Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Rodgers - I've Lots To Prove

Brendan Rodgers is pleased with the start he has made to his Liverpool career, but is determined to keep fighting to prove he is good enough to be in the job.

Liverpool plumped for Rodgers to replace Kenny Dalglish earlier in the summer and the former Swansea manager has enjoyed a winning start to his tenure.

Victories in both legs over FC Gomel have set up a Europa League play-off date with Hearts later this month, while the Premier League season begins on Saturday against West Brom.

Rodgers is aware that he may still have to win over some skeptical Liverpool fans following just one season of top-flight management before his Anfield appointment.

However, Rodgers has vowed to give his all to bring success to the club and is eager to build on a promising beginning to his career on Merseyside.

"I do feel at home but I will never be complacent," said Rodgers after Sunday's friendly win over Bayer Leverkusen. "I will come in and I'm sure the majority of supporters are still not sure about me.

"I've got so much to prove here. I have got to fight for my life to prove I am good enough to be here. I feel comfortable in relation to my position and work on the field. My promise was to fight for the club every single day.

"We're in a good moment and a good position. We've had a terrific pre-season and we've already started our competitive games in the Europa League. We now arrive into the Barclays Premier League next week with a real strong mindset and hopefully that can continue.

"Certainly, I am very, very pleased with where we're at. The players have shown great determination and they want to learn. They're very happy to work in this way.

"I am delighted with where we're at because I know the vision and where this leads too, and hopefully it will continue to improve."

Sterling Impresses Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers was full of praise for teenage winger Raheem Sterling after his goalscoring display at Anfield on Sunday.

The 17-year-old scored the opener as Liverpool produced a convincing display to beat Bayer Leverkusen 3-1.

Lucas Leiva and Andy Carroll were also on target against the Bundesliga side but it was Sterling's outstanding performance that caught the eye and Rodgers was impressed.

"The boy is a talent," the Reds boss told the Liverpool Echo.

"He still has an awful lot to do and an awful lot to learn, but he's shown over pre-season that from a young guy who just worries about himself, he now worries about the team and the responsibility within the team.

"I was pleased with the goal as a whole. If you look back at the images of it, it was good pressure on one side of the field when we won the ball and took it out of the pressure zone.

"I like wingers to play with width, and by the time the ball got to Jose Enrique, he was in a great position.

"His movement off the ball was very impressive - he's made a great run and Jose played a terrific pass, and the rest was that imagination and creativity that I love when he cut inside and scored with a wonderful finish."

Agger Wants Reds Stay

Daniel Agger has admitted he would like to stay at Liverpool, but admits the situation is out of his hands.

Manchester City and Barcelona are chasing Agger with Premier League champions City believed to have seen two bids already rejected for the classy central defender.

City is thought to be readying a third bid for Agger with Roberto Mancini keen to bring in the defender before the close of the transfer window.

It has been suggested Liverpool could be prepared to sell Agger for the right price as they could use the funds to strengthen the squad elsewhere.

Agger, who is away on international duty with Denmark for Wednesday's friendly with Slovenia, claims he is unaware of interest in his services and hopes he can stay at Anfield.

"No, I haven't heard anything, Agger told Ekstra Bladet when asked about his future.

"That is how the club wants to do it. I would prefer to stay.

"I can't imagine playing for other clubs in England. But, you never know if the club prefers to sell me."

Agger has recently had a new tattoo with the initials of the famous Liverpool song 'You'll Never Walk Alone' on his knuckles and the 27-year-old insists the artwork has nothing to do with his current situation.

"It has nothing to do with my current situation," added Agger. "It is a gesture towards the Kop, towards Liverpool and towards the people around the club."

Reds Hopeful On Skrtel Deal

Sky Sports understands Liverpool is close to agreeing a new deal with defender Martin Skrtel.

Skrtel's future at Anfield has been the subject of speculation this summer with the Slovakian claiming he was aware of interest from other club's in his services.

The 27-year-old, who joined Liverpool in January 2008, enjoyed his best season at Anfield last term, winning the club's Player of the Year award.

Skrtel has two years to run on his current contract, but Reds boss Brendan Rodgers is keen to secure his long-term future.

Rodgers sees Skrtel as a key member of his future plans on Merseyside and is ready to reward with a new contract.

Liverpool tied down Luis Suarez down to a long-term contract earlier this month and they hope Skrtel will soon follow suit.

Lucas Impressed By Allen

Lucas Leiva has revealed how Joe Allen is already impressing his new Liverpool team-mates in training.

The Wales international joined the Reds for a reported fee of £15million earlier this month and comes with a reputation for his excellent technique and ball retention skills.

Lucas admits that is already shining through at the club's Melwood training base.

"He had a training session with us and we can see what a quality player he is so hopefully he can be a key player for us during the season," the 25-year-old told the club's official website.

"It's one more player to fight for a place and it's really good for the club. We need more than 11 players to be successful.

"He had a good season last year and he had a great tournament in the Olympics as well. He has confidence and he has experience so hopefully he will do well for us."

Liverpool's season has already begun, having beaten Gomel of Belarus over two legs to qualify for the Europa League play-off round.

And the Brazil international believes there is an advantage to be gained from already having played meaningful football prior to Saturday's Premier League opener against West Brom.

"It's always important to play a competitive game and we had the chance to play two before the Premier League season starts," he added.

"That will give us a good momentum and confidence to have a good start in the Premier League.

"We still have another week to train but I think it was a positive pre-season for us. We have spent a lot of time working and training with the new manager and we will be ready for the start of the new season.

"Hopefully we can start with a good win."

Lucas is wary of setting targets so early in the season but admits a top-four finish must be the aim.

"Of course we have been doing well in pre-season but now it will be a big test for us," said the former Gremio man.

"I think we will have a better idea when the season starts. Let's go game by game and see what we are able to achieve, but hopefully we can get a Champions League spot which is what we are looking for.

"We can see many clubs competing for the top four so it's not going to be easy, unlike four years ago when maybe we only had four teams.

"This is a very difficult league to play in and we just have to make sure we approach every game really well and improve in every game."

Liverpool Fans Want Walcott Transfer

Liverpool fans have spoken, and it’s clear they want winger Theo Walcott to be the next major addition at Anfield this summer.

With the transfer window in full swing, the Reds have been linked with a number of top players after adding the services of Welsh international Joe Allen last week.

Manager Brendan Rodgers doesn’t appear to have ended his business there either, with Walcott one of a handful of players the Northern Irishman is being linked with.

GiveMeFootball decided to ask supporters which player they wanted to sign next, listing a number of speculated targets as options, and over 20,000 fans came back with their response.

An emphatic 58% (11,907) chose England international Walcott as the man they want on Merseyside, with the 23-year-old yet to agree a new deal with Arsenal despite having just 12-months left on his contract.

Proven in the Premier League, the former Southampton starlet moved to the Emirates Stadium in 2006, and has been a regular in Arsene Wenger’s over the last few years. Signed for a revised £9.1 million, it’s unclear how much Walcott would cost in the current market.

Second in the minds of Liverpool fans is Manchester City winger Adam Johnson, who is thought to be surplus to requirements at the Etihad Stadium as manager Roberto Mancini continues to spend big money.

13% (2,718) of fans believe the former Middlesbrough starlet is the answer to their problems, and Johnson would certainly add some width and delivery for striker Andy Carroll.

Gaston Ramirez was close behind with 11% (2191) of votes, the Uruguayan international impressing over the last couple of years both in Serie ‘A’ and for La Celeste.

Speculation that the former Penarol starlet has completed an £18million move to the club appears premature however, and it would seem that not all fans want the move to happen.

American international Clint Dempsey comes next with 9% (1805) of the vote, whilst Real Madrid playmaker Nuri Sahin brings up the rear with just 7% (1414) of the vote.

After such an impressive campaign last season, Dempsey could have expected better support from the Liverpool fans, but it appears they aren’t interested in a move that could see Scottish international Charlie Adam move in the opposite direction.

Turkish international Sahin is being linked with a number of other top clubs in England, but interest in the player is small scale at Anfield, suggesting his future may lay elsewhere.

2% of voters chose ‘other’ as their next signing, suggesting that not everyone is happy with the targets currently on the table.

Liverpool Linked With Benfica Midfielder

Liverpool could continue their summer recruitment drive with a move for Benfica midfielder Nolito.

New Anfield manager Brendan Rodgers will be well aware of the former Barcelona star after modelling his former club Swansea's style on the Catalan side and spending time studying their training sessions.

The 25-year-old has just spent his first season away from Barca at the Portuguese club but has not enjoyed the experience and is desperate to leave, according to newspaper Record.

talkSPORT revealed in May that Nolito's agent Oscar Font had revealed Liverpool were interested in his client but the move could finally come off now Rogers is in charge and the player is unsettled.

Nolito is under contract at Benfica until 2016 and has a buyout clause of £39m but could be available on loan after making his unhappiness known.

Nuri Sahin Set To Decide On Future

Real Madrid's in-demand Nuri Sahin is set to decide on his future this week after Liverpool joined Arsenal in making a loan offer for the midfielder.

The Turkish international has been told he can leave the league champions on-loan after failing to establish himself in Jose Mourinho's midfield, making just 10 appearances following his move from Borussia Dortmund.

Arsenal had been in pole position to land Sahin last week, after manager Arsene Wenger personally phoned him to convince him to join the Gunners, but the talented playmaker has since had a plethora of offers from across Europe.

AC Milan, Lyon and Turkish duo Galatasaray and Besiktas have all been linked with moves, while Liverpool is understood to have made an offer over the weekend.

Sahin, who has been heavily involved with the Madrid squad in pre-season, is also considering staying at the Bernabeu, after impressing Mourinho whilst operating as a left-back on their tour of the United States.

A decision is expected sometime this week, with Sahin due to meet with his agent to discuss the future, but the Premier League and Arsenal looks the most likely destination at present.

The player is keen to move to England if he does opt to leave, and wants Champions League football, despite being drawn in by the history and tradition of Liverpool.

Gunners boss Wenger has already told Madrid he will happily cover Sahin's wages for the season, but they are yet to agree terms on a loan fee.