Monday, October 10, 2011

Carragher Prepares To Celebrate Landmark Against Man United

Jamie Carragher has seen it all before as he prepares to celebrate his 677th Liverpool appearance – against the old enemy Manchester United on Saturday.

And despite past bitter clashes Carragher doesn’t see the eagerly anticipated game as the Kop calendar’s most explosive.

That’s despite flashpoints such as his tackle on Nani last season which sparked some ugly scenes.

The fixture Carragher always looks for first are the Merseyside derbies, so the Anfield encounter with United will always take second billing to those.

And that’s not an opening shot in the usual war of words between the two old adversaries.

Carragher, 33, genuinely believes playing United is nothing like the Mersey mayhem which was in full flow eight days ago with Jack Rodwell’s red card.

He said: “When I was a kid I was a Blue and it doesn’t matter what side you are the derby is the big one, always.

"Some will say the United game is but as a local lad, Everton is the biggest game of the season.

“And facing them on their own pitch with a packed crowd behind them – all the ingredients are there. Everything is against you and that makes it so special when you win.”

Last season United beat Liverpool 3-1 and 1-0 in the FA Cup at Old Trafford. Liverpool saved face with a 3-1 at Anfield and Carragher fancies the same result again.

He said: “It’s a different team now and the mood around here has been transformed.”

Liverpool Target Unhappy Celtic Star

Liverpool have reportedly expressed an interest in Celtic youngster Ki Sung-Yeung who is said to be keen to leave Parkhead after a poor start to the campaign by the SPL side. The 23 year old was the subject of an £8m offer from Rubin Kazan but that was rejected by the Scottish side but Neil Lennon may struggle to prevent his talented attack minded midfielder from having his head turned by interest from Anfield.

Ki was one of the most consistent performers for Celtic last term and his creative displays made him an instant hero at the Glasgow club but having seen his side fall a massive ten points behind leaders Rangers the South Korean international is said to be pushing for a move away from Scotland.

Liverpool’s main sponsors Standard Chartered has publicly stated that the purchase of a player from Eastern Asia would help build the club’s presence in the region and the club’s director of football Damien Comolli has scouted the former FC Seoul star and the Merseyside outfit are ready to make an offer in January.

Though Liverpool have brought in a number of midfielders over the summer they did also lose Raul Meireles to Chelsea and are likely to allow Alberto Aquilani to complete a permanent move to Italy in due course. Ki Sung-Yeung is an adaptable player who can in a number of roles across the midfield and has a great deal of potential to further improve having taken to life in the SPL remarkably well.

Last term Ki racked up 34 games in all competitions and weighed in with a fair few assists and some long range crackers of his own and whilst clearly a move into the Premier League would represent a big jump in quality there are many in the game who feel the set piece specialist is more than able to make the grade at the highest level.

Liverpool Were Interested In Everton New Boy George Green

Everton new boy George Green had a trial with Liverpool before deciding to move to Goodison Park, it has been confirmed.

The 15-year-old had also been on the respective radars of Arsenal, Rangers, Tottenham and Southampton, while has been likened to a young Wayne Rooney.

Liverpool, though, ran the rule over Green last year, but the midfielder was told he did not have the physique they were looking for.

However, when the Reds registered their interest in Green once more, the teenager said he would rather remain with Bradford than move to Anfield.

"He said he'd rather stay at Bradford than go to Liverpool," Bantams academy chief Archie Christie told the Liverpool Echo.

"He had been last year and was just told he wasn’t big enough, he wasn’t strong enough etc."

Christie also claimed Braford had agreed to sell Green to Tottenham but, after the youngster went to last weekend's Merseyside derby, he opted to join the Toffees.

"Davie Moyes phoned me and we had already agreed an offer for Spurs, but he asked to at least have the chance to speak to him," added Christie.

"So we took him to the Merseyside derby on Saturday. They told him this is the People's Club and that you’re either red or blue in Merseyside, and he said 'I’m a Blue'."

Manchester City Rival Liverpool For Bologna Midfielder

According to reports Manchester City are interested in Uruguayan winger Gaston Ramirez.

Ramirez has stated publicly he is happy at his current club, Bologna, although he did talk about moving to a ‘bigger level’ in the summer.

City are believed to have pursued the midfielder with a €10 million offer but the player remained in Italy.

However, it is understood his club is likely to sell him as early as the January transfer window.

His agent, Vincenzo D'Ippolito, has admitted the player will have left the club by next summer.

D'Ippolito has been pushing for a new contract for the youngster, but Bologna is in no financial position to match what rivals have tabled.

"We must talk with the leaders of Bologna. Between January and June, the guy will leave and there's not much Bologna can do, the club already knows this," confessed D'Ippolito.

"When a boy of 20 years of age, who has done very well in Bologna, has important offers, he aims to go to clubs that will compete at the top of the table. He's liked by many teams in Italy, the first five to six in the league would take him for sure."

City’s Premier League rivals Liverpool are also expected to join the chase for the Uruguayan.

Downing Delighted With Reds Welcome

Stewart Downing is delighted with the manner in which the Liverpool squad has knitted together, and believes the camaraderie in the Reds' dressing room has been a key factor behind the club's encouraging start to the new campaign.

Kenny Dalglish made no less than seven summer signings, all of which have settled quickly into life at Anfield, wasting little time in making an impact on the Barclays Premier League, with a return of 13 points from their opening seven games.

"It's a big part of football," Downing told LFC Weekly. "If teammates aren't getting on, then you don't tend to do well. If you all do get on, then that can only help you when you step on the field.

"We're still a relatively new group. Some of the lads like Stevie and Carra have been here since day one. A few others like Pepe and Dirk have been here a couple of years, then there's quite a few of us who have only arrived recently. There's a good mix.

"There has been a bit of dressing room banter. And as the weeks go by and we all get to know each other better, there is more and more. The boss is into it big and the players have been out for a few meals together."

Downing feels his seamless transition into the Reds side is mainly down to the warm welcome he has received from the players, coaches, and other Liverpool staff.

"I knew a few of the lads already from the England setup so I was lucky in that sense," he added. "Some of the other lads didn't know too many people, such as Jordan [Henderson].

"It was easy to feel at home here with the lads. It's a good club with good people. There is a good group of players and they've all helped me.

"But I think gradually we're all getting to know each other and develop a team spirit. It's good and should continue to get better."

Coates Tipped For The Top

John Scales is confident Sebastian Coates has all the attributes to be a big success in a Liverpool shirt, and is convinced he will go from strength to strength under the influence of the Reds' defensive stalwart Jamie Carragher.

The highly-rated Uruguayan international arrived at Anfield on the back of an impressive Copa America having been crowned the young player of the tournament - just one example of why the former Liverpool defender believes the 21-year-old can play a big part in the club's future.

"I've seen glimpses of him in action for Liverpool and during the Copa America," Scales told "He's obviously adapting to the pace of the Barclays Premier League and that will take him a little bit of time, but I like what I've seen.

"He won the young player of the tournament at the Copa America so you can see that he is a talent. I think having Suarez there, a fellow Uruguayan, will help him too.

"I think he's got a good mental attitude and the right personality to be a success at Liverpool. He can only benefit from having the likes of Jamie Carragher there; senior players who can help him to progress and improve as a player.

"They know all about the ethos of the club and I think he'll be excited about learning more and bedding in at Liverpool. I expect him to be central part of that team over the next few years."

Scales has been pleased with Liverpool's impressive start to the 2011-12 campaign, which he says is testament to the hard work put in by Reds boss Kenny Dalglish. The progression that the club has made in the short time under his stewardship is exciting, and bodes well for a bright future.

"The top four is definitely within reach," he continued. "When you look at the strength of some of the other teams I think that is a very realistic target.

"The new structure is coming along nicely. There is an excitement about the place and I've certainly got a buzz about watching Liverpool again.

"Steven Gerrard coming back in will give everyone a boost too and I'm sure those lads can't wait to play with the skipper when he is in top gear.

"I think the new boys have already shown that they have a big future ahead at Liverpool. Kenny has great strength in depth now."

Reina Reveals Gunners Snub

Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina claims the club blocked him from making a £20million move to Arsenal in the summer of 2010.

Reina admits he was tempted to leave Merseyside after returning from Spain's victorious World Cup campaign last year to find the Reds in a downward spiral.

Manager Rafa Benitez had been sacked, while director Christian Purslow was desperately seeking new owners to replace Tom Hicks and George Gillett as the club struggled under a financial crisis.

The Spaniard's head was turned by the Gunners but says Liverpool rejected their £20m bid and stopped him from making a switch to North London because they feared his exit would dissuade potential buyers.

"I went from elation one minute to depression the next as the realization dawned that Liverpool were going nowhere fast," said Reina in his new autobiography.

"When I signed my contract in April 2010 I hoped that better times were just around the corner, a feeling that was fuelled by the promises of improvement from people at the club.

"It didn't take me long to feel that their promises were hollow. I felt betrayed. Our owners were at war with each other, the club's debts were spiralling out of control and a change in manager had failed to dispel the feeling that we were on the road to nowhere.

"Arsenal had made their determination to sign me clear by offering £20m, a phenomenal amount for a goalkeeper. Part of me felt that I was well within my rights to consider my future even if I did so with a heavy heart.

"When Liverpool received the bid, they rejected it. This was not because I had been told that I was too good a keeper to leave. The reason I was given was quite different - and it left me feeling down. I was told that my continued presence was crucial to the sale of the club. I was simply a bargaining chip in the sales process.

"I still don't know what to think of Purslow because I understand he was there to look for new owners and to try to sell the club but ultimately he was making big football decisions that he was not qualified to make."

Reina made no secret of the fact he wanted Hicks and Gillett out ahead of Fenway Sports Group's takeover of the club last October.

The 29-year-old admits he would have liked fans favourites Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher to have joined him in getting behind the supporters' protests to oust the American owners.

"I was probably one of the loudest objectors because I believed it was important the supporters knew I was with them," he said.

"All I wanted the owners to do was sell up to people who could take the club forward, so I said so.

"The way I saw it, Stevie and Carra are the two principle members of our squad, the ones who the people love and if they had said something maybe it would have put Hicks and Gillett under real pressure."

"But in their view, it was more important to try to keep things as normal as possible."

Baby Joy For Skrtel

Liverpool Football Club would like to offer their congratulations to Martin Skrtel and his girlfriend following the birth of their baby boy. Barbora gave birth to Matteo in Liverpool on Friday night.

Speaking to his official website, Skrtel said: "I would like to announce great news! My lovely girlfriend Barbora gave birth to our first child!

"This great news came on Friday before our (Slovakia's) match against Russia. I would like to say that everything went okay and my girlfriend and Matteo are both doing well!

"I feel a little bit sorry for the fact that I couldn't be with them because of our match but on the other hand I am very proud and very happy!

"I would like to thank everyone for their support, especially people from the hospital in Liverpool. My special thanks go to Mrs Jane Ashton who works for Liverpool FC.

"She was the one who was helping Barbora with everything. She also gave me all the information I needed so I was always in touch with them."

Everybody at LFC would like to wish Martin, mother and baby all the best at this joyous time.