9/02/2014 05:15:00 am

'Amazing': Liverpool FC defender Jose Enrique hails 'unbelievable' £12m star

Since arriving at Anfield, Brendan Rodgers has spent over £200m on transfers, and of the 25 players brought in, only Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho are bona-fide successes. However, with the shrewd signings of Alberto Moreno, and Javier Manquillo, it looks like Rodgers may have pulled off another successful double-whammy (touch-wood). For the first time in years, the Reds have several quality options in the full-back positions; Moreno, in particular, looks very assured, and Jose Enrique knows that he has a huge battle on his hands to get back into the team.

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo today, Enrique conceded that he'll have to be 'patient' this season, and hailed the impact of the man who will ultimately replace him in the team:

“Moreno did really well and scored an amazing goal. For me the best thing about it was the pressing to win the ball back. That was half of the goal. How he finished was unbelievable".

It was indeed a fantastic goal; very John Arne Riise-esque, and if Moreno can have a similar impact to the Norwegian (arguably one of LFC's best left-backs of the last 30 years, especially going forward), then the £12m paid for the Spaniard will - in retrospect - seem like a massive bargain.

Liverpool legend John Aldridge is an early-fan of Moreno, and after the Spurs game, he raved:

"Moreno will be our best Left-back since the great Stevie Nicol"

In my view, it's way too early to get carried away. Moreno got caught out repeatedly against Manchester City, and was at fault for two of City's three goals. Granted, it was his debut, but consistency is the key, and it will be interesting to see how he performs over the next 10-12 games.

As for emulating Nicol - that's a tough act to follow. Indeed, in 1989, Nicol won the Football Writers' Association's 'Player of the Year' award, which is a tremendous achievement, especially since he's the only defender in the last 60+ years to win that award.

if Moreno can achieve that, then he can be mentioned in same breath as Nicol. Until then, I'll just be happy to see him emulate Riise.


9/01/2014 04:19:00 pm

Done Deal: LFC agree one-year deal with Prem club for 'aggressive' £7m star

With Liverpool overflowing with senior central defenders, there's clearly no room for Sebastian Coates at the club, and despite an impressive showing during pre-season, the Uruguayan is set to leave Anfield before the transfer deadline today.

According to Sky Sports:

* Coates has signed for Sunderland on a season-long loan.

* He passed a medical this morning.

* The club photographer has arrived to take photos of Coates, and the deal will be announced imminently.

 photo ScreenShot2014-09-01at163126_zpse90ba4e0.png

Rodgers recently praised Coates for his pre-season performances, but hinted that a move may be on the cards. He told reporters:

"He [Coates] can play football. He has a lovely touch, lovely technique, can pass the ball and can be aggressive. The question for Sebastian will be whether he is going to get enough games that will satisfy his own personal need, because he's a talent"

Unfortunately for him, with Lovren, Skrtel, Sakho, and Toure in the squad, Coates would've been warming the bench for most of the season, so leaving is probably best for his development, and future career.

As always the question to ask is this: will losing Coates make any negative difference to Liverpool's forward progress? As harsh as it sounds, the answer is no, and if he does well at Sunderland (under fellow Uruguayan Gus Poyet), a permanent move may be on the cards next summer.

One major positive: Coates may finally get an extended run of first team football; he'll have the opportunity to show what he can do in the Premier League, which could be beneficial for Liverpool (in terms of sell-on value)


9/01/2014 12:42:00 pm

Transfer Mockery: Top boss contradicts Liverpool over deal for 'superb' £11m attacker

For many Liverpool fans, the collapse of Loic Remy's proposed transfer to Anfield remains a massive disappointment, and the prevailing media view appears to be that the 'superb' France striker failed his medical. No one at LFC, however, has specifically referenced a failed medical, and Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has cast further doubt on that particular reasoning.

According to the Liverpool Echo, LFC scrapped the proposed £11m deal as a result of 'concerns' arising from Remy's medical'.

However, when asked about the deal Brendan Rodgers made no reference to any medical issue, and offered the following explanation:

"It's very simple we have made a decision as a club not to go ahead. It's unfortunate for the player. We are disappointed for the player but there’s nothing more to be said"

LFC haven't publicly acknowledge the alleged failed medical (and that's hardly surprising), but it's reasonable to assume that the club's private reason for abandoning the deal is - as leaked by the Liverpool Echo - related to a medical issue.

Well, Remy has now signed for Chelsea, and according to Mourinho, the striker has no medical issues whatsoever. He told reporters:

"We have a fantastic doctor and I trust him completely. They will identify any problem. The information we have from specialists in different areas is that he does not have a problem."

In my view, the Chelsea move makes an absolute mockery of Liverpool's failure to complete the deal:

* If Remy is healthy enough for Stamford Bridge, then why is he not healthy enough for Anfield?

* If underlying issues exists that's serious enough to derail a transfer, Chelsea's doctors and specialists - who are just as qualified and experienced as LFC's - would've found it, no?

* Clearly, there's no issue with Chelsea obtaining insurance for Remy.

It's ridiculous, really. Chelsea have pulled off one of the bargain transfers of the summer, and it's a deal that Liverpool could've - and should've sealed.

It just doesn't compute: if Remy has a serious medical issue then why have Chelsea signed him on a long-term deal? If someone can explain that to me, then I'm all ears (!)

Mario Balotelli is a (potentially) great signing, but having the Italian and Remy would've immeasurably improved LFC's squad.

We'll probably never know the truth behind the Remy collapse, but in my view, it's increasingly hard to believe that the deal fell through due to medical reasons.

N.B. Any posts containing negative unsubstantiated gossip about Remy will be deleted.


9/01/2014 07:00:00 am

Major Boost? 'Important' star reveals he'll be 'signing' LFC deal 'soon'. Contract 'talks' ongoing

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers has immeasurably strengthened the club's full-back positions this summer, and the club is set for another boost as right-back Jon Flanagan has revealed that he is close to signing a new long-term deal with Liverpool.

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo this week, Flanagan - who is currently recovering from a knee injury - confirmed:

"There have been some talks and I should be signing a new contract soon.

"All I’ve ever wanted is to play for Liverpool and I want to stay here for as long as I possibly can.”

Flanagan put in some good performances last season, but he's going to face a formidable battle to regain his place in the team.

It's early days, but Javier Manquillo and Alberto Moreno look like promising acquisitions, and with the experienced Glen Johnson also in the squad, it's probable that Flanagan will be fourth-choice full-back on his return to full-fitness.

The 'important' 21-year old is unperturbed by the competition, though, and concedes that Liverpool are 'always going to sign top players'. He mused:

“Moreno and Manquillo play in my position but that will just make me work harder. Having good players around you pushes you on. Hopefully I’ll get back in the team. Things went well for me last season and I want to build on that.”

Flanagan seems to be popular amongst Liverpool fans, but I personally can't see what all the fuss is about. For me, he's a little overrated; a steady 'huff and puff' player with plenty of passion, but nothing exceptional to his game.

To be fair, though, Manquillo seems to very similar in that regard; he's a solid player, who doesn't seem to excel in anything specific, unlike, say, Moreno, who clearly has real attacking quality, as proven by his superb goal against Spurs on Sunday.

Still, I'll take Flanagan over Glen Johnson any day of the week, and with Manquillo, Moreno, and Flanagan in the squad, Johnson will (hopefully) struggle to play regularly this season.

Alternatively, under intense pressure for his place, it's also possible Johnson may improve and start to tighten up his game, so it's a win-win situation all-round.


9/01/2014 05:24:00 am

Late Transfer: LFC hold talks with Euro giants to sell 'terrific' star for £15m. Good deal?

Dead man walking? Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has given the strongest indication yet that Fabio Borini's Anfield career is over, and with 24 hours to go before the transfer window closes, Inter Milan have entered the race to sign the Italian striker.

During his pre-Spurs press conference on Friday, Rodgers seemingly hammered the final nail into Borini's coffin. He told reporters:

"I think Fabio's situation is clear. For him, it's best to move on and get playing regularly."

It doesn't get much clearer than that (!)

Last month, Borini's agent, Marco De Marchi confirmed that Sunderland 'made ​​an important offer of 18 million Euros' for Borini, and according to Italian newspaper Corriere Dello Sport this weekend:

* Inter Milan have contacted Liverpool and proposed a loan-to-buy arrangement.

* LFC have rejected that proposal, and told Inter that they'll have to cough up £15m to sign Borini.

If Liverpool are that desperate to sell 'terrific' Borini, then slapping a £15m price-tag on him doesn't seem to make much sense, especially when dealing with cash-strapped Serie A sides, who generally baulk at higher transfer fees.

Whatever happens, surely Borini has to accept that he has no future at Anfield? Rodgers isn't often this emphatic about a player's future, but he makes it crystal clear that the striker is not in his plans.

I really can't see why Borini would want to stay:

* Used sparingly by Rodgers in his first season, and rarely played as a central striker.
* Sent out on loan in his second season, which was clearly a vote of no confidence.
* Replaced 3 times this summer (Balotelli, Origi, Lambert). Another vote of no-confidence.
* Currently 4th choice striker, behind 32-year old Lambert.
* Rodgers even considered bringing in 33-year old Eto'o instead of relying on Borini.
* Rodgers has now made a very unsubtle public plea for Borini to leave.

How much humiliation can one player take? Given the above, if Borini refuses to leave by the transfer deadline, then it'll be hard to understand his mindset. He seems like a decent guy, and surely, at his age, he'll want to play regular football, and the only way that's going to happen is if he leaves.


8/31/2014 11:20:00 pm

Out of Order: Ex-Red slates 'outstanding' £20m Liverpool star for controversial Tottenham incident. Fair?

After Monday's disappointing defeat to Manchester City, Liverpool bounced back today with a dominant 3-0 away victory against Tottenham Hotspur, which marked the much-anticipated debut of £16m signing Mario Balotelli. There are many positives to take from the Reds outstanding performance, but the result is marred by yet another act of blatant gamesmanship cheating.

In my view, £20m-rated Joe Allen cheated his way to a penalty, and after watching the incident from several different angles, I don't see how there is any other conclusion.

The evidence is (arguably) damning:

* Yes, there is 'contact', but Eric Dier merely slid his hand across Allen's chest; he didn't grab his shirt, or do anything to cause the LFC midfielder to go to ground.

* Why does Allen cry out in apparent pain when he goes down?! What happened in the incident to elicit such a dramatic response? Absolutely nothing. It's play-acting to sell the dive.

* Allen obviously felt the contact, and decided to fall over. He probably could've stayed on his feet, but (IMO), he chose to go down. Again: the contact is not significant enough to knock him over, and it's (arguably) clear from the video that he dived.

It's ridiculous. Allen - hailed last season as 'outstanding' by Brendan Rodgers - had plenty of space in which to run into, but he chose to fall down instead, knowing that he could take advantage of the very slight contact.

When asked about the penalty on Match of the Day, former Liverpool goalkeeper 'keeper Brad Friedel basically accused Allen of diving. He said:

"It's a soft penalty, or 'clever play' as some would say. Any person on the street gets touched like that they don't fall over".

Exactly. I hate this kind of 'gamesmanship'; Cheating is defined as 'acting dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage', and in my view, Allen unfairly went down in the box 'in order to gain an advantage'.

It's cheating, pure and simple, and if a Spurs player had done the same, I'm sure Reds fans would be up up in arms right now.

Liverpool put in an outstanding performance overall, but for me - and I'm aware I'm in the minority here - incidents like this negate the overall impact of the victory.

Still, it's great to see the Reds bounce back from the City defeat in such an emphatic manner, and with two wins in the first three games (and other top teams stuttering), Liverpool are in a good position going into the infernal international break.


8/28/2014 11:30:00 pm

'El Coyote' to LFC? BR wants to sign exciting South American who's 'worth €15m'. Replace £7m star?

Liverpool are reportedly considering a late transfer bid for Colombia defender Eder Balanta, who is also wanted by Barcelona and Juventus.

Liverpool were linked with Balanta in June, and according to reports in Colombia today:

* Liverpool are considering an offer for Balanta, who currently plays for River Plate in Argentina.

* The Reds have been 'keeping tabs' on the 21-year old after his impressive performances at the World Cup.

When asked today about Balanta's future, club president Rodolfo D’Onofrio suggested a very reasonable transfer fee will be enough to snag the youngster. He told reporters:

"We value him at €5.5m, and the most important thing is that we want the money as quickly as possible. Clubs instead want to pay a small amount now - for a loan - and then talk about it in a year. This is not possible.”

River Plate vice president Omar Solassi disagrees with D'onofrio's valuation, though, and in a recent interview, he claimed:

"Balanta is worth €15 million; he is a great player with a great future. He is a strong defender, is good on the ball and knows how to play going forward."

Balanta - nicknamed 'El Coyote' in Argentina - is highly regarded in Argentina, and is the subject of regular praise for his performances. Ex-Red Javier Mascherano is a fan, and last season, he raved:

"He looks very good, he has a lot of quality, and he is good bringing the ball out from the back. When you see a youngster standing out from the rest, it shows he does not have just any personality."

but in a recent interview, the modest youngster insisted that he's 'not as skillful as everyone thinks', and admitted that the praise makes him 'feel uncomfortable'. He added:

"I am really just 'normal' and not a 'star', yet. I am still young and learning. But the rumors that run around often make me feel as if my head will explode"

Please, no more young central defenders! After the experiences of Sebastian Coates, and Tiago Ilori, it's clear that 20/21 year old centre-halves have practically zero chance of making it at Liverpool. LFC has already wasted £14m on two central defenders who never play, so what's the point in bringing in another one?


8/28/2014 10:25:00 pm

'We'll try to win': £80m superstar confident of beating 'very difficult' Liverpool. Disappointing CL group?

The Champions League draw is in! Some fans will be happy that Liverpool have luckily avoided a dreaded group of death, but overall, Real Madrid aside, the draw (IMO) is a little disappointing.

Full Draw

* Liverpool
* Real Madrid
* FC Basel
* Ludogorets Razgrad

Reacting to the draw, Brendan Rodgers enthused:

"To be back in it again, no matter who we were going to play, it was always going to be exciting. But to have Real Madrid in your group, the champions last season, is going to be special"

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo added:

"It'll be nice, I've never played there for Real Madrid. Liverpool is a very, very difficult stadium. But we are Real Madrid so we're going to try to win."

With the greatest respect, Basel and Razgrad are the type of teams you'd expect to face in the Europa League, not the Champions League, and for me, it would've been far more exciting to see the Reds drawn against stronger sides.

Granted, given the clubs drawn, Liverpool possibly have more chance of progressing from their group, but I'd rather see the Reds get the group of death, and I'd take Arsenal's or Manchester City's group in a heartbeat.

It'll be fantastic to play Real Madrid, though, and here's hoping Liverpool can replicate the club's last performance against Los Blancos:


8/28/2014 01:05:00 pm

'LFC has contacted me': €11m Spain star confirms surprise LFC 'offer'. Next signing?

How many central defenders do Liverpool need? With SIX senior centre-backs currently on the books, the position is clearly well-covered, but it seems that Liverpool are actively trying to sign yet another centre-half.

When asked about his future last night, Borussia Moenchengladbach defender Alvaro Dominguez told reporters:

"Yes, it's true. Galatasaray and Liverpool have contacted me but I will stay with Borussia.

"I am here and I am happy. I have what I need. I have spoken to the club and they told me that I am an important player."

This follows Dominguez's comments last week, when he hinted that a move may be on the cards:

"There are still a few days until the transfer deadline, so I do not know what will happen"

Gladbach director of football Max Eberl has also confirmed that an un-named club has put in an offer for Dominguez:

"We have received an offer, but a sale would not be an issue for us. We place a great emphasis on long-term squad planning and don't suddenly panic a few days before the end of the transfer deadline"

Some info about 25-year old Dominguez, who cost Gladbach €11m in 2012:

* Spent two years at Real Madrid as a youth player.
* 26 appearances for various Spain youth teams.
* 2 apps for the Spain national team.
* Current contract expires in 2017.
* 4 years at Atletico Madrid.
* Two-time winner of the Europa League with Atletico
* Averages 40 games a season.

To be honest, at this stage, Liverpool only really have three viable options at centre-back: Skrtel, Lovren, and Sakho, with the latter clearly not trusted by Rodgers. £15m-rated Agger and Coates are on the verge of leaving the club, so signing another central defender seems to make sense.

Having said that, what about Tiago Ilori? If Rodgers wants another centre-back, why doesn't he use the Portuguese defender, who signed for £7m last summer?

What is the point of buying Ilori if he is never going to be utilised? If Manquillo and Moreno - who are both the same age (give or take a year) - can play in the first team, why can't Ilori?


8/27/2014 06:40:00 pm

Done Deal 13: LFC seal deal with Kuyt's old club for 'excellent' winger. £15m star next?

Hot on the heels of Jack Robinson's Anfield exit, Liverpool have today jettisoned yet another LFC youngster as Brendan Rodgers prunes his squad ahead of the transfer deadline.

According to the official LFC website:

"Liverpool youngster Kristoffer Peterson has today completed a permanent transfer to Dutch side FC Utrecht.

"The Swede departs the club three-and-a-half years after arriving from Savedalens IF in January 2011".

Like Suso - who is currently being ignored by Rodgers - Peterson scored two goals during pre-season, which prompted the manager to single him out for specific praise:

"Kristoffer Peterson has been excellent. He will come with us to America and that's the reward for him for his two performances over the course of the pre-season games."

Having a good pre-season clearly did nothing for Peterson's prospects of staying at LFC, though. Granted, there's massive competition for attacking places at Anfield right now, but the Swede is just the latest in a long-line of youngsters to (inevitably) end up on the Liverpool scrap-heap.

Coates and Suso also did well in pre-season, but they're seemingly on the way out, too, which begs the question: Where's the incentive for young players if their efforts are basically ignored?

Peterson is the 13th player to leave Liverpool during the current transfer window (sales and loans):

* Jakub Sokolik
* Adam Morgan
* Luis Suarez
* Conor Coady
* Pepe Reina
* Martin Kelly
* Andre Wisdom
* Brad Smith
* Joao Teixeira
* Luis Alberto
* Iago Aspas
* Jack Robinson
* Kristoffer Peterson

It will also come as no surprise to see Suso, Coates, Lucas, and £15m-rated Daniel Agger leave the club before the transfer deadline.


8/27/2014 03:55:00 pm

I Blame You: 'Frustrated' £15m star blasts BR for killing his Anfield career. Fair?

Daniel Agger continues to dig his own grave at Anfield, and after recently complaining about being left out of the team, he's now mounted a veiled attack on Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers.

In October 2013, Agger told Danish TV:

"If the manager doesn't think I am good enough, that could make me leave Liverpool. If I don't play, I don't want to be here anymore."

Then, in July 2014, Agger moaned:

"It's no secret that I had problems last season and I am considering things. How things turned out last season is not acceptable for me"

Agger continued his public tirade this week, with this thinly-veiled crticism of Rodgers' man-management of his situation. In an interview with Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, Agger admitted his transfer future is 'up to Liverpool', and revealed his ongoing unhappiness with the situation:

"The future is complicated. I've had niggling injuries at the wrong times and it is difficult to change the team when it is winning. I am not frustrated by that. I am frustrated the way it happened and the way it was handled."

Both Mark Lawrenson and Jamie Carragher have argued recently that Rodgers is 'not a fan' of Agger, it's clear that the boss is gradually phasing him out.

To be fair, though, it's hard to blame Rodgers for marginalising Agger. As last season proved yet again, he is consistently error-prone, and his positional sense leaves a lot to be desired.

This, combined with his continued injury problems, means that Agger is not reliable, and it's impossible to build a consistent central-defensive partnership with an unreliable defender.

In any event, Agger's increasingly brazen public comments suggest that he's resigned to leaving Anfield. Only a player with one eye on the exit door would criticise the manager's man-management skills in public.

Dead man walking?

On a separate note: A regular poster requested the following poll, so here it is:

feedback surveys

In my view, criticism of Sturridge is absolutely ridiculous. His creative return for LFC is absolutely outstanding, and he already has 2 goals/assists in 2 games this season. Still, some fans seen intent on attacking Sturridge, even when there are obviously other areas of the team more deserving of criticism.


8/27/2014 06:09:00 am

Shock: LVG to bid £20m for LFC star who's 'always been a Man Utd fan'

In what has to be the most improbable transfer rumour of the summer, Manchester United are reportedly considering a move for Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen.

According to reports on Tuesday:

* Man Utd scouts watched Allen in action during Liverpool's 3-1 defeat to Manchester City

* Louis Van Gaal is considering a massive £20m bid for the Wales international.

It sounds ridiculous, and it's probably BS, but if United are stupid enough to offer £20m for Allen (and after paying £120m for Shaw, Herrera, and Di Maria, it's a definite possibility) then Liverpool should definitely take it (!)

Transfers between Manchester United and Liverpool are historically rare, but Allen is a self-confessed Man Utd fan, and in 2012 he told reporters:

“I’ve always been a United fan. I looked up to Roy Keane and Scholes was my hero as a kid. I’d like to think United can win the title"

If Allen was a Man United fan in 2012 (and since childhood), I doubt that things have changed over the last couple of years. Yes, he plays for Liverpool, but he probably still has a private allegiance for the Mancs, which may make it easier for him to complete the transfer.

Plus, I suspect that most LFC fans will be pretty indifferent to the deal if it goes through. Allen is a bit of a nondescript player at Liverpool; he doesn't invoke much of a passionate response from Reds fans, and if Rodgers can get £20m for him, there will be few complaints.

With less than a week of the transfer window remaining, though, there's precious little time to find a replacement for Allen, and that might play into Rodgers' thinking if/when the alleged interest becomes more concrete.


8/26/2014 11:25:00 pm

Late Deal: Euro Giants make surprise offer for 'perfect' €18m LFC star. Sell ASAP?

The arrival of Mario Balotelli is yet another nail in the coffin of Fabio Borini's Anfield career (such as it is), and with his first-team chances extremely limited, surely it's time for Borini to cut his losses and leave? Sunderland doesn't appear to be an appetising prospect for the Italian striker, but what about AC Milan, who are now reportedly interested?

Last month, Borini's agent, Marco De Marchi confirmed that Liverpool received an offer from Sunderland. He toldTMW:

"Sunderland has made ​​an important offer of 18 million Euros, but Fabio wants to stay there [at Anfield]. Liverpool haven't told me anything yet, but he wants to gamble"

According Italian newspaper La Gazetta Dello Sport today:

* Milan have submitted an 'official offer' for Borini.
* The Italian giants want the 'perfect professional' on loan, with an option to buy.

It's the dreaded loan-to-buy arrangement again, but after the experience with Pepe Reina - who ultimately ended up coming back to Anfield after his loan spell, and then leaving for a nominal fee - I doubt Liverpool will be interested. A cash deal, or nothing, and that's the way it should be.

The prospect of (possibly) playing in the Champions League may be enticing to Borini, but I really can't see why he'd want to stay:

* Used sparingly by Rodgers in his first season, and rarely played as a central striker.
* Sent out on loan in his second season, which was clearly a vote of no confidence.
* Replaced 3 times this summer (Balotelli, Origi, Lambert). Another vote of no-confidence.
* Currently 4th choice striker, behind 32-year old Lambert.
* Rodgers even considered bringing in 33-year old Eto'o instead of relying on Borini.

How much humiliation can one player take?

Whatever way you slice it, Borini is one of Rodgers' many transfer mistakes, but making a profit on the striker will redress the balance somewhat. I doubt Milan will pay €18m for him, though, and Borini's refusal to join Sunderland may ultimately lead to the Reds making a loss later on down the line.

In February 2013, I wrote an article titled Fabio Borini: Destined for failure?, wherein I argued that Borini would never be more than a bit-part player for Liverpool.

Well, that is exactly how it's turned out, but as noted in the article, it's (arguably) not Borini's fault; Rodgers is to blame for buying him in the first place, with (seemingly) no real plan about how to utilise him effectively.


8/26/2014 07:30:00 pm

Done Deal: 'Tremendous' LFC star to quit Anfield this week in cut-price transfer. Loss?

Brendan Rodgers has overhauled Liverpool's full-back positions this summer, and it appears that homegrown left-back Jack Robinson is the latest casualty of the LFC's squad rebuilding programme.

According to The Mirror this week:

"Harry Redknapp is signing Liverpool left back Jack Robinson. [QPR] agreed a deal worth around £1 million for Robnson, who [is] headed for London to finalise the move".

Reds legend Dietmar Hamann recently pinpointed Robinson as one particular youngster he believes is good enough for a permanent promotion to the first team. He tweeted:

"I really like Jack Robinson, and I think he'll be a regular in the first team before too long"

How things change: Last year, Robinson - hailed by John Aldridge as a 'tremendous' prospect - received a call-up to the England Under-21 squad for the Euro 2013 play-off against Serbia, something that delighted Rodgers, who enthused:

“Young Jack has been doing very well. He’s had a lot of exposure to the first team as a young player already, but he’s done very well recently and it’s good news for him"

Soon after, Rodgers farmed Robinson out on loan to Blackpool, and as I repeatedly argue on this site, loaning out young players is usually the kiss-of-death for their LFC careers.

As proven again here, the harsh reality is that the majority of LFC youngsters who go out on loan ultimately end up on the Anfield scrapheap.

On the plus side, Robinson is staying in the Premier League, and with QPR in disarray at the moment, there's clearly a chance for the 21-year old to stake his claim for regular first team football.


8/26/2014 02:26:00 pm

MC 3-1 LFC: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly. £50m star now a priority buy?

Only hours after the euphoria of Mario Balotelli's signing, the striker's former club, Manchester City, brought Liverpool down to earth with a resounding 3-1 victory, and with four goals conceded in the first two league games, the fledgling new season is already beginning to follow a familiar pattern.

In the grand scheme of things, the 3-1 defeat to Man City is pretty meaningless; Liverpool lost at the Emirates last season, too, yet still managed to finish second. What difference does it make if the loss occurs in August or December?

Liverpool will lose games; it's inevitable, and losing so early in the year doesn't mean that the season is now - as some fans are arguing - irreparably compromised (!)

There are a couple of positives to take from the game, but there are also recurring problems that still need to be addressed, and the defeat will hopefully be the wake-up call Rodgers needs to prioritise these issues.


* Some good attacking play in the first half, with Sterling, Sturridge, and Hendo getting into some promising positions. However, Coutinho is (arguably) wasted playing out wide on the left, and he should play as a number 10, or not at all. Having said that, the Brazilian didn't set the world on fire last season when playing at the tip of the diamond. Sterling had more success in that role, and if Rodgers switches to a diamond formation in the future, Coutinho could find himself languishing on the bench.

* Markovic had a good five minutes when he came on, and created a couple of chances. He seemed to disappear a little after that, but as his match-fitness increases, he'll hopefully be more of a consistent threat.

* Lucas not in the squad, which could mean that he's on his way out of Anfield. The Brazilian is a fine servant to the club, and good squad player, but he's had his day at LFC.

Erm, that's about it (!)


* Unlike Javier Manquillo - who had a great LFC debut - Alberto Moreno got off to the worst possible start in a Reds' shirt. He was arguably at fault for two of Man City's three goals, and his mistakes led to uncertainty across the back four. As maligned as Glen Johnson is, it may have been a better idea to play him at left-back, and continue with Manquillo on the right.

* That said, Johnson is increasingly a liability. To be fair, he did okay defensively, but if it's not his defensive weaknesses sabotaging the team, it's his poor play in the final third. Johnson's final delivery was atrocious all evening, and he repeatedly lost the ball in promising positions. The sooner he's permanently banished to bench duty, the better. On a related note: where is Jose Enrique? He missed the cut again last night, and there's no word from Anfield about a new injury scare. According to Rodgers, he's fit, so why isn't he in the squad?

* Defensively, Liverpool were poor at times, but when basically overhauling the entire defence (two new fullbacks, plus a new central defensive partnership), it's going to take time to gel, and things will probably get worse before they get better. It's unrealistic to expect Lovren to arrive and instantly transform the defence - he needs time to build up a rapport with Skrtel, Moreno et al, and until that happens, there will inevitably be further defensive lapses.

* Liverpool's midfield unit singularly failed once again to provide adequate protection for the back four. With marauding full-backs, it's vital to have midfielders capable of tracking runners, but Gerrard, Allen, and Henderson offered practically nothing in that regard, and City's killer second goal typified this.

* Again, it has to be said: Joe Allen offers nothing significant to this Liverpool team. What specific impact did he make against Man City, either defensively, or in attack? Zilch. Nada. Nothing. He is a passenger, and should remain a squad player for the rest of the season.

* Rodgers' decision to move Gerrard into a deeper role is seen as a masterstroke by some, but it's clearly a negative overall. Gerrard offers little protection for the back-four, and doesn't have the mobility to hassle and press for 90 minutes. Plus, the team regularly lost possession as a result of his endless Hollywood passes.

* As I've argued several times recently, Henderson needs to impact the game more in the final third, and that means taking control and making things happen, not shirking responsibility and playing the easy ball. On several occasions last night, Hendo played the wrong pass when in promising attacking positions, and as Reds legend Jimmy Case put it: "When Henderson made that tremendous run into the box, he turned away from goal, whereas Sterling or Sturridge would've turned towards the goal and took the chance".


* I remain unconvinced by Emre Can. So far (i.e. from pre-season until now), he's shown nothing to suggest he'll be an upgrade on Allen or Lucas. He seems slow, ponderous, and like Allen, it's hard to see what he brings to the team. Against City, he got booked after two minutes; got skinned on the right (which exposed his fatal lack of pace), and then shamelessly dived in an attempt to con the referee into giving a free kick. Can deserved a booking for that, and if he wasn't already on a yellow, I'm sure he would've got one.

* Last season, Mignolet made more mistakes that led to goals than any other Premier League goalkeeper. The Belgian is not the long-term solution, and last night, he proved that again. For City's third goal, why was Mignolet beaten at his near-post? He had plenty of time to see the action unfold, and to set himself, yet he still conceded. Aguero only had a small space to aim for, yet he still managed to squeeze the ball into the net. Fans regularly lambasted Pepe Reina for his near-post calamities, and Mignolet seems to suffer the same problem.

Overally, I personally don't see this defeat having any significant impact on Liverpool's season, and it's no disgrace to lose an away game against the league Champions. The time to start worrying is when the so-called 'lesser teams' inflict similar results on the Reds (which hopefully won't happen). Predictably, the doom and gloom merchants are out in force, but that's only to be expected after last season's miraculous performance.

A couple of final points:

* The defeat had nothing (IMO) to do with the absence of Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan featured in last season's game at the Etihad, and Liverpool still lost the match.

* The Reds desperately need a quick, mobile, combative defensive-midfielder, i.e. someone like £50m-rated Arturo Vidal. Rodgers has made a rod for his own back, though, with his insistence on playing Gerrard in a deeper role, as it means it's hard to fit a dedicated DM into the team. Ideally, the DM should play in Gerrard's role, but unless Rodgers drops him, or moves him to a different position, I can't see the skipper being dislodged.

Last season, Liverpool always responded well to bad defeats, and I'm sure the same thing will happen after this minor setback.

Bring on Balotelli :-)


8/26/2014 06:15:00 am

Transfer No 10? After Balotelli, LFC to make £10m offer for exciting 'top finisher'. Humiliation for Borini?

The transfers just keep on coming, and after Mario Balotellu, 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 reports this week:

* The Reds are planning a £10m offer for Mitrovic.

* LFC scouts have watched the 19-year old striker 'intensively' over the 'last few months'.Striker No. 4? After Balotelli, LFC to make £10m offer for exciting 'top finisher'. More humiliation

With four goals in six games already this season, Mitrovic is on fire for Anderlecht at the moment, and his stats from last season - 16 goals in 39 appearances - are equally impressive, especially for a teenager. Some further 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.

If Liverpool sign Mitrovic, where does that leave Divock Origi? Unless the plan is to do a Chelsea and loan Mitrovic out, it's doubtful that the team can sustain Sturridge, Balotelli, Lambert, Origi, and Mitrovic next season.

Perhaps the Reds are looking at Mitrovic as a potential fourth striker for this season? Ideally, Liverpool need four good strikers, and - like Origi - the Serb fits perfectly into the currently pecking order:

* Sturridge/Balotelli: First-choice strikers
* Lambert: Experienced back-up.
* Mitrovic: Young, hungry, comparatively inexperienced back-up.

The age/experience mix appears to be just right, but Mitrovic is a regular started for Anderlecht, so why would he give that up to sit on the bench at Liverpool?

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"

If Liverpool are genuinely interest in Mitrovic, then it's even more humiliation for Fabio Borini. Brendan Rodgers has replaced the Italisn THREE times already this summer (Lambert, Origi, and Balotelli), and bringing in a 19-year old will be another massive vote of no-confidence.


8/25/2014 07:15:00 pm

Confirmed LFC XI vs. MC: £10m star snub; Surprise axe for €12m star. Leaving?

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has made two changes for tonight's crunch clash with Manchester City, and Reds fans will be pleased to see that new £12m signing Alberto Moreno is in the starting line-up. [Scroll down to comments for ongoing post-match discussion]

FULL TEAM: Mignolet, Johnson, Moreno, Skrtel, Lovren, Gerrard, Henderson, Allen, Coutinho, Sterling, Sturridge

SUBS: Jones, Manquillo, Sakho, Toure, Can, Markovic, Lambert

MAN CITY: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Fernando, Yaya Toure, Nasri, Silva, Jovetic, Dzeko

SUBS: Caballero, Sagna, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Milner, Navas, Aguero

* Stats show that Javier Manquillo was one of Liverpool's most effective players against Southampton, so it's a shame that he is dropped to accommodate Glen Johnson. It's hardly surprising, though. As defensively suspect as he is, Johnson has the experience, and going with two new full-backs against the league champions is probably not the best idea.

* After starting last week, Lucas doesn't even make the match-day squad, which could mean that his proposed move to Napoli is imminent. When players are soon to leave they're usually withdrawn from match-day squads, so this could be the end for Lucas.

* It's surprising to see Emre Can ignored again for a starting role. In my view, Can is more suited to the physical battle posed by Man City, but perhaps he's not 100% fit. That said, if Can is not fit, why is he on the bench?

* Suso ignored once again. Seriously, he should just quit Liverpool as he's never going to get a fair chance under Rodgers.

Probable formation:

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

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

----------------- Gerrard

------------ Hendo --- Allen

-------- Sterling ----- Coutinho

----------------- Sturridge

Earlier, I predicted a 2-1 victory to Man City, but the news of Balotelli's signing may give the team a boost, and swing things in Liverpool's favour...

EDIT: Post Match:

Michael Owen: "It's a funny old game. Liverpool getting hammered 3-0 yet they've played pretty well. First half they were class"

Roy Evans: "Not the result we were looking for after a good start made defensive mistakes which cost us. Too early to get negative but must improve"

Ray Clemence: "Played well for 55mins but have to score in that period. In the end gave away two poor goals"

Steve Nicol: "Not good when all the goals come down the left side where our new signings are playing"


8/25/2014 06:15:00 pm

Done Deal: LFC sign 'world-class' Balotelli for £16m. Reds Legends react to 'risky buy'

It's official: After feverish speculation over the last few days, Liverpool have confirmed the signing of Mario Balotelli from AC Milan.

A statement on the official Liverpool FC website reads:

"Liverpool can confirm they have completed the signing of Italy striker Mario Balotelli, subject to registration.

"The 24-year-old sealed his switch to Anfield from AC Milan after passing a medical and agreeing a long-term deal".

 photo ScreenShot2014-08-25at172007_zpsbf8cd1ea.png


Brendan Rodgers

"This transfer is outstanding value for the club and I think we have done a really smart piece of business. There is no doubting Mario's ability; he is a world-class talent and someone who, for such a young age, has vast experience of playing at the very highest level".

Mario Balotelli

"I'm very happy. We've been talking about coming here and I'm happy to be here. Liverpool are one of the best teams here in England. The football is very good here. It's a great team with young players, and that's why I came here".

Phil Thompson

"Very happy with the Balotelli deal. Nervous but happy. Now behave Mario and you will be loved"

Michael Owen

"It's official. Balotelli signs for Liverpool. General feeling is it's a risky buy but could be great value for money if Rodgers controls him"

Terry McDermott

"Welcome to Liverpool Mario. Wear the shirt with pride and you will be a hero"

Graeme Souness

"It's an enormous gamble by Rodgers, a gamble I don't think he needs to take because he has a very strong group of players"

Gary McAllister

"He’s got great ability, but...Look at his moves; he’s had great opportunities at big clubs and that fee keeps dropping and dropping. It’s not a great deal of money in today’s game, but it will split a lot of people."

For me, this is the most exciting Liverpool transfer since Fernando Torres, and I really hope it works out.

Balotelli may have his issues, but unlike Suarez, he does not have history a shameless cheating, or a complete and utter disdain for the concept of fair play.

Welcome, Mario!