Friday, September 16, 2011

Boss Eyes London Double

Kenny Dalglish admits he has been delighted by Liverpool's overall form this season and is confident they can bounce back from their Stoke disappointment when they lock horns with Tottenham on Sunday afternoon.

The Reds have taken seven points from their opening four Barclays Premier League matches so far this term, but slumped to their first defeat when they went down 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium last time out.

The Scot maintains that his side was unlucky to come away with nothing against the Potters and feels his players will be ready to give a response in North London.

Dalglish told his pre-match press conference: "The performances have been very, very good so far.

"It's only 45 minutes in the second half against Sunderland - that is the least effective we've been. But it was by no way, shape or form a bad performance by us though. We've been happy with the way the players have gone about their work.”

A first-half penalty from Jon Walters was enough to secure a narrow win for Stoke in a match that saw Liverpool denied what appeared to be two clear-cut spot-kicks themselves.

Dalglish insists the Reds did not get the rub of the green in the Potteries and believes that his team will play worse this season and still pick up points.

"I have the same impression as what I had there and then. We played very well and had a lot of possession," he said.

"But we didn't score and if you don't score, you are not going to come away with the three points.

"No-one can say we didn't play well, apart from scoring. We aren't happy at losing a game but you have to accept that at some stage in the season you won't get what you deserve.

"Other times we'll not play well but get the three points. They say it evens itself out over the course of a season, so we've got a lot to look forward to I think."

Asked about his meeting with the General Manager of Professional Game Match Officials Ltd, Mike Riley earlier this week, the boss said: "If you understand we have a meeting and have read the quotes on, then I don't think we need to add to that.

"Everybody can speak to Mike Riley. He was coming here anyway so it didn't make any difference. Mike is very approachable and will speak to any manager who wants to speak to him. It's not as if we got preferential treatment.

"Mike will visit all of the clubs and so he should. We should work together.

"That's all we have to say on the matter. We'll continue to treat them with respect and dignity and I don't think we've failed on that point."

Liverpool head to Tottenham with the knowledge that their opponents' preparations have been disrupted by a Europa League clash on Thursday.

However, Dalglish is adamant it will have no bearing on Sunday's game and claims that it remains to be seen whether the Reds will benefit from an absence from Europe this year.

"They have a game tonight but he's (Harry Redknapp) only taken one player who played last Saturday, so they will still be at their strongest on Sunday," said Dalglish.

"Harry has done a fantastic job there. They are a very exciting and attacking team. They had a fantastic year last season when they did well in the Champions League. Maybe getting into the Champions League acted against them last season in trying to get back in this year. They finished fifth which was just one spot away.

"We know what Spurs and Harry stand for. We know what type of game we will be in for and we know it will be a good game."

He added: "As I've said, Harry has only taken one player who played last Saturday, so nobody is going to get any benefit from being in or out of Europe.

"It depends what type of team you want to put out. Each team will run it and see the importance of it in their own way. For us, we want to do as well as we possibly can in every game that we play in. We'll go into every competition and try to win it. If we had been in the Europa League we would have put out a strong team and we will do the same in the Carling Cup.

"I don't know if it will be beneficial or detrimental to us not being in Europe. It's a long time since this club has been out of Europe so we'll have to wait and see what happens. Only time will tell."

Tottenham have endured a difficult start to the season, suffering heavy defeats against both Manchester United and Manchester City.

The Londoners have seen a number of key personnel ruled out through injury so far, but Dalglish insists that they remain a tough proposition on their own patch.

He said: "I don't think they were at full strength were they? If you look at it in realistic terms, going to Old Trafford is a difficult place for anyone to go. And regarding the home game with Manchester City, they are capable of putting in top class performances and unfortunately for Harry, that day they did turn one in.

"They were both very difficult games, but I don't think they were at full strength. I don't think they are at full strength even now, so it's great credit to them that they went to Wolves last week and won 2-0."

Asked if he felt the trip to White Hart Lane was the toughest match of Liverpool's season so far, Dalglish added: "If you look at the stats, Arsenal finished above Spurs last season and we've already been to Arsenal and won. That was a really difficult place to get a result but we did it. So going to Tottenham is going to be equally hard. We'll see what we can do. If we do as well as we possibly can then we'll take our chances.

"They've got quality players throughout the team. There won't be a team in the Barclays Premier League that we come up against who don't have quality. Tottenham are the same as everyone else. Maybe they have them in different areas but certainly Adebayor is formidable and Defoe is a decent player.

"There is a lot of good in their side but I don't think we are too bad either."

Dalglish Happy With Progress And Squad Unity

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish has stated he is delighted with the progress the club are making under his tenure.

The Scot took over in January after the sacking of Roy Hodgson and has turned the fortunes of the Reds around in his time at the club, bringing players such as Luis Suarez and Stewart Downing.

Dalglish is confident the club can bounce back from their defeat to Stoke last week and is confident the team can recover from any poor results due to the cohesion of his playing squad.

"There are always lots of things for everybody to be happy about," Dalglish told the club's official website.

"The supporters, the staff, the players - everybody. As we always say, if we stick together we are going to be a formidable unit.

"That's the important thing, for everybody to stick together. If we lose a game we have to stick together. There is a disappointment which is good, but no-one is walking around with a petty lip feeling sorry for themselves."

The Scot is unsure whether being out of European competitions will benefit them this season as he believes he would have been able to field a strong side no matter who his team were playing.

He added: "If we had been in the Europa League we would have put out a strong team and we will do the same in the Carling Cup.

"I don't know if it will be beneficial or detrimental to us not being in Europe. It's a long time since this club has been out of Europe so we'll have to wait and see what happens. Only time will tell."

Jon Flanagan Ready To Take On Tottenham

Jon Flanagan insists he’s ready to shine if Kenny Dalglish calls upon him for Liverpool FC’s clash at Tottenham on Sunday.

The 18-year-old LFC defender could earn a recall for the trip to White Hart Lane as Glen Johnson is ruled out with a hamstring injury.

Flanagan is vying with fellow Academy graduate Martin Kelly, who returned to full training this week, for the right-back slot.

Alternatively, Dalglish could opt to persevere with Martin Skrtel on the right after playing the centre-back there to handle Stoke’s aerial threat last Saturday.

Flanagan, who hasn’t featured in the Reds’ last three league games after starting on the opening weekend against Sunderland, would relish a first team return.

“Hopefully I can get back in the team – that’s my target,” Flanagan said.

“We’ve got a few injuries at the moment so maybe I’ll get another chance soon. When I do get back in there I’ll have to show what I can do.

“Kells is back in training so it all depends what Kenny wants to do but if he needs me at Tottenham I’ll be ready.

“All I can do is keep working hard in training and keep listening to the coaches.

“Kenny has massively helped me and shown a lot of trust in me. I need to keep repaying that faith.”

Flanagan enjoyed a hugely impressive start to his Reds career after Dalglish handed him his debut against Manchester City back in April.

The tough-tackling Childwall youngster kept his place for the last seven games of the season and got the nod to start this campaign.

He’s been out of the team in recent weeks but Flanagan, who joined the Reds’ Academy at under-11 level, is rightly proud of his rapid rise through the ranks.

“Last season everything went great for me,” he said.

“To get a run of games like I did towards the end was amazing. I’m a Liverpool fan and I was originally from Anfield but we moved to Childwall when I was about 10.

“This season hasn’t gone as well as I hoped so far but it’s still unbelievable what I’m doing at such a young age.

“It’s every kid’s dream to play football in the Premier League. I’ve already played nine games for the club I support and I want to play more. I just need to ensure I keep progressing.”

Liverpool Linked Again With Transfer Move For Everton Star

Everton utility man Seamus Coleman is once again being linked with a surprise move to bitter rivals Liverpool by

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish worked hard throughout the summer to strengthen his squad and it had appeared as though there would not be anymore transfer activity at Anfiield this season.

However, with the news that Everton are struggling financially and have admitted that they may be forced to sell star midfielder Marouane Fallaini, it seems Liverpool could heap further misery on their neighbours.

Coleman had been linked with the Reds during the summer and it seems Liverpool are once again prepared to make a move for the Irishman and could even offer as much as £10million.

Everton have already lost Mikel Arteta to Everton and striker Jermaine Beckford to Leicester with some suggesting that there could be an exodus from Goodison Park.

Everton owner Bill Kenwright has admitted that the finances at the club are in dire straits and that they may be forced to sell in January.

Coleman has impressed since making the move to Everton and has an ability to play either at right-back or as a right sided midfielder.

The 22-year-old would certainly keep in line with Liverpool's current policy of buying young players that still have plenty of time to learn and develop.

Bellamy Addition Stirs Liverpool Fans

Craig Bellamy was Liverpool's last signing of an expensive summer after he landed at Anfield from Manchester City on a free transfer.

But the Welshman's return to his former club was disappointing as the Reds registered their first loss of the season to Stoke City, who are now a point above Liverpool in the Barclays Premier League table in fifth place.

Liverpool fans are divided over whether the 32-year-old will get going this year, and more still are unsure whether this year will see the Merseyside club break it's five-year trophy drought.

Short of a handshake and a shirt holding ceremony, John O'Keefe got proceedings under way with an official salutation for the returning Welshman, saying: “Welcome back Craig.”

Mike Kemp spoiled the party, saying: “He will be a bench player - nothing more, nothing less. After this season he'll be past it.”

Tame Taba disagreed. He argued that Bellamy has a youthful exuberance that belies his age. He countered with: “He's 32 but got the pace of a 21-year-old player!”

David Siggs agreed that “he will do well”, while others urged Kenny Dalglish to give Bellamy plenty of chance to get going.

Stefan Da Silva said: “Bellamy is a fantastic player and he must be given a chance to play a full 90 minutes because he dominates the game very well.”

Ashlin Adams agreed: “Once Bellamy settles in it's going to be a dangerous strike force.”

But a few held unhappy memories of the striker who made 27 appearances for Liverpool between 2006 and 2007 and scored seven goals.

Edward Dempsey asserted: “He better do better this time around.”

Philip M Kemp-Bell went one further, adding: “He's pants! Utter crap, it didn't work first time, why would it work now.”

While Kieran Hurley, referring to an unconfirmed incident with former Reds left back John Arne Riise, said: “Hope he's forgot his golf clubs!”

Altangerel Enkhtur was more sympathetic. He said: “He does give as a lot of options going forward, doesn't waste chances, and he has pace. All this adds up to one thing. It was a really good signing!”

Grant Mercado wanted to talk about Liverpool's general form and saw Stoke as just a blip. He said: “I'm sure Liverpool will turn in a performance that will match the result against Tottenham.”

But James Morgan was dubious: “You think so?”

Mercado responded: “James Morgan, I know so.”

Morgan added: “See dear, I love Liverpool so dearly but since their failure in getting trophies as they used to, man, I am withdrawing myself, but never the less, we will never walk alone.”

Grant Mercado was patient with his fellow fan, whose faith was clearly wavering. He said: “James Morgan, you have to be positive. The team they have now will give Manchester United and the rest of the top flight a game and come out with a lot of points. As for trophies, we will get one this season and be in the top three.”

Dalglish: Skrtel An Example To All

Kenny Dalglish has saluted the attitude of Martin Skrtel following the defender's impressive displays in an unfamiliar right back role.

The Slovakia international assumed the position following an injury to Martin Kelly in the recent win over Bolton and gave another solid showing in the defeat at Stoke.

The Reds boss acknowledges it isn't a natural fit for the No.37 but feels it illustrates the squad's overall desire to put the team first.

Dalglish said: "He's been playing out of position but it's been no problem for him. He came on against Bolton and was very, very comfortable.

"One of the benefits of this group of players is that they are prepared to play wherever they can get a game.

"They will do their very best and if it is not right, then it is not their problem, it is ours.

"There is no way Martin Skrtel is ever going to let you down through lack of commitment. He's played right-back in the last two games and done brilliantly. He doesn't look out of place to me. If we have to keep him there, then we will keep him there.

"Martin's been given the opportunity and he's done the best that he can. He'll continue to do that and I'm sure if somebody else gets the opportunity they will be exactly the same. I don't think too many of them will put their hands up to play in goal though!"

Dalglish's business in the summer transfer market means competition for places is now as fierce as ever at Anfield.

The Scot admits it gives him plenty of options when selecting his starting XI and insists that his players are aware that rotation will be necessary as the Reds battle for honours on three fronts.

"It's important people understand that there aren't many times that a player gets dropped now. There are going to be changes made at every football club," he said.

"You won't have the same sheet that says the same this August as last August. You just make your decisions and you can judge what you see.

"You also take into account the opposition and your own players. As I said last week, we don't have a team, we have a squad. And we have a very strong squad. That's the most important thing.

"It's logical to think that there will be different faces every week. But not just for the sake of doing it. It is for the benefit of the football club.

"The players get to grips with it better than maybe some other people do. It's just a fact of life that there will be changes."

He added: "If you look back I did it when I was here first (as manager). It was only when someone said there would be rotation that there were objections. Football fans fully understand it and they want to see us play the best we possibly can and get the best results we can."

Dalglish Refusing To Rush Steven Gerrard’s Comeback

Kenny Dalglish is relishing the chance to unleash Liverpool FC captain Steven Gerrard again – but says he will not rush his comeback.

The Liverpool captain is unlikely to be passed fit to face Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday despite coming through a training match this week, with the midweek trip to Brighton in the Carling Cup now a more realistic target.

Dalglish says LFC must remain cautious over the timing of Gerrard’s return to first team action following his lengthy lay-off because of a serious groin injury and be careful not to raise expectations by naming the date for his comeback.

Having the England international back will be a significant boost for the rest of the squad says Dalglish but ensuring his return is for good rests on Liverpool showing “common sense”.

“We have just got to be careful,” said Dalglish.

“We are not going to get ahead of ourselves here and start talking Steven up for him not to play.

“That would then be seen as a disappointment. We will just take our time.

“Steven will be back for us when he is fit and well, when the timing is right for everyone. We just need to put the brakes on a wee bit. It sounds like people expect him back (to start) on Sunday. There is no date set for Steven to come back. No date whatsoever.

“He will only play when he is fit and well and when it suits us. That will be it. When he is at that stage, it will be fantastic for everybody but mainly for Steven himself. He loves playing and has been out for a while. The sooner he is back, the happier he will be.

“If you have got someone like Steven in your squad, it is going to raise the profile and the standard. We want to have a really strong squad and him being in it makes it much stronger.

“A fit Steven Gerrard strengthens this football club, no question. There is no player that will ever get taken for granted here. There are players who you will always appreciate what they have done for the football club and he is certainly one of them. He has done as much for the club as anyone else.

“That’s it in a nutshell.”

Gerrard is not the only Liverpool player having to be nursed back to full fitness with Glen Johnson and Fabio Aurelio also on the sidelines.

Martin Kelly is back in training following his slight hamstring injury and Dalglish says it is vital all the sidelined players are afforded time and patience, no matter how desperate they may be to play.

“We have always said that we have got to manage the situation, not just with Steven but for everybody. Fabio has had a lot of problems and he is totally frustrated that he cannot play. Everybody wants to play.

“But if you have been out that long, you may as well wait until it is right. We are not trying to be anything other than totally realistic and honest in our appraisal with Steven, Fabio and anyone else.”

Agger Slams Rafa And Roy

Liverpool defender Daniel Agger believes the club's current squad is "miles apart" when compared with last season's crop, most of whom were recruited by Roy Hodgson and Rafa Benitez.

The Reds endured a difficult time in the 2010-11 campaign under former manager Hodgson, who was ultimately sacked in January and replaced with current boss Kenny Dalglish.

The Scot guided the club to a sixth-placed finish in the Premier League and over the summer Dalglish bolstered his squad with a number of recruits, including Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam, Jose Enrique and Craig Bellamy.

"The coaching staff are helping," Agger told "If you look at the squad now, it looks really, really strong with so many good players so I think it is good for us to have the belief to go forward and win games. We definitely have that now and if you compare it to last season, I think we're miles apart."