Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sir Alex Ferguson Wary Of Liverpool Title Threat Again

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes Liverpool will be a force to be reckoned with again this season after two years outside the top four.

The Anfield club has not won the top flight title for 21 years, and last season United claimed their 19th, one more than the 18 the Reds have.

Sir Alex, who will turn 70 later this year, admitted that a full season under Kop idol Kenny Dalglish will put their rivals back in contention for silverware.

“Liverpool went off the radar for a bit. They are now back on it. Long-term you know they are going to be there,” he told reporters.

Grouping the Merseyside club with Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City, he added: “Let's be honest, you hate losing to any of them.

“One of those four will always be a thorn in our flesh. They are our immediate challengers.

“History doesn't change. No matter where it comes from, somewhere along the line we are going to be faced with a big challenge from one of those four great clubs.”

Sir Alex has had to face numerous questions on the topic of toppling Champions League holders Barcelona since his side lost 3-1 in the final in May.

The Spanish club is widely considered to have one of the best sides in history, but the United manager is confident Pep Guardiola's can be beaten.

“Barcelona is the team of the moment,” said Sir Alex. “It is a cycle. It is the same players. They can dominate any game and could have probably done that to any other team.

“But it is not the kind of thing that makes you think, 'let's not bother with European football anymore, we are never going to beat Barcelona'.

“Manchester United is bigger than that. We have a better philosophy than that. The challenge will be [to] improve enough to get to the final next season and win it.”

Cole Ready For Liverpool Fight

Joe Cole claims he is ready to prove himself at Liverpool after a season of torment.

Cole arrived at Anfield last year on a free transfer from Chelsea, but he struggled to make an impact at a time when Liverpool was at a low ebb.

Kenny Dalglish was brought in to steady the ship and Liverpool surged up the table, but Cole was largely left a frustrated spectator.

Cole has seen the Reds recruit midfielders Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing - leading some to question what role he will play. But he made the trip to Asia for pre-season and has spoken positively after featuring in the team.

"Now I just want to get started. I feel great physically, I'm happy with how I'm performing and I want to get a couple of 90-minute run-outs under my belt," Cole said.

"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."

Liverpool And Newcastle Poised For 'Tremendous' Striker Offer

Reported Liverpool and Newcastle United target Daniel Sturridge has 15 days to prove himself on Chelsea's pre-season tour of Asia according to FourFourTwo.com.

The 21-year-old striker impressed during a four-month loan spell at Bolton Wanderers last season, scoring eight goals in twelve matches for the Trotters.

But having grown frustrated at a lack of first-team opportunities at Stamford Bridge, Sturridge's Chelsea career hangs in the balance having found the net just nine times in 41 appearances for the Blues.

However, newly appointed manager Andre Villas-Boas has thrown the England U21 international a lifeline to determine whether or not he will remain in west London next season.

"This is one of the decisions we have to take," Villas-Boas explained to The Sun. "Daniel is a very, very interesting player with a tremendous future and is highly regarded by myself.

"I have 15 days in Asia to make the best decision and I need those four games to continue to assess."

Sturridge's availability will likely attract the attention of Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish who is a known admirer of the player's talent.

Having already been busy in the summer transfer window with the acquisition of Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing and Alexander Doni, the Reds may look to add another striker to their Anfield ranks before drawing a line under business ahead of the new campaign.

Magpies boss Alan Pardew could provide Liverpool with competition for Sturridge's signature as Newcastle themselves are still on the look-out for a long-term replacement for Andy Carroll - who swapped St James' Park for Anfield in the January transfer window.

Chelsea's tour of the Far East kicks off with a game against a Malaysia XI on Thursday, where Sturridge could be given his chance to prove he has what it takes to succeed at Stamford Bridge, while Liverpool and Newcastle wait patiently in the wings for any developments over a potential transfer.

Behrami Hopeful On Aquilani

Fiorentina's Valon Behrami hopes Liverpool midfielder Alberto Aquilani will join him at the Serie A club.

Aquilani's future is uncertain after being linked with a move away from Anfield this summer, having spent last season on loan at Juventus.

Juve were not interested in signing the Italy international permanently but their Italian rivals, Fiorentina, are thought to be chasing his signature.

Reds owner John Henry hinted over the weekend that he still sees a future for Aquilani at Anfield, while the players' agent has previously cooled talk of a Viola move.

But former West Ham man Behrami remains optimistic of the 27-year-old arriving at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, insisting he would be a valuable addition to the Fiorentina squad.

"Aquilani to Fiorentina? He has excellent qualities," said Behrami. "With him I'm sure we could make a quantum leap.

"Aquilani is a major player that could bring excitement among the fans. He would be suited to our team."

Behrami, who joined Fiorentina from West Ham in January, admits he is finding pre-season training tough after three years away from Italy.

"We are working hard on the physical level," he added. "The preparation is very different from England.

"It has been three years since I worked so much in the pre-season and I'm no longer used (to it)."

Reds Not Interested In Cattermole

Steve Bruce insists Liverpool have made no indication that they want Lee Cattermole, despite ongoing speculation over the midfielder's future.

Cattermole was linked to the Black Cats at the start of the summer, but Liverpool then negotiated a big-money deal for Jordan Henderson. However, speculation surrounding Cattermole refuses to go away.

The most recent reports have suggested Sunderland have already found a new captain in the shape of new arrival John O'Shea. Liverpool has made a concentrated effort to buy British throughout the summer, and it was claimed that 23-year-old Cattermole would add to their collection.

Bruce has rubbished the entire story though, insisting the Reds have never even spoken of the former England Under-21 international. He told the Journal: "I don't know where that has come from. It's news to me.

"I have not even thought about this situation, to be honest. I have had bigger things on my plate to worry about. We have been dealing with Liverpool for the past five weeks over the Jordan Henderson deal and there was never a mention that they wanted Lee.

"I don't know where it's coming from at all."

Bruce also ruled himself out of a move for Wigan's Charles N'Zogbia, who is expected to move to Aston Villa for a fee in the region of £10 million. The Sunderland boss admits he was interested, but "it has become a bit too rich for us."

No Liverpool FC Move For Aly Cissokho

Liverpool FC remains in the hunt for a left-back but Lyon’s Aly Cissokho is unlikely to be filling the void at Anfield.

The Reds have been linked with a £9million move for the 23- year-old France international.

However, reports in his homeland that a deal is imminent are wide of the mark and Liverpool are considering other options.

Left-back was a problem position last season and it’s an area Kenny Dalglish is keen to address.

The manager was hoping to snap up Gael Clichy from Arsenal but he opted to join Manchester City instead.

Having already moved smartly in the transfer market to complete the signings of Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing and keeper Alexander Doni, a left-back is likely to be Dalglish’s next priority.

Paul Konchesky was sold to Leicester City last week after a miserable spell with the Reds, while Fabio Aurelio has been dogged by a succession of injuries.

Manchester City Target Liverpool Midfielder

According to reports Manchester City are interested in Liverpool midfielder Alberto Aquilani.

Caughtoffside.com claims City boss Roberto Mancini is eyeing the Liverpool player who has been on loan with Italian club Juventus.

It is believed that City will look to make an offer for the Italian international who has impressed for the struggling Serie A giants.

The 27-year-old joined Liverpool at the tail-end of Rafael Benitez’ reign at Anfield but failed to make an impression after returning from injury.

It is unclear whether new boss Kenny Dalglish sees Aquilani in his long-term plans and it seems Mancini is ready to judge the Scot’s mood with a move for £12 million-rated Italian.

Serie A clubs Fiorentina and AC Milan are also believed to be interested.

Eccleston Strikes In Bray Draw

Nathan Eccleston scored a brilliant goal as Liverpool Reserves drew 1-1 with Bray Wanderers in front of the watching Kenny Dalglish on Monday night.

In front of a sell-out crowd at the Carlisle Grounds in Bray, Co. Wicklow, Rodolfo Borrell's side played their part in an entertaining encounter, despite the torrential rain.

Apart from the experience of Moroccan international Nabil El Zhar, the starting XI featured six of the U18 regulars from last season.

The youngsters also had the privilege of manager Dalglish watching them from the bench.

The home side took the lead midway through the second half when Adam Croomes pounced to score after Jamie Stephens saved Jake Kelly's initial free-kick.

The Reds responded and captain for the night Eccleston scored an equalizer that delighted the crowd, when he beat two defenders and curled home into the far corner.

Eccleston, who enjoyed a loan spell at Charlton Athletic last season, had an excellent night and was a constant threat in attack.

The Academy graduate had the best chance of the first half when he was unlucky to see a fine solo run end with a shot narrowly wide of target, and he almost won the game with a fine effort after a sweet one-two with substitute David Amoo.

Brad Smith, Raheem Sterling and goalkeeper Tyrell Belford made their first appearances since representing England U17s at the World Cup in Mexico.

Smith played the full 90 minutes at left-back while the lively Sterling came on as a second half replacement for Nabil El Zhar to make his reserve team debut.

Sterling almost won the game three minutes from time with a fantastic curler that came back off the bar with the Bray 'keeper well beaten.

Borrell's side will now conclude their Irish tour with a match against Waterford on Wednesday night.

Liverpool Build On Strong Irish Ties With Club Link-Ups

Kenny Dalglish wants Liverpool to go back to their roots.

Dalglish, who watched his young charges take on Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds last night, was speaking after announcing a link- up with the Seagulls and St Joseph's Boys.

The Reds manager is a close friend of Bray boss Pat Devlin and they had a similar arrangement when he was at Newcastle United.

The link-up will see coaches from Liverpool visit Ireland to assist with training and development programs at both Bray and St Joseph's.

"I've always had a close affinity to young Irish players," said Dalglish. "Pat Devlin and I have been in close contact for some years and it's important for Liverpool to have close links with Ireland, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

"We're here to enhance what's in place. If we get some kids through, that would be great but the real people to benefit will be the kids."

Meanwhile, Alberto Aquilani could have a future at Liverpool, after all, after Dalglish said the Italian will be given a chance to prove his worth.

Aquilani starred against the Malaysian All Stars last Saturday and, although the manager missed that match because he was flying home to complete the signing of Stewart Downing, he indicated that he will be given a chance at the club who shelled out £20m two years ago for his services.

Liverpool owner John Henry tweeted that the former Roma player, who spent last season on loan at Juventus, was "the missing link" after his performances on the club's Asian tour.

"We'll certainly see what he's like. We'll judge everybody on what they do. I don't pre-judge everybody. I'm just glad the chairman is so up on social media," said Dalglish.

Ian Ayre Salutes “Unbelievable” Support For LFC In Asia

Managing director Ian Ayre has vowed that Liverpool FC will return to Malaysia after the “unbelievable” welcome they received on their first visit to the country.

The Reds touched down in Liverpool on a high yesterday after a hugely successful eight-day tour of the Far East.

The trip finished with a brief stop in Singapore where they held an open training session for supporters but it was the time spent in Malaysia which will live long in the memory.

“It was unbelievable,” Ayre said.

“I have lived in that part of the world for many years but even I under-estimated how special it was going to be with over 80,000 in the stadium, thousands watching us train and thousands watching us at events.

“Everyone involved - whether it be players, staff or sponsors - were blown away by how great people were and how excited people were.

“It’s important to travel that far away to see the level of support we have and it’s great for the younger lads or the newer lads to see just what this club means to people and how important the shirt they wear is.

“It took us over 100 years to get there for the first time. I’m sure it won’t take us that long to come back because the welcome we got was one we’ll all never forget.”