Archive for the ‘NN’ Category
20 million quid. A 21 year old bought from Sunderland. Not many knew the name, not many had seen him play. Fans questioned the club’s transfer policy. Overpaying for average players had become a dictum Liverpool Football Club adhered to with minimal deviation. Alberto Aquilani and Riera come to mind when you think about players who have failed at the club. Liverpool paid a considerable sum to secure their services. It is curious that players of such undisputed talent failed to acclimatize themselves to the Premier League. When Jordan Henderson was recruited for a humongous fee of 20 million, I sat at home wondering if we had another Aquilani or Riera at hand. A player who would give us a few good performances and then fade into oblivion. Who would then be sold to another club for minimal resale value. “20 million quid for a 21 year old?” read the headlines on several websites after he was signed. I doubt there were any Liverpool fans who would’ve considered the deal a great piece of business by the club. A relatively unproven talent for so much money is a deal even a 10 year old football fan won’t agree with. However, such is the over-valuation of English players that everyone reserved their judgment for the future when they’ve seen Henderson showcase himself on the field.
Considered a bit too young for a central midfield role at a big club, by the manager Dalglish, Henderson’s career began on the right-wing for Liverpool. Blessed with great athleticism, Henderson coped with the battle reasonably well. He had the pace to go past a full-back, the defensive nous to help his team’s right back in defense and be available as an outlet on the wing for the central midfielders to ping balls to. However, what Henderson lacked was the flair, the occasional showboating skills, to go past multiple defenders if need be. For any observer, it seemed conspicuous that he found the role relatively uncomfortable. Delegating a natural midfielder to an outing on the wing seldom works out. Gerrard himself has played there before but he rarely had the same influence on a game from out wide than from a central role. The above-average performances of Henderson over several matches let to disapproving murmurs being heard amongst the fans. Comments such as “Here we go again, another average player in our ranks!” or “Did we really pay 20 million pounds for that kid?” could be read all over Facebook or over the club’s forum webpage. His average performances led to him being reserved to the bench for the latter part of Dalglish’s spell as manager. Even Rodgers earlier considered him an entity he could discard and reclaim a small amount of the 20 million paid.
However, Henderson wasn’t to be put down by a relegation to the bench or by being considered a superfluous entity at the club. He is the kind of player who would run through a brick wall for the club if he had to. After declining Rodgers’ proposal of a move to Fulham, Henderson continued to work tirelessly to improve his technical skills. Now, he has gradually become a player Rodgers would hesitate to put on the bench, let alone dispense with completely. Henderson’s an invaluable asset to the club sole for his desire and energy. Seldom have I seen a Liverpool player run up and down the pitch for the entirety of a game. Last I remember it was another English midfielder who was omnipresent on the pitch, jumping into tackles and setting up attacks in an instant. Yes, Henderson might not possess the thunderous right foot of Gerrard or his tackling ability, but what he does possess is Gerrard’s insatiable desire to win and his limitless energy of days past. The medical team recently stated that they fear for players like Henderson and Suarez who they believe would play every day of the week if they could. They love football and want success more than anything. It is these breed of players that form the heart of a club and are the players we turn to for inspiration. You’d never hear a fan criticize Henderson’s performance for lack of drive or purpose. They know that when he walks onto the pitch, he is a fan himself who’d do anything to secure victory for his club.
I for one have utmost respect for players who never give up. On countless occasions, I have seen Henderson sprinting back to win the ball after a team-mate lost it in the opposition’s half. If football was a game where you had to rack up “distance covered” numbers, Henderson would be out of sight by half-way into the season itself. His desire is evident from his passionate goal celebrations too. Fans love his celebrations more than his goals, for all fans love players who display the same fervor and zest as them.
With the season entering the last few games, I am assured that Jordan Henderson would have a major part to play in deciding where we finish this season. After his peerless performance against Swansea which was studded with two well taken goals, no one can doubt his value to the side. Roy Hodgson himself acknowledged the midfielder’s stellar form and rewarded him with a start for England this past week. If Henderson continues to run amok in games with the same drive, it’s hard to see how he doesn’t deserve to start in Brazil.
I’m sure Henderson will keep putting in Herculean efforts on the field for every game in his career and we should be glad we have such a player in our ranks. Gerrard’s retirement in the future would require someone to fill in his boots. The task of replacing such a legend might seem daunting but then Henderson is no ordinary individual.
In the past five seasons, Liverpool have had mixed form in the last 10 games of the respective seasons, the stage Brendan Rodgers’ side are at now. From the 2008/09 season where Rafa Benitez ran a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Manchester United side close to the title, till Rodgers’ first campaign last year – 2012/13 – it seems to be that one season’s magnificent end of season run will be followed up by a mediocre final ten games. Having had a pretty good end to last season, Reds fans will be hoping this trend does not continue into this potentially great campaign.
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2008/09 – 9 wins, 1 draw, 0 losses
Benitez’s Liverpool side entered the last ten games of the season in third, having led the league during the New Year. They needed to have a flawless end to the season, and hope United slipped up at some point, in order to have any shot at the title. The fearsome offensive combo in Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres ensured that, with comfortable home wins against Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, adding onto victories at Hull City, West Ham United and West Bromwich Albion. Further, Torres tormented Nemanja Vidic in that 4-1 win at Old Trafford, where even Anfield flop Andrea Dossena got in on the act with a cheeky lob over Edwin van der Sar. However, it was that only draw in the last 10 games costed Benitez, a crazy 4-4 draw against Arsenal at Anfield, which saw Emirates flop Andrei Arshavin bag four and effectively ended Liverpool’s hope of that elusive 19th championship title.
2009/10 – 4 wins, 3 losses, 3 draws
Benitez could not follow up the previous campaign with another sustained title charge. And as the season started drifting away, the Reds seemed to want the season to end early. They only saw victories against bottom-half teams, while suffering abysmal draws at Birmingham City and Hull, as well as at home against Fulham. Further losses at Manchester United and Wigan, and a home defeat to Chelsea would eventually see Benitez fired at the end of campaign and mark the start of Liverpool’s absence from the Champions League.
2010/11 – 6 wins, 3 losses, 1 draw
After coming in to save Liverpool from the predicament the current England manager Roy Hodgson put them in, club legend Kenny Dalglish oversaw a blistering end of season form that would see him be rewarded a permanent contract before the start of the next campaign. New signing Andy Carroll would enjoy his best game at the club against Manchester City, where he bagged two in a 3-0 victory, while fellow January buy Luis Suarez inspired the Reds to a famous 3-1 win against United, where Dirk Kuyt bagged a hat-trick. However great these victories were, the Reds’ habits against ‘lesser’ teams still held as they lost to West Brom, Villa and Spurs.
2011/12 – 3 wins, 1 draw, 6 losses
Probably the worst end to the season in recent memory, what made this all the worse was that it followed a League Cup victory, which should have provided the momentum for a push for Champions League qualification. Instead, Liverpool suffered from the curse of the League Cup as they first suffered a defeat at relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers, after going 2-0 up, an insipid defeat at home against Wigan Athletic, and a 2-0 defeat at Newcastle where Pepe Reina saw red for a Alan Pardew-esque head-butt. It was a case of the Reds either focusing on the FA Cup final, which they lost, or just simply gave up. Unfortunately, this led to Dalglish’s sacking. Ironically, the last game of the season was a defeat at, yes you guessed it, Brendan Rodgers’ Swansea City side.
2012/13 – 5 wins, 4 draws, 1 loss
Though most of the draws should have been wins, it was still a terrific end to the season under the new boss, and especially with Suarez out for the last 4 games due to his bite on Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. Still, Liverpool managed to cope with the combined efforts of January buys Daniel Sturridge and Philipp Coutinho, with 3 wins in that last four games. Still, there were those two unlucky goalless draws at Reading and against West Ham at Anfield, the fortunate 2-2 draw against Chelsea, and that abysmal 3-1 reverse at Southampton. Fortunately, this form did carry over into the next season.
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Taking the average of the last five season’s final 10 games, Liverpool will gather at least five wins in the next two months, and one should be able to pick up which five league games the Reds should win; there will also be close to three defeats and two draws. However, with the big teams coming to Anfield this time, the Reds should be able to go against statistics and convert some of those five negative results into positive wins.
Still, the main issue is how Liverpool deal with so-called ‘lesser’ teams away from home, like they did against Southampton last weekend. With Lucas Leiva and Mamadou Sakho finally back from injury and playing their part in the reserves’ win last night, Liverpool should have enough depth in their squad to secure the wins they should, while pushing the other three teams hard in the last race of this long, drawn-out marathon. Yet, the focus should still be the same: Champions League qualification.
Wednesday Mar 5Posted by: jeroen adriaanse Adriaanse No Comments »
Roy Hodgson confirmed this week that Liverpool right-back Glen Johnson will win his 50th cap for England against Denmark. Wednesday night’s friendly will be the start of England’s countdown to the World Cup, with Hodgson having just little time left – two games – to finalise his 23-man squad for Brazil.
Johnson will replace Tottenham’s Kyle Walker who picked up a hip injury. Rumours said that Walker would be fit for selection but the former Liverpool boss revealed that the 23-year-old has remained at Spurs Lodge for further treatment.
Johnson made his debut – back in 2003 – ironically against the Danes. The 19-year-old right-back played for Chelsea and replaced Gary Neville. His debut ended in a 3-2 defeat.
Johnson told TheFA.com that it is a fantastic achievement and that it was his dream to play for his country. He continued by saying that he is very proud of his achievement and that it is a great thing for himself and for his family.
England’s last four home wins over Denmark have all been 1-0, the most recent of which came almost 20 years to the day when David Platt scored the only goal.
Written by @LFC_newsblogger
Hands up who enjoys the international break?
I’ll take an estimated guess that the majority of you kept your hands firmly by your sides (or refused to play along and want to see where I’m going with this) as so many times an international break halts the progress being made in a league campaign.
Qualifiers for a World Cup or a European Championships can just about be excused, it’s not their fault after all, but friendly games need a lot to answer for when they put a one, sometimes two, week gap in the life of a supporter.
Even though you don’t want to give these games the satisfaction of your attention you feel you have to tune in to make sure our star players stay injury free, as obviously you watching the game is better than any medical treatment they could receive from their national team.
Having said all that, and potentially started a campaign to ban international football altogether, this mini international break may not be the worst thing at this present time.
Second in the league, on a nine-game unbeaten run domestically and you’re saying a break in momentum is a good thing? I know I’m contradicting myself beyond belief, but hear me out.
For most international managers this is their last opportunity during the season to take a look at players who are trying to edge their names onto a guest list for Brazil 2014. If many are like Roy Hodgson then they will have named a larger squad than normal to maximise their opportunities of seeing if a player can hack it at international level, even if it may seem harsh to judge them on a forty-five minute run out in a slow tempo friendly.
This means that the likes of Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel for example, who are all regulars for their countries, may well be given a rest for one game only, or at least feature sparingly throughout the ninety-minutes.
For players such as Joe Allen and Glen Johnson, two players who require more game time to improve their levels of match sharpness, it could be a good thing for Brendan Rodgers that he sees those players get another cap. The more players that Rodgers has at his disposal that are fully fit going into the remaining ten games of the season puts his squad at an optimum level to give themselves a chance of unrivalled glory come May.
Even for those players that have featured heavily this season, calling Jordan Henderson, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling out for this example, the chance to impress another manager and continue to score goals must be a welcomed opportunity and enhances the confidence they harbour within themselves.
If this international break goes to plan (or my plan at least) then Liverpool could have an even more rejuvenated squad to tackle the business end of the season with.
Get any injuries, however, and I will begin writing up that campaign to ban international football.
By Michael Williams (@mikewilliams_05)
They say that at the start of a season, you shouldn’t pay any attention to the league table until 10 games in. That’s when it starts to take shape, and truly reflects how teams are performing. But with 10 games left of the season, I’m equally as wary of what it shows.
Obviously we are now getting a good idea of what teams will be finishing in what sort of positions; who is in a relegation battle, who is destined for the mid-table, and who is battling for European spots. Mathematically the league table tells us that Manchester United could still finish as champions, but we use our common sense to know that it’s not at all likely.
Over the past couple of days, seemingly any time the phrase ‘Liverpool are up to second’ has been uttered, it has been law to follow it up with ‘but Manchester City have two games in hand.’ Then you have to look into how those two games will affect the table. Two wins, and Man City go top. Two draws, and they level up on points with us and Arsenal, but leapfrog us both on goal difference. Two losses, and it’s as you were.
This coming weekend will add only more uncertainty, with many teams not playing due to the FA Cup fixtures. More games in hand, that may or may not be converted into three points, and may or may not cause movement in the table. And without Liverpool even playing, we are looking at the fixtures and the table, and assessing what results would suit us. If Tottenham beat Chelsea then we are four points off top spot, with a game in hand and still to play the leaders at Anfield. But that takes Tottenham to within three points of us, and the following week if we lose at Old Trafford and they beat Arsenal then they are level on points with us, and Man City may use their games to steal a march in the title race.
A lot of ifs and a lot of buts. And none of it really matters, as things can change so quickly in this league that one set of results isn’t going to make or break anyone’s season. It’s what you do over every single one of the 38 games. So far we haven’t let ourselves down too often. But neither have Chelsea, Arsenal or Man City.
Our rivals may have looked at our weekend’s fixture away to Southampton as a potential banana skin for us to slip up on. Likewise with Arsenal away to Stoke. Which is fine, as seeing the teams around you drop points, especially at the top where it happens so infrequently, can get you looking at the table and seeing what advantage can be taken. But did Arsenal losing to Stoke put any more importance on our game at St Mary’s? Of course not. Our focus has to be on ourselves, and playing to the best of our ability every single match. We could win every one of our remaining games but still not win the title, and in that case we would just have to take our hats off and say well done to whoever performed well enough to finish above us.
Maybe it’s just different being a Liverpool supporter in this situation, as the consensus was that our aim this season was to finish in the top four. To be closer points wise to the top spot than fifth, is perhaps affording us a bit of luxury in that we have exceeded expectations, and even a poor end to our season could see us reach our initial target. Therefore we don’t need to get carried away with title thoughts, but simply take each game as it comes and see where we end up. First, second, third, or fourth would all be taken as a good season for us, whereas the other three teams may be disappointed in anything but first.
If it gets to the last day of the season and we’re still in with a shout of finishing as champions, I couldn’t blame anyone for looking at the table and the fixtures and working out how we need things to play out to see our dreams come true. But trying to work it all out with 10 games left is too premature, and rather than get carried away with what might be, I think everyone is better off just sitting back and enjoying what is sure to be an exhilarating ride.
By James Nelson (@_James_Nelson_)
The league is definitely taking another twist, we are in for the title. yes!
Walking down the memory lane, 08/09 saw the Mancs snatching it away from us by four points, because we conceded just a few too many draws. Our squad was really paper thin at that time and we were busy trying to get injured players back (by all means) on track. Over and above the injuries of a squad without much depth, both the fans and the players were forced to adjust to the policy of the then two owners of the club. Yet, we were thrashing the Mancs at their own den. We were fighting on the champions league front at the same time. Chelsea and its billion dollar armada was beaten at Anfield.
At the end when we came out second, Gerrard said: ‘…we can win it within the coming 5 years…’ these few words of Gerrard are still echoing the rhythm and beats of hope in my heart.
That time has come! the five years journey irrespective of the outcome, will soon lapse…That time has come for us not to commit the same mistake of 2008/2009! No more draws in easy-to-win matches!
That pressure will turn into motivation if we ponder on how we missed the title in 2008/2009.
I think we are on our way now! Let’s WALK ON WITH OUR HEAD HIGH and exorcise 2008/2009… because there’ll never be a better chance…let’s not miss it this time!
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