Friday, March 30, 2012

Kenny Hails Reds Improvement

Kenny Dalglish believes that Liverpool have made progress at all levels over the last year.

The Kop icon led the club to Carling Cup glory in February to help them clinch their first trophy since 2006.

That triumph was expected to signal the start of an assault on the league for a top-four finish, but over recent weeks the Reds have struggled and are now seventh in the table.

Despite their stuttering form, Dalglish is adamant they have made significant strides over the last 12 months.

"It depends how people view success. I view success as the club moving forward, and that's what we're doing. We've moved forward in lots of ways," he told the club's official website.

"Maybe at times it isn't always apparent, but on the pitch the club is moving forward, in and around Melwood it's moved forward, off the pitch it's moved forward, the Academy has moved forward.

"We just need to get our league results in better order and it'll be a happier story."

Liverpool will face Everton in what should be a captivating FA Cup semi-final and already have silverware in the shape of the Carling Cup.

Yet at Liverpool, they will always be judged on their standing in the league and the Reds chief knows they need to rectify those results.

He added: "We want to compete equally in every competition we're in. We've done tremendously well in the cups and we've got to recreate it in the league.

"It's not been that way this season. There have been a lot of fantastic performances but we've not got the results.

"The players are as disappointed as anyone else when we lose a game but we'll keep doing what we do day in, day out in training. At some stage I'm sure it's going to come right.

"We'll keep going the way we believe in. We certainly have made progress over the year, in lots of areas - not just the first team."

Reds Won't Rush Sterling

Kenny Dalglish is refusing to fast-track Liverpool youngster Raheem Sterling into becoming a regular starter for the club.

Sterling, 17, made his debut in Saturday's defeat against Wigan as a late substitute and many fans at the club believe he should have already been introduced this term.

Dalglish has played fellow Academy graduates John Flanagan and Jack Robinson this term but he insists he will not fully unleash Sterling until he is physically ready.

"We need to have common sense and make sure we do a professional job on any of the kids coming in," Dalglish told the club's official website.

"Anybody who comes here must have a chance of being a professional footballer, but he's got a much better chance if we face reality. We've got to be realistic with him.

"At the same time we've got to be appreciative and realize it doesn't matter what age they are if they're good enough.

"But there is a bit of time to go yet on all of the kids. Last year we threw in Jack Robbo and Flanno and it never fazed them, but physically they were a bit stronger than Raheem. Every case is going to be different."

Kenny Dalglish Is The Right Man For Liverpool, Says Alan Shearer

Alan Shearer believes boss Kenny Dalglish remains "the right man to take Liverpool forward" despite the Reds' poor form in the Premier League.

The Reds have won the Carling Cup and are in the FA Cup semi-finals but have won only two league games in 2012.

Shearer, who won the title under Dalglish at Blackburn in 1995, said: "That is disappointing, but you have to be careful in criticizing Kenny.

"Liverpool entered three competitions this season and they could win two."

Dalglish takes his side to his old club Newcastle on Sunday, having lost four out of five league games since they won the Carling Cup on 26 February, and seven out of 11 since the turn of the year.

Despite their Wembley success and a resounding win in the Merseyside derby on 13 March, Dalglish has come under increased criticism from Reds supporters as their hopes of a return to the Champions League have disappeared.

With eight games to go, Liverpool lie seventh, 31 points behind leaders Manchester United and 13 behind fourth-placed Tottenham.

But Shearer, whom Dalglish signed for Blackburn for £3.3m in 1992 and also managed at Newcastle from 1997 to 1998, feels the 61-year-old's job is safe and says the Anfield club's fans should enjoy their side's successes in the knockout competitions.

Shearer told BBC Sport: "There is a big gap there and Liverpool are not going to get in the top four this season but it still could turn out to be a good one for them.

"It's there for everyone to see that their league form has not been good enough, but if they go home with two cups then that would certainly be progress, and surely that is what it is all about for Liverpool at the moment?

"If you were to ask an Arsenal fan which they would rather have, the FA Cup and the Carling Cup in the trophy cabinet or a finish in the top four, then that is a tough question for them.

"Of course Liverpool want both. Next season will be all about winning trophies and getting in the top four, because that's the size of club they are."

Roma Set Sights On Liverpool Striker

Luis Suarez could be the subject of a bid from Roma this summer, according to Italian publication Il Tempo.

Suarez has been an instant hit with Liverpool supporters since he made the switch from Ajax last year but has had his desire to stay in England tested after a string of controversial incidents.

The Uruguayan forward has endured a tumultuous first full season in the Premier League and was banned for eight games after being found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra during Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United earlier this season.

His wasteful nature in front of goal at times this season has also added to claims he isn’t happy on Merseyside and has helped give rise to speculation that he could be ready to make a move come the end of the summer.

Amidst rumoured interest from Paris Saint-Germain, Suarez announced he was happy on Merseyside recently, while Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre revealed earlier this month that talks with the £22.7 million man had begun over a contract extension.

However Il Tempo reports that Roma and their American owners are ready to splash the cash and land some big-name signings this summer, with Suarez apparently at the top of their list.

The paper reports that £25 million has been set aside by Roma to persuade Liverpool to cash in and sell one of their most prized assets.

Roma are believed to be gearing up for a major overhaul this summer in an attempt to get back amongst the big time, although whether the Reds will be willing to sell their leading striker for a fee not much greater than they paid little more than a year ago is highly unlikely.

Liverpool Interested In United Midfield Target

Liverpool have joined the race to sign Athletic Bilbao midfielder Javi Martinez, reports the Metro.

Martinez has a growing list of suitors after impressing for both club and country in recent years, and was an integral part of the Bilbao team that knocked Manchester United out of the Europa League earlier this month.

While United are said to be interested in snapping him up, Liverpool are reportedly ready to throw their hat into the ring for the 23-year-old’s services.

Martinez, who was part of the Spain squad that lifted the World Cup in 2010, was closely watched by Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson during the Europa League tie and is reportedly a target for the Scot this summer.

However the Metro, quoting ‘reports in Italy’ suggests that Liverpool are willing to go up against their rivals to secure the services of the dynamic midfielder, however the Reds must also fight of the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan in order to secure his services.

Martinez is said to have a £34 million release-clause written into his contract, with the paper reporting that Liverpool are highly unlikely to be willing to meet that price.

United are believed to be willing to do business for around £24 million, although with Martinez contracted until 2016, Bilbao are under no pressure to sell come the end of the season.

Martinez himself has recently questioned the valuation places on him, admitting the he doesn’t value himself as a £34 million player.

"I do not think there's anyone who wants to pay so much for me," the player told Mundo Deportivo.

"I see it as too much money for me. I do not think I'm worth so much."

Dalglish Eyes Injury Boost

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is optimistic his team's mounting injury worries will ease as they enter the final phase of the season.

Charlie Adam remains the biggest concern after he damaged his knee in the defeat against QPR at Loftus Road.

Adam missed the defeat by Wigan at Anfield along with Craig Bellemy, Maxi Rodriguez, Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger and Martin Kelly.

The Scotland midfielder remains the most serious concern and premature reports have circulated he could be out for the season.

Reds boss Dalglish is waiting for his medical team to carry out a full assessment before jumping to conclusions.

"Charlie's another two weeks and then we'll find out a proper diagnosis without people speculating what's wrong," he said.

"Rather than be inaccurate or incorrect or someone making up a story we will wait and see in a couple of weeks how long he's going to be out."

Liverpool's poor run of recent results was blamed on fatigue by Dalglish and he has looked to counteract that by giving his players two days off this week, ahead of Sunday's game against Newcastle.

"We have a very strong squad which has been stretched but so have other people who are in a similar position," he added.

"It was stretched at the weekend after three games in seven days but that has gone now.

"The clear week we have gives everyone a chance, if they have bumps and bruises, to get rid of them and it gives the boys another week to get fit.

"We should get a few back but is only Friday for a Sunday game. Everyone else is progressing, including Lucas Leiva (whose season was ended in November by knee surgery) who will obviously not play but who has done brilliantly in his recuperation."

Carroll Could Have Gone To Sunderland For Free Before Liverpool Move

Andy Carroll could have moved to Sunderland for free during his time at Newcastle, according to Magpies assistant John Carver.

The Black Cats were allegedly interested in signing a young Carroll before he was given his chance by the then academy boss in 2004.

The big striker went on to repay the faith shown in him by scoring more than 30 goals for the Tyneside club after his first-team breakthrough.

His form in both the 2009/10 and 2010/11 campaigns saw him attract attention from a whole host of Premier League clubs, before he signed for Liverpool for a £35 million fee which made him the most expensive British player of all time.

And Carver admitted that he was pleased he had offered Carroll a professional contract rather than letting him move on.

He told The Chronicle: “It was like I stumbled across him. I went down to work at the Academy when Graeme Souness brought his own men in.

“And when I went down there, whether or not to keep Andy was one of the first decisions I had to make.

“The decision was do I give him a scholarship or not? After some deliberation we gave him a deal. My decision was the final decision and I was pleased that we made the right decision.

“Andy has gone on and earned the club £35million.”

Carver also expressed delight with the way in which the money earned from the transfer of Carroll had been used wisely to bring quality to the club.

"The money we got is back on the pitch," he said.

“Yohan [Cabaye], Demba [Ba] and Papiss [Cisse] have given us our mettle. This is how modern football works if you are looking to improve your team.

“Sometimes you have to sacrifice a player – but if you get three players back of the quality that we’ve got, then it is good business."

Rush Opens Reds New Boot Room

Liverpool legend Ian Rush was a hat-trick hero as he officially opened the brand new LFC Boot Room Sports Cafe at Cheshire Oaks on Thursday night.

A year on since Anfield opened its own Boot Room in the Kop, Cheshire Oaks in Ellesmere Port was the venue as the Reds unveiled their latest restaurant.

And Rush rose to the occasion with familiar goalscoring style as he netted all three penalties in a brand new 'sim goal' spot-kick simulator, just installed at the new venue, which gives fans the experience - and the joy - of taking a penalty kick at the Kop end.

"I travel the world with Liverpool Football Club and I know how much this club means to many people far and wide, but to see us opening a new Sports Cafe just over the water in the Wirral is fantastic," said Rush.

"I'm from the Wirral myself and I'm really proud that Liverpool have come over here to Cheshire Oaks and opened this brilliant new place.

"We are a family club and this is a family restaurant. It's a place to bring the kids and to have a great time. I'm really proud to have cut the ribbon and officially opened it tonight. I'm sure it will go from strength to strength."

The Mayor of Ellesmere Port Cllr Angela Claydon spoke about the role the Boot Room can play in the continued development of the area before acclaimed impressionist Darren Farley and Star sailor singer James Walsh took to the stage to begin the entertainment on a star studded night in front of an invited audience, which included a number of former Liverpool players.

Liverpool FC Operations Director Andrew Parkinson explained: "This is the first step in taking the Boot Room franchise outside of Liverpool and I must say it looks fantastic.

"It's just over a year since we opened our first Boot Room and it's quite fitting that today the Boot Room here in Cheshire Oaks has leapt ahead of the one at Anfield in the Open Table restaurant reviews.

"The focus rightly will always be about what happens on the pitch - and we have had success this season in the Carling Cup with the FA Cup still to come - but away from the football we are moving forward as a club and this is another great example of that.

"The restaurant looks great, the food is amazing and the service is second to none. We are confident this is going to be a big success and we would encourage people in the area to come along and see for yourself what we have to offer. "

The Boot Room restaurant seats over 200 people in a 5,500 sq ft unit and has Liverpool memorabilia, private booths, TV screens and an outside children's area.

"We haven't been open long but the Boot Room has started really well," said Restaurant Manager Richard Simkin.

"We've been really busy, we regularly host parties, there are christenings planned for later in the year and talk of weddings as well, so we're very excited about what the future holds."

Ian Rush added: "I'd advise anyone in the area - Liverpool fans and non Liverpool fans - to come along. The Boot Room is in a great area at Cheshire Oaks, it's a state of the art restaurant with something for everyone and I'm sure you won't be disappointed."