Saturday, May 14, 2011

Kenny Dalglish Keen To Tame 'Wild' Expectations

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has warned the success he has enjoyed in his first five months in charge will not be replicated next season if complacency sets in.

The Scot yesterday completed the formalities of a three-year contract which gives him the long-term stability to work on a plan to restore former glories.

However, he believes "mad, wild predictions" about what could happen in the 2011/12 campaign should be ignored.

With Manchester United on the brink of securing their 19th title, surpassing Liverpool's record of 18, there is a desperation among fans to level things up again as quickly as possible.

But with the club destined for their second successive finish outside the top four, Dalglish is keen for the club to build on the progress made during the early part of his second reign as Reds boss.

And he stressed his appointment as permanent manager would not just make that happen and everyone had to continue striving to improve.

"We are not going to make any predictions but we cannot afford to think because we are finishing strong that is us set up for next year," said the 60-year-old.

"There won't be any complacency for next year because of what has happened this year, we also should not get carried away.

"We couldn't have asked for much more (since taking over from Roy Hodgson in January) - but we will next year.

"People are making mad, wild predictions about what is going to happen but the most important thing for us is we have the determination and the effort to put in a good show next year.

"What happens from there will happen."

Dalglish is the last manager to win the title with Liverpool, back in 1990, before quitting the following season as he felt he needed a break from the game having coped admirably with the Hillsborough tragedy two years previously.

He went on to win the Premier League at Blackburn but always felt he had unfinished business at Anfield, and after a couple of occasions when he felt he was close to a return he is now firmly ensconced in what he believes is his spiritual home.

The transformation he has overseen in such a short period of time, lifting the club from four points above the relegation zone in 12th to favourites for Europa League qualification, has been remarkable.

A win against Tottenham at Anfield on Sunday will guarantee fifth spot but Dalglish admits he is unsure how big a challenge it may be restoring the success he had in his first spell in charge, when he won three titles and two FA Cups.

"Whether it's more difficult to get there or stay there is open to debate, but the only common denominator is wanting to get better. That's the priority, to get better," he added.

"So this is no different to last time. If I make more correct than wrong decisions, it won't go too badly.

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

"When we came back in January there were no promises from anyone as to what to expect.

"We never had any expectation other than to do the best we could in every game.

"I never set any targets, although obviously we had to improve.

"It was an ideal opportunity for me to prove that I had something to offer.

"We're just going to work and do the best we possibly can because a lot of people care an awful lot about the football club and we've got to prove we feel the same way.

"Everyone has got together and you are a stronger force if you are one unit."

By bringing in Dalglish in January owners Fenway Sports Group, without knowing it, appear to have remedied a number of problems at the same time.

Performances and results have improved drastically, the atmosphere is much more positive and there has already been a progression of youngsters from the academy to the first team with the likes of teenagers John Flanagan and Jack Robinson fast-tracked because of injuries.

"The owners want to take the club forward, are well prepared to take the club forward and want to take it onwards and upwards," said Dalglish.

"I think we have a rosy future, we have kids at the academy who are looking very promising but we're not getting carried away."

Tom Werner ‘Won’t Rest’ Until Reds Win Premier League

Chairman Tom Werner has vowed Liverpool's owners “won't rest” until the Premier League title has been won.

The American, who has arrived on Merseyside for Sunday's final home game of the season against Spurs, has been delighted with the progress the Reds have made under the guidance of Kenny Dalglish.

However, Werner insists the challenge to restore Liverpool to their former glories is only just beginning.

“If we're climbing a summit, my sense of it is that we're at base camp and have established a sense of stability,” he said.

“We have a long way to go and we certainly don't want to over-promise. I think the fans feel a new sense of optimism but we haven't achieved anything yet.

“We are moving in the right direction and I do feel a sense of unity and I'm confident and optimistic about the future, but we certainly have a long way to go.

“We have work to do. I was talking to Damien (Comolli) and he obviously has work to do to strengthen the squad this summer. We will not rest until we actually win some championships here.

“I think there's a sense of excitement and certainly there's a great buzz in Liverpool for the match this weekend. It's great to feel that, because there is probably no place I'd rather be this Sunday than Anfield.” Werner has saluted the “sensational” job Dalglish has done in transforming the Reds' fortunes since he took over in January.

The Scot was rewarded on Thursday when he penned a three-year deal to become the club's permanent boss for the second time.

“We have been impressed with his leadership skills and his focus since the very beginning,” Werner added.

“When we appointed him as interim manager, we hoped he would be successful. The understanding that he has for Liverpool is unmatched, not just as a player but just as somebody who understands the Liverpool way.

“He certainly was the front runner then and he's just been spectacular. He's just the right man for this job.

“Kenny has been able to instil a sense of confidence in the players. Obviously, the results speak for themselves. While we have a lot of work to do, he certainly has helped turn this club around this year.

“Kenny has been such a great motivator. I was talking with one of the players and they all feel, to a man, that there is a greater sense of spirit and unity and Kenny has brought that.”

Werner believes with Dalglish in place alongside director of football Damien Comolli and managing director Ian Ayre, Liverpool will continue to flourish.

“The fact that these three executives, Damien, Ian and Kenny are working so well together – it's great for all of our supporters,” he said.

“As we move forward, we all feel, from ownership down to people who are working in this locker room, that there is a sense of direction and that we're all going in the same way.

“I think we're all delighted we have the right team and I think we feel we're going to make improvements this summer and so I look forward to the future.”

Liverpool Face Stick Or Twist Decision Over €20m Explosive Winger Recruit

Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti has confirmed his interest in highly rated Lille winger Eden Hazard, a known target for Liverpool reports

The 20-year-old Belgian international has been consistently linked with a move away from the Ligue 1 side this summer.

Reds boss Kenny Dalglish is known to be in the market for wide midfield additions to strengthen his Anfield squad, and had reportedly earmarked Hazard as the man to provide more firepower for Liverpool's newfound strike partnership of Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez.

Known for his creativity, speed and technical ability, Hazard is best described as a fearless and explosive attacking midfielder who can change a game at the turn of a hat.

Attributes that have attracted both Liverpool and Inter Milan to the €20million rated starlet.

"We are not in negotiations about Hazard, but he is definitely an interesting player for us. My son always tells me that we should make a move for him" confirmed Moratti in an interview with Gazetta dello Sport.

"When we're talking about our current transfer market targets, Hazard would be more in line with our policy."

Anfield owners Fenway Sports Group are thought to have pledged a transfer war chest in the region of £50 million to the Liverpool boss as the Scot looks to make significant signings in the summer.

The Merseyside club now faces a stick or twist situation, as they are forced to consider how serious they are in their pursuit of Hazard after recent developments linking the Serie A side with an imminent offer.

Alongside Damien Comolli, director of football, Dalglish is thought to have a number of targets in a string of positions and it promises to be a busy summer for Liverpool.

Liverpool Handed Setback In 16-year-old 'Special Talent' Chase

Liverpool have reportedly missed out on Ajax starlet Ricardo Kishna, according to reports.

The Reds had been in contact with the player's representatives over a potential move to Anfield, but publication Algemeen Dagblad is now claiming that the Eredivisie outfit have fended off the interest from England.

Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli have been monitoring the player for some time now, with agent Wessel Weezenberg confirming in March that Liverpool were interested in bringing the player to their academy.

"That's not really news. Ricardo is a special talent," said Weezenberg at the time.

The Godenzonen have reportedly convinced the player that his development is better served in Holland, and a three-year deal is reportedly being prepared for the player to sign to keep Kishna out of the grasps of Liverpool.

Since the arrival of Comolli as director of football, the Merseysiders have made a conscious effort to bring attacking young talent to the club in an effort to build for the future of Liverpool.

Kishna, a winger who can also play up-front, would have joined the likes of Suso, Raheem Sterling and Adam Morgan at the club, but Liverpool will have to take their youth talent search elsewhere after this battle was won by the Amsterdam Arena outfit.

‘Liverpool Could Be An Option’ – Nikolay Mihaylov

FC Twente keeper Nikolay Mihaylov has admitted that he would consider a return to Liverpool, or another Premier League club, despite a disappointing tenure at Anfield.

The Bulgarian joined Twente from Liverpool in the summer of 2007 and has since developed into a key player at the reigning Dutch champions. His good performances have not gone unnoticed elsewhere, and Mihaylov has already caught the attention clubs from bigger leagues.

"That is the most important thing for me [playing regularly]," Mihaylov told "I could have stayed at Liverpool, but I would only have been third-choice goalkeeper there. I am first-choice here and have even played in the Champions League."

He added: "There is some interest from bigger leagues, but I feel very well at Twente. I have a contract that runs two more years and I do not want to leave the club. [Michel] Preud'homme has a lot of faith in me and I am happy at Twente.

And Mihaylov admits the he would be open to a move to Germany or England, conceding that he does not think the Spanish league suits him.

"Obviously every young player wants to make steps forward," he continued. "I think that I would fit in pretty well in the Bundesliga or Premier League. Spain is nice as well, but they play a different kind of football there. They play very attacking football in England.

"Germany is a very competitive league and the stadiums are always packed. The fans are very passionate and I like that. A return to Liverpool could be an option, but they still have Pepe Reina, meaning that I would again warm the bench."

Closer to home, a draw in Sunday's Eredivisie title decider against Ajax will be enough for Twente to clinch their second consecutive league title. However, unlike last year, Mihaylov has been a key figure at the Tukkers this season and the Bulgaria international is eagerly anticipating the title celebrations.

"It is not like I was walking around with a sad face at last year's celebration. You don't really care whether you got a lot of playing time as it is a party for everybody within the club. Obviously, it will feel completely different if we win the title again this year. I really feel like I played a big role in this year's success," Mihaylov added.

New head coach Michel Preud'homme opted to give Mihaylov the nod ahead of last year's first choice Sander Boschker, and he continued: "That was largely because Boschker returned to the club pretty late after the 2010 World Cup. I knew that I would get my chance as Twente are always looking toward the future. Sander is already 40 and I am only 22.

"I really made the best of it as I kept a number of clean sheets and won the Johan Cruyff shield. Things continued to go pretty well from there on."

Mihaylov joined Twente from Liverpool in the summer of 2007 and has since developed into a key player at the reigning Dutch champions. His good performances have not gone unnoticed elsewhere, and Mihaylov has already caught the attention clubs from bigger leagues.

Juventus Unlikely To Pay €16m To Keep Liverpool's Alberto Aquilani

Alberto Aquilani’s agent Franco Zavaglia has revealed Juventus seem reluctant to bow to Liverpool's €16 million demands to keep the midfielder permanently.

Zavaglia suggests the Old Lady are in a state of indecision over the 26-year-old Italian international, who has enjoyed a decent campaign since his loan move from Anfield last year.

"Juve want to sign Aquilani on a permanent basis, but they also want a discount from Liverpool on a price-tag that is effectively a little steep," Zavaglia told Sportmediaset.

And if an agreement cannot be reached, it may well be destination Anfield for Aquilani.

"Clearly, if Alberto were to return to one of the top teams in the Premier League, then he wouldn’t be unhappy. He did sign a five-year contract with Liverpool," added the agent.

"The important thing is that he had a good season and washed away those rumours he was constantly injured."

Juventus play Parma this weekend and is currently seventh in Serie A, trailing the teams in the Europa League spots by three points with two games to play.

Liverpool FC Owners Seek Naming Partner For Potential New Stadium

Fenway Sports Group president Sam Kennedy says Liverpool's owners are on the hunt for a naming rights partner for a new stadium.

The outcome will go some way to deciding whether to build a ground in Stanley Park or refurbish Anfield.

“We are combing the earth looking for a potential naming rights partner for a new stadium,” Kennedy said.

“If we were able to get a naming rights partner, which would certainly factor into our analysis and will help as we look to make a decision on a refurb versus a new-build.

“That process has just gotten under way and we are out there talking to folks around the world.”

When Arsenal moved to a new ground in 2006, they secured a 15-year naming rights deal with Emirates airline worth £100m.

If FSG opt to revamp Anfield, then it will look for sponsors for different areas of the ground, rather than trying to rebrand the stadium with a sponsor's name.

FSG are hoping to boost Liverpool's spending power for players by offering commercial deals in conjunction with their American interests, such as baseball’s Boston Red Sox and the Roush Fenway Racing NASCAR team.

“What we are really focused on now is supporting efforts in the sponsorship area, especially North America,” Kennedy said.

“We are in the early stages of the development of Liverpool in the United States. There are opportunities in sponsorship, retail and broadcasting . . . and in having Liverpool come over to North America at some point.

“We are going to market the team and pursue commercial revenues so we can reinvest in the playing squad at Liverpool.

“We’ve been able to stabilize things from a business perspective by removing the debt of the team. But we haven’t achieved anything yet.”

Spearing: My Next Target

Jay Spearing has revealed how he aspires to start scoring goals for Liverpool after signing a contract extension with the club.

After a few close calls in recent weeks, including the last moments of Monday night's game against Fulham, the 22-year old midfielder spoke of his desire to start hitting the back of the net.

He told LFC Weekly: "I think any midfielder wants to start scoring goals and add that to their game and I'm looking to get forward as much as possible to break my duck but it's more about the team performance. As long as somebody else is scoring and we're winning then it doesn't matter.

"At the moment my role is more about the team shape and making sure we're solid at that back. But if the time comes when I can get a goal, I'll take it with both hands!"

Spearing also hailed Jamie Carragher after the defender went second in the club's all time appearance list Monday night.

The 33-year-old clocked up his 666th run out, taking him beyond Emlyn Hughes and Ray Clemence.

"It shows the career that he's had at the club and what he's meant to the club as well," said Spearing. "I'm sure a lot of people will be fighting to do something similar in future years.

"If I could get half that number of games for Liverpool, it would do me very nicely!"

Sir Alex Believes Liverpool Will Be Involved In Premier League Title Race Next Season

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson says he expects Liverpool to challenge for the Premier League title next season under Kenny Dalglish.

Ferguson believes that with Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool all now capable of winning the title it will make it even tougher next season to be challenging for top honours.

“Liverpool will be galvanized next season, I am sure of that," Ferguson told reporters.

"Kenny has signed a three-year contract that settles the club down and there will be plans.

"It just makes it more interesting next year. It has become tighter and tighter.

"We have spoken for years about the big four but teams like Tottenham have not got back into the Champions League this year and they have had a fantastic season.

"It is going to be really difficult next year."

Manchester United look set to overtake Liverpool’s record of 18 league titles though Ferguson says that it was always simply a matter of when and not if.

“Winning trophies is the most important thing.

“I knew it would happen at some point because of the history of the club.

"There is a good structure here. We still produce young players really well and our scouting is good in terms of getting young players into the club at the right time.

"It would have happened anyway whether that was this year, next year or in 10 years' time. The history and capability of the club would always have given us a chance."

With more teams than ever capable of challenging for the top four positions Ferguson believes it is unlikely that a team will be able to accumulate as many as 90 points again in a Premier League season.

“It is going to be very difficult to get 90 points again because of the improvement of teams in the middle and towards the bottom of the Premier League," he said.

"There has been an increase in desire from teams in those positions because the only place you can ever make money in English football is the Premier League."