Monday, 26 October 2009

Media Round-Up: Liverpool 2 - Manchester United 0

What a difference a day makes! Today's round up of media talk is an interesting mixed bag of reviews. Having spent most of the week sharpening the guillotine in preparation of our managers execution, Rafa's critics had their hopes dashed after his team deservedly beat Manchester United. Not surprisingly some journalists appear to think Rafa has somehow done a deal with the devil and his execution has just been postponed, much to their annoyance. One would think that Rafa was responsible for war crimes such was their urgency to depose of the Anfield boss.

The chances of Rafa Benítez cracking a smile are as likely as Gary Neville being invited to turn on the Christmas lights in Penny Lane or Nemanja Vidic ever finishing one of these games. Impassive throughout, Liverpool’s manager should really have allowed himself a little grin after this richly-deserved, pressure-releasing triumph over Manchester United. He’d earned it.

This was Liverpool’s day from the moment the Kop brilliantly mocked the few beach-balls flying out from the United corner with hundreds of their own, from the moment the hairs on the back of local necks stood up in salute of a powerful rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone.

For all the talk of Benítez’s bad buys and the manager’s cold character, yesterday showed that with leaders like Carragher around, Liverpool must always be respected.

As he warmed up along the touchline, Neville kept lecturing the linesman in-between goading lippy Liverpool fans. Mike Phelan, Ferguson’s No 2, eventually had to bring the club’s stroppy No 2 back into the dug-out. Neville’s behaviour was disgraceful. No one expected anything else.

United’s keeper had no chance when Liverpool, palpably the better, hungrier side, came calling in the 65th minute. The ball flew from Kuyt to Yossi Benayoun to Torres, who was hurtling down the inside-right channel, pursued by Rio Ferdinand. United’s centre-half could not live with the pace and determination of Torres’s run, nor Van der Sar cope with the speed of the Spaniard’s shot, which arrowed past him into the roof of the net as Kopites raised their own roof.

The Guardian has an: 'Victory over Manchester United gives Rafael Benítez some breathing space', however the actual story doesn't live up to it's exploitational tag line, but does say: "victory over Manchester United rescued the Anfield club's season." Elsewhere the paper says:

United were merely 1-0 down when Sir Alex Ferguson sent on Michael Owen against his former club. With 10 minutes left, the striker was brought down by Carragher. It could have been a straight red card for the centre-back, but the referee, Andre Marriner, settled for a caution, presumably because he had some suspicion that Owen had not been heading straight for the target.

Liverpool can allow themselves a few moments when their minds are occupied by no more than a glow of satisfaction. The side was neither distracted nor apprehensive. That air of purpose could be sensed in the early exchanges when Fábio Aurélio's free-kick demanded an alert response from Edwin van der Sar. It is unarguable that Liverpool should be gauged by their efforts over a period far longer than that of an afternoon, but Benítez should enjoy a respite after getting most calculations correct against United.

After a week in which his regime has been questioned like never before — although not within the club, where his relationship with the board is infinitely healthier than two years ago — Benítez was entitled to enjoy this.

Ferguson complained afterwards about his team’s lack of penetration. He was brave to do so, since it gave rise to all manner of awkward questions. The dissenting grumbles had been kept to a minimum in the previous 11 matches — ten wins and one draw since that surprise defeat by Burnley in the opening week of the season — but they do not look the same side without Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Independent's review of the match reads more like a character assassination of the manager, with the headline:

'Torres picks the lock for Benitez's latest escape'

English football's great managerial escapologist once again picked the lock on the chains around him with a win that turned Liverpool's rapidly diminishing season upon its head.

Of course, the problems that afflicted Liverpool through the four defeats that preceded this game do not go away with one sweep of Torres' boot. Benitez has still made a lot of bad signings and is still prone to bizarre decisions, but yesterday he re-affirmed to the club's owners and his adoring fans the old Benitez mystique.

The result left Anfield the happiest dysfunctional family you will ever see. The day began with the protest march against owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett before the game; it ended with a directors' box full of middle-aged American blokes in suits exchanging embarrassing high-fives. In the Kop and around the ground, the divisions were put aside to focus on one common enemy.

Ferguson conceded that Liverpool deserved their victory, which was remarkable given that he did not even go that far when Liverpool won 4-1 at Old Trafford last season. Maybe he senses that for all the sound and fury around Liverpool yesterday, they are still a long way from title contenders.

The Mail
Not until the team were on the bus en route to the stadium did Benitez decide to risk Torres for this match, and how relieved he must be that he made that call. No other striker in Liverpool's squad would have scored the 64th-minute goal that ignited this contest.

No other striker would have possessed the speed, strength, composure and skill first to hold off the challenge of Rio Ferdinand and then to unleash the shot that flew beyond the reach of Edwin van der Sar and into the roof of the United net.

It was a wonderful example of why Torres is among the finest forwards in the world, and all the more remarkable for the fact that the Spaniard was not even fit. Not only had he hardly trained but he needed a painkilling injection just to get on the field.

His goal amounted to an adrenaline shot for Liverpool; a goal that revitalised a team who appeared to be on their knees after four straight defeats, and a goal that shifted the focus away from Anfield and back to Old Trafford.

It is no longer the durability of Jamie Carragher that is a concern but that of Ferdinand; no longer how Liverpool will respond to a morale-sapping defeat but how United will.

The Mirror
This was the day the title race was supposed to be reduced to a two-horse race, the day that Liverpool were exposed as feckless challengers whose hopes would be over for another season.
Instead, that ridiculously premature premise was exposed as the nonsense it most patently is, in what will surely be one of the most open, exciting and unpredictable Premier League contests in recent years. Two challengers? There could be six.

Rafael Benitez entered this game under so much pressure that his job was supposed to be on the line. At the end, with deafening adulation washing down the banks of the Anfield terraces, he was praised, not buried, as his side put on the sort of display required to reaffirm their elevated aspirations.

It was Manchester United, not the home team, who left unanswered some serious questions about their form and character, as they buckled under a second-half barrage inspired by rabid support of their side from a wide-eyed Kop.

In essence, this was a defining moment in the season, in the sense that it illustrated nothing can be defined so early. United have now lost twice already before the end of October, as have Chelsea, and both could easily have dropped more points.

There was still time for Vidic to be dismissed for a second - undebatable - yellow, and indeed he could have gone earlier for some unsavoury treatment of Torres, and Mascherano soon followed, again for two rash challenges conjured from the emotion of the occasion.

Benitez’s men added a second deep into a ridiculous five-minute stoppage time, when the tireless Kuyt cleverly held on until Lucas could eventually send sub David Ngog away to convert with no pressure, and from being out of the title race, Liverpool had their redemption and resurrection in one, magnificent moment.

Torres played through the pain barrier

Liverpool hot-shot striker Fernando Torres has admitted that he played through the pain barrier in the Reds 2-0 Premiership victory over bitter rivals Manchester United.

"I wasn't really at my best. We knew before the game I couldn't play to 100 per cent because I had some pain in some actions, but in games like this the pain doesn't matter," said Torres to the official site.

"I feel a bit of pain when I shoot across so I could only shoot towards the near post - it was the only thing I could do!"

"I am really happy for the fans and the players and we will enjoy this," said Torres.

"We are in the race again. We knew before the game that we had to win and we did it. Now we have a bit of confidence but we have to keep it going on Wednesday in the Carling Cup against Arsenal.

"Then we have to be focused for Fulham. But we feel like a strong team again because we're working all together like in the past.

"We will see what happens and then look at things at the end."

Reds boss Rafael Benitez confirmed Torres was not 100% fit, and the decision to play him was made on the coach traveling towards the stadium.

“I got Fernando’s opinion on the coach and, after talking with the staff, we decided he would play," said Rafael Benitez.

“You could see that he was not 100 per cent and you could see that he was not fresh, but sometimes, 80 per cent of Fernando can make a difference.

"We knew that he was not 100 per cent fit but it wasn’t a risk so in the end he was able to play.

“It has been a fantastic result, maybe it was the perfect game because we knew that we had to perform against a good team in front of our own fans and it was a fantastic performance from the players.”

Sunday, 25 October 2009

The fans gave us 12 men in United victory says Benitez

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez says passion, character and every last fan in the Kop played a part in today's well deserved victory over Manchester United. Two goals from Fernando Torres and David Ngog sunk United in a passionate match that saw both Nemanja Vidic and Javier Mascherano sent off following two yellow cards apiece.

"The players showed character and the fans were behind the players, we had 12 men," said Benitez on Sky Sports.

When asked what the difference was, Benitez replied:

"I think the passion, the attitude , the character and also some good play sometimes, but especially the mentality, everyone was working together, plus the goalkeeper to the last fan on The Kop."

Rafa was then asked if he answered a lot of questions today?

"The players answered a lot of questions, that is the most important thing."

Benitez, had been given a vote of confidence earlier today from Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow. When asked about his thoughts, the Red boss said:

"One game at a time. We are just thinking about the next game, Christian Purslow was supporting me and the team, but we have to keep going.

"We cannot be too excited with this win, we have another game on Wednesday."

When asked what he thought a result like this proved, Rafa said:

"For me that the team is better than people think, and it shows the character and quality that we have. Its just a question of having a little bit of luck and show this character in every game"

Sky Sports pundit Geoff Shreeves then said: "You've had a huge amount of criticism at any point has it made you angry?

"Not really, I was just trying to be focused and concentrate on my job. I knew the only way to change things in football is to win games."

Fergie’s Absolute Bollocks!

Ferguson says referee was swayed by crowd in Liverpool defeat

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has questioned the performance of referee Andre Marriner, following Liverpool's stunning victory over arch rivals Manchester United today. The comments come a few weeks after the United boss questioned the fitness of referee Alan Wiley, after their 2-2 draw with Sunderland. Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, the United boss also cast doubt over the experience of the referee.

"I think they got a wee bit caught up in some of the atmosphere - the wounded animal aspect of it. The fans were fanatical and every decision they put the referee under pressure," said the Scot, nicknamed Taggart by Reds fans.

"For instance on Vidic, clearly it is a foul. But then he wins the second ball and gets booked for that. The crowd got him booked"

"The atmosphere is hard to handle for the referee. Whether he had enough experience, I don't know. He will certainly learn from it."

Ferguson added: "The most controversial decision was Carragher bringing down Michael Owen. He was clear through.

"The laws of the game were altered to prevent professional fouls of that nature and if Carragher goes off, he is their best player and their captain. It would have been a different game. They would have been under pressure.

"The referee was only four or five yards from it he cannot use a covering defender as an excuse. Michael was clean through. With Michael's pace he is going to get away from him."

Ferguson said regarding Carragher's challenge on Carrick: "He has gone right over the top of the ball. If it is outside of the box it is a free-kick and maybe a yellow card.

"But it was inside the box and the referee was only six yards from it. It was another bad decision."

Incredibly Ferguson, however, did concede Liverpool were worthy winners. "Liverpool were the better team and I am not taking anything away from them at all," he said in the Guardian.

"They deserved to win the game as it was a disappointing performance from us. We were not good enough."

Benitez job safe states LFC director Purslow

Liverpool FC's managing director Christian Purslow has stated that Rafael Benitez's job is safe, following days of press speculation claiming otherwise. Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live Sportsweek today, Purslow also stated that coveted players Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres where not for sale at any price, following more wild media speculation that the club would have to sell the duo because of its financial instability.

"The most important aspect of the football club I was involved in in my first week in the job was securing Rafa for another five years. You only have to look at the Premiership era and our two major competitors in the last 10 to 12 years to see the benefits of longevity," said Purslow.

"Liverpool Football Club is on a long-term journey and that journey is to be the most successful club, firstly in our country and secondly in the world, and you don't do that by worrying about short-term results. You do that by having long-term plans centring on the people and the strategy. Rafa Benítez is absolutely central to that plan."

"The core of the team which won 86 points last season remains intact with some excellent additions, so I have every reason to believe we can perform at that level this season over the season."

When asked whether he would guarantee Benítez's position, if the club do not win the league in May, he said: "Yes I would."

Purslow also confirmed Fernando Torres had no clauses in his contract that allowed him to leave Anfield if Liverpool do not qualify for the Champions League next season.

He said: "Fernando signed an extension to his contract this summer. He has a five-year contract. He is a crucial leader in our team. He loves Liverpool Football Club. He has been fantastic around the place. Fernando Torres and Liverpool Football Club go together and I believe they will go together for the length of his career."

To the question that he was not for sale at any price, Purslow replied: "Correct." Purslow also stated the same went for Gerrard.

He also insisted Javier Mascherano is happy at the club, saying: "He is the leading central holding player in world football. It is inevitable that big clubs will covet players of that quality.

"We also had another central midfielder [Xabi Alonso] coveted by a world team in the summer who left us. We sat down with Javier at the time and he reasserted his total commitment to Liverpool. He has had a lot going on with the Argentina [World Cup] qualification situation, which is now behind him. He is a hugely important player for us. He is a leader and this week in the aftermath of [the home defeat by] Lyon he has been a powerful figure."

Purslow also revealed the club are four weeks into a process of raising new equity in the club:

"There has been a huge amount of interest in the club from some extremely wealthy and expert investors but it will take three to six months to pull that together.

"It means there will be new investment into the football club. Mr Hicks and Mr Gillett have no plans to sell their shares. We will be issuing new equity to new investors, broadening our ownership."

Saturday, 24 October 2009

LFC fans plan protest against owners tomorrow

Liverpool supporters group 'The Spirit of Shankly' will stage a protest march against the owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett tomorrow before the Premiership clash against Manchester United. The march will start at 12 noon from the Liverpool Supporters Club on Lower Breck Road and will finish outside the Kop stand.

"There is a lot of anger and people want their feelings known - Hicks and Gillett are not welcome at the club," spokesman James McKenna told BBC Sport.

The 'SOS' says 4,000 fans turned out for a similar protest in September 2008, before Liverpool beat Manchester United 2-1 at Anfield and are calling on all Reds fans to show similar support tomorrow. The group are marching to express their anger at the clubs owners inability to invest within the club and are also apposed to the debt that the club have been leveled with.

"We hope a couple of thousand fans will turn out for the protest," added the spokesperson.

The groups website has also posted an interview with George Gillett given at the Liverpool FC Academy prior to the Hull City game on the 26th September, which can be heard here.

Redknapp backs top class Benitez

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp has joined Arsene Wenger in backing Reds Boss Rafa Benitez. Yesterday Wenger declared the press criticism of Benitez 'excessive', and that he felt sorry for the Anfield boss. Now the Spurs manager has backed Benitez to bounce back, citing him as a 'top class manager.'

“It’s when nothing goes right and every night you go home and rely on those closest to you to remind you that you can still do the job.

“Confidence takes a knock, it’s a brittle thing in football," said Reknapp in the Echo.

“But I do not doubt Benitez’s credentials or his ability for one second – despite a relatively poor run for Liverpool.

“People should not forget that Benitez has won the Champions League for Liverpool and taken them to another final.

“He has won the FA Cup and has maintained the high standards of success at one of the world’s greatest football clubs.

“Benitez is a top-class manager and that has not changed.

“Despite the defeat to Lyon on Tuesday I still predict they will beat Fiorentina at home and then go on to qualify for the knockout stages of this season’s Champions League.

“I could not predict a top four this season now because things are getting so much tighter with teams like Manchester City, Aston Villa, Everton and my Tottenham side pushing hard.

“But Liverpool will be up there when the honours are being dished out at the end of this season.

“I would hope that it is not even on the radar up there on Merseyside that it is time to consider a change of manager at Liverpool.

“Benitez has done five years and has a pretty enviable record of trophies. Liverpool is a football city and I’d hope patience is the motto up there at the moment.”

Benitez says LFC fans are better then United supporters

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has declared that LFC supporters are better the United's ahead of the Premiership clash with their bitter rivals tomorrow.

"We know there is a massive difference in money but we have better fans [than United] so I am really pleased," said Benitez in the Independent.

Tomorrow match is Rafa's 200th league game as Anfield manager and his record in that time surpasses every other Liverpool manager of modern times bar Dalglish.

Benitez has won 113 of his 199 games – a 58.6 per cent success rate.
Bill Shankly achieved 106 of 200 (53 per cent).
Houllier 101 (50.5 per cent).
Ferguson's 87 wins (43.5 per cent).

"The numbers are not bad," said Rafa in his typical manner suggesting he could do better.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Wenger calls press backlash of Benitez excessive

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has defended Rafael Benitez following an avalanche of negative press that has been heaped on the Liverpool manager. The French coach has labeled the media attention 'excessive' and he has also stated that he feels sorry for Rafa, believing the Anfield boss does not deserve such negative media attention.

"It is always excessive," said Wenger today.

"We are, with a big club, in a job where you know that the moment the team goes through a difficult period, you get more stick than you should.

"But we know in our job as well that it is all part of it. I feel sorry that he gets that because he does not deserve it.

"But we all basically understand within this job, that it is part of the rules.

"In a big club, you need to be extremely strong because you get a lot of negative vibes.

"When you do not start well in the race for the Premier League, it’s all negative around you.

"What is happening to Liverpool today happened to us last year. Every single question is negative for the whole season. You need to be extremely strong inside the club to deal with that."

Benitez waits on Torres, Gerrard and Johnson's fitness

Reds boss Rafael Benitez is waiting on late fitness tests on Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Glen Johnson ahead of Sundays Premiership clash with Manchester United. All three are recovering from groin problems and it is hoped they will be ready for the North West derby. Torres trained with his teammates today and will be further assessed tomorrow, while Johnson missed the midweek Champions League defeat to Lyon. Benitez has spoken of his belief that Johnson will be fit and he also hopes Gerrard recovers in time for the game.

"It's the same situation for all the players," said Benitez to the official web site today.

"Fernando trained today and has been working to a specific programme.

"We will speak with the physios over the weekend before making a decision about Steven.

"Hopefully Glen will be available but we'll have to wait and see. We will make late decisions with all of them."

Asked if Alberto Aquilani would play a part in Sundays game, after his midweek appearance for the reserves, Benitez replied:

"No, I don't think so. We wanted to give him some time on the pitch but still it's too soon to say when he can play for the first team."

Benitez believes hard work will re-ignite Reds season

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez believes the team needs to work harder in order to dig themselves out of the current spate of losses that have plagued the club. Rafa concedes the Reds have not been at their best, but a win against bitter rivals United may swing their season around and give the team a much needed boost in confidence.

"I am sure our squad is much better than people think. If you have three, four or five players who normally start out injured, then you can't talk about the squad not being strong enough," said Benitez in his pre match press conference.

"I am sure if you take four or five players from United, Chelsea or Arsenal, it would be very difficult for them to win some games.

"Beating United last season is something positive we can use. Without Gerrard and Torres, the team was really good and the fans enjoyed the day - especially because we were without two very important players.

"So, if we have to do the same in this situation now, we can do it."

Benitez says a win will certainly boost their title aspirations and how important it is to reduce the points gap between the Reds and United.

"It's the best way - but it's not the only one. We think we can win and we'll talk about four points at the next press conference."

"I am really relaxed in terms on my position because I know how we are working on the pitch every day. In the past we were doing really good things and we haven't changed too much.

"It's a question of confidence. We know we have to improve but it's about winning the first game now.

"As a manager you know you will have good moments and bad moments. At this moment we know we have to improve, we have to win and it's a question of time - I'm sure once we win the first game everything will change.

"This game against United could be the right opportunity for us because it's a massive game against our rivals and the fans will be behind the team from the first minute until the last. We can change everything.

"We just need to keep working hard and perhaps need a bit of luck on the pitch. The other day against Lyon we were winning 1-0 and then had two or three chances but couldn't score the second goal. Then we lost in the last minute.

"Sometimes you need to play a little bit better, that's clear - but you also need to keep working hard and that little bit of luck."

Rafa also believes United have not been weakened by the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo.

"They are a good team with a lot of good players - not just one player."

"It will be a tough test for us but it's always like this."

Dalglish backs Benitez

Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish has given his full support to manager Rafael Benitez and believes he is the man to get the Reds out of there current bad run of form. Benitez has come under fire from a vitriolic press this week who have practically demanded the head of Benitez, however the LFC Ambassador states that the club, players and fans must now show their support more then ever by sticking together.

"Everyone within the upper echelons of this club has no doubt whatsoever about Rafa - I know that for a fact," said Dalglish to the Official web site.

"Everybody at Liverpool Football Club knows Rafa is the right man to get the club through this.

"No-one is pumped up and panicking in any way, shape or form. Everyone is being as helpful and supportive as they possibly can be to the manager.

"Obviously, whether you're a manager or a player, you have to retain your confidence and belief in what you are doing.

"You have also got to retain your belief in each other. The manager has to retain belief in his players and the players must retain their confidence in the manager.

"It's very important that everybody sticks together to get themselves through this."

"Everybody's accountable. When you have success everybody takes their fair share of the credit – and rightly so. So when it goes badly the same thing must apply in reverse.

"People have made mistakes but it's how you react to them that's the most important thing.

"The other vitally important thing is that you must never allow other people to drive wedges between you and through various parts of the football club.

"Of course everyone must stand up and be counted – and then at least we'll be going in the right direction."

"The Liverpool supporters were really terrific.

"When Steven went off they raised the roof and tried to get the players going, because they know how important Fernando is and Steven is – and Glen Johnson too, who was out through injury.

"But the players can't depend on the supporters lifting them all the time – sometimes the players have to lift the supporters as well."

"If you are losing four games on the spin you're not going to be getting praise – but you can't take too much to heart what you read in the papers.

"Yes, there's criticism. Some will be constructive and Rafa will look at this and take it under his wing and say maybe that's right. Other parts he will totally dismiss.

"But there's no way Liverpool Football Club and the majority of people would want Rafa to go anywhere.

"Remember last year they beat Manchester United with Steven only playing 20 minutes and Fernando not playing at all. So if we did it last year why can't we do it this year?

"The players will need to stand up and be counted. But then everybody needs to do that.

"For anyone that has got any affiliation to Liverpool Football Club, anyone at all, then it's time for them to rally round and channel all their efforts in the one direction.

"That is to help the manager and the players to get the one result everybody wants. That's the only way to do it."

"You can understand the frustration of the supporters – but Liverpool supporters are absolutely fantastic at supporting the manager and the team.

"And it is in adversity when they are at their strongest."

"The only reason Kenny Dalglish is at Liverpool Football Club is because Rafa wanted him here.

"I know the support that a manager expects from his staff – because I've been there. And I like to think I'll give the boss the same support I would have expected. We have no other option but to stick together.

"Remember, the players that are playing now are the same players that came so close last year, bar Xabi Alonso. They don't suddenly become bad players – they just lose a bit of confidence.

"They know they are better players than it is looking at the minute. "Everybody knows that. But they have got to believe it."

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Reds in 'Crisis' is just press hyperbole

The past few days has been difficult for Liverpool fans and the defeats have been hard to take. The press who have taken the form of the school yard bullies shouting abuse from the back of the bus, have delighted in the Reds loss of form, filling their newspapers with stories, articles, analysis and expert opinion. Most are sharpening their axes claiming Liverpool's season is on the brink of collapse. The press are not known for changing their tune, as they wrote off Liverpool after their third match, ten days into the current Premier League season. Eight weeks ago the headline where: -

"Are Liverpool already out of this year's title race?" - The Guardian

"Crisis looms as Rafael Benítez hunts for answers" - The Telegraph

Eight weeks later and nothing has changed: -

"Liverpool in crisis: the problems facing Rafael Benitez" - The Telegraph

"Rafael Benítez: 10 mistakes that have cost Liverpool" - The Guardian

A 'crisis' is always on the 'brink' according to the newspapers, as that is always what they write about. The Guardian has practically ran a poll every other week asking if Benitez was to blame for the current lull in form and if Liverpool's title challenge was already over.

The papers, salivating at the prospect of axing a massive scalp, smell blood and Liverpool football club is as big as they come.

But lets step back from the baying crowds, forming a circle with their attention screaming headlines and look at the situation with objective calmness.

There is almost seven months left of the Premier League Season to play.

29 Premiership matches remain to be played, totalling 87 points left to earn.

Liverpool after nine matches, have currently earned: 15 points.

Manchester United after nine games last season had accumulated: 18 points.

Although the currents slump in form is agonising for the fans and the way the team is playing is of deep concern, 'Crisis' is hardly the correct description. The current 'normal' thing to do with teams in this situation is to 'sack' the manager and this is where it appears common sense has left the building, screaming all the way to the funny farm. What happened to:

'Analysing the situation', 'identifying problems' and 'working harder to solve them'?

Unfortunately these otherwise 'normal' pursuits have been abandoned in place of a press invented, gladiator style spectator sport, where extreme actions are the only remaining option.

The cheap and easy route is sacking, with no guaranteed replacement. Dalglish and Mourinho are names that have have been thrown around, but would the 'special one' really come to a club whose owners promise 'big money', but actually deliver 'little money'? Mourinho is without question a gifted manager, but he is more interested in his own personal goals then the long term plans of the club that employs him. One suspects managing Liverpool football club would only be another notch on Mourinho's bed post.

Dalglish, a known supporter of Benitez, who last managed over a decade ago, would be privy to Rafa's problems with the owners and the clubs finances, would never return to managing the club. Although Dalglish remains the fans favourite and the mere mention of his name induces romantic notions of the 'king' returning to his sleeping kingdom to rescue it from its plight, a more sober view is needed.

Rafael Benitez is well known as a man that eats, sleeps and thinks football 24/7. He commonly works 12-14 hour days, or even longer when there are massive matches on the horizon. His office is stacked high with DVD's and video cassette's of matches of up-coming opponents, previous LFC matches and players to watch. He analyzes victories as well as defeats, scrutinising every aspect of the game in order to pin point why a match was won or lost. In short, he is a workaholic striving for excellence in his team and has the best interests of the club at heart.

The club, the players, coaching staff and fans must all support one another during the hardest times, because how you overcome adversity defines who you are.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Benitez philosophical over freak beach ball goal

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez remains philosophical over the freak 'beach ball' goal that should not have stood. Sunderland striker Darren Bent's shot was deflected into the net via a stray beach ball that was thrown onto the pitch by a Liverpool supporter.

"We are not blaming or worrying about the goal at Sunderland, there is nothing we can do about that now or change the situation, we just intend to move forward," said Benitez in the Independent.

"It was unusual and hopefully it will not happen again. It was something that could not be avoided, certainly from the players.

"At the time I felt it was just a balloon, it was not until afterwards that we saw the replay and realised it was more than a balloon, much more.

"But it is clear now that the goal could have been disallowed. Maybe in the future that would not be allowed to happen again."

Gerrard fit to play Lyon, but Torres is out

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has been passed fit to play in tomorrow nights Champions League tie against Lyon after overcoming a thigh injury that had ruled him out of the Reds defeat to Sunderland on Saturday. However Striker Fernando Torres who is still suffering from an abductor problem, picked up on international duty with Spain in Armenia last week, will miss the game.
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez believes his skippers inclusion will be a major boost to a team clearly struggling with confidence.

"With Steven around, it has an effect on the other players. He is an inspiration to them, said Benitez in the Independent.

"Steven is a winner with the right mentality. But we have to see these players on the pitch, they cannot win games when they are injured.

"The team knows we are not playing at the right level, but they also know that we are good enough.

"They know we must start playing again at that level, their response in training has been positive and we must repeat that on the pitch. One good result will change everything.

"I am confident in my team, we are trying to improve and the response of the players this week has been very good and back to our best.

"We have gone from winning five on the trot to losing three in succession. We were scoring lots of goals and now we have not scored in three.

"But I do not believe there is much difference in all these games. We have played well, created chances and won praise for our attacking play.

"We have not changed our tactics, it just shows how close teams are to each other. We lost to Chelsea but were in control for much of the game and then we lose when the ball hits a beach ball.

"We have virtually the same group of players as we had last season, and that ended up with us finishing second.

"Hopefully we can start to win again, the atmosphere will be better and the mood will change as confidence improves.

"We have Gerrard back now, and we have players who are fresher than they were after the international games. I hope that the Champions League will create a special atmosphere that will inspire the players, as it usually does in games like this at Anfield.

"In training this week I can see the team we were in the past. They are almost the same players as last season, we need confidence and some wins, there is no need to start worrying.

"I believe we are strong enough to compete just as we did last season. These players have the quality, they need to play one or two good games and everything will improve.

"It is not the end of the world, it is a bad position but we will come back and start fighting again."

"Torres is not ready, so we have to wait a little longer but hopefully he will be okay for the weekend against Manchester United.

"The problems we have had this season have been too many to solve. We have had problems with our centre-backs, then there was Gerrard unfit and now we also have forwards out.

"There have been too many things all at once. We have to wait for our injured players to return, then things will be a lot better.

"We need people fit, we need the end of the international breaks and then we can all work together to improve.

"First we must win against Lyon, that will get us back on the right road."

Former Premiership referee says goal should never have stood

Former Premier League referee Jeff Winter has expressed his amazement that Sunderland's freak goal in Saturdays Premiership clash with Liverpool was allowed. Darren Bent's fifth minute goal deflected off a red beach ball that had been thrown onto the pitch by a Liverpool fan. Fifa rules firmly state that the goal should have been disallowed and play should have been restarted with a dropped ball.

"I'm absolutely amazed. It is basic law in football. The goal should just not have stood," said Winter in the Telegraph.

"The laws of the game state that if there's an outside interference the game has to be stopped."

"I am absolutely amazed that for a referee at that level of football, that between him, his assistant, the fourth official, they didn't see what had happened and give the correct decision."

"I try to defend referees wherever possible having been there and knowing the problems they face but, on this particular occasion, everybody's having a laugh and a joke about it, but this is far more serious in terms of the laws of the game than when the referee doesn't see the ball go over the goalline."

Referee Mike Jones has been dropped from Premiership action this weekend and will take charge at Peterborough, who entertain Scunthorpe United in the Championship. A Premier League spokesman has also confirmed the match will not be replayed despite the controversial goal.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Benitez comes out fighting

Reds boss Rafael Benitez came out fighting yesterday amidst accusations in the tabloids claiming Liverpool's season could be over within the week. Today's Mail leads the baying pack with a typical exploitational headline, screaming: 'Rafa Benitez's crisis point, Liverpool season facing ruin'.

Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres are both out of the Premiership clash against Sunderland today, but Benitez believes there is enough quality in his team to overcome Steve Bruce's side at the Stadium of Light this afternoon. The Anfield club have often been called a two man team incapable of enforcing any real damage in the Premiership without them. However it is often forgotten Liverpool beat Manchester United last season without starting Torres or Gerrard.

“It’s very early days (in the title race),” said Benitez. “It’s better to be six points ahead but the main thing is to keep going, keep working and keep doing things properly. We will see. I am sure we will improve. You have not seen the best of our players," said Benitez in the Echo.

“Would I take a draw (against Sunderland)? No. Not really. We are always thinking about taking three points from every single game. This one will be the same. We might not have Gerrard or Torres but we have Babel, Kuyt, a lot of options up front.”

“I think we have enough quality in the squad, so we have to manage,” he said. “Maybe we will play with different players or in a different way. Still we have confidence that we have quality in the squad. That is the situation.

“We have a lot of internationals here and it is more difficult to keep them fit but we will see how we can manage. We knew that this game could be very difficult, playing away on a Saturday after an international break. It is a difficult fixture.

“Now it is going to be more difficult but we maybe have to show more character and more quality. The main thing for us is to do our things properly. We have to play our game and make sure we control the key players of the other team.

“In some ways this game has been impossible to prepare for – Mascherano, Lucas and Insua have all been away. We have been waiting for them but maybe after the next international break we will be playing much better. We will improve.”

Jame Carragher will wear the captains arm band today in Steven Gerrard's absence. The 31-year-old defender has not been at his best form this season and some fans have expressed fears the player may have passed his best. Reds boss Benitez however still believes in his scouse centre back:

“Carra physically is okay,” said Benitez. “That is not a problem. People are saying ‘oh his age! oh his legs!’ but that is not the case. It is a question of confidence. When you make mistakes, normally the centre-backs and the keeper suffer more than the others.

“I’m sure now with more competition, with Carra, Skrtel and Agger fit, it will be better for the team. Players with character have to show this when they are under pressure. The only way to change things is to be on the pitch and prove that you are right.”

Gerrard and Torres sidelined for Sunderland clash

Todays Premiership clash with Sunderland could prove a tougher test then first thought, now that news has emerged that both Liverpool's influential captain Steven Gerrard and Spanish marvel Fernando Torres have been sidelined for the match at Wearside.

Both players sustained injuries whilst on international duty in midweek. Gerrard missed England's win over Belarus on Wednesday after picking up a groin injury in the defeat by Ukraine. Torres suffered from an adductor problem in Spain's win over Armenia last weekend and he was rested for the midweek win over Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The duo are not the only casualties, as new signing Sotirios Kyrgiakos suffered a knee injury during Greece's 2-1 win over Luxembourg. Early indications suggested the former Rangers man may have sustained cruciate ligament damage, however a scan confirmed this not to be the case.

As if to compound Benitez's selection problems further, Javier Mascherano and Emiliano Insua, only arrived back on Merseyside after a fifteen hour flight from Buenos Aires yesterday.

Liverpool manager has increasingly become frustrated by his players sustaining injuries whilst away on international duty:

"Both Steven and Fernando still have some problems," Benitez confirmed during his pre match press conference yesterday.

"They will need more time and won't be available this weekend. I think they could be available for next week," reports Sky Sports.

"We were talking with our medical staff and analysing all the problems, but now we can't change the situation and would prefer to concentrate on Sunderland," he said.

"I need to worry about the players I have rather than those I don't."

Dirk Kuyt had also suffered from an ankle problem in midweek but Benitez confirmed it was not an issue and the Dutch international is likely to lead the forward line.

"Kuyt is okay. He was training normally with the team and will be available," added Benitez.

"With Kyrgiakos we were really worried because people were talking about maybe six months, but after the scan we think one week to ten days. That's very positive," he said.

The Reds boss also confirmed summer signing Alberto Aquilani is now training with the first team.

"His physical problems, he is okay and now he has to work on his condition and so hopefully he will be fitter next week," he said.

"But he is now training with the first team and that is the most important thing."

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Gillett's 50% sale in the final stages says Saudi Prince

Saudi Prince Faisal bin Fahd bin Abdullah believes talks over his F6 company buying a major stake in Liverpool are nearing a conclusion.

Liverpool co-owner George Gillett arrived in Riyadh on Tuesday night to continue talks with the prince. The Americans visit is mainly concerned with setting up LFC branded academies in the Middle East and north Africa, however it also believed he will also continue discussions over the sale of part, or all of Gillett's 50 per cent holding in the club.

"Our negotiations to buy shares in Liverpool are ongoing, meetings are taking place and we might be in the final stages in the coming days," said the prince on Wednesday, reports Sky Sports.

The prince has openly admitted that investment in the Reds is firmly in his agenda, but has expressed concern over the clubs debt.

Reds co-owner Tom Hicks appears to have paved the way for Gillett to sell up. The Mirror interviewed 'a source' close to Texan, who confirmed:

“Tom would be open to considering a partnership with someone willing to buy George Gillett’s shares."

“It is still the case that the sale of any shares in Liverpool FC requires the other partner’s consent."added the source.

It is also thought that if Gillett sells, Hicks must be given the right to buy two per cent of his partner's shares, making him the major share holder of the club.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Could Gillett be on the verge of selling 50% stake in LFC?

A key aide to Faisal bin Fahd bin Abdullah al-Saud, has again indicated that the Saudi Arabian prince could bid for a major stake in Liverpool, but has concerns about the club's debt and relationship between the owners.

Recent rumours have suggested that co-owner George Gillett is on the verge of selling his stake in the club after the prince's investment company 'F6' struck a deal to establish a number of LFC football academies in Saudi Arabia.

Gillett will travel to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to hold further talks with the Saudi Royal reports BBC Sport. Barry Didato, head of strategic investments for 'F6' said:

"His Highness's shareholding could go from anything from nought to 100%."

"But he cannot be seen as a solution to the debt or problems in the existing relationship between the owners."

The relationship between Gillett and his co-owner Tom Hicks has not been harmonious. Each has a 50% stake in the club, yet neither can sell shares without the other's approval.

"His Highness would not want to get involved in (the problems between the pair), he is not a marriage counsellor," Didato said.

"The debt has to be at a manageable level before Prince Faisal would invest and the current level is high," he said.

"He cannot be looked to as someone who is going to clean up the balance sheet - Gillett has to deal with this."

"His Highness does not need to be a majority shareholder and a takeover has not been his focus," he said.

"His Highness is an extraordinary man who is passionate about football," he said. "He has a tremendous respect for Liverpool and their fan base.

"He only wants what is best for them and is one of those rare breeds of investor who is in it for the long haul."

The prince, who attended Liverpool's demolition of Hull City recently claimed that he was close to purchasing a 50 per cent stake in the club. Speaking to Middle Eastern newspaper 'Al Riyadh', he said: "The deal will be concluded soon and its value will be between £200m and £350m."

However LFC were quick to deny any deal was in place stating: "there is no agreement with any party and reports to the contrary are wholly inaccurate."

Didato has expressed similar words recently about Prince Faisal's interest in the Reds and clearly the Saudi Arabian is eager to invest in the club partially or as a whole. Reported on this site last week, the head of strategic investments stated: "His Highness is open to anything and is open to being a minority shareholder, but he has tremendous favourability towards the brand and institution of Liverpool."

Today's Mirror appears convinced Gillett is on the verge of a sale, stating the co-owner: "is due to arrive in the Middle East on Wednesday and is scheduled for a three-day stay to sort out the deal with the Prince's advisers and his financial company F6 Sports." The story also says:

"a sale is top of the agenda to be done rather than just an investment," and adds, sources in the Middle East are: "convinced that this will happen."

The departure of Gillett would certainly be welcomed by Reds fans who have consistently protested against the co-owners following a series of promises that have never been kept. Gillett recently made a series of outlandish claims during the impromptu interview with a Reds fan whilst giving a tour of the Liverpool training Academy to Prince Faisal. The American claimed Arsenal and Man Utd could not outspend LFC and also denied he'd ever proclaimed 'shovels would be in the ground within 60 days', when speaking about the new stadium on Stanley Park. Luckily his statement was filmed by the countries media.

Possibly the prince's interest for the club could offer an escape route for Gillett and the clubs long suffering fans.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Gillett's lies exposed

Sources close to Liverpool football club have attempted to play down any rift between the manager and the owners claims the Telegraph. Co-owner George Gillett had blamed Reds boss Rafael Benitez for the lack of progress the club has made during the Americans tenure. Gillett who had given an interview to a member of the 'Spirit Of Shankly' group who were protesting against the American owners, claimed: "If its not getting better it’s not because of Gillett and Hicks, it’s the manager it the scouting and so forth." However the article says: "sources close to the situation have insisted that the club's hierarchy remains firmly behind Benítez."

Gillett made a series of outlandish claims during the impromptu interview with the Reds fan claiming:

"Arsenal by law can’t spend as much per year as we spend. Man U can’t out spend us."

"Abramavic he didn’t use his own money (to buy Chelsea) he used borrowed money".

"Rafa had the money from Xabi plus another £22-£23m and all the money that came plus the money budgeted was made available to Rafa."

Gillett also stated that he made no promise involving the building of the new stadium on Stanley Park, rejecting he had ever guaranteed shovels would be in the ground within 60 days, saying:

"Any comments on the stadium came from hicks. I think what happened was Hicks was absolutely convinced that we were going to start to move dirt to make for the foundations. In the period of time between Hicks saying that and the sixty day , the entire world credit market fell apart and I believe that he ended up with big egg on his face, making it look like he’d said something and then not living up to what he’d said and that was a mistake on his part."

However the 'Official Liverpool FC web site' tells a different story and makes clear exactly what Gillett had said. Quoting the owner directly during a press conference for the printed and televised press, Gillett says:

"The shovel needs to be in the ground within the next 60 days and you will soon see a great big swimming pool being dug out on Stanley Park."

Gillett's claim that Benitez was given £22-£23m plus the money from Alonso's sale do not add up either. The speculated funds recouped for the sale of Xabi Alonso was in the region of £30m, however Liverpool sold other players: Álvaro Arbeloa: £3.5m, Sebastian Leto signed for Panathinaikos for £3 million and several other fringe players have departed Anfield. It is also thought that the Reds recouped approximately £7m from Portsmouth from the sale of Peter Crouch the previous season. All this boosted Benite'z's summer transfer kitty to: £65-£66.5 million

Although the actual figures remain 'undisclosed', Alberto Aquilani, the Italy midfield player cost approximately £18m-20m. Glen Johnson moved to Anfield for approximately £16-£18 million. Sortis Kyrgiakos also signed for a fee of £1.5 million from AEK Athens. Combined total: £35.5-£39.5 million.

At best Gillett's sums are out by £25.5 million, at worst £31 million. Either way it highlights clearly that no funds were given to Benitez during the transfer window and approximately £30 million, has been recouped in transfer fees. These damning facts and the co-owners persistent reliance on 'spin' will only deepen Kopites burning loathing for the owners.

Aquilani is almost ready says Benitez

Alberto Aquilani has been making steady progress under the care and attention of Liverpool's medical staff, and the playmaker is on schedule to begin his Anfield career within two weeks. Speculation had suggested the new number 4 would make his first appearance next week against Sunderland, however a more realistic target is likely to be the Carling Cup clash against Arsenal on October 28. Reds boss Rafa Benitez is delighted with the Italians recovery and hopes Aquilani will take further big strides towards fitness during the international break.

“I have been speaking to the doctors and things are going well with him,” said Benitez in the Echo.

“Alberto is progressing all the time. It could be two to three weeks before he is back.

“But we need to use caution. If it is two weeks everyone will say ‘that is fantastic’ but if it is three, everyone will say it is not a problem. I think that we have to be careful.

“We will take it one step at a time and we have the international break to look forward to now. That will be good for him, as he will have some more time (to recover without missing any games).”

“He is running and swimming – I think he will have the record in the swimming pool by the end of his programme – and he is working in the gym,” said Benitez.

“He is doing almost everything and he is doing some things with the team. The only thing he is not doing is kick a ball – not yet anyway.”

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Aquilani set to make debut against Sunderland

Alberto Aquilani is set to make his Liverpool debut next week when the Reds face Sunderland in their next Premier League fixture on the 17th.

Aquilani who has been recovering from ankle surgery has blamed previous club: Roma's medical set up for his spate of frustrating injuries.

He said: "They were always changing doctors over there and there was no continuity, but I have already noticed a big difference here," said Aquilani in the Telegraph.

"From the outset they told me they would not try to rush me back because they did not want to risk a recurrence of the problem.

"I want to put all my injury worries behind me. After spending some time with Liverpool's medical staff I feel I can do that now."

Gillett's interview in full

An interview with Liverpool co-owner George Gillett has hit national headlines today following its publication on fan site 'The Liverpool Way' on Saturday. The impromptu discussion held with Reds fan Michael, nicknamed 'Dougie Do'ins' was held at Liverpool's 'Academy' training facility in Kirkby prior to the Reds 6-1 victory over Hull on 26th September.

Gillett, who was giving a tour to Saudi Arabian delegation including prince Faisal bin Fahd bin Abdullah al-Saud, had earlier the same day arrived at Melwood, only to be greeted by protesting fans from the Liverpool Supporters Union 'Spirit of Shankly'. The American co-owner's tour then moved on to the 'Academy' based in Kirkby where he was once again confronted by angry fans. Gillett, then presumably in an attempt to 'save face' in the presence of his touring guests, offered to answer questions from one of the 'SOS' members present.

The fan who "went into the meeting with nothing prepared" as he didnt expect Gillett to take up his offer of a talk, later transcribed the conversation from "notes and memory."

Here is 'Dougie Do'ins' un-edited transcript in full:

As I dint think one half of our custodianship would invite me in for a talk please understand I went into the meeting with nothing prepared.

The discussion started about the current financial situation that the club is reportedly in and I started off by asking GG about what happened to the £60m borrowed from the bank as working capital and reported to get the construction on the new stadium started GG said he wasn’t aware of any £60m that had been reported.

GG} "If we tried to correct all the mistakes that had been printed we’d have a full time job doing it".

MC} "So there wasn’t £60m borrowed as a start up fund?"

GG} "I think what we did was paid it down".

I repeated the question.

GG} "I don’t think so I can’t recall it. The only money we have been involved in, we certainly haven’t Seen any money let’s put it that way".

I was then asked by GG to "try and take my attitude out of the questions".

GG} "When we bought the club we bought it with our own money" "CASH"

MC} "Your saying you bought the club with your own money".

GG} "When a year and a half later the credit crunch, we each put our portion of the club and refinanced

the business.

"Today the club has the lowest debt to each dollar of profit of any of the major clubs in the sport".

GG} "The club is in extraordinarily good condition, far better than Man U, Arsenal or Chelsea".

MC} "When you and Tom bought the club from Moores, how much debt was it in ".

GG} "The club had" (He then paused)

MC} "£40m"

GG} "Between 40 and £80m but it had no earnings"

GG} "Don’t you think we have invested massively" and said they had "put more money in other than City".

MC } "I would like to know where the money came from"

GG} "The vast majority of it came from Tom and mine, our personal cash, not from the club or anythingit came from us.

MC} "How much debt is the club in now"

GG} "That’s not the question the question is how the debt is relative to the earnings. The debt on the club today is very sound".

MC} "That’s not how the fans see it"

GG } "That’s bullshit the way the media writes it, they don’t understand how to write about cash flow and profit and loss"

MC } "Why don’t you make a public statement instead of us being drip fed information by the media as the media is often unreliable and like to sensationalise things. Why don’t the two of you make a public statement and explain where the club is at".

GG} "That’s a good idea".

MC} "We are being drip fed information".

GG} "Not by me I try to support our manager and let him have the freedom to spend it his way wisely, to do with scouting to go get the best young men available. That’s what we try to do I don’t get into strategy or individual players"

MC} "At the minute the earnings might be three because we have the fan base"

GG} "Our budgets are based on the last six years earnings of the club. We don’t put it on going to the finals or anything of that sort. The budgets are done conservatively".

MC} "A lot of it is based on champions league football".

GG} "It is based on a relatively limited success in the CL"

MC} "What if we went two or three seasons without CL football what would happen to the debt related to the clubs earnings".

GG} "The debt wouldn’t go up we have enough cash flow to pay the minimum interest that we have which is not very high and enough to give to Rafa to be competitive".

MC} "That where we are at loggerheads with your idea of capital for Rafa and ours".

GG} "Arsenal by law can’t spend as much per year as we spend. Man U can’t out spend us. Based on UTD and Arsenal do you think we under spend".

MC} "Looking at this years transfers yes. What happened to the £30m from the Xabi Alonso sale"?

GG} "We put that back in, we didn’t take it out, we didn’t do like Man U did. They took all the money they got from player sales and they owed so much money they had to use it to pay down the debt. We didn’t do that. In keeping with the history of the club we have invested more money than our competitors, which should mean it should be getting better. If its not getting better it’s not because of Gillett and Hicks, it’s the manager it the scouting and so forth. So make sure you guys balance out your analysis.

MC} "Us as Liverpool fans were use to seeing a policy of money recouped on player sales being reinvested back into the squad".

GG} Rafa had the money from Xabi plus another £22-£23m and all the money that came plus the money budgeted was made available to Rafa".

GG denied that there was a £20m price cap for player signings and said

GG} "Rafa had more than was in the budget and the money from the sales. Hicks and I didn’t take any money out or use it to pay down debt.

We then talked about the stadium and the sixty day quote. GG denied it was him who made the spades in the ground in sixty days quote and went on to say.

GG} "Any comments on the stadium came from hicks. I think what happened was Hicks was absolutely convinced that we were going to start to move dirt to make for the foundations. In the period of time between Hicks saying that and the sixty day , the entire world credit market fell apart and I believe that he ended up with big egg on his face, making it look like he’d said something and then not living up to what he’d said and that was a mistake on his part".

MC} "It’s our belief that one of the main selling issues for David Moores was that you were going to build a stadium. We should be on a par with Barca and Real Madrid. All the 2005 CL success had not been built o

GG } "Do you think GG doesn’t want to build a stadium".

MC } "It wouldn’t be the first time that Tom Hicks has been involved with a football club, promised them a new stadium and it never happened".

George Gillett pauses.

MC } "Corinthians"

I reminded GG again about Tom Hicks past dealings with Corinthians.

GG} "Michael that’s not George Gillett. I own 50% of the club and nothing is going to happen to the club good or bad that ultimately Tom or I don’t take credit for".

GG then asked me.

GG} "Did I believe after our conversation if I thought he wouldn’t love to build a new stadium"

MC } "I’m curious as to why with the wealth that you and Hicks have got they cant come together and start to build the stadium out of their own capital".

GG } "That’s a totally different issue and I’m not going to go there"

MC} "Why not build the stadium with your own money and get it back from the extra money it generates".

GG} "What’s symbolic about the stadium".

MC} "We need the new stadium George, we are falling behind

George losses his temper and raises his voice.

GG} "We are not falling behind that’s horseshit. If we could figure out how to build a stadium I would have done it yesterday".

MC} "I’ve just told you how you can do it. You and Hicks could use your own capital"

GG} "Michael that’s not what we’re going to do".

MC} "Why".

GG} "Because that’s not the way smart investment occurs".

MC} "Well why not, you have the money why not do it".

GG } "Abramavic he didn’t use his own money he used borrowed money".

MC} "Your saying that Abramovic didn’t use his own money to buy Chelsea and bankroll the squad".

GG } "There’s a difference between lateral wealth and personal wealth".

MC } "Where did he get the money from then".

GG } "From his banks in Russia".

I then asked GG about his and Hicks reported and what seemed frivolous expenses claims and used the reported £1m as a ballpark figure.

GG} "We don’t charge or take salaries from the club. We charge the club for our travel expenses for our travel expenses and our legal fees"

GG seemed surprised at the amounts of money that had been reported.

MC} "Surely you must have a press officer who reports back to you what is being said about you in the British press"

GG} "What’s being reported about me".

MC} "About your expenses claims".

GG} "All expenses was for legitimate reasons, legal people, auditors etc. Hicks put his bill directly through the club. I ran mine through my own accountant, used my own money and I was reimbursed for legal and accounting fees. There was no money taken by me. I have never taken a cent from this club, I get no salaries no compensation, the money that I got reimbursed was money that I paid out because of the way we do it is actually for the benefit of the club. The club didn’t reimburse me for over a year after I ran up the expenses, and then a year later reimbursed me for the expenses. That’s for the benefit of the club not for the detriment of it.

MC] "Its all about what’s believable George and the facts are.

GG} "The one fact that you’ve levelled at me today was that, Tom Hicks promised a spade in the ground in sixty days and it hasn’t happened. It’s the one fact that you’ve laid out. The free cash flow the amount of money reinvested in the players, every one of the other facts that you’ve raised that primarily came from the media was wrong".

MC} "I suggest to you George that you keep a closer eye on what’s being reported in the British media and rather than a wall of silence, respond to things because we are being drip fed information, rumour and Chinese whispers. Whether you decide to act upon that is totally up to yourself but, us as Liverpool supporters do not see the club moving in the right direction".

Frank McParland enters the room

GG} "Michael is involved with a group called SOS. This has been a dumping on me of vitriol of hatred of suspicion of calling me a liar on half dozen different comments. The one I plead guilty to is that I have a partner who promised put a spade in the ground in sixty days in the midst of the credit market and the stadium hasn’t and the stadium hasn’t been built. That’s the one thing, there’s no way I can deny that. That was said and it was fact, but with regard to the rest of the things, he and his group have gotten very angry at Tom and I because of things reported in the media that were inaccurate. For example he was just charging me that I had taken money out the club. The fact is that I take nothing out the club other than being reimbursed for accounting fees.

MC} I don’t think I charged you with taking money out the club".

I repeated to FMc the issue about the concerns about the money from the sale of Xabi Alonso and that the money recouped from his sale went towards paying off debt.

GG} "The only pay down came from Hicks and I pocket. We put £128m in the last eighteen months to buy players on top of the money that came from the club not. The reason I'm upset is that he (mc) just said I have no more confidence and fundamentally I don’t believe you and all I can do is tell him the facts and he’s recommended I think correctly that there’s no wall of silence that the information is being drip fed to the media and we should make the facts more available".

FMc "One thing about SOS is that their mad passionate Liverpool supporters like we all are and they’ll always speak from the heart and if they know the situation and you tell them the situation they’ll take that on and I know that. Its all about us isn’t it".

MC} "It’s about LFC George. When you quote Chelsea, Man U and Arsenal, as I said the only time I worry about them is when we are playing them, as clubs the can crash and burn I’m worried about LFC"

GG} "We are putting more money in than they are and we are not getting credit for it from SOS because all they care about is Liverpool. On the other hand the same media they quote are criticising us for not being competitive with the other teams.

Frank McParland went on to say that he was 100% behind Rafa and that every time he’d asked for something for the academy it had been provided and he and GG used the AstroTurf pitch as an example.

MC} "The academy and Melwood is fine we are worried Anfield and the progression of the club on the basis that the club progresses from the success of the first team onwards. So as a group and as Liverpool supporters that’s what we are worried about.

I repeated to FMc that one of the biggest selling factors of the club from DM to H+G was the stadium.

MC} "A lot of this is based around the stadium. I personally and not speaking for SOS believe that personally that could move this situation forward is if we seen progress on the stadium and we seen a way forward and lets start competing with Barca and Madrid. The stadium is one of the biggest issues George".

GG}"Let’s focus on one set of challenges. When I was in Spain the other day to try and understand the economics of those clubs. The way they survive is that every five years the government writes off their debt. They’ve spent crazily this is now the third cycle of what’s happening. That’s not going to happen here and its not going to happen to any other EPL".

As time was running short I ended the meeting by saying.

MC} "At the minute we have people from around the globe banging on the doors to watch Liverpool. If the club had a sustained run of poor results and went without success that the glory hunters would soon go and the support the next successful club and that that G+H would be glad of the bread and butter supporters like my self and SOS.

I have done my best to relate all of what was said between my self and George Gillett. If I have missed anything out it is because I have either forgotten or it was just things that have already been said.

Many thanks to 'The Liverpool Way' and 'Dougie Do'ins' for the transcript.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Chelsea 2 Liverpool 0

Premiership Match report
Reporter: The Main (Stand) Man

After the woeful display in Florence during midweek, Steven Gerrard had challenged himself and his Liverpool colleagues to ‘react’ in the correct way against a Chelsea side looking to capitalise on Manchester United’s slip up against Sunderland (and as an aside, why hasn’t the word ‘rant’ yet been applied to the old tramp-in-a-suit from the other end of the East Lancs following his outburst against Alan Wiley on Saturday?). What transpired at Stamford Bridge, in truth, was a game that could easily have gone either way but unfortunately ended up with three points for the home side.

Benitez had the return of Mascherano to bolster a midfield that had looked weak against Fiorentina, the Argetinian replacing Aurelio who was not even able to displace Emiliano Insua in the favoured right back position. There rest of the team was, for a change, fairly predictable, with Gerrard supporting Torres and Riera and Kuyt on the wings. Daniel Agger was also included in the squad although he had to settle for a place on the bench with Carragher and Skrtel ahead of him in the pecking order thanks to their match fitness.

Liverpool started the brighter of the two teams, with some sharp passing movements causing some problems for Chelsea in the first five minutes. With Cech suspended following his sending off at Wigan last week, the reds decided to try and test replacement Hilario early on, and several moves down the left hand side proved fruitful in the first five minutes. John Terry and co. however were able to assist their keeper in clearing any danger that Liverpool crosses posed, and the home team seemed to take heart from this as they began to establish some dominance in the midfield.

The first quarter of an hour passed without clear chances for either team, though, and as is so often the case in these games, neither side was looking likely either to concede or to create enough to seriously trouble the opposing defence. The nineteenth minute brought the first controversial moment of the match, when Essien decided to undertake his usual stamping manoeuvre on Javier Mascherano (I’m sure we all remember the challenge on Didi Hamann several years ago which could have left him crippled), and fortunately for Mascherano he failed to connect with the shinbone. Unbelievably, however, the referee simply told Mascherano to get off the floor and stop faking, a move which he seemed strangely unable to replicate later in the match when terminal grass-muncher Drogba was flinging himself to the ground at every opportunity. The ball eventually fell for Riera whose well hit left foot shot was drilled just a couple of yards over the bar.

The Liverpool rearguard was still looking comfortable after 25 minutes, however, when Chelsea created their first real chance of note. A cross from the left found Drogba and Ballack both looking to head home, and Drogba’s eventual header was ill-advised as he took it off the head off Ballack who was better placed. Anelka soon went close for the London club with a free header having evaded Insua’s marking at the back post, before a free kick from Gerrard went disappointingly high over Hilario’s crossbar. Some good keeping from Reina then denied Essien when the Chelsea man fired in a low shot following a corner.

Nearly 40 minutes were on the clock when Liverpool created their best chance of the half. Dirk Kuyt found himself in space on the right with Gerrard and Torres making their way into the box. A neat forward run in between the centre-halves enabled the Spaniard to create a yard of space, but his header lacked the necessary power and direction to seriously trouble the Chelsea keeper. The final five minutes of the half were played out with Liverpool having almost able to break the deadlock. Essien was booked for a late challenge on Lucas, and the resultant free kick was fired in low towards the back post by Riera. Hilario reacted extremely late, possibly expecting a touch from a Liverpool runner, and in the end he could only divert the ball round his post with a last ditch dive. Liverpool had a clear penalty appeal turned down from the resulting corner as Drogba impeded Skrtel from getting to the ball.

At half time, Benitez would have been a lot happier with his side’s performance than at a similar point during the midweek fixture, but it was proving a tight affair with chances hard to come by. Mascherano was the player of the half for me, slotting seamlessly back into the heart of the midfield and breaking up play in his usual combative manner. Only Insua had a particularly poor first half, too often being left by markers or failing to win the ball in the challenge, which is uncharacteristic of the youngster’s performances so far this season. The vocal reds support had been given a decent display with the potential promise of leaving the ground with at least a point to show for their side’s efforts.

The second period began in much the same way as the first had ended, with the tight midfield tussle immediately resuming. A long-range effort from Gerrard was the only real moment of note in the first five minutes but he sent the ball fizzing over the crossbar from 25 yards. Chelsea soon began to get into their stride, however, and Reina had to be alert as Essien again drove the ball towards goal. As the ball moved in the air, the reds stopper did well to get down as take the sting out of the shot to prevent a rebound opportunity for any of the attackers bearing down on him.

Again, though, neither team was looking particularly like opening the scoring, with the majority of the play being conducted in the middle third of the field, although there was a growing sense that just one goal may be enough to take the three points. On the hour mark, Chelsea found another gear which proved good enough for the first goal of the game. Mascherano, excellent until this moment, was caught dawdling on the ball by Lampard whose challenge directed the ball into the path of Essien. He passed to Deco who followed up by sliding the ball in front of Drogba’s run down Liverpool’s right hand side, and his cross found Anelka in space. Whilst not making the cleanest of contacts, the Frenchman diverted the ball past the helpless Reina from less than six yards having again lost Insua earlier during his run.

Liverpool looked for an immediate response, a run from Lucas into the area being stopped only at the last moment by a challenge from Carvalho. The rest of the match was to be effectively ruined, however, by the ridiculous play-acting and diving of Didier Drogba. This was something that, having watched the game back on the television, was not only picked up on by the constant reds-basher Andy Gray, but even the Chelsea skipper John Terry was seen to give his team-mate a few harsh words at one point. The text messages I received following the match all had the same theme, that if the man is not stopped from undertaking this practise match after match, then the game as a whole will suffer for it as others see him profiting. Perhaps a montage of his activities needs to be created and sent to the F.A. for review, although undoubtedly this would only lead to a rebuke for the sender trying to show the game being brought into disrepute. I want Liverpool to win every game we play, and whilst I can see the funny side when we get a decision which we clearly should not have, if I ever see a Liverpool player behaving anything like Drogba, who possesses undoubted talent with his strength and pace, then that individual may well find themselves without my support until it stops.

Enough rambling for now and back to the game!! The second half continued with Liverpool in fact looking the more likely to provide the game’s second goal. Chances for Kuyt and Johnson went begging, the latter in particular really should have done better when left in space just outside the Chelsea penalty area, and Gerrard was stopped only by a last second challenge from Ashley Cole. The Liverpool captain then found himself in the referee’s notebook for a challenge on England team-mate Frank Lampard, and Drogba went close with the freekick although Reina seemed to have the ball covered at his near post.

Chelsea began to sit back on their lead, conceding more possession in the centre of the park, and this almost proved fatal as Liverpool looked to take advantage. A flowing move led to the ball at the feet of Gerrard in the box. John Terry came out to block his effort but the ball ricocheted towards Torres, but the ball bounced just a little too high and the number nine could only connect with his shin and the effort went wide of the left upright. Aurelio came on to replace the ineffective Insua, with Benayoun having replaced Riera and Babel coming on for Lucas earlier on as Benitez encouraged his side forward. Aurelio had an immediate impact, getting forward on several occasions and providing decent crosses into the area, but on each occasion it was a blue shirt that reached the ball first. As the clock ticked onwards, Chelsea were looking only at counter-attacking to bring them out of their own half, and unfortunately the ‘sucker punch’ came in the third minute of time added on. Drogba served to highlight his earlier antics with a superb show of strength to hold off challenges from both Aurelio and Carragher, and as he reached the byline he cut the ball back for Malouda to finish the game off. The question remains why Drogba goes down so easily when he has the ability to stay on his feet under such pressure if he feels he has the opportunity to head towards goal.

There was still time for Liverpool to go close, however, as Benayoun missed easily the best opportunity of the game for the reds. He brilliantly controlled Aurelio’s cross after Cole missed his header, and after feinting to shoot and putting Hilario on his backside, he inexplicably dragged his shot inches wide of the left post. Gerrard stung the palms of the Chelsea keeper with a crisp shot from the edge of the box, but this was the last attempt as the referee blew the final whistle shortly afterwards.

A game, then, with plenty of talking points, but a final word about the post-match thoughts from the television commentators. The claim that Drogba had ‘won the battle of comparisons’ with Fernando Torres is a frankly misguided way to interpret the overall contributions that each had made on the day. True, if we look solely at the footballing efforts of each on the day, then Drogba, having been heavily involved in both Chelsea goals, must be said to have had more of an impact. There is a dangerous precedent being set, however, by this interpretation. If the blatant and repeated attempts to con referees into awarding freekicks by Drogba continue, and are rewarded with the desired result, then games will be dominated by players who pick up on the benefits of following his example. This is a contact sport, and Drogba’s efforts will only serve to hinder games from flowing as they should, which cannot be good for the national sport. Liverpool will go to the Stadium of Light following the international break looking to embark on a run of victories to close the gap between themselves and the top two, as well as hopefully distancing themselves from pretenders for the champions league spots such as Tottenham and Manchester City.

Match time and date: KO 16:00. 4 October 2009
Goals: Anelka 60, Malouda 90
Yellow cards: Chelsea Essien; Liverpool Gerrard.
Referee: M Atkinson (Leeds).
Attendance: 41,732.

Chelsea (4-1-3-2): Hilario; Ivanovic, Carvalho, Terry, A Cole; Essien; Ballack, Deco (Malouda, 76), Lampard; Anelka, Drogba. Substitutes not used: Turnbull, J Cole, Zhirkov, Kalou, Sturridge, Belletti.

Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Insua (Aurelio, 83); Mascherano, Lucas (Babel, 76); Kuyt, Gerrard, Riera (Benayoun, 67); Torres. Substitutes not used: Cavalieri, Agger, Kyrgiakos, Ngog.