Posts Tagged Steven Gerrard

5 Sexiest Bearded World Cup Players

Beards are sexy. Footballers are sexy. Here are the red hot results of what happens when you put the two together.


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World Cup 2010: The Fabulous Fabio Capello!

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Fabio Capello is absolutely right when he says England “played well” in the 4-1 thrashing by Germany. Capello is right because if England had not played well they would have been kicked out of the 2010 World Cup by a much bigger margin; say 20-1 – After all, England were minnows of football world till the fabulous Fabio Capello so kindly took over the reins and turned us into a superpower. He braved the ever so unpredictable weather of England for a paltry annual fee of £6 million sacrificing the comforts of living in his favourite Italy. The lousy English weather must have put him a little bit under the weather, affected his judgment a little bit and clouded his thinking, you might think, after you saw the England-Germany encounter.  If you question his team selection and  rubbish his game plan; it just shows your ignorance of Fabio’s fantastic plan for the future of English football in general and 2014 World Cup in Brazil in particular.  What a match it was!  What fabulous foresight and what great execution of the first part of the bigger plan. Thank you Fabio Capello, for saving the honour of the English. Without your guidance we could not have “played well’ and would have been completely humiliated. Thank you God for giving us the one and only Fabio.

England defence was not just disorganised, you might think, “it was non-existent,” you might comment. So it seemed to the untrained eye of the ordinary fan or pundit. Thanks to the fabulous foresight of the fantastic Fabio Capello and his mind blowing strategy, the England defence was so cleverly camouflaged that everyone failed to notice it.  Capello cleverly used it instead, to score the all important goal for England. If he had not planned Upson to be strongly entrenched in the German 16 yard box, who would have scored the only goal for England?  England can now go back with their head held in the knowledge that even their defence is capable of scoring goals. You can imagine if our defence can do that what wonders can our strikers perform when the fabulous Fabio Capello decides to take them along to the World Cup in Brazil or remembers to get them off the bench and on to the field. Do you understand the strategy now?  It is as clear as day why Peter Crouch was never got to play in this World Cup which can only be considered to be a warm up for 2014. The Fabulous one did not want to risk injury to his tallest player ahead of the Brazil World Cup. What phenomenal foresight.

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The fabulous gains

The Fabulous Fabio knows how to build National teams. You just have to read his CV to realize that. He knows it is not easy. He knows it takes time; it takes money. Before you win the World Cup you need to instill self esteem, self control, and spirit of self sacrifice into the team. He knows he has achieved all that or else why would he say “England played well”. The fabulous Fabio is no fool. The lessons the team has learnt are that, not only can the England team score a goal but even their defence can do it. This was important for the self esteem of the team. So what if they left their goal undefended? The important thing is the knowledge that their defence can score.  Now it is not beyond comprehension that the next piece of  Fabio’s  strategy is to train his strikers to defend  our goal. But that is a top secret. Can you imagine how baffled the opposition will be when they are chasing our strikers and our defense sneak out and score goals?  Their confusion will be confounded when our strikers pounce on their strikers and defend our goal. But that will be jumping the gun. That is to be in the next World cup. To keep things simple Capello likes to teach one thing at a time.

One major gain of the team is that they learnt the importance of self control. The players now know how to live without their Wives and Girlfriends. The considerate Capello, master mind that he is, planned all along to keep the first stint, of learning to live without WAGs, short and sweet. It has been proven to the world now that the England players can not only survive without WAGS during the tournaments but they also “play well” in their absence.  Frank Lampard nearly spoiled the plan by scoring the equalizer but such was the belief of the fantastic Fabio in the plan that Gods decided to intervene and blinded the referees.   You will have to wait and see; this experience will come handy in Brazil.

The biggest lesson the England team learnt was in the area of self sacrifice and delayed gratification. Fabio has taught the fans and players alike the importance of postponing gratification. What is the point in winning the World Cup if we can’t even appreciate the value of winning that comes only to those who can delay getting what they desire? Fabio the famous one knows very well that most England fans and even pundits cannot appreciate the deep philosophical aspect of delaying the World Cup win till 2014. Frank Lampard is all groggy eyed as he has spent sleepless nights in his effort to comprehend the significance of Fabio’s fabulous philosophy. John Terry has lost his head trying to make head or tail of it. He was seen, in the match, running all over the pitch like a chicken who has just been beheaded. The likes of Wayne Rooney, Joe Cole, Peter Crouch, Ashley Cole and James are wondering what happened. Theo Walcott, Darren Bent, Adam Johnson, Leighton Bains and Scott Parker are at a loss to know if they are missing something.  But he, in his graciousness, the fabulous Fabio Capello is willing to be patient and wait till they all understand and appreciate. That’s why he has said he will not stand down and will continue to be England Coach. There is one silver lining though. Steven Gerrard is in tune with the master and knows what the fabulous one  is doing.  That’s why he wants Fabio Capello to stay, “I’m sure Fabio will stay and he’ll address his own situation very soon,” Gerrard told The Sun. Thank God for small mercies.

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5 Reasons Why England Crashed Out of the World Cup

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England had everything going for them this World Cup. They had players available from the so-called  ‘golden generation’ and a brand new manager who had a great resume and enough time to get England’s team ready to lift the 2010 World Cup. However, England crashed out of the World Cup last night after  losing 4-1 to a relatively inexperienced German side. This  4-1 defeat is England’s heaviest defeat at a World Cup after having outdone a 4-2 loss to Uruguay in 1954. So, I am going to try and figure out what went wrong for England and Fabio Capello?

1. Qualification

England’s qualification run saw them win 9 out of 10 matches with 34 goals scored and only 6 conceded. It filled everyone with great hope and when England beat Croatia who had ended our Euro dreams 9-2 over two games, we just couldn’t contain our optimism.I mean, after all we played Ukraine, Croatia, Andorra, Belarus and Kazakhstan and none of them are really major footballing powers.  If England couldn’t even win against them, how were we ever planning to win the World Cup?  I think our success in qualification matches deluded us and made us believe we were better than we actually were. The great defensive record against those nations was misguiding and made us put more faith in our defense than we should have. So, our problems began when we started glorifying a team for winning matches that we should have won anyway.

2. Fabio Capello’s Team Selection

Fabio Capello got the final 23 team selection completely wrong on three counts. Firstly, in true Italian fashion Capello went around constructing a squad made of very experienced players. Unfortunately, he confused age with experience which explains why Fabio picked 28-year-old Shaun Wright Phillips over the 21-year-old Theo Walcott, although Walcott already had the experience of being at a World Cup.

Secondly, Capello despite having announced very early on, that he would only select those players who had been playing and in good form for their clubs to South Africa, ended up selecting out of form star-players. He chose to take Emile Heskey who scored only 6 goals for his club in the last season over Sunderland’s Darren Bent who scored 24.  Similarly, he chose Matthe Upson who has had an indifferent season for West Ham over Michael Dawson who has been good for Tottenham Hotspur.

Thirdly, Capello took a massive risk in taking already injured players/player not a 100% fit with him. He named Gareth Barry who was struggling to get fit from an injury ahead of fit and in-form Tom Huddlestone and Scott Parker. Ledley King is another one of those players who is injury-prone and well, he got injured again. Capello’s decision to take Heskey was made even worst when he fell on Rio Ferdinand and injured the skipper. Rio Ferdinand himself was hardly available to Manchester United this season because of his injury troubles. So, Capello basically chose old, injured,out of form albeit experienced players for the World Cup in South Africa. Sometimes the only things experience is good for against pace, talent and freshness is tell you, you aren’t going to win this!  Unfortunately Capello like England managers of the past couldn’t put together an England team and ended up naming a collection of star players.

Fabio’s Idiosyncrasies

Fabio Capello came with the reputation of being a hard taskmaster and we all thought that was exactly what the spoilt English footballers needed. However, being a strict and opinionated doesn’t necessarily have to mean being dictatorial. Sometimes it seemed like Capello wanted to do what he wanted to do simply because he wanted to do it, without caring how it helped/hindered or affected his team.  He treated the footballers like children where his duty was to control and discipline them. Sometimes, even parents think a certain thing is good for their child but after a discussion with the child, realise they were wrong. The key word here being ‘discussion’, Fabio should have discussed with a his team a lot more, I think. For example, he felt that it was best if the goalkeepers didn’t know who was going to be playing more than 2 hours before a game but may be Robert Green, David James and Hart would have felt a lot more comfortable knowing. They probably would have liked to have more time to prepare mentally. Similarly, may be some of the players would have liked their families to be with them in South Africa, that probably was what how some of them needed to relaxed, especially when things hadn’t gone as well as they had hoped in the first 2 games.

Also, when John Terry and some other senior members of the team decided to talk to Fabio Capello about what they felt would be good for the team, Fabio, instead of getting his big ego in the way should have listened to the players suggestions. He may not have implemented them but he should have allowed them a fair hearing. John Terry was wrong in telling the media about it, however his intentions were good. Capello should not have reacted the way he did and should have been the bigger person and not made John Terry apologise for it. If Capello just stepped off his high pedestal and really worked with the team as a team player and not as unbearable boss, England would have had a better chance of qualifying.

Also, I think after Capello could have done to learn English wwhen he took up the job as England coach to communicate better with the team.

4) Team Selection and Tactics on the day

Despite all the above problems,England quite amazingly, still made it to the last 16. We would have beaten Germany and gone on to the quarter-finals too. However, once again, Capello got his team selection and tactics completely wrong. Serbia had already shown us how to beat Germany but we stuck to a 4-4-2 formation with Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry in the middle. Both of whom did not know whether they were supposed to attack or defend and Barry lacked the fitness and pace to get back from an attacking position to defend, leaving England with a hole in the middle.

The Germans on the other hand moved the ball ever so well and no one in the England squad really knew whether it was Milner or the full backs or Gerrard who were supposed to get back to defend. So time and again, we attacked the German goal unsuccessfully, didn’t know who was staying back to protect our goal and got caught on the counter by pacy Germans. What is even more ridiculous is that the Germany’s strategy to score against us was very obvious  in the first half but Fabio simply refused to learn from his mistakes and change.

In second half, Fabio could have packed the mid-field with 5 men, let Wayne Rooney to play where he plays best for Manchester United, up front and have other players support him. As the game went on, I felt Fabio Capello just gave up, he took off Jermaine Defoe and brought on Emile Heskey, as if, we needed yet another slow player on the pitch. I don’t know why Capello even bothered to take Peter Crouch with him to South Africa, when clearly, he had no intention of playing him. A lot has been said about England’s bad defending in the game against Germany and I have to agree we were rubbish but in defense of John Terry, he wasn’t playing where he plays best and the defense got absolutely no help from the midfield and were left badly exposed too often.

5) FIFA’s Silly Technology Phobia

The incredible thing about our match against Germany is, that despite getting everything wrong from the selection of players to our tactics and being 2 goals down, England still found the net through Matthew Upson and then Frank Lampard hit the goal post and the ball crossed the line but the referee didn’t see it. Had the referee not gotten that decision wrong, England would have equalised in the first half itself and gone into the half-time break with momentum on their side. Then probably, Fabio would have strengthened the defence and we might just have won this game. Unfortunately, Sepp Blatter and FIFA are strangely more scared of technology than they are of ridicule and this bad decision by the referee is sadly what proved to be the last punch that knocked us out of the World Cup 2010.

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World Cup Preview: England vs. Germany

It is the moment of truth for Fabio Capello and England as they take on Germany in what can only be described as 90 minutes of nail-biting for England fans. That doesn’t in any way mean that the game isn’t equally scary for a Germany fan, just that England fans seem to believe more in the so-called great historic rivalry between the two teams. The bragging rights that an England win bestows upon us are just so mouth-watering, that I for one am very happy that if we go on to  win this World Cup, it will by beating Germany on the way.

Of the 27 times that the two teams have met, England have won 12 times, Germany 10 times while 5 of those meetings ended in a draw. However, this is only the fifth time that the two are meeting in the World Cup with their last encounter in the 1990 Semifinals ending in a win for West Germany.

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Ranking: 8

England’s World Cup seemed all but over when they drew their first two group matches, however a win in their last match against Slovenia saw them qualify for the last 16 as runners’ up of Group C. The confidence in the England squad will be somewhat restored after their last performance. However, if past performances are anything to go by, it is easy to see that England seem to have a strange phobia of playing Germany or any big European nation. They have failed to reach the final of  the World Cup and the only teams England have manged to beat in the knockout stages  in the last 44 years are Paraguay, Belgium, Cameroon, Ecuador and Denmark. Today, England need to forget about the past, the historic significance of the collision, their wretched record against the Germans and just go play their game.

Fabio Capello will most likely go with 4-4-2 formation with Wayne Rooney and Jermaine Defoe leading England’s attack. England will put out an almost unchanged side with Matthew Upson expected to retain his place at centre-half, despite Jamie Carragher’s return from suspension, with Ledley King on the bench. David James will once again start in goal for England with John Terry, Glen Johnson, Ashley Cole making up the rest of England’s defense. Capello will depend on the creativity of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, James Milner and Gareth Barry in midfield.

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Ranking: 6

Germany started off their World Cup campaign in great form with a 4-0 win over Australia. They seem to have lost their form in the last 2 matches and will be desperate to fire on all engines against England. They welcome back Miroslav Klose who was suspended for their last game but have lost Cacau  to an abdominal muscle tear. Germany also have injury concerns with Bastian Schweinsteiger(hamstring) and Jerome Boateng (calf), however both the players did train with the team yesterday and will most likely feature in today’s game.

Germany lost their first choice goal-keeper René Adler, first-choice centre-back Heiko Westermann, the two holding midfielders from the Euro 2008 final, Simon Rolfes  and Thomas Hitzlsperger  and their captain Michael Ballack to injuries ahead of the World Cup. This lead to the Germany manager Joachim Loew coming to the 2010 World Cup with Germany’s youngest squad since 1935, with an average age of just under 25.  The German team is almost unrecognisable from  the one that  lost to Spain in Euro 2008 and of them  only Lucas Podolski, Miroslav Klose and Per Mertesacker keep their original positions. Many of the new comers in the team like Thomas Muller and Sami Khedira were second or third choice even at their clubs.

Joachim Loew will most likely go with a 4-3-3 formation with Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski and Thomas Muller up front. Bastian Schweinsteiger will control Germany’s midfield with Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira. Manuel Neuer, who is in fact a third-choice keeper (after Adler and Robert Enke) for Germany will be supported by Phillip Lahm, Arne Friedrich, Per Mertesacker and Holger Badstuber at the back.

Joachim Loew’s team lacks experience, with only 40 caps between Mesut Ozil, Jerome Boateng, Sami Khedira and Thomas Muller while England’s two youngest starters today in James Milner and Wayne Rooney, have 73 caps between them. If England ever had a chance of beating Germany, it is today.

Insanity or Fact?

Fans being fans have their own way of predicting whether their team will win. In Germany, they have a psychic octopus who predicts Germany’s results eating a mussel from one of two jars, one with a Germany flag in it and the the other with the opposition flag. The octopus predicted  70% of Germany’s results during the 2008 European Championship  and it looks like he has improved on his skills this World Cup. The eight-legged genius predicted Germany’s win over Australia and Ghana and get this, Germany’s loss to Serbia!

His call for today’s game is a harsh Germany win, even harsher considering the Octopus was born in England.

England fans don’t want to leave the prediction to the whims and fancies of an Octopus and instead try and gauge who will win the match through the more-reliable, more efficient means – a  computer. The Mirror have a computer which uses world-renowned databases and the most accurate match engine to simulate  games. The computer says, England will win 3-2 with a goal from Wayne Rooney and a brace from Steven Gerrard of England. According to this computer, Thomas Mueller and Bastian Schweinsteiger will find the net for Germany.

So, today is not just a contest between England and Germany but also the day an Octopus takes on a Computer!

Manager Speak

“Both teams go into the game with a certain amount of respect. There will be no fear from us and not from the English.” – Joachim Loew, Germany manager

“We have to beat the big teams, and Germany are one of those.” – Fabio Capello, England manager

Stars to Watch Out For

England: Jermaine Defoe, Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard

Germany: Miroslav Klose, Thomas Muller, Bastian Schweinsteiger

Go Figure!

England have taken 29 corners from their opening three matches, the most by any team in the tournament so far.

Germany’s defeat by Serbia in the group stage was their first in the opening round of a World Cup since 1986.

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World Cup Preview: England vs. Algeria

England started their World Cup campaign with their supporters truly believing that the time for England to win the World Cup was finally here. The Three Lions had a very successful qualification campaign and truly looked like worthy contenders for the highest prize. In the first four minutes of their opening game against USA, they scored and long-suffering England supporters the world over rejoiced. However as the game went, euphoria soon gave way to disbelief, England were starting to look hauntingly similar to the England of past World Cup campaigns. They lacked creativity, their passing lack precision and the players seemed to lack the desire and the belief.  And then, a fumble by the goalkeeper lead to England losing their 1 goal advantage and the imageof a free-flowing, potential world cup winning team was shattered yet again . England need to win this game to make their supporters believe in them once again.

Algeria kicked off their World Cup against Slovenia, a game they’d like to erase from their memories. They were left struggling against Slovenia with 10-men after Abdelkader Ghezzal was sent off for a ridiculous handball. Then just like the English, the Algerians became victims of a goal-keeping error causing them to lose the game 1-0.

England must win today, if they are to ensure their progress to the last 16. A win today, gives England the added advantage of finishing top of this Group C and therefore avoiding playing Germany in the next round.

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Ranking: 8

It is England manager Fabio Capello’s 64th birthday today and all 3 points will make the perfect birthday present. England have enough quality to beat the North Africans whose 4-5-1 formation would clearly make it hard for England midfielders to find space against the barrier of midfielders. Fabio Capello has yet to disclose his first choice goalkeeper for the match. The Italian had said earlier in the week that Robert Green would keep his position in goal despite his error in the USA game which gifted USA the equaliser. Reports now suggest that Green will most likely be replaced by David James.

Another change to the England line-up is that Gareth Barry returns from injury to play in today’s match while Ledley King who got injured in England’s last game is replaced by Jamie Carragher at the back. Gareth Barry’s return means Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard will be able to return to a more advanced offensive role. Capello will most likely stick to a 4-4-2 with Wayne Rooney and Emile Heskey (!!!) up front. Although Emile Heskey is sure to start, Capello might look to striker Jermaine Defoe t play amajor role in Plan B. Just like the last match, it looks like both Peter Crouch and Joe Cole will not get starts and will be on the bench.

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Ranking: 30

Algeria hardly created any clear-cut chances against Slovenia but they will be desperate to get at least one point from this match to keep their slim chance of qualifying from this group alive. They play on England’s weakness of being unable to break down a strong  defenses and will rely on counter attacks to score. Their goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi missed a training session on Wednesday due to a sprained ankle and is doubtful for the match. Their manager, Rabah Saadane decided to drop captain Yazid Mansouri to the bench ahead of the defeat against Slovenia leading to many players questioning the manager’s judgment. Algeria’s 4-5-1 formation means that the England midfielders will need to be more creative than they usually are, to break down the Algerian defense. England also need to be aware of Algeria’s power striker Rafik Djebbour whose pace, aerial ability and direct threat can cause problems for England’s somewhat slow (old) back four.

England will need to be patient, keep their organisation and focus for 90 minutess to win this game.

Manager Speak

“If you ask me what I want, I would say no more mistakes. I thought we created so many chances in the first game and this time we need to take them.” – Fabio Capello

“England have their backs to the wall.We have nothing to lose and everything to win.” – Rabah Saadane, Algeria manager

Stars to Watch Out For

England: Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Gareth Barry, Wayne Rooney

Algeria: Rafik Djebbour, Nadir Belhadj, Hassan Yebda

Go Figure!

This will be the first ever meeting between England and Algeria.

England have not lost any of the 15 matches they have played against an African side, winning 11 and drawing four.

Algeria have failed to keep a clean sheet in the seven previous World Cup matches they have played in.

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John Terry Shines as England beat Egypt 3-1

England’s comeback in the second half to win 3-1, after being one goal down against Africa Cup of Nations winners Egypt on Wednesday has left England manager quite happy with his squad.  All eyes were on John Terry since this was his first game for England since revelations about his affair with England teammate Wayne Bridge’s former girl-friend Vanessa Perroncel which cost him the captaincy. Wayne Bridge had pulled himself out of the England squad earlier this month. John Terry was boo-ed by a few supporters when his name was read out prior to the kick-off and was visibly nervous during the first few minutes causing a bad pass or two. He however, regained his confidence quick enough and was seen barking orders at his teammates and re-assuring England fans with his presence in defense as England managed to keep Egypt from scoring anymore goals. “There were a few jeers but I can handle that, everyone’s entitled to their opinion” said a confident, happy John Terry.

JT impressed teammate and captain on the day Steven Gerrard who thought that he was “superb” on the night. “He handled everything well and he showed he is a fantastic player and a great leader for us.”

Much tougher to impress Fabio Capello also couldn’t help but admire the ex-captain’s strength of character, “I am really happy with him, and thank you to the crowd because they supported the team and John Terry. This was one of the most important games for him after the history of what happened off the pitch. He played a fantastic game, like I know he plays always at this level. He showed how important he is for us, yes. When I chose him as captain, I knew the value of this player because he’s really important on the pitch.”

Manchester City and Argentina striker Carlos Tevez, who had an angry confrontation with John Terry last Saturday, however doesn’t seem like he wants to move past scandals off the pitch. Tevez speaking of John Terry’s off-field troubles said that had such allegations been made against an Argentinian, the player “would not survive”

“If you acted like this in Argentina you’d be dead,” said Tevez speaking to the Sun. “It’s complicated to say something about what Terry did to Bridge. I don’t think you can do that with the wife of another player. It’s wrong. In my opinion, Terry has no moral code for what he did to Bridge. In my neighbourhood if you do that, you lose your legs, or more – you don’t survive.”

Surely, John Terry needs to rethink his generous remark about everyone being  entitled to an opinion!

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Liverpool crash out of the Champions League

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Liverpool crashed out of the Champions League last night despite winning their match against Debrecen in the Hungarian capital.French international David Ngog’s first half strike put the Reds ahead of Debrecen in the must-win group-stage match. Liverpool, who won the Champions League in 2005 and were runners-up two years ago, needed to not only win their match but also needed Lyon to beat Fiorentina order to reach the Final 16 for the knock-out stages of the competition.

Unfortunately for the Reds, Fiorentina beat Lyon 1-0 in their match in Tuscany, ensuring that Fiorentina progressed at Liverpool’s expense. This is the first time in six years that Liverpool has failed to make it past the group stages of the European competition. Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was left ruing the late goals conceded by his team against Lyon. They had been beaten 2-1 by the French champions at Anfield before drawing 1-1 at the Stade Gerland.

“It was our own fault in the end, the late goals we have conceded along the way have cost us,” said Benitez. “We have been so good in the last few years that maybe people think it is easy to qualify in all competitions. You have to be disappointed. We knew we had to win and we did. We can’t change what happened in the other match, but at least we did our job. If you look at the games, two late goals made a massive difference.”

Liverpool is expected to suffer a budgetary shortfall of about £2.4m for this season as a consequence of their group exit and this could be made worse if they continue their run of bad form in the Premier League and  fail to finish in the top four, adding another £10m loss. This would have a significant impact on the asking price of £100m for a 25% stake in Liverpool, which the owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett are looking to sell.

Rafael Benitez, however, played down the financial aspect of failing to progress to the knock-out stage.”

“You have a budget at the beginning of the season and it assumes that we have qualified for the group stages of the Champions League. We did this. Two or three more games maybe, in terms of money, won’t make such a big difference. The main thing for us is to finish in the top four and to be in the Champions League group stages again next year”, said the Liverpool manager.

Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow, insisted that Liverpool could withstand the financial impact of the early elimiation and added that Rafael Benitez’s position as Liverpool manager will not be undermined by Champions League exit.

Christian Purslow said, “This will have no bearing on Rafa whatsoever. He signed a new five-year deal four months ago and in those terms he is four months into a five-year journey. You don’t deviate from long‑term plans for people and the way to take the club to the next level because of two late goals against Lyon, and that’s what it boils down to.”

Liverpool will now be playing in the newly formed Europa League with the likes of Valencia, Benfica and neighbours Everton.

Liverpool plays crucial Merseyside derby match at Goodison Park in the Premier League on Sunday.

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