Bluenose unhappy about England team

Jamie Carragher, if speculation is to be believed, will be making an appearance for England tonight in what will be his fourth different position for his country. His Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard will also be played out of his usual position if the journalists have guessed right – playing a role just behind the main striker, set to be Michael Owen tonight.

England play at Old Trafford in the first of two friendlies in advance of the World Cup, but the decision to play Carragher in a midfield holding role has angered former Everton player Tony Cottee. The bluenose is also unhappy about the way Sven Goran Eriksson has only chosen four forwards in his squad.

Speaking to Sky Sports, where he has a job as a Saturday pundit, Cottee said: “I find it absolutely ridiculous that we’ve only got four forwards, it’s absolute madness. We knew that Rooney had a problem; we know that Michael Owen’s not been fit, so you’ve got two or your four forwards struggling with injury. It’s just crazy.”

Cottee says that Liverpool target Jermain Defoe should have been included: “Defoe quite clearly should have been in the squad. He’s the natural replacement for Michael Owen and I also feel really sorry for Darren Bent because he’s not even on stand-by. He should have been on stand-by along with Andy Johnson.”

Carra’s big-game experience has probably given him the edge over the likes of Michael Carrick and Owen Hargreaves and this has upset the former hero of Goodison Park. He seems to be disappointed that the idea had not been mentioned by the press before: “I hadn’t seen any papers or reports saying Jamie Carragher is going to play in that role.” Well despite trying their best, the press don’t actually pick the England team Tony. He went on: “I am a big fan of his; I think he’s a quality defender, I really do, but that’s what Jamie is – a defender. I know we’ve seen Ledley King do that role holding in front of the back four, but I know we’ve mentioned how disappointed Darren Bent must have been, yet Michael Carrick must surely be fuming if again there’s a defender playing in front of him. He has been outstanding for Spurs this season and you need someone who can pass the ball and spray it around and that’s exactly what Carrick can do.”

One other player who might be disappointed is Peter Crouch, who’s likely to start on the bench tonight if the press have guessed correctly.

Continue reading Bluenose unhappy about England team

Xabi misses training session for Spain

Xabi Alonso’s World Cup hopes – and the hopes of Spain – hit a setback today when it was revealed that the Liverpool midfielder had been forced to miss training today due to a leg injury.

Xabi, 24, missed the six-a-side training session but no details have yet been released about the exact nature of the injury. Xabi struggled to get himself fit for the FA Cup final and had to leave the game early. He’d gone into that game as a doubt after injuring his leg in the final league game of the season against Portsmouth.

There’s no indication as to whether this injury is linked to the previous one, but the player who tried to stamp off a broken ankle the season-before-last isn’t likely to miss the tournament for anything trivial.

Continue reading Xabi misses training session for Spain

Keep fighting against The Sun

The BBC have seen fit to reward Kelvin MacKenzie’s performance as a past editor of the lie-infested Sun newspaper with a spot on their licence-fee funded radio network. This is obviously a cause of concern to Liverpool fans, in light of the lies the Sun printed about Liverpool Football Club in 1989. For more on that read “Don’t Buy the Sun” from the links to the left.

A few internet forums have featured details of ways to complain to the BBC about the situation, along with updates of any replies they’ve received. Rather than us repeating the same information, it’s better we supply you with a couple of the forums that are featuring this information.
Red and White Kop and The Liverpool Way.

Now we would think that, except perhaps for some younger Liverpool fans, it would be pretty obvious that buying or reading The Sun is wrong and feels wrong for any Liverpool fan. To buy it is an insult to those ninety-six fans who died, and to their families and friends. It is an insult to fans who were there too. To visit their website is just an alternative way of carrying out the insult, as is quoting something as trivial as transfer gossip from them. We’ve had emails to this site from fans of other clubs who agree with and understand our boycott of The Sun. So we were extremely disappointed to find that a certain other so-called Liverpool website finds the boycott of The Sun to be childish, in fact “pathetic” was one word used.

Boycott Koptalk ImageWe came across this thanks to a blog that’s been set up by one of their disgruntled members. We’ve checked the blog’s claims and they are certainly talking about some genuine posts that appeared on the forum from the website owner himself. We rarely read the other site to be honest, pretty much because of the reasons found in earlier posts on that blog, but we want to lend our support to their call for a boycott of that site. The site is Koptalk, and we say that you should avoid visiting that site at all costs due to their Sun sympathies.

For more on what was said by the Koptalk editor, Duncan Oldham from Scarborough / Newcastle, see: Boycott Koptalk and Locked Thread, two posts from the blog we mentioned.

It’s important that The Sun and Kelvin MacKenzie aren’t allowed to get away with the lies they peddled 17 years ago. Remember – there has never been an apology for the lies.

Continue reading Keep fighting against The Sun

Luis ready to take a big part in Spain’s World Cup

Luis Garcia of Spain and Liverpool FCLuis Garcia is looking forward to Spain’s World Cup campaign with cautious optimism. Spain are alongside Ukraine, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia in Group H, and to many people that would look like a fairly easy group to progress from. Garcia is very much taking the philosophy of Liverpool boss Rafa Benítez with him to Germany though – confidence should not lead to complacency.

Speaking to the Sunday Mirror, Luis says, “This is the World Cup. Nobody should be taken lightly. From these teams come good players. Ukraine have Shevchenko, one of the best strikers around. And maybe there are some we don’t know too much about. That is a danger also.”

So for Luis it’s all about getting the balance right in terms of attitude going into each game: “We must respect our opponents and if we do that we have a strong chance of qualifying. We qualified for the World Cup without losing a game so we have justified confidence in our abilities.”

Spain always look dangerous going into a tournament, but seem to struggle one way or another once the games start to take place. The fact they always look to be full of promise leads to high hopes of success back home, but the 27-year-old is happy enough about that: “It’s true that in previous World Cups there has been a lot of expectation with Spain but that is something we have to live with. It’s positive in a way because it shows the country believes in you and is behind you, and so this time we must try to give them something to cheer about.”

Garcia says the relatively young squad should give them a chance of success this time round, especially when mixed with the experience of older (and odder looking) heads like Carlos Puyol: “We have a good group of players whose average is age is around 24, which has to be good in a World Cup, and we have experience where it counts at the heart of defence in Carlos Puyol of Barcelona.”

Pepe Reina and Xabi Alonso are also with Luis in the squad and he says that helps a great deal in terms of getting team spirit in order: “It’s great for me to have my Liverpool team-mates with me in the squad – there is already a togetherness. Both Cesc (Fabregas) and Reyes have played for two years in the Premiership, which we know is one of the toughest in the world. To play in this league you must be not only strong physically but also mentally. They have both displayed that. Reyes has great pace and Cesc just gets better. They are worth their places in the squad.”

Garcia says he enjoys playing for Liverpool alongside captain Steven Gerrard, who he expects to have a good tournament: “Playing alongside Steven Gerrard is fantastic. He sets the standard for others to follow. He will do ever so well for England in the World Cup. People will see just how good he is.”

Garcia’s now hoping that he can turn himself from squad member to regular starter, building on his achievements during qualifying: “For me, it’s great to be in the squad but that is just the beginning. Now I must prove my worth in the team. I scored a hat-trick in the qualifiers, but now I must score more.”

Continue reading Luis ready to take a big part in Spain’s World Cup

Alves a priority but bosses are away

Silly season continues at a pace in this lull between the end of the real season and some tournament or other in Germany starting next month. With Rick Parry, Rafa Benitez and anyone else of note actually on holiday at the moment anything that happens is unlikely to be accompanied by any kind of big press conference.

None of this stops the rumours doing the rounds, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week on the internet, and the Sunday papers will be full of them. Everyone on the internet claims to have chatted to Steven Gerrard’s auntie in the supermarket about new signings, the Sunday press are probably just as bad 90% of the time.

One story that we do very much trust is that Rafa desperately wants to sign Seville’s Brazilian right-winger Daniel Alves. Alves is not in the Brazilian World Cup squad, but Rafa is a big fan of a player he feels can bring a lot of options to the Liverpool side. Alves has already spoken about the interest from Anfield and says he’ll make a decision during his holidays. If Alves isn’t signed then it is almost certain that Birmingham’s Jermaine Pennant will become a Liverpool player. He’s said by many to have been a Reds fan growing up, and now the two clubs have seemingly agreed a fee. According to the newspapers (The Sunday Times) the fee is £3.5m.

The other Jermaine involved in a lot of Liverpool rumours is Spurs striker Jermaine Defoe. A lot of the rumours going round right now suggest he’s already signed, but this does seem to be a little premature. Defoe is in fact just one on the list that Rafa is looking at, but the manager is keeping his cards quite close to his chest for now. According to the Sunday Times, Spurs’ interest in Carlton Cole might pave the way for Defoe to become a Red. More likely that Defoe is on the reserve list for Rafa, and he’ll be signed if the first choices are unavailable, and only if the price is reasonable. According to the Telegraph Cole has already signed for Spurs, where it’s also reported Mido has gone back to Roma.

Liverpool are being linked with forwards all the more now, because Fernando Morientes has almost gone (he’s agreed terms with Valencia but now needs to pass his medical) and Djibril Cisse looks set to be next. It’s a case of ‘when’ and ‘where to’ with Cisse, and now rumours are suggesting a deal could be announced before the end of this week. Again that seems a little too soon considering the absence of Parry et al.

As for defenders, that part of Liverpool’s squad will certainly see some changes next season, including Gabrielle Paletta and others coming in and Djimi Traore going out. However any new signings – including Daniel Agger who signed in January – will have a tough job moving Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyypia. Carragher has been speaking exclusively to The Liverpool Way fanzine about his partnership with the Finn, and says he’s far too good and consistent to even need replacing: “People always talk about Sami being replaced but it never happens. He hardly ever has a bad game. I can think of two he had last season. We were both really poor at Luton, and he had a bad day against Chelsea at home when he was ill.” A lot more from Jamie can be found on TLW’s website .

Continue reading Alves a priority but bosses are away

Garcia not leaving, Nando deal not yet complete

Liverpool boss Rafael Benítez says that Luis Garcia won’t be joining compatriot Fernando Morientes in moving back home to Spain. Rumours in the press have linked him with a move away from Anfield, claiming he’s not happy with life in England, but according to Rafa, the little attacking midfielder is happy and part of the club’s plans: “I’m really happy with Luis and I know he is happy at Liverpool. He is an important player for us and he is still part of our plans. If people are saying he isn’t settled here it’s not true. He’s scored a lot of important goals for us and he wants to continue to score goals and play well for us in the future.”

Nando’s move to Valencia was suddenly in doubt late this afternoon when the Spanish side claimed that although they had agreed a deal with Liverpool, they were yet to finalise details of the terms with the player himself. The Valencia sports director Amedeo Carboni told Europa that, “At the moment we cannot say he has signed or that he is a Valencia player. I don’t think there will be problems but we haven’t reached an agreement with the player yet. We don’t want to hide anything from anyone and will be the first to announce the news when it is finally closed.”

Whether there is a genuine hitch or not remains to be seen, but Rafa seemed pretty certain the player had left when he explained the events behind the decision to let the player go home: “He has contributed a lot since he joined us, but I spoke to him at the end of the season and we agreed if a good Spanish club was interested in him he could talk to them. Since he joined us he has been a good professional and helped the team a lot. He has played mainly as a second striker since he joined, which is a difficult position and you must do a lot of hard work to create a lot of space for other forwards.”

He said the other players at the club found Nando a great player to partner: “If you speak to the other strikers, they will all tell you how they liked working alongside him. Fernando always tried hard in this position and maybe he didn’t always get the credit he deserved for his work. He joined Liverpool at an important time and played a key role to us. He’s helped a lot of the other players with his attitude and professionalism.”

It seems Nando was a perfect professional during his short stay: “He joined us as a big star, but his attitude was always good.”

Continue reading Garcia not leaving, Nando deal not yet complete

Nando’s departure leads to more gossip about new signings

Today’s newspapers use the sale of Morientes to create some gossip about the Reds, including the Mirror who use some not-so-clever maths to make Nando sound like a very costly mistake.

The Mirror says his fee was “around £2.5m” and so he was sold at “a hit of nearly £5m for the Merseyside club on a fading star who cost £7m from Real Madrid”. Well if the first and last figures were correct then it would be a difference of £4.5m, but the first figure is out by £1m anyway, the second by £700,000. So the difference between the price paid and received by the Reds for Nando is actually £2.8m. The way transfer fees work though mean Liverpool are actually no worse off than they would have been if Nando’s stay had worked out. Still, it sounds good for the papers.

The Mirror use Nando’s departure as evidence that Dutch World Cup squad member Dirk Kuyt is on his way to Anfield, they say for £10m. (In fact Rafa’s hunt is for two strikers and Kuyt is just one possible candidate in Rafa’s mind). The Mirror acknowledge this and say that Rafa has “Charlton’s Darren Bent top of his list, closely followed by Blackburn’s Craig Bellamy.” Also in the Mirror it says this summer “will see at least seven new faces arrive. Marseille are keen to take French international striker Djibril Cisse – and Benitez will also look to offload winger Harry Kewell, cashing in on the Aussie’s return to form. Squad players Djimi Traore, Jan Kromkamp, Jerzy Dudek, Neil Mellor, Chris Kirkland and Scot Carson will be allowed to leave.”

Harry Kewell is unlikely to leave Anfield and there’s no way that both Dudek and Carson will be allowed to leave the club. Chris Kirkland wouldn’t be prepared to remain a reserve so he’ll not be playing at Anfield next season, but if no buyers are ready to take a chance on him then he could ultimately go out on loan again. We’ve already spoken of Jan Kromkamp’s imminent departure. Neil Mellor is still trying to come back from injury and no decision has been made either way on his future.

One link from the Mirror that is certainly a possibility is for the Reds to move for Seville’s Daniel Alves.

The Guardian are a bit more realistic with the Nando transfer fee, saying it was “a deal worth about £3m, less than half of the fee paid to Real Madrid to sign the striker only 16 months ago.”

The Independent describes Nando’s move back home as the end his “inglorious Liverpool career”. As for the fee, they say, “Liverpool were seeking to recoup £4m of the £6.3m they paid for the 30-year-old in January 2005”. They report accurately that the possibility of an exchange deal to involve Valencia’s Italian forward Marco Di Vaio was Valencia’s idea, not Liverpool’s – Liverpool rejected the idea before Di Vaio spoke in the press about not being a parcel. Also talking of Cissé’s departure, the Independent say Rafa has Kuyt, Defoe and Charlton’s Darren Bent “high on his list”.

Oliver Kay writes in The Times that the fee was “a cut-price £3 million”. Kay says talks were conducted directly between Rafa and Amadeo Carboni, the new sports director of Rafa’s former club. Kay then says that “Morientes and Gines Carvajal, his agent, have already agreed personal terms, although Liverpool are likely to have to contribute a portion of the player’s wages for the next two years as a result of him taking a pay cut.” In fact Liverpool’s deal with Nando is said to have been largely performance-related. He hasn’t actually taken a pay cut of note to go back to Spain.

For Kay the new striking targets are David Villa, of Valencia, Kuyt and Defoe. He also speaks about Daniel Alves being the first choice of Rafa as a new right-winger.

Continue reading Nando’s departure leads to more gossip about new signings

Nando leaves Reds for Valencia

Spanish striker Fernando Morientes has left Liverpool and joined La Liga side Valencia. The player had arrived at Anfield with a massive reputation a season-and-a-half ago, but after having spent months out of action before joining he just didn’t seem able to show the form he was renowned for.

He was expected to improve in his first full season at the club but with some more enforced absences not helping matters he still could not settle. In the end he leaves the club after scoring just 12 times in 61 appearances.

A further disappointment followed when he was omitted from the Spanish squad for the World Cup this summer.

There’s no doubt Nando put in a lot of effort in the games he appeared in, but for whatever reason his efforts just weren’t enough. All the best Nando, we hope it all works out for you back home in Spain.

* Update: The fee is believed to be €5million, around £3.5million and Nando will pick up wages of around £24,000 per week.

Continue reading Nando leaves Reds for Valencia

Alves: I’ll think about Reds on holiday

Liverpool’s reported target Daniel Alves claims he knows the Reds have made an offer for him, but says he’s not given the offer much thought yet.

The Spanish season has only just finished and Alves claims he wants to go back home to Brazil for a holiday before he makes his mind up. Maybe the player is also waiting to hear what Barcelona have to say, with the new European Champions also reported to be very interested.

The Sevilla right-back, who can also play a more advanced role, says he may yet decide to stay with his current club: “There are only offers, nothing certain, and I have to study them. I always want to improve and continue to grow as a player and if I have to leave I will, but if I see that my improvement can happen in Sevilla then I will continue a few years more here.”

It seems Alves does feel slightly concerned about whether a move to England would suit him, but the Spanish flavour at Anfield might just sway him towards the Reds: “They have made an offer and the interest is there, the truth is that they are a strong team who have very good players and a Spanish coach. Also they are one of the best clubs in Europe, and last season they won the Champions League and very few teams have achieved that. They are a big club.”

For now though, he’s desperate for a break: “At this time I am at Sevilla and I only want to go on holiday to Brazil.”

One Liverpool signing that is hoping to finally get the chance next season to play in the Red shirt is Chilean winger Mark González. Liverpool fans based in Ireland will get the chance to see him show his wares on Wednesday though when Chile face the Republic of Ireland at Lansdowne Road in a friendly.
21-year-old “Speedy” was bought by Rafa last summer but was unable to get a work permit. That decision stunned the player and the Anfield management – because the reason given was that he wasn’t good enough for a work permit. Recent performances whilst on loan at Real Sociedad – Xabi Alonso’s favourite club – prove that the decision-makers were wrong. Whether they see it that way remains to be seen, but they’ll also be able to see him in action against France on May 30th and Sweden on June 2nd.

Chile not being in the top 70 clubs according to FIFA’s odd ranking system was another factor in the work-permit refusal. They are there now, but need to stay there according to González: “The most important thing right now, is that my national team stay in the top 70. In the three games coming up, it would be nice if we can get good results so that we can keep going up and that can help me get the work permit, which is what I’m waiting for right now.”

He’s not letting the lack of that permit get him down, and is feeling very confident: “I have a winning mentality and this is what has brought me a lot of good things and got me to where I am. I think all footballers have to have it and that is the simple reason why we are where we are.” Thanks to Mark’s winning mentality, Sociedad managed to avoid relegation after being bottom of the table when he arrived in January. He’s scored five times in that spell in their side, and some of those goals won’t be forgotten in a hurry by those that saw them.

Despite his success in Spain, he wants to play in England: “Spain is a very good league, but I wanted to play here. Liverpool offered me a long-term deal, which was a gamble on their part as there are lots of players who don’t recover from that type of injury. A big club doesn’t do that for anybody and I hope I’ll be playing here soon to show those people that they weren’t wrong when they took a risk on me.”

Now though he has to wait for a decision from the Department of Employment over that work permit, but has also applied for Spanish citizenship after spending two years living in Spain. That would give him a European passport and the green light to live and work in the UK. Now he’s just waiting on everyone else’s decisions: “The club have tried their hardest, but it’s out of our hands. The good season I had in Spain should help but these people who don’t understand football, maybe they will still say ‘no’. Hopefully I can convince those who didn’t believe in me that I can play here no problem.”

González also feels confident that Chile can become a force in world football soon: “Chile have a lot of other promising players at the moment — besides myself and Jimenez — who nobody outside the country has heard about yet. Good, technical players who like to have the ball at their feet.”

Continue reading Alves: I’ll think about Reds on holiday

Finnan doesn’t fear the competition

Liverpool full-back Steve Finnan says he’s ready to fight off any challenges to his place as the Reds’ first-choice right-back next season. When Rafael Benítez became the Reds’ manager two seasons ago it looked like Finnan’s time at the club was coming to an end. He was linked with various clubs but nothing happened by the time the transfer window closed. He then set about impressing his manager, and seems to have done the trick with some style.

Rafael Benítez signed Spanish defender Josemi as a challenge to Finnan in that right-back role, but he failed to impress and last January was swapped for another right-back, Jan Kromkamp. Kromkamp was unable to displace Finnan either, being used more often than not as a right-midfielder when he has been used and now looks set to be going back home to Holland in the new season.

Finnan added an FA Cup Winners’ medal to his Champions League one last week, in a season that has seen him involved in 30 of the 33 games the Reds finished with a clean sheet. He’s not done badly on the attacking side of his game either, his two-footedness enabling him to get good service into the box. It was his cross that set up Peter Crouch to send Manchester United out of the FA Cup.

He’ll be getting more of a rest this summer than some of his Liverpool team-mates after the Republic of Ireland failed to qualify for the World Cup, but new Irish manager Steve Staunton has called his players together for a training camp in Portugal, where Finnan spoke to reporters yesterday. He spoke about how good Steven Gerrard has been for the Reds and says he’ll be watching out for him in the World Cup. He also spoke about a season that has been busy and long and ended like last season – in dramatic fashion: “I think Liverpool played about 64 games last season over the space of 11 months and I played in 52 of them. At the end I don’t think any of us could have foreseen the drama of the FA Cup final, particularly after the Champions League final the previous season.”

Continue reading Finnan doesn’t fear the competition