Mr and Mrs Benitez want to help the place they call 'home'

RAFA BENITEZ and his wife Montse were at Hotel Indigo in Liverpool yesterday for the official launch of the Montse Benitez foundation.

The couple moved to Merseyside in 2004 when Rafa became the Liverpool manager and seven years later they class the area as their home. They were uprooted for a short time when Rafa took the Inter Milan job following his departure from Anfield but Montse and the girls (they have two daughters) were homesick and it wasn’t Spain they were missing. When that role came to a premature end it would have been a relief to the females of the house at least. The two girls are now back at school with their friends, Montse is back near the people she has grown close to during their time here and the West Kirby based Benitez household is all smiles. That includes Rafa.

It’s clear that as much as Rafa misses the day-to-day involvement of being in charge of a club he’s in no hurry to get another job as a manager – he’ll wait for the right job to come up. He wants to work in the Premier League and he wants to work at a club that shares his vision and wants to work with him, not against him. In the meantime he’s keeping himself busy with the launch of his own website – rafabenitez.com – a role on Eurosport and the foundation set up in his wife’s name.
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Mr and Mrs Benitez want to help the place they call ‘home’

RAFA BENITEZ and his wife Montse were at Hotel Indigo in Liverpool yesterday for the official launch of the Montse Benitez foundation.

The couple moved to Merseyside in 2004 when Rafa became the Liverpool manager and seven years later they class the area as their home. They were uprooted for a short time when Rafa took the Inter Milan job following his departure from Anfield but Montse and the girls (they have two daughters) were homesick and it wasn’t Spain they were missing. When that role came to a premature end it would have been a relief to the females of the house at least. The two girls are now back at school with their friends, Montse is back near the people she has grown close to during their time here and the West Kirby based Benitez household is all smiles. That includes Rafa.

It’s clear that as much as Rafa misses the day-to-day involvement of being in charge of a club he’s in no hurry to get another job as a manager – he’ll wait for the right job to come up. He wants to work in the Premier League and he wants to work at a club that shares his vision and wants to work with him, not against him. In the meantime he’s keeping himself busy with the launch of his own website – rafabenitez.com – a role on Eurosport and the foundation set up in his wife’s name.
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LFC back to winning ways

Liverpool 2 Wolves 1

Premier League. 24 September, 2011. Anfield

FOOTBALL loves its clichés and there were plenty that could be brought out for this one so little point holding back. The “one man team” tag will probably be used – Luis Suarez again standing out. But he went off near the end for the player usually referred to in that tag, a certain Steven Gerrard, meaning we have to wait a little longer to see the new “two man team” in action again at Anfield.

Suarez hasn’t quite been as good as we’ve grown used to in his last couple of games, and that still isn’t exactly bad, but in this one Luis Suarez was back to being Luis Suarez.

Is Steven Gerrard the Steven Gerrard of old? His arrival came with 8 minutes left and, added to the 15 he got on Wednesday in the Carling Cup, it’s still far too early to say if that injury has changed his game. Even so, there’s little doubt some will try to say it has – but Gerrard can answer that on the pitch when his match fitness is back.

Another needing to answer the critics on the pitch was Andy Carroll. The Geordie forward got his starting place back from Craig Bellamy who did nothing wrong on Wednesday but will have known that Carroll was going to be recalled for this one. And Carroll answered those critics – without a goal but with a classy performance that included strong signs of a growing partnership with Suarez, one that might just turn into the kind of telepathic frontline understanding so important to Liverpool’s success down the years.

It was a ‘game of two halves’ – Wolves were poor first half but like a different team in the second and substitute Steven Fletcher took four minutes of that second period to get one back and in turn set the scene for a nervy second half.

Liverpool played well in the first half, Wolves played well in the second half, Liverpool got the points. The points above all else will be what pleases Kenny, who said afterwards: “There’s various attributes you need if you want to move forward and one of them is to compete properly and we certainly did that. You’ve got to give them credit. We had a few headers and blocks to make.”

Luck had deserted Liverpool in their last two league games, both defeats from contrasting Reds performances, but maybe the luck came back, said Kenny: “We maybe had a bit of fortune with the first goal. I think it went off Johnson and went in. But we deserve a bit of luck. I don’t think we’ve had too much recently.”

Was that the best he’d seen his front two play together? “Certainly this week, I think,” he joked. “Luis Suarez has been outstanding since he came to the club, not just on the pitch but off it as well. We’re very fortunate to have him. And on Carroll’s performance everything was “good about him – except the goal. I don’t think you’d get much more out of the big fella today. We were delighted with him, and delighted for him.”

That first goal came after a powerful Adam shot, looking like it was going to go wide, was headed into his own net by Roger Johnson. As Adam celebrated with teammates Johnson remonstrated with the referee, claiming Carroll had pushed him in the build-up. His manager agreed with him: “The cross came into the box, Carroll barged into him and Johnson’s still getting up and trying to get in position and it ends up an OG,” said McCarthy, annoyed. “I was annoyed with that. I still think it was a foul.”

The Suarez goal was one for the scrapbook, Enrique’s pass set him on his way and Cristophe Berra will probably have nightmares about the way Luis left him looking like he was trying to dance alone, before falling over as the ball hit the back of the net at the kind of acute angle Luis just seems to love using. With seven minutes left in the half Liverpool were on top and went into the dressing room with perhaps a little too much of that feeling of ‘job done’.

Liverpool certainly started the second half as if they had taken the foot off the gas and Wolves started it like a team who guessed that might just be the case, two substitutions (Fletcher and Doherty) making a difference that saw them get one back four minutes into the half. Fletcher got the goal after a Stephen Hunt cross, Liverpool’s defence looking as lost as Pepe Reina’s hopes of a Golden Gloves award this season. Liverpool fans sensed a nervy second half was in store. They weren’t wrong, Wolves kept getting the ball into Liverpool’s area and at times the Reds were hanging on.

Not that Liverpool spent the second half without creating chances; Wolves’ keeper Hennessey blocking a Suarez effort from close range and foiling Downing’s hopes of getting Liverpool back in the comfort zone, not to mention Carroll heading against the post.

In a couple of years time Jordan Henderson may well be seen as one of the best buys of the second Dalglish era, for now there’s little chance of that because his price-tag gets in the way of any genuinely objective thinking about his abilities. Had he been a product of Liverpool’s own academy, maybe out on loan for experience at Sunderland last season before getting into the Reds’ first team side this season it seems doubtful the criticism would sound the same as it does now, with the word “million” thrown into most critiques of him. Towards the end of the game Dalglish swapped him for Dirk Kuyt, another player who struggled for recognition early in his Liverpool career from those people who always know better.

The people who always know better were also unhappy when Suarez made way for Gerrard. The joy that Gerrard was finally going to play in a league game at Anfield was tempered by the sight of Luis’ number being held up. Dalglish could see that it might be easier to hang onto the 2-1 than to take the risks inherent in going for 3-1. Whether or not Wolves at home is the sort of game Liverpool should be winning without trying isn’t relevant – Liverpool are still a long way away from being able to be that arrogant, not that arrogance is something Liverpool really want to be described as.

Suarez was frustrated – he kicked a water bottle – at going off, something that suggests he’s a winner, not a whiner, but no doubt the pencils are already being sharpened, hatchet sharp, as alternative interpretations are sought.

One standout moment from Gerrard’s return was a volley that didn’t quite dip soon enough and wasn’t quite on target, a reminder of what he can do when he’s fully fit, which he’s not far away from being. Liverpool are not far away from being what Liverpool fans want them to be either, but for now patience is important, as is trust, belief and loyalty.

LIVERPOOL: Reina, Kelly, Carragher, Skrtel, Enrique, Henderson(Kuyt 72), Lucas, Adam, Downing, Carroll, Suarez (Gerrard 82)
Goals: Roger Johnson (og) 11, Luis Suárez 38

WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS: Hennessey, Stearman (Doherty 46), Johnson, Berra, Ward, Henry, Hunt (Guedioura 82), Edwards(Fletcher 46), O’Hara, Jarvis, Doyle
Goals: Steven Fletcher 49

REFEREE: Kevin Friend

ATTENDANCE: 44,922

LFC v Wolves – Carroll, Adam, Downing and Henderson return

Kenny Dalglish has gone back to by and large the same Liverpool team that lost last weekend to Spurs for today’s home game against Wolves.

Watch the game on a quality live stream >>

Daniel Agger’s rib injury means he’s out for several weeks and so Kenny has moved Skrtel into the centre of defence (a position he’s far better at than right-back) bringing Martin Kelly in at full-back. Kelly played full-back during the week in the League Cup, his first match since going off injured against Bolton last month. John Flanagan keeps his place on the bench from midweek, Sebastian Coates drops back to the bench.

No start today for the goalscorers during the week, Andy Carroll gets another start alongside Suarez but knows that Bellamy and Kuyt are waiting on the sidelines if he’s unable to produce the goods.

Charlie Adam is given an opportunity to get back on track and build on the promise he was showing in earlier fixtures this season for the Reds. He does that in the knowledge that Steven Gerrard is raring to go, the captain is still being eased back and is likely get a run out towards the end of the game.

Downing is back for his 250th Premier League appearance, Jordan Henderson also recalled having missed the League Cup game.
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Why the Hillsborough files must be released under FOI

SHORTLY after the 20th anniversary of Hillsborough an independent panel was set up to work on the release of official documents relating to the disaster. This panel continues to work through the documentation to prepare it for release, the release to be accompanied by a report detailing how the information “adds to the public understanding of the tragedy and its aftermath”.

Independently of this a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from the BBC called for release of documents and correspondence relating to the disaster that had passed through the office of the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet. The government refused the request, mainly on the grounds that the independent panel (set up after the original FOI request) would be working towards the release of those documents anyway. The Information Commissioner dismissed this excuse and ordered that they be released – the government appealed.

A petition demanding that the documents in that FOI request be released soon followed and it hit well over the 100,000 signatures required for it be considered for debate in Parliament. That debate takes place next month.

There is some confusion as to what the bereaved families want to happen, whether they want the documents covered under the FOI request to be held back until the panel is ready to release the rest of the documentation they uncover or if they want those FOI documents to be released now. The confusion stems from an assumption that all the bereaved families have the exact same opinion or that they are all represented by the same Hillsborough group. Read more

Hillsborough Justice Campaign show appreciation for Brian Percival's gesture

THE HILLSBOROUGH JUSTICE CAMPAIGN (HJC) have voiced their gratitude to Emmy winner Brian Percival for his help in bringing more awareness to the situation that sees survivors and families of the victims of Hillsborough still waiting for justice 22 years after the disaster.

Brian received the award – “Outstanding directing for a mini-series, movie or a dramatic special” – in Los Angeles on Sunday night for the ITV drama Downton Abbey and he wanted to mark it by dedicating it the 96 victims.

Kenny Derbyshire, Chair of the HJC, said: “The families and survivors of the HJC would like to note their appreciation of the gesture made by Brian Percival during his acceptance speech at the Emmy Awards.

“Brian was extremely generous to use an occasion designed to honour his work to highlight the need for justice for Hillsborough families. We would like to thank Brian, and also congratulate him on the well-deserved awards for Downton Abbey.”

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Hillsborough Justice Campaign show appreciation for Brian Percival’s gesture

THE HILLSBOROUGH JUSTICE CAMPAIGN (HJC) have voiced their gratitude to Emmy winner Brian Percival for his help in bringing more awareness to the situation that sees survivors and families of the victims of Hillsborough still waiting for justice 22 years after the disaster.

Brian received the award – “Outstanding directing for a mini-series, movie or a dramatic special” – in Los Angeles on Sunday night for the ITV drama Downton Abbey and he wanted to mark it by dedicating it the 96 victims.

Kenny Derbyshire, Chair of the HJC, said: “The families and survivors of the HJC would like to note their appreciation of the gesture made by Brian Percival during his acceptance speech at the Emmy Awards.

“Brian was extremely generous to use an occasion designed to honour his work to highlight the need for justice for Hillsborough families. We would like to thank Brian, and also congratulate him on the well-deserved awards for Downton Abbey.”

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League Cup: Brighton v Liverpool

Kenny Dalglish said he was going to field a strong side for tonight’s match against Brighton and Hove Albion and he’s certainly not picked a weak one.

Injuries and suspensions meant he would have to make at least three changes – Daniel Agger is injured with Martin Skrtel and Charlie Adam suspended – but he’s made a few more.

One player fans are eagerly waiting to see back in a Liverpool shirt is Steven Gerrard, he doesn’t start tonight but is expected to get on for the second half.

Amex Brighton

The Amex at Brighton - another club to beat LFC to a new stadium

Skrtel is replaced at full-back by Martin Kelly, back from the hamstring injury he picked up against Bolton at Anfield. Jose Enrique is rested, Jack Robinson coming in at left-back. In the centre of defence the new boy Sebastian Coates gets his first start, alongside vice-captain Jamie Carragher. John Flanagan is on the bench.

Three of the new midfield signings are out of the starting line-up – Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson missing this one along with the suspended Adam.

Andy Carroll had been expected to start but he’s made way for others tonight; Dirk Kuyt is back in the line-up and Craig Bellamy will make his first start in his second stint at the club – Luis Suarez also starts.

Gus Poyet’s Championship side will of course be up for this one at a packed Amex Stadium – tickets have been hard to find for both sets of fans.

Liverpool: Reina, Kelly, Coates, Carra, Robinson, Kuyt, Lucas, Spearing, Bellamy, Maxi, Suarez
Subs: Doni, Flanagan, Wilson, Shelvey, Downing, Gerrard, Carroll

Kick-off: 7:45pm BST

TV Coverage:

UK: Live on Sky Sports 2 – Watch online.
US: Live on FoxSoccer.TV – Watch online.  Get a US IP Address.

 

Agger out for weeks as Reds head for south coast

LIVERPOOL are set to be without the services of Daniel Agger for at least six weeks after news that the Danish international broke two ribs on Sunday at White Hart Lane.

Kenny Dalglish played the injury down somewhat, telling LFC.tv: “Daniel has got a fractured rib, so he’s struggling a bit.”

However the player’s agent, Per Steffensen, was more descriptive and said it was two ribs, not one: “It’s the worst possible news,” he told sporten.tv2.dk. “He’s broken two ribs, and he must keep still for four weeks. Daniel is way down now and I certainly sympathise with him. He will miss the two matches against Cyprus and Portugal [for Denmark] and there is a match against Manchester United he also misses. It’s insanely annoying.” Read more

Emmy winner dedicates award to the 96

LIFELONG Liverpool supporter Brian Percival has dedicated the Emmy he won on Sunday in memory of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster.

He won the Emmy for best director for Downton Abbey, the popular ITV show that returned to screens at the weekend. It was one of four Emmy awards for the show, alongside best mini-series, best supporting actress (Dame Maggie Smith) and outstanding writing in a mini-series, movie or dramatic specialfor Julian Fellowes.Percival was obviously delighted with his award but took time out dedicate it to the 96 in the hope it would bring more publicity to the fight for justice and the quest for the truth to be told.
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