Gerrard becomes Liverpool FC penalty king

Steven Gerrard penalty record

As Steven Gerrard netted from the spot to become Liverpool’s all-time penalty king during the 3-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, Jan Molby watched on with self-confessed mixed emotions.

The former Reds midfielder was on media duty at White Hart Lane, enjoying a prime viewing position to see the side’s No.8 successfully stroke home a spot-kick – his 43rd for the club.

Before Gerrard became a feared foe from 12 yards, Molby himself had previously held the record, but ‘the Great Dane’ takes solace from the fact that it was the captain reaching the milestone.

“A player like me wasn’t renowned for being a goalscorer so I never had too many records but it was nice to have held that for a while.  In a way it was a little bit sad, but if a record is going to go and it’s gone to one of Liverpool’s all-time greatest ever players, then I can live with it.  Steven has worked on penalties over the years and when he takes one now you always expect him to score.  He strikes the ball really well and he puts the ball into the corners.  He is an inspirational player for Liverpool and remains a big part of the team. In my opinion, there are not that many players left in football today that can lift one team. He can.”

Asked to describe the art of taking the perfect penalty, Molby assessed that each player will have his own individual style of seeking to beat the goalkeeper – not least his own approach.  He continued:

“People have their own technique and how they want to approach a penalty. Some people make up their mind early and stick to that when they run up, but my style was slightly different.  I believe there are three things that are important when you take a penalty, which is the ball, the goalkeeper and the goal.  I used to wait for the goalkeeper to make his move and then put the ball the other way. If the goalkeeper didn’t move I would always try to put the ball low and hard to the goalkeeper’s right.”

For the second season running at White Hart Lane, Liverpool were clinical throughout and eased to victory via a strike by Raheem Sterling, Gerrard’s penalty and an Alberto Moreno stunner.

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Liverpool FC: Champions League group announced

Champions League group V

Liverpool will kick off their 2014-15 Champions League campaign by welcoming Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets Razgrad to Anfield on Tuesday September 16.  The Reds end a five-year absence from the elite European tournament with a home fixture against a team that they have never previously met competitively.

The Reds were pitted against the holders of the competition in Thursday’s draw in Monaco, and they’ll also face trips to Switzerland and Bulgaria.  Madrid, who claimed their 10th European Cup with victory over city rivals Atletico in Lisbon earlier this year, last locked horns with Liverpool back in the 2008-09 campaign.  The teams met at the last 16 stage and after Yossi Benayoun’s late header secured a famous 1-0 first-leg win at the Bernabeu, the Reds ran riot in the return at Anfield – powering to a 4-0 triumph in front of the Kop.  The only other competitive game between the teams came in the 1981 final in Paris when Alan Kennedy’s goal sealed a 1-0 win for Bob Paisley’s team.

Liverpool also have recent history with Basel after they were pitted against each other in the Champions League first group stage in 2002-03.  The first encounter ended in a 1-1 draw at Anfield, while the Reds came from three goals down at half-time to draw 3-3 at St-Jakob Park.  Basel have won the Swiss league title five times in a row.

Meanwhile, Liverpool have never faced Champions League newcomers Ludogorets Razgrad previously.  The Bulgarian title holders secured their place in the competition in incredible circumstances against Steaua Bucharest in the play-offs.  After trailing by a goal from the first leg in Romania, Wanderson netted a last-minute volley to force extra time in Razgrad.  However, they were reduced to 10 men when goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov was sent off in the 119th minute.  It meant centre-back Cosmin Moti was required to go in goal for the penalty shootout – and he emerged the hero, sensationally saving two spot kicks to ensure Ludogorets progressed 6-5 on penalties.

2014-15 Champions League fixtures

September 16 – Ludogorets Razgrad (H)
October 1 – FC Basel (A)
October 22 – Real Madrid (H)
November 4 – Real Madrid (A)
November 26 – Ludogorets Razgrad (A)
December 9 – FC Basel (H)

LFC: Reina joins Bayern Munich

Pepe Reina

Liverpool have confirmed Pepe Reina has completed a transfer to Bayern Munich.

The goalkeeper has signed a permanent deal with the German club, bringing his eight-year spell at Anfield to an end.

Reina moved to Merseyside from Villarreal in the summer of 2005 and made an immediate impact, helping the Reds achieve a club record 11 successive clean sheets in all competitions.

Indeed, his maiden season would end in glory as Liverpool defeated West Ham United on penalties in the FA Cup final in Cardiff, with the Spaniard saving three of the Hammers’ four spot kicks in the shoot-out.

In April 2007, Reina’s shut-out against Blackburn Rovers meant he’d kept 28 clean sheets in his first 50 league games – setting another club record.

His penalty-saving prowess was evident once again one month later as he helped the Reds edge out Chelsea in a dramatic Champions League semi-final victory at Anfield.

In 2008, Reina claimed the Barclays Golden Glove award for a third successive campaign, while in 2009-10 he was voted as Liverpool’s Player of the Season by supporters.

The 31-year-old added one further accolade to his collection, picking up a winners’ medal as the Reds beat Cardiff City in the Carling Cup final in February 2012.

In total, Reina made 394 appearances for the club before spending the 2013-14 season on loan at Italian side Napoli.

Everyone at Liverpool FC would like to wish Pepe all the best for the future.

Rickie Lambert fails with his first spot-kick for Liverpool

Rickie Lambert - photo

Rickie Lambert, the man who never missed a penalty for Southampton FC, failed with his first spot-kick for Liverpool last night.

The striker converted all 34 of his competitive spot-kicks during his remarkable five years at St Mary’s.  But he failed to score his first penalty for Liverpool when he saw his effort during last night’s 2-0 friendly win over AC Milan saved by Christian Abbiati.

The Reds still won 2-0 in Charlotte, America, with goals from Joe Allen and Suso.

Gerrard reveals England retirement

Steven Gerrard today announced his retirement from international football with England following a glittering 14 years of representing his country.

Steven Gerrard - England

The midfielder’s journey with the Three Lions took him to three World Cup tournaments – 2006, 2010 and, most recently, this summer – and three European Championships.

After a debut against Ukraine in 2000, a total of 114 caps were amassed in the white colours, including 38 appearances as captain, making the Huyton native the nation’s third most capped player of all time.

In recognition of the Liverpool skipper’s unflinching commitment to England, he will now continue his relationship with the Football Association through an ambassadorial role.

Explaining the decision, Gerrard said:

“I have enjoyed every minute of representing my country and it is a sad day for me knowing that I won’t pull on the England shirt again.  However, I do look forward to continuing my strong relationship with The FA and helping out in any way I can going forward.

“I’d like to firstly thank my family and friends for all their support throughout my England journey. I’d also like to thank everyone who has been part of my international career, from the England managers I’ve played under to the staff at the FA and, of course, all the players I’ve been fortunate to play alongside.  In particular, the supporters have been amazing, not least in Brazil when they got behind the team despite the disappointing results.

“I’d especially like to thank Roy [Hodgson], firstly for giving me the captaincy permanently when he took the job, making me the proudest man in the country and allowing me to fulfil my childhood dream.  He has been very understanding over the past few weeks and is a man I will always hold in the highest regard.

“This has been a very difficult decision, one of the toughest I’ve had to make in my career. I have agonised over this since coming back from Brazil and have spoken to family, friends and people close to me in the game before coming to this point.

“Most importantly, Brendan [Rodgers] has been fantastic and obviously I have to look after my body as much as possible to ensure I can give everything when I take to the field.  To ensure I can keep playing to a high level and giving everything to Liverpool Football Club, I believe this is the right decision and having Champions League football back at Anfield is another big factor in my decision.”

Hodgson, who coached Gerrard both at Anfield and at international level, paid a glowing tribute to the man that captained his England side since taking the reins in 2012:

“While I’m disappointed in the decision, I can entirely understand Steven’s situation and can have no complaints given the incredible service he has given to his country.  I must respect his wishes due to the discussions we have had and the amount of thought and consideration he himself has given it.

“He is an incredible man and a fantastic footballer who we have all been blessed to see in an England shirt so often. It is never by coincidence that people reach such a staggering figure as 114 caps, it is a mark of his wonderful talent allied to a huge drive and determination to live up to the highest standard.

“He is not only a player to bring crowds to their feet with moments of brilliance; he was a tremendous captain and an exceptional role model for everyone who was fortunate to come into contact with him.  We shall miss his leadership qualities as we look ahead to the qualification campaign with a youthful group of players. I wish him all the best in the future, although I know I can count on his continued support and influence as a helpful presence moving forward.”

Rickie Lambert to wear No.9 at LFC

New Liverpool striker Rickie Lambert has been handed the historic No.9 shirt at Anfield.

Rickie Lambert - LFC

The England international sealed a switch to his boyhood side at the beginning of June and kicked off pre-season preparations earlier this week.

Today it was confirmed that the 32-year-old will follow in the footsteps of illustrious names such as Robbie Fowler, Steve Heighway, Ian Rush and Ian St John in wearing the number.

Sturridge scored a stunner for England

England v Montenegro - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier

Daniel Sturridge scored a stunning goal as England recorded a 3-0 friendly victory over Peru at Wembley on Friday night.

The Liverpool striker curled home the opener just after the half-hour mark, collecting a throw in from Anfield teammate Glen Johnson before skipping inside and clipping into the top corner over goalkeeper, Raul Fernandez:

The Reds duo were joined in the starting XI by Steven Gerrard, who skippered the team, and Jordan Henderson. Raheem Sterling, meanwhile, was introduced into the action as a second-half substitute.

Centre-backs Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka were England’s other scorers.

Afterwards, Sturridge said:

“It is not important about myself, it is about the team and our preparation; putting in a shift tactically and technically to be in the best shape for the first game.  It was difficult to be fair because they defended well and they were very compact.  We had worked very hard throughout the week and there wasn’t the match sharpness as much as we would have liked.  But it was great to be out there and we are happy with the result.”

Liverpool FC: Rickie Lambert fee agreed

Rickie Lambert

Rickie Lambert, preparing for Friday night’s England first pre-World Cup friendly with Peru, is on the brink of signing for Liverpool in a deal worth £4m plus add-ons, with the striker understood to be desperate to join his hometown team, who rejected him as a 15-year-old.

Rickie Lambert is expected to undergo a medical at Liverpool on Saturday after an initial £4m fee was agreed with Southampton.  The Reds had a bid accepted for the 32-year-old and personal terms have been agreed.

Lambert, a lifelong Liverpool fan, was born and raised in Kirkby and was with Liverpool’s Academy from the age of ten, before director Steve Heighway told him, at the age of 15, that he would not make the grade. “I never hold any grudges. These things either make or break you,” Lambert reflected recently. “At the time he (Heighway)was quite right to let me go. I wasn’t good enough. I thought it was the end of the world.” After three subsequent appearances for Blackpool, Lambert was released in 2000 by then manager Steve McMahon.

The centre-forward, who is in England’s squad for this summer’s World Cup, scored 14 times last season for the Saints, who paid Bristol Rovers £1m for the player’s services in August 2009.

Since then he has become an established Premier League striker and scored on his England debut, notching with his first touch in international football after coming on as a substitute against Scotland in August 2013.

A powerful and strong player, Lambert is also a free-kick specialist and has an exceptional penalty record, having scored his past 34 spot-kicks and having never missed for Southampton.

In Lambert, the Reds would be getting a player who will be an excellent back-up to Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge and he will see the move as a dream come true, being a boyhood fan and Liverpool-born, like Robbie Fowler returning to Anfield in 2006.

Lambert is a player who will add experience, professionalism and desire to the squad – a player with an excellent attitude, which will endear him to manager Brendan Rodgers. He’ll also add much-needed depth up front.  Attitude and the correct mentality are constantly mentioned by Rodgers and have become synonymous with Liverpool lately under the manger’s transformation of the club. Those attributes are what Lambert will also bring to the club.

He certainly offers more options from the bench than Rodgers has had in the past 12 months, and at that price would be a good buy for the club.  When Man United signed Teddy Sheringham in 1997, aged 31, it proved to be a superb move, and Lambert’s could be likewise for Liverpool.

Liverpool FC launch 2014/2015 training kit

LFC - Training Kit 2014-2015

Liverpool Football Club and award-winning airline Garuda Indonesia today revealed the Reds’ training range for next season during an event in Indonesia.

LFC legends Didi Hamann, Phil Thompson and Luis Garcia took the club’s Champions League trophy to Central Park mall to celebrate the team’s return to the competition, as well as the launch of Garuda Indonesia’s very-first direct flight into Europe.  The three European Cup-winning players unveiled the 2014-15 training kit, which will be worn by manager Brendan Rodgers and the squad, including Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.

Hamann said:

“Liverpool have been without Champions League football for five seasons until now. This is a very special moment for the club and fans.  What makes today extra special is that Garuda are launching their first direct flight to Europe so myself and the other former players will be taking the European Cup on that special flight.”

The national airline of Indonesia became the club’s Official Airline Partner in 2012.  Following the success of Liverpool’s 2013 pre-season tour to Asia and Australia, Garuda Indonesia decided to take their partnership with the Reds to the next level by becoming their training kit partner.

The Reds enjoy a massive fan base in Asia, and especially in Indonesia where the club has the biggest following of any local-language LFC Twitter account with more than 100,000 followers, along with the second biggest following on the club’s Facebook page (two million).

Check out the 2014-15 LFC Garuda Indonesia training range and pre-order now.

Why did Liverpool lose the Premier League title race?

lfcsquad201314

This last season has to go down as one of the most exciting but frustrating as a Liverpool fan.  The phrase “so close and yet so far” comes to mind.

In the Premier league defence wins league titles, and this was our most critical issue this last season.  In recent years the worst defensive team to win a title was Manchester United in 00/01 who had the 5th best defence that season.  Liverpool finished 8th, and although we’ve conceded goals throughout the season it was in the last two weeks that we went from 6th to 8th.

There is a lot of debate amongst Liverpool fans on why we are flawed defensively. What are the reasons for it? Is it systematic, are we tactically naive, are our defenders not good enough, do the midfield players provide enough cover, are we mentally weak, or are we just inexperienced?

System

I think the system in itself is fine. Whether it’s a 4-4-2 diamond or 4-3-3 formation with split center backs and Gerrard as a deep midfielder and the fullbacks very wide and far up the pitch. This is absolutely fine for me. However I think we need to have the right players to make it work.

To be fair, it’s been working very well because 81 points from 37 games is better than any of us hoped for in August. To win the big prizes though it needs to work a little bit better and I believe the right players will do that.

Personnel

We have good but not outstanding defenders.  Our defenders need to be quicker and stronger in the tackle, none of them are strong in the 2 v 2 or 1 v 1 situations.

Lack of mental strength

No matter what our tactics are we tend to lose control of games and concede chances when we are put under pressure. Brendan mentioned it himself. Many of our players make bad decisions when put under pressure.  Can you coach players out of having mental breakdowns?

You expect it from young, inexperienced players but Johnson, Skrtel, Agger and Kolo have 477 international caps between them. Surely such experienced players shouldn’t be so prone to error.  Sakho has over 150 appearances for PSG and cost us £18m. You would expect the finished article but at 24 years of age and in a foreign league with only 19 appearances under his belt maybe he needs a bit of time and Premier League experience before we cast judgement.

It is not just the defenders that make mental errors.  Gerrard has made more defensive errors than all of our defenders while Henderson has made as many.

Lack of leadership

Jamie Carragher spoke about a lack of leadership in the Liverpool defence. I must say I agree with him. But it is a worry when you have the captain of Denmark, captain of the Ivory Coast, captain of Slovakia and the former PSG captain in your back four but still there is no leadership.

Conclusion?

I think with better defenders we’d have won the league. That might come across as over simplifying it but when I say better I mean better leadership, mental strength, pace, ability in 1v1 situations, decision making and less of a propensity to make errors.

So Ian Ayre and transfer committee, step forward. It’s not easy finding defenders of this calibre but it’s what the recruitment guys get paid good money to do. Brendan Rodgers took the side from 7th to challenging for the title, this despite a couple of ordinary transfer windows. It is time for the other members of the transfer committee to do their bit.

For me it’s pretty clear what we need to do to improve the team. Better full backs (please!!!), a central defensive leader, an attacking player who can play wide or at the apex of the diamond, a striker and cover for Henderson and Gerrard.

I see Brendan has agreed a new 4 year deal. Fully deserved, the man has done a great job and in my opinion is the manager of the year.

Liverpool FC reveal brand new away kit for 2014-15

Liverpool’s brand new Warrior away strip for the 2014-15 season was launched in Dublin this afternoon, ahead of the Reds’ post-season friendly against Shamrock Rovers.

Liverpool FC Away Kit 2014-2015

Brendan Rodgers believes that the revamped second strip is one ‘that fans and players will respond to’ – and there is little doubt that the club’s official kit supplier has captured the illustrious past with their latest offering.

The club’s official kit supplier has reinvigorated a classic in producing an iconic yellow strip that evokes memories of the Reds’ rich history – none more so than the FA Cup final success of 2001.

Featuring a range of contemporary design details and technical innovations, the revamped shirt, shorts and socks are engineered for superior performance.  A moisture-wicking War-Tech fabric uses responsive technology that helps keep players focused, while the four-way stretch mesh panelling under the arms and across the shoulders of the shirt facilitates optimum ventilation that allows for added comfort and temperature control in core heat areas, helping to regulate body temperature.

In line with the new home kit, which was unveiled in April and launched for sale earlier this month, a modern crew neck collar is designed for freedom of movement and comfort.  The main body of the kit, meanwhile, is dominated with a powerful yellow, with contrasting red cut and sewn panels that deliver a 360-degree design aesthetic, following the contours of the body.

Take a look through the slideshow below to see various members of the squad modelling the smart yellow design, which they will wear proudly at stadiums across the country throughout the next campaign.