Liverpool beat Dortmund 4-0 in their final pre-season friendly at Anfield with goals from Sturridge, debutant Lovren, Coutinho and Henderson and Chris was there to give you his Uncensored Match Reaction.
Sunday Aug 10Posted by: Ben Green Comments Off
Liverpool welcomed German Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund to Anfield this afternoon for their last pre-season game of 2014. After a summer of busy transfer activity from Brendan Rodgers, it was the last test of the side before the Barclays Premiership gauntlet is thrown down next weekend and a chance to see some of the clubs new players in the famous red jersey..
The Liverpool Boss fielded a strong team for their illustrious visitors which included the first Anfield starts for newcomers Dejan Lovren, Emre Can, and surprisingly, young Atlético Madrid loanee Javier Manquillo at right back with Glen Johnson shifted to the left flank. Jürgen Klopp’s lineup included one of their new signings, the Columbian Andre Ramos and former Liverpool target Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Noticeable absentees for Dortmund were Marco Reus and World Cup winning centre back Mats Hummels. Underlining the history between the two sides, the visiting support, joined in with You’ll Never Walk Alone, to bring a nice touch and an air of solidarity to encapsulate the friendly occasion. Respect.
The hosts started brightly with their now customary high tempo, pressing game clearly evident. The full backs Johnson and Manquillo pushing up to support the central midfield duo of Jordan Henderson and the impressive Can. The wet Anfield turf nicely assisted Liverpool’s slick passing and movement. Early chances fell to Sterling and Henderson with a low shot and chip respectively. The home side’s intent was clear. The visitors struggled to contain the home side with Steven Gerrard marshalling expertly in front of the two centre backs and the industry of Can and Henderson evident. A breakthrough looked inevitable and it duly arrived after nine minutes.
An inch-perfect first-time through ball from Philippe Coutinho wrong-footing a crowded midfield into the path of Daniel Sturridge. The forward controlling the ball before calmly slotting home across goal with the outside of his lethal left foot, 1-0. The Studge followed. Fingers raised to the skies above in acknowledgement. Business as usual. Rodger’s men continued to press and harry their visitors with Henderson, Can, Coutinho and Raheem Sterling particularly impressive early on. In fact, the whole team looked safe, assured, and threatening going forward and at the back. Less than five minutes later, Liverpool extended their lead, with debutant Lovren contributing at the other end.
Gerrard’s centred corner from the Liverpool left was met in text-book fashion by Lovren who steered his effort into the Dortmund net. The visiting defence, it has to be said were more than guilty in conceding their second of the afternoon with some shambolic defending from the set piece. The home side were now two goals to the good and looking excellent value. A 20 minute spell of Dortmund pressure followed but their forays failed to bring any significant threat to Simon Mignolet’s goal. The Reds’ high tempo game the perfect foil for anything the men from Nordrhein-Wesphalen could muster. Lovren remained as tough and clinical in front of his own goal as he was in taking his goal.
On 47 minutes, Rodgers’ men put the game beyond doubt. A poor cross-field pass from the visiting centre-back was picked up by the busy Sterling on the Liverpool left. His burst of speed took him past his marker and his low centre was neatly collected by Coutinho who jinked past two challenges to despatch his left foot shot past the despairing Mitchell Langerak. 3-0 with half time beckoning and the hosts in total control.
The second half saw the introduction for Martin Kelly at right back, Jose Enrique on the opposite side and Lucas Leiva into the midfield alongside Jordan Henderson. Numerous substitutions were made by Klopp also but in fairness to him, the game as a competition, was over. This was reflected in the game as Liverpool’s first half fizz subsided somewhat. The side still maintained a good level of concentration however, and it was good game management from the Reds. Noticeable though, was Lucas’ clumsiness in the challenge which only gives weight to the Manager’s decision to seek alternatives for him. Enrique on the other hand looked reasonably comfortable for a player that hasn’t played in anger for almost a year.
On 60 minutes, the home side put the game well and truly beyond their visitors and underlined the gulf in class on the day. Some superb pass-and-move interplay on the Liverpool left between Sterling, Coutinho, Sturridge and Henderson led to the fourth from Henderson. Much to Langerak’s fury with a (justified) suspicion of offside earlier in the move. That said, a thoroughly deserved reward for Henderson and his afternoon’s efforts. The game was played out to the usual mass of substitutions. Klopp mainly and rightly so, with an eye on his sides German Super Cup Final with Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
Liverpool ran out comfortable winners today and the level of intensity and understanding in the team was a massive bonus for the fans. On this showing, it’s clear the side are ready for the new season and one has to be optimistic. Dortmund were by no means at their best, but they remain a quality scalp nonetheless. Rodgers does still need a striker to partner Sturridge. I wouldn’t say it’s a vital as everybody thought in the wake of Luis Suarez’s departure. Luis who…? You may well ask.
Follow me on Twitter: @Mrbengreen
Sunday Aug 10Posted by: Ben Green Comments Off
As the dust settled on the 2013/14 season and Liverpool finishing in second place, confounding their own fans and rivals alike, a disappointed Brendan Rodgers vowed to “go one better next season…”.
Many of us believed him. “Next year will be our year” we all thought. In a season that saw Manchester United reduced to title also-rans and Tottenham and Arsenal imploding when the going got tough, Liverpool were able to capitalise and very nearly brought home their 19th title. Sadly it wasn’t to be. Poor defending, individual errors and the lack of that little bit of luck on occasion finally cost them.
So here we are, a week away from the kick off to the season after the season that was and Brendan Rodgers’ men will need to live up to some lofty expectations. Champions aside, last terms challengers have all strengthened. Arsenal have enlisted the services of, among others, Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona, Calum Chambers from Southampton and Newcastle’s Mathieu Debuchy. Chelsea’s close season additions include Diego Costa from Atlético Madrid, ex-Arsenal favourite Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona and Filipe Luis also from Atlético. All impressive signings and established talents that one expects will make an immediate impact to their respective sides.
At this time, Liverpool have recruited Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren from Southampton and Emre Can from Bayer Leverkusen among others. These names, with the exception of Lallana do not seem to ooze the same quality of the new arrivals at the third and fourth placed teams from last season. Other than Lallana, Lovren and perhaps Can who is the closest thing the club have in terms of a replacement for Steven Gerrard, I don’t see much improvement to the current side. To be fair to Rodgers though, the team for the most part, is not that bad. It’s more squad players that were needed and his signings appear to confirm this, replacing the likes of Iago Aspas.
The inevitable departure of Luis Suarez will definitely have an impact on Rodgers’ side next season and the fact that the club have failed thus far to find a suitable replacement has to be a concern. It’s near-on impossible to find another 30 goals-plus striker to replace the Uruguayan. That said a replacement that you could look to for 20 goals would be sufficient in my eyes. Asking Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho to find another 10 goals between them is not unreasonable in my opinion. In fact, it’s the least one can expect from three of Liverpool’s best performers last season.
The noises in the press about Radamel Falcao are fanciful at best. He doesn’t have the profile of Rodgers’ Liverpool player. Edinson Cavani perhaps? Wilfried Bony, better still as an established Premiership player. Get Marco Reus and Christmas has come early! The German is probably the most complete forward player around and in him Liverpool would have an attacking midfielder and a striker in one quality package.
One area I am happy (well, happier) with is the back four. Lovren is the type of player Liverpool have missed and I believe he and Mamadou Sakho would make a very strong centre pairing. With Martin Skrtel and (hopefully) Sebastian Coates as back up, there should be good competition for those positions. I don’t think the purchase of Javier Manquillo will make much difference because the lad hasn’t been brought in with an immediate impact in mind. If Jose Enrique really is fit again, then he and Glen Johnson will provide the full back bodies. Like many supporters, I’d like to see Jon Flanagan given a good run at right back. The young Spaniard Alberto Moreno – should he arrive – seems like a good prospect for the opposite flank. Let’s face it, they can’t be any worse than Glenda and Enrique, so why not?
All told next season will be a test of the Fenway Sports Group’s recruitment policy of buying potential. If this is the case, then it’s probably well worth Liverpool supporters putting the “No.19″ t-shirts on hold for the time being. Rodgers’ signings have mostly been about potential and given the fact that the side are a striker short, going one better next season may well just be a wish too far for the time being.
The top four is a realistic target for the Reds. I’d even go so far as to say they can challenge again. Third place doesn’t seem as fanciful going into this season as fourth place did going into last season and we all know what happened then.
Follow me on Twitter: @Mrbengreen
Sunday Aug 10Posted by: Guest Writer Comments Off
The media has hounded Liverpool, and Brendan Rodgers in particular, ever since the sale of Luis Suarez was confirmed. Media speculation has now reached feverish proportions whose temperature is fueled by the assumption that Liverpool must buy a like-for-like replacement before the end of August. All of which is despite the following statement made by Rodgers in late July:
“Maybe for the media there is guessing how we spend the money but you only spend the money if the players are there. What we can’t do is spend for the sake of it.”
So, while there may be considerable pressure and fervor for Liverpool to sign a big name replacement in the next few weeks, a replacement signing should not be taken as a forgone conclusion. Liverpool’s title rivals would surely delight in any failure in this regard, but Liverpool don’t have the resources of some and cannot afford to misspend the Suarez funds in pursuit of a quick solution. One only needs to possess a cursory understanding of the whole Torres-Carroll affair to know the truth of this. In fact, Liverpool’s learning from a hard school has come not only through this poorly considered decision, but also through two decades of similar decision-making errors. It now appears that they are pursuing a more considered and long-term approach to their thinking. Where a player’s mentality, beyond his playing proficiency, has become a key component of any recruiting decisions. During the tour of the USA, Rodgers supported this point by saying:
“The character is important. It is not just about the player, but the right type of person. I want players that are committed to the cause to make Liverpool the best we can be. I want players resting when they should be resting, training hard and working hard and focusing on their life as footballers. We have brought in those types. It is footballing qualities and human qualities we want.”
It is curious therefore that players such as Balotelli, and even Cavani and Falcao, are being mentioned, in connection with Liverpool, so often in the media. It is indeed possible that Liverpool might defer a long-term investment decision, if a suitable candidate is not immediately available, through a one-year loan acquisition for one of these types of high-profile players. But, their ‘human qualities’, and frankly avaricious tendencies, seem incongruous with the profile of player’s Rodgers and the Fenway Sports Group is clearly seeking as the basis of a longer-term investment in the team. If in fact such a discerning recruitment method is the root behind the lack of progress to date, it comes in stark contrast to the pursuits of many of Liverpool’s main rivals. Yet, this does not mean that those alternate pursuits are preferable the long- or short-term.
Consider Real Madrid’s seemingly unquenchable appetite for paying over the odds for any player whose name becomes big enough to warrant high-levels of media attention. Or the use of oil and gas money to finance wanton spending sprees by mid-table teams suddenly possessed by the need for global, let alone national, domination. While such practices have spawned additional ethical scrutiny, FIFA and the FA have been slow and inefficient in their response. The fact is that the cat is out of the bag on such dubious investment practices. The response from many individuals in those governing bodies has been to lap up some of the extra milk and cheese coming into the sport and become fat cat’s themselves rather than truly addressing concerns of financial fair play.
While such unrestrained investment is not an option for Liverpool, this may not be such a bad thing. It seems that world football is at a moral and ethical precipice where its competitive essence is being undermined by the widening gap between the David’s and Goliath’s. Any further widening is sure to be insurmountable for some fans that may see little point in supporting their local team of David’s, ultimately causing them to lose interest in the sport all together. Such a potential outcome is eventually going to result in FIFA and the FA emerging from their slumber to impose draconian financial controls, similar to those imposed in the NFL, as a means of over-correcting for their lack of pro-action. What is also likely is that more hardy fans of the sport, especially those without birthplace and family affiliations, will increasingly choose to support team’s who pursue success through their efforts on the pitch and not through the efforts of their financiers. It is, after all, human nature to root against those with indomitable power.
While the fervor continues about how much money Liverpool is going to spend, and which big-name replacement they may or may not be pursuing, it is important to remember the broader context and spirit behind the sport. It is not the pursuit of victory at all costs. It is victory within the confines of fair competition and by those who display the most sporting prowess that ultimately underpins its renown as ‘the beautiful game’. This was also the Shankly way, the Paisley way; through these great leaders it became synonymous with the Liverpool way. So, if Liverpool opts for a more financially controlled and considered path as a means of competing with those that would choose otherwise, it should not be met with derision. Suggesting it should be met with applause could be stretching the matter. Yet, this path is preferable for the ethical integrity of what it means to support Liverpool, and the sport of football for that matter. Any fruits harvested by such efforts would surely be twice as sweet as well, and once reaped would move the victors into a pantheon of higher standing and respect than any oil and gas conglomerate could buy.
Liverpool wrap up their 2014 pre-season with the visit of Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund side to Anfield. Ahead of the game Chris and Paul bring you a mini version of the usual Uncensored Match Build Up Show..
Paul is at Anfield to discuss the latest Liverpool transfer rumours including a reported enquiry for Monaco’s supposedly Madrid-bound striker Radamel Falcao, as well as PSG’s Edinson Cavani…