4/23/2014 09:01:00 pm

I'm Leaving: £9m LFC 'flop' confirms he'll quit Anfield at the 'end of the season'

It's fair to say that Chelsea-loanee Victor Moses has struggled to make any real impact at Liverpool this season, and it comes as absolutely no surprise to learn that the Nigerian is leaving Anfield at the end of the season.

When asked about his future today, Moses - who cost Chelsea €11m in 2012, told Sky Sports:

"I'm a Chelsea player. I came to Liverpool to do a professional job for them but I'm going back to Chelsea at the end of the season to try and fight for my spot"

One ex-player who'll be delighted is John Aldridge, who is clearly not a fan of the attacker. In a recent column for the Liverpool Echo, Aldo labelled moses a 'flop', and accused him of looking 'disinterested' on the field. He scathed:

"He [Moses] has let himself down. There's no desire, no spirit, and he doesn’t look like he’s in the right frame of mind. He has failed to stake any type of claim [and] it might be in everyone’s best interests if the loan is cancelled"

In a recent poll, I asked fans if they agree with Aldo's assessment:

* 12200 visitors (approx) voted.
* 85% of participants agree that Moses is a flop.

Sending him back to Chelsea is absolutely the right decision. As Moses makes clear in his comment, he's a Chelsea player, and that's what's in his heart. He has no vested/emotional interest in Liverpool, and consequently, there's no burning desire to bust a gut for the club, which shows on the pitch.

There's a reason why Moses is the perennial squad player at most of the clubs he plays for: he's only good enough to be a squad player! He is not the type of player who is going to take Liverpool - or any elite club - to the next level, so it's no loss whatsoever.

The major loss here (IMO) is losing Suso for a year. The Spaniard could've stayed at Anfield and taken Moses' place in the squad, but LFC farmed him out on loan instead. Having Suso instead of Moses would've improved the squad, and the Spaniard would now have another year's experience of English football.

I just don't see the logic in sending Suso away, bringing in Moses, and spending £7m on Luis Alberto. Aaaagh - it doesn't make any sense!

Brendan Rodgers has a horrible record with loan-players, but after Sahin, Moses, and Cissokho, he'll surely get it right next time...?


4/23/2014 01:28:00 pm

Transfer Boost: LFC free to try and sign exciting €50m attacking duo. Thanks, FIFA?

Quelle surprise: in the most predictable news of the year, FIFA have today suspended Barcelona's 14-month transfer ban. Whilst that's good news for Barca, it's also potentially great news new Liverpool, who are currently linked with two of the Catalan club's exciting attacking players.

This morning, FIFA released the following statement:

"The chairman of the FIFA appeal committee considered that the appeal lodged by the club [Barcelona] is to be granted suspensive effect."

This means that Barcelona are now free to buy and sell players this summer, though in all seriousness, did anyone ever doubt that FIFA would suspend their 'punishment'?

Clearly, the original sanction is just for show; they'll now go through the motions, and after the 'appeal', the ban will probably be removed altogether (or significantly reduced).

The suspension is, however, very good news for Liverpool, who can now target Barca players this summer, and two names recently linked with the club come to mind:

* Pedro: According to his Agent this week, long-time LFC target Pedro is 'very angry' with Barcelona at the moment, and the €40m-rated attacker 'may be sold' this summer, which offers LFC a great chance to snap up a truly top-class player.

* Cristian Tello: Liverpool are also back in for Tello, with the club reportedly in talks with Barcelona right now over a possible €10m summer move.

Are any other Barcelona players realistic targets for Liverpool this summer?


4/23/2014 03:17:00 am

€15m Price Crash: LFC in talks with Barca over signing 'explosive' €25m attacker

During the January transfer window, Liverpool were strongly linked with a loan move for Barcelona attacker Cristian Tello, a long-time Brendan Rodgers transfer target. Despite Barca's recent transfer ban, the Reds continue to be linked with Tello, and now it transpires that LFC he could possibly get a massive €15m discount on the Spaniard.

Over the weekend, The Mirror reported:

"Liverpool's Cristian Tello transfer could finally be on if Barcelona beat the FIFA ban.

"Contacts are still open, and the Anfield giants regard Tello as an exciting young talent who could boost their squad"

This was followed by reports on Tuesday, which claim that:

* Barca are willing to sell Tello for offers over £8m (€10m).
* Tello already has an end-of-season transfer meeting scheduled with Barca.

Tello has a €25m buyout clause in his contract, so if Liverpool snapped him up for £8m, it would mean a massive discount of €15m. Liverpool's interest in Tello is beyond dispute, and the player himself confirmed this in September 2013, when he told Marca:

"I knew that Liverpool were interested in me, but I never planned to leave. I always wanted to stay at Barca. The coach has confidence in me, I am content there and ready to play a lot of minutes".

In December, the Reds were heavily linked with a January move for Tello, and at the time, a report in Spanish newspaper Marca claimed:

"Cristian Tello is very close to leaving the club in the January transfer window. According to Radio Barca, Tello is close to joining Liverpool on loan".

Soon after, CNN journalist Tancredi Palmeri - who also writes for Italian newspaper Gazetta Dello Sport - claimed that a 'source' at Barcelona has confirmed to him that Tello is definitely joining Liverpool:

 photo ScreenShot2013-12-31at124059_zpse9beeae9.png

Prior to signing his new contract in September 2013, Tello - recently described by Barca boss Gerard Martino as 'very explosive' - hinted that he could be forced to leave if things don't change. He told Spanish newspaper Sport:

"Next year we'll see what suits me best. [I want to be] playing as much as possible but I know who I have in front of me. I know that I can perform at the top, but that's the coach's decision"

Tello may have talent, but With Messi and Neymar ahead of him, he's once again stuck in the role of perennial substitute, and unless something drastic changes, this is likely to be the pattern for the foreseeable future.

Obviously, any potential deal with LFC will only go through if Barca's 14-month transfer ban is overturned, or modified in some way, and I'm sure the Catalan club will find some kind of loophole to exploit. Additionally, if LFC are really still in contact with Barcelona, the transfer ban is clearly not discouraging the Reds from pursuing Tello.

Would this be a good move? With the emergence of Sterling and Coutinho, Do LFC even need Tello now...?


4/22/2014 10:07:00 pm

Cech, Terry and...? LFC get 3 pieces of stunning good luck in one night

Lady luck just keeps smiling on Liverpool this season, and in one night, the Reds have received THREE pieces of great news that could have a massive impact on the this Sunday's Premier League title decider with Chelsea.

GOOD News: Chelsea 'keeper Petr Cech is almost certainly out of this Sunday's Anfield clash reportedly dislocating his shoulder during tonight's Champions League game with Atletico Madrid.

Sucks for him, but it's a big boost for the Reds.

GREAT News: In the second half of the Atletico game, John Terry - Chelsea's defensive stalwart - also went off injured, and could also be a massive doubt for the LFC game.

AWESOME News: Martin Atkinson is appointed to referee the Sunday's game with Chelsea, which thankfully means there's no chance of Liverpool being 'Webbed' again by Manchester's favourite son, Howard Webb.

Not that anyone needs reminding of Webb's calamitous performance during LFC's 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge earlier this season, but in that game, he abjectly failed in his duty to officiate fairly, and there were FOUR major incidents that could've changed the game:

* Eto’o should've been sent off for his awful studs-up challenge on Henderson.
* Penalty No 1: Terry was all over Suarez in the box and dragged him to the ground.
* Penalty No 2: Eto’o again. Deliberately and cynically barged Suarez over in the box.
* Oscar should've been sent off after a sickening two-footed 'tackle' on Lucas Leiva.

Admittedly, Chelsea were also on the receiving end of Webb's ineptitude. For example, Lucas possibly should've had a yellow card for lashing out at Oscar in the closing stages, but the Reds undoubtedly suffered the most. After the game, former referee Graham Poll slammed Webb's incompetence. He told the Daily Mail:

"At Stamford Bridge, Webb failed to make the right call too many times despite being in excellent positions to see incidents clearly. A poor performance by England’s leading referee, and he will not enjoy reviewing the game"

In my view, this was the worst decision of the lot:

That is a blatant penalty, and Webb had an absolutely perfect view of the incident, yet chose not to award a penalty, or even a free kick. Man United legend Gary Neville was incensed with Webb's decision, and during commentary, he raged:

"It's an absolutely stonewall penalty. Totally needless by Eto'o. I don't know what he was doing. Howard Webb was looking straight at it, but for some reason only he knows why he's chosen not to give it. He has to give that. It's madness from Etoo. I can't believe it"

They say good luck comes in threes, and that's definitely the case tonight :-)


4/22/2014 07:00:00 pm

'I was disappointed': Carra & Owen react to 'repulsive' & 'inevitable' Moyes sacking

Yesterday, LFC legend Mark Lawrenson accused Manchester United of an egregious 'lack of respect' over the handling of David Moyes future, and now that United have sacked 'The Chosen One', Michael Owen and Jamie Carragher have given their views on the issue.

After learning of Moyes' merciless excision from Old Trafford, Owen tweeted:

"With the summer looming and a huge transfer kitty available, United had to be 100% Moyes was the right man.

"Evidently they didn't have the confidence in him in which case makes the timing absolutely right"

Carra took a similar line to Lawro, and expressed his dismay with the classless handling of the announcement. he told Sky Sports:

"I was disappointed with the way the news broke, and it doesn't put Man utd in too good a light. It was inevitable that he was going to leave the job. Some of the players have let him down, but you can't sack a team of players. It's been a disaster season for them."

Rather surprisingly, Man Utd legend Gary Neville also took a similar view to Lawro and Carra, and slammed his former club for allowing the rumour-mongering to escalate. He told the Daily Mail:

"I find it repulsive how rumours break. I don’t like it, I’ll never get used to it, but it needs to be clarified quickly. They [Man United] need to break rank and make a statement".

Then, after United announced the news of Moyes' swift transfer to the Old Trafford scrapheap, Neville barked:

"I don't like it, it's not the way in which the club should portray itself. I'm a traditionalist and I think it could have been dealt with a whole lot better. Football managers now just chucked about, disregarded, rubbished. Decent men, good men just get thrown away and that's not just David Moyes"

As much as it pains me to say it, Neville is a damn good pundit, and his views are frequently fair, and well-balanced, and this situation is no exception. He better watch it, though, or United's mewling fans will probably turn on him and fly a 'Neville Out' banner over Sky Sports' studios.

As for Neville's comments about managers being 'chucked about'. Give me a break! These guys are paid millions to live the dream, and then get paid millions when they fail! Nice work if you can get it, so forgive me if I find it hard to sympathise with this particular first-world problem.

Moyes' sacking is, of course, a crushing blow for Liverpool. It opens up the possibility that United's slide into abject mediocrity may well be prematurely arrested, and that's no good for anyone. If they get the right manager, they'll inevitably improve next season, which will make retaining the league title even harder.

On a related note: if only Liverpool had been as ruthless in 1992 after Graeme Souness's first full season? The whole course of LFC history might've changed for the better...


4/22/2014 12:28:00 pm

Aldo: Forget Gerrard move. £11m masterstroke is BR's best decision this year. Agree?

On Saturday, on-loan Liverpool striker Fabio Borini stuck the knife into Jose Mourinho's dwindling title chances with the winning goal against Chelsea, and LFC legend John Aldridge believes that Reds fans will now welcome the Italian back to Anfield with open arms.

In his column for the Liverpool Echo today, Aldo argued that the Chelsea goal is 'Borini’s biggest contribution to Liverpool since he joined the club' and suggested that he now 'has a future at Anfield'. He added:

"Of all the decisions Brendan Rodgers has got right this season, sending Borini on loan [is] the shrewdest of them all.

"The fans love him now. He’s had a decent season [and] if he comes back, he will be getting a fair few pats on the back for sure"

Borini has 7 goals/2 assists in 38 appearances, which is only 'decent' and nothing more. Is it enough to earn the Italian a second chance at Anfield? As a squad player, perhaps, but there's no way (IMO) he'll ever be first-choice for the club.

It may all be moot anyway. When asked about Borini's future recently, Sunderland boss Gustavo Poyet made it clear he wants to keep the Italian. He told Sky Sports:

"If we stay in the Premier League I would keep him. Fabio cares, and he gives everything - the perfect professional".

With Liverpool back in the Champions League, I imagine Borini will want to stay at Anfield next season, and Rodgers seems to be open to the idea of keeping the striker in the squad. In an interview with the Liverpool Echo in March, he noted:

"Fabio has got games and scored some very important goals. He got the opportunity to play in a major final at Wembley. All that bodes well for the future".

Borini's agent is also convinced that a return to Anfield is on the cards. He told reporters recently:

"After the season returns Borini to Liverpool, where he is one of Brendan Rodgers favourites. You should talk to him about a possible sale, but I do not think that is the intention".

To be honest, I'm ambivalent on this issue. If Rodgers decides to sell, great, but if Borini stays, that's fine too, and the stats suggest that the he could be decent squad player.

There's one major upside to keeping Borini: After another year of Premier League experience, he should - in theory - be more equipped to make an impact for LFC, and if that happens, it will be like having a brand new signing.

Additionally, with four competitions on offer next season, the striker should get a healthy number of games to prove himself, though more attacking players will inevitably arrive in the summer, which could limit his chances.

There's also the cost issue to consider. It's unlikely that LFC will make back £11m on Borini at this stage, so it probably makes sense to keep him for another year (or the first part of next season at least) in a bid to raise his transfer value.

Ultimately, I'd rather see Aspas leave over Borini. Whatever happens, one of them will have to go as LFC will not (IMO) be able to accommodate both players next season.

panel management


4/21/2014 11:45:00 pm

'He scores lots of goals': BR wants exciting £20m star hailed as 'best in La Liga'

Last year, the Agent of Real Sociedad star Antoine Griezmann claimed that Liverpool were interested in signing the exciting left-winger during the summer transfer window. A deal didn't materialise, but reports this week suggest that the Reds will go back in for the French international this summer.

According to The Mirror today:

"Antoine Griezmann [is] summer target for Manchester United, Liverpool, Everton, and Arsenal.

"Real Sociedad this will listen to offers around the £20million mark".

Speaking to Reporters in May 2013, Filippo Vergani - Griezmann's Agent - claimed that a host of top clubs across Europe want the 22-year old attacker:

"Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal are constantly watching him, as are Marseille and PSG in France; and Milan, Juventus and Fiorentina in Italy"

When asked to describe Griezmann's playing style, Vergani waxed lyrical about the youngster's attacking versatility, and insisted that a 433 formation - Brendan Rodgers' preferred approach - suits him perfectly:

"Griezmann can play on either flank, but is better on the left. He is fast, and one-on-one situations are his strong point, and tight-marking doesn't work on him. He has the ability to open up defences and change games"

Former Real Sociedad boss Philippe Montanier is also a fan, and in a recent interview, he enthused:

"He [Griezmann] is a complete player. One of the best in La Liga. He is able to play multiple positions, and he is crucial to us. He has a lot of potential, and I think he has a great future"

Griezmann recently received his first call-up to the France national team, and in an interview last month, France boss Didier Deschamps explained why he selected the 23-year old:

"He is very clinical, scores a lot of goals and creates a lot of goals. He is equally comfortable on either side and through the middle. On top of that, he is tactically very aware – that's why I called him up."

With 20 goals in 44 games, Griezmann is having a very productive season goalscoring season for Sociedad, but Deschamps' claim that he 'creates a lot of goals' is not really accurate. Three assists all season proves that the he struggles to create goals, and for an attacking midfielder, that's a problem. Griezmann's previous assist-history is also not that great:

* 2012-13: 3 assists in 35 apps.
* 2011-12: 4 assists in 38 apps.
* 2010-11: 1 assist in 37 apps.
* 2009-10: 0 assists in 39 apps.

Maybe it's just me, but £20m seems massively overpriced for a player with an assist-history of this paucity. If Griezmann struggles to create goals in La Liga, will he do any better in the more physical and faster Premier League?


4/21/2014 09:13:00 pm

Classless: LFC legend blasts Man Utd's 'lack of respect' over Moyes rumours

Manchester United are rumoured to be on the verge of sacking beleaguered boss David Moyes, and after such a terrible season, it's understandable why the Old Trafford board may be considering such drastic action. However, the way United are handling the situation leaves a lot to be desired, and Liverpool legend Mark Lawrenson has accused LFC's great rivals of classless behaviour.

Earlier this evening, a United spokesperson confirmed that Moyes 'has not been sacked', but refused to confirm that the Scot would still have a job at the end of the season, stating.

When asked about the rumours surrounding Moyes, and Man Utd's response, Lawro barked:

"It shows a lack of respect [towards Moyes], and it needs some kind of clarity."

Have to agree with Lawro here, but this is only to be expected from a club whose crass and classless fans hired a plane to fly a 'Moyes Out' banner over their own ground.

Like LFC fans and the disgraceful treatment of Roy Hodgson, Man Utd supporters - with their gargantuan sense of entitlement - have ceaselessly belittled and attacked Moyes, a thoroughly decent guy, who is totally undeserving of such endless ridicule.

If United sack Moyes before the season ends, it will simply underline and magnify the farcical 'leadership' at the very top of the club. It will also cast a shadow over Alex Ferguson's legacy; he hand-picked Moyes, so what will it say about Fergie's judgment if his chosen replacement can't even last a full season?

Additionally, what happens if the manager who replaces Moyes suffers similar problems? Sack him too after less than a season? If the pressure was on after Fergie retired, it will multiply for whoever is stupid enough to take on the job next.

I feel for Moyes, but it's great to see this kind of turmoil at Old Trafford. The funniest thing is that Ferguson spent 27 years knocking LFC of its perch, but it's taken the Reds only one year to climb right back up there again.

Clearly, Fergie laid some enduring foundations.

I personally think United should go the Liverpool route and promote one of their former players, many of whom are undisputed masters of football management. My vote goes to one of the following: Bryan Robson, Roy Keane, Paul Ince, Mark Hughes, or Steve Bruce.

Any of these celebrated managers should be able to take United back to the pinnacle of British and European football :-)


4/21/2014 05:30:00 pm

'He may be sold': Agent says 'very angry' €40m star wants to quit Barca. Sign ASAP?

Over the last couple of years, Liverpool have been linked with a whole host of Barcelona players, including Pedro Rodríguez Ledesm (aka 'Pedro'), who could be on his way out of the Nou Camp this summer.

In December, Spanish newspaper AS, claimed that Liverpool and Arsenal were monitoring Pedro's situation, with the 26-year old allegedly favouring a move to the Premier League.

The Guardian also reported:

"Liverpool and Manchester United are interested in introducing Pedro to Premier League football, while Monaco are also on red alert"

When asked yesterday about Pedro's future, the player's Agent, Francois Gallardo, told reporters:

"Pedro is very angry this season. The player is in a difficult situation and may be sold, although that could be a bad move for him".

That doesn't sound too promising, and Pedro is going to be sold, then that represents a potentially great opportunity for Liverpool, who can offer Champions League football next season, as well as the prestige of being league champions (fingers crossed!)

Pedro - known as 'the silent superstar' by Barca fans (on account of his humble demeanour) - has an incredible €125m buyout clause in his contract, but I think it's safe to assume that no club in world football is going to pay anywhere near that amount (!)

In August, Radio Marca claimed that PSG had made a €40m offer for Pedro, which is a more reasonable amount, but possibly out of Liverpool's financial reach (for one player, at least)

Liverpool MD Ian Ayre met with Barcelona officials in December to discuss some kind of transfer business. The prevailing view seems to be that Martin Montoya formed the basis of discussion, but given sheer number of Barca players linked with LFC over the last year, anything could've been on the agenda, including Pedro.

What would Pedro bring to the Liverpool team? In a recent interview, the forward outlined what he perceives his role to be for Barcelona. He told reporters:

"My job in the team is to free up space on the pitch for my teammates, to build moves, to turn certain episodes into goalscoring chances or to get assists for teammates in better positions. These are my responsibilities during the game. Everything I do must benefit the team."

After Spain beat Uruguay in a friendly recently, Vicente Del Bosque hailed Pedro's performance, and outlined what makes him such a special player. He told reporters:

"He [Pedro] is a dynamic player, who knows exactly what he needs to do on the pitch, and he's got this incredible pace, which is vitally important in the modern game. In the first half we lacked a bit of attacking depth, but Pedro gave us some speed."

Despite the ridiculous competition at Barca for attacking places, Pedro's stats over the last few years are creditable:

2013-14: 19 goals/8 assists in 48 apps (so far)
2012-13: 10 goals/7 assists in 48 apps.
2011-12: 13 goals/6 assists in 51 apps.
2010-11: 22 goals/8 assists in 52 apps.
2009-10: 22 goals/4 assists in 50 apps.

Signing a player of Pedro's experience and talent would be a massive boost for LFC, but is there any realistic chance of it happening?


4/21/2014 11:20:00 am

Fowler: £20m LFC star was 'absolutely magnificent' vs. Norwich. Huge turning point...?

The rapid rise to prominence of Raheem Sterling continued apace yesterday, and with two goals and an assist against Norwich, the youngster almost single-handedly drove Liverpool to victory. The plaudits just keep on coming for Sterling, and Reds legend Robbie Fowler is the latest to hail his exciting progress.

After watching Liverpool's victory over Norwich, Fowler raved:

"Regardless of the score, I thought Raheem was absolutely magnificent today."

Gross overpraise really gets my goat, but in this case, it is deserved. Indeed, in my view, Sterling's performance against Norwich is a huge turning point for the youngster because it marks his graduation from useful luxury player, to genuine game-changer.

Prior to the Norwich game, Sterling - rated at £20m by Reds legend John Aldridge - hadn't really taken a game by the scruff of the neck and dominated to the extent that his personal contribution pushed the LFC to victory.

If you look at Sterling's goals this season, most have come in comfortable wins, and if you take those goals away, in almost every case, it makes little difference to the overall score. Against Norwich, however, the plain fact is that without him, Liverpool would've lost the game. Sterling's game-changing performance propelled the Reds to victory, and it's great that LFC now have another player capable of stepping-up, and taking that kind of responsibility.

Joe Allen is massively impressed with Sterling's 'incredible' form, and when asked last night why the youngster is flourishing at Anfield, he noted:

"I think it's a combination of two things. Firstly, being given that chance to perform as young players can sometimes be overlooked. But the other side of it is being willing to work hard day in, day out to improve, and Raheem has done that."

Just imagine if Jordon Ibe and Joao Carlo Teixeira have a similar impact for Liverpool over the next couple of years. Exciting times ahead...


4/20/2014 10:30:00 pm

LFC Alert: €6m 'superstar' BR tried to sign last summer will 'listen to offers'. Replace Mignolet...?

Last year, Ajaccio goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa claimed that his Agent had 'contact with Liverpool' over the possibility of a summer move to Anfield. The Reds signed Simon Mignolet instead, but reports this week suggest that the LFC are monitoring the Mexican stopper once again.

According to Eurosport today, Liverpool are interested in signing Ochoa this summer as competition for Mignolet.

Liverpool made a €6m bid for the Mexican International during the January 2013 transfer window, and in an interview at the time, the 27-year old stopper told Reporters:

"My agent had contact with Liverpool, and I hope this summer there will be some offers. There is no doubt, though, that this is a dream I have had since I came to Europe".

Then, in March, Ochoa told Mediotiempo:

"There is interest from Liverpool, but I have to let things happen. I feel very good, in the professional and sporting way. Physically, I am also very well"

When asked this week about his future, Ochoa - whose contract expires in June - told Todomercadoweb.es:

"I have several offers from different countries, but at the moment I have no agreements with any team. I am willing to listen to all the offers. My agent is dealing with everything and I do not exclude a future in Italy or England."

In a recent interview, Ajaccio President Alain Orsoni insisted that Ochoa is worth 'five or six million euros' , and revealed that several clubs had made bids for the Mexican. He told the Ligue One club's official website:

"Foreign clubs are interested in Memo, but that is normal. He's great goalkeeper and a great man. We will study bids and decide at the end of the season"

Ochoa - voted Ajaccio's Player of the Season for 2012-13 - has a flamboyant public persona, but according to the people that work with him, the Mexican's humility is what makes him popular in the dressing room. In April, Ajaccio defender Arnaud Maire explained his appeal:

"He [Ochoa] is quite a simple person and he's actually quite subdued, strangely enough. I think he's someone who shines through his performances rather than his role off the pitch"

The club's goalkeeping coach Thierry Debès added:

"He's well liked because he is extremely humble. He's a superstar in his country, but when he arrived he just kept his head down and worked hard."

Given the club's past attempt to sign Ochoa, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that one of the offer's he's evaluating is from Liverpool.

Simon Mignolet was unconvincing once again during today's victory at Norwich; he needs strong competition, but does Ochoa fit the bill?


4/20/2014 08:50:00 pm

'I Couldn't Watch': Aldo, Sakho, Suarez etc hail 'tricky' Norwich win. Alarm bells...?

After four long years in the wilderness, Liverpool are back in the Champions League after yet another hard-fought Premier League victory. It's a significant achievement, and will hopefully be followed by even bigger glory in three weeks' time, but, boy, did the Reds make hard work of beating Norwich today.

Post match reaction:

Brendan Rodgers

"It was an incredible victory and big congratulations to the players because we can finish no lower than third, which guarantees Champions League football. A wonderful win".

Mamadou Sakho

"Tricky game. Norwich has been playing really hard until the last minute. However, we have done all we could to win these 3 important points"

Raheem Sterling

"Great win from the boys today showed real togetherness, character and desire"


"Congratulations everyone for the 3 points!! 3 more finals and we go again"

Luis Suarez

"Very important 3 points. Very happy for the great effort from everyone and for being in the Champions League next year"

Philippe Coutinho

"Come on boys, There are 3 big battles more"

John Aldridge

"I couldn't watch the last 10 mins there!!great great win. We did make it hard for ourselves though. 3 to go and still dreaming!"

Neil Mellor

"1 step closer to the title with another vital 3points for Liverpool. 3games to go to complete a monumental and memorable season for LFC"

Daniel Sturridge

"Get In there boys!!! I'm absolutely buzzing. Roll on next week. 3 more cup finals"

Dietmar Hamann

"Credit to Norwich, they've been fantastic. What a PL season".

A few points:

* Great achievement by Luis Suarez to reach 30 Premier League goals. Hopefully, he'll go on to score at least five more to beat the record of 34 in a single season, jointly held by Andy Cole and Alan Shearer.

* Top class contribution from Raheem Sterling. The assist for Suarez's goal was pure class, and it's good to see other players stepping up in the absence of Daniel Sturridge.

* Another great all-round performance from Martin Skrtel. He's far and away Liverpool's best defender this season. He just needs an equally solid partner for next season, and LFC's overall defensive solidity will improve dramatically.

* Another suspect performance from Simon Mignolet. Arguably at fault for both Norwich goals. Is he Champions League quality? I'm not so sure. LFC need another quality goalkeeper to put some serious pressure on him to improve his overall performance.

* Shaky performance (at times) from Mamadou Sakho, too. His passing is generally good, but when he's pressured in possession, he falls apart. Gave the ball away several times, and was also beaten in the air a couple of times. One particular incident summed up Sakho's clumsyness. Near the end of the game, he tripped over his own feet, and clattered into a Norwich player. It should've been a free kick, but luckily for him, the ref didn't give it.

* On a general defensive note: Skrtel-Sakho is not (IMO) the way forward for Liverpool. Those two have kept only one clean sheet as a partnership this season. Rodgers will almost certainly buy another central defender in the summer, and I'm pretty sure Sakho - like Lucas, and Allen, will become a squad player.

* Joe Allen acquitted himself well in the first half, and almost got on the scoresheet. He looked well up for the game, but as the match wore on, he became less and less effective. I have nothing against Allen - he is clearly a quality player (for what he does), but my biggest grip with him is that he doesn't effect games. By that, I mean he never steps up and makes a match-changing difference.

Today, for example: Norwich had LFC on the rack for a lot of the game, and where was Allen? It would've been great if he stepped-up and took the pressure off the team somehow (by scoring/creating a goal, for example), but he never does that. Sterling, Coutinho, Henderson, and Gerrard have all had a personal impact on results this season, but Allen is seemingly incapable of making a real difference. Allen is good squad player, but the team cannot consistently support a midfielder whose only contribution is pressing, and recycling possession.

* Did Liverpool miss Jordan Henderson? I'm not so sure. He played last week against Manchester City, and the team lost a two-goal lead. Today was almost a carbon-copy of the City game: the team raced out of the traps, got 2-0 up, and then lost control of the game. What's even more concerning about today is that even with Allen and Lucas in the team - two players who supposedly make a big difference to LFC defensively - Liverpool were still overrun in midfield at times.

* Glen Johnson and John Flanagan had a bit of a nightmare, and their mistakes once again underlined why the full-back positions have to be a transfer priority this summer.

* You have to feel for Brad Jones. He hasn't made a single Premier League appearance this season, which means that if LFC go on to win the title, he's not eligible for winner's medal. It would be nice if Rodgers gave him some pitch time in the last three games, just so he can feel that he made some kind of contribution to the league campaign.

Despite the ragged nature of today's victory, my view continues to be: who cares? There are issues that need to be addressed for next season, but for now, three points is all that matters at this stage of the season, and once again, the team achieved that objective.

Chelsea will be an incredibly tough game, but even if Liverpool lose, they'll still be two points clear of the Blues, and the title will remain in the club's hands.

Not that I think that will happen. The players will be well-up for the game; Anfield will be buzzing, and there's the added incentive that a victory over Chelsea will mean that Mourinho's team cannot finish above LFC.


4/20/2014 06:09:00 pm

Easter Miracle? - Behold, the genius of Luis Suarez, LFC's 'Man of Steel'

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez got his customary goal against Norwich City today, but as is increasingly evident over the last few games, the gamesmanship that blighted Uruguayan's first couple of seasons at Anfield seems to be slowly creeping back into his game.

For the most part, Suarez's on-field behaviour this season is exemplary. He has clearly made a great effort to cut out the diving/play-acting, and deserves great credit for that, but today, he regressed once again.

Below is an example of possible play-acting during the vital 3-2 victory over Norwich:

Before anyone gets in a tizz, I haven't posted this to criticise Suarez - I just think it's hilariously funny :-D

Suarez goes down like he's been hit by a truck, but as soon as LFC have the slightest hint of an advantage, he's back on his feet instantly, and rushing towards goal.

It's pure comedy, and all this clip needs is a gaudy, vaudeville 1920s silent-era soundtrack, and it'll be worthy of Buster Keaton at his best.

I'll choose to be charitable here, though: Perhaps Suarez was genuinely taken out, but given his unparalleled toughness on the pitch, he shrugged off the obvious pain and went after the ball. Typical killer instinct.

It is quite incredible how Suarez never gets injured, though. He's clattered and hacked in every single game and never seems to succumb. Daniel Sturridge, on the other hand, is a glass figurine next to Suarez.

When all is said and done though, to reach 30 Premier League goals is a fantastic achievement. Suarez is a joy to watch, and hopefully he'll put Chelsea to the sword next week.


4/20/2014 11:11:00 am

Confirmed LFC XI vs. NCFC: Lucas in attack? £7m misfit returns after 10 games

Lucas and Allen coming into the starting XI for today's Premier League encounter with Norwich, and thankfully, Daniel Sturridge is not in the squad, which means that Brendan Rodgers is being sensible with his latest injury, and allowing the striker the proper time to rest and heal.

FULL TEAM: Mignolet, Johnson, Skrtel, Sakho, Flanagan, Gerrard, Lucas, Allen, Sterling, Coutinho, Suarez

SUBS: Jones, Toure, Agger, Cissokho, Moses, Alberto, Aspas

NORWICH: Ruddy, Whittaker, Martin, Turner, Olsson, Johnson, Howson, Fer, Snodgrass, Redmond, Hooper

It will certainly be interesting to see how Rodgers sets-up the team.

Hopefully, he'll keep Gerrard in the holding role, and won't be tempted to move him further up the field to accommodate Lucas.

When the Brazilian first arrived at Anfield, he played a slightly more attacking role, so he should be comfortable playing a little higher up the field today.

Luis Alberto is also back in the match day squad for the first time in ten games, but that's clearly due to necessity rather than merit. Possible formation:


Johnson ---- Skrtel --- Sakho --- Flanagan

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

------- Lucas --------------- Allen



----------------- Suarez

Predicting a 2-0 win to Liverpool, Mark Lawrenson noted:

"I just don't see anybody stopping Liverpool's title charge now. They are playing outstanding football, and blowing teams away so early on in games. I hate to say it, because there is no such thing as a team in unstoppable form, but they are as close to that as you can possible be".

My prediction: 4-1 to LFC


4/19/2014 11:30:00 pm

'I've told my Agent...' €6m star admits he'll probably quit LFC this summer and move to Serie A.

On-loan defender Aly Cissokho is a dead man walking at Anfield, and his exit at the end of the season seems to be a foregone conclusion. The defender acknowledges that his time at Liverpool may soon be over, and he's admitted that a move to Serie A is something that holds great appeal.

When asked about his interest from Napoli, Inter, and AC Milan this week, Cissokho admitted that he is open to moving to 'another big club', and further added:

"What I want for my career is to keep playing for top teams. I like Serie A; it is a good championship.

"I feel fine in England, but after the interest from Italian clubs, I've told my agent that it would be a good opportunity" .

Despite a series of steady performances after Christmas, Cissokho - who cost Valencia €6m in 2012 - has not endeared himself to Brendan Rodgers, or the club's ex-players, who are lining up to slate him. Here is a selection of comments from some of the club's legends.

Phil Babb

“I watch Aly Cissoko playing there and I wonder if he will ever fit the bill”

Jimmy Case

"The more I see Aly Cissoko operate there [as a left-wing back] the less I’m happy with it. I wouldn’t play him there again. His control isn’t there or his first touch, he can’t get past a player from a standing position and he doesn’t have the intelligence to follow the fluency of play".

John Aldridge

"Without being unkind to Cissokho, he just hasn’t fitted in yet. Enrique gives us better balance, both defensively and in attack, and he knows what is expected.".

Ian St. John

"He is very negative and predictable. You will see him receive the ball and then knock it straight back to the centre half 9 times out of 10".

Is Cissokho as bad as everyone seems to think? What to the stats say?

* Passing accuracy: 79.8%
* Passing accuracy - Opposition half: 64%
* Duels won: 58%
* Aerial duels won: 56%
* Recoveries: 22 (One every 23 mins)
* Tackles won: 59%
* Clearances: 20 (One every 20 mins)
* Interceptions: 9 (One every 73 mins)
* Chances created: 4 (One every 128 mins)
* Crossing Accuracy: 7.4%
* Assists: 1

Cissokho's defensive stats compare well with the squad's overall average, but his attacking stats are extremely poor. 7.4% crossing accuracy? That amounts to two successful crosses - i.e. balls that found another LFC player - in 27 attempts. LFC fans also don't rate the defender Last month, I conducted a survey on the site, asking if the defender is good enough for Liverpool:

* 9000 visitors (approx) voted.
* 82% of participants voted NO

That's a pretty emphatic vote of no-confidence by a significant sample of Liverpool fans. An Anfield exit seems inevitable, but Cissokho could leave the club with a Premier League winner's medal, and he would (IMO) deserve it.

From January 1st until February 12, he made nine starts in a row, and helped the Reds remain unbeaten in all nine games. That period of games signalled the start of Liverpool's imperious march up the table, and defensively, Cissokho made a good contribution.

Not bad for a year's work.


4/19/2014 09:24:00 pm

'Unbelievable': Why Jose Mourinho's post-Sunderland rant is absolute genius

Sunderland's stunning victory over Chelsea has all but ended the Blues' hopes of winning the Premier League title, and short of an unlikely catastrophic collapse from Liverpool, the title is on its way back to Anfield for the first time in 24 years. Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is always good value when he talks to the media, and his post-Sunderland press conference is, IMO, absolute genius.

Speaking to the press after the game, Mourinho refused to take questions, but made clear his anger at the result with some amusingly ironic criticism of the referee, Mike Dean:

I have to admit, this cracked me up. It's funny stuff, and Mourinho's po-faced demeanour just makes it funnier. I'm an anarchist at heart, and I love to see legitimate acts of defiance, and given the exceedingly poor refereeing standards this season, Mourinho has a legitimate gripe.

Where is the foul? Azpilicueta slides away from Altidore, whose standing leg connects with the Spaniard's foot. It's Altidore's fault that he goes down; Azpilicueta had nothing to do with it.

I don't really understand why rival fans are getting on Mourinho's back here. He praised Sunderland for their victory, which is a touch of class. He also rightly excoriated the ref, but cleverly did it in a way that means he can't be charged by the FA for his comments.

Mourinho's ire is understandable, and I'm sure if the shoe was on the other foot, Liverpool fans would be similarly enraged.

I'm not the Portuguese's greatest fan, but his press conferences are frequently hilarious, and this one is no exception. He's a character, that's for sure, and the Premier League is a far more entertaining place with him in it.


4/19/2014 06:30:00 pm

'He's up to speed': Molby claims £15m star is ideal 'replacement for Hendo'. Agree?

Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson is one the club's most improve players this season, but after his deserved red card against Man City last weekend, he'll be missing for Sunday's game with Norwich. Who should replace him, and will Hendo's absence really be that damaging for the LFC?

When it comes to replacing Hendo, it's a straight choice between Joe Allen and Lucas Leiva, and Anfield legend Jan Molby is convinced there's only one solution. He told the Liverpool Echo:

"Joe Allen is best replacement for Henderson.

"Allen is more comfortable with the pressing game and he’s up to speed at that tempo.

"You could play Lucas deeper but you need to keep Steven Gerrard in that holding role as his form has been that good".

Lucas is only recently back from injury, so it makes sense to play Allen, who is probably more match-fit at this moment in time. Plus, as Molby states, Allen is good at the pressing side of the game, which will be vital against a team struggling for their Premier League lives.

Jamie Redknapp insists that Liverpool will Henderson's 'bite' in midfield, but I'm not so sure. Hendo is having a solid season, but he's not really a consistent game-changer, and if - as Redknapp and others seem to suggest - his main contribution is a 'high energy pressing game', then Allen can cover that aspect fairly easily.

One thing LFC won't miss is Henderson's goal-creation. He has only 2 assists in the last 23 games for the club, which, with all due respect, is not good enough. Additionally, he is being outscored this season by Martin Skrtel (!), a central defender, and that is not the most flattering of stats.

Henderson is important to Liverpool, but he is not (IMO) indispensable, and next season, he needs serious competition for his place in a bid to improve his goals/assists ratio. To that end, I really want to see Rodgers sign a top-class attacking midfielder over the summer as it will hopefully put a fire under Henderson to make more of a specific, measurable attacking contribution.

Someone like, say, Ivan Rakitic would put the serious frighteners on Henderson, and that can only be a good thing.

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4/19/2014 12:25:00 pm

'Top Class': BR wants 'fantastic' £8m star who dreams of 'highest level' transfer

Left-back is a problem position for Liverpool at the moment, and a whole host of players - including Luke Shaw, Ashley Cole, Fabio Coentrao, and Marcel Schmelzer - are currently linked with summer moves to Anfield. With Aly Cissokho almost certainly leaving, and Jose Enrique's future uncertain, there are places in the squad up for grabs, and Swansea City youngster Ben Davies is the latest full-back to be linked with a possible LFC transfer.

Reports in February claimed that Liverpool are 'heading the chase' to sign Davies.

On Saturday, The Express claimed that the Reds - along with Man City, Arsenal, and Atletico Madrid - are still monitoring his progress, and when asked about interest from big clubs, the 20-year old told reporters:

"It is nice to hear because it clearly means you must be doing something right. It's got to be a boost for your confidence but it's not going to turn my head".

£8m-rated Davies - described by former boss Michael Laudrup as 'fantastic' - then admitted that he has his eye on a move to a bigger club:

"I am ambitious about playing at the highest level [and] if you put performances in to the best of your ability, things will take care of themselves".

Brendan Rodgers will know Davies well from his time managing Swansea City, and given the LFC boss's penchant for pursuing his ex-players, it will be no surprise if Davies ultimately ends up at Anfield.

Davies is also (potentially) versatile, which will also endear him to Rodgers. Indeed, former manager Brian Laudrup believes he could easily switch position in the future. A few months ago, he told the South Wales Evening Post:

"In the future, Ben can be a good left-footed centre-back. He is getting stronger in the air and physically he is getting stronger as well, and left-footed centre-backs are hard to find".

Former Wales winger Leighton James is also impressed with Davies, and after the youngster extended his Swansea contract in December, he raved:

"To have achieved what Ben's achieved in such a short space of time is phenomenal [and] to see Swansea produce another top-class youngster who's extended his contract with the club and committed himself is good news."

Davies would probably be the cheapest option of all the current left-backs linked with Liverpool (bar Ashley Cole, who'd be free), but is he experienced enough to come in and make an immediate difference?