Liverpool FC World-cup round-up

Liverpool players are involved in various internationals this weekend – here’s a round-up of how they’ve fared.

Steven Gerrard played 70 minutes for England in their 4-0 win over Northern Ireland. Jamie Carragher was an unused substitute, with ex-red Michael Owen scoring one of the goals.

In the same qualifying group, Jerzy Dudek kept a clean sheet in Warsaw as Poland won 8-0 against Azerbaijan.
Wednesday sees England and Poland switch opponents.

Former red player John Toshack, and his assistant Roy Evans – former Liverpool manager suffered a defeat in their first game in charge of Wales. Austria beat them 2-0 at the Millennium Stadium.

The Czech Republic and Finland were involved in what sounds like an exciting game, with the Czechs just taking the three points in a 4-3 win. Liverpool’s Milan Baros had put the Czechs ahead after 7 minutes, but he was taken off after 53 minutes – we hope there’s not another injury worry for Liverpool. Liverpool’s Sami Hyypia played the whole game for Finland and his ex-Red team-mate Jari Litmanen scored Finland’s first goal.

Steve Finnan started for the Republic of Ireland in their
5:50pm kick-off in Israel. Half-time score was 1-0 to the Republic.

Continue reading Liverpool FC World-cup round-up

Liverpool FC World-cup round-up

Liverpool players are involved in various internationals this weekend – here’s a round-up of how they’ve fared.

Steven Gerrard played 70 minutes for England in their 4-0 win over Northern Ireland. Jamie Carragher was an unused substitute, with ex-red Michael Owen scoring one of the goals.

Former red player John Toshack, and his assistant Roy Evans – former Liverpool manager suffered a defeat in their first game in charge of Wales. Austria beat them 2-0 at the Millennium Stadium.

At half-time in the 4pm kick-off between the Czech Republic and Finland, Liverpool and Finland defender Sami Hyypia has seen his side go 2-0 behind. The first goal for the Czechs came from Liverpool’s Milan Baros after 7 minutes.

Jerzy Dudek is in goal for Poland in a 5pm kick-off against Azerbaijan.
Steve Finnan is likely to play in the Republic of Ireland midfield in a
5:50pm kick-off in Israel.

Continue reading Liverpool FC World-cup round-up

Gerrard: I’m going nowhere.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is not leaving Liverpool. He has not agreed a deal with Chelsea. He has not agreed a deal with any club. He is getting tired of doing interviews because of the same questions being asked. He will be talking to the manager at the end of the season about the future, but with two years left on his contract that’s no sign that he’s talking about leaving.

That’s our interpretation of what Steven has said in interview publised this weekend. Whether the national press interpret this in the same way remains to be seen, but based on past evidence it’s not likely. Last Sunday Gerrard clearly stated that he loves playing and scoring for Liverpool, yet in many cases the words "for Liverpool" were taken out of quotes by national publications.

So, what did Stevie say? Read on for his actual words: "I held a press conference last summer to say I was staying and the situation hasn’t changed since then. I can tell you for a fact the suggestion I’ve already made up my mind to leave Liverpool and I’ve done a deal to join another club is absolute rubbish. There’s no deal for me to go anywhere and I’ve not even been thinking about that. There has been a lot of rubbish written about me this season and it’s getting ridiculous. There are people out there whom I’ve never even met assuming they know what I think.

"Sometimes I feel I’m in a no-win situation. No doubt in Sunday’s papers someone somewhere will misinterpret this but if I say nothing, then you’ll have some fans saying ‘Gerrard hasn’t denied it, so it must be true’.

"On the one hand I want to put the record straight and let the fans know they shouldn’t believe everything they’re hearing about me. On the other, I know everything I say is being interpreted to mean one thing or another.

"It gets to the point where you wonder if you should do interviews, but I’ve always been honest in everything I’ve said. If I responded every time a rumour was printed about me I would spend all my time denying I had decided to go. How many times do I have to say it?

"All I’ve been concentrating on since I decided to stay last summer was being successful with Liverpool, making sure we qualify for the Champions League next year and going as far as we can in the Champions League this year.

"The last thing I want to to do is leave this club because I want us to be challenging for honours every season. At the end of the season I’ll be sitting down with the manager and talking about the future, but until then all of us are trying to just focus on doing the best for the club and making sure we qualify for the Champions League."

Steven Gerrard wants to stay. He’ll be talking to the manager (not the board) in the summer about the future. Rafael Benitez won’t want to keep an uncommitted player – hence the speed of Michael Owen’s departure – so contract talks are almost certain to take place, alongside talks about which players Benitez is trying to bring in. Between now and then the situation of finance at Liverpool may be sorted – activity certainly seems to be taking place behind the scenes – and the players interesting Benitez may be of a higher class.

Chelsea may just find they can’t have everything they want.

Continue reading Gerrard: I’m going nowhere.

Busy weekend for International Reds

International matches-a-plenty this Easter weekend and most Liverpool players that aren’t in the treatment room are on duty for their countries.

Of Liverpool’s three first-choice ‘keepers, Chris Kirkland is injured, Scott Carson played last night for the England under 21’s and Jerzy Dudek is in action for Poland against Azerbaijan on Saturday.

Only seven of the starting line-up against Everton on Sunday lasted until the end of the game, and six of these are on duty for their countries.

Also on duty are Milan Baros and Sami Hyypia. Finland’s Hyypia was an unused substitute in the derby, the Czech Republic’s Baros was sent off in the same game, and they will line up against each other. Ex-red Jari Litmanen is also expected to start for Finland.

Steve Finnan looks likey to start in Israel for the Republic of Ireland – although in midfield. John Arne Riise is free this weekend, but he will be travelling to Moldova for Norway’s game on Wednesday.

Luis Garcia was a player who struggled through the second half on Sunday with an injury, but now looks set to finally make an appearance for Spain. The feeling is that he’ll start on the bench and be brought on in the second-half. Garcia is looking forward to it: “I am really excited, once again it almost got ruined at the last moment, but I was able to recover. Now my objective is to play. The most important thing is that the coach is counting on you and you are able to make a contribution.”

Also in action is Steven Gerrard for England against Northern Ireland, with Jamie Carragher hoping to be at least a substitute in the same fixture.
Continue reading Busy weekend for International Reds

Mixed night for the youngsters

Some of Liverpool’s youngsters have been involved in international action for their under-21 teams this evening.

Goalkeeper Scott Carson had a mixed night as England drew with Germany 2-2. After making a number of very good saves, including one from a curling German free-kick and another from a powerful left-foot volley, but ended the night on a low.

With just three minutes left Carson’s attempted clearance rebounded off a German player leading to an equaliser.

John Welsh also made an appearance in the game, coming on for the second half. He’ll be glad of the experience as the current Anfield injury crisis means there’s a good chance Welsh will be called up to play for the first team.

The England under-21 manager, Peter Taylor, spoke about Carson’s misfortune after the game: “I am sure Scott is feeling very down at the minute but he will get his confidence up. All the good players over the years have this kind of situation and bounce back and I am sure Scott will be the same. He came in and apologised to all the boys, which is good enough in itself. I think the next time it happens he will kick it straight off, his body shape would have made it easier to kick it for a throw-in. But he has got our backing, he is a very good keeper.”

Also tonight Liverpool midfielder Darren Potter, another player likely to be in first team contention in the coming weeks, played for the Republic of Ireland under-21s as they fell to 3-1 away defeat to Israel.
Continue reading Mixed night for the youngsters

Rafael: Fingers crossed

Liverpool’s midfield is going to have to manage without Didi Hamman until after both legs of the Champion’s League clash with Juventus.

Rafael Benitez told the official Liverpool FC site about the extent of Hamman’s injury: "Didi will be out for a month. He has a ligament problem and usually it takes at least four weeks to recover. Now we need to look at some of the youngsters who did so well in the Carling Cup."

Liverpool’s former boss, Gerrard Houllier, was criticised for failing to make use of any of the players produced by the Liverpool academy. Under Benitez this has shown signs of changing with Steven Warnock standing out as a player who’s made the move to the first team under the new boss.

Injuries have played a big part in team selection this season, and now Liverpool have run out of recognised strikers. will Benitez go for the inexperience of youth, or the experienced players playing out of position? He’s not saying yet: "I`d prefer not to talk too much about my options for the Bolton game now because of the internationals. I can plan to use players, but I have to make sure they come back from their national team fit. I need to wait and keep my fingers crossed. If I say I want to play with Luis Garcia and Steven Gerrard as attackers, I may find both are unavailable. After all, I now have a book of injuries."

Igor Biscan looks set for a run in the side with all of the injuries, but doesn’t feel that this is how he sees his future. "The way things are looking now I think I`ll be leaving at the end of the season." Vastly improved on previous seasons’ performances, Biscan feels the rest of season is all about putting himself in the shop-window: "I want to do well for myself over the rest of the season and in doing so I`ll do well for the team. If I`m going to leave the club then it`s important I play games to show the other teams what I am capable of."
Continue reading Rafael: Fingers crossed

Gerrard: I want revenge

Liverpool’s captain Steven Gerrard is out for revenge. As the leader of England’s midfield (he may not be official captain, but you try and tell him that once he’s on the pitch), Gerrard will be aiming to spoil a big day for Lawrie Sanchez.

Gerrard heads into Saturday’s World Cup qualifier looking for revenge on the man who once made him cry as a boy: Northern Ireland boss Sanchez.

It was Sanchez that headed the winning goal for Wimbledon against the Reds at Wembley in the FA Cup Final of 1988. Liverpool were favourites that day to the point of everyone assuming they only had to turn up. Steven Gerrard, a lifelong Red was also expecting a win, and says he cried after that match.

He said: "I can remember when he ruined one of my days by scoring the winner in the FA Cup final against Liverpool. I remember crying after that game. He’s also done really well since taking charge of the Northern Ireland national team. Hopefully on the weekend, though, we’ll be able to turn it into a sad day for him."

Gerrard himself was unhappy during the last World Cup. Forced to miss the tournament through the need for surgery, Steven thinks he’ll be able to make up for it if England qualify this time: "I think that if we can get there, you’ll see a different Steven Gerrard at the World Cup. That will be the perfect stage for me to show people worldwide that I can dominate at this level. I just feel I can still offer a bit more at international level and Germany would be the perfect place to prove it."

He talks about why he missed the last tournament: "I had no choice really other than to decide to have surgery. I knew that if I had decided to go to the World Cup you wouldn’t have seen the best of me. I know what it’s like to miss out on one so hopefully now I can play a big part in this one."

The English FA have decided to pander to the requests of England’s boss Ericcson, and have arranged for the 2006 season to finish early. This arrangement requires different rules for different teams in relation to whether or not drawn FA Cup matches have replays or not, but Gerrard – on England duty of course – welcomes it: "With the amount of games that we play during a season, it’s important that, come these tournaments, you are fresh and ready. Sven will know how to handle that right and I’m sure that by the time we start the training we’ll be really fresh because of the week he’ll have given us beforehand."

Back to this weekend’s game though, and Gerrard believes that they musn’t go into the game too complacently: "We have to show the people who are watching and the opposition why we are favourites. We are favourites because we believe we are a better team with better individuals and we need to have proved that by a quarter-to-five on Saturday."

After his boyhood tears, he’ll not be drawn into assuming the game will be easy, despite the individuals that England have available.

Up-front he says that they are now strong with the Rooney-Owen partnership, one which mixes pace with brutality: "With Wayne and Michael there is a good mix. It’s the variation in their game that makes them so good to play with."

He also has time for a word of praise for his current team-mate and friend, Jamie Carragher: "We also have some of the best centre-backs and full-backs in the world. It’s great to have Rio Ferdinand back while John Terry and Jamie Carragher have shown tremendous form. We are littered with top defenders. Hopefully, if we go on to qualify, come the World Cup, teams will find it very difficult to score against us."

Now of course look out for the edited version of the above quote, which removes Jamie Carragher’s name and emphasises John Terry’s – the country’s national press have already decided Gerrard will be at Chelsea come summer. Should Gerrard perform as well as he’d like, Liverpool may well lose him – but to a bigger club than Chelsea.

Continue reading Gerrard: I want revenge

Watson not happy with celebrations

Steve Watson says that Liverpool have annoyed him and his team-mates so much after the blues were defeated at Anfield, that they intend to win all their games between now and the end of the season. “We’ve got eight games and we need to go full throttle on every one.”

Watson arrived on the pitch with around ten minutes to go on Sunday, after being out for some time for Everton. “We need to go out and play positive football and win as many games as we can – we’ve got some tough matches coming up,” he admitted.

Liverpool had been forced into using all their subsitutes before half-time due to injuries, and also had a much-less-than-fit Luis Garcia forced to play until the end despite getting an injury. Once Baros was sent off and Everton pulled one goal back, it looked more and more likely that fate was trying to force Liverpool into a defeat. At the end of the game the Liverpool players were happy to have come through a strong test of character.

Watson didn’t see the celebrations that way: “We’ve still got United and Arsenal to play and to be honest seeing how Liverpool were after the game on Sunday and their celebrations at the end make us want to get that fourth spot even more now.” Watson perhaps fails to realise that for around the last 20 years or so Everton have had very little more than derby-day victories to cheer – and certainly would have been celebrating just as much had they somehow managed to win on Sunday.
Continue reading Watson not happy with celebrations

Baros says sorry.

Milan Baros, who’s been criticised heavily for his tackle in the derby victory on Sunday, has made an apology.

We’ve been saying since the tackle was made that although Baros probably did deserve a sending off, there was no need for all of the over-reaction to what was really nothing more than mistimed challenge.

Said Baros: "I wanted to kick the ball away. I closed my eyes and ran for it and unluckily I hit his knee. I am sorry. My style of playing is based on aggressiveness."

Baros is often referred to as a player who needs to look up more when running at goal with the ball, and so it’s probably no surprise when he says he had his eyes shut. He went on: " I appreciate it looked furious on television but I surely didn’t want to knowingly foul him. I wanted to kick the ball away."

Every time a Liverpool player is sent off or commits a foul it seems all the experts are out to condemn the player. This game was no different, as Baros says: " I saw worse fouls and they were only yellow cards, but this doesn’t excuse me. My challenge was surely a red card." In other words, he accepts the red card, but believes that the referee had previously been lenient to the Everton players. " I will be given a three-match ban, that’s normal here. If we hadn’t won, I would have felt guilty for that."

The usual twisting of quotes has taken place already in the aftermath of this game. The London-based national press seem to enjoy taking Liverpool to task. For example on Sunday Steven Gerrard was interviewed immediately after the game for television. He was slightly critical of Baros for missing chances, and wasn’t happy that Baros had got sent off, but how could Gerrard be critical of a player for being sent off – something he’s managed himself more than once. Gerrard was basically pointing out that this event had made an already tough task due to the injuries even tougher.

Another quote from Gerrard was that he loves playing and scoring for Liverpool. Yet when these quotes appeared in the national press the "for Liverpool" part was taken out of the quotes. After all, it wouldn’t fit the agenda of the national press to report Gerrard saying he loves to play for Liverpool.

Continue reading Baros says sorry.

Stubbs not happy

Alan Stubbs was feeling sorry for himself today after his boyhood heroes, the team he’s now captain of, failed to beat 10-man injury-hit Liverpool in the derby at Anfield yesterday.

Stubbs was the victim of a silly tackle from Milan Baros shortly before the end of the game. Baros, who’d missed numerous chances for the second game in succession, was not in the best frame of mind as he went to get the ball in what was probably not quite a 50-50 situation. As usual in matches involving Liverpool, a tackle that certainly wasn’t good, and probably was deserving of a red-card, is treated as a serious, malicious dirty tackle – an over-reaction.

Alan Stubbs’ opinion was different: "It was a sh**bag’s challenge," he said.

Stubbs said: "You don’t do those types of tackles, they can finish players’ careers. It was a shocking tackle and I don’t care what people say about typical strikers’ challenges – that is a load of nonsense. It was a tackle that could finish a career whether it was mine or anybody else and it is just not acceptable."

His griping continued:  "I would have accepted it if he had looked the other way and left his leg there but when you look at a player and still push your leg into his leg then it is totally different.  I would have been the first to shake his hand if he had turned away and left his foot dangling but it wasn’t the case."

Stubbs is now probably all the more grateful his playing career wasn’t brought to an early end – after all, his punditry career hopes have probably now been dashed with his description of the challenge.

In many ways although Baros did make a tackle that could well have been brought on by  frustration at his missed chances, his frustration wouldn’t have been helped by all the fouls he suffered prior to that, which the referee failed to punish.

Continue reading Stubbs not happy