Friday, September 02, 2011

Liverpool Failed In £9m Bid For Rangers Striker

According to a report in The Sun this morning, Liverpool aimed a speculative offer for Rangers hitman Nikica Jelavic as the transfer deadline approached on Wednesday night.

Reds manager Kenny Dalglish allegedly aimed a £9 million offer at the Glasgow side after seeing David Ngog, Raul Meireles and Joe Cole leave Merseyside on various deals.

Though Craig Bellamy was brought in on a free from Manchester City, Dalglish chanced his arm with an approach to take Jelavic to Anfield on loan, before making a more realistic multi-million attempt as the clock ticked down.

Despite the fact that Liverpool’s frontline is brimming with talent, and Luis Suarez looks to be in fantastic form to start the new season, Jelavic would have been a great addition.

Since arriving from Rapid Vienna in 2010, he has scored 22 goals in 36 appearances across all competitions, helping Rangers to the Scottish Premier League title.

A 12-cap Croatian international to boot, there is no doubt that Jelavic could be a force at Premier League level and Dalglish's interest may indicate that a January swoop could be in the offing.

Cardiff City Tried To Keep Bellamy From The Clutches Of Liverpool

Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay has revealed the Bluebirds tried in vain to keep Craig Bellamy from the clutches of Liverpool on deadline day.

The 31-year-old spent last season on loan at his hometown club from Manchester City, but was unable to help them secure a passage into the Barclays Premier League.

Cardiff were, however, keen to bring to Bellamy back to South Wales before the close of the transfer window, but had to step aside when Liverpool made their interest known.

"You're talking about Liverpool, which is a huge club," Mackay said.

"[Bellamy's] someone I've spoken to three or four times since I've taken the job, in a friendly capacity.

"Really until Manchester City decided what they were going to do, I think there was nothing I could have done.

"Certainly we looked at something and put a proposition when we found out it was an opportunity that he'd be leaving.

"But at the end of the day you're talking about Liverpool, which is a huge club.

"But our chairman really showed ambition yesterday and we'd made tentative calls, but by that point it was so far down the road with Liverpool."

Clarke - Coates Is Ready

Liverpool coach Steve Clarke believes new signing Sebastian Coates is ready to be thrown into the first team.

The 20-year-old Uruguayan completed his move from Nacional on Tuesday to provide extra competition at centre-half in an undisclosed deal.

Fresh from being crowned Young Player of the Tournament at the Copa America, in which Uruguay were triumphant, Coates arrives with undoubted potential.

Clarke, though, is wary of the demands of the Premier League, which has so often got the better of youngsters making their bow in the English game.

"He's a full international and Uruguay is amongst the top five in the world, so they're a strong international team," Clarke told the club's official website.

"He's a talented youngster and gives us different options at the back. He's ready to play if required, but we've also got many other centre-halves ready to play if required.

"You never really know how a foreign player coming into the English game is going to adapt. Some take a long time to adjust, while others like Luis Suarez come in and settle straight away.

"You just keep an eye on it and hope the boy settles quickly, gets to know his team-mates, gets a few chances to play and then you build on it from there.

"It'll be a different challenge for him because the English Premier League is a league that takes a little bit of getting used to, so hopefully we can nurse him along, get him ready and he'll be a valuable addition to the squad.

"We look to sign young players that can improve and we looked at his performances throughout the Copa America when he was named Young Player of the Tournament. It's certainly exciting."

Coates is one of seven summer signings made by Liverpool, and Clarke reckons things are starting to take shape.

"All over the team you can see little partnerships and combinations starting to form," he said.

"We're basically a young team who are still getting to know each other and still working on strengths and weaknesses.

"Hopefully over a period of time we'll improve and the team performances will improve too."

Carra Lauds Bellamy Return

Jamie Carragher believes Craig Bellamy can top his first spell at Liverpool after returning to his former club on transfer deadline day.

The 32-year-old signed a two-year deal on Wednesday having come to an agreement over the final 12 months of his contract with Manchester City, where he had fallen out of favour with manager Roberto Mancini.

He returns to the Merseysiders four years after leaving following just one season under Rafael Benitez in which he scored nine goals.

"It's a great signing. As a kid he always said he was a Liverpool fan," said Reds vice-captain Carragher.

"I think he was quite disappointed with how it finished, with how he left.

"He'd have liked to have done a lot better and hopefully this gives him the chance to do that.

"For the last few years at Man City he has been excellent, not just as a striker but as a wide player. In the squad we've probably only got Stewart Downing as an out-and-out wide player.

"I think Craig prefers to play as a striker but he could certainly do that job for us."

Carragher was also pleased to see the defence reinforced with the arrival of 6ft 6in Uruguay centre-back Sebastian Coates, who impressed during this summer's Copa America.

"I haven't seen a lot of him but I think he got young player of the tournament," the veteran centre-back told Liverpool's official website.

"That shows he's got great quality and I think it's going to be a great addition to the squad.

"You can't think of yourself, you have to think of the club. One centre-back (Sotirios Krygiakos) went so we needed another.

"Time will tell how good the lad is but his pedigree looks fantastic.

"He's probably been brought up playing a different type of football than I have, a South American style - so maybe I can learn from him as well.

"It's not always about the older players helping the younger - it can work vice-versa. You're always learning from different people."

Henderson Fires For England

Jordan Henderson scored an excellent goal while captaining England U21s to a 6-0 Euro qualification victory over Azerbaijan on Thursday night.

The 21-year-old bent a right-foot shot beyond the goalkeeper to cap a mature display in the centre of the park.

Jon Flanagan also impressed on his U21 debut, playing 90 minutes and looking every inch a Premier League player.

Andre Wisdom didn't get off the bench but another debutant Jonjo Shelvey was sharp after entering the game in the 79th minute.

England's other scorers on the night were Henri Lansbury (2), Craig Dawson (2) and Martyn Waghorn.

Maxi Sets Goals Target

Maxi Rodriguez hopes his new squad number will inspire him to a best ever goals tally in a Liverpool shirt.

The Argentine enjoyed a rich vein of form in the latter stages of 2010-11 including hat-tricks in consecutive games but has already set his sights on surpassing those exploits this time around.

Our new No.11 told LFC Weekly: "Football is a game where you always want to do better and, after scoring 10 goals last season, it would be nice to improve on that this year.

"From when you are a kid you always want to improve year on year so if I can, that will be fantastic.

"The main thing is to try and make the most of any opportunities you do get to play so I will be going all out to do that."

Maxi switched shirt numbers during the summer having previously donned the No.17 jersey.

He admits he has a fondness for the number 11 and hopes it can have a positive impact upon his game.

"It was something that I asked for personally. It's just my favourite number," he said.

"I wore it at Newell's Old Boys and at Atletico and also in a couple of games for the Argentina national team.

"Albert Riera was the last person to have it at the start of last season but he left that summer and so the number was spare. Let's hope it brings a lot of luck."

Downing: Kenny Given Me Confidence

Stewart Downing claims Kenny Dalglish has given him the confidence to become an England hero.

By his own admission, the winger has had an up and down England career, but he is now aiming to follow former Aston Villa teammate Ashley Young in becoming a regular for Fabio Capello.

Like Young at Manchester United, Downing has been on top form since swapping clubs in the summer - and our new No.19 has doffed his 27 caps at the part played by Dalglish.

"I certainly feel more confident as a player," said Downing ahead of England's clash with Bulgaria. "The team at Liverpool is playing well and I'm happy with my form at the minute. The fact the manager put a lot of faith in me, spending that amount of money, does give me a lot of confidence.

"He's quite a man-manager, always hands on and speaking to you. He knows how to play and he's given me a lot of confidence as a player - and when players are playing with confidence they tend to play quite well.

"As soon as I went to Liverpool I felt settled at a great club.

"Playing in a big squad, fighting for my place every week, will bring the best out of me."

Downing added: "Ashley has seen people competing with him for a place in the team and he's grabbing it with both hands, which we all have to do when given the chance."

"His progress does act as an inspiration, and not only for me. We all have to be ready when called upon by Fabio.

"I've got myself back in the squad but I don't just want to be making up the numbers. I want to be playing. There's a big championship at the end of the summer. To get in that squad will be difficult, because there are a lot of players playing for places, a lot of wingers. So I've got to be on form and playing well."

Downing started Capello's first competitive game in charge of England against Andorra but competition from James Milner and Adam Johnson meant opportunities were limited thereafter.

"It's been up and down, I'm not hiding that," he said. "I had a run of games under Steve McClaren and was then in and out.

"The thing for me is that I have been in and out but of late I've been in the squad and involved in games. I think it's a big season for me. I want to play well, get in that 11 and be in the squad.

"I started Capello's first qualifier. I thought I did well in some games. In others not so well, and I've got to be honest and say that.

"I don't worry about other things. I need to play well and not worry about the past. I'll be happy if I can get into the team and stay there."

Comolli Hails Fenway Backing

Liverpool's director of football Damien Comolli has praised Fenway Sports Group for their "brave" approach to the transfer window.

Liverpool's American owners provided significant cash for the signings of Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam and Alexander Doni early in the summer.

They supplemented those additions by bringing in Jose Enrique and Sebastian Coates over the last fortnight before Craig Bellamy arrived on a deadline day which saw four players moved on.

In the two transfer windows since taking over the club last October FSG have sanctioned about £120million-worth of signings, although they have recouped well over half that from the sales of Fernando Torres, David Ngog, Ryan Babel and - late on Thursday night - Raul Meireles to Chelsea.

Joe Cole and Christian Poulsen, both drains on the wage bill, were offloaded to Lille (on loan) and Evian (permanently) respectively.

And Comolli believes the way they operated in the window worked out almost perfectly, thanks to the backing he and manager Kenny Dalglish received from principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner.

"It's difficult for me to put into words what they gave us throughout the summer," said the Frenchman.

"Their support was absolutely tremendous, in the down times and in the up times.

"When they needed to invest money we didn't think they'd have to, John and Tom were unbelievably helpful.

"I think we are very lucky to have these owners because people need to realize a lot of owners would have said the squad is too big so you need to reduce it, and then when you've done that bring some players in.

"But that was never the approach they had. They were happy to take risks, for us to spend the money, to support us and to trust us as well.

"I told them in the summer we need to buy players first and towards the end of the window there would be a lot of movement with players going out.

"They were very brave to accept that, having had no experience of a similar transfer window.

"From the outside it might be difficult to understand, but from my side their support was absolutely tremendous."

Ruthless Streak Returns To Liverpool FC’s Off-field Dealings

If there’s one thing Liverpool’s extensive summer squad overhaul has shown, it’s that the Anfield outfit have regained a ruthless, decisive edge.

Gone are the days of dawdling over lengthy negotiations for prospective new signings who eventually lost patience and headed elsewhere.

Gone are the days when the playing staff was top-heavy with has-beens, could-have- beens and never-will-bes struggling for a sniff of first-team action.

And gone are the days when the club would pander to those who weren’t fully committed to the cause.

Clearly, you are now either with the Anfield revolution, or you aren’t. No grey areas. No confusion. No hesitation.

Like Fernando Torres in January, Liverpool wasted no time in moving on Raul Meireles once the Portuguese decided he preferred Stamford Bridge to L4.

It’s the kind of sure-footed decision-making that was lacking during previous ownership regimes of the all-too-recent past.

Liverpool supporters will hail the magnificent seven new arrivals, but it’s in chopping much of the deadwood that the club has most impressed.

Suddenly, while there’s a streamlined appearance to Kenny Dalglish’s squad, with it has come a genuine competition for places.

That hasn’t come without considerable expense, but for the £120million-plus outlay of Fenway Sports Group since the New Year, more than half has been recouped in player sales which have also greatly lessened the wage bill.

Credit must also go to Damien Comolli.

His initial appointment and subsequent promotion to director of football were greeted with skepticism by many supporters.

But, working alongside Dalglish, the early signs are that the Frenchman’s efforts have been worthwhile.

Now Liverpool must show they can be the sum of their parts.