Thursday, August 18, 2011

Six Players Linked With Liverpool Exodus

Liverpool look set to lose David Ngog to Bolton, with Kenny Dalglish keen to trim the club by at least six players over the next two weeks, according to the Liverpool Daily Post.

Ngog has long been the subject of exit talks, and Bolton are said to be readying a £4 million bid for the young striker.

And the Frenchman isn’t the only one to be set to exit Liverpool over the next few weeks, with Dalglish also looking to bring some money in from Joe Cole, Christian Poulsen, Emiliano Insua, Phillipp Degan and Alberto Aquilani.

Liverpool is reportedly hoping to sign a centre-back this summer, and have targeted Gary Cahill. But before Dalglish hands the Bolton defender a contract, he wants to let go of any players who don’t figure in Liverpool’s plans for the next season.

Talks for Ngog are said to have been taking place for over two weeks now, and Liverpool are hoping to seal the deal and get some money back into the bank.

While in January, Dalglish’s purchases were offset by the record £50 million sale of Fernando Torres to Chelsea, Liverpool are yet to make any big money sales this summer and have spent well over £50 million on five new signings.

Liverpool Keeping Tabs On £9.5m Rated England Forward Starlet

Liverpool and Stoke City will both be on red alert after the latest comments coming out of Selhurst Park with regards to the future of Crystal Palace striker Wilfried Zaha.

The 18-year-old first came onto the scene at Selhurst Park last season and was voted Young Player of the Year for 2011 by Crystal Place fans.

Zara's performances haven't gone unnoticed and the Ivory Coast born forward has represented England at youth level.

A number of Premier League clubs have been keeping tabs on the Zara with Liverpool and Stoke keen to acquire his services.

Kop boss Kenny Dalglish has been one of the busiest Premiership managers during the summer transfer window and is still looking to add to his squad.

It is believed both Dalglish and Liverpool's director of football Damien Comolli are keen admirers of Zara and see him as a player for the future.

Last season Zara made 43 appearances for the Championship club in all competitions and scored just one goal whilst providing five assists. So far this term he has played in all three games and provided two assists.

Pulis Warns Liverpool Off Shawcross

Stoke manager Tony Pulis has told Liverpool to forget about signing Ryan Shawcross, insisting the club have "got no need to sell" their star defender.

Following the arrivals of England internationals Matthew Upson and Jonathan Woodgate, rumours of Shawcross potentially heading for the exit door have circulated. Liverpool are expected to launch a bid imminently for the 22-year-old, though should they come in for the central defender their advances are likely to be repelled by a determined Pulis.

"We have got no need to sell Ryan," he told the Daily Mail. "We want to spend money if we can. I think the chairman and the board have made it quite clear that their intentions are to try to improve the squad this year.

"We are very pleased with the defenders we've got, now we have to improve our midfield and forward line."

Shawcross's head may have been turned by Liverpool's reported interest - not that Pulis is at all worried by the Reds' expected big-money offer. He told the Daily Star: "I haven't had to tell him to keep a clear mind. I think the fact that we have brought Matty and Woody to the club would have cleared his mind in loads of respects. With regards to Liverpool, I am sure Kenny Dalglish would have rung me if there was anything on that front."

The Potters are preparing for Thursday's Europa League clash with Swiss outfit FC Thun and, with the game set to take place on a plastic pitch, Shawcross and Woodgate are unlikely to be risked - paving the way for Upson to step in and make his Stoke debut.

Maxi Encouraged By Depth Of Liverpool Squad

Maxi Rodriguez insists he is pleased by the signings Liverpool have made this summer - even though the task of securing a first-team place has grown tougher as a consequence.

Over the last few months Reds boss Kenny Dalglish has recruited Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing and Jose Enrique, all of whom made their debuts for the club in Saturday's 1-1 Premier League draw with Sunderland at Anfield.

Rodriguez - scorer of seven goals, including two hat-tricks, for Liverpool towards the end of last season - was not included in the squad and looks set to face a battle to be selected.

But the Argentina international told the Liverpool Echo: ''Healthy competition is always good. Competition for places is always a positive thing for the club and I think it's great that the signings who have arrived are of such high quality with a great level of skills and technique.

''It means the manager has to decide what he thinks is his best 11 but that is something he will decide and we will all be hoping we are in it.

''It's always nice to welcome new faces to the club and you always go out of your way to make them feel as comfortable as possible. They are settling in well.''

Liverpool are attempting to break back into the top four this season and Rodriguez believes it is vital they make a strong start to the campaign.

''I don't think you can stress enough the importance of the first few weeks of the season,'' Rodriguez said. ''If you can see yourself near the top of the table it's great and the confidence that gives helps you grow as a team and as a squad.

''It also means that the teams you are facing will maybe come to Anfield with a different attitude, perhaps showing more respect when they're coming to play against you.

''I think at the start of any season your ultimate goal is to win the league and to come out as champions.

''If you can aim to achieve that then by the very fact that you are fighting for the title it will almost guarantee that you will be involved in the Champions League the following season.

''A team like Liverpool has to be battling on that level and have those kind of aspirations for the season.''

Reina To Follow Legend’s Footsteps

Goalkeeper Pepe Reina has set his sights on helping Liverpool return to European competition this season and reveals the club is already focusing on winning the title.

Reina committed his future to Liverpool earlier this summer, stating the club's progression under manager Kenny Dalglish, who was appointed permanent manager in May, gave him reason to believe the club could be successful in the future.

The club may be without European football this season but the stopper believes that will work in The Reds' favour and help the club get back to their glory days.

"It's difficult because we have been some distance from those aspirations for a long time," Reina said.

"The priority is to return to the top four and keep improving. It's fundamental the team gets back into Europe, then next year makes the jump to challenge for the title.

"I have always been in the situation of playing in midweek so it's new for me. They say it can be an advantage [not playing in Europe] and I hope we can benefit from not having such a heavy schedule.”

Reina also praised new signings Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and Jose Enrique, who all played on Saturday against Sunderland, for how they've quickly gelled with the rest of the side.

"I think the new signings have the advantage of having played many years in this league, that always makes things easier,” Reina said.

"This club has a big history and we have to follow those legends."

Injury Boost For Arsenal Trip

Kenny Dalglish has revealed Glen Johnson is Liverpool's only injury doubt for Saturday's trip to Arsenal along with the recuperating Steven Gerrard.

The boss has confirmed the Reds will journey to the Emirates with a virtually fully-fit squad to choose from for the clash with the Gunners.

Dalglish told his pre-match press conference: "I think there is only Glen Johnson who might be a doubt, but other than that everybody's relatively fit."

Asked about the progress Gerrard is making in his rehabilitation from a groin problem, the manager simply stated: "Brilliant."

Meanwhile, Dalglish has played down any suggestion this could be an ideal opportunity for Liverpool to record their first win at the Emirates.

Arsenal sold captain Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona this week and speculation continues regarding the future of Samir Nasir, while Alex Song and Gervinho will be unavailable for the Reds' visit due to suspension.

"I don't know how they're going to react - it's up to us to know how we will react," said Dalglish. "We can control what we do and we can compete against them, and that's what we've got to do.

"Maybe we're due for a win (at the Emirates). Arsenal have been most football fans' second team. They've been very entertaining to watch, but unfortunately for them they've not won anything for six years, which is the monkey they'd love to get off their back.

"They had a fantastic chance (to win something) last year in the Carling Cup, but on the day Birmingham were better than them and came away victors.

"It's not going to make it any easier for us that they've lost Fabregas, Nasri might not be playing and that they've got a couple of suspensions.

"It's still going to be a difficult game for us and they're still a team I have the greatest respect for, so we'll go there with the same feelings that we had last season, thinking that it's going to be a really difficult game, but hopefully we can make it as difficult for them as they will for us."

The two teams last met in April in a dramatic contest in north London.

With the game seemingly heading for a goalless draw, Robin van Persie netted an injury-time penalty for Arsenal, before Dirk Kuyt secured a point for the visitors with a spot-kick of his own in the 98th minute.

Dalglish recalled: "The referee actually blew up early if you look at the timings, but for us it was a great result.

"We had young Flanno (Jon Flanagan) at right-back. Fabio (Aurelio) went off early doors after about 15 minutes or so, and Jack Robinson came on at 17 years of age to play against Theo Walcott, an England international, and did fantastically well.

"We battled hard throughout the game, competed really well and I think we got what we deserved from it."

Both teams began the 2011-12 Barclays Premier League season with draws last Saturday as Liverpool were held 1-1 by Sunderland at Anfield, while Arsenal ground out a goalless stalemate at Newcastle.

Dalglish admits he was disappointed not to begin the campaign by collecting three points, but on reflection believes there were several positives to be taken from his side's performance - not least the fact no fewer than four players made their league debuts for the Reds, while Lucas Leiva and Luis Suarez both started having only returned to Melwood a mere matter of days earlier following the Copa America.

"We were disappointed with the performance in the second half - we can play better than that - but with a wee bit of luck, on another day we might have been two or three up," said the gaffer.

"We had a lot of positives to take out of it, probably a lot more positives when you look back now than when we did at the time.

"It was a difficult game for the three lads who have just been signed, and Jose (Enrique) came in the day before. Then we had Luis (Suarez) who had only had a week's training, and Lucas had only had 10 days.

"All in all, when you consider that's about six players, I don't think we did too badly because it's a big ask for people to make their debut at Anfield, especially when you've only signed 24 hours before in Jose's case.

"For Jordan (Henderson) he was playing against the only professional team he'd ever played for. Charlie (Adam) and Stewart (Downing) would have had different feelings, but it's still an emotive time and big occasion for them too. They're relatively young players, so when you look back and reflect I think we did better than what I thought we did in the immediate aftermath of the game."

After a lively first-half performance against the Black Cats, Liverpool were unable to maintain their grip on the contest after the break and journalists were eager to know whether Dalglish felt his team were suffering from tiredness in the second period.
He responded: "Tiredness is not an issue. The (new) boys played with their emotions in the way they were and the magnitude of the task in front of them, so for different reasons it was understandable that maybe the second half wasn't as good as the first.
"We have no problem whatsoever with their fitness - try and run against them to see how you fare up!"

One of the quartet making a debut against Sunderland was Enrique, a little more than 24 hours after sealing his transfer from Newcastle.

The Spaniard turned in an assured display on his Liverpool bow, and Dalglish is delighted to have acquired his services.

"He's a good player, he's got experience in the Premier League and he's settled into the way of life in England, so that's helpful to us," said the Scot.

"It's a position we had to strengthen. Young Jack Robinson has got fantastic potential, but we have to responsible with him. He's 17 years of age and to throw him in and expect him to play a full season would have been wrong - but he'll be there or thereabouts."

He added: "It's always helpful when you know the environment you're in and for us that was an important factor when we were looking for a full-back - somebody who has a knowledge of the game and the Premier League.

"He certainly has that. He's been here for four years, his English is good - it's better than mine and his football is better than mine as well! - so we're quite happy with the signing of Jose."

Asked whether Enrique could be Liverpool's final signing of the summer, Dalglish replied: "I don't know - it's the same as I don't know if that's your last question!

"I cannot answer it honestly. I suppose it's a little bit like last year when I was asked, 'When are you signing the contract?' or 'Have you been asked to sign?' - until the transfer window shuts, the most honest answer I can give is 'I don't know.'"

Reds Crash To Sporting Loss

Liverpool endured a difficult start to life in the NextGen Series as they went down to a 3-0 defeat against Sporting Lisbon at Anfield on Wednesday night.

Rodolfo Borrell's youngsters faced one of the finest youth sides in Europe and found themselves trailing to two magnificent first-half goals from Joao Teixeira and Alberto Coelho.

The Reds stepped up a level following the interval but could not mount a fightback despite hitting the post through substitute Krisztian Adorjan.

Farley Rosa then sealed the triumph with a magnificent third four minutes from time.

The result means Liverpool are pointless following their first match in Group Two and will now look to bounce back in time for their Barclays Premier Reserve League opener against Norwich City next week.

Ahead of the contest Borrell had warned of the threat the Portuguese outfit would pose and the size of the task was perhaps magnified by the Spaniard's team selection with both Jonjo Shelvey and Jack Robinson amongst the starting XI.

Indeed, the Leoes arrived on Merseyside boasting an Academy set-up that has nurtured the likes of Paulo Futre, Luis Figo, Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo to name but a few.

Five consecutive league titles at U18 level provided further proof of the challenge that lay ahead and Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher were among the observers keen to see what they had to offer.

It set it up for a mouthwatering night of football which was somewhat fitting on a day that marked the 47th anniversary of the Reds' first ever foray into Europe.

The hosts made a positive start too and Raheem Sterling was first to show on four minutes when he produced some neat skills on the left before delivering a cross that fell too close to Rafael Veloso in the Sporting goal.

The visitors responded and Teixeira was unlucky when he cut in from the left and curled a delightful effort just over the top.

Ricardo Sa Pinto's side looked calm and composed in possession, assuming a control of the proceedings that lived up to their pre-match hype. However, Liverpool's pace on the break was a clear threat and on 15 minutes Shelvey almost released Toni Silva with a well weighted pass that was brilliantly gathered by Veloso.

The Portuguese stopper had been a virtual spectator up until that point but was forced into action just seconds later when he fisted away Sterling's low drive.

The away team may have looked strong in open play but from set pieces it was a different story and twice Liverpool's delivery from corner kicks caused mayhem in the Sporting box before Shelvey arced a free-kick inches over the crossbar.

There had been little between the two sides as the half hour approached but on 26 minutes the visitors produced a moment of magic to snare the lead.

Teixera had been a constant menace to the Reds defence and it was his neat exchange with Coelho that saw the No.9 flick the ball back into his path for him to clinically finish with the minimum of fuss.

The goal stung Liverpool into life and Silva showed Michael Pinto a clean pair of heels before fizzing an effort just wide.

Next, Sterling cut the ball back for Adam Morgan from the left but the striker could only stab an effort wide at the near post.

A leveller prior to the interval would have been the perfect tonic for Borrell and co but it was Sa Pinto's starlets who put together another sublime move to double their advantage on 38 minutes.

A flowing piece of play opened the Reds up down the right and when the ball was cut across goal Coelho arrived to strike a sweet shot beyond Belford and into the far corner of the Kop end net.

There was little Liverpool could do in the face of such quality but they did have a chance to reduce the arrears just seconds later when Suso blazed over with the goal gaping after Morgan's perseverance down the left.

It would have been a tough half-time team talk for Borrell but he resisted the temptation to make changes and instead asked the 11 who had started the encounter to show what they are made of.

To their credit they responded and Morgan was unfortunate not to turn home after Veloso had flapped at a corner.

Next, Sterling showed just why he is regarded as such a promising talent with a superb run and cross before Silva dragged a shot wide from 25 yards.

It had been much better from the Liverpool point of view and on the hour mark the Reds coach made a triple change that was his last throw of the dice.

On came Tom King, Adorjan and Michael Ngoo who answered the call despite having only just returned to Kirkby following his participation at the U20 World Cup.

It gave the home team a completely different threat and after Ngoo fired over following a neat one-two with Suso, he teed up Adorjan for the Reds' best chance of the match.

The towering striker surged down the left and crossed low for the Hungarian who saw his shot crash back off the near post.

It was all Liverpool but on 65 minutes it should have been over as a contest when Bruma played in Carlos Chaby who cut inside and fired over when he had looked odds on to score.

Sporting had appeared rattled but they slowly began to weather the storm and they sealed the victory four minutes from the end when Rosa curled home a sensational third from 20 yards.

Hillsborough Files: Kenny Dalglish In Full Disclosure Call

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has backed a campaign urging the release of cabinet discussions from the aftermath of the Hillsborough stadium disaster.

The Cabinet Office said on Wednesday it was appealing against the information commissioner's ruling that the papers should be made available.

Mr. Dalglish used Twitter to back an e-petition urging full disclosure of all documents relating to the 1989 tragedy.

The government says such a move would pre-empt the Hillsborough inquiry.

Information commissioner Christopher Graham had ruled the release of the documents would be in the public interest, but the Cabinet Office said any information must be issued in line with the Hillsborough independent inquiry.

The e-petition registered on the government's website calls for "full government disclosure and publication of all documents, discussions and reports relating to the 1989 Hillsborough disaster".

Mr. Dalglish tweeted: "Please sign this petition and RT. Think it is very important that we support this."

The Labour MP for Leigh and former Culture Secretary Andy Burnham and the Conservative MP Therese Coffey, who is a member of the Culture and Media Select Committee, have also called on the government to drop its appeal.
Freedom of Information

Mr. Burnham, an Everton fan, tweeted that the appeal was damaging trust in the process. He has written to Prime Minister David Cameron.

Liverpool-born Ms Coffey, who is a Reds supporter, has written to Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude urging him to reverse the appeal decision.

Mr. Graham's judgement related to a Freedom of Information request from the BBC which was refused by the Cabinet Office in 2009.

The Cabinet Office said releasing the documents would interfere with the inquiry by the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

The withheld files include reports presented to then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, correspondence between her office and the then-Home Secretary Douglas Hurd and minutes of meetings she attended.

Ninety-five Liverpool supporters were killed in a crush of fans at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield, where the club was playing an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.

The 96th victim was left in a coma for three years and died in 1992.

Mr. Dalglish, who was in his first stint as Liverpool boss when the tragedy happened, attended several of the victims' funerals.