Jumat, 28 September 2012

The heat is on Reds - Gerrard

Gerrard: Looking for three points against Norwich

The Reds have taken just two points from their opening five Premier League matches, which have included home games against champions Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal.

They now have fixtures against Norwich, on Saturday, Stoke and Reading (both at home) which, ordinarily, they would be expected to take at least seven points from.

However, Gerrard believes their current low points tally means away draws at places like Carrow Road are no longer acceptable.

"We have a run of games coming up now where there are points we should be taking but the longer it (not winning) goes on the more difficult it is going to get so it is important against Norwich we take maximum points," said the 32-year-old.

"If you look at the performances against City and United we should have six [more] points so it is not a case of 'they're out the way now, let's go beat the sides we should beat'.

"I think what we need to do is keep playing like we ha ve done and hopefully we'll get the rub of the green, get referee's decisions in our favour and we will go on and take maximum points.

"Of course it puts more pressure on us. If we had won against United and beaten City everyone would be saying about how good a result it was at Sunderland (a 1-1 draw).

"But because that win hasn't come it seems as if we dropped points at Sunderland, so it is no good getting a point from these tough away games

any more, we need to win them."

Liverpool have had no problem dominating games, as highlighted last weekend when despite Jonjo Shelvey's first-half red card they still controlled the majority of possession against United - but lost 2-1.

They have scored only four goals in five league matches - and two of those came against Manchester City.

Manager Brendan Rodgers believes the United game was a turning point and as they head to Norfolk, where last season Luis Suarez scored a brilliant hat-trick i n a 3-0 win, he feels things are finally starting to come together.

"We know it is a difficult place to go - the last three seasons Norwich have been strong at Carrow Road - but if we can get the same result as last year we'll be fine," he said.

"Certainly our opening five fixtures were always going to be tough but we have that mentality within the group that we have been looking for and the balance in the team is good and the spirit is strong.

"All I can control is our own preparation: the work ethic of the team and the confidence - and ultimately that will lead to success.

"The confidence within the team is very high. Even though we haven't won in the Premier League it is still strong.

"Now they have adapted well to what I have been asking them to do - and there is still a lot of improvement to make - I know for sure the rub of the green will come very soon.

"Hopefully now we can go on a win and get the results which relate to perf ormances."

Suarez has scored half of Liverpool's league goals this season but while he has troubled defences with his running he admits he has still has work to do to find his best form in front of goal.

"I know myself that I can still up my game that little bit because it's a striker's job to score goals," said the Uruguay international.

Rodgers has called for all his players to be more positive when they get in the penalty area.

"It is not about looking a good player, it is about being a good player and being an effective player," he added.

"It is important when you play you have a cutting edge to your team.

"The number of attempts and shots on target has been very high, what has been not so good is the conversion rate but I've every faith that will come.

"If we keep playing how we are playing the goals will start to go in for sure."

Kamis, 20 September 2012

Reds hit five past Young Boys

Wisdom: Among the scorers

The Reds escaped with their 41-year unbeaten record against Swiss teams intact but a sloppy defensive performance almost cost them.

That Brendan Rodgers' second-string side, which included a trio of debutants - two of whom were teenagers - scored five times was something of a surprise considering the struggles of the first-team this season.

They were given an early helping hand thanks to a comical own goal from Juhani Ojala and 19-year-old Andre Wisdom scored on his debut after Raphael Nuzzolo had equalised following a Jose Enrique error.

But Ojala then headed in at the right end and Gonzalo Zarate made it 3-2 before the match turned around again when Sebastian Coates headed in and then Jonjo Shelvey scored twice.

It was the first time Liverpool had scored more than once in eight European away matches and their first in any group stage game away from home since beating PSV in December 2008.

Rodgers wanted to give his younger players a chance to prove they were good enough and while they may not have convinced him he will not have to make 11 changes for Sunday's visit of Manchester United - having left the likes of Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez at home - they at least displayed the character he was looking for.

Despite concerns about the inexperience of the squad, having left eight senior players at home, the average age of the starting line-up was 24 - although that was pushed up slightly by 34-year-old Jamie Carragher.

Their veteran centre-back was the only player on the field who played in Liverpool's last away win in European competition - excluding qualifiers - when the Reds beat Romanians Unirea in February 2010.

The comedy started in the fourth minute when the Young Boys' defence got themselves in a tangle for no discernible reason.

Stewart Downing's right-wing cross did not look to be threatening but Dusan Veskovac headed the ball back across goal and his central defe nsive partner Ojala headed in.

That was only the beginning as Wisdom's inexperience at this level caught him out when he went to fetch the ball thinking he had a throw-in.

While he was off the pitch a ballboy tossed another to Young Boys, who quickly restarted, leaving Wisdom - more accustomed to the reserve team where you fetch your own ball - running back on still carrying the ball he had chased.

But if that error was down to inexperience, Jose Enrique's decision to dribble away from the hands of Brad Jones in the 38th minute was bad judgement as he passed straight to Nuzzolo - who drilled in a first-time shot before Jones had time to recover properly.

Wisdom, however, came to his defensive colleague's rescue two minutes later when he produced a huge leap to head home Nuri Sahin's corner.

The goal was Liverpool's 200th in this competition since they first took part in 1967-68.

Wisdom was also the first Reds defender to score on his club debut since Gabriel Paletta in October 2006 - which is where the England Under-19 international will want the comparison to end.

Just before the break Alexander Farnerud, who had earlier failed in trying to claim a penalty for Carragher's challenge, hit a low shot against Jones' right-hand post.

The second half was less than 10 minutes old when Raul Bobadilla was given far too much room on the right to pick out the run of Ojala to head in at the far post.

When Bobadilla outmuscled both Carragher and Suso, another debutant, to send Zarate down right the Argentinian neatly dinked over Jones.

Liverpool needed a quick response and it came within four minutes as Coates' looping header crept in at the far post with substitute Fabio Borini claiming a touch which was barely - if at all - there.

Borini had a more decisive influence on the winner as he picked out Jordan Henderson's run and the midfielder cut the ball back for Shelvey to fire ho me - and the same player added a similar second late on.

Rodgers' maiden Europa League campaign is up and running in the most unlikely way - and the Northern Irishman will be pleased his selection gamble did not backfire on him.

Rodgers hails five-star Reds

For only the fourth time in their history the Reds scored five in a European away tie, the last of which came against Finnish side Haka in a 2001 Champions League qualifier.

Jonjo Shelvey, a 67th-minute substitute, stood out with two strikes while 19-year-old Andre Wisdom marked his senior debut with a header and Sebastian Coates and an Juhani Ojala own goal rounded off the scoring.

Liverpool looked fragile as they slipped from 2-1 up to 3-2 down after Ojala and Gonzalo Zarate had added to Nuzzolo's first-half equaliser.

With the first team having scored just nine goals in eight matches Rodgers' second string, which included three debutants, found scoring much easier.

"We have come away with a young team into a European game and I want to talk about the five goals we scored which were absolutely magnificent," said Rodgers, who was happy to overlook the errors which saw them concede three.

"Of course we could have defended better and th ere is no question the three goals we gave away were disappointing.

"But to draw positives from tonight the young players were so courageous and brave to play and show that confidence, and my senior players were very much together and kept the young guys going.

"All round it was very pleasing. It was a chance for the young players to seize that opportunity to play and I think they did that for sure.

"We need to be better in certain areas but I think it is a night of great pride for the club and certainly me as a manager.

"To play like we did and get the goals we did was quite fantastic.

"It was a great [Coates] header from a terrific ball in and for Andre Wisdom, in his first game for Liverpool and especially it being in Europe, he scored a wonderful header."

On the eve of the game Rodgers had called for his younger players, the average age of his travelling squad was 21, to seize their opportunity.

He spoke about not having t he talent but the right mentality and he felt they showed that.

"One of the most pleasing things was we were in front and then to go behind at this level can be difficult," he added.

"But it shows you the togetherness of the group because you don't win games by that margin on quality alone, you need to have the personality and the determination and I think you have seen that in bucketloads tonight."

Rodgers also had praise for Shelvey, making his 45th appearance for the senior side, and predicted a bright future for the England Under-21 international.

"I felt it was the time of the game we needed him really," he said of Shelvey's second-half introduction.

"It worked well for us because once we got the equaliser they went to more 4-4-2, it gave us the extra man in midfield and we were able to dominate that bit more.

"He has been outstanding. He is still only 20 years of age and is developing and growing all the time and you saw his co nfidence when he came.

"The (first) goal we worked it very well and he did what he can do very well and I think he will be a big player for Liverpool."

Young Boys' coach Martin Rueda bemoaned the errors by his side, starting with a comical fourth-minute concession when Dusan Veskovac headed against team-mate Ojala to beat goalkeeper Marco Wolfli.

"Of course it was a bitter end and it is a pity but when you make that many mistakes - we gave away four goals - there was not much we can do despite scoring three against them," he said.

"We made too many individual mistakes and that cost us the match.

"If you make a mistake you immediately get penalised at this level."

Rabu, 19 September 2012

Young Boys out to embarrass Reds

Young Boys: Hoping to shock Reds

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers admits he is protecting key players like Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez ahead of Sunday's Premier League visit of Manchester United.

However, Rueda believes Rodgers has been unwise to leave eight first-team regulars at home.

"I do not think Liverpool can afford to turn up without their best players," he said. "Especially since they did not shine in the early season, taking just two points from their first four games.

"That makes me say that we are not far from them. We can embarrass Liverpool."

Two years ago Young Boys shocked Tottenham by racing into a 3-0 lead inside 28 minutes of their Champions League play-off, although the English side pulled back two goals and eventually won the tie 6-3 on aggregate.

"Liverpool are a global club, a legend, and we are very proud to be allowed to compete in the Europa League against them," Rueda added.

"This is a high point. We are looking forward to the Europa Le ague - this is like a Champions League group."

The Young Boys players are relishing the chance to face a club with Liverpool's European pedigree.

"We train every day for games like these. It's a boyhood dream come true," said goalkeeper Marco Wolfli.

"We have our heads up."

Defender Christoph Spycher added: "The anticipation is palpable. It's not often you get the chance to play against such top players. "

Reds plan Hillsborough tributes

Liverpool: Plan Hillsborough tributes

Sunday will be the first time Brendan Rodgers' side have played at Anfield since the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report into the 1989 tragedy which claimed the lives of 96 supporters.

The report exonerated fans from blame and exposed the extent to which South Yorkshire Police went in order to discredit supporters.

Families of the victims now hope they can achieve the justice they have been searching for during the last 23 years, starting with a new inquest and possibly pursuing legal action.

Clubs up and down the country have shown their support for the campaign over the last week and now Liverpool will do so on their home ground.

Rival captains Steven Gerrard and Nemanja Vidic will release 96 balloons shortly before kick-off in memory of those who died and there will also be several crowd mosaics.

'The Truth' will be displayed on the Kop, the Lower Centenary Stand will carry the word 'Justice' and the Anfield Road end will bear the number 96.

"It is our first home game and the clubs have been working very hard to commemorate the work which has gone on with all the families," said manager Brendan Rodgers.

Sunday's match also raises the prospect of Luis Suarez, banned for eight matches last season after being found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra, facing the Frenchman again but sources have already intimated there will be no repeat of February's incident at Old Trafford when the Uruguay international refused to shake his opponent's hand.

Senin, 17 September 2012

Allen: We've been unlucky

The Reds were held to a 1-1 draw at Sunderland on Saturday despite dominating for long periods of the game.

Summer signing Allen was happy with the showing at the Stadium of Light and believes they are close to getting the rewards their performances deserve.

"It will click," Allen told the Liverpool Echo. "We don't want to start making excuses and putting too much down to luck but there's definitely an element of that at the moment, you can't deny it.

"It seems to take the opposition one chance to get a goal. We keep plugging away and do everything right and it hasn't quite clicked at times. I'm confident it will and we're really looking forward to it happening.

"Sunderland are a tough team to play against, they gave everything and made it as difficult as possible for us to get back into it.

"But having said that, there were enough chances for us to have won the game. We controlled the game and the biggest positive is the spir it we showed after going behind.

"Nine times out of 10, you show spirit and commitment like that and you won't go too far wrong.

"The ability and quality is there."

Minggu, 16 September 2012

Suarez earns Reds a point

Suarez: Celebrates his equaliser

The Uruguayan, who had earlier been booked for diving, struck 19 minutes from time to cancel out Steven Fletcher's first-half opener and give manager Brendan Rodgers a little breathing space after the club's worst start to a season in half a century.

On a day when the victims of the Hillsborough disaster were at the forefront of minds - Liverpool's players walked out wearing tracksuit tops with the number "96" on the backs and flags at the Stadium of Light flew at half-mast - both Glen Johnson and Steven Gerrard had earlier hit the woodwork.

Fletcher's third goal in two league starts looked like it was going to be enough to deepen the Reds' woes to the delight of the bulk of the 41,997 crowd, but Suarez ensured Liverpool did not return home empty-handed.

At the end of an emotional week off the pitch, Liverpool arrived on Wearside hoping for much-needed points on it, but as so often during the opening weeks of the season, they headed for the dressi ng room at half-time frustrated.

For the best part of half an hour, they dominated possession, but were unable to make the pressure tell.

Raheem Sterling threatened repeatedly down the right, but with Sunderland debutant Danny Rose giving as good as he got, the winger's efforts went largely unrewarded.

It started in promising fashion for the Merseysiders as Jonjo Shelvey fired just wide with four minutes gone after combining well with Suarez, who then also missed the target seven minutes later.

Shelvey played striker Fabio Borini into space on the right with a well-weighted 13th-minute pass, and his cross was deflected goal-wards, but straight to keeper Simon Mignolet.

The Belgian came to the Black Cats' rescue five minutes later when Borini ran on to Carlos Cuellar's woefully weak header and fired in a shot from a tight angle which the keeper managed to block.

Sunderland almost took the lead when they were awarded a 20th-minute free -kick which Sebastian Larsson curled into the box and just wide of the far post with Pepe Reina flat-footed and no one able to get a touch.

The game changed in an instant with 29 minutes gone when Sunderland full-back Craig Gardner slipped all too easily past Johnson and crossed for Fletcher to get in front of his man and turn the ball home from close range.

Liverpool's confidence visibly drained away as the home side started to take control, and the response from Rodgers' men was tepid.

Their afternoon took a turn for the worse when Suarez surged into the box eight minutes before the break and collapsed under John O'Shea's challenge, earning a yellow card rather than the penalty for which he was hoping.

Cuellar failed to re-appear after the break and was replaced by Titus Bramble, and the newcomer found his defence stretched within two minutes when Gerrard and Suarez combined to set up Shelvey, whose skidding drive was saved.

The visitors had once again started confidently and Johnson deserved better when he sent an inviting ball across the face of goal, but found no-one there to meet it.

Johnson opted to go it alone with 51 minutes gone when he cut inside and went right-footed for the top corner, only to see his effort come back off the crossbar with Mignolet beaten.

The Reds were desperately unfortunate not to be back on level terms on the hour when, after Mignolet had beaten away Sterling's cross, Shelvey squared for Gerrard to clip the outside of the post with a guided attempt.

Rodgers replaced Borini with winger Stewart Downing four minutes later, but it was defender Martin Skrtel who went close after Gerrard's deflected shot sat up nicely for him, but his header was well-saved by Mignolet.

Liverpool eventually made the breakthrough with 71 minutes gone when Sterling rounded Rose to cross from the right and Bramble could only block the ball to Suarez, who gleefully smashed it past the keeper from close range.

Shelvey might have won it 10 minutes from time when he cut inside on to his left foot and went for goal, but Mignolet got down well to save and Suarez could not climb high enough to head the rebound on goal.

O'Neill: Fletch worth every penny

Fletcher: Has three goals in two games for Black Cats

The 25-year-old Scot fired the Black Cats ahead against Liverpool on Saturday evening to pay off another instalment of the fee the Wearsiders handed over to Wolves to secure his services during the summer, and it took a late Luis Suarez equaliser to claim a 1-1 draw.

The Molineux club had earlier rejected a series of offers as their valuation of Fletcher caused raised eyebrows, but his contribution to date - he also scored twice at Swansea a fortnight ago on his Premier League debut for Sunderland - has convinced the red and white faithful that they finally have a replacement for prolific former frontman Darren Bent.

O'Neill said: "So far, he has been absolutely terrific, I am just delighted with him. I just couldn't be more pleased.

"All sorts of figures seem to be bandied around - I heard today we paid 14million for him - it was 12million, but he seems to be worth every single penny of it.

"I am just pleased for him. It's nice for the cro wd to take to him at this minute - that will give him a boost of confidence as much as anything else, but goals, of course, are very pleasing."

Fletcher's 29th-minute strike came somewhat against the run of play as he found half a yard of space inside the box to turn Craig Gardner's fine right-wing cross past keeper Pepe Reina.

The visitors, who had arrived on Wearside at the end of a week during which the Hillsborough disaster has been to the forefront had started in promising fashion with 17-year-old winger Raheem Sterling particularly prominent.

However, the goal came as something of a setback and having collected one of the first nine points previously on offer this season, their confidence seemed briefly to ebb away.

But under-pressure manager Brendan Rodgers did his job a half-time and the Reds emerged in determined style once again.

They might have been back on level terms on several occasions before they did finally find a way past keeper Simon Mignolet - Glen Johnson smashed a long-range effort against the crossbar and Steven Gerrard clipped the outside of a post with a side-footed effort - but they had to wait until 19 minutes from time to haul themselves back into the game.

Sunderland debutant Danny Rose had given as good as he got against Sterling, but with the left-back hampered by a groin injury, the teenager, who was called into the senior England squad last week, skipped past him to fire in a cross which substitute Titus Bramble could only stab away.

The ball fell perfectly for Suarez, who instinctively thumped it past Mignolet to level.

Rose was understandably disappointed to have been unable to prevent the equaliser, but took comfort from O'Neill's favourable comments after the game.

The defender, on a season-long loan deal from Tottenham, said: "I'm glad he has given me praise because I am a bit disappointed with the goal, which was my fault.

"Me and Sterli ng had a good battle throughout the game and it just shows at this level, you let your opponent get the better of you just once and he puts it into the box, and that's where Liverpool scored.

"It's definitely mixed emotions from the game, but it's definitely a good point that we earned."

Rodgers was delighted with the resilience of his players and particularly pleased with Suarez, whose important to the club in the wake of Andy Carroll's departure and their failure to replace him, is paramount.

He said: "He's been brilliant for me, I have got to say, his movement and cleverness.

"We played him just around the corner - we changed his position slightly for the first hour or so so he could come in from the left side and play in that space between the centre-half and the full-back, and I thought he did it well.

"We just tried to get him involved that wee bit more in that final 30 minutes.

"Across the board, we looked a real threat. Some of our passing and tempo in our game was good, the speed of our passing was good.

"Luis, along with a lot of the other guys, was exceptional."

O'Neill, however, was left counting the cost of a hard-fought contest as he awaited news on Rose and hamstring victim Carlos Cuellar.

Sabtu, 15 September 2012

Sunderland v Liverpool reaction

Suarez: Celebrates with Sterling

Luiz Suarez' 71st-minute equaliser denied the Black Cats victory at the Stadium of Light on a day when the 96 Reds fans who died at Hillsborough 23 years ago were poignantly remembered.

They and their fellow fans were this week cleared of blame for the disaster, with a number of apologies issued ranging from the prime minister to Football Association chairman David Bernstein as a result.

And Rodgers, whose players wore the number 96 on the back of their tracksuits before kick-off, was full of praise for them.

He said: "They have been terrific. It's been a difficult week, of course, as you can imagine for the city and everything surrounding it.

"Some of the players have been involved in the tragedy in terms of relatives, so it's been a really emotional week.

"But when you sign for Liverpool, that's part of the contract. As a player or manager, you sign an agreement and a contract with the supporters, an emotional one, and that's all p art of the journey of Liverpool.

"We wanted to give hope for two reasons: one, for ourselves, because we have shown really good progress over the course of the weeks - we haven't quite got the results, but the performance level at times has been very good.

"And to end the week for the supporters, because it has been very difficult for them.

"It was a good point all round. We will go away from the game really pleased with the performance."

Flags flew at half-mast at the stadium as Sunderland paid their respects to the Hillsborough victims, a move Black Cats boss Martin O'Neill felt was only right.

He said: "It was the least we could have done in terms of our part of proceedings.

"It's been a pretty harrowing 20-odd years, but justice has been done and I think they will draw some comfort from events in the past couple of days."

On the pitch, Sunderland took the lead against the run of play when Steven Fletcher got ahead of his m arker to turn Craig Gardner's 29th-minute cross past keeper Pepe Reina for his third goal in two league starts.

Liverpool lost momentum in the immediate aftermath, but fought back strongly after the break and were twice denied an equaliser by the woodwork when Glen Johnson's curling 51st-minute effort came back off the bar and then Steven Gerrard clipped the post on the hour.

However, salvation arrived 19 minutes from time when substitute Titus Bramble was only able to stab Raheem Sterling's cross to Suarez, who fired home to claim a point.

Rodgers said: "The performance was outstanding, both our creativity and our movement, and there was a really good tempo and rhythm to our game.

"We went behind and we were disappointed with the goal, it was a soft goal from poor perspective and it went against the run of play.

"But in the second half, we showed a real reaction and continued what we were doing in the first half, but really upped the tempo and the penetration in our game and by the end of it, I am sure Sunderland were probably happier with the point than ourselves.

"But overall, the performance was outstanding and it's a big credit to the players."

O'Neill, who lost defenders Carlos Cuellar and Danny Rose to hamstring and groin injuries respectively, admitted the outcome was probably the right one.

He said: "I thought we played well in the first half, we gave as good as we got, got the goal in front and the irony of it is that we were probably in the second half having our best spell in possession of the ball and looked as if we had got a second wind when they got the equalising goal.

"But they had a number of chances and didn't take them, hit the bar and so from that viewpoint, probably a point was a fair result."

Jumat, 14 September 2012

O'Neill: Rodgers can make mark

O'Neill: Backs Rodgers

The two Ulstermen will go head to head at the Stadium of Light on Saturday evening three days after Rodgers' problems at Anfield were put into perspective by an independent report into the deaths of 96 of the Reds' supporters at Hillsborough in 1989.

It is certain to be an emotional occasion on Wearside, but once the whistle blows, the only concentration for the men on the field will be the three Barclays Premier League points at stake.

Rodgers' men currently sit in 18th place in the table having taken just one point from their three games to date, albeit from reigning champions Manchester City and with their new manager coming under pressure in some quarters with the Andy Carroll debacle still a topic for debate.

But O'Neill said: "Brendan obviously has his style, which he brought to Swansea - I say brought to Swansea, it might have been there in the first place, but he certainly enhanced it.

"If I say so, their start to the season under [ Michael] Laudrup now is maybe a continuation of that work.

"People can tinker with it whatever way they want, but it's worked very well.

"On the back of that, he has gone to Liverpool and obviously wants to stamp his authority - or his mark, rather than authority, perhaps - on Liverpool Football Club. Obviously, that's what you want to do as a manager.

"But I don't think he's going into it with eyes closed. He would have had a number of meetings there with the owners of the football club. He must have agreed to the way in which they want to work.

"I believe there's a fly-on-the-wall documentary - I haven't seen it, so I really can't comment on it other than some of the reviews that people have made about it in the newspapers. It couldn't, maybe, have been done without his consent.

"But whatever way he is doing it, it's entirely up to him."

That six-part documentary, entitled "Being Liverpool", is being aired in the United States this month and is said to shed light on Rodgers' managerial style.

O'Neill, of course, is several months further into the process of imposing his personality on his own club, and with two creditable draws at Arsenal and Swansea under his belt to date, heads into his first home league game of the campaign - Reading's visit on August 25 was postponed because of torrential rain - in positive mood.

He said: "Liverpool come here with great tradition. I know the word 'legendary' is used almost as the throw of a dice now, but the club has legend and everything else that you could possibly think about behind it now, particularly over the last 50 years since Bill Shankly came in.

"It's a really proud tradition and it will be a highly-charged atmosphere."

Winger Adam Johnson is battling to be fit after returning early from England duty with a thigh problem, but fellow midfielder David Meyler will hope for an opportunity after confirming his return from two seri ous knee injuries by making his first start for the Republic of Ireland against Oman in midweek.

O'Neill, who revealed he had turned down a series of offers for the player to go out on loan, said: "David has had a really tough time with injury. Of course, I have only known him as he is making his way back from it.

"He might have seen how Fraizer Campbell has fought back from the injuries, but I am delighted for David.

"He is an exceptional lad, he is, honestly. You would be very happy with him around about the place."

Rabu, 12 September 2012

Lawyer: New inquest needed

The 389-page report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel, which looked at thousands of documents relating to the disaster, confirmed South Yorkshire Police had sought to blame fans by instructing officers to change or amend their statements relating to the events of April 15, 1989.

Prime Minister David Cameron, in a statement to the House of Commons, admitted families had suffered a "double injustice", both in the "failure of the state to protect their loved ones and the indefensible wait to get to the truth", and in the efforts to denigrate the deceased and suggest they were "somehow at fault for their own deaths".

James Saunders, of London-based 'litigation powerhouse' Saunders Law, believes anyone found to have altered evidence should be brought to book.

"I am privileged to act for the Hillsborough Family Support Group who have campaigned with persistence and great dignity over many years for the truth to be told about the Hillsborough tragedy ," said Saunders in a statement.

"The HIP report published today is a truly damning indictment of officials and processes that have concealed the truth about Hillsborough for so long.

"The very people charged with looking after the safety of those Liverpool FC fans who died not only allowed and caused what happened, but then lied to avoid the blame, and cruelly blamed the victims for the failures.

"The welcome statements today by David Cameron and politicians from all parties start the healing process but a new inquest is required - the families and the public deserve this.

"It is for Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, to make an application to the High Court to quash the current inquest verdict which was based on evidence that had been tampered with, and an untrue picture of events.

"Only then can a new inquest look to find the truth in public as is required.

"I would want to properly consider the vast body of new evidence before taking other steps, but it may well be that those persons who have lied, concealed and distorted evidence should now be brought to account before the law personally."

Selasa, 11 September 2012

Roy offers advice to Sterling

Hodgson: Has advice for Sterling

After consulting with Sterling's club boss at Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers, Hodgson drafted the 17-year-old into the squad for Tuesday night's World Cup qualifier with Ukraine at Wembley following a spate of withdrawals.

He is acutely aware of the attention that will follow given Sterling's age and the fact he has only made seven senior appearances for the Merseyside giants.

"When you bring in a young player who has only burst on to the scene in the last couple of games, I'm causing headlines to be written," said Hodgson.

"I understand and take that responsibility.

"I've spoken to Brendan Rodgers and explained the thinking behind him coming in. I'll also make it clear to Raheem.

"He will be pretty lucky to get close to the field because there were plenty of players who were chosen in front of him.

"I can only hope he takes it in the right way. He mustn't think he's become part of the set-up and has made it.

"He has to try , next time, to make sure he is one of the original 23."

Downing backs starlet Sterling

Sterling: Bright young thing

The 17-year-old received a surprise call-up to the England squad on Monday to provide cover after the withdrawal of Theo Walcott and concerns over Daniel Sturridge's fitness.

Having been a couple of outings last season Sterling has found himself thrust into the limelight in new manager Brendan Rodgers' first campaign at Anfield and Downing sees similarities with his own career.

"Credit where credit is due, he's a good player," said the England winger, who missed out on selection for this round of World Cup qualifiers after ironically losing his first-team place to Sterling.

"He deserved his chance and he's done well in two difficult games (against Manchester City and Arsenal). We weren't great against Arsenal but I thought he was one of our stand-out players.

"He's very mature for his age. He listens and he's got a good future. He's got a lot of experienced players around him and that is similar to how it was for me at Middlesbrough when I was young.

"I played with a lot of top professionals like Paul Ince and Gareth Southgate and had good people around me who could help.

"Raheem's certainly in good company here and I think in terms of advice I would tell him to listen and learn and just keep doing what he's doing at the moment.

"Take advice from the manager and listen to the players who are on the pitch on the day."

Downing's own focus is to regain his place in the starting line-up, having been used as a stop-gap left-back on a couple of occasions .

"I just want to play. I think for me it's a case of being adaptable and playing anywhere," he told liverpoolfc.com.

"In the modern game you have to be able to play in two or three positions.

"First and foremost I'm an attacking player but if the manager needs me to help out at the back then I'm willing to do so.

"It (playing left-back) has been demanding. I was up and down the wing and it involved a lot of ru nning but as long as you are involved in the game and get plenty of the ball you tend to enjoy it more.

"I played there a few times at Aston Villa but I played there during the UEFA Cup campaign with Middlesbrough (in 2005-06).

"I was playing wing-back, similar to how I have done in recent games here at Liverpool, so I think that's what the manager has seen and maybe he thinks I can do the job there."

Senin, 10 September 2012

Gerrard: Sterling will shine

Sterling: Late England call-up

However, England skipper Gerrard does not want too much pressure to be placed on the 17-year-old's shoulders so that he can be allowed to develop as a player.

Sterling is unlikely to feature in the World Cup qualifier against Ukraine after being called up along with Southampton captain Adam Lallana and Tottenham midfielder Jake Livermore.

The trio are there as cover in case England suffer any more withdrawals after Theo Walcott was ruled out through illness and Daniel Sturridge is laid low with stomach cramps.

But Gerrard has no doubts that his Reds team-mate will eventually step up on to the international stage as a fully fledged international.

Gerrard said: "He is a fantastic talent, one of the shining lights at our club this year, even though results haven't been good enough.

"It is great for him to be called up and get a feel for the senior group because it won't be too long before he becomes a regular in this group. He is that g ood.

"He is a mature 17-year-old. There is nothing flash about him at all. He is a quiet kid. He works hard and listens and that is the key when you are that age and a good player.

"If you can listen and take advice from good managers and players, you will keep on progressing and improving.

"He is a breath of fresh air, especially for the older lads, with the pace and excitement he brings. He is a nightmare to mark for defenders."

But Gerrard also stressed: "Let's be patient with him. Let's not force it and expect too much too soon.

"Let it happen naturally and in time we will have a fantastic player for Liverpool and England.

"Of course, a lot more people follow the game, social media, and the impact of the Premier League is world wide. The expectations are high with young kids.

"It is different for the young lads now, there is a lot more pressure on them. It's important the people around them support them and give them the b ack-up they need.

"Just because you break into an England squad, or played a handful of games for your club, it doesn't mean you are the finished article.

"There is still so much improving and learning for these guys to do."

Livermore made his England debut against Italy in Berne last month but it is the first call-up for Sterling and Lallana.

England head coach Roy Hodgson said: "Their early performances for Southampton and Liverpool this year have been very impressive.

"Lallana is a player I've known about and watched even when Southampton were in the Championship because, as a club coach, he has been on the radar of players to watch and possibly attempt to buy.

"It is good he has confirmed what we have already thought, that he is a talent.

"With Raheem, in the past two years he has come on leaps and bounds and in the opening matches he has played this season, the reports on him have been very good.

"I shall make it c lear to him that I am not bringing him with a view to necessarily playing him now.

"I'm bringing in more because there might be a time in the future when not only does he feature as a substitute, he might even be breaking his way into the team."

Gerrard knows England will have to be on top of their game against Ukraine as they look to follow up the 5-0 win in Moldova on Friday with another victory.

He concedes England were fortunate to win the Euro 2012 clash between the two countries in Donetsk.

Gerrard said: "We need to build on the Moldova game, try and improve and keep learning. The performance was positive on Friday but tomorrow will be a bigger test.

"They are a group of players who have played together for a long time. Technically they are very good. If you stand-off these players, they can hurt you.

"There were times in the Euros when we gave them too much respect and stood off them and they had a few dangerous opportunities to score.

"Over the 90 minutes they could feel hard done by not to have got at least a point.

"But we won the game, did what we needed to do, and hopefully we can get the same outcome tomorrow."

Gerrard will win his 98th cap tomorrow tonight and could now reach the 100 mark against San Marino next month in the same match as Ashley Cole, who is currently side-lined with an ankle injury.

He said: "That would be a nice touch for both of us. But the important focus is to get to the World Cup.

"Individual achievements are always nice along the way but I'm more interested in the points tomorrow night."

Minggu, 09 September 2012

Reggae Boyz eye Reds' Raheem

Sterling: Wanted by England and Jamaica at international level

Sterling has enjoyed an impressive start to the season for Liverpool and has already been tipped to become a future senior England international.

However, the 17-year-old was born in Jamaica and Whitmore has confirmed interest has been shown in persuading the winger to play for the Reggae Boyz.

Whitmore believes Sterling, who has played for England Under 19s, has a lot to offer Jamaica if he decides to represent the country of his birth.

"We definitely showed an interest in Sterling before and we are just waiting on him now for the go-ahead," Whitmore told STAR Sports.

"We have seen him a number of times, he is a quality player with a lot to offer this programme, but it's up to him and the door is open.

"I don't want to go into any further details but as I said he is definitely someone we have our eyes on and it's all up to him now."

Sterling has enjoyed an impressive start to the season for Liverpool and has already be en tipped to become a future senior England international.

However, the 17-year-old was born in Jamaica and Whitmore has confirmed interest has been shown in persuading the winger to play for the Reggae Boyz.

Whitmore believes Sterling, who has played for England Under-19s, has a lot to offer Jamaica if he decides to represent the country of his birth.

"We definitely showed an interest in Sterling before and we are just waiting on him now for the go-ahead," Whitmore told STAR Sports.

"We have seen him a number of times, he is a quality player with a lot to offer this programme, but it's up to him and the door is open.

"I don't want to go into any further details but as I said he is definitely someone we have our eyes on and it's all up to him now."

Sabtu, 08 September 2012

Rodgers: Lesson learned for Reds

Rodgers: Spoke to fans' forums

Criticism has been levelled at Fenway Sports Group following the failure to bring in a replacement after striker Andy Carroll was loaned to West Ham.

Rodgers admitted he would not have let the England international leave had he not been confident he could bring in a replacement but a deal for Fulham's Clint Dempsey fell through because FSG would not pay what they considered an inflated price.

That led to suggestions the manager had been undermined by the owners but he stressed he understood the situation when he took over in June.

"I've had long conversations with the owners," he said.

"I've got to say they have been very honest and very up front right from the off.

"I came here first and foremost because of the owners. I felt a genuine honesty in their approach to it and in how they wanted to go forward with the football club."

Rodgers, speaking at a forum with representatives of Liverpool fan sites and blogs, added: "Of cour se, the window didn't quite go to plan but going forward a great deal of learning has taken place.

"Every manager always wants more players but the reality of where the club is at there needed to be a little bit of surgery done on the squad.

"Some of the wages here were absolutely astronomical in terms of value and worth. That needed to be looked at.

"I knew there would be a wee bit of pain in the short term but hopefully for the longer-term gain.

"We finished up where we were at and now we have got to move forward as a football club and really have the one-club mentality."

Rodgers admits he is likely to have to buy in January, although he knows it will be tough to bring in the right players at the right price.

But in the intervening period he will have to draw on the resources he has - even if it means dipping into the reserve squad.

With so many players away on international duty the Northern Irishman has taken the opportuni ty to involve some of the club's promising youngsters in training sessions.

"I've tried to get around the youth team players, the reserve team players, and look at the level we have," he told liverpoolfc.com.

"First and foremost it's a chance for me to see the players working and see their improvements and try to help and guide them.

"They are trying to make steps up towards the first team and this gives them an opportunity to learn, and not just from the coaches.

"They come up here and train with Jamie Carragher, a guy who is in his 18th year as a professional.

"It is great for young players at 18 or 19 to see a guy who has been doing this work nearly as long as they've been alive and showing the same enthusiasm and commitment to want to learn and improve."

You can watch Rodgers' speaking to the fans' forum here, courtesy of The RedMen TV YouTube channel.

Kamis, 06 September 2012

Shelvey stars for England U-21s

Shelvey: Scored and set one up

Liverpool midfielder Shelvey's first goal for the Young Lions followed Steven Caulker's third to send Stuart Pearce's men five points clear at the top of qualifying Group Eight with one match remaining.

That is on Monday against Norway, who needed to win in Belgium in Thursday's late kick-off and beat England in Chesterfield in four days' time to deny their rivals a place in next month's two-legged play-offs.

Today's victory was the Young Lions' sixth out of their seven qualifiers and saw Pearce hand a debut to Thomas Ince, son of former England star Paul, on an artificial pitch against opponents England had thrashed 6-0 a year earlier.

And after Javid Imamverdiyev went close for the hosts, in-form Blackpool winger Ince should have stolen the headlines when he screwed Marvin Sordell's cross wide on the turn.

England assumed total control and some delightful football saw Wilfried Zaha bamboozle the Azeri defence and fire into the side nettin g.

A series of corners then came to nought before Craig Dawson was booked in the 25th minute for exacting retribution on Rizvan Umarov after being caught himself.

But Dawson had the last laugh three minutes later when centre-back partner Caulker powered England ahead, the Tottenham man heading in Shelvey's left-wing free-kick.

Caulker should have made it 2-0 two minutes later when he glanced Ince's far-post cross wide before Azerbaijan goalkeeper Salahat Agayev produced some unconventional heroics to keep the hosts in it.

A goalmouth scramble saw him keep out Martin Kelly's deflected cross and deny Marvin Sordell before Zaha's follow-up was cleared off the line to muted penalty appeals.

Agayev then looked stranded after completely missing a cross but he recovered to produce an astonishing near-post save from Sordell, who looked certain to convert after Danny Rose kept the ball in play.

Caulker saw another header go to waste shortly b efore half-time and Zaha fired a good chance over shortly after the restart.

Azerbaijan, who had thrown on Orkhan Hasanov at the break, began to get a grip and, after some harmless long shots, they might have levelled on the hour mark when Imamverdiyev curled narrowly high and wide.

Pearce took immediate action by sending on debutant Ben Marshall for Zaha but the hosts continued to push.

Ben Amos - who had looked untroubled filling in for ill goalkeeper Jason Steele - saved from Araz Abdullayev, prompting Connor Wickham's introduction for Sordell.

The second change almost proved inspired as Wickham nodded Martin Kelly's cross wide but it appeared to have the desired effect as England kept their opponents at bay.

Mirhuseyin Seyidov's free-kick was easily claimed by Amos and Azerbaijan went for broke in the final 10 minutes with a double substitution of their own.

But it backfired seven minutes from time as Wickham nodded Caulker's lon g ball into the path of Shelvey, who volleyed emphatically beyond the onrushing keeper.

Rabu, 05 September 2012

Clubs to discuss spending limits

Whelan: Wants to see limits put in place

The league's top executives have produced a discussion paper on financial controls for the chairmen to consider which could eventually lead to clubs being forced to break even every year - or face sanctions.

It would mean a serious blow to clubs such as Manchester City and Chelsea who have return significant losses in recent years.

There is strong support at other clubs for such controls - Wigan chairman Dave Whelan on Wednesday said measures to cut spending were needed urgently, while Manchester United originally sparked the move at the league's meeting earlier in the summer.

No decision will be made on any measures on Thursday - instead two groups of 10 clubs, each with clubs mixed up to reflect size and region, are to be formed to discuss the options in more detail.

Whelan's own club Wigan have also operated at a loss - the Latics returned a net loss for the year ending May 2011 of 7.2million - but even he is in favour of the controls.

Whelan said: "This proposal has come from Manchester United - I think City haven shaken them up a little bit - but I think there should be some controls on spending.

"Some clubs are spending way more than they can afford and get into trouble - look at Portsmouth.

"The Premier League is so big and powerful and there is so much money around that the clubs try and chase it. Something has to be done so we will support these measures."

United's chief executive David Gill has been one of the driving forces behind European clubs accepting UEFA's financial fair play rules for clubs in the Champions League and Europa League to only spend what they earn, and he wants the Premier League to follow suit.

The Football League have also introduced a similar system into the Championship and Gill believes the top flight should bring in similar measures.

Gill said last week: "A lot of clubs would be happy just to introduce the financial fair play regula tions into the Premier League now, some wouldn't, but that's a debate that has to have happened. And it will happen.

"If you look at it we've got financial regulations in the league below us, the Championship, and the competition above us, the Champions League, so we need to do it.

"The Premier League being the best league in the world, the most commercially effective league in the world, I think there's a real opportunity to introduce some sensible rules that effectively improve and enhance the long term or medium term financial stability."

At least 12 of the 20 top-flight clubs ended the 2010/11 season in the red with Manchester City's losses of 197million dwarfing even Chelsea's 68million and Liverpool's 49million.

Critics of financial fair rules argue that it will forever favour those clubs such as Manchester United and Arsenal who make a profit and rule out wealthy benefactors such as Roman Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour putting money into clu bs.

Minggu, 02 September 2012

Allen feeling settled at Anfield

Allen: Enjoying life at Anfield

Brendan Rodgers raided his former employers Swansea during the summer transfer window for Wales international Allen, with a 15million deal taking him to Merseyside.

The 22-year-old admits things could not have gone much better for him in 2012, with an impressive season with the Swans followed by an Olympic outing with Team GB and a big-money move.

He now finds himself lining up alongside the likes of Steven Gerrard on a regular basis, but is confident he can handle the added expectation being placed on his shoulders.

Allen said: "I'm loving every second here. It's very inspiring. When I look alongside me and Steven Gerrard is standing there, that's something you never would have dreamed of.

"As a kid and a budding footballer you look up and admire footballers like that. Having been in the Olympics and played alongside Ryan Giggs as well, it's been an incredible couple of months.

"But in all fairness, I think the most important factor has been the settling-in process. Every single player, every staff member at the club has made a massive effort in welcoming me with open arms.

"I have been able to concentrate purely on my football. I'm trying to become a sort of all-round player.

"And the only thing which gives me satisfaction is getting the results.

"At the end of the day, that's what it is all about. I'm as bad a loser as everyone else in that dressing room so I have got to do what I have got to do for the team and try to win football matches.

"No one's going to deny that there is pressure on footballers. It's a career we have chosen, though, and we all live with that.

"I said on the day I signed here I wouldn't do anything different to what I had been doing, which is give my all.

"That's all you can do. You have got to remember the reason we're playing this game is because we love it."

Sabtu, 01 September 2012

Rodgers must move on quickly

Rodgers: Disappointment on deadline day

Rodgers had hoped to make late additions on the final day of the summer window but the deadline passed without any new arrivals.

A goalscorer had been top priority, particularly after club-record 35million signing Andy Carroll was allowed to join West Ham on loan, but nothing materialised.

A deal to bring United States midfielder or forward Clint Dempsey to Merseyside from Fulham had been hugely anticipated but talks broke down and the player signed for Tottenham instead.

Speaking before the deadline, Rodgers made clear he wanted another forward. "Absolutely," he said. "That was what I felt coming in from the off.

"I felt we needed to have greater threats in the team, not just one or two."

The failure to land Dempsey, who scored 23 goals mostly from midfield last season, leaves Luis Suarez and recent signing Fabio Borini as his only senior strikers. Back-up will come from youngsters Raheem Sterling and Adam Morgan.

With Charli e Adam and Jay Spearing also leaving the club, Rodgers thought he had cleared the way financially for extra recruits.

He said: "Sometimes it is not through choice. If it was carte-blanche and I could do what I wish maybe some of these players wouldn't be out of the door.

"But the reality is the finances always dictate how you can build and how you work with your squad.

"Unfortunately for where we are at, we have to rebuild. If that means one or two players going out to finance that, that is a decision we are going to have to make.

"It is now the job here at the football to reinforce the squad and make sure we bring in players that can help the group."

Despite the frustration, Rodgers will hope last week's creditable 2-2 draw against Barclays Premier League champions Manchester City can kickstart his side's season.

The Reds crashed to a 3-0 defeat at West Brom in their opener and they now host an Arsenal side who have made an indiffer ent start to their campaign.

The Gunners have drawn both of their games without scoring and their transfer window was noted more for departures than arrivals.

But Rodgers said: "It was always going to be a difficult start for us.

"Even though Arsenal haven't scored, they are obviously a multi-talented team. It always presents a difficult game.

"Performance-wise, if we play similar to last week and how we have played a number of times since I have been here, it sets us up well."

One new signing who will be available to Rodgers is Turkey midfielder Nuri Sahin, who arrived on a season-long loan from Real Madrid earlier in the week.

The 23-year-old was linked with Arsenal earlier in the summer but was enticed by the prospect of playing for new boss Rodgers, who is trying to establish a high-tempo passing game.

Sahin said: "I have spoken to many clubs before. When we decided with (coach Jose) Mourinho and Real Madrid that I would g o out for a year on loan, I had a lot of offers and I am really thankful to all the clubs that were interested in me.

"But in the end I chose Liverpool because I think Brendan Rodgers and the project of Liverpool is the best for me at the moment.

"When we spoke to Madrid they wanted me to play in the Champions League and I wanted also to play in the Champions League.

"But the project of Liverpool - they are a club that has to play in the Champions League every year - I think the challenge to bring Liverpool to the top four and the Champions League is quite good.

"That is a reason why I am here - the challenge is there and I take that challenge."

Sahin sampled the Anfield atmosphere during the compelling 2-2 draw with City and is now eager to get out on the field himself.

He said: "It will be a nice game. I would say the match against Manchester City was amazing and here, there will be two teams trying to play football.

"I thin k for the supporters in the stadium and the people who watch on television, it will be a great game. Both teams try to pass the ball."