Friday, October 14, 2011

Dalglish Cools Fergie Rivalry

Kenny Dalglish has played down talk of the rivalry between himself and Sir Alex Ferguson ahead of the Liverpool and Manchester United match.

The two most successful teams in the country will meet at Anfield on Saturday in the Premier League in what is sure to be a magnificent clash.

Indeed, the rivalry between these two clubs is immense, as is the history between the respective bosses, having clashed for the first time over 20 years ago.

Dalglish is in his second tenure as the manager of the Merseyside giants and his first game in January upon his reappointment was against United at Old Trafford, where Liverpool was beaten.

Revenge of sorts was exacted when Liverpool beat United 3-1 in the league at Anfield in March, which was their third successive victory in the league at home against their old foes.

Yet Dalglish, who won a host of trophies in his first spell as manager at the club, insists he is not motivated by getting one over Ferguson.

"I don't have any individual contest with Fergie," he said.

"These are football clubs that are playing - we don't play anymore. We can't influence anything other than what we do in the build-up and preparation for the games.

"The most important thing for us is how we compete on the pitch as a team. Head to head (against Ferguson)? I wouldn't have a clue what the score is in that and it doesn't really matter to me.

"I am in competition with him because we are playing against them on Saturday but over and above that we are a unit.

"Everyone has an important role to play and if I continue to do my job, the players do theirs, the fans and owners do theirs we will be much better off.

"It is not about someone getting one over on someone else - it is about the football club."

Anfield Atmosphere Can Inspire Liverpool Win Over Man United - Hansen

Liverpool legend Alan Hansen believes that the home atmosphere at Anfield could inspire the Reds to record a victory over rivals Manchester United on Saturday.

The former defender was impressed by the noise levels when his beloved Liverpool faced Bolton at home in August, and feels things can only get better in a big match such as this weekend’s.

“Another potentially important factor is the Anfield atmosphere on Saturday,” Hansen wrote in LFC Magazine.

“I was at the Bolton game at Anfield in August and while, with all due respect to them, Bolton will never be the biggest game of the season, the atmosphere was electric.

“I don't think Manchester United's players will be frightened by the noise levels on Saturday, but Liverpool's players could be inspired by it.

“If you're playing in that sort of atmosphere and you know the crowd is right behind you it definitely gives you an edge.

“On Saturday, Kenny would love the crowd to be in full voice and for Anfield to be bouncing because when it is, there is simply nowhere better.”

The ex-Scotland international, now a pundit, made 434 league appearances for the Reds between 1977 and 1991.

Liverpool Face £8m EPL Fight Over Striker

Long-term Liverpool target Ola Toivonen is being linked with a move to Sunderland.

The Swedish international striker was heavily linked with a move to Anfield whilst the Reds were under the stewardship of Roy Hodgson, who still had connections from his time in Scandinavia.

However, replacement Kenny Dalgish was also thought to be keen on the PSV Eindhoven forward, who impressed Liverpool scouts with his form in the Eredivisie.

TalkSPORT now claim Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has taken a keen interest in the £8 million-rated player, who scored the goal that sent his country through to the Euro 2012 finals in a 3-2 win over Holland in midweek.

The Black Cats are in the market for a striker after Asamoah Gyan left the club on a season-long loan move to Al-Ain, with Bruce admitting it will be hard for the Ghanaian to ever return to the Stadium of Light.

Clubs across Europe, most notably Italy, have also taken a keen interest in the player, whilst Liverpool is also thought to be in the market for a striker.

Dalglish spent big on his appointment as Liverpool manager, bringing Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll to the club, but a lack of strength-in-depth in the position means Toivonen remains a realistic option for the Reds.

Jeffrey Schlupp and Brek Shea have also been linked with moves to Merseyside, but Toivonen would represent the experienced option as Liverpool look to challenge for the Champions League once again this season.

John Henry Discussed TV Plan With The Glazer Family

The Glazer family discussed the possibility of individual selling of overseas television rights with John W Henry and his colleagues at Liverpool before club chief executive Ian Ayre floated the subject this week, The Daily Telegraph understands.

Ayre’s suggestion that the biggest clubs in the league abandon the Premier League’s collective selling model and exploit their overseas rights individually has met with opposition from the league and clubs concerned that it would ultimately weaken the competition.

Manchester United has also distanced themselves from the comments, but the Glazers and Liverpool’s ownership are thought to have discussed the implications of such a move during talks earlier this year.

Sources have suggested that Liverpool believe they are not a lone voice among Premier League owners even after the lack of public support yesterday for Ayre’s comments.

Despite their clubs’ rivalries, set to be renewed on Saturday at Anfield, the American owners at Manchester United and Liverpool are said to be close and to consult on a number of issues relating to their English football interests.

The Glazers are acutely aware of the value of United’s brand around the world and television rights issue are the most valuable way of exploiting that value. For now they have made no formal move to challenge the collective model, but the very fact the issue has been discussed with Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group, even in abstract terms, indicates that it is on their radar.

The Premier League remains confident that there is still overwhelming support for their collective selling of television rights, even among those clubs with the largest global fan-base and potentially most to gain.

Bruce Buck and Ivan Gazidis, the respective Chelsea and Arsenal chief executives, spoke in favour of the collective selling of rights at last week’s Leaders in Football conference at Stamford Bridge. Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, also recently outlined his belief that Premier League clubs should split their broadcast revenue. “We’d love to have our own but I don’t think it should happen that way,” said Ferguson. “It’s quite fair to have all equal shares.”

In his interview with Telegraph Sport, Arsenal’s new majority owner Stan Kroenke spoke of his experience in American football and the success of rules which maintain a competitive balance in the National Football League.

The Premier League believes that the huge growth in their global popularity is underpinned by their success in delivering matches that are generally very competitive. In Spain, Barcelona and Real Madrid earn around 12 times more than their rivals by selling their television rights individually, yet no club has finished within 20 points of them for the past two years.

The Government yesterday also outlined its support for the Premier League’s current model. “It’s a provocative kite to fly,” said sports minister Hugh Robertson.

“One of the strengths of the English game has been collective selling. I don’t want our league which, in many ways, is this country’s greatest sporting export to be like other less competitive leagues elsewhere in the continent. I think the collective selling rights is a crucial part of maintaining the Premier League’s primacy.”

For Liverpool to initiate any change in how the Premier League distributes its £1.4 billion overseas broadcast deal, they would need to secure support from 14 of the 20 clubs.

Dalglish Hails Reds Owners

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has paid a glowing tribute to the club's owners as they prepare to celebrate a year in charge of the Anfield outfit.

Saturday's eagerly-anticipated Premier League clash with Manchester United marks the anniversary of the arrival of John W Henry's Fenway Sports Group on Merseyside.

And Dalglish, who replaced Roy Hodgson at the helm earlier this year, feels the Americans measure up to the men who were in charge of the Merseyside outfit during his first stint as manager back in the 1980s.

Sir John Smith and Peter Robinson were the men in the boardroom for a much more successful spell in the club's history, but Dalglish believes the latest incumbents are already guiding the club in the right direction after just 12 months.

"The greatest compliment I can pay to them is that they're as good as the people who ran the club the first time I was here," he told the club's official website.

"That's a hell of a statement because the people who ran the club then, Sir John Smith and Peter Robinson, were two of the best any football club could ever have had.

"John, Tom Werner and the rest of the investors that have supported this football club have been absolutely fantastic.

"Since I came in January they've been nothing but supportive towards what we have to do. Their ambitions and aims are exactly the same as our most ardent fan - they want to have the success that everyone craves. And they've started off very encouragingly.

"We wish them a happy birthday and if we can get a win to put the icing on the cake then fine, we'll be happy with that.

"But irrespective of the result it won't take away how good they are as owners."

Henry Admits To Overspending

Liverpool owner John W Henry concedes he may have overspent on some players, but believes it was important to put down a marker.

Since completing a takeover at Anfield in October 2010, the Fenway Sports Group has pumped £110.5million into the pursuit of fresh faces.

The likes of Andy Carroll, Luis Suarez, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing have been snapped up for big money, with the Reds aware of the need to spend in order to compete.

Liverpool are not FSG's sole sporting enterprise either, with £191m in new payroll commitments taken on with the Boston Red Sox at the start of the current baseball season.

Henry believes building for the future on both sides of the Atlantic will have long-term benefits and is surprised to have seen the considerable investment draw criticism from some quarters.

"There was a lot of criticism in Boston that we weren't going to spend money on the Red Sox after we did the LFC transaction," Henry told the Guardian.

"We spent something like $300m in the off-season in Boston, and then there was the fear we wouldn't spend in Liverpool.

"It is really surprising, ironic, to be now accused of overspending. Usually owners are accused of the opposite.

"Hopefully the fans of both clubs will eventually see what we see clearly - that there is nothing to fear from the existence of the other club and that Fenway Sports Group is much stronger financially because of Boston and Liverpool."

Pressed on whether he felt some of his acquisitions were yet to provide full value for money, Henry said: "Choosing players in any sport is an imperfect science. We certainly have been guilty of overspending on some players, and that can be tied to an analytical approach that hasn't worked well enough."

As FSG get set to celebrate their first anniversary at the Anfield helm, Henry has also revealed that he initially had reservations about bringing Kop legend Kenny Dalglish back to the club.

Roy Hodgson was at the helm at the time of the takeover and Henry admits he was sceptical about re-appointing a man who had been out of management for 11 years.

"Kenny is certainly charismatic and beloved by the fans," he added.

"I wasn't convinced when we arrived that Kenny should be back managing and I wanted things to work with the manager we inherited. But the fans knew much more than I did. It took me a while to get up to speed. Then Ian Ayre (whom FSG appointed as managing director) was a catalyst.

"(Director of football) Damien (Comolli) was a gamble. Kenny was a gamble. But they were both calculated gambles.

"They both have the advantage of being passionate about their work and are both very clever. We didn't feel we had a lot of time to wait, and we hope things turned around."

Marsh Eyes Home Comforts

Mike Marsh is hoping his U18s side can rise to the occasion and get their first home victory of the new season when Manchester United visit Kirkby on Friday.

Marsh's charges have yet to record a victory on home turf so far with their best form coming on the road, but the U18s coach is happy with their overall displays in 2011-12.

He told "There is a little bit of added spice because we are playing United and it would be great for the boys to win, but no-one is getting anxious about getting our first win at home. I think our performances overall have been good.

"One or two things haven't gone our way but I think we could have won every one of the games we've played at home.

"We are pleased with how it's going and we are trying to play in the right way like a Liverpool team should. If we keep going in that direction then I think results will improve."

United might have lost their last three games at U18 level but Marsh is expecting a tough encounter for his side.

He added: "Man United are a little bit like ourselves. They play within the rules that are set down and actually play U18s in their side rather than over age players. I've got a lot of time for the way they approach Academy football."

Liverpool did the double over United at U18 level last season, including a breathtaking display at Kirkby that saw the Reds hammer their arch-rivals 6-0 back in April.

"It was a very good result but United had a very young side out that day because they were preparing for the FA Youth Cup final," Marsh added.

"They had a lot of young players out that day who will probably play against us on Friday."

Joe Januszewski Played Key Role In Liverpool FC Takeover

John Henry and Tom Werner dominated the spotlight a year ago but there was another member of Fenway Sports Group who was key to their takeover of Liverpool FC.

Joe Januszewski, the senior vice president of Corporate Sales and Fenway Enterprises, is also one of Boston’s most passionate Reds fans.

The son of a serving military man who was based for many years in Europe, Januszewski fell in love with football as a boy. And in particular he fell in love with Liverpool.

In recent years Joe’s office at Fenway Park Boston, has been adorned with pictures of Liverpool’s players and their successes, as well as images of Red Sox stars.

It was the email cry for help which, as a desperately worried fan himself, he sent to Henry and Red Sox chief executive Larry Lucchino a few months earlier which triggered their interest in buying Liverpool.

Januszewski said: “I told them to monitor the ownership situation.

“My interest in the situation was as a fan. But also as a businessman who follows sport. I told John that maybe we should take a look at this opportunity.

“I told him my bags are always packed for Liverpool and that I know a great couple of places to eat if you need a tour guide.”