Sunday, July 24, 2011

Match Report: Hull City 3 - 0 Liverpool

Hull City spoiled Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson's Liverpool debuts with an impressive 3-0 win at the KC Stadium.

England duo Downing and Henderson were handed their first outings for Liverpool since their big-money arrivals from Aston Villa and Sunderland respectively, but it was not an occasion to remember.

Fellow new signing Alexander Doni also made his debut for Kenny Dalglish's side, but he was beaten twice before the break.

Hull broke the deadlock on 21 minutes with a superb strike from on-loan Manchester United youngster Robbie Brady.

The home side doubled their lead 13 minutes later when Slovenian international Robert Koren found the net after working a one-two with Aaron McLean.

Dalglish made 11 changes at the break as he tries to get his squad fit for the new season with Henderson and Downing making their bows.

Downing went close to scoring two minutes after his introduction when he saw his shot superbly saved by Hull keeper Adriano Basso.

Hull added a third just before the hour when Jay Simpson scored from close-range to condemn Liverpool to their first defeat of pre-season.

Dalglish Disappointed By Defeat

Kenny Dalglish admitted he was disappointed by Liverpool's surprise 3-0 defeat at Hull City on Saturday.

Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson and Alexander Doni all made their debuts for Liverpool, but they could not prevent the Reds from slumping to their first defeat of pre-season.

Hull picked up a confidence-boosting win thanks to goals from Robbie Brady, Robert Koren and Jay Simpson and Dalglish admits he expected better from his troops at the KC Stadium.

"Obviously we're disappointed at losing the game. It doesn't matter whether it was a pre-season friendly or not, but the fact it is pre-season gives us a wee bit of solace," said Dalglish.

"We trained on Friday as if it was a game. Everybody ran about nine or 10 thousand metres, which is equivalent to what you do in a game, so it's like playing a game and a half in two days.

"We also travelled over yesterday morning and it's not ideal, but I would have expected a wee bit better than that.

"As I say, it is pre-season and it's to get players fit and get rid of their mistakes - but I certainly think we've got a few mistakes to get rid of after today.

"In the second half we made a few more chances. I think in the first half we had one shot at goal, which wasn't too compelling to watch. But for us the second half was better.

"We still lost the second half 1-0, but we had three guys making their first appearances in a Liverpool shirt and they will get benefit from that.

"It was an extension of our training sessions this week and starting from now we've got to get ourselves a wee bit more realistic (in terms of fitness)."

Dalglish claims Downing, Henderson and Doni have all settled in well to life at Liverpool, but he concedes they will not be happy to taste defeat on their first appearances for the club.

"They're very comfortable. It's an easy place to come and settle, it's very welcoming, but they'll not be too satisfied getting back on the bus after that," added Dalglish.

Reds Make Move For Rodallega

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish wants Wigan's Colombian star Hugo Rodallega but will have to pay £9million to get him.

Dalglish is keen to bring in the powerful attacker to give Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez some top-class support as the Kop aim to get back on the glory trail this season

Rodallega has impressed Dalglish in the past couple of years, often dazzling against the Anfield side in games, and he thinks the South American would be a huge asset

Dalglish is looking to move out David Ngog and Milan Jovanovic as he improves the quality of his options and he knows Suarez and Carroll will pick up injuries because of their all-action styles

So Dalglish wants Rodallega to fill that gap and hopes Wigan will be sensible with the fee as the 25-year-old is going into the last season of his contract and can go for nothing next summer

Wigan supremo Dave Whelan values Rodallega in the £9m class, similar to winger Charles NZogbia who is also in the same contract position and boss Roberto Martinez is backing him.

Martinez needs to sell before he can buy any replacements.

He wants Paraguayan striker Nelson Valdez at relegated Spanish side Hercules who will cost around £4m.

Dalglish turned to Rodallega after making an inquiry for Freiburg's Senegalese striker Papiss Cisse. He is valued at £13m and is also looking for around £4m-a-year.

So Rodallega is a much cheaper alternative.

Ince Set For Seasiders understands Blackpool are poised to sign Liverpool midfielder Tom Ince.

As revealed by earlier this month, Blackpool was lining up a double swoop for Ince and Reds team-mate Gerardo Bruna.

Blackpool tied up a deal for Bruna earlier this week and now Ince is set to follow him to Bloomfield Road.

Ince failed to break into Liverpool's first team and has been a regular in the reserves over the last couple of seasons.

Ince, who is the son of former Reds captain, Paul, enjoyed a spell on loan at Notts County last season alongside his father.

However, it seems Liverpool is now willing to let Ince move on, with the player keen to be playing regular first-team football.

Seasiders boss Ian Holloway has been busy in the transfer market lately and he is believed to be keen on a double loan swoop for Manchester United duo Danny Drinkwater and Oliver Norwood.

Villyan Bijev Signs For Liverpool

American teenager Villyan Bijev has agreed terms this weekend with Premier League giants Liverpool, according to a report from Californian news channel KMPH Fox 26.

The report claimed that Bijev has signed a three-year contract with a two-year option, and his high school coach and former MLS midfielder Chad McCarty confirmed the information to the television station.

The striker will avoid any work permit issues because he holds Bulgarian citizenship through his father, Chris, who was born in Bulgaria and is now a renowned attorney in Northern California specializing in immigration and nationality issues.

The 18-year-old forward has been a prolific scorer with his club, Cal Odyssey, in the Development Academy for the past three seasons. Last year, he notched over 20 goals as his team finished as runners-up in the Under-16 section. This year, he averaged a goal a game and was voted into the national starting XI at the Under-18 level.

A native of Fresno, Bijev played for the USA's Under-18 team in May at the Lisbon International tournament.

The youngster is understood to have impressed the Liverpool coaching staff while on trial at the Anfield club last week, scoring five goals and contributing two assists in two games for the Reds' Under-18 academy team.

Earlier this year, Bijev declined an invitation to join the USFC SuperElite tour, and instead spent time training in Bulgaria before heading to England for the trial with Liverpool.

With his combination of skill and deft touch, Bijev has been tipped for a bright future either as a forward or in central midfield.

He told earlier this year that he wants to improve his runs off the ball and strength in possession.

Assuming he can improve those two traits, Bijev will hope to enjoy a more successful career with Liverpool than compatriots Brad Friedel and Zak Whitbread, who both failed to make the grade at Anfield - though Friedel, now at Tottenham via Blackburn Rovers and Aston Villa, went on to enjoy a superb career in the English Premier League.

Aquilani On Verge Of Viola Move

Italian media are so convinced Alberto Aquilani will join Fiorentina from Liverpool that they already have his shirt number picked.

The midfielder is expected to make the loan move some time next week after accepting a massive wage cut.

The Corriere Fiorentino newspaper is already reporting as if the transfer is complete, stating he will wear the Number 10 jersey this season.

It is noted another Roman star once wore this shirt, Picchio De Sisti.

Meanwhile, the Viola are also on the verge of securing 24-year-old Santos midfielder Marcos Arouca.

Milan Jovanovic Offered Escape Route To Saudi Arabian Club

Liverpool forward Milan Jovanovic is understood to have been offered the chance to move to the Middle East and play for Al-Shabab Riyadh.

According to The Daily Mail, former Standard Liege manager Michel Preud'homme wants to bring the Serbian to the wealthy Saudi Arabian club and is willing to match his current salary of £60,000 a week in order to persuade him.

It had seemed likely that Jovanovic, who signed last year on a free transfer from Liege, would return to Belgium by joining Anderlecht, who had claimed that a deal was close to being completed.

However, the Belgian club's move for the 30-year-old international could now be in jeopardy as it is said he would not have to take a drop in his weekly wages should he move to the Middle East.

Jovanovic has had an unhappy spell on Merseyside since Roy Hodgson signed him last summer following the World Cup.

He managed only 18 appearances and two goals in total for the Reds, and played just twice under Kenny Dalglish following the manager's appointment in January.

He fell down the Liverpool pecking order when Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez joined the club in January, and the recent arrivals of Stewart Downing and Charlie Adam mean his opportunities of first-team action now appear even slimmer.

Jonjo Shelvey Looking Forward To Playing With World-Class Stars At Liverpool

Liverpool youngster Jonjo Shelvey says he is glad to see new arrivals join the club and is not worried about competition for places.

The former Charlton Athletic player made 21 appearances last season as new manager Kenny Dalglish gave younger players more time on the pitch.

But the Scot has since signed midfielders Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing as he aims to take Liverpool back into the top four.

The new arrivals mean it will be harder for the likes of Shelvey to get any first-team action, but he insists that he is just pleased to train with world-class players.

"I think it's good for the youths and reserves," he told Match Magazine.

"The gaffer proved last season that he's not afraid to put young players in. We had six academy boys on the bench for one game, which is great for the club.

"I like the transfer window. I want new players to come into the club because I want to work with the best players in the world. I always keep an eye on the moves because it can be really interesting."

With the plethora of new midfield signings, there has been speculation that Shelvey could be sold or loaned out, but the England Under-19 captain says the speculation is news to him as well.

He added: "I get a lot of mates asking, 'Is that true? Is this true?', when they see rumours about me or my team-mates.

“I just have to say, 'I don't know - leave me alone!' They keep asking and asking, but I tell them they can't believe anything until it's happened.

"I think a lot of the stuff that gets printed are just rumours. Some will come true, but some are rubbish.

"We hear rumours all the time, but to be honest we don't get told much of what the club is doing until a deal has gone through."

In addition to the four major signings made this summer, including goalkeeper Doni from Roma, Liverpool also swooped for Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll in January - and Shelvey is delighted with the transfer business the club have conducted.

"He [John Henry] told everyone his plans when he first came in and he's backed up every word," he said. "It's great to have an owner like that.

"His time at the club has started really well and all the players are looking forward to seeing him put his plans into action.

"The club has done some good business. January was exciting when Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll arrived. I was ill the day Andy signed and I remember waking up that morning, flicking on Sky Sports News and just wanting to get into training."

Steven Gerrard Could Miss The First Two Months Of The Season

Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard is set to miss the first two months of the new Premier League season, according to reports.

The 31-year-old has been struggling for fitness for some time now, and Mirror reports that a second groin injury has caused a delay in the midfielder's recovery.

This latest setback would mean that the Anfield skipper is likely to miss England's international friendly against the Netherlands in August, and could also be absent for the Euro 2012 qualifier against Wales in September.

At club level, however, Liverpool are not short of midfielders due to the signings of Charlie Adam from Blackpool and Jordan Henderson from Sunderland, while Alberto Aquilani has returned from his loan spell with Juventus.