Ex-Liverpool defender Daniel Agger retires at 31

Former Liverpool centre-back Daniel Agger takes to Twitter to confirm he is calling time on his playing career.

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Sad news from Daniel Agger as the ex-Reds defender today announced his retirement from football at just 31 years of age.

Agger’s career has been plagued with injury setbacks and although the Dane admitted it was “sad” to accept his playing days were over he said he was “proud” of the career he had.

Daniel used Twitter to confirm the news: “Thank you for your support,” he tweeted. “A great experience,” he added, in a tweet that also included a photo of a selection of his shirts, including a Liverpool one.

“It’s sad, but it is the right decision to stop. I’m proud of my career,” he wrote.

 

The centre-back was signed for Liverpool by Rafa Benitez in 2006 from boyhood club Brondby and left Anfield eight years later having established himself as a favourite for many fans, especially when he responded to transfer rumours linking him with a move away from Anfield one summer by getting “YNWA” tattooed on his knuckles.

Those injuries restricted his appearances in a Liverpool shirt but he still managed to turn out 232 times in his eight years and won a League Cup Winners’ medal in 2012 under Kenny Dalglish.

Perhaps one of the lowest points of his time at Anfield was when current England manager Roy Hodgson was boss for an ill-fated six-months. Responding to stories in the Danish media Hodgson said of Agger:

“I don’t give them mass media training. I would give mass media training to young players, but people like Agger who is knocking on 30 years of age… I wouldn’t want to pull him aside and say, ‘be careful what you say,’ because he understands those things.” Agger was actually 25 at the time.

“You’re going to get caught out,” Roy added, “But to be quoted, as he was on Sky, he doesn’t like our long ball approach, I think that’s not only tough on the boy that he’s been caught out but to be made to look a complete fool, because I think probably the one thing, at the moment, nobody in this room for one minute suggest, was that Liverpool are a long ball team.

“In fact there might be people who would suggest we should play a bit longer because we win the passing statistics every match but even our goalkeeper rarely kicks the ball beyond the halfway line so I think they’ve made him look a bit of a fool with that.”

In the same interview Hodgson also explained why Agger wasn’t playing – it was because Roy’s new signing had taken his place. “To play regularly you’ve got to be fit [which Agger was at the time]. I think most of last year he wasn’t fit.”

That was before Hodgson arrived, so why wasn’t he playing under the former Fulham boss? “He was fit at the start of this year but he had to play at left back until we signed Konchesky. Now of course Carragher and Skrtel have been playing in the centre of defence and doing well and he’s got to get into the team in the place of one of those.”

Agger’s appearances were few and far between and a few months later Hodgson was sacked, much to the delight of the vast majority of Liverpool supporters, and Agger was quoted later on how things were under Roy.

“Look at the team – we played awful, we were s**t,”  he said.

“When you look now every single player is better. Confidence can win you games and Kenny [Dalglish] and Steve [Clarke, his assistant] have put the confidence back in the players and we have shown that definitely in the last four games.”

Better still, the football was now of a style Agger – and most fans – would prefer to see from the Reds: “Kenny likes to play positive football, going forward, and keeping the ball on the ground and he is good among the players. The training sessions have been really good and everything starts at the training ground. If you get that right you have a big advantage in the games.”

Of course those good times under Kenny didn’t last as FSG sacked him just after that League Cup winning season. In his place came Brendan Rodgers and soon, as it had been under Roy, Agger found himself making limited appearances. In 2014 he moved back to Brondby, a year after rejecting reported advances from Barcelona to stay at Anfield.

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He told Danish TV what had led to him making that big decision to leave Anfield, pointing to his relationship with Rodgers. “There was much [distance] between us, and for me it was just enough,” he said.

“I felt that he didn’t appreciate the things I could do or contributed. When I feel that, then it’s time to move on.

“When you are a part of the starting eleven for several games in a row and the team have performed well, and you feel that you have played well, then you are left out of the team and don’t feel appreciated, it starts to get pray on your mind and you wonder.
“Then, at the same time, you see the statistics from your game – which are so important all around the world of football – and you don’t understand why you weren’t used more often.”

The defender did have some praise for Rodgers, but suggested he felt let down by a lack of openness from his former manager: “He’s an extremely, extremely competent coach. The things that went wrong between us is that I say things the way they are and I expect others to treat me the same way. Maybe it is wrong to always expect this.”

Agger, who also won 71 caps for Denmark, was recently linked with a reunion with the man who brought him to Anfield, Benitez, who is now Newcastle boss, but today’s news confirms that won’t be happening.

The willingness Agger showed to put his body on the line for Liverpool – despite all those injuries – showed an attitude that many Reds players have lacked in recent times. An excellent defender, his abilities going forward and his desire to turn defence into attack are qualities Jurgen Klopp needs to look for as he rebuilds his Liverpool side.

At £6m Agger, despite the injuries, turned out to be something of a bargain.

He’ll be missed from the game but left us with plenty happy memories. Good luck in whatever comes next for you Daniel.

What do Liverpool need for the coming season?

Now Jurgen Klopp has had over half a season of Premier League experience, it is now time for him to bring in his own players and take Liverpool to the next level. I will be analysing what positions Klopp will need to invest in and possible candidates.

Signings so far

Loris Karius is the latest Klopp signing, a young promising goalkeeper from ex club Mainz. Karius is a great signing with the inconsistent performances from current number one, Simon Mignolet. A very good shot stopper and confident in possession of the ball whilst delivering good distribution much like ex Liverpool player Pepe Reina. It is not yet clear whether Karius is the new number one goalkeeper but he will definitely be good competition for Mignolet for the coming season. 

New LFC goalkeeper signing Karius

Is Karius the new number one at Liverpool?

Joel Matip was signed in February on a free transfer from FC Schalke 04 and could be the dominant centre back Liverpool are crying for. Over recent seasons, poor defending has been the Reds downfall and Klopp has immediately tried to rectify that. Joel Matip stands at 6 ft 4 inches and is known for his power and heading ability, which can certainly help Liverpool with their inability to defend corners/crosses. On a free, this is a brilliant signing as he is still young but has good experience, collecting nearly 200 appearances for Schalke and 27 for his national team Cameroon. Matip will go straight into the first team and Klopp will hope for him to build a formidablle partnership with the rejuvenated Dejan Lovren.

Marko Grujic is relatively unknown to fans of the Premier League and Liverpool but looks a very promising player. The Serbian made it into the SuperLiga team of the season accumulating six goals and seven assists along the way. A big powerful midfielder, Grujic has been likened to fellow Serbian Nemanja Matic and for sum of £5.1 million, Liverpool may have just found a top European midfielder.

Positions Liverpool need to strengthen this summer

Left Back has been a constant problem for Liverpool since club legend John Arne Riise left the club. The likes of Paul Konchesky, Jose Enrique and Fabio Aurellio have tried to fill the void but have not been up to Liverpool’s expectations. The current left back is Alberto Moreno, whilst Moreno provides a great attacking threat, his ability to defend is often questioned and his abysmal Europa League final performance has many fans wanting Klopp to sign a new left back. Moreno did not convert to a left back until he was 21 and this shows in his current game, a backup left back or playing him higher up the pitch will be more suitable for this coming season.

Potential signings – Jonas Hector, Caner Erkin, Ben Chilwell.

Midfield is a tricky one as Liverpool do possess very good midfielders in, Emre Can, Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Philippe Coutinho. Despite the quality in midfield, it feels like Liverpool are desperate for a proven top class player to add another option for Klopp. There has been much speculation about the potential signing of Mario Gotze, this would be the marquee signing Liverpool fans are begging for. Unfortunately for Liverpool fans, it seems like the deal is not on the cards. Speaking to German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, Gotze’s father Jurgen Gotze stated he has heard nothing about a possible deal to the Reds; “I don’t know anything about an alleged imminent transfer to Liverpool,” he said. “Mario is my son, we talk to each other. I would know about it.” This is a huge setback for everyone involved with Liverpool but this transfer can be resurrected.

Gotze waving goodbye to Bayern fans?

Gotze waving goodbye to Bayern fans?

Potential signings – Mario Gotze is a main target for Klopp and they should do everything they can to secure his services.

Now Liverpool have a world class manager in Jurgen Klopp, fans will need to be patient and give Klopp time to bring in the players he believes can take Liverpool to the next level and bring the Premier League back to Anfield for the first time in over 20 years.

Follow Jake on Twitter.

96 people were unlawfully killed and now the establishment has questions to answer.

The Hillsborough Inquests jury returns its verdicts on a historic and momentous day. The 96 Liverpool supporting victims were found to have been unlawfully killed and the Liverpool fans who were there were found to have played no part in causing the deadly situation to occur.

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27 years of fighting later and the families, survivors and campaigners have finally, finally, got a legal judgement in black and white that proves that they were right all along.

On an extremely emotional day the jury in the Hillsborough inquests, over two years after it began, gave their verdicts.

96 football fans died on the 15th of April 1989 – and they died because they were unlawfully killed.

The deaths of the 96 Liverpool fans were in no way whatsoever down to the actions of any of the Liverpool fans who were at the stadium that day, despite the attempts of the establishment at the time and in years to follow to claim that it was.

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They didn’t die by accident, they didn’t die at the hands of their fellow supporters. 27 years of lies proved wrong.

The police, including its senior officers, the ambulance service and Sheffield Wednesday FC were all found by the jury to have played some part in a situation that resulted in the loss of 96 lives.

The next stage now is for the criminal investigations to continue and as a result everyone is still restricted in saying what we really think about the role of South Yorkshire Police and its senior officers that day. The force apologized today, a hollow apology in many people’s eyes.

The families now know their loved ones died not because of ‘accidental death’, as ruled by the now-quashed original inquests, but by ‘unlawful’ means. That means person or persons have been walking free without facing a criminal prosecution for 27 years despite having played a part in the unlawful deaths of 96 innocent people.

The survivors, many of whom went through unspeakable and unimaginable torture that day, coming close to losing their own lives and watching helplessly as people around them lost theirs, not to mention the sights and sounds they experienced, found themselves blamed by the establishment for what happened 27 years ago. Already severely and deeply traumatised, to be told that they were to blame – falsely – is an act of cruelty bordering on the barbaric. Numerous survivors would ultimately find the traumas of that day and the aftermath too much to bear.

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27 years is far too long to wait for justice but it is clear that the families, survivors and campaigners were not going to sit back and let the passage of time be an obstacle to their fight. In many cases the mothers and fathers that began the fight for justice for their lost son or daughter are no longer with us but in their place their children and a constantly growing army of campaigners fought in their place.

The fight was never going to stop, and it never will, until justice has been done for all 96 of the victims and all those survivors who had to endure hell.

To allow 96 people to die is unforgivable – to cover those deaths up is in many ways far worse. The S*n newspaper played a part in that and for that title to still be in existence is a crime of a different type, especially when they are still able to peddle front page lies with the only deterrent the risk of having to publish a postage stamp sized apologies buried deep inside their rag.

There are also one or people celebrating victory today that might want to think again about their own part in slowing down the march to it, including some who only use the disaster when they think it will boost their own image, turning down requests from campaigners when it doesn’t suit their own needs.

However today should be as much about recognising the good as it is about highlighting the bad. The bad will get their day in court, the good have got their day now and will have it every day from now on. Tonight the bad will be losing sleep, the good can sleep easy, knowing those who have suffered can now rest in peace.

So many people have sacrificed so much in the quest for the truth and 27 years is a massive chunk of anyone’s life. Some are no longer with us and some might not be with us by the time the whole criminal process is finally over and done with, but we’ll always have them with us as inspiration because they never gave up, ever. The obstacles they faced, the monsters they fought, the contempt they had to overcome – they must have been real life super humans to get past it all. But get past it all they did and that is why today they are celebrating a victory far bigger than all of Liverpool FC’s victories put together.

Bernard Ingham, former press secretary to Conservative heroine Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister at the time and part of a government that once secretly suggested the city of Liverpool should be put into ‘managed decline’, always insisted that the fans had played a part in the 96 deaths. He refused to comment today, quite the opposite approach to the time he said: “Liverpool should shut up about Hillsborough.”

Liverpool didn’t shut up about Hillsborough and the more the rest of the country and the rest of the world heard about Hillsborough the more the people who had campaigned from day one got their voices heard. Those voices had always been right, now they were louder than ever.

The truth always comes out in the end and, despite the callous way those with power use that privilege to hurt others, there is no weapon stronger than the truth, especially when used with the kind of dignity we have witnessed for almost three decades.

Today THE TRUTH won.

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Opinion: Stop thinking about money and start thinking about cups

Football in England is growing increasingly obsessed with the importance of finishing in the top four – but not for the right reasons, argues Jim Boardman.

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Liverpool take on Manchester United at Anfield tonight as the two sides meet for the first time ever in Europe. The prize on offer over the two legs – the return is in a week, on St Patrick’s Day, at their place – is a spot in the last eight of the Europa League.

Yes, the Europa League. The competition derided so long as the inferior sibling of the big-bucks Champions League, a competition billed as an inconvenience by fans, pundits, players and managers alike. It’s like the League Cup of Europe, a tournament looked down upon by snobbish supporters with blinkered eyes focussed on bigger prizes, snobs who see these trophies as pieces of tat and consider the whole idea of being involved to be beneath them.

How many of them then complain that football is losing its soul, that players are being paid too much, ticket prices are too high, club owners are out of touch, that the atmosphere inside the grounds has become sterile?

 

Before it was called the Champions League, you had to actually be a champion to take part in Europe’s main club competition, either the champions of your own domestic league or the Champions of Europe. Nowadays countries like England get four places – a fifth of their top flight – in what we used to call the European Cup. How many of them set out at the beginning thinking they could actually win the thing? How many of them are just happy to be playing in UEFA’s posher, more lucrative, tournament?

How often do you hear people talk about the importance of finishing in the top four?

How often do they say it’s important because it then means they are in with a chance of winning the European Cup next year?

It’s never important for that reason is it? It’s only ever important because of the financial benefits of finishing in the top four.

You’d be forgiven for thinking nobody wants to be in the Champions League to win it these days. They are in it for the money, the money that makes their club’s owners, managers and players richer but doesn’t make a blind bit of difference to how much it costs them to pay on the door to get in and see it. At least that’s how it seems.

It’s not just the money, of course, it also gives them the chance to see some of the world’s best players visit their ground. It’s like a series of exhibition matches because nobody really seems all that bothered about ending another season without that famous trophy in their hands.

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Meanwhile the Europa League is seen as some kind of penance that has to be served for not finishing high enough on the league for one of those ‘lucrative Champions League places’.

Now, all of a sudden, people are talking about the Europa League being a competition worth winning. Is it for the chance to lift a trophy, once known simply as the UEFA Cup, that has been lifted by so many illustrious sides down the years?

No, it’s because you get a place in that ‘lucrative Champions League’.

Luis Van Gaal, Manchester United’s current manager, said: “United and Liverpool is always a big game. It’s historical and even bigger now because both teams are fighting for a Champions League place.” Or fighting for the chance to see their captain lift that trophy? No? He probably didn’t get asked that, to be fair.

Klopp, who says “It’s a great tournament,” found himself answering questions about his priorities and whether this was an easier route to one of those lucrative Champions League places than trying to get into the top four. “We will try to keep focused on the games rather than working out the best way into the Champions League,” he said.

“Now you can see the finish line in this tournament there are only good teams left,” he added.

“It’s something like a small version of the Champions League in its own right.”

Exactly, Jürgen. It’s a tournament in its own right with its own lump of silver at the end. At least someone is looking at it that way.

Tonight, at Anfield, Liverpool take on Manchester United for the chance to make it into the last eight of the Europa League, which would be one step away from the semi-finals, another step to the final and the chance to lift a trophy that remains iconic, regardless of how much effort is being put into making it little more than a token exchangeable for money and exhibition games next season.

There’s a reason why fans don’t have songs about finishing in the top four or the money their clubs will make for playing in a particular tournament. If money finally does win in football there won’t be any songs at all, unless they’re piped in, the customers will expect to be entertained, not to be part of the entertainment themselves.

The Europa League is still a pot worth winning, it shouldn’t take a Liverpool v Manchester United fixture to show that.

Reports: Reds in for £15m French midfielder

Liverpool are interested in a summer move for Crystal Palace midfielder Yohan Cabaye, according to sources, writes Sam May.

The Frenchman, 30, is said to be worth £15 million and is also a target for West Ham United.

He signed for PSG in January 2014 for £19 million from Newcastle United, before moving to Crystal Palace for an undisclosed fee.

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With the Hammers moving to the Olympic Stadium in time for next season, they are said to be planning a spending spree. Cabaye is said to be on the top of their list. Kop boss Klopp is also planning a squad overhaul when the transfer window re-opens, suggesting a move could be very likely.

The former Lille youth player is described as a player who possesses “excellent vision, great ball control”, and “provides technical quality”. He is also known for his free-kick and penalty-taking ability.

Making 30 appearances so far this season, he has scored five goals and made two assists. He has been a regular starter for Palace this season, although his form hasn’t been enough to steer the Selhurst Park side away from the threat of relegation.

Cabaye would bolster the midfield and offer that experience in the centre. He would join fellow Frenchman Mamadou Sakho should he make the move to Merseyside.

This could help the Reds’ in their pursuit of luring him away in the summer.

Liverpool pay the penalty – 5 things we learned

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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 was at Wembley Stadium for narrow victory for the Sky Blues.
Liverpool fans were left to hold their head in their hands after seeing Manchester City secure the Capital One Cup by the narrowest of margins.
Two second half goals from Fernandinho and Phillipe Coutinho shared the spoils after normal time, with the game going to a penalty shootout.
Sergio Aguero had the best chance of the game on 23 minutes when he skipped past Mamadou Sakho – only to see his low effort tipped onto the post by Simon Mignolet.
Liverpool grew into the game in the second half and showed signs that they could take the lead, but the Reds failed to create enough chances.
Yaya Toure stood out in the midfield for Manuel Pellegrini’s men and calmly slotting his winning penalty in the bottom left corner past Mignolet showed why he’s been the driving force for Manchester City.
But what did we learn? Sam May was at Wembley…
1. Liverpool can’t take penalties
It was the worst set of penalties probably ever seen at Wembley. There was a glimmer of hope for the Reds after Emre Can calmly chipped Willy Caballero and Fernandinho’s spot kick hit the post.
Man of the match for Liverpool – Lucas stepped up to press home Liverpool’s advantage, only to see his well taken spot kick spectacularly saved by the 32-year old Caballero, diving to his left. That was it for Liverpool as they fell apart with further misses from Coutinho and Lallana.
2. Possession wins you nothing
Despite Liverpool having 64% to Manchester City’s 36%, it clearly showed with no cutting edge the possession was wasted. Klopp’s men made ‘pretty patterns’ – but they don’t win you matches. They certainly don’t win you cup finals.
Having had just 10 shots in the match, the Reds found it hard to hit the target having found it once – Coutinho’s equaliser in normal time.
It was just not good enough, despite the spectacular support from the travelling Kop.
3. Liverpool’s best centre half is Lucas
Klopp needs to ensure the Brazilian is pencilled in first at the back.
The way the 28-year old marshalled the defence, shackled Aguero and played his heart out for the badge was a throw back to true Liverpool players. A pity his penalty was saved.
4. There is no spine to the team
Unlike Manchester City, who have Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero as their spine, Liverpool have no commanding player in each section of the pitch. Defence, midfield and attack.
Klopp is lacking leaders as it’s clearly evident that he needs to dip into the transfer market in the summer. Yes, he already has Joel Matip on board but the 46-year old will have to sign a new midfielder or two and another centre back.
5. Benteke has no future
With the game crying out for some muscle to put Kompany and Otamendi under pressure, Liverpool’s £32.5 million striker was left warming his hands on the bench.
Obviously, Brendan Rodgers’ panic buy will go the same way as Andy Carroll. Having made 31 appearances in all competitions, he has bagged just seven goals. However, with Kompany just back from injury and the City defence tiring it’s a mystery as to why a target man was not employed to feed off the excellent wide work from both Liverpool flanks.
Finally… The two teams meet again on Wednesday night at Anfield. Klopp should now use the youngsters as the Reds have nothing to play for in the Premier League.
He should save the regular starters for the UEFA Europa League double header against Manchester United – as this is all that is left to play for this season.

Is FSG’s ticket U-turn as good as it first sounded?

Liverpool’s owners responded to protests and outrage at their plans to introduce a £77 ticket by announcing a climb down – but, asks Jim Boardman, is their announcement as big a victory as it first seemed?

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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

 

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Liverpool must see Teixeira deal through – Reds transfer failures must stop

It looked like it was going to be a very quiet January for Liverpool – until the news broke that a bid had been made for Shakhtar Donetsk’s Brazilian forward Alex Teixeira. But will the deal go through? It’s vital that it does, argues Jim Boardman

According to reports Ian Ayre is in Florida, at Shakhtar Donetsk’s winter training camp, trying to force a deal through for their 26-year-old attacking player Alex Teixeira. With the January window down to its final ten days and Liverpool showing no signs of adding any significant names to the squad for this season the story took fans somewhat by surprise.

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There is no doubt at all that Liverpool need more firepower with their only fit recognised frontman, Christian Benteke, looking nothing like the £32.5m striker Brendan Rodgers tried to make him last summer.

Daniel Sturridge is best forgotten about – for the time being if not longer – given his continuing struggles with various injuries and apart from those two Jürgen Klopp wasn’t exactly handed a lot to work with from a goalscoring point of view. Danny Ings, who was signed after running down his Burnley contract, looked promising before suffering an injury that sees him out for the rest of the season. Mario Balotelli was loaned out for the season, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini were sold at the start of it.

Klopp, despite his kind words about Christian Benteke, clearly doesn’t see him as the solution to Liverpool’s problem despite him being top scorer on seven goals and has tended to instead use £29m Roberto Firmino as a striker of sorts for many of the games. Firmino, however, has only scored three goals all season.

Aside from their striker woes Liverpool have been hit by a long-term drought from players elsewhere on the field. Gone are the days, it seems, when the Liverpool midfield would chip in with a fair proportion of the Reds’ tally, something that stood out during that amazing spell in 2014 when Liverpool flirted with the title but relied a little too heavily on the goals of just two players, Sturridge and the about-to-be-sold Luis Suarez. By not replacing the one who left and not providing cover for the one who stayed but kept getting injuries it was little surprise Liverpool saw the goals dry up.

Liverpool absolutely have to start finding goals from players other than whoever is up front.

Adam Lallana is yet to score in his 18 league games so far this season, which is the same tally from the same number of appearances as Jordon Ibe, who at least has age on his side. Jordan Henderson has been injured but one goal in nine games is hardly helping the cause, whilst James Milner has managed two from 17 – and one of those was from the spot.

Even Philippe Coutinho, now also on Liverpool’s long injury list, has only hit five from his 17 league games, a low total considering what he has shown he is capable of. Winger Lazar Marcovic, signed for £20m a year before, has spent this season out on loan, presumably having failed to show any signs of coming good as far as the previous manager was concerned. Without decent wingers putting in decent crosses it’s difficult to see Christian Benteke doing much of what he’s best at.

So which gap will Alex Teixeira fill if the deal goes through – will he be used as a striker, a No.10, a wide player? He is described as an attacking midfielder who can play across the full width of the field and even as the main striker, although it’s as a No.10 or wide player he gets most of his games.  We’ll have to wait and see how Klopp plans to use him – but first we have to wait and see if Ian Ayre can get this one across the line and his track record isn’t great with Ukrainian clubs.

Two years ago the Reds CEO flew out to try and secure the services of winger Yevhen Konoplyanka from Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk but the deal fell through amidst claims from the Ukrainian club that Liverpool were unable to deliver the funds before the window closed. Brendan Rodgers denied those claims, defending his CEO and members of the transfer committee.

“The only thing I will say is the football club done everything possible to get the player in,” Rodgers said at the time. “In every aspect.

“Finance, we had the doctor out there, the chief scout, everyone.

“Categorically, Ian Ayre did a brilliant job negotiating. The money wasn’t the problem”

Whatever the problem was, it left Liverpool without a player that might just have given them that extra push towards an unexpected league title and with the deal falling through right at the end of the window it wasn’t possible to find an alternative. It also wasn’t the first time Ayre had come back empty handed from talks with a Ukrainian club.

In summer 2013 the selling club was, as it is now, Shakhtar Donetsk and this time the target was Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Liverpool spent what seemed like an age trying to get the deal done, only for him to move to Germany instead, where he linked up with current LFC boss Klopp at Borussia Dortmund.

To get this deal done now would be a massive boost to morale amongst fans who are confident their manager has what it takes to get Liverpool facing the right way and moving forward again but are concerned about the tools he is expected to do it with. With the closure of the window moving ever closer Liverpool’s business amounted to signing a Championship defender on an emergency loan, a young midfielder on a deal that sees him go straight back on loan to the selling club and a contract extension for a goalkeeper most fans lost faith with a long time ago.

Chances are the goalkeeper has got his extension to protect his sell-on value should the Reds eventually sign the top-class commanding keeper any club with title ambitions need and the loan signing of Steven Caulker gives Liverpool cover at a time of injury crisis without the need to waste money on a player who might not quite be the right fit for the manager. Marko Grujic is one for the future, as his transfer fee suggests.

The reports say Liverpool’s opening bid was for around €32m (£24.7m) with some reports suggesting that the deal would also include add-ons that would make it worth nearer £29m. This is similar to the reported terms of the deal done to bring Firmino to the club, the suggestion being he cost an initial £22m rising to £29m.

Reports also suggest Donetsk value their asset, one they’ve had since he was 19, at far more than anything Liverpool are offering and, given they are owned by the richest man in Ukraine, oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, Ian Ayre might just have to rethink his strategy.

Teixeira’s stats are pretty mouthwatering, he’s scored 67 times in 146 games for Shakhtar, including an astounding 26 goals from 25 games this season.  If you think that sounds impressive, his league record for this campaign is 22 goals in just 15 games.

Teixeira wouldn’t be able to join Liverpool’s assault on the Europa League if he signed – Shakhtar are didn’t qualify from their Champions League group and as a result have dropped into the Europa League making him ineligible to play for any other club in either of UEFA’s competitions.

It doesn’t matter. With those goal stats, Liverpool could still make very good use of him in the other three competitions they are involved in and, assuming this is a player Klopp wants at the club, the club must to do all it can to ensure the deal goes through. There have been far too many failures in Liverpool’s transfer dealings in recent years.

Expect more anger – disappointment has long since passed

West Ham completed a double over Liverpool with a 2-0 win in the first game of the New Year to add to their 3-0 win over the Reds at Anfield earlier in the season. It was another miserable day for Liverpool and afterwards manager Jürgen Klopp, like most Liverpool fans, was seething.

“Not enough, not enough in the decisive moments,” the Reds boss told the TV cameras.

“We had the ball, we had possession, we had not enough finishes. We had a few finishes, we had a bit of bad luck in a few situations, but that’s not what I want to see to be honest.”

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Klopp is not one to hide behind bad luck or questionable refereeing decisions – “that’s football” he usually says – because once an incident has taken place it’s over and it’s time to respond, to react in the right way.

It’s a refreshing approach after seeing so many Liverpool sides in recent years drop their heads and as good as give up in the wake of a bit of misfortune. Sadly, Klopp didn’t see that new kind of approach from his players today, particularly for the first goal.

“In the decisive moments we have to be there,” Klopp said. “We are responsible for the result and everything that happened today.

“In a game like this where you see you can be better you have to be better – and you have to win, not to lose 2-0 because of two moments.”

Alberto Moreno was fouled as he neared the West Ham byline 20 seconds or so before the opening goal. As the Reds full-back rolled around in apparent agony the referee waved play on and West Ham did play on. Liverpool stopped. West Ham scored.

Replays showed it was a foul, but the whistle hadn’t gone and the Liverpool players seemed more concerned with why it hadn’t been blown than what was happening around them.

Klopp said: “For the first goal, foul or no foul on Alberto, I saw in the eyes of my players they thought it was a foul too but if no whistle we have to defend and we didn’t defend the cross – 1-0.

“Second goal we played five against one I think, on the right wing, and don’t win the ball?

“That’s not pressing, that’s something.” Depressing? Frustrating? Stupid?

“We got the cross, again Andy Carroll made this time the goal – 2-0.

“And then we start again playing football.”

Too little too late.

It’s not the first time Klopp has seen the response from his side come too late to change the game and with his current squad, a weak squad full of weak players and weakened by injuries, he’ll probably see it a lot more.

The squad Klopp inherited, despite the amounts overpaid for some of the players, does not compare well at all to any of the other sides with top four pretensions.

Liverpool paid £35m for a player who remains their record signing, Andy Carroll. Brendan Rodgers sold him to his current club, West Ham, for under half that amount having made his mind up he wanted him gone before he had even had one training session with him. Carroll was probably sold for a price nearer his true worth but where does that leave Christian Benteke?

Rodgers paid £32.5m – close to the amount Liverpool paid for Carroll – to bring the Belgian forward to the club and so far this season it is difficult to see how he improves on Andy Carroll or what he offers that Carroll doesn’t. As it stands it would be best for both the player and the club if they parted company, even though that will almost certainly mean a huge financial loss for Liverpool.

Benteke did score both the winners in Liverpool’s last two wins and there is time, of course, for him to get better, to improve his all round game and his contribution for the whole of the 90 minutes, but the slow progress he is making suggests the time he has won’t be enough.

Benteke wasn’t the only Reds player worthy of criticism today but few of those on the pitch should be first choice at a club like Liverpool anyway. Klopp needs new blood.

In the meantime he will keep working with what he has in the hope he can squeeze enough out of them to get through the season, but today they did far more than disappoint him.

“It’s no day for being disappointed,” he said, “It’s a day for being angry – with ourselves.”

There were times when Liverpool could have got back into it but with just two shots on target all game the West Ham keeper will struggle to think of an easier game he’s had.

The Reds had 65% possession but no clue what to do with it. It is another percentage, however, that Klopp was perhaps most cross about – he was angry because his side didn’t put 100% into it.

“In each moment in this game we could have come back but we didn’t. We were always a little bit,” he said.

“Who wants to see 90 percent? You cannot win a football game with 90 percent, even 95, nobody wants to see this. You have to do everything.

“We lost the decisive moments twice. That can happen, I don’t like it, but it can happen. But then you have to use your chance more, with more will than we did today.

Liverpool had a penalty appeal turned down but, like the foul on Moreno, right or wrong, it won’t be something Klopp dwells on: “Maybe, I don’t know if was a penalty I didn’t see well enough in the situation with handball and things like this, but, again: 2-0.

“That’s what we saw, it’s deserved,” he said.

A string of players were missing for Liverpool which limited the ability of Klopp to try something different or freshen things up. But even when those players are fit, few of them are exactly of the standard that Liverpool should be relying on if they are serious about regular Champions League football and title challenges. Liverpool, of course, is a club that should be serious about both – very serious.

The transfer window is now open and at a club that has signed some of its best players in January – Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho – Klopp will expect the board to do what needs to be done to deliver some targets. This season may well be write-off given the fact the club chose to start it with a manager who had long since peaked but that’s no reason to wait until the summer.

There’s money in the bank – or should be – and an obvious need to do something useful with it. If Ian Ayre and his colleagues fail to do so they can expect Klopp’s anger – and that of the fans – to turn to them.

As Klopp says – who wants to see 90 percent?

The time for being disappointed has long since passed.

Pulis on “spin” and “facts”

Tony Pulis seems a touch unhappy at comments Jurgen Klopp made after the two sides – and to a certain extent the two managers – clashed on Sunday.

The two bosses didn’t quite get on like a house on fire during the game and when it was over Klopp decided not to shake Pulis’s hand.

Football seems more upset with non-handshakes than it is with tackles that risk causing serious injury to an opponent – regardless of whether they get the ball or not – but football these days seems to be followed by a lot of angry and grumpy people.

The reason most kids who are into football would rather have a kick around in the park than sit in and swat up for a maths test is because football is fun. Or at least it is until it gets into the hands of adults, usually.

In the hands of adults it’s a way of making money and one way to make money is to survive in a certain division, or in a certain zone of that division, and rake in a share of the cash that comes in to a team regardless of entertainment value.

Klopp got annoyed on Sunday, before turning his annoyance into determination to get the crowd up for a thrilling finale which almost brought Liverpool three points. He was annoyed at the way West Brom play football, and the Anfield faithful can sympathise with him having had to put up with over the years from Pulis’s Stoke sides.

Pulis is very good at what he does, something ex-Red John Aldridge described as ‘anti-football’ earlier this week, and seemed put out that Klopp criticised him for it.

Discussing Klopp’s reaction on Sunday, Pulis said: “I think it was disappointing but he’s got his opinions and he can say what he wants.

“We apologise we actually played three longer passes in 99 minutes than Liverpool did in that game.

“As a football club we apologise to Liverpool for playing three longer passes.”

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For people who live by stats it probably sounds very revealing, but for those who watch the game as well as pouring over the facts and figures not all long passes are what people tend to mean by ‘the long ball’. Pulis, of course, knows this but feels the need to put a bit of spin on it in defence of his brand of survival soccer.

“Everything you hear and everything talked about today there’s always a bit of spin on it,” he admitted, before going on to essentially say that low budget means low quality football.

“If I had a team that was worth £200 million playing against a team that was worth less than £20 million and we never won that game I’d be doing my best to divert it away from the fact that I had 10 times more value on the pitch than my opposition number had and couldn’t win the game,” he said.

Funnily enough, if one of the teams in the top half of the table made enquiries to West Brom about, say, Rondon and Berehino this January, it’s unlikely they’d get a figure back below £20m for the two of them, let alone the whole squad. But, as Pulis says, “there’s always a bit of spin” in things these days.

“I’m just stating the facts. Forget all the spin, that’s the facts,” he claimed.

Different managers bring different kind of qualities to the job, there are managers good at managing the so-called ‘big’ clubs and dealing with their so-called ‘superstars’, managers good at getting out of relegation battles, or getting promoted, or treading water in the middle of the table to keep the coffers full for the owners.

Pulis is highly-rated by many in the game but has yet to have a chance to prove himself at a club with genuine ambition and so his standard brand of football is accepted. It must be wonderful having to sit and watch it every week.

Football doesn’t dish points out for entertainment, it doesn’t really share TV money out based on it either, other than a relatively small increase based on how many times a side actually gets shown on TV, so Pulis is well within his rights to play the way he does.

Stats on time-wasting might be interesting because that is something his players are always very well-drilled at, turning the retrieving of a ball into an art form only matched by the attention to detail they give to placing it down on the ground for the restart.

Pulis continued: “I don’t know the fella, I don’t want to say anything else. They were the facts.”

The fact is that it must take an amazing amount of dedication and a serious lack of ambition to watch that kind of football week in and week out, not to mention to play that way. Some of the players will be happy to play that way but you can’t help think that one or two wish they could just play football.

“We’ve got a big game Saturday,” Pulis added, “A game that we think will be more difficult than the Liverpool game.”

West Brom play Bournemouth on Saturday.

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