Reds accept £200k fee for Potter

Liverpool midfielder Darren Potter looks set to have his loan deal with Wolves made permanent. According to the Express and Star, Liverpool have accepted an offer of around £200,000 for the youngster.

Wolves' manager Mick McCarthy has been delighted with the form of the player so far this season and was desperate to sign him permanently. The fee was a worry, but now Liverpool seem to have backed down on earlier valuations.

Potter said: "I spoke to a few people and the deal was agreed on Friday. Nothing has been sorted out between Wolves and myself as far as a contract is gone so that will be for this week. It looks as though its getting closer and closer."

Life at Anfield for Potter wasn't likely in the near future to include anything like regular first-team football. At Wolves though he is a regular, and he'd rather that than spend his career hoping for a place on the bench: "I’m delighted. I feel as though things are going well for me now – I’m in the team week in, week out. There have been a few lads in the dressing room who’ve been sick and unwell this week and I’ve been one of them. If I do sign the deal then I’m just looking forward now to being part of this group of players for the next two or three years or however long it is. There is only one place we want to go and that is up."

22-year-old Darren has been on the books with Liverpool for seven years all told, but insists leaving Anfield won't be too hard for him. He accepts his career wasn't going anywhere and is glad for a chance to re-launch it elsewhere: "I have no regrets walking away from Anfield. Some people might say, 'You’ll miss it' but to tell you the truth I won’t miss it. I had my chance there and it didn’t really work out for me.

"I enjoyed every single minute of it but I’ll be 23 this year and I really need to move my career on. I want to be part of what the gaffer is doing here."

Continue reading Reds accept £200k fee for Potter

Mascherano and Neill latest

Liverpool's hopes of signing West Ham's unhappy midfielder Javier Mascherano increased slightly yesterday when FIFA announced that correspondence from the Reds relating to the player was being considered.

The Argentine midfielder is, to the letter of FIFA's regulations, unable to play for another club this season as he has already played for two sides since July 1st. He played for Corinthians of Brazil in August before he signed for West Ham, where he became an unwanted player at the troubled London side. He made seven appearances at West Ham, the last of which was on December 3rd against Everton. Liverpool want to sign him on loan until the end of the season; if the deal goes ahead the Reds will have an option to make the deal permanent.

Liverpool's appeal, supported by the player's agents Media Sports Investments, concerns the fact that since October the player has played just six minutes, none at all since West Ham changed manager, and that FIFA's regulations being upheld would lead to a restraint in trade.

Liverpool have also listed precedents where this regulation has been bypassed previously, and have also drawn attention to the fact that Mascherano's two seasons were played in different parts of the world, with totally different season calendars.

FIFA's spokesperson said of the Liverpool appeal: "We have received correspondence from Liverpool regarding their proposed signing of Javier Mascherano and a case has been opened. It will now be processed and we will see how it progresses."

Liverpool target Lucas Neill should know where his future lies by the end of this week.

Blackburn are demanding a £2million fee for the services of the defender for the next six months, and Liverpool have been forced to consider whether this is reasonable for a player who would be free by the end of the season.

The deal is complicated by the interest of Newcastle United (as ever) and West Ham, who are both said to be willing to pay the fee and to also pay higher wages to the Australian international. The other two sides would see Neill as a first-team regular and so can justify paying him wages that reflect that. Liverpool see Neill as a squad player, cover for all the defensive positions, and are not willing to pay him wages so high. The high fee demanded by Blackburn has also played a part in just how much Liverpool want to spend on wages for the player.

The move would, according to reports, see Stephen Warnock move the other way, and it seems now that Liverpool have dropped their demands for £500,000 in cash to be added to the deal. Neill now has to decide whether the money and regular first team football on offer at West Ham or Newcastle means more to him than playing Champions League football for the next few seasons. Rafa Benítez is hoping that Neill will be in his squad for the visit of Chelsea this weekend.

Continue reading Mascherano and Neill latest

Parry on Rafa’s Real offer, cup disappointment and takeover

Liverpool Chief Executive Rick Parry was a telephone guest on Five Live’s “Sportsweek” programme this morning. In the middle of the interview he mentioned quite casually that Rafa Benítez had been formally offered the Real Madrid job in the summer, but had turned it down after sitting for a few hours and discussing things with Parry and Chairman David Moores. He also pointed out that some of Rafa’s quotes in the past week have been misinterpreted and revealed he was very confident of the Dubai takeover being completed very soon.

First of all Parry was asked for his reaction to the 6-3 defeat in midweek: “Well it was obviously disappointing to lose both cup games to Arsenal, because at the end of the day what we want at Liverpool is silverware. But it happened, and the most important thing was to pick ourselves up and get back to winning ways in the league, which we did very successfully yesterday. So the week has ended well, and it’s also very gratifying that the youth team beat Chelsea 2-0 yesterday so the first step towards retaining the Youth Cup is going very well.”

The reporter then referred to Rafa’s quotes from Friday, when he told reporters he didn’t come to Anfield to win the Carling Cup, he came to win the league. The reporter claimed that the Carling Cup defeat ended Liverpool’s “last realistic chance” of winning silverware this season, and wondered if Rick would have preferred a stronger team to be put out for that game: “I think you have to remember that we had a very successful Christmas, nine points out of twelve, but four games in ten days takes its toll. We have a lot to play for still in the league, and a mouth-watering tie coming up against Barcelona.

“It’s always been clear from the day we appointed Rafa, in fact since before we appointed Rafa, that his philosophy was that he would use his whole squad. He’s done it every year, we’ve had criticism before and no doubt we’ll get it again. In his first season when we lost to Burnley there was a lot of discontent, but we went on to win the Champions League which more than made up for it, and at the end of the day Rafa never picks a team to lose a game, he picks a team which he believes, in the circumstances, can win. That’s what we’re here for, we’d love to win trophies, but it doesn’t always work and you have to pick yourself up and get on.”

The BBC reporter wouldn’t let the issue of fielding a weaker team drop and asked whether as a fan Parry sometimes wished the team had been stronger: “No not really. It hurts when we lose, it hurts us as much as it hurts any fan, but we’ve done well in the past with weaker teams in the cup competitions. Rafa said this week that one of the low points of 2005 was losing the Carling Cup final to Chelsea. Nobody remembers the team that comes second. On balance I don’t think anyone would have swapped what happened that year in Istanbul for anything else.

“Also sadly this season in the Carling Cup we’ve lost players to injury. We lost Momo Sissoko long term, and now for sure Luis Garcia is going to be out for the rest of the season, so sometimes you pay a price as well.”

The next question related to Rafa’s suggestions that the board had “dragged their feet over some of the players he wanted to sign” and how Rafa had said that as well as investing in first team players there was also a need to invest in younger players too. He asked Rick what he thought about the suggestion that the board were reluctant to invest in “unproven talent”: “Well I don’t think he quite said that. Rafa is impatient; he’s impatient for success as we all are. At the end of the day we have spent, by any analysis, a lot of money on players and you can’t do everything simultaneously. If the priority is first team players and you have a fixed budget then clearly the younger players have to wait.

“I think what Rafa also made very clear, quite explicitly, was that Arsenal have been doing this for ten years. We’re two years into a project, so we have some way to go. Arsene has been buying good young players for a long, long time and is starting to see the fruits of it. We are, as we all know, playing catch-up." 

“You’ve got to remember in the summer that Rafa turned down the chance to move to Real Madrid, which was the big, big temptation for him. He believed in the direction we were taking, and he believed in the way that we’re going about it. We’re all passionate to win trophies; the one we’d really love to win of course is the Premier League.”

Next the reporter asked whether Rafa has a point that the club should splash out on younger players, or if that wasn’t possible financially: “Well we’ve signed three this week so it is certainly possible, but as I’ve said, you have to set priorities and the priority clearly has been to invest in the first team. We’ve invested very substantial sums in the first team over the last three years. You can’t do everything at once – it has to be one step at a time.”

He was then asked if Liverpool were likely to sign a player, or players, before the end of the transfer window: “We may well do – we’ll have to see what the next few days bring.”

Then he was asked how he would sum up the chances of a new player being signed: “I’d sum it up as we’re working on a few things at the moment, and the news will be revealed as and when we’re ready. We’re working hard on it.” Will there be any sold? “I think it’s very unlikely. Very unlikely indeed because we’ve got a lot of games still to play and as I say we’ve had a couple of key injuries so unlikely that anyone will be going out.”

The reporter then wanted to pick up on Parry’s mention of that Real Madrid offer for Rafa in the summer. Parry said: “Well it was pretty public at the time – it’s hardly a revelation.” He was asked how serious the offer was: “Oh I think it was pretty serious, and for Rafa it would have been a temptation. Real Madrid is his club, he’s been there as a player and as a coach, and it would always be an opportunity he would have to consider, but we sat down for a few hours and talked about the direction the club was taking. He enjoys being in Liverpool, his family enjoy being in Liverpool and the point being really that he believed in the direction we were taking and he believed our mutual ambitions still matched – that there was still everything to work for and that Liverpool was where he wanted to be.”

Next was a request to update the listeners on the latest regarding the DIC takeover: “A huge amount of work has been going on, on both parts, and I imagine we’ll have something concrete to say relatively soon on that.” Parry explained what the Dubai people were doing at the moment: “They’re just finalising all of the legal work, they’ve been examining the books and satisfying themselves that everything is fine on that score. There’s a lot of legal work to do, documents being drawn up, a lot of investigation going on into the funding of the new stadium which is a very important project for us – so no lack of effort on their part. It’s a case of finalising the due diligence and pulling everything together which we hope will be completed relatively quickly.”

Parry was asked to give an insight into how things have worked recently in terms of how much time Dubai’s people have spent at Anfield: “Over the last month or so they’ve had a team of people here, not quite all the time, but they’ve had several people with us for a significant period. They’re not with us at the moment, they’re back in Dubai, but they’ve literally been working around the clock. They’ve obviously been on a steep learning curve, because football is a little different to some of the traditional businesses. It helps that most of the key people we’ve been dealing with are genuinely Liverpool supporters, so they understand what we’re about. They were at the FA Cup game against Arsenal and shared our disappointment with that one, but there’s always a tremendous amount of work to do in these situations and it can’t be rushed.”

Next question for Parry to answer was whether he felt 100% sure this deal would go through: “It is looking positive and yes, I am confident.”

Parry reaffirmed that Liverpool weren’t going to be given money in the same way as Chelsea have been: “They’re certainly going to help take us to the next level; they’re not going to be profligate with spending. I think we’ve said all along that the club will have to be run on business-like lines; it’s not going to be a rich man’s plaything. We’re going to have to be sensible, but their whole business model, which involves the new stadium at the centre of it, is based on success. They recognise that success on the pitch leads to success off the pitch and that you have to invest to stay at the top. So it’s not a quick fix, it’s not about just rushing out and buying players to achieve something this season, next season, but it is about securing a model for long-term success.”

Finally, when asked about David Beckham’s reported £130m contract with LA Galaxy, Parry said: “Well I think that ruled us out of the running for him! I think it’s more Hollywood than football, but good luck to him.

Continue reading Parry on Rafa’s Real offer, cup disappointment and takeover

Prem Teams: Watford v Liverpool

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has of course made several changes to the side that will face Watford at Vicarage Road this lunchtime. In all there are seven different names in the team compared to that which lost to Arsenal on Tuesday in the League Cup, including Luis Garcia, Stephen Warnock and Mark Gonzalez who all left that game early with injuries.

Rafa has chosen three strikers and three centre-backs to start the game and has included youngster Danny Guthrie on the bench.

Watford: 26 Foster, 23 Mariappa, 6 DeMerit, 4 Mackay, 3 Stewart, 29 Smith, 8 Mahon, 20 Bangura, 19 McNamee, 15 Young, 18 Bouazza
Subs: 16 Lee, 7 Francis, 10 Henderson, 12 Doyley, 37 Hoskins

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 5 Agger, 4 Hyypia, 23 Carragher, 3 Finnan, 12 Aurelio, 14 Alonso, 8 Gerrard, 15 Crouch, 17 Bellamy, 18 Kuyt
Subs: 1 Dudek, 6 Riise, 9 Fowler, 16 Pennant, 35 Guthrie

Referee: M Clattenburg

Continue reading Prem Teams: Watford v Liverpool

Dudek blames rustiness for Arsenal shockers

After conceding nine goals in two games Liverpool’s back-up goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek was feeling understandably downhearted. 18 months after being the hero of Istanbul, his status as Anfield legend had taken a severe bashing.

There was no doubting he was rusty before Liverpool went into this double-header. He started and kept a clean sheet against Championship side Birmingham in the Carling Cup in November. In December he in the fairly meaningless defeat to Galatasaray in the final Champions League group game, conceding three goals. He managed to get sent off in a mini-derby, although that was harsh to a certain extent. The ban meant     he missed out on appearing in Liverpool’s opening League Cup fixture against Reading.

He’s not always chosen for reserve matches, but he’s not the only goalkeeper in England in that situation. Calls for top-flight clubs to be allowed to field “B” teams in the lower leagues would probably help Dudek in that respect. Scott Carson has spent the season out on loan to get experience of first-team football at Charlton, David Martin gets picked regularly for the reserves but the reserve games are limited enough as it is, without having to try and cater for two goalkeepers.

Dudek says that Tuesday’s six goals were the most he remembers ever conceding in one game in his professional career: “I'm devastated. I've never had a game like that before. Almost every shot went in. Maybe when I was very, very young I let in six goals but I can't remember letting in so many goals in professional football.”

Dudek was in the shop window for the cup games. His contract is up in the summer and any renewal offered wouldn’t be on the lucrative terms of the current one. From the start of this month he was able to discuss terms with clubs who wanted to sign him on a Bosman at the end of the season, but those two performances must have scared a few interested parties off.  Did he feel he’d blown his chance? “I never really looked at these matches as a big chance for me,” he said, “I knew I would be playing in these competitions. The boss told me. I just wanted to take my opportunity and build some confidence, but it is difficult.”

He said his poor performances were down to the lack of first-team action: “The last time I had played at Anfield until Saturday was in February against Arsenal when we won 1-0 in the Premiership. After seven months, or more than that, you have to play another game against a good side against Arsenal.” He has appeared twice this season, both away, but if he hadn’t been suspended he’d have got a run out at home in that third-round tie against Reading. If he’d kept his cool in the mini-derby he’d have played in that match.

Despite what some reports tried to say, he certainly wasn’t blaming Rafa Benítez directly for his rustiness. Regardless of who’s to blame though Dudek does feel that matches are the only way to build up confidence: “For a goalkeeper you can use experience, but you can't build confidence in training. It's very, very difficult. This is strange because we never concede goals at Anfield and then in two games we concede nine. This is strange for me, as well, because I don't play regularly and I was hoping to get something out of the games. Every player needs to be playing regularly. You can't build confidence and the good feeling in the training.”

A note to the BBC website – Jerzy didn’t “tell The S*n” all of this. Liverpool players don’t talk to The Sun, as the BBC well know. The S*n is boycotted by Liverpool supporters and the club do not allow players to speak to that “newspaper”. That’s because of the lies the paper published about Hillsborough in 1989. The editor who printed those lies, and who still feels it was perfectly acceptable to do so, is now working for the BBC. Your decision to employ him was the drive behind the protest at Anfield on Saturday that your website chose not to acknowledge. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear calls for a boycott of the BBC if you don’t start taking more care of how you treat Liverpool Football Club and the issue of Hillsborough.

Now that Liverpool have signed another goalkeeper as cover for Reina on loan until the end of the season Dudek is resigned to leaving: “I don't expect anything now. The manager had already bought a goalkeeper after the Champions League final and the situation was clear for me. It's difficult for a goalkeeper like me to be second goalkeeper and to wait a couple of months for your chance. I don't need this experience and to sit on the bench and watch the games. Privately I am really happy, but for the football player it is very difficult when you are not playing the games. If you play one game each two months it is really, really difficult to show your quality.”

Dudek was a hero in Istanbul, but he knew that when Reina arrived he would no longer be first choice. He chose to stay on and wait for a chance, but Reina has kept his place. Dudek surely can’t complain about having to spend that time on the bench, he’s been well paid to act as back-up for Reina and knew only serious injury or very, very poor performances fro Reina would give him his place back as first choice. His wife had a baby over Christmas and no doubt one of his considerations for staying at Anfield would be how settled he felt in the area. He could easily have moved in the summer of 2005 after he’d become the legend that helped bring us Number Five, but he chose to stay. As a result he missed out on a place in Poland’s World Cup squad, but again that was his choice.

Dudek’s not sounding like a player who plans to leave in this transfer window though, which is perhaps a good thing: “Let's take it like a cold shower. Now we have to play and be as good as we can in the Premiership and the Champions League.”  Most Reds would prefer to remember him for that night in Turkey on May 25th 2005, and time should help us to forget this past few days.

Continue reading Dudek blames rustiness for Arsenal shockers

Angry Rafa confirms new keeper but asks for more cash

Rafael Benitez today confirmed the reports about Liverpool's bid for Italian under-21 international keeper Daniele Padelli, but at the same fired a warning about how a lack of funds means Liverpool could end up well behind Arsenal in terms of quality.

Rafa was speaking in the aftermath of the 3-6 defeat to Arsenal last night. Although Jerzy Dudek – hero of Istanbul – was clearly to blame for the first three goals which left the Reds chasing the rest of the match, Rafa held back from blaming him. He wanted to apologise to the fans, who once again showed the quality support that other teams would love to be able to buy: "The first thing we must do is say sorry to our supporters. They were magnificent and deserved better, secondly, although we made mistakes in the game my players worked hard and I must recognise this."

Rafa, speaking to the Liverpool Echo, said that Arsenal have quality in depth, and this worries him: "When you analyse the situation, the conclusion which worries me is Arsenal could pick nine reserves and score six goals at Anfield. We had seven players of the first team and could not win."

And so came the warning to Dubai International Capital. Liverpool need money to spend on players if they are to keep up with their rivals: "There is a lesson in this for the whole of our club. If you want to compete at the top level, you must be able to spend a lot of money not only on your first team, but on the young players and reserves. Arsenal spent £4 million on Diaby, £4 million on Denilson, £8 million on Walcott and Baptista is a £22 million player. They have been working for ten years to build a strong squad, and we have been working for two years."

And then came perhaps a warning to Rick Parry: "My scout department has done an excellent job, but sometimes we go too slow as a club to make signings we need, and when we do there is not a lot of money. Today, for example, we are signing a young Italian keeper (Padelli) on loan with an option for later. We've also been working for many weeks to sign the young Scottish player James McCarthy. These are the deals we are doing because we want to build a squad of similar quality in the future, but without spending big money it's difficult."

Clearly frustrated, Rafa says that he's only just managing to get the players he needs for the first team, never mind the youngsters he wants to bring in for the future: "The money we sign is for the first team, and when you look at the quality of Reina, Sissoko, Alonso, Bellamy and Crouch it's clear all are worth more now than when we bought them."

Some say Rafa doesn't care enough about the English cup competitions, but he was clearly hurt in the aftermath of being knocked out of both in the space of a few days. One criticism that came from the quite frankly unprofessional Sky pundits and other last night was that Rafa didn't pick a strong enough team. He feels the team was strong enough, but also felt it important to point out the consequences of picking the best players for the cups: "I used Momo Sissoko in the Carling Cup against Birmingham and lost him for four months. Last night we believe we've lost Luis for the rest of the season and Gonzalez and Warnock were injured. Steven Gerrard has a dead leg and Xabi Alonso a tight hamstring. What is more important: the Premiership, the Champions League or the Carling Cup?"

Rafa's been struggling to bring in Lucas Neill as cover for Steven Finnan at right-back, the deal is said to be currently held up because Blackburn think a player with six months left on his contract is worth more than any sensible manager would pay. Rafa thought he'd get Neill in the summer, hence his decision to let Jan Kromkamp leave, but it wasn't to be and now Finnan is being given little rest. Rafa, still sounding exasperated, said: "Do people expect me to play Finnan every week? He has had to play in every fixture this season. The players I used were good players."

Continue reading Angry Rafa confirms new keeper but asks for more cash

Agent: Padelli is joining Reds

Liverpool are to sign Sampdoria keeper Daniele Padelli on a six month loan deal tomorrow, according to his agent Silvano Martina.

Martina said: “Padelli will travel to Liverpool this afternoon. The clubs have agreed on a six-month loan deal and the player is excited at the prospect of playing for Liverpool.”

21-year-old Padelli will need to undergo a medical before the deal is completed.

The highly-rated Padelli has been on loan at Serie B side Crotone since the start of the season. He went there with the intention of picking up some first-team football, but found himself on the bench for all but one league game.

With Pepe Reina firmly established as the first-choice keeper at the club, Padelli’s clearly not joining for six months with the intention of going back to Italy again at the end of the loan deal. Like the deal Liverpool are attempting to finalise for Argentinean Javier Mascherano, the six month loan deal will become permanent in the summer, once the takeover deal for Liverpool FC has been completed.

There have been a number of rumours recently that Pepe Reina is looking for a move back to Spain, because his is wife is homesick.

Meanwhile Argentinean youngster Sebastian Leto has spoken of his excitement at a possible move to Anfield. Although nothing has yet been confirmed, Liverpool are reported to have had a £1.85m bid accepted for the Lanus player, and the clubs are said to have agreed that Leto will remain in Argentina until the end of the season.

Leto said: “I am calm. Liverpool is a club with a lot of history. I do not fear the challenge. I've not spoken with Benitez, although I've seen a lot of Premiership matches on television.”

Answering questions about what kind of player he is and how he thinks he’ll find the English game, he said: “I'm a winger who likes to counter-attack. I don't anticipate struggling to adapt to life in England.”

Continue reading Agent: Padelli is joining Reds

Leto could sign for Reds this week

Liverpool are looking likely to sign another Argentinean youngster, Sebastian Eduardo Leto, according to the vice-president of his club Lanus.

Lanus have also received bids for the twenty-year-old midfielder from River Plate plus an as-yet-unnamed Spanish club, but Liverpool are reported to be the only club prepared to pay the £1.85m fee Lanus are demanding. Leto has scored six goals in 34 first team matches.

Speaking to an Argentinean website, vice president Ruben Ferretti said: “There is interest from Liverpool, but nothing is concrete yet. We still have to go on discussing it.” Ferreti said he was hopeful that the deal would be done, and felt it would be complete by the end of the week: “I have a good feeling about it. If a transfer is done, it will be done this week.”

Continue reading Leto could sign for Reds this week

Hamilton confirm Reds offer for youngster

Liverpool's interest in Hamilton Academicals youngster Jamie McCarthy has been confirmed by their boss Billy Reid. Sixteen-year-old McCarthy, an attacking midfielder, has just been named in the Irish under-17 squad. His club manager Reid said: "Liverpool have made an offer for Jamie but he's not refused or accepted as yet."

Reid revealed Liverpool's undisclosed offer came as McCarthy was at Reading for a trial: "He's at Reading for the next couple of days and I'm on my way there now. Reading are a well-run team as are Liverpool, but there's so much interest in him now and we're not in a hurry to sell. He will take it as it comes and make the right decision for himself."

McCarthy was born in Scotland but chose to play for the Republic of Ireland. He's in the squad and in line to make his debut when the Under-17s play Italy in Dublin later this month. His qualification to play for Ireland comes through his late grandfather.

He scored his first senior goal for Hamilton at the weekend against Livingston in the Scottish Cup.

He's already been given the opportunity to train with the Reds first team squad. It is believed that Hamilton's asking price is around £275,000.

Continue reading Hamilton confirm Reds offer for youngster

Reaction to “The Truth” protest

Last night The Kop made a massive and memorable protest which should go down in history, and hopefully it will.

For more on what the protest was all about, here's what the Daily Mirror's Brian Reade said about it in yesterday's paper.

"TIME TO KOP THE TRUTH KELVIN

MEMO to Kelvin MacKenzie: If you're doing nothing at 5.15 tonight why not tune in to the Liverpool v Arsenal game on BBC1, where you will find 12,000 Kopites expressing what they think of your persistent campaign to rubbish the findings of Lord Justice Taylor's Report into the Hillsborough Disaster.

It will last a full six minutes. Or as long as 96 fans were left by police to die inside cages while an FA Cup tie played on in front of them in April 1989. But I don't need to remind you of the details, as you know them all. Even though you were 200 miles away at the time.

Because some anonymous Yorkshire copper who was ordered to deflect attention away from his force's culpability, span you a pack of lies, which you gladly published as The Truth, and which cost your newspaper dear.

Perhaps you still loathe yourself for being a submissive lackey who mouthed a false apology at Rupert Murdoch's behest or maybe you're too vain to accept hard evidence and let it go.

Either way you're still telling audiences, like the one in Newcastle last month, The Truth about Hillsborough was that Liverpool fans got tanked up, stampeded a gate, killed their own, and as they lay dying, pissed on them and stole their belongings.

I just hope the Kop's tribute to you evokes a fraction of the anger and pain your continued lies do to the many people still living with the harrowing consequences of British football's most tragic day.

But I don't think it will. Which, Mr Mackenzie, is the saddest Truth of all."

The BBC seemed unwilling to give the protest as much coverage as most of us would have liked, but John Motson could not help but refer to the noise that lasted as promised until the game was six minutes old, with the chants of "Justice for the 96". Motson probably faces censure from his bosses for talking about the protest – but he's well aware of just how horrific Hillsborough actually was. He was there that day in 1989, covering the game for the Match of the Day programme. Hillsborough happened in an era when only the final was shown live, but the cameras were there to record the game. Grandstand would soon carry live pictures of the scenes that were unfolding. Last night the BBC's director seemed intent on trying to hide the mosaic as much as possible, but they couldn't hide it altogether. John Motson's references to the noise and the mosaic were extremely welcome, and I for one am delighted that he had the decency and the honour not to try and ignore it. Well done John Motson.

The BBC didn't have their usual offering of "interactive" coverage last night either, normally you'd be able to watch the game without having to listen to the commentary, with the option of just listening to the crowd noise. Perhaps they were worried about how the Kop would react verbally to their decision to employ the liar MacKenzie on their station. 

Most of the Sunday media have covered the protest, but there were two notable websites who had decided to try and ignore it.

The Sunday Times: "With yesterday’s game shown live by the BBC it started with the Kop leading a protest against Kelvin MacKenzie, recently hired by the corporation, who was editor of the The Sun during its notorious coverage of Hillsbrough. It was extraordinary, a six-minute repetition of a single chant: “Justice for the 96”. So little happened on the pitch at the time it was as if the players were waiting respectfully for the crowd to stop."

The Observer: "To say Anfield was noisy at the start of this Cup tie would be the understatement of 2007. The Kop welcomed the television cameras as promised, with a superbly orchestrated protest over slurs on fans' behaviour at Hillsborough, recently re-aired by Kelvin MacKenzie. He was editor of the Sun at the time of the original accusations. The display lasted exactly six minutes into the game – though with grim irony, fans were warned that holding up placards during play would infringe safety regulations – then switched off with military precision, to coincide with the time when the 1989 FA Cup semi-final was abandoned. The protest was replaced by the type of sustained din usually reserved for big European nights."

The Independent: "There had been an unreal air to the opening six minutes as the whole of the Kop held up red and white cards to form a giant mosaic and chanted "Justice for the 96" in support of those supporters who died at Hillsborough almost 18 years ago. Anyone whose view was obscured would have missed nothing, the first quarter of the game passing without incident."

Sunday People: "The opening six minutes were dominated by an incredible display on The Kop where, to a man, supporters held up cards which spelt out 'The Truth' in letters 20 feet high, a tribute to the 96 Liverpool fans who died at Hillsborough and a protest against the perceived injustice of so many deaths.

It prompted a frenzied atmosphere which seemed to affect both sets of players as they struggled to find any kind of pattern for the first 15 minutes with so many passes misplaced or over-hit."

Sunday Mirror: "It may be almost 18 years since the tragedy of Hillsborough, but the wounds from that terrible day in Sheffield continue to run deep.

Stirred by recent sickening comments made by the former editor of a tabloid newspaper, fans on the Kop held up cards to produce a mosaic which read: "The Truth" as they sang "Justice for the 96."

The main protest lasted until six minutes after kick-off – a reference to the time it took for the authorities at Hillsborough to realise that people were being crushed to death in the Leppings Lane end of the stadium.

When the fans eventually began to concentrate on the game, there was little to shout about."

The BBC Sport website: Nothing. Not a mention. Embarrassed? Ashamed? After all, they employed MacKenzie despite earlier protests and without any sign of concern.

The Sky Sports website: Again, nothing, not a mention. Sky aren't currently part of the boycott of The S*n, but are owned by Murdoch, the owner of The S*n. Then again, so are The Times, and they managed to mention it. Why are Sky ashamed to mention this protest?

Continue reading Reaction to “The Truth” protest