Archive for the ‘News & Rumours’ Category
Paul of The Redmen TV presents the Top 5 Man United Signings of All Time (According to Liverpool Fans)… Get ready for a countdown of terror (if you’re a United fan that is…)
Many people already have their highlight of their season.
It could be the amazing 50-yard lob by Suarez against Norwich, or the Sturridge chip in the Merseyside derby. Even Henderson’s stunning goal against Notts County is a worthy contender.
But mine is based on a man whose merit stood out most to me this season.
My favorite moment of the season is Jon Flanagan’s exquisite strike in the thrashing against Tottenham in December.
The strike itself was a well-executed moment of glory. But all it did was cap a complete turnaround for a young man whose career at Liverpool could have easily paralleled Adam Morgan’s – now at Championship club Yeovil Town.
Flanagan started his first-team career at Liverpool very quickly with a start against Manchester City in 2011, a debut game which promised so greatly for both him and Liverpool under Kenny Dalglish. He finished that season very impressively in place of regular right-back Glen Johnson, and earned rave reviews from critics for his performance against Arsenal where he had the mental strength to finish the game strongly, despite knocking out his mentor Jamie Carragher.
It all bode so well for him for next season, as it did for Liverpool. But it never did for neither.
Flanagan’s season did not begin well, as he left Sebastian Larsson on queue back-post to score a stunning volley in the first game of the season, a 1-1 draw against Sunderland. His form took another turn for the worst when he made a horrendous back-pass straight to Yakubu for an eventual concession of a penalty in the crazy 3-2 win at Blackburn Rovers in 2012.
Many supporters thought that moment signalled the end of Flanagan’s Liverpool career, showing him the door that fellow academy graduates Stephen Warnock and Jay Spearing were shown. These players were signs that the club could no longer produce another local boy that had the quality to play for Liverpool.
Eventually when Brendan Rodgers came in, the immediate thought among Liverpool fans was “Flanagan is not going to fit with his system, he will probably leave”. Even Rodgers had made a strong statement to Flanagan and the rest of the unpromising youngsters at the club when he first arrived: “Learn from Gerrard or play in League One”. But they missed out on what made this lad different from the sub-standard bunch at Liverpool.
During the breakthrough series Being:Liverpool, I saw a side of Flanagan that would eventually come back to the rest of the Liverpool fans this season: his enviable work ethic. He was seen with one of the coaches doing extra sessions after training during one of the episodes, improving his stamina and skills to no end. Flanagan did not want to be anything other than a Liverpool player, and his desire spoke volumes of how hard he was going to work to achieve that goal.
The season that followed was a frustrating one for him, only two appearances in Europe and the FA Cup collectively; but he just kept working hard for his chance.
His chance came this season, almost as surprisingly and quickly as his debut did, away against the leaders of the moment Arsenal. That game ended in a 2-0 loss for the Reds, but for Flanagan it was a performance of a man that was ready to give his all. His passing and runs from the right gave Liverpool a bit of momentum on the counter attack, and his solidity against Arsenal’s fluidity was slightly impressive.
If the Arsenal performance was a sign of his persistence, then his Merseyside derby performance was a sign of his quality
The local Liverpool lad that he was, Flanagan showed the fire in the belly and aggressiveness that many thought would have disappeared when Rodgers and Martinez – advocates of the pretty tiki-taka system – arrived in Merseyside. He handled the supposed ‘heir’ of Lionel Messi at Barcelona [Gerard Deulofeu] with consummate ease; not bad for a natural right back playing on the opposite side.
At the end of the game, the whole Liverpool team applauded Flanagan for his brilliant display in an especially difficult game. But the applause meant more than that; it meant a final transformation and a realization of a dream come true. Eventually his form increased, and he got the goal of his dreams for his boyhood club. Cheers, Jon.
The Redmen TV reveal the TOP 5 Reasons Why Liverpool Fans HATE Manchester United (Or at least, used to…).
Last season it became a bit of a cliché. We were ‘a work in progress,’ ‘a team in transition,’ and ‘steadying the ship.’ That’s not to say it wasn’t true; after the debacle of Hicks and Gillett, moving on to our fourth manager in two years, and a string of constant short-term solutions and stop gaps, we finally had some solidity and just had to accept the fact that it may take a year or two to recover and set ourselves back on course.
In that sense, last season pretty much went as expected. Brendan Rodgers was settling into the job, implementing new methods and techniques both on and off the pitch, and it took time for things to click.
Upon acceptance of his three year deal at Liverpool, Rodgers went on record to say that he expected it to take the full duration of that contract to set us right and get us fighting for the top four spots that we were aiming for. Maybe this was just to assert an air of caution, as I know that most fans wanted to see us progress quicker than that. But it goes to show the magnitude of the job Rodgers saw ahead of him.
Liverpool’s 2012-13 season will go down as a distinctly average one. A 7th place finish and very little progress in the three cup competitions we were entered in was nothing at all to shout about. But it was a necessary season that we needed to accept simply as the progression and transition of the team under the guidance of a manager who we were looking to lead us for the long term.
We were nowhere even near finishing in the top four. But a year on from his arrival and with the manager at least starting to put his stamp on the team, we expected the development to be clear this season. If there was a rough three year plan, then this year should have been the year we at least competed to finish fourth, and started to look like a team worthy of being in the Champions League.
Without getting too ahead of ourselves either way, this season has gone far better than expected, and for the most part we have been more involved in the title race than the top four battle. That being said, with 10 games remaining things could still go badly wrong, and I stick by my stance at the start of the season that I would accept a fourth place finish as a very good season for us.
My reason for this is that I looked at this year as yet another transition season for us. In 2012-13, we never quite identified ourselves as to how we wanted operate as a team. Pre-January in particular, it was more just a case of Brendan Rodgers making the best of what he had at his disposal, and lining the team up initially in ways that didn’t quite match the personnel we had available, so then having to change things and come up with other solutions. And to be fair to him, the manager showed a complete willingness to adapt his ideas if something didn’t quite work. At one point, we had a starting 11 that contained Stewart Downing at left back and Jose Enrique on the left wing, but it was because that was what was working for the team at that time.
That has continued into this season, with us utilising a number of different formations, and players like Luis Suarez, Jordan Henderson, and Philippe Coutinho playing several different roles throughout the season for the good of the team. Recently our 11 has been picking itself due to a combination of injuries and form, but looking at the players we have lined up with there are three or four different formations that they could all fit into, which means we can be flexible in how we approach a game without needing to chop and change the players involved. We can go with Suarez or Sturridge up front, we can use Coutinho playing from deep or more advanced, and Raheem Sterling can swap from left to right wing without a problem.
This is just an example of us having fluidity within the players we have out on the pitch, but anytime Rodgers has felt the need to change system, he has done so too. Earlier in the season, we tried three at the back. We’ve gone through different variations of 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, and even in our last game against Southampton, we lined up with a diamond in midfield to exploit weaknesses in the opponent.
But like last season, a lot of how we’ve lined up has been to do with the fact that we have a small squad, and our lack of cup games has meant there has been no real need to rotate. Therefore we can just put our best 11 players out there each week in the system that best suits them.
The reason this may be yet another transition season (albeit a very successful one) is that we are still working out exactly what system we are looking at to move forwards with. Brendan Rodgers himself admitted that he has had to alter his tactics to accommodate playing Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge together, as they are both too good not to play, but it can upset the balance of the team if they are both playing up front where they would want to be.
Which is why it is important that we at least get a rough blueprint of how we want out team to look. Come the summer it will be better to sign the players to suit the system we have in mind, than to just sign a handful of good players but then squeeze them in however we can. Look at Tottenham this season for an example of how that usually works out.
Obviously we want to have the best players possible and we want to be able to adjust to as many systems as possible, but Brendan Rodgers will surely have a vision of how he sees us lining up with his ideal set of players. You do get the feeling that the manager has learnt a lot this season, and his readiness to change with no sign of stubbornness is a major part of what has seen him be so successful so far. Minor adjustments in the roles of the likes of Gerrard, Coutinho and Henderson are examples of the tweaks he has made over the course of the year as he looked for the best way to utilise what he had available to him. Luckily, after a lot of experimentation this season, it seems that he is finding the answers at just the right time.
By James Nelson (@_James_Nelson_)
Top flight footballers have two things in common: Money and lots of spare time. With nothing to do in their days off and a large wad of cash in their back pockets, it’s no wonder that many head to the race course in an attempt to spend both commodities.
Most players like a flutter and many have indulged their passion further by progressing from punter to race horse owner.
Here are 5 Liverpool players who made that transition.
5. Terry McDermott
McDermott joined Liverpool from Newcastle United in 1974 and went on to win ten major honours in his eight years at the club. Along with his club team mate Kevin Keegan, the midfielder developed a love of horse racing and over the years he has owned a number of high profile runners.
His best known, and certainly most successful horse was the Jonjo O’Neill trained Intersky Falcon which earned McDermott 12 wins in a 36 race career stretching from February 2001 until July 2006. A hurdler, Intersky Falcon never won at Cheltenham but enjoyed a host of other successes including the Swinton Handicap Hurdle and the John James McManus Memorial Hurdle.
4. Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman
When the Anfield duo combined to enter the horse racing world, you could be forgiven for thinking that they weren’t taking it all that seriously. Among their early runners were ‘Some Horse’ and ‘Another Horse’ with McManaman confessing that it made him laugh whenever the commentators mentioned their names.
In the years that followed, those names became more serious as did the success. The Macca and Growler partnership as it was called, produced Samon and Seebald – the latter giving them their biggest success when it won the 2003 Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Celebration Chase.
3. Dominic Matteo
Like many before him, former Liverpool and Scotland defender Matteo was one of those unfortunate players whose hobby turned into an addiction. Frustrated by injury and a dwindling career, he confessed in his autobiography ‘In My Defence’ that he blew around £1m trackside, with one unsuccessful bet costing him a cool £100k.
While at Leeds, the player also went into horse ownership with Blackburn team-mate Garry Flitcroft but their career was no more successful than Matteo’s own gambling pursuits.
2. Kevin Keegan
It’s rumoured that Keegan’s first pair of football boots were funded by a particularly lucrative win on the horses. His father made a purchase that would lead to a glittering career with England, Liverpool, Hamburg, Southampton and Newcastle.
In his younger days he had made a living by washing cars at a stable, near to his family home in Doncaster. With horse racing in the family blood, it’s no surprise that Keegan junior became involved in the sport alongside a number of outside interests that included a brief but truly unforgettable singing career.
Football led Keegan to cross paths with Mick Channon and the two formed a potent partnership for England and later on at Southampton. Their mutual love of racing saw Keegan as owner and Channon as trainer and years after washing the cars of those attending horse sales, Kevin was owning his own stables in Hampshire.
1. Michael Owen
There can be few players more devoted to the sport of horse racing than Michael Owen and that dedication has led to many years of success on the turf. Currently, the former Liverpool and England striker owns five horses and trains over a hundred more at Manor House Stables which is managed by Tom Dascombe and co-owned by the Betfair founder Andrew ‘Bert’ Black.
Towards the end of his playing career, injuries meant that Owen had more time on his hands than most of his contemporaries and that led to criticism that he was wasting his energy on the track rather than the football pitch. Now, with only the occasional pundit’s slot to occupy him, Michael is free to indulge his passion.
According to reports, the country is now on the road to financial recovery. Despite this we all still need to keep an eye on the purse strings and Liverpool Football Club are no different. Let’s be honest, never mind blaming the Mrs., we’re all guilty of a retail excess now and again. A little shirt here, £50. A nice jacket there, £200 and, in the case of Liverpool, a centre back or two, £20m. It all adds up. I’ve been doing some digging and Liverpool have no fewer than 13 players out on loan this season. That’s virtually another team, barring a few subs.
It’s common knowledge that Brendan Rodgers needs to strengthen the defence, not only in preparation for potential Champions League football, but also to spare the blushes from some more than ropey defending we’ve seen in recent months. Well, he need look no further than the loan list where the team almost has an embarrassment of riches available and ready to save the club more than just a few quid on new players.
To avoid boring everyone to tears, here’s my pick of the bunch that will help Chief Financial Officer Andy Hughes sleep that little bit sounder with the prospect of signing off some rather hefty cheques over the summer months to come. After all, as they say, look after the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.
Of the five defenders, Andre Wisdom must be in with a shout of pushing for a first team place next season. And the updates from Derby are very encouraging indeed. The lad is good. Strong, fast and, judging from what we’ve seen of Glen Johnson’s ageing legged performances this term, Wisdom would be worth a run in the side. We have Jon Flanagan at right back now, but he’s also been used effectively on the left. Wisdom has been impressive whenever he’s played and you could argue that the first team exposure will bring him on leaps and bounds as it has done for Flanagan. That’s surely a saving of six or seven million at today’s rates.
In midfield, I’d like to see Oussama Assaidi come back. From what I’ve seen he’s had a decent spell at Stoke City. He scored an absolute screamer against Chelsea in December to give the Potters a deserved victory. He would make a decent replacement in the event of injury, and alternative to any of Raheem Sterling, Philippe Coutinho or Iago Aspas. Where Aspas is concerned, I think his massive league goal tally this season of, er… two, should make him a contender to be sent out on loan himself if Rodgers still rates him. Or out to graze if I were to rate him. There’s also Jordan Ibe who most definitely has something to offer. Not as a starter, but again, bums on seats. Even if those seats take the form of the bench, he should get more playing time in the cup games and cover for the inevitable injuries. That’s another five or six million quid there. More if you add the two bob they’d get for Aspas if he was sold on.
The loan market has already helped Liverpool to save a fair packet. I’m sure Mr. Hughes is glad they’ve taken some players on to the books with only the wage liability and not a burdensome multi-million pound transfer fee to add to the balance sheet as well. Enter Aly Cissokho. He was mooted as a £12m must have purchase a year or two ago. The 26 year-old on loan from Valencia has been a tad disappointing in my eyes and I’m grateful that the club didn’t part with a large fee for him. Thank The Lord! They’ve only just turned the corner of financial recovery like the rest of us and he’d have been the footballing equivalent of a pair of loafers too far. The ones that looked nice in the shop, but now they always squeak and hurt your feet when you wear them.
Liverpool have a good thing right now. Not only are they second in the league and improving mentally, tactically and technically physically with each game, but the future prospects for the team look very bright in terms of the younger players at hand. It’s vitally important that the likes of Ibe, Conor Coady, Jack Robinson and the rest are developed into the players that they have the undoubted potential to be. My only concern with them playing at clubs like Notts County and Sheffield United is that they do not get the kind of challenge in the lower divisions that they’ll get in the Premiership and the club should strive to find top quality clubs for these players whenever possible.
In summary, let’s try to have a win win situation here. The home-grown players mean the team can grow from within and build a stronger base. LFC must not rely on the transfer market where prices and quality are both overinflated. Money makes a good servant, but an awful master.
Follow me on Twitter: @Mrbengreen
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