Carra: Nothing we can do about off-pitch battles

Reading through various reports of the past few days to find quotes from those involved in the battle for control of Liverpool Football Club has been quite saddening to say the least. Everybody is accused of something they shouldn’t have done, everyone stands by the public version of what they’ve done, and everybody comes out of it low on credit.

Speculation over what could happen next or what couldn’t possibly happen next is mixed with demands over what should happen next or what shouldn’t possibly happen next.

“Going to the papers to discuss these problems is so un-Liverpool-like,” says one name or other, to the papers, discussing these problems.

It’s incredibly depressing.

Jamie Carragher has the right attitude. Liverpool are playing Blackburn today, in that thing we call football, on that thing we call a pitch, inside that place we call Anfield. Remember that? Carragher says the players just try and keep out of it. Maybe we all should. Leave the children to fight, we’ll come and pick up the pieces later.

Carra said: “There’s nothing we can do about what happens off the pitch.” How true that is. Many of those involved desperately want us to think the players have taken sides, fallen into their camp over the others, but players are keeping tight-lipped. In Carra’s case certainly you couldn’t imagine him demanding a transfer based on a change of ownership, but some of the other players might. That might be because they don’t like the new owner. It might be because the owner’s decision with regards the manager didn’t fit in with their hopes. Continue reading Carra: Nothing we can do about off-pitch battles

The alternative side to the LFC ownership mess

The ownership crisis at Anfield is still some way short of being resolved, with conflicting claims continuing to muddy waters that haven’t been clear in a long time. And I’ve been asked repeatedly to explain why my stance has shifted from that of the masses. I’ll try.

The mud has been thick these past few weeks, from when George Gillett went on the radio in Montreal to declare his intention never to sell to Tom Hicks, until this morning when a David Moores interview in the Echo will no doubt stir things further. And that’s before tomorrow’s Sundays get onto it.

Taking a step back for a moment and trying to think calmly can be difficult. It’s an emotional subject. Whether you’re a season ticket holder or a fan thousands of miles away with no choice other than watching on TV, Liverpool Football Club is something that becomes part of you, and you part of it.

Earlier in the season, Liverpool supporters holding up banners saying “One DIC is better than two” and singing “Liverpool Football Club is in the wrong hands” were reacting to the news that Tom Hicks had admitted both owners had spoken to Jurgen Klinsmann about Rafa’s job, and fears that the club’s future was on a knife’s edge because of fears over the impact of £350m debt.

What happened to Hicks was that numerous claims and denials he’d made on various issues were put in doubt because he’d admitted the Klinsmann story. To cut a long story short, claims in November were that the owners had been set to sack Rafa, and his Champions League progressions was all that saved him. A private meeting in December saw a statement released that Rafa and the owners had sorted out their differences. An interview soon after saw Hicks say the papers had made up the story they were about to sack Rafa. The admission by Hicks that they had met Klinsmann saw him shown as having lied. How could he claim the papers made it up when he was now admitting the replacement was being lined up? Continue reading The alternative side to the LFC ownership mess

Nineteenth Hillsborough Memorial

Tuesday 15th April 2008 will be the nineteenth anniversary of the disaster at Hillsborough in Sheffield that cost of our 96 fellow fans their lives.

A memorial service has been arranged to mark the occasion and to remember those who died.

Please meet outside the Hillsborough Justice Campaign shop [opposite The Albert] between 13:45 and 14:00 and join us in our walk to the memorial.

The service will be inter-denominational and will take place on the Spion Kop at Anfield. It will commence at 2.45pm, include a minute’s silence at 3.06pm and conclude at about 3.30pm with the singing of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.

Tickets are not required and we extend an open invitation to you to join the families, survivors, the Directors, officials and players of LFC plus thousands of fellow football fans in our annual act of remembrance.

This year is expected to be very well attended and we would ask that you allow adequate time and plan to be in your seats as soon as possible.

The Hillsborough Justice Campaign remains solidly committed to supporting the fight for justice in whatever form that may take. Justice for the 96 will always remain as the fundamental aim of the campaign. However, we at the HJC also acknowledge the need for justice for the survivors of Hillsborough. We acknowledge the depth of suffering that so many have experienced for nineteen long years. We also acknowledge those who could no longer take that suffering and ended their lives tragically. We would ask you to add them and their families to your thoughts and prayers everyday.

In their name and in their memory 96 candles still burn bright.

The Hillsborough Justice Campaign

Parry asked to resign as DIC claim they can’t afford LFC price

This day could turn out to be one to remember for Liverpool fans, with Rick Parry asked to resign from his post as Liverpool CEO, and DIC claiming they have pulled out of their attempts to buy Liverpool FC.

DIC’s CEO, Sameer al-Ansari, said that the problems between George Gillett and Tom Hicks had played a part in their claimed decision to withdraw from attempts to take over at Anfield. In an extract from an exclusive interview with Arabian Business Magazine due out on Sunday al-Ansari said:  “You have two partners who do not see eye to eye. And we decided that we pull out completely. Let them sort out their problems.

“We will continue to be interested and would love to own the club but we are not going to put ourselves in a difficult situation where we make the investment but we have no control over the destiny of the club and we cannot influence the success of the club. Unfortunately, the terms that have been put on the table do not allow us to do that.”

Although this could mean DIC feel that their maximum investment in the club would be all but eaten up by paying the price demanded by Gillett, Gillett is the only partner willing to sell. Hicks hasn’t put a serious valuation on his half of the club because he wants to buy Gillett out, take control, and stay with the club until the new stadium is built and beyond. DIC don’t want half of the club, and have no intention of making the kind of offer that would change the mind of Hicks.

Whether this decision to pull out is true, or just the latest in a long line of negotiation tactics carried out using the press remains to be seen.

But Hicks’ determination to make something special of his time at Anfield has seen him write to Rick Parry Continue reading Parry asked to resign as DIC claim they can’t afford LFC price

CL Result – Liverpool 4 Arsenal 2 (Agg: 5-3)

UEFA Champions League QF 2nd Leg – April 8th 2008 – Result

Liverpool 4 Arsenal 2 (Agg: 5-3)

Reaction:

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard (speaking to ITV): “That was possibly one of the worst performances I’ve ever put in in a Liverpool shirt, but I still had the confidence to score the penalty.

“That’s up there with them (previous big nights at Anfield) Arsenal are a fantastic team. A times today, they passed us of the pitch. In the end we’ve come through, it was a great team performance tonight.”

Asked if Liverpool deserved to win: “It’s difficult to say because it would be unfair on Arsenal, but over two legs, as I’ve said before, we’re a match for anyone. If those fans perform like that, it’s a big help to us and other teams find it impossible.

“We’ve got some big games coming up but we’ll be ready for Chelsea.” Continue reading CL Result – Liverpool 4 Arsenal 2 (Agg: 5-3)

CL: Reds v Arsenal – Crouch starts

Rafa Benítez might just have caught Arsene Wenger out with his team for tonight, he’s certainly caught most fans out. The 4-3-2-1 formation seems to have been put to one side for the time being, with Torres looking likely to be partnered by Peter Crouch.

Carragher is right back; Aurelio left back; Hyypia and Skrtel starting in the centre of defence ahead of Pepe Reina. No real surprises there. But it’s more uncertain just how the players will line up ahead of that.

Of course Carra could be one of three centre-backs with Aurelio playing a more advanced role.

Alonso and Mascherano are likely to play centre-midfield, but it’s still not certain where Gerrard and Kuyt will actually line up. Continue reading CL: Reds v Arsenal – Crouch starts

Gillett fancies a pint for his trouble

Take your cameras with you to the pub tonight if you’re one of those lucky enough to be enjoying a pre- or post-match pint either side of the game.

George Gillett is rumoured to be planning a visit to the Albert.

It seems to be all part of an orchestrated campaign to recover his reputation with fans.

We all heard his claims recently that after months of being a willing seller of his half of the club to Tom Hicks he’d now changed his mind after receiving death threats. He took the death threats seriously enough that in fear of the lives of his wife and family he was going to go back on multi-million-pound business deal.

So now he’s off to the pub to mix with the very people that might have been making those death threats he spoke of.

The only two reasons he gave for now refusing to sell to Hicks were the death threats, and that Hicks had run out of time.

Yet it’s hardly a secret that when he finally found the means with which to convince the banks to allow him to sign for his half of the £350m club debt he did so at the absolute limit of his financial means. He was already said to be pushing himself close when he took out his half of the original £298m borrowed for the original takeover, but pre-credit-crunch he still had some room to manoeuvre. By the time the duo were speaking to the banks about the renewal of that deal, he was getting short shrift. His assets weren’t even close to the value they had been listed at when that first loan was agreed. Continue reading Gillett fancies a pint for his trouble

Arsenal 1 Liverpool 1 – Result

Barclays Premier League – 5th April 2008 – Result

Arsenal 1 Liverpool 1
Bendtner 54 Crouch 42
(HT: 0-1)

The second of Liverpool’s three meetings in a week with Arsenal ended 1-1, Peter Crouch making the most of a rare start to give Liverpool the lead before a Bendtner equaliser brought Arsenal a point. All three meetings so far this season have ended 1-1.

Rafa Benítez had rested the likes of Torres and Gerrard to ensure their freshness for the bigger tie on Tuesday in the Champions League, although both came on from the bench before the end.

Reaction: Continue reading Arsenal 1 Liverpool 1 – Result

Teams: Arsenal v LFC – Plessis starts

A great chance for Damien Plessis today as he makes his league debut for the Reds away at the Emirates. Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has made a number of changes for this league game against Arsenal, the second of three matches between the teams in a week.

Liverpool’s two targets for this season now are to finish fourth and of course to go as far as possible in the Champions League. With fifth-placed Everton five points behind the Reds it was no surprise to see Rafa take the chance of resting some of his squad to allow them to be fresh for Tuesday.

Rafa’s view will be straightforward – if Liverpool were to slip up today they would still be no worse than two points above Everton, and have games left with which to open that gap up again. But slipping up on Tuesday and it’s all over in that competition, there won’t be any more chances.

So as well as Plessis getting his first chance, other players from Liverpool’s squad are being given an opportunity to remind the manager who they are and what they can do. Finnan is back at right back, so Carra’s back where he’d rather be in the centre of defence, alongside Skrtel, which allows Sami Hyypia a chance to rest his older legs. Alvaro Arbeloa gets the left-back spot.

It looks like Rafa is staying with the 4-2-3-1 formation that has worked so well of late. That would see Plessis, a former Lyon player highly-rated by Rafa Benitez, playing alongside the Brazilian youngster Lucas in the centre of midfield. The row of three in front of that normally consisting of Kuyt, Babel and Gerrard, is today looking likely to be made up of Riise, Pennant and Benayoun. Up front on his own in place of Torres is Peter Crouch.

This is a chance for Liverpool’s fringe players, and if they play to their best abilities it should still be a competitive match and the Reds will still be in with a chance of a good result. The attitude shown earlier in the season when Rafa allowed fringe players a chance in FA Cup games could see Liverpool embarrassed.

Arsenal: 24 Almunia, 31 Hoyte, 10 Gallas, 5 Toure, 30 Traore, 27 Eboue, 4 Fabregas, 19 Silva, 16 Flamini, 26 Bendtner, 32 Walcott
Subs: 1 Lehmann, 13 Hleb, 17 Song Billong, 22 Clichy, 25 Adebayor

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 3 Finnan, 23 Carragher, 37 Skrtel, 17 Arbeloa, 21 Lucas, 47 Plessis, 16 Pennant, 11 Benayoun, 6 Riise, 15 Crouch
Subs: 30 Itandje, 4 Hyypia, 8 Gerrard, 9 Torres, 10 Voronin

Referee: Phil Dowd

Mascherano apologises, but no word from referees

There was never any doubt that the FA would be strong in their punishment of Javier Mascherano for his reaction to his red card at Old Trafford, because the incident was related to the hot topic of the time. If referee Steve Bennett and his boss Keith Hackett can put their hands on their hearts and say that Bennett handled the game impeccably then it’s time for a fresh look at how referees are recruited, trained and retained.

Liverpool say they are considering an appeal against the punishment – a two game suspension and a £15,000 fine – but it may be a futile act. Futile unless it’s an appeal aimed at delaying the start of the extra two-game suspension and so in turn allowing the player to line up for the Arsenal league game this weekend.

A Reds spokesman said: “Although we received a fair hearing we must now decide whether to appeal on the basis of inconsistency of sentencing for Javier based on past precedents.” One example cited – not by Liverpool – was Emmanuel Adebayor’s punishment for a similar incident in the Carling Cup final last season. His ban and fine were literally half of Mascherano’s – one match plus £7,500 – but there was one difference: His offence wasn’t in a league game.

In the snappily-titled FA Document, Guidance to Players in The Premier League, The Football League and The Football Conference (National Division) on Disciplinary Matters Season 2007/08, certain key FA rules (not Laws) are discussed. One of those is players outstaying their welcome post-red.

“Players not leaving the Field of Play immediately when they are sent off

A player who is reported to have failed to leave the field IMMEDIATELY on being informed by the Referee and/or shown the Red Card will be considered to be in breach of FA Rule E3. This is by virtue of his actions being considered improper conduct for which he will be liable to a minimum sanction of a suspension of 2 matches and a fine equivalent to one week’s net salary. This sanction will apply notwithstanding the outcome of any appeal by the player under the wrongful dismissal procedure.” Continue reading Mascherano apologises, but no word from referees