Keeper Mihaylov hopes to start Reds career in summer

Young Liverpool goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov could be returning to Anfield in the summer, with Liverpool unwilling to sell him to loan club FC Twente at a cut price, according to the player.

The 19-year-old Bulgarian keeper was signed from Levski Sofia in summer 2007 for a nominal fee believed to be in the region of £225,000. However, as often seems to be the case where Liverpool are concerned, he was unable to stay at Melwood due to work permit issues. This seems to happen to Liverpool more than it does to other clubs.

Instead of starting his Anfield career, the teenager went to Holland and FC Twente on loan, where he’s impressed the Eredivisie side enough for them to put in a request to make it a permanent deal.

According to reports, Liverpool have demanded £4m for him, effectively pricing him out of a move to the Dutch side, and Mihaylov sees this as a desire on Liverpool’s part not to let him go. He’s also hoping to be eligible for the club in time for next season. He said: “Liverpool have asked for such a high price, because they wanted to discourage Twente from buying me. I expect to join Liverpool in July, because my visa problems will be settled by then.”

Pepe and Stevie want performances to continue improving

Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina went into the records books recently for being the quickest ever Reds keeper to keep fifty clean sheets – and he wants to thank his team mates for helping him to achieve it.

Reina hit the 50 mark against Sunderland in the club’s 3-0 win just before the international break, surpassing a record previously held by Ray Clemence and was of course pleased with the achievement: “It’s nice to reach these kinds of numbers,” he told the Liverpool Echo. “I am very proud, but, as I’ve said many times, it’s not just down to me. The whole of the team defends and the back four have been in good form in the three years I’ve been here. So, I have to say thanks to them and all of my team-mates throughout the three years, because without them it wouldn’t have been possible. Now I look forward to another 50.”

He got the first clean sheet of that next fifty against Chelsea on Sunday, although he was a spectator for much of the game. This was pleasing for Pepe, especially with Chelsea’s home record and the Reds recent disappointing run: “We played really well and created some chances, and a draw is always a good result at Stamford Bridge. It’s always difficult to beat them down there – I think it’s been four years since anyone did that. It’s a difficult stadium against a really top side, so we have to be really happy about the score and some of the things we did during the game.” Continue reading Pepe and Stevie want performances to continue improving

Stadium collapse for ‘New Anfield’ designers

hks-texas-collapse-1.jpgThe firm hired by Tom Hicks to produce drawings of the Liverpool Football Club’s possible new stadium are under scrutiny in the USA now after a stadium they were renovating partially collapsed. HKS are based in Texas like Hicks and were working on the construction of a new structure to provide extra seating at the Texas Christian University’s Amon G Carter football stadium.

The structure collapsed onto existing seating below in the early hours of the morning and thankfully, with the stadium deserted, nobody was hurt. The construction on the £7m project was scheduled for completion in the summer, to add extra seating to the south end zone of the ground. Continue reading Stadium collapse for ‘New Anfield’ designers

Result: Chelsea 0 Liverpool 0

Barclays Premier League – February 10th 2007 – Result

Chelsea 0 Liverpool 0

Rafa Benitez: “Maybe he (Torres) will be available for the weekend. He is with the physiotherapists now. He’s very optimistic, so he could be available.

“Normally to get a point would be a good situation against Chelsea. But after the game when in the first half we had some chances and in the second half we were defending well and had some half chances, it could have been three points. In the second half we had to defend more but we did that well and also had some half chances close to their box. We could have taken three points but it’s not easy when you play against a good team. I was pleased with the team, especially the first half performance because we created some really clear opportunities. Crouch had some good chances but as team we showed character and the commitment of every player was very positive.

“It was against a very good team. All of them are very good players starting with their goalkeeper, so to create some chances is positive. If you cannot take your chances you know that is the difference between winning and drawing sometimes. Overall I would say to get a point here is not bad but when you have chances like we did to win here today you must be disappointed. The plan as always was to win the game and we didn’t play for a draw. We were attacking and did almost everything that’s needed for winning. Continue reading Result: Chelsea 0 Liverpool 0

Rafa: Rob Beasley is a liar

Chelsea-loving Rob Beasley, accused of lyingRafa Benitez has slammed the News of the World reporter who tried to stir up trouble for him this morning, and has put the sensationalist paper into the same hole as its sister paper The Sun.

Speaking ahead of today’s clash with Chelsea, Rafa said of the article, written by Rob Beasley: “It’s no surprise. Everybody in Liverpool knows that there are two newspapers that you cannot trust, this is one of them.

“He talks of it being an exclusive; but the journalist is lying. I was talking with the Spanish press – he was manipulating everything. So he’s lying.”

Rafa said everything was okay with the owners: “I have contact with them, especially with Mr Hicks, because he was talking about Mr Hicks and I think he is lying – well clearly he is lying, because I did not talk with him.”

Rob Beasley despises RafaRob Beasley’s hatred of Rafa Benitez was there for all to see earlier this year in one of his appearances on the Sky Sports programme, the Sunday Supplement. Read more on when he called Rafa a “snide” and a “petulant spoilt brat” in our earlier article, “Perfect Excuse? Or just a worried Chelsea fan?

Beasley is a disgrace to his profession and will not have the balls to apologise with as large a headline as he used to accuse Rafa – if he apologises at all.

The News of the World has never been part of the boycott by Liverpool fans of The Sun, which has been boycotted for almost 19 years after its outrageous slurs against the club and its supporters. However it’s been boycotted on principal by many Reds, causing a lot of unease whenever a Liverpool player gave an interview to it, or even had a regular column in it.

Many fans see it as the Sunday Sun, given that its approach to reporting is often as disinterested in the truth as its daily sister. However as it is part of the same stable as the Times and Sky TV, the boycott line has always been drawn officially at The Sun. Players are not allowed by the club to speak to Sun reporters other than in unavoidable situations such as press conferences held when on international duty. This has not been extended to the NotW.

However, unless some decent apology is forthcoming – now and also followed up in next week’s paper – perhaps it’s time that the News of the World was also added to the boycott officially.

Rob Beasley – you have proved yourself worthy of your place in the gutter press. And all because you were worried that Liverpool might just beat your beloved blues.

Teams: Chelsea v Liverpool

There was little to choose from up-front for Rafael Benitez, with Fernando Torres and Andriy Voronin both out injured, so it’s little surprise to see the Liverpool boss choose Dirk Kuyt and Peter Crouch as his front pairing. He could have perhaps tried Ryan Babel there, but instead he’s using the Dutchman out wide from the off.

At least it looks that way – but with Lucas, Mascherano and Gerrard also selected, it remains to be seen if Babel will start on the left or the right.

Many of Rafa’s players have been away on international duties this week, and there’s no sign of Sami Hyypia in the 16. Instead Finnan and Riise play at full-back, allowing Carragher to return to his favoured central-defence position, alongside new boy Martin Skrtel.

Rafa’s actually chosen Mikel San Jose as his substitute defender, such are the shortages. The teenager isn’t 19 until May, and was signed last summer from Athletic Bilbao shortly after helping the Spanish under-19 side to UEFA glory.

Also on the bench are sub goalie Charles Itandje and three normally wide players in Benayoun, Pennant and Kewell.

Chelsea: Cech, Bellett, Alex, Carvalho, A Cole, Ballack, Makelele, Lampard, Wright-Phillips, Anelka, J Cole
Subs: Cudicini, Ben-Haim, Mikel Obi, Malouda, Pizarro

Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Skrtel, Carragher, Riise, Gerrard, Mascherano, Lucas, Babel, Kuyt, Crouch.
Subs: Itandje, San Jose, Benayoun, Pennant, Kewell.

Referee: Mike Riley (Leeds)

Perfect excuse? Or just a worried Chelsea fan?

Fresh quotes this morning blaming Liverpool’s on-field mess on the owners’ off-field meddling have been attributed to Rafa Benitez, in an “exclusive” by Rob Beasley. But can we believe them?

Rob Beasly, friend to Chelsea FCRob Beasley is a journalist working in London for the News of the World. If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to have seen him speak on the Sky discussion show “The Sunday Supplement” you’ll probably take much of what he says about Liverpool with a pinch of salt. Especially if what he’s talking about somehow relates to Chelsea, who happen to be the Reds’ opponents today.

Beasley is the one who claimed he had been kept informed of Jose Mourinho’s intentions with regards the England job, right up until the moment he was told that Mourinho wasn’t going to take the job because he’d got a better offer from a club side somewhere. He claimed he got regular texts off Mourinho.

Beasley is also the one who knew about Ashley Cole’s dodgy discussions with Chelsea when still an Arsenal player, he knew about this tapping-up incident before either Arsenal or the authorities did. Considering that the only people who would have known about it then were the player, his agent and Chelsea, it narrows down the possibilities of who tipped him off, and of who wanted to make it harder for Arsenal to hold onto their player.

Reading most of his articles, listening to most of his comments, his apparent love of Frank Lampard and Chelsea jumps out of the page at you, his comments often seeming clouded as a result. The only time he seems to have had a pop at Chelsea was when he claimed – exclusively – that Avram Grant would be gone by Christmas, Steve Clarke within two weeks. That was at the end of September, after a run of four (he put it in caps) games without a win. Both are still there of course. Beasley got it wrong. Did he make it up? Continue reading Perfect excuse? Or just a worried Chelsea fan?

Torres out for ten days

When he went off with a suspected hamstring injury after 23 minutes of Spain’s friendly with France, Fernando Torres said it was only as a precaution and that he thought he’d be fit for Sunday. His national team’s doctor thought much the same. But a scan has confirmed the fears of Rafa Benitez and Reds fans – the top scorer is likely to miss at least three games, starting with Chelsea on Sunday.

The Reds’ head press officer Ian Cotton made the statement that turned fears into facts: “Fernando was examined by medical staff when he returned to Melwood. A scan later confirmed their diagnosis that he suffered a hamstring tear in his right leg. Fernando is expected to be out for approximately ten days.”

That ten day period covers Sunday’s visit to Stamford Bridge and the FA Cup clash at Anfield against Barnsley a week tomorrow. It also puts in question whether or not the player will be available for the visit of Inter Milan on 19th February in the Champions League. Torres is such an important player that Rafa took a chance on his fitness against Arsenal at the end of October and the player struggled for the whole of the first half before having to be withdrawn at half-time. He missed the next two weeks as a result. Rafa will need to weigh up the pros and cons of rushing him back for an important fixture against having him at risk of missing yet more games. Continue reading Torres out for ten days

Rafa: Torres doubtful. Hicks: I’m going to meddle more

Despite assurances from the Spanish team doctor that Fernando Torres’ injury was “not of major importance” and Torres himself saying, “I intend to play on Sunday,” Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez now says the Spanish striker looks very doubtful for the clash with Chelsea.

The international breaks have never been welcomed by Rafael Benitez, who despises the way that he often gets literally just a few hours to prepare his team for their next match. This weekend at least the game falls on a Sunday, rather than the usual lunchtime Saturday kick-offs we’ve grown accustomed to. As well as the Torres injury, Javier Mascherano’s return from international duty won’t be until tomorrow as Argentina’s friendly with Guatemala doesn’t kick-off until later today.

Rafa says it’s wrong to hold international friendlies in the middle of the season like this: “We have lost Torres and Mascherano is not back until tomorrow. I don’t think it is fair. I think Mascherano will be okay for Sunday but we will have to see.” Continue reading Rafa: Torres doubtful. Hicks: I’m going to meddle more

Torres: I’ll be fit for Chelsea game

After he limped off just 23 minutes into Spain’s friendly with France last night, alarm bells were ringing over Fernando Torres. It seemed like the Liverpool top scorer was set to be out for some time after pulling up with what seemed to be a hamstring injury.

Thankfully, those fears have been allayed.

The Spanish team doctor, Jorge Candel, and the player himself have both said that the injury was not a serious one, and the player was only substituted as a precaution.

Candel said: “The injury of Torres is not of major importance.” Rafa Benitez no doubt heaved a cautious sigh of relief.

Torres also explained that he was the one asking to be brought off; he was unwilling to take a risk ahead of the Chelsea match on Sunday. He said: “I preferred not to risk it. I demanded the change.”

It’s too early to celebrate just yet – he still needs to be examined by medical staff back in England – but he sounds optimistic: “I will have medical tests, but I intend to play on Sunday against Chelsea.”