11/26/2014 02:53:00 pm

Shock Exit: Rodgers set to scrap 'desperate' £4m LFC star in January. Humiliation?

On Sunday, Liverpool star Rickie Lambert bagged his first Premier League goal of the season, but according to new reports, the striker's dream move to Anfield could be about to turn into a nightmare.

According to the Sunday Express:

* Lambert could be farmed out on loan in January, with his old club Southampton the shock favourites to sign him on a short-term deal.

* Rodgers will almost certainly bring in another striker during the upcoming transfer window, which will force Lambert further down the pecking order.

* Lambert needs to be playing regularly to ensure he keeps his place in the England squad.

This sounds like BS to me, but the logic is sound: if Liverpool sign, say, Jackson Martinez in January, and Balotelli stays (plus Sturridge gets fit), then Lambert will struggle for game-time (even more so than now). As such, a loan-move doesn't seem that far-fetched.

Southampton, though? Liverpool have already financed the Saints' march up the table, so strengthening their squad even more makes no sense whatsoever. Plus, after all the fanfare over Lambert's signing, it'll be something of a personal humiliation to leave Anfield so quickly, so I'm sure he'll resist a loan move.

It seems that everyone expects Ronald Koeman's team to drop down the table at some point, but with Arsenal, Spurs, Man City, Everton, and Liverpool running hot-and-cold this season, Southampton could be the club to benefit, especially if the club strengthens again in the January transfer market.

On a related note: like Adam Lallana, Lambert is struggling with the mental requirements of playing for a massive club like Liverpool. Indeed, in an interview this week, he noted:

"I know the size of the club, it has taken me a while mentally to get into the right mind frame to be a Liverpool player. It was difficult at first but I feel I am in a better place now. I have just been desperate for the opportunity"

Maybe I'm being harsh, but this really gets my goat. Why do Liverpool continually sign players who seemingly can't hack the pressure and/or expectation? Why can't this problem be pinpointed in the scouting/player research process?

Liverpool have suffered as a result of the mental weakness of players like Lallana, Lambert, Lovren etc, and after almost 4 months of the season, their failure to hit the ground running has contributed to a situation where the club's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League are already in the toilet.

As for Lambert, as always, the important question is this: will his potential exit in January make any difference to Liverpool's forward progress? For me, the answer is a resounding NO, so I personally have no issue with him being sent out on loan.

Author:

11/26/2014 08:13:00 am

Possible LFC XI vs Ludogorets: €20m star out; BR to make drastic changes again, or stick with Palace flops?

The crunch games just keep on coming, and after losing to Crystal Palace over the weekend - the club's fifth defeat in seven games - the Reds desperately need a a victory over Ludogorets to stay in the Champions League.

The chance of FC Basel beating Real Madrid is slim, so a win for Liverpool will put the club right back in contention for the second round, which surely has to be a huge incentive for the players.

On paper, Liverpool are superior to Ludogorets, but the Reds struggled to beat the Hungarian side at Anfield, so there are no guarantees.

Rodgers claims LFC will go into tonight's game with 'big motivation', but he's conceded that the Reds face a very tough game. Last night, he told reporters:

"We have a lot of respect for Ludogorets. The game at Anfield was very tough - they're an offensive team that likes to go forward. At the weekend, [they drew] 1-1 with CSKA Sofia at the top of the table, so that was a good result for them away from home"

After the Crystal Palace debacle, Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher accused the Reds of being mentally weak, and Ludogorets coach Georgi Dermendzhiev agrees with that assessment. He told reporters:

"I kind of agree with that opinion. It looks that way in every Liverpool game this season - and I have watched every one. Liverpool have very high quality players and the only problems they have are in the minds of the players"

€20m summer signing Mario Balotelli will miss the game through injury, which almost certainly means that Rickie Lambert will start his second game in a row, and since he's the only LFC striker with a Premier League goal this season, it makes sense to keep him in the side. Probable line-up:

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

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

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

Hendo -------- Sterling ------- Coutinho

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

* I personally believe the club's first-choice central defensive partnership (Skrtel/Lovren should play every game, but there's a chance that Toure may come back into the team. He played well against Real Madrid in the last game, and the slower pace of European football may suit him.

* Rodgers rested Moreno at Palace, so it seems likely that he'll come back into the team.

* Lallana and Lambert work well together, and after his excellent assist on Sunday, the England man could get the nod over Coutinho.

There's also a strong chance that Rodgers may follow the Madrid template and make wholesale changes once. Just like then, Liverpool go into tonight's game on the back of a bad defeat, and the likes of Gerrard, Allen, Johnson et al did nothing against Crystal Palace to deserve a place in the team.

After the storm of criticism last time, though, I doubt that will happen. My prediction: 2-2

Author:

11/25/2014 09:13:00 pm

Photo Proof: 'Fantastic' starlet hailed by LFC 'legends' trains with Gerrard. Shock CL debut?

On Wednesday evening, Liverpool face Ludogorets in a must-win Champions League game, and after a pitiful five defeats in seven games, it's imperative that the Reds get back to winning ways with a morale-boosting win. LFC boss Brendan Rodgers made several drastic changes for the club's previous group game against Real Madrid, and if today's training pictures are anything to go by, Rodgers may be considering a couple of surprise inclusions for tomorrow's game.

As the following photos show, two of the club's young players trained alongside the first-team today; the question is, who are they?

The guy in the first photo looks like Jordan Williams, but I can't quite place the second shaven-headed player. Any ideas?

 photo ScreenShot2014-11-25at155639_zps25aa7da6.png

 photo ScreenShot2014-11-25at155701_zpse23602d9.png

The inclusion of Williams comes as no surprise; he and Jordan Rossiter have trained regularly with the first team this season, and I'm sure Rodgers will have taken note of under-21 coach Michael Beale's comments last week, when he lavished praise on Williams. He raved:

"Jordan Williams has come out of nowhere. A few of the ex-players deemed as legends have mentioned Jordan as well. His mentality is fantastic. He asks me how he can get better. He’s a fantastic boy and he deserves all the best.”

With so much at stake, it'll be a major shock if Rodgers includes any untested young players in the Ludogorets starting line-up, but after five defeats in seven games, something needs to change, and an injection of new blood might be just what the team needs.

Author:

11/25/2014 06:21:00 pm

Epic Transfer: LFC favourites to sign €38m 'miracle' star after FSG okay huge bid

Earlier this month, The Mirror claimed that FSG have sanctioned a €38m bid for Porto striker Jackson Martinez, and new reports in Portugal today suggest that Martinez is now Liverpool's top January transfer target.

Liverpool are allegedly still in 'pole-position' to sign Martinez, and according to Portuguese newspaper Jornal Record today:

* The Reds are pressing ahead with plans to bring in an experienced new striker, and:

* Martinez remains top of Brendan Rodgers' transfer wish-list.

The story is front-page news in Portugal (see bottom right), and the literal translation of the headline is: 'Martinez desired in Liverpool':

 photo ScreenShot2014-11-25at144334_zpse0e56fbd.png

When asked recently about interest from the Premier League, Martinez told reporters:

"My agent is in charge of the negotiations. I prefer to stay out of it, but at the end of this season I hope to get some interesting offers."

There you have it, straight from the horse's mouth: Martinez is open to leaving Porto, and there will inevitably be lots of clubs interested in signing him, including Liverpool, who've been linked with Martinez many times over last year. Indeed, prior to joining Porto, the Colombian striker confirmed Liverpool's interest. He told Nuevo Estadio:

"I am not in any advanced negotiations with Liverpool but I know they are personally interested"

Since arriving at the Estádio do Dragão, Martinez - described by Porto boss Julen Lopetegui as a 'miracle' striker - has racked up some formidable creative stats:

* 72 goals/5 assist in 106 appearances.
* Once scored in 10 successive games for Porto.
* At one point, scored 18 goals in 17 games.
* Broke Falcao's record by scoring 11 goals in 12 matches for Porto.

Martinez fits the profile of exactly the type of striker Liverpool need to sign:

* Currently in the prime of his career.
* A track record of scoring goals at the highest level.
* Significant Champions League/International experience.

Now is not the time top gamble on young players between the ages of 18 and 22; experiences players are needed at Anfield, and although every transfer is a risk, signing a player like Martinez for £30m (€38m) is (IMO) a significantly lesser-risk than signing Mauro Icardi for €35m.

If Liverpool manager to pull of the Martinez signing, Daniel Sturridge's place will come under serious threat, but that's the way it has to be. Sturridge is an amazing player, but he is notoriously unreliable, and it's impossible t build a team around a player who is always injured.



Author:

11/25/2014 01:36:00 pm

'Call Me': Top Boss confirms he's willing to 'talk about' Liverpool job. Next manager?

Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp is currently the bookmakers' favourite to replace Brendan Rodgers at Anfield, and according to the man himself, he's definitely open to managing in the Premier League.

After Liverpool's lamentable Sunday defeat to Crystal Palace, Rodgers conceded that his job is on the line:

"I'm not arrogant enough to think that I will be in a job through anything. You have to win games and you have to get results, especially after how we've been developing as a football club".

Klopp is currently at 6-1 to take over from Rodgers at some point over the next year, and according to The Guardian today:

"Jürgen Klopp is in pole position to take over at Anfield in the event of Rodgers being handed his P45"

When asked last week about the possibility of swapping the Bundesliga for the Premier League, Klopp told reporters:

"Next to Germany, [England] is the only country, I think, where I should work. I know the language a little bit and I need the language for my work, So we will see. If somebody will call me, then we will talk about it.”

This is a clear and unambiguous statement from Klopp, and it'll probably anger his paymasters at Borussia Dortmund as he's basically issued a veiled 'come and get me' plea to the Premier League's top clubs.

Just imagine the uproar if Rodgers (or indeed any Liverpool boss) made the same public statement; there'd be blood on the streets, and any lingering support for the manager would dissipate very quickly.

With Jose Mourinho and Louis Van Gaal safe as houses at Chelsea and Manchester United respectively, Arsenal an Liverpool are arguably the only two realistic Premier League destinations for Klopp.

Like Liverpool, Arsenal are having a comparatively poor season so far, but given the Gunners' unyielding (and deserved) loyalty towards Arsene Wenger, the Reds (theoretically) have a great chance of attracting Klopp to Anfield, and I'm sure John Henry et have taken note of the German's 'call me' statement.

I still maintain that, come hell or high water, FSG should give Rodgers until the end of the season to turn things around. He's earned that small measure of loyalty for guiding the Reds back into the Champions League, and coming within a whisker of winning the title.

Yes, like Houllier in 2002, and Benitez in 2009, Rodgers threw it all away in the summer with his abject performance in the transfer market (a regretful eventuality I predicted several months before the end of last season), but it seems rash and undignified to jut sack a manager mere months after finishing second in the league.

As for Klopp - like Benitez (who won two league titles with Valencia despite the pre-eminence of Barcelona and Real Madrid), he broke Bayern Munich's domination of the Bundesliga, which makes him an enticing candidate to take over at Anfield.

Author:

11/25/2014 05:53:00 am

'So Poor': Redknapp blasts €6m LFC star for Palace fiasco. Another transfer fail?

On Saturday, Crystal Palace were languishing in bottom three after securing only one point in five Premier League games previous games. One insipid, embarrassing Liverpool performance later, and now, the Eagles are now only two points behind LFC, who are now hovering precariously close to the relegation zone. As much as it pains me to admit, Neil Warnock's team full deserved the victory, and according to ex-Red Jamie Redknapp, Palace winger Yannick Bolasie deserves the lion's share of praise for engineering he impressive win.

In his column for the Daily Mail, Redknapp slammed Liverpool's performance as 'not good enough', and singled out one LFC player for specific criticism. He noted:

"Liverpool looked so poor throughout. Yannick Bolasie put in one of the best performances of the season, but any winger would have fancied their chances against Javi Manquillo".

In my view, this criticism is unwarranted. Bolasie had a good game, but Manquillo - recently hailed by Steven Gerrard as 'brave and ambitious - had nothing to do with any of the three goals conceded by Liverpool:

Goal 1: Came from the left-hand side of the field. Bolasie drifted into space towards the centre of the goal (with none of LFC's midfielders tracking him effectively), and had acres of space to line-up his shot, which cannoned off the post into the path of Dwight Gayle.

Goal 2: Originated on the left once again. Bolasie powered past Lovren, and crossed into the box, where Gerrard and co were once again asleep at the wheel.

Goal 3: A free kick.

Bolasie may have got the better of €6m-rated Manquillo in a couple of one-on-one situations, but even the best defenders in the world get taken out every now and again. Additionally, the Spaniard's stats for the game are creditable overall:

* Passing accuracy: 93%
* Tackles Won: 50%
* Interceptions/Clearances: 8
* Duels Won: 43%

Redknapp makes it sound like Manquillo played a major role in Liverpool's defeat, but that just isn't the case. He is clearly the least of Liverpool's problems - the major problem here is (arguably) the abject failure (once again) of LFC's central midfielders to adequately protect the back-four.

Gerrard and co were well off the pace for the first two goals, and the Palace debacle simply underlines the urgent need for Liverpool to prioritise the signing of a top-class holding midfielder.

Granted, LFC's defence delivered its usual shambolic performance, but without protection from the central midfielders, the defensive unit is fighting a losing battle, especially when it's forced to toil away in front of an extremely unconvincing goalkeeper.

Author:

11/24/2014 10:45:00 pm

Markovic-killer? LFC to make official £10m offer for 'exceptional' attacker who's like Sterling

With Liverpool's attacking players abjectly failing to pick up the Luis Suarez slack this season, Brendan Rodgers is reportedly set to make a rather improbable bid for 'exceptional' Norwich City winger Nathan Redmond.

According to reports on Sunday:

* Liverpool plan to make a £10m January offer for Redmond.

* LFC scouts are currently assessing Redmond's suitability for a move to Anfield.

* Rodgers and his fabled transfer committee 'believe' that Redmond, 20, is capable of making a similar impact to Raheem Sterling.

This has to be one of the most improbable transfer rumours in a while. £10m for a 20-year old currently plying his trade in the Championship? If Redmond had prodigious creative stats then I could understand it, but there's nothing remarkable about his goals/assists record:

* 2012-13: 2 goals/7 assists in 42 apps.
* 2013-14: 1 goal/6 assists in 39 apps.
* 2014-15: 1 goal/3 assists in 16 apps (so far)
* TOTALS: 4 goals/16 assists in 97 apps
* Goal every 24 apps.
* Goal/assist every 4.8 apps.

Is this worth £10m? Not for me. Redmond is arguably not an upgrade on any of the players already at Anfield, and I don't see the logic in spending £10m on yet another British young player when the Reds already have Ibe, Teixeira, and Suso on the books.

In May, Redmond scored a hat-trick for the England U21 team, but after the game, manager Gareth Southgate admitted that consistently scoring goals remains a problem for the 'devastating' youngster. He told reporters:

"The one area of his game he [Redmond] is looking to add is goals, and I think we are able to give him the freedom to play in more advanced areas. Tonight, his finishing matched the rest of his game".

In my view, FSG should institute an immediate moratorium on buying overpriced British players. Liverpool's squad is stacked with Brits right now, and the lamentable form of Gerrard, Johnson, Henderson et al is one of the main reasons the club is currently sinking without a trace.

If Rodgers goes ahead with this deal, it will be the latest in a long-line of pointless transfers. It'll also represent a vote of no-confidence in £20m signing Lazar Markovic. After all, if the club has faith in him, why sign another winger?

Author:

11/24/2014 07:00:00 pm

Ex-Red insists: LFC must move 'heaven & earth' to sign £20m 'monster' striker. Agree?

Last week, Reds boss Brendan Rodgers categorically ruled out the possibility of Divock Origi returning to Anfield in January, but despite that, former LFC striker Stan Collymore continues to urge his old club to prioritise ending the Belgian's loan spell.

When asked on Friday about the possibility of Origi coming to LFC in January, Rodgers dismissed reports that the striker will 'come back early', adding:

"The deal was put in place quite clearly in the summer that he would stay at Lille for the season, and then we would get him after that. As far as I'm concerned, that's still the case."

Collymore insists, however, that Origi can 'save Liverpool's season', and called on Rodgers to 'move heaven and earth to land him in January'. He further added:

"They [Lille] desperately need [origi], and if the price to sign him is £5million – or even £10m – it will be worth every penny. I am convinced there is a way of ­compensating Lille so that they are happy to let him move to England sooner than ­originally planned".

If Liverpool spend another £10m on Origi to quash his loan spell, then that will make his transfer fee £20m overall, which - like Markovic - is ridiculously inflated.

The Belgian striker - hailed as a 'monster talent' by Vincent Kompany - is definitely open to an early return, though, and in an interview last week, he made this unambiguously clear:

"I said that I would stay for the whole season and I wish to remain honourable in that, but I would love to move to Liverpool sooner rather than later. Maybe in January. I would like to join Liverpool then."

Very soon after, Origi 'clarified' his comments, and denied that he wants to leave Lille early, but his comments on the subject are crystal clear, and a face-saving refutation after the fact doesn't change that.

Liverpool desperately need a new striker, but I am totally against breaking Origi's loan spell. After spending £120m over the summer, Liverpool shouldn't need to rely on him for a mid-season boost, and the fact it's even being contemplated is just another sad indictment of Rodgers' abject failure in the transfer market.

Plus, bringing Origi back early could be counter-productive - he'll be hailed as a potential saviour for LFC's season (just like Collymore is doing), and that will place intolerable pressure on him to perform.

It's arguably impossible for Origi to live up to all the irresponsible superlatives being thrown around, and if he can't handle the pressure, he may crash and burn, just like so many others before him.

In any event, for all the hype, Origi has contributed only 4 goals/2 assists in 18 appearances for Lille, which is not that impressive, and it's much harder to consistently score goals in the Premier League.

I say leave Origi where he is, and focus on buying an older, experienced, top-class striker with a track record of scoring goals. Spending £10m to 'buy' a player Liverpool already own makes no sense whatsoever.

survey tool


Author:

11/24/2014 03:09:00 pm

Stunning Deal: LFC set to sign 'perfect' €35m striker who wants to 'be like Batistuta'

There's no two ways about it: Daniel Sturridge's ongoing injury problems mean that Liverpool desperately need to sign a top-class striker before the end of January, and and the latest name to enter the fray is Inter Milan attacker Mauro Icardi.

According to reports in Italy today, Liverpool are monitoring Icardi, and are planning a massive €35m (£28m) move for the 21-year old striker.

This is not the first time Liverpool have been linked with Icardi:

JULY 2013: The Daily Mail claimed: "Liverpool have enquired about Sampdoria striker Mauro Icardi. The Argentine has also been watched by Tottenham and Manchester City".

AUG 2013: sources in Italy claimed that that the Reds planned to make a €30m offer for the 21-year old striker.

When asked over the weekend about Icardi's future, his agent told reporters:

"If Icardi played in Spain or England, where he is likely to go, he would be a star. He will become one. He has the talent to be the new Ronaldo. You'll see"

Some info about Icardi:

* Spent 3 years at Barcelona before his €400k move to Sampdoria.
* 11 goals/2 assists in 33 apps for Samdoria.
* Last season: 9 goals 2 assists in 23 apps for Inter.
* This season: 12 goals/assists in 15 games.
* 1 appearance for the senior Argentina team.
* Current contract expires in 2018.
* Missed 10 games through injury last season.
* In a recent interview, Icrdi reveals he wants to 'be like Gabriel Batistuta'

Inter Boss Walter Mazzari is convinced that 'perfect' Icardi is destined for great things, but in a recent interview, he sounded a note of caution over the striker's development, and urged him to focus on his game:

"If he [Icardi] can keep this up and get some flaws out of his game, he can be a great player. He has all the characteristics, he just has to focus. Personal things need to be put aside. Footballers are professionals and they mustn't forget that."

If there's any truth to this rumour then, in my view, it's utter madness. €35m on a 21-year old serie A striker? You're having a laugh. In what universe is Icardi better value than Premier League-proven Bony, or the massively experienced Ezequiel Lavezzi?

This deal is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Rodgers' is clearly obsessed with bringing young players into Liverpool's squad, so it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if he splurged big bucks on yet another alleged 'star of the future'.

After spending £20m on Lazar Markovic, though, I sincerely doubt that LFC fans will bee too thrilled to see Rodgers spend €35m on a 21-year old. Additionally, after the utter fail in the summer, FSG will probably wary of Rodgers' judgment in the transfer market, and it'll be a huge surprise if the group sanctions such a huge fee for another young player.

Plus, there's the Serie A factor to consider - players from the Italian league never do well for Liverpool, with Fabio Borini being the most recent example. Coutinho is an exception, but his form has also tailed-of over the last year.

For the right price, Icardi is a good option. For €35m? No way.

Author:

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.

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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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Author:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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+.

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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.



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