Friday, February 29, 2008

Man United's Ferguson: Ronaldo a phenomenon

Fergie salivates over his crown jewel Ronaldo as United go to Fulham

Manchester United's manager Sir Alex Ferguson has branded his Portguese star midfielder, Cristiano Ronaldo, a phenomenon for his incredible strike rate from a wide position.

Ronaldo needs just one more to reach 30 in all competitions and has already comfortably passed his previous best of 23 in the 2006/07 campaign. Manchester United go to Fulham on Saturday, and Ronaldo has scored seven times in his last five games against them. Few would bet against him adding to this tally as Manchester United continue their quest for the Premier League title.

You have to say for 12 million, Ronaldo has become a bargain. Liverpool had a deal lined up for 6 million at the time, but Manchester United came in and blew them out the water by offering 12 million. His value now would be off the scale and he is well on the way to becoming one of the games true greats.

Beckham & Galaxy to play in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Authorities approve Beckham's LA Galaxy exhibition match

LA Galaxy had previously announced they would play an exhibition match on March 9 at Hong Kong Stadium, subject to approval from the city's football authority. However this has now changed with the authorities approving the proposal. "The application was approved," Hong Kong Football Association Sunny Leung said. "We have all been making every last-minute effort to have them come, we were very keen to have them here."Hong Kong

LA Galaxy will arrive in Hong Kong on March 6 and hold a football clinic for youngsters and then play a South China team on March 9.

This overall tour of Asia is aimed at cashing in on Beckham's huge popularity in the region. Beckham and his teammates arrived Tuesday in South Korea for an exhibition match on Saturday against FC They then travel to Shanghai for a match on March 5 before the stop in Hong Kong.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Liverpool's Crouch & Mascherano: Waiting for Rafa to go & stay

Crouch and Mascherano have differing reasons to dither on their contract
Peter Crouch and Javier Mascherano are both taking an inordinate length
of time to sign new deals at Anfield. Speculation that Crouch may invoke
the new rules that allow players to buy themselves out of their contract
at a value much less than they are worth on the open market, has forced
Liverpool to open talks with him about renewing his contract. Meanwhile
Javier Mascherano despite all the positive noises to the contrary from
both sides has still not signed a long term deal with Liverpool. Could
it be both are waiting until the summer when hopefully Benitez's and
indeed Liverpool's future is settled?

Crouch will clearly be hoping the manager is moved on and he can stay
at Liverpool under a new regime. Despite his goals record for Liverpool,
his number of starts has dwindled to the point where its' clear Benitez
no longer considers him one of his senior players. Benitez going is no
guarantee he will stay but its the best he's got, and given Arsenal,
Chelsea and Manchester United are not likely to be interested in him,
biding his time at Liverpool is his best chance of staying at one of the
'big-four' clubs.

Mascherano meanwhile may well be hoping the opposite, that is that
Benitez stays. He clearly has a lot of respect for Benitez after he
rescued him from his Upton Park nightmare, and gave him a start in the
Champions League final. Mascherano will be hoping Benitez is given the
go-ahead to remain at Anfield whoever the eventual owners become. That
said if he opts to leave their will be no shortage of takers for one of
Liverpool's few world/international class performers.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

DIC close to 50% stake in Liverpool

Reports of Gillett to sell his Liverpool share to DIC, while Hicks denies exit talk

Reports are mounting that George Gillett is all set to sell his 50% stake in Liverpool to Dubai International Capital (DIC). His relationship with Tom Hicks is beyond repair, and he is now looking for a way out of the doomed partnership. A specialist team of bankers and solicitors have been put in place by the investment arm of the Dubai government as it awaits permission to study the club's books, which it is understood will be granted shortly.

DIC are reportedly willing to purchase his share, but not in a deal that will leave Hicks in charge of Liverpool. They are looking to make immediate decisions on the Liverpool's future post the deal, and will look to either dilute or purchase some of Hick's share so they will have majority control of the club.

It is anticipated the deal to purchase George Gillett's 50% share could be concluded within three weeks, and then lead onto a second stage whereby attempts will be made to gain majority control of Liverpool.
Hicks meanwhile has reiterated his stance on holding onto his stake in Liverpool, again making a long term commitment to the club. Whether this position will be held in the medium to long-term given his inability to buy out his partner remains to be seen. Liverpool's fans will be delighted at developments and will hope that Hicks also sells his stake in the not to distant future.
Its a fascinating but worrying time to be a Liverpool fan, and this tale is sure to have many twists and turns yet!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hicks & Gillett to sell Liverpool as DIC wait to takeover

Rumours turning to action as DIC close to securing takeover of Liverpool

In news that will delight Liverpool fans, it is being widely reported that a deal for a DIC takeover of Liverpool has moved substantially closer today. The American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks, are reportedly ready to open Liverpool's books and DIC's advisors have set themselves a mid-March deadline to complete the first stage of a two-stage takeover process.

George Gillett is widely expected to be the first of the duo to sell his stake, however Tom Hicks, the more abrasive of the two, is not going to go quietly. DIC wish to secure full control of the club in the long term, however Hicks wants to remain in charge after the deal, which has been swiftly rebuffed.

A more likely outcome is that Hicks will remain on the board in the short term, and DIC will seek to dilute his holding by injecting equity into Liverpool. This injection will cover the cost of the new stadium, present debts and funds for new players. They will also seek to provide stability after a season of unprecedented turmoil at Anfield.

Hicks is understood to have tried to raise funds to buy out his partner, but failed due to the credit crunch. That he is fighting to remain in control of Liverpool, and that DIC are so stubbornly pursuing ownership, makes it clear that Liverpool promises a substantial return on investment for these two sets of hard-headed businessmen.

Liverpool fans will just be glad to see the back of Hicks and Gillett, who have brought nothing but turmoil and broken promises to Anfield.

Tom Hicks Jnr forced from Liverpool pub by angry fans

Tom Hicks Jnr rounded on by angry Liverpool fans

The Sandon Pub Anfield LiverpoolIn what was either a naive bridge building exercise or a crass ignorance of local feeling, Tom Hicks Jnr visited the Sandon pub in Liverpool after the Middlesbrough game, and was shortly after forced to leave as an angry mob formed. The Sandon public house is where Liverpool's hard-core support congregates before and after games, and is the birthplace of the football club.

Hicks claimed he wanted to have some direct talks with Liverpool fans and that was certainly what he got. As the news spread around the pub, the atmosphere got worse and eventually his bodyguards rushed him from the pub into a waiting people carrier. As he left he was swilled with lager and spat on by angry fans.

Speaking to the local paper the Liverpool Echo, he said: "I went to Sandon with some friends because I have wanted to go for quite some time to see the birthplace of the club.I also wanted the opportunity to have a direct talk with some of the supporters. I respect that some patrons have major disagreement with us, but that comes with the territory. I did have several constructive conversations in my short visit and look forward to following up with them next time I am in Liverpool."

This nasty episode will have left the Hicks family in no doubt as to the feeling of Liverpool's fans, and how far they have to go to win them over.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Liverpool: Alonso going nowhere

Liverpool say Alonso going nowhere as the rumours continue

Rafael Benitez has reiterated that cultured midfielder Xabi Alonso will not be sold under any circumstances. Moreover the Liverpool manager made a point of meeting Alonso's agent to emphasise this when he was at Anfield for the Inter Milan game.

A number of Spanish clubs have been linked with the Liverpool playmaker including Barcelona and Athletico Madrid, with rumours of the players reportedly fractured relationship with Benitez continuing to find their way into the papers.

Benitez has sought to play down such talk, pointing to the fact that players often don't like the manager when they don't play!

It seems to us that this is like the dreaded vote of confidence. You can be surer of no other thing that when a manager says a player will never be sold, he promptly will be. There's been to many briefings too the media on Alonso moving, and Liverpool already seem to have lined up his replacement in Diarra. It will be a sad loss to Liverpool when he goes, and we are at a loss to see why he isn't in the team. Then again Benitez and his rotations are beyond most people!

Barcelona not giving up catching Madrid

Barcelona boss Rijkaard not giving up catching Real Madrid in the race for the Spanish League

Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard has commented on his sides fight for the title in Spain, insisting he is not worried about Real Madrid, and does not pay them any special attention. Instead he insists his focus is on what Barcelona do.

He said: "Real Madrid is the first on the table because it has so far performed better, they're the team that leads the Liga and that is not easy, because the goal of all teams is to beat them. But we're not giving up anything. I'm not watching what Real Madrid do in their games. We only worry about ourselves. The other stuff is for the press to write about."

Barcelona seem to slipping into gear at just the right time, as we enter the business end of the season. They looked sensational in Glasgow against Celtic, despite conceding two goals.

Footy focus can see signs of it not being all over for Barcelona in the race for the Spanish title. Real Madrid are showing signs of stuttering, while Barcelona are looking better by the week.

Barcelona: Mourhino next manager?

Speculation mounts that Jose Mourinho is to take over at Barcelona in the summer

According to the Mail on Sunday, Mourinho is the overwhelming favourite of the Barcelona board to succeed Frank Rijkaard, should they dispense with the dutchman during the summer.

The Mail on Sunday is also reporting that Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, will follow Mourinho to Barcelona, should the former Chelsea manager be appointed in the summer.

If the move goes ahead, and it all depends on current boss Frank Rijkaard's performance in the Champions League and the league in the next six weeks - Lampard is almost certain to join Barcelona. Drogba could follow, though AC Milan are also chasing the Ivory Coast striker.

Barcelona is the latest in a long line of clubs linked with Jose Mourinho. Footy Focus reckons his ultimate destination is not the Nou Camp, but Anfield! Not saying how we know!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Barcelona vs Levante: Barcelona in form at just the right time

Henry confident on Barcelona prospects
Thierry Henry is confident Barcelona are finding their form at the business end of the season.He said "At last we players are all together - but we've not won anything yet," he warned.

"We're in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey, looking good in the Champions League, and five points behind Real Madrid. We're in a good moment of form, and if we're here as a full group, so much the better."

Barcelona take on Levante on Sunday a few hours before Real Madrid entertain Getafe at the Bernabeu. This means that for a few short hours at least Barcelona can cut the gap at the top of the table to a mere two points.

It's all turning into a fascinating end of the season in Spain and Footy Focus has a gut feel that Barcelona might just catch Madrid and take the title. Barcelona are finding form at just the right time, while Madrid are starting to stutter a bit!

Liverpool: Agger to return vs Middlesbrough

Daniel Agger is at last set to feature for Liverpool against Middlesbrough

Daniel Agger is set to feature in some part today for Liverpool, most probably on the bench. Despite Liverpool having defensive a major defensive problem, with Jamie Carragher suspended and Martin Skrtel are reluctant to risk Agger. Most likely Arbeloa and Hyppia will be the central defensive pairing.

Up front it's likely Liverpool's strike pairing will be Kuyt and Torres, despite every football fan in the country thinking Crouch would make a better partner and score more goals! In midfield its also coming to crunch time for Rafael Benitez. Will he bite the bullet and put Alonso back in and Steven Gerrard wide right? Surely Liverpool's top three midfielders are Alonso, Gerrard and Mascherano?

For the trip down to Liverpool, Middlesbrough have David Wheater back from a ban, while late checks will be made on Roberth Huth and Tuncay Sanli. Huth missed the FA Cup tie at Sheffield United with a foot injury and Tuncay is training again after hamstring trouble.

Barcelona a class above in the UEFA Champions League admit Celtic players

Celtic players gracious in defeat, after Barcelona come from behind twice to take control of the UEFA Champions League tie
Celtics players paid tribute to their opponents today, as they started to build their confidence ahead of the Champions League return leg in two weeks time. The mountain to climb that is Barcelona's Nou Camp stadium awaits a team given a lesson in football by their illustrious opponents. Despite being behind twice, overall Barcelona were richly deserved winners of game in which Celtic just couldn't cope with the rapid passing and constant possession of their visitors.
Stephen McManus was brutally frank about losing to the 2006 Champions League winners, after being ahead, saying; "We're disappointed to lose the game but it shows how far we've come," he said. "There's no shame in getting beaten by a team like Barcelona. We were happy to go in 2-1 ahead at half-time but you know against that calibre of opposition it's not just about 45 minutes, it's about the whole 90. Unfortunately we didn't manage to hold out."
How true indeed, after Messrs Messi and Henry scored the goals to give Barcelona victory. Gary Caldwell, whose poor clearance early in the second half allowed Thierry Henry to score, admitted that the sheer class of Barcelona had given Celtic a learning curve they couldn't climb; "It was very difficult, they are an excellent team and [Barcelona] caused lots of problems. They scored three goals which we couldn't afford to let them do in Europe at home. In the first half, although they were playing well and causing us problems, we dealt with it and we contained it a lot. However, in the second half, we gave the ball away a lot cheaper and caused problems for ourselves. They are top players and they punish you"
There's a lot of sense in these comments from the Celtic players. Barcelona are looking like one of the favourites for the Champions League and are certainties to progress now, as there is now way Celtic will win 2-0 in the Nou Camp.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Completely off topic - Vanessa Hudgens sex tape

Vanessa Hudgens
Vanessa's at it again and the male population goes wild
Vanessa Hudgens career is set to go into freefall (well depends which way you look at it) as she has reportedly made a sex-tape with boyfriend Zac Efron.

In a charming Christmas scene she is alledgedly sitting under the tree saying to the camera "I want Santa to come up my chimney because I’ve been a good little girl this year.” Then promptly gets down to business. Quality!

Vanessa Hudgens has either been a shameless seeker of notoriety or a very misguided and naive girl. Either way if true this looks like going down in the annals of internet celebrity sex-tape history!

Celtic 2-3 Barcelona

The Bhoys get a UEFA Champions League lesson from Barcelona, as Messi's class tells

Barcelona are now favourites to advance to the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League after Lionel Messi scored twice in a 3-2 win at Celtic Park. Celtic now have to go to Barcelona in a fortnight and score twice without reply, which would seem on the evidence of this game a most unlikely feat.

Celtic had twice taken the lead through Jan Vennegoor and Barry Robson, but their efforts were cancelled out by Barcelona's Messi and Thierry Henry respectively. Overall Barcelona richly deserved their win as they displayed a footballing masterclass at times. Celtic at varying stages, could not cope with Barcelona's rapid passing and posession football and scored their first goal very much against the run of play. Indeed, after regaining the lead for the second time, Barcelona very quickly scored to get back in the game. Just when the Scottish champions looked set to hold on for a draw, Argentina star Messi grabbed a late winner for Barcelona to inflict Celtic's first Champions League home defeat since 2004.

Overall Barcelona deserved the victory, and are now firm favourites to advance to the last sixteen and indeed will be one of the favourites to lift the UEFA Champions League trophy.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Beckham: Gullit will improve LA Galaxy

Beckham backs Gullit to improve LA Galaxy in MLS

David Beckham has given his approval to new coach Ruud Gullit at LA Galaxy. Former Madrid and Manchester United midfielder Beckham’s first year in Major League Soccer was ruined by a series of knee and ankle injuries, but he is confident he will be able to have much greater influence under new coach Ruud Gullit this year.

Beckham will play his first match in over two months against Japanese J-League side Gamba Osaka in Honolulu. The winners will get a place in the tournament final. Australian A-League team Sydney FC take on MLS champions Houston Dynamo in the other semi-final.

Questioned on whether he thought there would be major improvement to the form of LA Galaxy after the failure to reach the MLS playoffs, Beckham said: “There has to be. It is a fresh start with a new manager, a new regime and a new togetherness. Many things have already changed, definitely for the good, and we want to build momentum and start winning things.”

Liverpool 2-0 Inter Milan

Rafa lives to fight another day as Liverpool's late show flattens Milan
Liverpool conjured up a magnificant performance in the Champions League, and aided by some luck in Materazzi getting sent off, finally overcame Inter Milan to take charge of this tie.
Liverpool came straight out the blocks at Inter, seemingly intent on getting the early goal and the upper hand in this tie. However Inter quickly demonstrated a masterclass in defending and were clearly not fazed by the Anfield wall of noise. Also they were intent on stopping Liverpool's most attacking threats, Torres and Gerrard, by fair means or foul. Unfortunately for them referee Belgian Frank de Bleeckere was having none of it, and Materazzi paid for it on 30 minutes, when he picked up his second yellow card for the pull-back of Fernando Torres.
Despite this Liverpool created very little in the first half, and it was only into the second half that you really began to sense a Liverpool goal was coming. Eventually Crouch was brought on and almost made an immediate impact, shooting wide from the edge of the area, when he should have hit the target. Then on 75 minutes, Inter Milan's other centre half, Cordoba, was carried off and Inter began to give the footballing impression of a punch drunk boxer on the ropes.
Finally Kuyt swivelled to shoot home and give Liverpool the break-through on balance they deserved. Then very late, Gerrard took a pass from Pennant and sent a shot flying into the bottom corner to grab what may well prove to be a priceless second for Liverpool.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Barcelona vs Celtic: Larsson can't wait

Old Bhoy Larsson can't wait for Barcelona at Celtic

Henrik Larsson has told of his delight at tonights game, and of his split loyalties in who to choose as victors in the UEFA Champions League tie.

"When they told me the draw for the quarter-finals of the Champions League, I just couldn't believe it," he said. "For Celtic and Barcelona to meet again was such a surprise. But it will be a nice match between two great teams for whom I have a lot of affection."

Larsson was a major success at Barcelona and Celtic, being part of the Celtic team that knocked Barcelona out of the UEFA Cup in 2003, and then a year later playing for the Barcelona team that knocked Celtic out of the Champions League.

Fabregas wants Barcelona's Eto'o

Arsenal's Fabregas on planet fluff as he wishes for Barcelona's Eto'o

Barcelona will not be happy to hear Cesc Fabregas's latest words of wisdom. He has urged Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger to try and land Barcelona star Samuel Eto'o.

"If I was asked which one player I would like to see at Arsenal, it would be Samuel Eto'o," Cesc told the Daily Telegraph.

"Eto'o is a phenomenal striker, he's ambitious, he runs, he works for the team, he scores well and he's a real winner. I would love to have him on my team."

Barcelona are sure to rebuff any attempt to land their crown jewel, and its doubtful if Arsenal could afford the fee and wages required.

Barcelona: Eto'o backs Rijkaard

Eto'o gives under pressure Rijkaard his backing as the Parkhead hothouse looms

Samuel Eto'o gave beleagured Barcelona boss Frank Rijkaard a major boost today ahead of their UEFA Champions League game with Celtic, by giving him his unqualified backing, and dismissing the dutchman's critics. In an outburst against the media frenzy to replace Barcelona's manager, Eto'o derided those calling for his head;

"It's a total lack of respect and I find it incomprehensible that people should be questioning Frank Rijkaard, particularly at this stage of the season," argued Eto'o. "Rijkaard came to this club when they were in the middle of a long spell without trophies and Barca suddenly went on to win practically everything. Now we'll go back to winning practically everything again if people just let him and us get on with our work".

This is a major rebuff in particular to Johan Cruyff, who has been talking up the qualities of Rijkaard's supposed successor, Marco Van Basten. Rijkaard is banned from the touchline for the Champions League game against Celtic

Monday, February 18, 2008

Liverpool: Carragher demands big performance

Carragher asks his team mates are they ready in Liverpool's hour of need

Liverpool vs Inter Milan, UEFA Champions League: Liverpool's Jamie Carragher demanded a response from his team-mates in tomorrow's Champions League first-leg clash at home against Inter Milan, in the wake of the FA Cup fifth round debacle against Barnsley on Saturday.

Liverpool are now desperate to show that they ready for what is potentially the last big game of their season, against the Serie A defending champions and current leaders. Carragher admits Liverpool will have to substantially improve as the Champions League is now their only chance of a trophy.

“There'll be a great atmosphere against Inter,” he said on the club’s official website. "The fans will be up for it and it's up to us to match that. I don't think that beating Inter would make up for losing the FA Cup tie the way we did, but it would give everyone a boost if we can get a result. We're devastated. It's a major, major blow to go out of the FA Cup to a lower league team at Anfield. We realise that's not good enough."

Liverpool have pulled off some stunning results in the Champions League in recent times, but this would top them all, simply because they are playing the Serie A leaders. Their only hope is to get an early goal at Anfield and get Inter rocking. If Inter settle into the game, Liverpool will struggle to score, and will quite likely go to Italy with a mountain to climb.

Footy Focus prediction: Champions League heartbreak for Liverpool

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Liverpool closer to DIC takeover

Hicks softening to DIC Liverpool bid, as Gillett is expected to be first to go

Reports are being leaked to the media by one of the camps fighting over Liverpool, that Tom Hicks is now softening towards a takeover of Liverpool by DIC. The News of the World is reporting that the Americans will profit by 50 million pounds, when the deal is finally done, with Gillett the first one to be bought out. Liverpool are now valued at 400 million, with 350 million worth of debt, giving Hicks and Gillett their 50 million profit.

It will be a long and slow road however, with a nightmare scenario mooted of Hicks buying out Gillett, and assuming sole control. DIC however, are seeking a swift closing of the deal, but Hicks remains the major obstacle to completion of their takeover of Liverpool.

Interestingly, Chris Bascombe, in what must be more leaked briefings to the media, states Benitez and Hicks have now formed an unlikely alliance. Not sure what this all means, but clearly DIC are closing in and the instability surrounding Liverpool will be around for the rest of the season at least. Also given results, regardless of who owns Liverpool, Rafa Benitez must be odds on to be removed at the end of the season.

Liverpool trailing Madrid's Diarra

Liverpool are trailing Madrid's Diarra - Alonso's replacement?

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has joined the chasing pack after the £20m Madrid midfield star. Others in contention include AC Milan and Juventus.

Liverpool have already inquired about Real Madrid's Mali midfielder Mahamadou Diarra who signed for the Spanish giants from Lyon 18 months ago. His agent Federico Guerra said: "Inter Milan contacted me in January to try to sign Mahamadou in the last transfer window. "We were also contacted by Liverpool, AC Milan and Juventus. Diarra still has three years left on his contract but we're willing to listen to all the offers and then we will talk to Real to see what is decided."

Seems that given the rumblings surrounding Xabi Alonso, Liverpool are lining up Diarra as his replacement. Alternatively, if Liverpool have doubts about the never ending Mascherano deal, then Diarra could be lined up as the man to fill his boots, as he's certainly more like Mascherano than the cultured Alonso.

David Beckham back in training

David Beckham back in training with LA Galaxy

David Beckham is now back training with LA Galaxy as they gear up for their pre-season games. Beckham and L.A. Galaxy shortly will head for Hawaii as part of a 3-week / 5-game tour that will include Honolulu, Seoul and Shanghai.

With speculation that England manager Fabio Capello is considering bringing Beckham back in the England team, Beckham is expected to play as much as he can on this tour, to get him upto the required fitness levels for England as soon as possible.

The L.A. Times has quoted Beckham as saying:

"It's always tough when you're in preseason and you're running every morning and every afternoon and there are no games," he said. "We're looking forward to going to Hawaii. It's my first time there."

"It's always been great when I've visited different parts of Asia with Real Madrid and Manchester United and also England. Every time I've been there the fans have been exceptional, so I'm looking forward to that as well."

Liverpool crash out the FA Cup to Barnsley

Rafa made to look a Yorkshire pudding as Barnsley produce a sucker punch

Liverpool crashed out the FA Cup in spectacular fashion last night as Barnsley pulled off one of the greatest upsets in the FA Cup's history.

An ashen-faced Rafa Benitez is now hanging onto his Liverpool job by a thread, and with the leaders of Italy's Serie A up next, its' not hard to see Benitez being out by the end of the season.

It all looked oh so different at half time for Liverpool. They had struggled to create chances in the first half, but had got the lead through a Dirk Kuyt finish from a Ryan Babel cut-back. Barnsley had created little of note, and the scene seemed to be set for a comfortable Liverpool win.

Liverpool came out in the second half determined to finish Barnsley off, but despite creating some half chances, they just couldn't get the second goal. Crouch and Kuyt were the worst offenders, missing some decent chances. Then in the 56th minute, Foster outjumped Crouch to power home Devaney's cross and Liverpool were rocking. After that it was backs to the wall stuff for Bansley, as they sturggled to hang on as Kuyt, Benayoun and Hyppia (twice) were all denied by Luke Steele in the Barnsley goal.

Then in the last minute came the drama and calamity for Liverpool as the Barnsley captain Howard, held off a challenge on the edge of the penalty area, Carragher and Rissie stood off him for a split second too long, and he lashed a tremendous drive into the bottom corner.

Benitez's position at Liverpool surely now is becoming untenable and his players are beginning to play like they think so too.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ronaldo out, Drobga in?

Ronaldo's absence opens door for Drogba move

AC Milan are ready to break the bank for Chelsea striker Didier Drogba to replace the injured Ronaldo.

Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting that Ronaldo’s knee injury has sparked Milan to urgently seek a new centre-forward for next season, and Chelsea's Drogba tops the list.

Drogba has continually talked of a move away from Chelsea, particularly to Barcelona, but that won’t put off Milan president Silvio Berlusconi, who is prepared to do whatever it takes to land Drogba from Chelsea.

Ronaldo underwent surgery in Paris on Thursday after rupturing tendons in his left knee during Wednesday's 1-1 draw against Livorno and is expected to be sidelined for up to a year.

Juventus: Sissoko struggling to settle

Reports Sissoko to be on the bench again

Momo Sissoko is reportedly struggling to impress at Juventus, in Italy, and is set to again be overlooked by Claudio Ranieri for Juventus's big game against Roma. Juventus Manager Claudio Ranieri played down the fact that Sissoko has not started yet, by arguing he needs time to get used to the system of play.

He said; “The midfielder has to understand fully what he needs to do and the style we play in,” The signing of Sissoko was heavily slated by Juventus supporters, who argued it was another in a long line of mediocre signings by sporting director Alessio Secco.

We think he's a great player who just needs time and confidence to show his quality and think he will become a Juventus great!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Liverpool won't risk Torres

FA Cup fifth round: Liverpool vs Barnsley- Torres out, Hypia and Arbeloa back in

Fernando Torres won't be risked as Liverpool entertain Barnsley in the fifth round of the FA Cup, on Saturday evening. The Reds top scorer is back in training after recovering from a hamstring injury sustained while playing for Spain, but Rafa Benitez wants to hold him back to ensure he is available for Tueday's Champions League clash with Inter Milan.

Another player missing tomorrow will be new signing Martin Skrtel, who picked up a calf injury in training this week.

Rafa added: 'Skrtel felt something in his calf the other day. He only mentioned it after training, and after speaking with the doctors we realised it could be a risk for the weekend. We need to check, but I don't think he will be available for the Barnsley game.'

Liverpool: Alonso's time to deliver

Alonso determined to make up for lost time at Liverpool

Xabi Alonso, hoping for a rare first team start for Liverpool against Barnsley in the fifth round of the FA Cup, is desperate to make up for lost time in a season wrecked by injury.

Alonso has only started 13 games so far and has seen Gerrard and Mascherano, plus the emergence of Lucas, make his task in winning back his central midfield role for Liverpool all the harder. However there's little doubt the cultured midfielder has been sorely missed and there's little doubt that Liverpool's three best midfielders are Alonso, Mascherano and Gerrard.

There have been many times recently, as Liverpool have drawn game after game, that Liverpool have been crying out for someone to vary the range of passing or tempo of the game. Alonso, with one pass, can instantly put teams under pressure and create a threatening situation. That kind of creativity is something Liverpool have clearly lacked.

There seems to be rumblings of Alonso leaving in the summer, which would be a huge loss for Liverpool. If Benitez doesn't rate him for the first team anymore, it's another of his illogical moves, that have left may fans completely non-plussed. We had a team that came third in the Premier league, with our highest ever points total, and two key figures were Alonso and Crouch. Simple question - how on earth can they be on the bench with speculation that they are leaving?????!!!!!!!!

DIC to take over at Liverpool?

DIC edging closer to a deal for Liverpool and Yanks looking likely to move on.

Dubai International Capital are looking likely to agree a deal before the end of March, with Liverpool's American owners. The Mirror says an outline agreement to transfer ownership of the Anfield giants from George Gillett and Tom Hicks, to Dubai International Capital is in the pipeline.

Sources in New York have confirmed that a £460million deal with DIC - the Dubai government's financial arm and headed by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum s now close to being sealed, with Liverpool set to change hands twice in a little over twelve months.

The price for Liverpool is well below the gambit claim of £1billion that was put on the club by Hicks in November (He and Gillett paid just £219m to take control of Liverpool from David Moores a year ago).

Despite leaving Liverpool with a £350m debt, they will be able to walk away having made a substantial profit. Liverpool's fans will be overjoyed at the news and on tenterhooks until it comes off. The Yanks are pretty well loathed by all Liverpool fans, so news of an impending exit will be joyfully recieved!

Liverpool forced into Crouch talks

Villa circling as Liverpool forced into Crouch contract talks

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has opened talks with striker Peter Crouch about a new deal to stay at Anfield.

The Mirror is reporting Liverpool have opened contract talks with Crouch, as there is strong interest from Aston Villa. Benitez is at last set to turn to the England striker to save their season, and give him a prolonged run in the side. It looks like at last, someone from his coaching staff has made him see sense!

Gangly Crouch only has 16 months left on his £40,000-a-week deal at Anfield, and shrewd Villa boss Martin O'Neill is planning a £9million summer swoop for the gangly star. That can only mean one thing then - O'Neill isn't planning on being at Anfield next year!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Arsenal vs Manchester United

Vidic vs Adebayor the key battle for Arsenal in the big show-down

The Serbian brick wall and the Togo roller coaster are set for a show-down in the biggest game of the FA Cup fifth round at Old Trafford on Saturday, as Manchester United entertain Arsenal.

Manchester United's ultra mean defender Nemanja Vidic has the job of stopping Arsenal's Emmanuel Adebayor, who is in blistering form and is aiming at scoring in 10 consecutive matches in the Saturday evening cup showdown.

Adebayor is big, strong and powerful with great heading ability, but he's also technically excellent and is very quick. Vidic though is a no-nonsense defender, who is also no slouch. It will make for a fascinating game - we can't wait!

Footy focus prediction? Manchester United to shade this one and ruin the Arsenal treble dream.

David Beckham losing his appeal

Goldenballs losing his touch as the Yanks get critical?

David Beckham and his American odyssey might just be running into a bit of trouble. After cancelling an interview with TJ Simers, who was California Sportswriter of the Year in 2000, Beckham has come in for some sustained criticism.

Simers writes: "The only thing going on with Beckham these days appears to be his underwear ad, which is just perfect for him because all he has to do is lie there and say nothing.

"Huge billboards will go up soon showing him with his chest bare: and isn't it always? - and his briefs appearing a size too small. You'd think a guy with as much money as he's got could find underwear that fit. "

Simers also criticised Beckham for his overall lack of impact on soccer in America, arguing that he has made little difference to the profile of the MLS in the States.

Cristiano Ronaldo: I can get better

Cristiano Ronaldo thinks he can get even better

Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo thinks the best is yet to come from him. Despite already equalling his season best of 23 goals in all competitions, Ronaldo is keen for further improvements. Also in a sign of awakening maturity he paid tribute to his team-mates and the chances they create;

"I am enjoying my career at the moment as we are playing some nice football. But I need to say thanks to my team-mates. They help me a lot.

"They give me great passes and give me confidence. I appreciate that. Maybe I score more goals than my colleagues but they also help the team."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Aston Villa 4-1 Newcastle

Owen back in the groove but King Kev's revolution awaits

Newcastle, despite going ahead through a fourth minute Michael Owen goal were soundly beaten at Villa Park yesterday, with John Carew getting his first Villa hat-trick. Aston Villa vs Newcastle is always as entertaining game, though not often as one sided as this game was.

As the Premier League has continued with its usual hyperbole, and Keegan has been heralded back to Tyneside as the Messiah, Martin O'Neill has been quietly working his magic at Villa Park. From a steady start to the season, Aston Villa are now comfortably ensconced in the race for fourth place and who would bet against them getting it?

Admittedly a lot of Villa's chances came from farcical Newcastle defending, however almost from the moment they conceded a goal in the fourth minute, they were in the ascendency over a Newcastle team showing prescious little of Keegan's revolutionary magic.

John Carew will be in the headlines for his hat-trick, but the equaliser early in the second half came from Wilfred Bouma, who had not scored for two and a half seasons! Carews hat-trick was wrapped up two minutes from time as he lashed a penalty past Given to claim the match ball.

Footy Focus thinks King Kev can't wait for the season to end and get busy in the transfer market!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Chelsea vs Liverpool - Rafa confident (in miracles!)

Rafa believing in miracles as Liverpool's away game nemesis run starts

Rafa Benitez goes into this Chelsea/ Liverpool game knowing the next four away games in the Premier League see Liverpool visit Chelsea, Bolton, Manchester United and Arsenal. Under Benitez, Liverpool have been defeated in every away game at the big three, and have lost two out of three at Bolton. Given the parlous state of Liverpool's confidence and form, Benitez is looking for a miracle to maintain his side in fourth place.

Confounding his woes is the news that Fernando Torres is out for ten days with a slight hamstring tear, after Spain's midweek friendly. His expected replacement, Dirk Kuyt will only add to Chelsea's confidence. Benitez may yet spring a welcome surprise and play Ryan Babel upfront to at least add pace, and trickery to his attack. His options in midfield are limited by Xabi Alonso's suspension but Harry Kewell is pushing for a start, despite being ignored last time out. Javier Mascherano is available despite an onerous trip to the United States and back.

The last Chelsea/ Liverpool game saw Chelsea snatch a draw at Anfield, with a contraversial penalty in a game in which they were largely outplayed. Such form is a distant memory now for Liverpool and Chelsea will be real favourites to pile on the agony for Liverpool and Benitez.

Footy Focus hopes the team to face Chelsea is Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Hyppia, Riise, Kewell, Gerrard, Mascherano, Pennant, Crouch, Babel.

Footy Focus prediction - Liverpool's confidence is up after the morale boosting defeat of Sunderland but Benitez will stifle them with one of his wierd, and disjointed selections. Creditable but frustrating draw for both sides.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Premier League to play matches abroad

Fans aghast as Premier League proposes playing matches abroad

Fans, players and many managers alike reacted with dismay, surprise and disgust at the announcement the Premier League plans to play a '39th' round of matches at varying locations around the globe, while media analysts said Premier League clubs could share as much as £100 million from playing a round of fixtures overseas. The sale of the extra television rights to domestic and global broadcasters would generate huge amounts of additional revenue and the plan is expected to be welcomed by sponsors of the clubs of whom many are multinationals aiming for a global audience.

Other commentators have said there is cause to believe the Premier League will make much more than the 100 million being touted. The 10 extra games would be sold separately possibly pitting ITV and the BBC against each other. Paul Zwillenberg, a media specialist with OC&C, is quoted in the Times as saying “It’s a brilliant move commercially because of the importance so many international broadcasters attach to Premier League games.”

Its clearly an inevitable but very sad consequence of the 'global game', however it remains to be seen whether FIFA or UEFA will even consider such a radical plan.

Liverpool to swoop for Zaragoza's Garcia

Reports Liverpool to pay 12 million for Real Zaragoza's Sergio Garcia

Speculation is linking Real Zaragoza's 24-year-old attacking midfielder with a summer move for a fee of around £12m.

Garcia has come from the Barcelona youth system and came to prominence after a move to Levante in 2004.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

England 2-1 Switzerland

Stale England underwhelm Capello
England limped through this underwhelming friendly with a stale, patchy performance, as they struggled to adjust to the 4-1-4-1 formation that Capello had asked them to play. Of the starting eleven, the two Coles, Joe and Ashley stood out. Ashley Cole made eye-catching forays forward, while Joe Cole was the only one of Englands midfield who had any effective attacking intent. However Steven Gerrard and Gareth Barry initially struggled with the formation, though improved as the game went on and by the end were looking a lot more comfortable. Elsewhere, David Bentley had an encouraging game, on his first start for his country, growing in stature as the game went on. David Beckham may well stay trapped on 99 caps for a while yet.
England, in the second half, had a more of an effective attacking look to them, however they conceded a sloppy equialiser. This was swiftly redeemed as the lead was soon re-established. Wayne Rooney, in the lone-striker role he doesn't like, all in all had a good game and assisted in the winner from substitute Shaun Wright-Phillips.

England's initial disjointed display must have alarmed Capello and Switzerland almost grabbed an opener when a Hakan Yakin free-kick was knocked on Senderos, with Eggimann to heading wide. If they had scored it would not have been a surprise at that stage. However England grabbed a surprisingly good opening goal just before half time. Gerrard found Joe Cole who provided a cut-back for Jenas to grab his first England goal.

After 58 minutes, Switzerland levelled, with a  great pass from Tranquillo Barnetta catching Rio Ferdinand out as the substitute Eren Derdiyok got in front of him to finish past David James. It took only four minutes for England to regain the lead, with Gerrard taking a Rooney pass, to pass inside for Wright-Phillips to finish in an open goal.

Overall an average performance from England, that got better as the game went on. The initial struggles with the 4-1-4-1 formation wore off as they settled into the game. Still lots to ponder for Mr Capello if he is to make England competitive with the best the world has to offer.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Garay to Barcelona

Barca seal deal for long time Liverpool and Tottenham target Ezequiel Garay

Ezequiel Garay is on his way to the Nou Camp from Racing Santander. Garay, the Argentine centre-half, had long been courted by Liverpool, Tottenham, Real Madrid and Juventus but Barcalona have sealed a €14.25m deal of three equal payments of €4.75m for the 21-year-old.

Garay is one of the highest rated young defenders in Europe, and a move to one of Europes leading clubs had long been mooted.

Alonso to Real Madrid, Barcelona or Athletico?

More speculation of an unsettled Xabi Alonso

Speculation is linking Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso with a summer move to Real Madrid, Barcelona or Atletico Madrid.

The Times are reporting Alonso is unhappy with the lack of first team football at Anfield, having made just 13 appearances so far this season. Given the mounting speculation it seems Rafa Benitez is willing to part with the midfielder and the big three of Spanish football appear to be leading the chase for the 26 year old.

Footy Focus remembers an odd quote from Alonso a few months ago, when he was out injured. He complained of a lack of football at Anfield and the article hinted he was unsettled. It was the first we'd seen of anything linking him with a move away. Seems to us the briefings are starting, and that a summer move is a done deal.

Liverpool have sorely missed him this season, and we have long argued Liverpool's best midfield is Alonso, Mascherano, Gerrard and one of Kewell/ Babel etc

Dirk Kuyt to Newcastle?

King Kev sets his sights on Dirk Kuyt in the summer

Reports are being bandied around of Kevin Keegan setting his sights on tempting Dirk Kuyt to join his revolution at Newcastle, with a 5 million pound fee being mooted. Its being speculated Liverpool will see this as a decent return on the 9 million they paid, given that the player has struggled to make an impression.

Footy Focus thinks Kuyt is a decent player, but completely lacks pace. He could get away with it playing in the hole, if he is surrounded by other players with pace, but at Liverpool he's not. When it comes to it, the yard-stick for Liverpool and others is whether he would get in the Arsenal, Manchester United or Chelsea teams, and the answer to that is clearly no.

Joe Cole to Liverpool?

Liverpool & Benitez after Cole?

Reports are surfacing on the internet of Joe Cole being linked with a move from Chelsea to Liverpool. Footy Focus thinks this is a tad fanciful to say the least. Chelsea won't sell to a potential rival, Cole is inlikely to want to go and it's doubtful Liverpool could afford him.

That said, Liverpool fans would love it, as he could replace Harry Kewell who seems to be rapidly intent on regaining his Premier League showpony title

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Benjani completes deal to Manchester City

Benjani finally completes his move to Manchester City in a restructured deal

Nearly a week after the transfer window closed, Benjani will complete his move to Manchester City from Porsmouth today. Both clubs have resolved the issues surrounding the transfer and reached agreement over a restructured deal and £7.6 million fee.

Benjani is the third highest scorer in the Premier League this season, and had been left in a state of flux, as the transfer deadline passed on Thursday. Manchester City had been trying to pull out of the original deal after a previously unknown knee injury came to light during his medical examination. However with the Premier league's encouragement, they moved to renegotiate the agreement with Portsmouth and will finalise the signing today. It is understood they will make a smaller down-payment and a larger proportion of the fee will depend on the number of appearances he makes for Manchester City.

Mascherano close to Liverpool Deal

Mascherano confident deal for a permanent stay to be sorted within the week

Javier Mascherano believes Liverpool will complete his transfer this week. The Times is reporting Mascherano expects his future to be settled this week in a £18.6 million deal. The 23-year-old's transfer did not need to be completed in time for last week's deadline because he is registered as a long-term loan from Media Sports Investments. He said: "I have a lot of confidence that after the next week I will be able to say everything is right and I am staying here in Liverpool. "We now need to wait. We are very close but we need to talk again. I think everything will be okay. I've waited a long time, so I can wait one week more."

When finally completed it will be a major boost for the Liverpool's beleaguered Benitez, and will add to the growing stability at Anfield as Liverpool try to get their season back on track.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Premier League Results: Liverpool 3-0 Sunderland

Crouch exposes Rafa's folly, as Liverpool overcome Sunderland

A goal and an assist from Peter Crouch, enabled Liverpool to eventually overcome a dogged Sunderland at Anfield. Rafa Benitez's incredulous decision to previously stick with a woefully out of form Dirk Kuyt, was exposed by Crouch's contribution. Put simply, Crouch consistently gets and makes goals, Kuyt doesn't. Where would Liverpool be if Crouch had not been warming the bench so often? A lot closer to the top would be the answer from most Liverpool fans.

In the first half Liverpool were all toil, neat play, but precious little end product. Only Pennant caught the eye with his pace and direct running. On the left, Lucas who was preferred to Harry Kewell was not providing any width, having a tendency to drift in-field. That said he still worked harder, and looked more effective than Kewell has in recent games.

Sunderland, undertstandably were out to contain Liverpool and get a point. Anything else to them was a bonus, and they showed virtually zero attacking threat throughout the game.

Sunderland were eventually prised open, when after an attack broke down, Jamie Carragher of all people, took on the opposite fullback and crossed superbly for Crouch to head home. Soon after Crouch flicked on Gerrard's touch, Torres sped away and finished superbly to wrap up the game for Liverpool. In the 89th minute Nosworthy was adjudged to have upended Pennant, and Gerrard stepped up to convert to seal a 3-0 win for Liverpool.

Roy Keane afterwards was disappointed not to have got at least one penalty, particularly when Carragher blocked a shot unintentionally with his arm.

Benitez will have been pleased with the confidence boosting win, and with the fact that Pepe Reina became the fastest keeper to reach 50 clean sheets in the clubs history. Then defending has never really been the problem for Liverpool during Benitez's reign, its at the other end Liverpool have problems. Until they can complement their central midfielders and Torres with players who would get into the squads of Manchester United and Arsenal they will always be scrapping for fourth, maybe third spot.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Premier League News - Results

Arsenal march on, Manchester United rescue a point and Chelsea falter

It was a day of draws in the Premier League as four of the eight games ended in stalemate. At the top, Premier League title-holders Manchester United, rescued a point at Tottenham thanks to a late, late goal from Carlos Tevez. Chelsea were also held to a draw at Portsmouth, with new boys Defoe and Anelka netting. While this was going on, Arsenal continued their seemingly relentless march, with a superb 3-1 win at Manchester City.

Over at Ewood Park, two of the teams chasing the Premier League fourth spot, Blackburn and Everton, played out a scoreless draw. This allowed Liverpool to move up into fifth position, as they eventually overcome Sunderland 3-0 at Anfield. Peter Crouch, given a rare start netted on 57 minutes, with Fernando Torres adding a second, and Steven Gerrard converting a penalty on 89 minutes to wrap up the points.

In the Premier League basement, Birmingham and Derby played out a 1-1 draw, which is no good to either side at this time of the season. Wigan meanwhile had a priceless 1-0 home win against West Ham. Of the other basement teams, Bolton had a great result away to Reading, winning 2-0. Nolan and Helguson the scorers.

Arsenal are now back on top of the Premier League on 60 points, Manchester United in second on 58, and Chelsea back in third on 54. Its certainly going to go to the wire, with Manchester United and Arsenal going head to head, to the end of the season. Those in the dreaded Premier League drop places are still Birmingham, Fulham and Derby.

Alves set for Middlesbrough despite dispute

Southgate confident deal for Alves will remain despite AZ Alkmaar dispute

Gareth Southgate is confident there is no case to answer despite AZ Alkmaar's claims of a pre-contract agreement with Alfonso Alves, the Heerenveen player, who signed a four and a half year deal with Middlesbrough on Thursday. Alkmaar say they will take their case to Fifa, despite the Dutch FA already ruling that the agreement is invalid.

Alves, reportedly signed for a £12m fee, completely refutes the claim, and Southgate said: "The only thing that can happen is there could be compensation between Heerenveen and Alkmaar."

Of more concern to Southgate is the fact that the player is unlikely to be available for Sunday's Tyne-Tees derby against Newcastle at St James' Park. The player spent most of Friday queuing for a UK visa at the British Embassy in Amsterdam and it is doubtful his visa will clear in time.

Everton sign Gardner on loan from Tottenham

Gardner joins the Toffee's chase for fourth place

Everton have signed Anthony Gardner on loan from Tottenham until the end of the season. Gardner joined Tottenham from Port Vale for 1 million pounds in 2000, but a series of injuries wrecked his time at White Hart Lane. Gardner has one England cap, coming against Sweden in March 2004.

Gardner has only played six times this season for Spurs, the last appearance coming in October against Getafe.

Ferguson tells Rooney to score more

Rooney told to get in the box by Fergie, as United go to Spurs

Sir Alex Ferguson has told Wayne Rooney to stop dropping back into midfield and get into the box more. In reference to Wednesdays 2-0 win over Portsmouth, Ferguson said "Wayne worked too hard on Wednesday,[That]cost him the opportunity to get goals. He got involved in a lot of the build-up play and we said to him after the game that he didn't need to expend so much energy dropping back into midfield all the time."

Rooney has got 10 goals this season, leaving him as the clubs third top scorer, behind Tevez and Ronaldo. Moreover 6 of the 10 came in a five game run in October. Ferguson has no worries otherwise about Rooney, citing his appetite for the game as something he'd like to see in all his players.

United face a tricky trip to Tottenham today, with Ferguson believing his side may have to go the season unbeaten to hold off Arsenal and Chelsea. With only four points seperating the top three clubs Ferguson sees no margin for error in the remaining games.

Liverpool Fans Launch Takeover

Fans aim to take control as Share Liverpool FC launched

The Share Liverpool FC initiative aimed at taking over Liverpool Football Clubs was launched yesterday, as it's website was unveiled and details of the proposed scheme were released to the media. Essentially, the group is proposing 100,000 Liverpool fans put in 5,000 pounds each, to raise 500 million to acquire the club and finance a new stadium.

In what would be a revolutionary move in English football, a fan based ownership structure similar to Barcelona and Real Madrid is being put forward as an alternative model to the present rash of foreign owners who have been attracted in by the pot of Premier League TV gold.

Initial expressions of interest are being asked for via a new website, Share Liverpool FC launched on Thursday evening. Leading the initiative is football business lecturer and Liverpool fan Rogan Taylor. Taylor is also the Chair of the Football Supporters’ Association, launched in Liverpool after the Heysel Stadium Disaster in 1985. Talking about the scheme he said "the time is right to offer a different solution to the rising concerns that football fans have about the patterns of ownership developing at our major football clubs,"

Taylor went onto say that in Germany and Spain most top-level football clubs were not for sale as they were owned by many thousands of "member fans" arguing that "The Champions League has been won on six occasions in the last 15 years by clubs owned and run in such a way," he said. The most prominent club ran in this way is Barcelona, which won the Champions League in 2006, and is owned by its fan-members, of which there are 156,000 members.

It's a fascinating idea and one which just might come off. If Barcelona and Real Madrid are ran in this way, there is no reason why English clubs can't do the same.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Benjani deal to Manchester City in limbo

Benjani deal stalls as Manchester City pull out at the last minute

There were bizarre events in Manchester last night, as the Manchester City board tried to abort the transfer of Benjani from Portsmouth at the last minute. Benjani himself not only arrived late, after missing two planes, but also failed to properly sign the required paperwork. It is understood however, that the Premier League is prepared to overlook this, with Portsmouth and City manager Eriksson, keen for the transfer to still go through. The mystery is why the Manchester City board does not want to proceed, and they are not telling why.

Sources close to the club are indicating the board are unhappy with the way particular issues have been handled by Benjani's agents, however the whole transfer is now in a state of limbo.

Sammy Lee to return as Leeds Assistant Manager

Lee in from the cold to help McAllister in the Leeds hot-seat

Sammy Lee looks set to make a welcome return to English football as assistant manager to Gary McAllister at Leeds United. The Sun is reporting that following McAllisters appointment, Lee is set to become once again the assistant, rather than leader and be part of McAllisters back-room team.

Lee was the the first Premiership manager to be sacked this season, after leading Bolton to a dreadful start amid rumours of dressing room discontent. Despite this, McAllister and Lee could very well make a great team at Leeds. They have a lot of experience from their Liverpool days where they were part of a relatively successful period in the clubs history.

Lee is highly regarded within the game, and has also been part of the England setup in recent years.

Premier League News - Benjani move falters and Defoe signs in

Portsmouth - Benjani too late for City, while Defoe signs in

Things didn't go quite to plan for Harry Redknapp and Portsmouth yesterday. A deal was agreed for Benjani to go to Manchester City for a fee of 9 million. However the player bizarrely arrived too late in Manchester to complete the deal.

Meanwhile, a prompt Jermain Defoe arrived at Pompey to sign a four year deal for an undisclosed fee.

Footy Focus thinks Harry Redknapp will be delighted at being able to keep Benjani, and acquire a striker of Defoe's quality. However the Portsmouth money men may well be a tad upset at missing out on the Benjani fee.

We don't know what the fee was for Defoe, but we are sure he will prove to be an excellent buy for Harry Redknapp.

Mascherano signs for Liverpool reports

Sky Sports News reports Mascherano has signed for Liverpool

Sky Sports News is reporting that with three minutes of the January transfer window remaining, Argentina International Javier Mascherano, has signed for a permanent move to Liverpool in a deal worth a reported £17million.

If true this will delight Rafa Benitez and give the club a bit of a lift after all the recent turmoil.

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