Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Kenny Dalglish Left With Plenty To Ponder As New Season Approaches

With their main goal threat away in Argentina, around £44 million of new signings starting on the substitute’s bench and their captain still recovering from injury, Liverpool's pre-season defeat at Hull will not set alarm bells ringing at Anfield.

But it cannot be dismissed and Kenny Dalglish, under pressure to improve the club's fortunes after spending £100 million since returning as manager in January, did not mince his words after his team's 3-0 setback against the Championship club.

"The lads are at various degrees of fitness for the matches," said Dalglish, who used no fewer than 22 players at the KC Stadium.

"Someone like Jordan Henderson has only trained for a week, so it's a bit too much to ask him to start the game.

"But if they're going to stake a claim for a first team place, they've got to earn it. We've given them every opportunity to get themselves fit and try and earn the right to play in the first team, but they'll need to do better than that if they want it."

Dalglish might have been one of the most pro-active Premier League managers in the transfer market this summer.

But not everyone is convinced that he has spent wisely.

Hefty fees have been paid to bring Stewart Downing and Henderson, who both made their debuts in the second half, to Merseyside and both have to settle quickly and deliver.

"It wasn't a good result but that's what pre season is about and we'll learn from our mistakes," said Henderson.

Downing also shrugged off the result. "Pre-season is all about fitness," said the England winger.

While it is pointless to read too much into a friendly result, particularly when so many players are used over 90 minutes, Dalglish will have come away from Humberside determined as ever to get rid of the fringe players who are clogging up the dressing room.

The likes of Christian Poulsen, Joe Cole and David Ngog all started as the visitors found themselves 2-0 down before Dalglish made wholesale changes at the start of the second half and offered a line up slightly closer to the one that Liverpool will begin the new season with against Sunderland on August 13.

Charlie Adam mostly operated from a deep central midfield position in a 4-2-3-1 formation while Downing hugged the touchlines and Henderson spent his time on the pitch in a central attacking position just behind Andy Carroll.

These are early days. But as Dalglish will no doubt be aware, the clock is ticking.

Liverpool Hope Luis Suárez Will Be Ready For Start Of Premier League Season

Liverpool remains hopeful Luis Suárez will be able to play a part in the opening fixtures of the season despite his exertions in helping Uruguay win the Copa America.

Uruguay's run to the final means that Suárez has less than three weeks of recovery time before the start of the domestic season.

The 24 year-old, named the most valuable player in the tournament, scored one and created another as Uruguay beat Paraguay 3-0 in Buenos Aires on Sunday night to claim a record 15th title and later joined his team-mates and 35,000 delirious fans to celebrate the victory at Montevideo’s Estadio Centenario.

Suárez will now be granted a break by his club to relax after the three week tournament, but it is thought he may cut short his stay in his homeland to return to England in order to be ready for Liverpool’s opening game with Sunderland on Aug 13 or Kenny Dalglish’s team’s trip to Arsenal a week later.

The forward is expected to remain in Montevideo to mark the first birthday of his daughter Delfina on Aug 5 but relatives say he is not expected to visit his hometown of Salto, on the Argentine border, so as to enable him to return to England more quickly.

Dalglish and Liverpool’s medical staff will consult with the player to make sure he is ready to play but the two-week break he was afforded before the Copa America, as well as the seven-week hiatus he endured from November last year to January - thanks to a ban for biting PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal and the Dutch winter break - mean he may return to action without the full three-week break for which he is entitled.

Such is Suárez’s profile after a remarkable first six months on Merseyside and his stunning Copa America that Dalglish will be certain not to risk the former Ajax player’s long-term health.
The Uruguayan had already emerged as Liverpool’s new crown jewel, and his performances in Argentina have marked him out as one of world football’s rising stars.

The player himself was typically sanguine about individual praise, insisting that the player of the tournament trophy belonged to his team.

“Individual prizes are for the team,” he said. “This team has given a huge effort. We showed what we achieved last year in South Africa was no fluke. Uruguay has achieved great things, but does not have to forget how to win titles. We’ve had a few hard years, but have showed we are a great nation.”

Liverpool could loan Alberto Aquilani to Fiorentina next season in a bid to clear his £70,000-a-week wages from their books. Dalglish must trim his squad before further strengthening, with Suárez’s compatriots Diego Godin and Alvaro Pereira among his possible targets.

Liverpool Rubbish Lucas Exit Reports

Liverpool will not be selling Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva despite speculation that he would help balance the books after Kenny Dalglish's heavy spending this summer.

The Reds do not normally comment on transfer speculation, and are making no official response concerning the rumours, but a source at the club told ESPNsoccernet: ''There is nothing to say about this. It is rubbish''.

Lucas was voted Player of the Year last season at Anfield, but with £49 million of new players brought in to bolster the midfield over the summer - Stewart Downing from Aston Villa, Sunderland's Jordan Henderson and Blackpool's Charlie Adam - competition in his department is fierce and the Brazilian's options might be more limited.

Reports in Tuesday's newspapers claimed Lucas was not prepared to risk spending six months on the bench, having recently returned from the Copa America. It was suggested he could make a £6 million exit with Italy the most likely destination.

However, having only signed a new deal in March, Dalglish sees Lucas as part of his future plans and still views him as a starter ahead of the likes of Joe Cole, Alberto Aquilani, Christian Poulsen, Jonjo Shelvey and Jay Spearing.

Liverpool FC Set To Beat Villarreal To Spain Striker's

Liverpool is set to continue their summer recruitment drive this week with two new signings.

Strikers Marco Bueno and Nacho are set to be added to the club's burgeoning youth set-up.

Bueno won the Under-17 World Cup with Mexico last summer and is understood to have secured his move to Merseyside from Pachuca by signing a pre-contract agreement.

Nacho, meanwhile, impressed during a recent trial at the club's academy.

Former Liverpool midfielder Mike Marsh, now coach of the under-18s, witnessed the hit man's exploits first-hand as he netted during the club's 8-0 rout over Stevenage nine days ago.

Villarreal had looked to sign the Albacete man after watching him extensively, but Anfield chiefs travelled to Spain last weekend in a bid to accelerate their proposed deal.

The under-18s narrowly missed out on winning Premier Academy League last season after they were denied a win in their final game of the season against Wolves.

Former academy starlet Dani Pacheco, meanwhile, is threatening to leave Liverpool.

The 20-year-old has spent four years in England but has failed to make a breakthrough since arriving from Barcelona, despite a brief but successful loan spell with Norwich last season.

Now the striker, who is currently at the Under-20 World Cup with Spain, is considering his options away from Anfield after making just 14 senior appearances in the past two years.

He said: “I hoped for a lot more [at Liverpool]; why should I deny it?

“I was told I was going to have opportunities; quite simply, if they don’t give me more opportunities, I am very clear I want to leave.

“Above all, I want to play and if I have to leave to do that then there will be no problem.

“Some day I would like to return home. If it happens, it happens.

“Logically it’s a disappointment to see that you don’t have any playing time.

“But in such a situation all you can do is work and I hope to have minutes in the Under-20 World Cup to demonstrate what I am worth.”

Liverpool To Make Offer For Sevilla's £14m Argentina International

Liverpool is looking to Sevilla's Diego Perotti to be the final piece of the jigsaw after a year of investing in the squad.

Wingers are suddenly all the rage at Anfield as Kenny Dalglish seeks to supply as much ammunition as possible to striker Andy Carroll. The £35m man has devastating aerial ability, a trait that manager Kenny Dalglish is keen to exploit as much as possible as the Reds aim to return to the top four of the Premier League and perhaps even the summit itself.

Stewart Downing has already been recruited to provide service from the left flank and while Jordan Henderson - a £20m recruit from Sunderland - was often deployed wide on the right during his days at the Stadium of Light, he is expected to continue his development in the centre of midfield. To ensure the first team has the requisite balance, Liverpool is ready to resurrect their interest in Perotti.

The club enquired about the 22-year-old in the January transfer window but failed to follow it up with a firm offer due to the elongated negotiations with Ajax over the transfer of Luis Suarez. Now they will return to Sevilla with an offer of £9m though with Diego Capel having departed the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan already this summer, the Andalusian club will demand at least £5m more.

Perotti has only been capped once by his native Argentina but his dual Spanish nationality means that there will be no need for Liverpool to obtain a work permit should they persuade his employers into selling.

Liverpool Contemplate Sale Of Star To Ligue 1 Champions

French club Lille OSC is considering a late move for Liverpool winger Milan Jovanovic, according to the Daily Star.

The Serbia international's transfer to Anderlecht has stalled, as the Belgian side is unwilling to match Jovanovic's colossal wages at Anfield - a staggering £100,000 per week if the Guardian is to be believed - though both parties claim they still hope the switch will go through.

Jovanovic has unquestionably been a disappointment on Merseyside; even if one believes he has rarely been given a chance to prove himself, when he has been selected he has hardly shone.

At 30 he is unlikely to improve much further, and currently Liverpool are likely to welcome any club willing to take him off the wage bill.

"Lille, like Anderlecht, is a nice option for me," claimed Jovanovic.

"This is a good club, which plays at the top of the French game, a high-level competition and who will play the group stage of Champions League. That's interesting. For now, I listen to everyone."

Bolton Wanderers Target David Ngog

According to reports Bolton Wanderers are interested in Liverpool striker David Ngog.

The Daily Mail claims Wanderers boss Owen Coyle is eyeing the French striker.

It is understood that Wanderers contacted Liverpool about the availability of the marksman but at the moment the two clubs disagree over the asking price.

Ngog almost joined Sunderland earlier this summer and is believed to remain available.

Coyle is expected to continue negotiations with Liverpool.

Joe Cole To Stay At Liverpool And Fight

Joe Cole is set to stay at Liverpool next season despite speculation over his future following a nightmare first year at Anfield.

The midfielder told manager Kenny Dalglish he will fight for his place in the team when the pair held honest talks before the Reds squad flew out for a pre-season tour to the Far East earlier this month.

Cole, 29, had previously been made aware that Liverpool would look to sell him this season and he has been linked with a number of clubs including Hamburg, Tottenham and a return to West Ham on loan.

The former England international was even willing to take a pay cut on his £90,000-a-week wages to reignite his career having made just eight Premier League starts last season following his high profile free transfer from Chelsea.

Now it has become increasingly clear that Cole's options are limited and he has told Dalglish he believes he can find the form and fitness that eluded him last term as he was disrupted by niggling injuries. The Scot has always praised Cole's professionalism and has insisted that the attacking midfielder, who is under contract until 2014, has a future at the club.

"There has been no firm interest in Joe and he is determined to prove he still has what it takes to play at the top level," a source told Goal.com. "He has had a good conversation with Kenny and they both agreed that he didn't perform well last season but still has the talent and desire to be a success at Liverpool.

"There was some talk of a season-long loan but nothing has emerged that would suit both the player and Liverpool."

Cole, who is believed to be keen to return to London, was signed by Roy Hodgson a year ago and has seen Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing arrive this summer to add further competition for midfield places at Anfield.

But he has impressed in pre-season and was singled out for praise last week by assistant manager Steve Clarke, whom he worked with at Chelsea during the most productive period of his career.

"At the end of last season he was not getting in the team because the team was playing well," explained Clarke. "But he has trained hard and gone away and had a good summer. Joe Cole is a top international player. He has got 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 wiser. He has always had this same fantastic attitude. 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."

Cole is one of a number of players who have been tipped to leave Liverpool before the close of the transfer window as the Reds look to cut their wage bill and trim a squad that has become bloated in the midfield positions.

Director of football Damien Comolli is satisfied with the work the club has done so far this summer and is now focusing on selling unwanted players including Milan Jovanovic, Christian Poulsen, Alberto Aquilani and Emiliano Insua.

Respect 4 All Party

Disabled football fans who have benefitted from Liverpool's Respect 4 All coaching gathered at Anfield for their annual party.

The club's Respect 4 All Disability Centre started in September 2008 and has coaching sessions four nights a week.

It helps people who are visually impaired, physically disabled, wheelchair users or have severe learning difficulties - allowing them to play sports often for the first time.

Here are some great pictures from the party and disco, at which guests won some brilliant prizes like tours of Melwood and signed shirts.

Our Respect 4 All Centre is completely free and takes place in St Margaret's Cricket and Community Sports Centre in Aigburth.

It is an indoor disability accessible venue with car parking and a viewing classroom, and tea and coffee is available for parents or guardians.

The centre is multi sports but focusing on football and is designed for young people/adults who have previously not had the opportunity to get involved in sports.