Merseyside Insider – Liverpool’s Champions League hopes fade as FA Cup run continues, change is afoot at Everton, while Lukaku’s new agent causes trouble

What’s been happening in the world of football on Merseyside this week? Jennifer Jewell gives us the scoop . . .

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Coutinho keeps captain’s birthday dream alive

Liverpool made it through to the FA Cup semi-final on Wednesday, after Philippe Coutinho scored the winner against Blackburn Rovers in a difficult replay at Ewood Park. The Brazilian deserves a lot of credit for Liverpool’s cup run this year, as he also scored the winner in the 2-1 win over Bolton earlier in the competition.

I’m sure by now you’ve heard Steven Gerrard’s birthday is on the day of the cup final this year. If you haven’t, we’ve certainly heard about it enough times for you on Merseyside . . . And the fans are loving this story! It would be the perfect way to see their captain off – with an FA Cup winners’ medal in his pocket. Things do seem to be going Liverpool’s way in the FA Cup this year, but they haven’t made it easy for themselves. Still, they’re in the semis and that’s all the fans care about. A game at Wembley against struggling Aston Villa is something that both the team and the supporters will surely feel confident about. It’s better than facing Arsenal anyway . . .

Liverpool at a loss in Champions League race

Following two key losses to Manchester United and Arsenal, Liverpool’s Champions League dream looks all but over now, with even Brendan Rodgers seemingly conceding defeat.

A few weeks ago, Liverpool had the second best domestic form in Europe, but then came the big games and Liverpool’s squad just seemed unable to compete with their rivals. After finishing second last season, what has changed this time around? Last season, Liverpool scored 101 goals, which would have been hard to repeat (especially without last season’s star man Luis Suarez). But with only 45 goals scored so far this year, Liverpool will be lucky if they get half of last season’s tally. That’s a big problem for the Reds.

Toffees to ring the changes

The ever-reliable Phil Jagielka’s winner against Southampton saw Everton win their third successive Premier League game last weekend, much to the delight of fans! But supporters are understandably still not happy with their season. After hoping for another Champions League push, the Toffees have been closer to the relegation battle – and it’s something that needs to change next season.

Jagielka himself suggested this week that some players may leave the club, so it looks like big changes for Everton this summer. Who’s in, who’s out? As long as there’s change, I can’t see the fans complaining too much!

Luk out for Super Mario agent

Romelu Lukaku has a new agent, Mino Raiola, the same one as Mario Balotelli’s, and the same one who likes to talk to newspapers to cause controversy. So naturally, this week he told the press that Lukaku would never have signed for Everton had he met him earlier. Not what the fans want to hear when you’ve spent £28million on a player.

The 21-year-old is a fantastic player but he needs to be careful. Ex-Everton player Lee Carsley told the Liverpool Echo this week: “The player himself needs to remember that a lot of clubs had a look at him last summer but only Everton put the money up front and showed the faith to take him at that price and I think you could expect some loyalty from him.” Personally, I don’t expect loyalty from any player, but a level of respect? Definitely.

Lukaku chose to come to Everton after a very successful loan deal and clearly enjoyed playing at the club. Maybe that’s changed, or maybe he has someone very influential in his ear just looking to make more money from him. Time will tell with this one, but I hope he makes a decision that is best for his own career – and not for his new agent’s.

Read more from Jennifer Jewell here

Follow @jennifer_jewell

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