Friday, May 13, 2011

Kenny Dalglish Stays With Liverpool

Kenny Dalglish has signed a three-year contract as Liverpool manager after helping the team recover from a dreadful start to the season and move to the brink of European qualification.

The former Scotland striker returned for a second time to Liverpool in January when he replaced the fired Roy Hodgson on a six-month deal.

Dalglish has since helped lift the club to fifth place in the Premier League and a win away from qualifying for next season's Europa League.

The permanent appointment of Dalglish, who won eight league titles as a player and a coach from 1977 to '90 to establish himself as a club legend, was hardly in doubt after the team's remarkable turnaround.

Comolli Compares Kenny Dalglish To Arsene Wenger

Liverpool's director of football Damien Comolli has likened Kenny Dalglish to Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger in terms of their philosophies on football.

The 60-year-old Scot was confirmed as permanent manager on a three-year contract, having turned around a foundering season after replacing Roy Hodgson in January with the team struggling in 12th in the Barclays Premier League.

Comolli worked for Wenger for seven years as a European scout but already in just over four months alongside Dalglish he has seen similarities.

"The first thing is the quality of the football. Kenny insists on quality of passing and movement on the pitch," said the Frenchman.

"Secondly, when you are talking about individual players they both like intelligent players who can see things.

"When Kenny talks about players, he talks about whether they can see a pass in the final third. What about their vision? That's something Arsene talks about.

"They both have a massive ability to give confidence to the team and to the players. They bring self-belief into the young players by saying 'You are good so that is why you are playing'. That gives fantastic confidence to young players.

"The other thing they say is 'Don't do anything different to what you have been doing. It doesn't matter that you're at Anfield or the Emirates, just play your normal game. If I pick you it's because you are good enough'. That's a fantastic approach Kenny has got with young players.

"His man-management of the squad has been tremendous. He has this ability to breed confidence in the senior players and to relax the young players and make them feel comfortable when they are playing the biggest game of their lives.

"That's been the most impressive thing for me."

Dalglish is very familiar with the younger players at the club as, prior to his appointment in January, he was an ambassador for the academy and watched hours of youth team games and training sessions.

The way he has integrated the likes of John Flanagan (18) and Jack Robinson (17) as well as pushing the merits of midfielder Jonjo Shelvey (18) and his steadfast belief in Martin Kelly (21) has been almost impressive as the change in emphasis and results.
And with owners Fenway Sports Group keen to lower the average age of the squad and start finding greater value for money in signings Dalglish's influence has not gone unnoticed.

"If you take the 20 youngest players who have played in the Premier League this season we have three - Jonjo, Jack Robinson and John Flanagan and that is all credit to Kenny," added Comolli.

Dalglish stressed that although confirmation of his appointment had taken a while coming, it had not been a concern as all he was focused on was improving matters on the pitch.

Now it has been sorted he has no plans to change the way he has been working alongside assistant Sammy Lee and coach Steve Clark, who has also signed a three-year contract having arrived with Dalglish in January.

"The fact it has only happened now does not take away from our devotion or dedication to get results," said the Reds boss.

"The place is much more stable now than it was before, the supporters have smiles on their faces and it is up to us to keep them there as long as we can.

"But we are not going to sit here and shout our mouth off about what we are going to do."

Pepe Reina Ends Speculation Over His Liverpool Future

Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina has ended weeks of speculation over his future by confirming he has no plans to leave the club and is looking forward to next season under the management of Kenny Dalglish.

The Reds lost out on Champions League football last season, and the exit of manager Rafael Benitez followed by Spain international team-mate Fernando Torres only served to intensify speculation concerning the goalkeeper's future.

The 28-year-old had previously been coy when asked whether he intended to ply his trade on Merseyside beyond the summer, amid links with moves to Arsenal and Manchester United.

But the recent rise in Liverpool's form, coupled with the winter arrivals of Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez, and Dalglish's management have seen the Spaniard admit that he intends to remain at Anfield.

"I am looking forward to next season," Reina told the club's official website.

"We have had excellent news on Kenny's contract [being made permanent, first-team coach] Steve Clarke's and all of the technical staff. We are heading in the right direction and we are optimistic.

"I have always said [I am looking forward to next season]. Of course there was a bit of doubt back in December and January because we were not even close to where we are now.

"I think by making the right steps and taking them, we can all see the difference between now and then. That's why we are now optimistic about the future and are looking forward."

Dalglish was appointed as a caretaker until the end of the season after Roy Hodgson's reign on Merseyside came to an end earlier on in the campaign. And since then, the Reds have been galvanized as they have displayed the best form in the Premier League, barring Chelsea.

The Scot was widely expected to be handed the job on a permanent basis, and the club have since revealed that he has signed a three-year contract and will remain at the helm next season.

"We all have smiles on our faces now and hopefully it will be for long," said Reina. "Of course, we have to be calm because we know how hard it is to compete with the big teams out there."

Liverpool is currently in fifth place, two points ahead of Tottenham Hotspur in sixth. And the two teams lock horns on Sunday in a direct battle for the fifth spot, which points towards a run in the Europa League next season.

"Fifth position is not the one that belongs to Liverpool - we aim higher and hopefully next season we can finish higher," said the World Cup winner.

Reina added: "We are all looking forward to next season, but we have to finish the job on Sunday.

"By winning we will mathematically be sure of fifth and that is our target - to beat Tottenham, make sure we get into Europe for next season and then get some rest, which I think we deserve as well."

Suarez Expects Title Challenge

Luis Suarez believes that Liverpool will challenge for the Premier League title next season following the permanent appointment of Kenny Dalglish as manager.

The Scot was handed a three-year contract on Thursday afternoon as a reward for transforming fortunes at Anfield since taking over on a caretaker basis in January.

Four months ago Liverpool were scrapping in the bottom half of the Premier League, but now have a Europa League place in their own hands after demolishing Fulham on Monday.

Dalglish has overseen the rejuvenation and Suarez, who was only signed from Ajax in January but has already scored four goals, thinks the only way is up.

"I have been very happy with how I have settled in the Premier League," said the Uruguay star at the Adidas home away from home Liverpool away kit launch.

"We had a good win on Monday night against Fulham and the team played well.

"Working with Kenny Dalglish has been brilliant because he is a great manager who has won titles before as a player and a coach with the club.

"With him as our manager next year, I am sure we will be challenging for the league once again."

Liverpool Will Get The Humph

Liverpool is heading the chase for Motherwell winger Chris Humphrey.

Chris Humphrey has caught the eye of a host of sides south of the border after a string of dazzling displays for the Scottish Cup finalists.

Now Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish is considering a shock summer move for the lightning fast wideman.

Dalglish is scouring the market for wingers to supply his £35m striker Andy Carroll.

Anfield chief Dalglish has been linked with big-money moves for Aston Villa pair Ashley Young and Stewart Downing but is weighing up Humphrey as a cheaper option.

Liverpool is expected to run the rule over him again at the Scottish Cup Final against Celtic at Hampden a week tomorrow – but they won’t be the only ones.

Bitter rivals Everton, who were keen on Humphrey when he left Shrewsbury in 2009, will again check out the £1m-rated starlet whose contract runs out next summer.

Bolton, Birmingham, Newcastle, Swansea and Rangers are also interested and due to assess Humphrey, who was born in Kingston, Jamaica.

Marko Marin Claims Liverpool Interest

Werder Bremen midfielder Marko Marin has claimed that Liverpool are interested in him.

The 22-year-old, whose current contract expires in 2013, has impressed over the last 18 months and has been linked with a move abroad.

The Reds are thought to be in line to reinvest in their squad during the summer, having brought in Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez in January.

But Marin insists he is only focused on playing well for Bremen at the moment, telling Bild: "Yes, I am aware of it [the interest from Liverpool].

"However, I am just keeping my focus on Werder Bremen.

"We had a very difficult time this season and it was a struggle, of course, I still like being at Werder Bremen. I suppose we are out to play a better campaign next term."

Liverpool Linked With Shock Move For Dani Alves

Liverpool is being linked with a shock summer move for Barcelona defender Dani Alves.

The Brazilian full back helped the Catalan outfit secure the La Liga title in a 1-1 draw against Levante, and has been one of the club's most consistent performers since joining from Sevilla back in 2008.

Despite recently signing a new long-term deal, The Metro claims Liverpool are preparing an 'audacious' £20 million bid to bring the player to Anfield this summer.

With news filtering out of the Merseyside outfit that Kenny Dalglish has signed a new contract at the club, the manager is instantly setting about strengthening his squad with a number of potential transfer targets.

A left back, winger, striker and central midfielder are thought to be high on the club's agenda, although the arrival of Alves, a right back, could see Glen Johnson pushed to the opposite flank where he impressed during a brief spell for Liverpool earlier in the season.

Fenway Sports Group, the club's owners, have pledged to back the manager financially and proved their support to making player additions in January when Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez were brought to Liverpool for over £55 million.

More players are set to follow, and whilst Alves would appear to be an unlikely addition, the fact that Liverpool is being linked with a move shows the rapid rise in confidence at the club.

Comolli Opens St Etienne Talks For Matuidi, Payet

Liverpool has opened talks with St Etienne for midfield pair Blaise Matuidi and Dimitri Payet.

Driven by Reds chief Damien Comolli, the former St Etienne sports director, Liverpool are in negotiations about a summer deal for midfielder Matuidi - and have also registered their interest in winger Payet.

Powerhouse Matuidi is the player Comolli most covets.

The midfielder still has two years to run on his current deal, but Les Verts chief Christophe Galtier is prepared to sell this summer.

Payet is also attracting Ligue Une interest, but like Matuidi, Galtier favours a foreign sale to maximize value.

Liverpool Step In To Battle Man City For Vertonghen

Liverpool is ready to make an offer for Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen.

The Belgium international was watched by Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini on Sunday.

However, Algemeen Dagblad says Liverpool is now ready to make a firm offer for Vertonghen.

The Reds enjoy a good relationship with Ajax after their deal for Luis Suarez, who is a close friend of Vertonghen.

"I think Ajax is a good club," he said, "but I have my ambitions."

Liverpool Chasing £5m Anderlecht Teen Star

Liverpool will begin its attempts to dethrone Manchester United with a summer move for Dennis Praet.

The 16-year-old Anderlecht midfielder, who celebrates his 17th birthday on Saturday, is one of the most exciting prospects in Belgian football and is set to be the subject of a bidding war in the summer.

The teenager was taken on trial by Arsenal last year but the Jupiler Pro League side refused to sell the youngster at the time.

Instead, Praet signed a three-year deal at his boyhood club and has spent another year progressing. He has played for Belgium in the UEFA U-17 Championship and scored in their game against Northern Ireland.

Inter Milan are also tracking the future star, who is valued at around £5million.

Ayre: Stadium Plans Will Not Hinge On Champions League Qualification

Liverpool's plans to build a new stadium or renovate Anfield will not be affected by a failure to qualify for the Champions League, the club's managing director has confirmed.

Ian Ayre insists that sound financial planning, not projections of European revenues, are paramount in deciding whether the club will shift grounds.

The Reds are currently weighing up whether to build a new stadium at Stanley Park or refurbish Anfield, and Ayre admits it is important that the club only reveal details over their plans when they are set in stone.

"One of the things that people have been really critical of the club about over the past few years was making rash statements and then not living up to them," he said.

"The dictation on the stadium will be about finding the right financial model.

"We are very fortunate that Champions League or no Champions League, we fill our stadium - that's what will dictate our ability to build a new stadium or refurbish Anfield.

"It's not dependent upon [the Champions League]. We'd all like to see it but that's not part of the decision-making on the stadium."

Liverpool Set Up Academy In Indonesia

Liverpool will set up a youth academy in Indonesia, their first outside Europe, as the Premier League soccer side seek to increase their global commercial presence, the club said on Friday.

Working with the British Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia, Liverpool aim to train children in the world’s fourth most populous country, which is soccer-mad but has yet to see its national team succeed at an international level.

Liverpool brought their most decorated player Phil Neal to launch the academy in the capital Jakarta, the club statement said.

Neal is scheduled to meet Indonesia’s foreign minister Marty Natalegawa, himself a Liverpool fan, in a dinner on Saturday hosted by bank Standard Chartered, which does much of its business in Asia and in 2009 signed a four-year shirt sponsorship deal with Liverpool worth a reported $131 million.

Liverpool has a large Asian fanbase and will go on tour to China, Malaysia and South Korea in July but not to Indonesia.