Torres – rotation not to blame for slump

In an interview with Spanish journalist Guillem Balague for The Times, Liverpool forward Fernando Torres has spoken about how there have been two sides to the team this season. The version of the Reds that started the season so well is a side that could perhaps be capable of challenging for the title, as opposed to the current one stuttering along and only able to aim for cup glory. As of now, the Champions League is the only cup the club can win, and to do that they’ve got to first of all get past the Italian league leaders.

Fernando Torres“The real Liverpool is the one that impressed earlier on,” said Torres. “We have to keep that level for longer. Those who do that fight for the league title and the ones who can’t have to fight for the knockout competitions. We are a very uncomfortable team to play against, but we have dropped too many points.”

So who’s to blame for all those dropped points? Torres has his view: “We didn’t win a league match in January. We could find a thousand excuses, but that would be an easy exercise. The players could have done it better.” Torres even admits that some performances have been so poor that avoiding defeat was perhaps not deserved: “There are matches where we had the impression that we have dropped points and others where we thought we had got something out of it by a pure miracle. We were lucky against Derby, but not so much against Wigan, for instance. Generally, we have dropped points where the top three haven’t.” Continue reading Torres – rotation not to blame for slump

Report: Hicks softening where DIC concerned

Texan Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks is beginning to soften his stubborn approach to selling his share in Liverpool Football Club, as Dubai International step up their efforts to buy the club they missed out on just over a year ago.

According to Chris Bascombe in an article on the News of the World’s website, George Gillett Junior will be the most likely of the two to bail out first, with a healthy profit coming his way as soon as he does. The report says that the duo would share £50m between them, with the negotiations having reached a “key stage”.

The report also says Hicks is “the main obstacle”, with DIC seeking a “swift conclusion”.

Regardless of how hard Hicks tries to deny it, there’s no doubt whatsoever that DIC are in talks with the current owners about buying into the club. PR firms have been engaged to deal with the press on behalf of DIC, and even before that key journalists were getting information to pass on to their readers. And that’s not only coming from DIC, there are people inside the club other than Hicks and Gillett who need to be involved in at least certain aspects of the interest from Dubai.

What is in doubt is just how much money is being put on the table by DIC, and how much the US owners are now demanding. They paid £174m for the club last year. Or at least they borrowed the money to pay for the club, including an additional £45m to pay off the club’s debt at the time of making their offer to shareholders, a total of £219m. In theory you could have gazumped the duo with a quarter-of-a-billion a year ago had you got it to spare (or were able to borrow it). Continue reading Report: Hicks softening where DIC concerned

FA Cup result: Liverpool 1 Barnsley 2

FA Cup fifth round – February 16th 2008 – Result.

Liverpool 1 Barnsley 2.

There’s no getting around it. Losing in the FA Cup hurts. It always does.

Liverpool FC have existed since 1892, so that’s 116 years this year. As a result they’ve attempted to win the FA Cup a fair few times in their history. And even though they’re joint fourth in the all-time list of winners, they’ve only actually succeeded seven times. That’s a lot of disappointment over a large number of years. Continue reading FA Cup result: Liverpool 1 Barnsley 2

PR firm hired by potential new Liverpool owners

According to the magazine for the Public Relations and advertising world, PR Week, a press relations consultancy has been engaged to brief journalists on behalf of a “bid team considering a takeover approach” for LFC.

The article, which you can also view on the Brand Republic website, says Square1 Consulting is “working with a third party involved in the possible Dubai International Capital” deal.

Square1 Sports Consulting -  screengrabSquare1 are working alongside another agency, Brunswick, who were used in DIC’s first move for the club which they backed out of on January 31st last year after learning of the interest from Hicks and Gillett. Brunswick continue to provide services to DIC.

The PR Week story also says that the “takeover by US duo Tom Hick and George Gillett was seen in many quarters as a huge PR success.” That’s quite true of course, very few fans feeling sufficiently worried about the US duo to actually raise any real concerns. They said the right things, making promises or at least implying actions that Liverpool fans were expecting from any new owners. All that started to go wrong around the time of the Champions League final in Athens in May last year. Continue reading PR firm hired by potential new Liverpool owners

Sons of Shankly meet tomorrow

The Sons Of Shankly are having their second meeting tomorrow, to be held at the Olympia on West Derby Road in advance of the match against Barnsley in the afternoon.

Details follow, taken from the new website, just launched at www.sonsofshankly.com. As you can see, it’s not just about getting Hicks and Gillett out, it’s about much more than that…

Sons Of Shankly – Liverpool Supporters Union

sos-sonsofshankly.jpgSaturday. The Olympia. Noon.

If you can get there, you should be there.

You could say you should be there to work out how we get shut of the hideous Hicks and Gillett pairing, dooming the football club to debt upon debt, mismanagement and broken promises.

You could say you should be there if you want to capture the moment when Liverpool FC’s first attempt at a Socio arrangement began. You could say you should be there if you want that attempt to work.

You could say you should be there to find out how we’re looking at sorting out cheaper travel to and from games; how we want to put pressure on the football club to take action over the ticket office; how if we use our collective strength we can force change for the better at our football club.

You could say you should be there to speak out about what’s happening to the national game as it pursues every currency under the sun until its grassroots support squeaks.

You could say you should be there to tell us what we haven’t thought of yet – ways to represent and help every Red the world over and bring the club back to the people.

There’s a lot to say. There’s one place to be:

The Olympia
99 West Derby Road
Noon
Saturday 16th February

Bring your banners, bring your colours but most of all, bring your voice.

sons-of-shankly-liverpool-supporters-union.jpg

Masch deal close but still in hands of lawyers

Rafa Benítez is confident that the permanent transfer of Javier Mascherano will go through successfully, despite reports in the Spanish press suggesting otherwise. Mascherano is desperate to see the move finalised and his future secured, and showed a lot of anxiety in interviews before Christmas. But with the current owners needing any help they can get to try and claw back some support of their own from the fans, they’re keen to see the move for the Argentinean succeed – it’s at quite a bargain price after all.

The deal is for £17m excluding the £1.6m spent on the first 18 months of his Anfield career under the original loan. The £17m includes his wages for the duration of the deal, which reportedly would come to an end in the summer of 2012.

Rafa explained that although he knew progress had been made, he wasn’t able to say how much more work needed to be done: “We are closer than we were one week ago but I don’t know how close. Mascherano isn’t a concern for me. I think it’s very, very close.” Continue reading Masch deal close but still in hands of lawyers

Rafa against 39th game

The idea of a “39th game” is meeting opposition from practically anybody approached for a view on the proposals, with over 11,000 verified signatures already on an online fans’ petition against the idea. (To add your name to the petition, visit the Football Supporters Federation website and follow the instructions.)

One of the latest football figures to speak against it is Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez, who says Liverpool chief executive shares the same view as he does, further casting doubt on Premier League boss Richard Scudamore’s claim that the proposal has unanimous support amongst the clubs. Two chairmen had also made their doubts public earlier this week, Villa’s Randy Lerner and Wigan’s Dave Whelan.

Rafa said: “I don’t like it. To play another game in another country is not right for this competition. You must play here in England with the same opportunities for everyone. The seeding ideas is the reason I don’t like it. Everyone should have the same opportunities.” Continue reading Rafa against 39th game

Torres will be rested, but Rafa has defence dilemmas.

Liverpool’s preparations for tomorrow’s FA Cup game against Barnsley have been made with one eye on the midweek clash with Inter Milan in the Champions League. Reds boss Rafa Benítez has been criticised in the past for prioritising the Champions League ahead of the Premier League, but there’s no such problem at least for this leg. The challenge of facing the Championship side still requires the team to respect their opponents and avoid an attitude of going into the game thinking it’s already won, but it should be possible to pick a strong team whilst still resting key players.

One of those to be rested is likely to be Fernando Torres. The Spanish striker was forced to leave the field early on international duty last week, after suffering a hamstring injury. This kept him out of the Chelsea game on Sunday, but his progress has been impressive this week and perhaps had this been a league match he would have been risked.

Another player who missed that game through injury was Sami Hyypia. He’d got what is described as a minor hip injury, but has been training this week and could play tomorrow. This is all the more likely given Rafa’s alternatives as partner to Jamie Carragher. New signing Martin Skrtel put a nightmare first start behind him in the fourth round with impressive performances in his next two games for the club, but now looks like missing the chance to start for the third game in a row. It’s not the wrist injury which saw him require treatment during that Chelsea game, but a calf problem sustained in training. The other centre-half Daniel Agger is still not quite ready to return to action, but special boots are bringing him closer to that day and manager Rafa Benítez feels it will be sooner rather than later. Continue reading Torres will be rested, but Rafa has defence dilemmas.

Mirror: New owners for Reds within a month

It’s Valentine’s Day, love is in the air (for some) and now hearts are going to go all-of-flutter for any Liverpool fan hearing today’s news from the Daily Mirror. They claim that Liverpool FC will be out of Hicks and Gillett’s hands within four weeks.

Back on the first of December the Mirror’s Chief Football Writer Martin Lipton wrote a story that claimed Tom Hicks and George Gillett were trying to sell their stake in Liverpool FC to Dubai International Capital (DIC). It’s just one of many stories that made such claims in recent months, but this one actually saw Hicks go out of his way to deny the claims.

Today Lipton is claiming in an exclusive that a deal is almost done and that DIC will be the new owners by the middle of March, a month from now: Continue reading Mirror: New owners for Reds within a month

Rafa calls in lawyers over “lying” Beasley and News of the World

Rob Beasley faces legal action from Rafa BenitezLiverpool boss Rafa Benítez looks set to hit the News of the World journalist Rob Beasley hard by taking legal action against him in response to his latest piece in Sunday’s paper. The Liverpool Echo are reporting that Rafa has appointed a local solicitor to inform both the journalist and his paper that he is intending to make a claim against both Beasley and his paper.

Beasley’s article on Sunday was labelled “exclusive” and sat under the headline “It’s Your Fault: Rafa In New Blast At Owners”. Rafa has been careful not to publicly criticise the owners in public since the showdown in December after the Manchester United game. Even when Hicks admitted he had offered Klinsmann Rafa’s job the Spaniard remained tight-lipped. Whether he means it or not, Hicks has since described Rafa as a “gentleman” for his willingness not to speak out in public against him.

With this in mind the headlines and the story that went with it would raise suspicion regardless of who wrote it and which newspaper it was in. But this was written by Rob Beasley, the man who said of Benítez on national television: “He behaves at times like a petulant spoilt brat.” He said that on one of his Sky Sports “Sunday Supplement” appearances, also saying on the same programme: “I’m not a fan of Benitez the manager and Benitez the person because I think he’s a bit snide and secretive.” The whole rant was lengthy and full of bile.

Would you give an exclusive interview to a journalist who had launched such a blistering attack on you? An interview which would needlessly re-open the wounds from your earlier battles with your employers? Of course not. Continue reading Rafa calls in lawyers over “lying” Beasley and News of the World