Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Carroll - I Want To Start More

Andy Carroll wants to be given the chance to start more games for Liverpool and insists he has changed his lifestyle since his record-breaking move to Anfield.

The striker joined Liverpool from Newcastle United in January 2011 for a record fee for a British player, but has scored just 10 goals in 51 appearances.

He has started only 31 of those matches and admits his confidence has been low after spending large periods of the season on the substitutes' bench.

However, Carroll has started the Reds' last two games against Blackburn Rovers and Everton in the FA Cup semi-final, scoring the winner both times, and believes he will only get better with more time on the pitch.

"I am confident in myself that, if I am playing games, I will score goals and put myself about," said the 23-year-old.

"I cannot really do that if I am on the bench and coming on in the last 10 minutes of games.

"What I want is to start games and put myself about like I know I can. When I haven't been playing, you get low on confidence."

Carroll also claimed the days of his party lifestyle off the pitch were behind him after former England boss Fabio Capello infamously warned him last September that he needed to "drink less".

"My past is my past. I changed my lifestyle when I came to Liverpool and settled down. I love it here," he added.

"People will say to me 'Oh, you were in the boozer last week' but it is just rumours going round.

"Now I just laugh it off. To be honest, I don't go out at all. I know what people say is not true, my family knows it's not true and the club knows it's not true.

"All I do now is sit in the house with my girlfriend, chill out and watch movies."

Carra Hails Vital Suarez

Jamie Carragher believes it is "vitally important" to keep Luis Suarez at Anfield, insisting he would not swap the striker for any other player in England.

The Uruguay international has expressed his desire to extend his stay with the Reds despite a testing first full season which saw him serve an eight-match ban after being found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra last October.

But the season has also seen lots of high points, including scoring Liverpool's all-important equalizer in Saturday's FA Cup semi-final victory over Everton - his 14th goal of the campaign.

Liverpool vice-captain praised the 25-year-old's contribution to the cause as Kenny Dalglish's side chase two trophies this term.

"I thought he was brilliant. Our best player. I wouldn't swap him for anyone in the league," said Carragher.

"He is a fantastic player and I'm delighted we've got him and hopefully he will take that forward into the cup final.

"It is vitally important (Liverpool keep Suarez). I see no reason why he would want to leave.

"He is playing well so hopefully he will sign a new contract, which he is expecting to do."

Colombia Striker Claims Liverpool Are Interested In His Services

Colombian striker Jackson Martinez claims he is currently attracting interest from both Liverpool and Porto.

The 25-year-old, who has scored 17 goals in 31 league appearances this season, plays his club football for Mexican side Jaguares.

But he has been tipped to make a move to one of the big European clubs this summer and he has revealed that he could be on his way to the Premier League with Liverpool.

Scouts from Anfield have reportedly watched him in action this season and he is available for around £4m - but Porto are also in the hunt.

Martinez told Colombian newspaper Nuevo Estadio: "I am not in any advanced negotiations with Liverpool or Porto but I know they are personally interested.

"I have not spoken to anyone and that goes for my club and my agent.

"In the next few months things should be finalized."

Liverpool Have First Refusal On Mexican Star

Liverpool will have first refusal on Mexican winger Hector Herrera, should the youngster move to Europe.

The 21-year-old currently plies his trade with Pachuca, and played a prominent role in ensuring Mexico qualified for this summer's Olympic Games in London.

It was confirmed on Friday by Pachuca's executive director Andres Fassi on Friday that Liverpool are interested in signing Herrera, although a formal approach has yet to be made.

Fassi has since claimed that a Liverpool representative has been to watch Herrera in action, something the player has confirmed himself when questioned by local reporters.

"I was only introduced to him, he didn't tell me anything specific," he said, as reported by Goal.com.

Liverpool also has an unofficial agreement with Pachuca that they will be provided with the opportunity to sign Herrera before anyone else, when his current employers make him available.

"We have a sort of deal between the two clubs, in that Liverpool would be the first in line should the player immigrate to Europe," Fassi explained.

"There's no formal offer yet, only interest, no verbal agreement or pre-contract.

"Liverpool's people came to Mexico on a general scouting trip, there's a declared interest in Herrera.

"Their scout was here for four practice sessions and now they want to watch him in the Olympic Games."

The acquisition of Herrera could prove to be the final Liverpool signing to have been influenced by Damien Comolli, with the Frenchman having been tasked with the recruitment of young talent during his time at Anfield.

Comolli was relieved of his duties last Thursday after a number of expensive failures were acquired for Kenny Dalglish's Liverpool first-team.

Cup Final Timings Confirmed

The Football Association has confirmed that the FA Cup final between Liverpool and Chelsea will kick-off at 5.15pm on Saturday, 5th May.

The showpiece event will be the first to be played under floodlights in 19 years, with the last being the 1993 replay between Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday.

It is the first time the final has been moved away from its traditional 3pm kick-off since the new Wembley opened its doors in 2007.

Since then, Chelsea has won the cup three times, lifting it in 2007, 2009 and 2010.

Liverpool booked their first FA Cup Final appearance in six years with a 2-1 win over Everton on Saturday, while Chelsea hammered Tottenham 5-1 in the second semi-final on Sunday.

Despite making a combined 43 semi-final appearances between them, the game will be the first time the two have met in the final.

Reds Fans Face Cup Travel Test

Severely-restricted rail services mean Liverpool fans heading to next month's FA Cup final face a travel test.

The Football Association have been criticized by a supporters' group for scheduling the May 5 tie at Wembley against Chelsea for a 5.15pm kick-off.

But transport logistics are set to push anger levels higher as engineering work by Network Rail over the May Day bank holiday weekend means Virgin Trains have cancelled all but three of their Liverpool to London services on the day of the final.

And while fans are being advised to travel to the capital via Manchester, Chester or Stoke, there appears to be no means of making the return journey by rail as there are no trains going back to the north west after the game.

Further engineering work near Milton Keynes means return journey times of over five hours for those hoping to travel back the day after.

It is set to pile more difficulty on fans, some of whom had to get up at 3am to make it to Wembley for Saturday's 12.45pm kick-off in the semi-final against Everton.

"We always try and help football fans get to and from matches on our network, and did this very successfully for Everton and Liverpool supporters travelling to the semi-final," said a Virgin Trains spokesman.

"However, on this occasion, as we explained to the FA, the choice of both a 5.15pm kick-off and the staging of the FA Cup Final on a bank holiday weekend when Network Rail had already planned essential route improvement works means we cannot offer fans the level of train service they have come to expect."

A Network Rail spokesman added: "Improvement works on the railway are planned around 18 months in advance, ahead of any scheduling of sporting events and knowing which teams will compete in the final.

"Unfortunately on this occasion, with the FA Cup final earlier in the month than usual and with the FA choosing a later kick-off time, it has resulted in Liverpool fans unable to return by train."

The Football Association's decision to dispense with a traditional 3pm kick-off for the first time has been criticized by fans.

With a number of Premier League matches being played on May 5, and television companies to consider, the governing body opted for an early evening start.

"The FA running the game in this country is an absolute joke," said a spokesman for the Merseyside branch of the Liverpool FC Official Supporters Club.

"Once again the FA Cup has been totally and utterly devalued. It should have kicked off at 3pm and the other league games moved to the Sunday.

"The final should kick-off at 3pm and everything else should work around that fixture.

"It is just another example of the FA devaluing their own competition.

"The last people who are thought of by the FA are the fans. Football fans don't matter to anyone.

"We are seen as a money-making machine who will do anything to follow their clubs.

"The fact you love your football club means you keep on going.

"And the fact Chelsea fans can spend all day drinking in London as they don't have any travel problems means there is then the potential for trouble."

Luis Hoping For Change Of Luck

Luis Suarez believes the Reds can take some positives from the number of times they have hit the woodwork in 2011-12 – but he is hoping for more luck in front of goal next season.

Kenny Dalglish's men have hit the frame of the goal 29 times so far this campaign, including Maxi Rodriguez's strike against the post in Saturday's FA Cup semi-final victory over Everton.

Next season our top scorer hopes some of those near-misses will become goals.

"When you shoot, you can look for the spaces between the posts and the goalkeeper," Suarez said when he was interviewed exclusively in this week's LFC magazine. "But instinctively, you usually aim for the corners, which means that there's a chance the ball might hit the post. I think we have hit the post more times than the crossbar.

"Sometimes this happens. As a striker, you can shoot from 25 yards and hit the post with a shot that is technically perfect. But you can also be looking the wrong way, the ball hits you on the knee and it goes in. The next minute, you score again and you're on a run.

"There is an element of luck. It would be more worrying if chances were not being created. Maybe next season, all the ones that hit the post and come out may go in."

Johnson Calls For League Focus

Glen Johnson says Liverpool must remain focused on their league form and not get distracted by the forthcoming FA Cup final with Chelsea.

Having already won the Carling Cup, the Reds have a chance to complete a domestic double at Wembley on 5th May - just the fourth time any side have achieved the feat.

But with the club eighth in the Premier League and on course for their worst finish since 1994, the England defender says they must improve their league form before they think about any more silverware.

"We'll take each game as it comes," said Johnson.

"The preparations will be the same as usual. We've got a game on Sunday against West Brom so we've got to enjoy the win and then we'll look forward to that game before the final.

"We need to take every game as it comes and we've got a few more games before then.

"But it (the final) is going to be there in the back of people's minds. Hopefully we can pick up another trophy.

"The lads got a buzz for winning stuff a few months back in the Carling Cup and luckily we're in another final."