Robbie deserves new deal say Reds forwards

It’s no secret that Robbie Fowler wants a new contract at Anfield to allow him to extend his second stay beyond the end of this season, but Rafael Benitez won’t reveal his decision yet. No doubt the Spaniard is just ensuring that the striker keeps going until the very end of the season, but Robbie isn’t complaining. He said earlier this week: “It’s a bit of a weird situation really because when most players have six weeks left of a season or contract they want their future sorted out. I’m different because I really don’t mind waiting until the end of the season. I just want to stay here. I just hope I get a positive answer when it comes.”

Robbie maintains that Rafa has said nothing to him so far about next season: “I’ve had no indication what the decision will be yet. I’ve known from the start this is just a short-term deal and the decision won’t be taken lightly by the manager. He’s obviously not made up his mind yet, or if he has he hasn’t told me about it. All I can do is sit and wait. If he comes to me and says there is a new contract there, no-one will be happier than me. But until that day comes, I’m not going to be saying anything to him about it.”
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Reds resubmit stadium plans to council

It was revealed this morning that Liverpool FC have resubmitted their plans for the new stadium. Liverpool were first granted planning permission in July 2004. but in the intervening time planning guidelines have changed. As a result the club have asked for the plans to be looked at again to ensure there is nothing in the new rules that causes problems with the original plans.

Liverpool need a new stadium as a way of increasing revenues from each match, the new stadium would increase capacity by 15,000 seats from the current 45,000. Rumours last month said that the North West Development Agency (NWDA) would remove their offer of funding if a March 31st deadline wasn’t reached. This turns out to be untrue – NWDA now say the millions of pounds’ worth of funding is still available, just as long as Liverpool can prove they have the rest of the finance in place. Objective One funding is worth around £10m to the club for the new stadium, but this will be lost if the private funding is not in place by the middle of this month.

According to Steven Broomhead, chief executive of the NWDA, the agency is hopeful that the new stadium will go ahead because of the benefits it will bring, but private sector finance is essential: “The NWDA is keen to invest in the regeneration aspects of the new Anfield plan. However, alongside public sector funding from the NWDA and the European Regional Development Fund, the scheme also requires a significant private sector contribution for the new stadium to go ahead. The agency needs to be certain that this money has been secured before the NWDA can formally approve funding and we look forward to hearing more from the football club on their progress in securing this private sector funding.”
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Young Rushden striker gets Reds trial

Liverpool have taken 17-year-old Lee Tomlin on trial from Rushden and Diamonds.

The striker made his League debut for Rushden in October as a sixteen-year-old, and although he’s only started four times he’s caught the eye of the Reds scouting department. He’s yet to score a league goal.

According to the assistant manager at Rushden, Geoff Harrop, Liverpool have already agreed a deal subject to the player impressing at Melwood. He said: “We wouldn’t send him to Liverpool if there wasn’t a deal on the table. All I would say to their manager Mr Benitez is ‘get your cheque book out’. We need the money at this club.”

Harrop says Tomlin will benefit from the trial even if it doesn’t result in a deal, but he feels that Tomlin has a good chance of being signed: “Lee has been unlucky over the past few games but he will come good, rest assured. He’ll have a lovely week at Liverpool. I’m sure he’ll come back with loads of ideas of how to be the next Robbie Fowler. I don’t see any mileage in them having a look at him for the fun of it.”

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Reaction: WBA 0 Liverpool 2

FA Premiership: West Brom 0 – Liverpool 2.

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez says Liverpool are still in with a shout for second place. Manchester United are ahead by five points and have a game in hand, but Rafa says the Reds have got to go out looking to win each match: “You cannot think it will be impossible and you just have to think about winning the next game. We know it will be really difficult as Man United keep winning but our idea it to carry on winning as well so we are sure to finish third and maybe second.” Liverpool won the game over West Brom thanks to two first-half goals and he was delighted with the performance of his players: “In the first half we played really well and controlled the game all of the time. In the second half we were a bit under pressure but we have done a good job and it’s a good result for us. It worked well for us using the pace of Cisse on the right wing and with Xabi Alonso’s passing ability it was perfect.”

Djibril Cisse’s goal was preceded by a milestone goal from Robbie Fowler. He scored his 173rd goal for the reds and overtook legend Kenny Dalglish in the all-time scoring charts. Rafa was quick to congratulate the player, but says there’s no decision yet on whether Robbie will get a longer contract: “I would like to congratulate Robbie. I hope to see even more goals from him this season and maybe in the future. We haven’t made a decision on his future yet. There is no hurry. We will make it in the next few weeks. It won’t be about if he scores one or two more goals this year, it will be about what we feel he can give to the team in the future.”

Robbie himself was of course delighted to get this significant goal, but doesn’t consider himself to be in the same bracket as the legend he’s overtaken: “It’s fantastic for me but Kenny Dalglish is a proper Liverpool legend. To get anywhere near him is an achievement, so to go one past him makes me very happy.”

Fowler shared his manager’s views on the prospects of finishing second: “We just have to worry about ourselves and try to win as many games as we can, but we know it is going to be difficult. If we win our games and the teams above us slip up, then we have to take advantage. This was an important win for us. We had a good result against Everton last week and we knew we had to do the job here. We made a good start, scored the early goal and deserved the three points at the end of the game.”

West Brom are now fourth from bottom but would move into the drop zone if either of the two teams directly below them – Portsmouth and Birmingham – won their games in hand. For assistant manager Nigel Pearson the performance in the first forty-five minutes fell far short of expectations: “The way that we performed in the first half was very disappointing. We knew what we had to do before the game after the other results but we just didn’t turn up. That’s unacceptable and the players know that. We find ourselves in a difficult position but we are still confident we have got enough here and the spirit in the camp to get out of it.”

West Brom: Kuszczak, Albrechtsen, Watson (Clement 62), Curtis Davies, Robinson, Kamara (Gera 45), Johnson, Wallwork, Greening, Kanu (Campbell 62), Ellington.
Unused subs: Hoult, Kozak.

Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Hyypia, Carragher, Riise, Alonso, Sissoko, Kewell, Cisse (Kromkamp 78), Crouch (Morientes 71), Fowler (Luis Garcia 65).
Unused subs: Dudek, Warnock.
Goals: Fowler 7, Cisse 38.

Referee: U Rennie (S Yorkshire)
Att: 27576

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New forum at Anfield Road

After a few months of trying to get round to it, and trialling different pieces of forum software behind the scenes, we’ve finally decided to add a new forum to the site.

It’s actually located on the “” version of the site, and can be found at .

It’s brand spanking new. We’ve not imported any user names in, so if you want a particular name then now is the time to go in there and sort yourself one out.

We’re giving the forum a trial run, but unless we hit real problems we intend to keep it permanently, and it will be available round the clock.

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Gerrard: Cheating annoys me.

The words “Chelsea” and “cheating” have been seen together so often recently that anyone would be forgiven for thinking that the words belong together. Arjen Robben’s dive at Stamford Bridge to get Pepe Reina sent off was annoying but not unexpected, and that wasn’t the end to Chelsea’s ways. That incident all came from a handball missed or ignored by the officials, and Didier Drogba handled the ball to score against Manchester City last weekend. Drogba was asked after the game if he would dive and he admitted he would, only to try in vain to retract his comments later. With the World Cup in Germany only months away, Chelsea’s misdemeanours may seem minor by the summer.

In football played in some countries away from England it’s not unusual to see a player rolling around six or seven times to make sure his injury looks bad. It’s not unusual for the players to be skilful at making the slightest of contact look like a career-ending tackle. It’s not unusual to see players dive. The reason it happens in other countries is because the referees and their bosses allow it to happen. Not all players do it though, and with more and more cameras allowing more and more television replays those that do cheat are caught – even if it’s only after the game.

In England there’s no sympathy for a player who rolls around on the floor after being tackled. The attitude is that if you can roll around you can’t be that badly hurt, which is right. The problem comes from the perception that only the foreign players do this. Look at Chelsea again and you’ll see a side that has English players who are perfectly happy to make the most of a challenge. They aren’t the only ones though, and Liverpool’s English captain will not be fooled into joining the bandwagon that says foreigners are ruining the game. It’s cheaters that are ruining the game, regardless of nationality.

Steven Gerrard reveals that when players who are new to the club have arrived thinking it’s OK to “simulate” they’ve soon been put straight, if not by him then by the manager. Cheating is wrong he says: “It annoys me. I don’t think there is anything worse than seeing not just a foreign player but any player who has received a knock lying down on the floor to get an opponent booked – or diving when no one’s been anywhere near him. If I saw a team-mate doing it I would definitely have a word. It’s happened here at Liverpool a couple of times, where players have gone down too easily, and the manager has said: ‘Get up, get on with it, don’t be doing that. It’s wrong’. I think managers and captains, leaders and experienced players have a responsibility to grab people after a training session or a game and say ‘None of that. That doesn’t happen here’.”

One example of this with Liverpool was when Jan Kromkamp made his Liverpool debut against Luton in the FA Cup. Kromkamp’s theatrics impressed nobody, and he won’t be doing that again.

Gerrard is looking forward to what will be his first World Cup this summer, as long as injury doesn’t come along and take his chance away. Some say that his England performances aren’t as good as his Liverpool performances, but he says that’s because he’s played out of position. The role he plays for Liverpool is to get forward, with Momo Sissoko, Xabi Alonso or Dietmar Hamman sitting behind him if he’s playing centrally. For England he has to take on the deeper role because Frank Lampard is only capable of playing in one position: “I feel I have to alter my game when I join up with England because I’m not playing in the position I play for Liverpool. I feel that is maybe why I haven’t set the world alight playing for England. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to say I should play before Frank Lampard, he’s been absolutely tremendous over the past few years and credit to him – he deserves to play in that position. But I’m confident enough in my own ability to know that if I got two or three games in that role I could find the consistency I show for my club.”
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Rafa hits back out at bitter Stubbs

Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Everton last week was quite an achievement under the circumstances. They won despite being a man short with their captain sent off after 20 minutes, and with Everton going into the game claiming to be on top form. The nicest was of describing the referee’s performance was that he was inconsistent and seemed to be suffering from a lack of concentration. Liverpool’s performance was so good that it looked like they were playing with 11 men. Liverpool were by far the better team on the day, but that means nothing in the world of the bitterest Blues.

Alan Stubbs was dumped by Everton just under a year ago. The blues were celebrating at the end of the season as they had finished fourth and therefore assumed they were in the Champions League. They were actually only in the qualifiers, and were dumped out of that by Villareal. Or by Pierluigi Collina if you believe what most blues say. Over the summer Moyes was expecting to have no problems attracting some of the best talent on offer, with the lure of Champions League football. Stubbs was just one player allowed to go. Trouble was nobody was keen on joining the blues; they are practically unheard of on the continent and if anything that anonymity could be an advantage to them. By the time the January transfer window had re-opened Everton had accepted that they weren’t going to be attracting anyone of note, and so tried successfully to bring former captain Stubbs back again.

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