Thursday, May 17, 2012

Kenny Dalglish Sacked As Liverpool Manager

Kenny Dalglish has been sacked as Liverpool manager.

"After a careful and deliberative review of the season, the club came to the decision that a change was appropriate," read a statement.

"Results in the Premier League have been disappointing and we believe to build on the progress that has already been made, we need to make a change."

Dalglish said his departure had been handled in a "honourable, respectful and dignified way".

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez and former boss Rafael Benitez have been installed as early favourites to fill the position.

Dalglish, 61, has paid the price for Liverpool's poor Premier League performances, especially at Anfield.

His departure comes after face-to-face talks with principal owners John W Henry and Tom Werner in Boston on Monday.

Despite reaching the FA Cup final and winning the Carling Cup, the Reds finished eighth in the top flight having lost as many games as they won.

"I am disappointed with results in the league, but I would not have swapped the Carling Cup win for anything as I know how much it meant to our fans and the club to be back winning trophies," said Dalglish.

Dalglish had been expected to take a holiday this week, but flew to the US instead to review the season with Henry and Werner.

Dalglish's dismissal follows the departure of director of football Damien Comolli and the club's head of sports medicine Peter Brukner in April.

Dalglish returned to manage the club for a second time in the wake of Roy Hodgson's departure in January 2011, initially on a caretaker basis until the end of the season.

After a strong finish to the season he was made permanent manager on 12 May 2011 on a three-year contract, but has been unable to carry that momentum into the new campaign.

Dalglish's second stint in charge at Anfield also proved controversial at times.

The Scot defended Luis Suarez in the wake of the striker's ban for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra when the teams met in October.

After the Uruguayan's apparent refusual to shake Evra's hand in the return fixture in February, an apology from both player and manager came only after the intervention of the US owners.

Gerrard To Skipper Three Lions

Roy Hodgson has confirmed Steven Gerrard will be England's captain at the finals of Euro 2012.

The Liverpool skipper, who briefly worked under his new international boss at Anfield between July 2010 and January 2011, will regain the armband having led his country at the 2010 World Cup.

John Terry had returned to the role as captain under Fabio Capello after the finals in South Africa two years ago, having previously lost the role as a result of revelations about his personal life.

But the Chelsea defender was in February of this year again stripped of the captaincy by the Football Association after being charged with alleged racial abuse of Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand. Terry has always denied all allegations.

Gerrard was subsequently overlooked as captain by interim boss Stuart Pearce, who took charge against Holland after Capello had resigned over a row with the FA regarding the second Terry saga, in favour of Scott Parker.

But Hodgson has no doubts the Liverpool star will prove a perfect captain at Euro 2012, when England will face France, Sweden and Ukraine in Group D in June.

"In my opinion, he is the man who merits this award or distinction," Hodgson said at a media conference on Wednesday that was broadcast live on Sky Sports News HD.

"I know him, of course, as a player. I know him as a person. I know how committed he is to the England cause.

"He was delighted last night when I told him of my decision.

"I will be counting on him to help me as much as he possibly can to build the type of team unity and the type of environment that I think is going to be very necessary for us to thrive in an important tournament."

Terry was named in Hodgson's squad, while another former England captain, Rio Ferdinand, brother of Anton, was left out.

It had been speculated whether Terry and Rio Ferdinand could be members of the same squad given their obvious personal differences, but Hodgson has insisted the decision is based on footballing reasons.

England have also revised their plans for next week, with Hodgson scrapping a planned training camp in Spain.

Instead, the Three Lions will meet up in Manchester on Wednesday evening before flying to Norway on Friday for their friendly in Oslo.

Seven days after that, England face Belgium at Wembley - although John Ruddy will be missing, having been given special dispensation to leave the squad by Hodgson as he will get married on 2nd June.

Four Liverpool Stars Make England Euro 2012 Squad

As the news of Kenny Dalglish sacking is unveiled there has been better news for Liverpool fans, recently appointed England manager Roy Hodgson has announced four Liverpool players in his squad for the European Championships this summer in Poland and the Ukraine.

Included in the 23 man squad is Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and Stewart Downing also joins him in midfield, with Jordan Henderson earning a position as a standby.

Henderson arrived at Anfield in June 2011 fresh from retaining Sunderland’s Young Player of the Year title for 2010/11 season. Glen Johnson is included in the manager’s selection of defenders; the attacking right-back arrived at Anfield in June 2009 and has made the England squad 43 times, scoring one goal.

In addition, striker Andy Carroll has been named alongside Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Jermain Defoe up front. Carroll has scored 11 goals in 56 appearances for the Reds since his record signing back in January 2011 and has three England caps to his name so far.

Dirk Kuyt Frustrated With Life Under Kenny Dalglish

Dirk Kuyt has admitted that he has been unhappy with life at Liverpool under Kenny Dalglish this season and has hinted that there are a number of clubs interested in his services.

The Holland international has struggled to become a first team regular under Dalglish despite being in superb form last season and ending the campaign with 13 Premier League goals.

However, after the arrival of Jordan Henderson, Kuyt has struggled to hold down a regular place in his usual slot on the right hand side of midfielder, while Andy Carroll, Luis Suarez and Craig Bellamy are preferred up top.

“Under this manager I don’t have the feeling any more that he will put me in the side every week," Kuyt told The Sun.

“I’m under no illusion about playing every week. But I believe I am still good enough to play for Liverpool every week. My physical stats are better than ever before.

“Last season I was scoring goals all over the place. But this season the manager bought three players who all played in my position. In the rotation system he used, I never found my rhythm again and never felt my old self.

“Deep in my heart I’d love to stay at Liverpool so I could have full revenge on everyone in my final season at the club.”

Kuyt still made 22 appearances in the Premier League last season but he did find himself in and out of the side and there have been suggestions that others clubs are interested in gaining his signature.

“Clubs from real big leagues are knocking on the door," added Kuyt. “I’ve turned down an offer from my old club Feyenoord for financial reasons. I’d have to take an 80% wage cut.”

Kuyt is likely to travel to Euro 2012 as part of the Holland squad and there are sure to be plenty of suitors for a player with vast experience both domestically and in European competition.

Aquilani To Learn Future Fate

Alberto Aquilani should know by the end of the month whether he has a future at Liverpool or whether he is free to move on.

The Italy international had hoped that a season-long loan spell at AC Milan would lead to a permanent deal this summer.

He has, however, failed to make enough appearances to trigger a £5million buyout clause.

Aquilani has made no secret of his desire to remain with the Rossoneri having struggled to settle in England, but Milan has offered no indication that they will be making a move.

The 27-year-old now finds himself in footballing limbo, with there still two years remaining on his contract at Anfield.

His representative claims it is still possible that a move will be pushed through before Liverpool return to pre-season training in July, and he is hoping to know more by the end of May.

"If he hadn't have picked up an injury then he would have certainly made the 25 appearances necessary," agent Franco Zavagli said in the Liverpool Echo.

"That would have resolved a lot of the problems. We still haven't spoken to Milan and I think we will get a clearer understanding of the situation in about 10 days.

"Alberto wants to stay in Milan, but he has two years left on his Liverpool contract and we'll need to see what they think about it."

Skrtel Recovery On Track

Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel insists he will be fit in time for pre-season after undergoing nasal surgery.

The Reds' player of the year missed the defeat at Swansea on the final day of the season but has no doubts he will soon recover.

"I am a little bit better now, but still not good as I still feel some pain in my nose," Skrtel told Liverpool's official website. "I hope it is going to be better in a few days.

"You're always disappointed when you miss any game, not just the last one, but we made a decision to do the surgery after the Chelsea game, miss the last game of the season and take some time for the recovery so I could be fit for pre-season.

"It was disappointing, but it was the surgery I needed."

Despite Liverpool's stuttering season, in which they lost 11 of their 19 Premier League games in 2012, Skrtel enjoyed his best campaign for the club - usurping Jamie Carragher at the heart of defence.

The 27-year-old scored a crucial equalizer against Cardiff at Wembley to help Liverpool on the way to the high-point of their season, lifting the Carling Cup in February.

And while disappointed with events at Anfield, the Slovakia international is pleased with how his game has developed.

He added: "From a personal point of view, I think my performances were alright - but the most important thing is the team. The team didn't do well and that is disappointing for me.

"I think the goal in the Carling Cup final was my highlight of the season because we were losing 1-0. I scored to make it 1-1 and helped the team to win the trophy.

"I scored more goals, so that is the main thing. In the past I didn't score too many goals, but this season I scored four. I think that's not bad for a defender.

"If I look at my game, I think I played more aggressive than I did last season or the one before that.

"That's good because a defender has to be aggressive, so I have tried to improve on it and I think I did."

Johnson Rues A Season Of Near Misses

Glen Johnson believes Liverpool’s season could have been very different if it weren’t for the Reds hitting the woodwork so often.

Liverpool endured a frustrating league campaign, with Kenny Dalglish’s men finishing the season in eighth place behind rivals Everton and well off the race for a Champions League spot.

The Reds hit the woodwork an astonishing 33 times this term – the highest figure in the Premier League – and Johnson believes that their bad luck in front of goal has been costly.

“I don’t remember any team in the history of football hitting the woodwork as often as we have this season,” he told LFC magazine. “But they are the fine lines people talk about.

“What width is a post? Probably three or four inches. If the ball goes two inches more in one direction it’s probably hitting the woodwork and going in.

"With all of the shots that hit the woodwork we could have had 15 more points this season. That would have put us right up there towards the top four. But that’s football and we can’t change it now.”

Liverpool were equally as wasteful from the penalty spot, missing seven of the 11 penalties that were awarded to them this season, although they made amends for their prolificacy from 12-yards out by beating Cardiff City in a penalty shoot-out to secure the Carling Cup in February.

The England international, who scored from the spot against Cardiff, revealed that he was briefly Liverpool’s first-choice penalty taker, and admitted he couldn't put his finger on why Liverpool had been so wasteful this season.

“When we played Blackburn away a few weeks ago I was on the penalties,” he said. “I’d be happy to take them. In the Chelsea game at Anfield I was joking with the lads and telling them that I was taking one if we got it.

“I don’t know why we’ve missed so many this season. Normally, if someone misses a new person has a go and then they go on a run of scoring.

"But it seems that whenever we’ve got a new taker he’s then missed. Then someone else has a go. Penalties are a part of the game where anything can happen.

"Even the best players in the world miss them. It’s not easy to explain.”

Hamann Fears For Liverpool

Dietmar Hamann has warned Liverpool's owners to get things right this summer, or face a decade away from the Champions League.

Liverpool endured a dreadful league campaign under Kenny Dalglish, finishing eighth behind neighbours Everton. The Reds' 2011-12 performance represents their worst finish for nearly 20 years.

Hamann prefers not to focus specifically on Dalglish, insisting whoever is in charge must make the right moves in the transfer market - regardless of budget - or face leading the Reds into an era of mediocrity.

"It's a worrying time for Liverpool - the most important summer for them," the 2005 Champions League winner said in the Daily Mirror.

"If they don't make the right decisions, we may not see Champions League football at Anfield for the next five or 10 years, which is a very likely scenario at the moment.

"The owners need to make a decision whether he [Dalglish] is the man to take the club forward. The improvement has to come from somewhere because, whatever people say, it has been a disappointing season."

Dalglish has stated none of his big-money signings will leave Anfield this summer, despite disappointing campaigns from Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Andy Carroll. Hamann raises serious question marks over whether some of the playing staff are up to the job.

"Are the players going to improve that much in the second season? Maybe," Hamann said. "Can you bring new players in? Not sure how much money you've got to spend.

"But the improvement has got to come from somewhere, because the teams that finished 15 points ahead of you, they'll be spending £30 million in the summer.

"It's a vital summer for the football club to make the right calls, because it's now three years running [that Liverpool have not finished in the Champions League places] and obviously the longer you go without any Champions League, the further you fall behind.

"The best players won't come to your club and you probably can't afford them anyway because there is so much money in the Champions League.

"For a team like Liverpool to be out of contention in March or April - finishing 15 or 16 points behind fourth - is just not good enough. If you miss out on the last day of the season by three or four points, well, that happens to a lot teams.

"But to be out of contention by March or April, with eight or nine games to go, and not having a chance of finishing fourth, that's not acceptable."