Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A ‘Marquee’ Signing Not The Way Forward For Liverpool

One of the obvious consequences of failing to qualify for the Europa League last season is that it means Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli will have to work harder to bring the best players to Anfield this summer. As footballers have become more and more short-sighted over the years, even one season without European football is almost unthinkable for elite players (irrespective of the fact that they would be joining one the most exciting projects in world football by joining the Reds this summer). All this may add up to Liverpool not being able to attract a ‘marquee’ signing this summer. However, it will not necessarily mean that we cannot still be confident of a top four finish this season.

When FSG came to Anfield, one of their first observations was that our wage bill is not reflected in the quality of our squad. Most Liverpool fans agreed. It is often said that the big teams can be judged by looking at who they can bring on in the middle of a game to unlock a defence or ensure they don’t concede an equalizer. When you look around at the teams that qualified for the Champions League last season, their benches regularly included established players such as Dimitar Berbatov, Park-Ji Sung, Nicolas Anelka, Andrei Arshavin, Adam Johnson etc etc. Meanwhile, the only player that could be described as ‘established’ from our bench was Joe Cole, a player who has suffered with form and injury and who seems to personify FSG’s observation.

Even Tottenham, the team that finished above us in fifth, boasted Defoe and Pavlyuchenko on their bench for their recent trip to Anfield. More than anything else, this gives Managers such as Harry Redknapp (not to mention Messrs Ferguson, Wenger, Villas-Boas and Mancini) more options than those currently open to Dalglish. This lack of options is why Rafa, Roy and Kenny have not been able to finish above 6th over the last two seasons. The managers above them have had far more attacking options open to them.
Although making a £40m breathtaking signing (a Torres for 2011 if you will) would be great for the hopes of the fans, it will only give Dalglish one more option than he already has. Instead therefore, signing players such as Henderson, Downing and Adams – all players who can play in more that one position – will open a plethora of options for Dalglish going into the 2011/2012 season and equip us with the depth that at least Spurs and Arsenal have at their disposal. Kenny would have the players to be able to switch between 4-4-2, 4-4-2 (diamond) and 4-3-3 with ease. And all for the same price as a Torres for 2011.

The players we have been linked to this summer may not have the pulses racing in the way of those linked to the likes of Wesley Sneijder and Alexis Sanchez, but this is the time for the sort of calculated spending that will take us above the likes of Tottenham and Arsenal next season. It is not the time for putting all of our eggs in one basket in the hope that one player will be able to win us the league at FSG’s first attempt.

Once European football has been achieved next season, the players who are not considering coming to Anfield this summer will do anything to join King Kenny’s Red Revolution. That will be the time to look for the marquee signings.

Liverpool Target Park Chu-Young Allowed To Leave AS Monaco

Liverpool striker target Park Chu-Young has been cleared to leave AS Monaco this summer, according to reports.

The South Korean international was helpless to prevent the provisional side suffering relegation from Ligue 1 last season, and isn't thought to be keen on plying his trade in the French second tier next term.

Etienne Franzi, club president at Moncao, confirmed to the French media that their forward will be allowed to leave, with a €6 million price-tag placed on the player's head.

Liverpool are one of the club's keen on bringing the player to England, with the Merseysiders first linked with player last month.

Paris St Germaine and Rennes are also thought to be keen on keeping the player in France, whilst Tottenham Hotspur boss Harry Redknapp is also known to be an admirer of Chu-Young.

It's Liverpool who leads the Barclays Premier League charge though, with Kenny Dalglish reportedly having the player monitored on a number of occasions.

The Reds are believed to be in the market for a striker, left back and winger this summer, with a trio of new signings tipped to join Jordan Henderson, who moved to Liverpool for £20 million a fortnight ago.

The addition of an Asian player is also thought to be high on the agenda for chief sponsors at Liverpool, Standard Chartered, who believe the club could make a commercial drive with the addition of a top player from the continent.

Liverpool Prepare Bid For £14.5m African Midfield Ace

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish would have been put on red alert after the latest comments from Sochaux attacking midfielder Ryad Boudabouz.

Boudabouz has enjoyed an impressive campaign with the French club and helped them secure a fifth place finish in Ligue 1, and qualifying for next season Europa League.

The former French youth international, now plays for the Algerian national team, is under contract with Sochaux until 2013, but has hinted we could be off to Anfield in the summer.

Both Dalglish and Liverpool's director of football Damien Comoilli are keen admirers of the 21-year-old, and believe he will be able to add some creative spark to the Liverpool midfield.

Dalglish will want Boudabouz to help provide goals for Andy Carroll and Louis Suarez as well has getting a few himself.

Speaking to L'Est Republicain, Boudabouz said: "The Liverpool interest is solid. There has been contact but we have to take our time, meet the chairman and remain calm.

"I want to sit down and discuses things when we return for pre-season training.

"If there is an important offer, we will not be able to turn it down. I don't wish to leave Sochaux, but if there is an offer on the table, I will think about it."

Sochaux will be looking for in the region of around £14.5 million for Boudabouz and are aware of Liverpool's interest.

Last season Boudabouz made 40 appearances for the French club and scored eight goals.

Gael Clichy To Liverpool Transfer Talk Cooled By Arsenal Contract Talks

Arsene Wenger has revealed Arsenal is doing everything they can to keep Gael Clichy at the Emirates - and out of the clutches of rivals Liverpool.

The Frenchman's contract runs out next summer and the Gunners are keen to tie up a new deal before the Reds, and fellow potential suitors Roma, can tempt him away.

'We have started talks with Gael and want him to stay,' Wenger said.

Kenny Dalglish reportedly offered Arsenal £5million for the 25-year-old, but the offer was seen as far too low for someone who has cemented a starting spot in Wenger's back four.

Arsenal's other left-back Kieran Gibbs was kept on the bench for most of last season by Clichy - but how much longer the England international will be happy to watch from the sidelines remains to be seen.

Clichy's inch-perfect passing earned plaudits during his season review and his scorching strike against Leyton Orient in the FA Cup replay made it onto the highlight reel from his 44 appearances in 2010/11.

The Gooner faithful first welcomed Clichy to the club in 2003 when he joined from AS Cannes.

Lennon Confident Of Holding Onto Man United And Liverpool Targets

Neil Lennon is aiming to convince Premier League transfer targets Izaguirre and Beram Kayal to remain with Celtic during the club’s upcoming tour of Australia.

Izaguirre has been linked with a move to Manchester United while Kayal is a target for Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish as he attempts to revamp his side.

But Lennon, who only signed a new contract last week, is adamant that he can convince the pair to remain at Parkhead, saying: "We've opened preliminary talks with Kayal's people.

"He knows I want to keep him and he's making the right noises about staying. That's great news. It's the same for Izaguirre. Going to Australia on tour this week will give me the chance to sit down with Beram.

"I'll need to sit down with Beram, look him in the eye and get a feel for what he's thinking. He knows I have his best interests at heart."

Lennon believes both players will benefit from remaining at Celtic Park, although he admits keeping them would be difficult should a top-four Premier League club come knocking.

"I can help them progress. They have the supporters on their side and a great affiliation with them. They would struggle to get that at many other clubs," he added.

"I'm sure there are Premiership clubs that could offer them better deals but at this stage of their careers money shouldn't be that important.

"There is no need for them to rush off and go to the Premiership just yet. They can stay here a year or two and then look at things after that.

"My whole point to them will be that unless it's a top-four club in England then I don't think there are many better places to be than here."

Reina Rejects Madrid Rumours

Jose Reina has moved quickly to distance himself from the number one position at Atletico Madrid.

The Spanish outfit is set to find themselves shorn of their first-choice goalkeeper once David de Gea completes his proposed move to Manchester United.

The youngster arrived in England on Monday to undergo a medical and is close to putting the finishing touches to a big-money transfer.

Speculation has already begun to circulate regarding who may be drafted in by Atletico as his replacement.

Liverpool shot-stopper Reina has been touted as a possible candidate, after spending the last six years away from his homeland.

The Reds ace has given short shrift to the rumours, though, by insisting that he remains fully committed to the Anfield cause.

He told La Gaceta: "I know Atletico are looking for a goalkeeper, but I won't be changing colours.

"I have a five-year contract and I'm happy at Liverpool."

Reina will come into direct competition with De Gea next season and he believes the 20-year-old will be a resounding success at Old Trafford.

He said: "I very much welcome this news because David is a great keeper.

"When it becomes official he is going to start working to prove in the Premier League what a good goalkeeper he is."

Agger Hails Impact Of Dalglish And Clarke

Liverpool defender Daniel Agger has hailed boss Kenny Dalglish and assistant Steve Clarke for reviving the team’s fortunes last season and believes the duo can go on to achieve great things at Anfield.

Dalglish has been widely praised for his level of performance since returning to management with the Merseyside giants last January, taking over from Roy Hodgson with the team languishing in 12th place in the table and leading them to the brink of Europa League qualification.

Having originally assumed the roles in a caretaker capacity until the end of the season, both Dalglish and Clarke have been rewarded for their efforts with three-year-deals, and Agger is in no doubt as to the level of the duo’s impact at Anfield.

“It is a different way of playing football,” the Dane told Liverpoolfc.tv. “The training sessions are enjoyable.

"People talk about confidence and it is such a big thing in football because it can change from one day to another.

"The main change is about being positive. Playing positive football and that's the biggest difference."

Agger also believes the presence of Dalglish and Clarke in the Liverpool dugout promises a bright future for the club.

"I like Kenny's playing style and I think it suits Liverpool,” he added. “It suits the football club and it suits the fans.

"I was really happy he and Steve Clarke signed their deals. Steve has made a big, big impact and he is really good. I can't say enough good things about him.

"Kenny suits this club. He knows everything about it, and the fans know him. It's positive for the future."

130 Police Officers Broke Rules To View Files On Steven Gerrard's Trial

The failed criminal prosecution of England footballer Steven Gerrard provoked so much interest among police officers that 130 of them breached data protection laws to view his file, it has emerged.

Statistics disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that in 2008 there were 42 breaches of data protection laws by officers at Merseyside Police.

The following year – including the period in which Gerrard was prosecuted over an alleged affray in a nightclub – there were 152 breaches.

Merseyside Police said the rise was a result of officers and staff accessing confidential documents about Steven Gerrard’s arrest.

The Liverpool and England midfielder was subsequently cleared of unjustly attacking Marcus McGee during an altercation in the Lounge Inn, Southport, on December 29, 2008. The footballer had denied affray, saying he hit Mr. McGee in self-defence.

Although most of the breaches can be attributed to interest in Gerrard, officers were also accessing files to check classified data about relatives, friends and acquaintances who had provoked their suspicions.

Senior officers described the worst cases as “a serious abuse of force systems”.

Merseyside Police regarded the illegal accessing of information as so serious that an undisclosed number of officers were forced to resign.

In total, seven officers have been forced to leave the force over the past three years, with three others given final written warnings.

A total of 169 officers were required to receive “managerial advice” about their behaviour, while 29 were given written warnings.

Despite their censure, they refused to elaborate on the breaches after claiming that to do so might identify individuals.

Similar breaches occur in police forces across Britain.

In the neighbouring Lancashire force, for example, there were 84 breaches in three years.
These included an officer who ran checks on his daughter’s new boyfriend so he could warn her that the man had a criminal record for sex offences.

Officers who accessed the file of the Liverpool captain were able to see his date of birth, his address, details of the allegations against him, and the photograph taken on the day he was arrested,

The investigation against them was carried out following an audit by Merseyside’s professional standards directorates.

A force spokesman said it would “not tolerate” breaches of the Data Protection act.

She added: “Merseyside Police takes its responsibilities to manage and process personal information extremely seriously, and expects employees to maintain the highest standard of professional behaviour when dealing with information security.

“Any inappropriate behaviour may result in criminal and/or disciplinary proceedings and all cases are investigated thoroughly by the Professional Standards Department.”