11/24/2014 06:34:00 am

Shock Choice? - Prem 'legend' now a surprise favourite to be the next LFC manager

After Sunday's damaging 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace, Brendan Rodgers is now under extreme pressure to arrest the club's damaging slide into mid-table mediocrity, and with former LFC boss Rafa Benitez is reportedly waiting in the wings to take over, Rodgers is running out of time to reverse Liverpool's alarming regression. Benitez is undoubtedly a popular choice for to replace Rodgers, but he is not the only ex-Red who's in the frame for the job.

According to British bookmakers, Anfield legend Jamie Carragher is now 10-1 third-favourite to succeed Rodgers as Liverpool's manager.

Carra - a vocal critic of Liverpool's ongoing deficiencies at the back - is an obvious, predictable choice, and he's clearly disturbed by his old club's catastrophic defensive decline. Indeed, in October, he made it clear that a return to Anfield is an enticing prospect. He told Sky Sports:

“If I was offered a job in Liverpool in a good coaching role, it would be difficult to turn down. It’s your club, you always want them to do well. Anyone else but Liverpool you wouldn’t really change your job but when is your own club it’s a big pull.”

In my view, this is a no-brainer. Having Carra involved as a defensive coach can only be a good thing, but there's no way (IMO) he should even be considered for the Liverpool job. As we've seen with Kenny Dalglish, there's always a risk when legends return to the club. Carra has an amazing legacy at Anfield, and I'd hate to see that tarnished with an unsuccessful spell in the Liverpool hot-seat.

From a purely practical standpoint, Carra - repeatedly hailed as a 'legend' by Rodgers - is not ready for such a huge job; he doesn't yet have the relevant UEFA coaching qualifications, and there are clearly better, more experienced candidates out there. For example, if we're talking about ex-players, I'd rather see Sami Hyypia get the job ahead of Carra.

Additionally, like Rodgers, Carra arguably doesn't have the profile to attract big-name players to Anfield, which is something that continues to negatively impact Liverpool's forward progress. If FSG make a change, international renown/aura must (IMO) be one of the pre-requisite qualities required of the new manager.

survey tools


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11/23/2014 10:00:00 pm

Transfer Priority: Agent claims LFC want to sign 'world class' £7m star to replace £9m flop

It's an open secret that Liverpool are trying to sign a top-class goalkeeper to challenge and/or replace Simon Mignolet. Liverpool's defence is in total disarray this season, and the Belgian is one of the principal reasons for the club's ongoing defensive decline. The 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace today underlines yet again the acute urgency of the problem, and new reports today suggest that Brendan Rodgers is planning a move for Chelsea star Petr Cech, who is increasingly frustrated with life at Stamford Bridge.

Speaking to the Czech media in October, 'world class' Cech blasted Chelsea for his ongoing marginalisation:

"The situation is not the way I would imagine. With the 2016 European Championships in mind, there is no time for me to sit on the bench and not to play. If the situation will not start to improve for me then I will want to solve it."

Thibaut Courtois remains Chelsea's number one goalkeeper, so the situation has clearly not improved over the last month, and according to the Daily Mail today:

* Chelsea are willing to sell cech for just £7miwollion.
* Arsenal, AC Milan, Roma and Real Madrid are all interested.
* Cech's agent 'maintains' that Liverpool also want to sign the Czech international.

In a recent interview, Cech's agent Viktor Kolar also confirmed that the Czech stopper is eyeing a move away from Stamford Bridge. In October, he told reporters:

"He [Cech] wants to be at a club that regularly plays in the Champions League and this is his highest aspiration. He wants to return to being a protagonist in a great squad at a great club"

The prevailing wisdom is that elite teams need two top-class goalkeepers in the squad, but in practice, it never works, and the Cech situation is a prime example of that. Consistency between the sticks is imperative to achieving a settled defensive-unit, and chopping/changing goalkeepers is a recipe for disaster, which is why goalkeepers are very rarely rotated.

Take Brad Jones, for example. Last season, he didn't make a single Premier League appearance, and overall, he made just three appearances all year. I don't see how a goalkeeper who spends 98% of his time on the bench can be satisfied, and Cech certainly isn't.

As such, it makes sense for Liverpool to make a move. Despite his injury (which has bred some understandable reticence into his game), Cech remains one of the world's best goalkeepers, and at the age of 32, he still has years of great form ahead.

Granted, it's doubtful Chelsea will allow Cech to join Liverpool, but his contract expires in 2016, so that reduces the London club's bargaining power somewhat.

For me, this is an absolute no-brainer, especially for £7m. Even after his injury, Cech is a superior goalkeeper to Mignolet, and he has proven his quality over a number of years, at all levels of football.

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11/23/2014 07:06:00 pm

'If I go to Liverpool...': Boss who wants to 'coach' LFC responds to job rumours. Next manager?

Amid intense speculation about the future of Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, ex-manager Rafa Benitez has (seemingly) dismissed ongoing rumours of an imminent return to Anfield.

When asked on Saturday about the Liverpool job, Benitez told reporters:

“If I go to Liverpool, everyone says I’m going back there, even if it’s just to visit my family.

"The fans respect me here [at Napoli] and I am happy, there is a team that can grow and I am concentrated on that"


I wouldn't read too much into this; after all, what else is Benitez going to say? He's hardly going to make a public play for the job when Rodgers is under such intense pressure. He's merely being diplomatic, but privately, he almost certainly wants the job.

That said, Benitez doesn't specifically rule anything out - he merely outlines how others perceive his trips to Liverpool. Additionally, the Spaniard has stated several times in the past that he wants another cha nce at Anfield. Last season, for example, he emphatically told reporters:

"I know I will return to Liverpool as coach one day, almost certainly. What I don’t know is when but my wife and children still live there, so I will be back".

According to UK Bookmakers, there are currently five leading candidates to replace Rodgers:

* Rafa Benitez
* Jurgen Klopp
* Laurent Blanc
* Martin O'Neill
* Roberto Martinez

Earlier this week, I conducted a poll on the site asking which of the above managers is the best choice to replace Rodgers:

* 16730 visitors (approx) participated in the poll (which is still ongoing)
* 50% chose Benitez; 45% chose Klopp.

Clearly, Benitez still retains an incredible level of support amongst Liverpool fans, and whilst the speculation over Rodgers job continues, the Spaniard will almost certainly remain the fans' number one choice to take over.

Author:

11/23/2014 01:17:00 pm

Confirmed LFC XI vs. CP: £48m trio out; BR to make same mistakes yet again...?

With three points an absolute necessity, Rickie Lambert starts for Liverpool today as Brendan Rodgers tries to arrest the Reds' alarming slide into mid-table mediocrity.

FULL TEAM: Mignolet, Manquillo, Skrtel, Lovren, Johnson, Gerrard, Allen, Lallana, Coutinho, Sterling, Lambert

SUBS: Jones, Toure, Moreno, Lucas, Can, Borini, Markovic

According to the official LFC website:

"LFC can confirm Mario Balotelli is absent due to a groin injury while Jordan Henderson is missing through illness".

With one goal all season, and only one assists since September, Henderson won't be missed that much, so it's a great chance for Lallana to stake a claim to stay in the side.

Alas, given the personnel, it looks like Rodgers will go with a 4231 yet again. Probable formation:

Mignolet

Manquillo --- Skrtel --- Lovren ---- Johnson

------------- Gerrard - Allen

---- Coutinho -- Sterling ----- Lallana

----------------- Lambert

You never know, though - it's possible Rodgers might go with the following:

------------------ Mignolet

Manquillo --- Skrtel --- Lovren ---- Johnson

----------------- Allen

------------ Gerrard - Lallana

---------------- Coutinho

---------- Sterling -- Lambert

My prediction: 2-2

Author:

11/22/2014 11:15:00 pm

Palace 3-1 LFC: BR blows it again. Dead man walking at Anfield? Job on the line?

After another tedious and disruptive international break, it's back to business for Liverpool, and it's no exaggeration to suggest that Crystal Palace is (arguably) the most important game of the season so far.

There's no sugar-coating the present reality: after four defeats in six games Liverpool (and three losses on the spin) Liverpool are in dire straits, and Brendan Rodgers is under intense pressure to arrest the club's inexorable slide into mid-table mediocrity.

Crystal Palace is, quite simply, a must-win game; defeat is unthinkable, but anything can happen in the Premier League, and although - on paper - Liverpool are the better side, there's no guarantee that the Reds will win the game.

That said, there's no real excuse for Liverpool not to win the game. With only one point from the last five games, Crystal Palace are on a terrible run, and if the Reds can't beat a team in relegation form, then there's a serious problem somewhere.

It all depends on Rodgers' approach: will he stubbornly stick with 4231 with Balotelli as a lone-striker, or will he finally make a proactive change, and start the game with two strikers? Based on his pre-Palace press conference on Friday, it appears that the manager may be amenable to changing tactics. He told reporters:

“You have to find the solutions when you are not winning games. You have to assess where you can be better and that is something I will always do. I am not dogmatic. In my time here we have played in various systems: possession and fast football, counter-attacking football. There are other possibilities for us and we will always explore that.”

That's heartening to hear, and it's possible that Rodgers could bench Can, Lallana, and Balotelli (Combined cost: £52m) to implement whatever change he has in mind, but to be honest, I expect to see him field the following team:

------------------- Mignolet

Johnson ---- Skrtel --- Lovren ---- Moreno

---------------- Can --- Gerrard

----- Hendo ----- Sterling ----- Lallana

------------------ Balotelli

My preferred team for Palace:

------------------- Mignolet

Manquillo ---- Skrtel --- Lovren ---- Moreno

-------------------- Lucas

------------- Hendo ------ Gerrard

------------------- Coutinho

-------------- Sterling -- Balotelli

* Lucas remains Liverpool's most effective defensive midfielder, and as long as he doesn't partner Gerrard (in a 4231 formation, for example), they can both play in the same team.

* Skrtel/Lovren is LFC's first-choice defensive partnership, so Rodgers must stick with the duo, and give them a chance to build up a rapport.

* Sterling is not a striker, but he'll probably be more effective alongside Balotelli than Borini or Lambert.

* Lallana could easily replace Coutinho in the above formation, but in my view, the Brazilian deserves to start more than Lallana, who has contributed next-to-nothing this season.

Predicting a 1-1 draw, Liverpool legend Mark Lawrenson urged Rodgers to try something different up-front. He told the BBC:

"I think it might be time for Brendan Rodgers to give Rickie Lambert a proper chance up front. Lambert has not played much since his move from Southampton, where he showed how capable he is of scoring goals in a team that plays good football".

With the greatest respect, if Rickie Lambert is the answer, then Liverpool are asking the wrong question. Whatever people think of Balotelli, he is the better footballer, and if effectively utilised by Rodgers, he has the potential to make an impact for LFC.

One thing's for sure - Liverpool's pitifully goal-shy attacking players need to step up and start contributing, especially Lallana, Henderson, Balotelli, Borini, Lambert, Coutinho, Gerrard, and Sterling, who hasn't scored a goal for nine games now.

Author:

11/22/2014 07:01:00 pm

LFC's Top Target: BR pushing to sign 'unbelievable' £25m striker to replace Sturridge

Last week, coveted striker Saido Berahino confirmed that he's interested in leaving West Brom at some point in the near future, and new reports claims that the 21-year old is now Liverpool's top transfer target.

According to the Daily Mail today:

* Berahino is 'top' of Brendan Rodgers' transfer wishlist.

* Rodgers is pushing for a deal to happen when the transfer window reopens.

This follows a report in October, which Mail on Sunday claimed that:

* Liverpool are planning a January move Berahino.
* West Brom are willing to sell, but only for £25m.

When asked last week about rumours linking him with a move to Liverpool, Spurs, or Man United, Berahino - recently hailed as an 'unbelievable finisher' by team-mate Victor Anichebe - admitted that his 'aim' is to play in the Champions League, and made it clear that moving to a big-name club is very much on his agenda. He told The Guardian:

"If that [a transfer] is what it comes to it has to be that. I appreciate what West Brom have done for me [but] I have a big vision and hopefully I can reach my goals. I have the chance to progress even more. It's up to me to take it with both hands."

Some info about Berahino:

* Current contract expires in 2017.
* This season: 8 goals/1 assist in 13 apps.
* Total WB: 17 goals/3 assists in 49 apps.
* 21 goals in 45 apps for England youth teams.
* 2010: Helped the England U17 team win the European Championship.

Berahino is an interesting option, but £25m? No chance. Additionally:

* Liverpool already overpaid for Lallana, Lovren, and Markovic this year, and with Rodgers' transfer history, it shouldn't even be a question. The Reds need to stop overpaying for players, and £25m is a massively inflated transfer fee. Additionally:

* I don't see how signing Berahino is anything but a massive risk. With only 49 games of top-flight experience, he is nowhere near the finished article.

* Any striker that comes in will be under intense pressure to hit the ground running, and putting all that pressure on an inexperienced 21-year old is (arguably) counter-productive.

* Liverpool can't afford to take any risks - the club needs a striker capable of making an immediate impact, and that means signing a proven, experienced *older* striker with a track record of consistently scoring goals.

Rodgers is under intense pressure, and he can't afford to make another costly mistake in the transfer market. He needs to get it right, and the next signing Liverpool make is arguable the most important of the manager's tenure. As such, he needs to stop spending big bucks on young players, and start signing proven players with the capability of making an immediate impact.

Nothing is guaranteed. Lovren and Lallana fit the 'proven player' description, but only insofar as they're experienced in the Premier League. Rodgers has failed to sign any players with significant experience in the Champions League/Europe, and/or experience of playing at one of Europe's top clubs.

As an example: Sturridge and Coutinho - Rodgers only two successful transfers - came from Chelsea and Inter Milan respectively, so they were used to the pressure/expectation that comes with playing for big European clubs. As such, it's no coincidence that they've consistently performed.

Conversely, many of the players Rodgers has signed from smaller clubs (Southampton, Swansea, Celta Vigo, Sunderland, Heerenveen etc), have struggled to adapt.

Of course, there are always exceptions - Balotelli came from AC Milan, and he's struggled, but overall, I maintain that the best policy for LFC *right now* is buying experienced, proven players who are used to operating under intense pressure.

Author:

11/22/2014 02:29:00 pm

I Want to Quit: 'Incredible' €12m LFC star admits he's 'looking' for another club

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva is becoming increasingly bold with his public comments about leaving the club, and this week, he's given the strongest indication yet that an Anfield exit is very much on the cards.

€12m-rated Lucas has started only two Premier League games so far this season, and when asked about his future last month, he warned:

“I want to play. I need to find a solution either at Liverpool or at another club. [if] I don’t find space at Liverpool, I should start to make a move".

Lucas also confirmed that Napoli tried to sign him over the summer:

“There was something with Napoli but it wasn’t a positive situation for both parties. Despite this, it’s true that Benitez always had great faith in me.”

Well, it seems that Lucas is now resigned to leaving Liverpool. Speaking to Radio Marca this week, he sent another indirect message to Reds boss Brendan Rodgers:

"I must think about leaving as there is no room for me at Liverpool. I'm not speaking to anyone at the moment, but I am looking around, given I am not playing".

Lucas's Agent, Henrique Coelho, is also getting in on the act, and when asked on Thursday about the possibility of a January transfer he told told Calciomercato.com.

“Is it possible that Lucas could leave Liverpool in January? Yes, naturally. Lucas really likes Rafa Benitez. After all, the two know each other well from when the Spaniard was manager of Liverpool.”

Lucas - recently hailed by Rodgers for his 'incredible' attitude - is a model professional, but unfortunately, he is now literally redundant at Anfield. Like Glen Johnson, the Brazilian is a dead man walking at Anfield, and it's surely just a matter of time before he moves on to another club.

Lucas is yet to reach the heights he attained pre-injury, but in my view, if he'd been in the team all season, Liverpool's defensive record would look much better right now. The Brazilian is the club's best dedicated defensive midfielder, but for the first part of the season, Rodgers preferred Gerrard in the role, to LFC's detriment.

Rafa Benitez signed both Lucas and Johnson, and with both players currently linked with moves to Napoli, it will be fitting if the Spaniard finishes the job and takes both players to Italy.

Author:

11/21/2014 10:03:00 pm

Amazing Stats: LFC plan new bid for 'fantastic' £26m goal-machine with 118 goals/assists in 124 apps

With Liverpool desperately in need of striker who can actually score, Brendan Rodgers is reportedly planning an urgent January move for CSKA Moscow striker Seydou Doumbia.

Liverpool were linked with Doumbia back in 2012, and according to The Mirror this week:

* Rodgers is 'considering' a January offer for Doumbia, who has a £26m release clause in his contract.

* LFC scouts watched 26-year old Doumbia score two goals in CSKA's recent 2-1 Champions League victory over Manchester City.

When asked on Thursday about Premier League interest, Doumbia's Agent, Bernard Beytrison, revealed:

"There is a lot of interest from England, Spain, Germany and Italy. He's a cannon and there are not many around like him, but now he is under contract with CSKA and other clubs have to satisfy them to talk to the player."

Some info about Doumbia:

* Current contract expires in June 2016.
* 21 appearances for the Ivory Coast.
* Six major trophies with CSKA.
* 4 'Player of the Year' awards.

* CSKA: 118 goals/assists in 124 apps (82 goals/36 assists)
* Goal every 1.5 games; Goal/Assist every 1.0 apps
* Young Boys: 79 goals/assists in 79 apps.
* Career TOTAL: 205 goals/assists in 234 apps.
* Goal/Assist every 1.1 games.

118 goals/assists in 124 appearances for CSKA? That's an amazing creative return, and it's not a flash-in-the-pan, either. Doumbia has a long track record of prolificity in front of goal, and if the Reds are to splash the cash on another striker, it should definitely be a goalscorer with prodigious stats like this.

CSKA midfielder Pontus Wernbloom is a huge fan of Doumbia, and in a recent interview, he hailed the Ivorian as a 'fantastic striker' who 'loves scoring', and further enthused:

"In Russia he [Doumbia] scores in almost every game. Ehen he is on the pitch he can beat any team because if they give us some space he is deadly"

Importantly, Doumbia is am established and experienced footballer, which is exactly the type of player-profile Liverpool should (IMO) be prioritising. Plus, at the age of 26, he's entering the prime of his career, so if signed, his best is (theoretically) yet to come.

Alas, there is one major issue:

* Doumbia has suffered FIVE injuries over the last two years.
* In total, he's spent 315 days injured, and missed 55 games.
* His last two injuries = thigh strains, just like Sturridge.

Doumbia has an incredible strike rate, but with this in mind, I don't see how Liverpool can risk spending £20m+.

Author:

11/21/2014 06:20:00 pm

Yes Please: 'Outstanding' attacker who's 'like' £30m star wants to 'go back to LFC'

By all accounts, Joao Teixeira's season-loan spell at Sami Hyypia's Brighton is going very well, but the youngster is clearly desperate for a return to Anfield . The question is, if/when Teixeira returns, will Brendan Rodgers give him the chance to make an impact at the club?

With 5 goals/assists in 15 appearances, 'outstanding' Teixeira is having a creditable impact at Brighton, but the Portuguese youngster has his eye on breaking into the Liverpool first team. This week, he told LFC.com:

"I want to go back to Liverpool. [Hyypia] always tells me the way to work and how I can do it. He gives me advice to keep going. He is a legend at Liverpool and a really nice guy as well, as a person and a manager."

Teixeira also clearly understands his main role in the team:

"It has been a great move for me, making some assists and scoring goals. It's about numbers - football is about statistics. I've been improving my numbers and hopefully I'll score more and give more assists".

Exactly. Some visitors claim that I rely to heavily on statistics, but as I always argue:

* An attacking player's primary role is to score and create goals, and, clearly, this has been impressed upon Teixeira by Hyypia, and almost certainly by Brendan Rodgers, who has on many occasions underlined the importance of goals/assists.

* Running, tackling, tracking back etc are important, but goals/assists supersede those things when it comes to primary importance.

* Goals win games. It's that simple; and if a striker/attacking player regularly scores/creates goals, then I personally couldn't care less if he fails to run 10 miles a game and/or doesn't track back/tackle as much as other players.

For example, take LFC this season: who cares if Balotelli, Borini, and Lambert run 10 miles a game, and make countless tackles? They have abjectly failed to do their main job, which is to score/create goals, and consequently, Liverpool's season is in the toilet.

As for Teixeira: Hyypia is also impressed with his performances, but despite describing him as a 'good player', the Finn highlighted one specific area for improvement. He told reporters:

"He is young and sometimes with youngsters, the performances are not consistent. He will need to work on consistency and the will to improve himself every day. I'll be on top of him."

Reds legend Ian St. John is a fan of Teixeira, and after his debut against Fulham last season, he praised the youngster's 'great movement', and further enthused:

"We’ve just witnessed the emergence of a really good kid. I remember watching Wayne Rooney’s debut, and Texeira is like him, and reminds me of that. He didn’t look phased, and got stuck in as well which is where some young players can be found out. He looks like he’s got real quality"

Teixeira had a decent debut. He looked composed on the ball, and made (mostly) good decisions with his passing, but there's no point getting carried away. Over the last few years, several similar players have tried and failed to establish themselves in LFC's first team. Dani Pacheco is one example. There's also Luis Alberto and, of course, Suso, who continues to be ignored by Rodgers.

Is Teixeira any better than Suso? I've seen both play countless times for LFC's youth teams, but in terms of quality and potential, I don't see much difference. Obviously, I hope the Portuguese is given a chance and becomes an integral part of the team, but I fully expect him to go the same way as the Suso, i.e. endlessly warming the bench, or totally ignored.

St. John's Rooney comparison is somewhat flattering, but let's just hope that football ability is the only thing Teixeira has in common with Man United's £30m-rated thug.



Author:

11/21/2014 02:56:00 pm

'What happened was...': BR reveals the strange 'cause' of Sturridge's new injury

Daniel Sturridge's ongoing spell on the sidelines continues to cause major problems for Liverpool, and based on Brendan Rodgers' comments today, it seems like 'Mr Glass' is particularly apt nickname for Sturridge when it comes to his concerning susceptibility to injury.

In his pre-Crystal Palace press conference today, Rodgers revealed exactly how Sturridge sustained his latesr injury. He told reporters:

"He [Sturridge] had been back training, but what happened was just a flick of the boot.

"He didn't strike the ball, it was just a twist of the boot that caused the issue, which is a slight tear, and it's the thigh has caused him problems over time".


A 'flick of the boot'...?

So, all it takes to put Sturridge out of commission for a further six weeks is the act of slightly moving his foot through thin air? If that's the case, then there's clearly a serious problem somewhere.

To paraphrase Basil Fawlty, it really does seem that a rapid movement of air could damage him irreparably.

Sustaining injuries during the intense physical grind of Premier League games is perfectly understandable (and indeed expected), but it seems that Sturridge is so fragile that he can't even handle low-intensity training without getting injured.

Granted, it's not entirely Sturridge's fault that he has the physical durability of an old man, but it's incredibly frustrating to see a highly paid athlete continually picking up injuries in such piffling circumstances.

In my view, this season is a write-off for Sturridge. Liverpool should just forget about him, and proceed as if he's not even in the squad. It's utterly pointless retaining hope that he'll come back to save LFC's season, and Rodgers needs to find a solution *now*, not in two months.

Even when Sturridge finally returns, he's going to need at least a month (possibly longer) to gain the requisite match-fitness to be consistently effective, so the immediate goal is obviously to sign a proven, prolific goalscorer during the January transfer window.

Author:

11/21/2014 05:50:00 am

Next Transfer? LFC keen to sign £15m star who's 'one of the best in 15 years'

Over the summer, Liverpool were linked with a £40m double swoop for Southampton stars Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne. Lallana signed for LFC, but Clyne stayed at St. Marys, but new reports (predictably) suggest that Liverpool are once again interested in signing the talented right back.

In May, The Mirror reported:

"Liverpool [are] keen on Nathaniel Clyne, who is valued by the Saints at £15 million.

"Rodgers believes Clyne would fit in well at Anfield because of his pace and attacking style".


On Thursday, The Telegraph claimed:

"Liverpool are among the clubs who are closely monitoring his [Clyne's] future [and] Southampton will offer Clyne an extended and improved contract in the coming weeks"

The Premier League's big guns poached Southampton's supposed top-stars over the summer, but the depressing irony is that, despite the heavy losses, the Saints are second in the table, whilst Liverpool and Manchester United are struggling to maintain mid-table obscurity.

Southampton's defence, in particular, is thriving without Dejan Lovren, Luke Shaw, and Calum Chambers, and in comparison to Man United, Liverpool, and Arsenal, Ronald Koeman's team is on a totally different defensive level:

* Played: SFC 11 | LFC 11 | MUFC 11 | AFC 11
* Goals Conceded: SFC 5 | LFC 15 | MUFC 14 | AFC 13
* Ave Conceded per game: SFC 0.4 | LFC 1.3 | MUFC 1.2 | AFC 1.1
* Clean Sheets: SFC 7 | LFC 2 | MUFC 3 | AFC 3

5 goals conceded in 11 games? That stat makes a complete mockery of Liverpool's failing defence, and Clyne is clearly a major part of why Southampton are so defensively solid this season. Indeed, the youngster is currently the Premier League's top-tackler, with 55 successful tackles in 11 games.

As a comparison, Glen Johnson has weighed in with a comparatively abject 9 successful tackles all season.

Ex-Red Jamie Redknapp is a fan of Clyne, and in a recent column for Sky Sports, he enthused:

"I’ve been really impressed with him [Clyne] this season. He’s athletic, technically good and he’s showing plenty of promise. He’ll learn an awful lot from Ronald Koeman".

Koeman is also impressed with Clyne, and when asked last month about the defender's form, he told reporters:

"Clyne is one of the best right full-backs that I've had in my teams in the last 15 years. That means a lot because I like to play with offensive right and left full-backs and he has those qualities, he's fast and gives good crosses".

I see no incentive for Clyne to leave Southampton. Historically, Liverpool is a much bigger club, but the Reds are on the slide right now, and I doubt many players will want to join a club where managerial change is an imminent possibility.

Also, I suspect the presence of Ronald Koeman will play a big part in Clyne's decision. Koeman is a legend of the game, and unlike Rodgers, he has an aura about him that only comes from having played at the highest level. I'm sure the likes of Clyne et al are in awe of their manager, and that can only be a good thing for Southampton.

Additionally, given the ridiculous transfer fees demanded for British players, £15m for Clyne is a pipe-dream. Southampton will probably hold out for an exorbitant fee, and knowing Liverpool, Rodgers will probably be willing to pay through the nose, just like he did with Lallana (£26m), and Markovic (£20m).

On a related note: I find it rather amusing that Reds have basically financed Southampton's rise up the table, and if the Saints finish this season above Liverpool in the table, then Rodgers transfer business will have literally sabotaged LFC's season (!)

Obviously, Rodgers believed that Lovren and Lallana would contribute to keeping Liverpool in the top four, but it doesn't seem to be working out that way.

Football - it's a funny old game.

Author:

11/20/2014 08:52:00 pm

'LFC are eligible': Agent insists €10m sensation who's 'like Reus' could sign for Liverpool

The Agent of Anderlecht midfielder Dennis Praet has claimed that Liverpool is a possible destination for the coveted youngster during the upcoming January transfer window.

Liverpool are reportedly monitoring Praet, and when asked this week about the 20-year old's future, his agent Jacques Lichtenstein, hinted at a move away:

"Dennis will not go just anywhere. Clubs like Valencia, Liverpool, Arsenal or Atletico Madrid are eligible.

"He is not so far from the level of [the Premier League] where they can give him a year adjustment period.”


Liverpool were linked with Praet during the 2011 summer transfer window, and in October 2012, LFC scouts watched him during Anderlecht's 2-0 victory against Waasland-Beveren, a game in which ex-Red Milan Jovanovic missed an open goal after an excellent cross from Praet.

Some info about Praet:

* Under contract at Anderlecht until June 2017.
* 2012: Named one of the world's top 50 prospects by 'World Soccer' magazine.
* Attacking midfielder, who can also play central-mid, and right/left-wing.
* This season: 1 goal/6 assists in 17 apps.
* Overall: 25 goals/13 assists in 111 apps for Anderlecht.
* 42 apps for various Belgium youth teams.
* 5 major trophies so far (including 3 consecutive league titles)
* Anderlecht recently slapped a €10m price tag on Praet.

Anderlect general manager Herman Van Holsbeeck is confident that Praet will go on to become a top player, and in a recent interview, he enthused:

"Dennis has proven that he has what it takes to become a fantastic player, in the future, he will go on to become one of the pillars of our team"

Former Anderlecht coach Aad De Mos is also a fan of the youngster, and in early November, he compared him to another of Liverpool's big transfer targets:

"Praet is an exceptional talent with enormous potential; he's the number 10 that every club is looking for. Against Arsenal, he played like [Marco] Reus. He can be his successor."

On the subject of Praet's potential transfer fee, De Mos added:

"If you know that PSV Memphis Depay will not let go for less than 20 million euros, 10 million for Praet is too little. An amount between €10 and €20m would be more logical"

Praet's Agent suggests that the young attacker will need a year to adjustment to the Premier League, and for €10m, that's perfectly reasonable, as I don't see any problem with Liverpool buying potential for that kind of fee.

The problem comes when the Reds spend £20m+ on possible future stars, which is way too much for players who may or may not come good at some undetermined point in the future. The obvious example is Lazar Markovic. At £20m, his value has (arguably) already reached a ceiling, and realistically, there's little chance of LFC selling him for *more* than £20m in a couple of years.

Conversely, for a fee of €10m - which is Anderlecht's asking price for Praet - the risk is comparatively minimal, and there's still room for the fee to rise. As such, unless Markovic becomes a world-beater, Liverpool will probably end up making a loss on the transfer, whereas if he'd initially signed for around €10m, the risk of financial loss would've been much lower.

Ultimately, my point is this: Liverpool should not be spending huge amounts of money on comparatively untested, inexperienced young players. Ideally, given LFC's decades-long failure to consistently buy quality young players, the policy should be to find the best available prospect and pay mid-range prices (in a bid to minimise financial risk).

And those type of players are out there. For example, Thibaut Courtois cost Chelsea €9m, and look at him now. Similarly, Philippe Coutinho cost Liverpool a piffling £8m, which is an amazing bargain. Divock Origi also falls into the mid-range category, and like other players bought for similar fees, pressure to perform is often commensurate with the price-tag.

Is Praet worth a bid? On a related note - if you're interested in betting on anything related to Liverpool FC, the Premier League, or the Champions League, then check out this helpful guide targeted toward new sports bettors.



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11/20/2014 04:04:00 pm

Next LFC Manager? - 'Fantastic' Prem boss now shock 2nd favourite to replace BR

Rafa Benitez, Laurent Blanc, and Jurgen Klopp are the current bookie favourites to replace beleaguered Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers at Anfield, but a new name has entered the fray, and it's the most surprising (and improbable) candidate yet.

According to leading bookmaker Bet Victor, Harry Redknapp is now 8-1 second-favourite to succeed Rodgers at Anfield.

Redknapp is definitely a shock candidate, but this is not the first time he's been linked with the Liverpool job. In 2010, the Reds allegedly pursued him to replace Rafa Benitez, and at the time, Sky Sports reported:

"Liverpool are planning a shock move for Harry Redknapp. The Spurs boss has emerged as a leading contender for the Reds hierarchy as they aim to bring stability back to Merseyside".

In hindsight, Redknapp probably would've been a better option than Roy Hodgson, but whether he'd have lasted any longer is debatable.

As for the possibility of replacing Rodgers - forget it. Jamie Redknapp will undoubtedly approve (!), but I suspect that the majority of Liverpool fans will never accept Redknapp as a long-term option. For a start, like Guus Hiddink, Redknapp is too old; and when it comes to tactical acumen (especially in Europe), it's doubtful that he's a significant upgrade on Rodgers.

Steven Gerrard would probably approve of the deal - after all, when Benitez left, LFC's captain pushed hard for an English manager, with Alan Curbishley reportedly his preferred choice, so it's reasonable to assume that he'd push for Redknapp, too.

One LFC player who'd welcome Redknapp with open arms is Glen Johnson. In a recent interview, Johnson hailed his former boss for 'rescuing' him from Chelsea, and helping his development as a young player. He also slammed reports that Redknapp could be the next Premier League manager to lose his job:

“It’s not nice to see anyone lose their job. He [Redknapp] been a fantastic manager for years and if someone is going to get them [QPR] out of trouble, it will be him. I don’t know what sacking him would achieve.”

I really like Redknapp - he's a straight-talking, down-to-earth, no-BS kind of guy, with great man-management skills, and renowned ability in the transfer market. Ten years ago, he would've been a decent option, but time waits for no man, and Redknapp's time has passed.

Never gets old ;-)



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11/20/2014 05:50:00 am

Benitez vs. Klopp: Who should replace BR? LFC fans give their verdict & the winner is....

When it rains, it pours. Daniel Sturridge's latest injury setback means that the pressure on Brendan Rodgers is set to intensify, and with Liverpool's attacking players abjectly failing to score goals, it's conceivable that Rodgers' Anfield reign could come to an end sooner rather than later. In my view, the manager doesn't deserve to be replaced mid-season, but in the ruthless world of football, there's every chance it will happen. If FSG give Rodgers the red-card, who should replace him?

According to UK Bookmakers, there are currently five leading candidates to replace Rodgers:

* Rafa Benitez
* Jurgen Klopp
* Laurent Blanc
* Martin O'Neill
* Roberto Martinez

Earlier this week, I conducted a poll on the site asking which of the above managers is the best choice to replace Rodgers:

* 16730 visitors (approx) participated in the poll (which is still ongoing)
* 50% chose Benitez; 45% chose Klopp

 photo ScreenShot2014-11-19at215220_zpsff8ceedf.png

Clearly, Benitez still retains an incredible level of support amongst Liverpool fans, and whilst the speculation over Rodgers job continues, the Spaniard will almost certainly remain the fans' number one choice to take over.

Given a straight choice between Klopp and Benitez, I'd take Klopp, but despite his success with Borussia Dortmund, there are no guarantees that he'll be able to replicate his success in the Premier League.

And please, for the love of God, enough with the calls for Guus Hiddink. Every time there's speculation over the Liverpool job, fans suggest the Dutchman for the role, but for me, it makes no sense to make that appointment.

Hiddink is 68! He's clearly far too old to be anything but a short-term stop-gap, and he hasn't managed a club side (full-time) for over 8 years. FSG appointed Rodgers with the (obvious) goal of building a long-term legacy at Anfield, and if he is replaced, the next manager should be given a similar brief, and that means appointing someone much younger than Hiddink (!)

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11/19/2014 11:10:00 pm

LFC offer £10m star £6m deal after BR calls him 'one of the best in the world'. Mistake?

With his stubborn refusal to play two strikers, and a damaging allegiance to the failing 4231 formation, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is making costly mistakes this season, and his decision this week to offer Glen Johnson a new contract is yet another example of how LFC's manager is increasingly out of touch with the prevailing views of the club's fanbase.

According to the Daily Mail this week:

* Liverpool have offered Johnson a new two-year contract worth £60k a week (£6.2m over two years).

* Johnson is 'reluctant' to accept the reduced offer.

On one level, it's good that the club is trying to reduce the wage bill, but the key question is why offer Johnson a new deal at all?

* Johnson is - and always has been - a defensive liability, and offers next-to-nothing as an attacking force.

* His overall performance has incrementally regressed over the last couple of years, and this season, he's barely making an impact in his primary defensive role. For example, Johnson has completed only 9 successful tackles all season, which is barely one per game. Is that worth £60k a week?

* Johnson is a key part of one of LFC's worst defences in years, not only this season, but last season, too.

* Rodgers signed Manquillo and Moreno over the summer, so Johnson is not even needed at Anfield anymore.

* Roma are reportedly willing to match Johnson's ridiculous £120k a week wages, so why not just let him leave already?

Alas, Rodgers seems to rate Johnson highly, and he confirmed this in a recent interview, when he told reporters:

"We want to keep Glen here, and we feel that he has still got good years ahead of him. He's one of the best full-backs in the world. His [contract] will be a priority for us, especially if he continues in the form that he's in".

The fact that Rodgers genuinely believes that Johnson is 'outstanding' and 'one of the best full-backs in the world' says it all, really, and seriously calls into question his judgement on players.

Rodgers may rate Johnson, but LFC fans clearly do not share the same enthusiasm. I recently conducted a site poll asking fans whether Liverpool should keep or sell Johnson:

* 17450 (approx) people voted.
* A whopping 84% of participants voted for LFC to dump Johnson.

The good news is that £10m-rated Johnson is apparently 'reluctant' to accept the offer, which suggests that - like Rodgers - he has inflated view of his ability to make a difference for Liverpool FC.

On a related note: why is he 'reluctant' to accept a deal that will pay him £6.2m over two years? Once again, greed reigns supreme, and if Johnson really had any affection for LFC, he'd accept the deal and be grateful for it.

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11/19/2014 07:22:00 pm

New Striker: BR to make fresh bid for €20m 'menace' who broke Belgian transfer record

Liverpool are reportedly planning a substantial offer for Anderlecht striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, who plays alongside recent Reds signing Lazar Markovic for the Serbia national team.

According to Portuguese newspaper A Bola today:

* Liverpool, Chelsea, Newcastle, and AC Milan are all interested in signing Mitrovic in January.

* The Belgian club is willing to listen to offers.

Liverpool were linked with Mitrovic over the summer, and at the time, his Agent, Nenad Jestrovic, confirmed that the Reds made an offer. He told reporters:

"Liverpool were willing to pay €13m for him [Mitrovic]; Rubin even offered €20m, but Anderlecht didn’t want to hear about a transfer. He is still young and will have a lot of opportunities to leave in the future. I’m sure that price will be even higher when he moves somewhere else."

Some info about Mitrovic:

* 18 goals in 32 appearances for Partizan Belgrade.
* 1 goal in 6 apps for the Serbia national team.
* 11 goals in 21 apps for various Serbia youth teams.
* Two league title medals (for Partizan and Anderlecht)
* Most expensive transfer in Anderlecht's history.
* 2013: UEFA Under-19 Championship winner.
* 9 goals/2 assists in 20 apps this season.

Former Liverpool attacker Milan Jovanovic insists that Mitrovic is destined for great things, and in a recent interview, he raved:

"He [Mitrovic] is a real top finisher – a menace in the box, and he's built for the top"

Urgh. Not another young, inexperienced player with the potential to come good at some undetermined point in the future. You only need to look at the impact of similarly-aged players like Lazar Markovic, Luis Alberto, Fabio Borini et to see that this is a bad idea.

Granted, Daniel Sturridge's injury problems becoming increasingly acute, and a new striker in January is arguably Liverpool's biggest priority, but after the utter failure of most of Rodgers' signings in the 18-22 range, Mitrovic is not the answer, especially if - as his Agent suggests - the price will become exorbitant.

Additionally, if Liverpool sign Mitrovic, where does that leave Divock Origi, who is the same age? Can the team support both strikers? If, hypothetically, Mitrovic coes in and does well, I can definitely see Origi going back out on loan next summer.

If FSG are mad enough to give Rodgers more money, then signing Mitrovic for €20m+ will (IMO) be tantamount to negligence. The pressure is well and truly on for Liverpool's boss to get it right in the transfer market, and gambling big bucks on a 20-year old striker is arguably unwise at this stage.

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11/19/2014 01:30:00 pm

Replace Sturridge? - BR fighting to sign €15m goal-machine who 'can play for LFC'.

When it comes to scoring goals, Liverpool are in dire straights at the moment, and Daniel Sturridge's latest injury means that the Reds go into one of the most important periods of the season without a regular goalscorer in the squad. Clearly, Brendan Rodgers needs to solve this particular ASAP, and French star André-Pierre Gignac is the latest striker linked with a move to Anfield.

According to the Daily Express today:

"Arsenal and Liverpool are ready to battle Dynamo Moscow for the signing of Marseille's Andre-Pierre Gignac in January".

In September, Gignac's agent, Christopher Hutteau, insisted that the striker is capable of succeeding at a 'big club', and specifically name-checked Liverpool as a possible destination. He told French newspaper L'Equipe:

"This is a striker with a relatively atypical profile, responsive to the physical challenge. He can play for Arsenal or Liverpool, no problem. For me, it is between €12million (£9.5m) and €15million (£11m)."

Some info about Gignac:

* 4 goals in 17 games for the France national team.
* Marseille: 64 goals/13 assists in 162 apps.
* Toulouse: 42 goals/11 assists in 118 apps.
* Lorient: 11 goals/6 assists in 51 apps.
* TOTALS: 117 goals/30 assists in 331 apps.
* Goal every 2.8 games.
* Goal/assist every 2.2 games.

QPR midfielder Joey Barton played alongside Gignac at Marseille, and when asked about the striker, he raved:

"He's one of our most important players. He's like Ibrahimovic at Paris Saint-Germain. He can score from anywhere".

With 10 goals/1 assist in 13 games this season, Gignac has continued where he left off last season, when he grabbed an impressive 27 goals/assists in 39 appearances.

That said, there's a world of difference between scoring goals in Ligue One, and regularly hitting the back of the net in the Premier League, and despite his stats, it's a huge gamble (IMO) to spend €15m on Gignac. Plus, at the age of 29, it's highly doubtful he's a long-term solution.

Given his abject performance in the transfer market over the last two years, Rodgers needs to get it right during the January window; if he gets it wrong again, it will almost certainly cost him his job.

Of course, this presupposes that FSG will give Rodgers money to spend in January, and after wasting £120m over the summer, there's certainly no guarantee of that.

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11/19/2014 06:10:00 am

Molby warns: 'Desperate' LFC 'have to start' £29m star against Crystal Palace. Agree?

After four defeats in the last six games, Liverpool desperately need a victory over Crystal Palace this weekend to get the clubs season back on track, and Reds legend Jan Molby insists that there is one surefire way to increase LFC's chances of winning the game.

In his column for the Liverpool Echo this week, Molby warned that Liverpool are 'desperate for form', noting:

"Liverpool have to start Daniel Sturridge at Crystal Palace. Some people are urging the Reds to take caution after he only returned to full training this week, but Liverpool need him back in the side".

According to Molby, playing Sturridge will:

* Lift the Liverpool players.
* Make Palace slightly uneasy.
* Present a different challenge for Palace.
* Bring pace and sharpness to the team.

Alas, Sturridge is injured again, but the basic point still stands: when Sturridge is fit, Liverpool need him back ASAP, as the club's record without £29m-rated striker is terrible:

* Played: 14
* Won: 4
* Lost: 7
* Drew: 3
* Goal scored: 14
* Won only 2 out of 7 Prem games.
* Failed to win 71% of games.

When Sturridge finally returns it will be a massive boost, but given the utter failure of Balotelli, Borini, Lallana, Henderson, Sterling, and Lambert to chip-in with goals, there will be intolerable pressure on the striker to deliver the goods.

Like with Dejan Lovren, Fans will unreasonably expect Sturridge to come back and immediately rescue Liverpool's season, and that's almost certainly not going to happen.

Additionally, after missing so many games, Sturridge will need time to regain proper match-fitness, and it's also possible that he may subconsciously hold back a little for fear of incurring another injury.

Sturridge is obviously desperate to return, and if asked, he'll probably say he's ready to play. However, Rodgers shouldn't just take his word for it; all players want to play, and even if they're not 100%, they'll tell the manager they're fine. With that in mind, Sturridge should only play if the medical team signs off on his return.

Clearly, when Sturridge nears fitness again, Rodgers will have a big decision to make, and if he gets it wrong and rushes Sturridge back before he's ready, it could further derail Liverpool's season.

As such, it's imperative that the manager errs on the side of caution, and in this instance, it's arguably much better to take a short-term hit for a long-term gain

Whatever happens, Liverpool still need to figure out a way to consistently win without Sturridge. It's ridiculous that the loss of one player can lead to the collapse of the team, but that's the reality right now, and the fault for that lies squarely with Rodgers.

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