Monday, June 13, 2011

Gerrard: Qualification For The Champions League Will Be The Main Aim Next Season

Captain Steven Gerrard has stated that Liverpool’s main target next season will be to qualify for the Champions League but has warned that the club should not raise their expectations too high.

The Reds finished the season in encouraging fashion after Kenny Dalglish took the helm from Roy Hodgson and eventually finished sixth in the Premier League table despite a troublesome start to 2010-11.

England international Gerrard told the Liverpool FC official website that while he is keeping his feet on the ground, he believes that Dalglish’s stewardship at Anfield, with a three-year contract now in place, bodes well for the club.

"I'd love nothing better than to lead the lads to some silverware next year but I don't want to raise expectation by saying that will definitely happen," he said.

"It would be stupid of me to raise expectations any more than they are already.

"At the beginning of every season at Liverpool expectations rise, and now that Kenny is staying and with a few signings I'm sure it'll go through the roof.

"Getting in the Champions League will be the main aim. I think it is for all the clubs in the
Premier League.

"For financial reasons it's so important but it's also the biggest competition for players individually at club level.

"Everyone wants to be involved in it, we've had some fantastic nights at Anfield over the years in the competition and we all want to see those nights return.

Gerrard feels that the lofty aim of qualifying for the Champions League is certainly not out of reach if the club continues in the manner that it finished last season and feels the Reds can compete with the best, but admitted that he would like to see the squad undergo further strengthening.

"We just need to continue what we've been doing during the last six months.

"Hopefully we'll add some more players to strengthen the squad and then we need to compete.

"We are good enough to beat anyone on our day, we just need to find the consistency to challenge for honours."

The 30-year-old skipper missed out on the end of last season after undergoing surgery on his groin following Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat of Manchester United in March but he should be back to fitness in July, in time for the pre-season friendlies.

Gerrard added: "I've had it sorted with surgery and hopefully next year I'll be fit and available after a good rest, with a brand new groin and ready to push on under Kenny.

"I'm due to come back after 12 weeks, so it'll be around when the lads return on 4/5 July.

"Then I've got six weeks of pre-season to get match fit, so by the time the league starts I'm hoping to be in good shape."

Suarez: We Must Maintain Form

Liverpool will need to maintain the kind of form they saw in the second half of the season under Kenny Dalglish if they are to challenge for honours, according to Luis Suarez.

Suarez was one of the key reasons for Liverpool's upturn in fortune under new boss Dalglish and is now optimistic ahead of the 2011-12 season.

"I think the form we have shown over the second half of the season bodes well,'' he told LFC Weekly. "We've been playing well and I think we've been getting into the type of form that we know we'll have to keep up for a whole season if we want to be title contenders.

"This is something we're optimistic about for next season and if we can hit the ground running and maintain the good form then I think we've got a good chance of doing well."

Suarez, a Uruguay international, bagged four goals in 13 games for the Reds but his impact saw him widely regarded as the best signing of the January transfer window.

Dalglish Enters Race For £10m Forward Ace

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is set to enter the race for Southampton striker Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Oxlade-Chamberlain has been in impressive form for the Saints over the past couple of seasons and has been on the radar of a number of top Premier League clubs with Arsenal believed to be leading the chase.

However it is believed Kop boss Dalglish has now entered the race to sign to land the signature of the £10million rated forward.

Dalglish has been promised money to spend on summer transfer deals in order to try and get Liverpool among the top four once again.

The Reds boss and the clubs director of football Damien Comolli are both admirers of the St. Mary's youngster and feel Oxlade-Chamberlain will be a great addition to the squad.

Having already spent £20m on Jordan Henderson from Sunderland last week, there are no signs that Dalglish's spending spree is going to come to an end anytime soon.

According to reports in the Daily Mail the Scottish manager is set to hold talks with the 17-year-old's representative about a possible move to Anfield.

It looked as though Oxlade-Chamberlain was set for a summer switch to the Emirates however a 40 per cent sell on clause became a stumbling block for Arsenal.

However Liverpool and Dalglish feel they will be able to agree terms and secure the signing of the England Under 19 star.

Last season, Oxlade-Chamberlain played a key role in Southampton gaining automatic promotion to the Championship, making 41 appearances in all competitions, scoring 11 goals and providing nine assists.

Liverpool And Aston Villa Battling It Out For Argentine Ace

Liverpool and Aston Villa are going head to head in the battle to sign Real Madrid defensive midfielder Fernando Gago. Liverpool, according to the Spanish media are the slight favourites, however Aston Villa are still considered a very live option for the Argentine.

Gago, who has made 92 appearances for Real Madrid, has been told by manager Jose Mourinho that he can leave the Bernabeu and this has prompted the likes of manager-less Aston Villa and Kenny Dalglish, the Liverpool boss, to enquire further about the 25 year old, an interest that has apparently hardened up significantly over the last few days.

Under Jose Mourinho Gago has not had the chances he would have wanted, with the Portuguese manager preferring to use Xabi Alonso and Samir Khedira in midfield, therefore Gago cannot have been too surprised to learn he no longer had a future at the Bernabeu.

Gago himself has not commented on his future, but the Spanish press are certain that Gago will end up at either Anfield or Villa Park next season, no other clubs are considered in the running and it does look like Gago will either be playing under Kenny Dalglish or whoever is finally named as the new Aston Villa boss.

Liverpool To Finally Get Mata

According to reports in Spain Juan Mata looks set to be the next big signing to arrive at Anfield as Liverpool switch their sights to the wings after completing the signing of Midfielder Jordan Henderson.

The 23 year old Spaniard has spent the last four seasons with Valencia after arriving at the Mestalla Stadium from the Real Madrid B team however he has long been linked with a move to Liverpool firstly under Rafa Benitez and now under Kenny Dalglish.

Mata would add some genuine creativity to the wing, something that has been missing at Anfield for a long time, and last season scored 8 goals and created 12 as Valencia claimed 3rd spot in Spain despite selling David Silva and David Villa.

Mata is rated around the 20 million mark and given that Liverpool appears to have a sizeable transfer budget this summer, a move could be on the cards.

Mata is currently on duty with the Spanish under 21 side at the UEFA under-21 European Championship, where he is tipped to one of the stars of the show.

Santi Cazorla 'Eyed By Liverpool'

Santi Cazorla could be one of the influx of transfers at Liverpool, after Pepe Reina apparently recommended him to Kenny Dalglish.

The Reds are focusing most of their efforts on acquiring British stars this summer, but are willing to look overseas if players of the right quality become available.

Villarreal midfielder Cazorla certainly fits into that category. The 26-year-old has won more than 30 caps for Spain and could be the answer to Liverpool's left wing problem.

According to the People, Liverpool's Spanish goalkeeper Reina has told Dalglish his international team-mate has what it takes to succeed in the Premier League.

The Reds are now said to be planning an £18 million bid for Cazorla. The player has a £28 million release clause in his contract, but Villarreal may be prepared to sell for a lower price if he indicates he wants to leave.

Liverpool were expected to move for Aston Villa's Stewart Downing as part of their summer spending spree, but a deal for Cazorla could mean they have no need for the England winger.

Liverpool Hoping To Sign Stewart Downing By End Of The Week

Liverpool reportedly wishes to wrap up a move for Aston Villa winger Stewart Downing by the end of the week.

The left-sided player has been linked with a transfer away from the Birmingham-based club for some time now, with his recent admission of wanting to play in Europe only fuelling the flames of speculation.

Now the News of the World reports that the Reds are keen on tying up a £15 million move for the midfielder by the end of the week.

Liverpool spent heavily in January to bring in Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll following the exit of Fernando Torres, while they have already begun spending this summer by signing Jordan Henderson from Sunderland for a reported £16m.

Peter Gulacsi Reveals Reds Are Looking For A New Deputy To Pepe Reina

Peter Gulacsi has revealed that Liverpool are on the lookout for an experienced new goalkeeper this summer as cover for established No.1, Pepe Reina.

The 21-year-old has made the bench on a few occasions since Kenny Dalglish returned to the Anfield club last season but he knows that it will be an uphill struggle to displace the highly regarded Reina, particularly if reports that Brad Jones could soon move to Merseyside are to be believed.

Gulacsi has spent a year out on loan with Hereford, two more with Tranmere Rovers and is keen to get more action on loan again next season.

"I had already been thinking about my possible departure in March although that time it wasn't a topic that Brad Friedel or Doni may sign for Liverpool,” he told Nemzeti Sport

"Of course it doesn't mean that I want my contract to be terminated because the team relies on me.

“When my agents and I indicated to the club officials that I would like to move to another club on loan they agreed with us and thought the same.

"The club said they rely on me for a long period and it made me very proud. But they added if I go then a seasoned goalkeeper may arrive at the club, which is understandable.

"The best way for me to improve is to play regularly. I don't know where I will play but talks are going well. I have offers from England and also from outside of England.

“I hope within 10 days or two weeks it will be a fact where I will continue my career - on loan.

"I had a fruitful time at Tranmere last year, I played 16 games. Then I went back to Liverpool in December and I sat on the bench on 19 Premier League games and on four Europa League games.

"It was a great honour and a fine experience. It sounds good to be the second goalkeeper of Liverpool but in this case I don't play.

“Pepe Reina is another level, I have to improve a lot if I want to be as good as him.

"At the moment it is not going to happen that the Liverpool line-up has my name in and it would be a mistake to wait for Reina's red card or injury. I want to play."

Liverpool's David Ngog Set To Move To Sunderland For £5m

Liverpool striker David Ngog is reportedly set to join Sunderland for a £5 million fee.

According to News of the World, the Black Cats have agreed to buy the striker and thereby reduce the fee due for the transfer of Jordan Henderson earlier this week to around £11m.

Henderson passed his medical at the Anfield club on Wednesday, allowing his transfer to be completed and mark one of the first major Premier League acquisitions of the summer.

Ngog, who was signed by the Reds from Paris Saint Germaine under Rafa Benitez in 2008, is set to put pen to paper this week after coming back from holiday.

Melwood Baby Boom Continues

Martin Skrtel is the latest Liverpool player to announce he will soon become a father.

The wives or partners of Fabio Aurelio, Jay Spearing, Steven Gerrard and Dirk Kuyt are all pregnant - while Glen Johnson, Pepe Reina, Christian Poulsen and Lucas Leiva have each celebrated births in the last few months.

Now Skrtel's girlfriend Barbora is with child.

"Yes, I can confirm this news," Skrtel said. "Barbora is five months pregnant and it is a boy.

"I am extremely happy and now I hope everything goes well and without any problems. We don't want to speak about it too much, so I hope this news will be enough."

Meanwhile, Skrtel has revealed how he's spending the summer away from Melwood.

He said: "I have been in Greece but I plan to spend the rest of my holidays in Slovakia. I still need some more time to relax since the season was long. I still have some problems with my thighs but I hope I will be ready for the season."

LFC Scoops Tourism Award

Liverpool Football Club's Stadium Tours and Museum are celebrating having picked up the Best Large Visitor Attraction title at The Merseyside Partnership Annual Tourism Awards 2011.

The Club's fun and interactive stadium tours have trained guides and LFC football legends who provide fascinating insights into Anfield's celebrated past and takes in rarely seen areas of the stadium. LFC also offers a number of award-winning visitor days that provide a complete Anfield experience suitable for all the family and even allow the 'big kids' to train and play with hand-picked LFC legends. Visitors to Anfield follow in the footsteps of Shankly, Paisley and Dalglish, sit in the same dressing room as Gerrard, Suarez and Carragher and walk down the famous tunnel to emerge to the roar of the Anfield faithful.

The Club's family themed Boot Room restaurant opened last year and welcomes visitors to Anfield with quality, freshly prepared food with unique twists that add a little theatre to the dining experience.

Tom Cassidy, Commercial Tourism Manager at Liverpool Football Club, said: "We are delighted to be recognized with this prestigious award as we've taken a very different approach to the football club as a visitor attraction. Families from all over the world visit us every year and we are determined to continue making improvements and ensure they have an enjoyable experience when visiting Anfield."

The Large Visitor Attraction category was made up of seven finalists, and LFC beat off stiff competition from Albert Dock, Merseyside Maritime Museum, The Beatles Story, Knowsley Safari Park, Spaceport and Mersey Ferries to win the award.

TMP Chief Executive Lorraine Rogers added: "The Annual Tourism Awards event is an opportunity for all of the key organisations in the visitor economy to get together and celebrate the very significant collective progress and success that has been achieved. The winners of the awards go on to represent the city region at a national level and can help attract greater profile for the whole destination by being the best in their category."

Liverpool Football Club will now go forward to represent Liverpool City Region in the Large Visitor Attraction category of the Enjoy England Awards for Excellence next year.