Monthly Archives: April 2014

‘Psychiatrist got me back on form’ – Sterling

The 19-year-old fell out of favour last season, but a return of nine goals and five assists since December has seen him become a key member under Brendan Rodgers this term

Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling has revealed how a sports psychiatrist helped him rediscover his form.

Sterling broke into Liverpool’s first-team squad last season with a number of blistering performances, but suffered a slump in fortunes at the start of 2013-14 and fell out of favour in October and November.

But the 19-year-old has bounced back since December with nine goals and five assists in the Premier League as Liverpool look for a first Premier League title

Sterling reckons time spent with sports psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters – who will form part of the England backroom staff for the World Cup – helped him rediscover his positive, attacking style of play.

“Maybe on the outside people had the impression I’ve always been really confident,” the teenager told the Liverpool Echo.

“But after a good start [to last season] I started looking for easy options rather than taking a chance myself, beating a man, taking a shot on myself.

“I’d stopped being natural, all the things that I’d done which got me into the first team in the first place.

“You could look at the [Manchester] City goal as an example. I’m not trying to sound cheeky or over confident but three or four months ago I would have squared rather than take the responsibility all for myself.

“My goal was always to play for Liverpool when I first came here and maybe for a while I thought that goal was achieved because I was one of the lucky ones to do it. But you realise that is not enough. There always has to be the next challenge, to achieve things and win things – making your mark.

“From December time I realised I had to start stamping my personality, running with the ball, running into the box, making goals, scoring goals. Not playing with that barrier, not to be worried about making mistakes.”

Sterling added that his sessions with Dr Peters do not fit the stereotypical idea of psychiatry and are often incredibly simple.

“The way he works is brilliant. At first I thought it wasn’t for me. On the outside you might think it’s complicated but all the messages are very straightforward,” Sterling said.

“He understands the players and the emotional side of the game. What he says really helps you. We use a motto ‘focus on the ball, focus on the team’. I had a meeting with him before the City game.

“I thought it was going to last 20-25 minutes. So I walked in, sat down and he just said: ‘focus on the ball, focus on the team’. ‘Is that it?’ I asked him but it was really important.”

Liverpool investigate racism allegations

After an incident was reported to anti-discrimination group Kick It Out, the Reds say that they are looking into fans’ behaviour towards Chelsea striker Demba Ba

Liverpool are investigating allegations of racist abuse reportedly aimed at Chelsea’s Demba Ba in Sunday’s Premier League match at Anfield.

The incident was not thought to have been heard by the Senegal international, although it was reported to anti-discrimination group Kick It Out.

Premier League leaders Liverpool are now in the process of looking into it.

“We have been made aware of an allegation made to Kick it Out and we are investigating the matter,” a Liverpool spokesperson told Perform.

Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side won the game 2-0, with Ba opening the scoring on the stroke of half-time after capitalising on a slip by Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard.

The Blues then completed the victory with a breakaway goal in second-half injury time as former Anfield fans’ favourite Fernando Torres set up forward Willian.

The result saw Chelsea close the gap on Liverpool to two points with two games remaining.

Don’t forget ‘remarkable’ year, Rodgers urges Liverpool

Though the Reds let control of the Premier League title race slip through their fingers, their manager wants to ensure that they focus on their triumphs

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has urged his side not to forget their “remarkable” season and wallow in their defeat to Chelsea.

The Reds have mounted an unexpected charge for the Premier League title this season but lost control of the race when they were beaten 2-0 on Sunday, allowing Manchester City back into the picture.

With games against Crystal Palace and Newcastle to come before the campaign is over, Rodgers says that he has reminded his squad of their achievements so far to avoid dwelling on the setback at Anfield.

“I just reminded the players of the values of how we work,” he told the press. “We have a way of working and I take pride in that. We might not have got the result [against Chelsea] but you have seen over the course of the season we have made great strides and we will continue to.

“At the start of the season, people saw it was a real challenge for us to be in the top four so, with two games to go, to be in the top three, really, really challenging, it’s something that is really remarkable.

“But I’m not surprised, because of how we have worked and level the players have performed at. The games we won on our unbeaten run were exceptional, we were outstanding, and I have reminded them of that.”

While table-toppers Liverpool have the league’s best attack with 96 goals, they have conceded 46 times – the worst record of the top five – but Rodgers says that he has been delighted with Simon Mignolet in his first season as the club’s goalkeeper.

The Northern Irishman told the Liverpool Echo: “I’ve been delighted with Simon since he has come in.

“I think he’s an outstanding goalkeeper who is only going to get better and better. He has come into a huge club and replaced a legendary figure at the club in Pepe Reina.

“That was always going to take a bit of time but, over the course of the season, he has made a big contribution. I don’t forget the significance of some of the saves he has made. Simon hasn’t ever cost us a game but he has certainly gained us points. He’s an excellent goalkeeper.”

Southampton set to listen to offers for key quartet

The Saints face the break-up of the spine of their team as they prepare to cash in on Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Morgan Schneiderlin and Dejan Lovren to service debts

By Wayne Veysey

Southampton face the break-up of their much-admired team this summer as they prepare to listen to offers for star men Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Morgan Schneiderlin and Dejan Lovren.

With an outstanding transfer debt of £27 million and doubts about owner Katharina Liebherr’s ambition, the south coast club are ready to cash in on some of their prize playing assets.

There is also the growing likelihood that they will lose manager Mauricio Pochettino, who is the standout frontrunner alongside Ajax’s Frank de Boer to take on the Tottenham manager’s job that will be vacated by Tim Sherwood next month.

Southampton executive director Les Reed claimed last week that the club have received “no enquiries or offers for any of our players”.

However, Shaw is set for a £20m-plus summer switch to either Manchester United or Chelsea as he prepares to leave the club that he joined as an eight-year-old.

The 18-year-old left-back was named in the PFA team of the season last Sunday and his outstanding development is likely to be recognised in a call-up to England’s World Cup squad.

Saints skipper Adam Lallana is also a target for the Champions League calibre clubs, with Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham all closely monitoring the England international.

Lallana is contracted to the Saints until 2018 after signing a new deal last year but those close to him believe that the next window could be the right time to move to one of England’s marquee clubs.

Liverpool, who are currently in pole position to capture the 25-year-old attacking midfielder, want to agree an early deal for Lallana amid fears that his value could rocket on the back of an impressive showing at this summer’s World Cup.

Pochettino spoke in glowing terms of his club captain in the wake of Southampton’s recent 4-0 win over Newcastle, describing him as a “special and unique player” who “has the skills of an [Andres] Iniesta, Xavi or [Cesc] Fabregas”.

Schneiderlin, the all-action central midfielder, is a long-time target of Arsenal, who have extensively scouted him in the last two seasons. The 24-year-old Frenchman is rated in the £15m bracket.

Meanwhile, Croatian centre-back Dejan Lovren, a revelation in his first season in the Premier League, is being closely monitored by Liverpool.

Forward Jay Rodriguez, Southampton’s top scorer this season with 17 goals, has already attracted interest from leading clubs but he tore his anterior cruciate ligament earlier this month and is unlikely to play again until next year.

New Southampton director Hans Hofstetter admitted last month that the restructured board had “inherited a difficult situation financially” as it emerged in the club’s latest set of annual accounts that there was an outstanding transfer debt of £27m.

The future of the key players at St Mary’s could be tied to that of Pochettino, who is yet to extend a contract that expires at the end of next season.

Mourinho: Rodgers congratulated me on Chelsea’s win over Liverpool

The Reds boss hit out at his opposite number in the wake of his side’s 2-0 loss to the Blues at Anfield on Sunday, but the Portuguese claims hewas later praised for his tactics

Jose Mourinho says Brendan Rodgers has congratulated him for Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday.

In the immediate aftermath of Chelsea’s controversial 2-0 win on Sunday, Rodgers accused his opposite number of “parking two buses” in order to keep a clean sheet, with Liverpool frustrated by their counterparts’ tactics.

But Mourinho insists the Reds boss has now revised his view, with the Northern Irishman taking time out to praise his opposite number on Tuesday, 24 hours before Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Atletico Madrid.

“Brendan is a manager and someone I consider my friend. I met him a long time ago when he was a very young coach coaching kids and I consider him a friend,” he told reporters.

“Of course I know his words after the match but I also know his words today and today he told me congratulations for a great victory and a great performance.

“This is important to me especially because he is someone I consider a friend and I like. So I forget what he said after the match and instead what he said today.

“He watched the match on video again and now he understands what happened.”

Rodgers hails Suarez ‘loyalty’ to Liverpool

The Reds boss believes the Uruguayan has shown “remarkable” commitment to the club since being denied a transfer to Arsenal last summer

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is pleased Luis Suarez’s “loyalty” to the club has been rewarded with Champions League football.

The Uruguay international was subject of two bids from Arsenal in the summer but agreed a new deal at Anfield in December after previously publicly stating his desire to leave the club.

Suarezy has duly enjoyed a stunning campaign at Liverpool, scoring 30 Premier League goals to guide Rodgers’ side to the top of the table and winning the PFA Player of the Year award for his efforts.

Liverpool are already assured of a return to the Champions League for the first time since 2009-10 next term – and Rodgers is thrilled that his star striker will have the opportunity to shine at the highest level.

“A player of Luis Suarez’s ability has to be playing at this level,” the Northern Irishman told reporters.

“His loyalty in staying at Liverpool, to continue to fight for the club to get us there, is remarkable really.

“Hopefully he gets the rewards for that with those big European nights next season.”

Suarez was handed the PFA award on Sunday – just a year after his name was booed at last season’s ceremony following his bite on Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic’s arm.

The 27-year-old was banned for 10 matches for the incident, but Rodgers feels Suarez’s intelligence on and off the field is often overlooked.

“I’m interested in the person as much as the player. From the first year, he knew I would shape the team around his qualities. The way we set the system up is to be technical and intelligent,” he added.

“Probably what people don’t see with Luis is that he’s a very, very highly intelligent man off the field – and maybe sometimes in the past that intelligence on the field hasn’t been seen so much – but that imagination is part of how we work.

“I love players that have that technical ability. That’s what we’ve built our template on over the past 20 months and he’s at the top end of that.”