Carra: We need goals from the off

Liverpool’s vice captain, Jamie Carragher, says Liverpool can’t afford to start the season as slowly as they did last. He feels the Reds are capable of mounting a title challenge this time round if they can get the goals they need to win games and so get points in the bag from the off: “The way Manchester United and Chelsea started the last couple of seasons, we were out of the league after 10 games. We wouldn’t have said it at the time but, being honest, if they are getting eight or 10 points on you early on it’s difficult because they win virtually every week. The manager has created a solid team. The next step is to score the goals United and Chelsea do. We’ve spent a few quid to try and do that.”

Whether Rafa has had as much money for new players as he thought he was going to get is going to up for debate for some time, but Rafa has spent a decent amount this summer, helped in part by some decent fees received from sales. Carra is impressed with the new signings: “We have great confidence in the players the manager has brought in; they’ve looked very good in training. I’ve never known a squad as strong. Every position has two international players competing for it and nobody can rest on their laurels. You have to look after yourself and make sure you’re in the team.”

One of those sacrificed by Rafa was Luis Garcia, who now plays for Atlético Madrid, and Carra was sad when he left: “Luis did superbly for Liverpool. I sent him a message saying I was sad to see him go, but I feel we have a top manager and being ruthless is part of being a top manager. He got on great with Luis but he felt the time was right.”

Carra will be 30 next birthday and feels his chances of winning the league are limited. He’s enjoyed the success he’s had at Anfield, but wants to add that elusive league title to the list of honours he’s earned: “We’ve done well in the last seven or eight years, winning trophies, but the Premier League is the one we haven’t got hold of. It’s something we’re desperate for and me more than most because of my age – I’m 29 now and won’t have long left.” Carra’s new contract runs for four years and he’s determined to win the league during that time. Continue reading Carra: We need goals from the off

Colchester 1 – LFC XI 1

colchester1-lfc1-cufc-site.jpgA young Liverpool XI have been held to a 1-1 draw against Colchester United in a friendly this afternoon. Miki Roque got Liverpool’s goal as the Gary Ablett managed XI came back from a goal down against the Championship side.

Official CUFC match report

Official LFC match report

Colchester: Gerken, Duguid, Baldwin, Connolly, Elokobi (Granville, 83), Yeates, Jackson, Izzet (Guttridge, 72), McLeod (White, 78), Lisbie (Guy, 72), Platt
Unused subs: Cousins, Richards, Elito
Goal: Platt 34.

Liverpool: Hansen, Roque, Darby, Hobbs, Huth, Spearing, El Zhar (Nemeth, 77), Flynn, Brouwer (Lindfield, 66), Idrizaj, Putterill (Crowther, 73).
Unused sub: Oldfield.
Goal: Roque 72.

Referee: Barry Knight

Ferguson “confident” Heinze will stay at Old Trafford

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson’s obvious displeasure at Gabriel Heinze’s desire to become a Liverpool player is turning into something of a sideshow to pre-season, especially when listening to his contradictory attitude towards his own move for West Ham’s Carlos Tevez.

Lawyers are dealing with both transfers now. Heinze’s transfer is being held up by Manchester United who have reneged on a deal they had with the player’s agent allowing him to be sold to any club that matched their asking price of around £6.8m. Heinze has lawyers looking at it now, ready to take the fight to court if necessary for their client. The Tevez transfer has lawyers preparing to sue West Ham through the High Court due to the murky situation of who actually owns the player. West Ham claim they do, and if that is proven in court then the Manchester United lawyers may be having to explain to the Premier League and FA why they had negotiated personal terms with a player from a club who had not given consent for their player to be spoken to.

Continue reading Ferguson “confident” Heinze will stay at Old Trafford

Asia Trophy: Portsmouth 0 Reds 0 (Portsmouth win 4-2 on pens)

A goalless draw played out in Hong Kong between Portsmouth and Liverpool was decided on penalties. Fernando Torres and Yossi Benayoun both saw their spot kicks saved by former Reds keeper David James resulting in a 4-2 win for Pompey.

Fernando Torres was only granted permission to play just minutes before kick-off, after delays in Spain almost prevented his international clearance coming through. He didn’t start the game, but played well, without scoring, for the time he was on. Lucas Leiva’s clearance came through in time and he made his debut by coming on in the second half.

Continue reading Asia Trophy: Portsmouth 0 Reds 0 (Portsmouth win 4-2 on pens)

Heinze appoints lawyers to fight for move

According to The, the Manchester United defender Gabriel Heinze has instructed solicitors to take up his fight with Manchester United over his future.

The firm he is using is believed to be also acting on behalf of Carlos Tevez’s agents. Tevez has been speaking to Manchester United without – it seems – the permission of his current club West Ham. Tevez’s agents believe they don’t need to get West Ham’s permission in order to discuss a move and are taking West Ham to the High Court. FIFA had earlier ruled that they wanted the case to go to arbitration but this advice was ignored by the Tevez camp.

The Heinze camp want their dispute to be dealt with by arbitration, rather than going to court, although that would be the ultimate redress if needed. Manchester United had written to Heinze’s agent saying he could leave for any other club should a bid of €10m be made. They didn’t stipulate any restrictions in that, and the information was faxed to numerous clubs across Europe. The problem United have is they really don’t want to see Heinze going to strengthen their most hated rivals’ squad. Legally their only argument is to somehow claim that there was no need to specify the name of clubs they wanted to exclude from any deal to buy Heinze.

The article on the website says:

Blackstone Chambers has scored its second instruction on a disputed football transfer, after being brought in to secure Argentine defender Gabriel Heinze’s release from Manchester United FC.

Andrew Green has been instructed by Hill Dickinson partner Richard Green on behalf of Heinze.

Andrew Green is also part of the team acting for the agents of Carlos Tevez in their dispute with West Ham United FC.

The dispute is between Heinze and his current club Manchester United.

The club has refused to allow Heinze a transfer to rival club Liverpool FC, with the player instructing lawyers to push the move through before the transfer deadline at the end of August.

Green said that the dispute will be settled through arbitration, rather than the courts.

Brabners Chaffe Street is acting for Manchester United. Liverpool has not yet instructed outside counsel.

Despite the firm acting in effect both for and against Manchester United – Heinze wants to leave against Manchester United’s wishes, Tevez wants to join despite his own club’s wishes – there is no technical conflict of interest, because the lawyers are purely acting for the agents of each player.

In terms of the Tevez situation, if West Ham win their case then Tevez will either join Manchester United anyway, with West Ham getting the fee they believe they are due, or will remain at West Ham until such a time that an appropriate fee is received for him. In the Heinze case it seems pretty clear that this particular Argentinian will not play for Manchester United again – even if United somehow win their case, their fans won’t be pleased to see a player wearing their shirt who felt Liverpool were a better club to play for than their own side. Certainly if the tables were turned Liverpool fans would not want that player to wear the Red of Liverpool again.

Kewell and Pennant ready to fight for places

Two of Liverpool’s existing wingers have been talking about their determination not to fall down the pecking order in light of Rafa’s two wide signings this summer. Yossi Benayoun and Ryan Babel arrived recently and will be competing with the likes of Harry Kewell and Jermaine Pennant for a regular starting place. Rafa likes to rotate to ensure the eleven players on the pitch are as fit as possible and as appropriate for the tactics he wants to employ as possible, meaning all four should get plenty of chances.
Kewell has not been able to show Rafa what he can do as much as he’d have liked, missing almost the whole season last time round, but having injury problems for most of his time at Anfield. He’s just been on duty for Australia in the Asia Cup, which would normally have afforded him a break before starting pre-season, but he didn’t want to miss an opportunity to show Rafa he was ready for the challenge of the new season. Instead of flying home to have a break, he joined straight up with the squad on their Asian tour.
Kewell was prepared to sacrifice his international duties to ensure he was a part of the pre-season training, but instead an agreement was made that he didn’t need a break as such: “I was always going to meet up with the team as soon as we got knocked out,” he said. “That was the agreement that we had with the manager and with Australia. I had to get back because we’ve got some great players here, some new signings and you’ve got to fight for your position early on in the season. I’m desperate to do that. It would have been a bit shifty of me to go all the way back to England and then not meet up with the team.”
Kewell is in his last year at Anfield, unless he is offered and agrees to a new deal, and knows he really has to do well in the first part of this season. If he can show the form Rafa knew him for before he even became manager then he should be offered a new deal of some kind, but in January he’s free to sign a pre-contract agreement elsewhere under the Bosman ruling. “I’ve got one year left on my contract and I just want to play for Liverpool and hopefully help the team push for the title. I suppose I could have had a holiday but I play for Liverpool Football Club and it’s a big thing being at this club this season and you have to work hard and be pushing for your position all the time so it was really important for me to get back.”
Kewell came into the side at very end of the season after he’d been injured in the World Cup the previous summer: “I’m relieved to be back because obviously last year I was away most of the time getting treatment for injuries. It’s just great to be playing again. I did have moments of despair last season but I have a strong family behind me, a good medical staff, a fantastic manager and a great club so at times when you are down and out you just look to that support and thankfully I’ve always had it.”
Pennant meanwhile had no injury problems of note, but did take a bit of time to settle into things at Anfield. By the end of the season he was showing why Rafa had paid such a high price for him, but knows he’s got to keep showing that if he wants to keep his place in the team. And that includes showing in training just what he can do: “The manager said in a meeting with us that he wants the players proving in training every day that they are fighting for their positions, because doing that will only make you a better player. That boosts the team and obviously then you tend to win more things,” said Pennant.
He says that training with the Reds is never a stroll, and certainly more intense than it was at his previous club, Birmingham City: “Training at Liverpool is always fast, physical and 100mph, with everyone up for it. You have to do that if you want to play, because it really, really counts. If you don’t pull your weight in training then you know your place might go. No disrespect to Birmingham, because they’re a great team with a great manager which is why they’re back in the Premier League, but you are talking of Liverpool here. The history of this club and how big it is means you can’t let your standards slip for one minute.”
Pennant got a lot of criticism last season, certainly for the first half, from fans who have been spoiled by wingers like John Barnes and Steve Heighway in days gone by. The criticism didn’t go unnoticed and he’s sure he learned from it: “The fans ask for massive things and if you are not delivering week-in, week-out, or not doing your best, they will get on your back – and rightly so because this is Liverpool, it’s a massive club. I think that in the second half of the season I had them on my side, and the manager and my teammates were pleased as well. I showed better form and hope that will continue to get better at the start of this one.”
He needs to be wary of complacency – the fans were glad he improved so well, but really that’s just the start: “I am used to what the players and manager expect and feel totally settled in. Hopefully I can carry on from where I left off and get even better. All I can do is my best. Maybe the fans expected better things more quickly, but it was always going to take time. Moving to Liverpool was a new start at a massive club, so it was going to take a bit of time. But I stuck at it and the manager and other players showed a lot of faith in me.”
Rafa has worked on Pennant to ensure he didn’t fail: “The manager pulled me in and told me what I was doing right and wrong, but told me to keep going because it would come. Never once did he say he wasn’t sure about me. He was always 100 per cent behind me and that is why I came through it.”
Pennant will never be able to shake the bad-boy reputation, which isn’t all deserved, but is at least happy that the club know the truth about him and what they expect from him: “Getting signed for Liverpool in the first place was obviously the major thing, because you don’t go there if you have problems or other things going on. The manager goes through your whole situation and checks out everything about you, so he knows the lot before you even sign.”

LFC new stadium plans to be officially unveiled

Liverpool FC will today officially unveil the new plans for the new stadium to replace Anfield.

Liverpool City Council will be formally presented with the revised plans from the latest design, before the club release images to the public of what has been described by many who have seen it as a hugely impressive design.

The club’s new owners set about redesigning the new stadium within the boundaries set by the existing planning permission. The capacity can’t be increased without improved transport infrastructure, the stadium is said to have to remain within the same footprint on Stanley Park as was agreed initially, and English Heritage need to be happy that the outer look of the stadium meets their requirements. So the new stadium is designed with the flexibility in place that additional capacity can be added in the future (something the previous plans didn’t have) and good use has been made of the space allowed.

The stadium is expected to include a Kop end that is one tier and much taller than the rest of the ground, which is expected to have an extremely futuristic look to the outside. At one stage the seats for parts of the ground were planned to be in a chequered layout. Executive and corporate facilities are expected to be outstanding compared to previous plans too, and including “bunker” facilities where lifts carry the guests from their luxury meeting  rooms to their seats in view of the game.

The club website will show the pictures from around 11am this morning. See for updates and a first chance to see officially what is going to be a very unique stadium.

Full-time: South China 1 Reds 3

Daniel Agger’s 74th-minute goal gave Liverpool a welcome cushion as this Barclays Asia Cup friendly moved towards the final stages in sweltering humid conditions in Hong Kong. Riise crossed for Kuyt who laid the ball on for Agger. That cushion was certainly needed with Liverpool noticeably tiring as the game ended.
Agger’s was the first goal of the game to come in open play, with all the first half goals coming from set-pieces.

Liverpool went ahead on 10 minutes when John Arne Riise scored from a direct free-kick, and were further ahead on 26 minutes when Andriy Voronin was pushed off the ball in the box and awarded a penalty by referee Mark Clattenburg. Xabi Alonso cooly slotted the ball into the net to make it 2-0 to the Reds.

South China pulled a goal back on 34 minutes with a wonderful free-kick catching Scott Carson off guard.

Liverpool were denied the services of a number of players. Steven Gerrard was unable to play through injury, but also unable to turn out were Lucas Leiva, Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel. That trio’s international clearance was not received in time for the competition, but is expected to be in place by the time the final is played on Friday. That final will be against Portsmouth, who despatched Fulham in the earlier game today.

Friendly: Reds v South China – Team

The Liverpool team to kick-off today’s friendly against South China in Hong Kong has been announced. Harry Kewell and Yossi Benayoun both start the game, Voronin and Crouch getting the nod for the starting roles up front. Many substitutions are likely to take place during the game.

Steven Gerrard is not going to be taking part in the game due to injury.

Liverpool: Carson, Arbeloa, Carragher , Agger, Riise, Benayoun, Alonso, Sissoko, Kewell, Voronin, Crouch

Finnan delighted to be staying

With one full-back’s future assured, Liverpool are prepared to go to court if that is neccessary in order to secure the services of another. That was the news from Hong Kong yesterday as Liverpool prepared for this afternoon’s friendly with South China.

Right-back Steve Finnan revealed he had agreed a three-year-deal which he will sign next week on return to the UK, meaning the unsung hero of many a Liverpool game will be a Red until he’s 34. Meanwhile left-back Gabriel Heinze said he would take his current club – Manchester United – to court if they did not honour a letter allowing him to leave if a set fee was offered.
Continue reading Finnan delighted to be staying