Monthly Archives: February 2014

Reina yet to decide on Napoli future

The 31-year-old shot-stopper, who has been linked with Barcelona, says he will wait to go back to Liverpool before deciding his next move

Pepe Reina says his Napoli future will not necessarily be determined by the level of success the club achieves this season.

The Spain international goalkeeper is currently on a season-long loan at Stadio San Paolo from Premier League side Liverpool.

Spanish champions Barcelona – with whom Reina began his career – have been heavily linked with a move for the 31-year-old as they look to replace Victor Valdes.

Reina is yet to reach a decision on his future, though, and intends to return to Merseyside before making a judgement on his next move.

“I need to go back to Liverpool at the end of my loan and I will make my decision there,” he said ahead of Napoli’s Europa League last-32 second leg with Swansea City.

“My future does not depend on our results this season. We are having a good season, it’s a shame we have lost a few too many points at the San Paolo.

“Juventus’ season is overshadowing everyone a little bit. We hold the Europa League in high regard and we have a Coppa Italia final to play. We also must qualify for the Champions League.”

Napoli entertain Swansea on Thursday having secured a 0-0 draw at the Liberty Stadium last week.

And head coach Rafael Benitez is looking for his charges to play at a high tempo to secure progression.

“Rhythm and speed will be the keys to winning tomorrow,” he commented. “We must also play with lots of intensity because we have seen that the away leg was played at a very high tempo.

“I don’t think possession is all important tomorrow. It will be more important for us to combine our defensive and attacking phases of play well, so that we are well balanced.

“We must be able to create chances to score without risking being hit on the counter-attack.”

Liverpool must ‘stay calm’ in Champions League race – Kolo Toure

Brendan Rodgers’s side enjoy a six-point cushion in holding fourth place ahead of Tottenham with 11 games left to play but the defender wants to stay focused on maintaining form

Liverpool defender Kolo Toure has called for his side to “stay calm” as they aim to tie up Champions League qualification.

Brendan Rodgers’s men currently occupy fourth spot in the Premier League, with a six-point cushion over nearest challengers Tottenham on their way to what would be their first progression to Europe’s top competition since 2008-09.

The defender is confident of the Reds’ chances but says that they must remain level-headed to be certain of reaching their target.

“We just need now to keep calm and do what we have been doing,” Toure told City Talk.

“If we continue that we will get the same results. There are going to be some tough games.

“Southampton [on Saturday] is a tough place to go but I think we can score goals and defend well as a team and we are working hard.

“We are in a good position at the moment [but], with 11 games to go, there are still a lot of things that can happen. We need to stay calm and focus on the next game.

Toure highlighted the motivational role played by Rodgers, enthusing: “The gaffer gives everyone confidence. When you step on the pitch you know that he’s behind supporting you.

“Everyone is trying to do their job the best they can and we need to keep doing that until the end of the season.”

Mignolet calls for Liverpool to cut out mistakes

The Reds goalkeeper shipped three goals at home to Swansea in a 4-3 win and believes his side must shore up their defence if they are to secure a top four finish

Simon Mignolet has urged Liverpool to stay calm and cut out the errors as they eye a place in next season’s Champions League.

The Merseysiders cemented their grip on fourth spot with a 4-3 home win over Swansea City last Sunday, a victory that moved them six points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham following the London club’s 1-0 defeat at Norwich City.

Despite boss Brendan Rodgers having played down their chances, Liverpool can still be considered title contenders and are just four points adrift of Premier League leaders Chelsea with 11 games remaining.

But goalkeeper Mignolet knows that they need to be better defensively in the run-in to the campaign.

“It wasn’t easy [against Swansea], but we scored four goals and it was a very important win for us,” Mignolet told The Liverpool Echo. “The objective going into every game is to win and we did that.

“Obviously, it’s easier to do that if you are not conceding goals and we know we need to be tighter and not concede so many.

“We are in a good position at the moment but with 11 games to go there are still a lot of things that can happen.

“We just need to try to get as much as we can out of all the games we have left. We need to stay calm and just focus on our next game at Southampton.

“Hopefully we can keep this run in the league going. We’re happy with where we are but there’s still a long way to go.

“The gaffer gives everyone confidence. When you step on to the pitch you know that he’s behind you and supporting you.

“Everyone is trying to do their job the best they can and we need to keep doing that until the end of the season.”

Liverpool progressing quicker than I expected, admits Rodgers

The manager says he isn’t surprised by his side’s swift improvement and claims parts of his team’s style of play has been “exceptional” as they keep pace with the title contenders

Brendan Rodgers says Liverpool have progressed quicker than he anticipated this season.

With 11 Premier League games remaining, Liverpool sit four points behind leaders Chelsea and are unbeaten in the league in 2014.

The 41-year-old also revealed he had initially aimed for the club to be competing for a top-four place next season, as opposed to the current campaign.

However, when asked if he thought Liverpool had progressed further than he expected, Rodgers told talkSPORT: “Yes, I feel they are.

“When I spoke to the owners when I decided to come to Liverpool, I certainly wanted to be challenging for the Champions League by my third year at the club.

“But I haven’t been surprised by the players because I’ve seen how much they put into their game and I know the quality we have.”

Having seen his side concede nine goals in their last six matches in all competitions, Rodgers admits Liverpool still need to improve.

“I think we’ve probably moved ahead of where I thought we would be this season, some of our play has been exceptional, but there are still areas of the team that I feel we need to improve on,” said Rodgers.

“It’s been a wonderful season, to be in our position with 11 games to go is fantastic, but there’s still a lot of work to do.”

Henderson hails ‘most important’ Liverpool goal

The midfielder netted twice against Swansea in a thrilling 4-3 win at Anfield and was pleased with his second effort, the eventual winning goal

Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson hailed his winning goal in Sunday’s 4-3 triumph over Swansea City as his most important for the club.

Henderson struck 16 minutes from time at Anfield to wrap up three points for the hosts in a captivating clash that saw Swansea fight back from 2-0 and 3-2 down to level.

The former Sunderland man had scored Liverpool’s second with a long-range effort and, while his winner was less pleasing on the eye, he claimed it was much more important.

“The second one was pleasing because I’ve been trying to arrive in the box a lot more, and to find the back of the net then was very pleasing as well,” he told the club’s official website.

“It was a good goal and that’s probably the most important one I’ve scored here.”

Henderson has four goals from 32 appearances this season having become an established starter under Rodgers this season.

With the 23-year-old touted as a potential member of Roy Hodgson’s England squad for the World Cup, Henderson believes that he still has improvements to make.

“I’ve still got a long way to go and a lot to do to improve my game. Goals are one, but there are a lot of other things,” he continued.

“I’ll just continue to do what I’ve been doing and work hard in training. Hopefully I can keep improving.”