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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Latest BPL News And Jose Heading To Barca ?

Benitez backs Gerrard's angry blast

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez insists everyone at the club shares captain Steven Gerrard's assessment of their troubled season. Gerrard claimed he felt 'gutted every time I look at the table' and insisted chasing fourth place was unacceptable for the Anfield club. But instead of chastising the midfielder for his comments, the Spaniard has rallied behind him and echoed his thoughts.

Benitez said: 'Everyone at Liverpool shares Steven's sentiments. There is no question about that.
'We wanted to be further up the table and the fact we are not is a disappointment to everyone.
'We are still confident of finishing in the top four, which would obviously mean we would qualify for next season's Champions League.'
And it is that competition, in which the club have excelled during the Spaniard's reign, which he believes can save their stuttering campaign.
'The important thing now is to concentrate on what we can still do,' he said.
'We are still in the Champions League and our record in that competition is one that most other clubs would envy.'

Mascherano finally signs permanent deal
Javier Mascherano has completed a permanent move to Liverpool by signing a four-year deal.

The Argentina midfielder has been at Anfield since ending a brief stint at West Ham and until today was on a long-term loan deal from owners MSI.
'I am very, very happy and now I can concentrate just on playing football,' Mascherano told
'I said all along that I wanted to stay at Liverpool and now that I have signed I can say this is the best and the biggest moment in my career so far.
'From the first day I arrived at Liverpool the feeling was good and I knew this was where I wanted to play my football.
'It's good news for me and my family that everything is sorted and I know where my future is going to be. I just want to do my best for the fans and the people of the club.
'I am at a top side and I know I can win titles here. That's the big thing for me. I want to be at a club where we can win trophies and have success.'
Manager Rafael Benitez was just as delighted to secure the services of the 23-year-old midfielder.
'We must be really pleased with the situation now,' said the boss.
'He has been a key player for us since he has been here and now we know he can be a key player in our future.
'From the start we knew Javier was a player with quality and a fantastic mentality. We knew the player when he was in the reserves at River Plate but was playing for the senior national team and we had been monitoring his career since then.
'He is young but he has great experience having played for his country. We knew he would be a good signing for us.
'It's clear that he is one of the best midfielders in the world but he can get better with us. We now have a lot of good options in the centre of midfield and that's good news for the club.'
Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry, who worked painstakingly to finalise the deal, added: 'Our overriding thought is that we are delighted to have signed a world-class player on a long contract and I know Javier is thrilled too because he was keen to have his long-term future resolved.
'I think this signing demonstrates two things. Firstly, that life at the club goes on despite all of the speculation to the contrary.
'And secondly it demonstrates in very large measure the ongoing commitment of the owners who once again have come good when funds have been needed.'

Fergie: Premature to write off Chelsea now

Sir Alex Ferguson is wary that Chelsea could come up on the rails and take the Premier League title.

Avram Grant's side are nine points adrift of Arsenal and six behind United but have a game in hand on both their rivals.
Ferguson takes his team to Fulham tomorrow, insisting the title race will be tight and tough.
'The number of points Chelsea are behind Arsenal is not insurmountable because in this Premier League points can be dropped,' the United boss told
'The fact that they have got us and Arsenal at home, and their home record is so good, you would have to think they have still got a big chance in the Premier League.'
Ferguson, however, believes Chelsea would be happier winning the Champions League rather than the domestic crown.
He said: 'I think that is what they are really after given Roman Abramovich's contribution to their rise in the last few years.'
Ferguson, meanwhile, is adamant United will continue to allow their players to express themselves as they chase a second successive title.
Certainly, they go to relegation-threatened Fulham in good heart after the 5-1 thumping of Newcastle at St James's Park at the weekend.
With the likes of gifted young stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez, Anderson and Nani on their books, it is little wonder the manager looks forward with optimism.
He said: 'The players have that joy of being at a club with a lot of ambition.
'It is good to see young players having the energy and the commitment to try and enjoy themselves.
'We work hard at making sure that they are relaxed in that respect with a responsibility to use their talents all the time to express themselves.
'We are fortunate in that it is easier for them, than a lot of other players because they are exceptional talents.'

Fergie: Experience could be key

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Manchester United have the experience to overtake Arsenal and retain their Premier League title.
Ferguson's side face Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday aiming to peg back a three-point gap on the Gunners at the top of the table with Chelsea also in the frame.
United are scoring goals for fun and thrashed Newcastle 5-1 at St James' Park at the weekend.
Ferguson said: "We have real experience in Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand and Edwin van der Sar. That is important.
"In addition Gary Neville and Mikael Silvestre will be back shortly (after injury) and add to that experience.
"Hopefully that will be crucial and we can hit a rich vein of form. But we do not take things for granted as two good teams are competing with us.
"We hope Arsenal and Chelsea drop points every game. You are selfish about these things. But points will be dropped. It is inevitable."
With a crucial Champions League match to follow against Lyon on Tuesday - the teams are locked at 1-1 after the first leg - Ferguson is set to shuffle his pack.
Striker Louis Saha is pushing for a place in the starting line-up after scoring in the 5-1 victory against Newcastle.
Ferguson has lauded the Frenchman, whose Old Trafford career has been hampered because of injury.
"It is a great bonus for us to have Louis fit," said the United boss.
"We must try and maximise his worth to us as he is a marvellous striker.
"He will be keen to play tomorrow and on Tuesday. The options are to play him in those games because he is different from the rest of the players."
Ferguson has described Cristiano Ronaldo's scoring rate as "phenomonal" as the Portugal winger attempts to break the 30-goal mark in all club competitions.
Ronaldo, 23, has been a constant threat to opposing defenders throughout the campaign, be it in the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.
He has already eclipsed last season's total of 23 goals and proved he is an exceptional attacking force either out wide or occasionally up front. He scored a brace at Newcastle to take his tally to 29.
Craven Cottage is a ground that holds special memories for Ronaldo as he scored a late winner in that corner of London last season.
Ferguson said: "Cristiano has played as a centre-forward a couple of times and scored four goals in two games.
"That is a great strike rate but to score those goals as a wide player is phenomonal.
"It is a superb achievement and he has cast any doubts aside about whether he could repeat last season's total.
"Ronaldo's performance that day against Fulham was absolutely superb and he changed the face of the game."
Fulham are locked in a relegation battle but Ferguson knows veteran manager Roy Hodgson will have his team well organised.
"It is always a difficult task when you face a side struggling to stay up so you have prepare properly for it," said the United boss.
"We expect Fulham to be trying their best and in Roy Hodgson they have a manager with considerable experience.
"It is a big challenge for Roy but his record at clubs has been very, very good."
Meanwhile Ferguson has sent words of encouragement to Martin Taylor after his challenge on Eduardo, which resulted in an horrific injury to the Arsenal striker.
Birmingham defender Taylor was given a straight red card and a three-match ban.
But Ferguson said: "I have known Martin Taylor as a kid at Blackburn and he has never been an aggressive player.
"He can get confidence from the fact that everyone has acknowledged that.
"That will be his best help. I do not see any big problems for the boy."

Aliadiere raps scares City off Petrov appeal

Manchester City manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has revealed he decided not to appeal against Martin Petrov's red card because of what happened to Jeremie Aliadiere.

Petrov will serve a three-match suspension, starting with the Premier League home match against Wigan, after kicking out at Leon Osman during Monday's defeat to Everton.
Although Eriksson claimed the Bulgarian had been harshly treated, he has let the matter rest.
That is because Middlesbrough striker Aliadiere's ban was increased from three matches to four after he slapped Liverpool's Javier Mascherano.
Eriksson said: 'It is probably better not to appeal as that was a strange decision.
'If you make a bad tackle and injure someone then that is much more dangerous but perhaps the FA want to give examples to young people.
'They don't want you to put your hand in the face of another player or kick out, even if it is a small kick.
'I can understand that as we are models for young people, boys and girls.
'If they see players getting away with it, they might use those things, so it is up to us not to do it in the future.'

'Mourinho rebuffed Lyon, and heads to Barca'

Jose Mourinho turned down an offer to coach Lyon after leaving Chelsea, according to Bernard Lacombe, the advisor to the French club's president.

Speaking in France Football magazine, former Lyon player Lacombe said club president Jean-Michel Aulas approached Mourinho after the Portuguese coach left Stamford Bridge last September, and after Alain Perrin had already taken charge of the French champions.
'I know that the president approached him (Mourinho),' said Lacombe.
'But the talks didn't go very far. Mourinho was in need of some rest.'
Reports in the French magazine also suggest Mourinho rejected the move as a deal has already been done to take him to Barcelona next season.
In a three-page report under the headline `No to Lyon, Yes to Barca' the magazine claimed Mourinho has held meetings with officials at the Catalan club, during which he received `dossiers' containing lists of players the club hopes to sign.