Saturday, September 08, 2012

Rodgers In Transfers Admission

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has conceded the club's transfer plans did not go as they would have liked in the summer window.

The transfer window closed last Friday with Liverpool failing to bring in a replacement for Andy Carroll after allowing the England international to join West Ham on loan.

The inability to land a new forward has left Rodgers short of options in attack with the side currently struggling for goals in their opening three Premier League games.

Principal owner John W Henry has come under fire from some supporters for failing to back Rodgers in the transfer market and the Reds boss has revealed he held talks with the club's American owners to clear the air.

"I've had long conversations with the owners," Rodgers told The Anfield Wrap podcast after a discussion with fan groups

"I've got to say they have been very honest and very up front right from the off.

"I came here first and foremost because of the owners. I felt a genuine honesty in their approach to it and in how they wanted to go forward with the football club.

"Of course the window didn't quite go to plan but going forward a great deal of learning has taken place."

Rodgers believes he was right to trim the squad and offload some of the club's high earners despite leaving him short of cover in certain areas.

"Every manager always wants more players. But the reality of where the club is at there needed to be a little bit of surgery done on the squad," added Rodgers.

"Some of the wages here were absolutely astronomical in terms of value and worth. That needed to be looked at.

"I knew there would be a wee bit of pain in the short term but hopefully for the longer term gain.

"We finished up where we were at and now we have got to move forward as a football club and really have the one-club mentality. It's important we all come together, supporters, players and management."

Rodgers is aware his squad is going to be stretched to the limit until the transfer window reopens in January and has called on the players to 'man up' for a tough schedule.

"We're in a position where we've got 25 games minimum between now and January so we're going to be stretched to the limit," said Rodgers.

"I've spoken to the players and if they get little niggles they have to man up.

"We have to all come together and be strong.

"What I've got here is a platform of hard work and integrity in this group. They have been fantastic in their work.

"January is always a difficult month [to buy] however you are doing but it's something we have to look at."

Rodgers Wants More Technical Players

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is adamant Britain can produce players as technically proficient as their continental counterparts.

Rodgers has endured a difficult start to his reign at Anfield, with his style of play taking time to take hold at the Merseyside club.

The Northern Irishman places a premium on technical ability in his midfielders - describing Joe Allen and Arsenal's Santi Cazorla as "the two best players on the field, the two little guys, the technicians" after last week's defeat to the Gunners - but such comfort in possession is generally a characteristic more commonly ascribed to foreign players.

Nevertheless, Rodgers insists that Britain can produce players just as adept with the ball at their feet as Spain, Brazil, Germany or any other country.

"I've been fortunate enough in my coaching life, I've worked with kids from five years of age right the way through to some of the biggest talents in European football and international captains, and I've worked with British and European players," Rodgers said. "For me, the European player is no more gifted technically than the British player. But where there is a difference is in how they, in their youth and formative years, have been asked to play the game," Rodgers explained.

"If you're a European player and when you've got the ball your first option is to pass the ball to feet, then of course you're going to look better technically than the British player, when he is asked to get the ball and smash it up the pitch. He doesn't look so technical. But that's not technical, that's a tactical concept of the game," Rodgers said. "We have enough top players in this country that are technically very strong. I think the idea of possession is important, that players can understand patience and how to be with the ball. But I don't think it's from a lack of technical quality."

Allen - who was bought for around £15 million in the summer - is one of the smallest players in the Premier League, but Rodgers does not see that as a problem because he is assured with the ball at his feet. He hinted he would look to bring in a number of similar players to the Wales international in future.

"For me, it doesn't matter how big or small they are," he said. "With the ball, I like my players to have a good level of technical ability, but I also like them to have the desire and the will when they haven't got the ball.

"If you are going to play a technical game, you need technical players, it's as simple as that. Obviously that's the way in which I like the players to play, and certainly something that we will look for in the future."

Considering Liverpool's well documented recent transfer troubles, the former Swansea boss may look to the youth team for those additions. With the likes of Raheem Sterling making an immediate impact on the first team, he praised the quality of the work being done in the club's academy setup.

"I think the players here are well coached and the guys do a terrific job," he said. "I think my job is just to reinforce that. The best thing other than scoring goals in the game of football is having the ball. I like the players to love to have the ball, and that's something that hopefully over time here we get to see, because it's an effective way of playing and a way that can win games."

LFC Launch Garuda Partnership

Liverpool FC's Global Official Airline partners Garuda Indonesia were at Anfield for the ceremonial launch of their three-year partnership with the club.

Managing director Ian Ayre joined Emirsyah Satar and Elisa Lumbantoraun of Garuda Indonesia and His Excellency T. M. Hamzah Thayeb, the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia, for a press conference before the visitors headed on to a stadium tour and then a tour of the club's Melwood training base.

The partnership between Liverpool and Garuda was officially announced in July this year. On Sunday, 35 representatives of the airline made the trip to Anfield for Liverpool's clash against Arsenal.

And on Monday morning, the club's new partners were treated to a special surprise in the form of two very important guests - Liverpool's all-time record goalscorer Ian Rush and the European Cup.

"It has been a great day for us and a great day to celebrate such an important partnership," said Ayre. "We're always pleased when we can bring new partners to the football club.

"We're very fortunate that over the last few years, we have grown our family of partners and sponsors and the most important thing is that we recognize it is a partnership and it's about working together.

"In a partnership, it's important that both sides need to win. We're committed to winning as a football club and we want to commit to winning in this partnership.

"Having a partner which is a global airline, which has ambition and wants to build and go forward, is a great alignment with Liverpool. Indonesia, in South East Asia, is a hotbed for Liverpool supporters and so it's a great partnership for the club."

To help celebrate the new partnership, a troop of Indonesian dancers performed for Reds fans gathered in the newly-opened Family Park outside Anfield prior to Liverpool's clash with the Gunners.

And the following morning, a short documentary was shown to the guests and journalists gathered in the Anfield's press room, during which Garuda outlined their aims and ambitions for the future.

"Going forward, it's about using the power of both brands to reach out and create value," continued Ayre. "For Liverpool, it's about Garuda making a financial contribution to the club and also being able to support us on the ground in Indonesia - which has a vast market.

"Garuda have huge ambition. They will be doubling the size of their fleet over the next few years and truly reaching out globally. As a football club, with the reach we get on television and the reach our players have in the media, those types of partnerships always work well."

Jonathan Kane, Liverpool's director of international business development, has been instrumental in securing the deal since the first communications were made between the two groups some six months ago and he explained how the deal was all about timing.

"We spoke to Garuda when we were looking for a global airline partner," he said. "At the same time it became apparent that Garuda were looking for a major sports property to help them build their brand globally and it became clear, quite quickly, that we were the perfect fit for them.

"They were keen to associate themselves with one of the world's most successful and popular football teams and from our perspective, we're honoured to be associated with one of the world's most rapidly-growing brands."

Enrique Ready For Reds Fight

Liverpool defender Jose Enrique insists he is ready to fight for his place in Brendan Rodgers plans.

Enrique was recalled to the starting XI for last weekend's defeat to Arsenal after being named on the bench for the draw with Manchester City.

Rodgers has also used Stewart Downing at left-back this season and Enrique is happy with the extra competition for places at Anfield.

"It's a good thing because before there was just myself and Jack Robinson," Enrique told told the Liverpool Echo.

"With the way we intend to play, that is with the right-back and left-back attacking, Stewart can fit in well.

"He's a good lad and I'm happy for him. We have many games so it's good to have competition for places.

"I want to play here for as many years as I can and play as many games. I hope to be like Carra but that would be really difficult.

"I want to stay here because it's an amazing club and every player dreams of being here. I've played in English football for five years and it's amazing to play here."

Enrique, who joined Liverpool last summer from Newcastle, believes he has already learned a lot from Rodgers who wants the full-back to get forward more this season

"I'm still learning," added Enrique. "At teams like Liverpool you learn quickly. In one year here I have learned a lot and with this manager I have learned plenty too.

"The manager gives us simple instructions. He says more things during the week than he does in his pre-match team talks. He has tried to instruct and improve every player and I think this is a good thing because everyone is still learning. I still make mistakes so I have to learn.

"The manager wants me to make more assists and score more goals and play more like a forward.

"He has told Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly to do the same and Stewart Downing in the left-back role."

Suso To Get Reds Chance

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has confirmed that he is ready to hand Spanish starlet Suso his chance of a first-team place.

Rodgers admits Liverpool have left themselves short up-front, having sold Dirk Kuyt and Craig Bellamy, and then loaned Andy Carroll to West Ham.

Liverpool had hoped to sign at least one forward on deadline day, but moves for the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Clint Dempsey faltered and they missed out.

But Rodgers admits he is ready to bring in 18-year-old Suso, who is yet to make his Liverpool debut after joining the club's youth set-up in 2010 from Cadiz.

"There might need to be an intermediary way of working now," Rodgers is quoted as saying by The Independent.

"Boys like Suso will get their opportunity. The percentage under 21s playing in the Premier League is statistically very, very small. We are going to be stretched the limit and [we'll be telling them] 'if you've got little niggles and injuries you've got to man up.' We've got to be together and be strong.

"This [situation] will allow guys to stand up to the plate. You get an opportunity but you have got to take it."

Rodgers has already drafted in youth stars Raheem Sterling and Adam Morgan to his squad, and now Suso looks set to join them in the senior ranks.

"The younger players will run through a barbed wire fence for you," Rodgers said.

"The older players will look for a hole in the fence - and probably find one!"

Liverpool Likely To Shelve Interest In Dutch Strike Star

Liverpool could shelve their interest in free-scoring Dutchman Ricky van Wolfswinkel after the player's agent confirmed the striker's intention to extend his stay at Sporting Lisbon.

Louis Laros, Van Wolfswinkel's representative, has revealed that plans are in place to renegotiate his client's contract at Sporting later this month.

"Sporting wants to renew and Ricky is happy. Everyone is willing to talk," Laros is quoted as saying in Portuguese newspaper Record.

Van Wolfswinkel, 23, is keen to increase his salary in recognition of his stellar debut campaign in Portugal, where he scored 25 goals.

Sporting, too, are anxious to extend the length of his contract by one or two years - his current deal expires in 2016 - and they will up his minimum fee release clause to €30m in order to fend off interest from several English clubs, most notably Liverpool.

Brazilian Midfielder To Be Used As A Scout By Liverpool

Brendan Rodgers has revealed that he will be using midfielder Lucas Leiva as a scout after injury ruled him out of action for more than two months.

The Brazilian midfielder missed much of the last campaign through injury, and after making his return this season, has once again been ruled out after picking up a thigh problem against Manchester City.

The Liverpool boss believes that Lucas will play an integral part for the club this season having been impressed with the 25-year-olds grasp of the type of football Rodgers wants to play.

"He has been one of the players that has come in and he was really excited about this way of working," said Rodgers. "He understands totally the ideas of what I'm trying to implement. So, for him, this was going to showcase his qualities even more."

However, it seems Lucas' tactical understanding of the game will be put to good use as Rodgers explains that he will be using the midfielder as a scout in the coming weeks.

"I'm going to use him to also go out and look at some games for me, because he's tactically very good," continued the former Swansea manager.

"He's someone that I will get to go with my analysts and look at some games to make sure that tactically he still stays in the game. Because that's important.

"When I put the idea to him, he thought it was good. Hopefully when we get him back, he will have benefited from it and come back a better player."

Lucas originally came under scrutiny for his performances when he first joined Liverpool back in the summer of 2007, but he has gone on to prove himself as a vital member of the first team.

The defensive midfielder was even awarded the Player of the Season award for the 2010/11 campaign when he played a crucial role and won many admirers on Merseyside.

Liverpool Fly-On-The-Wall Documentary Reveals Rodgers' Methods And Philosophy

Liverpool players could barely contain their laughter as they took part in a meditation and relaxation class to help them “deal with the stresses of club football”, a new fly-on-the-wall documentary capturing life behind the scenes at Anfield has shown.

The six-part series, due to be aired in the United States later this month, documents the arrival of manager Brendan Rodgers and sheds light on his methods. They include the manager talking about the importance of developing players as people as well as footballers.

The meditation class is a technique used by the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool players were put through their paces by ­‘exercise physiologist’ Molly Kim, who works for the baseball club, during the Anfield side's pre-season tour of the USA.

But the introduction of the class, which was a one-off, appears to bemuse the players, who can be seen struggling to keep straight faces and at times burst into laughter - apparently at the absurdity of what they are being asked to do.

Jamie Carragher, one of the club’s most senior players, appears frequently on the verge of laughter as he carries out the meditation exercises to the sound of calming music.

During one exercise called ‘the cat’ one unseen player sends the rest of the squad into hysterics by making a quiet ‘miaow’ noise.

In the documentary, Being Liverpool, Rodgers also talks about his footballing philosophy, telling the cameras he does not believe in “training” players, rather he hopes he is “educating” them. “You train dogs,” he says.

“Every player I see as my own son,” he said. “I want to do the very best for them. I want to be able to push them in their lives so they can do it for their children. We do everything in life for our kids. I don’t want to ever miss the chance of letting players understand that this is why we do it.”

In the documentary, Liverpool owner John Henry gives his version of events surrounding the sacking of Kenny Dalglish in May, suggesting that the former manager accepted that the long-term plan was to replace him when the right man became available.

He says: “When we first talked to Kenny about coming in, he understood and we understood that at some point there was going to be a time when he was going to step aside when we found the right person for the long term.”

Chairman Tom Werner adds: “We came to a conclusion with Kenny that we needed to move in a different direction and hopefully we will see improvement this year.”

The documentary, filmed by Fox Sports, includes a remarkable level of behind the scenes access. In one scene, filmed inside Rodgers’ home, it can be seen that the manager has on the wall a prominent painting of himself, which was a gift from a charity he had helped in Swansea.

And it is revealed that Rodgers’ 16-year-old daughter Mischa is in a relationship with the son of Colin Pascoe, Rodgers’s assistant at Liverpool.

Introducing Mischa’s “special friend” Theo, Rodgers explains the link before laughing and adding: “We don’t talk about it much, but it just has happened for some reason.”

And, in a statement which looks foolish given striker Andy Carroll’s departure to West Ham, Rodgers says that it will “take something incredible for him to leave the football club.

Shelvey Shines For U21s

Jonjo Shelvey scored one and set up another as England moved within touching distance of the UEFA Under-21 Championship play-offs with a 2-0 victory in Azerbaijan.

Liverpool midfielder Shelvey's first goal for the Young Lions followed Steven Caulker's third to send Stuart Pearce's men five points clear at the top of qualifying Group Eight with one match remaining.

That is on Monday against Norway, who needed to win in Belgium in Thursday's late kick-off and beat England in Chesterfield in four days' time to deny their rivals a place in next month's two-legged play-offs.

This victory was the Young Lions' sixth out of their seven qualifiers and saw Pearce hand a debut to Thomas Ince, son of former England star Paul, on an artificial pitch against opponents England had thrashed 6-0 a year earlier.

And after Javid Imamverdiyev went close for the hosts, in-form Blackpool winger Ince should have stolen the headlines when he screwed Marvin Sordell's cross wide on the turn.

England assumed total control and some delightful football saw Wilfried Zaha bamboozle the Azeri defence and fire into the side netting.

A series of corners then came to nought before Craig Dawson was booked in the 25th minute for exacting retribution on Rizvan Umarov after being caught himself.

But Dawson had the last laugh three minutes later when centre-back partner Caulker powered England ahead, the Tottenham man heading in Shelvey's left-wing free-kick.

Caulker should have made it 2-0 two minutes later when he glanced Ince's far-post cross wide before Azerbaijan goalkeeper Salahat Agayev produced some unconventional heroics to keep the hosts in it.

A goalmouth scramble saw him keep out Martin Kelly's deflected cross and deny Sordell before Zaha's follow-up was cleared off the line to muted penalty appeals.

Agayev then looked stranded after completely missing a cross but he recovered to produce an astonishing near-post save from Sordell, who looked certain to convert after Danny Rose kept the ball in play.

Caulker saw another header go to waste shortly before half-time and Zaha fired a good chance over shortly after the restart.

Azerbaijan, who had thrown on Orkhan Hasanov at the break, began to get a grip and, after some harmless long shots, they might have levelled on the hour mark when Imamverdiyev curled narrowly high and wide.

Pearce took immediate action by sending on debutant Ben Marshall for Zaha but the hosts continued to push.

Ben Amos - who had looked untroubled filling in for ill goalkeeper Jason Steele - saved from Araz Abdullayev, prompting Connor Wickham's introduction for Sordell.

The second change almost proved inspired as Wickham nodded Martin Kelly's cross wide but it appeared to have the desired effect as England kept their opponents at bay.

Mirhuseyin Seyidov's free-kick was easily claimed by Amos and Azerbaijan went for broke in the final 10 minutes with a double substitution of their own.

But it backfired seven minutes from time as Wickham nodded Caulker's long ball into the path of Shelvey, who volleyed emphatically beyond the onrushing keeper.

Rodgers Wants To Protect Raheem Sterling

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers wants to shield Raheem Sterling from the hype which has proved a millstone for other potential stars in the Premier League.

The 17-year-old has been earning rave reviews as the positive spark in his club's otherwise poor start to the new season and he has been tipped for a bright future.

But Rodgers does not want Sterling to get carried away, as has happened to some previous players, and has discussed the subject of protecting the teenager with the Football Association.

The winger will therefore be sheltered and instead of a potential call-up for England's Under 21s, he will on Thursday night remain a part of the U19s for their game against Germany.

Rodgers said: "With young players, you have to be careful. They can be elevated above their station too quickly.

"That is a part of it in this country. They have one good game and they get elevated to superstar status.

"You then see them at 23 and 24 and you wonder why they are not superstars any more.

"I spoke to Trevor Brooking on where the FA believes he is at. I said, in my opinion, of course he has got the ability to be in the Under 21s.

"But in many ways it is right for him to go with the Under 19s. He has met up with the England squad now and travelled to play in Germany.

"It then allows him to come back and recover well before our next game at Sunderland.

"It is all about individual needs. It might look great on the back pages that he is involved in the Under-21s but the reality is that this is a kid who has made great strides over the last few weeks; he was absolutely fantastic through pre-season.

"You have seen his quality, courage and attitude in games. He has been fantastic. But for the moment, let's just stay calm."