitch. He has a contract with the club for two years yet and he will continue playing in order to earn playing time.

"He has been out with a hamstring injury the past few matches. That's why he has not been in the squad.

Liverpool FC Hat-Trick Anfield Ovation Will Live With Maxi Rodriguez Forever

Maxi Rodriguez admits he will never forget the ovation from the Anfield crowd after his “best moment in a Liverpool shirt”.

Maxi netted the first hat-trick of his career for the club with three close-range finished in the 5-0 home romp against Birmingham City on Saturday.

It doubled the total for the season for the Argentine, who was making his first outing in more than a month after being recalled in the absence of the injured Andy Carroll.

Maxi left the field to rapturous applause from the home supporters when substituted for David Ngog a minute from time.

And the midfielder said: “It’s definitely my best moment in a Liverpool shirt.

"I think it’s more special because we scored a lot of goals, it was my first hat-trick for the club and also because I scored it at Anfield in front of our fans.

“I have to say that it was also a great moment when I was substituted in the last minute.

“The whole ground gave me a reception I will never forget and Kenny also said he was very happy with my performance, so I have to be delighted with what was a perfect day for me.”

Maxi’s treble helped Liverpool on their way to a biggest league win since September 2009 while closing the gap on fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur to just three points.

The Londoners have a game in hand, but have still to visit Anfield and must also travel to title-chasing Chelsea and FA Cup finalists Manchester City in their final five fixtures.

And Maxi added: “It is definitely a great feeling to score a hat-trick but it is not just about me scoring the goals.

“The team played really well and that is the most important thing.

“Tottenham’s draw means we have closed the gap to fifth place and we still have a chance of qualifying for Europe. We will keep fighting right until the end and hopefully we can finish the season in a positive way.”

Carroll failed to overcome the knee injury suffered during the second half of the dramatic 1-1 draw at Arsenal six days earlier.

The 22-year-old now faces a race against time to be fit for Sunday’s visit of previous club Newcastle United, from whom he was bought by Liverpool in January for a club record £35million.

But Magpies skipper Kevin Nolan is hopeful his former team-mate will be available – so he can give him a boot!

“The big man missed out because of an injury, and he doesn’t know how long he will be out,” said Nolan. “Hopefully, he’ll be back so I can kick him!

“I don’t know if I want him to play or not. I do so I can kick him, but I don’t want to him to play because of the threat he can pose.

“He’s clicking into gear, and he’ll be desperate to play against us. You will see the best of him next year.”

Newcastle haven’t won at Anfield since 1994, but boyhood Liverpool fan Nolan – who could also miss the game with a niggling groin problem – believes Alan Pardew’s side are in the form to repeat their 3-1 win when the teams met at St James’ Park in December.

“Records are there to be broken – we don’t worry about anything like that,” said the midfielder.

“This is a different team to ones that have gone there in the past. There’s no better place to play your football away from home.

“We’ve been brilliant away from home this season, and we’re full of confidence.

“They had a fantastic result and they’re full of confidence, so it’ll make for an entertaining game.”

Redknapp Questions Kuyt Future At Liverpool

Former Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp has questioned the Reds future of Dirk Kuyt.

In his column for the Daily Mail, Redknapp wrote: "Dirk Kuyt has scored seven goals in his last six Barclays Premier League games and has once again proved his value to Liverpool, but I wonder if he faces a fight to get into Kenny Dalglish's team next season.

"They need width and to sign wide players to supply Andy Carroll, especially, and Luis Suarez next season.

"That could lead to a substitute role for the Dutchman."

John Aldridge: Dirk Kuyt Will Always Do A Great Job For Liverpool FC

Dirk Kuyt still has his critics among Liverpool fans but I disagree with anyone who knocks him. I don’t think he’s got anything to prove.

The Dutchman has had an excellent season. He’s our top scorer with 13 goals and is currently enjoying a rich vein of form.

Kuyt’s work rate is second to none and he took his goal expertly against Birmingham on Saturday. It was a very tidy finish.

Of course we expect Kenny Dalglish to sign wide players this summer and when Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll are both fit they will be the first choice strike pairing.

But whatever happens, Kuyt is going to be a very valuable asset next season. He’s shown again recently he can do a great job for the team whether he’s out on the right or up front alongside Suarez.

It’s great for Kenny Dalglish to have someone who is so versatile and offers him different options.