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Dirk Kuyt believes Ryan Babel is happy at Liverpool and is backing him to become a first-team regular. The Dutch winger was quoted on Wednesday as being open to the prospect of securing a loan switch to former club Ajax during the January transfer window.The 22-year-old is said to have grown disillusioned at a lack of opportunities at Anfield, with his World Cup aspirations weighing heavy on his mind.Babel was awarded a starting berth by Rafa Benitez for Liverpool's opening game of the 2009/10 campaign at Tottenham, but has fallen down the pecking order since then.Fellow Reds forward Kuyt understands his countryman's frustration, but he believes his international team-mate is prepared to fight for a place on Merseyside. "He loves to play games for Liverpool and he will do everything in his power to come back," Kuyt told Sky Sports News."He is happy at Liverpool but every player wants to play and that is his only concern, before the World Cup, that he has to play games. "I'm sure that he wants to play for Liverpool and that he wants to play in games as soon as possible. "We have a big squad, with many players who can play in his position, so he has to work hard and I believe he is doing that at Liverpool and with the Dutch team."
Not really sure what to say, I get why DK is saying what he is but truthly isnt he not our 3rd choice left midfielder... I wouldnt mind seeing him play behind Torres in the Gerrard role to see how he does but has it come to a point where he will leave soon?Discuss...

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Guest Tulse Hill

hey guys,i love liverpool and i am a born scourse, anyone love to see babels performance last week i truely thought it was breathe taking i must go now my fellow liverpuddlians catch you soon all my sweet cheeks, we love liverpool yes we do!

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Nemeth stagnated last season but he has alot of potential. One of the best players in the reserve team in recent years has more made more of a impact than Pacheco

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lol @ todays commentators blaming rafa benitez for Babel not playing against Japan today and his place bein taken over by Eliaanyways it worked, his place got jacked..Elia smashed it left wing today

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His track record is nothing short of incredible; it is those magical, match-winning moments that live longest in the memory of football fans, and is one of the main reasons so many, not just in Liverpool, not even just in England, but across Europe and beyond believe him to be one of the best midfielders in the world.After all, in terms of match-winning moments, not even Frank Lampard's extraordinary and consistent goal return has manifested itself in as impressive and memorable a fashion as his.Kaka, for all his skills and silverware, arguably hasn't won as many matches with individual moments of magic as much as him, either. Iniesta produced just one such moment last season, and we saw what an iconic moment that became in the course of the year. The list is endless, but none of them, despite their many other skills, seem to have produced the quite simply unbelievable individual results Steven Gerrard has.There must be something to it - so Goal.com UK sat down with the Liverpool skipper to talk through the tricks to his trade secret.It turns out, it comes down to five factors - all of which, the man himself had plenty to say about, and many strolls down memory lane to take...

SHOOTING

It seems obvious enough, Stevie himself admits it can be decided in a fraction of a second: "It’s about the circumstances and you just have to keep practising your techniques during training and really knuckle down. Sometimes balls come at you so fast – you just don’t have time to think."The goal I scored against Olympiakos in the Champions League is a good example. As the ball dropped towards me it was spinning and I thought the shot was going to end up in the stands when I got my boot to it. But somehow I caught it sweetly and it flew in. It’s definitely one of the best goals I have ever scored."I was delighted to get the goal. Not because of the glory but for the rest of the team for the hard work we’d put in that night – especially in the closing stages."

ANTICIPATION

There is something to be said of any great striker - and a rare select few of great midfielders - who always are where they need to be to score those all-important, match-winning strikes: "It is always a challenge to find space during a match, but it doesn’t get easier as the game goes on because players are generally very fit nowadays."A good example is when we played West Ham in the FA Cup final. I was dead on my feet and when the ball came up for me I just thought I’d give it everything I had left."To be honest I surprised myself with how much I got behind it because I thought my tank was empty."Saying that, I also like the first goal I scored that afternoon a lot because it was a team goal. I might have put the finishing touch to it but it was a great build up."Another example is when we played Real Madrid last season. Ryan Babel made a great run down the left and cut it back as I was sprinting into the box. I diverted it towards the goal on the half volley and it just went in. Again, it’s just instinctive and as a professional footballer you keep practising and always look to improve in every area."The game against Real was my 100th appearance in Europe, but I’m not one to dwell on statistics or the goal. The most important thing was to win the game and reach the quarter-finals."Real just couldn’t live with us playing like that, we just capitalised on every loose ball and the team was brilliant from start to finish."Again, I can remember playing against PSV in Holland and Steve Finnan does some brilliant work with Javier Mascherano and Finn’s pointing to exactly where he wants the return pass played - his cross is just inch perfect."There are better players than me in the air at Liverpool but I knew where I was and where the goalkeeper was, and the ball was played just brilliantly and I got my forehead on it and it was 1-0. "You train and play with players week in, week out, and you just develop an understanding."

BOTTLE

This is one factor in which Gerrard holds no doubt of the significance whatsoever: "A good example of the difference bottle can make is our Champions League tie against Arsenal at Anfield."We had a penalty, yes, but if I’d missed? I didn’t even want to think about that."I had already made up my mind about where I was putting it as the ref awarded the spot-kick and just concentrated on getting the best contact on the ball that I possibly could. That was enough to put us back in the driving seat."You just have to think positive. I’ve scored some penalties in my time and I just go for them."

LUCK

Gerrard doesn't believe luck to be as telling a factor as many believe:. "You do need the rub of the green here and there, but I’d say it’s somewhere in-between."The thing is, you don’t get anything in football, or in any other profession, without a great deal of hard work and we’ve got to remember that. Football can be a cruel game and at times the opposition get the luck, but we have to do our part and really knuckle down."The difficult thing is that I’ve set a high standard for myself and people expect great performances week in and week out. That’s good, because I’d rather play my football with expectation around me, than not."But, if I fall a little bit below that level, people are very quick to say negative things. But at times things do go against you and you have to just remain calm and pick yourself up again."Experience is very important because it enables you to get back to basics and believe me, I’m my own worst critic."My target for this season is the same as it is before the start of every season: get into double figures. And to get to double figures you need a lot more than just luck."As a midfielder I’m always looking to get into double figures, that’s the minimum expected for a player in my position."To get to the next level you’re looking at about 15 and over a season if you want to be classed as a top Premier League midfielder."

... AND FITNESS

What many forget is that the young, industrious and slightly less strike-happy Steven Gerrard was a player whose very future at the highest level was under threat from persistent injuries.Those were problems he has battled admirably to overcome, showing that some things - including injuries - really do go beyond good or bad luck, into good or bad discipline and determination."To be able to play 50 or 60 games a season, you need to be able to stay fit for long enough. When I was younger, not being able to play 50 or 60 games used to really get me down and I used to doubt whether I’d be able to stay fit," recalls Gerrard. "But those days are thankfully long gone now. Over the last few years, everything’s come together and I feel really good."I have a routine that I’ve got to follow before and after games and in the week. But to be honest with you, I need to keep at it."I’ve got to do a special programme in the gym during the week and the physios have to drag me to do it. But it’s important and I know it’s helped me get to where I am and I’ll keep at it. It's all about putting the hard work in."

steven_gerrard_the_best_player.jpg

Nice little article on Mr Captain FantasticThe goal against West Ham >> _

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Gerrard has grown as a person(when not committing ABH) I used to dislike him intensely now he is a guy that works hard with a harlot as a wife...Which makes him human

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My dislike for Xabi Alonso is rocketing atm.Chatting bare sh*t about Rafa in every interview he doesGlad hes gone. Been holding us back since he came with his side to side and square passes. f*ck*ng prick./Amoo and Ecclestone included in CL squad btw.Wanna see these 2 feature

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i agree with aquilani don't know why alonso is jumpin at the chance to say somethin bad about benitez now arggh jus move on ffs

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Amoo and Ecclestone included in CL squad btw.Wanna see these 2 feature
Amoo >> Babel TBH
they are both sh*t and quick for no reason imolol @ Alonsoguys clocking nowme>>>

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Im not involved in any locking of any sort tbh.Need to get rid of the Utd room asap though.. Waste of space.. More scrolling etc. Allow me being the last poster for the past 10 days
:huh: :huh: wat united room?plz make a united roomsafe

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Extract from Torres book.

How the Beatles helped Fernando learn English and why he prefers a 99 ice cream to a night on the town.Penny Lane must have seemed a million miles away from Madrid to the young Spanish schoolboy. So too, the 'Yellow Submarine' that Fernando Torres sang about with his brother as they recited Beatles hits passed down from their father Jose. Indeed, 'El Nino', would not even have known who the Fab Four were given his tender years or what it was they were singing about. But he loved their tunes all the same. And that was all that mattered. Had anyone told him just how intricately linked he would ultimately become with Liverpool's most famous sons and he would have laughed it off as madness. Liverpool? He’d never even heard of it. Yet the city was to become his second home. His future. The platform for his footballing dreams and the Beatles back catalogue was to become his Bible. He said: "One of the biggest problems I faced when I first moved to Liverpool was the language barrier. My English was limited to the classes I had taken at school in Fuenlabrada. You think you know a bit of English and that you can get by but when you actually arrive in England you soon realise that you haven’t really got a clue. "I was told to be honest and say; 'I didn't catch that, could you say it again?' but the truth is I didn't always take that advice. I nearly always just mumbled a 'no'. That's what I did whenever I was in the supermarket and was asked if I wanted 'cash back'. It's not something we have in Spain and I had no idea what it was. It was three months before I knew what they were talking about. "One afternoon, the way back from having lunch we decided to go shopping. I'd been told about Costco and so we decided to go in and have a look. As we were going through the door, the security guard stopped. We assumed he was asking for a member's card that we didn't have and so, not be able to explain in English, we just turned and left without a word. The next day I was told if you’re not a member you can’t shop there. "Two people were vital during my first few days in the city: Rob and Alan, the English teachers Liverpool laid on for me. One of the things they used to make me do was ring people in response to adverts in the paper. You’d get on the phone and ask about a puppy for sale, or that kitten being advertised, or the price of a second hand car. "The idea was to get me used to speaking in English on the phone but at first the idea terrified me. So much so that I would panic when I didn’t understand something and find myself having to ring Pepe Reina. "The car radio became my constant travelling companion. Every morning on my way to training at Melwood, I would listen and try to concentrate on what was being said. At first I only understood a few words but bit by bit I could feel myself improving. As I went past billboards I would try to translate them, too, and with every passing day I was getting better and better. "Some nights, I even dared to pick up the phone and order food. When it turned up, it was nearly always what I wanted. When we were in hotels preparing for games I watched films in English with the subtitles on. The other thing I always carried with me was 'English Training' on my Nintendo DS - language games and exercises that helped me develop my English. "I was terrified at the prospect of having to have a conversation on the phone. Imagine how much worse it is when that conversation is with the fire service! My smoke alarm kept going off in the house I was renting and one afternoon I got a call. I just about worked out that the man on the other end was from the local fire station but I didn’t understand anything else. A few minutes later a fire engine turned up at the house, packed with fireman thinking they were being called into action. "They came three times in three days before they worked out that the smoke from cooking was causing the alarm to go off prematurely. The next time the alarm went off, they called me first to check whether they really did have to set off again." "I like the Beatles a lot. Before I ever imagined that I would end up in Liverpool, I listened to their songs. Now I've rediscovered them because listening to them has helped me to pick up the language more quickly. My favourite songs are 'Penny Lane' and 'Yellow Submarine'." A giant 51-foot long, 15-foot high, 18 tons steel Yellow Submarine, replica built to commemorate the famous song, greeted Torres upon arrival at Liverpool's John Lennon Airport. Torres found himself immersed in Liverpool’s history, it’s culture, walking the famous streets, from Princess Dock to Victoria Street, taking time to enjoy Matthew Street and the Beatles tour, though he is still to visit the Cavern Club. "What can I say about the legendary band, a symbol of the city? There’s not much I can add, although it did strike me that – despite what you might imagine – people in Liverpool aren’t constantly talking about the Beatles and their success,” he added. "People have an enormous amount of respect and admiration for them, because everyone in London is conscious of the fact that the Beatles and Liverpool FC have taken the name of the city round the world." Torres is not your average footballer. There will be no tabloid tales of bad boy behaviour, no sordid nightclub tales or weekly pictures of his latest supercar. Nights in playing cards, watching television with his stunning wife Olalla Dominguez Liste, or even a bit of DIY? Now you're talking. He explained: "I'm very much a homely person. I am at my most comfortable and relaxed there. One of my favourite moments each day, matches permitting, is the evening stroll with Olalla (my wife) and our two dogs. They're English bulldogs, a male called Pomo and a female called Llanta. We have found a couple of parks near where we live that are relaxed and peaceful, offering a real escape. "At home, we spend time playing board games with friends and family. When it comes to Monopoly, Scatergory, or Hotel, there are real battles. For a change, we sometimes play cards, even though I'm not one for the typical footballer's game like poker or the games played with a 40-card Spanish deck, like mus or pocha. But I do enjoy playing brisca and tute, Spanish games similar to trumps. "Television is an alternative and I like to be up to date with what’s going on in the world, and not just the sports news. My favourite programmes are ‘The Dog Whisperer’ and ‘Super Nanny’. "I love Stanley Park, the one that divides Anfield and Goodison and which I got to know when I went to film the Spanish number 9 advert for Nike there. I've also been to Chester, and to Formby on the coast where, weather permitting, I like to devour a Flake 99, with raspberry sauce. "We have adapted perfectly to Liverpool but when it comes to eating we still follow a Spanish timetable. Eating at English times still feels too early so we started arranging barbeques. A few of us got together along with Mikel Arteta from Everton. One Sunday we started eating in the garden, it was a sunny day with the odd cloud and we didn’t think anything of it....until the heavens opened and it started snowing. Yes, snowing! Since then, the slightest sign of bad weather and we set up in the garage instead. "During my first few months in Liverpool I seemed to be permanently surrounded by hammers, screwdrivers, pliers and spanners as I discovered a new hobby: putting together furniture. There were tools everywhere. "In Spain I hadn't put together a single wardrobe but here in England I found myself in the position where I either had to get on and do it or the box would just gather dust. Sometimes, I would end up getting so irritated I would end up crawling to bed shattered – but with the world done. "My determination to finish the job off meant that one night in 2007 I didn't finish until the small hours. I had come home in a bad mood after we had lost 1-0 at home to Olympic Marseilles in the Champions League. I decided the best way to work the frustration out of my system was to put together two pieces of furniture for the living room. By the time I had finished it was 4am. "I haven't experienced Liverpool's nightlife. I have been out a couple of times to eat after Champions League matches and you can see there's a lot going on. One thing that does surprise me is that no one seems to wear a coat. Everyone is done up and dressed to impress but few of them wrap up warm, even though the temperature can’t be much above freezing. One thing that I would like to do is watch a game in the pub. Everyone tells me about the passion with which fans follow matches between pints."

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Part 2"You can only ever be a legend in someone’s mind. So long as you never become a legend in your own, there’s no problem. People want to pigeon-hole you, Fernando: they want to label you, rank you, judge you and compare you to others. But all that really matters is that you are yourself."Those were the words uttered to Fernando Torres just a few days after he had become Liverpool’s record signing. His new mentor? The King of the Kop; Kenny Dalglish.The very fact that Torres, a new arrival from Spain was privileged to spend time with arguably the club’s greatest player of all time was not lost on the youngster.And the advice, the inspiration, the invaluable experience gained from those moments with Dalglish will never be forgotten by the striker bidding to carve his place in British footballing history.He said: “Dalglish told me that we’re the ones who make people’s dreams come true. The fans can’t play, so they live their dreams through us.“There’s nothing better than listening to the man who fans consider to be the greatest Liverpool player of all time: Kenny Dalglish. Kenny and I are not the same: he is the greatest player of all, I was just a new arrival but he immediately put me at ease."Dalglish has taken a special interest in Torres. The symmetry between the two is there for all to see and while Torres is right, after two seasons it is ridiculous to mention him in the same breath as King Kenny, the start he has made at Anfield suggests it will only be a matter of time.There is more to Torres than his performances on the pitch. Dalglish has been impressed with the way he has immersed himself in the history and tradition, the values that are so important to Liverpool Football Club and its fans.Dalglish and Torres met privately and spent time together inside a deserted Anfield. Their attention turned towards the Kop and, one of Dalglish biggest regrets.Torres added: “Kenny revealed something that surprises me: ‘I always wanted to go on the Kop, but I never could,’ he said. ‘The only time I have ever been on the Kop is when the stadium has been empty. It’s funny, my son has been there but I haven’t. A friend of mine took him and looked after him, he spent the game with him on the Kop. He lived a dream that I couldn’t.’“Like Kenny, I’ve only been on the Kop when it was empty. I would love to think that when I retire it will be impossible for me to watch a game from the Kop too. That would mean I had achieved something great.“Dalglish told me that the key to Liverpool’s success was the harmony within the team. ‘No team has ever been successful without a good atmosphere in the dressing room’ he said. ‘They don’t have to go out for drinks together or be best friends but having a good group is very important. We had a great dressing room, we were really united. Even now there are six or seven of us that are still close.'“During that meeting we talked about football. I talked about the fact that there are games when things don’t go for you but that I will never hide. I always want the ball, even if I’m having a bad day. Liverpool’s legendary number 7 said he was the same. ‘Of course you want the ball. You have to keep going. As a striker, you miss more chances than you score. The goals aren’t what matter most; what matters most are the chances you miss. The more you miss, the closer you are to the next one you’re going to score. You have to think like that: if you don’t have the courage to develop that kind of attitude you won’t make it at this level.'“I learned so much from my time with Kenny. I really like him. He’s a normal person who’s very accessible. He says he doesn’t feel like a legend but that’s exactly what he is. The fact that he has stayed so normal really struck me.“I can’t be compared to him but I feel proud to have been able to speak to him for so long. It was a real honour for him to have given up his time to talk to me. Meeting Kenny has made me even more hungry for success, even more determined to work hard and maybe, just maybe, see if one day I can compare myself with him.“I’ll never forget the last piece of advice he gave me, as we were leaving the restaurant. Just as he went out of the door, the greatest player in the history of Liverpool turned to me and said: ‘Fernando, Liverpool is a special club with special fans. They love those players who love wearing their shirt. But they’re not stupid: they know when players mean it and when they don’t; they know when it’s just for show – when a player kisses the badge and all that. They love to identify themselves with the players out on the pitch and I think they’re going to identify with you very, very easily.’"What an honour.”
Torres exclusive: Day I realised I'd never walk aloneHis head may have been in Madrid but his heart was already in Liverpool.Even though Fernando Torres didn’t actually realise it, his fate was already sealed.A flick of the arm, a fleeting connection with a defender jostling for the ball and the ripped skipper’s armband revealed his destiny. The words were clear: ‘We’ll Never Walk Alone’It wasn’t a ‘come and get me plea’ to Rafa Benitez. Far from it. Instead, the words were meant to signify the bond that existed between Torres and his friends. It was their motto. A play on the words used in famous song adopted by Liverpool Football Club as their anthem.His friends had the words tattooed on their forearm. Torres, aware of the controversy it would cause opted out so they gave him an armband with the words inscribed on the inside. Their secret – until a clash with a Real Sociedad defender on April 23, 2007 revealed them to the world. “Destiny seemed to have decided that if I ever left Atletico Madrid it would be for Liverpool,” he said.“It happened in San Sebastian, in northern Spain, when I was playing for Atletico Madrid against Real Sociedad. I was battling with a defender, and the captain’s armband I was wearing came loose and fell open.“As it hung from my arm, you could see the message written on the inside, in English. We’ll Never Walk Alone. It wasn’t what I had intended but right there and then I became identified with Liverpool. I hadn’t planned for it, and a future at Anfield hadn’t even crossed my mind but that moment of chance. That accident came to symbolise the next big step in my career: my captaincy at Atletico gave way to the words that define Liverpool.“All my best friends have the words tattooed on their arms. We were eating together once and they suggested that I do the same. I told them I couldn’t. ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ is a phrase so intimately linked to one of Europe’s biggest clubs, so clearly associated with Liverpool, that I didn’t think it was a good idea.“I was an Atletico player and a rojiblanco through and through. They decided to give me a new captain’s armband for my birthday with the phrase on the inside so that, even if I wouldn’t get it tattooed on my arm, we would never walk alone.“I gave the armband to the Atletico kit man, who kept it with the team’s shirts. When it slipped down that day against Sociedad, an eagle-eyed photographer snapped the picture and I was immediately linked to Liverpool.“Maybe that day I took my first steps towards Anfield, or maybe it was because I already shared things with Liverpool. I identify with the values that define the club: hard work, struggle, humility, sacrifice, effort, tenacity, commitment, togetherness, unity, faith, the permanent desire to improve, to overcome all obstacles...Once a week Liverpool fans feel like the most important people on earth and make the players feel like it to. They give everything and they ask for nothing in return.“Liverpool FC is a club that despite being used to winning never succumbs to the temptation to start cruising. If you play well the fans enjoy it, and if you play badly they help you get over it. The Liverpool family helped me off the pitch too. It’s as if you live in a neighbourhood where everyone knows you and everyone joins forces for the same cause: the team. Good people, honourable people, who have always got back on their feet however many times destiny has knocked them down. The harder things have been, the more united they have become.”Torres was tracked by virtually every club in Europe. He wanted to play out his career at Atletico Madrid but eventually realised he must move to achieve his footballing dreams. When Liverpool came calling it provided him with a date with destiny.He added: “Having turned down various proposals, Rafa Benitez’s call made me reflect and start to have doubts for the first time. I decided it was the right moment to leave and I asked Miguel-Angel Gil Marin, Atletico’s owner, to listen to Liverpool’s offer.“I didn’t know that Liverpool was the most successful club in England. Since Rafa went to Anfield and took Spanish players with him I had got to know Liverpool better but I didn’t realise that. I thought they were some way behind the teams that I assumed dominated English football: Manchester United and Arsenal. I was surprised when I found out just how incredible their history was and how many titles they had won.“Istanbul revealed Liverpool’s true spirit. The Spanish television channel Canal Plus broadcast a report about the history of the club after they had won their fifth European Cup in Turkey – about the tragedies at Heysel and Hillsborough, the connection between players and fans, the struggle against adversity.“The commitment to overcome difficulties and stand tall, the ability to face up to every situation and beat it, it is reserved for true giants. Liverpool FC is a special and complete club, one that plays and fights, that gives everything for the people that follow it.“I had heard the names that are most associated with Liverpool: Dalglish, Rush, Souness, Keegan, Owen, Fowler, McManaman, Hamann... As someone who has always followed those players who come through the ranks at their clubs, I was especially interested in a young lad from the youth team called Steven Gerrard.“In the 1980s Liverpool were practically invincible. I was told that the European ban they suffered after Heysel made them stronger domestically, even though they had an important handicap with less of a presence on the international club stage. Rafa Benitez, who has changed things at the club and revived some of the old Liverpool philosophy, giving the club a global presence again."
Torres exclusive: Rafa phoned to sign me... I thought it was a prank!Three times his mobile phone rang with an English number. Three times he ignored it.Eventually curiosity got the better of Fernando Torres and he returned the call. There was no answer. He jested to his wife Olalla: ‘That’ll be Benitez wanting to sign me!’ How right he was.He said: “I don’t pick up the phone if I don’t recognise the number. Whoever it was had been very insistent – and that evening, a Sunday night, I rang back. There was no answer but a couple of seconds later, whoever it was returned the call.“’Hello Fernando’ said a Spanish voice at the other end, ‘do you know who this is?’ ‘No’ I replied. ‘You mean, you’d ring a random English number when you don’t even know who it is?’ the voice said. ‘Not normally, no,’ I said, ‘but I’ve had three calls from this number and I want to know who it is.’ ‘It’s Rafa Benitez.’“There wasn’t much conversation – not from me, at least. My responses were to the point, short and cold. Too cold. Off hand. I’m amazed he didn’t tell me to get lost.“My mind was racing, trying to place the voice, to decide if it really was Benitez. But how should I know when I had never spoken to him before? He didn’t stop talking. He explained what his plans were and he told me that he had decided that I was the player he wanted to be Liverpool’s centre-forward. He needed to know if I was committed enough to the idea for him to fight for my signature and start negotiating with Atletico Madrid.“I didn’t know what to think; my mind wasn’t clear, it was spinning. I was thinking that maybe it was a mate of mine fooling around or some impersonator trying to catch me out.“ I thought I might be falling victim to another bad taste joke, like Jose Antonio Reyes when someone from a radio station rang him pretending to be the Real Madrid’s vice president Emilio Butragueno while he was still at Arsenal and he got himself in all sorts of trouble by admitting to ‘Butragueno’ that he would love to join Madrid.“Almost all I managed to say was ‘Speak to Miguel Angel Gill, Atletico’s owner, and when the leagues over I’ll think about my future.”Benitez did indeed pursue their conversation. He ordered the Anfield hierarchy to secure Torres signature and despite Atletico Madrid’s attempts to persuade him to stay a £26.5 million deal was eventually thrashed out.He didn’t have to do much convincing of the player. Torres had long been fascinated with Benitez as a manager. He had watched him guide unfancied Valencia to two La Liga titles and UEFA Cup triumph. Only after working with him did he realise the secrets behind Benitez success.The picture he paints of Benitez is fascinating. A man totally consumed by football. Unable or unwilling to converse with his players about anything other than football - as he proved to Torres the day after Liverpool’s magnificent win over Chelsea in .He added: “I’m doing up my boots ready to head out to the training pitch when the manager Rafa Benitez comes over. During the previous few days the papers have been full of stories about me becoming a father. ‘Congratulations Fernando,’ Rafa says. ‘Thanks boss,’ I reply.“I assumed that he was congratulating me on the pregnancy and I paused, expecting the obvious next question: How’s the mother? Or: Will it be a girl of a boy? I was wrong. I’d forgotten the man standing in front of me was a coach who thinks about football 24 hours a day, seven days a week.‘Just as we’d anticipated, attacking the near post really paid off yesterday’ he said. ‘You got ahead of the defender into that space we talked about, which gave you an advantage and allowed you to beat Cech with a header. It was a good pass from Fabio but you worked it well. Congratulations.’ And with that Rafa turned and headed out for training.“Rafa Benitez, football coach. A football coach through and through. A man so absolutely dedicated to a difficult, demanding and often ungrateful profession. “Benitez is a manager who knows how to get the best out of his players. He knows how to choose the right players for his system, players who fit his philosophy for the team and the squad. He builds a strong group and helps to improve the individual within it. He pushes you so hard that you end up playing at 120 per cent of your potential. Then he pushes you some more. Once he has got you playing at your very peak, he finds a way to fit all the pieces together for maximum effect.“Rafa lives football 24 hours a day. He’s meticulous and so insistent on the small details that it can be hard to deal with. He’s so on top of you that a lot of the time he’s on the pitch reminding you of your mistakes the second the game is over, while he normally ignores the things you did well.“He encourages you with criticism, pushing you to improve every day. If you can’t handle that, it can damage your self-esteem, but if you can handle it, it pushes you on. He provides you with information and detail you didn’t even know about and hadn’t even noticed but that help you get better. He lays great store by the geometry of football: where you are in relation to the ball, if you’re half a metre further forward or half a metre further back...The work you do and the improvements that come with it gives you confidence. So does he.“Rafa likes to encourage dialogue. He doesn’t want to just show us a video, talk on his own and then jump on the bus to go to the ground. He asks the players for their opinion and tries to involve them in the debate over what we should do. Sometimes he even interrogates you about your role or some move you’re supposed to carry out.“Sometimes I feel like I’m back being a schoolboy in Fuenlabrada with a teacher testing me on what he’s just taught us. I remember that during one of the first team talks I was involved in he asked us, in a way, what the key to winning the game was. It was my turn to answer. I couldn’t think of anything. I was racking my brain but drawing blanks when Yossi Benayoun rescued me with a whisper in my ear: ‘Pass’ “During team talks you realise just how closely Benitez studies the opposition. He likes to tell us the line-up when we get to the dressing room but even before that he has given a tactical lesson in how the other team plays. Even though he doesn’t want us to know what team, we’re going to play, he insists on us knowing what team the opposition will play. “I honestly don’t think I have ever had a conversation with Benitez that hasn’t been about football. That’s just the way he is.”
Torres exclusive: Gerrard is world's greatest playerFernando Torres hailed Steven Gerrard the ‘greatest player in the world’ and insists: Liverpool would be lost without him.He believes their inspirational skipper is ‘irreplaceable’ and has vowed to help land him a long overdue first ever Premier League winners medal - and the World Player of the Year Award.Torres insists Gerrard is the heartbeat of the club and the key factor behind their European and domestic ambitions.He said: “He is without doubt the greatest player I have ever played with. He has everything.“At Liverpool, he is irreplaceable. Every big club has a standard bearer, a home-grown talent, someone with a lifelong commitment to the cause.“People come and go but he’s always there. It’s him and ten others. He’s everything to the side. That’s Steven Gerrard at Liverpool. I can’t even begin to imagine the place without him.“He’s got it all as a footballer too: personality, consistency, stature, control, power, strength, aggression, intensity, he never goes missing... he can play everywhere and he can play in every way. Wherever you put him, he performs. He scores goals, works hard, he’s quick, he’s tireless. He’s a born leader and the most consistent player in the world.“The only thing missing from CV is the Premier League title and an international award like the Ballon d’Or or the FIFA World Player and I’m sure he’ll win one of those soon. There’s no doubt he deserves to. Any coach would want him in their side. “Torres is the new Kop idol but he believes Gerrard will eventually be recognised as Liverpool’s greatest ever player – and he claims he models himself on the captain.He revealed his admiration for Gerrard in his autobiography, ‘Torres: El Nino’ serialised this week by The Mirror.Torres adds: “One day he’ll be recognised as one of the greatest players in the club’s history. And don’t forget, he’s Liverpool through and through too: a local lad who came up through the ranks. That fact makes his achievements all the more impressive to me. For any Scouser to get into the Liverpool first team is extremely difficult.“Youth teamers learn from the first team players whom they look up to; they get immersed in the values of the clubs and the footballers who represent it over the years. Maybe that’s why Steve and Carra haven’t had to tell me what Liverpool stands for; I can see it in their game.“Steve doesn’t need to scream and shout on the pitch to be a leader. He leads by example, by the way he plays – the way he’s had bred into him for years.“Our captains are symbols of the club; they supported the team as kids, they sweated for the cause for years in the Academy, fighting to make it, they’ve put up with the pressure of playing for their future with the Reserves, they’ve made it to the first team and worn the armband at Anfield. “I have tried to absorb everything I can from the club and the city, to understand exactly where I am and that’s because of them. If there is one thing that inspires me about (Jamie) Carragher and Gerrard, one thing that stands out as the key to the way they play, it is their commitment to the cause.”Gerrard and Jamie Carragher went out of their way to greet Torres, sending him text messages within hours of him joining and helping him to settle in at Anfield – they remain on his phone to this day.He added: “I really noticed that in training: Gerrard and Carragher for example, are always the first to do each exercise and their attitude provides a model to follow. Their enthusiasm is contagious; their approach brings the intensity and dedication necessary to everything we do. If they give everything then you have no choice but to give everything too.“I admire Steven Gerrard because I know how much pressure he has to live with every day. Everyone’s talking about him all the time – in the dressing room, in the bars, in the stadium. From my own experience, I know how difficult it is to keep everyone happy, but the pressure he’s under is on a different level to anything I ever had to live with because Liverpool is such a huge club.“When you’re captain, you know everyone is talking about you. You can feel it, especially when things go badly. Everything that Gerrard has to face every single day, and the expectations that surround him, make the way he handles the pressure even more impressive. He is always under the microscope and people always expect him to be a leader, to lift the team all on his own.“He is an example to everyone who ever finds themselves in that situation. It’s incredible what he has to put up with and how much there is going on around him every single day.“I would love to be a captain somewhere some day because I think I’ve had the best possible role model in Steven Gerrard."
What a man! Top read

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David Ngog staked a first-team claim with the winning goal as 10-man Liverpool Reserves beat arch-rivals Manchester United 1-0 on Thursday. The French striker fired in the opening minutes but the Reds had to work hard to maintain their lead at Prenton Park following the first-half dismissal of midfielder Damien Plessis. John McMahon's second string have now collected six points from their opening three Barclays Premier Reserve League (North) games and look set to be fighting at the right end of the table after last season's disappointing campaign. Liverpool made a flying start on four minutes when David Martin took a leaf out of Pepe Reina's book by launching the ball right down field towards Ngog. The Frenchman controlled under pressure before coolly nodding past the oncoming Ron-Robert Zieler. United hopeful Federico Macheda, whose winner against Aston Villa last season played a huge part in denying Liverpool the title, almost equalised eight minutes later after dancing into a yard of space in the box. His low drive brought a fine reflex save from Martin. United continued to press but McMahon's two lines of four, marshalled by the impressive Victor Palsson, were defending well. There was almost a second for the Reds on the break when David Amoo zoomed past Joe Dudgeon before squaring to Nathan Eccleston. The 19-year-old beat the 'keeper but his finish was cleared off the line by right-back David Gray. The further the half progressed, the better Liverpool became, and they almost fluked another goal when Amoo's cross swerved over the 'keeper and onto the roof of the net. The Reds' dominance looked set to continue but the task of claiming north-west bragging rights became a whole lot tougher on 34 minutes when Plessis received a straight red after going in studs showing on United No.10 Magnus Eikrem. McMahon quickly shuffled his pack, introducing Jay Spearing for winger Alex Kacaniklic. Eccleston nearly created some breathing space when he thundered past two men before blasting too close to Zieler from a tight angle. Liverpool started brightly in the second half, Ngog heading Spearing through on goal. The Wirral-born midfielder was just about to shoot when he was stopped in his tracks by a superb last-ditch tackle from centre-back Ritchie De Laet. Macheda almost levelled things on 56 minutes after a defence-splitting pass brought him one-on-one with Martin, who saved well with his feet. United were starting to take advantage of their extra man as one close shave followed another. Defender James Chester could have had a brace. The visitors' wastefulness in front of goal should have been punished with 20 minutes remaining but Ngog missed the target with a header from five yards. Liverpoolfc.tv man of the match: David Martin Liverpool team: David Martin, Stephen Darby, Steven Irwin, Daniel Ayala, Chris Mavinga, Victor Palsson, David Ngog (Nikola Saric 77), David Amoo (Emmanuel Mendy 71), Nathan Eccleston, Damien Plessis, Alex Kacaniklic (Jay Spearing 39). Unused subs: Martin Hansen, Christopher Buchtmann.

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N'gog is developing nicely think second part of the season or the start of next he will establish himself as a good squad player. He is only 20 and is developing steadly can see his touch and technique getting better each game.Very good signing for a million.Would go for this team against West Ham-------------Reina--------Johnson---Carra--Skrtel----Insua-------Lucas-----Masch-----------Kowt------SG-------Benayoun----------------Torres-----Take Torres off early if we are comfortable he looks jaded and maybe throw Agger and Aurelio in for match fitness as wellSquad is slowly finding its footing and players coming back from injury still have Aurelio,Agger,Aquilani to come back for the team which are important players for us.

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Not since the days when footballs were made of head-me-if-you-dare heavy leather has something in the game caused so many defenders migraines. But even Superman has kryptonite. Fernando Torres can be neutralised — how to do so is the surprise.You make him face a certain Premier League side and they are not Manchester United, not Chelsea and not Arsenal. There is one team the world’s deadliest centre-forward feels ineffective against: Aston Villa. During his brief but goal-studded career in English football, Torres has embarrassed Nemanja Vidic and got the better of the likes of Rio Ferdinand and John Terry, yet put him in with Curtis Davies and Carlos Cuellar and — in his own mind at least — the Spaniard becomes tame.“Last season we won against Chelsea, United and Arsenal but always you have some defenders who are really hard for you. The Aston Villa defenders, for me, are really difficult. I don’t know why,” Torres said. “I have never had a good game against them because they are very, very aggressive and are doing man-to-man over almost the whole pitch. I hope we can win away against them because at home we lost 3-1 [this season]. They are probably the hardest defenders for me.”The Spaniard made his confession when launching his autobiography (Torres: El Niño — My Story) at Anfield on Thursday. In the defeat last month that he mentioned, he got his first goal in five encounters against Villa. Until then, they were the only team in the Premier League Torres had faced more than once and failed to score against. He was marked by Davies and Cuellar, who were also his opponents when he drew a blank against Villa (albeit in a 5-0 Liverpool victory) in March. Martin Laursen, Olof Mellberg and Gary Cahill are the other Villa centre-backs Torres has faced since moving to England in 2007. He has scored 53 times in 90 appearances for Liverpool (before yesterday) and earned a level of affection from fans of rivals clubs in England which, despite his achievements, was not afforded to Cristiano Ronaldo during his spell in the Premier League and has also eluded another prodigious forward imported from abroad, Didier Drogba.Asked for the reasons, Torres pointed to his onfield conduct. The Spaniard has not been involved in a diving scandal while playing in England and has seldom taxed the patience of match officials, being booked just once in the league last season, despite a committed style of playing. “I think players have to show respect to everyone, not just the fans of their own team,” he said in reference to himself, Ronaldo and Drogba. “That is where respect is important, being honest and trying to play football just like a sport to enjoy — not doing the other things.”Having picked out England and Brazil as the sides he feels will present the biggest obstacles to Spain at next year’s World Cup, Torres strengthened the mutual admiration pact between himself and the English when he discussed styles of play. Despite nursing a black eye from a brawny encounter with Burnley’s Clarke Carlisle and Andre Bikey last Saturday, the striker said he loved the muscular dimension to football in the Premier League. “Here the defenders are more honest,” he said. “They’re fighting for the ball, but they are honest. They’re just trying to fight to keep the ball. Here in England you fight and I really like this type of football.”

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