Monday, December 13, 2010

Best moments from interview with the board

by Paul Doward - HoZO - UKI

Photo: Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Liverpool FC's new owners have never been ones to shirk a question as they boldly state they will work in unison with the clubs fans and value their input. They have always stated they are merely stewards of the club and that the fans are the principal owners of the club, it's with this in mind then that they faced the TV cameras this evening on LFC TV's channel and answered some fans' questions live in the studio. The following questions and answers are the pick of the bunch from the phonecalls, texts and tweets as Principal Owner John Henry, Chairman Tom Werner and Commercial Director Ian Ayre fielded those questions.

Firstly, each caller and textee extended a warm welcome to the club for the owners and thanked them explicitly for taking over the club and eradicating the old regime. The first caller asked the panel about their plans for longterm investment and how does the club mirror their early days Boston Redsox. The caller also asked what their opinion of Roy is and commented that they didn't think he was good enough for the job. John Henry said that he sees alot of similarities between LFC and the Redsox, when they took over in Boston the team wasn't on an equal footing with the NY Yankees but they implemented some changes, mainly by generating more revenue and that by doing this and getting the right people into management positions would generate into fluency on the pitch. He went onto praise Ian Ayre and the job that he is doing commercially for the club, he said that their plan was to spend wisely and be successful and that they were determined to succeed. Henry also stated that when they took control of the club they realised that it was a fantastic opportunity for the longterm  and it's with this in mind that they want to return the club to where it was 20 years ago. Tom Werner spoke on the subject of Roy Hodgson, he said that Roy's new to the job just as they are and whilst everybody concerned is aware of the need for improvement they believe in what Roy is doing.

The next caller asked about the plans for the Stadium and compared Anfield to the footballing cathedrals around the World such as The Bernabau, Camp Nou and San Siro. The caller felt it would be a disaster to move away from Anfield and all of the history that surrounds the illustrious stadium. Tom Werner agreed with the callers opinion on the option of tearing down the ground. He said that in many ways Anfield is similar to what Fenway Park was when they took over in that it's a very special place but something needs to be done and certainly needs to be done as a way of increasing revenue at an optimum level from the ground. He said that alot of meetings are taking place but it's too early to go in one direction regarding a new stadium or a regeneration of our current one. John Henry mentioned that visiting Anfield as fans is such a magical experience and one of the greatest sporting experiences of his life, he says that he has fallen in love with Anfield and;history and ambience that goes with the ground, he believes that it's an asset for the longterm to stay at Anfield.

Another caller asked if we were to expect the massive investment that was necessary to improve our first team squad and that the current crop of players aren't good enough. He also mentioned that in his opinion Roy, despite being a nice guy, wasn't good enough to manage the club and why was Kenny Dalglish overlooked? John Henry said that they are and have been actively looking towards the January window but they have no answers as to what they are going to do. He didn't doubt that so far performances have been underwhelming considering what they would like to do for the future. Tom Werner said that they were willing to take risks but risks that will pay off in the long-term. they will seek to get good value for money and that it's going to take time to rebuild as some decisions over the past few years that were made more for the short term have hampered the clubs progress. Tom Werner went onto say that he has viewed some games from Liverpools past and one thing that stood out for him was that despite being 3-0 up the team would be relentless in the quest for a 4th goal and that's what they want to bring back. They believe in Bill Shankly's mantra that first and foremost it's about winning trophies.

A question was then asked that came in via the message-board, the poster wanted to know what the plans were to utilise Kenny Dalglish in a more important role at the club. John Henry said that he needs to have a much more clear role at the club and one of more substance. He said that along with Damian Comolli Kenny Dalglish has an important part to play in the clubs future. Tom Werner said that he had the honour of going out for a meal with Kenny and his wife and despite struggling to understand his broad Scottish accent he totally understands what he means to the club and it's fans and that Kenny's spirit and love for the club is something they endeavour to embody in everybody that's connected with the Liverpool FC.

A text message came into the studio asking how close they were to appointing a Chief Executive. John Henry said that although they were still working on it and appointment isn't close. He did say that they have received a number of excellent applicants and they will be reviewing them in good time. A tweet was also read out that asked the owners about the option of a ground-share with Everton. John Henry stated that he is well aware it's something that the fans do not want and for that reason it would be difficult to implement; in his opinion whilst the fans take this view the subject is a non starter.

Another caller phoned in to ask where they owners saw the club in the next 5 years and what is their strategy for this period. John Henry said that it's very much a rebuilding project at the moment but the current position with regards to performance is unacceptable. He went on to say that they want to build to take the side back to the top of the table and the team must be in a position in the next 3 years to make this a realistic prospect. Another caller asked a question that ties in with this and asked how they feel they will be able to attract the big names that are necessary in turning the fortunes of the team around. John Henry stated that from what he has experienced from speaking to agents and players it's apparent that players want to come to Liverpool and that due to the attractiveness of playing for such an institute like LFC he sees no problems in attracting that calibre of player to the club. Another caller tied in with this also as they asked if the owners realise the task they have in contending with the sides that are spending millions and millions of pounds on wages and fees to bring these players to England. Can Liverpool compete with Chelsea and Man City? John Henry said that they do understand what it takes and that they will develop a strategy regarding player recruitment. They said that they undertook their due diligence before the takeover and from this they established what work needed doing. They are also aware of Fifa's impending fair play rules that will be implemented regarding player recruitment and they know what they need to do with regards to this. He did acknowledge that some players at the club are overpaid and under performing and that it's imperative to address these issues if they are to raise revenues at the club. Tom Werner said that throwing money at the problem won't necessarily work and that they have to be smart with money. The Redsox now have successful revenue schemes and it's through these that they were able to spend big in the past week, he also mentioned that Liverpool have revenues to be successful but these must be allocated properly.

Finally, as was apparent for most of the show the fans were expressing their concern with regards to Roy Hodgson and the managerial position. One of which asked the owners if they were aware that over 80% of fans wanted Hodgson out and that they thought he was far out of his depth. The fan also said that in 32 years of supporting the club he has never asked for the manager to be replaced but in his opinion Roy doesn't know what he's doing. Another caller said that whilst it wasn't NESV's decision to appoint Hodgson it's apparent that it was a huge mistake and an appointment that was made due to an agenda that was driven by the media. He wanted to know what they will do to ensure we don;t lose players of the calibre of Torres and Reina and the fact that quality needs to be added to both the playing staff and the management staff what with Roy's poor Premiership record of away wins (13 in his entire career in the Premiership!)  Tom Werner said that they met with Roy today and whilst they understand where he is coming from they have made it clear to all concerned that major improvement is required. John Henry admitted that current play and performances are unacceptable and it's up to everybody associated with the club to take on teh responsibility of improving the fortunes.

It was a very enlightening phone in and all credit is due to the guys for giving their time and honesty in answering some difficult questions. Tom Werner closed out by saying he is privileged to work for one of the greatest clubs in the world and they are working on behalf of the fans to bring back the trophies that the fans and club deserve. John Henry asked for patience and said that so far it's been 2 months of non stop work but there will be no quick fix but they will meet fans' expectations and restore the club to greatness.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Newcastle 3 - 1 Liverpool - Match Report

by Paul Doward - HoZO - UKI

Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images Europe

Going into this game there were a number of intriguing questions that needed answering :- How would the Geordie fans react to Alan Pardew's first game in charge at St James'? How would his players react after being so downcast after losing a manager they were all so obviously close to? and more importantly would Liverpool be able to build on their recent run of good performances to take three points from the North East? Well the answer to the first question was evident leading up to kick off; numerous demonstrations by the fans outside the ground in support of the ousted Hughton and against the despised owner Mike Ashley must've struck a chord with the travelling Reds fans as it wasn't so long ago that they found themselves battling an unwanted owner(s). Liverpools quest for goals surely took a shot in the arm with the recalled Fernando Torres back after his midweek foray into fatherhood for the second time.

So the teams lined up as follows :-

 Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Steven Taylor, Campbell, Jose Enrique, Barton, Nolan, Tiote, Gutierrez, Carroll, Ameobi. Subs: Harper, Guthrie, Routledge, Lovenkrands, Perch, Smith, Ranger. 

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Kyrgiakos, Skrtel, Konchesky, Kuyt, Meireles, Lucas, Maxi, Torres, Ngog. Subs: Jones, Aurelio, Cole, Jovanovic, Babel, Poulsen, Kelly. 

Referee : Lee Mason.

The opening minutes of the match were a stalemate. Both sides trying to get hold of the ball and move forward but to little success. The vociferous Geordie fans continued to level their abuse at their owner Mike Ashley and at times the unfortunate scapegoat in all of this Alan Pardew. The game presented few chances for either side in the early exchanges and Liverpool had the first real chance after 9 minutes. A Raul Meireles freekick swung in from the right was cleared as far as Lucas just outside the area, he managed to get the ball back back into the area were the waiting Soto Kyrgiakos fired a shot straight at Krul that no doubt stung the keepers hands. On the 11th minute Newcastle found themselves with a great scoring opportunity that began with Torres giving the ball away. The ball was played through to Andy Carroll but luckily he was unable to control it and Reina gathered. The breakthrough was to come not too long afterwards and unfortunately for Liverpool it went to the Magpies. A freekick from Joey Barton was played high into the box were the ever dangerous Andy Carroll (who looked marginally offside) nodded it down to the ex Liverpool FC schoolboy Kevin Nolan and Newcastles top scorer side footed the ball comfortably past Pepe Reina....suddenly it seemed that the Geordie fans had forgotten all about their spat with Mike Ashley. 

Liverpool responded to going a goal down by trying to forge forward but were continually left frustrated by either their inability to keep possession or a dogged Newcastle backline in particular Jose Enrique. The intricacies of Liverpools p[passing game was seemingly their undoing at times as they time and again came up short in their attacks, Torres in particular gave the ball away with worrying abandon. One positive of Torres' performance up to this moment was his willingness to take a 26th minute freekick. He's keen to get a goal and whilst not renowned as a dead ball specialist he showed a willingness that all Liverpool fans would want to see. Unfortunately Raul Meireles would probably have been a better choice as the resultant freekick from Torres only found Andy Carroll's midriff in the wall. 

Newcastle continued to press forward and looked dangerous. Alan Pardew must surely be pleased with what he's seen so far and the black and whites continued to threaten when Carrolls strike was gathered easily by Reina but along with Ameobi it was his movement and willingness to show for teh ball that was causing the Liverpool defence numerous headaches. Up the other end Raul Meireles came close to getting Liverpool back on level terms but his strike ricocheted off Krul and the waiting Enrique was able to clear off the line. It wasn't long before Newcastle were threatening once more, this time it was a Shola Ameobi strike that wrong footed Reina after taking a wicked deflection off Martin Skrtel, luckily the ball bounced wide. The first half ended with Liverpool in the ascendency; a Raul Meireles corner was headed wide by the powerful Kyrgiakos who once again proves to be Liverpools most potent threat from set pieces. Newcastle went into the break probably just about deserving the lead, whilst The Reds have had more possession they have failed to create many chances and Newcastle continue to look threatening whenever they progress into the final third of the pitch. 

'The Better Than Andy Gray's Half Time Analysis Half Time Analysis Report' - It's going to take a big halftime team talk from Roy Hodgson to get Liverpool performing better in the second half. The front two of Torres and Ngog have failed to trouble the immobile Sol Campbell and the wantaway Steven Taylor in the way we would've hoped. Liverpools defence are struggling to keep a check on the two Newcastle strikers with the battle between Kyrgiakos and Carroll at times very much the 'unstoppable force meeting the immovable object!'....and aren't those Geordies a fickle bunch? goal and the lead at half time and suddenly everything's forgiven!!...Mike Ashley was even getting himself a beer down at the bar and emerged for the second half to take his seat completely unscathed!

So the second half is back underway and we need to see a completely different Liverpool side in this half. Luckily, that's what we got right from the start. Was it an inspirational speech from Roy at halftime? Whatever it was it worked as Dirk Kuyt got Liverpool level in the 50th minute, the ideal start to the second half! The goal though a little fortunate was certainly welcome; a ball into the area came back off the hapless Sol Campbell and fell to Dirk Kuyt whose smashed shot deflected off Steven Taylor and past the helpless Tim Krul. It was nearly two a couple of minutes later but for a good save by Krul with his legs, another ball up over the top had caught out the Newcastle backline and Fernando Torres found himself in space but after a nice controlled touch he chose the wrong option and the keeper made the save. 

Liverpool continued to push forward and were certainly much more threatening than they seemed in the first half. Newcastle were becoming increasingly on the back-foot and that was evident in their play as every opportunity they got they pumped the ball forward looking for their strikers.  It was this non-agricultural approach that brought them back into the game, that and the addition of Niall Ranger for Shola Ameobi. Ranger was instantly a thorn in Liverpool's side and so very nearly put Newcastle back in front but his shot flashed across Reina's goal. 

Liverpool's midfield showed flashes of improvement as they began to take control of the centre of the park but their job was made all the more difficult as Newcastle continued to hoof the ball upfield at every opportunity and it was one of these occasions that cost Liverpool dear. A Tim Krul freekick upfield was helped on by Andy Carroll and some sloppy defending by Martin Skrtel allowed Joey Barton to nip in and his shot went in off the post. Wouldn't you just know it? the only two scousers on the pitch and they've only both gone and scored for Newcastle! A couple of Liverpool subs didn't make much impact in the closing stages, Babel replaced the injured Ngog and Milan Jovanovic came on from Maxi Rodriguez but it was a losing battle that Liverpool were fighting a battle made all the worse when Andy Carroll blasted the home side 3-1 up a minute into stoppage time with a rasping drive that Reina stood no chance of stopping. 

That was that. At the end of the day the best team won and that hurts. Newcastle were here for the taking today and all credit to them their steely performance masked what had been a very difficult week in the North East, all credit to them. Liverpool just didn't do enough to trouble Sol Campbell who was Newcastle's obvious weak link and Fernando Torres continued to struggle to display any of the qualities that made him into one of Europe's top strikers. The Reds' away form continues to be a worry and the sooner Steven Gerrard returns to fitness the better as it was evident on this occasion Liverpool miss his drive and determination when faced with adversity. 

 Man Of The Match :-  1. Dirk Kuyt  2. Raul Meireles I've really struggled to name three so you're only getting two I'm afraid. Kuyt because he scored our only goal and Meireles because again he proved he's getting to grips with the Premiership but this is a result and performance overall I'd rather forget. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Newcastle v. Liverpool Preview

by Charles Ong - Contributing Writer

Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe

Newcastle v Liverpool
When: 11th December 2010, Saturday, 17:30 GMT
Where: St James' Park

Resurgent Liverpool travel next to St James' Park with renewed vigour and confidence on the back of 2 consecutive 3-0 home wins against West Ham and Aston Villa. Erratic away form have hampered the Reds' progress thus far this season, and the Reds will be looking to bounce back from a luckless 1-2 defeat against Spurs during their last away outing.

Such was the dominance in the previous game that Liverpool could afford to breathe easy just after 15 minutes. Villa were sub-par at best, the Reds never needed to step up a gear and the game was all but over before the hour mark.

Liverpool could continue furthering their ascent up their table, and the  crux of the matter is that 3 points is so essential to push for that  ever-elusive Champions League spot. As Liverpool enters the festive  period, there should be no let-up in terms of performance. Failure to  win again - would mean that the hard work against Villa would all be  undone.

Over at the other end, Newcastle's fans were rocked by the imminent sacking of manager Chris Hughton. Mike Ashley's decision is all the more bizarre as Newcastle sit pretty in mid-table, given that they were just newly promoted from the Championship this season. Hughton has done a magnificent job with his limited resources, and perhaps this is the perfect time to face a club shrouded with political instability.

Alan Pardew is expected to be named the new manager in the next 48 hours. He faces a mammoth task of improving Newcastle's fortunes of late, given they picked up just 2 points in the last 5 EPL games.

Fernando Torres would be refreshed and raring to go, having been given time off to witness the birth of his newborn baby. Steven Gerrard could be fit for this clash, but my gut feeling is Gerrard will start from the bench as a probable precaution.

Expected LFC Lineup - Reina (c), Johnson, Kyrgiakos, Skrtel, Konchesky, Kuyt, Lucas, Meireles, Maxi, Ngog, Torres.

Liverpool's form (Last 5 EPL games): DLWLW
Newcastle's form (Last 5 EPL games): LDLDL

Head to Head:
Played: 32
Liverpool: 19
Draw: 6
Newcastle: 7
No of Liverpool's goals: 66
No of Newcastle's goals: 35

In the last corresponding fixture, Liverpool thrashed Newcastle 5-1 in a resounding manner.

Liverpool 2 - 0 Newcastle

Rumour: Glen Johnson Out

by Reagan Gerrard - HoZO - APAC

Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images Europe

It has been reported in recent weeks that Liverpool fullback Glen Johnson is unhappy at the club. Rod Fanni has been seen as an idea replacement for the England international, and rumours are getting heated as Tottenham, Bayern Munich and Juventus are all allegedly lurking. Sources quote £12 millon as the price for the player to leave Anfield.



Rumour: David N'Gog Loan

by Reagan Gerrard - HoZO - APAC

Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images Europe

Rumours are surfacing that on David N’Gog’s growing list of admirers is Blackburn Rovers manager, Sam Allardyce. Allardyce is looking to strengthen Blackburn’s attacking options in the January market and David N’Gog is one of many players on his radar.


Fans FC
Lancashire Telegraph

CONFIRMED TRANSFER: Charles Itandje Released

by Reagan Gerrard - HoZO - APAC

Photo: Barry Coombs/Empic Sports/PA Photos

Liverpool Football Club have confirmed that goalkeeper Charles Itandje will be leaving the club on the 1st of January, heading to Greek Super League club Atromitos. Charles made only seven appearances for the club, and is most well known for his behaviour during the twentieth anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.

Liverpool FC Official Announcement 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rumour: Ashley Young, Aston Villa

by Dave Rossborough - HoZO - Americas

Photo: Lee Smith/Action Images

The Villians have been sent back to Birmingham with their tails between their legs and a manager who blatantly didn’t want to leave Anfield, but there’s one player who might be gracing the Shankly Gates sooner than we thought. Ashley Young is a bright young talent in a position where we sorely need it. His career has plateaued at Villa and it sounds like Houllier may be about to do us one more favour.


The Mirror