Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Reds Duo Seek Home Comforts

Liverpool duo Andy Carroll and Jose Enrique believe they need to improve their home form if they are to have any chance of finishing in the top four.

The Reds were held to their seventh draw in 11 games at Anfield this season as Stoke ground out a goalless draw at the weekend.

Kenny Dalglish's men have struggled for goals this season, having netted only 24 goals in 21 Premier League games and Carroll, who started the draw with Stoke on the bench, believes they need to start taking their chances if they are to turn draws into victories.

"The objective is qualifying for the Champions League and we are up there and still in with a great chance of achieving that aim," said Carroll.

"We've done really well against the top teams and our away form has been great but in some of the home games we've struggled to put our chances away and I think that's where we need to make sure we can start to punish teams.

"Hopefully we can start taking our chances and score more goals as a team."

Defender Enrique, who played at the weekend despite a stomach upset, knows they have to start winning matches at Anfield if they are to be serious contenders to reach next season's Champions League.

"We have to improve our home form, because we have lost too many points at Anfield this season," said Enrique.

"We just have to stay positive. I think, maybe the Swansea game aside (a 0-0 draw), we have deserved to win the other games we have drawn at home.

"If we start to take our chances then we can be in the top four, but if we don't then we will make it more difficult for ourselves."

Liverpool now have a full week without a game before travelling to Bolton for Saturday's evening kick-off, when Enrique hopes they can return to winning ways.

"I think it's good we have a break now so we can prepare for Bolton," added Enrique.

"Away from home at the moment we are getting better results than at home, so hopefully we can get the three points next Saturday."

Lille Striker Interested In Liverpool Move

Lille forward Moussa Sow has spoken of his admiration for Liverpool, amidst rumours that the 25-year-old is thinking of leaving the French champions during the January transfer window.

Sow was the top scorer in Ligue 1 last season with 25 league goals as he helped his side win the title but in recent weeks reports have suggested that he may look to leave and now the Senegal international has spoken in glowing terms about Liverpool.

"I am at Lille now but as we all know I want to play in England one day," Sow told Sky Sports. "Liverpool, well, that is a dream club. Anyone would be happy, scoring goals in front of the Kop can be the highlight of a career."

Much has been made of the Merseyside's club need for a striker after the club played out a goalless draw with Stoke at the weekend, their seventh home draw of the season.

With Luis Suarez out of action, due to his eight game suspension, and Andy Carroll yet to find his best form at the club, Liverpool have struggled for goals all season.

Liverpool would certainly face plenty of competition for the prolific striker with Fenerbahce and Tottenham also linked with Sow in recent weeks.

Newcastle have already seen the results of buying from the French champions with Yohan Cabaye earning rave reviews after making the move from Lille to St. James Park in the summer.

Liverpool Line Up Raid For Exciting Young Celtic Winger

Liverpool are thought to be lining up a raid on Celtic for their talented winger James Forrest.

The 20 year-old flyer made his debut for the Hoops at the end of the 2009/10 season, but has only truly established himself as a star in the making this season.

He has scored 5 goals in 22 Clydesdale Bank Premier League appearances this season, and great things are expected of the young Scot, who has so far earned 4 caps in his short career.

Reds boss Kenny Dalglish was of course once manager at Parkhead too, and the connection between the two clubs may be what helps the deal go through.

Liverpool’s struggles this season are well known.

Stewart Downing, a big money summer signing from Aston Villa, has yet to score a goal or provide an assist in the Premier League this season, while on the opposite flank Dirk Kuyt is also struggling for form.

Perhaps a young and dynamic player, unafraid to take players on, could be the solution.

Perhaps that man is James Forrest.

Reds Trial For 'Baby Drogba'

Sky Sports understands Liverpool have handed a two-week trial to Swedish teenager Abdul Aziz, who has been dubbed the "baby Didier Drogba".

The 14-year-old, who was born in Sierra Leone, has an excellent scoring record for his club ISK Norkopping and with the SwedenUnder-15 national team.

Manchester United and City had both been watching the youngster, but have been caught napping by their north west rivals who moved swiftly to land Aziz on a trial.

His arrival at Anfield represents a real coup for Liverpool as Aziz is viewed as one of the biggest talents to emerge from Sweden in a generation.

Kenny Dalglish is committed to bringing the best talent from Europe and England to Anfield, as he lays the foundations for a new era of success.

Over the past 18 months the Merseyside club has snared some of the most highly-rated teenagers in the country in Raheem Sterling, Jordon Ibe and Seyi Ojo.

Tony Mowbray Insists Liverpool Target Rhys Williams Is Going Nowhere

Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray has moved to clear up speculation linking his Australian defender Rhys Williams with a move away from the club following links with a series of Premier League outfits.

The likes of Liverpool, West Bromwich, Newcastle and Bolton have all been reported to be keen on the 23-year-old Socceroo but Mowbray insisted they weren't pondering letting him go.

"I'm pretty sure that anyone we don't want to lose won't be leaving," Mowbray told reporters.

"Rhys Williams is not out of contract and talking to him the boy's pretty comfortable here so I don't see that being an issue.

"He wants to try and help us get back to the Premier League."

Perth-born Williams, who can also play in midfield, has been a regular for Boro this term, making 20 appearances in all competitions.

Williams had told The World Game last week: “I’m aware there has been some speculation but I am more than happy at Middlesbrough. I am well settled and it would mean so much to the town and the manager Tony Mowbray to go up."

Liverpool Opt For Original Stanley Park Stadium Plan To Replace Anfield

Liverpool has decided to proceed with their original, nine-year-old stadium plans once they have secured the finance to start construction.

That means the alternative, futuristic stadium designs proposed by former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jnr have been ditched for good.

It also ensures there will be no fresh planning application required by the current American owners to restart construction once a lucrative naming rights package is in place.

Fenway Sports Group has been working with Manchester-based architects AFL, the firm which first submitted designs when Liverpool announced their intention to move to Stanley Park as far back as 2000.

It is these proposals, which were put forward for planning permission in 2003 and given the green light a year later, which will become the blueprint for a new 60,000-seat stadium costing around £300 million.

The club must still find the finance to kick-start the scheme, and there is no immediate prospect of work beginning, but AFL’s return to preferred status is another significant twist in the seemingly never-ending saga of Liverpool’s ground move.

The AFL plans were first introduced by former chief executive Rick Parry but were abandoned by Hicks and Gillett shortly after their ill-fated takeover in 2006.

Hicks scrapped the original designs in favour of those he commissioned from a Dallas-based architecture firm, HKS.

The £400 million costs of the second scheme effectively triggered the beginning of the end of the old regime, as Hicks and Gillett could not raise the funds to build it.

It also led to the first major split of the old boardroom, as the plans were seen as too expensive and impractical.

Now Hicks’ grand scheme has been permanently shelved with FSG deciding it will modernize and upgrade the first set of designs.

Since buying the club, John W Henry has worked through a variety of options to establish how to solve Liverpool’s enduring stadium problem.

Henry originally wanted to redevelop Anfield, but after a year of toil working through the planning issues, and the cost of buying nearby residential properties, it was accepted this was not feasible.

FSG has also explored whether to commission new stadium plans, but the time and cost restraint also made that a non-starter.

Liverpool has planning permission for two designs.

If the club submitted a third to Liverpool City Council, it could delay the process by another three years and there could be no guarantee they would be passed, especially given a political fervour to maintain a dialogue with Everton on the controversial issue of a groundshare.

It would be an incredibly risky strategy for FSG to start from scratch.

Liverpool still need to raise around £150 million in sponsorship — around half the costs – before they can start building any arena, but having decided which course to take there will be fewer obstacles in their way if a naming rights package can be secured in the near future.

That in itself remains a difficulty given economic conditions.

The single, desirable legacy of the Hicks and Gillett era was the fact they actually began preparatory work on Stanley Park prior to having to bring it to a halt when they failed to secure investment.

That means technically, and legally, construction of a stadium is considered to have already started by the council.

This has enabled the new owners to avoid missing out on any deadlines to complete a project.

Liverpool City Council is also eager for the club to make progress as soon as possible, so have not issued time constraints.

Some Liverpool fans may be worried that plans nearly 10 years old, which were publicly criticized by Hicks as being ‘out of date’ five years ago, are being given a facelift.

However, Liverpool believes Hicks’s criticism was always unwarranted and the AFL plans — inspired in part by the Millennium Stadium in Wales — were also impressive.

Although the club is limited in terms of altering how the arena will look, its size and the space it will fill from the accepted designs, there is still plenty of capacity to upgrade the interiors to modern standards.

Any suggestion the nine-year-old architects’ plan is out of date will be dismissed by the owners, who recognize AFL’s vast portfolio in stadium design.

The firm is responsible for recent upgrades at Old Trafford and the Nou Camp, and built the Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Everton training complexes.

Liverpool's Demands For New Deal Were Unrealistic, Says Adidas Chief

Liverpool lost their lucrative partnership with Adidas after demanding too much money for their on-field performance, according to the firm’s chief executive.

The Premier League club’s current deal with Adidas, the world’s second biggest sporting goods manufacturer, expires at the end of the season after talks over an extension collapsed last year.

Instead, Liverpool signed a club-record £25 million contract with Boston-based Warrior Sports which will last six years. The deal, which is Warrior’s first major contract in football, is worth almost double the agreement with Adidas.

It had been suggested that Liverpool voluntarily ended the agreement with Adidas after a dispute about control over merchandise not related to the team’s kit.

But on Monday night, the American firm dismissed that claim, insisting the club were demanding unrealistic levels of money for the success they were enjoying on the field.

“The gap between their performance on the field and what the number should be is not in balance,” said Herbert Hainer, Adidas’s chief executive officer.

“Then we said, ‘OK we will not do it’. That’s the end of the story. It all depends on the success and the effort and the popularity, the exposure on TV, revenue you can generate by merchandising,

“This all has to be brought in line between what you offer and what you get. We thought that what Liverpool were asking and what they were delivering was not in the right balance.”

Liverpool’s lack of success on the field may have deterred Adidas, but the Merseyside club has recently enjoyed a lucrative run of new financial agreements with their commercial partners.

London-based bank Standard Chartered has agreed to pay a record £81.5 million to have its logo displayed on the team’s shirts for four years and the club’s sales department has also signed new sponsors such as Turkish tourism.

Norwegian Reds Make LFC Donation

Vegard Heggem was back on Merseyside last week to hand over a cheque to the LFC Foundation on behalf of the club's Norwegian Supporters' Committee.

The former Liverpool defender and members of the Norway supporters' club presented the Reds with a donation of £1,000 at Anfield on Friday afternoon.

Heggem, who made 65 appearances and scored three goals for Liverpool between 1998 and 2003, also took in Saturday's clash with Stoke City.