Thursday, September 15, 2011

Reds Proud To Have Suarez

Liverpool veteran Jamie Carragher believes the Reds are lucky to have a player of Luis Suarez's ability within their ranks.

The 24-year-old has made an instant impact at Anfield following his arrival from Ajax back in January, scoring seven goals in just 18 appearances for the club thus far.

It's his all-round performances that have been earning rave reviews on Merseyside this season though, and Carragher believes the Uruguayan striker is quickly become a crucial ingredient in the Reds' side.

"For me, to say you've started well you have to have performed well over the first 10, 20 or 30 games for your new club. One game - good or bad - doesn't mean anything," the central defender told LFC weekly magazine.

"Luis has already shown how good he is by playing well in lots of games. I think he's already done enough to prove that he's a top player. Hopefully he'll be here for a very long, long time."

Kenny Dalglish's fear of potential burnout this summer appear to have been unfounded, with the forward returning from the Copa America sharper than ever on Merseyside.

Suarez scooped the player of the tournament for his international exploits, helping Uruguay to win the competition, and Carragher admits that his club team-mates’ performances in the tournament were simply superb.

"I watched the highlights of their games and Luis was brilliant, the player of the tournament," the defender continued.

"I'm just delighted that we've got him because he's one of the best in the world. We should be proud of the fact that he's here at Liverpool."

Reds Wait On Johnson Fitness

Assistant manager Steve Clarke is not prepared to speculate on the fitness of Glen Johnson and expects Liverpool to have a point to prove against Tottenham at the weekend.

England full-back Johnson suffered a hamstring injury in the defeat to Stoke last Saturday having only made his first appearance of the season as a late substitute.

The 27-year-old had been sidelined with a thigh problem and his latest setback therefore represents a frustration for manager Kenny Dalglish.

Ahead of Sunday's trip to Spurs, Liverpool is waiting to discover the extent of Johnson's injury and Clarke does not want to guess before medical assessments are complete.

Dalglish's right-hand man told Liverpool's official website: "We are still waiting on the results of Glen's scan so until that comes out there's no point in speculating about it.

"We will just see how he is when we get the scan and see what the timeframe is."

On top of Johnson's injury, the loss to Stoke came has a huge annoyance to Liverpool in a game in which they dominated, but lost to Jon Walters' controversial penalty.

It was Dalglish's side's first defeat of the season and Clarke is expecting the squad to bounce back when they take on Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Sunday afternoon.

"When you've been in football as long as I have you know these things can happen. You can completely dominate the game, create many chances and not manage to get a goal that would have given us some reward for the hard work we put in," said the Scot.

"Stoke got a soft penalty which gave them an undeserved lead and I think that was the first time they had been in our penalty box.

"Once they got themselves in front they proved to be very difficult to break down and they were difficult opponents on the day.

"Everyone was disappointed in the dressing room after the game because we lost the game. We as the coaching staff have to try to put forward the positives.

"We played well and we created enough chances to have won two games so we have to give the players the positives and understand their disappointment at the same time.

"It's a long season and you know you will get setbacks but it's how you react to those setbacks. The mood in training has been fine and the players know they performed to an acceptable standard obviously without the required result against Stoke.

"We have to make sure when we go to Tottenham on Sunday that we put in an acceptable performance, only this time make sure we get the required result."

Raul Meireles To Chelsea Was A Fantastic Deal For Liverpool

Former Liverpool skipper Phil Thompson believes that the sale of Raul Meireles, who was bought for £11 million, to Chelsea for a fee of around £12m was a “fantastic deal” for all the parties involved.

Meireles, who impressed and became a fan favourite in his one and only season on Merseyside, was sold at the eleventh hour on the final day of the transfer window.

The Portuguese played a key role in Liverpool’s revival in the latter half of the season and made his disappointment with the Anfield club known in his first interview as a Chelsea player when he expressed “surprise” over the fact the Reds wanted to sell him in the first place.

The 28-year-old showed what he is capable of over the weekend by providing the assist for Daniel Sturridge’s goal in the 2-1 win over Sunderland, as did Alberto Aquilani, who was shipped away on loan to AC Milan despite being one of the side's best performers in pre-season, by playing a part in the two goals scored against Lazio.

However, Thompson feels his old club made the right choice in getting rid of the duo, who he feels did not fit in.

“I think it's decisions and you have to make decisions. Alberto Aquilani spends last season on loan and he came back in the summer. Yeah, he was [the best player in the pre-season] but you have to look at the quality of the opposition as well," Thompson told

“The two players are quite similar in many ways – Meireles and Aquilani. Both are central midfield players, both are forward midfield players, so it’s a forward midfield player of a three (up front). They would have to fit in to how you are going to play the game.

“I think the way Kenny [Dalglish] has probably looked at it at the time, he has not seen them fit in."

The 58-year-old also stated that there was a slight change in the attitude of Meireles before the season started as he realized he had gone down in the pecking order with the arrivals of Jordon Henderson, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing in the summer.

“Raul, I think, had a real good purple patch last year when he scored vital goals, good goals - him and Maxi Rodriguez," Thompson continued.

“But when the season was starting and the transfer signings were coming in, I think he’s looked at it and not being in the team [got him] thinking. He didn’t look happy. Let’s put it that way. That’s just me looking from the outside and around since I have the privilege.

“But I have seen the games, I have seen the way he was, his attitude. And I think once Chelsea’s interest came in, and of course Fernando Torres was down there, and he then wanted to leave.”

He added that had Liverpool not sold Meireles in the summer, they possibly would not have got the same fee for him later and hence could not let the opportunity to sell him go away.

“I think it was a fantastic deal because £12m for Raul was great," Thompson added.

“And I think if he wasn’t going to be playing a major part in the team, if then come January and he wasn’t too happy, would you have got £6m for him? I think both things suited both parties.

“Alberto and Raul got what they wanted, because Alberto knew his results weren’t needed to go and play (for Liverpool) and Raul was not going to be in the first team – he wanted to leave.”

Comolli Explains Why Liverpool Loaned Out Dani Pacheco

Damien Comolli was asked, “Why have we loaned out Dani Pacheco?”

Liverpool’s Director of Football replied:

Dani has gone on loan because we want to see him play in the first team somewhere. Last year he went to the Championship and had a good start, then he was sub for a few games, but he did well in those games. We know how well he can do at youth level, he did really well last year in the U19 European championships when Spain lost in the final against France, he did well at the U20 World Cup in Colombia in August, we were there and watched all the games.

The next step is ‘can you show us what you can do in the first team?’ It would have been difficult for him to play in our first team, and rather than play in the reserves we thought if there is an opportunity for him to go on loan to a good team in a top league, and we can see what he can do and if he can develop, it would be a good opportunity. That’s why we took it.

I call it a development loan. Put the player on loan, see how he develops and then that will give us a very strong indication of where his career is going. It’s a little bit like Peter Gulacsi, who is on loan at Hull City. We think Peter has got fantastic potential for the future, he’s done extremely well with the U21s for Hungary, he captained the team, he played in the Toulon tournament at the end of May against very good teams and he was outstanding, and we felt that this year was important for him for his development.

We will monitor both of them very closely.

Anfield In Panic Mode

Saturdays loss to a frustrating Stoke side on a mentally frustrating day, full of squandered chances that should have ultimately have seen Liverpool bag all three points at the Britannia Stadium.

The game was full of moments that Liverpool would go on to rue as the home side ran out 1-0 winners, despite all the chances and opportunities falling the Reds way. From the turning down of penalties that were stone wall spot kicks, to squandered opportunities from Jordan Henderson and Luis Suarez, Liverpool should have sealed all three points. But with this, along with 70% of possession and 15 shots, all that can be said, is that it was just one of those days.

This is one of the most beautiful - if frustrating things about football - it doesn't matter about stats, opportunities, possession or solid chances - although it helps - ultimately it's about goals scored or not scored within a game that decides the points.

This being said, the apparent dash for the panic button following the 1-0 defeat has managed to really frustrate me. Before the season started, I was the first to ask questions about the signings made and the players released. I was not totally convinced that the players brought in; Messrs. Adam, Henderson, Downing and Co. had all flattered to deceive in my opinion and were not good enough if Liverpool were to massively improve this season and gain a Champions League qualification spot at the end of it.

However, since my expression of disappointment over the signings of some overrated and mediocre players, I am happy to admit that my predictions may have been wrong. The team and the new players have impressed so far by playing an attacking and entertaining style of football, with moments of mesmerizing beauty and attacking prowess that had been missing at Anfield for a long time.

Did this come to a halt against Stoke City on the weekend as they bullied us off the ball like they do to so many other Premier League side?

No, this isn't even close to the truth. Liverpool was great once more. They played flowing football, showing great awareness and understanding, creating an unthinkable amount of chances along the way. It was simply not to be Liverpool's day, nicely summed up with Stuart Downing's post match quote.

However, the unfortunate and largely unlucky final score has sent many blogs, news outlets and fan forums talking as if Liverpool should already be worried, hitting the panic button already after failing to take all three points back to Merseyside.

Such a reaction is baffling to say the least. Not forgetting that Stokes Britannia Stadium is a notoriously hard place to visit that even Arsenal, Chelsea and United struggle at, the performance was still a good one. if Liverpool continue to play such football throughout the season, they will be more than fine, coming out as winners most of the time.

For this I ask for patience. It is hard to forget that this team still needs time to gel. Also, if they continue to play the football that they have been, we can't ask much more than that.

Hopefully, against Tottenham on Saturday the luck will be on our side, after all, all successful teams need their fair share of luck. Maybe a little less panicking and a little more finger crossing will bring with it all three points on Saturday.

Liverpool Launch Initiative To Nurture Talent In Mumbai Schools

Liverpool, along with Standard Chartered Bank, have launched a program for nurturing football talent in over 2000 children from around 80 schools run by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

There are over 650,000 students from the financially challenged section of the society in over a 1000 schools run by the BMC.

Titled 'Go Forward', the plan will see 32 children being selected from a camp to undergo four-months of rigorous training with I-League players and the English club's coaches. The initiative will culminate in an exhibition match between the two BMC teams and the best of Mumbai’s public school football teams

“Go Forward is a significant milestone for promoting football in India," said Liverpool legend Phil Thompson at the launch. "It will be our endeavour to enable the final 32 children to interact and learn from the experience of past players and coaches from LFC.

"This is getting into grass roots football by involving the Municipal schools of Mumbai. This is the first time ever Liverpool is getting involved in such a scheme and, depending on its success, we can hopefully take it to other cities of India and other countries of Asia.

He added: "It's a fantastic and wonderful venture. It gives chance to school children to dream and aspire for bigger things in what they enjoy doing. But the important thing is this should be sustainable over the years.

"We are passionate about the community. We at Liverpool realize the need to give the community’s children the chance to enjoy football. That is one way of making sure the young remain attached to football and don’t take up other sports."

Borrell's Wolfsburg Relief

Rodolfo Borrell admitted to feeling a sense of relief after seeing his side come from behind to salvage a late draw against Wolfsburg.

An own goal from Marvin Kleihs, who inadvertently sliced the ball into the Kop net after superb approach play from Krisztian Adorjan, was enough to see the young Reds gain a 1-1 draw in their second NextGen Series outing.

While pleased to see his side get a point, Borrell was far from satisfied with the overall display.

"We are grateful to get a draw but overall I was disappointed with our performance," Borrell told

"We were below par. I thought we were sloppy, especially in the first half. We improved in the second half but we need to work hard every day to keep on improving.

"The only positive for me from the night was we didn't lose the game and we need to be much better when we travel to Wolfsburg next week."

The Reds almost won the game right at the end when substitute Adam Morgan found himself clear but he was closed down quickly as the effort went wide.

"I thought Adam was going to score because he is a good goalscorer. It was a good chance but these things happen," he added.

Defender Stephen Sama added: "We made a big mistake for their goal but I thought we came back strongly in the second half.

"The manager wasn't happy with our first half performance and he told us to believe in ourselves more in the second half. I thought we did that and in the end we are happy to get the 1-1 draw."

Youngsters Earn Wolfsburg Draw

Liverpool needed a late own goal to salvage a point as they were held to a 1-1 draw in a keenly-contested NextGen Series clash with Wolfsburg on Wednesday night.

The young Reds had looked like suffering a second defeat in just three matches in the competition when Hendrik Hansen converted a right-wing free-kick deep into first-half stoppage time.

However, an own goal from Marvin Kleihs four minutes from the end gave Rodolfo Borrell's side a fortuitous but deserved share of the spoils.

The result means Liverpool have taken four points from their first three matches and they will now be hoping to step it up a level in time for next week's return game in Germany.

The Spanish coach had gone into the Anfield clash warning his players to beware the wounded beast following Wolfsburg's disappointing start to life in Group 2.

The Reds had themselves recovered from a heavy defeat against Sporting Lisbon on Matchday One and it was no surprise to see Borrell stick with the same side that overwhelmed Molde last time out.

Indeed, Liverpool was clearly eager to put on a show in front of their home crowd and they almost stole ahead on 10 minutes. Suso picked up a loose ball 25 yards from goal and fizzed in a low shot that bounced inches past the far post.

It would prove to be the best chance of a patchy first 20 minutes and a lengthy injury to Nils Winter did little to help the flow of what was proving to be a very tight encounter.

Liverpool were lacking their usual cutting edge in the final third but almost changed the complexion of the game when Craig Roddan teased a ball out to the right for Toni Silva on 24 minutes. The Portuguese winger shimmied beyond his marker and clipped a delightful effort beyond Wolfsburg stopper Patrick Drewes, only to see Jonas Sonnenberg clear from underneath his own crossbar.

The scare inspired an immediate response from the German side and Tyrell Belford got down well to keep out Michael Thielke's low drive before showing good hands to hold onto Maximilian Arnold's well-struck attempt.

As the interval approached Suso twice went close to an opener when he followed up a free-kick that curled agonizingly past the far post with a thumping drive that flashed beyond the upright.

It looked like being a frustrating first-half stalemate for the Reds but it got even worse deep into stoppage time when the away team won a free-kick on the far right.

Arnold curled a delightful ball across the six yard box, allowing the ironically named Hansen to ghost in at the far post and coolly steer home in front of the Kop.

It was a bitter blow for Borrell and co but the coach would have called for an instant response from his side following the interval.

The Spaniard's decision to swap Suso for Krisztian Adorjan suggested he wanted far more in the attacking third and there was an immediate improvement in Liverpool's play.

The Hungarian looked hungry to make an impact and almost inadvertently levelled on 54 minutes when Silva's low cross hit him and dropped just shy of the near post.

Silva had looked lively all night and it was his run and cross that provided Raheem Sterling with a good opportunity on the hour mark, but the England youth international could only guide his volley into the side netting.

The German youth champions appeared to be on the ropes at this point and four minutes from time the Reds snatched a deserved leveller.

Adorjan found space on the left side of the area and drilled a low cross into the six yard box where the unfortunate Kleihs was on hand to put through his own net.

Liverpool even manufactured a glorious chance to win the match but substitute Adam Morgan saw his shot deflect wide after rounding the 'keeper deep into injury-time.