Posts Tagged ‘Liverpool’
Thursday Feb 14Posted by: Matt Volpi Comments Off
It’s often been said about Steven Gerrard, given his penchant for dramatically decisive and crucially timed moments of magic, that the Liverpool captain is working to a script. That his moments of magic are so regular and wondrous that they could only be written by storytellers.
This was one script that got lost in translation.
As Liverpool-born Gerrard placed the ball on the penalty spot, where hordes of Liverpool players had previously fought to no avail in a crushing evening against West Bromwich Albion, Gerrard knew he had done this a thousand times before. In his garden as a child, on the training pitch as a man, and in some of Liverpool’s biggest games as a captain.
But this time, Gerrard was going to miss.
It was inevitable, really.
It was in the way Luis Suarez had bought the penalty from Jonas Olsson after fairly minor contact.
It was in the way that Stewart Downing had disappeared, head down and eyes on the grass, the longer the game had gone on.
It might not have been the script Gerrard was used to, or that he wanted. But it was a familiar scene that played out on Merseyside on Monday night.
Liverpool fans had once again paid full price for a repeat showing, and some left the theatre before the reel had finished, choosing to distance themselves from the horror on show. They will not be missed, even by those who had considered departing themselves.
Most pushed through until the referee at long last drew the whistle to his lips and brought an end to yet another disappointing night at Anfield. Many yelled insults at the players, angered and hurt by what they had endured, not just on the night in question, but over the last 10 years of dedicated fandom. Others sat numb, unable to process or form an appropriate reaction to another setback.
West Brom’s first goal seemed predictable. The second a mere formality. The final score an embarrassment.
It had been an evening of promise. Liverpool, coming off the back of two fantastic performances against top opposition, would be up for it. West Brom, who had not won since December, would be dispatched.
Even after 20 minutes, when Jonjo Shelvey had seen a goal ruled out for offside and Liverpool had cut through the Baggies defence several times without scoring, a win seemed likely.
By the hour mark however, enough shots and passes had gone astray to suggest that this was “one of those nights.”
Had the linesman failed to spot Jonjo Shelvey so lackadaisical in an offside position and permitted him the goal, it’s conceivable that the reds would have raced to a 3 or 4 goal win not dissimilar to those they have already notched against Norwich, Sunderland, Wigan and QPR this season.
Had Steven Gerrard been given the opportunity to take that penalty within the first half an hour of the game, he probably would have scored it.
Instead his shot and West Brom’s place in the top half of the table was saved by Ben Foster, the latest in a long line of goalkeeper’s to show their best form at Anfield.
Other manager’s will have been watching Steve Clarke’s side, who were content to soak up an unimaginative and unconfident Liverpool series of attacks until the late minutes, when Gareth McAuley headed in from a corner. It was Albion’s second shot of the game.
Clarke may seem like a manager that got lucky against a typically profligate Liverpool but the Scot should invite doubters to look at his resume.
It was him that worked closely with many of these players last season and he will have known the best way to shake up the fragile minds of the Liverpool ranks.
Even Gerrard, the heroic leader in the tale, was susceptible to the mental weakness that grips his side as soon as things start to go against them. It is all-encompassing, not just confined to the oft-picked upon likes of Stewart Downing, but in fact a deep psychological malaise.
This is a team so full of “confidence players” that it has become a confidence team.
After all, a team with the creative talents of Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard, two of the best players in the world, joined by a respectable supporting cast of Jordan Henderson, Downing and Glen Johnson, should be able to break down a side with the defensive frailties of West Bromwich Albion.
They could not, however. Not because they weren’t good enough, but because they weren’t headstrong enough.
It’s the same reason they started playing well against Manchester United at 2-0 down, with the pressure off.
Even in arguably their two greatest performances of the season, last week against Manchester City and Arsenal, the mental fragility was clear as day, a huge weakness in an otherwise excellent football team.
Liverpool are more scared of reaching the champions league than not reaching it, to the point where the team seem to fold pathetically in every game that matters towards reaching qualification.
Few teams can play the ball around quite as efficiently and attractively then Liverpool when they have a 1 or 2 goal lead against a team lower than them in the table, but the fact that they haven’t beaten a single top ten side tells its own story.
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It’s nearly three years since Daniel Pacheco made his debut for the first team under Rafael Benitez, replacing Alberto Aquilani against Fiorentina. Tales of this wonder kid, who had been doing brilliant things in Liverpool’s reserves, helping them win the League title, had been spreading like wildfire and filled supporters with hope that the club had unearthed another Fowler or Gerrard.
Three managers, Hodgson, Dalglish and Rodgers, have been in charge of Liverpool since that Champions League match and so far this player has failed to flourish under any of them. Consecutive loan spells at Norwich, Atletco Madrid and Rayo Vallecano followed, with Madrid even having the option to buy Pacheco. And now, the elevation of Sterling, Suso and Morgan, combined with the presence of squad players like Shelvey and Henderson, further undermines his chances of forging a career at Liverpool. So was all the hype false? When I had seen Pacheco play he looked skilful and scored some good goals. Although I’d have to admit, I did think he needed to bulk up a bit if he was to cope with the rigours of the Premier League.
Maybe under Brendan Rodgers, who thanks to an unfortunate transfer window finds himself with a depleted squad and a lack of quality options up front, Pacheco may get one more chance to show what he can do. Maybe he’s been unlucky. Or maybe he was overhyped. But it’s a bit disconcerting to see a young player with his supposed quality fail to make it at the club.
Three seasons is a long time for Pacheco to go without establishing himself. Don’t forget, this is a player who won the Golden Boot at the 2010 European Under-19 Championship so he undoubtedly has talent. When he was loaned to Norwich I was under the impression, like many, that it was an opportunity for him to get first team football and gain experience. However, the fact he was offered to Atletico on a permanent deal doesn’t bode well.
I would have thought the appointment of Rodgers as manager, who favours a fluid and skilful style of play, along with FSG’s policy of developing young players and introducing them to Liverpool’s first team, would be good news for this type of footballer. Hopefully Pacheco gets his chance to shine and takes it. I think it’s now or never Dani.
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Dear Mr Henry,
Firstly I would like to go on record and thank you with the utmost sincerity for rescuing the club from administration at the 11th hour a couple of years ago. I think I speak for Liverpool supporters from Breck Rd to Boston when I say we suffered greatly under the previous regime of Hicks and Gillett. They arrived with lots of big promises and failed to deliver the vast majority of them. This has taught us to be very wary of statements from owners and managers alike.
Kenny Dalglish is a Liverpool legend and although the performances in the league last season were not what anyone connected with Liverpool would have hoped for, he did steer the club to both the FA and Carling Cup finals, winning the latter. There were also signs that, in time, the league form would have improved as the team took on an attacking style of play and they dominated possession in many games. If we had added a proven, top class goal scorer we would probably have finished a lot higher up the table. The fact that the club still hasn’t added that player to the squad is obviously disappointing. If there is one type of player we need it is a natural goal scorer. You will therefore understand we are disappointed that this kind of player was not acquired in the transfer window before other players were allowed to leave.
It was a massive call to replace Kenny and an incredibly brave one. In Brendan Rodgers there’s no doubt that the club has a talented young manager. But the team has been dealt a tricky opening set of fixtures and the next two games against Sunderland (away) and Man Utd (at home) are extremely difficult. Supporters will recognise this but should we lose badly to United at home we will be incredibly unhappy. Losing to them at all is horrible for us fans but if we were humiliated it would be sickening.
The manager will inevitably need time to instil his beliefs and get the players to adapt to his style of play. And while there have been some encouraging signs already, it’s fair to say that yesterday’s performance against Arsenal was awful and, with all due respect to West Brom, a 3-0 defeat to a team of their stature is not good.
What’s worrying is that many of the problems at the club under previous managers, both on and off the field, are sill evident. Specifically we need iron out the following problems:
1. Transfers. I understand form a business point of view there are limits to what we can afford to pay when buying players. But in addition to not overpaying for players, we need to stop allowing players to leave for less money than they are worth. Allowing Charlie Adam to leave for almost half what we paid for him a year earlier is madness. Over the years we have repeatedly lost money when selling players including McMananman, Owen, Keane and Aquilani, to name a few.
2. A goal scorer. It’s fair to say that since Torres left we have failed to replace him with someone who will score 20 or 30 goals a season. Liverpool have been lucky enough to have some great natural goal scorers over the years such as Rush, Aldridge and Fowler. Whilst Borini looks like he has the potential to score lots of goals, he isn’t proven and the fact that we haven’t added this type of player when we have been desperately lacking one for the last two seasons doesn’t offer much encouragement.
3. Players getting in the box. This point is linked to the previous one. A natural goal scorer like Robbie Fowler would get into the positions that other players wouldn’t. These types of players have a knack of being in the right place at the right time. But scoring goals isn’t about one player getting into the box. When you watch successful teams attacking they have several players in there, looking to get on the end of the ball. Too often we only have one player in there which means any pass has to be perfect and it’s a lot easier for teams to defend against. This has been a weakness of ours for too long.
4. Closing players down. Again this is a problem that has existed for a while now. Our defenders don’t seem to close players down. Often they allow the opposition to run 20 yards from the half way line with the ball. It happened several times in yesterday’s match against Arsenal where players, notably Diaby, were invited to run at our defenders. This is surprising because Brendan Rodgers likes his players to press when they don’t have possession but our defenders are still doing it. This gives players the chance to shoot from inside the box, and even if they don’t score it often leads to penalties or corners. We shouldn’t be allowing the opposition to run at goal with the ball. It’s better to make a challenge further up the pitch rather than wait until players are inside our penalty area.
I hope this letter is taken in the manner with which it is meant. I believe both you and Tom Werner have the club’s best interests at heart and I don’t mean to insult you in any way. But when you bought Liverpool Football Club you said you wanted to hear what the fans were thinking and this is how I feel. I’m only writing this because I want the club be successful.
A life-long Liverpool supporter
Last Sunday, Liverpool took to Anfield for the first time in the 2012/13 Barclays Premier League season to take on the current champions, Manchester City.
The game finished 2-2, with Liverpool gaining the lead twice before Martin Skrtel made an unfortunate error to give Carlos Tevez the ball in front of Pepe Reina, with the Argentinian rounding the goalkeeper to give City a point they arguably did not deserve.
Liverpool were a marked improvement on the side that so often disappointed at home the season before. Joe Allen bossed the midfield with accurate, intelligent passing. Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly bombarded up the flanks. Raheem Sterling gave Kolo Toure a day to forget with his speed and skill, while Luis Suarez grabbed his first league goal of the season with a superb free kick.
Liverpool pressed, pushed and harried Manchester City, not allowing the Champions to play their fluent, attacking brand of football, whilst on the ball they conserved possession wonderfully with intricate, clever link up play. Lucas Leiva, a man whose unfortunate injury last season greatly harmed Liverpool’s quest for a top four spot, was pulled off with a thigh problem. Yet Jonjo Shelvey came in to fill the spot left by the Brazilian and was superb, with Jordan Henderson and Nuri Sahin waiting in the wings.
Hours of anger and thoughts of what might have been followed the conclusion of the game, but by the time Monday came around, a renewed sense of optimism that had come with the initial appointment of Brendan Rodgers had once again burrowed its place in the minds of Liverpool fans.
And now, just a week later, the same fans feel nothing but disappointment at the summer’s transfer dealings and dread at what horrors another season without a goalscorer might hold.
What has changed?
Andy Carroll, a player who managed 58 games, 11 goals and possibly less than 10 performances to the standard of what he so often showcased at Newcastle, has gone on loan to West Ham, where doubtless the taunts of “Carthorse” and “Donkey” will dissipate into nothingness to be replaced by compliments towards his success playing for a team that plays so well to his strengths. Meanwhile, his success is likely to be confused with improvement and an ability to play in Brendan Rodgers system, which of course, he does not have.
This is no criticism of Andy, just a simple truth that his skills and strengths do not suit the philosophy and tactics exhibited and preferred by the current Liverpool manager.
Meanwhile Charlie Adam, Jay Spearing and Nathan Eccleston, each offering nothing but mediocrity in recent performances at Liverpool have departed.
Deadline day is over.
Before it Liverpool were enshrined in positivity, now, their fans rage and fume on the internet.
To put it simply, Clint Dempsey was MEANT to sign on deadline day. Throughout the entire summer, Dempsey had been a target for Rodgers and Liverpool, with an enquiry submitted early into the manager’s reign. Yet when the deadline came, the American had not signed for the Reds, but for Tottenham, who stole Gylfi Sigurdsson out from the Anfield car park earlier on in the window.
Why he did not, we cannot know. The knowledge we have is that Liverpool refused to increase their bid to the required amount and thus lost their chance, with Spurs able to stump up just a small part of the cash they had received from the sales of Modric and Van Der Vaart.
But is the reaction of anguish and disgust necessary?
Death threats have been sent to owners FSG via Twitter. Not only is this vile and uncalled for, it also does not make sense.
Some Liverpool fans have shown themselves to have incredibly short memories. When Fenway Sports Group and its principle owners John Henry and Tom Werner took over Liverpool in October 2010, they saved a club from tyranny and debt left upon it by less likeable Americans, Tom Hicks and George Gillett.
Ousting Roy Hodgson, inarguably the worst Liverpool manager in the Premier League era, and reuniting King Kenny Dalglish with his beloved club, was the next step. Over £100 million invested in players to relaunch Liverpool’s champions league dream came next.
And after all that, they are chastised for not signing Clint Dempsey.
2011’s stunning transfer spree was FSG’s big hit, their display of power and statement of intent and belief in Liverpool Football Club.
Unfortunately, it was wasted.
Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson may well yet become wonderful Liverpool players, particularly the latter, but there is no questioning that the price paid for each of them was vastly too great, whilst the extortionate fee paid to bring Andy Carroll to Anfield has already been dissected and demolished for its inexcusably irresponsible use of £35 million.
Slaughtered by the press for their signings, Liverpool finished eighth despite the massive investment placed in the squad.
And after such reckless and ambitious spending last summer backfired, FSG can surely be forgiven for showing some restraint in the transfer market this time around.
Nevertheless, due to the reaction from the fans and the obvious lack of forwards now in the squad, Liverpool now have until January to find a target, and make sure they bring him in to provide back-up for Fabio Borini and Luis Suarez.
But until then, Liverpool will have to manage. And manage they will.
A strong defence remains, while Liverpool’s signings have been astute and may give them the most talented midfield in the country.
Meanwhile Raheem Sterling has shown incredible promise for such a young man, and Luis Suarez remains an incredible talent capable of changing any game, even if his finishing can be wayward.
Their expected first team until then will be: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique, Sahin, Allen, Gerrard, Suarez, Borini, Sterling.
It’s the same team that stopped the league champions from playing their own game at Anfield last week, but with the addition of Nuri Sahin from Real Madrid and the return of Daniel Agger from suspension.
And that’s encouraging, Dempsey or not.
This article has little to do with Liverpool, although with what happened to Luis Suarez last season, I thought some people who read these posts might find it interesting.
So the FA have fined Rio Ferdinand £45,000 for calling Ashley Cole a ‘choc ice’ via Twitter. That’ll teach him a lesson. He’s a multi millionaire – losing around a third of his weekly wage – it hardly puts him on the bread line.
I’m not suggesting for one moment that Rio Ferdinand, a black man, is a racist. Just like I don’t believe that Luis Suarez, the grandson of a black man, is racist. But surely the point in question has to be whether Ferdinand was guilty of using a racist term. And the answer is clearly yes.
The term ‘choc ice’ is extremely racist. It implies that a black person is black only in skin colour but inside they are really white. And it’s meaning is especially dangerous because it allows black people to believe that there is a way of being black that is somehow distinct from being white.
And that’s the problem right there.
If a white footballer had tweeted the same comment it would have been judged in an entirely different manner. Racism will only be taken seriously, when everyone is judged by the same rules.
We see in films, music videos and the like, where black people use the ‘N’ word. Why should it be any more acceptable for a black person to call another black person that word than it is for a white person? Surely it still means the same thing. People, regardless of their skin colour, either have freedom of speech or they don’t. There can’t be one rule for one person and another for someone else.
I can’t help but think the FA are responsible for allowing this whole situation to escalate. They waited, expecting John Terry to be found guilty in a court of law and his fate to be out of their hands. A guilty verdict would have led to him not only losing the England captaincy but also never representing his country again. They would then have found it easy to dish out a similar punishment to the one that was given to Suarez. However, they got their eyes wiped. Not only did Terry’s trial take longer than expected to be heard, which forced England manager Roy Hodgson to choose between him and Ferdinand for the Euro 2012 squad, he also was found not guilty. They have now charged him and I suspect he will also be found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute rather than racially abusing a fellow player. His punishment? Probably a meaningless fine.
Do most people believe John Terry used the term in the manner he claims? I don’t think so. Are most people right? Only he knows. But the FA should have taken decisive action. And they should have done the same now with Rio Ferdinand. Unfortunately they’ve allowed a nasty can of worms to be opened because it looks like black footballers can use certain terms that white players cannot. But the issue goes beyond footballers. This will inevitably trickle outside of the game and onto the playground, with kids copying their heroes. And that is F****** Atrocious.
25th May 1977- the footballing world was submerged in fear. That night sent shock waves around the world. Liverpool Football Club had risen. Paisley’s men had won the European Cup. A first for this illustrious club. A club had risen, and was going to takeover the footballing world. Those scenes will always be remembered in the hearts of many.
It was a terrific night, a night that changed the course of England’s most famous football club.
And then the club went into a slumber. A dormant period. But 28 years after the first, on 25th May 2005 a fifth arrived
The glory days were on the horizon, nostalgia kicked in, scenes of Paisley’s men transpired into scenes of Rafa’s men. Liverpool Football Club had risen once again. Like a sleeping giant woken, Liverpool Football Club was back.
7 years to this day we were celebrating our victory of the previous night, a 5th European Cup.
The joy, the happiness, the excitement. It all seemed right, it all seemed perfect. But was this a false dawn? Was this just another case of false hope?
Look where we are now. A third season in a row without the Champions League. an 8th place finish to add to our 7th and 6th place finishes in the previous two seasons. This is not the Liverpool Football Club that rose that night of 1977 in Rome, and this is not the same Liverpool Football Club that returned that night in Istanbul.
We fans need a reality check. We are guilty of living in our past glories. Its one thing to admire the past, its another to live in it. Our past is no more of an excuse for us. This is the reality, this is it. We are not the giants we once were, far from it. We are not the best in England anymore. Not even close. We are once again that club that is looking to rise once more.
A new dawn is upon Liverpool, a new era. Fenway Sports Group are trying to put in a brand new footballing structure into the club. A more modern approach. King Kenny has gone, and Rafael Benitez is not going to return. We are completely leaving behind our past as we look forward. Its a bit sad, we are a club of tradition, values, principles and make no mistake not a single Red around the World will ever forget this but we are on the brink of a new modern era that doesnt involves the same approach that Shankly and Paisley had employed. Thats the harsh reality isnt it? We need modernity to move forward. One might even argue the club’s past has held us back.
When Kenny was removed last week it angered many. One of our own had gone. Calls of “this is not the Liverpool Way” rang out. It was a brave decision from the owners but one which had to be made. Liverpool had to move forward, and leave behind its past. We needed to move forward with a new manager, and as sad as it is, Kenny Dalglish had to be left behind. It was my dream to once again see King Kenny in the Anfield dugout, but some dreams are better left as that- just dreams. Make no mistake, Kenny saved this club, stability returned, a trophy was here and the more than anything else, there was hope. Dalglish made us dream once more. But the price of a poor league campaign was too much in the modern era.
Now as we await the announcement of a new manager, one who will work under a Sporting Director, a new era begins, a new era of hope, excitement and expectation (realistic expectation I hope). Traditionally a manager had full control of LFC, but with this new modern approach, if reports are to be believed the manager wont have full control. Its a bold move, but one that is needed. As stated, the club needs to move forward into a new era.
All we can do as fans is get behind the new man, whoever it is. Get behind the players, get behind the club and have faith in the ownership. It is going to take some time, it is going to take some effort, but Liverpool Football Club will rise once more. We have the best fans in the world and we will continue to do so, that is something no one can take away from us. We have our principles, ethics and traditions, and no one will take that away from us. But with all the backlash occurring against the owners, the sacking of the King, the rumours of Martinez, we as Liverpool fans need to remember our traditions, even if the club goes modern. We get behind the team no matter what, we support them no matter what. If Liverpool Football Club needs to rise, it needs its fans.
You see the resemblance there? The passion is exactly the same decades apart.
Thats what we need.
Keep the Faith
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