Friday, April 20, 2012

Kenny Aims To Maintain Momentum

Kenny Dalglish hopes Liverpool can carry the momentum from their FA Cup semi-final victory over local rivals Everton into the remainder of the season.

The Reds triumphed 2-1 against the Toffees in last weekend's derby encounter at Wembley to book a spot in the final against Chelsea - their second cup decider this season after lifting the Carling Cup.

Liverpool's league form has been less impressive but manager Dalglish is hoping Saturday's triumph will give his side impetus in the five games they have left.

"There is always a good feel around and about the football club," he told the club's official website.

"Melwood has always been a nice place to come and work since I've come in and the positive result we got on Saturday puts an extra couple of centimetres on people's smiles.

"We've got our reward for winning in the semi-final against Everton and we want to keep that momentum going.

"We want to try and play as well as we possibly can and get as positive results as we possibly can between now and the end of the season."

Liverpool's fans could struggle to get to Wembley for the final against Chelsea on May 5th, with rail maintenance work over the Bank Holiday weekend, coupled with a 5.15pm kick-off, meaning thousands travelling from the North West will have to find alternative transport.

It adds more misery on supporters who have been allocated 25,000 tickets for the decider - almost 7,000 fewer than their semi-final against Everton last weekend.

Dalglish believes fans are "taken for granted" when it comes to the big events but is confident supporters will make it to Wembley.

"Sometimes that is the problem when fans are taken for granted - not just our fans but those at all football clubs," he said. "That is the decision which has been made and it's been made outside of our control.

"It could have been made a bit easier for them but they are fantastic fans and they will get there."

Liverpool's next challenge comes against West Brom this weekend, with Baggies boss Roy Hodgson set to return to Anfield after an ill-fated stint at the helm over the first half of last season.

Hodgson has enjoyed more success at The Hawthorns, keeping Albion safe from relegation last season and guiding them into midtable this term.

Dalglish expects the manager to be afforded a warm reception when he returns to Merseyside, adding: "It will be good to see Roy. To see him back at Anfield - obviously we've played them down there already - will be good and I'm sure he'll get a warm reception from the supporters.

"He's a man with real integrity and dignity and he tried his best for this football club. I'm sure the supporters will respect that."

Kuyt Eyes FA Cup Final Goal

Dirk Kuyt is hopeful he can continue his knack of scoring in the big games when Liverpool take on Chelsea in next month's FA Cup final.

The Dutchman has already found the net in both finals the club have been involved in during his time at Anfield.

He scored late on in the 2007 UEFA Champions League final against AC Milan in Athens, although it wasn't enough to prevent the Italians gaining revenge for their defeat in Istanbul two years previously.

And his extra-time strike in February's Carling Cup then helped Kenny Dalglish's men overcome Championship side Cardiff on penalties.

Although he missed out in last weekend's semi-final against Everton, the 31-year-old has backed himself to perform when the big games come around.

"I am proud that, after the Champions League final and the final of the Carling Cup, for the third time I am with Liverpool in a final," the Dutchman said.

"I will do everything to ensure that in the third final I prove my worth with a goal."

Kuyt has found first-team starts harder to come by this season and did not even make it off the bench at Wembley on Saturday.

However, the former Feyenoord star feels he may still have a part to play against the West Londoners on 5th May.

"It is a disappointment that I did not play (against Everton)," he told the Liverpool Echo.

"I expected to come on and you hope to be the first to come on but that was not to be.

"But there have been some important moments for me in the FA Cup, such as my goal against Manchester United (which was the late winner in round four)."

Dalglish - Bellamy Delivered

Kenny Dalglish has praised Craig Bellamy for his free-kick expertise after the Welshman crossed for Andy Carroll's FA Cup semi-final winner.

Carroll's towering header from Bellamy's delivery secured a 2-1 win for Liverpool over neighbours Everton and a third Wembley visit of the season for the Reds.

And Liverpool boss Dalglish revealed Bellamy had reaped the rewards for hours of hard work at the club's Melwood training ground.

"Craig's delivery for Andy's strike was perfect," wrote Dalglish in his LFC Weekly Magazine column.

"It always is when the ball finishes in the back of the net. His delivery is normally great; that is because he practices it so much in training.

"It shows that what you do on the training ground pays off. It's not the first time Craig has delivered a ball like that. He's delivered lots of good set-pieces this season. He did it at Chelsea in the Carling Cup when Martin Kelly scored."

The build-up to the all-Merseyside semi-final included much speculation that Liverpool could struggle as they would be forced to field third-choice goalkeeper Brad Jones.

Both Pepe Reina and Alexander Doni were suspended for the game due to recent red cards and with Jones' only involvement this season being an unconvincing display at Blackburn it could have been an area of weakness.

But the former Middlesbrough man produced a solid display and Dalglish believes the plaudits for that must go to goalkeeping coach John Achterberg for his work with the club's goalkeepers.

"Seeing Brad do well was particularly pleasing," added Dalglish.

"I know he came on at Blackburn, but it's been a while since he started a first-team game. Both him and Doni are a credit to themselves.

"They've both looked sharp and confident. How they've performed has been a good reflection of the work John Achterberg has done with them.

"It's unusual for two keepers to be required in such a short period of time. People sometimes ask, 'why do you need three goalkeepers?' It's in case of situations like this. If we hadn't had (Jones and Doni) we might have had to put in one of the youngsters from the Academy.

"A situation like that could ruin a young boy's career. We were fortunate that we didn't have to consider it."

Suarez - Reds Will Be Stronger

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez is confident the Reds can emerge stronger next season after a turbulent campaign at Anfield.

The Merseysiders' season has been full of ups and downs, with Kenny Dalglish's men reaching two cup finals but struggling to make an impact in the Premier League.

Poor results in the league have heaped pressure on manager Dalglish, while director of football Damien Comolli was dismissed by the club earlier this month.

The Reds were also at the centre of a racism row after Suarez abused Manchester United defender Patrice Evra, with the club attracting widespread criticism for their support of the striker.

However, the Uruguay international believes Liverpool can come back a better side next term as a result of this season's turmoil.

"You are bound to enjoy picking up trophies and medals, of course you are. But you learn most about one another during a bad patch - you learn how to stick together even more," said Suarez.

"No team has success after success. All clubs, teams and players go through good runs and bad runs. That is football.

"Even the very best of all time have bad periods, but it is how they react that defines them.

"If you react in the right way and support each other, adversity can be a good thing in the long run because you become stronger."

Suarez has voiced his gratitude to manager Dalglish for his "100% backing" despite the controversy that has surrounded him this season.

The Reds boss gave the striker his unqualified support during the racism inquiry, which resulted in the Football Association suspending the 25-year-old for eight games.

Suarez told Liverpool's official magazine: "Apart from the fact that he was the person that signed me, I appreciate the fact that I've always felt that I've had 100% backing from Kenny Dalglish.

"This is very important for any footballer. He understands me as a player and as a person. He knows what I can do and that I will always give everything for the team on the field.

"Importantly, because he was a striker himself, if there are things I need to put right, he tries to help me by giving advice.

"I always take it in the right manner because I respect the fact that he played in the same position as me and is one of the greatest, if not the greatest player, in the club's history."

Victor Moses Alerts Liverpool After Calling Off Wigan Talks

Wigan winger Victor Moses is for a summer transfer to Liverpool after deciding not to renew his deal at the DW stadium.

The Nigeria-born 21-year-old has shone for the Premier League strugglers this season, and has been instrumental in the club’s surge away from the relegation zone, which has seen the Latics chalk up wins against Manchester United and Arsenal.

With only one year remaining on his current contract, Moses is in a position of power at the DW, and with Liverpool interested in acquiring his services, the former Crystal Palace man has seemingly decided the time has come to try his hand at a higher level.

'This is how it works here (in England),’ said his agent Tony Finnigan.

'Victor Moses has just a year left on his contract with Wigan Athletic and we were about to start talks on the extension when he said he does not want to sign a new deal.

'Victor Moses has played himself into a position where virtually every club in the Premier League want to sign him.

'All of the Premier League clubs will be strengthening in the summer and we are not surprised that Moses has been linked with virtually every team in the top division.'

Keen to point out there is no friction between the youngster and his current boss, Finnigan added: 'It doesn't mean he doesn't like his manager - he chose Wigan over other clubs.

'Martinez is a tactical genius and an excellent coach, and they are Victor's words.

'He's been playing regularly, he's in form and enjoying his football. He has been offered the chance to extend his contract but has said, "No thank you".'

Liverpool Hope To Complete Deal For Athletic Bilbao Youngster

It seems Athletic Bilbao will have a tough time hanging onto their players in the summer after Liverpool where the latest side to be linked one of their players in young striker Mikel Zaton.

The Spanish side has made the semi-finals of the Europa League and there has been speculation about a number of their players leaving, with the likes of Iker Muniain. Javi Martinez and Fernando Llorente, who has often been linked with a move to Liverpool, all admired by a number of European clubs.

However, according to Basque newspaper El Correo, Liverpool are hoping to steal one of their youth team players after learning that Zaton had scored an impressive 25 goals in 28 games.

The 16-year-old has bagged five hat-tricks this season and the paper suggests that Liverpool have already entered into negotiations with the Spanish side to try and complete a deal in the summer.

Liverpool are hoping to improve their squad at the end of the season and the clubs transfer policy since Fenway Sports Group took over has been to look at signing younger players who represent value for money.

Liverpool Send Chief Scout To Watch Swedish Midfielder

Liverpool's former director of football Damien Comolli may have one last parting gift for the club after it was reported that he sent he club's chief scout to Holland to watch midfielder Rasmus Elm.

Comolli was in charge of helping identify potential signings and it seems he was keen to try and convince Liverpool to move for the AZ Alkmaar midfielder just days before he was sacked.

According to The People, Comolli instructed chief scout Steve Hitchen to head to Holland to watch the Sweden international in action against FC Twente in a top of the table clash.

The 24-year-old is certain to be a member of the Sweden squad that travels to Ukraine and Poland for the European Championships this summer and has been instrumental in Alkmaar pushing for the title.

Alkmaar is currently second in the league, six points behind Ajax, with Elm having been a regular starter all season.

The paper believes that Liverpool will need to offer in the region of £7million to convince the Dutch side to part with the midfielder who is believed to be interested in a move to England.

Liverpool has struggled in the league this season and it seems likely that manager Kenny Dalglish will look to freshen up his squad in the summer months.

Reds Land Crewe Starlet

Crewe Alexandra has confirmed that midfield starlet Dan Smith has signed for Liverpool.

Manchester City was also keen on the 16-year-old midfielder, who is an England youth international.

But Liverpool has now moved to agree a deal reported to be worth around £250,000, although if he makes the first-team it could possibly rise to £1million.

Crewe spokesman Rob Wilson confirmed: "We are naturally disappointed that Dan has decided to sign for Liverpool.

"The club has received an undisclosed fee and future add-ons but we would have much preferred to have seen him play for our first team."

Smith, who has been with Crewe's highly acclaimed academy since the age of 11, also confirmed the deal when he tweeted a picture of himself with Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish.

Liverpool Attacker Targeted By Bundesliga Side

Hamburg are the latest club to reportedly show their interest in Liverpool attacker Dirk Kuyt, with rumours circulating that he will be on his way out of Anfield this summer.

Kuyt has found his first team opportunities limited since the arrival of Kenny Dalglish as Liverpool boss last year, starting only 11 games in the league this season.

Dalglish has opted for the natural width of Stewart Downing, and has preferred the youthful exuberance of Jordan Henderson to the industry of Kuyt.

The Dutchman's decreasing role at Liverpool has seen him linked with a number of clubs, and according to the Liverpool Daily Post it seems as though the latest club to show an interest is Bundesliga side Hamburg, who reached the Europa League quarter-finals.

The German side is currently 14th in the table, but is looking to strengthen in the summer as the push to regain European football.

However, the 31 year-old is also thought to be wanted by former side Feyenoord, where he enjoyed three prolific seasons, scoring 71 times in 101 appearances.

Feyenoord coach Ronald Koeman recently admitted he was interested in bringing the Netherlands international back to Feyenoord.

“As coach of Feyenoord, I naturally hope that he will wear the shirt of Feyenoord again, but I can’t say more than that,” Koeman said.

Cole Hoping For Lille Stay

Joe Cole would welcome the opportunity to make his stay at Lille permanent, but concedes that any decision regarding his future rests with Liverpool.

The England international is edging towards the end of a season-long loan agreement with the reigning French champions.

Having been deemed surplus to requirements at Anfield, it appears unlikely that he will be drafted back into the Reds fold this summer.

Cole admits he would rather bring the curtain down on a forgettable spell on Merseyside, with a high-profile switch in 2010 having failed to live up to expectations.

The 30-year-old has enjoyed his time in Ligue 1 with Lille, with regular football rekindling his passion for the game, and he is waiting to learn what Liverpool has planned for him.

"I've not spoken to anyone at Liverpool," he said in the Liverpool Echo.

"I'm expecting a call from them. I would like to stay here, but it's still too early to say. Let's see how Lille finish the season.

"I am happy here, my family too.

"I was well received and I love this team. But it's not me who decides. We need to see what the board decides."

Cole insists money will not play a part in any decision regarding his future, with game time of greater importance to him at this stage of his career.

"The financial issue is important, but money is not the priority for me," he added.

"I enjoy being on the pitch and that's the main thing."