Sunday, June 19, 2011

Jamie Carragher Targets A Return To Trophy-Winning Days

Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher is hoping the club can once more return to challenging for trophies after a barren spell.

The red side of Merseyside lost their record of most top division titles to Manchester United last season, but Carragher believes the club is close to tasting success again.

"You want to be in there, and Liverpool should be in there challenging for trophies," Carragher told Sky Sports News.

"It's been a few years now since we won a trophy and that's what we want to try and change this season coming, but I'm sure everyone's got the same idea."

Carragher expressed respect for the Reds' arch-rivals Manchester United, but hopes their dominance will be coming to an end soon.

“If Man Utd win, they win and you say good luck and you have to respect what they've achieved.

"We can't keep these records - we've five Champions League titles - if we're not competing for them.

"We have to try and win more as it's been too long for Liverpool and it's something we're looking to change."

Liverpool And Arsenal Want Scott Dann

Liverpool and Arsenal are ready to battle it out for Birmingham City ­centre- half Scott Dann – but prices in the Blues’ clear-out are proving too high.

Kenny Dalglish and Arsene Wenger are keen on the 24-year-old defender, who is viewed as a cheap alternative to other targets like Bolton’s Gary Cahill and Blackburn’s Chris Samba.

But City wants £12million for the former England Under-21 international and that is putting off the Kop and the Gunners as well.

Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers and Stoke are also on alert for him but only at around half of that price.

Ex-Brum chief Alex McLeish would love to take Dann with him to Aston Villa.

But relations between the second city clubs have hit rock bottom after Big Eck’s controversial exit.

Any move by Villa would further enrage the Blues who are still reeling from McLeish resigning by e-mail before agreeing to talks with their bitter rivals about filling the void left by Gerard Houllier.

Birmingham are trying to whip up an auction for Dann, Roger Johnson, Craig Gardner and Cameron Jerome.

But City’s masterplan to sell their stars before naming a new boss has been stalled by lofty valuations.

Dann’s centre half partner Johnson was initially priced at £15m when Birmingham was relegated but his value is dropping as there are no takers for anything like that price.

Wolves and Sunderland have been linked with the former Cardiff defender.

Midfielder Gardner is available at £7m which is slightly too high for the likes of Newcastle and Sunderland, who are leading the chase – as ­revealed by Hotline two weeks ago.

Striker Jerome has been valued at £8m but Bolton, who is interested, do not even want to pay half of that.

Midfielder Seb Larsson is on the verge of joining Sunderland on a free transfer having snubbed offers from Newcastle, Aston Villa and former club Arsenal.

Liverpool Keen On South Korean Stars

Liverpool are preparing a swoop for Celtic star Ki Sung-Yeung in the event of a deal for Blackpool midfielder Charlie Adam falling through.

The Reds have attempted to finalize a deal for the Scotland international this week, but with the transfer making slow progress and Tottenham reportedly ready to renew their interest, Kenny Dalglish is preparing to turn his attentions to the 22-year-old South Korean.

Despite his age Sung-Yeung has already represented his country 38 times and is central to Celtic boss Neil Lennon’s plans making 34 appearances for the club last season.

Liverpool is also monitoring the situation of Sung-Yeung’s countryman Ji Dong-Won and his proposed transfer to Sunderland.

The 20-year-old is close to signing for Steve Bruce’s side subject to a work permit being granted, but Liverpool may attempt to take advantage of this situation with the club interested in bringing him in as back-up for first choice pairing Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez.

Liverpool Switch Attention To Julio Sergio

Reports from Italy suggest that Liverpool have switched their attention to Roma goalkeeper Julio Sergio as they bid to snap up an experienced understudy to Jose Reina.

The English side had agreed a deal in principle with Roma for Julio Sergio’s team-mate Doni, however the Brazilian shot-stopper was not willing to take a cut in wages to head to Anfield.

At Roma Doni earns €2.5M, but Liverpool was only prepared to offer the keeper €900,000 per season, making his decision to reject Kenny Dalglish’s side an easy one.

Now though Liverpool have spied Doni’s team-mate and countryman Julio Sergio as a possible alternative.

Aurelio Impressed By Lucas

Liverpool left-back Fabio Aurelio believes midfielder Lucas Leiva has matured into a top-class midfielder.

Lucas joined Liverpool in 2007 but a series of below-par appearances in his first two seasons did little to convince the Anfield faithful.

However, the 24-year-old has started 68 games for Liverpool in the subsequent two seasons, and he was named Liverpool's best player during the 2010-11 Premiership season by members of the club's official website, taking 40 per cent of all votes.

Aurelio feels that Lucas has grown into the role, and shown great maturity in dealing with the boo-boys in the first two seasons.

"He has shown great personality and capability to change things around. We remember that at the beginning the fans were not very happy with him but he was patient and remained concentrated on his work and now we can see that he is a man who can do the job.

"He deservedly has a new contract with the club and we hope that he can spend a lot of years here in Liverpool because he can be a great player for us, just like he was last season."

Lucas became the youngest player ever to receive the Bola de Ouro in the Campeonato Brasileiro in 2006, and many Liverpool fans expected the former Gremio player to show the silky skills of former winners Romario, Robinho, and Kaka.

Lucas' game is more functional, but compatriot Aurelio is delighted that Reds' fans are starting to see his talents.

"I think there was a great impact to move from Brazil to England because there is a very different style of football and also he was very young when he arrived here," he said.

"So together with the big changes it was very difficult for him in the beginning and the pressure was there as well."

Skrtel - Future Bright For Reds

Martin Skrtel believes that the future is bright for Liverpool with club legend Kenny Dalglish at the helm.

Dalglish was confirmed as the Anfield outfit's permanent manager on a three-year deal in May having taken over on an interim basis following the departure of Roy Hodgson in January.

The Reds enjoyed an impressive second half of the season, climbing from the doldrums of 12th place in the table to eventually finish the campaign in sixth spot.

And defender Skrtel revealed how Dalglish immediately won over the dressing room and lifted all the players who were in the doldrums after struggling during Hodgson's ill-fated spell at the helm.

He told LFC Weekly: "Kenny gave us our confidence back. His first game was against Manchester United in the cup. Our first meeting with him took place that weekend and he said we had to trust him because he trusted us.

"He told us the most important thing was a good team spirit and if we played together we could get some success. He has kept our confidence high and that has been the most important thing.

"He's done it through his personality. He's a nice guy and he's always joking and smiling. He has changed the atmosphere around the team."

The Slovakia international centre-back admitted he had a lot to learn about Dalglish's time at Liverpool as a player and manager when he first moved to Merseyside in January 2008.

He added: "To be very honest I didn't know an awful lot about Kenny. I was very young when he was the manager for the first time.

"But in the four years I've been at the club I have seen him here and have learned about the history of the club and the part he's played in it. Now I know a lot more about him.

"Appointing him (permanently) was definitely the best option. I'm happy because he is a nice person and a great manager. I can see the future under him being very good."

Liverpool To Face Valencia

Liverpool will host Spanish side Valencia for a pre-season friendly on August 6th.

In recent years Liverpool has returned to their tradition of hosting a major European side for a home friendly, although last year they did not due to Europa League qualifiers.

The year before they hosted Atletico Madrid and in 2008 it was Lazio.

Liverpool fans will be hoping a current Valencia player, winger Juan Mata, will be appearing in the game for the home side rather than the opposition. The two clubs are believed to be in talks over the Under 21 international.

Starlets Kick-Off World Cup

Six of Liverpool's finest Academy graduates will be in action tonight as England kick-off the U17 World Cup in Mexico with their opening match against Rwanda.

Exciting wide-man Raheem Sterling is joined in John Peacock's squad by prolific striker Adam Morgan, left-back Brad Smith, goalkeeper Tyrell Belford, centre-back Matty Regan and winger Jack Dunn.

Left-back Tom King is also hoping for action in the World Cup having been selected by Australia.

King's Australia side faces Ivory Coast in their opening game on Tuesday, June 21.

England also faces group games with Canada and Uruguay.

Fans To Stage Anfield Charity Walk

Liverpool fans are being asked to support a walk from Newton-le-Willows to Anfield later this month in memory of a passionate Reds fan Chris Edwards - and raise money for charity in the process.

Kopite Chris sadly lost his brave fight with stomach cancer in late 2010 aged just 33, leaving behind his wife Joanne and unborn son, Luca, who arrived safely in February of this year.

Raised in Birkenhead, Chris was an avid Liverpool fan since childhood and held season tickets at Anfield with Joanne.

Even at his funeral, his love for the club was on show with an LFC flag draped over his coffin.

Now, Chris's family and friends want to honour his memory by walking the 16 miles from his family home in Newton-le-Willows to Anfield on Saturday, June 25 - and they're hoping to raise funds for the Christie's charity.

All money raised will go towards research into gastro-intestinal cancer at Christie's hospital, where Chris received his treatment.

Reds Secure Masters Glory

Liverpool were back to their irresistible best as they cruised to glory in the Selco Mersey Masters tournament at the Echo Arena on Saturday evening.

A Patrik Berger-inspired Reds saw off Everton and Blackpool in the group stage, before thumping Bolton Wanderers 5-1 in the final.

It's Liverpool's first Masters title in five years, and the victory gives them the opportunity to be crowned national champions later this year, when they'll contest the Grand Final at Wembley.

Prior to kick-off, the Reds' preparations were hampered by the loss of Mark Wright due to family commitments, meaning their squad was a man light for the tournament.

However, it had little impact as Liverpool cruised to a commanding victory over Everton in their opening match in Group A.

Paul Walsh struck four times to add to a Berger strike to give the Reds an emphatic 5-1 win.

It meant they needed just a draw in the final group game against Blackpool in order to progress into the final.

After a tentative first half, Bjorn Tore Kvarme latched onto a defence-splitting Stephane Henchoz pass to put Liverpool ahead, before former Anfield youth player Andy Roscoe doubled the advantage.

Chris Beech netted a consolation for the Tangerines, but they were unable to stop John Barnes's side reaching the final as group winners with a 2-1 triumph.

Kvarme was again on target in the final, opening the scoring with a composed finish in the first half against a Bolton team that contained current Trotters boss Owen Coyle.

Scott Green levelled for the Lancashire side just before half-time, but Berger restored Liverpool's lead shortly after the re-start.

Kvarme then netted his second of the final with a thumping volley prior to Berger sealing his brace and Walsh making it 5-1.

It is Liverpool's first Masters success at the Echo Arena and they'll now hope to pick up where they left off when they compete in September's London-based Grand Final.