Rafa reveals title-tilt plan
Rafa Benitez insists plans are underway for Liverpool to
become title-challengers next season.
The Reds boss has already made inroads in the transfer
market for next season with a pre-contract agreed with
Standard Liege forward Milan Jovanovic, while Jose Reina and
Javier Mascherano are set to sign their deals at Anfield in
the next month.
The Merseysiders have already secured the future of their
key men in the last 12 months with forwards Fernando Torres
and Dirk Kuyt, midfielder Steven Gerrard and defender Daniel
Agger on new long-term contracts.
Torres, Liverpool's star striker, said on Saturday that he
thinks the Reds need to bring in new additions in the
And Benitez, whose side have failed to build from last
season's second-place finish and are currently sixth in the
table, is keen to bring more quality to Anfield in the
summer to complement his current squad.
Torres quashes Reds exit claims
Liverpool striker Fernando Torres has rebuffed reports he
will leave the club at the end of the season.
The news will come as a relief to the Anfield faithful, who
have seen Torres net 18 goals in just 24 starts this term -
a shining light in an otherwise wretched season for the
Rafa Benitez's men face an uphill struggle if they are to
qualify for next season's Champions League and at present
look short of mounting a Premier League charge next term.
Torres admits Liverpool must bring in "quality players" over
the summer but insists failure to qualify for Europe's
premier club competition will not force him to consider a
"My place is here at Liverpool, and in England," the
26-year-old told his
"We need some new signings," he admitted, while adding his
ambitions for next season include "challenging for the
Premier League title, and the Champions League or Europa
Rafa makes budget claim
Rafa Benitez has claimed next season's transfer budget will
not be affected if Liverpool finish outside the top four in
the Premier League.
The Spaniard suggested he has not benefited from five
successive qualifications to the UEFA Champions League in
terms of the money he is given to invest.
The Reds have enjoyed sitting at Europe's top table since
Benitez arrived in 2004, but their place is under serious
threat this season and failure to qualify would set the
debt-laden club back a reported £20million.
But the Spanish tactician, whose side are four points adrift
of fourth-placed Tottenham having a played a game more,
insists the Merseysiders' spending plans will not be
restricted if they do not return to Europe's elite
competition next term after speaking to the owners.
"They told me before that it [Champions League
qualification] didn't make a big difference [to his transfer
budget]," the Liverpool manager said in The Guardian.
"Every year that we have qualified for the Champions League
it hasn't made a big difference so if we don't qualify this
time I don't expect it to make
a big difference."
Rafa defends Insua
Rafael Benitez has defended Emiliano Insua.
The 21 year old defender has come in for some criticism this
season but, while admitting the player can improve, Benitez
was quick to defend Insua.
"He has made some mistakes like the other players, but he
has also played some good games. I don't see him as a
problem," said the boss.
"It is true with Fabio Aurelio we had more experience and
different options - we could give a rest to Aurelio and
Insua - but that is not the case now, so we have to keep
"He is at the age to learn. He is young and wants to
improve, so we are working very hard with him trying to give
him some ideas and advice.
"I think he is doing well - he is not doing bad."
Bruce and Benitez renew rivalry
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce will renew battle with Liverpool
counterpart Rafael Benitez on Sunday still smarting over the
Spaniard's January pursuit of
Bruce was furious at persistent speculation from Merseyside
during the winter transfer window that the Trinidad & Tobago
international would leave Wearside and join the Reds on loan
for the rest of the season before completing a permanent
switch during the summer.
Jones was clearly unsettled by the rumours and his form
dipped alarmingly and, while his manager insists there will
be no continued resentment as he sends his team out at
Anfield, the saga still clearly rankles.
(Press Association Sport)
Benitez hoping to get rid of Riera
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has confirmed the club are
looking to offload winger Albert Riera in the next
The Spain international angered Benitez with his outspoken
criticism last week, claiming the manager does not
communicate with players and describing Liverpool as a
He was immediately suspended for several days by the club
and it now seems certain Riera, who has a Russian wife, is
likely to be farmed out on loan to a Russian club before the
close of their transfer window early next month.
"We are working with different clubs trying to find a
solution at this moment,"
"We will try to do some business if we can and see what
Liverpool could go on the attack
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has no new injury worries
for Sunday's home match against Sunderland in the Premier
With no midweek match the Reds boss has been able to give
his squad some time off to recuperate from a busy schedule
involving Europa League matches.
He may opt for a more attacking line-up at home than he did
for last Sunday's defeat against Manchester United at Old
Trafford, which could bring the likes of Ryan Babel, Alberto
Aquilani and Yossi Benayoun into contention.
Martin Skrtel (foot) and Fabio Aurelio (thigh) are still a
couple of weeks away from fitness while Albert Riera is
unlikely to be included as the club consider a loan deal to
Russia for the Spain winger.
Liverpool (from): Reina, Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Insua,
Lucas, Mascherano, Kuyt, Gerrard, Rodriguez, Torres, Babel,
Ngog, Benayoun, Aquilani, Cavalieri, Kyrgiakos, Spearing,
Benitez looking for lift from Gerrard
Rafa Benitez admits Liverpool's failings have not brought
the best out of Steven Gerrard - but he still expects more
from the Reds skipper.
The England international accepts his form has left him
unhappy and that has been obvious watching his body language
on the field.
Benitez sympathises with Gerrard because he accepts the
season has been a disappointing one but that does not mean
he will absolve the player from taking any responsibility.
partnership with Gerrard
Ubisoft has today announced its partnership with the
Liverpool FC captain and new England vice-captain, Steven
Gerrard in the latest football game entitled, Pure Football.
The game will be available in May 2010 for Xbox 360, PS3 and
PC and features 230 elite footballers and 17 International
teams to play with.
“I’m proud to be the ambassador of Pure Football.” said
Steven Gerrard “Not only does this game reflect the way I
like Football, more physical, more technical, but it’s also
a lot of fun to play with friends.”
In Pure FootballTM, players can choose Stevie G. among 230
elite footballers, 17 international teams, and 17 legendary
players. The Liverpool FC number 8 has won 2 FA and League
Cups, as well as the UEFA Cup in 2001 and the UEFA Champions
League 2004-05 in 2005, following Liverpool's Gerrard
inspired comeback in the Final. Last year, Gerrard was named
as the 2009 FWA Footballer of the Year, becoming the first
Liverpool player to win the award in nineteen years.
Bruce: Liverpool are formidable
Steve Bruce has laughed off suggestions that Liverpool are a
The Black Cats visit Anfield this Sunday hoping to improve
their away record and their spirited performance against
Villa midweek, coupled with Liverpool's inconsistent
campaign, will give hope that the Wearsiders can improve
their points total further.
"They've been a formidable side for as long as I can
remember and they remain so now.
"I know there's been a lot of talk about them this season
and by their own standards they'll be very disappointed not
to be in the Champion's League and not to be in with a
chance of winning the Premier League either.
"But they still have a good chance of finishing in the top
four and you'd have to be daft to write them off.
Gerrard eyes improvement
Liverpool and England star Steven Gerrard admits he has not
been at his best this season.
The Reds skipper, though, has vowed that he is still more
than capable of returning to the top of his game at any
Gerrard admits he needs to improve, but he has his sights
firmly set on making the top-four in the Premier League -
whilst also making the Europa League final.
"I think it can be better, if you look at my form through
the season as a whole I am not totally happy, I have not
reached the level I would like to be at," he told Sky Sports
"It is not worrying me as I still have confidence that it
can switch and turn at any given time to where I would want
it to be at any given time, I have played well this season
but I have come out of games when I have not been totally
Midfielder Javier Mascherano has praised Liverpool manager
Rafael Benitez for making him "a better player and a better
The Reds boss last week was criticised by winger Albert
Riera for his communication skills and handling of players.
That outburst appears certain to see the Spain international
farmed out on loan in the next fortnight to a club in
Russia, where the transfer window does not close until early
However, Argentina captain Mascherano, who yesterday said he
expected to sign a new contract very soon, has praised
Kelly scores as Liverpool FC
reserves draw with Wigan
Martin Kelly fired as Liverpool Reserves were held to a 1-1
Right-back Kelly did his first-team ambitions no harm with a
goal early in the second half at Prenton Park only to have
it cancelled out within minutes by Jordan Mustoe.
The result, which makes it 15 unbeaten for John McMahon’s
youngsters, leaves them six points behind league leaders
Manchester United with three games
Benitez: Tough to keep morale up
Rafael Benitez admits a tough season has made it difficult
to change the mindset within Liverpool's squad on occasions
when his side have lost.
"We were not doing well at the beginning [of the season] and
we lost a bit of confidence because we couldn't be
contenders but you cannot change what has happened in the
past," said Benitez.
Thompson wants Reds stars
to demand ultimatums
Former Liverpool captain Phil Thompson has called on the
club’s star players to issue co-owners Tom Hicks and George
Gillett with an ultimatum to provide more transfer funds or
they will walk out.
Striker Fernando Torres has already gone public with his
thoughts, suggesting the Reds need four or five quality
signings in the summer, while skipper Steven Gerrard
currently cuts an unhappy figure on the pitch as the his
side battle to secure fourth place in the Barclays Premier
Thompson, who lifted the European Cup for Liverpool in 1981,
believes only players of their stature can get through to
the American owners, who have failed to provide the
necessary investment in the squad and a new stadium since
taking control three years ago.
“Fernando Torres said he didn’t want to be fighting for
fourth place every year and he is absolutely bang on,” said
“He’s a player, a foreign player, who has come to the club.
They have to listen
“He and Stevie Gerrard should be saying ’If you’re not going
to invest, why would we want to remain here?’
“They need to give them (Tom Hicks and George Gillett) some
Mascherano: I want to stay
Javier Mascherano today stressed his desire to remain on
Merseyside and spoke of his confidence that he will soon put
pen to paper on a new Liverpool contract.
Manager Rafael Benitez revealed this week that talks between
the club and Mascherano's advisors were progressing - and
the Argentine midfielder has now admitted he expects to soon
commit his future to the Reds.
"The club are talking with my agents. I don't like to be
involved in the contract meetings so I leave that to my
agents and the people at the club,"
"Liverpool know I want to stay. I don't think it will be
difficult to arrive at a deal and we will see what happens
in the next few weeks."
There had been speculation suggesting Mascherano's Anfield
career was heading to its end following reported interest
from abroad, but the player himself admits he only sees
himself as a Liverpool player.
"I have never said I was not happy at Liverpool," he added.
"That was the press. I am happy here and the only way I can
show that is with my performances
on the pitch.
"I always try to do everything I can to help my teammates
and manager. Sometimes I can do well and sometimes I can't,
but I always look to give one hundred per cent in training
and in games."
(LFC Official Website)
Spartak Moscow in for Riera
Spartak Moscow have now been linked with Albert Riera.
The winger, who is being forced out of Liverpool after
hitting a reserve team player and publicly criticising
Rafael Benitez, had been linked with a move to CSKA Moscow.
However, they have denied any interest in Riera.
"We know that the CSKA brand is very attractive for any
player who is searching for a new challenge but Albert Riera
is not in our plans," said a club spokesman.
"It has come as a surprise to us that we are interested in
Although CSKA don't want Riera, city rivals Spartak Moscow
have now been linked with him. Spartak apparently want to
sign Riera on loan for the rest of the season with a
permanent transfer in the Summer, should he impress.
Reds confirm fixture details
Liverpool Football Club have confirmed the arrangements for
the forthcoming Barclays Premier League fixtures with Fulham
and Hull City.
Due to Fulham's exit from the FA Cup, the Reds' Anfield
clash with the Cottagers will definitely be played on
Sunday, April 11 with a 3pm kick-off.
Meanwhile, our final league game of the campaign against
Hull at the KC Stadium will kick-off at 4pm on Sunday, May 9
in line with all other Barclays Premier League fixtures that
(LFC Official Website)