Friday, November 02, 2012

Match Report: Liverpool 1 - 3 Swansea

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admitted former club Swansea fully deserved the 3-1 victory which ended his side's defence of the Capital One Cup.

The Reds were well off the pace in the first half and trailed to Chico Flores' 33rd-minute header.

Even the introduction of Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard at the interval could not prevent Swansea scoring a second on the counter-attack through Nathan Dyer and although Suarez pulled one back quickly Jonathan de Guzman scored an added-time breakaway.

"I thought the best team won. We were too slow, there was no tempo in the first half," admitted Rodgers, who left Swansea to take over from Kenny Dalglish at Anfield in June.

"It is disappointing. You can only hurt if you are the better team and I thought they were the better team.

"Swansea was bright and creative and was very good and it took the introduction of Luis and Steven to up the tempo in the second half.

"Then we looked like we could score and create chances but we couldn't get the goal.

"We got done on two breakaways but the best team won, which was clear. They took their chances very well.

"I am disappointed to be out of the competition but I don't think we can have any complaints."

Dalglish won this competition in February but even that was not enough to save him from the sack after a disappointing eighth-place league finish.

Rodgers, who made nine changes and included only three players over the age of 24, said he would use the result as experience for the future.

"I know the size of the job here so that again is another lesson for me in terms of where we are at, giving players the opportunity to come in," he added.

"We have a small squad playing in what was three competitions and I did what I have done in other games: rotated players, used fringe players and given younger players opportunity.

"That is all you can do as a manager."

Of the more experienced players on show Joe Cole, on his first start since a Europa League qualifier on August 2, was the most disappointing - being withdrawn at half-time.

"The club has invested an astronomical amount of money on a talented player and Joe had the opportunity," said Rodgers.

"He has been back fit a couple of weeks and his opportunities have been limited but you have to see.

"I thought it was difficult for him, it was too slow and it wasn't what I would expect from a team I tried to set up to be dynamic."

Rodgers Blasts Joe Cole For Wasting First Team Opportunity

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers slammed the performance of midfielder Joe Cole as he saw his side exit the Capital One Cup in the fourth round after suffering a 3-1 home defeat to his former side Swansea.

This was Cole's first start for Liverpool since the 2nd August in the Europa League qualifier away at FC Gomel, where he lasted 23 minutes before injuring his hamstring.

Speaking after the game Rodgers said to reporters, “The club has invested an astronomical amount of money on a talented player and Joe had the opportunity.

“He has been back fit a couple of weeks and his opportunities have been limited but you have to see. I thought it was difficult for him, it was too slow and it wasn’t what I would expect from a team I tried to set up to be dynamic.”

Cole was brought in on a free transfer by Roy Hodgson two years ago but has struggled to have an impact at Anfield which has led to many criticizing the £100,000 a week wages he is being paid.

The 30 year old spent the whole of last season at French side Lille where he impressed but decided to go back to Merseyside in an attempt to resurrect his career there, however after Rodgers' comments yesterday it looks as thought his first team chances are going to become increasingly limited.

Liverpool Will Bankroll Rodgers After His Patience Snaps

Liverpool will bankroll Brendan Rodgers’ attempts to strengthen his side in January after his patience finally snapped with the under-performing squad he inherited.

The thinness of Rodgers’ options were laid bare in the 3-1 defeat to Swansea City in the Capital One Cup, the urgency for reinforcements to relieve the pressure on Luis Suárez, Steven Gerrard and the club’s increasingly overburdened youngsters all too clear.

Joe Cole was the most high-profile failure, but there was an equally unfavourable assessment of Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson - players whose opportunities have been limited since the summer but fell woefully short of making a point to the manager.
Rodgers made reference to the “astronomical” costs of retaining players who are surplus to requirements, his frustration at the lack of strength in depth plain to see.

Although Cole, who is costing Liverpool around £5 million a year for the duration of his four-year deal, is an obvious target, Rodgers would offload all of his costly fringe players in January if he thought there was an interest and he could replace them.
Those players are fully aware they are welcome to talk to other clubs - although attracting any offers that would lure them from their comfortable, lucrative salaries on Merseyside will be as difficult in the New Year as it was last summer.

Left-back Jose Enrique has also failed to impress the manager, only featuring in emergencies, and with Andy Carroll already on loan and Charlie Adam sold, it is a damning indictment on the profligate spending prior to Rodgers’ arrival.

Suárez and back-up centre-half Sebastian Coates are the only signings left from the Kenny Dalglish reign who Liverpool is not actively trying to sell.

Liverpool’s American owners, Fenway Sports Group, will make money available to reinforce when the transfer window opens, although it is by no means a deep kitty.

Although they failed to back Rodgers in his pursuit of Clint Dempsey on transfer-deadline day in August, they will welcome a list of fresh targets for January which will once more include Arsenal’s Theo Walcott, his contract impasse having been monitored closely at Anfield since the summer.

Rodgers could assist his spending powers by reducing his wage bill even further, but he is not working under any guarantee there will any takers for his unwanted, high earning players.

The volume of money wasted at Anfield since their last successful spending splurge in 2007 is horrifying. Five years ago, former manager Rafael Benítez signed Fernando Torres, Javier Mascherano and Martin Skrtel in the same calendar year in what represents the last successful sequence of purchases, but since then - with the exception of Glen Johnson, Suárez and last summer’s acquisition of Joe Allen, every major signing has been a failure.

Robbie Keane (£20 million), Alberto Aquilani (£20 million), Downing (£20 million), Henderson (£18 million), Carroll (£35 million), Adam (£9 million) and Enrique (£7 million) form a rogues gallery, evidence of the most wasteful era of spending in Anfield and, perhaps, Premier League history.

Cole, signed on a free transfer in 2010, cannot be excluded from this list given his extortionate wages. The Anfield board know Rodgers is paying the price for this legacy, which is why they have adopted a long-term strategy. The surrendering of their League Cup title is a setback, but the Northern Irishman can expect several transfer windows to assemble his own team.

So far he has only recruited Allen, who has been a success, and Italian striker Fabio Borini - currently injured after a difficult start - for significant fees.

Nuri Sahin is a loanee while teenager Samed Yesil and winger Oussama Assaidi were recruited for a relatively small price, on a completely different wage structure to the levels created by Rodgers’ predecessors.

Liverpool Launches £8 Million Bid For Theo Walcott

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers wants to bring Arsenal's contract rebel Theo Walcott to Anfield in January.

The 23 year old is out of contract with Arsenal at the end of the season and boss Arsene Wenger has said that he wants Walcott's contract issue sorted out by Christmas as he will have to sell the forward if they cannot agree terms.

During the summer Arsenal offered Walcott a five year deal worth £75,000 a week but he rejected the offer wanting a figure closer to £100,000 which is how much many of the England squad members are paid by their clubs.

Walcott has told reporters that money itself is not the main issue he wants to know that his aspirations to play as a striker for Arsenal will be met, and he showed this to his manager as he scored a hat trick for the Gunners in Tuesday night’s remarkable 7-5 victory.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is ready to offer both those things. He wanted to sign Walcott in the summer and will revive his efforts ahead of the January window.

Rodgers, who is desperately short of strikers after loaning Andy Carroll to West Ham and losing Fabio Borini to a broken foot, bemoaned his small squad following Liverpool’s Capital One Cup defeat by Swansea.

He wants to sign two forwards with Walcott his main target to share the goalscoring burden with Luis Suarez. And Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted on Thursday that he may be forced to sell if Walcott fails to agree a new deal and the Daily Mail believes he want to test Arsenal's resolve with an £8 million bid.

He said, “I wouldn’t like to (sell Walcott). I’ve not even thought about that, because at the moment I think we will still manage to make a deal with him.

'But there is urgency. How much I don’t know, but there is urgency. We want to sort it out before Christmas, one way or the other.”

Liverpool Set To Sign Joel Pohjanpalo

Liverpool is finally set to complete a deal for Finland goal machine Joel Pohjanpalo, almost nine months after he turned down a move to the Anfield club.

The 18-year-old Helsinki striker, who shot to fame with 33 goals in 23 matches for the club's reserve team last season, has already found the net 19 times at senior level, and a host of leading clubs have expressed an interest in his signature.

Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea have all sent scouts to watch Pohjanpalo, but it was Liverpool who looked to have jumped the queue in March, when he travelled to Merseyside for a week-long trial.

The Reds offered boyhood fan Pohjanpalo a place in the club's youth team, but he turned down the switch, believing he could develop faster by remaining in the Helsinki first team.

However, Liverpool have not taken no for an answer, and are now working on an improved contract offer for the player, with talks believed to be at an advanced stage.

Helsinki is set to receive around £1million for the starlet, who is contracted to them until 2015.

Liverpool and Newcastle On Alert As Hangeland's Contract Talks Stall

Fulham manager Martin Jol has hinted that towering centre back Brede Hangeland may leave the London club next summer, as talks over a new contract continue to falter.

The Dutch manager has seen two of the club’s most influential players leave the club during the summer transfer window, as Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey made the trip to north London to sign for Tottenham Hotspur.

Jol remains hopeful that the Norway international will sign a new deal, but with no progress after nearly six months of negotiations, Liverpool and Newcastle are carefully monitoring the developing situation.

'Our culture is that we always like to keep the players we want to keep,' former Tottenham boss Jol said.

'Brede is the only problem, but we've been talking to him for the last five or six months. We've made him a good offer so if he wants to stay that would be fantastic'.

Metro report that Brendan Rodgers and Alan Padrew have both expressed an interest in recruiting the defender, and would be able to sign him as a free agent next July when his deal at Craven Cottage expires.

Liverpool & Chelsea In The Race To Snap Up Charlton’s Prodigy

The Premier League giants have been alerted to another teenage prodigy raising eyebrows in the youth echelons of football, with Chelsea and Liverpool reportedly in pursuit of Charlton Athletic’s 15-year-old wonderkid Joe Gomez.

The 15-year-old is scheduled to play for England against Wales in an U16 fixture later this evening, and the Daily Mail report that scouts from the two Premier League clubs will be in attendance to see what the Charlton scholar is capable of.

The 15-year-old defender, who has also predictably caught the eye of the scouting teams at Manchester City and Arsenal, has been watched and rated in a number of his outings for Charlton’s U18 side, for whom he is a regular in despite his tender years.

Gomez is yet to sign a professional contract with the Addicks – due to his age – and the host of Premier League admirers are hopeful of convincing the promising youngster to opt for their club. However Chris Powell’s side remains hopeful the youngster will choose to continue his football education at the Valley, for the time being at least.

A number of young stars have been plucked from Charlton Athletic by Premier League clubs in recent years. Arsenal swooped for Carl Jenkinson in 2011 after the youngster impressed scouts, while Manchester United similarly raided the club for then-16-year-old Sean McGinty, who spent three years in Charlton’s academy.

Lucas Nearing Reds Return

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has revealed midfielder Lucas Leiva is on track to return from a thigh injury later this month.

The Brazil international has played just four times this season having been sidelined since November after an cruciate knee ligament operation.

"Lucas has been out on the field in the last week or so which is great," Rodgers told the Liverpool Daily Post.

"He's not doing multi-directional movements yet but he's doing a lot of straight-line running and endurance work.

"I'm anticipating maybe another three weeks but his professionalism is great and he'll get back probably sooner than is anticipated."

Dalglish Denies Suárez Racism Row Cost Him Liverpool Job

Kenny Dalglish has said he was not dismissed as Liverpool manager due to his defence of Luis Suárez and believes more senior Anfield figures should have taken responsibility for the club's handling of the striker's racism charge.

Dalglish was at the forefront of Liverpool's belligerent support for Suárez after he was found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra and handed an eight-match ban last season. He was often the only person to defend Liverpool's position with the club's owners, Fenway Sports Group, silent throughout and the managing director Ian Ayre extending an apology only after Suárez refused to shake Evra's hand at Old Trafford.

Asked whether the Suárez saga had cost him his job, Dalglish, who led Liverpool to the Carling Cup trophy and the FA Cup final, but only eighth in the Premier League last season after major investment in players, said: "I don't think so. That was up to them [the owners]. I can go to sleep at night knowing what I did I did to the best of my ability and if that does not come up to their expectations or they want to go in another direction – they own the club.

"The owners made the decision they thought was best. They don't want to make a decision which is detrimental to the club because if they did that they would hang themselves, they have a huge investment in it. I think anything that is not done in a positive manner cannot help you but I was only the manager. There are other people with greater intelligence than me and greater responsibilities than me when it comes to something like this.

"I think [it was] the club as a whole. It wasn't just me [making decisions]. The T-shirts [worn in support of Suárez at Wigan] were the players wanting to show their support for a team-mate. It might have been misguided and not have been right but it was not me who decided it."

Dalglish was highly critical of the process that led to Suárez being found guilty by an independent panel appointed by the Football Association. In an interview with TalkSport, he claimed he would not be as co-operative with the authorities should he find himself in a similar predicament in future. He added: "A lot of things were misguided, misinterpreted and misrepresented. I was always brought up to tell the truth and what I believed to be the truth, I said. If it ever came up again I would do it differently. I would be less helpful and less forthcoming and I think that is sad."