Tag Archives: barclays

Rio Ferdinand voted in to PFA team of the year

Rio makes players' team of the year… so will Roy pick him for England now

By
Neil Ashton

PUBLISHED:

18:12 GMT, 25 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

01:00 GMT, 26 April 2013

Roy Hodgson will come under renewed pressure to pick Rio Ferdinand for glamour games against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil after his fellow professionals voted him into the PFA team of the year.

Ferdinand, 34, will be named in the side, announced on Sunday, for a fifth time.

England’s manager is determined to pick a strong squad for the friendly against the Republic at Wembley on May 29 and the trip to Rio on June 2.

Selected: Rio Ferdinand is in the PFA players team of the year

Selected: Rio Ferdinand is in the PFA players team of the year

Ferdinand made 21 starts as Manchester United charged towards their 13th Barclays Premier League title.

Hodgson’s assistant, Ray Lewington is being sent to Arsenal on Sunday to watch Ferdinand in action.

Hodgson is already without England captain Steven Gerrard, who needs surgery on his injured shoulder at the end of the season.

Pressure: Roy Hodgson (right) faces a tough decision about whether to call up Rio

Pressure: Roy Hodgson (right) faces a tough decision about whether to call up Rio

Ferdinand pulled out of England’s World Cup qualifiers last month. He said his treatment schedule for his back meant he could not join the squad.

Ferdinand then caused outrage among England fans when he travelled to Doha to be an analyst for Al Jazeera for the 8-0 victory over San Marino.

Incredibly, Hodgson left the door open for Ferdinand to play for England again.

Fancy seeing you here: Rio Ferdinand bumped into former TOWIE star Mark Wright in Alderley Edge

Fancy seeing you here: Rio Ferdinand bumped into former TOWIE star Mark Wright in Alderley Edge

Rio and Wright

Marouane Fellaini to dye hair silver

Fellaini to provide a silver lining for Everton's season with midfielder set to dye afro for charity

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

16:56 GMT, 25 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

16:56 GMT, 25 April 2013

Everton's Champions League hopes may have faded, but star man Marouane Fellaini is set to provide a silver lining to their season.

The Belgium midfielder will dye his hair silver if 25,000 is raised for Everton in the Community – the club's official charity.

Hair-raising: How Fellaini would look if his hair is dyed silver

Hair-raising: How Fellaini would look if his hair is dyed silver

The presence of the 6ft 4in afroed midfielder has proved frightening enough already for opposition defenders this season, but the sight of his famous curly locks dyed silver will be truly hair-raising.

Fellaini, 25, has made 27 Barclays Premier League appearances for the Toffees this season, scoring 11 goals.

Famous fro: Fellaini is one of the most recognisable stars in the Premier League

Famous fro: Fellaini is one of the most recognisable stars in the Premier League

Famous fro: Fellaini is one of the most recognisable stars in the Premier League

Everton currently sit in sixth place in the league with four games remaining – starting at home to Fulham on Saturday.

Their last game of the season is at Chelsea on May 19, so if you want to see Fellaini's afro dyed silver… get donating!

To donate to Everton in the Community visit justgiving.com/fellainifro or text FELI50 and the amount including the sign to 70070.

Steven Gerrard to be sidelined with shoulder operation – EXCLUSIVE

EXCLUSIVE: Liverpool and England blow with Gerrard set for shoulder op

By
Neil Ashton

PUBLISHED:

21:41 GMT, 23 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:06 GMT, 24 April 2013

Steven Gerrard faces an operation on a shoulder injury that could rule him out of England's friendlies against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil.

Sportsmail revealed this morning that the England captain, 32, has been advised to have surgery after Liverpool's final Barclays Premier League game of the season against QPR on May 19.

Gerrard's ongoing problem with his shoulder will come as a massive blow to England's manager, Roy Hodgson, ahead of the two glamour games.

Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard

Blow: Steven Gerrard is expected to miss England's game against Brazil in June with his shoulder injury

He is expected to play in Liverpool's final four games of the season against Newcastle, Everton, Fulham and QPR before using the summer to recover.

The news has since been confirmed by Reds first team coach Mike Marsh.

'It's looking more and more likely that he might require surgery,' Marsh told Liverpoolfc.com.

'He has been playing with a shoulder injury for quite a while now. We'll try to find the right time for him to get it fixed properly.

'It's not ideal timing, it's going to take quite a while for him to heal. It's a funny injury – it's pretty similar to Joe Allen (who has already had surgery which has ruled him out for the remainder of the campaign).

'If it needs repairing, it needs repairing and when he's back fit, he's back fit. There's not much we can do about it.'

If, as expected, he undergoes an operation Gerrard is likely to miss internationals against the Republic of Ireland at Wembley on May 29 and Brazil in Rio de Janeiro on June 2.

England play the Republic of Ireland at Wembley on May 29 and then travel to Rio de Janeiro to play Brazil in the Maracana on June 2.

Hodgson insisted after last month's disappointing draw against Montenegro in the World Cup qualifiers that he would pick his strongest squad for the two friendlies and he wants Gerrard, who has 102 caps, for both matches.

Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard

International duty: Gerrard is still expected to play in Liverpool's remaining four games of the season

England's manager is reluctant to pick young or inexperienced players for the games because he doesn't expect them to be selected for next year's World Cup in Brazil.

Despite Gerrard's commitment to his country, the Liverpool captain has been urged to have the operation at the end of the Premier League season.

Gerrard has played in all 34 games for Liverpool this season and scored nine goals.

He remains a crucial part of Brendan Rodgers' planning and is scheduled to return from the operation in time for pre-season.

Show: The Liverpool skipper is hopeful of being fit for his testimonial at the beginning of August

Show: The Liverpool skipper is hopeful of being fit for his testimonial at the beginning of August

Gerrard also hopes to be fit for his testimonial game against Olympiakos, which has been scheduled for August 3 at Anfield.

Hodgson already has an eye on the end-of-season fixtures and sent his assistant Ray Lewington to Old Trafford on Monday to watch a number of players.

Rio Ferdinand was a substitute for Manchester United as they beat Aston Villa and secured the Barclays Premier League title.

Road to Rio: Roy Hodgson could hand Ferdinand a recall to the England setup despite turning his back on his country

Road to Rio: Roy Hodgson could hand Ferdinand a recall to the England setup despite turning his back on his country

Ferdinand turned his back on his country last month and went to Qatar to work as an analyst for Al Jazeera.

Incredibly, Hodgson is preparing to offer the Manchester United defender another chance to resume his England career next month.

Rio Ferdinand looks ripped after Manchester United win Premier League title

Ripped Rio! United defender Ferdinand can't play twice a week… but it hasn't stopped him bulking up in the gym

By
Colin Young

PUBLISHED:

08:44 GMT, 23 April 2013

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UPDATED:

09:07 GMT, 23 April 2013

The body might not be able to manage two games a week anymore but Manchester United’s title-celebrating tweeter Rio Ferdinand looks in pretty good nick to us.

Ferdinand posted pictures of his team-mates celebrating the club’s 20th title from the Old Trafford dressing room following their 3-0 win over Aston Villa.

But it was the photographs taken by the professionals as the United squad cracked open bottles of sponsors’ Barclays’ bubbly which really caught the eye.

Ripped: Rio Ferdinand celebrates after Manchester United clinched the Premier League title at Old Trafford

Ripped: Rio Ferdinand celebrates after Manchester United clinched the Premier League title at Old Trafford

Rio Ferdinand

Ripped: Rio Ferdinand celebrates after Manchester United clinched the Premier League title at Old Trafford

Ferdinand looked particularly ripped and muscly as he sprayed the champers.

It’s not just the torso which looks impressive in the images, but Ferdinand’s bulging biceps.

Ferdinand has played 24 games in his club’s latest title success and he looks certain to be around for another few years to add to his personal tally.

And looking like this. Why not

Great shape: Ferdinand (right) has had his problems with injury but he clearly spends plenty of time in the gym

Great shape: Ferdinand (right) has had his problems with injury but he clearly spends plenty of time in the gym

Rio Ferdinand with Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney

Rio Ferdinand with Rafael

At least now we know what he was up to behind the scenes last month when he turned down his England recall.

Ferdinand may have flown over to the Far East for his television commitments. And he may have fulfilled his obligations to meet and coach youngsters in Dubai before appearing on Al Jazeera.

But quite clearly the 34-year-old defender spent the rest of his spare time in the hotel gym pumping those weights.

Main men: Ferdinand celebrates with Michael Carrick after United's 3-0 win over Aston Villa at Old Trafford

Main men: Ferdinand celebrates with Michael Carrick after United's 3-0 win over Aston Villa at Old Trafford

Stoke fans refuse to back Tony Pulis

'Staying up' but Stoke fans still not potty about Pulis despite QPR win

By
Simon Cass

PUBLISHED:

22:00 GMT, 21 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

07:01 GMT, 22 April 2013

The chants of ‘We are staying up’ rang out from Stoke City’s fans after the club was rescued from the drop at QPR’s expense.

But there were no songs of support for manager Tony Pulis, despite Stoke almost certainly assuring Barclays Premier League football for a sixth season.

Pulis’s relationship with Stoke fans is suffering because his side scores under a goal a game.

Taken for granted Tony Pulis has established Stoke in the Premier League

Taken for granted Tony Pulis has established Stoke in the Premier League

So something has to give, whether that be a change of manager or a change in their manager’s approach if next season is not to be a carbon copy of this one.

Hull City 0 Bristol City 0: Nervy Tigers must wait for the big time after stalemate

Hull City 0 Bristol City 0: Nervy Tigers must wait for the big time

By
Colin Young

PUBLISHED:

20:37 GMT, 19 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

20:57 GMT, 19 April 2013

If Hull City are going to go back to the Barclays Premier League, they are determined to do it the hard way.

Just three days after losing at Wolves, Steve Bruce's side, who remain
second behind promoted Cardiff City, blew their chance to virtually
guarantee their return to the top flight with a victory over
bottom-placed Bristol City, who were relegated earlier in the week.

Hull's Matt Fryatt tussles with Liam Kelly of Bristol City

Running man: Hull's Matt Fryatt tussles with Liam Kelly of Bristol City

Match facts

Hull: Stockdale, Chester (Rosenior 86), Faye, Hobbs, Elmohamady, Boyd, Meyler, Quinn, Brady, Gedo (Simpson 67), Fryatt (Proschwitz 67). Subs Not Used: Jakupovic, Cairney, McShane, Fathi.

Bristol City: Heaton, Foster, Nyatanga, Moloney, Cunningham, Adomah (Anderson 86), Kilkenny, Kelly, Bates,Baldock (Howard 90), Davies (Burns 90). Subs Not Used: Gerken, Mark Wilson, Louis Carey, Ajala.

Att: 18,595

Ref: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).

Latest Championship table and results

The drab goalless draw at the KC Stadium has offered a lifeline to closest rivals Watford, who face Blackburn Rovers at Vicarage Road on Saturday and can now overtake Hull with three wins out of three. Bizarrely however, if Gianfranco Zola's side lose, Hull will be promoted.

That, of course, is the Championship but Hull never really looked like a team on the verge of leaving the division in the right direction in front of their anxious and frustrated supporters. Bristol City certainly looked like a team who are relegated.

They were the opponents five years ago when Dean Windass's dramatic late goal sealed Hull's promotion to the big time for the first time. There was no local hero to break the deadlock last night, or offer evidence that Hull will be able to avoid a return visit to Wembley to clinch promotion next month.

Hold up: Fryatt is blocked off by with Brendan Moloney

Hold up: Fryatt is blocked off by with Brendan Moloney

Pressure point: Hull boss Steve Bruce

Pressure point: Hull boss Steve Bruce

For all that their three-man defence had little to do, the home side
rarely troubled visiting keeper Tom Heaton. He didn't have a save to
make in the first half, which was down to the Tigers' nervy and
unconvincing approach play.

championship

And when rare chances did fall their way in the penalty area, they were
wasted. Irish pair Robbie Brady and Stephen Quinn both benefitted from
the tireless endeavours of their fellow countryman David Meyler but
Brady found the sidenetting and Quinn could only reach the 98 travelling
supporters who made the long journey north.

Hull, who travel to Barnsley next week, fared little better after the
break as Bruce tried to calm nerves among his players and the home
crowd. Even strong penalty appeals for a foul on Quinn 10 minutes from
time failed to convince referee Michael Oliver.

In fact, apart from a weak Brady free-kick, the only shot on target came
from Bristol's Sam Baldock who barely warmed David Stockdale's hands
with his drive.

Heaton did not have a meaningful save to make until the first minute
of added time when he denied Meyler with a superb two-handed stop from
12 yards after the home side finally penetrated the Bristol back line.

Roberto Martinez admits Premier League relegation would mean Wigan"s FA Cup final spot

Martinez: Relegation would turn FA Cup final into 'empty achievement'

By
John Edwards

PUBLISHED:

12:19 GMT, 16 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:13 GMT, 16 April 2013

Roberto Martinez has admitted that reaching the FA Cup final will go down as an 'empty achievement' if Wigan fail to safeguard their Barclays Premier League status.

Relegation-threatened Wigan face Manchester City at The Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night in what is being dubbed a dress rehearsal for next month's final, after both teams came through last weekend's semi-final ties.

But Wembley will not be allowed anywhere near Martinez's thoughts, after he described how Wigan's players travelled straight back after Saturday evening's win over Millwall and trained the following day.

Scroll down to watch Martinez's pre-match press conference

Extra motivation: Wigan manager Roberto Martinez thinks getting to the FA Cup final can help his team's Premier League survival chances

Extra motivation: Wigan manager Roberto Martinez thinks getting to the FA Cup final can help his team's Premier League survival chances

Far from staying over in London for a party to mark their first-ever Cup final place, Wigan's squad were heading north within an hour or so of the final whistle, and Martinez explained why, as he said:
'I didn't allow too many celebrations, because Wednesday's game is so important.

'We switched back to normality straightaway, and put in a great day's work on Sunday, and that is huge credit to the players.

WIGAN'S RUN-IN
April 17: Manchester City (a) April 20: West Ham (a) April 27: Tottenham (h) May 4: West Brom (a) May 7: Swansea (h) May 14: Arsenal (a) May 19: Aston Villa (h)

The Latics currently sit in the last relegation place, three points behind Aston Villa but have two games in hand on their rivals. However, Martinez is fully aware of the task facing his side as they visit the reigning league champions tomorrow.

He said: 'Given City's record at home over the past couple of seasons, this is the toughest test we could face, but we have to respond to the position we are in and make sure we keep picking up points.

'If we do, it will be an incredible achievement to secure a ninth season in the Premier League. That would be some statement.

'If we don't, then reaching the Cup final will become an empty achievement. The Cup is the oldest and best knock-out tournament in the world.

'There is no doubt about that, and getting to the final is an historic moment for this club, and one we are proud of. But we can only count this season as a success if we stay in the Premier League.

Wembley glory: Shaun Maloney celebrates his goal in Wigan's 2-0 FA Cup semi-final win over Millwall on Saturday

Wembley glory: Shaun Maloney celebrates his goal in Wigan's 2-0 FA Cup semi-final win over Millwall on Saturday

'Other teams have reached Wembley finals and been relegated, so that shows the demands we are facing. We are probably facing the hardest fight to stay up so far, and that is credit to the teams around us and the competitive nature of this league.

'But I believe our Cup expoits can actually enhance our survival prospects. Stepping out at Wembley next month would be a unique moment in the career of every Wigan player, and none of them wants to miss out on that. The only way to ensure a place is by contributing to the intervening League games, and that is bringing a really good competitive edge to our play.

'Everyone wants to be involved next month, and that is a great motivation for them over the next few weeks.'

VIDEO Martinez praises Wigan players' form

Martinez praises Wigan players

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Sir Bobby Charlton says Sir Alex Ferguson will carry on at Manchester United "forever"

Fergie's time will never end: United legend Charlton backs Ferguson to 'go on for ever'

By
John Edwards

PUBLISHED:

14:25 GMT, 10 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

17:06 GMT, 10 April 2013

Sir Bobby Charlton fired an ominous warning to Manchester United’s main title rivals by insisting Sir Alex Ferguson looks like he will ‘go on forever.’

The United manager is closing in on his 13th Barclays Premier League crown at the ripe old age of 71, but any thoughts of bowing out after avenging last season’s late surrender to bitter rivals Manchester City could not be further from his mind, according to Sir Bobby.

‘There is nothing in his posture that suggests he is beginning to tire,’ said the United director. ‘Far from being tired, he has the same enthusiasm as ever. He is an unbelievable character, and I don’t see him ever losing that drive and enthusiasm.

Carry on, Fergie: Sir Bobby Charlton says Sir Alex Ferguson will go on for ever at Manchester United

Carry on, Fergie: Sir Bobby Charlton says Sir Alex Ferguson will go on for ever at Manchester United

‘He tried to retire once, and it was an absolute failure. Everyone wants to know the answer to that, because he can’t go on for ever. But I look at him and think that’s exactly what he will do.

‘He is a fantastic lover of football, and he is very clever when it comes to identifying a player he wants and coming to the board about it. He knows exactly what to do in those situations, and, to be fair, we try to give him exactly what he wants.

‘We haven’t got many directors at Old
Trafford, and we adopt the view that we need good players to be a top
team and that the manager is the best person to decide on who they
should be.

United heroes: Sir Bobby Charlton and Denis Law get together at Soccerex in Manchester

United heroes: Sir Bobby Charlton and Denis Law get together at Soccerex in Manchester

'We look after the business side of things, Alex the football side, and we give him what he wants. We leave pretty much everything to Alex, in a football sense.

‘The rivalry with City, and the way they have re-emerged, has probably provided him with an extra incentive. He just hates losing, no matter who the opposition are, and the defeat on Monday night will have hurt him.

'But the great thing is, he will pinpoint exactly why we lost and make sure it doesn’t happen again.’

Class of 68: Charlton exchanges shirts with former Benfica and Portugal legend Eusebio

Class of 68: Charlton exchanges shirts with former Benfica and Portugal legend Eusebio

A World Cup winner in 1966, Sir Bobby despairs of England ever lifting the trophy again.

‘When I’m asked about our prospects, I always feel obliged to say we’ve got a chance, but really it’s a fool’s errand,’ he said. ‘If so many places in Premier League teams are taken up by foreign players, we’ve got no chance.

‘Spain are absolutely my favourites for the finals in Brazil. Heaven forbid, but Germany are in with a chance as well, because they are so well coached, and Holland seem to be re-emerging as well.’

Cardiff 1 Barnsley 1 – match report: Stephen Foster equaliser denies Bluebirds

Cardiff 1 Barnsley 1: Last-minute equaliser stuns hosts, but Bluebirds remain on track for Premier League

By
Andrew Gwilym, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

21:08 GMT, 9 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

21:08 GMT, 9 April 2013

Stephen Foster grabbed a dramatic last-gasp equaliser to earn Barnsley a valuable point and hold up Cardiff's promotion push.

The hosts had looked set to move a step closer to the Barclays Premier League when centre-half Ben Turner guided home Kim Bo-Kyung's corner just before the hour mark.

The Welsh side also hit the post through Craig Bellamy, but they were punished for failing to capitalise on their dominance when Foster's deflected shot trickled over the line with what was effectively the last kick of the match.

Late drama: Foster is mobbed (middle) after scoring the equaliser for Barnsleyequaliser for Barnsley

Late drama: Foster is mobbed (middle) after scoring the equaliser for Barnsley

Match facts

Cardiff: Marshall, McNaughton, Turner, Barnett, Taylor, Smith (Conway 80), Kim (Whittingham 68), Gunnarsson, Mutch, Bellamy, Mason Mason (Helguson 58).

Subs not used: Lewis, Gestede, Noone, Nugent.

Booked: Gunnarsson, Barnett.

Scorer: Turner 59.

Barnsley: Steele, Wiseman, Hassell, Foster, Kennedy, Mellis (Dagnall 70) , Dawson, O'Brien (Cywka 61) , Perkins, Harewood (Scotland 67) , O'Grady.

Subs: Alnwick, Scotland, Dagnall, Jones, Cywka, Rose, Patterson.

Booked: O'Grady.

Scorer: Foster 90.

Referee: Fred Graham (Essex)

Attendance: 22,584.

Latest Championship results, fixtures and table

Despite the setback, Cardiff's
promotion still appears a formality as they now lead third-placed
Watford by nine points with five games remaining.

Barnsley, though, will not care about
spoiling the party after stealing a point which moves them two clear of
the drop zone, despite being penned in their own half for much of the
game.

The tone of the contest was set
during a confident start from the hosts, which saw Tommy Smith, Bellamy
and Aron Gunnarsson all got away shots on goal, although Luke Steele was
only required to save the first of those efforts.

Bellamy came close to rewarding the
bright opening in the 18th minute – Steele diverting his shot against
the post after the Wales international retrieved Smith's fizzing ball
across the box.

Barnsley were happy to drop deep and
look to hit on the break, but it took almost half an hour for them to
threaten the Cardiff goal; Marlon Harewood had the ball in the net but
was correctly called back for offside.

Jordan Mutch, Kim and Gunnarsson were
enjoying the run of midfield, and Steele made an excellent save to tip
the former Birmingham man's stinging drive round the post.

The midfield trio linked beautifully
again on 37 minutes, and it took a brave Foster block to deny Gunnarsson
as he prepared to pull the trigger.

The extent of Cardiff's dominance was
such it appeared a case of when, not if, they would open the scoring,
but the Tykes gave them a real scare early in the second half.

The Bluebirds were slow to react to a
short corner and Bobby Hassell just failed to make a telling contact
with David Perkins' pin-point cross.

Cardiff responded to the wake-up call
and a lovely touch from Mutch set up Kim for the Korean to fire across
goal, while Leon Barnett could not adjust in time after Steele punched
poorly in his own six-yard box.

Going up Cardiff will hope they can still gain promotion with the remaining five games

Going up Cardiff will hope they can still gain promotion with the remaining five games

Going up Cardiff will hope they can still gain promotion with the remaining five games

Going up Cardiff will hope they can still gain promotion with the remaining five games

The pressure had to tell, and the goal finally came from an unlikely source.

Kim whipped a dangerous corner into
the six-yard box and Turner stuck out a leg to guide the ball just
inside the post for his first goal of the season.

The lead was almost doubled three
minutes later. Mutch had a shot blocked by Hassell, while Barnett and
Gunnarsson had efforts cleared off the line from the resulting corner.

With a single-goal lead, Cardiff were
far from out of sight, and Harewood spurned Barnsley's best chance of
the night with a tame effort from Stephen Dawson's astute pass.

Substitute Heidar Helguson wasted a
wonderful chance to wrap up the three points in stoppage time, and it
proved costly as Foster's shot took a big deflection to leave David
Marshall stranded and level the scores.

Liverpool having better season than last year – Glen Johnson

No trophies and seventh in the league… but Johnson insists Liverpool have improved

By
Dominic King

PUBLISHED:

06:15 GMT, 9 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

06:15 GMT, 9 April 2013

Glen Johnson insists Liverpool's season has been 'clearly better' than the last campaign which ended with them winning a trophy and qualifying for Europe.

Liverpool, whose hopes of top six finish were dented by a 0-0 draw with West Ham, never threatened to repeat their exploits of last year in knockout football when they reached both domestic cup finals, winning the League Cup against Cardiff.

Bar a huge turn of events, it is almost certain they will miss out on a place in the Europa League next year, too, as they are running out of games to overhaul Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton.

Luis Suarez

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard

Woe: Liverpool failed to break down a dogged West Ham defence at Anfield last weekend

Johnson, though, is adamant that Liverpool – who are set to surpass the points tally of 52 they accrued 12 months ago – have made far greater progress under Brendan Rodgers than the Barclays Premier League table would suggest.

'I wouldn't say it (has been) so close but so far,' said the England right-back. 'It is clearly a better season than last season. Brendan is looking to improve the squad and we have got a better squad than we did have. He will look to improve again in the summer.

'If we can nick the goals we need from games (like against West Ham), we will be right in amongst it (next season).'

When asked why he felt it was a 'clearly better season', Johnson replied: 'It's a few things. You look at the squad, the feeling that there is around the place, the football that we are playing – 8 times out of 10, we have been battering teams.

Past glories: Liverpool won the Carling Cup last season but will finish this campaign without a trophy

Past glories: Liverpool won the Carling Cup last season but will finish this campaign without a trophy

'That wasn't the case last season. We won a trophy last season and, of course, that was fantastic. Everyone wants to win. That's what we are in the game for. But in terms of getting Liverpool back where they belong, we want to be back in the top four.'

Johnson, who has been one of Liverpool's most consistent performers under Rodgers, believes it is vital for the club's critics to look at this season in isolation, as he is adamant there will be significant improvement when things are fully settled.

'Brendan was brought in to rebuild the squad and put Liverpool back into the places that it should be (as a club),' said Johnson. 'He wants to put us back in the top four but he wasn't asked to do that in his first season. This season has been a step closer to that.

Main man: Glen Johnson (centre) praised manager Brendan Rodgers for his impact at the club

Main man: Glen Johnson (centre) praised manager Brendan Rodgers for his impact at the club

'Everyone – players, staff, fans – would love us to be back in the top four but if we improve on last season then it is a step in the right direction. We are still pretty close to the top four. If we can start nicking games like West Ham, we are going to be right in amongst it.'

Meanwhile, Liverpool target Toby Alderweirled has stated that he would prefer a move to Anfield this summer. The Belgian defender is expected to leave Ajax and has been courted by a number of English clubs, including Newcastle and Everton.

'I do not want to play for an English club in mid-table,' said Alderweirled. 'Unlike Newcastle, Liverpool meets my criteria.'

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