Friday, May 20, 2011

Kenny Keeps Focus On Villa

Kenny Dalglish insists Liverpool will not be distracted by the events at White Hart Lane when they travel to Aston Villa on Sunday.

The Reds are still battling Tottenham for a fifth-placed finish, and Europa League qualification, as the campaign reaches its conclusion this weekend.

Dalglish's side will leapfrog Spurs into fifth if they better their result against Birmingham, while Harry Redknapp's side will clinch the spot if they collect three points.

But the manager is adamant Liverpool's sole focus is on ending the season with a win, no matter what unfolds at The Lane.

"We want to end the season with a victory that would give us a chance of finishing as high up the table as possible," Dalglish told Liverpool's official website.

"That's always been our aim and as long as a higher position is attainable we'll continue to go for it.

"All we can do is concentrate on our own game and not worry about anyone else. We can't affect another team's results, so there is no point in worrying about it."

Dalglish admits the Reds could face a tough task at Villa after they clinched an unexpected 2-1 win at Arsenal last weekend.

"Our job involves getting maximum points at Villa Park," he added. "That's never an easy task and I'm sure it won't be this weekend.

"Villa had a terrific result away at Arsenal on Sunday - we know how difficult it is to travel to the Emirates.

"To go there and win 2-1 shows what Villa is capable of. We'll have to perform well if we are to get something from them on Sunday."

Clarke Still Has Manager Ambition

Steve Clarke admits he still has managerial ambitions - but claims a three-year contract working alongside Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool was too good to turn down.

The 47-year-old is one of the most respected coaches in the game, with former boss Jose Mourinho once saying, 'I think he is much, much better than many managers who are in charge of teams at the moment.'

Clarke made no secret of wanting to become a manager after leaving West Ham last summer - but that desire is now on hold after signing a long-term deal as first-team coach under Dalglish.

In a fascinating interview with, Clarke said: "Circumstances dictate what happens in football. After I left West Ham at the end of last season I thought I would try my hand at management. Nothing came up in that short period - one or two possibilities but nothing concrete developed.

"Then I came here and I've enjoyed it. Working with Kenny I can improve myself as a coach and a person. I can learn a lot from Kenny as a manager, as I've done from previous managers I've worked with.

"My ambition to be a manager will never go away until I do it. But that's something for the future. For now it's to focus on the job at hand.

"It was a great moment to sign the contract. It's always nice when you get rewarded for doing a good job. It's good to settle everything down and have positive things to look forward to in the future.

"Obviously when you come to a place and you're on a short-term contract, you don't quite put down the roots you should because you're never quite sure if you're going to be there long-term. Now I've got a three-year contract I'll be looking to buy a place and settle down in the Liverpool area."

Alex O'Hanlon Joins Reds From St Kevin’s Boys’ Club

Liverpool have beaten off the advances of Manchester United and Chelsea to sign highly-rated Irish teenager Alex O'Hanlon, it has been claimed.

According to The Times, the Reds have won the race for the 15-year-old, who has been nurtured in the famed stable of St Kevin’s Boys’ Club - a former home to Liam Brady, Damien Duff and Ian Harte.

A deal for the youngster represents quite a coup for Liverpool with Real Madrid also having allegedly been tracking the left-back.

Billed as one of the most exciting talents to emerge from Ireland for several years, the defender has been compared to Tottenham flyer Gareth Bale.

“He is very highly thought of. He’s an excellent full-back and hopefully he might turn out like Gareth Bale," Brendan Bermingham, secretary of St Kevin’s Boys’ Club, said.

“He’s got a really good attitude, quiet and unassuming. He’s just football, football, football.”

The acquisition of O'Hanlon serves as further evidence of Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group fulfilling their promise to bring the cream of young talent to Anfield.

Liverpool chairman Tom Werner recently reinforced FSG's pledge, while director of football Damien Comolli has been tasked with persuading teenage stars that Anfield is the right place for them to further develop their careers.

Eden Hazard Will Not Discuss A Potential Move To Liverpool Until The Summer

Liverpool target Eden Hazard has refused to comment on the continuous speculation that surrounds his future until the end of the season according to

The 20-year-old Belgian international winger has drawn plaudits from all corners of the globe after a series of scintillating displays in Ligue 1 this season, and as a result the Lille playmaker is not short of clubs queuing up for his signature.

Reports in the French press claim that one club has already made an offer of €23million in an attempt to secure Hazard’s heavily coveted signature.

But the player himself has shelved all talk until the summer and instead remains focused on helping Lille in their hunt for the domestic title.

Speaking after their recent 1-0 victory over Sochaux, Hazard intimated:

"I am just thinking about winning the league and we are almost there.

"I am not thinking about transfers. I have many contacts but my advisers and the club are the ones controlling that side of things.

"I am happy to see Gervinho scoring and taking us closer to our dream. I want to win the league and transfer talk can wait for a bit."

Liverpool is thought to be the club in pole position for Hazard’s services, with Reds boss Kenny Dalglish keen to add two wide midfielders to his Anfield ranks.

Having exploited the January transfer window to bring headline signings Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll to Anfield, Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group are set to back the club financially once again to continue the rebuilding process.

Director of Football Damien Comolli has received favourable reports from Liverpool’s scouting network, meaning the Reds are now poised to step up their pursuit in order to clinch a deal that could see Hazard move to Merseyside in the summer.

Liverpool Plot £10m Blues Defender Addition

Liverpool are preparing to make the first move for Birmingham defender Scott Dann, according to reports.

The 24-year-old centre back has impressed in the Barclays Premier League since moving to St Andrew's back in 2009, and now Kenny Dalglish is reportedly keen to bring the player to Anfield.

A Liverpool move hinges on whether the Blues survive this season, according to the Daily Mail, with Dann set to become available should Alex McLeish's side go down.

Reputed to be one of the top earners at the Midlands outfit, the report claims Dann would be priced at £10 million is well within the Reds budget should they wish to make a move for the player.

Dalglish is known to have a number of transfer targets in mind for the summer, and Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group have vowed to back the manager financially after he committed to a three-year deal on Merseyside.

A defender, attacking midfielder, winger and striker are all thought to be on the Liverpool wish list, with Dalglish and Damien Comolli, director of football at Anfield, set for a busy summer when the transfer window reopens.

Dalglish Fighting Teammates For £15m Target's Signature

Jonas Gutierrez says he is trying to convince Jose Enrique to stay at Newcastle, as a huge offer looms from Liverpool.

Enrique, Gutierrez and Fabricio Coloccini have been dubbed the ‘Three Amigos’ for their close relationship both on and off the field, and Gutierrez is hoping Enrique decides against a move to Liverpool.

“It is very important for me to have those guys around me, more outside the pitch than on the pitch,” Gutierrez told The Journal.

“But on the pitch, what I have down the left side with José is something no other Premier League team has. It is a very special relationship.

“We have an amazing understanding, almost telepathic. Having José playing the way he does is brilliant for me and because we get on so well, we know what each other is thinking.”

Gutierrez goes as far as to rate the Liverpool target, valued by the BBC at £15 million, as one of the best current left backs in the English game.

“He is one of the best left-backs in the Premier League, right up there with (Ashley) Cole, (Patrice) Evra and (Gaël) Clichy,” he said.

“He is only young so is going to get even stronger.

“As long as he keeps thinking he has to learn more and more, there is every chance he will be in the Spanish national team very soon.

“He has all the qualities to be there, he just needs to fine-tune his game.”

While Gutierrez highly rates his teammate, so does Kenny Dalglish, with the Liverpool manager reportedly already having discussed a deal with the left back.

Liverpool legend Phil Thompson, a close friend of Dalglish’s, recently claimed on a Norwegian TV station that a deal for Enrique to make the move to Merseyside had already been agreed to.

“From what I've heard, yes the deal has been done and he will come to Liverpool,” Thompson told Norwegian station TV2.

“It'll be interesting because he's done very well. He had a difficult first season coming into the Premier League a couple of years ago but he really understands the game now.

“He's one of those full backs who is good going forward but he's also a good defender and I think that is the main thing.”

Raul Meireles Looks For Contract Improvement After Successful First Season

Liverpool midfielder Raul Meireles will ask the club to improve his contract after being deemed a success in his first season on Merseyside, according to The Guardian.

The Portuguese international joined from Porto last summer on a rumoured £30,000 a week contract but was promised a summer review of those terms if he adapted well to the Premier League.

He said recently: "If I had this opportunity I'd sign a new contract today. [For] 10 years, 20 years, for sure."

Meireles has flourished in the Premier League this season, particularly since the return of Kenny Dalglish, under whom he has scored all of his five goals this season.

The former Porto midfielder, 27, also won the prestigious PFA Fans' Player of the Year award.

Steve Clarke Insists Big Changes Are Not Needed At Anfield

Liverpool first team coach Steve Clarke believes wholesale changes are not necessary to ensure the Merseyside club challenge for the Champions League places next term.

Clarke joined his countryman Kenny Dalglish at Anfield in January 2011, and the Scotsman is confident that the current squad, along with a limited number of additions, will have the quality to reclaim its place amongst the Premier League’s top teams.

"We have a decent squad here, a lot of good players who have shown that for us," Clarke told LFC TV. "If we can find two or three players that can add to the squad then that is what we should do.

"If we can't find the right players to improve us at the right time then I think we have enough to keep us moving forward.

"We've also got the young players coming through - that has been a big plus for everyone at the club this season.

"If we can continue with the nucleus of the established players we have and keep adding one or two kids and then maybe improve one or two in the summer."

The 47-year-old also hailed the impact of Dalglish and believes he has struck up an effective relationship with the manager and his assistant Sammy Lee.

"In the short time we have been here I think we have shown a good working relationship," Clarke added.

"The club feels it is on an upward curve at the moment and that is good for everyone.

"If we can build on what we can achieve in the short spell things will be brighter in the future."

The former Chelsea and Newcastle United man also stated that while there was disappointment at the possibility of missing out on Europa League qualification following Sunday’s 2-0 home defeat to Tottenham, a top-six finish is still a significant achievement for a side which had been previously cut adrift from the league’s top sides.

"I would have been happy [to be in Europa League contention] but when I came here I saw how achievable it was to get into the top six," he said.

"In my head I had a point’s total I thought was achievable and although we haven't got that yet it is still possible and if we get to that it will be a pleasing job we will have done in the second half of the season.

"But I don't think it is right to set too many big targets or goals. We are guaranteed a top-six finish and if results go our way we can get fifth. If not, top six is good from where we were in January.

"Next year we have to look at it but you have to consider the strength of the league. There are a lot of good teams up there.

"Breaking into the top four will always be difficult but if people want to set that as an objective I'm happy to take that on board."

Jamie Carragher Knows Management Move Would Mean Changes

Liverpool vice-captain Jamie Carragher admits he will have to modify his ultra-competitive on-field attitude if he eventually decides to go into management.

The 33-year-old still has more than a year left on his current deal at Anfield but has long been linked with a move into coaching.

Carragher, the club's second highest appearance-maker with 667, is playing under his fifth Liverpool manager in Kenny Dalglish and accepts he has learned much from all of them.

He does not know what sort of boss he would make should he decides to take the plunge when he eventually does retire from playing, only that he will have to be a lot calmer.

"I probably wouldn't be able to lose my temper as much as I do on the pitch," said the centre-back.

"Managers these days don't really lose their temper too much, it's the way the modern manager is.

"I'd imagine if Kenny wasn't happy about something he just wouldn't pick you, I suppose that's the best way because sometimes it doesn't matter how much you shout.

"He is very easy going, which is maybe different to other managers I've worked under.

"They had their own styles, which again I've learned from in different ways.

"Every manager does it his own way and Kenny is an individual - he has a sense of humour and he wants that to rub off on his players.

"What it boils down to is success. If you win, it's the right way and if you don't it's looked at as being the wrong way.

"There is no set pattern to being a manager and any player will tell you that they take little things from every manager or coach you play for.

"But when you get into a job like that you only learn from your mistakes - the more experience you get, the better you get in dealing with situations.

"However, until it happens it is not something I'm really thinking about."

Recently Carragher has been focused more on helping teenage defenders John Flanagan and Jack Robinson settle into the first team after injuries forced them to be fast-tracked from the reserves.

It has been an easier job than he could have expected as both, particularly Flanagan who has featured in the past six matches, have not looked out of place.

That points to a healthier future not only for the first team but the academy, from where Carragher himself graduated.

"What Flanno has done is to give everyone at the academy and club generally a lot of hope," he added.

"Supporters want to see local lads progress but more importantly for the lads hoping to progress they now think 'Well, Flanno's done it, so can I'.

"He's in the team on merit now and has shown he is capable of playing out of his comfort zone (at left-back against Newcastle and Fulham)."

Reds Cruise To Caribbean Win

Liverpool U18s wowed a passionate Caribbean crowd as they romped to a 4-1 victory over St Vincent U20s on Thursday afternoon.

Rodolfo Borrell's youngsters produced a stylish display in sweltering conditions and deservedly came out on top of a good-natured exhibition match courtesy of goals from Henoc Mukendi, Michael Ngoo, Wendell Cuffy (og) and Conor Coady (penalty).

The hosts played with a determined spirit throughout and netted a deserved consolation late on when the impressive Myron Samuel converted from the spot.

The U18s came into the encounter on the back of the heartbreaking 2-2 draw with Wolves on the final day of the league season and they were keen to put their title woe behind them by ending the campaign with a trophy.

And they could have been ahead inside 10 minutes but Kristjan Emilsson was unlucky to see his header from a right-wing corner cannon back off the crossbar.

The early momentum was with the visitors and Krisztian Adorjan showed just why he is one the team's stand-out performers this year when he sold his defender an outrageous dummy before firing in a shot from a tight angle that bounced back off the near post.

The home side had rarely threatened and after surviving the double scare they began to get a foothold in the game with the lively Samuel looking particularly dangerous.

The big No.9 has pace to burn and he almost snared a shock opener when he beat Jamie Stephens to a through ball, only to see the Reds stopper recover in time to keep his effort from the byline out.

It had developed into a very even battle as half-time approached and Samuel came close again on 40 minutes but this time he was denied by a stunning stop from Stephens.

Liverpool would probably have been happy to go in at the interval all-square but with just 60 seconds remaining they took the lead when Mukendi capitalized upon a defensive lapse to crash home a right foot shot.

Borrell had made no secret of his desire to give all of his 20-man squad a run out and he opted for several changes at the break with Ngoo making an almost immediate impact by doubling the Reds' lead soon after.

It was a huge blow for the St Vincent youngsters and they were undone again just moments later when Cuffy deflected a Patrik Poor ball beyond his own 'keeper.

At this point the game was over as a contest and it began to look ominous for the home team when Coady made it four with an accomplished spot kick just prior to the hour mark.

The away side continued to manufacture chances at will but despite going close on several occasions through Adam Morgan and Toni Silva, it was Samuel who had the final word when he coolly stroked home a hotly-disputed spot-kick.

The final whistle was met by scenes of jubilation and the Saint Vincent crowd showed good sportsmanship when they took to the pitch to congratulate the Liverpool players on their end of season trophy success.