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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Premiership News

'It's not nearly good enough', vents Gerrard

Steven Gerrard has delivered a scathing assessment of Liverpool's faltering campaign by declaring even winning the Champions League will not make up for the dismal performance in the Premier League.
The Liverpool skipper accepts that only fourth place now is acceptable as they battle to secure entry into Europe's elite competition next term.
But he said: 'You don't get any prizes in football for finishing in second place, never mind fourth.
'I don't think that the fans would accept fourth as an accomplishment and for me it's not nearly good enough.
'We need to improve dramatically and even if we do finish fourth, it doesn't mean we have had a good season.'
Gerrard accepts Liverpool are now involved in a winner-takes-all battle for fourth spot with neighbours Everton and Aston Villa, Portsmouth and Manchester City.
Having regained fourth place on Saturday by beating Middlesbrough, they saw Everton grab it back on Monday with an impressive demolition of Sven-Goran Eriksson's City.
And the battle will rage on this weekend with Liverpool at Bolton on Sunday while Everton are at home to Pompey later in the day.
Gerrard, in an LFC magazine interview, showed his own frustrations and anger at the club's current fortunes.
He said: 'In the position we find ourselves now, fourth is the least that is acceptable. But we have bigger ambitions than that.
'The only way we can fulfil those ambitions is in the Champions League. And I am not going to pretend that even winning that trophy - and we are a long way away from it at the moment - will make up for the disappointment of the league campaign.
'I'm pretty gutted every time I look at the table and see the gap between us and Arsenal at the top, and even the gap between us and second and third.
'We believed we had the players to challenge for the title, and we wanted that one more than any other trophy available to us. I still believe we have the squad to be a hell of a lot more competitive than we are right now.'
And Gerrard, significantly, claims the time has come for the club to stop looking at their long-term potential. The Reds skipper, who has again been linked recently with a summer move to Real Madrid, said: 'I'm getting tired of saying the same thing over and over again.
'We can't keep talking about next season all the time. There are only so many times you can say it and believe it. Sooner or later we have to make one season the season we make it happen and do the talking on the pitch.
'We need to make people believe it. I'm 27 now, I don't want to be talking about 'next season' for Liverpool when I'm 32.
'We've got the stadium, the fans, the manager and the players to compete for the Premier League. But we have no chance of doing that if we are always well out of it by the first week in January.
'And at the moment we have our work cut out fighting it out with Villa, Everton and Manchester City for fourth.'
And he added: 'Only we can make this season a success now. We'd like to finish fourth and win the European Cup again.
'But the demands of being a Liverpool player, the expectations that come with the privilege of pulling on that jersey mean we've got to improve.
'You make your own luck, shape your own destiny. And now we soon have massive games at Manchester United and Arsenal, knowing we can't win the league.
'We are not bothered about whether we have an impact on the title race we're not in. But winning at both those places would send out a message for next season. That would lay down a marker that no-one would ignore.'
Gerrard also expresses a disappointment that a season of crisis off the pitch has given 'those in the media who don't like Liverpool' the chance to criticise.
'We have made it easy for them,' he said.
'It's not been a good situation (the takeover speculation) for anybody. It's sad so much of the club's business has been conducted in public. The club I have grown up supporting always did its business behind closed doors, and that is what we have to get back to.
'It's been a damaging situation for every single person involved with the club, fans, players, bosses, owners, from top to bottom.'
But Gerrard's theme, which should not be ignored by those 'bosses and owners', is the lack of a real title challenge.
He added: 'If you asked most of our fans, they would rather see the title than the European Cup at Anfield. We've not won it in a long, long time.
'Looking at the league table hurts. This time last year we were third and Arsenal were fourth, and that is the way the season ended. It hurts to see where Arsenal are now.'

Everton apply to enter Intertoto Cup

The Toffees are currently fourth in the Premier League, which would be good enough to earn them qualification for the preliminary rounds of next season's Champions League.
Three further teams qualify for the UEFA Cup, with the next highest-ranked side eligible to enter the pre-season Intertoto Cup, which offers an alternative route into the UEFA Cup.
Aston Villa, Blackburn and Manchester City have also applied for entry to the competition.
Everton are still in this season's UEFA Cup, and will face Italian side Fiorentina in the last 16.
Everton chief executive Keith Wyness told: 'Clearly European qualification through our league position or via the UEFA Cup is our main priority.
'However because of the deadline for Intertoto Cup applications, it would be remiss of us not to put our name forward.'

Boro chief fumes at incompetent FA

Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson has accused the FA of "incompetence" after attacking the handling of Jeremie Aliadiere's red card appeal.Also branding the FA as "amateurs and silly little men

Gibson has described the FA's reaction - upgrading the Frenchman's initial three-match ban for violent conduct to a four-game suspension due to the 'frivolous' nature of Boro's appeal - as "insulting" and "confrontational".
Aliadiere was shown a red card for raising his hand and appearing to make contact with Javier Mascherano's face in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Boro.
But, with the Argentina midfielder seemingly offering provocation, the Teessiders decided to put the decision to an FA appeals panel.
Their findings have left Gibson shocked.
He told Sky Sports News: "We're simply shocked by what has gone on and it tells you everything you need to know about the FA.
"There was a disciplinary panel set up with four individuals on it. None of the four played Premier League football or football at any serious level.
"The system is inherently biased because they are there to protect the FA and the referee. They sided with the referee and we would have taken that on the chin.
"They then said our appeal was frivolous which is very subjective, quite insulting towards the professionalism of our club and the people in it, quite aggressive and confrontational."
Gibson went on to outline his belief that the issue of penalising 'frivolous' appeals had been questioned in the past and also accused the governing body of acting incorrectly in previous dealings with the club - notably when they hired then Boro boss Steve McClaren as the new manager of the national side.
"By itself this is not the greatest problem affecting football but we dig a little deeper and we find an incident some 12 to 16 months ago involving Charlton Athletic which was a similar case (to the Aliadiere appeal).
"What resulted was the FA would review this word 'frivolous'. That review has not taken place, it was brought to the attention of the FA recently and they still haven't looked at it.
"All bodies need a legislature. When the legislature doesn't work properly is is incapable of looking after the people it is there to serve.
"We have had this in the past with how the FA originally approached Steve McClaren, how the FA recently made an illegal approach to one of our coaching staff.
"It's nothing new this incompetence."

Arsenal striker Eduardo released from hospital

Arsenal's injured striker Eduardo da Silva was released from hospital on Wednesday, the Premier League leaders said.

The Brazilian-born Croatia international suffered a fractured left fibula and an open dislocation of his ankle joint after a tackle by Birmingham City defender Martin Taylor during Saturday's 2-2 league draw at St Andrews.
On Monday, Arsenal said the 25-year-old was expected to make a full recovery from the horrific injury, although he will be out for an expected nine months.
'Eduardo would like to once again thank everyone for the overwhelming messages of support he has received,' a statement on the club's website said.
The injury means Eduardo will miss Euro 2008 in Switzerland and Austria which starts in June.