Monday, April 16, 2012

Luis Suárez Confirms He Will Be Staying At Liverpool

Concerns about the striker’s future were raised after his suspension following the Patrice Evra affair, especially as Paris St Germain made their interest known.

Suárez’s contract negotiations are continuing with the club and he was emphatic when asked about his future.

“Yes, yes I will continue at Liverpool,” he said. “It is obvious I will continue. I have four years left on my contract and I am very happy and content to be here and I hope good things continue.”

Asked about the fall-out from his eight-match ban, Suárez said: “I am over that. Obviously the important thing was the support from all the people and there is no need to talk about that as it is already in the past.

"Obviously one has to be used to all this. A lot of things happen in football. It’s difficult and it’s complicated but you have to deal with it.”

Suárez’s family were at Wembley to see his equalizing goal against Everton.

“My joy was for my wife and my daughter and my sister and niece who came from Uruguay and my father-in-law who came from Barcelona,” Suárez said.

“They made a huge effort to be here so my joy was for all the sacrifices they make for me not to mention of course the sacrifices by all the people from Liverpool and all the support they’ve given us despite not having good moments in recent times.”

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard said he believed complacency after the last Wembley success in the Carling Cup was responsible for the team’s Premier League slump. He expects a change in attitude as Liverpool turn their attention to collecting more points.

“The proof is out there about where this team is,” he said. “We’ve proved we’re a very good cup team. But there’s still a very big challenge for us in the league. The league position isn’t good enough. I believe we’ve got the players in this squad to be able to improve things next year. I think we’re in a false position in the league. I think we’re better than where we are.

“As players need to take responsibility for the league position. We won the Carling Cup and we should have gone on and moved up the league and put up a real fight to get in that top four and it never happened.

“As a squad, we need to address that at the end of the season. But if we go on and win this cup, I think we can look at this season as a success as far as the cups are concerned. Everyone knows what we will have to address and that’s the league form. We need more consistency. We need to be winning games against your Wigans and your Stokes. We’re better than those teams and we haven’t shown that this year.

"When we play those teams, it’s about getting the three points. In certain matches we’ve created and tons and tons of chances and we haven’t finished them off. That’s why we are where we are in the league. We need to be mentally stronger in the league.”

Carroll For England

He's been dismissed as a £35million flop in some quarters, but Henry Winter believes Andy Carroll should be in the England squad for Euro 2012.

The Daily Telegraph's football correspondent was speaking on the Sunday Supplement after watching the Liverpool striker net two winners in a week, firstly against Blackburn in the Premier League and then in the FA Cup semi-final against Everton.

Carroll has only scored four Premier League goals all season and hasn't played for England since coming on as a substitute against Wales last September, but with Wayne Rooney suspended for the first two games of Euro 2012, Winter believes he should be included in the 23-man squad.

He said: "When Rooney got sent off everyone was asking who should lead England's line and we all had to file our probable team for the first game of the Euros.

"I said Carroll's got to play - and then I actually thought a couple of days later that it was absolutely daft because he was playing really badly.

"But there's something about Andy Carroll. When he stepped on the pitch for England at Wembley - he's played three times and scored once - he doesn't look overawed by the occasion.

"We know what that England shirt does to players; they become inhibited, they go into their shells and they lose their club form.

"So far he hasn't had much club form to lose, but I just think there's something about Carroll. You can play him up there on his own and you can play Rooney in his favoured position behind him.

"England have to take five strikers to the Euros because Rooney's suspended and because we always get injuries with strikers in championships anyway. I would rather over-club on the strikers.

"Carroll's had a good week and let's not get carried away, but I would definitely take him in the five."

Fabio Capello gave Carroll his England debut against France in November 2010 and he scored his first international goal against Ghana in March last year, but he was then left in the wilderness after questions were raised over his fitness

Capello suggested the striker needed to change his lifestyle to become an international player, but Winter feels his performances for Liverpool this week have indicated that his fitness is improving.

"One of the interesting things for Andy Carroll this week was the fact that he's scoring late on and that's he's a threat late on," Winter added.

"There's always been the question mark over how dedicated he is in training and the off-field issues which Capello raised to us when we were out in Brazil.

"The fact that Carroll scored in injury time at Ewood Park and in the 87th minute at Wembley on a sapping pitch - having never hidden and run all afternoon - just shows that, actually, the fitness probably is there now."

Agent Confirms Liverpool Target Is Wanted Man

The race for Hertha Berlin midfielder Raffael is hotting up, with the 27-year-old’s agent admitting his client is a wanted man in Italy and slapping a €15M asking price on the player’s head.

Recently Raffael was linked with English Premier League powerhouses Liverpool, whose manager Kenny Dalglish is believed keen to add a creative spark to his side over the summer.

But the Merseyside giants will face opposition for the former FC Zurich schemer, with several Italian sides, most notably Napoli, also desperate to bag the Brazilian.

"At the moment, Napoli have not specifically asked for him, but I can say that he is wanted by several Italian clubs", Raffael’s agent Dino Lamberti told Tutto Mercato.

"The amount needed is €15M", he added.

Raffael looks set to exit the German capital this summer, with the Brazilian having stood out in a Hertha Berlin side battling relegation.

At present Hertha sit second bottom in the Bundesliga and the odds are against 73-year-old Otto Rehhagel leading the club to safety; the former Greece coach was drafted into the hot seat in February.

Liverpool Could Turn To Toffees Loanee

Everton loanee Royston Drenthe is ready to cross the city to join Liverpool this summer.

The 25-year-old Real Madrid winger is out of contract at the Santiago Bernabeu at the end of the season, and sees his future away from Spain.

However, the Toffees' precarious financial situation means that they are unable to meet his £80,000-a-week wage demands so a permanent move to Goodison Park seems unlikely.

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has been impressed with Drenthe's form for Everton this campaign, and is ready to offer him the chance to move to Anfield in June.

Having already spent close to £115million on new signings since returning to the Reds hotseat in January 2011, Dalglish is expected to be busy again in this summer's transfer market, as he looks to continue strengthening his squad.

Despite winning the Carling Cup this season, and confirming their place in the FA Cup final in May with victory over their Merseyside rivals at Wembley on Saturday, Liverpool's season has been a disappointing one in terms of Premier League form.

Currently sitting 8th in the table - a whopping 36 points behind leaders Manchester United - it's clear that the Reds need to continue adding to their squad in order to return the club to the glory days.

Liverpool Look At Txiki Begiristain For Director Of Football Job

Former Barcelona sporting director Txiki Begiristain has emerged as a leading contender to replace Damien Comolli at Liverpool.

The Anfield club's American owners sacked their director of football ahead of the FA Cup semi-final victory over Everton because they were unhappy that a big-spending approach had not resulted in any progress in the Premier League.

They were linked with Ajax and Barcelona great Johan Cruyff, but found the Dutchman had no interest in moving to England.

Instead, he recommended the Liverpool board consider Begiristain for the vacancy, reports the Sunday Times.

Former Spain international Begiristain has been credited with helping to build the current all-conquering Barca team, after bringing in Dani Alves, Gerard Pique and David Villa.

However, he left the Camp Nou in 2010 following the departure of club president Joan Laporta.

Begiristain's exit came just a year after one of Barcelona's worst deals, which saw them sign Zlatan Ibrahimovic and allow Samuel Eto'o to move to Inter Milan as part of the £41million fee.

Despite that blip, he remains highly regarded by Europe's biggest clubs and has been linked with senior roles at both Manchester City and Chelsea.

Should he get the director of football job at Anfield, he would be expected to implement a change in recruitment strategy that would see Liverpool focus their efforts on players aged 21 or under.

Liverpool Plan To Bring Park To Anfield

Liverpool have identified Celtic's chief scout John Park as a leading candidate to replace Damien Comolli as director of football, it has been claimed.

Comolli was relieved of his duties last Thursday following a number of failed signings, and with the Reds faltering in the Premier League.

The Frenchman was responsible for bringing the likes of Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing to Anfield for exorbitant fees, and paid the price for the failings of the pitch of his numerous expensive acquisitions.

Despite the widespread disdain for the position of director of football in the English game, Liverpool will appoint a successor to Comolli, and Park is the latest name to be linked with the vacant role.

According to The Scottish Sun, Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) have been impressed by the work Park has done during five years at Parkhead, with the former Hibs man having overseen the recruitment of numerous young talents.

Park also played a prominent role in securing the likes of Emilio Izaguirre, Ki Sung-Yueng, Victor Wanyama, Thomas Rogne and Beram Kayal, who were all relatively unknown before moving to Celtic.

Cruyff Denies Liverpool Contact

Johan Cruyff has rubbished reports linking him with the vacant director of football role at Liverpool.

Following the abrupt departure of Damien Comolli last week, reports had suggested Cruyff was in line to replace the Frenchman.

However, the Dutchman has denied contact with the FA Cup finalists, claiming talk of a move to Liverpool has no substance.

"I see my name is being mentioned in connection with Liverpool," he said.

"I don’t know where that has come from, because I have not heard anything from them. There has been no contact whatsoever. If you just read speculation like this, without any substance to it, there is no point taking it seriously. It is just talk."

After resigning from the Ajax board last week, Cruyff has taken a new role with the Eredivsie side where he will 'remain involved with the implementation of his football vision within the club'.

Cruyff's success with both Ajax and Barcelona made him a credible candidate for the role, however the Reds will have to seek out alternative options.

Comolli's departure came two days before Liverpool's FA Cup semi-final victory over Everton, which sets up a final against Chelsea in May.

Andy Carroll, whose form since his move from Newcastle United has been heavily scrutinized, silenced his critics with the late winner, his second in a week after scoring against Blackburn Rovers last Tuesday.

The blame for the poor showings of the likes of Carroll, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing this season has been laid at Comolli's door, however manager Kenny Dalglish has since taken full responsibility for the recent additions.

John W Henry And Tom Werner To Attend FA Cup Final

Principal owner John W Henry and chairman Tom Werner returned to Boston before the 2-1 victory as they had to keep long standing promises to watch the Boston Red Sox.

However, there was an instant message of congratulation for the team as the dour mood which had led to director of football Damien Comolli’s dismissal 48 hours earlier was lifted.

Werner confirmed the senior board members would not be absent for next month’s final.

“The team showed a lot of character, and we dominated the second half,” said Werner.

“Suárez and Carroll’s goals were both brilliant, and Wembley will be a lovely place to visit in May.”

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish had been under mounting pressure prior to kick-off, but Cup success — and his own period of self-assessment after a rough week — could make Saturday’s event a turning point of his reign, particularly if Liverpool end the season on a high.

Dalglish said he was willing to take all the flak for Liverpool’s league performance because he believed it would soon reach the same impressive level that has brought success in the Cup.

“You don’t like it but you don’t have to agree with it. You just have to get on with it,” said Dalglish about the criticism of his management.

“If it’s me that’s getting dog’s abuse then good because it takes the pressure off the players.

“I think my skin is a bit thicker than some of theirs. There are a lot of them here for the first time and in their first year.

"It is important for everybody to go through some bad bits to realize how good the good bits are. I have been there before and I suppose I will be there again at some stage.

“I have never said at any given time that we are the finished article and we still won’t say that night now. But what we will do is put every bit of knowledge we have got and every bit of commitment in to getting the football club moving in the right direction.

“There are no scapegoats for anything that has gone wrong. There is only a vision on how we are going to go forward.

“To go forward and be successful, sometimes you need to get battered along the way. We have got to be strong enough to stand up to that.

“We’ve got to be confident enough in our own beliefs and the people that are playing round about us. And the people who are supporting us have got to be strong enough in their beliefs of what we are doing to be correct and we will be OK.

“I think this football club is a fantastic example to anyone else who wants to have a football club. When there is a wee bit of mud flying about we stick together for each other.

"That’s the football club I used to know and it’s the football club I am getting back to knowing.”