Thursday, February 28, 2008
1.) Gerrard & the team, it seemed that he has this command over the team whereby many of the players felt compelled to pass to him when on the pitch, many a times I have noticed that the players could not play their normal game because of that. Kewell in his early days was very keen to run at defenders but many a times I saw him pad to square it 5 yards to Gerrard rather than take on the defenders and try to put the cross in. Lucas is another, on his first start, he did ok, but he would pass to Gerrard time and again even though there's better option. Once the players have more confidence and dare to "defy" this, we would be a better team.
2.) His best position, to me his best position is on the right of either a 4 - 3 - 3 or 4 - 4 - 2 or 4 - 5 - 1, in a nut shell he should play on the right. I asked Phil Neal the same question when he was down, and Neal answered that he felt that Gerrard is isolated and wasn't as involved when playing on the right and at times looked disinterested. I disagree with that, to me that would solve a lot if not all of the problems. With him on the right, the focus would shift to the right, dragging the opposite midfielder and left back towards him, leaving space in the middle for the likes of Alonso, Mascherano, Lucas or whoever playing rooms to exploit. With that the left side would be better with the likes of Babel, Kewell, Benayoun, Pennant vying for the spot, they could easily cut in and take a shot or go wide and put the cross in. This would also, take the focal point of attack from middle to the right. Which suits us fine, it's easier to play when everyone is concentrate on the right rather than middle, making it less congested. Don't forget, with him on the right, Alonso or Lucas in the middle, the threat become more as any of them could take a pop at goal either from the right or in the middle, regardless who's playing upfront. Another thing is that playing on the right doesn't mean he has to stay there all game, he can drift in and support or switch flanks. With a powerhouse like him on the right compare to a nimble footed player, I would go for Gerrard as he could power pass the player, release an overlapping right back, and head towards the near post for headers or loiter just outside of the area for 2nd balls.
3.) His heart, there's no denying that his heart is at Liverpool, but for how long? Don't forget his best friend left because he didn't think Liverpool weren't good enough and resulting us winning number 5. Would he follow suit? Maybe but not in the next couple of years. Even if he does, many reckoned that he would not play with the same heart and desire as with when he was playing at Liverpool.
4.) His actions, many reckoned he is wrong in coming out and say things like that but read it how you want as he is a fan like us who's priviledge enough to play for the team he loves. Also, because of his quality and the number of times he had rescued us, on top of that the media keep drumming the "Gerrard, the saviour" "Gerrard the man" thing, he began to believe in that and became Stevie Me, if somehow he can keep his feet on the ground or someone can drum that into him, he would become an even better player. All we need is a manager to tell him "think you're the man? Show me you're the man on the pitch. You said you love the team? Do as I say and I assure you that you'll be the man and win things with the team". The thing is that he believed too much of the media hype and sulk when he doesn't get the central role which is more glamorous. Perhaps he gets jealous when the plaudits goes to others.
5.) His form, many commented his form dipped lately, but if you watch closely, he has matured as a player, knows when to hold back and when to make the runs. Credit to the coaching team who pointed out the benefit of that to him, letting others take charge once in a while, only if they can coax him to play on the right on permanent basis, then we'll have a world beater on our hands.
6.) Selling him, there are benefits and disadvantage in selling him, one is obviously you just don't sell your best player, but is he is the root of the problem, perhaps that is the best way, and if we get a decent offer of say 25 - 30M (don't think anyone would offer more than that), perhaps we can use it to get a couple or 3 very good players that more than able to take his place. In fact, I reckon the saga back in 2005 had a big effect on the current team. When it was evident that he would go to Chelsea for 25M (or was it 35M? And according to me sources, he was supposed to go to Barca rather than Chelsea), Rafa would've already line up players to buy with that money, not necessarily his replacements, as we had Alonso and Didi then, not to mention Momo later (but that is later), with that, Rafa would be able to concentrate on more pressing issues such as striker and that right sided player that we so needed. With the budget thrown in, we could've built a good team capable of challenging for the title as the "disrupting force" is no longer there and that the players Rafa wanted to bring in would be his type of players who'd play for the team rather than themselves. HIs dramatic U turn threw everything in the air with Rafa had less money to spend on players and the so called disturbance is still there, albeit a very good player, but you get the drift.
7.) What now? The best solution in my humble opinion would be try and coax him into playing on the right, don't forget, he is a "fragile" character too, always needing that arm around him to reassure him that he is still the man although he is on the right, if that can happen, then we would have an exciting next season to look forward too with him bombing down the right and Torres and whoever banging in the goals.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
With the help of the Malaysian RED and WHITE KOP (MyRAWK) guys, I was able to get in touch with the right people for a special night in Singapore. My trip to Singapore was for 6 days on personal matters. However, I managed to smack in between my trip, a view of the LFC vs Barnsley game. As such I was determined to catch the game with the famed EAST OF ANFIELD, independent Liverpool Football Club supporters from Singapore.
As I was inspired by a trip down south by our resident terrorist, theALBERTUS, I had a pretty good l idea on what to expect. In fact, it was Tony and our resident terrorist theAlbertus, who put me in contact with Anand, who was my gracious host for the night.
So off I went using the MRT to City Hall station and met up with Anand at the station. Being the gracious host that he is, he showed me around the area before making our way to CHIMES.
When we got there, we had just missed the singing of YNWA by the lads, but I heard them singing from far away.
The lads of EOA are famous throughout Singapore and parts of South East Asia. I had heard from the guys that had been to a game with the lads of EOA that they are really vociferous and a passionate lot. In my personal opinion, that is an understatement. There are no words to describe the lads of EOA when it comes to their passion and singing noise level. Songs were sung as if you were in concert stadium with songs like Fields of Anfield Road and Scouser Tommy. There were also, some creative spur of the moment chants.
It was absolutely amazing………. Of course not forgetting the ultimate classic You’ll Never Walk Alone , which everyone gathered around with arm over shoulders reminds me of schoolboys around a camp fire and belting it out like there was no tomorrow.
During the game the usual outburst of anger and frustration were heard but the one thing I will never forget is the song they sang during halftime. He’s FAT, He’s Shit, and (censored), Wayne Rooney…. Wayne Rooney
However, it would have had the perfect evening if only the Reds won. A last minute winner definitely burst the atmosphere like an arrow thru a balloon but that didn’t stop us belting the songs over and over again until I lost my voice.
A big special thanks to Anand and the lads of EOA for the warm welcome.
Also thanks to Albertus and Tony for getting me in touch with the lads.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Last Updated: 1:43am GMT 24/02/2008, direct source from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml?xml=/sport/2008/02/24/sfgliv124.xml
Liverpool 3 VS 2 Middlesborough
There is no doubt the individual magnificence of Fernando Torres is indispensable to this Liverpool team. Imperiously converting his first Premier League hat-trick, he has hit 21 goals this season and in so doing carried his team-mates back into fourth place, keeping the Anfield crowd on a high after the midweek heroics against Internazionale. It was harsh on the visitors, but the winds of El Nino simply swept brave Boro away.
Torres, a club record signing this summer at £26.5 million, has exceeded all expectations in his virgin season and has thoroughly vindicated Benitez's decision to buy the 23-year-old Spanish international.
"In terms of adaptation it is not easy for a player coming here from European football," Benitez said. "But we knew that he had power and pace and that pace can sometimes kill defenders in England. We were monitoring two or three other options, but we decided on Torres because he is young and hungry and he has the condition to play well in the Premier League. It is difficult to score 20 goals in any year, but it is especially hard in your first year at a club."
Benitez the rotator has often decided to rest his top scorer, much to the frustration of the Liverpool supporters, and he refused to guarantee that he would not do so again. "If we had one game a week it would be easy for me," Benitez said. "But it is not easy for a player to play three or four games in eight days. We need to see how the players are."
Without Torres, Liverpool would likely have lost this game.
Middlesbrough came into the match unbeaten in eight games and eased into an early lead against a somnolent Liverpool. Stewart Downing curled in an in-swinging free-kick from the right and, in attempting to play the Boro attack offside, Sami Hyypia and Steve Finnan moved up too slowly and Tuncay Sanli had a simple job to head in from close range. The organisational qualities of the suspended Jamie Carragher were badly missed.
"We knew that after a Champions League week it can be a bit flat for teams the following weekend," said Gareth Southgate. "We knew if we started well we could cause them some problems. We were very disciplined in the way we played until a mad two minutes turned the game on its head."
In those 120 seconds Torres turned Liverpool's deficit into a lead. First he scampered onto Julio Arca's undercooked back-header to take the ball around Mark Schwarzer and score. With the adrenaline still pumping, he received the ball from Fabio Aurelio some 25 yards from goal and disdainfully thumped the ball inside the near post for the pick of his three goals.
The lively Tuncay seemed to equalise 10 minutes before the break as he bundled in Downing's excellent cross from the left touchline, but he had clearly used the top of his arm and was rightly booked. Just before the half-time whistle the Turkish forward weaved down the left and teed up Gary O'Neil, who shanked his shot when well positioned.
It was another Boro error that gifted Torres his third. Dirk Kuyt, Liverpool's Sisyphean striker, makes everything look difficult these days, so there seemed little hope when he punted what is euphemistically termed a 'percentage ball' in the vague direction of Torres. David Wheater hesitated under the ball while Schwarzer came sprinting out of his area, with the upshot that neither dealt with the problem and Torres steered the ball into the empty net. Minutes later Torres was only denied a fourth by a fine reaction save from the Australian goalkeeper.
Boro were far from done, though. Arca found Downing cutting in from the left flank and the England winger's outstanding first touch left Finnan stranded, allowing him to poke the ball between the legs of the advancing Jose Reina. Yet just as Boro's late rally was gathering momentum, Jeremie Aliadiere reacted to Javier Mascherano's impish nose-tweak with a slap and was shown a straight red card, despite having already been booked.
Benitez allowed Torres to milk a standing ovation by replacing him with Peter Crouch for the final moments. By then his sole remaining challenge was convincing the officials to part with the match ball so he could carry it off clutched to his chest, like a proud schoolboy.
Man of the matchFernando Torres (Liverpool) • Four shots, three goals• 67 per cent passing accuracy
Having scored seconds earlier, Fernando Torres picked up the ball 25 yards from goal and in a blink it was in the bottom corner.
Jeremie Aliadiere was impressive but as Middlesbrough pressed for a late equaliser he lost his composure when provoked by Javier Mascherano’s impish nose-tweak and slapped the Argentine’s face.
Goals: Tuncay (9) 0-1; Torres (28) 1-1; Torres (29) 2-1; Torres (61) 3-1; Downing (83) 3-2.
Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Reina; Finnan, Arbeloa, Hyypia, Aurelio; Mascherano, Lucas; Kuyt (Riise, 73), Gerrard, Babel (Benayoun, 62); Torres (Crouch, 89). Substitutes not used: Martin (gk), Skrtel.
Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Young, Wheater, Pogatetz, Grounds; O'Neil (Mido, 59), Rochemback, Arca, Downing; Aliadière, Tuncay (Alves, 69). Substitutes not used: Turnbull (gk), Boateng, Hines.
Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).
Booked: Liverpool Reina, Finnan; Middlesbrough Aliadière, Tuncay, Wheater. Rochemback, Young.
Sent off: Aliadière (85).
Man of the match: Torres.
Liverpool vs Middlesbrough Full Match Highlights 23/02/2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
1. Few distractions - With our title challenge over, not to mention our Carling and FA Cup campaigns, the only thing Rafa has to keep his eye on other than the Champions League is ensuring we qualify for the competition again.
2. The Anfield crowd - We've heard it before and we'll hear it again. The noise that rolls around Anfield on European nights is immense.
3. Colossal centre backs - When it comes to keeping out Europe's best attackers few have the experience - or the success rate - of Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyypia. Carragher's performance in Istanbul was a textbook defensive display and a key factor in Liverpool's triumph.
4. Defensively strong midfielders - Recent history suggests that teams with solid defensive midfielders do well in Europe. Look at Milan with Gennaro Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo, us with Didi Hamann and Xabi Alonso, and Real Madrid when they had Claude Makelele. With Javier Mascherano, Lucas and Alonso to choose from solidity isn't an issue.
5. Steven Gerrard's knack of bagging match-winning goals - The examples are endless. Olympiakos was magic. West Ham was euphoric. Moscow?
6. Pepe Reina - Penalty shootouts? No problem.
7. Fernando Torres' pace - Just ask Marco Materazzi. Defenders outside the Premier League do not like pace.
8. Rafael Benitez - Whatever your feelings towards the Spaniard you cannot deny his tactical acumen when it comes to the European stage. He won the UEFA Cup with Valencia, followed it up with a Champions League medal in Istanbul and then led us to Athens. Three European finals in four seasons. Not bad, is it?
9. Experience - The majority of this squad have made it to and played in a final before. Many have done it twice. Past experience is a valuable tool in European football and we've got it in abundance.
10. Past heartache - Having sampled both the euphoria of Istanbul and the anguish of Athens Liverpool's players understand the cause for which they're fighting. No prizes for guessing which felt better.
See you on SAT FEB 23 @ 10:55PM at the M BAR! LFC vs Middlesbrough
Alex Miller and Angel Vales. Remember these names as they are the main training staff who are degrading our players day by day and providing wrong statistics to the manager. It makes me wonder what they do in training. We should get rid of them first before getting rid of misfits like Kuyt, Kewell, Riise, Aurelio or Pennant. We were already crap even when Paco was here, so don't come telling me its his departure that brought us to this situation. In almost every game, we are getting countless corners and free kicks which end up going no where and wasted.
Despite the Inter win, I still maintain that the tinker man had it all wrong yet again. And had we lost, everyone would have descended on him like a ton of bricks. We played against 10 for most of the game and the 2 goals we scored were almost accidental. Its as if the brief is for every player to take as many shot as possible in the hope that one of those will hit the target. There was hardly any well constructed moves. Even the ball down the middle to Torres, which he missed, was accidental. The rest appeared hap hazardous and clueless. I don't expect us to go past the next stage with this squad.
If I were training this squad , I would have every one of them doing two sessions a day, everyday. I would have:
- Gerrard, Bennyoun, Babel, Finnan and Kewell praticing free kicks and corners time and time again until they got things right.
- Finnan, Pennant, Bennyoun and Babel practicing crosses.
- Hypia, Carragher, Skrtel, Agger, Torres and Couch practicing getting on the end of these corners, crosses and free kicks.
- Carragher and Riise learning how to play the ball out from defence rather than hoof the ball upfield.
- Crouch learning how to head the ball correctly.
- Babel taught how to take the man on and beat him, plus shown how to keep his shots down.
- Kuyt, well I think I'd be out on the training pitch till midnight every night showing him exactly where the goal is and how to shoot on goal, plus explain that he should be in the 6 yard box rather than over by the corner flag.
- Kewell I would show him how to break sweat and Riise would be shown how to keep the ball from hitting low flying aircrafts.
Seriously, are our training staff coaching these things correctly? Because its sure as hell doesn't look like like it. These training exercises are basic skills, yet so many of our players seem to lack them. It does make you question what they actually do in training.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
MyRAWK Admin: this is a piece for everyone concerning Rafael Benitez's current position. Some might say this article is a comparison between him and Gerrard Houllier. Enjoy the read.
Few would have expected to have been comparing the final months of Gerard Houllier's reign with that of his successor when Rafa Benitez was appointed - now or at any point of The Spaniard's tenure.
The Reds were going backwards under The Frenchman while Benitez had taken a side without much recent pedigree and who so often threatened to succeed but never quite managed it to domestic and European glory.
He seemed tailored made for the Anfield job. Manchester United were already cash laden courtesy of their status as a Plc while Chelsea had attracted the attentions of a Russian oligarch. Arsenal were happy to spend big money on exceptional talents - far more than many tend to remember now Arsene Wenger has a reputation for being frugal with his transfer kitty.
Just as it was in 2004 the fans seem split about the man in charge - though far from 50/50 - between those who support the manager and though they possibly blame the players for the malaise want to get behind each and every man in a red shirt even the ones who could at best be described as below par.
Typically those of that persuasion will lay blame away from the coaches and though they may point a finger towards the pitch there's no desire to rock the boat or even cause further problems by doing anything other than backing the team to the hilt.
There has been a tide against Rafa for longer than the past few months and those who had already turned against him prior to the past weekend may criticise the players for under-achieving but place most ills squarely at coach's door. This category also tend to not only shout louder but also ring the phone-ins and other fans forums - not all solely Liverpool Football Club related. Events in the FA Cup give them that extra oxygen as producers and editors scrabble to put them on air.
Those who are still behind the manager suffer but do so silently ignoring the various interactions available to them. So for some, the laziest in the media included, the dissenters appear to be the majority. However, even though their ranks have swelled in recent weeks anecdotal evidence suggests they are not.
While debate was focussed in the ownership, funding and future direction of the club events on the pitch often seemed secondary but once the club's financial situation was sorted in the short term, albeit via the equivalent of an elastoplast over a gaping wound in the form of another bridging loan, attention inevitably moved from Gillett and Hicks and on to a man who has featured in those off field dramas as well as the on field disappointments - Rafael Benitez.
For all the quotes offered by Robert Kraft, further rumours about Dubai International Capital and the formation of Share Liverpool the press believe the ownership story has lost its immediate impact. Negotiations about another takeover may continue until one party runs out of patience but reports cannot go beyond quotes from sources close to the proposed deal or understandings of one position or another until something concrete is about to happen but the prodigious generation of column inches about the club can continue as the team struggles to claim points or progress in any arena other than Europe.
On the surface these appraisals of the Houllier and Benitez periods are fair. Take the team's set up.
Despite attempts to introduce it there is no true width in the side and for some strange reason little movement plus less creativity despite a team brimming with ability in that department. There are similarities other than what is said to be a one dimensional style. Results and form are as poor as the final knockings under the Frenchman. Confidence is at rock bottom and players who are much better than they look can sometimes barely keep possession. Some signings who promised much have failed to blossom.
However, under Houllier the players drafted in got progressively worse and never looked like improving. There was so little coming through the reserve ranks who with the exception of finishing top in 2000 trundled along in the Premiership Reserves North. If that wasn't bleak enough the playing style was not so much careful as bubble wrapped in fear. When an advantage was found it would be nursed and the shop closed. There was an over-dependence on long balls to exploit Michael Owen's pace but not a lot else. The Reds simply could go no further under his guidance.
The team reflected the manager perfectly who suffered from something bordering on paranoia during his final years at the helm. Be that people linked with his job and all manner of opinion being submitted from an important constituent of the Liverpool family - ex-players. For Martin O'Neill now read Jurgen Klinsmann and if some reports are to be believed Martin O'Neill again. Unlike Benitez Houllier allowed it all to creep under his skin.
Does everything but reaction to those critiques from old boys ring true today?
A striking contrast its that Gerard Houllier's sides were roughly playing to their level. The current side is not as good as it could be and capable of so much better. It should certainly be looking towards a title challenge even if the efforts are to be in vain that chance of claiming the trophy has to be on well into the spring.
The worst factor of the current situation is that players who are far better than their current showings and world class performers are retreating within themselves because they seem too scared to make an error. It could even be ventured that they have no faith in the manager - but that is purely speculative as are claims that either the whole or certain portions of the dressing room have been lost. Reading between the lines suggestions revolve around the non-Spanish or those for whom Spanish is not the first language.
Rafa has a very different relationship with his players than most managers. In essence he may never have had the dressing room - just the respect rather than admiration of many members of his squad for his achievements. Steven Gerrard has openly spoke about the situation and that distance is purposeful. He is not a friend but a man in charge who may have to drop them or let them know that their time at Anfield has come to an end. He rarely singles any specific individual for praise preferring to talk about the team as a whole and pour over what could have gone better. Even when he should be basking in victory. It was just the same against Inter on Tuesday evening.
Some whose names need not be repeated now are living on borrowed time, past reputation or could simply do with a change of scene. While this includes one or two old hands not all remnants from the old structure and include those who have been acquired by Benitez for sizeable fees but there are buys Rafa has made who may not form the core of club but do show potential and have every chance of a successful career in L4. As for the quality of signings. They have certainly improved as time has gone on but regardless of the source of funds being borrowings the money available has increased.
The Barnsley result has seen many of those who considered themselves somewhere in the middle of the debate jump to one side but it's only the knee-jerk reaction to the result rather than the manager's tactics and decisions. The Inter result will do the same.
No blame can be heaped on Rafa for the players not putting Barnsley away.
The simple fact is that a strong team not one that could be considered in any way weakened below an unacceptable point took to the field. They were instructed to attack and setup correctly for the task. If they had not more time would have been spent within a narrow midfield corridor and the huge number of chances created would never have been seen.
Of course with one exception - goals scored - statistics do not decide games. Unfortunately Gerard Houllier based his after match press conferences around them when under pressure. They were straws he would clutch at but all too often they were the irrelevant ones.
Rafa has always tended to take a different tack analysing the play and whether his team held control of matters. The Opta sheets are rarely grasped but at the weekend possession was dominated by Liverpool and in advanced areas. If time had not been spent in areas which create most danger the following figures would be far less impressive. Of the 33 shots on goal 20 were on target only to be thwarted by a mixture of inspired keeping from a stopper once deemed good enough to be groomed at Old Trafford during his teens - even if his Manchester United first team career amounted to just 18 seconds as a substitute - and some good fortune.
These things happen to every club which has ever taken to a football field in a knock-out tournament at any level.
Barnsley will have their time in the sun after this clash. Considering their next opponents good luck wishes have to be extended to them in the last eight. They rode their luck and made a couple of their opportunities if not the best two count.
Liverpool are creating opportunities in most games played and evidence gathered from eyes alone demonstrates that Rafa's sides while often careful produce a better brand of football now than most sides have since he took charge.
Almost every analysis proves that the majority of opponents are heavily beaten in key areas but it's the inability to put the chances this creates away which is costing dear.
However, there is no escaping that at times some unconfident and lifeless football is being played and though a plan B is surely suggested like so many teams when the A game is frustrated Liverpool can play under a huge amount of fear and look to pick off chances where they can rather than rip at the jugular.
Rafa's style is essentially cautious but only in the respect that regardless of the phase of play he would prefer to have his team acting as one. If the opposition has the ball everyone in their own way will defend - from front to back. If the ball is forward the team should line up in support ready to win the second and third balls if the first is lost.
When confidence was high this produced the type of performances witnessed against Derby County at home and Newcastle United. All too often in recent times this had only led to the creation pretty patterns of play and slick movement until the vital point when someone is expected to pull the trigger. When that killer touch or cutting edge is missing. In the games against Manchester City and Aston Villa amongst others it all looks so fruitless.
For a number of weeks when a goal has been scored The Reds have done everything but add to it. At one stage that would have been enough to achieve the minimum required for a win but the normally solid backline has had its wobbles and that unusual vulnerability has cost dear.
At this stage only three league losses have been suffered. That's on a par with Chelsea and one less reverse than Manchester United. In fact only Arsenal have tasted defeat less in the Premiership but each of those teams and Everton have recorded less draws. In the vast majority of those tied games Liverpool have had more than enough chances to win handsomely but if somewhere around half of those 11 games which finished all square had finished in Liverpool's favour it would have yielded ten points.
With those in the bank The Reds would still not be muscling for pole position with Arsenal but certainly would be as handily placed as any of the other challengers. Most importantly there would still be a foot in the title race as the season enters its final furlong.
However, there are clearly problems at the club and within the dressing room. As previously stated the exact cause remains a matter of conjecture - often depending where you stand on the manager's future - but if players do not seem bothered and enjoy a joke immediately after the defeat at West Ham or no longer believe in the manager or his methods well that will only usually end one way - a new man taking the helm. That is part of the situation which did for Houllier
Claims that the current ownership situation and the fact that the fans have marshalled against the rule of Gillett and Hicks also has its comparison. The rows, emails and sidling up to Klinsmann were thought to have made Rafa fire proof. In the same way that Houllier's heart surgery in late 2001 and then subsequent return five months later on the night a 2-0 win over Roma secured progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time. But that highly charged evening along with the treble cup win the previous season proved to be the pinnacle of his six year stay as despite going a dozen games without defeat from the start of the following season that was followed by a sequence of 11 more league matches during which a win could not be bought. The situation went down hill from there on in.
A worry is that if Rafa is dismissed then Liverpool fall back and set the same standards which saw Manchester United spiral away for years until a decade or so down the line somebody suggested they should show a little patience in the man at the helm. Just as they did at Everton who despite dipping after the high of Champions League qualification showed a little restraint in keeping David Moyes even when league form faltered and their European adventure ended in humiliation.
Whether he wins the Champions League or not it's not the end for Rafa but even if his smiling in Moscow in late May these days could certainly mark its beginnings if things don't start of look up.
That was certainly the case for Houllier who didn't have the boardroom unrest or fans drawing battle lines over the club's soul to contend with only a focus that included on field matters.
Rafa quite rightly can point to his exploits in Europe which rivals every Liverpool manager but Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan who reached three and two European Cup finals respectively and in successive seasons. Two in three years and one win represents a better record than any current manager other than Carlo Ancelotti. Considering no side has ever defended the trophy in the Champions League era it's more than just the knock-out cup often portrayed and at the business end Europe's elite are usually waiting. Each trying to land a knock-out blow on their fellow behemoths.
Reaching the final two years out of three is not the same as guiding your charges to a similar number of League Cups in as many terms.
Has Rafa taken the club as far as he can? Probably not. Nor has he created the same type of side he had at Valencia. Though he has tried that job is still in hand. For one reason or another hasn't quite been achieved. At stages this term - particularly early on and just after the whole Hicks situation blew up it seemed he was progressing well but now the side is back-pedalling or at least seems to be doing.
It makes a review of his position inevitable regardless of who owns the club and whether the fans become as vocal in opposition as they are and have been in his defence. That will only happen come May rather than on Wednesday morning or even three weeks time when the Champions League tie with Inter is concluded.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Fantastic Forza Liverpool FC!
Our next game at The M Bar @ Feb 23 SATURDAY- 10:55PM Liverpool FC vs Middlesbrough
I for one am not convinced that the Gaffer has the X-factor to bring our "holy grail" home. His tactical knowledge of the game is second to none, but his man management skill is a big suspect - the boys are as confused as the opponent on our play. That's where we miss Pako TREMENDOUSLY - the human touch.
The great result from this morning's game vs Inter will buy him some time before the vultures starts circling around him again. But, long term wise, I just can't see how he can bring the team forward anymore in the EPL. We're improving, but the bigger problem is, the rest are improving at a far faster rate then us and leaving us wanting.
It's disheartening to be fighting for the 4th spot with the likes of Everton, Villa, Man City and Portsmouth. We and every other football fans know that with the kind of players we have, we are MORE than capable of mounting a serious and consistent challenge for the crown. Still baffles me how some of the best talents in the game can turn out to be so average looking in our team. The only consistent thing about our season for far is our inconsistency.
In order to avoid more disillusionment and disappointment, I've decided to watch matches with no expectation what so ever. This hopefully will save me from more heartaches from watching the drab footie we're dishing out. The only thing I ask for now is for us to play some decent pass and move football that we're so famous for.
We as the fans of the club should realised that nothing is bigger than the club itself - NOT Rafa, NOT Gerrard and NOT anyone. I can't help but think that some of us are still hiding in our comfort zone - still the best team in UK, 18 titles and 5 European Cups. We're so into our own "we're still the best" mentality, we're seriously not moving forward and still slumbering and dreaming. The faster we wake up to the reality of modern football and adapt, the faster we can shake the slumbering giant tag.
Off-field shenanigans has not help our course - it made everyone jumpy. The tension made the Gaffer lost a few marbles and definitely cost us a lot of points. The boys unfortunately got caught in the crossfire. In an ideal world, as well paid pros, they, in theory should not be effected too much. In reality, the after effects are there for everyone to see. With rumours of the Yanks selling out to DIC, and Rafa's head is on the chopping block again, the mood at the camp will be of an uncertainty.
It's in time of adversities like this, that everyone should look into themselves and rise up to the challenge. No point dwelling on all the problems and wallow in despair. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. I'm seriously hoping the Gaffer and team is doing this.
As for me it's not just a question of should the Gaffer go or should we stay anymore. It's about the reputation of LFC thats at stake. When push come to shove, the club will need to seek a new direction regardless of the cost and the emotional pain that we'll have to pay. Short term pain for a better long term prospect and stability is a no-brainer.
I'll be sad if and when the Rafa the Gaffer go, but will be thankful for the 05 Champ League and the 06 FA Cup that he won for us. If he stays, I sincerely hope he'll adapt to the changes in the English game better for the sake of the team. Don't just do it for the sake of rotation and different opponents, do it to make the opponents play to our tune. Till then, I'll hold on to my realist views on his current regime until i see real signs of progress and not more excuses from everyone.
By William Tan
Liverpool were very very lucky at Anfield yesterday night against Inter Milan to have won 2-0 which flattered to deceive especially when Inter had been playing with 10 men for most of the match.
The first stroke of luck was when Materrazi was first shown the yellow card for tackling Torres from the side and taking him out when the latter was ‘running the channels’ – that was in the 12th minute. Materazzi committed the offence right under the nose of the linesman who flagged immediately even though Torres continued to control the ball and Belgian referee had no choice but to issue a yellow. Mancini claimed that the yellow card was harsh (as some pundits also commented) but I guess some referees wanted to stamp out these tackles from the side as per FIFA’s rules. Harshness was also dished out countless times when Crouch was deemed to have fouled the Inter players whenever he jumped for the ball after Crouch came on as a substitute in the 64th minute. Life has been hard on Crouch in Europe too in the past and even yesterday night at Anfield.
The 2nd stroke of luck came when Materazzi fouled Torres by pulling his shirt after the latter had pull away from Materazzi and fell over. Torres was vilified by the Inter players and fans as they claimed that Torres made a meal of Materazzi’s challenges. The Belgian referee was having none of it and duly banished Materazzi his 2nd yellow and Inter was on the back foot as they go down to 10 men in the first 30 minutes of the game! But this was an Italian team and they seldom concede goals even when down to 10 men. Liverpool would need more strokes of luck as the match wore on especially since Inter were going to play for a draw.
What have Rafa and his clueless men done to deserve such luck? Many a pundits wondered on the night too but several concluded that Torres had done a ‘Materazzi’ on Materazzi!! This conclusion was somewhat disrespectful of the fact that Torres did his best to continue playing even after he was fouled by Materazzi and Torres choose to play on but the Belgian referee felt that the fouls committed was worthy of a yellow in each instance as the advantage was taken away from Torres. I reckon that what Torres did was not wrong and it was questionable that some pundits claim that Torres made a meal of both tackles. Don’t they remember some of the Italian hard men in the past were known to have ended the careers of good strikers and one such name springs to mind – Marco van Basten. FIFA had introduced rules to protect quality strikers? FIFA had grown up ages ago … time for the players to do so too!
Liverpool really enjoyed a lot of luck in the whole match as by the end of the match, Inter Milan had 2 of their regular centre halves out and injured respectivly. If Liverpool could not win at Anfield on the night, then they probably don’t deserve the chance to win the tie at the San Siro in 3 weeks time.
After the Materazzi sending off, Liverpool was controlling the game, there was hardly any penetration as Inter defended for their lives ….. and were happy for a draw. Jamie Reeves thought the Inter defence was excellent in throwing their bodies on the line to stop everything that Liverpool threw at them. The match was literary played in the Inter half afterwards and the initiative was totally with Rafa’s men.
Luck, however, was not on Liverpool’s side as they were not awarded penalty when Viera, the former Arsenal captain handled the ball just as Gerrard lifted the ball over his head. In fairness, the Belgian referee was unsighted and in this situation, the linesman was suppose to have flagged but he was behind the play and Inter got away without conceding a penalty.
The game changed a little more open when Crouch and Pennant came on as a substitute for Lucas and Babel and the 6’7” goliath created all sorts of problems for the Inter defence who had earlier held its own for more than an hour. Crouch had some high balls crossed to him but he managed several half chances on his own and caused countless problems for Cordoba and Chivu in defence. Pennant was riding the lines and was make several dangerous crosses for the Liverpool frontline but all was easily dealt with by the Inter defence marshaled by the excellent Ivan Cordoba.
Then disaster struck on 75st minute, unluckily, Cordoba landed awkwardly when he tried to defend a dangerous cross from Pennant and the team doctor immediately signaled for substitution. Inter had to make a substitution to cater for the injury and Chivu moved to the centre whilst Burdisso moved to the left back. Lucky Lucky Liverpool, Inter lost their 2 centre halves in 1 match and that complexion of the game changed completely on this injury as Liverpool continued to inch closer to the Inter goal although in the few minutes immediately Inter defenders managed to get in the way of Liverpool’s attacks.
Then just as Capello made his exit from Anfield on the 81st minute, the unexpected happened when Pennant on the right made a curling cross from the right and evaded Torres, Crouch and at least 3 Inter defenders! It ball landed nicely for Kuyt on the far post and as he steadied himself to shoot, Maicon came to cover to narrow the angle. Unfortunately for Inter, Kuyt’s fierce shot cannoned into Maicon’s outstretched leg and caused an awkward bounce that deceived Julio Cesar in the Inter goal and The Kop erupted like a volcano bursting for joy. It must have been a really lucky Kuyt for on any other day or any other time, the ball would have richocheted out for a corner – like so many times yesterday night at Anfield.
As Anfield celebrate Kuyt’s goal at the Kop, Rafa was urging his players forward and it had looked unlikely for a second as the Inter defence continued to hold firm. A 0-1 away result from Anfield is very much still salvageable and manageable proposition at the San Siro for Mancini. That train of thought held true until the Liverpool captain, Gerrard made a shot into the left hand post beating at least 3 Inter defenders, bounced 3 times on the way to beating Julio Cesar at the Inter goal and hitting the far post before bouncing in nicely into the net. What are the chances of that happening in a crucial Champions League match and at such crucial stage? Both Liverpool goals involved the ball rolling past at least 3 Inter defenders each time and one of the goals even took a wicked deflection off Maicon and beating Julio Cesar. It was a rip-off as Lady Luck smiled on Liverpool and Rafa Benitez yesterday at Anfield.
The Kop and Reds supporters all over the world celebrated another famous ‘lucky’ victory at Anfield and the Champions League Gods must be smiling over Anfield yesterday night …….
Liverpool (4-1-4-1): Reina; Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Aurelio; Mascherano; Kuyt, Leiva (Crouch, 64), Gerrard, Babel (Pennant, 72); Torres.
Substitutes not used: Itandje (gk), Riise, Benayoun, Alonso, Arbeloa.
Internazionale (4-4-2): Cesar; Maicon, Cordoba (Burdisso, 75), Materazzi, Maxwell; Zanetti, Stankovic, Cambiasso, Chivu; Ibrahimovic, Cruz (Vieira, 55).
Substitutes not used: Toldo (gk), Figo, Crespo, Maniche, Suazo.
Referee: F De Bleeckere (Belgium).
Kuyt Goal Cl 5th Round 1st Leg Liverpool v Inter Milan
Gerrard Goal Cl 5th Round 1st Leg Liverpool v Inter Milan
Don't forget this SAT, FEB 23 @ 10:55PM @ the M Bar, Liverpool VS Middlesbrough! See y'all there!
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
from the The Times, February 19, 2008 by Guillem Balague
source from http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/premier_league/liverpool/article3392980.ece
On the way to the interview room, Fernando Torres starts chatting away with one of the members of the Liverpool staff, one whose accent reveals his Merseyside roots and is difficult to understand for new students of the English language. The way Torres answers suggests a complete appreciation of everything that has been said to him. He even laughs at a half-baked joke.
Before the interview, I say to him: “Say 'work.'” “Werk,” he replies. Didier Drogba and Thierry Henry struggled for a year to come to terms with the Premier League and everything that surrounds it, but Torres, with a newly acquired Scouse accent, has needed only a few months.
“The effort from my part has been minimal,” he said. “The big effort has come from people at the club. They welcomed me with open arms, helped make everything much easier so I only have to think about playing football. I didn't have to worry much about getting a house, a car, a language teacher, those little but important details. My team-mates, the ones I knew already and the new ones, made me feel as I have been here all my life. I have enjoyed myself so much since I arrived, nothing seems to be an effort.”
A tally of 18 goals in 29 appearances in all competitions is an excellent return for the £26.5million that the club paid Atlético Madrid for him. Not everyone, including key members of staff, expected such an immediate impact. “I think, though, he would score a similar amount of goals if he was at Barcelona or Real Madrid,” one of his best friends, who remembers that Torres's most impressive matches used to be against Barcelona, said. “A team [Barcelona] that played happy football, with lots of spaces. In England, almost everybody plays like that.”
Torres appreciates the role of Steven Gerrard in his success. “The striker feeds from players who decide to make passes that most of us do not try,” he said. “Gerrard is one of those guys. He has an eye to see the line of pass and my run at the same time. And, certainly, I benefit from the direct football played here. There is not so much passing, the excessive control you find in Spain.
“You don't need 30 touches to get to the box. Here, after four or five, you put your cross in or your shot. There are more chances of a one-to-one or two-against-two and often what decides a match is not so much the work a team has put in but the quality of their players. Against the top teams, you must have order and put lots of work into it, but with others below us in the table the defining factor is the quality of players.”
This is a new Fernando Torres to the one who left La Liga, one who has learnt from previous mistakes. “Here, the boss [Rafael Benítez] asks me for one thing only and I have to do that,” he said. “Sometimes at Atlético, I wanted to do too much. Each one of us has his role on the pitch and no more. I used to play too far from the box and that is not where my game can harm the opposition.”
Torres's team-mates speak highly of him because they understand that not everybody is made to succeed in the hardest of leagues. “He is not afraid of the physical contact,” Xabi Alonso, his Spanish compatriot and Liverpool midfield player, said. “Rival defenders know he is not scared of them.”
Gerrard concurs. “In many matches, he has been kicked around, but he keeps going back for more,” he said. A member of staff chipped in: “He is probably the best player around with space in front of him.” Benítez, the Liverpool manager, nods his assent. “He has the strength and the ability to succeed here,” he said.
Torres has missed a month and a half with injuries and sat out the 2-1 defeat by Barnsley in the FA Cup fifth-round tie at Anfield on Saturday. Yet his contribution is valued as much as that of Gerrard, Lucas Leiva and José Manuel Reina, probably the only players to equal or improve their form of the previous season.
But are Torres's goals enough to turn around the fortunes of Liverpool after two decades without a league title? “The real Liverpool is the one that impressed earlier on,” he said. “We have to keep that level for longer. Those who do that fight for the league title and the ones who can't have to fight for the knockout competitions.
“We are a very uncomfortable team to play against, but we have dropped too many points. We didn't win a league match in January. We could find a thousand excuses, but that would be an easy exercise. The players could have done it better.
“There are matches where we had the impression that we have dropped points and others where we thought we had got something out of it by a pure miracle. We were lucky against Derby, but not so much against Wigan, for instance. Generally, we have dropped points where the top three haven't.”
But why were those points dropped? Is it a psychological blockage? Quality of the squad? Rotation? “Sometimes we felt superior and did not kill the games,” Torres said. “But if you look at the stats, this season is better than last season. The problem is that people asked us to win the Premier League this year. There is a progression, I don't think it's a bad season. We started wanting to win everything, but, as it progresses, you are forced to change your targets.”
Torres is surprised by the negativity linked to rotation. “When things don't go the way one wishes, people look for things to blame,” he said. “We have a manager with a philosophy that people knew before he came and one that has succeeded. It is very opportunistic to blame rotation for everything that goes wrong. It is not a problem for us. Liverpool have won a Champions League, FA Cup and so on with rotation. It is normal to rest. We players never want to, but if the manager says so, you have to. If everybody accepts that is the way forward, the atmosphere doesn't suffer.”
The impatience that has surrounded the club lately means that, suddenly, the Champions League and even the FA Cup are viewed as lesser in significance to that elusive league title. Torres does not share that sentiment. The Champions League first knockout round meeting with Inter Milan, the first leg of which is at Anfield tonight, has whetted his appetite.
“Even in training, everybody seems very switched on,” he said. “The Inter match is going to be very hard, but very watchable. I don't think there will be many goals and it will all be decided in the return leg. The key is how effective the strikers are. They used to say that Zlatan Ibrahimovic was not a regular goalscorer. This season, he is silencing his critics. He is one of the most in-form players in Europe.”
Torres finishes the conversation to go back to the rest of his day, a routine that consists of enjoying the company of his girlfriend and his dogs, a visit to Reina to chat or to watch some games. And maybe some time spent on the PlayStation.
Nothing describes better what Torres is like.
The rise of El Nino
The forward nicknamed El Niño — The Kid — was born in 1984 in a suburb of Madrid. A supporter of Atlético, he captained the side at the age of 19.
Second division (2000-02): 40 appearances; 7 goals
La Liga (2002-07): 174 apps; 75 goals
Spanish Cup 24 apps; 7 goals
European games (all Intertoto Cup): 5 apps; 2 goals
Spain 46 apps; 15 goals
Home 10 (plus 2 sub) appearances; 10 goals
Away 9 (1) apps; 2 goals
Champions League (incl qualifying round)
Home 2 apps; 2 goals
Away 2 (1) apps; 1 goal
Home 1 app; 0 goal
Away 1 app; 3 goals
First-half goals 5
Second-half goals 13
Longest run without a goal Three games
Monday, February 18, 2008
Date: Wednesday, Feb 20, 2008
TV: Ch. 812 ESPN
A crackling 'crisis' night at Anfield may be just what Liverpool need to bring the club together and bring the best out of a faltering team. They remain a wonderful underdog, and Italian champions and league leaders Inter Milan are entitled to fancy their chances. They are unbeaten in 29 games.
Why? The striking combination of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Julio Cruz is potent enough to keep Hernan Crespo on the bench; former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira is now back from injury to team up with Esteban Cambiasso in midfield; and Marco Materazzi is one of the best bad guys in European football. But ruffled Rafa Benitez is returning to his chosen specialist subject, the Champions League, and he is sure to set Inter coach Roberto Mancini a strategic test paper.
Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres can make a difference in any company. Liverpool are well organised in these situations and a top team at snuffing out opportunities.
Liverpool have met Inter just once before in the European Cup, in 1964-65, when they won the semi-final home leg 3-1 but lost 3-0 away.
Inter scored a total of seven goals in their last two Champions League visits to England, against Newcastle and Arsenal
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Championship side knock out Liverpool to leave manager under intense pressure before Tuesday's visit from Inter
By Guy Hodgson at Anfield, Sunday, 17 February 2008
Source taken from http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/fa-league-cups/liverpool-1-barnsley-2-barnsleys-brilliance-leaves-redfaced-benitez-on-brink-783336.html
Liverpool, who have spent much of the winter seemingly on a mission to heap FA Cup embarrassment on themselves, finally succeeded yesterday. Where Luton and Havant & Waterlooville came close, Barnsley of the Championship went even further and clinched a stunning victory at Anfield to reach the quarter-finals.
It was a shock of substantial proportions and could have repercussions for manager Rafael Benitez, who was already attracting much criticism because of Liverpool's lacklustre performances in the Premier League. Now Tuesday's home Champions' League game against Internazionale takes on even greater significance. Lose the tie and the pressure on the Spaniard will be immense.
Yesterday, Benitez gambled by fielding a weakened team bereft of Fernando Torres and – until the final 15 minutes – Steven Gerrard, and he was rewarded by an ignominious defeat to a team who are 29 places below them in the League pyramid.
Dirk Kuyt put Liverpool ahead in the first half but a goal from Stephen Foster and a stoppage-time winner from Brian Howard ensured a famous win for the Yorkshire side.
Simon Davey, the Barnsley manager, described it as his best moment in football. "You always dream of coming to Anfield and winning," he said. "We played a fantastic team and beat them. Hopefully this will be a catalyst for us to kick on in the League. We know we have a good group of players who are still improving but I don't think we'll see the best of them until next season."
Davey's praise was widespread but he made special mention of goalkeeper Luke Steele, who was signed on loan only on Thursday from West Bromwich Albion because of an injury to Heinz Muller and because Tony Warner is cup-tied. "Luke is a good goalkeeper who we knew would do a good job for us. Well he did a bit more than that today. He kept us in the game for long periods and pulled off some world-class saves."
Benitez also applauded the Barnsley goalkeeper but tried to emphasise the positive. "The players worked hard and created many chances," he said. And Inter? "If we create as many chances, we will win," he replied.
For much of yesterday it appeared Liverpool would win too. Kuyt was just wide with a shot after 10 minutes and Peter Crouch was close with a header two minutes later. Yossi Benayoun was also to the fore with two efforts before Liverpool had a real scare when Sami Hyypia was dispossessed in the 29th minute and Istvan Ferenczi was thwarted by Charles Itandje's save. That marked a mini watershed because there was a noticeable upping of the momentum by Liverpool.
Xabi Alonso forced a flying save out of Steele and had another goalbound shot saved, so Barnsley were creaking when the home team took the lead after 32 minutes. Ryan Babel dummied to cut in from the left to throw Bobby Hassell off balance and that was enough to give him the space to cross when he reached the byline. Kuyt had pleaded for a cutback from the Dutchman twice in previous attacks and this time he was heard and he teed up the ball before despatching it with uncharacteristic aplomb.
Anfield sat back to enjoy an easy passage into the last eight, but Barnsley ripped up the script by equalising after 57 minutes. Itandje punched clear under heavy pressure from a free-kick but the ball came back into his area within seconds when Martin Devaney crossed from the right and Foster, a centre-back, headed over and beyond the Liverpool goalkeeper. Cue an assault on the Barnsley goal.
Crouch and Benayoun were halted only by desperate blocks by defenders, Hyypia swung twice and was blocked twice and Benayoun beat two players and almost squeezed in a shot two minutes later. Then, with six minutes to go, Harry Kewell clipped the bar with a shot from the edge of the area.
Davey was praying his team could hang on for a draw but his players refused to listen to his pleas for them to stay back. A stoppage-time raid should have brought a penalty when Howard was brought down by John Arne Riise, but he had barely begun to complain to the referee when the ball came to him again. He dispossessed Alonso and beat Itandje with a low left-foot shot.
Barnsley's fans could barely believe what they were seeing; neither could the Liverpool fans. They booed the players off the pitch and then around a thousand staged a protest. Last night it was against the Americans who own the club. On Tuesday, Benitez could be the target.
Goals: Kuyt (32 ) 1-0; Foster (57) 1-1; Howard (90) 1-2.
Liverpool (4-4-2): Itandje; Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise; Benayoun, Lucas (Gerrard, 75), Alonso, Babel (Kewell, 70); Kuyt, Crouch. Substitutes not used: Martin (gk), Arbeloa, Pennant.
Barnsley (4-4-2): Steele; Hassell, Foster, De Silva, Kozluk (Van Homoet, 60); Devaney, Souza, Howard, Leon (Campbell-Ryce, 71); Ferenczi, Nardiello (Odejayi, 55). Substitutes not used: Coulson, Togwell.
Booked: Liverpool Alonso; Barnsley Van Homoet.
Referee: M Atkinson (West Yorkshire).
Man of the match: Steele.
Shock treatment Three FA Cup humiliations for Liverpool
* 1959 Third round
Worcester City 2 Liverpool 1
This was pre-Shankly, and Liverpool were in the Second Division, but they were expected to have little trouble against a Southern League side. Enter the "Thompson Plan", a scheme to upset the visitors on an icy St George's Lane pitch devised by Worcester's manager, Bill Thompson. Liverpool slipped out of the Cup.
* 1983 Fifth round
Liverpool 1 Brighton & Hove Albion 2
Jimmy Melia (he of the white shoes) was born two miles from Anfield and played for Liverpool for 12 years, but he masterminded this win over a team who were halfway through a hat-trick of League titles and who would also win the League Cup that season. A former Liverpool player, Jimmy Case, got Albion's winner.
* 1988 Final
Liverpool 0 Wimbledon 1
The aristocrats versus the artisans. Liverpool were champions, Wimbledon had been in the Football League for only 11 seasons. It was a victory for the lower classes then, as Dave Beasant saved a penalty from John Aldridge and Lawrie Sanchez got the winner in one of the greatest Wembley upsets.
Liverpool Vs Barnsley Full Highlights (16/02/2008) - FA Cup Fif
Don't forget LIVERPOOL FC VS Inter Milan Champions League match on FEB 20 Wednesday @ 3:30am on CH 812 ESPN
Friday, February 15, 2008
Well, reportedly its £450 million. The deal is expected to be completed mid March, and the yanks walk away with double what they had.
They also report that the club is left with 105million pounds worth of debt after the Yanks' refinancing, something we all know. However, DIC who are the reported new investors would surely wipe this deficit out, preventing long interest payments.
Furthermore, it seems Rafa will not be at the club if this happens as DIC aren't too keen on him after the public outbursts.
Now, the transfer romours. I see that we're linked with Diarra of Real Madrid. If Benitez plans to buy this guy, he should be sacked on the spot. We are paying about 17 million for Mascherano - a world class defensive midfielder. Our team is now DESPERATE for goals and creative players with skill.
And Benitez is supposedly wanting another defensive midfielder who will cost millions? Is "negative" the only language Benitez can speak? Also I heard that Newcastle want Kuyt and Crouch. Kuyt YES, but I would keep Crouch. Somehow whatever happens next season, I hope there will be a clearout. And we need a quality winger and a striker to accompany Torres.
Remember this statement, as I will be touching on this again in a bit.
We move on to the league now. Our next Four League games are Middlesborough (H), Bolton (A), West Ham (H), and Newcastle (H).
To my clear thinking, we should be getting 12 points with no excuses from The Tinkerman, providing he doesn't mess around with the side again. These 12 points will be crucial in our efforts to cement the all important 4th spot.
Still cant believe we're only fighting and struggling for THIS spot!! It should also give us the confidence to get two more crucial results from Man Utd (A) and Everton (H) as 12 points certainly are crucial to those two teams' fortunes too, for next season, and they will be giving their all against us.
Middlesborough nicked a point off us last time. Or rather we fortunately did from them. Bolton could be tricky though we hammered them at home so I'm hoping we can do the same again.
The West Ham game was a shambles and they won so I'm hoping we have a win there. We hammered Newcastle the last time we played them but i think they might prove to be the banana skin this time.
I think that will be a close game but all in all, 12 points, no excuses how we controlled the whole game but didn't take our chances!
Moving on the the Champions League now. As for Inter, a two goal lead would surely get us through. Not sure how good they really are as Serie A is a different type of football though they do have quality like most Italian teams.
I just think the atmopshere of Anfield and the tempo of the English game might rattle them. Rafa is certainly reliable in Europe, but not in the Premiership. He won't ever change though, as the fans have come to realise.
Ferguson never learned to crack Europe except for the last minute fluke in 99' and since then always failed. Rafa won't ever crack the Premiership so his final days are on a countdown.
Now finally, where I left off and promised to touch on again, the squad! The Reserves went 5 points clear at the top of the reserve league last night against Sunderland.
Our youngsters have won the Youth Cup Two seasons in a row. Benitez has spent close to 20m on players learning their trade there.
YET we still haven't had anyone break through our First Team (Jack Hobbs exempted, and Sebastian Leto, once or twice as well).
We have Guthrie (Bolton), Anderson (Swansea), Carson (Villa) and Hobbs (Scunthorpe) out on loan.
The four players I like are Insua, Spearing, Nemeth and Anderson. I have been following our reserves and Insua IS THE BEST LEFT BACK AT THE CLUB!
I'm suprised he hasn't been given a chance already! Spearing is a very competative player, Nemeth has a real eye for goal (6 goals in 4 reserve games) and Anderson has done really well at Swansea scoring 10 goals FROM THE WING!! They all could save us money in the summer.
Also, Guthrie has done well at Bolton, He has proved that he has what it takes to play Premiership football. He has played 24 games and is only 21 years of age.
Though I think its best for him that he stays there wehre he gets games every week. He may never make it here as the midfield is oozing with class, though they aren't really performing.
But for the young ones, there is an old saying: IF YOU'RE GOOD ENOUGH, YOU ARE OLD ENOUGH. You only have to take one look at the Arsenal side to see that that is true.
So just why is it that none of these talented players are being given a chance?
We play Barnsley on Saturday, so why not give Insua his debut and put Nemeth on the bench? He could come on for Kuyt after 10 minutes? :p I like the look of Anderson and Rafa should have him back ASAP as he could save us some money on the wing but then again thats Rafa all over for u, isn't it? Stubborn and crap at his job!
Cant really see any of the reserve team players coming through as Rafa is too blind to see their potential though he signed some of them.
He's never been seen at a reserve game having a look at the players to see what they can offer to the first team. He's blind and couldn't see talent even if it jumped up and hit him in the the face!
He'd rather stick with the under-achievers like Kuyt, for instance, who would never make it into any other of the Big 3 or 4's team.
I would like to see a couple of the reserve lads given a run against Barnsley. Keep the big guns on too, just to make sure we get a result. And if we're sailing then throw a couple more of the young lads on.
I believe we could play at least three youngsters in the starting line up and one or two on the bench. If Wenger was our boss I could see five or six of our youngsters in the first team.
Benitez hasnt got a clue when it comes to dealing with young players as his negative approach hinders rather than encourage them. Any young player signing for Liverpool is gambling his future on a manager who very rarely gives youth any chance to show their worth.
Thats all for now! Wasn't much, was it? :p Now we look forward to the Barnsley game! Cheers!
by Julez not walking alone.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Source taken from http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/2008/02/14/kop-yanks-to-be-run-out-of-town-next-month-89520-20318853/
Liverpool are poised to change hands again - by the middle of next month - as the club's US owners close in on a double-your-money offer from Dubai.
Despite denials from Tom Hicks and George Gillett, Mirror Sport understands that an outline agreement to transfer ownership of the Anfield giants to Dubai International Capital is in the pipeline.
Sources in New York have confirmed that a £460million deal with DIC - the Dubai government's financial arm and headed by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum - is now on the verge of conclusion. Anfield fans will rejoice at the news that the two Americans' ill-starred reign is ending after a series of protests in recent weeks over their treatment of boss Rafa Benitez.
Supporters have demanded a sale to DIC, who were jilted at the end of 2006 when the Liverpool board wrongly believed the deal with the Americans would safeguard the interests of the club. Hicks is expected to stay as part of the new club directorate in the immediate aftermath of the sale.
The effective sale price is nowhere near the ambitious £1billion valuation Mirror Sport exclusively revealed was put on the club by Hicks in November. He and Gillett paid just £219m to take control of Liverpool from David Moores a year ago.
One insider said: "These talks are still ongoing. Tom and George want to make sure they get the right price for giving up the club."
Despite leaving Liverpool with a £350m debt, they will be able to walk away having made a substantial profit.
MyRAWK Admin: A source informs me as this piece of news is printed in Manchester paper and as such should not be trusted. But then again……the ball is round.
By CHARLES SALE - Last updated at 11:28am on 13th February 2008
Source taken from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/sport/football.html?in_article_id=513756&in_page_id=1779
The Premier League's 'international round' was shunned around the globe last night as Asia's football supremo Mohammed Bin Hammam shut his door on the flawed project.
Bin Hammam, president of the mighty Asian Football Confederation which embraces 46 countries, including fancied Premier League destinations Australia, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates, has officially rejected the initiative and urged his member football federations to do the same.
His statement from Kuala Lumpur yesterday confirming Sportsmail's revelation on Monday about the expected Asia blockade, effectively sinks the good ship Premier League heading for five cities around the world where they were planning to stage an extra 39th round of 10 matches over a weekend.
North America, UEFA and FIFA have already stated their considerable opposition and the individual countries within the AFC who might have been interested in hosting a game will now be very wary about going against the wishes of Bin Hammam, one of the big three powerbrokers along with FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA chief Michel Platini and the man most likely to eventually replace Blatter.
Bin Hammam, whose first priority is the promotion and protection of club and international football within Asia, said: 'I can't see the wisdom in the proposed plans. It is my belief that it is not a good idea to organise domestic leagues in other territories. If this principle is accepted, then the Premier League must accept reciprocal arrangements.
'My recommendation to the AFC executive committee would be to reject initiatives of this nature. And we would urge the AFC member associations to protect their own national leagues and clubs within their territories.'
Bin Hammam's broadside came just as the Premier League were briefing the commercial directors from the 20 clubs about their grandiose plans.
The roll call of resistance includes Aston Villa's American owner Randy Lerner, whose opposition will be another blow to the Premier League and shows that the 20 clubs are far from unanimous about supporting the discredited scheme.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, speaking in South Africa yesterday, said: 'The idea of the 39th game is not getting any support in England at the moment.'
Ferguson: 39th game 'getting no support'
Even the FA's Professional Game Board, with strong Premier League representation, including chief executive Richard Scudamore, gave a very muted statement from chairman Lord Mawhinney, who said: 'The PGB is pleased to confirm that Thursday's announcement was only the start of a process and that the Premier League recognises the necessity of a detailed period of consultation with the FA, the Football League and other stakeholders.'
Scudamore now intends to engage in a round of shuttle diplomacy with football officials in a desperate attempt to salvage his plan. He will head for Zurich next week for discussions with FIFA president Blatter before taking his message to a number of potential host cities and confederations around the world.
MyRAWK Admin: Why don't we let the fans decide? After all its the fans that will be paying for those matches to watch their heroes! Whaddya guys think?
Don't forget this Saturday's FA CUP 5th Round: LFC vs Barnsley. Feb 16 @ 10:55PM at the M Bar.
Feb 13 2008: EXCLUSIVE by Tony Barrett, Liverpool Echo
RAFA BENITEZ is ready to take legal action against the News of the World.
The Liverpool manager was left seething after the Sunday tabloid newspaper ran a back page article at the weekend claiming that he blamed the club's owners for the team's failure to challenge for the Premier League title this season.
The News of the World claimed it as an exclusive even though Benitez insists he did not speak to either the newspaper or the journalist who wrote the article in question, Rob Beasley.
Benitez believes the story was taken from an interview he did with Spanish newspaper El Mundo in which journalist Inma Lidon asked him if he blamed Tom Hicks and George Gillett for upsetting Liverpool's season.
The question, when translated into English, read: "The owners were lacking faith in your work a couple of months ago when the team was six points behind the leaders with a game in hand.
"Has this issue influenced the progress of the team?"
To which Benitez - according to a translation in the hands of his solicitor, Richard Green, of leading Liverpool law firm Hill Dickinson – replied: “As a coach you could say yes.
"It would be the perfect excuse, but I don't want to use it.
"What is clear is that at that time we were in a good position and the team was at the point of winning many of the matches that we have drawn and that is what brought us down."
But when the News of the World ran the story the following day the headline accompanying it said: "It's Your Fault: Rafa In New Blast At Owners".
Benitez was so outraged by the story - and by the fact the News of the World claimed he had spoken exclusively to them - that he launched a blistering verbal attack on it in a pre-match interview before Sunday's game with Chelsea.
He said: "It is no surprise. Everybody in Liverpool knows that there are two newspapers that you cannot trust. This is one of them.
"He (Beasley) talks of it being an exclusive, but the journalist is lying. I was talking with the Spanish press - he was manipulating everything."
When asked about his relationship with the club's owners, the Reds boss added: "I have contact with them, especially with Mr Hicks, because he (Beasley) was talking about Mr Hicks and I think he is lying.
"Well, clearly he is lying because I did not talk with him."
Having studied the article, Green was today sending a “letter before claim” to both the News of the World and Beasley, informing them of the criteria for the claim.
The ECHO understands the claim is based on the potential of:
(a) Mr Benitez having been libelled by the article.
(b) False attribution - ie, that it used quotes that Mr Benitez did not say or that were taken so far out of context that they distorted the whole article.
source taken from http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-fc/liverpool-fc-news/2008/02/13/lfc-rumour-mill-crouch-at-kuyt-to-leave-sami-hyypia-to-celtic-guthrie-happy-to-leave-keeper-in-at-anfield-64375-20472891/
SAMI HYYPIA is being strongly linked with a move to Celtic.
Hyypia, who arrived nine years ago for £3m is said to be contemplating a move away from Anfield because he is concerned that opportunities in the first team may become more limited.
The 34-year-old is out of contract in the summer.
KEVIN KEEGAN has set his sights on at least one of Liverpool’s strikers, it has been reported.
Both Peter Crouch - constantly linked with a move away from Anfield - and Dutch internation dirk Kuyt are said to be interesting Keegan.
Crouch has also been linked with Manchester City and Portsmouth.
Danny Guthrie admits he would be happy to sign for Bolton permanently from Liverpool.
The midfielder has been a revelation for Bolton this season after arriving on a season-long loan deal from Anfield and Bolton officials have already sounded out Liverpool about a permanent swoop.
"A lot can happen between now and the end of the season, but I could see myself staying here," he told the Manchester Evening News. "However, it's up to people above me to decide what happens.
"I'm sure Liverpool have been monitoring my progress but I haven't spoken to anyone. In terms of me staying, it is what the two clubs want to do and then it comes down to me."
Goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov is reported as saying he expect to be back in Liverpool in the summer after they slapped a £4million price-tag on him.
The 19-year-old Bulgarian custodian joined the Reds in a £225,000 from Levski Sofia last summer, but was sent on loan to FC Twente in Holland due to work permit issues.
Twente officials are now said to be chasing a full signing, at a cost of £4million.
"Liverpool have asked for such a high price, because they wanted to discourage Twente from buying me," he said.
"I expect to join Liverpool in July, because my visa problems will be settled by then."
Don't forget our FA CUP 5th Round Match: Liverpool FC VS Barnsley on Saturday at 10:55pm FEB 16 at the M Bar. See y'all there!
Amongst all, he is the Liverpool manager, the one that made us European Champions and revered today. I grew up with. As much as Sir Bill Shankly is revered so was Sir Bob Paisley.
What he won is a matter of record, and here it is:
6 LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIPS
1975-76, 1976-77, 1978-79, 1979-80, 1981-82, 1982-83
3 EUROPEAN CUPS
1976-77, 1977-78, 1980-81
3 LEAGUE CUPS
1980-81, 1981-82, 1982-83
1 UEFA CUP
1975-761 EUROPEAN SUPER CUP
5 CHARITY SHIELDS
1974, 1976, 1977 (shared), 1980, 1982
6 MANAGER OF THE YEAR AWARDS
1975-76, 1976-77, 1978-79, 1979-80, 1981-82, 1982-83
“Pass the ball, when it gets stuck in the sand, build a castle and then kick it in their goalie’s face”, Bob Paisley won the European Cup three times. Not once, and a failed final, not once and then was unlucky to get close to other teams, but 3 times. In the space of four years.
He built a team that held the pace in England, but could play against the might of Europe.
St Etienne - one of the most famous night’s of Liverpool’s illustrious history? That was one of Bob’s.
“I’ve been in Rome twice, but last time it was in a tank” that was one of Bob’s.
“Keegan leaving? Get that young lad in, Kenny Daglish, he’ll be alright”. That was Bob and what about Hansen, or Souness? Bob signed him.
In 1978/79 we played 42 games. We let in 16 goals all season and scored 85. We lost four games all season.
Sir Bob Paisley died Valentine’s day 1996. Many a heart was broken that day.
Sir Bob, you were the best.
REST IN PEACE
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
"If I need to make gambles then I will make gambles. We have been in 2 Champions League finals and one FA Cup final, that is because we changed the side. Sometimes it is good and works, sometimes not. But nobody really knows whether what I do is right, all I will say is Liverpool and me have won a lot of trophies doing this. (Mention the CL and FA Cup final again as usual, living off former glories, just how Rafa is.)
"Sometimes maybe I take too many gambles but it's necessary. Sometimes when your opponents have so many class players, when they have 5 players costing 20 million and you only have one you need to use that player in the right moment. If you dont win, people blame you and if you win nobody mentions what team you put out and I accept that."
"People say I gamble too much with rotation and changes, but my answer to that is to look at Torres! He has played a lot of games for us recently and then he has another game for Spain and gets injured. We have half a dozen players in this situation and they all need to to be changed and rested."
He admits that it doesnt work "sometimes" and then goes off defending it again, he uses Torres' injury as a lovely excuse then suggesting he only got injured for playing all the time for Liverpool. Amazing how Ronaldo, Adebayor, Robbie Keane, Drogba, Anelka, Tevez etc aren't injured at all.
Torres' injury was unfortunate but not from being overplayed. Torres if anything proves that with time players can come good and fire in lots of goals. I know some think its a team game and we shouldn't rely on any single player, but if that player realistically can single-handedly change our season, i say why not? For instance, i think Man Utd have got a lot of points when they shouldn't, simply because of Cristiano Ronaldo alone!
Fact is, now we're a whooping 19 points behind the leaders!! I'm really afraid to imagine how many points behind the eventual leaders we will be at the end of the campaign. Like Jamie Redknapp said, on our day, under Rafa n his selection and rotation policies and tactics, we can beat any team in the world. Unfortunately, the same holds for nothing when it comes to challenging for the league. McMahon is another ex-player who thinks the same. That makes two now!
Something has to be done. Reports say that the DIC are planning to but out Gillett's shares, who seems to have admitted that his heart isn't at Liverpool. He could sell for a minimal profit. Probably Hicks will stay and hold the club to ransom. But by buying over, I think its half the battle won, as it'll be easier to persuade Hardy to sell once you've got Laurel's portion. And also if we fail to make it to the CL, Rafa could be sacked. That'll be 2 birds with one stone. Maybe they can get a hattrick by getting rid of Prick Parry too!
Here's hoping that the reports are true.