Thursday, November 03, 2011

Keegan Believes Dalglish Was The Perfect Choice For Liverpool

Kevin Keegan believes Kenny Dalglish was the only man who had the ability to turn around Liverpool's misfortunes last season because of his in-depth knowledge of the club.

Dalglish replaced Roy Hodgson in January after a disappointing first half of the season, and since then the club has been on the up, with the side currently sixth in the Premier League after 10 games.

Keegan told Liverpool's official website: "I think only he could have come in at the time and lifted the club.

"They needed someone who the fans believed in. Only Kenny could have come in and made that immediate impact because of his knowledge of the club.

"For example, when I went to Fulham, I had to learn about the club - but you don't need to learn about anything if you've played and managed here before.

"I wasn't surprised to see him return because it's in your blood. He was at the club and he was seeing things - things he knew probably weren't quite right or that if he was making a certain decision, it would be a different one.

"So he had that big advantage of being there and getting an overview of all of the club. When he came in, he hit the ground running."

Even though Dalglish and his side impressed at the tail end of last season, he failed to secure European football to the club, only managing to finish sixth, but Keegan believes this could be a blessing in disguise.

When asked where he thinks Liverpool can finish this season, he replied: "Fourth or third. The reason I think they've got a great chance is because they're not in Europe, although it seems to me as though Kenny is treating the Carling Cup as Europe by putting strong sides out.

"But it's not the same pressure and you're not shooting over 2,000 miles to play in Russia, then come back and have to go to London on the Saturday - that's tiring.

"Not getting into the Europa League was a big plus for Liverpool, I think, and why I think they have a chance of getting into the top four."

Arsenal & Liverpool Still Chasing Peruvian Star

Fiorentina wideman Juan Vargas is still reportedly being pursued by Liverpool and Arsenal.

The Peruvian's time at the Stadio Artemio Franchi appears to coming to an end after a disagreement with Viola manager Siniša Mihajlović.

And, according to reports in the Florence press, both Liverpool and Arsenal are keen to offer Vargas an exit route in January.

Vargas is able to operate at either left-back or on the left of midfield and would provide Kenny Dalglish or Arsene Wenger with added versatility.

Liverpool already have Jose Enrique and Stewart Downing among their number, but Dalglish is thought to be keen for further reinforcements in the left channel.

Arsenal, meanwhile, are known to be chasing further midfield additions following the respective summer departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.

Wenger did move to compensate for the losses of the influential pair but was only able to bring Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun to Arsenal on deadline day.

Liverpool Face Madrid Fight Over 'Alonso Replacement'

Liverpool face competition from Real Madrid in the race to sign Brazilian starlet Lucas.

The Sao Paulo sensation has been heavily linked with a move to Europe, with clubs in England, Spain, Italy and France thought to be keen on a move for the 19-year-old midfielder.

However, El Confidencial claims that Los Blancos have stepped up their interest in the teenager, with Jose Mourinho tracking the player closely ahead of a possible move.

'The special one' is looking to add Lucas as cover for former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso, it's claimed, with a view to the player taking a central role at the Santiago Bernabeu in years to come after learning under the Spanish international.

It's suggested that representatives of the club are in Brazil this week to discuss possible deals for both Neymar and Lucas, and the news will come as a blow to Liverpool, who were hoping to secure a transfer coup with the player's addition.

Kenny Dalglish has invested heavily in young players since his arrival at Anfield, with Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson proving the owners on Merseyside are willing to invest in talent.

Lucas would be the icing on the cake, joining compatriot and namesake Lucas Leiva in the Liverpool midfielder, as well as left back Fabio Aurelio.

A transfer bidding war is something the Reds would not want to get involved in though, with the buying power of Los Blancos likely to be too much for Liverpool with their lack of Champions League football.

Lucas Calls For Better Home Form

Liverpool midfielder Lucas has admitted the Reds need to improve their home form ahead of Saturday's Anfield clash with Swansea.

Kenny Dalglish's side have dropped points against Sunderland and Norwich at home already and have failed to keep a clean sheet at Anfield all season.

Brazilian midfielder Lucas says they need to start turning draws into wins if they are to mount a top-four challenge this season.

"The points that we have dropped, especially in the home games, could be crucial in the end but I am still really confident that we will have a good season," Lucas told the Liverpool Daily Post.

"We have to make sure we get the points we need, especially at home, because that will be very important for us.

"The results may not have been the best just yet but there are a lot of new players that came in and it always takes time to settle and build an understanding."

Lucas insists the Reds are creating enough chances to win games comfortably so is confident of three points this weekend when Swansea visit.

"We know we have to improve our finishing but I think we are creating so many chances," he added. "That means we are doing something right.

"If you look at the number of chances we have created throughout the whole season and think about the number of times we have hit the post or the bar, then there are plenty of positives."

Martin Skrtel Says LFC Will Bring The Best Out Of Sebastian Coates

Martin Skrtel believes Liverpool are the right club to harness the potential of fellow centre-half Sebastian Coates.

The Uruguayan has featured just three times for the Reds since signing in the summer for £7m with Coates’ last outing his most encouraging appearance to date.

Although the 21-year-old’s mistake led to Stoke City opening the scoring in last month’s Carling Cup fourth round tie at the Britannia Stadium, the Montevideo-born player was otherwise outstanding against Tony Pulis’ uncompromising outfit.

Skrtel – who partnered the former Nacional defender in the second half of that 2-1 win – says making errors is part and parcel of the learning process and Coates’ development is safe under the stewardship of Kenny Dalglish.

“He's doing well,” Skrtel said.

“I know he made a mistake against Stoke, but that's part of being a footballer.

"Every player who has ever played has made a mistake at some time. He was unlucky because the other team scored from it.

"I think it's good for him to be at a club like this at such a young age.

“For a youngster to be training with people like Stevie, Suarez, Carra and more can only help him. I think he will become better and better.”

Whilst Coates is in the early stage of his defensive development, Skrtel believes he is not far away from coming into the peak years of his career.

The Slovakian international also believes the cut throat nature of the Premier League can fast track the progress of a defender.

“I'm 27 in December so I hope so,” said Skrtel on the theory that defenders reach their optimum around 30 years of age. “As I said about Sebastian, I think you become a better player as you gain more experience. Hopefully that will be the case for me too.

“In English football you get very little time on the ball, away from home sometimes you don't even get a single second.

“Almost every team has at least one big striker. I enjoy competing against them, challenging and making tackles. It's not possible to win the ball every time but it's always my aim.”

Though impressed with Coates and confident he will prove a major signing for Liverpool, Skrtel was most delighted to see Stewart Downing join the Reds in the summer.

“I was very happy when we signed Stewart Downing because it means I won't have to play against him! I remember one game against Boro away. I played at right-back, it was the first time I ever played there and he was on the left wing. It was a difficult day for me. He is a very good player.”

Dalglish Hopeful Over Gerrard

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish is hopeful Steven Gerrard will only miss one Premier League game with his latest injury problem.

The midfielder was sidelined for last weekend's win over West Brom after suffering an infection to his ankle.

The problem has ruled Gerrard out of this Saturday's home clash with Swansea as well as England's upcoming friendlies against Spain and Sweden.

It had been feared the injury could sideline Gerrard for up to a month, but Dalglish admits the Reds skipper is responding positively to the treatment and could be back in action after the international break.

"Since they found the infection, Steven has really been progressing extremely well. Everything is positive for him," said Dalglish.

"They found the infection and I suppose it's a wee bit like flu - you know you've got it, but you don't know where it came from.

"But they are treating and it is responding really well, so it's positive for him.

"There's nothing more sinister either."

Dalglish also fears Jamie Carragher will not be available for the visit of Swansea after he missed the West Brom win.

The Reds boss admits Liverpool miss the experienced duo when they are not playing, but he believes they now have enough strength in depth to cope without the pair.

"We will have a rain check on Carra. If he's not going to be right he's not going to be right," added Dalglish.

"I think as a club we are much better with those two fit.

"They have been fantastic servants for the club and they will continue to be.

"It is a great achievement for the boys to get a result at West Brom without either of those two playing."

Reds Handed NextGen Boost

Liverpool's hopes of progressing to the NextGen Series knockout stage have been given a major boost after Wolfsburg were held to a 3-3 draw by Molde on Wednesday night.

The result means the German side finish Group 2 on six points, one adrift of the Reds who currently occupy the second qualification spot.

Molde must now beat leaders Sporting Lisbon when the two teams lock horns on November 12 to have any chance of making it through what has been a keenly contested pool.

Rodolfo Borrell's youngsters travel to Portugal to face Sporting in their final match of the group on November 16.

Dalglish's Great Hope For Jonjo

Kenny Dalglish has spoken of his 'great hopes' for out-on-loan midfielder Jonjo Shelvey following his hat-trick in a 5-0 win over Leeds on Wednesday night.

The 19-year-old has now scored five goals in six league games as Blackpool attempt to regain promotion from the Championship.

And Dalglish said: "I never saw it but it's fantastic for Jonjo. In the first game he played he was exceptional and, scoring a hat-trick, he must have been decent - though I heard one or two of the other performances weren't too clever.

"He's a young boy who's got a fantastic future in football. He's there to educate himself and it's very important for him to take what you get from a bad performance and a good performance and to put them in perspective.

"We've got great hopes for him, we're delighted for him. To score a hat-trick in the Championship, I'm sure he'll remember that."