Dear Liverpool supporters,
Liverpool 1-2 Manchester City (AET) – Yaya Toure shootout penalty settles Capital One Cup Final and secures the first trophy of the season for Manchester City – 5 things we learned.
Liverpool 1-2 Manchester City (AET) – Yaya Toure shootout penalty settles Capital One Cup Final and secures the first trophy of the season for Manchester City – 5 things we learned.
Sam May will follow Jurgen Klopp as he takes his Reds to Wembley on Sunday in search of his first trophy as Liverpool manager. This will be the first time the two clubs meet in a final of a competition.
It will be Liverpool’s 12th League Cup final, a record. Of the previous 11, they have lifted the trophy eight times between 1981 and 2012 – most recently against Cardiff on penalties. They will be hoping to do the same tomorrow and claim their ninth.
Meanwhile, Manuel Pellegrini will be looking to end his final year at Manchester City on a high with a piece of silverware. The Chilean fielded a weakened side against Chelsea in the FA Cup, losing 5-1 with the midweek Champions League game and tomorrow’s mouthwatering encounter in mind.
Adam Lallana who has a calf strain and Joe Allen and Martin Skrtel who have slight hamstring injuries are all back in training, but could be set to feature.
In the cup competition, Liverpool are unbeaten in their last eight games against the Sky Blues, only losing in an FA Cup fourth round replay in 1973.
Dejan Lovren has recovered from a recent illness, but Jurgen Klopp may continue to play Lucas Leiva at centre back, having used him in that position in Thursday’s 1-0 victory over Augsburg at Anfield.
Klopp gave his thought on the encounter: “They will be fit. We will be fit. It is a final and no one cares where you played your last game. I should not talk here about tactics – I think even in Manchester they have televisions so that is not for the press conference. You can be sure we will have a plan but it is not allowed to go with exactly the same plan in a completely different game.”
“If I think about it I have a few nice pictures in my mind of after the game at Wembley, being together with our fans and a real reason to celebrate together with no doubts about why we do that”, Klopp added.
Manchester City’s Wilfried Bony, Jesus Navas and centre back Eliaquim Mangala could all be in contention for tomorrow’s game. Vincent Kompany, Bakary Sagna and Raheem Sterling will play their part having taken part in recovery sessions earlier this week. Fabian Delph, Samir Nasri and Kevin De Bruyne are all out with injuries.
The last eight meetings in all competitions between the sides have produced 32 goals, both teams finding the net in each match – so it seems more goals will follow tomorrow.
Having lost 4-1 to Liverpool in November, Manuel Pellegrini’s gave his thoughts:
“Liverpool made a very good game here at the Etihad. We make a lot of mistakes in the first 15 minutes so they decide the game early, but all the games are different. After we finish on Sunday we have to return to the Premier League, we have another 36 points to fight for.”
“We are six points behind the leaders but we will continue fighting until the end and we are not giving up. It gives you a lot of trust if you win this title”, Pellegrini said.
Sam May’s observations and thoughts from Block 543 in the Liverpool End will follow after the game.
Liverpool must overcome arch rivals Manchester United if they are to progress all the way to Basel for this year’s Europa League Cup final.
The draw was made this lunchtime for the last 16 and ended with the two north west giants drawn against each other. The two sides have had some memorable battles down the year but surprisingly never before in a European competition.
The last 16 is unseeded and is also the first stage of the Europa League where country protection doesn’t apply.
Liverpool have won the competition, formerly known as the UEFA Cup, three times, putting them one behind record holders Sevilla. Manchester United are yet to win it.
Both clubs would, of course, prefer to be competing in the more prestigious Champions League, which Liverpool have won five times to United’s three, but these days UEFA’s secondary competition offers its own route into their premier tournament.
Liverpool qualified thanks to an early James Milner penalty last night against Augsburg, the only goal of the whole tie putting the Reds through 1-0 on aggregate.
Whilst Klopp’s new look Liverpool were unable to find the net from open play against the Germans in either game they found it six times in their last match against English opposition, the 6-0 hammering of Aston Villa a fortnight ago in the Premier League. That result, with six different LFC scorers, suggests there is plenty of firepower there for Liverpool if they can just gel.
At times against Augsburg it felt like there was just one pass too many when a shot might have been the better option and at times the players just unable to anticipate what their teammate would do next. All issues that can be improved with time together on the field.
Next up for Liverpool is the first of two games against Manchester United’s neighbours City. A Premier League clash at Anfield on Wednesday awaits, but first it’s a trip to Wembley for the Capital One Cup final and an opportunity for Klopp to pick up his first silverware as Reds boss. It would also be the Anfield side’s first trophy in four years. That was also the League Cup, when Kenny Dalglish was at the helm.
The first leg of the Europa League clash with United takes place in just ten days’ time at Anfield on March 10th, kick-off 8:05pm. The return leg is at Old Trafford a week later on March 17th with an early 6pm start.
Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR) v Anderlecht (BEL)
Basel (SUI) v Sevilla (ESP, holders)
Villarreal (ESP) v Bayer Leverkusen (GER)
Athletic Club (ESP) v Valencia (ESP)
Liverpool (ENG) v Manchester United (ENG)
Sparta Praha (CZE) v Lazio (ITA)
Borussia Dortmund (GER) v Tottenham Hotspur (ENG)
Fenerbahçe (TUR) v Braga (POR)
Liverpool are said to be interested in a summer swoop for Chelsea outcast Marko Marin, according to Sam May.
Remember him? Yes, he is still a Chelsea player but is on-loan at Trazbonspor and is said to be available in a cut-price deal at the end of the campaign.
However, Liverpool would have to offer a lucrative deal should he move to Merseyside, as the Turkish side has the first option to buy the winger.
The German International, 26, failed to settle in South West London having been drafted in from Werder Bremen in 2012 for £7 million and made just 16 appearances for the Stamford Bridge side.
He does however have a vast knowledge of the game having played for Sevilla, Fiorentina and Anderlecht on-loan and is a versatile player meaning he play in the number 10 role not just along both flanks.
The Reds were keen to secure his services when Kenny Dalglish was at the helm, only for the player to join Chelsea and snub Liverpool and Tottenham. He has two goals and four assists in all competitions for Trabzonspor this season with the club keen to keep him next season.
He admitted last week that he was unlikely to return to Stamford Bridge at the conclusion of his loan spell at Trabzonspor but insists he can still play at the highest level amongst Europe’s elite.
“It’s difficult,” he said. “You not only need a few good matches at Trabzon, but a very strong year. You never know, but right now it does not look like it.
“My career only starts now. I am in the best age for a footballer. I have collected a lot of experience, lived in London, Seville, Florence, Brussels, got to know many new languages and leagues.”
“I could have left for the UAE last summer but I want to show my worth in Europe, and I am on a good path.”
Liverpool full-back Nathanial Clyne can’t wait for his first proper cup final this weekend when the Reds take on the Sky Blues at Wembley to try and win domestic honours in the shape of the League Cup. The former Southampton star isn’t alone in being well and truly up for the game, he says, and adds that it won’t just be Liverpool fans making the trip to the famous stadium to support him.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror earlier this week, Clyne said: “Everyone is buzzing about the cup final and, for me, it’s my first major cup final so all my friends and family are coming and it’s very exciting for the whole club.”
Before the final Liverpool also have to play the second leg of their ’round of 32′ clash with Ausburg in the Europa League at Anfield on Thursday, a game Liverpool must not treat as an inconvenient interruption to the preparations for Sunday’s final. From what Clyne says, that won’t be the case.
“It’s definitely exciting times if we can put together a decent run of form, because we’ve got the cup final, still got the Europa League and hopefully it can be the start of things to come.”
For that to happen Liverpool will need to overcome the odds somewhat, with the Reds seen as being around 2/1 to win in 90 minutes on Sunday, opponents City at 5/4, with the draw available at 12/5 according to Bet365 bonus guide. Liverpool have, of course, overcome the odds in style once already this season, the 4-1 win in November a sign of how well it can go for Liverpool if they play at their best from start to finish.
Clyne had barely had time to settle in at Anfield before a run of poor results – on the back of a poor season in 2014-15 – led to the change of boss most fans were crying out for. The man who signed him was out the door, in his place a German manager called Jurgen Klopp.
Much has changed since the new man came in, although Liverpool still struggle in games they should be winning and are often their own worst enemies. Clyne says it has been tough work since Klopp’s introduction, but feels that it has all been worthwhile.
“I think the biggest thing you notice with the manager is the hunger and desire to win the ball back. The midfielder, defenders and full backs like me have to work very hard. It has been tough but it’s also been paying off.
“I think you can see that it’s working and I’m sure we are going to shoot up the table.”
Klopp has alluded on a number of occasions since becoming the Reds boss to his squad being short of confidence and Clyne thinks victory on Sunday could go a long way towards curing that.
“We’ve actually been playing well in games, not always getting results,” he says, adding: “Hopefully if we can win a trophy that will give us confidence and mean we can go on and win a lot more.”
The club’s injury crisis is slowly but surely starting to ease and in Liverpool’s last league outing a squad that was about as close to full-strength as Klopp has had the luxury of choosing from hammered Aston Villa 6-0.
“We’ve had a lot of players out injured,” Clyne says, “I think the win at Aston Villa showed that we are capable and I’ve felt for a while that a result like that has been coming.
A lot of players got on the scoresheet,” Clyne pointed out. “We’ve got a lot of talent in the squad and when everyone is back I’m sure we’ve got a squad which can be successful.”
Liverpool have lacked goals for most of the past two seasons and, certainly under the last manager, were guilty of getting much too bogged down at the thought of life without Suarez and the many absences of Daniel Sturridge. Sturridge has now returned to the side but against Villa he was just one of six different scorers, Clyne one of the others, showing that when it all works out Liverpool can get goals from all over the park.
Can they get them from all over Wembley Stadium?
Here’s hoping. No club has won the League Cup as many times as Liverpool and to win it a record ninth time would be an excellent way for Klopp to start a rebuilding job that must, eventually, see Liverpool pick up the biggest domestic honour, the one that has eluded them for almost 26 years.
Liverpool are interested in a swoop for young AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, according to various reports, writes Sam May.
The 16-year-old, dubbed “the new Buffon” was drafted into first-team action earlier this season and has since made 17 appearances in Serie A for the seven-time European champions.
With Milan suffering a poor start to the Serie A season, manager Sinisa Mihajlovic sprung a surprise when he included young Donnarumma in the starting 11 back in October against Sassuolo.
The youngster had previously played in a pre-season friendly against Real Madrid last summer but the game against Sassuolo was his professional debut for the Rossonerri.
He beats legend Gianluigi Buffon to the youngest player in Serie A history, with the Juventus keeper making his debut aged 17. He is seen as his “natural” long-term replacement, with the veteran expected to retire in 2018. Buffon made his debut in goal for Parma two months short of his 18th birthday and became first choice the following season.
Paolo Maldini was 17 when he was promoted to the first team at Milan, after coming on as a substitute six months earlier. Both Maldini and Buffon had an immediate impact, but nothing compared to the sensational start of Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Donnarumma was born close to Vesuvius and his family home in Castellammare di Stabia is close to the ruins of Pompeii. Currently Donnarumma is on a contract of €160,000 a year. The deal awaiting him is said to be worth €1m net.
It is probably too early for Donnarumma to stake a claim for a place in Italy’s squad for the summer. He is yet to be capped for the under-21 side.
Empoli coach Marco Giampaolo recently gave his thoughts on him when he was quoted saying: “He has footballing intelligence that does not end with standing in the goal. He is always inside the game, when there is a back-pass he always moves. He has personality, he goes in search of passes.”
Franco Baresi, a youth coach at Milan also said: “Occasionally I ask myself if he really is 16 because he shows an extraordinary character and command in a role that is not easy.”
Another Milan legend, Enrico Albertosi, who was Italy’s goalkeeper in the 1970 World Cup, believes the club has found a player “who can bring them fortune for years to come”.
Jurgen Klopp is believed to be interested in securing a replacement for Simon Mignolet.
Manchester United and Chelsea have both been linked with the sensation, with the Italian Giants reportedly considering a giant £30million bid. In recent times, Ajax and Juventus have since joined Liverpool in the race for the starlet’s signature.
Milan are said to be planning a contract extension 2023 when he turns 18 in February 2017.
Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Granit Xhaka has said it would be a ‘dream’ to play in the Premier League, writes Sam May.
It is understood that Jurgen Klopp has recently met with the 23-years old’s agent, with Liverpool keen to secure his services.
The Switzerland International, who has Albanian decent, joined Gladbach from hometown club Basel in 2012 and is under contract with the Bundesliga club until 2019.
He has made 24 appearances this season, scoring three goals and making one assist and is said be worth £40 million.
Xhaka, who was once dubbed the ‘young Bastian Schweinsteiger’ by former Bayern Munich head coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, admitted he could potentially move to the Premier League in the future.
“I think everybody has a dream,” Xhaka said. “Everybody has a childhood dream and that’s my childhood dream. If my dream comes true, it remains to be seen. At the moment I cannot say how realistic it is.”
Xhaka’s comments suggest that contact has been made with the midfielder ahead of the summer, though it is unclear from which club.
Having already signed Matip, Klopp may raid the Bundesliga once more. Xhaka would add that creative spark which is missing in the midfield and would take the pressure off Coutinho.
The Reds do however face competition from Arsenal, with Arsene Wenger keen as well as Manchester City’s incoming coach Pep Guardiola, who is keen to secure his signature.
In January, Xhaka said “it’s difficult to say no when Manchester City want you and you could play there.
“That much I have to admit,” he added, “but I’m certainly not the only one.”
It seems City have the edge over the Reds, although Klopp could persuade him to Anfield in the summer.
Having already snapped up 24-year old central defender Joel Matip from Schalke 04, on a free transfer when his contract expires in the summer, Liverpool are said to be interested in another bargain buy – Havard Nordveit, who could make a similar move.
Klopp knows the 25-year old Norwegian international well from his time in Germany, having watched him on number of occasions, whilst managing former club Dortmund.
The former Arsenal trainee has recently said that a ‘decision will come next week’ sparking speculation about his future and whether the defensive midfielder could follow Matip to Merseyside.
As Klopp has adopted a “cost-effective” approach in the transfer market so far, having spent just £5.1 million on loan-signing Steven Caulker, Marko Grujic from Red Star Belgrade and the arrival of Matip, Nordveit could be the next piece of shrewd business by the 46-year old manager.
He would be the perfect option in centre of midfield and could be the replacement in Lucas’s position should he drop into the back four in the future.
A strong, consistent, progressive defensive midfielder, he has established himself as a key figure at Borussia-Park, since leaving Arsenal for £800,000 at the end 2010.
His reading of the game is a huge factor as is his intelligence of breaking up the play and using the ball wisely. At 6ft 2, he is strong, athletic and good in the air – so could withstand the rigours of Premier League football. He can also play as a centre back and right back so would offer the Reds options.
He would also offer help to Emre Can, who has suffered a mixed and frustrating season, but also help Liverpool as they look for success in the Premier League and cup competitions next season. Signing him on free transfer would be a steal and the expectation that this wages would not be excessive, would be another plus point for the Anfield board.
Agree with Sam? Should Liverpool be signing this player or are there better targets out there? Is it better to blood more of the youngsters who impressed in Liverpool’s recent cup runs? Leave your views in the comments.
When news broke last night that Fenway Sports Group had announced they had dropped the £77 ticket idea and would be freezing prices everyone got understandably excited. Victory was ours, we thought – they listened, they learned, we won. But did we?
The removal of categorisation from the 2016-17 price list means that all league games will be priced the same as each other. It will cost as much to hear Manchester United fans singing songs about Steven Gerrard and libraries as it will to hear Stoke City fans singing them.
Having a most expensive ticket of £59 is, of course, still a ridiculous amount of money to pay but far more palatable than £77. The trouble is, there will be £59 tickets at all 19 games next season, instead of six. There will also, based in trying to decipher what information the club have released, be more £59 tickets per game, at least in the Main Stand, than there are now.
There is a lot of information to try and unravel and in time no doubt it will be all unravelled, but for now the club aren’t in too much of a hurry to talk numbers. Not the negative sounding ones anyway.
FSG are better than Hicks and Gillett, as Ian Ayre alluded to last week in his desperate attempts to get everyone onside over the £77 ticket. It’s probably the most annoying number he’s come out with since that poor and inappropriate ‘69’ joke of his was aired in ‘Being Liverpool’ a few years back. But FSG are still a US hedge fund who bought Liverpool as an investment they thought they could grow.
John Henry and his colleagues took a gamble in buying Liverpool but must have had a very good idea of just how safe a bet it was going to be. Any gamble, whether like the ones on this website or business deals involving hundreds of millions of pounds comes with a certain amount of risk and hedge funds are perhaps seen as some of the biggest risk takers in the financial world. They took a risk in swapping Kenny Dalglish for Brendan Rodgers, in swapping the idea of a brand new stadium which would have gone a long way towards alleviating ticket demand problems for an extension to the main stand that will barely make a noticeable difference, in promoting Ian Ayre twice when most observers were expecting them to bring in an experienced football executive.
There are worse owners, but there are also better. They should not be above criticism but criticism does not mean “FSG out”.
The sooner we can all get that straight with each other the better.
Their open letter last night, their ‘message to fans’, sounded brilliant on the face of it, but was it?
I dug into it a bit more for The Mirror and all in all it was nowhere near as good as the heavy spin in their message made it out to be.
Read the full Mirror article here: Why Liverpool’s £77 ticket climbdown is not quite the victory for fans it first appeared to be
Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group tonight apologised to Reds supporters for the distress they admit they caused to the club’s fans when the club announced massive price hikes to ticket prices for next season. In an astonishing u-turn FSG have not only rescinded many of those price rises but have extended some of the more palatable offers they made at the same time.
When the announcement was made last that Anfield was to have general admission tickets going on sale for club record £77 in 2016-17 the anger was instantaneous from large pockets of the support. Fans groups announced that there would be a walk out on 77 minutes – a significant number both in LFC history and in terms of that ridiculous new ticket price – and cynics didn’t expect it to be taken up by very man fans or to make a big difference.
An estimated 10,000 fans left the stadium when the 77th minute arrived – after renditions of “Enough is enough” aimed at their club’s owners and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” at the team they had to heartbreakingly leave behind.
The shockwaves hit Boston.
Last week Ian Ayre put himself in front of the cameras to talk about the price rises in about as patronising a way as even he could manage, shortly after the club had made it clear reporters weren’t to ask manager Jurgen Klopp for his thoughts on the mess.
Today Ian Ayre was left out of it, today it was head office on the US East Coast that wanted to do the explaining – and the apologising, and the massive attempt to put things right.
It was Fenway Sports Group themselves who said sorry and explained what they had decided to do to replace last week’s awful plans. The three men listed on the club’s official site as having at least a 10% share in the ownership of the club, Principal Owner John W Henry, Chairman Tom Werner and President Mike Gordon, sent the message to the club’s fans.
Their statement was released on the club’s official website and is reproduced in full here:
Dear Liverpool supporters,
It has been a tumultuous week. On behalf of everyone at Fenway Sports Group and Liverpool Football Club, we would like to apologise for the distress caused by our ticket pricing plan for the 2016-17 season.
The three of us have been particularly troubled by the perception that we don’t care about our supporters, that we are greedy, and that we are attempting to extract personal profits at the club’s expense. Quite the opposite is true.
From our first days as owners we have understood that serving as custodians of this incredible institution is a distinct privilege and as such, we have been driven solely by the desire to return LFC to the pinnacle of football. In the world of modern football, growing the club in a sustainable way is essential to realising this objective.
To that end, we have never taken a single penny out of the football club. Instead we have injected vast sums of our own money to improve the playing squad and modernise LFC’s infrastructure – exemplified by the £120million advance from FSG to build the new Main Stand. This massive undertaking was made in order to provide more supporters access to Anfield and also to produce additional revenue to help us compete financially with clubs that have greater resources. When it opens in August this year, the stand will accomplish those goals, thereby fulfilling a promise we made upon acquiring LFC in 2010.
We were strongly engaged in the process to develop the ticketing plan for 2016-17. We met directly with representatives of LFC’s Supporters’ Committee and along with LFC management, wholeheartedly agreed with major concerns raised, notably: access for local and young supporters; engagement and access to Anfield for local children; access to Premier League matches for those in Liverpool most challenged by affordability.
We believe the plan successfully addressed these concerns and are disappointed that these elements have been either lost or, worse, characterised as cynical attempts to mask profiteering in the plan as a whole. Rather, we prefer to look at them as the parts of the ticketing plan we got right.
On the other hand, part of the ticketing plan we got wrong.
In addition to the other elements of the plan we proposed price increases on a number of tickets. These pricing actions generated growth in general admission ticketing revenue on a like-for-like basis exclusive of revenue from newly-added GA seats.
We believed by delivering a vastly improved seat offering in what will be the newest stand in English football, concentrating the price increases on those tickets typically purchased by fans least sensitive to affordability, and for LFC to begin repaying the £120million advance from FSG for the new Main Stand that these increases were supportable even in the context of growth in revenues from the new Premier League TV deal.
However, the widespread opposition to this element of the plan has made it clear that we were mistaken.
A great many of you have objected strongly to the £77 price level of our most expensive GA seats and expressed a clear expectation that the club should forego any increased revenue from raising prices on GA tickets in the current environment.
After an intense period of consultation with LFC management we have decided to make major revisions to our ticketing structure for 2016-17:
- Removal of game categorisation – regardless of the opposition fans will pay the same price for matchday tickets.
- The pricing of tickets will be readjusted to result in zero revenue growth from GA ticketing on a like-for-like basis.
- Though individual ticket prices may move marginally from this season, we are freezing our 2016-17 GA ticket revenue at the 2015-16 level exclusive of newly-added seats in the new Main Stand.
- The price of our highest general admission ticket will be frozen at the 2015-16 level – £59.
- The price of our highest season ticket will be frozen at the 2015-16 level – £869. The lowest price reducing a further £25 from the 2015-16 level to £685, as well as all other tiers being frozen or reduced.
- £9 GA seats will be offered for each and every Premier League match, an allocation of more than 10,000 tickets across the season.
We would hasten to add that the other initiatives announced last week in the 2016-17 plan will remain:
- 17-21 young adult concession – 20,000 tickets across the Premier League season available at a 50 per cent reduction for young people.
- 1,000 tickets to Premier League matches across the season will be given away free of charge to Liverpool schoolchildren based on merit, as recommended by their teachers.
As a sign of our commitment to this improved ticketing structure, we are further announcing that this plan shall be in effect for both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. For the next two seasons, LFC will not earn a single additional pound from increasing general admission ticket prices.
We believe we have demonstrated a willingness to listen carefully, reconsider our position, and act decisively. The unique and sacred relationship between Liverpool Football Club and its supporters has always been foremost in our minds. It represents the heartbeat of this extraordinary football club.
More than any other factor by far, that bond is what drives us to work tirelessly on behalf of the club and its future. We have great conviction in our world-class manager and our young, talented squad and know that in time the on-pitch success we all crave will be realised.
We look forward to sharing in that success with you.
John W Henry, Tom Werner, Mike Gordon
The club also released updated detailed pricing information for next season:
Now if they could just see their way fit to addressing the problems with player recruitment….