Sunday, September 08, 2013

Rodgers Wants More Reds Hard Work

Liverpool FC boss Brendan Rodgers has told his Premier League pace-setters: “The hard work is only just beginning.”

The Reds are enjoying their best start to a Premier League campaign for 19 years following three successive victories.

Rodgers believes that is reward for the tireless efforts of his players on the training ground and he is on a mission to ensure those high standards are maintained after the international break.

“It’s been a great start for us but we can’t get carried away,” he said.

“We had a difficult start to last season but since January our form has been outstanding.

“I have to say the players have been magnificent with the work they have put in.

“We had a really good pre-season when we had the whole squad together working well and that ensured we were well prepared.

“If you work your socks off then talent comes through and we need to keep working in this way going forward.

“The players have already demonstrated so far this season that they have that resilience to keep fighting and persevere to get the result.

“There is a long way to go this season but we’re really looking forward to the challenge.”

Rodgers was in the company of a host of Liverpool legends earlier this week when he attended the ECHO’s special dinner to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Bill Shankly’s birth.

The Anfield boss relished hearing tales about the club’s glorious past and says it’s a source of inspiration as he looks to mastermind Liverpool’s revival.

“Events like that are very humbling,” Rodgers said.

“These are the guys who set the club up to what it is today. Where they took the club and where the club is at now in two different places.

“But we will fight for our lives every single day to get the club back up there. The history this club has gives us great motivation going forward. We always have to strive to get back to that.”

Suarez In New Cheat Storm

Luis Suarez is at the centre of a new diving controversy after Uruguay beat Peru 2-1 in a World Cup qualifier on Friday.

Peru coach Sergio Markarian slammed referee Patricio Loustau for sending off Victor Yotun for a clash with Suarez in the first half.

The Uruguay forward fell theatrically to the ground following the clash with Yotun, who was shown a straight red card for his part in the incident.

Marakarian told reporters: "I'll do my best to make this World Cup referee not go because I'm not ashamed to say it was totally decisive.

"What Yotun did was silly but I've seen worse, like elbows or double uncollected simulations that go unpunished."

Four minutes earlier Suarez earned his side a penalty - from which he scored - when he went to ground following a challenge from Christian Ramos, though replays showed there was minimal contact.

Liverpool's striker is currently serving a 10-match ban in England for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic during a Premier League match back in April.

Arsenal To Make Another Suarez Swoop

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger could make a sensational swoop for striker Luis Suarez having missed out on his signature in the summer.

According to the Metro, the Uruguayan is still top of Wenger’s wish list having failed to bring in another striker to relieve the pressure off Olivier Giroud.

Wenger was after the striker at the beginning of the window but was rebuffed with an offer of £40.01million believing that the bid was enough to trigger the release clause in his contract.

The only major summer signing was the arrival of Mesut Ozil to the Emirates in a £42.5million deal and it was thought that the Arsenal manager had a transfer kitty of £80million.

That could mean Liverpool may expect another swoop for their key man in January and Suarez has reportedly become unsettled with the speculation over his future throughout the summer.

Wenger made late attempts to bring in Christian Benteke from Aston Villa and were also thought to be on the verge of signing Demba Ba on loan however Chelsea pulled out of the deal last minute.

Skrtel Considering Anfield Departure

Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel is believed to be considering his future at Anfield after manager Brendan Rodgers signed three new centre-backs over the summer.

The Slovakia captain joined the Reds in 2008 for £6.5 million and after starting last season with Daniel Agger as Rodgers’ first-choice central-defensive pairing, the 28-year-old had a testing campaign on Merseyside last term.

Skrtel was heavily linked with a transfer to Napoli over the summer with former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez, who brought the defender to Anfield and is now in charge of the Italian club, keen to take the Slovakian to Serie A.

Napoli are understood to have wanted to initially sign Skrtel on a season-long loan with a view to a permanent transfer but Liverpool rejected an approach from the Italian outfit.

Rodgers, meanwhile, signed defender Kolo Toure on a free transfer from Manchester City at the start of the summer and then bought centre-backs Mamadou Sakho from Paris Saint-Germain and Tiago Ilori from Sporting Lisbon on transfer deadline day for £18 million and £7 million respectively.

A Merseyside source has now told SportsDirect News Skrtel has concerns about the amount of first-team action he will get at Anfield and is seriously considering his future with Liverpool.

Benitez is likely to make another move for the 28-year-old in January when the transfer market re-opens as he looks to team Skrtel up with Pepe Reina, who joined Napoli on loan this summer from Liverpool.

Barcelona To Pursue Pepe Reina

Pepe Reina has reportedly agreed to join Barcelona at the end of the season to replace Victor Valdes.

The Liverpool keeper is currently spending a season-long loan at Napoli after reuniting with manager Rafa Benitez.

But it is becoming increasing likely that Reina has played his last game in a Liverpool jersey following the arrival of summer signing Simon Mignolet.

The Spanish keeper, who has 28 caps for his national side, came under speculation that he would depart for the Nou Camp earlier in the year but the deal never materialized.

But fresh reports in the Metro, suggest that a deal could well be completed before January as Thibaut Courtouis wants to stay and fight for the No.1 spot at Chelsea.

It was reported that Barcelona may offer around £30million for the Belgium, who is currently on loan at Athletico Madrid, but the 21-year-old has stated that he wants to prove his worth to Chelsea.

Sturridge Out Of Ukraine Match

Daniel Sturridge has been ruled out of England’s World Cup qualifying tie against Ukraine next week, leaving manager Roy Hodgson short of attacking options.

The Liverpool striker missed the Three Lions’ 4-0 victory over Moldova on Friday after aggravating a thigh injury in the Reds’ 1-0 derby triumph over Manchester United.

Sturridge, who has scored five goals in four games for Liverpool already this season, was hoping to win the fitness battle in time for England’s crucial Ukraine clash.

But after returning to the Merseyside outfit’s Melwood training ground for additional treatment last week, the FA confirmed he will not be fit for the game, with the forward’s likely return to fitness not detailed by club or country.

The news will not be well received by Hodgson, who has only Rickie Lambert and Jermain Defoe to choose from up front against Ukraine, following Danny Welbeck’s suspension for a harsh yellow card during the Moldova win.

The full statement read: “The FA can confirm that Daniel Sturridge will not return to the England squad ahead of the World Cup qualifier with Ukraine on Tuesday.

“Club England medical staff have been in constant contact with their counterparts at Liverpool Football Club since he returned there on Thursday, his injury has not progressed as had been hoped and it is now clear that Sturridge will not be fit for the match in Kiev on Tuesday evening.

“No additions will be made to Roy Hodgson’s squad of 23 players who travel to Ukraine on Sunday evening.”

Aspas Recommends Playing In Premier League

New Liverpool signing Iago Aspas is loving life at Anfield and has encouraged other players to join him in England.

The Spanish forward arrived at the Anfield club in June and has started every league game so far under Brendan Rodgers.

And the Celta Vigo youth product is beaming in his praise for the Premier League and is adjusting quickly to the physical nature of English football.

"I would tell any player to go to the Premier League," he told reporters during a return to Spain during the international break. "You get a different feeling - especially compared to Spain.

"I'm playing a bit further back that it did at Celta, but the big difference is how physical the league is compared to Spain.

"It's hard to say which is better, but when the season ends and I have played all the teams I will have a better idea."

Aspas is delighted to have played a part in Liverpool's positive start to the season, with the Merseyside club top of the table after beating rivals Manchester United.

“I’m very happy," he said. "Especially because we are leading the league.

"(But) it’s only been three games, and it’s a very long competition."

Aspas and Liverpool will look to maintain their unbeaten run on September 16 when they travel to Swansea City.

Carragher Unsure Of Sakho Role

Jamie Carragher admits he is unsure how Brendan Rodgers will fit Mamadou Sakho into his first-choice XI but expects the Frenchman to be a regular starter.

The 23-year-old is yet to make an appearance for the Reds after completing an £18m move to Anfield from Ligue 1 winners Paris Saint-Germain on deadline day.

The left-footed France international arrives on Merseyside with a burgeoning reputation despite finding himself behind Alex and Thiago Silva in the pecking order at PSG last season.

Carragher, who formed centre-half partnerships with Daniel Agger, Sami Hyypia and Martin Skrtel at Liverpool, is unsure whether Sakho could line up alongside the club’s vice-captain, who is also a left-sided centre-half.

“It has been good to see Liverpool replace the old man who pottered away in retirement last May with three central defenders,” Carragher wrote in his Daily Mail column.

“Kolo Toure has settled well and made a bright start, Tiago Ilori has been brought from Sporting Lisbon for the future and then there is Mamadou Sakho.

“He arrives on Merseyside with a solid reputation and it was interesting to hear that Ian Ayre, Liverpool’s managing director, described him as ‘a marquee signing’ — when you spend £18million on someone, you would expect they will play.

“So it will be fascinating to see how Brendan fits Sakho in. He is a left-sided central defender but Liverpool already has a very good one of those in Daniel Agger, who has succeeded me as vice-captain.”

He added: “In my experience, you can play two right-footed central defenders as a partnership — that was the case when Sami Hyypia and I played alongside each other — but I have never seen a team line up with two left-footed central defenders as a partnership.

“I would doubt that Brendan is now going to start playing 3-5-2, even though he used it at fleeting times last season, so where Sakho fits in remains to be seen. One thing that is not in doubt, however, is the start Liverpool have made to the season.

“Nobody will be getting carried away by three consecutive wins but the positive thing is that Liverpool has laid solid foundations — and three clean sheets show they are going to be difficult to beat.”

Reds Defender Fighting For Fitness

Liverpool defender Glen Johnson has given fans somewhat of an injury update, stressing that he is working hard to make a quick return to club and international action. Johnson was forced to watch Friday night’s England match from the stands after withdrawing from the squad with an injury, and revealed on his official Twitter account that he is gutted to be missing the Three Lions’ World Cup qualifying campaign.

England ran out 4-0 winners in a convincing display against Moldova at Wembley on Friday night, with Danny Welbeck grabbing a brace. Southampton star Rickie Lambert continued his dream start to his international career, scoring his second goal in two matches. Tottenham’s Kyle Walker filled in for the injured Johnson and was largely impressive with both his defensive and attacking duties, putting further pressure on Johnson to regain his place ahead of next summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

Johnson picked up an injury against Manchester United a week ago and was replaced by young defender Andre Wisdom. Wisdom is an emerging talent at Anfield, and was recently handed the Under-21s’ captain’s armband by Gareth Southgate. Wisdom helped lead the young Lions to victory this week as they beat Moldova in 2015 Under-21 European Championships qualifying.

Mamadou Sakho Thanks Anfield Fans

Liverpool summer signing Mamadou Sakho has expressed his gratitude to Anfield fans for the warm reception he received before signing up.

Brendan Rodgers swooped for the former PSG man in the final few days of the summer transfer window and his £18million switch was confirmed early on deadline day.

Liverpool confirmed the purchase of promising Sporting Lisbon defender Tiago Ilori at the same time in what is a young new-look back line put together by Rodgers.

Sakho became surplus to requirements at PSG due to the influx of expensive big-name signings at the free-spending Qatar-funded Ligue 1 champions.

Despite a great affinity with the club he came through the ranks with, the 23-year-old would not say which stadium was the more impressive out of Anfield and the Parc des Princes.

However, he did express his gratitude for all the good wishes he received from Liverpool fans ahead of finalizing his deal.

"They [Anfield and Parc des Princes] not comparable, but Le Parc is my birthplace," he is quoted as saying by Le10Sport.

"I would also like to thank the public for the ovation he gave me last weekend when I was in Liverpool about to sign my contract."

Reds Appoint New U18s Coach

Liverpool Football Club is delighted to announce the appointment of Neil Critchley as the club's new U18s coach.

Neil arrives at the Academy from Crewe Alexandra, where he has held the role of academy director since 2007.

The 34-year-old started his career as a junior player at Crewe, before rising through the ranks to make one appearance for the club's senior side against Fulham during the 1999-2000 season.

As a coach, Critchley is one of only 16 in the country to have gained the highest possible qualification in the game after he was handpicked by the FA to take UEFA's first elite badge course.

After 18 months the former midfielder graduated - and is currently among the top-graded coaches in Europe.