Monday, September 12, 2011

The Anfield Way

Dean Saunders may have scored goals wherever he's been, but his heart - and footballing philosophy - will always belong to Liverpool.

The former Welsh international told Goals on Sunday that it was always his dream to follow in his father's footsteps and play at Anfield.

He did just that when the club paid a then-British record £2.9million to Derby County for him in 1988 and he still singles that out as the highlight of a glittering career that also brought international recognition.

"My dad played for Liverpool and had a bin-liner full of cuttings, so I was brought up on it," he said.

"He played in the same team as Billy Liddell and Bob Paisley so I was always brought up with Liverpool. I got a free transfer when I was 18 and went to Brighton.

"Then I went from Brighton to Oxford, Oxford to Derby, in a short period of time and then I managed to find myself with Liverpool wanting to sign me - I couldn't believe it.

"I made my mind up; they had Peter Beardsley, Ian Rush, Jan Mjolby, all the best players and I thought if I could play in that team it would be unbelievable. It's a brilliant club."

Saunders' time at Anfield came after Liverpool had dominated the First Division for almost a decade.

But he did mark his first full season with a medal as part of the side that beat Sunderland 2-0 to lift the FA Cup in 1992 - and still regards that as the highlight of his career.

"We managed to win the FA Cup at Wembley and I remember walking down the steps at Wembley - I'd only ever watched the cup final on TV - and I thought I had a free transfer not so long ago and now I've got an FA Cup winner's medal!" he said.

"It's the best thing I ever won to this day - because it's the first thing I won."

He is now managing Conference outfit Wrexham and although he admits he it took him some time to "get my head round the league", he is trying to pass on the Boot Room philosophy to his players.

And it appears to be working because they are currently top of the table.

"What I tell my players now, it's all about what I learned at Liverpool really," he said.

"Working with John Toshack, Graeme Souness, Roy Evans and my dad played for Liverpool for 12 years, so everything I try and put over to the players all stems from simple beliefs they had at Liverpool."

Carragher Urges Reds Fans To Forget Stoke Defeat

Jamie Carragher has urged Liverpool to banish the memory of their 1-0 defeat at Stoke City when they travel to Tottenham next Sunday.

The Reds’ unbeaten start to the season was ended in controversial fashion at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.

Referee Mark Clattenburg awarded Stoke a dubious penalty when Carragher was harshly adjudged to have brought down Jon Walters.

Walters picked himself up to score the only goal of the game and Clattenburg rejected two vociferous appeals from the Reds for a spot-kick of their own.

Rory Delap and Matthew Upson both got away with handling in the box and Kenny Dalglish’s side also paid the price for missing some great chances.

“We have to be disappointed with the penalty decisions,” Carragher said.

“We had one go against us and a couple not go for us so we feel a bit aggrieved.

“We performed quite well and when you do that you normally get three points.

"I thought we reacted really well to going behind and deserved something from the game.

“Hopefully if we play like that against Tottenham next weekend we’ll get something.

"We have to ensure we bounce back.”

Stoke rode their luck but Carragher was full of praise for the way the Potters survived a second-half onslaught from the Reds.

“Their keeper and their back four did really well – you have to admire the way they defended,” he added.

“They’ve been like that for a long time, especially at home.

"We can be quite pleased with how we performed but we came away with nothing. It was Stoke’s day.”

Gerrard: Suarez Will Become Legend

Steven Gerrard expects striker Luis Suarez to establish himself as one of Liverpool's all-time greats over the next few years.

Suarez made an immediate impact following a £22.7 million move from Ajax in January, ensuring Liverpool did not suffer following the sale of Fernando Torres to Chelsea.

The Uruguay international, who was voted Player of the Tournament at this year's Copa America, has scored six goals in 15 Premier League starts for the Reds - and Gerrard believes he has a big part to play as Kenny Dalglish's side push for a top-four spot.

Asked whether Suarez could become an Anfield legend, Gerrard told the club's official website: "I don't see why not. He's still young enough and I'm sure he's going to get even better than he is now, which is a scary thought.

"He's got the appetite for the game to learn and get better. Hopefully he will go on here for a long time because he's certainly got a massive part to play at this club in the future - the history is there to be written.

"He's a very enthusiastic footballer and very intelligent. He's like a kid in the street and he can't wait to get out for training and games. Alongside Dirk (Kuyt) of late, they've been like two Duracell bunnies. They just don't stop and for defenders that must be a nightmare, knowing when you control the ball those two will be chasing.

"It's fantastic to have him and hopefully he can continue his form until the end of the season. If he does, it will give us a much better chance of getting some silverware."

Carragher Anticipates First-Team Fight

Liverpool veteran Jamie Carragher admits he’s in a battle to keep his first team place at Anfield.

The 33-year-old’s error against Bolton cost the Reds a clean-sheet in a 3-1 win against Owen Coyle’s side, and the defender was again at fault when he was adjudged to have fouled Jonathan Walters on Saturday, with the Stoke striker converting the subsequent penalty in a 1-0 win for the Potters.

Sebastian Coates’ arrival from Nacional has added further competition for a starting spot in the centre back position on Merseyside, and Carragher knows he can’t rest on his laurels expecting to start every game.

"Young players at the club say, 'I have to be like Carra in training' because they can see that I put in a shift in every session," he told The Times.

"But why should I rest on my laurels just because I have been in the top flight for so long?

"I am always looking to up my game because I feel that I still have something to prove. Even today some Liverpool fans are asking questions about my age and how long I will last.

"The club has just signed a new centre-back who will be knocking at the door. There is no room for complacency."

Liverpool Defender Linked With Leeds Loan Move

Liverpool centre-back Danny Wilson could soon find himself gaining some much needed first team experience with Leeds United after the Championship side were linked with a loan move for the Scottish international.

The former Rangers defender has struggled to make an impact at Liverpool since moving to Anfield last summer and has found his first team opportunities severely limited.

Liverpool has recently signed young Uruguayan defender Sebastian Coates and with the likes of Daniel Agger, Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel all ahead of him in the pecking order, Wilson has struggled to make an impression.

Wilson did make one appearance in the Carling Cup tie against Exeter City, but it is likely that he would jump at the chance to play regular first team football.

With the transfer window having closed a loan deal is the only option for the Scotland defender and with Leeds currently struggling in the Championship, they would jump at the chance to land the talented defender.

The 19-year-old has made just two league appearances for Liverpool since moving to Merseyside for £2million, possibly rising to £5m with appearances, from Rangers and has struggled to force his way into match day squads.

Leeds currently lie in 13th place after a disappointing start to the season in which they have won just two games from their opening six fixtures and have conceded 11 goals.

Johnson Suffers Setback

Glen Johnson has revealed that he could be facing an extended spell on the sidelines after suffering another hamstring injury.

The England full-back made his first appearance of the season at Stoke on Saturday, coming on as a late substitute in the 1-0 defeat at the Britannia Stadium.

Johnson had been sidelined since picking up a hamstring problem during pre-season and this latest setback will bring more frustration for the 27-year-old, as he looks to establish himself as Kenny Dalglish's first-choice right-back.

The former Portsmouth man revealed on Twitter: "Can't believe my luck at the mo. Done my hammy again today! Hopefully be back soon!"

The news will come as another blow for the manager, although Dalglish could welcome back Martin Kelly for the clash with Tottenham, after he returned to training towards the end of last week.

Suarez Salutes Defender Coates

Striker Luis Suarez believes compatriot Sebastian Coates has all the ability to become a hit with Liverpool this season.

The Uruguayan, voted young player of the Copa America which his country won, joined the Anfield giants in the summer transfer window along with Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson, Jose Enrique and Craig Bellamy.

Suarez claims the 6ft 6ins defender, who moved from Nacional late last month, will add more quality to manager Kenny Dalglish's squad as they look to try and break into the Premier League top four.

The 20-year-old was an unused substitute against Stoke at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday as the Reds suffered their first defeat of the new campaign, but Suarez is confident Coates will develop into an even better player at the club.

"The things I told him were stuff about behind the scenes at the club - he already knew about everything else," said Suarez.

"Liverpool is one of the biggest and best clubs in Europe, and he knows that well enough himself.

"He is coming to a team where he can really develop as an individual.

"He is still very young and has a lot to learn, but there are some highly-experienced players here who can help him a lot with that.

"He is aware of that and he is happy to learn and help the team as much as he can."

Celebs Aim To Raise HFSG Funds

A team of celebrities will aim to raise money for the Hillsborough Family Support Group next month when they take on a Swansea City legends team in Port Talbot.

Boxers Enzo Maccarinelli and Joe Calzaghe are just some of the high-profile names who have confirmed their participation in the match, which will take place on October 9 at Afan Lido FC.

A charity auction will be held after the game with items donated by a whole host of celebrities, sportsmen and ex-footballers. All money will go towards the HFSG.

Maccarinelli said: "The Hillsborough disaster was tragic and something I can vividly remember watching on the news.

"I think the Hillsborough Family Support Group do excellent work helping the people whose lives have been affected by such a terrible incident.

"Being a family man I can only begin to imagine what the families must have been through and still are going through to this day.

"Hopefully we can raise some money to donate to the HFSG and go someway towards helping the families."

Event organiser Craig Bowles added: "I would like to thank everybody for their support so far, including the HFSG, Liverpool FC and Afan Lido FC.

"The families are a real inspiration to us all and I hope people will support this event and help raise money for them."