Archive for the ‘NN’ Category
This summer saw Sir Alex Ferguson retire as manager of Manchester United, much to relief of his rivals and some members of the national press who he regularly crossed swords with. But his departure has failed to benefit the Manchester giants, in fact its done nothing but bring chaos and dismay to the current Manchester United team, much to the delight of Ferguson’s old enemy’s such as Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea, but none more public or personal than Liverpool football club.
When Ferguson took charge of united in 1986 he wowed to end Liverpool’s dominance of English football, by the summer of 2013 when he finally retired, he had achieved much more than just ending Liverpool’s reign, he was Britain’s most successful manager of all time, and regardless of tribal alliances you cannot discredit or dismiss such an achievement. He built a team from the depths of obscurity to a club that has dominated the domestic game and has become part of europe’s elite for the best part of two decades. But there are signs that united’s stranglehold of superiority is loosening at an alarming speed, David Moyes took over the united hot-seat in the summer after leaving an 11 year trophy-less spell at Everton, a move that Ferguson recommended and endorsed.
It was always going to be a massive and unobtainable expectation to believe that Moyes could keep united rooted at the top of English football in his first season. The former Everton manager has found life increasingly difficult at Old Trafford, David Moyes is a fine manager, but his inexperience of commanding a regular title winning team with such high expectation’s and demands, at both domestic and european levels are exposed by even the lower and less formidable teams of the Premiership week in week out.
It is not to say that Moyes cannot turn around his fortunes at united, but time is not a common asset most clubs in modern day football allow, especially given the riches of the champions league and how difficult it is to attract the players needed to compete for a top four place if your no longer part of it. A clubs name and history no longer play a vital role when it comes to capturing the right personnel, most top players generally move to clubs who can offer champions league football or at least are in the running to qualify for it.
This is where Moyes may hit a brick wall, if united fail to qualify for next seasons champions league then Moyes could find himself with a bombardment of transfer requests from his finest players with little or no chance of replacing them with the same quality.
Something has gone fundamentally wrong at united at present, but with the players that are currently available and with the talent they contain, you simply cannot write them off, because collectively the players at united are more than capable of producing title winning form. But the question of why they are almost out of the title race by early December should be more directed towards the club itself, should Moyes have joined united two years ago as an assistant under Ferguson to learn about the club, players and the pressure that comes with such a responsibility of managing Manchester United? It also must question the owners expectations, why bring in a manager who has never won a major trophy into a club that has just won its 20th title? Its a decision that at present looks to have backfired on a catastrophic scale.
The consequences of united failing to get a top four spot would be devastating for the club financially and humiliating for Ferguson personally who gave Moyes his backing both privately and in public.
Its my opinion that united as a club deserved better, their fans deserved better as did the players, its not a disrespect to Moyes, but I feel he needs more time that’s available for him to stand any chance of mirroring Ferguson’s success. But there is one thing that has come out of Alex Ferguson’s departure, and that is that the premiership is no longer a one horse race, no longer is it a boring predictable yawn, its now an exciting, unpredictable title race, exactly what was needed to bring life back into the premiership that became stale and continually predictable. A testimony itself to Ferguson’s reign and success.
One of the teams that look to have capitalised on united’s temporary downturn are Arsenal, who look real contenders this time around, but the gunners have been here before and thrown it away time after time in the latter part of the season. Wenger knows he stands a real chance of ending his trophy drought this season, Arsenal fans know they will probably never have a better chance to win the title than this year, and Wenger knows it too.
Chelsea with there “special one” back don’t seem to be firing on all cylinders at the moment, but are right were they need to be to challenge when the time is right, the blues are no longer able to dip into the transfer market with £100m kitty but still manage to attract top players to keep their mandatory top four status.
The other half of Manchester is blossoming while united stumble, Manchester City are title favourites and rightly so, they are finally starting to show signs of recapturing the form that brought them the premiership title two seasons ago. One thing that City have over other contenders is their squad, its one that seems unaffected by change and one that works, regardless of what personnel are playing.
One team that Alex Ferguson wouldn’t want to see above his beloved united is Liverpool, who under Brendan Rodgers look finally ready to rejoin the footballing elite after years of being in the wilderness of champions league exile, the Merseyside giants have been a real breathe of fresh air so far this season, with the likes of Coutinho, Sturridge and of course the marvellous Luis Suarez, who have all contributed in producing the best attacking football seen this season by any team in the premiership. The reds have suffered since losing their champions league place four years ago, they lost fine players as a result and never managed to replace them, which is exactly what Moyes may face if united fail to qualify this season.
Rodgers seems to have Liverpool playing the right type of football again, but with the loss of captain Steven Gerrard who could be out until mid January with an injury and a very tough set of matches over the Christmas period only emphasises the need to sign a big name midfielder in the upcoming transfer window, Liverpool need to sign and sign well in January if their ambitions to rejoin the footballing elite are to become a reality. The european footballing community need Liverpool back in the mix as does the premiership.
Rodgers knows Liverpool are travelling on the right road, but they are still one or two signings away from launching a real or sustained title challenge, but that could and probably will all change come the end of the January transfer window.
Another injury blow for The Reds as the skipper, Steven Gerrard, injured his hamstring and asked to be substituted on ’56 minutes. Without the talisman, our central midfielder will be shorted to three, with Lucas, Allen, and Henderson left. Just when we think we’ll be okay, there’s another victim. Henderson is doubtfully to play on our visit to Tottenham Hotspurs. Not sure what injury he has got but that makes the matter worse, where our CM will be shorten to two. Lucas-Allen would likely to be the double pivot on our visit to Tottenham
Before those problem appeared, Sturridge and Enrique were forced to be absent until at least February. What makes me worried is that in our next 5 fixtures, we will have hard away games against Spurs, Chelsea and Man. City. However, the other top 6 teams also have to clash each other like Arsenal, Chelsea, City, Spurs, and Everton also have to clash each other
Versatility is the key here. When Sturridge is injured, Suarez has done very well being lone striker, scoring 5 goals in a row within two home games. Flanagan can pay the boss’ trust while replacing Enrique on the left back despite being right-footed and rarely played on the left (but he done that on LFC reserve games). Now move to CM position. When only Lucas and Allen left as natural CM / DM, what will the boss do to rotate the the squad while those two players being tired and still we have to visit Chelsea and Man. City?
Here are my solution, opinion based:
1. Back to 3 Center Back formation
Playing Toure/Agger with Skrtel and Sakho is my 1st choice. If you have 3 CB on the back, your pivot don’t have to duel that much and can minimize the ‘dirty tackle’ when lost possesion because within 3 CB, 1 CB will be wait inside the penalty box (like Srtel always does) and can do important clearance when needed. And the build up play from the back can be managed comfortably because 2 ball playing CB in Agger and Sakho
2. Agger or Sakho as CM with Lucas, Allen on AMF
I hope that Agger will be fit against Spurs, or if not, Sakho can be pushed a bit forward. Why Sakho? Because he is faster than Kolo and Skrtel and he can pas the ball well (92.1 % accuracy answered that), his 1.6 tackle per game and 2.6 interceptions per game can be very helpful. His physical duel can ease Lucas or Allen who has slender body.
3. Alberto to starts as AM
Now it’s time for our playmaker to play in his favorite position, Attacking MF. His through ball and game reading ability can help our forwards, he can switch position with Coutinho (2 playmaker is better than one, isn’t it?), so Allen and Lucas can be focused as pivot and contribute to defense in our 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 formation.
With Gerrard, Enrique, and Sturridge to comeback at least on February, while Henderson is expected to return on Chelsea and City games, I hope that we also can get maximum points against Cardiff and Hull. I also hope a good signing will come on early January. Up The Reds ! YNWA
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This could be seen as job done, completing the bare minimum expectations of six points from nine after dropping the first three against Hull at the start of the week. It could also be seen as job just about done, since it arguably should have been at least seven if not the full nine.
Brendan Rodgers’ side played pretty well against Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United side, with old boys Stewart Downing and Joe Cole having some time on the pitch of their former club, while Andy Carroll continued to sit out with a long-term problem. For the 20 minute period before and after half-time, Liverpool looked immense, moving the ball around with aplomb and crispness, interchanging their positions and trying to get in behind the defence. The other periods saw the Hammers try to get back into the game, mostly with long punts or crosses into the box, which Mamadou Sakho and Martin Skrtel dealt pretty decently – albeit the latter’s own goal came from some aerial pressure.
Joe Allen did improve on his decent performance from midweek against Norwich. With Steven Gerrard and him constantly switching between who goes forward and who sits back, Allen – when going forward – managed to find his team-mates in tight situations and did take on and dribble at the opposing defenders. When Lucas came on to replace Gerrard around the 60 minute mark, this allowed Allen to press higher up and freed him to go forward more, knowing Lucas would sit back. When West Ham got back to 2-1 and had some control of the game, Allen and Lucas, along with Jordan Henderson, formed a robust shield in front of the defence that stopped the likes of Mohamed Diame and Kevin Nolan from supporting Madibo Maiga.
[Check out the latest Featured Article: http://footballfollowing.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/wc2014-group-stage-draw-thoughts/ about the World Cup group stage draw that took place on Friday!]
Further, Raheem Sterling also improved on his goal and performance against Norwich. He constantly ran in behind the defence from Philipp Coutinho’s low as well as lofted through balls, and almost got an end to a few of them, most noticeably the shot that ended up just wide of Jussi Jaaskelainen’s far post. Sakho had an immense game at the back, dealing with most of the high balls and keeping Maiga in check – except for that one chance when Matt Jarvis found Maiga’s head, which drew a superb save from Simon Mignolet that even his opposite number Jaaskelainen applauded along with the Anfield faithful.
Luis Suarez, not as spectacular as midweek of course, still managed one headed goal from yesterday’s stand-in vice-captain Glen Johnson’s pinpoint cross, and also one deflected goal after feigning the West Ham defenders two, maybe three times.
Trip to White Hart Lane
As was the philosophy of looking at it one game at a time, this month has necessitated the need to look at the games in batches. Rodgers has navigated out of the first batch of December fixtures with some good performances but an above average points haul. How his side will fare in the next batch of fixtures before the new year will define Liverpool’s season. With away trips to Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City, along with the last home game of 2013 against Cardiff (not an easy fixture either – just ask City and David Moyes), this batch of four games should hopefully yield around eight or nine points out of a possible twelve – a win at either away match and two draws at the other two away games along with a Cardiff win. This is the most ideal and realistic hope for Rodgers to end the year on the high and in the running for a top 4 place…
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Saturday saw Liverpool come out on top in another thrilling Anfield performance, beating West Ham 4-1 to go 2nd in the Premier League. In a cagey first half that saw Mignolet make one world class stop to keep them level, the Reds broke the deadlock with a Guy Demel sized slice of luck. Liverpool added a 2nd through Mamadou Sakho early In the 2nd half, before being pegged back by a Martin Skrtel own goal. A Suarez inspired sided pressed back again though as the Uruguayan had a sot deflected in, and then headed home at the back post to seal the victory.
A Demel own goal gave the Reds the lead after 42 minutes. Thanks to @MostarLFC for sending the videos.
Demel Own Goal vs Liverpool by LFCmostar
Sakho makes it 2-0 early in the 2nd half.
Mamadou Sakho Goal vs West Ham United by LFCmostar
Skrtel scored another OG making the score 2-1.
Suarez makes it 3-1 with 9 mins to go.
Luis Suarez Goal vs West Ham by lfmostar
And then Suarez made it 4-1
Luis Suarez 2nd Goal vs West Ham by lfmostar
Daniel Agger misses the game due to illness as Sakho is called in to replace him, Lucas starts on the bench.
Former Red Stewart Downing starts for West Ham while Joe Cole is on the bench.
Starting XI : Mignolet, Flanagan, Sakho, Skrtel, Johnson, Allen, Gerrard, Henderson, Sterling, Coutinho, Suarez.
Subs : Jones, Cissokho, Kelly, Lucas, Moses, Alberto, Aspas.
West Ham : Jaaskelainen, Demel, McCartney, Collins, Tomkins, Noble, Diame, Nolan, Downing, Jarvis, Maiga
Subs : Adrian, O’Brien, Collison, Diarra, C.Cole, J.Cole, Taylor
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