Result: Liverpool 2 Bolton 0

Premier League – January 30 2010 – Result

Liverpool 2 (Kuyt, K Davies og) Bolton 0

A shot from Emliano Insua was deflected into the net after 70 minutes to put Liverpool 2-0 up and to end Bolton’s hopes of snatching a point from this game. The Reds had continued where they left off in the first half, creating numerous chances and keeping Bolton under pressure. Dirk Kuyt had got the opener on 37 minutes.

More later…

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 23 Carragher, 37 Skrtel, 16 Kyrgiakos, 22 Insua, 20 Mascherano, 4 Aquilani (21 Lucas, 65), 18 Kuyt, 8 Gerrard, 11 Riera (17 Maxi 74), 24 Ngog (19 Babel, 84)
Unused subs: 1 Cavalieri, 5 Agger, 32 Darby, 47 Pacheco
Booked: Mascherano 32
Goals: Kuyt 37, K Davies (og) 70

Bolton: 22 Jaaskelainen, 5 Cahill, 12 Knight, 15 Steinsson, 18 Ricketts, 6 Muamba (9 Elmander, 78), 7 Taylor (40 Weiss, 65), 16 M Davies, 21 Cohen (11 Gardner, 60), 27 Lee, 14 K Davies
Subs: 26 Al Habsi, 4 Robinson, 31 O’Brien, 32 Wilshere

Booked: M Davies 13, Lee 44, Knight 86

Referee: Steve Bennett


Half-time: Liverpool 1 (Kuyt) Bolton 0

Liverpool go into the break at Anfield a goal up against Bolton thanks to Dirk Kuyt’s effort on 37 minutes.

Liverpool have come out to attack and have dominated for most of the first half, although Bolton have looked dangerous on the counter-attack.

The goal came after 37 minutes, Emiliano Insua – impressive going forward today – crossing the ball into the danger area where it was met by the head of Alberto Aquilani to set up the Dutchman for his third goal in three games.

Steven Gerrard has been showing signs of getting back to his usual self in a Liverpool side that has fought for every ball. Bolton are clearly working better together since their change of manager and with the scoreline at 1-0 this is going to be another nervous second half unless the Reds can get another.

Chung-Yong Lee has been impressive for Bolton, almost scoring after 25 minutes when he dribbled from the half-way line past a number of Reds including goalkeeper Pepe Reina, but his shot was cleared off the line by Kyrgiakos and Liverpool survived the scare. He looked dangerous right up to the stroke of half-time but then let himself down by diving in the box under a little pressure from Alberto Aquilani. Steve Bennett booked him for the dive, the third yellow card of the half.

It goes without saying that Liverpool have to try and turn the domination into another goal in the second half to ensure that counter-attack threat from Bolton doesn’t turn the game against Liverpool.

Half-time: Liverpool 1 Bolton 0.

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 23 Carragher, 37 Skrtel, 16 Kyrgiakos, 22 Insua, 20 Mascherano, 4 Aquilani, 18 Kuyt, 8 Gerrard, 11 Riera, 24 Ngog
Subs: 1 Cavalieri, 5 Agger, 32 Darby, 17 Maxi, 21 Lucas, 19 Babel, 47 Pacheco
Booked: Mascherano 32
Goal: Kuyt 37

Bolton: 22 Jaaskelainen, 5 Cahill, 12 Knight, 15 Steinsson, 18 Ricketts, 6 Muamba, 7 Taylor, 16 M Davies, 21 Cohen, 27 Lee, 14 K Davies
Subs: 26 Al Habsi, 4 Robinson, 31 O’Brien, 11 Gardner, 32 Wilshere, 40 Weiss, 9 Elmander
Booked: M Davies 13, Lee 44

Referee: Steve Bennett


Rumours earlier in the week that Rafa Benitez had already taken the Juventus job were soon denied and although the manager spoke yesterday of being flattered by the interest from Turin he made it clear he had unfinished business here. What he also made clear was that he expects the business side of the club to pull their fingers out and get the finance that they’ve been chasing for so long. That finance would allow the new stadium to finally get underway and would maybe also remove the need to sell before buying new players or improving contracts for existing players.

As has been the case all season, Benitez has to choose from a squad depleted by injury for today’s visit of Bolton which today means that Jamie Carragher again plays at right-back. That’s no bad thing because it means Skrtel and Kyrgiakos again play together in the centre of defence, their performances in recent games providing some much-needed solidity for the Reds. Emiliano Insua starts again at left-back.

There’ll no doubt be some sarcastic cheers from certain elements of the support with Lucas dropped to the bench to accomodate both Alberto Aquilani and Steven Gerrard from the off, one of whom will partner Mascherano in midfield, the other – probably Gerrard – likely to play further forward.

David Ngog starts in the Fernando Torres position – Torres out after having knee surgery – and will be supported by Albert Riera and Dirk Kuyt.

Arguably the club’s most vital player these days, Pepe Reina is of course in goal.

Maxi drops back to the bench alongside Babel and Pacheco, with Darby and Agger providing defensive cover should it be required.

Bolton will be up for this match too with a new manager in place and only just above the relegation places.

The referee is Steve Bennett, well-known to Liverpool fans for all the wrong reasons.

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 23 Carragher, 37 Skrtel, 16 Kyrgiakos, 22 Insua, 20 Mascherano, 4 Aquilani, 18 Kuyt, 8 Gerrard, 11 Riera, 24 Ngog
Subs: 1 Cavalieri, 5 Agger, 32 Darby, 17 Maxi, 21 Lucas, 19 Babel, 47 Pacheco

Bolton: 22 Jaaskelainen, 5 Cahill, 12 Knight, 15 Steinsson, 18 Ricketts, 6 Muamba, 7 Taylor, 16 M Davies, 21 Cohen, 27 Lee, 14 K Davies
Subs: 26 Al Habsi, 4 Robinson, 31 O’Brien, 11 Gardner, 32 Wilshere, 40 Weiss, 9 Elmander

Referee: Steve Bennett

Wolves v Liverpool: Gerrard back, Maxi starts

Two changes for Liverpool for tonight’s clash with Wolves at Molyneux including a debut for Maxi Rodriguez and a return to the starting line-up for the skipper, Steven Gerrard.

Manager Rafa Benitez has stuck with the same back-four that kept Spurs at bay just under a week ago meaning Jamie Carragher continues at right-back, with Skrtel and Kyrgiakos deservedly keeping their places in the centre of defence.

Mascherano and Lucas start again in midfield meaning that rather than dropping back Aquilani drops to the bench, making way for Gerrard. Maxi takes the place of Degen on the right with Albert Riera on the left again and Dirk Kuyt playing up front.

Wolves boss Mick McCarthy has made six changes to his side, but not in the way he did against Manchester United when he made changes that weakened his side having decided his first choice eleven would probably lose anyway. Tonight he’s strengthened having played his weaker side in the FA Cup at the weekend. He includes new signings Geoffrey Mujangi Bia and Adlene Guedioura in his squad, both are named as subs tonight.

Wolves: Hahnemann, Zubar, Berra, Craddock, Ward, Mancienne, Henry, Milijaš, Foley, Doyle, Jarvis.
Subs: Hennessey, Stearman, Jones, Vokes, Iwelumo, Mujangi, Guedioura.

Liverpool: Reina, Carragher, Insua, Skrtel, Kyrgiakos, Mascherano, Lucas, Gerrard, Riera, Maxi, Kuyt.
Subs: Cavalieri, Aquilani, Babel, Ngog, Degen, Darby, Pacheco.

Referee: Peter Walton

Hicks sells Rangers, LFC still in limbo

Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks has agreed the sale of Texas Rangers baseball franchise to a consortium headed by Chuck Greenberg and current Rangers president Nolan Ryan. Although Hicks will still retain a stake in the franchise he will no longer be on its board.

Hicks Sports Group announced on Saturday night that it had “reached a definitive agreement” to sell the MLB franchise to the Rangers Baseball Express, the Greenberg-Ryan investment group. Ryan ended his playing career at Texas Rangers and was described as a “legendary pitcher” in the announcement.

It has taken some time for the process to reach this stage. Hicks first said he was willing to sell a minority stake in the franchise in March last year, two months later admitting that he would now consider selling a majority stake. There is still some way to go before the sale goes through; Major League Baseball have to approve the deal as do some of the lenders that Hicks Sports Group have used. The statement also says that there is some “completion of financing” to do. Continue reading Hicks sells Rangers, LFC still in limbo

Teams: Liverpool v Spurs – Maxi on bench

Once again Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has had a limited squad to pick his side from with the likes of Fernando Torres, Yossi Benayoun, Daniel Agger and Steven Gerrard all out injured.

Jamie Carragher will be filling in as captain again and also looks likely to fill in at right-back. Kyrgiakos and Skrtel both get another start in the centre of defence with Emiliano Insua retaining his place at left-back.

Lucas and Javier Mascherano both start in midfield meaning Alberto Aquilani will have a more advanced role, probably just behind Dirk Kuyt. Rafa is looking to Philip Degen and Albert Riera to provide some width. Maxi Rodriguez is amongst the subs again, Ryan Babel is back on the bench and for his sake perhaps keeping his phone switched off.

Also on the bench is Robbie Keane, one of the Spurs subs just under a year after he left Anfield following his ill-fated six-month spell at the club, most of which he seemed to spend on the bench. Former Red Peter Crouch is certain to get a good reception too, he starts alongside Defoe.

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 23 Carragher, 37 Skrtel, 16 Kyrgiakos, 22 Insua, 27 Degen, 20 Mascherano, 21 Lucas, 11 Riera, 4 Aquilani, 18 Kuyt
Subs: 1 Cavalieri, 32 Darby, 17 Maxi, 26 Spearing, 19 Babel, 24 Ngog, 47 Pacheco

Tottenham: 1 Gomes, 3 Bale, 20 Dawson, 22 Corluka, 26 King, 8 Jenas, 12 Palacios, 4 Modric, 21 Kranjcar, 15 Crouch, 18 Defoe
Subs: 27 Alnwick, 2 Hutton, 19 Bassong, 25 Rose, 9 Pavlyuchenko, 10 Keane, 17 Giovani

Referee: Howard Webb

Is the Liverpool Way dead?

Is Purslow (centre) sleeping with the enemies?

Lack of leadership killing Liverpool

By Ned Doig.

“Blow me, ****face. Go to hell. I’m sick of you,” was the rather blunt message sent from now ex-Liverpool board member Tom Hicks jnr to a fan earlier this week, but given the absolute chaos that has embroiled the club, it could quite easily have been sent from the States to Melwood and back again at various points over the last 2 years.

But as the last realistic chance of domestic silverware disappeared over the horizon, the rather colourful missive may as well have been directed at the team and its manager for the very first time from the real powerbrokers at the club, the fans, given the reaction to the loss to first division strugglers Reading.

As shameful as the booing was that greeted the final whistle, behaviour that would usually be sneered at by the normally ultra-loyal Kopites, it illustrated the growing discontent at the sorry state of affairs following another listless, gutless, insipid, pedestrian display from the men in red.

Despite how it may have appeared to the casual observer, what happened at full time on Wednesday night was not a knee jerk reaction to a result in isolation. For much of the season, a growing tension has been bubbling under the surface. Against Reading, it finally spilled over from a group of fans whose relationship with a club is not just fractured, but extremely close to breaking point.

Poor performances, although frustrating, are a fact of life, but to give up without so much as a fight is unforgivable.

Injuries to key players obviously haven’t helped, but even when fit, none of Carragher, Torres, Gerrard or Mascherano have played anywhere near their potential or with any consistency. Only the goalkeeper, Reina, can take any real pride in his performances over the last 5 months.

Xabi AlonsoFactor in the loss of the calming, intelligent influence of Alonso, then replacing him with a player who is still yet to get anywhere near match fit, not to mention the huge hole left by Sami Hyypia, and you have a recipe for disaster.

But what has been the most disturbing and damaging aspect of the season so far is the clear lack of leadership that is running through the club from top to bottom, and which threatens to tear the club apart.

We have a captain who has played at times this season like he has lost interest, and at others like a petulant teenager.

A manager who has spent so much of his time politicking and fighting fires with his higher uppers that he has seemingly taken his eye off the ball and as a result now has a squad absolutely shorn of confidence, tactically impotent, a shadow of the side that finished so close to the title last year.

This inevitably leads to the boardroom, where we have Christian Purslow, the bi-lingual, silver-tongued managing director who stomps around in a manner that would make Peter Ridsdale blush.

A man who, when not spinning tales to the local paper, contradicting himself on transfer budgets or jumping in front of television cameras, spends his time in the inner sanctum of the dressing room or shadowing his manager at press conferences carefully observing his every move.

You have to wonder how he manages to dedicate any time to actually running the club. One can only presume he works every hour God sends, Blackberry permanently charged.

Gillett and HicksThen you have the two at the very top of the tree, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, who get on so well that they can just about stomach each other’s company long enough for the paparazzi to get their quota in.

Not to mention the debt, false promises, stadium within 60 days, fake sheikhs, interest rates and Jurgen Klinsmann.

Between them they’ve managed to engender an acute culture of paranoia right throughout the club, is it any wonder most of the time is spent pointing the finger, shifting the blame and making excuses?

There is a decent team hiding somewhere within the confines of Melwood, as has been proven over the course of last season, and the odd occasion this time around, and in Benitez a world class manager.

Albeit one who’s got a bit of a God complex, who is easily distracted when the mood takes him and has a penchant for holding a grudge.

He is also certainly a winner and has stuck around when maybe it would have been easier to walk away on occasion and deserves more patience to turn it around than he is currently getting from some quarters, especially given the volatile conditions he and his squad are expected to function in.

Regardless of Rafa’s position, great players and managers have come and gone, and of Shankly’s Holy Trinity, there is only one constant, the supporters, with whom there is a bond shared like no other club in the land. For them to be turning on each other, as has been happening, has much more to do with the instability off the pitch as it does matters on it.

Of course, with a club the size of Liverpool, they could lose the supporters and replace them with customers.

Maybe that is the strategy.

But if they continue to run Liverpool FC into the ground in the in which they are doing, further alienating the supporters of the most successful club in the land, they may as well do what they are so fond of in the US and move their franchise to the Lake District, because the club and everything it stands for would be dead.

And at a time when there are a few signs that the Premier League, as a product, maybe reaching saturation point, those that run the club might want to think a little more carefully about how they go about their business before they lose the one constant of the Holy Trinity that the club was built upon.

You’ll Never Walk Alone?

Don’t make me laugh.

Stoke v Liverpool – Teams

With his squad decimated by injuries and no money forthcoming for replacements Rafa’s line-up today was always going to look a long way away from one that Reds fans would like to see. Even so, it’s difficult to work out how the 11 names on the field will actually line up.

Pepe Reina is back from his injury in midweek and of course plays in goal, but what the formation will be in front of Pepe remains to be seen.

Ryan Babel was left at home, quite possibly to avoid him picking up an injury that would scupper a move away from the club – Rafa is said to be considering a swap deal involving Babel that would see Kenwyn Jones leave Sunderland for Merseyside. It’s a key sign of how poor a condition the club is in that the only hope of getting cover in the face of a season-long and never-ending injury crisis is to try and sell before buying or to go for swap deals.

Aquilani is on the bench, no doubt struggling after playing the full 120 minutes in midweek when he’s still getting back to full match-fitness. Albert Riera is back in the squad after injury, but is seen as only match-fit enough for the bench today. New signing Maxi Rodriguez is also on the bench but having only properly joined up with the rest of the squad yesterday is not considered ready to start yet either.

The rest of the bench is made up of sub-keeper Cavalieri, young defender Stephen Darby, young midfielder Jay Spearing and young forward Daniel Pacheco. In all Rafa has four players that might be described as “attacking” out of the seven on the bench – but less players considered as such on the field.

Defenders Carragher, Kyrgiakos, Skrtel, Insua, Degen and Aurelio all start. It’s possible that Carragher will play right-back with Degen used on the right wing in a 4-4-2, and although Aurelio does play at left-back for the club he’s also regularly played in central or left midfield.

In midfield are the two defensive midfielders, Javier Mascherano (back from a four-match ban) and Lucas Leiva.

The only two attacking players on the pitch are Dirk Kuyt and David Ngog.

Stoke: 29 Sorensen, 3 Higginbotham, 4 Huth, 17 Shawcross, 25 Faye, 15 Diao, 18 Whitehead, 20 Sanli, 24 Delap, 26 Etherington, 11 Sidibe
Subs: 1 Simonsen, 22 Collins, 28 Wilkinson, 6 Whelan, 7 Lawrence, 14 Pugh, 10 Fuller

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 23 Carragher, 16 Kyrgiakos, 37 Skrtel, 22 Insua, 27 Degen, 20 Mascherano, 21 Lucas, 12 Aurelio, 18 Kuyt, 24 Ngog
Subs: 1 Cavalieri, 32 Darby, 4 Aquilani, 11 Riera, 17 Rodriguez, 26 Spearing, 47 Pacheco

Referee: Lee Mason

Kick-off: 12:45pm GMT

Torres needs op, will miss next ten games

An awful week in an awful season got even worse for Liverpool this afternoon when the full extent of the injuries suffered by a trio of stars in last night’s defeat to Reading was revealed.

Fans were anxious for news with Fernando Torres going off after half an hour and Steven Gerrard not returning to the action after the half-time break.

After the game manager Rafa Benítez told the media about the injuries and added another name to the list: “Both players will have a scan and we have to wait for the doctor. Gerrard has a problem with his hamstring and Torres twisted his knee.

“Yossi Benayoun also has some problems with his ribs so again we will have to wait.”

The waiting is now over and it’s far from good news. Torres requires an operation and will miss at least ten games, including 8 league games. Benayoun could miss the next six league games and Gerrard looks set to miss the next four.

A spokesman for LFC explained: “Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres both underwent scans earlier today after coming off in the FA Cup tie against Reading.

“Steven has a hamstring strain and will be out for a fortnight, while Fernando has torn a cartilage in his right knee. The injury will require surgery and he is expected to be sidelined for six weeks.

“Yossi Benayoun also suffered a fractured rib in the game and will be unavailable for between three and four weeks.”

The only consolation to supporters might be that with it happening during a transfer window Liverpool are allowed to sign some long or short-term replacements to help cover the huge gaps the squad now has. Of course given the state of the club’s finances – Rafa has made a profit on transfers so far in this window and in both of the last two windows – it’s unlikely that the Reds will exercise that right to buy some cover.

Some urgent re-thinking is required on the part of the club’s hierarchy, in particular Christian Purslow, to find some of the huge increases in income the club has enjoyed in recent seasons and put it into the “player account” for some new signings.

Games set to be missed:

Torres, Benayoun and Gerrard: Stoke (A), Tottenham (H), Wolves (A), Bolton (H)
Torres and Benayoun: Everton (H) Arsenal (A)
Torres: Unirea (H), Man City (A), Unirea (A), Blackburn (H)

FA Cup Result: Liverpool 1 Reading 2

FA Cup (3rd round replay) – Wednesday 13 January 2010 – Result

Liverpool 1 Reading 2(AET)

(HT 1-0 / FT 1-1)

Rafa Benitez: “Everybody has been talking about me but I’ll keep working hard with my team. From the beginning of the season we have been a little bit frustrated but we have to carry on. When you are in the race you need to keep going.

“We are not in the competition [The FA Cup] any more. If the critics are fair, then it’s OK but it’s been the same for three months.

“It was difficult to take as we were in the 92nd minute and winning the game. Everything then changed. We started the second half better with more control of the game but after this we were making some mistakes and they had chances.

“We played a strong team and we tried to win the game. Sometimes you don’t play as well as you can and sometimes the other team plays well.”

Reading boss Brian McDermott: “I thought for the whole 120 minutes we were terrific and I thought we were good value for the victory. It’s fantastic for the football club, it’s great for the chairman and everyone associated with the club.

“We did our work yesterday and the day before, we knew how we wanted to play. We felt before the game we could come and give a performance but that is not what it’s all about, it’s about winning games.

“I’ve been around the game a long time, I think people forget that. I’ve been in football for 32 years and I think this is my time now. I’m a novice manager in terms of games but I really believe this is my time.”

Liverpool: 1 Cavalieri, 5 Agger, 22 Insua, 23 Carragher, 27 Degen (Skrtel 91), 4 Aquilani, 8 Gerrard (Babel 46), 15 Benayoun, 21 Lucas, 9 Torres (Ngog 29), 18 Kuyt
Subs: 42 Gulacsi, 12 Aurelio, 37 Skrtel, 26 Spearing, 19 Babel, 24 Ngog, 47 Pacheco
Booked: Degen,
Goal: Bertrand (og) 45+1

Reading: 1 Federici, 5 Mills, 16 Ingimarsson, 24 Bertrand, 4 Cisse (Howard 59), 6 Gunnarsson, 11 McAnuff, 20 Karacan (Long 81), 25 Sigurdsson, 18 Church, 23 Rasiak (Kebe 65)
Subs: 21 Hamer, 26 Pearce, 7 Tabb, 8 Matejovsky, 14 Kebe, 34 Howard, 9 Long
Booked: Mills, Ingimarsson, Gunnarsson
Goals: Sigurdsson (pen) 90+4, Long 100

Referee: Phil Dowd

Attendance: 31,063

Stats: (Liverpool – Reading)
Possession: 57% – 43%
Attempts on target: 9 – 5
Attempts off target: 6 – 4
Corners: 9 – 2
Fouls: 17 – 14

Half-time: Liverpool 1 Reading 0

FA Cup 3rd Round replay.

Half-time: Liverpool 1 Reading 0

Liverpool edged ahead in first-half injury time after surviving more than one scare at their own end of the pitch.

Steven Gerrard deserves credit for the goal but he’ll only be credited with an assist. He’d just taken the second of two corners in short succession. After some quick passing he was in the box and trying to play a ball across the face of goal to a teammate, but Reading’s Ingimarsson got in the way and deflected the ball into his own net.

Gerrard wasn’t looking for Torres with his cross because the Liverpool striker had gone off half-an-hour into the match with an injury. Liverpool fans will be hopeful his withdrawal was a precautionary measure rather than the start of another spell on the sidelines. Pepe Reina sat this match out having suffered a slight knock beforehand.

Reading looked dangerous on the break and Liverpool found themselves under pressure on a number of occasions after their own attacks had broken down. One of those occasions saw Simon Church burst onto the wing, get past Daniel Agger and send a dangerous ball into the Liverpool area. Jamie Carragher didn’t seem to sense the danger and let the ball go – letting it go straight to Grzegorz Rasiak standing right behind him in the six-yard box. Luckily for Carragher his opponent missed what was a golden opportunity to cause an upset for the Reds.

Argentinian Maxi Rodriguez was paraded before the match, having signed for the Reds today on a three-and-a-half year deal.

Liverpool: 1 Cavalieri, 27 Degen, 23 Carragher, 5 Agger, 22 Insua, 21 Lucas, 4 Aquilani, 18 Kuyt, 8 Gerrard, 15 Benayoun, 9 Torres (Ngog 29)
Subs: 42 Gulacsi, 12 Aurelio, 37 Skrtel, 26 Spearing, 19 Babel, 24 Ngog, 47 Pacheco
Goals: Ingimarsson (og) 45+1

Reading: 1 Federici, 5 Mills, 16 Ingimarsson, 24 Bertrand, 4 Cisse, 6 Gunnarsson, 11 McAnuff, 20 Karacan, 25 Sigurdsson, 18 Church, 23 Rasiak
Subs: 21 Hamer, 26 Pearce, 7 Tabb, 8 Matejovsky, 14 Kebe, 34 Howard, 9 Long
Booked: Karacan, Mills

Referee: Phil Dowd

Tom Hicks Jnr resigns

In the wake of a controversial email sent from Tom Hicks Junior to a Liverpool supporter over the weekend the owner’s son has now resigned. In his place Tom Hicks has now got Casey Coffman on the board, with two other LFC directors becoming board directors.

The statement from LFC reads:

“Liverpool Football Club today announce that Thomas Hicks Jr has resigned as a director of both the club and its parent company Kop Holdings.

“Three new directors have been elected to the boards of both companies.

“These are Philip Nash, LFC Chief Financial Officer; Ian Ayre, LFC Commercial Director; and Casey Coffman, Executive Vice President of Hicks Holdings.”