Liverpool v Chelsea Quiz 2013
1) What was the score in Liverpool’s biggest ever win over Chelsea? (2 Bonus pts for Year)
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ( / 3)
2) Which Liverpool player has most all time appearances against Chelsea? (1 bonus for total)
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ( / 2)
3) How Many goals has Steven Gerrard scored against Chelsea?
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ( / 1)
4) Which Chelsea Player has the most goals against Liverpool? (1 Bonus pt for how many)
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ( / 2)
5) Which Current Liverpool player has the most goals against Chelsea? (1 Bonus for How many).
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ( / 2)
TOTAL ( / 10)
What is the total number of Liverpool players that have played for Liverpool against Chelsea?
In part 2 of his exclusive interview with http://www.yahoo.co.uk/sport, Rodgers discuss Suarez's Player of The Year chances, The Anfield Redevelopment and the importance of Steven Gerrard....
- Is Luis Suarez the most talented player you have ever worked with?<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
I’ve been fortunate enough to work with lots of really good players so it would be disrespectful to single out the best. What I am sure of though, is his warrior spirit and I love his humility, work rate, attitude to training and his desire to be a winner.
He has a real determination and commitment to do well for Liverpool and that side of his game certainly puts him up there with the very best I’ve worked with. He is definitely one of the most naturally talented and mentally strong players I have ever worked with.
- Has he impressed enough to win the PFA player of the year award and do you think he will?
He will certainly be in the reckoning. His league goals alone should put him in with a great shout but you also need to look at his consistency throughout the season that makes him arguably the best player.
There are other contenders of course; players like Gareth Bale have been outstanding for Tottenham for example, but I think that Luis’ consistency and the impact he has had for us this season means that he would be my candidate to win.
- Suarez isn’t always popular with opposing players and fans, is that something he can channel and turn into a positive?
I know what it was like when I faced him as an opposing manager, I always viewed him as a pest around the penalty area and you know that players like that usually have the quality to score at any give time. When you know him as a person and as a man like we do here, you can see why so many people love him.
It’s not his job to be liked, he’ll be respected because he’s a top football player and it won’t concern him too much if people don’t like him. He is a player who has great humility, I see the guy everyday and I’ve worked with hundreds of junior and senior players and he is one of the most likable, most humble people I’ve come across.
He is also a multi-talented footballer who has shown that he is at a world class level now. The likability of any player is always up for debate, and people will always use their own moral compass to judge Luis Suarez, but that’s not something I tend to focus on. I concentrate on what he is like with me on a day-to-day basis and he is a great man.
- Could you argue that this has been Steve Gerrard’s best in terms of consistency and leadership?
It’s been his best season in relation to the number of games he’s played – he has played every minute of every game for us this season, and as a leader of the team he has been immense. It has been a real privilege to work with someone of that calibre and quality. Again, the mark of the man is that he is a very humble guy. This season he has scored goals, created chances, is still an international captain and at 32 still has the hunger, drive and determination to be better. He’s had an outstanding season and I’m sure he’ll continue to get better over the coming seasons.
- Jamie Carragher retires at the end of the season, how big a loss will he be not only on the paying side but also in the dressing room?
He’ll be a big loss because of the length of time he has been at the club. It’s very difficult to say that a player is irreplaceable because the nature of football means that someone always steps in to take the shirt and provides different elements to your team.
I will miss Jamie’s drive and determination that he has shown since I’ve been here, and I know that is something he has been doing all his life. We’re going to miss his character but that’s our job, as a club, to look to try and replace him. Jamie will continue to perform until the end of the season with the same drive and determination he has displayed through his entire career, even at 35-years-old he is still performing at the very top level.
- How important is the redevelopment of Anfield to the clubs future ability to compete financially?
We have two main objectives; one is to arrive into the top four and the second is the redevelopment of Anfield. That will make us a bigger club financially and help us to compete more; we have to keep building towards that.
The clubs that are competing in the Champions League have a big advantage financially, an extra forty million pounds a year and more. That’s a huge advantage in respect of bringing in new players and we have to keep aiming for that goal. If we can do that by the redevelopment of Anfield, aligned with top four football, we will be in a great position as a club.
- You seem to be taking a long term approach to this job. Can you imagine yourself being here in ten years and where do you imagine Liverpool being by then?
I was asked to come in and build the club over the long term. I’m fully aware however, in the short term you need to produce results. Of course this is a club I would love to be at for a long period of time because it is one of the few institutions in football.
This is very much a destination for me as a manager but I have got to show improvements in the club on a yearly basis. Of course I would love to be here long term, but obviously you have to take care of the short term and show that development. I think we have showed that progression this year and I hope we can make more strides next year and keep the club moving forward.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers sat down with the folks at http://www.yahoo.co.uk/sport to discuss his long term project, the importance of the club's history, January signings, and hopes for the summer...
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- How pleased have you been by the way that Liverpool fans have taken to your project and the style of football that you play?
I’ve been very pleased because at the end of the day the supporters are the people that count. You always want to win games and to develop the team, so it’s very important that you have encouragement from your fans. Our supporters have shown exactly why they are so well renowned – I’ve really felt and appreciated their support.
- Actions like restoring the original ‘This is Anfield’ sign in the tunnel suggests you have a keen awareness of Liverpool’s history. How important is the club’s link with its past?
It’s everything and things like the ‘This is Anfield’ sign are symbols of the great past. What is also important, though, is that we are not held hostage to our history. This is an incredible club, you only need to walk into the reception to see a European Cup in the hallway, so you know that everyday you come in you have to be good. It’s important that we use that as motivation and commitment for our future. The wonderful players and managers that we have had here provide inspiration to us all and it gives us a great focus going forward to try and recreate those memories.
- How do you approach the challenge of building a team worthy of great managers like Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley?
First and foremost there is no comparison in relation to those greats of the past; those two managers will always be remembered here. For someone like me, my job is to build the club again, like Bill Shankly did very successfully and that set up the many successful eras that everyone remembers Liverpool for.
That’s what I’m trying to replicate and it’s a huge challenge, because the club is an institution, but it is a challenge that I’ve enjoyed every minute of and all the staff and players have also. I’ve seen real progress this season and I would expect us to continue that over the next couple of years.
- You have spoken about Liverpool as a football family, how important is it for the players to develop a close emotional bond with you and each other, and how do you go about encouraging that?
If you are going to be successful there is no point in having three or four top individual players because those players will win you games but they will never win you titles. A strong team ethos is very important and no one at Liverpool is asked to do anymore than anyone else, we all share the same work ethic and focus to be the very best that we can. There are many different ways that you can create that ethos but the best way is to do it on the training field everyday.
We set high standards on and off the training pitch for all members of staff and that can be the biggest thing so far as creating a winning culture is concerned, it is something that we continue to work very hard at.
- Daniel Sturridge has made a flying start to his Liverpool career, how do you assess his first months and how long had you been looking at him as a potential transfer target?
I’ve known Daniel for a long time, since his early teens, so I’ve been able to follow his progress closely. There had been talk for some time about Daniel coming to the club but we needed to be sure that he was going to be the right fit for what we required. He has settled in very well, but he still has lots of aspects of his game to work on in order to achieve what he wants to and to allow him to make the kind of impact that we want. He has made a very promising start and as long as he maintains that same level of commitment and responsible attitude to improving, I can see him being a great signing for the club.
- Philippe Coutinho has also excited the fans, but there are often doubts about whether a player slight of stature can hold his own in the Barclay’s Premier League. Do you think that notion is a thing of the past?
Very much so, although there is no doubt that the Barclay’s Premier League is probably the most physical league in the world and that can catch players out. He might be slight in stature but he’s still got real power and mental strength too, plus he’s a wonderful technician.
I don’t think that there is any question that he can cope with the physical demands. He’s a Brazilian boy so as well as all the technique, skill and flair; you also find that they are tough. There haven’t been too many Brazilians that have come into this country and have not succeeded. They tend to be robust and when you mix that with their technical and tactical qualities, I think that a player like Philippe will be a great addition for us.
- Does the capture of Sturridge and Coutinho vindicate the decision not to sign a forward in August when Andy Carroll went to West Ham?
We would have liked to bring in a few more players in the summer but we didn’t, and the group were admirable with what they coped in that period because we had a lot of games. We knew we had to bring in reinforcements in January and the board worked superbly to get those players.
We are hopeful that come the summer we can make more additions that will take us on to the next level. So there was no vindication really, just that Andy wanted to play games every week and at the time there wasn’t the availability to bring in a replacement. The business we did in January however was excellent and that’s a great credit to the club.
An Armchair perspective of Liverpool vs Tottenham
This fixture was always going to be billed as Luis Suarez versus Gareth Bale, and you could be forgiven for thinking that whoever came out on top on Sunday would automatically be crowned Player of the Year… until the inevitable steward’s enquiry by my name sake which sees the vote overturned on the technicality of the winner plying his trade in L4, and given to Robin Van Persie. I’m sorry I’m just a little cynical after the last few years. Forgive me.
The biggest and more crucial contest for me was between Brendan Rodgers and Andres Villas Boas, the latter’s agent claiming his client to have been in the running for the Liverpool hot seat after Dalglish had been let go, while we at the Redmen TV had heard categorically from the horse’s mouth that it was nothing but agent speak in order to raise AVB’s profile to get another high profile job, many fans still believe he was on our radar. According to the club he wasn’t, ever, and if that’s true then the question given FSG’s apparent refusal to even consider proven candidates such as Rafa Benitez and Andres Villas Boas, certainly stronger candidates on paper than our current manager would have been, then WHY? Especially given the respective positions of our two clubs in the league right now.
Brendan Rodgers, until he wins a trophy and proves conclusively he’s the right caliber of manager for the Liverpool job will be under intense scrutiny, not only in trying to win over the club’s fans but in proving he was the right person for the job, especially to those who many believed, and still believe that there were others far better qualified who wanted it.
I don’t envy him, it’s more pressure than any Liverpool manager has faced in the history of the club, where he’s not only competing against the teams he faces but also the managers he’s measured against; his immediate predecessor Kenny Dalglish, the epitome of the word ‘legend’ and the anthropomorphisation of Liverpool Football Club, who reached two cup finals, winning one and managed 8th in the league in his first full season. Rodgers' has to really better the league position, and is thankfully on course to. His replacement at Swansea is also a valid comparison to draw; especially with Michael Laudrup hitting the ground running, and winning a trophy in his very first season as a Premier League manager. Rafael Benitez, winner of two major trophies for the club and responsible for the clubs closest title challenge in a decades, who comes back to his spiritual and geographical home on the 21st April will be another comparison made by fans and media alike. Roberto Martinez, another young manager with a philosophy of attractive, attacking football who many believe was FSG’s initial choice and was captured strolling, arm in arm with John Henry, eating ice cream and whispering sweet nothings in his ear (okay I exaggerate a tad) and then there’s Andres Villas Boas, another Mourinho protégé, former work colleague and again many fans preferred choice to take over Kenny Dalglish’s vacant role. That’s a lot of rivals for one man to be burdened with, and that’s before you count in Liverpool’s more traditional rivalries. Unfortunately before the whistle had blown it looked as though the contest could be decided on the personnel between the sticks, as Pepe Reina ruled out of the fixture with a calf injury left the deservedly out of favour Brad Jones to take on the responsibility.
As Chris remarked on the build-up show, there is no way you can drop Stewart Downing at the moment so with the return of Daniel Sturridge how would we be lining up? I mean how can you shoehorn Downing, Coutinho, Suarez and Sturridge in the same side without making an almighty tactical cock-up like witnessed against Oldham earlier this year? It would be unfair to suggest that Brendan went for a ‘Rafa-esque’ formation, the 4-2-3-1 line up does appear to be the preferred line up of both managers though. One of the things I liked about Rodgers’ before he took the Liverpool job, which I’ve mentioned in a previous article was his all-time Premiership XI on match of the day where he left Ryan Giggs out of his selection because he’d opted for 4-2-3-1 and Giggs didn’t ‘fit’ the system.
Liverpool started off the better with two chances falling to a rusty Daniel Sturridge in the first five minutes of play, one hit row Z while a heavy first touch after a lovely ball from Coutinho took the ball wide, and the opportunity was lost for a quick lead. Akin to two seasoned, tactical heavy weights the next quarter of an hour Liverpool and Tottenham took turns in trading blows, with Brad Jones unconvincingly parrying a free-kick from Gareth Bale being the closest Spurs got.
A lovely worked move starting with a 40 yard Johnson, brought down by Coutinho on the left flank, a quick interchange between the Brazilian and our Spanish left back, saw Coutinho Measure a ball to the advanced Enrique, whose strength and vision set up Suarez for a first time tap-in (well a tap-in from the Uruguayan’s standards anyhow). The first half continued to be mostly Liverpool until a Bale delivery was clinically dispatched by the head of Jan Vertonghen, at just the right time for Villas Boas side.
Tottenham buoyed by the equaliser came out the dressing room the more fired up, and looked to be in control of the tie, culminating in Vertonghen scoring again, as he guided the ball with Bergkamp like grace past the Liverpool’s stand-in. I’ve heard since that Bale was kept quiet in the game, well if essentially what amounts to two assists, and everything good that Tottenham did coming through their number 11 is being kept quiet that I’m eternally grateful that we managed to do that.
It didn’t look too good for Liverpool and bar a poor decision to shoot from one-time Brendan Rodgers’ target Gylfi Sigurdsson, when an admittedly quiet Jermaine Defoe was stood unmarked in front of goal, it’s highly likely Spurs would currently have their unbeaten run still intact. It was evident that a change had to be made but I didn’t expect Allen to be that change, or for Coutinho to be substituted given Sturridge didn’t look fully fit. A horrendous pass from Kyle Walker left Hugo Lloris stranded, and Stewart Downing pounced on the mistake, and put the reds back in contention for all 3 points, and from that point on it looked like the team had found their belief again.
It wasn’t by all means a one-sided affair with vital interceptions from Johnson and Vertonghen keeping the scores level, and a couple of valiant attempts outside the box from Enrique and Bale, before Assou Ekotto brought down Suarez giving us a penalty, which Stevie expertly and predictably (at least I called it anyway) put the same side as was saved by Ben Foster in the defeat against West Brom. It appears the officials have begun to come around to Suarez diving being a myth perpetuated by the purple-nosed one up the East Lancs, and the pre-match interview from Sky was a highlight of the day for me, as Suarez humour, warmth, and re-iterated commitment to the club shone through.
Surely you’ve got that wrong! I hear the masses cry in unison. Form is temporary, class is permanent is the correct cliché! You’re an idiot!
Okay, okay calm down. You’re a fiery lot aren’t you! I’ve used artistic license in order to illustrate a point; What do Luis Garcia, Jose Enrique and Joe Allen have in common? Other than being Liverpool players of course, that would be too easy! Well they all began their Anfield careers with a bang. In their first dozen or so games they put in performances that had the vast majority of fans drooling, Luis Garcia was being hailed as the second coming of Dalglish and Rush rolled into one, Jose Enrique was the best left-back we’d had since John Arne Riise, and had sorted out our left-sided defensive problems for the foreseeable and Joe Allen playing an unfamiliar holding role knitted the play together with an almost Xabi Alonso-like ease, whilst promising much more once he was allowed to play in his naturally more advanced position.
These same players fell from grace rather quickly and with a hefty bump; Garcia, as much as we’d all love another player like him at the moment was frustratingly erratic, and the very definition of a mercurial talent. Enrique had a woeful second half to his debut season, and the masses decided the first Enrique we’d seen was the fake and the shite one we’d witnessed in the latter months of the campaign was the real Enrique and would need to be replaced, and now after just a handful of games in the red shirt has Joe Allen been found out?
It’s not just Joe Allen that has had his ability questioned. In recent seasons the likes of Pepe Reina, Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtle and even our homegrown talisman Steven Gerrard have had their innate talent put under the proverbial microscope. I’ve heard talk that wholesale changes will need to be made next season, setting us back further, albeit hopefully temporarily, in our quest for that elusive league title. I don’t think it’s that bad, okay this article may come after a four-nil drubbing of Wigan in an historically difficult fixture, so you may think that my view might be clouded by a joyful red haze at the moment, but it’s not I’ve always found the finicky nature of the football fan tragi-comical.
The standing ovation given to a 17 year old coming off the bench in the reverse fixture to rescue the team Roy of the Rovers style being the epitome of that mentality, prompting then manager Kenny Dalglish to publically apologise to Sterling after the match. As much as we wanted to see him thrown in, he simply wasn’t ready. It’s likely the same people hailing the player that are writing him off as not being as good as we thought, possibly not good enough even to wear the red shirt. Could it be he’s still not ready for regular first team football? That’s not a criticism of Rodgers who has had a barren squad, and has had to use the resources available to him. The simple fact is that in and ideal world both Sterling and Suso would have made about 15 appearances between them this season, instead of over double that already. Now it could be true, they may not turn out to be good enough, but neither is out of their teens and both are holding their own in a Premier League environment, so let’s not be too quick to act as judge, jury and executioner over a couple of exceptionally talented kids just yet.
Speaking of exceptionally talented kids, the next in line to carry our hopes and dreams on his young shoulders after a great performance and couple of assists against the Latics is Phillipe Coutinho. Now there is little doubt that the title of wonderkid is bandied around a little too often, but for the young Brazilian it’s already evident why he’s been given that lable, but like the rest of the squad he’s human (well apart from Martin Skrtel perhaps) and he will go through a bad run of form one day. Let’s just be prepared when that day comes that ‘Coutinho missing the goal from 3 yards out’ is not listed as one of the four horseman of the apocalypse.
It could be one of those infamous special European nights at Anfield, or it could be a night that typifies this seasons campaign as a rollercoaster. Barcelona, Roma, Juventus, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Olympiakos. The role call can go on and on in listing the teams that came to Anfield to conquer and failed in the Reds’ European adventures…Oh and what nights they were!
Players like Messi, Totti, Makelele (twice), Sneijder and Fabregas. Names at the top echelon of European football all having their hopes dashed in the atmosphere at L4. Those however were a good while ago, and unfortunately, Liverpool Football Club has slipped off the European pedestal since then. Disappointing league finishes, disappointing signings and disappointing managerial decisions have cost the Reds in recent years. Sometimes not qualifying for a European competition at all. But against Zenit at Anfield, Liverpool and the fans have a chance to roll back time and experience one of those nights yet again.
Liverpool hate doing things the easy way don’t they? Needing to win by two clear goals against Olympiakos in 2004 to avoid elimination, but we did it! The same applies tonight. We need to score two without reply just to level the tie. Concede one, and that doubles our task to score four against a formidable Zenit St Petersburg side. Quite an ask! For me, there are three keys which will unlock this tie and give Liverpool safe passage into the next round.
Our defence will be massive; as if we concede even one goal the tie will immediately be in doubt. Martin Skrtel will be missing through a knee problem, so it’ll be down to Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger to keep out the likes of Hulk and Danny in the Zenit attack. Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique will be needed at times too, but I have a feeling they’ll be using the wings more as an attacking avenue than a defensive one. Pepe needs to stand up and be counted more now than ever. He has come into the line of fire this season for a few uncharacteristic errors, and has been unfairly earmarked by some fans as a player who should be shown the door. Reina is a massive player for us, and if he is on form, and he NEEDS to be, then Zenit will have a hard time finding the net.
We go into the match needing goals, and who better to get you goals, than Luis Suarez? The man has been unplayable this season, and until the addition of Daniel Sturridge to the squad, was our only main source of goals. With Sturridge inelligible to play, once again the spotlight will be on the Uruguayan, as he looks to nutmeg every opposing player on the pitch and help guide us to the the last 16, but he can’t do it alone. Whoever Brendan decides will support Luis in attack needs to have the game of their careers. Stewart Downing, who I feel has played superbly in the past few months will need to carry on the form he has shown, and if Raheem Sterling is selected on the other side, he will need to find the form he had a couple of months ago, putting the fear of God into the opposition with his pace and unpredictability. Add to that Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique racing forward to support Steven Gerrard through the middle, and attacking substitutions such as Jonjo Shelvey and the until recently M.I.A Ousamma Assaidi, we have a lot of options in attack, and we are going to need every single one of them.
Last and possibly the most important key is the fans. Personally speaking, this is my first taste of one of those special European nights. I’ve been to group games and qualifiers this season, but nothing ever like this. We need to be behind the team from the moment they warm up, to when they’re in the tunnel, in the changing room at half time, and at all times throughout the match. Too many times this season the atmosphere has been flat, and you could hear a pin drop. Not tonight. The games I listed at the start, what do they all have in common? The fans. The Twelfth man. And there has never been a time when the players have needed us more so than this.
This match will for me, define our season. It’s the last trophy we can fight for. We need a performance. As long as the Liverpool that we know can turn up does turn up, then win, lose or draw, as long as we put up the scrap of our lives, we can be happy, but if that Liverpool turns up, there is no reason why we can’t be in the last 16 of the Europa League come this time tomorrow.
Lets do this Redmen. Bring the noise!
Sub editor: David Gill
The plan for this article was to begin a regular feature entitled ‘The view from the armchair’ the premise is pretty self-explanatory; I write an article on the match from my perspective, which is usually standing up in a pub or rather ‘trying’ to stand-up in a pub come the final whistle or on a dodgy foreign internet stream from the comfort of my lush leather recliner.
I’m not a regular match goer by any
stretch of the imagination. A mixture of principles, finances and no-one around
me growing up to go the match with are all contributory factors, that’s what
happens when you befriend Mancs and Bluenoses in school; heed the warning kids!
So anyway that was the initial idea but to cite one of Mr Shankly’s favourite poets "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley" which is Rabbie Burns speak for things sometimes go tits up, and it’s all that bastard Pajak’s fault for giving me his ticket, and making me sit through an arduous hour and a half as goal after goal flew past an otherwise inform Vorm, in what was probably our most dominant performance under Brendan Rodgers so far. Damn you Chris, Damn you!
That leaves the problem of what to talk about here, I considered writing
a piece called ‘T he view from the armchair; from the Kop’ but given the match
was on Sunday and I’ve not had a spare minute since to sit down and pen
anything I thought I’d address a point that I’ve been sitting on for a few
years now, since Rafa’s penultimate season, but has reared its head again under
Brendan Rodgers and that’s the formation of the team.
Last night, while filming this week’s show, this exact subject came up and there seemed to be a lively debate as to what formation was played on Sunday. The previously unsuccessful 2-4-2 was being touted, along with an unusual shout for 2-2-2-4 if I remember correctly, with the relatively conventional 4-3-3 also among the mix of suggestions, but for me the formation I witnessed on Sunday was football formations coming full circle, back to the original 2-3-5 line-up supposedly adopted for the first time in 1877 by Wrexham’s Welsh Cup winning side (Thank you Wikipedia) and adopted by most top level football clubs for a further 80 years until according to Liverpool’s Tommy Smith then manager Bill Shankly played the Anfield Iron alongside Ron Yeats in a match against Anderlecht in 1964, signalling the beginning of the 4-4-2 formation in England.
The starting positions against The Swans would actually suggest the 4-2-3-1 formation beloved of both Benitez and Rodgers, however with both managers preferring to play possession football, and their fullbacks planting themselves further up the pitch than the midfield trio who in the old system would be deemed half-backs it seems that the players find themselves more in ye traditional outside right/left position of years gone by, leaving just the two centre-halves in the traditional full back roles, the two forwards either side of the centre forward tend to cut in to allow (in the case of Liverpool) Johnson and Enrique to occupy those positions so would appear that Suarez and Downing play the old inside left/right roles with Daniel Sturridge as the centre-forward.
Obviously the formation wasn’t quite as rigid as that with Suarez dropping off and Coutinho pushing forward but it does at least on paper look a lot like the pyramid formation of the pre-seventies, Of course the systems got great fluidity and is excitingly focused on the attacking nature of the game, but let’s just hope a Herbert Chapman type doesn’t come along to counter-act it. Albeit the fact we're even having this debate, and can't come to a consensus raises the question of how important having a set formation is, not in the Cameroon 1990 schoolboy football sense but more in that if players are well drilled, technically proficient and have the nous to provide cover for each other throughout the 90s minutes then are we coming to an age where set formations may become obsolete? and if so how would someone combat a team playing that way? Let me know your thoughts and whether you agree below.
If you’ve not seen it yet there is a photograph doing the rounds on the social networks at the moment depicting a smiling Brendan Rodgers, wearing a Sun T-shirt, posing for a photograph for the Sun Newspaper. I include it below (with aforementioned sponsor edited out for reasons of taste and decency) incase you’ve not yet had the chance.
The incredulous are shouting NOT REAL while the self-appointed Witch Finders are yelling BURN HIM with equal ferocity. They say the camera never lies and as proven countless times ‘THEY’ are usually full of shit. We know that with focus rings, F-stops and shutter speeds that images have always been susceptible to some sort of manipulation, that’s before factoring the angle a shot has been taken; as Brendan himself found out recently when being interviewed by Claire Rourke, one captured instant can put a man in the dock for something as innocent as a momentary glance in an inappropriate direction.
This photo however is as real as they come, that is indeed our incumbent manager with his arm around Chris Kamara wearing matching Sun branded T-Shirts, posing for a Sun photographer, and as I commented on the offending photo when it was posted, if it was a recent photograph I would be the first in line for my standard issue flaming torch and pitchfork, that is if it was recent, but the fact is although I personally have never seen the photograph before it is not new. A cursory Internet search reveals that it was published on June 9th 2011, almost an entire 12 months before his appointment by Fenway Sports Group.
The press shoot was to promote a charity climb up Kilimanjaro while he was manager of Swansea. There is absolutely nothing in this photograph to condemn Rodgers for. Similarly another photo declaring “Hi I’m Brendan Rodgers, and my son’s a rapist” is doing the rounds, posted by fellow reds. Now perhaps I’m a little old in the tooth, perhaps it’s the done thing to ridicule your manager when he’s undoubtedly going through a tough time, but I was brought up on a diet of respecting the employees of Liverpool Football Club.
I never once uttered the words ‘Fat Spanish Waiter’ admittedly I am one step away from asking Benitez to marry me, yeah you could probably put me in the ‘pro-rafa’ camp, but in saying that even when Roy Hodgson was manager I could never use the term ‘Woy’ in reference to him as I felt it was disrespectful and not in keeping with the Liverpool Way in which I was raised. I've used it constantly since he'd left the club but not while he was manager.
The offending photoshop was more than likely made by an Evertonian or a Manc at a guess, or at least I hope it was. So for fellow reds to spread it around reeks to me of mocking our own, in complicity with the Mancs and Blueshite… Since when has this been acceptable?
I have no idea on the guilt or innocence of Anton Rodgers (see photo) I hope for Brendan and the club’s sake that he’s done nothing wrong, I’ve not been following the story so don’t know the details, nor do I care. Brendan is not his son, his son is an adult responsible for his own actions, I have no doubt that Brendan will be supporting is son as most parents would, but that is no reflection on Brendan’s character.
The Redmen TV Christmas Quiz Sheets 2012!
1) When was the last time
Bonus point for opponent. .............................................................. ( /2pts)
2) Two Former Reds have a birthday on Christmas Day name both for 2 points. .................................................................................................. ( /2)
3) In what year did
for Opponents, 5 bonus points for the score.
....................................................................................................... ( /7)
4) For 2 points, who did
was the score? ....................................................................................... ( /2)
5) Who was the last
............................................................................................................. ( /1)
6) Who was the last player to score
............................................................................................................. ( /1)
7) How many times have
............................................................................................................ ( /2)
8) Boxing Day 2001 Saw the debut of which former Liverpool Striker? Bonus
point for the opponents. ....................................................................... ( /1)
9) Which full back scored his first
10) Which current
............................................................................................................ ( /1)
Tie Breaker... How Many Goals Have
TOTAL ( /30)
Watch The Quiz Below and Play Along!
So do no-one at the club reads my articles then?
Mere days after I’d pressed the publish button on last week’s article berating Jordan Henderson’s naive declaration of showing us what he can really do in a red shirt, than Glen Johnson announces the revelation back to back wins could be crucial to our season, Pepe Reina was quoted as saying Liverpool’s next three games were must wins, and Brendan Rodgers declares loftier ambitions than 4th. To use an infamous internet expression, they were facepalm moments one and all. It can’t only be me that remembers Rafa’s assurance of reaching the Champions League places in his final season? Gerard Houllier’s “10 games from greatness”, “blessing in disguise” and “we’ve turned a corner” proclamations. It’s not just us either, it works for us too, remember Clinton’s Morrison’s famous That Welsh Midget Judas is going to get a lesson in finishing jibe (I may be paraphrasing slightly) just before crashing to a 5-0 second leg defeat in the Worthington Cup? How about Rafael Van Der Vaart’s Liverpool are scared of Real Madrid comments followed before the home leg by Marca’s infamous “Esto es Anfield: Y que?” headline prior to discovering the answer to that question for themselves.
I know we now live in the era of the soundbite where footballers and managers are harassed for headline making quotes, but these headlines are as banal as if they just said, let’s wait and see or no comment. Who reading this (yes I’m talking to both of you) was aghast at being told our home form needs to pick up, we need to score more goals and that we want to be aiming for as high a league position as humanly possible. I’m sure some of you are pissing yourselves thinking calm down, tempting fate is nothing but superstitious clap-trap, well that could be true but football is as much a game about psychology as it is about the players that take to the field. That is why Shankly, Paisley, Benitez and Rodgers all stress the importance of having the right mentality, it’s why we wear an all red kit and it’s why You’ll Never Walk Alone is the greatest football anthem ever adopted, but psychology is a delicate arena, we’re always hearing of so-and-so being a confidence player, or someone having the big fish in a small pond syndrome. So when players and managers announce statements such as these they might be ever so subtly altering their own state of mind and that of other people involved. Perhaps complacency may creep in with some, or the weight of expectation could be too much for others. It may not even manifest in that way, rather it may gee up or anger the opposition instead. Chris Pajak, pointed out in a recent Redmen TV show that small things such as having your own bed to sleep in whilst competing (in reference to Cycling) make the tiniest but most significant of differences.
In my opinion it was psychology that lost us the game on Saturday. Brendan Rodger’s isn’t breaking new ground with the football he wants us to be playing; he’s using the same template as Shankly and others before him, quality personnel on the pitch, a philosophy of possession football, and patience. It’s not rocket science really, when you have the ball the opposition cannot score, it’s impossible, and also when you have the ball the opposition will inevitably become frustrated, and will eventually make mistakes. I can’t blame Brendan for the loss at the weekend, perhaps the Joe Cole substitution was a bit of a head-scratcher but he had netted against West Ham and in a meritocracy these types of things are rewarded. The difference in quality between the two-sides was clear, as we should have been about five up at the 25 minute mark. Once you’re a couple of goals down though, in what you feel is a must-win match it's natural to want to punt the ball up field as the clock runs down, but that’s when we lost the match. It simply isn’t the blueprint Rodgers’ is aiming for, he wants patience, and we need to re-learn that in our mentality; from pitch to stands to radio phone-in caller. Patience was once a by-word for this club, and although perhaps the times we’re living in aren’t conducive to fostering that attitude, but if we hope to succeed then we’ve got no option but to re-establish that kind of mindset.
The common theme of my past two articles is about learning from past mistakes, and I was going to leave it for a bit before I put finger to key again, well I’d have said pen to paper but it doesn’t really work in this context does it! Unfortunately over the last few hours I’ve learned of another reoccurring gaff associated with this football club, that I felt the urge to address.
The particular phenomenon I’m talking about is the tempting of the fates, it appears to have had a pretty much regular slot on the Redmen TV over recent seasons, with score predictions, the lambasting of opposition players and more recently in Pajak’s infamous off camera “could this be the derby where we actually get to relax?” comment. I have actually been the perpetrator of this style of jinx myself, one notable episode was when Chris Kirkland was enjoying a relatively lengthy spell between the sticks, I was watching the Crystal Palace F.A Cup tie in the Crown pub in Birkenhead, he looked particular confident and assured, and I turned to my mate and said “I can’t see how Jerzy’s going to get his place back?” two seconds, and a Dele Adebola challenge later we had our answer as Kirkland was stretchered off the pitch at Selhurst Park. Sorry Chris!
However there is one particular element of these foot-in-mouthisms that particularly frustrates and rankles with me. I think the first of these incidents began its life back eight years back and quickly became known as “The Harry Kewell” but as all classics do, it has enjoyed somewhat of a revival in recent months, and in the spirit of FSG re-branding had been newly christened “The Joe Cole”. Over the last few hours it seems some of Joe’s team mates have been irked somewhat by Joe Cole’s name becoming a by-word for this particular verbal faux pas and have decided to wrestle this title from his diminutive grasp… well I suppose legendary status is legendary status, no matter what the reason.
Jordan Henderson is the latest to throw his hat into the proverbial ring, after he launched his own campaign to relieve Joe Cole of his burdensome tag by announcing through the official website that “there’s a lot more to come” from him. Now there is no bigger fan of Jordan than me, in fact he’s my second favourite Jordan of all time, and I include Michael Jordan, Katie Price, Jordan Knight from New Kids On The Block (no relation to Michael by the way – Knight or Jordan) the River, and the Country in that too.
There was a reason the North East red man won the young golden samba award last season, which a lot of fans forget. He’s young, and full of promise and while he may have been slightly overshadowed by the younger, more dynamic, less costly Jonjo Shelvey this season, the lad is still young, and still shows plenty of promise, I just wish he and the rest of his team-mates would shut the fuck up and let their performances do the talking. I know it’s silly superstition, but name me one single instance where a player has announced that their performances would improve, where the predictions has come true? I can’t. I hope Jordan is the first, and that this isn’t the final death knell in his Anfield career.
A few days ago I wrote about how the club, the fans and the players should learn from their past mistakes and show their total backing for the incumbent manager. I also mentioned that managers, whoever they may be will inevitably make errors of judgment. This doesn’t preclude the idea that manager’s cannot learn from the mistakes of others though, instead of having to learn the hard way, through their own mistakes.
In January 2005 Rafael Benitez took charge of his very first F.A Cup tie against Burnley at Turf Moor. If memory serves it had previously been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. The rescheduled tie turned out to be the last of that particular seasons campaign as Rafa, not accustomed to the importance of domestic cups sent out a team consisting of David Raven, John Welsh, Darren Potter, and Zak Whitbread, the best of which are now plying their trade in the Championship. Taking the field alongside them was Stephen Warnock, Florent Sinama-Pongolle, Djimi Traore, Igor Biscan and Antonio Nunez with only Jerzy Dudek and Sami Hyypia with any real claim on a regular first XI berth. It was plain to see Rafael Benitez’s main priority was the Southampton match three-days later.
Unsurprisingly this mish-mash of promising youth and experienced fringe players fell to a now infamous Djimi Traore drag-back own goal in the six yard box, but let’s not kid ourselves, it was an embarrassing performance and Burnley fully deserved the win. In actual fact we wouldn’t see a performance that poor and embarrassing again until... well three days later, in the Premier league when a depleted Saints team sealed a 2-0 home victory at St Mary's against a near enough fresh and full strength Liverpool side; the slowest centre-half pairing in the history of the sport; Sami Hyypia and Mauricio Pellegrino failed to contain the lighting speed and guile of Peter Crouch.
Not only was it a mistake not to field a strong team at Turf Moor, but by fielding the youth and fringe players, in my opinion it said to the players that the cup wasn’t important, while also giving a boost to the opposition at playing a weakened Liverpool side. In turn this result seemingly impacted the confidence or morale of the team Rafa put out on the Saturday, demonstrating that resting your best players is not always a good thing, no matter how sound the logic behind it appears to be. This is a lesson that Brendan Rodgers would do well to heed as he prepares to name his side for a must-win European tie this evening.
Admittedly the Europa League isn’t the most prestigious or glamorous of trophies, but it is Europe and one major chink in Brendan’s armour is that he had no real experience in Europe, and the Europa League is a great place to begin your education as a manager. As Paul mentions on Redmen TV the player’s experience under Gerard Houllier in the successful 2001 campaign was vital to us when competing in the Champions League in subsequent seasons, culminating in winning it 4 years later.
I hope the reason Brendan’s given for leaving Lucas Leiva, Daniel Agger and his skipper at home are true, because otherwise I fear it could be a mistake in not fielding as full strength a side as possible. Obviously the trio are vital for our league campaign and any injury to the aforementioned players would be pounced upon by a vocal minority of the club’s fan base as being a stupid decision to play them in what could eventually be a meaningless game. As a Liverpool manager though Brendan should be leading us into Europe on a regular basis and the experience from this run will see him in good stead for forthcoming seasons.
In light of this I hope to see a near enough full strength side on the pitch in Udine tonight, and I suspect and pray Brendan will come to the same conclusions. The team I’d like to see tonight would be Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Carragher, Enrique, Allen, Henderson, Shelvey, Suso, Suarez, Assaidi.
This is a mantra I have been repeating since time immemorial or at least since I can remember in this lifetime, but this isn’t just what a Liverpudlian supporting the greatest club in the world should be saying, it is for me the key to every club’s steady and eventual rise to greatness.
I’ll probably need to clarify this position before you all think I’ve lost it completely; there should be only one person making football decisions at any football club and that is the manager. That is if, in my opinion they wish to succeed. Admittedly not every club is lucky enough or prestigious enough to stumble upon a Bill Shankly, lure a Rafael Benitez or spark the imagination of a Brendan Rodgers.
I can envisage some of the furious beetroot faces reading this right now foaming at the mouth, as vitriolic phrases are fighting to escape from between their clenched teeth: HOW DARE YOU COMPARE THEM TO SHANKLY
My own Uncle, a former Liverpool Football Club trainee during the Shankly era, and a self-confessed card-carrying member of the Rafael Benitez fan club was loath to compare Brendan with either of the aforementioned gentleman “what has he done to deserve such an accolade?” would be his paraphrased, expletive edited reply and let’s not kid ourselves, the greatest compliment we as Liverpool fans can give a manager is to mention them in the same breath as Shankly. At least my Uncle could point to Rafa’s pre-American ownership and Valencia days to justify his reasons with Benitez, whereas with Brendan he has not a lot to hang his hat upon, but let me put it to you that Bill Shankly was a great manager that arrived at the right club at the right time. Rafael Benitez is a great manager that arrived at the right club at the wrong time and Brendan Rodgers’? History will be the judge of that.
So where’s the justification in these comparisons? Firstly it is common knowledge that Shankly, with not a particularly strong C.V was hired by Liverpool’s board of directors not because he was a potential Moses leading us to the promised land of the first division, but because he was a solid manager that was known to do well with limited resources. It was the right time because it coincided with the hiring of Eric Sawyer, the man that facilitated Shankly’s vision.
Right there is the means for comparison. Shankly, Benitez and Rodgers’ share a mentality, a vision and the single-mindedness to see it through; their idea is to build Liverpool into a bastion of invincibility, a dynasty. I once claimed that as with Shankly whoever gave Rafa Benitez the backing, both in terms of moral support and financial clout would become a great team, and I stand by that.
I can hear some of you now, ahhhh but Rafa did get the backing at Liverpool, he bought 4000 players and spent 220 trillion quid. To which I will remind you of the title of this article; never question the manager! Once you question the manager then that manager should be relieved of his position immediately. It’s the stick that everyone in the ‘Anti-Rafa’ brigade uses to whack him around the head with, it even to my mind brought out the most disgusting, damaging and inexcusable behavior from the Kop, and undermined the manager completely. The Liverpool fans for a tiny but significant moment broke Shankly’s holy trinity and sided with the people who signed the cheques instead of the man who had Liverpool’s future in mind, I am of course referring to the “Stick yer Gareth Barry up yer arse” chants, by the way that’s same Premier League winning Gareth Barry who’s currently sitting in second place in the league as an ever present with the Title holders? Yes but he was going to sell Alonso I hear you cry. Perhaps so, perhaps not - but let’s not re-write history, Xabi had albeit through injury not been at his best for two seasons, he was allegedly touted around Europe in order for Rafa to build himself a transfer kitty and Alonso on paper was our most saleable asset, although still no one wanted to buy him for the reported £16 million he was being offered at.
Does that not ring alarm bells as to where Xabi Alonso’s stock in the game was at that time? Besides which in that same transfer window Robbie Keane, Andrea Dossena and Albert Riera were brought in for around £35 million. As Tom, George and Rick stated; the money was there but not for Gareth Barry, and enough of a vocal minority sided with the non-footballing men for them to feel confident in not carrying out the manager’s wishes.
Now I’m not saying that in getting rid of Alonso, and bringing in Barry would have magically turned us from runner-up into a league title winning side but what I am saying is that the manager’s job depends on the decisions he makes, and if he’s not allowed to make those decisions then his culpability of the consequences at not being supported is seriously diminished. Maybe bringing Gareth Barry in would have been the wrong decision, and Liverpool as a result may have been turned into a club scrapping for a Europa League plac… oh
Maybe it would have been the wrong decision, but I can’t help thinking that a manager that wanted to keep his job would be doing his very best to advance the club rather than regressing it?
So I hope we can learn from our past mistakes, and never question the manager. That goes for owners, fans and players alike.
The Owner’s Responsibility
Given they owners appointed, and so have entrusted their ‘asset’ to Brendan Rodgers, and his ideas, he should be afforded the total backing of the club, and that means financially wherever possible. Since FSG took over they’ve overseen four transfer windows, and have spent an average of approximately £16 million per transfer window in terms of net spend. In addition to this at least 33 players have left the club, to 18 players arriving, of those 18, four have left the club already, either on loan or sold). While 18 of the 33 players that have left the club were regulars in the squad (2 of which are currently on-loan) and as such would have been paid accordingly. That equates to a massive slashing of the wage bill in my book, and so a lot more money to play around with.
So far FSG haven’t proven their commitment in terms of the Stadium issue or in terms of providing the funds to compete. The jury is still very much out on whether or not they can and will deliver. Tom Werner has made noises to suggest that January may be an exciting time for Liverpool Football Club; we can only wait and see. We can’t deny that FSG have sanctioned the purchases of some pretty expensive players during their short tenure, whether the players were worth what was paid is very much up for debate, but the fact they were willing to trust the judgment of the manager is a big plus point in their favour, and I hope that remains the case. Brendan’s confidence and trust in FSG has been reiterated recently, which begins to allay any feelings of déjà vu that were about to surface after the Carroll/Dempsey debacle.
Rafael Benitez lost some key players in the dressing room towards the end of his tenure, for much the same reason as he’d lost a portion of the fan base. My respect for certain players will be diminished forever as a result, although in my heart of hearts I know they would have had the most sincerest of beliefs they were doing what was right for Liverpool at the time, I personally believe that the only thing that is acceptable is for a player to follow their manager’s instructions and give their all on the field of play. They are employees of Liverpool Football Club, the manager is their immediate boss and as such he should be afforded the respect the position demands until he is no longer the manager. When Brendan Rodgers’ arrived and stated the way he wanted to play football, certain players declared they would not change their game, and as such those players announced, perhaps inadvertently to the manager that they had no future at this club. The player’s responsibility is simply to buy into the manager’s footballing philosophy, carry out their instructions on the pitch and give their all, and that is all a football player should be doing, regardless of personal feelings. If performances and results don’t come then it is the manager who will lose their job, not the player.
The Supporters have to be the living embodiment of that word, and acknowledge that the manager will not always make the right decisions, sometimes players will play when we think they shouldn’t and that some players will be ignored when we think they should be given a fair crack. We might bring in a player that we’d never dreamed could wear the Red shirt or sell someone that we expected would be world class given the opportunity. We need to realise that we’re only afforded a glimpse of what is happening at the club, we won’t get programmes like Being Liverpool every week, some decisions may perplex us but we should remember that the manager has a plan in mind, and is confident he knows the best way in which to execute it. At the risk of repeating myself, at the end of the day only one man should be making the final decisions at a football club and it is he and he alone that will fall if he gets too many of them wrong.
There has to be a disclaimer to this, it would be madness to say never question the manager at any time, following them without condition, to carry out the virtues of patience and support to a damaging level. I know many will point to Roy Hodgson’s ill-fated reign and accuse me of hypocrisy,but the disclaimer is that in order for the manager to be trusted he has to be able at first to talk the talk, to capture the hearts, minds and imaginations of the fans. Telling us what we want to hear? Yes, in all honesty, waxing lyrical about how much of an honour it is to join such a prestigious club, following that up with promises to try their hardest to make the club a footballing force again, and finally showing us through their actions that they will dedicate themselves to the cause. What will turn us against a manager faster than a Chelsea fan penning a Rafa Out sign is hearing that we’re not a big club anymore, and that we’re at our 'level' and expectations should be lowered.
In Brendan Rodgers I firmly believe, quite jammily we have found so soon after Rafael Benitez one of those rare dynasty-makers like Shankly. They only come around once or twice in a lifetime, part of the reason I was so gutted when Rafa was unceremoniously ousted from his spiritual home. Whether Brendan can realise our hopes and dreams only time will tell but with the emotional backing of the players and fans, and the financial backing of our owners we stand a great chance.
As some of you may have noticed but most of you won’t have, is that I haven’t written an article in a while. This was a self-imposed ban; the reason being is that when I used to write for the Echo Football Jury I covered our worst two seasons under Gerard Houllier, and although the eternal optimist when you’re writing about dire performances week in week out it doesn’t half sap your morale, no matter how many golden nuggets of positivity you find while sifting through the masses of earth and shit.
Paul Tomkins would often be berated for being an eternal optimist, but he had Rafael Benitez to write about ; A double La Liga winner amongst other things, he had pedigree, it was justified you couldn’t help but have faith in him, he had a vision, a plan, a background in youth development, a well honed footballing philosophy and a canny eye for a world class player. Writing about Liverpool in a positive light was an easy job for the most part under Rafa, until he reverted to a more Gerard Houllier style of play when finances, un-cooperative owners and injuries dictated otherwise.
Paul and Chris will tell you that it’s a lot easier to talk about things when they’re going wrong, than when they’re going right but as Liverpudlian’s we don’t want to be talking about what went wrong, about losses, a well earned point and “well at least w e had 99.9% possession”. Unfortunately for The Redmen TV they don’t have the luxury of taking a sabbatical when we’re not getting the results (short of honeymoon’s in far foreign lands of course ) but I do, and I made the conscious decision not to write another word about Liverpool until we got 3 points back on the board.
That’s not to say I wasn’t positive about Brendan’s play, everything I said previously about Rafa: the vision, the plan, a background in youth development, the well-honed philosophy on how to play; they are all evident in Brendan too, the only aspects the jury remains out on is his eye for a world-class player and his pedigree, and in there lies the main problem. Brendan has not proven himself, but at 39 years of age, what do people expect? Rafa had just turned 40 himself when without major success he took on the Valencia job.
Unfortunately you can’t win in football, and Rafa will forever be tarred by some as being a cuckoo-manager™ winning La Liga with Hector Cuper’s twice Champions League Finalists, and The Champions League with Houllier’s magnificent err… 60 point 4th placed Premier League team. Which is quite hilarious when you think the same accusation doesn’t get leveled at Mourinho, whose major successes have come on the back of Ranieri’s 79pt season, and Chelsea’s best league finish in 49 years, coupled with an unprecedented Champions League Semi-final for the club. Nothing’s ever mentioned about Jose piggybacking on the back of Mancini’s three successive Serie A winning side or on Manuel Pelligrini’s 96pt record breaking Real Madrid team? And why should it be, the achievements under Mourinho since, no matter how much of a helping hand he had from his predecessors are still his achievements.
If or should I say when Brendan secures European football this season, will it be attributed to Rafa? After all Reina, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Shelvey, Sterling and Suso are all Benitez purchases, that’s near enough half our current team discounting the injured Lucas. While Gerrard, Enrique and Suarez aren’t Rodger’s purchases either. Rafa will not get the credit, and nor hopefully the blame, if the season goes pear-shaped, as Brendan Rodgers is the manager and the buck and plaudits stop with him alone.
Paul mentioned in last weeks show (go check it out, it’s free for the first month and if you don’t like it fuck it off!) that you can’t compare Brendan’s season against Kenny’s because the second half of Kenny’s season was so poor. While this may be true it coincided with Lucas’s injury at the end of November and at the time Lucas was absolutely pivotal, we took less than 37% of the points that were on offer in the remaining games last season.
If we look at how Brendan’s team has looked in the games since losing Lucas (the last 10 – not including Manchester City where we lost him after 5 minutes) we’ve taken 46% of the total points available to us. In the games Lucas played for us under Dalglish we amassed 23 of the 39 points we had available to us, so when Lucas was fit and on form we took almost 59% of the points on the proverbial table. There were 25 games left after we lost Lucas last season, while we have 26 left in the current season to go, and Lucas is in full training, and apparently should be back shortly, assuming he makes his comeback against Swansea (optimistic I know) 59% of the 78 remaining points added to the 15 we’ve accumulated thus far equates to a bench mark of 61 points that with a fit Lucas, and no other injuries is what should be achieved, given the last few seasons such a total would see us easily in Europe and perhaps even challenging for a Champions League place.
I’m going to stick my neck out now, and say with Lucas back, no other significant injuries to the first eleven and equating how well Rodgers has managed without the Brazilian so far, that we will be in the Champions League next season. West Brom are currently occupying 4th spot at the moment, with 78 points left available it has to be up for grabs!
Why is it always a row? Why can’t we have an adult discussion about these things instead, this topic is always incendiary so generally rationality and common sense goes out of the window.
I was a little reluctant to write about racism at first due to its sensitive nature and the inevitable backlash of “you don’t know what your talking about?” and “how are you qualified to write about this subject?” and I’ll hazard a guess that’ll be the nicer tweets, and to be quite frank as a 30 something white male I’ll admit to having next to zero experience of first hand racial prejudice or any real prejudice, but what I feel I do possess is a reasonable level of intelligence and the capacity for rational thought, not clouded by my emotions, although as some people can testify I can get quite riled when discussing this topic.
Anyone of average intelligence can see race for the illusion it is; skin tone is as arbitrary a characteristic to generalise people on as their hair colour or height. I worked on the cruise liners when I was younger and it was as clear a demonstration of how much of a myth race is as you are going to see. There were inevitably divisions onboard, but this self-segregation was not hostile, and more importantly was not based on skin colour. They were merely based on the department you worked in, and by self-segregation I just mean that people naturally gravitated to people whom they had something in common with, as opposed to someone they didn’t.
As reported a number of players in the past week refused to wear the Racism: Kick It Out T-shirt before their respective matches, the most high profile of these was Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand. His manager initially called the taking of such divisive action an embarrassment, he later retracted this with a story about a lack of communication, but if Rio and others had simply worn the shirt then the event would have passed by with barely a murmur, by making a stand it has got the nation talking about the issue which can only be a positive move in the right direction. Regardless of whether the Kick It Out campaign has any power in this area is irrelevant, the point has been made, but again the likelihood is that this will die down again and it shouldn’t be allowed to.
I was fairly vocal to anyone who would listen about my support for Luis Suarez, and firmly believe Kenny Dalglish’s stance on the matter was correct, and that the owners should have supported their manager and taken the matter as far as it could go. For two reasons, firstly the club were not condoning or backing a racist, they were backing their player who they believed had been falsely accused. While secondly like most right-thinking people I’m a strong advocate of a fairer and just world, and as such I hate prejudice of any kind, racism is a serious issue and I felt by treating the incident in the way the F.A did, which was basically to disregard the facts and make an example of Suarez, regardless of the context and meaning of that particular incident they were doing serious damage to any progress that had been made.
John Barnes gave a lecture on Racism at Liverpool University earlier in the year, and the crux of John’s argument was that Luis Suarez was being backed by the club because he was a talented footballer and any football club in the country would have done exactly the same thing, and while I agree with him that had a lesser talented player been accused that the club may simply have made an example of the player by sacking him, if the exact circumstances surrounding it had been present i.e. no evidence except an admittance from the player himself that he’d used the word ‘negro’ on just one occasion, denial of racial intent backed up by language experts, while the same language experts question the validity of the accusing player’s version of what was said, then it would have been the wrong course of action to take.
If anything the way in which the situation was handled could arguably be considered racist towards Luis Suarez; not taking into account his own family heritage, culture, and his previous work in promoting inclusion in the game, not to mention having played in Europe since 2006 with no previous record of such an incident, and using the terms ‘negrito’ and ‘negro’ when referring to his black team-mates. So was the accuser in this case that special that it was meant as an insult? There was barely a mention of the Manchester United man calling Suarez a ‘Sudaca’ which the same language experts confirm is commonly used as a racist slur, but due to its English translation to ‘South American’ its use was deemed acceptable.
There is little doubt in my mind that Luis Suarez should have been reprimanded for using the word ‘negro’ during a match however innocently it was used, but it should have been dealt with for what it most likely appears to have been, a cultural misunderstanding.
The farce of the John Terry/Anton Ferdinand debacle just added insult to injury, and proved the F.A to be inconsistent with their punitive measures. If we’re going to truly stamp out racism from not just football but from society then it has to be through education, and we have to recognize when a truly racist incident occurs, such as the despicable scenes observed in Serbia last week.
I do have a strong prejudice against Rio Ferdinand but it’s to do with the colour of his shirt not his skin. On this occasion though I’d have to commend him for going against the wishes of his manager and bringing the issue to the fore once again.
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Mark Lawrenson, affectionately known as Lawro to everyone bar Liverpudlians, who just refer to him as ‘that cunt!’ well I know I do anyway, has yet again shown his complete and utter lack of affinity with Liverpool Football Club. He is generally ignored by most Liverpool fans I know; brushed aside as a comical character that isn’t worth getting your knickers in a twist over. Those same fans always acknowledge his legendary contribution to our football club as a player, while at the same time lamenting his fall from grace as a pundit and columnist.
Lawrenson’s latest mindless, ill thought-out tirade seems again like a cheap attempt to ingratiate himself with the fans he lost long ago when he decided that controversy and sensationalist twaddle would be his post-playing career bread and butter. The most despicable being the use of the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster as either a point scoring exercise or blatant attempt to turn the fanbase against Rafa Benitez by decrying the then manager as insensitive, due to stories that had appeared about him being courted by various clubs. It didn't work.
In his latest rant he declares that
the Being: Liverpool documentary, currently aired on channel Five on Friday
nights, would see Bill Shankly “turning in his grave”. Firstly I’d like to know
how he manages to speak for a man who had more honesty, dignity, humility and
footballing knowledge in his wee pinky than the BBC pundit has in his entire
body, and who had only been wearing the Liverpool jersey a month before Mr Shankly
sadly passed away?
And secondly by making such a statement he’s
simultaneously sitting in condemnation of some of the club’s most loyal and
dedicated supporters, such as poet and playwright Dave Kirby, Spirit of Shankly
founders Steve Monaghan, Keith Culvin, Roy Bentham and Frank Bentley, and all the die-hard fans at the Anfield Wrap
podcast, as well as Bill Shankly’s very own granddaughter Karen Gill, all who appear
in future episodes of this fly-on-the-wall series, lending their names and subsequently
their approval to the concept.
Undoubtedly there have been some cringe-worthy moments in the series so far as Lawrenson suggests, the sad thing is that this is what will be picked up by rival fans, as well as media-led Liverpudlians to beat not only FSG with, but also Brendan Rodgers. More importantly for me is that the show delves into the heart of the club, and finally connects the fans with the players again, albeit from afar. How long have we collectively been mourning the loss of the fan/player camaraderie of bygone days? Now we get to see the human side of the squad, and the work that’s being done behind the scenes. Liverpool Football Club have, and whether in the long run it will be to our credit or detriment is yet to be determined, but they’ve opened the doors to the chocolate factory, and we finally get to see the oompah loompah hard at work, albeit by the next episode Bolton will probably have taken him on-loan.
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I’ve made no secret of my opinion that Brendan Rodgers reminds me of Rafael Benitez; from the career parallels of a promising young player succumbing to injury, then coaching at youth level before a thirst for footballing knowledge took them to study the methodology at some of Europe’s most elite clubs. Each possesses an unerring single-mindedness and an intense work ethic, they both show meticulous attention to detail and spout rhetoric of togetherness and player mentality. So it comes as no surprise to see Rodgers debut season pan out in a similar way.
Although under Benitez Liverpool finished 5th in the league, and it was deemed a failure despite only being two points off the previous seasons total it was evident to anyone with half a brain that the team was progressing, and Rafa’s ideas were filtering through, slowly but surely. We were playing some of the best football we had seen in years, with the opposition scarcely touching the ball, but rarely did we get the rewards that such dominance deserved.
An injury to Cisse saw us desperately short in firepower up front, with only Milan Baros and Neil Mellor to cover. Josemi, who at the time we should remember was being touted as the Spanish Jamie Carragher due to a few exceptional defensive displays at right fullback, also fell afoul of lady luck and ended up on the treatment table. The squad looked threadbare, and the loss of Xabi Alonso’s metronomic presence in midfield was a huge blow too.
Fast forward seven years and new boss Brendan Rodgers is faced with the same lack of firepower, his defence depleted and his midfield anchor sidelined for almost a third of the season. Whoever said lightning never strikes twice in the same place was talking out of their arse. I don’t believe there is much cause for concern though, as like his Iberian predecessor with Brendan there is a strong belief in his system and the footballing philosophy that accompanies it. There would be many managers that given the injuries we’ve had already would try to play it safe, go out not to lose and perhaps try to grind out a result or two, indeed Rafa in his final season at the club did just that realising that his heavily depleted squad was vulnerable from almost anyone, a tactic Benitez would probably have abhorred given different circumstances.
I don’t think Rodgers will play it safe, he’s not under that same intense magnifying glass that Rafa Benitez was under in his last season, and if his time at Swansea has proven anything it’s that Rodgers likes to stick with plan A until the very last, where as in previous years we might have been guilty of respecting the ‘lesser’ teams a little too much in the tactics employed, I feel Brendan will in every game expect his team to go out for all 3 points, with defeat or a draw not given as an option.
The most encouraging thing about our performance against Manchester Utd is that even after Shelvey’s sending off the team continued to press, now perhaps a little more of a defensive mindset might have seen us pick up a point or three but sod that! I’ve a great deal of confidence in Brendan and his system, and if we continue improving at the same rate it shouldn’t be too long before we reap the benefits, while playing eye catching football at the same time.
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The transfer shop window has now slammed shut until January, so barring some unforeseen, and possibly unwanted freebies (mentioning no treacherous welsh midget rumours that appear to be doing the rounds) the squad we have is the one we’re stuck with until January at the least.
This summer and early autumn has seen the departures of a raft of Liverpool players. Out permanently went Toni Silva, Fabio Aurelio, Stephen Darby, Dirk Kuyt, Maxi Rodriguez, Charlie Adam, Alberto Aquilani and Craig Bellamy, with Jay Spearing, Andy Carroll, David Amoo and Henoc Mukendi (who?) going out on loan, some with a view to permanent moves.
Now as much as there is a split in opinion of whether it was wise to sanction the sales of Kuyt, Rodriguez, Aquilani, Bellamy and considerable opposition to Andy Carroll’s semi-permanent move to West Ham I think a pertinent question would be to ask how much of a part of Dalglish’s squad were any of the aforementioned players last term?
It won’t come as much of a surprise to learn that in total they made just 65 starts between them in the Premier League, Carroll racking up the most with 21 starts. Despite what our opinions might be whether they were used enough last season or not the facts state they weren’t considered linchpins of Kenny’s squad in 2011-12 so not having them here now is neither here nor there. Personally I was a fan of Aquilani, and I was hoping Kuyt, Bellamy and Rodriguez could have been our Giggs and Scholes, playing out their days at Anfield, but without guaranteed first team football it would have been difficult to convince them to stay on.
That Charlie Adam and Jay Spearing will also not be part of this season’s squad, will be of little worry since the consensus neither were good enough for Liverpool. An accusation leveled at Andy Carroll for the majority of his Liverpool career until he began to show a little something of the player we thought we’d bought at the tail-end of last season. Jose Enrique was also deemed not good enough for the club by the vast majority following a poor second half of his debut season in a red shirt, after in the first half being praised as our best left-back since Gerry Byrne hung up his boots. Fans are incredibly fickle and in Rodgers system how long might it have been before Carroll became unanimously considered shit again?
In trying to persuade Carroll that his future lay elsewhere our manager came out with the statement that he had a first eleven, followed by cover and then players who were developing. A three tier system it seems, and looking at the current squad we have that in place:
1st Tier - The First XI
Reina, Johnson, Enrique, Skrtel, Agger, Lucas, Allen, Gerrard, Sahin, Suarez, Borini, Sterling
2nd Tier - Cover
Jones, Doni, Kelly, Downing, Coates, Carragher, Henderson, Shelvey, Coady, Assaidi, Cole
3rd Tier - Developing players
Gulacsi, Flannagan, Robinson, Wilson, Wisdom, Coady, Suso, Morgan, Yesil
Obviously this is open to interpretation, and hopefully we’ll see Dani Pacheco given a squad number, and his chance.
I’m just hoping this article will help temper some of the storm that has ensued following the closing of this transfer window, and the apparent failure to sign Clint Dempsey. We have made five signings in this window, whether they’re bought for, good enough and ready to go into the first team will all be revealed in time, but I’m always wary of wholesale changes being made to a squad and the players that have left were either bit-part players under The King’s tenure or not part of it at all, while it seems at least 3 of the 5 players have been earmarked to go straight into the first team, this isn’t a changing of the guard as we’ve witnessed in recent seasons with Hodgson (unnecessarily) and Kenny (in an attempt to arrest the damage Hodgson and Purslow had caused) but rather a tweaking of a squad, while the retention of our back five is a cause for celebration after a summer of Manchester City coveting our centre-half pairing.
This is not to say we shouldn’t keep a vigilant eye on the owners, who haven’t spent anything close to what our net spend should traditionally be, but coming back to moneyball isn’t that what it’s about? getting in the players like Ba and Cisse that have slipped under everyone elses radar, and getting them in for pennies in relation to their real worth? Perhaps Assaidi and Yesil are those moneyball players we’ve been waiting for? As I say only time will tell, but before we start to throw the baby out with the bathwater I think we should all remember this is only the beginning of the project.
David Gill Follow David on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/TBHAS75
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I was full of optimism before Saturdays game at the baggies and I still am! Not all are. So it seems.
I can see Liverpool finishing 6th. Of course it would be great to go two better but there’s good sides in this league, including Everton who looked impressive on Monday against Man Utd. That said, this is football and as last season showed, anything can happen. The top 3 is predictable but 4th could be up for grabs - although you’d be no fool to suspect Arsenal will keep up their impressive record of CL qualification.
On Saturday, after we lost 3-0 away at West Brom, the only thing I could think about was the reaction to said defeat. And some reaction it was. You will all have seen the tweets and forums suggesting we are doomed etc. and that we will be relegated (clearly from rival fans - mentioning no names). Some agenda-driven hacks weren’t much better. Some were even talking about the sack race on a show on Sky on the Sunday Morning. You know the one and you don’t have to be Kevin off Eggheads to work out who was part of their dreamt up Managerial sack race. Lazy Journalism at its most biased best. Watching those guys drink tea and pretend to know the behind the scenes goings on at clubs gives one the ultimate experience in cringing.
Others were saying “These players can’t play in the Rodgers style”. We have played ONE league game. Not only that but these players played some of the best football we’ve played for years last season and credit goes to Dalglish for that. Hopefully Brendan Rodgers can build on it. These players are good players. Some might say a couple are world class. Given time and effort they have every chance of building a solid understanding and hopefully will be playing teams off the park and finally abusing that onion bag on a regular basis.
Yes we lost. It was the first game of the season. There’s every chance we will lose again in our next league game at home to the Champions. There will be no need to panic if we do. Lots of players received criticism. One was of Luis Suarez. He is unable to play down the middle now apparently. Not so sure about that myself. I also read Gerrard had his worst ever game. Not many excelled, especially in the second half, but he is the man to supply the ammo for the front line and score himself. Brendan is going to have to reduce the burden on his shoulders with the recruitment of at least one centre-forward and/or another centre midfielder if Jay is off to Bolton.
I don’t think we have seen the end of the activity in this transfer window. At the moment it looks like we are scrapping for crumbs off the rich man’s table as has been noted in some quarters. Kenny summed it up when talking about Bellamy. It has even been suggested that Man City might be bidding for and buying players simply so they do not end up at rivals for the title. Coming from Swansea Brendan will have realised by now what he is up against. It is easy to fall into the trap of demanding marquee signings and the shipping out of half of what we already have. He seems to be a shrewd guy and there have been positive signs committing what is already in the squad to new deals and moving on some of the older players. The mantra should always be to under promise and over deliver but the size of Liverpool makes this a very difficult task. Liverpool’s below par recent history with it’s glittering trophy collection from before this makes it so.
The background noise is deafening and the players and the people at the club must really feel as though they are walking through a storm. The fans are demanding success and the team has fallen short of this. To do so basically so soon in the season is galling with the moneybags sides about next up and our biggest rivals for 4th, Arsenal soon as well.
I had thought Brendan would try the Spanish 4-6-0 style but he appears to want more of a 4-3-3 with not much on the bench to change things for this style of play. Rodgers has called it a revolution and everybody wants quick results. Kenny was sacked for not achieving Champions League so we know where the bar lies. Unfortunately the owners appear to be covering their backs trying to deflect heat by blaming the previous owners and the differences in running sports clubs in Europe. None of which bodes well.
The long term prognosis is mixed as we do not know how UEFA will interpret the fair play rules but until then Liverpool may have to be content with treading water. It’s a unique club and a unique challenge for the new manager. Things could have been a lot worse, remember Hodgson or the AVB in Boston rumours? If the league is the priority then go for it but Europe may prove a distraction if we progress. Brendan’s in the hot seat now and I have loved the backing he has got so far.
The Premier League is back and it’s like it has never been away.
by Eddie Wilcox
Tweet me @Eddie_Wilcocks
I recently read an uncompromising and brilliant debut novel from the highly respected RAWKite Fat Scouser. I had planned to write a review of it myself, prior to cajoling the author into making an appearance on the Redmen TV sometime soon. After reading this review by Yorkykopite on the Red and White Kop forum it would have been impossible for me to have said it any better, so instead I reproduce Mark's review here, in the hope the book gets the exposure it deserves.
Mister Nobody - reviewed by Mark Hayhurst
You hear it a lot on RAWK, especially on the ‘Auld Arse’ thread, though in other places too. ‘Fat Scouser’ will have just posted an hilarious account of an ‘80s European away-day, a tormented description of a three-day hangover, or a blistering attack on the mercantile character of the modern game, and someone will say “Why don’t you write a book mate?” I’ve said it myself several times, the first, I’m sure, after he wrote one of RAWK’s greatest-ever pieces about an old Liverpool boxer he knew as a young man.
Fats would reply “thanks” or “fuck off” (often synonyms for him) and then put a straight bat out and say either, “No, I’m no writer”, or (the self-evidently absurd) “I’ve nothing to say”.
Stupidly, I came to believe him. Yet all the while something was incubating in that generous and deranged mind of his. And now we have it. The Life and Opinions of Mr Nobody – Shithouse is a massive, sprawling, politically savvy, hilarious, disgusting, poignant, morally dubious, utterly uplifting novel. I read it a couple of weeks back, swept up in its picaresque yarn, and I’m now recommending it to everyone who comes on this site.
The first thing to say is that it comes from Fats’s unmistakeable hand. You’ll know what I mean if you’re a reader of his posts. Style is the hardest thing to acquire as a writer because you have to be faithful to your own voice and not let cliché, tired modes of expression and second-hand opinions get in the way – which they will always do if your guard drops. Fats’s voice – the voice of his best posts on here – comes through beautifully in this book. You can hear the cackle of his laughter, the acid drip of his opinions and the barely credible (all-too credible!) world he has created around his central character, Mr Nobody – Shithouse.
I just called it a ‘novel’, but is that what it is? A novel? Or is it a memoir? A fantasy? A sustained piece of reportage? It’s impossible to say for sure and pointless trying to work it out. Probably it’s a genre-defying combination of all four. Certainly it has the tang of truth running it through it and, for all the unreliable narration, has authentic roots in time and place.
Broadly Fats’s book is about growing up and becoming a man in Liverpool in the 1960s and 70s – and testing that ‘Liverpoolness’ in the rest of the world thereafter.
A lot of people on here will want to know “Ah, but is it about Liverpool Football Club?” The answer is ‘yes’, but only in part. There are brilliant passages about seeing floodlit Anfield from a boy’s bedroom window in the early ‘60s (“a lovely glow to the city and me”), about hearing the strange, haunting sounds of the Kop rolling down the terraced streets, about going to the ground for the first time, about Heysel and about Istanbul. There’s also stuff about Shankly, who serves as much for Mr Nobody as a reference point for an idea about life (the fellowship of socialism) as he does for an idea about football. There’s stuff too about “childhood heroes” like Peter Thompson and Ian Callaghan, as well as the recent campaign against the ownership of Hicks and Gillett. There’s a little bit about RAWK too and a moving tribute to Ray Osbourne, who many here will know as ‘Shanklyboy’ who helped spearhead the supporters’ fight back against the cowboys.
But it would be misleading to readers – and unfair to Fats – to say that ‘Mr Nobody’ is just a book about LFC. It’s far better than that. The great West Indian writer CLR James once prefaced Beyond a Boundary, his famous book about Caribbean cricket, by asking: ‘What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?’ It was his excuse to get beyond the cover drives and the scorecard to talk about plantation life in Trinidad, schooling, colonialism, racism, literature and political liberty. It meant that when he did get down to describing the refined beauty of Garfield Sobers or the ferocity of Wes Hall you saw these things through different, all-encompassing, eyes. Well, for my money, Mr Nobody does a similar thing for Liverpool football. It’s possible to follow Liverpool FC without knowing anything about the city, the author seems to be saying, but you’ll never understand it and therefore you’ll never really love it.
And so through the character of ‘Mr Nobody’ – “a rogue, a thief, a scally” and a self-proclaimed “shithouse” – we negotiate the rapids of post-industrial Liverpool, a city clinging on to life with self-deprecating humour (always the best kind) and a resilience and cynical knowingness born of desperation and hard times.
The beauty of the book is that familiar sociological ideas about Merseyside are rendered into human comedy and tragedy, and often it’s hard to know where to draw the line. The description of Mr Nobody’s family moving out to an unnamed new town on the borders of the city (Kirkby?) teeters on the pathetic until it is yanked wildly back into black humour. I don’t know whether the befuddled conversation between the displaced slum family and the terrified bus-driver at this semi-rural terminus ever took place. It hardly matters. But it feels real enough. And it is side-splittingly funny. It also says more about alienation than a suitcase full of sociological textbooks on the subject.
Mr Nobody himself is a staggering mix of saint and sinner whose own moral compass is boxed all over the place. He’s a man of amazing contradictions who lashes out at all the types who have made modern life so miserable – politicians, shrinks, coppers, social workers, town planners – but who is constantly confounded in his prejudices by meeting individual politicians, shrinks, coppers etc who he actually likes. In similar fashion he rails against the corporate ‘thieves’ and ‘robbers’ who have swindled the Liverpool working class out of their inheritance while rejecting his father’s passion – organised working-class politics – and choosing, for his own career, the life of a pickpocket and shoplifter.
It’s of a piece that there’s no moralising in this book – which is not to say that it lacks any moral sense at all. Mr Nobody may dip into pockets outside football grounds and railway stations but unlike one colleague – who is ostracised by fellow dippers for robbing a nun and endures the name ‘Rob Nun’ for ever more – he confines his targets to “men in their peak-earning years”. He’s nothing if not up for a challenge. Incidentally, the descriptions of how to pick pockets and rob department stores are superb, as is the tension in the story-telling when certain heists are described. One particular spree, which ends with our hero peeling off his wet clothes and replacing them, through sheer desperation, with the crimes-to-fashion he’s had to nick from a suburban washing line, is told with aching comic genius.
The one fixed point in Mr Nobody’s life, apart from the club he follows, are his grandparents – the beloved ‘Nina’ and ‘The Kaiser’. But there’s no soft ride here either. Nina’s love for her grandchildren would be described as ‘tough love’ these days and she has her own corner of scouse darkness – a passionate dislike of Roman Catholics. The Kaiser, meanwhile, is introduced as “a proper hard man”. “At the age of 13” we are told,
“he’d walked practically every step of the way from Glasgow to Liverpool because there was no work up there in Scotland. Seems a bit daft heading to Liverpool looking for a job. But, as he said, Liverpool was the crossroads of the world then….
‘If aww roads led tae Rome, Laddie, all wahter met in Libpool.”
These are vividly sketched characters, but not the least of the book’s successes, is the way they handled by the narrator. “I’ll have to pack that in, writing in his accent”, says Mr Nobody, immediately after telling this anecdote. But of course he can’t resist and after long periods where the dialogue is conventional scouse the Kaiser is suddenly rendered into cod Caledonian again, only to trigger another round of self-recrimination and false promises from the narrator.
Likewise a digression becomes so interesting to the writer that he breaks off to explain he’ll get back to his main story later on. It must be said he’s as good as his word and in the end nothing is left hanging. But it means he can go literally anywhere. In the middle of a wonderful anecdote about a glass-eating Kopite in the 1970s, Harry Redknapp’s tax arrangements come up for scathing comment, before the narrator gets back to commiserating with the man who ate beer glasses to raise his entrance money to the match only to see the recession make punters more miserly and only prepared to cough up to see the ticketless man feast one of those chunky beer glasses with a handle on it.
I guess the title of Fats’s book gives us a clue to the style. ‘The Life and Opinions of Mr Nobody’ apes the title page of Laurence Sterne’s 18th century novel ‘Tristram Shandy’ – another picaresque tale told by a narrator who believes that digression is the most interesting thing about story-telling. But to write in this way you need enormous discipline and enormous craft. You also need an ear for the spoken word and a respect for the economy of language. Fats has these things and the book, as a result is a triumph.
I want to end the review by quoting a passage about Istanbul – not just because it’s about one of the great moments in football history, but because it shows the writer’s style.
“Never mind, sentimental, this was proper mental. Unbeknownst to me, something in me had changed that night. Obviously a lot of things done it, me Nina, The Kaiser, me up-bringing, me family, even me Father, the sight of Shite Twin, Shame, Istanbul, it all had effect. But more than anything it was the thought of Shankly, Paisley, Fagan and the sight of Rafa. I suddenly realised I wanted to be like them…a good, decent, honourable man.
I didn’t go all sanctimonious like a born again Christian or ex-drug addict, plonky. No. Fuck that malarkey. But I was getting on a bit, so I sort of knew I had to change”.
That’s not the end of the story. For those who know Fats, even just through this place, there’s bound to be a sting in the tail.
If you want to be entertained this summer, if you want to laugh, if you want to get angry, if you admire good writing, or if you just want to find out something about your beloved club that nobody else can tell you, then get on the lad’s website and get yourself a copy of this marvellous book.
...two months overdue, so you probably all have it by now.
Anyone who's read any of my articles
before will know that there's nothing I like more than a good pun! well that’s
probably not true I’d imagine there are plenty of things I like more; two good
puns for a start... but nevertheless a good pun I do like. Irony Curtain is
Liverpool band The Ragamuffins’ second studio album. Now it may seem slightly
misleading that a band made up of members from out Accrington way, Blackburn,
Wales, Essex and London could class themselves as a Liverpool band but that’s
not how the band themselves see it “It’s always been our spiritual home”
determines Ragamuffins singer/songwriter David Jaggs “My family all hail from
various parts of Liverpool”. 7L records the label on which the album has been
released is also based in the city while the rest of the band either live or
study in Liverpool.
Jaggs’ is also an avid Liverpudlian and The Ragamuffins have had their songs played at Anfield and (say it quietly) Old Trafford stadiums, prior to matches. This affinity with the Liverbird isn’t merely a superficial attachment though, as hinted at by the title of their latest offering, and borne out through the lyrical prose; the humour, solidarity, heart and passion synonymous with the city is also prevalent in The Ragamuffins music. Previous songs like Beautiful Game, recorded under the band’s previous The Rascallies moniker reveals Jaggs’ frustration at the materially focussed world we live in, and the disparity of wealth in modern society.
After attending the official release launch of the album at Studio 2, Parr Street I was impressed enough with the new songs to make a purchase. I’m not usually one for gimmicky deals but on this occasion I decided to plump for the limited edition boxed version, mine? number 6... yes I was dying to shout “I am not a number I am a free man” but thankfully managed to resist. The album comes in three versions, standard CD in cardboard sleeve, the limited edition box and digital download.
Contained in the box are eight illustrated Ragamuffins branded postcards relating to some of the songs from the album, a purple (presumably so as not to isolate either half of the cities footballing allegiances) Ragamuffins badge and of course the album itself, the CD design delighting me with its homage to vinyl records. As the metaphorical irony curtain is raised the opening bars of Generosity Killed The Fat Cats sound like some Sergiov Leonivic composition (Soviet Spaghetti Western geddit?) imbued with menace and militaristic fervour, before kicking into a more familiar uptempo Ragamuffins sound.
Anyone familiar with any of the bands previous work will expect a glut of foot-tapping songs that you just can’t help but sing along to, and while they are inevitably here by the bucket load, and in spades (choose your own particular summery seaside analogy) this collection of songs is a little bit of a departure from their consistently happy-go-lucky demeanour. Something which was largely a product of former-keyboardist Jules Gilchrist’s playful synth lines and sweet backing-vocals, both of which are absent on here, which leads this, along with the addition of four additional members to be a more mature sounding release, tempered with some healthy cynicism.
It would be a lazy music journalist who suggested The Ragamuffins sound like the product of a balmy night of lovemaking beneath the stars between Space, The Coral, The National and The Guillemots so I’m not going to advance something quite as crass, and perhaps misleading as that. I will however say they capture the quirky eccentricities of the two former bands blended with the sophistication and near orchestral vibe of the two latter artistes. Irony Curtain is a diverse album that marries surf and spanish influences with indie and pop punk sensibilities and still manages to retain the band’s original blueprint, this record has a feel for me reminiscent of Blur’s Parklife; a similar opus of the grand versus the gritty, from the beautifully crafted poignancy of Don’t Love Too Much to the indie-punk-pop wake-up call of Dr Ronald. Although in this case instead of being spread throughout the album, it almost seems like two albums contained in the one, the shorter tracks comprising a six-track medley bookended by Out With The In Crowd and O.W.T.I.C (Reprise).
The only real criticism I can muster is the reworking of Halfway Between Prada and Primark, maybe just a personal gripe but the tempo in this version is ever so slightly but noticeably slower than the original which gives it a more pedestrian quality that I’ve just not taken to.
The Ragamuffins - Irony Curtain can be previewed in full and purchased at
The Ragamuffins are:
David Jaggs - Vocals, Guitars
Paul Heck - Bass, Trumpet
Jonas Tattersall - Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Chris Pusey - Drums
Ed Feery - Trombone, Backing Vocals
Rory Ballantyne - Trumpet, Backing Vocals
Photography courtesy of: Andrew AB
Well 'that' as they say is that! One small mercy we can be grateful for this coming season is that Alberto Aquilani is no longer a Liverpool player. As you’re no doubt aware by now the silky skilled Italian with the velvet touch will be supplying impeccably timed through-balls for Montenegrin Stefan Jovetic and not his fellow countryman Fabio Borini, having signed on full terms with Fiorentina over the last few days. The club's President Andrea Delle Valle has signed an Italian thorough-bred at a nag's head price; an offer that both the Trotter's and Corleoni's would find difficult to refuse. Although it has finally drawn a line under a story that was threatening to eclipse The Mouse Trap as the world’s longest running saga.
Personally, I was in the “I want to see Aquilani be given at least until January” camp, because we all have to belong to a certain faction these days don’t we? and the “I want to see Aquilani shot in the head, and his lifeless corpse dragged through the streets of Anfield” camp seemed a little too extreme for my liberal tastes. There were many reasons I felt Aquilani was worth a shot in the non-fatal way. Firstly and most importantly was the evidence of my own eyes; these ocular miracles of evolution are the same pair of peepers that saw a player in Lucas Leiva when many were berating him through his first, second and many even his third season at Anfield. I saw that same quality and innate footballing prowess in the Italian as I had his Brazilian team-mate, and I was convinced he had that little bit of magic that could potentially have made all the difference in the last three disappointing seasons. An intelligent play-maker, who seemed to glide along with the ball who, like the brilliant Basque he was brought in to replace, could pick a pass that few in the crowd could see, let alone those on the pitch; so my second argument is that he was arguably the most creative player on our books.
The final reason is for Alberto, Rafa and my own sake. It would have been nice to have been able to say I told you so to all those so quick to judge someone on a sporadic injury plagued first season in a new country, and ready to right off a player who two of Italy's biggest footballing names were quick to take on loan, and play as much as they could up until loan stipulations would legally oblige them to make the deal permanent, and along with it the likely-hood of having to meet the midfielder's allegedly astronomical salary. I won't be able to say that now, unless he leads Italy to another World Cup final in two years time, scoring and creating a glut of goals on the way, but even then the cries of too light-weight for the premiership would be heard from those who never like to admit they're wrong.
admit that I've conveniently forgotten these same optical wonders are the ones
that saw me confidently announce in the pages of the Liverpool Echo for all to
see that Bruno ‘Zinedine’ Cheyrou’s forty yard pile driver against Fleetwood
Town in a pre-season friendly showed that despite the minnow status of the
opposition, it was clear evidence of what the former Lille man had in his
“locker”, unfortunately it seemed he left whatever 'it' was in that Lancashire
I was surprised while filming last week's episode of the Redmen TV hearing the statistics on how Aquilani stacked up against our current midfielders. It was a fascinating insight and so I won’t spoil it for you, it's on last week's subscriber's show but needless to say the results were pretty gobsmacking. Of course statistics aren’t everything, and I'm going to labour the point that the Italian made his appearances in Rafael Benitez’ ill-fated final season, so the quality of football was Hodgson-esque to say the least, okay not that bad, but pretty fuckin' bad nevertheless. Then again it could also be argued that the players he had alongside him were of a superior quality to what we’ve had since then.
As you can probably figure out from a footballing perspective I’m absolutely gutted that someone I would consider as our most creative player has left the club. There’ll be arguments over wage considerations, and if it’s true that he was on £125k per week as postulated then it’s a fair bet we’ll still be paying a chunk of that for the next couple of years, going on past evidence, and personally I can’t see the Tuscan club being able or willing to stump up that amount of money can you? It raises the question of whether the club is not prepared to pay that high a wage for Aquilani’s services specifically or whether we’re simply not prepared to pay that high a wage for any player? But that’s for another discussion, and another time.
No matter how you feel about the Aquilani debate, At least we can finally be agreed on one thing; THANK FUCK IT’S OVER!
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When we were
initially linked with Brendan Rodgers my thoughts was who’s he? What’s he done?
Oh he’s turned us down, I’m gutted! Served with tongue firmly in cheek. I’m not
the most in tune when it comes to other club’s and I’m quite unashamedly
Liverpool centric so when people asked me who would be my preferred choice out
of the candidates we were linked with, of those that actually stood a chance
i.e. anyone who hadn’t previously managed Liverpool then I was completely
When it became evident that it was likely to either be Roberto Martinez, Louis Van Gaal or Brendan Rodgers and inevitably there started to spring up articles all over the place detailing the careers and footballing philosophies on all three candidates. The CV’s of Martinez and Rodgers pale in comparison to Van Gaal’s but they all appeared to favour the same style of football. Unfortunately each seemed to possess an achilles heel, where at least one cause for concern leapt from the computer screen at me.
For the Dutchman it was his apparent volatile nature, and ability to start a fight with his own shadow, for Martinez it was his team’s reluctance to change their swashbuckling nature, an attitude which might account for their relegation dogfights, but may also be tempered by their star players being poached by other clubs.
With Brendan Rodgers, the more I read the more I liked. I watched a few YouTube videos where he discussed football with the Match of the Day 3 panel at the tail end of the season, and he spoke eloquently and most importantly intelligently about the game. On the show Alan Shearer, Robbie Savage and Brendan Rodgers were asked to choose their all time Premier League XI and while Shearer and Savage opted for a 4-4-2 formation Brendan went for the familiar (to us) 4-2-3-1 and when asked why Gigg’s wasn’t in his team he remarked that he was a fantastic player but he didn’t fit the system. Now this was a purely hypothetical situation where he made a tough decision on the basis of what was good for the team, not the individual player, and it was that thought process that made me lean towards favouring him out of the remaining candidates in supposedly serious contention.
As I said all three have their supposed weaknesses and for me it was how good is the Norn Iron man in the transfer market? All I kept reading about was how Brendan Rodgers had continued the great legacy that had been left by Roberto Martinez at Swansea. It seemed evident from the high regard players held him in that he was at least a half decent man-manager, from videos I’d watched from his backroom staff it seemed he was pretty meticulous in his tactical preparation too, one of the things that kept coming up was his emphasis on players being of good character, but did he have it in the transfer market? Could he distinguish a player from a hardworking yard dog journeyman?
In other words had the team that had finished so comfortably mid-table this season been Martinez’s handy-work, undoubtedly managed well by Rodgers, but had Roberto himself built the team that had done so remarkable in their first Premier League season, so I decided to check.
My methods aren’t the most scientific, I’ve basically cross referenced the Swansea City website, Wikipedia and transfermarkt.co.uk and between them worked out which players featured the most (League games only) how much they were bought for, at what age and who brought them to the club? I also looked at the estimated market values as indicated on transfermarkt.co.uk
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The first notable thing, which probably wont come as a surprise to many of you, but in between Roberto Martinez and Brendan Rodgers, there was Paulo Sousa. As I say I’m pretty blinkered when it comes to football these days: I only care, watch, worry about the team in red. So anyway it seems I’d been lead to believe that Brendan Rodgers had continued the style of football put in place by Martinez, it wasn’t true, at least not directly. It had been via Sousa.
The players that started most league games were Michel Vorm (37 starts) Ashley Williams (37) Leon Britton (35) Scott Sinclair (35) Neil Taylor (35) Angel Rangel (32) Danny Graham (32) Joe Allen (31) Nathan Dyer (29) and Steven Caulker (26) of these, four were brought in by Brendan Rodgers, two were signed by Martinez, and two by Sousa, while Joe Allen was a product of their youth system.
Wayne Routledge and Gylfi Sigurdsson both started 17 matches in the league, and were brought in by Rodgers. Garry Monk and Mark Gower were signed in turn by Kenny Jackett and Roberto Martinez and started 14 matches each. Andrea Orlandi, Kemy Augustien, Luke Moore, Leroy Lita and Ashley Richards were first on the team sheet a total of 22 times between them, although it’s worth noting that Moore and Lita were used as substitutes 17 times and 12 times respectively in Swansea’s league campaign, both bought by Brendan Rodgers, with Richards having come through as a trainee and Orlandi a Martinez purchase.
What this means is of the Premier League squad used 11 were brought in by Rodgers, four by Roberto Martinez, two by Paulo Sousa and one by Kenny Jackett, with the other two coming through the youth team. It would only be fair to note Jackett initially signed Leon Britton in his first spell at the club, before Rodgers eventually coaxed him back from Sheffield Utd.
Not including loanees Brendan Rodgers counting only the players mentioned above, and the goalkeeping understudy Gerhardt Tremmel has an average spend of £1.3m per player, with an average increase in value over the nine players featured of £1.67m per player, worked out in accordance with the figures listed on transfermarkt.co.uk. The average age of these players is 26 at time of purchase, which includes Tremmel at 33 years of age, but discounts the two loan deals of Caulker (17) from Spurs and Sigurdsson (22) from Hoffenheim. If we were to include the loan signings it would reduce the average age to 25 years.
So what does this tell us? Well I think it says that Rodgers had by this season certainly stamped his name onto the squad at least. He also hasn’t done what the Allardyce’s of this world do and opt for players looking for a final pay day before they retire, those careers he has sought to revive; the likes of Routledge, Moore and Lita were still relatively young at 26 years of age when he signed them for Swansea City. The increase in value of the players is inevitable given they’re now considered Premier League quality, are still relatively young and under Rodgers tactics had begun carving out reputations for themselves, being linked with some of the Premier League’s top clubs.
This doesn’t answer the question of how he will fair with a proper kitty. I mean David Moyes has done wonders at a small club, but he’s had the best success, and found the best players at bargain basement prices; Cahill, Arteta, Pienaar. When he’s been given relatively big money he’s blown it; Yakubu, Johnson and Kroldrup, so there is always that slight concern that Rodgers’ transfer nous won’t translate to big money, on that we can only wait and see. What we do know from my meticulously conducted research is that out of the Swansea squad most of the players are his, even if previous managers brought a minority of the major contributors to the club. So every credit should go to Brendan Rodgers achievements with the Swans this season.
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Liverpool Fans react to Brendan Rodgers' Appointment...
After weeks of frantic speculation, back biting, in fighting and twitter ITK's running amok at last we finally have an answer to that all important question... Who are all the dickheads going to blame for everything next season?
Barring any unforeseen complications it will be Brendan Rodgers strapping himself into the Anfield hot seat for the 2012/13 campaign, and all things being rosy on the fields of Anfield road a few more beyond that. But therein lies the problem... It's been roughly 6 hours since the news of Rodgers impending appointment broke, and already the backlash has begun. We asked our fans on the Facebook page for their thoughts on the man, and I was shocked at the level of negativity, and in a few cases, pure bile dripping from some corners. Words like "appalled," "angry," and "embarrassed," were thrown out with reckless abandon, though i must admit, one person's reaction, "I took a long bath. Utterly disgusted with this appointment." did make me chuckle, just for the sheer 'too much info' of it...
Sadly it seems already that those of us with a shred of patience, and a positive outlook will have to spend the coming month's trying to find ways to buzz off the random nutcase outbursts of our more militant supporters.
They need to get a grip.
In a world where Liverpool are no longer a guaranteed Champions League side, a world where history is less important than a fat pay cheque, where finishing fourth in your domestic league is more important than winning the domestic cup competitions, AND with FFP in play, it's about time Liverpool FC had serious re-think.
I know we all wanted a quick fix,
a big name appointment and £100m net spends but it's just not realistic. We are
Anyway, the point I'm trying to make ties into something Kristian Walsh said on our Season Review Show. If we don't have a bottomless pit of funds to throw at a problem we need to be more intelligent in our scouting.
The example Kris used was that instead of
buying Falcao from Atletico (or even
Is it the big appointment we were all gagging for? No.
Am I still renewing my season ticket? Defo.
It's time for us to reset our ambitions, and start planting the seeds of long termism in our collective minds. It's time to be pragmatic, it's time to get back to the simple enjoyment of watching the Reds play footy again. Get on with your job, and and leave everyone else to get on with theirs.
To the doom and gloom merchants, I've
got four words for you. Get. A. Fucking. Grip. Life's too short and there's
nothing to be gained from whinging, bitching, moaning, and in fighting amongst
your fellow supporters. I don't support
Anyway, I feel as though I've spent the last three years of my life preaching, and beseeching others to have faith. Faith in the players, faith in the manager, faith in the owners, babbling on like some shit shoe owning, brown slack wearing, manic street preacher. Y'know what? I'm bored of it. Fuck faith, you've either got it or you haven't, and no words from me or anyone else is going to change that. But I will say this. If you're not happy with this appointment, if you're not happy with the quality of the players, if you're not happy with the kits, the late kickoffs or your obstructed view. Just shut the fuck up.
Your churlish, pre-teenage mooing is doing my head in and it serves no purpose. And lets face it, it's been 22 years since we won a league title, what's another 3 or so in the grand scheme of things? In the mean time, try and find the positives because they're there, they've always been there. Suarez nutmegging Rafael, Stevie chipping Howard, Coates deying gravity, not being Everton...
To paraphrase the late, great Bill Hicks, shut the fuck up and watch them play...
All for One, and One for all” is the call to arms of the most well known
triumvirate of heroes in literature. I’ve not read Alexandre Dumas’ infamous
trilogy but I did grow up with the animated canine tribute which is the next
best thing, and I think I gleaned the crux of the story so let me just run it by
A young rookie travels from afar to be part of a unique and prestigious order, steeped in history and tradition. After some initial conflict with the original three upholders of the tradition the rookie is eventually welcomed into the brotherhood's bosom. From there it gets a little hazy for me but from what I remember they go off and have adventures together, battling evil and eventually finish up victorious.
I find this somewhat analogous to our football club in these trying times. Now I may start to sound a little like Nostradamus from here on in but please follow along, there is a point to all this I promise. The Three Musketeers are the holy trinity of Liverpool Football Club, as laid out by Bill Shankly; that is of course the manager, the players and the fans. These are the traditional protectors of the Football Club, each with their own characters. As I say I’m unfamiliar with the novel so I’ve had a peak at wiki and was pleasantly surprised how close the characters fit our own narrative, which is lucky for me, or this would have been an incredibly short article.
Aramis (the fans) - a deeply religious character, and let us be honest here, there is no more staunch defender of the Liverpudlian faith than the fans themselves. Like us Aramis is very ambitious, yet seemingly lucky. All you need to do is take a look at our trophy haul since the turn of the century and ask ourselves are we lucky to be Liverpudlians or not? And like the young musketeer we are perpetually unsatisfied, maybe as a result of our ambition and success.
Porthos (the players) - A single line of ‘a dandy, fond of fashionable clothes’ sums up this musketeer, perhaps a smidge unfair to attribute the same description to the purveyors of the beautiful game we’re all so embroiled up in, or not. As the extrovert of the group Porthos is said to enjoy wine, women and song, but when it comes down to it he is fiercely loyal and dedicated to the cause (admittedly this may be where the analogy breaks down a tad) I jest of course, footballers are the epitome of fidelity and never turn their back on their fellow ‘musketeers’ in the pursuit of greater individual glory.
Athos (the manager) -A noble father figure, he appears to be immune to romance
So anyone familiar with the books, or the cartoon will be wondering where is D’artagnan, and who is he in this elite group? Here I will quote directly from wikipedia:
“D'Artagnan's role among the Musketeers is one of leadership (his skills and brains impress the musketeers greatly) but he is also regarded as a sort of protégé given his youth and inexperience”.
Isn’t that the role Fenway Sports Group are expected to play at our club? to impress us with their business acumen, adding a new string to our already impressive bow, and lead us to a new and brighter future? And isn’t that the perception we have of them, of the rookie kid, not knowing quite the way we do things here? Perhaps it’s time we should do as The Liverpool Way dictates and show a little patience to the young novice, or is that privilege reserved for players and managers only?
We were constantly berating Moores and Parry for being too stuck in the past, and being responsible for us stagnating as a club, which is what saw us end up in the mess in the first place. Yet when someone shows up with a new vision on how to progress, a large portion of us shun that vision in favour of glassy-eyed sentimentality. Why? We can’t have our cake and eat it too! Ludicrous saying, why would you want the cake in the first place if you weren’t allowed to eat it? But I digress...
I’m not saying the new owners haven’t made mistakes, sacking Kenny is a major one in my opinion, especially when put into context of the inauspicious starts he’s made in his previous successful managerial roles, but he’s gone now and painful as it is we have to move on. I also think it would be a big mistake not to at least interview Caldy’s (It's on the Wirral according to Google- Ed) most famous resident as his
I understand it’s very easy to tar and feather FSG with the same proverbial brush given the actions of their immediate predecessors, more so with them being compatriots. Once bitten, twice shy? Yes I get that we need to be vigilant, but it’s not our job to monitor the owners, that’s what we pay our union fees for, and if there’s anything untoward you can be sure Spirit of Shankly will be right on it, hopefully with an infinitely more receptive audience if it came down to it.
If FSG’s plans come to fruition, in the next few hours, days or weeks we’ll have a new manager and a new director of football. All integral to the owners plans in moving forward as a club, providing consistency of vision. Every fibre of my own being screams No! to a DoF but perhaps I’m just a dinosaur. It’s contradictory to my character; I laugh and pity the British National Party for their desperate clinging to a white, Christian heritage, and despite loathing organised religion I have a deep admiration for Buddhism and its philosophy of embracing change and never stifling challenging discussion. Yet when it comes to Liverpool Football Club I’m entrenched in idealism and tradition, and generally vehement in my defence of it.
Maybe I need to embrace the change instead? It doesn’t mean I have to discard the core values I’ve been brought up to believe in but perhaps some of our traditions and attitudes need to be addressed. After all with a DoF added into the mix, as Dalglish commented about Comolli, taking the stresses of the day to day job off the manager's shoulders and generally being a great help to the King (what King doesn't have his advisers?) we can no longer say we belong to a holy trinity, and ‘the holy quartet’ doesn’t really have quite the same ring to it, but we can still unite as fans, manager, director of football, players and owners with the same “One for all, All for one” philosophy, we just need to show a little faith and trust in each other. As it will only be through pulling together that we can hope to get back to where we all feel we belong, and what is a better definition of Shankly’s socialism than that!
I’ve been reading in articles, both in print and online of late that the only reason Liverpool fans were supportive of the last manager, wanted to see him given more time and as such were disappointed to see him sacked was because of who he was. Please, let me clear up this silly myth; It is true that Kenny Dalglish is indisputably the most legendary of legends lucky enough to represent Liverpool F.C, and no one could offer an example of a greater living personification of this football club than the King himself. It is also true that many fans, of all age groups would place him as this club’s greatest ever player, with only our current captain and another gentleman scot in Billy Liddell, who literally left his name on the club, being in with a shout at the top spot, but it is insulting both to Dalglish and ourselves the suggestion that the only reason he was given such a fair and even hand from us is because of who he is. It’s not, it is because of who we are!
Thankfully I was brought up in a climate where managers were given time, though admittedly I was also lucky enough to grow up supporting a football club blessed with a history of great managers, where our patience has been rarely tested. During my lifetime alone the club consecutively employed Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Kenny Dalglish (85-91) who had won twenty-seven major trophies between them. Only China could hope to rival such an impressive dynasty.
Even some of our perceived failures in the modern era like Souness, Evans, Houllier, Benitez and now Dalglish again have brought us 9 major trophies collectively. I should make clear that a failure in this context refers only to the fact the board of directors felt a change was needed, as in the case of both Rafa and Kenny a significant proportion of the fanbase was still very much behind them. Many clubs can only boast one or two managers that they could truly call a legend, and the criterium for such exalted status in many cases would be met by our lesser ranked managerial appointments.
We are ridiculously spoilt when you think about it, and I can see why among our supporters at least, there could be a trend towards expecting instant success. To be fair given such a magnificent history as our own it’s almost inevitable, and to a certain extent forgivable. As a whole though, we’re a pragmatic lot us Liverpudlians and most are realistic enough to know that when a new manager comes in he will need time to put his own ideas into practice, time to assemble a squad to fit those ideas and enough money to compete, so long as he doesn’t make the cardinal sin of attacking the fans or belittling the club then the fans will generally allow the manager that time.
On the way home from doing some work for The Redmen TV last night I caught a bit of TalkSport. Generally not a programme I listen to but my ears pricked up as I heard them talking about Liverpool fans and the fact that Brendan Rodgers had ruled himself out from the vacant managerial position, after being invited to interview by FSG. The Talksport presenter took great joy in theorising how if Rodgers didn’t want the job that it meant Liverpool weren’t attractive to managers anymore, and so it was the height of misplaced arrogance that Roy Hodgson was deemed not good enough and consequently deprived of the time he needed. I don't think it's necessary to point out that Hodgson was the exception, not the rule.
In fairness to that presenter, on closer inspection he may not be the exception. There may be a caveat that says if a manager is perceived not to be good enough, and the fans don’t like the appointment that unless significant progress is evident early on then we may want him out too. Him? is that sexist? Is Cherie Lunghi available?
We should just accept that we’re not living in an age where unproven managers are given the opportunity at a big club anymore, and for the new incumbent to be given any sort of chance with the fans and the players, the owners will need to recruit somebody of proven pedigree, someone the fans could get behind, and have faith in.
Brendan Rodgers was not that man, he knows that and by throwing his hat in the ring it would have show a lot of disrespect to the Swans and their fans, something he had experienced when leaving Watford for Reading in 2009, a job he also claimed to have no interest in, but whereas he was running as favourite then, he would certainly not be first choice this time around and so the gamble would be too great.
FSG’s method of recruitment, showing overt interest in other club’s managers before considering an appointment will be welcoming news to Liverpudlians who want the right man in, whoever that may be, but the manager’s approached, like Rodgers will be wary of damaging their current club relations by displaying too much interest. The owners in showing such diligence appear not to be taking the matter lightly, although many will be wondering as Mirror journalist Brian Reade inferred in a recent article; why sack Dalglish if you don’t know there is someone better out there already?
The manager is sacked because results weren’t good enough. It’s what most of the fans wanted. The signings were bad and too much money was spent.
Three statements broadcast to the world reflecting the barrage of clichés tossed about for the last season but are they cliché or fact?
First, let’s think about clichés: (Definition: A trite or overused expression or idea). Easy to repeat especially when everyone else is saying it. It justifies one’s opinions because it’s the opinion of the masses. On the other hand, it echoes a lack of individual thought and opinion. If Ray Parlour can say live on Sky that John Terry ‘wears his shirt on his sleeve’ will everyone else pick up the phrase? Probably not….maybe if Ferguson had said it…but I digress.
So when did people start to repeat the news that Kenny wasn’t up to it and our players weren’t good enough? Our pre-season wasn’t filled with glory so was it then? Or how about when we lost to Stoke despite dominating the match? Or the following game when we lost 4-0 to a rampaging Spurs after we went down to 9 men?
When Ferguson said Suarez is a diver it became the phrase of the autumn resulting in him rarely been given a free-kick despite fouls which were obvious to everybody else.
People say we spent a lot of money, over £100 million they say! How about how much money we raised? Over £70 million I say. Now I’m not the greatest businessman in the world but this is clearly a spend of £30 odd million not £100 million. This same cliché was used when Benitez was here without regard for the money raised from player sales.
Spent forces were moved on (Aqua, Cole, Torres, Kyrgiakos and Babel for example) and new exciting players were brought in. All of the new signings have years ahead of them with true sell-on values and all were on form previous to their signing for LFC.
Downing was better than Young. Carroll was THE form striker in the Prem. Henderson was a bolted on starter for a good Prem team and had broke into the full England team. Adam led the way against big teams for Blackpool including ourselves and Man Utd (who were also interested in buying him). Coates was the Young Player of the tournament at Copa America. Who wouldn’t have wanted them?
Moving on, did most fans want Kenny sacked? Personally I haven’t spoke to anyone who has those opinions except possibly for on this website and Man Utd fans rubbing their hands together. For me and many others it was a pleasure to watch the team this year, albeit frustrating at not winning more games. The performances of the team have been as entertaining as I can remember; regularly testing the goalkeeper or the joinery!
Dominating possession but failing to win the game doesn’t get points on the board but it does give hope that we’re nearly there. Destroying top teams has been good this season but losing or drawing to teams beneath us has been rubbish. But still, there is hope that when the goals start coming we’ll win more matches.
I will concede that some of Kenny’s decisions could have been better. I believe his in-game changes are sometimes too late and he persevered with Henderson on the wing for too long. On the other hand, he has completely changed the way we play. He has incorporated half a new team into the squad, first-choicers too (if you’ll excuse the made-up word)! He has revamped the coaching staff, seen the transformation of our defence through the decline of Carragher and the complete absence of a left back: Experiments with the midfield has given younger players chance to perform and gain experience: Experiments with the attacking line has shown us how our players can perform in different combinations and positions.
We have a broad squad capable of playing different styles and formations now. No longer is it choreographed and rigid, as under Benitez.
If there is a single stat I could pull out it’s the home record. We have averaged 41 points a season at home in the Premier League (I saw this stat on Sky but can’t find a reference online) and this season only got 27 points. With an extra 14 points we would be in 5th place and who knows what would have happened on the last day of the season with 4th spot still up for grabs? The majority of points lost at home have been as a result of not breaking teams down who come to park the bus (to quote another cliché). All we needed to be at home was average!!! Is this Kenny’s fault? Maybe a share lies with him, a share with the coaches, a share with the players and a share with valiant efforts of the various oppositions.
For too long people have been saying all we need is a striker, a winger or an attacking midfielder. These views are too simplistic. Whichever 11 players LFC put on the field they are capable of beating teams in the Prem, it just hasn’t happened for us at home.
So, what next?
A new manager on the way - probably Martinez - hopefully anyway, unless we get Guardiola. This is as likely as us getting Ronaldo/Messi etc. The other names are no hopers and please not AVB.
There’ll no doubt be a call for us to spend big on famous names again. With links to players we can’t afford/don’t want to come/will sign for City. And on to next season….
What difference will it make?
If the lessons of this season have been learnt the fans will unite, we’ll sell a couple of stragglers and bring in some quality.
Alternatively, the same empty vessels will continue to ring (cliché), the manager will be under pressure at a big club that expects the title (cliché), the players will be over-priced and unable to perform due to the price tag (cliché), the fans want the title not domestic trophies (cliché).
I would have liked another season for Kenny but it’s not up to me. So, I will get behind the new man, whoever he will be. But, but, but…..what difference will it make if the new man doesn’t have us in the top four all season? Will the voices shout for him to be sacked? What if the new signings take time to gel? What if we lose one or more of our big players again?
Time will tell (cliché).
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I probably shouldn’t write this straight away, but I’m going to anyway, so if it
comes across a little vitriolic you’ll have to forgive me but the wound is quite
fresh. I have not long heard that Fenway Sports Group has dismissed The King,
Kenny Dalglish as manager of Liverpool Football Club. Last night I was in the
RedmenTV studio filming the end of season review with guests Gareth Roberts and
Kristian Walsh from The Anfield Wrap.
The discussion overseen by presenters Paul Machin and Chris Pajak covered all aspects of the season and it is certainly worth watching, although one aspect of the show is more or less redundant now. That is the debate over Dalglish’s position. The question was, is a trophy, albeit the Carling Cup, another final and 8th place in the league sufficient enough to keep him in the managerial chair.
It is clearly evident given today’s decision the answer to that quandary was a resounding ‘No!’ at least from Stateside. The social networks are buzzing as you might expect, mostly in disbelief at Dalglish’s sacking. Yes sacking! A Liverpool Legend has been unceremoniously booted out on his arse while the incumbent England manager was granted a dignified parting by ‘mutual consent’ when he vacated the position last season.
There is rumour that Dalglish was given the opportunity to move upstairs but refused such a compromise. If true then perhaps the owner’s hands were tied, they have one of two options; keep him on or let him go, although this doesn’t excuse the fact if the decision turned out to be the latter why could they not inform Dalglish and insist on him taking the mutual consent option? Everyone knows what ‘mutual consent’ means but it’s a gesture on behalf of the club which allows the outgoing manager to retain some dignity. Maybe they did and Kenny dug his heels in, who knows?
The general consensus from fans today, which was mirrored on the show last night was that Dalglish should have been given more time, at least another season. After all winning silverware, getting us back into European competition on the back of it and an F.A Cup final would have been good enough for most managers in football, but I suppose this is Liverpool Football Club and we’re better than that, right?
I have no doubt that FSG believe they are doing what is in the best interests of the club, they are after all businessmen and Liverpool Football Club appears to be finally making ground off the pitch, and this needs to be replicated on it. On the face of it Dalglish has underperformed in the league, which is when it all comes down to it, our bread and butter but there’s a major aspect of this whole affair that seems to have been overlooked or just dismissed.
Do we start again? FSG claim they admire the Arsenal way of doing things, but the Arsenal way of doing things has been to build on youth, not pay extortionate wages, and most importantly to keep faith with their manager Arsene Wenger. Okay, I get the argument Wenger has earned his faith, but it wasn’t so long back that discontent was brewing at the Emirates. He has consistently delivered Champions League football, however he has retained a Champions League quality team, can we say the same about Liverpool over the past few years? I personally don’t think it is and so Dalglish was operating from a completely different starting point. We had a team that wasn’t deemed good enough to make it into Europe last season (although it might have been had we begun the season with someone else in charge) expecting to fight for the Champions League places.
I feel at this juncture the need to point out there are only 4 positions available in the Champions League, and Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea should have, given the pedigree or money behind them, been a nap to fill those places, with only Spurs over recent years being able to shoehorn themselves in with a chance. Us? Well we haven’t had Champions League football since Rafa Benitez final season, how could we presume to be in the running this season. Well I guess there is the small matter of £100 million spent on players? That’s true but under Hodgson we brought in 7 new signings (Cole, Poulsen, Wilson, Jovanovic, Jones, Miereles and Konchesky) all of which were either dropped or shipped out in one way or another, with only Raul Miereles making any telling contribution under Dalglish.
Kenny in comparison signed Carroll, Suarez, Enrique, Coates, Bellamy, Henderson, Downing, Adam and Doni. Personally speaking there are only two signings there I’m unhappy with, so if a 50% success rate in transfers is deemed exceptional then I think Kenny and Comolli (credit where credit’s due) have surpassed themselves, and those perceived failures I would be perfectly happy to see warming the bench. The point of that little exercise is this: There are at least 13 first team players there which have come and gone and come, of varying qualities that the established first teamers have needed to get used to.
There’s the argument that if you’re good enough then there shouldn’t be any ‘settling in’ time needed, and to some extent that’s right but when you’ve need to replace half of your first team because of the failings of your predecessor then some leeway has to be given, bedding in one or two new faces is all well and good but 5, 6 or 7 and there are bound to be gelling issues.
The media seem to be going with the angle of his leaving being less likely to do with results as it was the way he handled the Suarez affair over the Christmas period. It may well be a factor in FSG’s decision but am I the only one still thinking that Dalglish’s handling of the situation was exemplary and absolutely in-fitting with the Liverpool way of doing things? Let’s not forget that Luis Suarez was accused of hurling racist abuse, a charge he denies. If he is innocent, and there’s no proof either way, then it is Suarez who is the victim here not Patrice Evra. Dalglish’s stance was one of backing his players innocence to the charge of racism, and I for one would have been happy to see us back the Uruguayan to the very end. The F.A report clearly showed that there were as many, if not more inconsistencies and revisions in Evra’s story as there were in Luis Suarez version of events. Dalglish appeared to be tarred as a racist by association in his backing of Luis, despite having a significant influence in both John Barnes playing and managerial career, when the UK was still an overtly racist society.
So anyway, Kenny’s gone. Is it a bold or stupid move by FSG and where do they go from here? Where can they go? Well they need to decide once and for all what their strategy is to be. Do they go the patient route, build from the ground up and allow a manager the time, patience and money to progress Liverpool or do they play sugar daddy and bankroll the next manager, and if he fails to take us into the champions league then get someone else in they may need to bankroll? and so on, called the Chelsea/Man City route to progress. It appears to be the most popular one as far as today’s generation of fans are concerned, but not everyone can afford that route, we most likely can’t and to be honest I’d not want to go that route given the choice anyway.
So on to the big question who should be our next manager now the King has been usurped? I’m not an expert on managers so couldn’t really give you a list of candidates but for me there are a number of requirements that have to be met. We don’t have time for another 5 year plan and we can’t plough a billion quid into the squad, especially now with financial fair play. So we need someone with a history of squeezing the best out of players, a master tactician, somebody who is available and willing to take on a long term project of this magnitude, someone that understands the ethos of this great and storied club, and I guess with players the likes of Coates, Enrique and Suarez in the squad the ability to speak Spanish may be a useful attribute. Can you think of anyone? ;)
In all seriousness I can’t look past Rafael Benitez. The main reason Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Lucas, Sterling and Shelvey are all Rafa’s signings. They’re players he is likely to want to keep working with, players he knows and with Carroll, Downing, Wilson and Suarez all known to have been on Rafa’s radar in the past it’s extremely likely he would tweak the squad as opposed to overhauling it. We have no such guarantees with a brand new manager, and like Dalglish before him, although for different reasons, he left the job too soon. I know it’s unlikely that Benitez will return but for me he is not just the sentimental choice, or the logical and pragmatic choice but the only choice.
I'm shocked by some of the teamtalk teams to be honest (sagna!!!) and I think myopia has set in a bit - also 20 years of prem is too much, as the game (pace, power, ability) was so different 5 years ago to now.
And as an lfc fan it hurts to do these sides and I'm also going to be sentimental with mine, as you have to be don't you - there are loads of great players, how can you pick them?! (No zola for instance as, well you'll see...)
For ease of viewing teams are here -
Neville ferdinand hyypia cole
Gerrard scholes keane giggs
Lauren carragher terry irwin
Ronaldo vieira lampard overmars
Jones adams campbell le saux
Beckham speed gazza mccallister
Gk - got to be schmeichel in goal, he was amazing and changed the game.
Then I'd go for - Martyn and Southall.
Martyn was brilliant at leeds when they were good and then great when he was older at everton.
Southall was the best keeper in the 80s and still great in the 90s. He kept everton in the league almost individually over a period of about 4 seasons.
Rb - neville.
Have to pick him, although he is a cck and played (and won) for man u. Which is going to be a huge theme throughout these selections.
Lauren - he was brilliant at arsenal and part of that unbeatable team.
Rob jones - the best right back the league had, the best I've seen for liverpool, but hampered by injuries. He would have played for england more than neville and he would have got all those england caps BUT he didn't. So this is more a should have been pick instead of a what he actually did one.
A cole -
The best left back in the prem for about 10 years. Came in young so has played for ages - was fast and attacking and incredible in the arsenal side then changed his game completely to play chelsea's style of football.
Irwin - part of that man u team for ages. Played both right and left back and also did well for wolves as an old man.
Le saux - won it with blackburn, he was a good footballer, part of the exciting chelsea team that won the cups pre-chelski.
Great sweeper keeper, played for years, won lots. A bit of a tt though.
Hyypia - was immense at the back for us at a time when we had no defenders. Was so classy on the ball, such a good headerer of it and read the game well. Carragher became amazing when he arrived, Carragher's demise has happened since he left the squad.
Terry - a total knb who has been a fantastic footballer in the prem.
Carragher - we sing "we all dream of a team of carraghers" for a reason. Scored on his debut, played centre mid, left back, right back and centre back and for a 4 season period was the best centre back in the league.
Adams - came in and had his game completely rejuvinated by wenger. Was the consumate english centre back.
Campbell - was great at spurs, brilliant as part of that arsenal team that swept all away. Good at pompy too.
Gerrard - in here to get other centre mids in. Also because he played his best seasons for us as a right mid or as a support striker.
He is mr premiership alongside a few others, if u did a montage of prem moments he would be in about 20 of hem. Arguably our best ever player (which is saying something) and has won games and trophies single handedly.
Ronaldo - an incredible footballer who left the league before he hit his prime so we only really saw one or two seasons of his best.
Beckham - captain england. Another who won games singlehandedly, also completely encapsulates the premiership. Overthetop, out rageous, oppulance etc.
Giggs - the best player in the prem. Has he played in every season? Won the most, the consumate professional and I wish he was english and I wish we had sourced him from wales for the lfc academy.
Overmars - came into the league and excited everyone. An amazing few seasons from a time I look back at the prem being all shiny and exciting (prob because I was about 14!)
Mccallister - won the last league pre-prem with leeds, played amazing with coventry in a terrible side and then as a bald old man played amazing for liverpool too. Another consumate professional - pushed out to the left to fit him in.
Was a collosus for united. An absolute nightmare monster cck bog man but he made that position his own and was an enforcer.
scholes - showed how good he is by coming out of retirement and turning man u's season around this year. He is the best passer of the ball the prem has had and by far the worst tackler.
Vieira - almost out keaned keane in the prem. For years was brilliant at what he did.
Lampard - just consistently scored goals from centre mid every season in the prem. Makes my grandad mental because he doesn't tackle BUT not every mid needs to, especially when you score 20+ a season!
Speed - the leagues other consumate professional. Not a sentimental choice at all he won last league pre-prem with leeds, was the best part of a terrible everton team and played very well in a decent newcastle team. Then did well under big sam at bolton.
Gasgoinge - a very sentimental choice. Even old gazza was entertainment and value! I loved watching him play even when stamping on people for boro.
The best striker the league had, he was immense and chnaged his game later on and was still great. He scored so many goals!
bergkamp - scored the best goal ever in the prem (against newcastle when he flicked it round dabizas) the best hattrick in the prem (away at leicester) and was just pure class constantly
cantona - what a monumental cck, who was also a fantastic footballer
henry - was the best player in the prem for about 5 seasons in a row, he was amazing and such an exciting footballer
Owen - even though he is a judas cnt and moans when you usee all his milk, plus he's never really won anything and has been terribly injury prone their was a time when he played for liverpool that no team would have wanted to play against him and he reminds me of really getting into football and being excited by the game.
Fowler - another footballing legend from lfc, but he scored 20+ goals a season for something like 5 seasons in a row for us and he scored every type of goal, and lots of spectaculars.
of Attraction, if you’ve not heard of it is an esoteric concept, loosely backed
up by theories within the world of Quantum Physics (stay with me). The Law
states simply that whatever you direct your attention to, you will get more of;
that it is our intention, both individually and collectively that manipulates
the universe, like a dam manipulates the flow of water. It puts you in the role of scriptwriter, and makes
you the director of your own hollywood blockbuster. No doubt it’s a lovely
idea, but is that all it is? I don’t know, and quite frankly I don’t really
care because it’s immaterial, as even on a logical level, the sort of platform
I find hard to argue with, it makes perfect sense.
The basic tenets from my understanding are:
1. Focus your attention on what it is you want
2. Identify how best to get it
3. Take deliberate action towards that end
4. Have the unshakeable belief you will achieve it
5. Don’t give up, no matter how many times you fail
6. Learn from your mistakes
So irregardless of whether or not the universe opens cosmic doors for doing it, applying those rules can only be beneficial in almost every situation. I say almost, because there may be some potential stalkers out there rubbing their hands with glee, but I’m afraid no matter how persistent, Angelina is unlikely to leave Brad for you, so I wouldn’t even try.
So what does all this have to do with football? Well, ninety per cent of football matches are won up there.
...Okay, you didn’t see that, but
I’ve just patted the side of my head three times with my dialling finger (for
those who don’t know what that is - ask your parents, twats!). The figure quoted
is entirely arbitrary and not the result of any painstaking research, simply a
number to illustrate the importance of having the right mental attitude.
The circumstantial evidence for this is vast, just within our own club. Bill Shankly was once questioned about what it was he looked for in a player before he considered buying him. "Bob [
Now Shankly wasn’t referring to a player knowing which spoon
to use for his soup, or with which knife to butter his bread nor any other such
convoluted practices of the landed gentry and upper classes. Levels of
pretentiousness which would no doubt have been anathema to the straight-talking
Scot anyway. No, the manners he was referring to was the sort you’re mum taught
you, like not putting your elbows on the table, chewing with your mouth closed
and excusing yourself when you’ve finished, the type of actions that show a
very basic level of respect.
Our home kit was changed simply for the psychological advantage Shankly believed it would provide the team. Red being the colour of danger, The all-red strip giving the illusion of height, and subsequently menace. The ‘This Is Anfield’ sign wasn’t put there because it was pretty, it was a psychological tool to sap the belief from opposition teams when they visited. Shankly’s systematic verbal demolition of a visiting
Mentality? where have we heard that word before? Virtually at every post-match interview and press conference Rafa ever did. He was obsessed with the mentality of his players. They had to have the right attitude, and if you didn’t then no matter how good you were or how much potential you had, once it became apparent, you would quickly find yourself sidelined; It’s why Lucas, Skrtel and Kuyt have succeeded while Pennant, Keane and Riera had short-lived careers in a Liverpool shirt.
For all the talk of team selection, formation, tactics and money in the sport, football to quote Jimmy Greaves “is a funny ol’ game”. It is probably why we love it so much, it provides you with shocks, upsets and Lazarus style comebacks. So what is that magic ingredient that has the potential to bankrupts the bookies? luck?
Well for me there are two types of luck, pure and worked for. The pure luck is most often seen in football where a team has 70% possession, 30 shots on target, hit the woodwork with 10 of those and at the first opposition corner, concede a goal in the 92nd minute; invariably an over-hit set piece ricochets off a beach ball, hits the crossbar, bounces off the goalkeeper’s backside and nestles into the back of the net, one-nil. Whistle blows.
Worked for luck isn’t really luck at all. It again comes down to mentality. It could be the exact same scenario as above, but with the one-nil score line going in the dominant teams favour, it’s not luck, it’s reward for preparation, maximum effort and relentless persistence. The vast majority of time the latter result will-out, which is what happened against
The reason Manchester United have continued to rack up title after title with teams, which you would have to say have not been the best in their history, and certainly no better than some of ours, man-for-man over the years is in a large part because when opposition teams take to the field against Manchester United, they are half resigned to walking away with nothing from the game, the best they feel they can hope for is a draw. A consequence of this is sometimes the oppositions key players are rested for more ‘winnable’ games. It’s a psychological advantage we used to possess, and one we need to claw back.
Everton go to Wembely ;) at the weekend on the back of a four goal rout against Sunderland, were as we arrive after an emotionally draining hard-fought victory at
So with all that in mind, the psychological advantage is surely with them, you would expect the smart money to be on Everton in that case, but it’s arguable that we go into a derby for the first time in years as underdogs, and despite every single thing I just wrote we like it when we’re underdogs
In 1998 Liverpool Football Club announced the arrival of Gerard Houllier as a
partner in crime to the then manager in situ: Roy Evans. A decision which in
retrospect was indeed criminal, but you have to give credit to the club for
attempting such a bold experiment (not since the club was first formed had we
had more than one manager) either that or lambast them for not having the guts
to replace Evans outright, if that’s what the directors felt was necessary. It’s
worth noting that under Roy (the good one) we were League Cup winners, F.A Cup
runners up (we needn’t go into details on that) and never finished outside of
the top four. Houllier was appointed alongside Roy and the ‘experiment’ blew up
in our faces with the club having its worst season since Souness’ departure;
finishing 7th and eliminated from all 3 cup competitions early on, something had
It was apparent the main problem with joint management was in decision making, in any walk of life it’s imperative someone has the final say or nothing ever gets done, it appears to be no different in football.
“As always I am focused on training and coaching my team” a phrase that will be embedded in the minds of journalists and fans alike, a brilliant and typically bullish response from Rafa Benitez in regards to the previous owners inference that there would be no money to improve his squad. Benitez was determined to build a legacy at Liverpool, and being told to ‘just coach’ I’m sure felt like a personal affront and frustrated the life out of him and his vision for Liverpool Football Club, but until Shankly arrived in 1959 that was exactly what was expected of a Liverpool manager, just coach. They didn’t even have the power to pick their own team, which is why we shouldn’t be so quick to condemn Phil Taylor’s managerial reign. It needed a man of Shankly’s character to demand he be allowed to ‘manage’ the club, but even then there was interference from above with Shankly famously threatening to resign in 1962 after having the board sell winger Johnny Morrisey to city rivals Everton for a mere £10k. Morrisey went on to win to the league title and f.a cup with Everton.
Which brings me to where we are today, another experimental first in the club’s history is the appointment of Damien Comolli as Director of Football Strategy with the ‘strategy’ tag having been dropped since his arrival. A quick look at the official website shows Comolli as level in the staff hierarchy with Dalglish, is this not the joint management experiment under a different name, except with carefully pre-defined roles? I don’t know, I have no inside information I’m just a fan wondering what it is that Comolli actually does? Paul Machin recently mentioned on the RedmenTV that an agent friend of his described Comolli’s role where Kenny would ask to recruit for a specific position with Comolli then suggesting three or four players in that position, with the King getting the final say. Excuse my ignorance here, and please tell me if I’m wrong but isn’t that a scout? Perhaps the role could be described as something in between a chief scout and a traditional C.E.O? again I don’t know but does anybody? does Damien? does Dalglish? are there clear boundaries where one decision maker ends and another begins? And is Dalglish's role simply to focus on training and coaching his team?
Hand me one of those metaphorical sandbags please! as many as you can and as fast as
you can! It’s going to take some herculean effort to dam the proverbial shit
tide from engulfing Kenny Dalglish right now. The only thing keeping the King’s
crown above water is his legendary status; the love, appreciation and memories
of what the current Liverpool Manager has done for this club.
There are many non-liverpudlians levelling accusations at us for being hypocrites, for sticking by Dalglish when many of the same loyal supporters were so quick to pounce on Humble Hard-done-by Hodgson (copyright: Patrick Barclay). There are differences, perhaps not immediately noticeable to the untrained eye, but there are, in fact what am I saying! It would be infinitely quicker to point out the similarities:
1. Both have managed Liverpool Football Club
2. Kenny Dalglish’s current run of results match the type that saw the end of Roy Hodgson’s time at Anfield...but that’s where it ends.
I’m not burying my head in the sand here, I know the results and performances have not been good enough of late, but let us get some sort of perspective. This man has proved himself time and again as a football manager, and not just in his bedroom like the vast majority of opinionated arseholes plagueing radio phone-ins or the interweb have (I include myself in the latter) this man has done it at Liverpool, Blackburn, Newcastle and Celtic, and when I say done it I mean he’s won silverware everywhere he’s gone hasn’t he? okay, okay I’ll concede that in taking the poisoned chalice otherwise known as the Newcastle job he only managed a runner-up spot in the league and f.a cup but it’s still the closest that club has come to any real success for the best part of 60 years, before inexplicably getting the boot by Freddie Shepherd, and how do their fans thank him? by singing “you’re getting sacked in the morning” classy club that!
I’m not rewriting history here either, I’m recanting it. Many will have you believe that the game has changed, unrecognisable from just over a decade ago, and they have a point; what with the introduction of the sin bin, widening of the goals, 3 points for hitting the woodwork, the two goalkeepers and hoverbikes it’s a wonder Dalglish even contemplated coming back into the game.
Oh sorry none of that happened! So it’s still essentially an 11 a-side game played by men (okay, that one’s debatable) with a small, spherical object, no? So what has changed? formations, tactics, training methods? Even if that were true Dalglish spent over a year working with Rafael Benitez, Rodolfo Borrell and Jose Segura, men at the forefront of ‘modern football’ two of which are still in the club's employment, and he has a second in-command in Steve Clarke that won back to back league titles with ‘the special one’. Surely that’s enough go-to guys to have around the club should Dalglish feel the game has passed him by in anyway?
So lets for a second imagine that the game of football, and by proxy the Premier League hasn’t changed that much in the 14 years since Kenny last managed in it, what has gone wrong this season? People are so quick to compare Kenny’s debut season to Hodgson’s ill-fated few months, but I’d be more inclined to compare it with Rafael Benitez final season. There is a very thin veil that when lifted exposes ‘reasons’ as ‘excuses’ and for me both Rafael Benitez and Kenny Dalglish had reasons as to why their respective seasons crumbled , lift the veil and they’d still be pretty good reasons. Frank Sinatra once sang luck be a lady, but too often this season that lady has turned out to be a tramp. If the previously mentioned rule of 3 points for hitting the frame of the goal had been brought in we’d be battling it out with the Mancs at the top of the table right now. I mean yet again we hit the post against the barcodes, ricocheting favourably for the Newcastle defence whereas Cisse’s header invariably bounced in off the woodwork. A pivotal moment against the run of play which spun the momentum in their favour, and saw our collective heads, fans, players and manager, drop.
Am I blaming the clubs form all on luck, of course not but losing can be just as habit forming as winning, as the saying goes class is permanent and though not out of the woods just yet Torres resurgent form in a Chelsea shirt, after everyone thought he was finished as a top flight footballer suggests that these things do come to test us. Michael Owen failed that test, jumping ship as soon as the going got tough at whichever club he was at, ending up as a bit part player in a Manchester United side that could take or leave him. Nicolas Anelka learned a harsh lesson and went on to reap the rewards, getting his head down after he'd become known as a bad influence in the dressing room, earning him a move from Fenerbace via Bolton to dining at the top table again under Hiddink and Ancelotti. These are individual trials admittedly but collectively we face one right now as Liverpool fans, I have no idea why this season has turned so sour, but I know the man we currently have in charge is a class above most, both on and off the training ground, so do we back him or do we become Newcastle United?
I read an interesting statistic that out of the last 7 matches where Andy Carroll has
started, we have won 6, drawn one and lost none. Even more interesting is that
out of the last 9 where we have started without him Liverpool have lost 6 and
drawn 3 with not a single point on the board.
I’ll relate those figures again for you:
Without Carroll our form for the last 9 matches reads DDDLLLLLL equating to just 3 points out of a possible 27 in total.
Where Andy Carroll has started our form for the last 7 matches reads WWDWWWW which is a massive 19 points from the 21 available.
Now at first glance this screams for Carroll's selection but these types of statistics can mean anything; it could be mere happenstance, or perhaps the results coincide with the loss of key personnel, or conversely other personnel becoming available? It could be these reasons, a mix of the two or a combination of other potential causes not touched upon here, but whatever it is, given Andy’s seemingly erratic performances many people have found this hard to believe, myself included.
On the face of it Andy Carroll has on the whole, looked like a square peg in the round hole of Dalglish’s pass and move philosophy so it is a little surprising to see how effective he has been, going by the statistics above. However there is a perfectly logical explanation for this, whoever dreamt up the numbers above, which have been circulated on Liverpool forums and social network sites recently, has been about as creative as Rosie Redknapp’s accountant.
The fact of the matter is over the last 9 games without Andy Carroll in all competitions we have suffered 5 losses (consecutive) 3 draws and one win, while if we take Premier League matches only into consideration it reads 5 losses, 2 draws and 2 wins equalling 8 points taken from a possible 27 on offer. Admittedly not great but still looking a little better than the 3 points claimed by whoever dreamt up the “we’ve not won a match in the last nine games without Andy Carroll” story, and where they got the 6 consecutive losses from Robbie Fowler only knows.
What about the statistics on matches where Andy Carroll has started then?
Well these are a little better, at least the form given here has some basis in reality,
although the 6 wins and one draw applies to all competitions so the claim
that we have taken "19 points from 21" does not stand up. The truth is a little
less impressive. The last 7 league ties yielded 3 wins, 2 draws and 2
losses making a total of 11 points from 21. Not nearly as impressive, and (in the
interests of scientific neutrality) it is only fair our comparison covers the
same number of games as those we have examined where Andy Carroll hasn’t played,
which would give us a further two games to look at; we lost one and drew
another, which would make a grand total of 12 points from 27 available, only 4
points shy of the total we have accumulated without him.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not against Andy Carroll. I happen to believe he’s a very talented footballer. I think it’s unfair to criticise Carroll when he’s not been given much time to show what he can do or to build up a relationship with Suarez, and I would dearly like to see the man given a run in the team. There are however some statistics that I found while looking into this that didn’t sit right with me, such as Carroll not starting more than three consecutive matches on the bounce. I do have reservations over the type of player he is, as he just doesn’t look to me like the type of striker that fits into Dalglish’s footballing philosophy. He could considered be a hindrance on our pass and move game,
Furthermore over the 30 matches played he’s started 15, of which we have won 7 drawn
At least Saturday’s performance was full of passion, desire, aggression, pride in
Once, coming to Anfield and taking all three points would have been pie in the sky for Wigan’s travelling support - a dream for their fans on so many levels :P having never won in front of the Kop before. THE KING (emphasis for those amongst us suffering from selective amnesia) after the match blamed the result on fixture pile up culminating in the tiredness of his players. I guess we can see now the reasoning behind Charlie Adam’s inclusion against QPR to some degree.
Bolton born official Lee Mason wasn’t much help, Martinez called him a ‘strong referee’ but when he’s disallowed a perfectly valid goal, awarded a ludicrous penalty and shown more inconsistencies than an F.A independent report then I can’t agree with the Wigan manager’s assessment. A high foot to Dirk Kuyt’s face went unnoticed, while around five minutes later a similar incident where Martin Skrtel’s foot was around chest height was punished with a spot kick. People may point to Moses leaving the field for the best part of ten minutes as evidence of foul play but the Slovakian's challenge was as innocuous as Marcus Babbel's tackle on Milan Baros at Ewood Park in 2003, which saw him sidelined for weeks.
Kenny blamed everyone from lady luck to the masons, that would be Mr and Mrs Mason that begat young Lee from Greater MANCHESTER 40 years ago - anyone got a shovel? This trowel isn’t quite big enough for a conspiracy this vast... Anyway, whilst The King may have a point in this particular game I’d like to state that for me it wasn’t the results so much as the "weekly whetowic" that Roy Hodgson spouted which saw
To be fair, in this instance I think Dalglish has a point; there was luck involved, tiredness may have been a factor and refereeing decisions were certainly influential. Not least the Suarez disallowed goal, perfectly legitimate in my view, that
Previous comments from Dalglish cannot so easily be brushed aside though; against Sunderland Dalglish said the match could have been anybody’s, where what I saw was us well dominated and beaten by Martin O’Neil’s side. Against QPR it was a mystery
I can forgive many things of my beloved Liverpool, but lack of effort isn’t one of them, and the manager making excuses for lack of effort is another. When the manager doesn’t seem to be watching the same game as the fans, that is when I start to have doubts. Dalglish is renowned for telling it how he sees it, and right now I can't believe he's watching a different Liverpool from me. Bring back The King from the Bolton match, the one who threatened ‘off with their heads!’ if any player felt the level of football being played at the Reebok was acceptable. I think it's time to make good on those threats.
I love tattoos, but I don’t have any bodyart myself. I think the main reason for
reaching the age of 36 and not getting a tattoo, while nearly all my mates have
at least one, is that I was scared I’d wake up one day, ten or twenty years down
the line and regret getting it.
I’ve considered getting one in the past. Once I toyed with the idea of getting a wu-bat on my arm, thankfully I couldn’t afford it at the time and while I still very much like the Wu-tang Clan, I know getting a band’s insignia on my arm would have been a bad choice. My point is that life changes, tastes change and even ideologies can change, so if I were to get a tattoo it would have to be something I was certain I’d never regret. For a long time I thought that would be the Liverpool F.C crest but now I’m not so sure.
Liverpool Football Club is an institution, a love for which I thought could never die, and in many respects it never will, never can. My love for this club is not down to the number of trophies we’ve racked up, or our stature in world football. It is not down to the ridiculously talented players, managers and coaches that have come and gone through our illustrious 120 year history. It is not down to the wit of the Kop or engaging tales told by reds all over the world. It is of course all of the above, but more than all that my love for this club is borne out of a deep affinity with the core values it represents, what I think of as The Liverpool Way.
Brian Reade in his must-read book Epic Swindle infers the Liverpool Way has been an Albatross around the clubs neck, and a barrier to progress. I disagree, but only because I think the sentiment of ‘The Liverpool Way’ is often misinterpreted. Of course it will be argued that the Liverpool Way is subjective, but again I’d beg to differ. For me The Liverpool Way is pretty clear cut; it is simply about dignity, respect, integrity, patience, loyalty and humour.
These values have been tested over the years and collectively we’ve passed with flying colours, but over two-decades of not winning the league hurts, and it has inevitably seen some fans, and players lose sight of the Liverpool Way and what it means. There is no doubting that every one of these people love Liverpool Football Club, and they all believe they are doing what is in its best interests but sometimes we hurt the ones we love, even unintentionally and by hacking away at those values they are hacking away at the very fabric of the club we love, and at what makes us the best fans in the world.
Best fans in the world? That phrase rings a little hollow at this moment in time. Liverpool have just been beaten 3-2 after Mark Hughes’ QPR mounted an unlikely comeback after being two goals behind with just 13 minutes to spare at Loftus Road. Now I’ve always believed in the psychological advantage of keeping a player on the pitch who terrifies defences, which is why at times I couldn’t understand why Rafael Benitez would substitute Torres in tight games. So I was similarly perplexed when Dalglish decided to give Suarez a rest when there was only a goal in it, and QPR were on a high after scoring, it just seems logical that keeping a player of Suarez ability out there, even if he just stood on the halfway line like a scarecrow would keep the QPR players on edge but I’m not a manager and as with Rafael Benitez before him, I’ll bow down to the current Liverpool Manager’s knowledge over mine every day of the week.
In hindsight Dalglish made a big mistake in substituting Luis Suarez, but hindsight is 20/20 and what manager doesn’t make mistakes? It was an horrific capitulation and I am probably as angry as everyone else is about throwing away a two-goal lead but lets keep one thing clear; Kenny Dalglish is a legend at this club.
I’ll admit I was a bit worried when Kenny first took over, I like most reds wanted him to return to the job every day from the day he quit in 1991 until the moment Rafael Benitez walked into Melwood in 2004. It wasn’t that I was worried he wasn’t good enough or that he had been out of the game too long, but rather I feared for his reputation in this climate where the demand for instant success is so great. It’s sad to say given the insults and calls for the managers head on Twitter, Facebook and various Liverpool forums after the QPR match it appears I may have been right, but someone pointed out to me recently that he’ll never lose his legendary status to those who matter.
It shocked me when Rafael Benitez was being called a Fat Spanish Waiter by our own fans, and that was one of the nicer names I heard used. Don’t get me wrong it is fine to have an opinion and to want a change in management but when two Liverpool managers, and two of the nicest men the game has produced in Rafael Benitez and Kenny Dalglish receive abuse from their own fans, after all they have done for this club then it really has to be addressed. These two men, barring some catastrophic decision like writing for the S*n or managing Manchester United will forever have my love, admiration and respect. If we go on the worst run in LFC’s history and get relegated to the championship and then down to league 1 then my opinion won’t alter one iota, and why?
- Football League First Division (7): 1978–79, 1979–80, 1981–82, 1982–83, 1983–84, 1985–86, 1987–88
- FA Cup (2): 1985–86, 1988–89
- Football League Cup (4): 1980–81, 1981–82, 1982–83, 1983–84
- Charity Shield (7): 1977 (Shared)1979, 1980, 1982, 1986 (Shared), 1988, 1989
- European Cup (3): 1977–78, 1980–81, 1983–84
- European Super Cup (1): 1977
- FA Cup (2): 1985–86, 1988–89
- Football League Cup (1): 2011–12
- Charity Shield (4): 1986 (Shared) 1988, 1989, 1990 (Shared)
If that’s not enough then attending the funerals in 1989 of many of the victims of the Hillsborough Disaster should be.
The fact is Kenny Dalglish loves this club as much as any fan, there is nothing he would love more than to build Liverpool Football Club up into a bastion of invincibility again. If he can’t do it then it won't be through a lack of trying. What makes this abuse even more confusing is that we’ve already got a trophy in the cabinet this season, and potentially another, two F.A Cup ties away. Anyone that has vented their feelings in the form of verbal abuse towards our current manager should feel very ashamed today, you’re just another death knell in the Liverpool Way.
Well it appears while me ma is putting the champagne on ice, unusually and with a bit of luck we could be heading down to Wembley THRICE this season. But doesn’t playing the semi-finals at Wembley stadium tarnish the occasion of English football’s showpiece event? Playing in an F.A Cup Final was once every young football fan’s dream. By all accounts for those very few who grew up to actually achieve that goal it was every bit as magical as they’d once dreamt. I’m not sure whether that’s still the dream for children growing up today as:
So what is wrong with playing at a neutral ground? It was fine for the previous 140 years, and invariably the venue would be closer and cheaper for both sets of fans to travel to, not to mention the premium involved in visiting the nation's capital. As it is the Football Association touted the main reason for holding the semi-finals at the new Wembley was that it "gave more fans the opportunity of experiencing an F.A Cup semi-final". Well if the fans are their concern why not halve the ticket prices and virtually guarantee a full house, a fantastic atmosphere and some much needed good press!? That’s if the fans are their concern...
Playing the semi-finals under the famous arch can only devalue the main event further for both the players and the fans, and with all due respect, while it may be great to be guaranteed a day out at Wembley by reaching a semi-final, how much more special might that day out have been if you’d not played a tie there a month previous?
On a more serious note there is a fear that as one of the Semi-final dates falls on the Anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster that we may be asked to play on the 15th April. Thankfully Kenny Dalglish has moved quickly to tactfully remind the F.A that
It was the 28th August 2007. Liverpool were two goals to the good and cruising
against french-side Toulouse in the second leg of a 3rd round Champions League qualifier. At 68 minutes Rafael Benitez thought to bring off Momo Sissoko (they only used to get a pat on the back in the old days BADUMTISH the old one’s are erm... the oldest) In his place trotted on a scrawny fresh faced youngster with a mane of blonde locks. To the Anfield faithful he looked about as Brazilian as Fabio Aurelio, okay bad example, but you get the point. The accolades and superlatives were plentiful; The Brazilian Steven Gerrard, youngest ever winner of the Balon de Ouro, voted the Brazilian league’s best player and the captain of a Gremio side which he, at just 20 years of age, lead to the final of the Copa Libertadores.
The kid took to the pitch like a proverbial fish to water, showing an assuredness far beyond his years. Liverpool went on to win 4-0 on the night, two late goals from Kuyt sealing a well deserved victory with Lucas Leiva Pezzini’s debut cameo prompting me to comment on the independent Liverpool FC forum Red and White Kop that “Lucas despite the game being relatively dead and buried looked a bit special, very composed and read his team mates very well indeed.” It is often said that first impressions last and I guess it was my first impression of Lucas that saw me keep patience with the man while he was adapting to the British game. Subsequent performances, though sporadic and infrequent weren’t nearly as impressive but the boy’s attitude was always exemplary, my one major criticism being that he was a worse tackler than Paul Scholes. Something that Rafa looked as though he’d decided to address by throwing him in at the deep end, as a holding midfielder, an unfamiliar role, but one he would eventually mature into and see him establish himself as one of the best midfielders in the Premier League.
The modern game now sees all new signings heaped with ludicrously unrealistic levels of expectation, no matter what their age. We’ve seen this happen with Emiliano Insua, Dani Pacheco and most recently Raheem Sterling, players built up to be the saving grace of our season if only the manager had the good sense to show their faith in them,so it is of little surprise with such a reputation and C.V that our new number 21 was on a hiding to nothing if he didn’t hit the ground running. He was brought in as a fifth cog in the ‘best midfield in the world’ for just £5 million, a whole £15 million shy of what Manchester Utd paid for their own young Brazilian star in the making ‘Anderson’, who somehow escaped the same media spotlight that seemed to shine so brightly upon Anderson’s Liverpool counterpart. It seems that being in a new country, with a new language, new team-mates, a new league and being asked to learn a new role was not enough for Lucas to be afforded a break, even from some of his own supporters. Even the very best the Premier League has showcased took their time to adapt, and while the very best will eventually come good, how much quicker might that be if they were shown support, or to paraphrase a song you may be familiar with, that they didn’t walk alone.
So it’s with Lucas in mind that I ask you to turn your attention to Jordan Henderson. I’ll admit at first glance I couldn’t see why anyone would fork out the best part of £20 million on the Sunderland prospect. I’d not seen or heard anything of him prior to being linked with Liverpool, and his performances have been a little erratic at times but he’s shown enough for me, especially when played centrally, to suggest he’s a very good player indeed. Out of all of The King’s signings this summer Henderson is by far the one that excites me the most in the long term, but it seems fans just see the price tag and that he’s not immediately world class and begin to write him off. It’s notable with FSG’s moneyball policy that we’re likely to see more players with seemingly inflated price tags, and this needs to be put into context. That’s not to say we blindly accept mediocre players with open arms, but that we recognise Jordan, like Lucas came into the team aged 20, has had to adapt to a new team, new tactics and is often played in an unfamiliar role, although unlike his Brazilian team mate Henderson joins a football club clearly in transition. And remember...
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” George Santayana
"The Bill Hicks Appreciation Society" on RAWK
Watch this week's Match Reaction Show to Liverpool's 3-0 Derby win...
Working at The Redmen TV has its perks, such as getting to meet living legends like
Rafael Benitez and Didi Hamann, but there are some drawbacks too. For instance
sitting behind the camera listening to the furious and passionate debate
unfolding out in front of me, it takes a lot to resist the urge to chime in with
my own two cents worth, so I’m grateful that I can vent it all here and
hopefully spark some debate amongst the red family.
This week one of the topics I dearly wanted to jump in on was the discussion of Charlie Adam’s season so far, and whether he really has what it takes to make it at such a big club, whether he is really what we need to take us to the next level. I’ll be honest I wasn’t the biggest campaigner for Adam’s signature. Despite two fantastic seasons, one of which was in the Championship I had questions marks about his age and his quality, plus why was he wanted? Without knowing the story behind the scenes we had two arguably better players in Raul Meireles and Alberto Aquilani at the club, Jay Spearing had just come off the back of season where the tide of opinion had drifted in his favour, Jonjo Shelvey was still highly rated and we’d just spent £20m on Jordan Henderson. Lucas Leiva had established himself as a mainstay of the first team and as yet hadn’t had his season prematurely cut short. Finally we had Christian Poulsen, though everyone had forgotten about him, and those who hadn’t were doing their utmost to, he was still a Liverpool player at the time, although most anticipated he wouldn’t be here by the time the 2011-2012 campaign kicked off.
I know some of you are thinking that I’ve forgotten about a certain lad from Huyton who could probably put in a shift should we become desperate, but I’ll explain why haven’t included him in the above role call a bit later. Getting back to Adam though, my view was that he was someone we didn’t need, and who at best would be a squad player, the price tag only confirmed it. The only thing I could see the Scotsman bringing to the side was set pieces, which whilst the star for Blackpool appeared to be a big feature of his game and accounted for a good portion of his assists, but this was something our resident Italian showed with each pre-season performance that we had a player who had that in his locker already, what’s more he was younger (still is :P ) and had more to offer.
Ironically one of the biggest criticisms I’ve heard of Charlie Adam this season is that his set pieces are woeful, while one of the biggest excuses trotted out is he’s not being played in as advanced a role as he should be. This goes against the main reason we were told that Aquilani was leaving on loan in the first place, that he played in the role that our captain occupies, a role which many fans seem to be insisting Adam should be playing now in order to get the best out of him.
Now it’s unfair to simply lambast Adam as not good enough to wear the shirt. After all we have had a fair number of circumstances conspire against us this season. You’d have to consider that a fully fit squad may not have seen Adam as a regular starter, but then where does the creativity come from? as sad as it is to say outside of our captain who I don’t believe is the central midfielder certain sports pundits claim him to be, Adam is our most visionary player in the centre of the park. What that says about the amount of genuine creativity in our side is quite damning but the performance against Sunderland only reinforces the idea we desperately need someone to come in and unlock opposition defences, and it also highlighted the weaknesses in Adam’s game; his erratic passing, mainly short range which is sloppy, and while we know the man can pick out a long range pass his ball retention as a whole is detrimental to the team.
I’m not the type of person to write off a players career so soon, and as a squad player he may have something to offer, but for me he certainly isn’t a first teamer on present form. I would rather have our skipper in central midfield ahead of Adam, and anyone that knows me is under no illusions of my opinion that Stevie is no longer a central midfielder, and I think the stats bare this out, when we haven’t won a league match in which Stevie has started this year. Please let me know what you think, and keep it civil, the man still wears our shirt.
I don’t know about you, but I fucking hate Derbies…
We build them up, we talk in excited terms, we think back to all those legendary wins, and chuckle at those countless weeks of earned bragging rights but in truth it’s all bollocks.
The build up is like a form of mass hypnosis. We breeze through our lives, swaddled in a warm, wondrous, glory-filled haze.; a magical, serene trance that lasts until an hour before kick-off, when the crushing reality smacks you in the face and your stomach fills your socks… “Hang on a minute… Who’s injured? Who’s Ref? Who’s commentating? What formation? Who’s marking Cahill at corners? What if we get beat? Oh shiiiit!”
All of a sudden the illusion is shattered, the veil is lifted and it all comes flooding back. Visions of tricky Russians and violent Scotsmen, Red cards, lost bets, dodgy penalty decisions and long thought forgotten names that read like impossible Countdown Conundrums; Kanchelskis, Radosavljevic, Danny-Fucking-Cadamarteri…
Yep, for every Gary Mac wonder goal, there’s Kvarme getting beasted. For every Godly touchline sniff there’s a meat-headed Scotsman scoring a debut header. For every Peter Bearsdley goal, there’s a Peter Bearsdsley goal.
Blessed are those amongst you who know no Blues, because whilst I loathe losing to the Mancs, or Chelski, or Arsenal or Harry Redknapp, at least they’re escapable. I mean sure, it means going cold turkey from Sky Sports News, threatening to spark that one questionable twat in work who supports them and ducking Facebook for a few days but it’s doable. But escaping the Evertonians after a derby day defeat? Fat fucking chance. You’ve got a better chance of escaping a pool party at Michael Barrymore’s house. They call it “bragging rights,” when really for the average Evertonian it’s “rub your smug, self-important, past-dwelling, Norwegian/welsh, red neck faces in it” rights.
When was the last time you enjoyed a derby from start to finish? Honestly think about it. If your answer is anything other than “never” I imagine you’ve either just put down your crack pipe or your name is Michael Owen.
Form goes out the window, refs throw out yellow cards like confetti, and wanky no marks cement themselves in Toffee folklore (are you reading this Dan Gosling?). The only respite we get is in the moments. Those spirit lifting, neck hair erecting, goose bump raising moments of heavenly levity that remind us why we pour in our hearts and souls, empty our wallets and risk utter humiliation at the alter of footballing fate each and every time our boys in red take the field. Despite the potential week-ruining pitfalls we do remain fortunate. Fortunate that for every Franny Jeffers, there’s a Robbie Fowler, for every Duncan Ferguson there’s an Ian Rush and for every Tim Cahill there’s a Phil Neville…
No, as another Derby approaches it is not kick-off I await with back sweating, arse twitching trepidation, but rather the full time whistle. That telling culmination of skill, luck and fate when, fingers crossed, by hook or by crook, our moments outweigh theirs.
I don’t know about you, but I fucking hate Derbies…. Brilliant aren’t they? ;)
The Redmen TV
Our Full Preview of the 216th Merseyside Derby featuring Sketches from Darren Farley: