Thursday, August 11, 2011

Liverpool And Everton Appeal For Calm

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish and Everton boss David Moyes have called for calm following the unrest throughout the country during the week.

The new Premier League season is due to start on Saturday but after England's friendly with Holland was called off and the midweek Carling Cup program was disrupted it remains to be seen if all 20 teams will play their opening fixtures.

Dalglish, who leads Liverpool into a league campaign for the first time since 1990, used the club's official website to ask for Liverpudlians to "pull together''.

"The city has made incredible progress over the past few years and no-one wants to see our restored reputation damaged by what we have witnessed over the last couple of days. For everyone's sake let's stop this now and pull together for the benefit of the whole community,'' he said.

Reds captain Steven Gerrard, who will miss the start of the season following an ongoing groin problem, echoed his manager's sentiments. He said: "This is a city which has always stuck together in difficult times and supported each other. If there are people thinking of going out and causing problems, then please think again.

"The community doesn't want you behaving like this. We're proud of how Liverpool has been transformed and we shouldn't let the actions of a few have such an impact on the rest of the people who live here and care about the city.''

Their words were echoed by Everton's Moyes, who said: "There can be no justification for the shocking display of behaviour that has been witnessed throughout the city of Liverpool and the rest of the country over the past few days.

"The mindless actions by small groups of individuals cannot be condoned and along with the rest of the Merseyside community, everyone at Everton Football Club gives its full support to the police and local authorities in bringing an end to the troubles.''
Moyes added: "As a result of recent events, football has already suffered and we need to ensure that this stops immediately so thousands of people up and down the country can enjoy one of the most anticipated weekends of the year - the start of the Premier League season.''

Despite the ongoing problems and policing issues QPR owner Bernie Ecclestone told BBC Sport he believes allowing the situation to disrupt the start of the new top-flight season would be disastrous.

"I tell you what, it gives a terrible message to the rest of the world. The Premier League is watched all over the world and wherever I travel and turn on [the TV] I see Manchester United playing someone,'' he said.

"It is important and it is watched worldwide so it gives a very bad message [about] England and we're about to have the Olympic Games so it is not a good message to give. Can you imagine if these sort of things happened when the Games were being staged? It would be terrible.''

Greg Clarke, the chairman of the Football League, warned that policing the streets would take priority and that matches will be postponed if police officers are required elsewhere.

"The police have to make these calls. If they feel they have more important things to do than send officers to football grounds, we will support that decision,'' he told Sky Sports News.

"Our priority is to make sure the police are out there dealing with unrest on the streets. We want to keep our games going ahead but that is a secondary priority.''

"We have to support the police and the government in making the streets safe, then after that we can think about 'let's get our football games going ahead.'

"If they need to move police away from football games, we will cancel those football games. We don't believe the situation will go on much longer, history tells us these things tend to peter out and we will make sure football games can go ahead as and when.''

Wednesday's game between Bristol Rovers and Watford became the fifth Carling Cup tie to be postponed after four call-offs on Tuesday.

Liverpool Agree £6m Fee For Jose Enrique

Liverpool moved closer to solving their problem at left-back after agreeing a fee with Newcastle for defender Jose Enrique.

Liverpool will discuss personal terms with the Spaniard when he arrives on Merseyside for his medical at their Melwood training ground this afternoon.

Enrique, 25, will cost Liverpool in the region of £6million but will fill a position which they struggled with last season.

"Liverpool FC confirmed today that they had agreed a fee with Newcastle United have been in negotiation with for the transfer of Jose Enrique," said a club statement.

"The club has now been given permission to discuss personal terms with the player, who will travel to Liverpool to undergo a medical."

Enrique joined the Magpies for £6.3million from Villarreal in August 2007 but was in the final year of his contract at St James' Park and had made it clear he would not be signing a new deal.

Providing there are no hitches to the move the defender will become Kenny Dalglish's fifth signing of the summer, following midfielders Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson and back-up goalkeeper Alexander Doni to Anfield.

Dalglish was unsuccessful in his bid to try to sign Arsenal left-back Gael Clichy earlier in the summer, with the Frenchman opting to join Manchester City, but the Scot has been looking for a long-term solution to a position which has been a source of frustration for a number of seasons.

Former manager Rafael Benitez tried several options with varying degrees of success, with the injury-plagued Fabio Aurelio, inexperienced Emiliano Insua and the woeful Andrea Dossena all trying but failing to hold down a regular position.

His successor Roy Hodgson signed Paul Konchesky from former club Fulham when he arrived last summer but the player was soon found out and lasted only marginally longer than his manager.

Hodgson was replaced in early January and by the end of the month Konchesky had been loaned out to Nottingham Forest and has since found a permanent home in the npower Championship at Leicester.

Dalglish's temporary fix was to give right-back Glen Johnson an unaccustomed role on the left and he performed well, with teenaged reserve team defender Jack Robinson filling in admirably when the England international was injured.

Aurelio, fitness-permitting, and Robinson seem likely to provide the back-up to Enrique which means Argentina international Emiliano Insua, who returned from a season-long loan at Galatasaray this summer, may have to find another club.

Liverpool In €7m Boca Battle Over Argentine Ace

Liverpool face competition from Boca Juniors and Inter Milan in the race to sign Argentine international midfielder Fernando Gago.

The Real Madrid defensive midfielder is one of a number of players thought to be available this summer, with Jose Mourinho looking to sell players in order to free funds for more transfers at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Spanish paper Marca sights Liverpool alongside the Serie 'A' giants Inter are leading the chase for the player, with the quoted €7 million price tag potentially too much for Boca to move for the 25-year-old.

It's not the first time Gago has appeared on the Reds' radar, with former Anfield chief Roy Hodgson thought to be keen on the player last summer and current Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish linked with a move back in January.

Liverpool has already spent big this summer, with Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson bolstering the midfield ranks at Anfield after big-money moves.

After only four senior appearances in La Liga last term, the former Boca starlet will be eager to play first team football once again, although it's unclear if Liverpool would be able to offer that to the player.

Liverpool Trailing France Under-21 Full-Back Loris Nery

Saint-Etienne youngster Loris Nery is attracting the attention of Liverpool director Damien Comolli, who previously used to ply his trade at the French club.

Nery is a 20-year-old defender who signed his first professional contract with the Ligue 1 side last August and made his debut the following month.

The versatile full-back can play anywhere in defence and has represented France at the Under-16, U-20 and U-21 levels.

Now L'Equipe reports that the Merseyside club is willing to tie down the youngster on a long-term deal before loaning him back to a French outfit.

Nery's current contract with Saint-Etienne runs until 2013, and it is thought that he has been offered a two-year extension by the Ligue 1 side.

Lucas Declares Himself Ready To Face Sunderland

Liverpool's Lucas Leiva remains optimistic about his place in the team to face Sunderland on the opening day of the season, despite the arrival of additional midfielders and his participation in this summer's Copa America.

The Brazilian has been at the centre of speculation regarding Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish's lineup for Saturday's match against Sunderland, with many tipping the player to miss out on a first team place.

However last campaign's club Player of the Season remains positive, insisting the lack of a summer break will not leave him short of match fitness.

Speaking to Liverpool's official website, he stated: "I'm fit. I didn't have a full holiday and was training with the national team, so it won't be a problem for me to be available for Saturday."

"I am really excited to be back and really looking forward to the new season. We're in a good mood at the moment and hopefully we'll start well on Saturday."

Dalglish Backs Henderson

Jordan Henderson should not be targeted by Sunderland's boo boys when they play Liverpool, according to Kenny Dalglish.

Liverpool moved quickly to sign the midfielder in the close season, sealing a £20million deal for his services.

At just 20, Henderson had become a feature of Steve Bruce's midfield and had earned himself an England cap.

Fate has now ensured that Sunderland will provide the opposition in his and Liverpool's opening game of the season at Anfield.

Nevertheless, Dalglish hopes the Black Cats fans will show some understanding to a player they have been able to profit so handsomely off.

"Obviously Jordan is one they've lost. He's a good player who they would have been understandably reluctant to let go," he told the Liverpool Echo.

"But sometimes as a manager you've got to be philosophical and say if a player wants to go we should let him leave. I don't think [Sunderland fans] will have any animosity towards Jordan.

"Sunderland will be a difficult fixture. There's been a major turnaround of players there over the summer.

"We'll need to do a bit of revision and see which players Steve has brought in and let go. Their team will be very different to the one we faced back in March."

Aquilani Keen To Make Impact At Liverpool

Alberto Aquilani insists there is no desperation on his part to leave Liverpool, admitting he would "love to make a mark" at Anfield this season.

Aquilani's big-money switch from Roma to Liverpool has failed to produce rewards so far, with the Italy international making less than 10 starts in his debut season. Earmarked as the replacement for Xabi Alonso, Aquilani fell a distance short of previous standards set by the Real Madrid man.

However, a year on loan at Juventus has revitalized the 27-year-old. Voted by many as Juventus' player of the season, Aquilani naturally wanted to stay where his football was succeeding, but a deal could not be negotiated.

Since then the creative midfielder has enjoyed an excellent pre-season, creating several goals for his Liverpool colleagues, suggesting he may have a future under the passing ethos of Kenny Dalglish. Speculation continues that Aquilani will leave, with Fiorentina strongly linked, but the Italian insists he will knuckle down if he remains at Liverpool.

"I'd love to make my mark at Liverpool. The transfer market is open until August 31, so we'll see what happens," Aquilani said.

"All I can say is that there has been a lot of talk. Obviously I would take the offer of a permanent move into consideration with Liverpool.

"I wasn't following the Italian media much over the summer, but whatever happens I am at a great club like Liverpool."

'It'll Prepare Us For Europe'

Rodolfo Borrell believes Manchester City will provide the perfect opposition for Liverpool Reserves ahead of next week's eagerly-anticipated NextGen Series opener against Sporting Lisbon.

The second-string's head coach has identified several similarities between the two sides and hopes to use the final encounter of pre-season to fine tune his preparations for the big kick off.

Speaking prior to this afternoon's clash at Hyde United, Borrell told "I'm looking to play against a very good squad and the initial idea was to use this game as a rehearsal for the Sporting Lisbon game.

"Sporting are a fantastic side that have very quick and technically-gifted players. These are the types of players Manchester City are looking to use at U18, U19 and reserve team level.

"With this in mind I felt they were the obvious choice. The stronger the team they play, the better for us. Like I say, they have some characteristics, especially in midfield and up front, that are similar to the Portuguese team and that can help us."

The reserves have suffered mixed fortunes in pre-season, notching up one win and two draws from five outings.

Borrell is unfazed by the results of their warm-up games and remains confident his players will benefit from coming up against teams with a strong physical approach.

He said: "At the moment I am quite happy. It has been a tough pre-season. We've got a lot of young players coming into the reserve team and I think that is the right way for a club like Liverpool to move forward.

"We look at the reserves as one step forward from the U18s and no longer just use players in the squad who are 22, 23, and 24 years old.

"The result of this is that the squad is very young. We know that we might have some problems at the beginning of the season in terms of results because we are going to perform against reserve team squads with players that are much older and have developed more physically.

"I know that we need to be able to handle this and that the lads must face this as a reality as soon as possible. That is why I picked out some very tough games for our pre-season.

"It has been difficult but I think we have adopted the correct approach in our preparations for the new campaign."