Feyenoord 1 Liverpool 1

Port of Rotterdam Tournament – August 5th 2007.

Feyenoord 1 Liverpool 1

Liverpool’s pre-season games used to be played in Scandinavia and Ireland, and for fans back home in England the only coverage would be two or three paragraphs in the press the next day – and that was if we were lucky. The back pages would still be dominated by cricket, football writers seemingly on long summer breaks.

This pre-season’s fixtures have been arranged for commercial reasons. The Hong Kong trip was part of the club’s strategy to raise their profile in far-off lands. The Rotterdam tournament was part of the deal to sign Dirk Kuyt last summer, at a time when the club couldn’t actually afford the player’s transfer fee. Rafa wasn’t keen on either trip, but accepted it had to be done. In the earliest part of pre-season Rafa was more in control of the games that were chosen.
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Feyenoord v Liverpool – teams

Port of Rotterdam Tournament – August 5th 2007.

Feyenoord v Liverpool

Feyenoord: Ekramy, Lucius, Vlaar, Bahia, De Cler, Sahin, De Guzman, van Bronckhorst, Slory, Makaay, Drenthe
Subs: TBC

Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Riise, Pennant, Gerrard, Alonso, Kewell, Kuyt, Voronin
Subs: Martin, Finnan, Hyypia, Torres, Benayoun, Crouch, Babel, Mascherano, Sissoko.

Kick-off: 7pm BST

Heinze decision expected soon

Liverpool’s bid to sign Gabriel Heinze could go all the way to court, but a meeting between the player and his current manager tomorrow may help to bring some kind of resolution to the dispute. Heinze has been unhappy at Old Trafford for some time, and through his agent was offered a chance to get out this summer. United gave the player’s agent written permission to offer him to other clubs, with a £6.8m fee the requirement. The dispute centres on whether or not a later, verbal, demand from United that the offer didn’t include “rival” clubs was made, and if so whether it was in any way binding. Continue reading Heinze decision expected soon

Liverpool 2 – Shanghai Shenhua 0

Port of Rotterdam Tournament.
Friday, August 3rd 2007.

Liverpool 2 Shanghai Shenhua 0

Liverpool: Martin, Insua, Hyypia (capt), Paletta, Finnan (Arbeloa, 74), Leto, Sissoko (Gerrard, 61), Leiva (Mascherano, 74), Benayoun, Crouch (Babel, 61), Torres (Kuyt, 64).
Unused subs: Riise, Alonso, Reina, Carragher
Goals: Torres 13, Gerrard 64
Bookings: None

Shanghai Shenhua: Zhang, Xiang, Du, Weifeng (capt), Gang, Xiao, Blanco (Ke, 75), Tao Yu (Ricard, 5 (Hui, 75)), Sun, Alonso, Jiang (Chang, 62).
Unused subs: Yao, Zheng, Wang, Martinez, Shengjiong
Bookings: None

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Miller: Reds must get off to good start

Liverpool’s players have been enjoying a different kind of training regime at Anfield this summer in comparison to past seasons under Rafa Benítez. Rafa and his coaching staff concentrated heavily on fitness and conditioning last summer, and this had the benefit of giving the club a squad fit to last the whole season. Despite this the staff are wary of how many points were dropped in the first half of the season, and feel that the pre-season training from last summer might have played a part in that slow start.

This season the club are determined not to find themselves written out of the league before Christmas, and according to first team coach Alex Miller they’ll be all set to hit the ground running this time: “In the last two seasons we haven’t made good starts but hopefully it will be different this year,” said Miller in a rare interview. “We have made one or two changes to our training programme which we believe will help us start really well. The competition is so tough in England that it’s so important you get off to a good start and that will be our aim from the moment we kick off at Aston Villa.” Continue reading Miller: Reds must get off to good start

Fantasy Rafa!

We got an email today alerting us to a new website for those of you who need more ways to while away those working hours in a way that involves your beloved Reds. This one is described as a “fantasy football game with a twist”.

Fantasy Rafa is a site where you try and predict Rafa’s starting 11 for each game. The closer you are to getting it right the more points you get. It’s all for fun, and there’s no charge for registering.

It might sound an easy task, but as the site owners point out, “Last season Rafa changed his starting line up 99 times in a row, and with a host of new signings, he’s sure to do it all over again.”

Will Rafa want to save his bigger players for the Champions League qualifier that takes place against Toulouse in the midweek after the first league game, or will he want Villa to face those bigger-name players? Will Torres and Babel make Premiership debuts, or will Voronin be given his chance first?

The site is not affiliated with us in any way but looks a lot of fun, so why not give it a try?


Reds to face Toulouse in CL 3rd Qualifier

The draw for the third qualifying round of the Champions League has taken place this morning in Nyon in Switzerland. Liverpool have been drawn against Toulouse.
Liverpool went into the draw as one of 16 seeded sides and so could not be drawn against the likes of Arsenal, Celtic, Valencia or Ajax. Arsenal will face Sparta Prague, Celtic will face Spartak Moscow.
After the usual long and drawn-out build up to the draw the actual reason everybody was there finally took place.

The matches will take place on 14th/15th August for the first leg and 28th/29th August for the second leg.

Reds right-backs make plans for future

As one Liverpool right-back committed his future to Anfield, another one took steps to get the vital experience he needs to become a part of Liverpool’s future. Steve Finnan signed his new contract, Lee Peltier agreed to a half-season loan deal at Yeovil.

Finnan had said he would sign his new deal as soon as the club got back from their trip to Hong Kong, and he did so yesterday. The deal runs for two years, with an option for a third after that. This means the player could be at the club until he’s 34. He was the last of Liverpool’s current squad to sign new deals this summer, following on from captain Steven Gerrard, vice-captain Jamie Carragher, goalkeeper Pepe Reina and midfielders Xabi and Alonso Momo Sissoko.

Twenty-year-old Peltier knows that with Finnan and Arbeloa ahead of him for the right-back position he won’t get too many chances in the first-team yet, save perhaps for League Cup games. Even substitute appearances are limited, although Rafa does sometimes use the luxury of the seven subs allowed in Europe to include youngsters in the match squad. He can also play in midfield, but the competition there is even greater. By joining League One side Yeovil until December, Peltier will get experience of first-team competitive fooball. He spent some time on loan at Hull last season, making seven appearances for the Yorkshire side.

Youngsters show how attitude matters

The contrast between promising Liverpool youngster Robbie Threlfall and outgoing one-time promising Liverpool youngster Anthony Le Tallec couldn’t be much greater. Le Tallec was signed in the Gerard Houllier era with the Frenchman believing his young compatriot would be something special very soon. All kinds of kind words and high praise were thrown at the player before he’d even signed for the club: unfortunately for Le Tallec, he believed it all a little too much. Threlfall meanwhile is determined to prove to manager Rafa Benitez he can do well for the club – but knows he has to work for a place in the first team.

Le Tallec has spent most of his time since joining the Reds out on loan to one club or other. Under Houllier this was mainly done to give the player some experience in competitive football. Under Rafa it’s more down to an attitude problem. Rafa wants players who know their place, players who know they won’t play every game, and even then won’t always play in their favoured position. Le Tallec made the mistake of demanding a regular first-team place as soon as Rafa arrived, and was dispatched out on loan almost immediately as a result. Rafa allowed him back later in the season, even giving him a game in the Champions League against Juventus. The player did a good enough job, but again he expected too much on the back of this. He reportedly felt that training with the reserves was beneath him and made that clear to the rest of the reserve squad, who of course were outraged at the arrogance.

He spent last season on loan again, no longer on loan to gain experience to help his future Liverpool career, but on loan to try and reduce his contribution towards the club’s wage bill. He couldn’t have got a clearer display of how little Rafa Benitez thinks of him when he looked at how his pre-season back in the Liverpool fold had been going. When the first team travelled to Asia for the tour he was kept back with the reserves at Melwood. When the biggest part of the reserve squad went to Holland yesterday for a tournament Rafa wasn’t going to send Le Tallec. But he didn’t want him to train with the first team either – so he gave Le Tallec a week’s holiday! The first-team squad will be joining up with the reserves later in the week, but Le Tallec will be kicking his heels at home hoping his agent finds him a club.

Liverpool have been spreading the word across Europe, including the Premiership, that Le Tallec is available, and there has been a little bit of interest. He joined the club in 2002 along with Florent Sinama-Pongolle, after both had impressed at international youth championships, both signed from Le Havre. Pongolle had the better attitude of the two, but he too burned his bridges eventually after making claims that he’d never met a Liverpool fan in Liverpool! Pongolle finally left the club this summer after also spending much of his Anfield career on loan away from Anfield.

The attitude of the French youngsters was so unlike that of twenty-year-old Robbie Threlfall, who has the kind of attitude that will stand him in good stead in Rafa’s eyes. He doesn’t expect too much, he’s not demanding a first-team place, he’s just determined to show his worth at Melwood in front of the coaches as he trains with the reserves. In turn he hopes it brings him a chance to be a part of the first-team squad at times over the season: “I just want to keep playing regularly for the reserves and prove that I’m good enough to join up with the first team again,” said the defender. “Hopefully, if I can impress the manager I’d love to get on the bench or even play in the Carling Cup.”

He is aware of Liverpool’s ongoing battle to bring left-back Gabriel Heinze to Anfield, meaning another player will be ahead of him in the queue for a starting place, but sees that as an extra incentive to do well: “I have played centre-back but left-back is my position. I don’t think I’m big enough to play in the centre – ideally, you have to be six foot plus but I seem to have stopped growing and I’m only five foot eleven. Obviously new players are being brought in all the time and some of them will play in the same position. It doesn’t worry me though. It’s part and parcel of the game and I see it as a fresh challenge – one that will hopefully bring the best out in me and make me a better player.”