Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Kenny Dalglish Wary Of New-Look Sunderland

Kenny Dalglish has warned his Liverpool FC players not to be caught cold by a new-look Sunderland this weekend.

LFC begin their Premier League campaign on Saturday by welcoming the Black Cats.

While most eyes will be on Liverpool’s new summer signings, Sunderland have been even busier in the transfer market with manager Steve Bruce transforming his team after they faltered badly during the second half of last season.

And a wary Dalglish said: “People say it’s more important to win the first game than any other. I’m not sure about that. You obviously want to win it, but after five or six weeks the opening day is usually forgotten about.

“What is certain is that Sunderland will be a difficult fixture. There’s been a major turnaround in players there over the summer.

“We’ll need to do a bit of revision and see which players Steve (Bruce) has brought in and let go.

“It might be difficult to remember them all and their team will be very different from the side we faced back in March.”

Andy Carroll signed off a profitable pre-season personally last weekend with a goal in the 2-0 win against Valencia.

Carroll appeared in all six of Liverpool’s warm-up games and Dalglish believes the striker, who arrived in January from Newcastle United nursing a thigh problem, is fitter than at any time during his fledgling Anfield career.

“Andy Carroll’s injury meant he was only able to train at 100% on rare occasions last season,” said the Liverpool manager.

“He even played in some games when we knew he wasn’t going to be at his best.

“Now he’s fully over that knock and has been able to do a lot more on the training field in pre-season. That’s showed in the games he’s played over the last few weeks. He’s fitter and scoring some goals.”

Victorien Angban Set For Five-Year Deal With Reds

Liverpool is set to sign Ivory Coast youngster Victorien Angban, according to France Football.

The Under-17 international played a pivotal part with his country during the recent World Cup, playing alongside striker Souleymane Coulibaly, who broke a 10-year scoring record by scoring nine goals during the recent World Cup in Mexico.

Such form helped Coulibaly secure a move to Tottenham Hotspur earlier this summer, and now Angban looks like moving to the Barclays Premier League with Liverpool.

Liverpool have already invested in their future this summer, securing deals for Marco Bueno, who has joined on a 10-day trial subject to signing a five-year deal, and Nacho, another who has had a trial with the club earlier this year.

The club has brought through the likes of John Flanagan, Martin Kelly and Jay Spearing through their youth system in recent months, as the club continues to invest in its future under Fenway Sports Group.

Kenny Dalglish has also been allowed to invest in his first-team squad this summer, with the likes of Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Alexander Doni and Stewart Downing joining the ranks at Liverpool.

Agent Of Alvaro Pereira Invites €30m Bid For Liverpool Target

The agent of Porto full-back Alvaro Pereira has refused to rule out a summer move for the Uruguayan but admits any interested clubs will have to pay his full €30 million release clause.

The 25-year-old has been linked with a move to Premier League giants Liverpool and Chelsea, as well as mega-rich French side PSG and his agent Alejandro Savich believes a move could happen.

"Until now there has been no contact with us," he told Maisfutebol.

"In fact, I can say more: this time we have no offers from any club for Alvaro Pereira.

"I can only speak about the present and the truth is that there are no official offers.

"Alvaro Pereira will start training on Wednesday with FC Porto, but the market only closes on August 31 and until August 31 and anything can happen.

"He is aware that he has a contract until 2015 and that for now is focused on FC Porto, but also knows that things change quickly and that any time something could happen.

"If a club can pay the clause of €30m then we will see.”

Talk of Pereira departing Porto has intensified since last season’s Europa League winners completed the signing of Alex Sandro from Santos earlier in the summer.

Hull Hope To Win Ayala Chase

Hull City assistant manager Craig Shakespeare admits the club has rivals for the signature of Liverpool defender Daniel Ayala.

The Spaniard impressed during a loan spell at the KC Stadium last season and the Tigers are keen to bring Ayala back on a permanent basis.

A fee in the region of £850,000 is reported to have been agreed with Liverpool and Hull is now looking to meet the player's demands.

However, there have been claims that Premier League new boys Swansea City and the Tigers' Championship rivals Ipswich Town are looking to hijack the deal.

Shakespeare is aware of other interest in Ayala, but remains optimistic that the youngster can be added to Nigel Pearson's squad.

"We believe we have made a fair offer but we're not sure where Daniel and his agent see him next," said Shakespeare in the Hull Daily Mail.

"We would love to have him back on board here but there is another club involved."

Ipswich boss Paul Jewell is keen to improve his squad this week ahead of his side's game at home to Hull on Saturday.

Downing Reveals Gerrard Role In Liverpool Transfer

England winger Stewart Downing admits he faces a challenge to fight his way into the Liverpool team, but is relishing the battle.

Downing arrived for £20 million from Aston Villa this summer and, with Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam also being added to an already cluttered midfield area, he is not guaranteed a spot in the starting XI.

Instead, he will have to prove that he has what it takes to complement skipper Steven Gerrard, who played an integral role in convincing Downing to sign for the Reds.

"If you have a mixture of the foreign lads and the British then it is a good mix I think," Downing told the Mirror. "I knew Steven and Carra before I came and they said 'good atmosphere, great set of lads, we work very hard'. The manager is demanding and that is something I wanted to sample.

"Once I knew I had a chance of coming to Anfield I spoke to him but he didn't really have to sell the club to me. It is a pull already. It has been brilliant and training has been really good. It is a challenge to get in this team and do well."

He is hoping that a move to Liverpool will ignite his stuttering England career, which he admits is a source of disgruntlement at present. "I hope I can become an integral part for England," Downing said. "So far I would say my England career has been frustrating."

Liverpool begin their Premier League season at home to Sunderland on Saturday.

Liverpool Boss Dalglish Heads To Ballynahinch

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish took a break from his side’s preparations for the big Premier League kick-off on Saturday by visiting Northern Ireland today.

Just days before the first game of a new campaign, against Sunderland at Anfield, the Kop idol hitched up at Ballynahinch to attend the launch of a three-day Liverpool Academy, held at Assumption Grammar School.

Dalglish was then due to travel to Jordanstown to attend another soccer school, which will see Liverpool Academy coaches run through training programs.

The events are run in conjunction with the Happy Children charity and Dalglish’s visit follows up on a promise he made this year that he would make Northern Ireland a regular fixture in his visiting schedule.

“The events will be non-profit-making and hugely enjoyable for the young kids to attend,” said Dalglish.

“I am hoping to be able to support them as much as possible.

“It is hugely encouraging that the community spirit is alive and well in Northern Ireland.”

Dalglish is relishing the prospect of the coming season and having bought extensively in the transfer market during the summer there are high expectations for the Reds.

The Scot will be determined to start the match with a victory over Steve Bruce’s Sunderland, who themselves have invested heavily in new players in recent months.

Reds Star In The Lake District

Liverpool Reserves recently enjoyed a two-day workshop aimed at enhancing their conduct as professional footballers - both on and off the pitch.

The young Reds retreated to a secluded hotel in the Lake District where they listened to a variety of presentations as well as taking part in some good-natured team building exercises.

The Academy's head of education and welfare, Phil Roscoe was highly satisfied with the outcome of an intense 48 hours and was keen to explain how the club believes such a trip will benefit the stars of the future.

Roscoe told "We spoke with Damien Comolli and agreed that we would do something a bit different with the reserves this season.

"This involved not just concentrating on the football side of things but also taking time out to focus on other areas of life.

"There is a whole package to being a footballer and we want the lads to understand this. Going from U18s to reserves involves more pressure both and off the pitch.

"So what we wanted to do was to bring experts in from various areas so that they could speak to the players about what they could do to maximize their chances of conducting themselves professionally on and off the field."

The program involved insightful presentations on finance, alcoholism and drug abuse.

This was followed by some media training, as well as talks on internet safety and sexual health.

Roscoe continued: "It was quite extensive. Frank McParland kicked it off and discussed what he wanted from the players and how the Academy was changing and improving.

"Damien (Comolli) then wrapped the whole thing up by concluding with what is required of them if they want to become Liverpool's first-team players of the future.

"I was delighted with the overall success of the trip and I'd like to think every single player will take something from it.

"It was a great chance to get them away from the training field and put them into a room where they would be involved in important talks about life skills."

The experts who took part in the program also gave the event their thumbs up.

Liverpool To Have Its Own TV Channel

Liverpool will boast its own television channel to meet a "huge appetite" for more local information, under government plans unveiled yesterday.

The city is among 65 areas – from London to Bangor, in North Wales – where organizations have been invited to set up "local TV", along the lines of successful stations in the United States and France.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said “Liverpool TV” would serve around 800,000 households, stretching as far as Wirral, St Helens, Widnes and Wigan – initially on Channel Eight, on a Freeview box.

And he sought to quash industry scepticism about the viability of the stations by insisting they could be successful on advertising revenues of just £500,000 – and no state funding.

Mr. Hunt said: "This represents the biggest change in the broadcast landscape for decades. These new, local TV services will be a fundamental change in how people get information about their own communities. There's a huge appetite for local news and information, the length and breadth of the country.

"I want people to be able to watch television that's truly relevant to them, about what's happening where they live and featuring the people they know."

Under Mr. Hunt's plans, bids will be lodged in the next few months and Ofcom, the broadcasting watchdog, is expected to select an initial batch of 20 channels to be up and running by 2013. However, a study carried out for the Culture Secretary, last year, suggested local television may only be feasible in up to 12 of the largest cities.

Furthermore, local groups – the Culture Secretary suggested they might include entrepreneurs, universities or media companies – must first put forward a sustainable business case.

Mr. Hunt said just over half of the UK's population could be covered by one of the new channels, which will be based around existing transmitter locations. This means some major cities, including Portsmouth and Ipswich, will miss out.

However, they will be required to show only one hour of original news content every day – although Mr. Hunt said that content would be far more local than the regional news currently found on the BBC and ITV. Ministers sliced £40m from the BBC's licence fee grant to pay for the capital set-up costs of the project, which include adapting the transmitters, but each project will have to be self-funding.