Monday, July 18, 2011

Kenny Dalglish Faces Task Of Thinning Out Liverpool's Bulging Midfield

Despite the 12-hour flight time, the humidity and the sometimes draining adulation, Liverpool's tour of Asia was the easy part. Now Kenny Dalglish has the rather more unpleasant task of pruning a bloated midfield.

The Liverpool manager has invested £47 million this summer in three midfielders - Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam. However, with the club's owner, John W Henry, tweeting that he expects Alberto Aquilani, who spent last season on loan at Juventus, to stay on Merseyside, Dalglish's room for manoeuvre may be narrowing.

Milan Jovanovic, his most obvious misfit and the last and worst signing made by Rafael Benítez, is close to the exit door. The Serb has had offers from both Anderlecht and Lille, although he said his wife would prefer Brussels to northern France.

Like Maxi Rodríguez and Joe Cole, he was a free transfer on high wages. The three of them, all touted for moves away from Merseyside, are each reportedly on around £100,000 a week.

Rodríguez confirmed last month that he had been approached by his former club, Newell's Old Boys, and said that he was keen to return, despite a fine end to the season in which he scored two hat-tricks.

Cole, the club's marquee signing last year, had been widely expected to leave the club, linked with moves to Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa and even Hamburg.

Roma Enquire After Insua

Roma are the latest Serie A side to be linked with Liverpool defender Emiliano Insua. “I have spoken to Walter Sabatini,” said his agent.

The 22-year-old Argentine was very close to Fiorentina and Juventus in January, but opted to join Galatasaray on loan instead.

Now he is back at Anfield and it seems as if the Giallorossi are making a bid for the left-back.

“I spoke to Sabatini about him, but at the moment there are no particular developments,” said agent Rodrigo Vilarino.

“Emiliano has returned to Liverpool after the loan spell at Galatasaray. Now we have to see if he is in the English club’s plans.”

Liverpool Keen On Swedish Starlet

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish is reportedly considering making a move for Swedish centre-half Alexander Milosevic.

The £1.5million-rated youngster is also being linked with the likes of Arsenal and Sunderland.

A Liverpool scout reportedly watched the 19-year-old in action last week.

The People reports that Liverpool have opened talks with Swedish side AIK Solna about a move for Milosevic.

Cole: We All Know Downing's Class

Joe Cole has welcomed the addition of Stewart Downing as he bids to make a big impression for Liverpool ahead of the 2011-12 campaign.

The No.10 is well aware of the qualities the winger possesses from their time together with England and believes he isn't the only shrewd move Kenny Dalglish has made in the summer transfer market.

Cole told "We all know what Stewie (Downing) can do.

"Jordan (Henderson) has come in too and Charlie (Adam) has looked good in the games in Asia. They are all really good signings."

Cole's displays during the club's Asia tour suggest he looks to have benefited from an extended break over the summer.

The 29-year-old acknowledges a big season lies ahead of him but he is keen to take it one step at a time.

"I've been happy with my performances. This is the longest I've ever had off in the summer during my career. I've had six weeks off, so it's nice to get going again," he said.

"Now I just want to get started. I feel great physically. I'm happy with how I'm performing. I want to get a couple of 90-minute run outs under my belt. There are four weeks until the start of the Premier League so there's still some time to go. I'm enjoying it.

"I want to take it day by day. Training has been good. I want to get myself fit and get a little bit better every day."

Cole featured for 45 minutes as Liverpool ran out 6-3 winners in front of over 80,000 fans against a Malaysia XI on Saturday.

It was yet another highlight on what proved to be a hugely successful Asia tour.

Cole said: "It's been fantastic. To have that many fans for a friendly game was unbelievable. It was a full house, there were flares - everything.

"You see what Liverpool means to these people. It's my first proper tour with Liverpool and it's a great way to start the season.

"Everyone has enjoyed it. We've scored lots of goals, had no injuries and claimed two wins. It's been a successful tour."

Dalglish Buoyed As Dutch International Vows To Fight For Liverpool Place

Amidst a plethora of midfield signings at his club, Liverpool winger Dirk Kuyt has expressed his excitement about the upcoming season.

Despite scoring 13 goals and being a mainstay of the Liverpool side throughout last season’s Premier League campaign, playing in 33 matches, Kenny Dalglish’s spate of transfer acquisitions has left Kuyt with some serious competition for a first-team place.

Having arrived on Merseyside this summer already, Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson and most recent recruit Stewart Downing will be very keen to prove their worth.

However, Kuyt was full of his characteristic selflessness when explaining his take on the current situation at Anfield.

“I am pleased that we have players of this standard in the squad now,” said the 78-cap Dutch international.

“That should be normal at a club like Liverpool because the Premier League is a very hard league and we need competition for places.”

“There are a lot of games to play and it is impossible to get through with just eleven people so we need a big, strong squad.”

“The players who have just arrived are very welcome because we really needed them.”

Kuyt’s sentiments seem to reaffirm the fact that Liverpool will be gunning to earn a spot in the Champions League places this campaign, having recovered from a disastrous start last season to finish sixth.

Carra Eyes Winning Start

Vice-captain Jamie Carragher believes a solid start to the season is crucial if Liverpool is to make an impression this term.

The Reds begin their new Premier League campaign at home to Sunderland on 13th August, desperate to put two indifferent seasons behind them.

A steady finish last season under Kenny Dalglish's guidance has renewed optimism at Anfield, and veteran Carragher is setting his sights much higher this time around.

"We'll have to see how the season goes but we know that the expectations are there. We're like any club in that we want to do well," he told the club's official website.

"The start of the season is the time when things can get ruined for you if you don't get good results early on so we have to focus on that first game against Sunderland, make sure we take three points and then go from there.

"It's all well and good people saying last season that Liverpool almost made Europe and moved up the table, but our standards are raised higher than that and we want to do better."

Club legend Dalglish took over in January after Roy Hodgson's ill-fated stint was brought to a premature end, and Carragher is eager for the turnaround to continue.

He said: "Kenny has had a major impact since coming in at a time when results weren't going too well for us. Since he and Steve Clarke arrived they have done a great job and hopefully we can carry that into next season.

"It's great to work with Kenny again because he is a legend of the club, not just as a player but as a manager as well. He is someone who everyone looks up to and the foreign players will be aware of him also."

Meanwhile, new signing Charlie Adam, signed for an undisclosed fee from Blackpool, admits his compatriot Dalglish was a key factor in his decision to join the Reds' revival.

"He gave the whole place a lift when he came in January and he is clearly the perfect man for this club," said the Scotland international.

"He has so much respect for it, the fans love him and I am sure we can be successful. That's why I signed for Liverpool.

"It's one of the biggest clubs in the world and I can't wait for the season to start now."

Clarke Offers Cole Assurances

Liverpool assistant manager Steve Clarke has assured Joe Cole he still has a future at Anfield.

Cole endured a disappointing debut season at Anfield after moving north on a free transfer from Chelsea.

The England international started just nine league matches in total and there had been question marks over whether the 29-year-old would be kept on for the new season.

Clarke, who worked with Cole during his time at Chelsea, has been impressed at how the midfielder has performed in pre-season and believes he still has a lot to offer.

"At the end of last season he was not getting in the team because the team was playing well," said Clarke.

"But he has gone away, trained hard and had a good summer.

"Joe Cole is a top international player and he has a big contribution to make to the future. He is the same Joe Cole I coached at Chelsea, just a couple of years older and a little bit wiser.

"He knows the position he is in. It has been difficult for him because he has not been involved but when he gets the chance it is up to him to take it."

Clarke also hailed Cole's strength of the character after a tough 12 months on Merseyside.

"The better players are always positive," said Clarke.

"They see the bigger picture and understand what is going on. They understand they have to reach certain levels and when they do that they will get in the team."

Liverpool's New Museum Opens With McCartney Show

They thought of asking Paul McCartney, a royal, a politician or a poet – but, in the end, the £72m museum celebrating Liverpool's eclectic heritage will be opened on Tuesday by Finn O'Hare, a six-year-old-boy, who wrote to "Mr. or Mrs. In Charge of the Museum", explaining that he was "good at opening things".

The extraordinary new arrival on the city's river Mersey waterfront – "like a giant stone Twix bar", according to one woman who peered through the fence at the weekend – is described as "the largest newly built national museum in Britain for more than a century".

Inside, at the top of the giant spiral staircase, visitors will find an exhibition as quirky as its home: unseen photos by Mike McCartney celebrating his native city – and inevitably, his slightly more famous brother Paul. Sir Paul, or "our kid", as Mike calls him, is seen starting to buckle with tiredness, finally heading off the stage with one last weary wave to the roaring crowd after an epic performance at the Anfield stadium in 2008, the year his city held the title of European Capital of Culture. His brother says it was "a rip-stonking performance" in front of an audience of 35,000 – "half of whom were our family".

As well as photographing wheelie bins, rainbows and his own shiny Beatle boots, Mike McCartney also captured Bono backstage, mugging up on his lines by the light of a little torch before going on stage at the Echo Arena to present Paul with the MTV Ultimate Legend award. "Bono said: 'There is one person in the hall tonight whose work is immortal,'" Mike recalled, adding - as proud performer of Lily the Pink, the Christmas 1968 chart-topper which held the number one slot for four weeks – "I didn't know he was a Scaffold fan."

"It's a high honour when the National Portrait Gallery, the Rock'n' and Roll Hall of Fame and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC ask for your photographs. But it's the icing on the cake when your hometown asks for an exhibition to open their brand new Museum of Liverpool," he writes in his introduction to the show.

"I hope these images give some insight into the unique people this area produces, and that their impossible-to-suppress, self-deprecating humour shines out of the photographs."

That spirit is laced through the museum, which includes bitterly funny comments, filmed interviews and objects donated by Liverpudlians – including Mr J Mackin's 1992 Anfield Travel Club card. There are quotes from the late community activist Margaret Simey – who, as chair of the Merseyside police authority, questioned their actions in the Toxteth riots – "The magic of Liverpool is that it isn't England" – and Beatle George Harrison – "Good place to wash your hair, Liverpool, nice soft water."

The exhibits include comedian Ken Dodd's tickling stick, a pair of gold lamé knickers worn on stage by poet and artist Adrian George, the Brookside Close street sign from the TV soap, the skeleton of Ambush II, the 1900 Grand National winner, and the school-hall stage on which John Lennon and Paul McCartney first played.

Despite the swaggering statistics – the building is longer than the Anfield or Goodison Park pitches and has a navigable canal and a railway tunnel running underneath – the project has had to overcome a few teething problems. Conceived as a replacement for the Museum of Liverpool Life to open in 2008, it became enmeshed in design rows over developments on the historic Pier Head, the setting of the Three Graces buildings, which threatened to cost the site its Unesco World Heritage status.

National Museums Liverpool fell out with both the architects, the original Danish 3XN and the Manchester-based AEW. And, earlier this year, it had to pay £750,000 compensation to the Port of Liverpool building for partly blocking its view of the river.

However, now that it is opening, with more galleries due later this year, the museum authorities are convinced the building, with its spectacular views from huge windows, will become as well-loved as its neighbours. Janet Dugdale, the museum's director, said: "Liverpool is a very demanding city and that is a great thing when you're creating a city museum."

Carroll Wows Kids In Singapore

Andy Carroll yesterday entertained disadvantaged children and youngsters with disabilities on the final day of Liverpool's 2011 Asia tour in Singapore.

The No.9 was joined at the event - organized by the official LFC fan club in Singapore - by Conor Coady, Andre Wisdom, Daniel Ayala, Brad Jones and four of the Reds' community coaches.

The footballers played head tennis and took turns in goal for shooting drills before posing for photographs, signing autographs and playing games.

"I think the kids enjoyed it," claimed Carroll after the event. "I know we certainly did. They were good at the head tennis, a lot better than Conor and Andre anyway!

"I enjoy doing this sort of thing and it's great to come to events like this as you can see what it means to the children."

Mark Bygroves, from the LFC in the community team, branded the event a real success.

"The players were absolutely brilliant with the kids," he said. "They all got really involved from the minute they arrived to the minute they left. This sort of thing is exactly what Liverpool Football Club should be doing when it comes to places like Singapore."