Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rodgers Warns Against Coutinho Hype

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has warned against putting too much expectation on Philippe Coutinho.

The Brazilian playmaker created two goals in an impressive performance to help his team to a 6-0 Premier League win at Newcastle on Saturday.

Coutinho has become a regular since arriving from Inter Milan for £8 million in January, starting each of Liverpool's last nine league games, and scoring twice.

But Rodgers wants to build up the 20-year-old slowly, and is wary of hyping him up.

The manager told the club's official website: "We build up players in the country and put them on a pedestal and then quickly nail them down.

"He's had an outstanding performance and people can see why we brought him in. He's 20 years of age and fits the culture of what we're trying to do here.

"He's technically strong and he's a very humble boy. He works hard, you can see the effort in his game, the pressure, the intensity, so he fits in really well, but there's a long way to go.

"If you look at the stats you'll see I haven't eased him in gently. He's played nearly every game."

Borini To Fill Suarez Gap

Liverpool striker Fabio Borini says he wants to step in and fill the gap left by Luis Suarez's 10-match ban.

Borini returned from 10 weeks out with a dislocated shoulder to come off the bench and score in the 6-0 hammering of Newcastle at the weekend.

Having now scored his first Premier League goal for the club Borini hopes he can not only help fill the gap left by Suarez's ban but also contribute when the Uruguay international comes back.

"It had been a long injury for me and a long wait to score in the Premier League," he said.

"It's been hard. When I hurt my shoulder they said my season could be over but I fought back as I really needed to come back earlier.

"I took the minimum possible to get back training which was eight weeks instead of 12. Some people probably didn't think I could make it but I fought back.

"I can play a big part now not because Luis is suspended but because I am back fit.

"Whether Luis is available or not, we all need to focus on doing our jobs."

Liverpool face Everton at Anfield on Sunday and the Italian is looking forward to playing in his first Merseyside derby

"Next weekend will be my first derby here," he told liverpoolfc.com.

"But I've played in big derbies in Italy (Roma v Lazio) so I know the feeling.

"The atmosphere in those games was always very hot and I am sure here will be the same."

Spearing Unsure About His Future

Despite a broken toe that has kept him out of the lineup in recent weeks and would prevent him from taking part in the Championship playoff until at least the final should Bolton qualify, midfielder Jay Spearing is insistent that should the Wanderers make it that far he'll be in the lineup. Whether he's still in the lineup for them next season, though, remains up in the air despite recently being named player of the season by the Bolton Wanderers Supporters Association.

"I’d do anything to play a part in the final," he said. "If we get there, and I’m given a slight chance, I’d take it. When I heard the news that my toe was broken in three places I was absolutely devastated. But, hopefully, I can still do something. Any way I could be involved, as long as the gaffer wanted me to come back in—I’ll be there."

Spearing has made 36 starts for Bolton this season, scoring two goals and adding five assists as the energy man in Dougie Freedman's midfield. However, despite his positive impact, the Bolton manager has refused to be drawn into speculation concerning whether he will seek to keep Spearing on beyond the end of the season—and Spearing is similarly noncommittal.

"I’m not going to say yes or no at this point and it probably won’t be for me to decide," was Spearing's take on the matter. "The gaffer has got to want me in the first place, hasn’t he? But I’ll go away on holiday in the summer and then come back, sit down with Liverpool and with my agent to decide what happens."

Though his standing as a local prospect has always meant Liverpool fans have been eager to hope he might one day come good at Anfield, a regular role for Spearing in a side with Champions League aspirations remains unlikely. Whether his future is at the Reebok may still be up in the air, but it seems a near certainty that when he and his agent sit down with Liverpool over the summer, a return to his parent club won't be the alternative if it isn't.

Henderson Says Liverpool Can Cope Without Suarez

Jordan Henderson believes that Liverpool proved they can cope without Luis Suarez after the hit Newcastle for six on Saturday evening.

Henderson grabbed himself two goals against the Magpies and has praised his team mates’ response to the Uruguayan.

“It was important we ended the week on a high. I don’t think we let what has happened with Luis affect us. The players have handled it brilliantly.

“The attention has been diverted anywhere but football. But we just want to get on with our job.

“Luis is a massive player for us and has scored a lot of goals this season and we’re happy when he’s in the side.

“But we’ve shown that we can cope when he’s missing through suspension or injuries.

“We’ve answered a few critics with this performance who thought we’d struggle without Luis.

“We are a good team. If we can keep building and keep progressing then we can keep getting better.

“And on a personal note it was great to get a couple of goals.”

Carragher Chooses Pundit Role

With manager Brendan Rodgers fueling speculation about Jamie Carragher coming out of retirement before he has actually retired, discussion around the stalwart defender has largely revolved around one of two possible inevitabilities of late: that he'd follow through on his previous announcement and retire, or that he'd be convinced by the gaffer to give it one final season next year.

What fell off the radar somewhat was the potential for Carragher to take up television punditry full time, an act he tried on for size with ITV during Euro 2012 and found that it was a very good fit. Although it was reported last month that Carra had come to an agreement with Sky Sports for next season, news on that front cooled as Carra maintained his form and Rodgers spoke of summer chats and future ambitions.

Punditry is now not only back on the table but apparently also a done deal (again) with Carragher set to join the likes of former Reds Jamie Redknapp and Graeme Souness, as well as former rival Gary Neville, at Sky Sports. There's even super convincing, absolutely not photoshopped photographic proof to go with the announcement!

The news will come as a bit of a disappointment for anyone who had hoped Carragher would jump straight into a coaching role with Liverpool after retiring. Carra's steady acquisition of UEFA coaching badges over the years suggests a strong interest in keeping that avenue open in the future, but he is also quite practical about the challenges of actually making it as a manager in any league.

"We all look at Ferguson and Mourinho and think we’d love to be them — on the sidelines, winning games, big trophies — but you have to think where they started," Carragher said. "Mourinho was an assistant for years. Brendan Rodgers hasn’t just got the Liverpool job. He has been working for 20 years. Would I be prepared to go and work at an academy? Maybe, but it’s not top of my list of things that I want to do.

"I'm not sure players in [his and fellow retiree Michael Owen's] situation will go down that road. Maybe if you get a good job straight away, but think of the journeys the managers have gone on to get to the top. Very few top players now would be prepared to do that."

With a very successful playing career nearly behind him, Carragher's careful weighing of whether or not it's worth it to him to start from scratch and build a second career is both sensible and realistic given the ever quickening pace with which clubs sack their managers. Carra might very well have an inside track to one of those "good jobs" whenever he decides to take up the managerial mantle, but until that point fans will have to be content with hearing his voice through a studio microphone rather than over the din of a noisy pitch.

Liverpool Preparing A Move For Tiago Ilori

Liverpool FC is interested in signing Sporting Lisbon defender Tiago Ilori as a long-term replacement for Jamie Carragher.

The 20-year-old defender has broken into the Sporting Lisbon first team after joining the club’s youth system back in 2006. Interestingly, Ilori started his footballing career as a striker, but after he failed to impress in his first season in the club’s youth team, the youngster was loaned out to Estoril. It was at Estoril that he started playing as a defender and caught everyone’s attention in Portugal.

Since returning to the club, Ilori made his first team debut back in 2011, but it is only now that he has made his presence felt in the senior side. Ilori, who born at London to an English father, is a versatile footballer and is equally at ease in playing as a center-back or as a full-back. He has also progressed through the Portuguese youth teams and made his debut for the U-20 national side last year.

According to latest reports, Liverpool is interested in signing the 20-year-old defender as they seek a long-term replacement for Jamie Carragher, who is set to retire at the end of this season. There are also doubts about the future of Sebastian Coates at the club, as the Uruguayan international has been linked with a move to Serie A.

Sensing that Tiago Ilori will attract a lot of interest in the summer, Sporting Lisbon recently extended his contract till 2015. His recent contract extension means that the youngster won’t come cheaply for the Merseyside club. But Liverpool is not the only club interested in signing the Portuguese U-20 international. French club PSG and Toulouse are also monitoring his progress at the club.

Toulouse has in fact attempted to sign Tiago Ilori during the winter transfer window, but the Portuguese club rejected their bid for the defender. But the French club, along with Liverpool and PSG, are expected to vie for the defender in the summer once again. It is believed that Sporting Lisbon will look for bid of around £2 million for the highly rated defender.

Rodgers Chasing Reading Defender Alex Pearce

Reading defender Alex Pearce has moved a step closer to joining Liverpool after rejecting the offer of a new contract at Reading.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is an admirer of Pearce, 24, from his brief stint in charge at the Madejski Stadium.

Rodgers sees the Republic of Ireland international as a replacement for the retiring Jamie Carragher.

Pearce informed Reading he would not be signing a new deal before their relegation was confirmed in Sunday’s 0-0 draw at home to QPR.

Oxfordshire-born Pearce has played 127 league games for Reading since making his debut as an 18-year-old.

Rodgers is also battling with Fulham and Newcastle to sign the Royals’ England Under-21 goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, 23.

Atletico Want Suarez To Replace Falcao

Liverpool forward Luis Suarez is a transfer target for Atletico Madrid should Radamel Falcao move to Chelsea in the summer.

It is widely reported that Falcao will move to the Blues in the summer with Roman Abramovich ready to pay his £50m release clause.

The Express reports that they will look to use Suarez victimization in England as way of persuading him to move to La Liga where he may feel more comfortable.

Atletico Madrid has also been linked with Manchester United's Javier Hernandez and Chelsea's Fernando Torres, although he insists he wants to see out his contract at Stamford Bridge.

Suarez has bagged 23 goals this season for Liverpool and finished second in to Gareth Bale at the PFA Player of the Year awards.

Barcelona Back In For Agger

Liverpool defender Daniel Agger will once again be targeted by Barcelona this summer as they look to find a long term replacement for Carlos Puyol.

Agger has been an ever present this season under Brendan Rodgers but reports in Spain say that former team mate Javier Mascherano has told Barca officials that Agger is the man they need at the heart of their defence.

The Express also acknowledges that the Dane was a target for the Catalan giants last season but a deal was not able to be brokered.

The centre back is also a threat in front of goal scoring on four occasions.

Stephane Sessegnon Rebuffs Liverpool Talk

Sunderland star Stephane Sessegnon has refuted suggestions that he could leave the Stadium of Light in the summer.

The 28-year-old was the subject of transfer talk during the January transfer window, but interest in him subsided.

Despite past reports suggesting he is unsettled on Wearside, Sessegnon insists he has put his personal issues to bed.

In an interview with the Northern Echo, Sessegnon said: "The issue with my family is settled now.

"Two years ago when I arrived, sometimes my family wasn't here, but now it's fine.

"They live here now and the problem is completely finished.

"Even then (last summer) through, I never gave it (leaving the club) a thought. I didn't think about it and I didn't think about was being said about me."

Sessegnon has seven Premier League goals to his name this season.

Liverpool Take Spanish Youngster On Trial

Diego Gonzalez is a talented left-back with Cadiz who has also attracted interest from AS Roma.

Liverpool has had a rich recent history when it comes to bringing in Spanish talent. Firstly under the stewardship of Spaniard Rafa Benitez the club saw many young Spaniards come into the club over the course of his tenure some of which were great successes like Xabi Alonso or Pepe Reina; while others did not fare so well such as Antonio Nunez.

Now with Brendan Rodgers at the helm with his tiki-taka footballing philosophy the emphasis on technically gifted players in order to help him implement his way of thinking.

That spreads all the way down to the youth teams and it seems their recruitment drive is taking a turn in that direction.

According to Spanish football expert David Jaca on Twitter Liverpool are ready to bring in 16-year-old left-back Diego Gonzalez to the club on a week’s trial.

Described as fast with good technical ability he sounds a little like current Spanish full-back Jose Enrique and he has already made an appearance for his current club Cadiz CF in the Segunda Liga this season; playing five minutes against Albacete in November.

Such is his promise that he has already attracted interest from Real Madrid after it was reported he rejected the offer of a new contract at his current club.

They will also receive competition from Italian side AS Roma; who have good links with Cadiz owner Alessandro Gaucci and were considered to hold the upper hand until this most recent piece of news.