Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Reina Sees Reds Improvement

Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina believes the club's recent recruitment drive has helped close the gap further to the Premier League's top teams.

The Reds have dropped out of the top four during the last two seasons after being mainstays in the UEFA Champions League.

Liverpool spent big in the summer in a bid to improve their squad and Reina has been encouraged by what the new arrivals have brought to the team.

"I hope (the signings) have helped close the gap," said Reina.

"Our belief is about the quality of the team and the squad and the strength we have as a group of players and a club - that is all that matters.

"We have to work on a daily basis trying to improve and keep going to try to compete more often with people above us.

"It is still early days to talk about closing gaps but we will find out at the end of the season.

"Hopefully the distance won't be as big."

Liverpool currently sit fifth in the table and Reina is happy with the improvement in the side after drawing 1-1 with Manchester United at the weekend.

"It is a positive thing to be disappointed after not beating Manchester United," added Reina.

"We are clearly playing better and are winning games and that is key.

"I think we have had just one poor game - at Spurs (a 4-0 defeat in which Liverpool had two players sent off) - and over the season it has not been a bad balance at all.

"We are much happier than a year ago."

Liverpool Move Motivates Rangers Starlet

Rangers starlet Gregg Wylde is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Charlie Adam and win a move to the Barclays Premier League.

The 20-year-old has graduated through the youth ranks at Ibrox, following a similar path to that of Adam.

Adam is now an establish part of Liverpool's side after his move from Blackpool last summer, and Wylde says his achievements gives him the belief he can make it to the big time.

"Charlie had been here since he was a wee boy and now he has moved on to better things with Blackpool and Liverpool," he said.

"Hopefully I can do that in my career but I'm happy to play with Rangers and that's the most important thing.

"I'm just concentrating on playing for Rangers because I'm a Rangers fan and hopefully I can stay here for longer."

Adam returns to Rangers for today’s friendly with Liverpool, and Wylde is hoping to make an impression.

"We can take a lot out of it.

"We played Chelsea at the start of the season and I was unfortunate not to play in it but hopefully I can get a shot today and get a run-out against some of the best players in the Premiership."

Evra To Pursue Suarez Racism Complaint

Patrice Evra has told Sir Alex Ferguson he wants to pursue his allegation of racism against Liverpool striker Luis Suarez.

Evra was fuming after Manchester United's 1-1 draw at Anfield on Saturday, claiming in an interview with Canal Plus that Suarez had racially abused him on a number of occasions during the game. Although the full-back feels TV replays will prove his claims, Suarez has denied them strongly, and has been backed by Liverpool.

Ferguson sought Evra out for a chat ahead of United's Champions League encounter with Otelul Galati in Romania and the response was unequivocal.

''I spoke to Patrice today. He is adamant he wants to follow it on,'' said Ferguson.

The controversy came at the end of a game which Ferguson was pleased to report had otherwise passed off without incident. Prior to Saturday lunchtime's clash, the United boss had urged his club's supporters not to stand during the game, and then pleaded with fans of both sides not to abuse their opponents over the Munich and Hillsborough tragedies respectively.

''It is not an easy one for us,'' said Ferguson. ''Everyone knows Manchester United and Liverpool have great responsibilities in terms of things that happen on the field. Saturday was terrific. Both sets of fans were good. There was not any of that silly chanting we have had in previous years. Both sets of fans deserve praise for that.

''It is not something we would want to level against Liverpool and it is not against Liverpool. Obviously Patrice feels very aggrieved at what was said to him. It rests in the hands of the FA now.''

UEFA and FIFA repeatedly stress their anti-racism stance, yet have fined countries paltry sums when players of international teams have been the subject of racist taunts. Earlier this month UEFA warned Bulgaria they face a disciplinary hearing into racist taunts during their Euro 2012 qualifier with England in Sofia earlier in the season, although that has been put back to November 17.

''I am not aware of any instances in terms of British football,'' admitted Ferguson. ''We concentrate on our own game. What happens in other countries I am not really sure.

''I read about some things but I have never immersed myself in that kind of thing. It doesn't happen in England. There are very few examples of that. Since I have come down we have had some fantastic players at Manchester United who have been black, fantastic players.

''It is not an issue for the game itself but there is an odd example. Maybe this is what surprised Patrice Evra. He thought he was slighted on Saturday. We don't want to see it. It is as simple as that.'

Taylor To Act As Peacemaker

Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor has offered to act as a mediator in the Luis Suarez-Patrice Evra race row.

Manchester United full-back Evra has accused Liverpool striker Suarez of racially abusing him during a 1-1 draw between the Premier League giants at Anfield on Saturday.

The Football Association is to investigate the matter, with Evra having lodged a complaint.

Suarez claimed on Sunday to have been left 'upset' by the allegations, which he categorically denies.

Speaking at the Professional Players Federation (PPF) annual conference on Monday, Taylor said he would be prepared to mediate between the players if necessary.

He said: "It's something we've done in the past and it's something I hope we'll be asked to do in the future.

"We need to try to cool down and reflect on what happened and to contact the FA and see what form their inquiry will take.

"It's good to get this put behind us as quickly as possible instead of letting these things fester and become blown up again."

He added: "It's very disappointing to have two of our players from different countries at odds over a very serious issue.

"Only by having a full inquiry on such matters can we get to the bottom of it and try to make sure that such problems don't arise again in the future."

Kick It Out chairman Lord Herman Ouseley believes any footballer guilty of racism must face 'severe action' from both the Football Association and the club they represent, but has stressed that 'you would have to be able to prove it beyond reasonable doubt'.

The head of football's equality and inclusion campaign said in a statement: "There were incidents in the second half (of Saturday's match) and Evra seemed to get very agitated so something was obviously bugging him because he was quite incensed.

"But if this happened he should have brought it to the attention of the referee at the time.

"No doubt the FA will take the matter seriously and consider the complaint fully in order for them to take appropriate action."

Charlie Adam Denies Diving In Liverpool's Draw With Manchester United

Charlie Adam firmly refuted suggestions that he dived to win the free-kick that led to Liverpool’s goal against Manchester United on Saturday.

The hosts took the lead at Anfield through a Steven Gerrard set-piece that had been won by Adam on the edge of the box after being challenged by Rio Ferdinand.

"Well, everyone has an opinion and I felt a touch," Adam told reporters after the game. "If I hadn't gone down I would have been clear through on goal so there must have been contact. That's the way I look at it."

Television replays appear to support Adam’s version events, although Rio Ferdinand had expressed doubt as to whether his touch was enough to put down the Scotland international.

"I felt contact when I went past Rio and that's the way it goes," Adam continued. "I'm not that type of player. I'm not just going to go down easily. It was a foul and that is why the referee gave it and the goal was just different class. That is why Stevie is one of the best players in the world."

Steven Gerrard Relieved To Escape From The Liverpool Stands

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard admits spending six months on the sidelines recovering from a groin operation has renewed his appetite for the game.

After three substitute appearances totalling just under an hour, Gerrard marked his first start since his surgery with a goal in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Manchester United.

‘I didn’t realize what I had until it was taken away from me for so long,’ he said.

‘So I am delighted to be back and be able to experience the emotion of big games again. It has been a frustrating six months watching the lads from the stands and I much prefer to be out there having an impact on the game.

‘It would have been the perfect day if my goal had been the winner but it wasn’t to be.’

Gerrard, 31, capped a man-of-the-match display with a 68th-minute free-kick through a gap in the wall, only for Javier Hernandez to rescue a point for United with a close-range header nine minutes from time.

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish said of his returning skipper: ‘He is etched in the history of the club and will hopefully have a few more chapters to write yet.’

Rafa Benitez Says He’ll Wait For The Reds’ Call

Rafa Benitez has revealed that he would be open to returning to Liverpool with the manager claiming that should Kenny Dalglish leave the post, he will wait on the Reds’ call to take the job back.

Benitez managed the Anfield club to a Champions League victory, as well as an FA Cup, Community Shield and Super Cup.

And the Liverpool man said he would definitely consider returning to the side should a spot in the managerial position become available.

“I was really proud to be Liverpool manager and I want to be manager in the future,” he said.

“I will wait. I don’t want headlines tomorrow, but I want to support Kenny. But in the future, if I have to wait three, five, 10 years.

“I was really pleased and happy at Liverpool and hopefully they will win a lot of trophies. But when Kenny retires . . . I’ve had two or three phone calls from China, Russia and Mexico, but for me, the priority is the Premier League.”

Liverpool is currently sitting at fifth on the Barclays Premier League table, and have had a mixed start to the season. The club is hoping to challenge for a Champions League spot and become a staple in the top four once more.

Hillsborough Pressure Grows

Campaigners demanding the truth about the Hillsborough disaster want to ensure no stone is left unturned as victims' families search for justice.

Pressure is growing on both the Government and News International after MPs united in their support of families of Hillsborough victims.

A motion calling for all documents - including Cabinet notes and briefings - to be handed to the independent panel set up by the former Labour Government to review the papers for public release was passed unopposed in the House of Commons.

Home Secretary Theresa May told the chamber: "I will do everything in my power to ensure the families and the public get the truth."

However, campaigners demanding the truth about what led to 96 people losing their lives at an FA Cup semi-final in 1989 want to ensure all avenues are explored.

"Misdirection, obfuscation and damn lies were all used as smokescreens to deflect attention away from the guilty," said Liverpool Walton MP Steve Rotheram.

"Institutional complacency and gross negligence, coupled with an establishment cover-up, have added to the sense that this was an orchestrated campaign to shift blame from those really responsible on to the shoulders of Liverpool fans."

Rotheram angrily attacked claims Liverpool fans had turned up late, without tickets and were drinking heavily.

He said the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's press secretary, Bernard Ingham, had made "outrageous" claims about alcohol.

"In his words, Hillsborough wouldn't have happened 'If a mob, clearly tanked up, had not tried to force their way in'."

Rotheram also tore into The Sun over its infamous 'The Truth' headline and story which alleged drunken and criminal behaviour by Liverpool fans.

"This was one of the cruellest blows," he added, branding the paper's then editor Kelvin MacKenzie a "pariah".

Labour frontbencher Andy Burnham welcomed Mrs. May's commitment to "full disclosure".

He said the tragedy was one of the "biggest injustices of the 20th century" and acknowledged he had his own "private disappointments" that more was not done by Labour in office.

Mr. Burnham called on News International to reveal the sources of The Sun's story.

During the emotional debate, lasting over four hours, Rotheram received messages of support from Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish and defender Jamie Carragher.

The likes of Huyton-born QPR midfielder Joey Barton and Everton's Australia international Tim Cahill also backed the campaign with postings on Twitter.

"Football fans united behind a just cause, the game, the nation should be very proud of football fans," wrote Barton.

Cahill added: "Blue or Red the city of Liverpool unite when it counts always."