Rafa warns Torres
Rafa Benitez has told Fernando Torres to 'concentrate on
football' after a spate of petulant incidents.
The Spanish striker has picked up five yellow cards in his
last seven games and could have been sent off against
Manchester United if the referee had punished his angry kick
at the penalty spot.
"Fernando knows he has to focus a little bit more," said
Rafa Benitez. "He can score more goals by concentrating on
"All strikers, especially top-class strikers, they are
marked a little bit more closely than others and that is
normal. It's not easy every game.
"People don't understand when you're a player on the pitch
and you're fighting and sometimes you can't understand these
Benitez has admitted that he is looking towards Torres, the
under-performing Steven Gerrard and Javier Mascherano to
deliver the fourth place he guaranteed.
"Sometimes, when you talk about big names, top-class
players, you are expecting something from them when the team
isn't doing well," he said.
"You expect them to say, 'It's OK, follow me'. We have had
this conversation with Fernando and the rest of the team. It
was something we were expecting from Torres and he was
really good the other day against Lille."
Rafa pleased with Aqua
Rafael Benitez is happy with Alberto Aquilani's recent
The boss is pleased to see his £20m signing settling in now
and has predicted Aquilani will have a big part to play as
the Reds look to take that final Champions League qualifying
spot and win the Europa League.
"It was a shame he was sick because he had been good for the
performance [against Portsmouth]. You can see he wants to
improve and it is important for us to have another player
pushing," said Benitez.
"We need players with quality to help us improve until the
end of the season. Alberto has got desire and he is working
very hard. When we have him available, he can give us a
different approach on the pitch in different games.
"Physically you could see he coped with a lot of running
last time and it was much better.
"It is a question of time. It is disappointing that he was
ill and missed out against Lille but we are hopeful he will
continue to improve and play more games before the end of
Riera pondering move to Moscow
Unsettled Liverpool winger Albert Riera has admitted a
transfer to the Russian Premier League is an attractive
option for him.
Riera has been frozen out at Anfield after last week's
astonishing attack on manager Rafa Benitez in the Spanish
media, in which he referred to Liverpool as 'a sinking
And the Spain international may take advantage of Russia's
extended transfer window, which runs until April 8, to
depart to Spartak Moscow on loan.
"Russia presents a very interesting option for me," Riera is
quoted as saying in Russian newspaper Sport Express.
"For one, it's the only prestigious league in Europe where
the transfer window
"And secondly, if I play there regularly, I may be able to
earn my ticket to the World Cup in South Africa."
Riera appears hopeful a deal can be concluded in the near
"I hope that the question of my transfer will be resolved by
this week," he stated.
Dutch star tames the Tigers
Jordy Brouwer struck a sublime winner as Liverpool Reserves
maintained their push for the Barclays Premier Reserve
League North title with a hard-fought 1-0 success at Hull
City on Tuesday night.
The Dutch striker fired home the only goal of the game early
in the first-half as John McMahon's men extended their
unbeaten run to 14 matches and moved to within seven points
of leaders Manchester United, with four games in hand.
The Reds coach was forced to field a youthful side for the
trip to Humberside, bringing Academy starlets Alex Cooper
and John Flanagan into the full-back positions, while
Francisco Duran continued his recovery from a long-term knee
injury in the midfield.
Liverpool Reserves: Peter Gulacsi, John Flanagan, Alex
Cooper, Daniel Ayala, Victor Palsson, Francisco Duran
(Nikolaj Kohlert 59), Jordy Brouwer (Nikola Saric 73),
Steven Irwin, Lauri Dalla Valle, Damien Plessis,
Alex Kacaniklic (Tony Silva 85).
Unused subs: Chris Oldfield, Michael Ihiekwe.
(LFC Official Website)
Benitez demands more from key players
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez expects his "big names" to
lead by example and drive the club on to Champions League
Liverpool have seven matches - with only one against a
top-four club in Chelsea at home - to save their season and
Benitez believes his experienced players have to lead the
"Sometimes when you talk about big names, top-class players,
you are expecting something from them when the team is not
doing well," said Benitez.
Babel still looking for improvement
Liverpool forward Ryan Babel admits he owes the Anfield club
some good performances between now and the end of the
The Holland international's future on Merseyside seemed in
doubt in January as he appeared to be trying to manufacture
a move in the transfer window.
His outbursts on Twitter about his treatment by Rafael
Benitez resulted in him being hauled into the manager's
office and told to just concentrate on playing.
Since then the 23-year-old has responded with some improved
performances and he is starting to look like he could
eventually fulfil the potential which persuaded Liverpool to
pay Ajax £11.5million in July 2007.
"Every player wants to get a run of games to show what he
can do. I hope I can continue to show more - if I can then I
will be happy," said Babel.
"Hopefully I can give something back to the squad. I'm
"I'm playing games now and want to show what I can do."
The Dutchman said he wanted to try to entertain supporters
by showing off his attacking skills, which would hopefully
secure him a World Cup place.
"The fans expect me always to dribble and take men on. It's
not always possible but I try to do it as much as I can," he
told the Liverpool Echo.
"I like to take men on and hopefully I'll show more of that
in the future.
"I know if I play a lot of games then I'll have a good
chance of going to the World Cup."
Skrtel and Aurelio injury latest
Martin Skrtel and Fabio Aurelio could be back on the pitch
in the coming weeks, Rafa Benitez has revealed.
Skrtel broke a metatarsal in his right foot during our trip
to Unirea on February 25, while Aurelio injured his thigh
against Blackburn three days later.
However, both players could soon be back to help Liverpool's
quest for a top-four finish and Europa League glory.
Benitez said: "Both are still injured and will need some
time, but it's only a question of a couple of weeks. It
depends for each one."
(LFC Official Website)
Liverpool FC can salvage
fourth spot with attacking verve
When times are testing, inevitably criticism intensifies –
especially when you lose to Manchester United.
It was only to be expected that there was a fallout from
Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford and many are now saying
that Liverpool’s hopes of a top four finish are all but
Clearly, the situation is no longer in our hands but the
fixture list offers us plenty of opportunities to make
ground and Liverpool have got to keep believing they can
turn the tide, starting at home to Sunderland.
This, though, is the season that is going to be laced with
frustration and it’s hard to see Manchester United, Chelsea
and Arsenal battling for the title, while we scrap with
City, Spurs and Aston Villa.
If, however, we play with the verve that brushed Portsmouth
and Lille aside, fourth place is still possible.
(Ian Rush - Liverpool Echo)
How long will Torres put up with
being out in cold with Liverpool FC?
I'm not suggesting that Fernando Torres would make any
noises abut wanting to leave Liverpool. He loves the club,
the fans and desperately wants to succeed
But the facts are inescapable. There’s a World Cup this year
and chances are he will be one of the star players in one of
the best teams in the tournament.
And once its over, what then? Can anyone seriously believe
that a player in that class won’t be in the Champions League
It’s looking more and more likely that Liverpool won’t
finish in the top four this season and that’s when you have
to start worrying about their ability to hold on to players
(Mark Lawrenson - Liverpool Daily Post)
Reds to sell Riera
Liverpool have agreed a £6m deal for Albert Riera to join
According to the Guardian, the deal will be completed by the
end of the week.
Whelan believes players
have given up on boss
Former Liverpool player Ronnie Whelan believes that after
Sunday's 2-1 defeat to Manchester United in the Premier
League, key members of the Reds' squad have given up on
manager Rafael Benitez.
Having watched proceedings unfold at Old Trafford over the
weekend, Whelan believes the attitudes of Steven Gerrard and
Fernando Torres throughout the game underline the fact that
the Spaniard's time at Anfield must be coming
to an end.
"We saw Torres at his brilliant best for the opening goal
but turn into a petulant child as the game slipped away,"
Whelan wrote in his column for Irish newspaper The Herald.
"We saw Gerrard ghosting around the pitch without much
purpose, occasionally bursting into activity but mostly
"Players usually know when a manager's time is up and if
they're smart, a long time before anyone else realises it.
It's now plain to see from their performances against
Manchester United that they've had enough."
Rafa: Masch deal almost wrapped
Rafael Benitez accepts there is still a little more work to
do to bring contract talks with Liverpool's Javier
Mascherano to a resolution.
"We were talking, progressing and we're closer now. Still we
need to talk a little bit but we are closer," said Benitez.
Benitez: Reds relying on others
Rafael Benitez remains confident Liverpool can secure
Champions League qualification but accepts he is relying on
their rivals making mistakes.
Sunday's 2-1 Premier League defeat against Manchester United
at Old Trafford - their 10th in the league this season - saw
the Reds drop to sixth, four points behind fourth-placed
"We knew the game against United would be very tough. The
question is now about the other teams," said Benitez.
"There are still a lot of points to be played for so we have
to keep going. If we can win our games we will be there at
Red-dy for the fight
It may have been a disappointing season for Liverpool, but
John Barnes reckons the club are not too far from where they
The Anfield legend joined Ian Payne and Chris Kamara on the
Goals on Sunday sofa to discuss the state of his former club
and he admitted Liverpool have been too inconsistent in the
Last season the Reds finished four points behind champions
Manchester United, but they are struggling to repeat that
form this time around and are involved in a race with
Tottenham, Manchester City and Aston Villa for the fourth
Champions League spot.
However, Barnes is confident Liverpool will finish in fourth
- and says that is arguably where they should finish given
the players that Benitez has at
Foxes to snare Reds starlet
Skysports.com understands Liverpool starlet Jay Spearing is
set to join Leicester on loan.
Leicester boss Nigel Pearson is keen to bolster his squad
before the loan window closes on Thursday and has targeted a
move for Spearing.
Spearing is highly rated at Liverpool after captaining the
youth side to
the FA Youth Cup in 2007.
The talented midfielder made his competitive first-team
debut in December 2008, coming on as a substitute in a 3-1
UEFA Champions League win against
The 21-year-old has made five appearances in the first team
this season, including his first start in the Premier League
in the defeat to Sunderland
Reds boss Rafa Benitez is happy to loan out Spearing so that
he can gain some valuable first-team experience as he is
down the pecking order at Anfield.
Aquilani exit talk rubbished
Alberto Aquilani's agent has dismissed rumours linking the
Italian with a summer exit from Liverpool.
Reports emanating from England have suggested Liverpool
could offload Aquilani after just one season to raise funds
for their summer rebuilding plans.
Aquilani, who missed the first few months of the season
because of injury, has struggled to hold down a regular
place in Rafa Benitez's starting XI since returning to
The former Roma man has been linked with a quick return to
Serie A, but Aquilani's representative, Franco Zavaglia,
insists the rumours are wrong.
"False news has been circulated around," Zavaglia told
"The player is happy in England and he will stay there with
"There is absolutely nothing that concerns him."
Liverpool FC need
to go for jugular
They say fortune favours the brave and at Old Trafford
yesterday Liverpool simply weren't brave enough.
It was easy to point an accusing finger at referee Howard
Webb for his part in a painful defeat which delivered a
shattering blow to the Reds' hopes of Champions League
The erratic official got just about everything wrong,
including, crucially, the penalty he awarded when Javier
Mascherano fouled Antonio Valencia just outside the box.
But the key reasons for this defeat lie much closer to home.
A year ago Liverpool went to Old Trafford and played United
off the park en route to their biggest victory on enemy
territory for 73 years.
This time they were overly cautious – more concerned with
stifling the title contenders than bossing the game.
Benitez insisted he still believes he can deliver on his
promise of landing fourth, but it's sounding hollow. To have
any hope the boss must now throw caution to the wind and go
for the jugular.
(James Pearce - Liverpool Echo)
Defender extends loan
Robbie Threlfall has extended his loan at Bradford City
until the end
of the season.
He has proved to be a popular figure with the Bantams
supporters and netted two goals so far including a fantastic
free-kick on his debut in a 3-1 win at Rochdale.
Threlfall has been a regular member of Peter Taylor's League
Two side and is enjoying the experience.
The defender, who can play at left-back or centre-half has
also enjoyed loan spells in the past with Hereford United
and Northampton Town.
(LFC Official Website)
Brum game moved
Liverpool's game with Birmingham has been put back 24 hours.
The away game at St Andrews has been put back from Saturday,
April 3rd to Sunday, April 4th, kick off 3pm. The match has
been moved because the Reds are in Europa League action on
the Thursday before the game.
Liverpool FC can still finish
fourth, says Jamie Carragher
Jamie Carragher today insisted Liverpool possess the
strength of character to shrug off their disappointment at
Old Trafford and get their push for the top four back on
He is adamant there will still be plenty of twists and turns
in the coming weeks and, having studied the fixture list, is
confident Liverpool can still make their presence felt.
“We have just got to recover from this as quickly as
possible and get on a run of victories,” said the Reds’
Rafa: Fergie influenced Webb
Rafa Benitez claimed Sir Alex Ferguson influenced referee
Howard Webb's decision to award Manchester United a penalty
in their 2-1 win over Liverpool.
Webb gave the penalty after Javier Mascherano brought Luis
Antonio Valencia down, despite the foul appearing to begin a
few yards outside the area.
Benitez believed Valencia dived, and pointed to Ferguson's
complaints about the Football Association being
'dysfunctional' over their disciplinary policy.
Cautious Benitez pays the price
There moments when all football managers must speculate to
accumulate – and not just in the transfer market. With
Tottenham and Manchester City intensifying their pursuit of
fourth place, the time had arrived for Rafael Benitez to go
for broke yesterday.
In driving parlance Liverpool were approaching a dangerous
corner and their manager needed to demand that they daringly
risk accelerating hard into it, thereby gaining the momentum
to overtake a queue of Champions League rivals on the home
The price of balking at such a gamble could be not just the
loss of a disillusioned Fernando Torres, but a failure to
find an investor willing to cough up the €111 million
Liverpool desperately require if the Royal Bank of Scotland
is to be pacified this summer.
(Louise Taylor - The Irish Times)