Injury relief on the way for the Reds

Liverpool’s injury list has grown at an alarming rate this season, to the point where even the club doctor has been doing interviews, and the recent derby win for the Reds was a perfect illustration of how much misfortune they’ve had on that front. By half time three players had gone off injured and one more was left on the field only because there were no more subs left.

Rafael Benitez saw most of what was left of his squad leave for international duty over Easter, and probably had his scouts at the Tsunami benefit game in case any of the celebrities or legends could be signed for the Reds.

Now though there are signs that Liverpool’s luck has started to turn.
Continue reading Injury relief on the way for the Reds

Reds’ international round-up

Steven Gerrard opened the scoring for England after 51 minutes in their World Cup qualifier against Azerbeijan at St James’ Park.  Jamie Carragher was on the bench, but was not used – final score 2-0. In the same group Jerzy Dudek kept another clean sheet as Poland beat Northern Ireland 1-0.

Milan Baros played the first hour for the Czech Republic in their 4-0 away win to Andorra. He made it two in two games during the international break, scoring the second goal for the Czechs on 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, Liverpool’s on-loan midfielder Alou Diarra, the man who’s never pulled on the red shirt, played from the start for France in their 1-1 away draw against Isreal.

John Arne Riise played for Norway in their goalless qualifier away to Moldova.

* Luis Garcia wasn’t selected for Spain in their World-Cup Qualifier.

Continue reading Reds’ international round-up

Welsh: I’d love to play alongside Stevie

Liverpool’s young midfielder John Welsh had an excellent game for the England Under-21 team last night, scoring a great goal, and so now finds his name has become a little more well-known and the comparisons are going to be obvious.

19-year-old Welsh is a graduate of Liverpool’s academy, a local lad who knows how to tackle and pass. Steven Gerrard is the player John Welsh is being compared to.

The national newspapers still believe Gerrard is leaving at the end of the season – and in the meantime they’re ready to put Welsh in as his Liverpool replacement. This isn’t what Welsh wants though – he wants to play with Gerrard, not against him: "I don’t know what’s going to happen at the end of the season – hopefully he’ll stay because I know he loves Liverpool. Whenever he makes his decision, it’s down to him."

Welsh has only just broken through into the first-team squad at Anfield, a substitute appearance in the Champions League against Leverkusen his most recent appearance. He wants to play more, and he wants to share the midfield with his club captain: "Hopefully, I’d love to play alongside him. It’s up to Rafael Benitez whether he picks me but I’ll keep working hard and hopefully I’ll get my chance.”

Speaking to PA News after Tuesday night’s England under-21 game, Welsh sees one area of his game that he needs to improve if he wants to be more like Gerrard: “I don’t score that many goals so nice to get on scoresheet, few of the lads were giving me a bit of stick and asking if it was a cross. The staff at the club feel I should score more goals and that’s an area I’m looking to improve. My strengths include my tackling and hopefully my passing but there’s lots I can improve upon – I’m only young and I know I’m not the finished article.”

Welsh was a Liverpool fan before joining the reds, and doesn’t just see Gerrard as his team-mate: “He’s one of my idols and you look at him, what he’s doing week-in week-out and try and model yourself on that. It’s brilliant to be compared to him but I think he scores a few more goals than me. I grew up at Liverpool and I’ve seen some brilliant players there. He’s obviously the latest to come through the academy, along with Jamie Carragher, and watching them from the stands has been brilliant. You always try and learn off the best players and Steve for me is one of the best players in the world.”

John feels lucky to be training and playing alongside what he considers to be outstanding talent: “Carra has been tremendous this season and we all know Steven Gerrard’s one of the best players in the world. Even Xabi Alonso, Milan Baros and Morientes – the list of world-class players keeps going and to work alongside them, you can only learn off them. When I’ve been involved in games, Carra and Stevie are always talking to you, helping you along, and in training they give you tips and say ’maybe try this’ and giving you their opinion of what you can do.”

One of the many criticisms aimed at Gerard Houllier as his reign as manager drew closer and closer to the end was his lack of faith in Liverpool’s youngster – leading to rumours of a serious rift between himself and academy boss Steve Heighway. Although Benitez has brought some new players in from Spain, he’s mainly chosen quality rather than quantity, and is happy to compliment the big names with the youngsters. To this end Welsh feels he at least has a chance of making many appearances as long as his performance merit it: "I’m at one of the best clubs in the world, for me, I’ve always supported them from a child and I love the club. So I’ll be patient. I know there’s a lot of good players there. The gaffer has shown he’ll put the young kids in if they deserve it so I’ll keep working hard. The gaffer keeps talking to me, telling me what I should be doing, so I listen to him and take it from there. You need first-team football as you go along but Rafael Benitez wants me to stay at Liverpool. I love the club and I want to make it there.”

England’s under-21 boss Peter Taylor was full of praise for Welsh, who made his full-debut in the game against Azerbaijan, following on from a second-half appearance as substitute on Friday: "John has certainly helped our performances. His second-half show on Friday, was first class and although it was a bit easier for him against Azerbaijan, I like him in that position. He reminds me of Jamie Carragher when I had him at Under-21 level."

With the injury crisis at Anfield right now, John knows he’s got to take all the opportunities he’s given.

Continue reading Welsh: I’d love to play alongside Stevie

Reds International Round-up

Only one full international involving Liverpool players tonight, and in the end Steve Finnan was an unused substitute in the Republic of Ireland’s 1-0 friendly win over China.

With the current injury crisis at Anfield, Rafa Benitez will have been heartened to see an excellent John Welsh play 90 minutes for the England under-21 team. Welsh had an outstanding game in the heart of the England Under-21 midfield in a 2-0 win over Azerbaijan. Welsh opened the scoring with a very well-taken goal on 27 minutes – his first for England at this level. Welsh had won the ball at the start of the move and showed great composure in chesting the ball down before hitting the ball into the roof of the net.  Also in the England team from the Reds was Scott Carson, who was largely untested throughout, but will be glad to take a clean sheet from the game after a great deal of criticism from his one error in the game on Good Friday.

Tomorrow night is the main night for international football, with more qualifiers being played. Reds players likely to be involved for their countries are Dudek, Gerrard, Carragher, Baros, Diarra (currently on loan), Riise and Luis Garcia.

Rafael Benitez will then have a couple of days to decide how he is going to combat the lack of any frontmen. If – as he hinted in the press earlier this week – he decides to try Steven Gerrard up front, he’ll be able to rely on John Welsh to fill Gerrard’s place in midfield after tonight’s performance.

Continue reading Reds International Round-up

Benitez wants players to prove themselves

Rafael Benitez has left the door open for his players to prove themselves before the summer.

Benitez has been unfortunate in the luck he’s received in terms of injuries to his squad. A season that started with the sale of Michael Owen has now reached a point where none of Liverpool’s strikers are now available – Milan Baros is the only fit striker at the club, and is now suspended for three matches.

Changes to the squad have been subtle more than sweeping so far. Stephane Henchoz was part of the partnership which saw Liverpool win the treble under Houllier, but under Benitez has not been fancied, and has now left the club. Djimi Traore was set to be sold – perhaps more by the board than by the manager – yet was reprieved and made numerous appearances before suffering injury. Steve Finnan was linked with a move away from Anfield, but was reluctant to go (some say due to wage demands) – and has improved immensely this season, showing the form that Liverpool fans believed they would get.

A large part of Liverpool’s squad are being paid wages which they’ll struggle to match elsewhere due to their performances for Liverpool not being at a level that fits those contracts. Some of these have been loaned out to cut costs – El Hadji Douiff and Bruno Cheyrou for example – and others have stayed behind to collect their wages. These contracts are coming to an end in many cases and it’s now time for some of these players to prove their worth.

Benitez has brought the best out of players like Finnan, Carragher and Riise – all players who weren’t bad under Houllier, but have all stepped up a level.

Benitez wants all the remaining fit players to show what they’re made of in the remaining games of the season. If they do this then the door might not be closing behind them: "This season is about improving the level of the team. We need to keep working hard and working properly and then we can improve all the time. In the summer we will look for different things and then we will make our decisions, that is normal. For me the most important thing now is that a player tries hard and gives his best. If they do that then I cannot ask for anything more as a manager."

Didi Hamman was a vital member of the Liverpool squad under Houllier, protecting the defence and almost playing as an extra centre-back. Benitez brought Xabi Alonso over from Spain to play alongside Gerrard in a more positive way of playing, but Alonso had his leg broken by Frank Lampard meaning Hamman has made more appearances than he may have hoped for. Hamman himself is now injured just as Alonso is getting close to a return, and his contract talks are said to be on hold. Talks are expected to resume before the end of the season, but Bolton are reported to be interested in taking Hamman over to the Reebok stadium. Whilst Igor Biscan has become Anfield’s latest cult hero, almost as much as Erik Meijer, the Croatian is disappointed that he isn’t making more appearances and is looking to move away when his contract expires in the summer.

* Steven Gerrard has recovered from a knock received in the International for England against Northern Ireland according to England boss Sven Goran Ericsson, who names an unchanged team for Wednesday’s match at St James’ Park against Azerbaijan.

Continue reading Benitez wants players to prove themselves

Liverpool looking for a new name.

According to a report in yesterday’s Independent on Sunday, Liverpool’s 12-year affiliation with Carlsberg is about to come to and end.

The longest-running shirt deal in the Premiership is up for renewal at the end of the season, and so far talks have stuttered, and are now said to have collapsed.

Liverpool were the first British team with shirt sponsors, when they signed up with Hitachi, in 1979. In 1982 they changed to Crown Paints, before moving to Candy in 1988. In the early days of sponsorship the clubs had less power than they do now. Back then the TV companies decided that they wouldn’t allow shirt sponsors on kits if a game was televised – even highlights on Match of The Day. Later this was relaxed slightly, to allow sponsors names to appear, at a smaller size than allowed by the football league.

Liverpool’s sponsorship by Carlsberg coincided with Liverpool’s fall from dominance in English football. All of the previous sponsors had seen major honours lifted by Liverpool, meaning their brand names got excellent coverage. Carlsberg have not been so lucky for Liverpool – the club that has won the most league titles in English football has not finished top since Carlsberg came on board.

The contract is reputed to be worth £6million per year, but Carlsberg are now doubting whether they are getting the return they would like on their sponsorship. The newspaper quotes an "industry insider" as saying: "It’s a difficult club. It’s still an expensive brand but they have not won anything." They quote another "insider" as saying: "I think there are only a few Premiership clubs that can cut it on a global basis, but Liverpool is now on the fringe of that. If you look at what they won in the 20 years before Carlsberg took over as sponsor, you would have thought they would have won a lot more in the subsequent years."

Liverpool have recently teamed up with LG Mobile as "official Liverpool Football Club mobile handset partner". The Independent believe that LG may become the new shirt sponsors and claims that LG have "even been considered as a possible sponsor for the new stadium that the club is about to build."

Liverpool currently have various tie-ins with sponsors at different levels. For example, as well as their tie-in with LG, and shirt-manufacturing deal with Reebok, they also have a deal with mobile operator Orange, who are "official Communications Partner of Liverpool FC". O2 and Vodaphone currently sponsor Arsenal and Manchester United respectively, so Orange may look to Liverpool to bring themselves into the football market.

Rick Parry of Liverpool has said that Liverpool are in talks with various parties concerning the financing of Liverpool FC. Recent takeover bids have failed, yet David Moores, currently the major shareholder, has admitted that changes are needed. Sponsorship is just a part of these changes, and stadium sponsorship may be vital for Liverpool.

Just to add more problems to Liverpool’s attempts to attract a shirt sponsor – Chelsea are also looking for a new name for the front of their shirts.

Continue reading Liverpool looking for a new name.

Tsunami Soccer Aid – Liverpool Legends 6 Celebrities 2

Over 38,000 people turned up at a rain-soaked Anfield today to see an excellent piece of entertainment all taking place for the Tsunami Soccer Aid benefit match.

Jason McAteer, who’s brainchild this event was, led out the Liverpool team that included heroes of his own from his days as a boyhood red. If the players who appeared over the next 90 minutes had been on sale today at today’s transfer fees, no rich Russian could have afforded them.

Two number nines started for Liverpool – Rush and Fowler, a combination that did have a run together towards the end of Rush’s Liverpool playing days, and as the game progressed the striking talents of Paul Walsh, David Johnson, John Aldridge and Kenny Dalglish combined to thrill the crowd.

Kenny Dalglish played for the last 20 minutes or so and he got the biggest cheer of the afternoon by far. A standing ovation was just what you’d expect from Liverpool’s biggest hero. Ronnie Moran joined Kenny as managers of Liverpool for the day, with Jamie Redknapp’s dad Harry managing the celebrities.

Bruce Grobbelaar starred in goal for Liverpool for the first half, and although he didn’t have much to do his distribution of the ball from hand was still there. Bruce only played the first half, replaced for the second half by Sander Westerveld, another player to receive a big cheer when his name was announced.

Tranmere goalkeeping coach Eric Nixon was between the sticks for the first half for the celebrities, but in the second half Liverpool’s current reserve keeper Paul Harrison stepped in, and made a number of great saves.

It was organiser McAteer who got the opening two goals for the Liverpool team, but he had to leave the pitch early as he has a first team game for play-off chasing League One Tranmere tomorrow.

Other highlights from the game included seeing Alan Hansen back on the pitch again. Hansen was of course forced to end his career earlier than he would have liked due to severe knee problems, and we’re told this is the first time he’s played a game since then. Lining up alongside him was Phil Thompson. He was later replaced by Gary Gillespie. Phil Neal and Alan Kennedy played as full backs for large parts of the game, with Gary Ablett and Neil Ruddock helping out to.

Liverpool’s pass and move was there for all to see – the Liverpool players may not have the pace and fitness of old days, but they knew when and where to pass, and more importantly when and where to run.

Just like days of old, Jan Molby made the centre circle his own, still able to find those passes, and it was great to see Ronnie Whelan start alongside him.

All in all a great occasion, for a worthy cause, and congratulations go to Jason McAteer for organising it all.

Full lists of the two squads – unless stated all of these played at least part of the game.


1. Bruce Grobbelaar (First Half)
1. Sander Westerveld (Second Half)
2. Phil Neal
3. Alan Kennedy
4. Jason McAteer
5. Phil Thompson
6. Alan Hansen
7. Kenny Dalglish
7. Steve McManaman (did not play, but was present)
8. John Aldridge
9. Ian Rush
9. Robbie Fowler
10. John Barnes
11. Ronnie Whelan
14. Gary Ablett
15. David Johnson
16. Neil Ruddock
17. Jan Molby
18. Alan Farley (won a competition and played the second half)
19. Gary Gillespie
20. Paul Walsh
Also. Paul Dalglish (Kenny’s son, didn’t wear a number).
Managed by Kenny Dalglish and Ronnie Moran – Roy Evans was originally pencilled in but now of course involved in the Welsh national set-up.


1. Eric Nixon (Tranmere goalkeeping coach – first half)
1. Paul Harrison (Liverpool reserve ‘keeper – second half)
2. Patrick McGuiness (Paddy from Max and Paddy)
3. Ralf Little
4. Paul Salt
5. Michael Vaughan
6. James Redmond
7. Nicky Byrne (played outfield, but used to be a ‘keeper for Leeds)
8. Brian McFadden
9. Niall Quinn
10. John Regis
11. Shane Ritchie
12. Marcus Patrick
14. Amir Khan (Bolton’s Silver-Medal winning boxer)
15. Perry Fenwick
16. Harvey (Liverpool supporting rapper, scored first celeb goal from an excellent run)
17. DJ Spoony (Liverpool supporting DJ – nutmegged Rushie)
18. Serge Pizzorno
19. Stephen Fletcher
20. Tim Lovejoy (Soccer AM)
21. Ian Brodie (Liverpool fan, Lightening Seeds singer/writer – wrote the "Coming Home" song)
22. Danny Jones

Continue reading Tsunami Soccer Aid – Liverpool Legends 6 Celebrities 2

Sunday stories

Most of the Sunday papers are of course concentrating on International matches right now, so stories relating to Liverpool are a little thin on the ground. The announcement from Steven Gerrard yesterday is the main Liverpool-related story, and most of the papers have left the story at that. Except one. The News of the World feel that just reporting that Gerrard wants to stay at Liverpool isn’t exciting enough for their readers, so they’ve added the angle that Liverpool have had to offer him unbelievable amounts of money. £26 million in fact. Exactly where they got this information from isn’t clear, but nobody else seems to know about it.

Meanwhile we’re forced to look to former Liverpool players for any more news. Michael Owen left Liverpool last summer after stalling too long on his contract. Owen has struggled to get into the Madrid team this season. Many say this is because of the influence of Raul – influence that means Raul must be picked to play by whoever manages the club (and this changes regularly).

Raul seems to have never taken to Michael Owen – and now according to Sunday papers such as the Sunday Mirror, Raul says the following: "I know Michael Owen has been linked with a return to England but all I can say is that Real Madrid has to have players who really want to play for this club. If anyone is unhappy here I think it’s best that they leave. And that means anyone, including Michael Owen. We only need people here who are desperate to represent Real Madrid."

Owen scored for England yesterday in a game where he did look a little rusty at times, and it’s quite likely that he’ll leave Spain in the summer if things continue at the club the way they have done. Newspapers are linking him to offers from Arsenal and Chelsea (who else?) but whether this happens remains to be seen. It’s highly unlikely that Liverpool will be able to afford to buy him back at this stage, as his value will be much higher than what Liverpool received when they sold him a year ago. Owen of course is entitled to stay and pick up a very good wage packet regardless of whether he plays or not – like Steve McManaman did for some years – and so Real Madrid may consider re-thinking the transfer fee they want should Owen express a preference for which club he would join. Expect speculation on this issue for the rest of the season anyway.

There’s more internationals on Wednesday, then normal service is resumed. If you are missing seeing the red-men in action though, don’t forget the Tsunami benefit match at Anfield today. If you aren’t able to go in person, there’s coverage on Sky Sports, and also on the official Liverpool FC website through the "E-Season" subscription service.
Continue reading Sunday stories

Reds’ international round-up

Liverpool players are involved in various internationals this weekend – mainly World-Cup qualifiers – here’s a round-up of how they’ve fared.

Steven Gerrard played 70 minutes for England in their 4-0 win over Northern Ireland. Jamie Carragher was an unused substitute, with ex-red Michael Owen scoring one of the goals.

In the same qualifying group, Jerzy Dudek kept a clean sheet in Warsaw as Poland won 8-0 against Azerbaijan.
Wednesday sees England and Poland switch opponents.

Former red player John Toshack, and his assistant Roy Evans – former Liverpool manager suffered a defeat in their first game in charge of Wales. Austria beat them 2-0 at the Millennium Stadium.

The Czech Republic and Finland were involved in a seven-goal thriller with the Czechs just taking the three points in a 4-3 win. Liverpool’s Milan Baros had put the Czechs ahead after 7 minutes, scoring against a Finnish defence featuring Liverpool’s Sami Hyypia. Ex-Red Jari Litmanen scored Finland’s first goal.

Steve Finnan played the whole game for the Republic of Ireland in their qualifier in Israel. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. In the same qualifying group, France and Switzerland played out a goalless draw, Liverpool’s Alou Diarra, an unused French substitute. Diarra has never actually played for Liverpool – bought by Houllier and loaned straight back again for unknown and unexplained reasons – and wants to sever all his links in the summer. Meanwhile Stephane Henchoz, who left the Reds in the winter transfer window came on for the obligatory 90th-minute eating-up-time tactic for the Swiss.

Luis Garcia made his Spanish debut in a friendly against China. Coming on at half-time, he was unlucky not to score, with a long-range shot hitting the bar. Spain are playing a World-Cup qualifier themselves against Serbia and Montenegro in Belgrade next week.

Continue reading Reds’ international round-up

Liverpool FC World-cup round-up

Liverpool players are involved in various internationals this weekend – here’s a round-up of how they’ve fared.

Steven Gerrard played 70 minutes for England in their 4-0 win over Northern Ireland. Jamie Carragher was an unused substitute, with ex-red Michael Owen scoring one of the goals.

In the same qualifying group, Jerzy Dudek kept a clean sheet in Warsaw as Poland won 8-0 against Azerbaijan.
Wednesday sees England and Poland switch opponents.

Former red player John Toshack, and his assistant Roy Evans – former Liverpool manager suffered a defeat in their first game in charge of Wales. Austria beat them 2-0 at the Millennium Stadium.

The Czech Republic and Finland were involved in what sounds like an exciting game, with the Czechs just taking the three points in a 4-3 win. Liverpool’s Milan Baros had put the Czechs ahead after 7 minutes, but he was taken off after 53 minutes – we hope there’s not another injury worry for Liverpool. Liverpool’s Sami Hyypia played the whole game for Finland and his ex-Red team-mate Jari Litmanen scored Finland’s first goal.

Steve Finnan started for the Republic of Ireland in their qualifier in Israel. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. Also in that group, with an 8pm kick-off, is the France v Switzerland game, which sees Liverpool’s Alou Diarra, on the French subs’ bench. Diarra has never actually played for Liverpool – bought by Houllier and loaned straight back again for unknown and unexplained reasons. Stephane Henchoz, who left the Reds in the winter transfer window is on the bench for the Swiss.

Continue reading Liverpool FC World-cup round-up