Rafa says the coward didn’t mess up his plans for tomorrow

Rafael Benítez said today that the efforts of a cowardly board member to undermine the Reds on the eve of the league game against Aston Villa haven’t worked.

The Daily Mirror printed quotes from a member of the board intent on causing trouble for Rafa, and of course causing more turmoil for the club. The board member may have felt it was OK to air grievances in public that should really be kept inside the club and in private, but Rafa wasn’t going to sink to his level. He said: “I only want to concentrate on football. I have too much respect for the club and for the board to talk about this. I prefer to speak about it in private. I learnt a good phrase off John Toshack when he was in Spain – ‘no comment’.”

At least Rafa has respect for the club – although we didn’t need to be told that. Rafa knows how important the Red and White is to Liverpool Football Club – well the Red anyway. And he says that his plans haven’t been messed up by this: “This story hasn’t affected preparations for the game this weekend though. We have been working on the match for two or three days and we will continue to do so.”

Liverpool’s Chief Executive, Rick Parry, refuted the claims of the coward about Liverpool being headed in the wrong direction, saying: “We understand the expectations at Liverpool but we are clearly moving in the right direction under Rafael Benítez. We unquestionably have a better squad than we did last year so it is not about making judgments at this stage. There are no trophies handed out at the end of October, with the exception of the Community Shield which we have already won. You can only judge our performance over the course of a full season.”

A lot of Reds have been upset this season but the only “fans” calling for Rafa’s  head are those who were calling for it the day after Istanbul. Parry acts as David Moore’s spokesman usually but perhaps it’s time Moores spoke himself on this occasion.  Parry explained that putting deadlines on success was pointless: “We all knew there was a sizeable job to do when Rafa was appointed and that is why we have never laid down any timescales or imposed unrealistic pressures. What is important is continuous year on year improvement.”
 
Parry also spoke about the two bigger trophies won by Rafa since he arrived: “The wins in Istanbul and Cardiff were great achievements which we celebrated together. Some of the early results in the league have not gone as well as we would have wanted which is why we have a collective responsibility to pull together and work even harder to improve things on the pitch.”

Parry speaks for most Reds in giving this support to Rafa, but his hands are tied in how much he can condemn the traitor in the midst. No doubt the coward now knows how far he has stepped out of line and will not dare to attend the game tomorrow. His identity may not have been revealed in the paper but the board and other officials know who he is, and it’s not a very-well-kept secret outside of the boardroom either.

Continue reading Rafa says the coward didn’t mess up his plans for tomorrow

Cowardly traitor must go

Liverpool Football Club have a traitor in their midst. Early this
morning readers of the Mirror were greeted with a story by their Chief
Football Writer Martin Lipton that claimed Liverpool were concerned
about Rafael Benítez's work so far.
Lipton claimed to have direct quotes from a member of Liverpool's board, but the coward had […]
Read more at: http://voice.anfieldroad.co.uk/voices/1030.

Continue reading Cowardly traitor must go

Gray needs to be less blue in his Rafa bashing

As Wayne Rooney once said, "Once a blue always a blue", and Sky pundit
Andy Gray is one who'll never shake off that fact about himself when he
starts to talk about Liverpool. Speaking on his column on the Sky
website Gray explained why he's so worked up about Rafa Benítez's
policy of rotation and […]
Read more at: http://voice.anfieldroad.co.uk/voices/1029.

Continue reading Gray needs to be less blue in his Rafa bashing

Gerrard: I’m alright on the right

Steven Gerrard scored 23 goals last season for Liverpool. Some of them were scored from him playing in central midfield, some were scored from him being played on the right-hand-side of midfield.

Gerrard was a central midfielder when Rafael Benítez arrived at Anfield, and in fact he played there to great effect, with Didi Hamann for much of Rafa’s first season at Anfield. Last season saw Momo Sissoko and Xabi Alonso take over the central midfield roles for the club and take them over well. Their play complimented each other. As a big bonus, Gerrard on the right was showing just how good a player he can be.

Some don’t like Gerrard playing on the right. Mainly TV pundits and ex-players. They now say it’s one of the main causes of Liverpool’s stuttering start to the season. Alongside rotation of course. A growing number of attempts seem to have been made to imply that Gerrard is not happy playing on the right. Andy Gray of Sky seems to be the main culprit for this story, every time I’ve heard him talk about Gerrard he says how he knows Gerrard won’t be happy being out on the right. Then the rumours start. I’m not talking about those rumours of complete fantasy involving Gerrard in his personal life that I’ve seen so many of this week, I’m talking about rumours saying he’s so unhappy with his current position that he’s about to ask for a transfer.

These rumours perhaps have a slight grounding in fact. For starters Gerrard had Liverpool fans up in arms for two summers over possible moves to Chelsea, and no matter how hard he tries he’ll never be able to remove the tarnish his reputation got during that time. Liverpool fans will put it to one side from time to time, but when these rumours surface a lot of Reds are very quick to believe them. Too quick. As well as what went on in the two summers of discontent, the other fact is that Gerrard does prefer to play in the centre. He prefers it – but he doesn’t insist on it. That’s where the pundits are getting it wrong.

Gerrard had to come out of the shadows and explain his point of view yesterday. He made it clear that he’s not as bothered about where he plays as some would try and have us believe. He said: “The position is not the issue. When you are a young player breaking through you want to play in your favourite position, you are desperate to get into the team. But I am 26 now, I have to think of the team first. If the manager needs me to do a job on the right or the left I have got to accept it.”

So he’s honest – he’d rather play in the centre, but accepts he’s needed to play on the right and will continue to do so. He had no need to make this statement, at a promotional event for Persil, if he was as unhappy as some make out. He says he and Rafa are both happy with how each other feels about this issue: “He knows where I would like to play but I also understand that there is a job to be done for the team and I need to do what the manager wants me to do.”

Stevie also referred to some of what Rafa had been saying earlier in the week: “I have heard he has said the order of priority is "team, club, supporters, players," and I agree with that. It is not about individual players, it is about the team. Last season we finished third in the league and we got 82 points, a club record and we won the FA Cup. And 75% of the time I played on the right.”
Gerrard got a lot of stick for his performance on Sunday. Like the rest of the team, Gerrard just did not perform. In his case he had a pretty good excuse. His six month old daughter Lexie had been in a meningitis scare after coming down with a very high temperature and a rash. It turned out to be an allergic reaction and Gerrard confirmed she’s now recovering well. It’s not just on Sunday where Gerrard has failed to reach the high standards he sets for himself, although he’s not been as bad as some will try and have you believe. He accepts the fact that he’s going to be criticised though: “There has always been pressure on me since I have become captain of Liverpool and I can understand the criticism and take it on the chin. I know I am not playing at the standard I want to play at but I feel as if my best form is only around the corner. A little fluky goal or a big performance will turn my form around.”

He’s clearly had some encouraging words from Rafa and others. He says: “I know I am a good player and good players have dips in form. And that is happening at the moment. Certain people expect me to go out every game and be man of the match and score from 30 yards, but it is impossible to do that at the level we are playing at. It's really difficult.” He knows he’s got to keep trying: “I also understand when I am not playing to my own standards, and I can take the stick when it comes my way. I've had a couple of dips in form in my career so far, but this is the first one since Rafael Benitez has taken over. I had a couple of dips in form under Gerard Houllier and I came back a better player and a stronger character for it. Hopefully I will do the same again.”

He says he feels that he’s getting closer to being the old Steven Gerrard again: “I know my best form is just around the corner, I can feel it coming back in training.”

When Rafael Benítez was defending where he plays Gerrard earlier in the week he used England as an example. He said: “I am as happy as Steve McClaren with Steven Gerrard and where he is playing. We are really happy when he plays well. He can play as a central midfielder as well but we have more balance with Sissoko, Alonso and then Stevie on the right. That works for our team.  He is not being played as a right winger. Are you seeing him making crosses from the byeline? No. He is always getting the ball and coming inside, that is what the role is. We are looking for the best balance in our team and the best season in Steve’s career came last season when he scored 23 goals, playing on the right side of midfield. England can see that and that is where they are playing him too. Yes, Stevie can play well in central midfield, he could play well anywhere, but we have more balance with Momo Sissoko and Xabi Alonso there, and with Stevie wider.”

He said he’d discussed the issue with Gerrard: “I have talked to Stevie and he is happy. He is the captain and must be an example for the rest of the players and he knows that the most important thing is the club, the team, the supporters and after that, the players.”
 
Rafa also pointed out another position he likes to use Gerrard in occasionally: “He can also play as a second striker. He does not play as a winger for me or England. Let’s see the next England game whether he plays in the centre with Frank Lampard. Let’s wait to see how England use him, I believe that will be on the right side.”

Continue reading Gerrard: I’m alright on the right

Carling Cup Result: Liverpool 4 Reading 3

Carling Cup Third Round. Result

 Liverpool

 4-3

 Reading

 Fowler 44
Riise 45
Paletta 50
Crouch 77
 (2-0) Bikey 75
Lita 81
Long 85
25 Reina
37 Peltier (Smith 74)
29 Paletta
5 Agger
28 Warnock
16
Pennant
22 Sissoko (Guthrie 62)
32 Zenden
6 Riise (Kuyt 79)
9
Fowler
15 Crouch
TEAMS
21 Stack
23 De la Cruz
22 Bikey
16 Ingimarsson
14 Halls
7 Little
6 Gunnarsson (Sodje 83)
11 Oster
10 Hunt
8 Lita
24 Long
40 Martin
18 Kuyt
23 Carragher
35 Guthrie
45 Smith
SUBS
1 Hahnemann
18 Sodje
20 Hayes
26 Osano
36 Joseph-Dubois
Paletta 75
BOOKINGS
Little 90
Referee: P Walton
Attendance: 42,445

   

Continue reading Carling Cup Result: Liverpool 4 Reading 3

Carling Cup 4th Round Draw – Reds away to Birmingham

The draw for the fourth round of the FA Cup has just been made and Liverpool have been drawn away to Birmingham.

Full draw:

Notts County v Wycombe
Spurs v Port Vale
Birmingham v Liverpool
Chelsea v Aston Villa
Watford v Newcastle
Chesterfield v Charlton
Southend v Manchester United
Everton v Arsenal

Continue reading Carling Cup 4th Round Draw – Reds away to Birmingham

Carling Cup teams: Liverpool v Reading

As we predicted earlier today, Robbie Fowler has been handed the captain's armband for tonight's Carling Cup tie between Liverpool and Reading at Anfield.

Rafa Benitez has has picked a very strong team by the usual standards for this competition. Peltier and Paletta are two players getting a rare chance to join up with the first team players who make up the rest of the side tonight.

Liverpool:
25 Reina, 37 Peltier, 29 Paletta, 5 Agger, 28 Warnock, 16 Pennant, 22 Sissoko, 32 Zenden, 6 Riise, 9 Fowler, 15 Crouch
Subs: 40 Martin, 18 Kuyt, 23 Carragher, 35 Guthrie, 45 Smith

Reading: 21 Stack, 23 De la Cruz, 22 Bikey, 16 Ingimarsson, 14 Halls, 7 Little, 6 Gunnarsson, 11 Oster, 10 Hunt, 8 Lita, 24 Long
Subs: 1 Hahnemann, 18 Sodje, 20 Hayes, 26 Osano, 36 Joseph-Dubois

Referee: P Walton

Continue reading Carling Cup teams: Liverpool v Reading

Robbie the example Rafa wants his players to follow

Rafa Benítez is happy to carry on with his rotation policy despite criticism from so many quarters – especially for tonight’s Carling Cup match. One player who will benefit from this is Robbie Fowler. Fowler has been back in training again recently , after a back injury had kept him out of contention for many games. All being well he’ll get to play in tonight’s match and that will be a boost for the fans who’ve suffered so much of late: “We brought Robbie Fowler back here because he had passion and could score goals. He trained so hard, but then he got a back injury. He had to stop, but he is now training. He knows he has players ahead of him, but he can do a good job for us, he is a fan and he has the spirit we want.” Although Rafa hasn’t mentioned it, with the likes of Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyypia likely to be rested, Fowler could be handed the captain’s armband. Even if he isn’t Rafa sees him as an important role model for the youngsters likely to be used tonight: “He understands that he must support his team-mates and he must be an example for the younger players. I hope he can play and score. He has intelligence, a fantastic finisher. Players have problems as they get older and they do not have the pace, so he must be patient and take the opportunities when they are there.”

Rafa says that as well as youngsters he’ll be using the senior players who are not quite first choice – not that there is such a concept at Anfield. He wants to see the fringe players given a run out: “We will be using our whole squad. We have a lot of players who need games, so maybe it will be a combination of senior professionals and some young players. You know our idea from previous years. We do take the competition seriously, but it’s clear we must be careful when we decide who plays. People still talk about changes in the team, but look at the situation we have with a player like Steve Finnan. He has already played nearly 20 games this season. For some clubs, that’s virtually half a season. It`s clear that’s not a good situation for the player or the club.”

Finnan is Liverpool’s only recognised right-back and Rafa probably wasn’t expecting that to be the case for this half of the season. Jan Kromkamp had been told he would be allowed to leave in the summer but it was dependant on the Reds finding another right-back as cover. The attempts to bring Lucas Neill to Anfield failed as Blackburn held out for a ridiculous amount of money, not to mention expecting us to include Stephen Warnock in the deal! Neill is out of contract at the end of this season, can sign terms on a Bosman deal in January and under FIFA regulations is allowed to buy himself out of a deal. No wonder Liverpool decided not to bother. Blackburn were still smarting at having to sell Bellamy to us at what was really a cut-price rate and also felt they could persuade Neill to sign a new contract. He still hasn’t. It’s not even clear who’ll be used as a right-back tonight, but Finnan deserves his rest.

Rafa was asked how important he felt the Carling Cup was: “My priority is to win every game but if you talk about the Carling Cup then you can say it’s not my priority. If you read the rules then you see you have to play your strongest team, but how can you play your strongest team in all the competitions?” Rafa also pointed out how fickle observers of the game can be: “If you win then people will say it’s fantastic to see the younger players, if you lose people ask why you didn’t use the senior players. We will try to use our senior players, but I won’t use Gerrard or Alonso or players who have played a lot of games. Some of my players have already played 1800 minutes this season which is a lot. We need to be focused on what we want. We want to win every game.”
The flavour-of-the-moment for Rafa to answer questions on, apart from away form, is rotation of course, and Rafa has defended his policies. Again. As he says, he didn’t exactly have a choice anyway: “At the weekend Bellamy was injured and Gerrard was coming back. The goalkeeper, defenders and some of the players in front of them are the same players that played last season when we kept 33 clean sheets. Over the last two or three games we have played almost with the same defenders. It’s not a problem with the players because we are doing the same things.”

He also recognises how passionate the supporters feel about the club, how much the club means to the people. Liverpool’s fan-base covers the whole world, but despite what some dreadlocked players might say, the city of Liverpool contains a lot of Liverpool supporters. Rafa says he knows why the fans are so angry if it looks like the players haven’t tried as hard as they could: “Here in Liverpool the people are workers. And they want their footballers to work hard to win things. This is not a rich city, there is a lot of people who have to work hard. We must do the same, but we must protect our players and use lads who have not played so much. If we cannot compete in the Carling Cup with these players it means we do not have a squad good enough to go for four trophies with maximum effort. But regardless, we still must protect our players. Some smaller clubs play 40 games a season, but we can play 75. It is impossible to compete like that using the same players. Now after losing at Old Trafford we must show people – on the pitch – that we have character and can win.”

For many people, Liverpool’s title hopes were already hanging by  a thread before the defeat on Sunday, but that was the final straw. Rafa won’t say “We can’t win the league now”, but he knows it won’t be at all easy now. But why worry? We can still have a good season if we start performing now, and as the season gets closer to an end we could still close that gap. He said: “My idea is very clear. I don’t need to think about the title because I know we are eleven points behind. We are not stupid and we know it will be really difficult but the only way to improve our possibilities is by winning, starting with our next game. We have Reading in the Carling Cup and we will try to win. Then we will try and beat Aston Villa in the league and then Reading in the league. We don’t need to talk about points and possibilities, we need to talk about the next game.”

Whatever team Rafa picks tonight, it’s extremely important that it performs well and puts the club through to the next round, we all need a morale boost.

Continue reading Robbie the example Rafa wants his players to follow

Reds most attractive club says investment expert

Liverpool’s troubles on the field are causing Liverpool fans enough heartache at the moment that most of us really don’t want to add investment talk into the mix. However the weekend press carried stories that Dubai Holdings were looking at the possibility of buying into the most successful English club of all time. The company is an investment firm looked after by Dubai’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Makhtoum.

An investment expert from Brewin Dolphin Securities has spoken to the Press Association about the possibility of Liverpool being the target of such an organisation. Stan Lock says that Liverpool are currently the most attractive club for any investors to buy into: “Firstly, it is one of the top clubs in Europe, they won the Champions League less than two years ago. How many top clubs are there in the Premier League at the moment that you can get hold of? If you were going to take over a club you would look at the top four – Manchester United and Chelsea have gone, and with Arsenal I should think it's only a matter of time before they're gone. That leaves you with Liverpool – that's your lot.”

Liverpool fans in the main do not fancy the idea of being taken over in a way similar to what happened to either Manchester United or Chelsea, most Reds want the club to be owned and run by true Liverpool supporters. Unfortunately it’s not easy to find any rich enough to do this, with perhaps the exception of Steve Morgan, but even he seems reluctant to pay what the current chairman feels is the going rate.

Lock says: “Manchester United and Chelsea have both gone into private ownership and that is looking like being the trend. Trading in football club shares is a nightmare – it's always in small tranches, you can never buy a lot of shares and half of them are held by the board. The only people that normally deal in football club shares are the supporters, everybody likes to have a certificate up on the wall saying they own a bit of their club. Really, apart from that, there is no reason why a club should be listed.”

Lock was asked if he though the valuation put on the club by David Moores of £300million was a true indicator of the worth of the European giant: “That's probably right. They will base that on future earnings and where the club is going to go. They are desperate for a new stadium and they do need new money to help build this, and this is where the present board can't go any further.”

That seems to be debatable – Liverpool can clearly raise the money if they need to based on loans rather than investment, even if that isn’t necessarily the best option. The board may decide not to go any further because they don’t want to risk the club’s future by taking out such huge loans, but at the same time they won’t want to risk the club in a different way by selling it to the wrong kind of rich man! What Lock says though is that if the club do decide to turn to the likes of Dubai for money then they won’t find themselves short of cash again: “It does need this extra investment and, if it is coming from the Middle East, it's going to be a bottomless pocket. They could buy Liverpool with their spare change.” And according to Lock, it will be more than likely a complete buyout of the club: “I doubt they would go in for an investment, it would probably be for the lot.”

Continue reading Reds most attractive club says investment expert

Report: Gerrard’s baby in meningitis scare

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and fiancée Alex Curran have reportedly been caught up in a scare over their youngest child Lexie this weekend. The fear was at first that the baby had been hit with meningitis.

The Liverpool Echo website reported that Lexie was rushed by her parents into Whiston Hospital with a very high temperature and a rash. She’d fallen ill on Saturday night when being looked after by babysitters. Steven and Alex stayed overnight with her in hospital.

Thankfully six-month-old Lexie recovered well and doctors are believed to have said it was an allergic reaction that had caused the symptoms, not meningitis. Whiston Hospital is where Steven was born. Lexie is now back home in Formby.

The Echo says that the club wouldn’t comment, quoting a spokesman as saying: “We don't have a comment, it's a personal matter.” They were also unable to get an official comment from Whiston hospital.

The Echo says that the story had first appeared in “a newspaper” – unfortunately it’s the one that no Liverpool fan should buy or even read. Whoever decided to sell the story to that newspaper of all newspapers should be ashamed. We weren’t sure whether to cover this story or not in light of its original source, but as we’d not heard about it until the Echo reported it we felt it was only fair to mention it. If you aren’t aware of the reasons why we say no Liverpool fan should ever buy or read that paper, see our article, “Don’t buy the Sun”.

It’s no wonder Steven Gerrard looked so troubled on Sunday in the game against Manchester United, he did well to even play under such circumstances. Good luck to Lexie now in her recovery and our best wishes go to Steven and Alex, along with Lexie’s sister Lily Ella.

Continue reading Report: Gerrard’s baby in meningitis scare