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Posts Tagged ‘Reds’

Thai government accuses Reds over huge weapons cache

In Uncategorized on May 22, 2010 at 5:16 pm

 Thailand’s government on Saturday displayed to foreign diplomats a huge cache of weapons it said had been confiscated from anti-government protesters, to quash criticism of a deadly crackdown.

This picture taken on May 21, 2010 shows Thai Red Shirt supporters waving flags as they welcome Red Shirts protestors arriving from Bangkok at the train station in Chiang Mai, around 700kms from Bangkok. (AFP Photo)

“Red Shirts” leaders, who mounted two months of rallies in Bangkok that saw clashes and blasts that left 86 dead and 1,900 injured movement, have criticised the use of force and said their supporters were unarmed.

The government said that after Wednesday’s final offensive which forced thousands of Reds to disperse and their leaders to surrender, it had found a haul of assault rifles, ammunition, grenades and crude homemade bombs.

“Terrorists have used these weapons to attack officials and innocent people,” said Suthep Thaugsuban, deputy prime minister in charge of security affairs, at an army barracks on the northern outskirts of the capital.

“Although the protesters have always denied terrorism or possessing weapons, after the rallies dispersed we found a lot of lethal weapons,” he told media and dozens of Bangkok-based diplomats and military attaches.

Thailand’s top forensic scientist, Porntip Rojanasunan, also said that four car bombs had been found around the protest site which paralysed Bangkok’s top shopping district for six weeks.

AFP journalists reporting at the protest zone for the past two months have seen only a handful of firearms in the hands of protesters, who were mostly armed only with crude weapons like rockets and Molotov cocktails.

Wednesday’s campaign was met with little resistance.

Concern has been growing over rights abuses in Thailand, with the European Union the latest to call on Thai authorities to respect the rights of the protesters and saying the violence had harmed the nation.

Human Rights Watch has also expressed alarm over a “draconian” emergency decree introduced during the crisis to hold prisoners in secret detention.

In a clear reference to the Reds’ hero, ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the army said that masterminds including those from outside the country were responsible for the mayhem of looting and arson that broke out after the offensive.

“It’s not true that protesters carried out arson attacks due to anger after protest ended. It was well planned and ordered by people outside and inside the country,” said army spokesman Colonel Sunsern Kaewkumnerd.

Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 coup and now lives in exile to avoid a jail sentence for corruption.

A curfew is in place until Sunday in Bangkok and most of the Reds’ heartland in the north and northeast. Suthep said there would be an announcement Sunday over the status of the emergency measures.

Source: SGGP

Thailand’s ageing king silent despite Reds’ pleas

In Uncategorized on May 18, 2010 at 9:04 am

BANGKOK, May 18, 2010 (AFP) – Thailand’s revered king is facing calls from anti-government protesters to intervene to end the nation’s crisis, but the 82-year-old monarch has remained largely silent since the unrest began.

“His Majesty is our only hope,” a senior leader of the “Red Shirts” movement, Jatuporn Prompan, said at the weekend in pleas that were repeated as troops battled protesters in five days of clashes that have left 38 dead.

Thai soldiers stand guard in front of a portrait of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej around near the Red Shirt anti-government protest site in downtown Bangkok on May 17, 2010. AFP photo

It was the second time that the Reds have publicly appealed for King Bhumibol Adulyadej to step in to solve the two-month standoff, as he has done in the past during six turbulent decades on the throne.

During a 1992 uprising the king summoned military and protest leaders who, according to protocol, crawled towards him on their knees in dramatic televised scenes which effectively brought the violence to an end.

The king, seen by some Thais as a demigod, continues to command immense affection and respect among his subjects.

But during this bout of unrest, which has its origins in the 2006 coup that ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, the monarch has been confined to a hospital where he was admitted last September for treatment of a respiratory condition.

The palace makes no statement on his health, and the sensitivity of the issue means it is not discussed in the Thai media. But in his few public appearances, it is clear the king is physically very weak.

He appeared on television in February next to Bangkok’s Chao Praya river — sitting in a wheelchair and holding his dog on a leash, and left hospital briefly on May 5 for the 60th anniversary of his coronation.

The only monarch that the vast majority of Thais have ever known delivered a brief speech in late April. In a quiet voice, he urged newly appointed judges to fulfil their duty. But the deaths and the fighting were not mentioned.

“The king says nothing about the realities of Thailand today,” says Arnaud Leveau from the Institute of Research on Contemporary Southeast Asia.

“These last comments did not refer to the situation and gave no indication of what he knows, or what he thinks about it,” he said.

The Red Shirts, mostly urban and rural poor who were won over by Thaksin’s populist policies, condemn the current administration which came to power with the army’s backing in 2008.

They say the government is the puppet of the nation’s elites in the palace, bureaucracy and military circles, and are clamouring for their share of Thailand’s economic and political pie.

Many Thais, including the Reds, are now hoping for the type of decisive royal intervention of two decades ago which is still well remembered in the kingdom.

“I want the king to stop this now,” said a 53-year-old woman, cooking food for demonstrators in the Red Shirts’ camp, who gave her name as Sumboun.

“I want to stop and go back home. But why won’t the army stop?”

The crisis, which flared in mid-March and has left 67 people dead and about 1,700 wounded including 25 slain in a failed army crackdown on April 10, is the country’s worst civil unrest since 1992.

The Reds’ calls for the king to intervene seem to be aimed at reaching a compromise solution, said Paul Chambers, a Thailand expert at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.

“As it stands now, if the government and the military are able to continue their crackdown on the Red Shirts, then they would have organised all this for nothing.”

“If they find somebody higher, more powerful than the government to compel the government to stop what they’re doing now, it would be a sort of victory,” he said, adding that it could also hand them a sought-after amnesty.

But observers are doubtful that wish will be fulfilled.

During major royal ceremonies, the king has mostly been represented by his wife, Queen Sirikit, his heir Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, or his admired daughter, Princess Sirindhorn.

“In April, I thought there might be a message, a speech to the people. But what we see in the pictures is the Queen, Prince or Princess. The King is above all, far from everything,” said Chambers.

Source: SGGP

Thailands’s Reds optimistic on ending weeks of rallies

In Uncategorized on May 5, 2010 at 8:36 am

BANGKOK, May 5, 2010 (AFP) – Thailand’s anti-government “Red Shirts” hinted Wednesday their weeks-long rally in the heart of Bangkok could soon end as they awaited more details on the government’s reconciliation roadmap.

Despite signs the crisis is nearing a resolution, thousands of protesters remained barricaded inside their encampment in Bangkok’s main shopping district, behind piles of tyres, razor wire and bamboo stakes.

Thai “Red Shirt” leader Veera Musikapong (R) holds a candle in front of a Buddha at the beginning of a ceremony, part of celebrations for Coronation Day marking the 60th anniversary of the official coronation of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in downtown Bangkok on May 5, 2010. AFP photo

The red-clad demonstrators, whose eight-week campaign has sparked deadly outbreaks of civil unrest that have left 27 dead, agreed Tuesday to join Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s proposed reconciliation process.

The mainly poor and working class Reds want Abhisit to make clear when he will dissolve parliament for elections promised for November, and to withdraw troops who have converged on the capital, which is under a state of emergency.

But Reds leader Veera Musikapong voiced optimism Wednesday that the end was in sight for supporters who have spent weeks sleeping rough under flimsy shelters, and who are now enduring the start of the rainy season.

“I have a feeling that we will soon return to our hometown as our goal to fight for true democracy and return power to the people is about to be achieved,” Veera told the crowd.

“We have been together for some 50 days, I really feel that we may soon return home,” he said as leaders of the movement offered alms to 45 Buddhist monks on their protest stage.

The ceremony was part of celebrations for Coronation Day, which marks the 60th anniversary of the official coronation of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest-reigning monarch.

In a light-hearted address to the crowd, Veera said the protesters would not remain forever in Bangkok’s retail heartland, where luxury hotels and shopping malls have been forced to close.

“We will not stay here until we obtain the land title deed,” he joked.

Abhisit said in a nationally televised address Monday that he was ready to hold elections on November 14 if all parties accepted his reconciliation plan, and drop their demand for snap polls.

But the Reds said they would continue the rally until the premier spells out when he will dissolve parliament, and said he should leave it to the Election Commission to set the poll date.

Many of the protesters support fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra and say Abhisit’s rise to power on the back of a court ruling in 2008 that ousted Thaksin’s allies was undemocratic.

The telecoms tycoon-turned-politician, who was toppled in a 2006 coup and now lives overseas to avoid a jail term for corruption, has called for the two sides to settle their differences.

“Reconciliation is good for everybody,” he said in a phone-in to a meeting of the opposition Puea Thai Party on Tuesday. “Don’t think about the past but look to the future.”

Arrest warrants have been issued for many leading Red Shirts, who are defying a ban on rallies in the capital, but the authorities are ready to discuss an amnesty for protest leaders, according to a government source.

Abhisit, the British-born, Oxford-educated head of the establishment Democrat Party, does not have to go to the polls until the end of next year.

The Reds have said the government is intent on clinging to power until September, when an important military reshuffle will take place and the national budget will be approved in parliament.

The government, which was appointed with the backing of the military in a 2008 parliamentary vote, wants to ensure the new army leadership line-up is appointed before it goes to the polls.

Observers say that when Abhisit does face the people, his failure to connect with the rural masses means he will have a tough battle against the pro-Thaksin forces that have won every election for a decade.

Source: SGGP

Thai police tell Reds to retreat after grenade attacks

In Uncategorized on April 23, 2010 at 8:44 am

Thai police sought Friday to push back anti-government “Red Shirts” from a confrontation zone in Bangkok after deadly grenade attacks further stoked tensions in the long-running political standoff.

Hundreds of riot police, unarmed but carrying shields and batons, moved on the heavily fortified barricades which form the front line of the Reds’ vast encampment that has paralysed the main retail district in the heart of Bangkok.

“Police asked protesters to move their barricade some 100 metres… to ease the confrontation but so far there is no agreement,” Major General Anuchai Lekbumrung of Bangkok Metropolitan Police told AFP.

“There will more talks this afternoon,” he said after police later withdrew from the barricades, a three-metre (10-foot) high wall of car tyres, sharpened bamboo staves and plastic sheeting which has also been doused with fuel.

Red Shirt anti-government protesters are seen next to their barricades during a face-off with riot police at the Silom road intersection, in central Bangkok’s financial district early on April 23

The action came after five grenade blasts hit the area on Thursday night, targeting hundreds of pro-government supporters in attacks that left one Thai woman dead and scores wounded, including foreigners.

It was the latest bloodshed on the streets of Bangkok in the weeks-long standoff between the government and Red Shirts, and triggered alarm in the international community which issued urgent calls for for restraint.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said the grenades were fired from within the sprawling Red Shirt encampment, but leaders of the protest movement — who are campaigning for snap elections — denied they were responsible.

“The bomb attacks last night have nothing to do with our movement, we still adhere to a policy of non-violence,” said Red Shirt leader Nattawut Saikuar, accusing the government of orchestrating the blasts.

Nattawut told demonstrators to prepare for a crackdown by security forces, which have warned time is running out for Red Shirts who have staged rolling street rallies since mid-March.

“The authorities are trying to push in,” Nattawut told the crowd from a rally stage, where live pop music was playing to entertain a dancing crowd despite Thursday’s bloodshed.

The grenade blasts came after a failed attempt by authorities on April 10 to disperse the Red Shirts, sparking clashes that left 25 people dead and more than 800 injured in the worst civil unrest in almost two decades.

Suthep had said three were killed in the blasts, but emergency services and the health ministry said Friday that only one person was killed, a Thai woman.

The number of injured was put at between 78 and 85, including up to four foreigners — an Australian man, an American, a Japanese citizen, and an Indonesian.

Ambulances rushed away bloodied victims after the grenades exploded at a station in the elevated Skytrain network, outside the exclusive Dusit Thani hotel and near a bank, causing panic on the streets.

The crowd of hundreds of government supporters, neatly dressed people of all ages who had been peacefully singing to Thai folk music and waving national flags, scattered into the night taking their injured with them.

The blast scene was littered with pools of blood along with abandoned shoes and Thai flags, in an area dotted with dozens of corporate towers as well as a notorious red-light district.

Clashes later broke out between riot police and hardcore pro-government demonstrators who had hurled bottles at their Reds rivals, triggering cat-and-mouse chases as police pursued the agitators through narrow alleys.

The United Nations appealed for restraint and several nations including the United States issued travel warnings for Thailand, which has been in turmoil since former premier Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in a 2006 coup.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said the world body’s chief Ban Ki-moon was “very concerned about the continuing standoff and tension in Thailand and the potential for this to escalate.”

The army this week signalled it was preparing to crack down on the Red Shirts, and warned that security forces would use tear gas and live ammunition in any new clashes.

The Reds, drawn from the ranks of the rural poor as well as increasing numbers of urban working class, are mostly supporters of Thaksin, who is now living in exile to avoid a jail sentence for corruption.

They say the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is illegitimate because it came to power in a parliamentary vote at the end of 2008 after a court ruling removed Thaksin’s allies from office.

Source: SGGP

Thai Reds entrenched in sprawling Bangkok camp

In Uncategorized on April 21, 2010 at 8:22 am

Thailand’s “Red Shirts” have entrenched themselves in Bangkok’s glittering commercial heart, establishing a staggeringly large and elaborate protest base for their anti-government fight.

Anti-government protesters guard the entrance to their encampment, Tuesday, April 20, 2010, in Bangkok, Thailand. (AFP Photo)

In surreal scenes next to glass-fronted luxury malls and hotels, thousands of red-clad demonstrators have set up a tent city complete with food outlets, entertainment, free massages and a legion of black-shirted security guards.

“We have toilets, you can take a shower, everything is here,” says 29-year-old Prayoon Ninpetch from Surin province, one of the many Reds who have travelled to Bangkok from Thailand’s poor and underdeveloped north.

Their presence, which has forced many hotels and shops to close, stretches along four kilometres (2.5 miles) of what used to be some of the city’s most important transport arteries.

Given the scope of the operation, observers question who is funding the protesters, many of whom have had to abandon their jobs and farms to join the campaign against Thailand’s elites.

Tens of thousands arrived in Bangkok more than a month ago to join the rally for snap elections and many remain despite fears of an imminent army crackdown after clashes with security forces that left 25 dead on April 10.

“Reds tell me the money comes from their own donations but I doubt if they could sustain it for this long,” says Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a visiting research fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.

“It’s an expensive operation and don’t forget they need to pay for the security guards and that’s big money.”

Reds’ spokesman Sean Boonpracong said they gathered 400,000 baht (12,400 dollars) daily from public donations, mainly collected on the site, which is strung with technical equipment to project speeches from the main stage.

He said expenses had been reduced since they consolidated in the commercial district six days ago after previously occupying a second site in the historic quarter, but he would not specify the cost of their campaign.

“Democratic businessmen make up the rest,” he said, adding that these donors preferred to remain anonymous. “When we have a shortfall they help us out.”

Reds portray their struggle as a genuine fight for equality and dismiss critics’ claims that they are hired protesters in the pay of their hero, fugitive former premier and billionaire media mogul Thaksin Shinawatra.

Asked if Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup, helped out with funding the operation, Sean said: “I’m sure he does but I don’t know how much. No one has that information.”

Pavin said it was “impossible” to know exactly where the money came from but he did not think Thaksin could be the sole source of the cash.

“I don’t think it’s even a large proportion of the funding especially after his assets were seized,” he said, referring to a court order that confiscated 1.4 billion dollars of Thaksin’s fortune for conflict of interest.

“There might be some who are rich businessmen who never had anything to do with the Bangkok elite, who are out of the network, who have worked so hard and feel they don’t get anything in return,” he said.

Even without army intervention, it is unclear how long the protesters can keep up this village-like occupation, complete with their streetside hairdressers, monks in mobile Buddhist temples and even the odd pet chicken.

Jeff Savage, an British expatriate supporter of the Reds, said he was originally paid expenses by the movement to transport food and drink daily from his home town of Pattaya, southeast of Bangkok.

“I’m paying my own petrol money now so something’s gone wrong somewhere,” said the 48-year-old, whose wife is from Thailand’s northeast. But he doubted that Reds’ passions were likely to dwindle, even if their funding did.

“All my wife wants is equal opportunity for her daughter, an equal playing field. She doesn’t want war or anarchy but it’s got a bit out of control since people got killed,” he said. “Since the deaths, it’s got personal”.


Source: SGGP

Rival Thai ‘Yellows’ discuss moves as ‘Reds’ rally on

In Uncategorized on April 18, 2010 at 7:29 pm

BANGKOK, April 18, 2010 (AFP) – Thailand’s pro-establishment “Yellow Shirt” movement gathered in their thousands on Sunday to discuss their response to month-long anti-government protests that left 23 dead in clashes last weekend.

The country is split between “Red Shirts”, who largely support ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, and their yellow-clad rivals who hit the streets ahead of a 2006 coup that ousted Thaksin and again to see off his allies in 2008.

Red Shirt anti-government protesters rest during an on going rally in the main shopping district in Bangkok on April 18, 2010. AFP photo

The yellow protest group, backed by the country’s elite, has kept a low profile since the Reds’ mass rallies began in mid-March but began a meeting early Sunday to discuss the kingdom’s troubles.

“We are having a meeting today because we know that now the country is in crisis,” said Parnthep Pourpongpan, a spokesman for the group formally known as the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD).

“We have the PAD representatives from different provinces coming to analyse the situation and lay out the structure for long-term solutions. There are 3,000 to 5,000 people joining the meeting today,” he said.

The Yellows’ protests in 2008 culminated with a damaging blockade of the capital’s main airports that stranded thousands of travellers.

As they met at a Bangkok university Sunday, the Reds were also meeting to discuss their next move, eights days on from deadly clashes with security forces that left 23 people dead and more than 800 injured.

The Reds, who are demanding snap elections, have since abandoned their rally spot close to where the violence took place to instead reinforce numbers in a Bangkok district which is home to luxury hotels and shopping malls.

Leaders of the Reds have said they would hand themselves in to police next month as they brace themselves for a new army push to disperse them from the key district.

They have so far ignored repeated calls by authorities to disperse from the commercial heartland, despite arrest warrants outstanding against core leaders.

“On May 15, 24 of us will surrender. All of the leaders,” said one of the top Reds, Nattawut Saikuar, on Saturday. “For now the 24 of us will keep rallying to show sincerely that we won’t run away,” he said.

“I’m sure the order to suppress us will come out soon.”

He said the plan was designed to avoid another attempt by security forces to forcibly arrest them, but added they would seek bail.

The mostly poor Reds accuse the government of elitism and being illegitimate as it came to power after a parliamentary vote that followed a controversial court verdict ousting Thaksin’s allies.

The military has said it will make a renewed attempt to disperse the protesters but has given no further details of its plans.

Late Friday embattled Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva handed broader powers to his army chief Anupong Paojinda, after a bungled operation to arrest some protest leaders at a hotel in Bangkok’s northern outskirts.

Earlier Friday commandos stormed a hotel where several Red Shirt leaders were hiding, but the mission ended in dramatic failure after the suspects fled, with one climbing down an electric cable from a third floor balcony.

The setback to the authorities came almost a week after the army tried in vain to clear an area of the capital of anti-government demonstrators, triggering the country’s deadliest civil unrest in 18 years.

The government has asked the police’s special investigation unit to probe the bloodshed, blaming “terrorists” for inciting violence and accusing Thaksin, who lives abroad to avoid a jail term for graft, of stoking the unrest.

Source: SGGP

Thai govt tries legal moves to oust Reds from tourist hub

In Uncategorized on April 4, 2010 at 9:28 am

BANGKOK, April 4, 2010 (AFP) – Thailand’s government on Sunday said it would seek a court order to force anti-government protesters, loyal to ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, to end their crippling rally in Bangkok’s tourist hub.

The “Red Shirts”, who are demanding immediate elections to pave the way for the return of fugitive Thaksin, escalated their three-week rally a day earlier, massing in the capital’s main shopping and luxury hotel district.

Red Shirts supporters shout slogans during anti-government protests at a tourist hub in Bangkok on April 4, 2010. AFP photo

With businesses and tourism threatened, the government has banned the gathering under a strict security law invoked to cover the protests, and threatened protesters with a year in jail.

Deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban, in charge of security, said the government would seek a court order to increase pressure on the Reds to leave after the weekend.

“Legal experts are drafting a request to submit to court tomorrow. When we have a court order the government will see what we can do,” said Suthep.

“We will avoid force which risks clashes. But we may have to send authorities to the site.”

Police said about 30,000 Reds, most of whom come from Thailand’s poorer rural northern provinces, have ignored the government’s warning to remain on Sunday.

“I am not afraid of being arrested and put in jail. I am sure I will have many people there with me,” said one defiant protester, Kampa Ngaokor, a 55-year-old farmer from the northeastern province of Chaiyaphum.

In a televised address, premier Abhisit Vejjajiva urged the Red Shirts to return to a protest site in the capital’s government quarter.

“(We) know that some people want the government to use tough measures but we are all Thai. The government will use international standards starting with soft measures,” Abhisit said.

Authorities are seeking to avoid a repeat of last April’s clashes with Red Shirts that left two people dead, six months after riot police took on the Reds’ rival Yellow Shirts in other bloody scenes outside parliament.

Thai society is split between Thaksin’s Reds, who accuse Abhisit’s government of being elitist and army-backed, and the Yellow Shirts, supporters of the country’s establishment who accuse Thaksin of gross corruption.

The Reds continued their demonstrations under sun umbrellas amid sweltering temperatures on Sunday, forcing many shopping malls to close for a second day and seizing up traffic in the district.

“We use our rights (to stay) under the constitution because this is a peaceful protest,” Red Shirt leader Nattawut Saikuar told reporters.

Police said some 60,000 protesters had filled the upmarket shopping area on Saturday, but tourists appeared largely unfazed, with some enjoying the rally’s carnival-like atmosphere with dancing and live music in the streets.

The military has mounted a heavy security response involving 50,000 personnel for the protests.

The Reds oppose the coup that toppled Thaksin in 2006 and say Abhisit’s government is undemocratic because it took office through a parliamentary vote after a court stripped Thaksin’s allies of power.

Thaksin, a billionaire former telecoms tycoon who lives abroad to avoid a jail term for graft at home, has regularly addressed the protesters via videolink, urging them not to back down.

The Reds have staged a series of dramatic stunts to press their demands, including throwing their own blood at Abhisit’s offices.

They rioted in Bangkok in April last year, leaving two dead and scores injured.

The Yellow Shirts’ protests precipitated the 2006 coup that deposed Thaksin, while their 2008 campaign led to a crippling nine-day blockade of the country’s airports.

Source: SGGP

Benitez expects Reds to be spurred on to success

In Vietnam Sports on January 22, 2010 at 10:44 am

England, Jan 21, 2010 (AFP) – Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is confident his team will go from strength to strength in the second half of the season after their 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur here at Anfield.

Rafael Benitez (C) stands before his team take on Tottenham Hotspur during their English Premier League football match at Anfield in Liverpool on January 20, 2010. AFP PHOTO

Wednesday’s Premier League win moved Liverpool to within a point of fourth-placed Spurs, who currently occupy the final qualifying place on offer to English clubs for next season’s Champions League.

Liverpool, who’ve endured a largely lacklustre season to date, are currently without first-team players Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard, Yossi Benayoun and Glen Johnson through injury.

But Benitez believes previous campaigns have shown the Reds they can still make a charge in the final weeks of the season.

And, having previously guaranteed a top-four finish, he is sure his side are well positioned in the race to finish in the Champions League places.

“It’s question of having the players available and if you don’t have these players at least we’ve seen they can work like this,” Benitez told reporters after Wednesday’s match.

“In the last five years we’ve done better in the second part of the league,” the Spaniard added.

“Everybody knows Liverpool is a good team and it was a question of starting to win games and show the quality.

“The squad is not as bad as people have said,” he insisted. “We were playing without six players that could maybe start and all of them are quality players but the rest of the squad has showed character.

“It was important for everyone here because we knew we had to reduce the gap to stay in the race. I’m pleased with the players, with their attitude, their spirit and effort and we showed real character.”

Meanwhile Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said the Londoners were still strong runners in a four-horse race for fourth place despite losing to two goals from Liverpool’s Dirk Kuyt, the Dutch striker scoring early on before his stoppage-time penalty put the result beyond doubt.

“It’s open. Man City, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Tottenham, it’s a toss-up.

“We’ve been on a good run and just because we lose one doesn’t mean we’re out of it,” the former Portsmouth manager added.

“It’s all to play for still, It’s very open and I wouldn’t like to say where the momentum is.”

Nevertheless, Redknapp admitted Spurs had missed a trick at Anfield.

“It was a good chance for us at Liverpool,” he said. “When you come here and you see Liverpool without Gerrard, Torres, Johnson, Benayoun, you’ve got to think it’s a good opportunity.”

Even though Tottenham have not won away at the so-called ‘Big Four’ of Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United or Arsenal in 66 attempts, Redknapp said he would not be changing Spurs’s style of play on their travels.

“We all felt we could win, we played a very open attacking team, two people who play off the wide men, who don’t really defend, and two strikers who don’t drop in and defend.

“We’re an open team that came here and looked to win and that’s how we play,” Redknapp explained.

Redknapp has been linked with a January transfer window move for Real Madrid striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, the former Manchester United forward.

But he added he was unlikely to bring any new players to White Hart Lane this month, saying: “I’d be surprised if we sign anybody.”

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Benitez backs Reds to secure top four finish

In Vietnam Sports on November 22, 2009 at 12:24 pm

LIVERPOOL, England, Nov 22, 2009 (AFP) – Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez brushed aside his team’s stuttering form to insist that they will finish in the top four.

The defiant Spaniard watched from the sidelines as Saturday’s 2-2 home draw with Manchester City left last season’s Premier League runners-up with just one win in 10 games in all competitions.

Rafael Benitez (R) gestures while Mark Hughes Manager of Manchester City (L) watches during a Premier League match at Anfield in Liverpool, on November 21, 2009. AFP PHOTO

It would have been far worse had substitute Yossi Benayoun not salvaged a point with a late equaliser after goals from Emmanuel Adebayor and Stephen Ireland threatened another dismal day for the Merseysiders.

But a bad day from Liverpool got even worse as Benitez, already missing key striker Fernando Torres and Glen Johnson through injury, saw Danish defender Daniel Agger stretchered off with concussion, while Dutch forward Ryan Babel damaged an ankle.

Yet Benitez is confident his side will bounce back with a winning run once his walking wounded have recovered, and believes Liverpool will still seal a Champions League berth next season despite their poor form.

“You cannot be happy when you draw at home,” said Benitez. “You have a game plan, but then you lose Johnson on the morning of the game and then Agger is stretchered off and Babel has to go off as well.

“The positive thing is we showed great character when we went behind.

“You cannot ask for more than that from the players.

“I think we won six games in a row not so long ago and we have to think positive. When we have all our players coming back I am confident we will start winning games in a row.

“City have quality but if we can improve and play at our level, we will finish in the top four.”

Benitez is confident England full-back Johnson, who failed a fitness test on a calf injury, will be available to face Debrecen in Hungary on Tuesday, a game Liverpool have to win if they are to have any chance of remaining in the Champions League.

Benayoun, who went off towards the end of the game, should also be fit while Benitez is refusing to rule out Babel and Agger, who needed five stitches in his head wound.

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes said his players had allowed a great chance to beat Liverpool slip.

Martin Skrtel had given the hosts the lead with his first goal for the club before goals by Adebayor and Ireland turned the game in City’s favour only for Benayoun to snatch an equaliser.

“In the past City teams would have been happy with a point at Anfield, but we’re going home disappointed,” said Hughes, who confirmed that Brazil’s Robinho is on the brink of returning to action after damaging an ankle.

“At the moment it feels like a chance has been lost.”

City have now drawn their last six league matches, but Hughes added: “It is only a matter of time before we start winning again.

“It’s not a worry (that City are allowing leads to slip). It’s more a frustration.

“We deserved a win against Liverpool. I felt we could have seen the game out after getting our noses in front.”

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share


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