Thursday, 18 December 2014

Match Review - Bournmouth

At last a win with the performance to go with it.  We finally played well, looked a threat and scored the goals.  Probably only the second good performance of the season.  There were signs  against Man United despite suffering a heavy defeat and today we looked good, created and scored.

Rodgers played three central defenders with Henderson and Markovic as win backs two central midfield, Lucas and Gerrard, Stirling as a striker with Lallana and Coutinho as inside forwards, not wingers proper inside forwards and it worked, enough to suggest it's a formation we should stick with.

I was worried, at the back Jones as a Liverpool goalkeeper just doesn't cut it he is not good enough and I have lost trust in Lovren he has made to many mistakes for me and I don't understand why he has not been replaced by Sakho, who when he came on for the injured Lovren did well a solid performance.  We did look weak at the back again, I think the keeper was at fault for the Bournmouth goal and we never looked confident when defending but we did ok, as normal there is plenty of room for improvement but getting the correct personnel in is a start.

It was going forward where we looked better, much better and it was a delight to watch.  I have felt for a while that Stirling should be given a run up front (see article Do we already have the new Suarez, published on the 20th October) and although he didn't score against United I thought he looked a threat throughout, in this game he added the goals and for me looked very good in this role, please keep him here he looks like he could be a real threat.  Coutinho and Lallana playing as inside forwards were also dangerous constantly switching with each other and providing the movement that has been missing as well as causing the defence problems when running with the ball.  But for me the player of the game and the one who produced the biggest smile on my face was Markovic who looked fantastic, he was played out of position at wing back but defended ok but going forward he was a revelation, again we have had a couple of promising cameos recently but this was the performance we have been waiting for, real pace, real skill and real composure, he really looked the part and deserved his great goal he looks like he could be finally showing us why we paid twenty million for him.

I hope we have finally started to turn the corner with this result and performance, I think we have a formation that Rodgers likes and seems to fit our current players i would like to see a couple of changes with Moreno coming in as a wing back allowing Markovic to take up one of the inside forward rolls.  Sakho to remain in the team at the expense of Lovren and I think Coutinho instead of Gerrard in the midfield role allowing Gerrard to be an impact player from the bench.  Still obviously work to do, its only a win over a Championship team, but at least now we can see a way forward and Stirling up front could be very very exciting.


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Time To Judge Our Buys

Many people feel that our summer transfers are to blame for our current form and position claiming that Rodgers bought a group of below standard players, I disagree, I think on the whole we did ok, yes there are some mistakes, expensive mistakes but i think we have to accept that no club or manager gets it right every time and if we want to be buying top end players then we have to pay, making the mistakes expensive.  We have had time to look at the players we bought in the summer now so I think i can give a fair opinion, but first, you have to accept that Liverpool can no longer just buy who they want, its not football manager, we don't have unlimited money and we don't have the pull we once did so we are forced to buy players who maybe are a bit younger or do not come from one of the giants of Europe.  I have stated in other articles that I feel this is the normal Liverpool way, it is rare through our history that we have bought in players at the very top, we normally develop players and I think that is, generally, what we are trying to do at the moment. 


In my opinion an unmitigated disaster, he was bought to replace Sakho who is twice the player he will ever be and it has shown, Lovren has never settled, has never been the leader we were promised and has played like a pub standard player, to be honest I don't see what anybody could have seen in him, he is poor in the air, terrible for his size, he is slow, poor on the ball, his positional sense is week he has nothing and is now starting to blame others.  His individual errors alone have cost us enough points to be top four and still in the Champions League and we payed 20 million pounds.  In my opinion Lovren goes down as one of our worst ever buys and certainly as one of our worst ever defenders. A miss


Decent player who is very young but has shown he has the ability to defend well he is weaker going forward than I hoped for and seems to settle for the safe option all the time, but he is very young and has plenty of time to develop and i sure he will.  He is only on loan so we had very little financial risk involved with him and for me he has shown enough for us to attempt to make his deal permanent as soon as we can.  A hit


In my opinion a very good player who has shown already that he has everything he needs to make it at the very top, can defend and attack and has plenty of pace, he has made a couple of mistakes that have cost goals and appears recently to have had a slump in form, but I expect this from young players, he is still learning and will go on and be a big player for Liverpool.  A hit


Has not played as much as I would like but from what I have seen he is impressive, again he appears to have everything and could develop into a top player given time.  there are rumours that he is not a great trainer and this is why he is not getting the games, if so this is worrying, but he looks good to me and has impressed when he has played.  A hit


We payed a lot of money for Lallana and he was supposed to be the finished article and for me he has not reached these heights or the heights I expected but he has been ok, a couple of goals and some good performances combined with a few anonymous games, hasn't played every week because we have so many number 10's many believe he will go on and be a top player for Liverpool, i'm not so sure, I think he will be an expensive squad player.  Hit & Miss


I think Markovic has done well after a nervous start. I am seeing moments of real class and for a player so young there is obvious potential, I'm certain Markovic will turn out to be a big player for Liverpool.  Following a few recent cameos I believe he is ready for and should be given a run in the starting eleven.  Hit


Seen by many as a big failure, I am still on the fence, I believe he has been used a a scapegoat whilst putting in decent performances, not great but ok.  I believe we will see his true class when we see him with a partner.  For me he is putting the effort in and we have seen moments of class but they are only moments and he is frustrating for both fans and colleagues.  Hit & Miss


Don't know why we bought Lambert, for me never looked like a Liverpool player, he does give us an option of a different type of striker, but Balotelli does this job in my opinion better so we don't need Lambert.  He has looked off the pace in most of the games he has played, the returning hero would have been a nice story but in fact he has looked like what he is, an overweight championship player who is passed his best.  Miss


Obviously hasn't played for Liverpool yet but his reputation has grown since we paid for him and many are shouting that we pay extra and bring him to the club early, I think we leave him be, let him grow and get a more complete player in the summer.  Hit

So overall 5 hits 2 miss and 2 undecided, yes most of the hits have for a young player after the hit and we are trusting in potential but as stated at the beginning ready made superstars aren't really an option for Liverpool at the moment and we would always expect a couple of misses out of nine players so we had a good window.  Why are we so bad then, in my opinion we are lacking on the coaching field and the manager has played people out of position in formations that don't suit them but thats an argument for another day, let just hope all our players can fulfil their potential and we will have some squad


Monday, 15 December 2014

Match Review - Manchester United

Another day and another humiliating defeat for Liverpool this time at the hands of out biggest rivals and yet again huge mistakes from the manager cost us.  This time there were some positives but again we had our chances destroyed by poor, no, disastrous decisions, that cost us the three points and are turning us into the laughing stock of European football. 

Firstly he picks Brad Jones, now we know Mignolet is out of form and possibly never going t be the keeper we all hoped for but the reason we have been crying out for another keeper for years now is that Jones simply isn't good enough, never has been and never will be, nice bloke and all that but never good enough for Premier League football.  He should never be on the pitch for Liverpool as shown by the way he dived the wrong way for the first goal and wasn't even in the goal for the third.  I fail to see what benefit playing a keeper of this standard could give to us especially when Rodgers has to take the blame for buying Mignolet in the first place and then failing to recruit anybody as cover.

Then we must look at the shambles of our so called defence.  Im not going to argue about the formation and playing three at the back, it could have worked, i'm going to argue about the personnel used we used our three joke defenders as central defenders Skrtel, Johnson and Lovren should not be playing for Liverpool with the form they have shown this year never mind have sole responsibility for the defence, everybody in the country can see it apart from Rodgers.  This mistake is then compounded by dropping Toure and leaving Sakho out of the squad all together simply unbelievable.  Lovren has been an unmitigated disaster for Liverpool up there with our wort ever defenders, he actually creates chances for the opposition and did again yesterday, yet he constantly gets rewarded with a place in the team.  Again Rodgers fault he made the decision to buy Lovren for stupid amounts of money and he is the man who is stubbornly persisting with him at the expense of better players.  What has been done about our standard of defending is there any coaching taking place, it appears not, we have been making the same types of mistakes over and over again since the start of the season and Rodgers needs to take responsibility for this he is the head coach.

Playing people out of position just to get your favourites on the pitch doesn't work, never has, never will, it looked like  we thought we were capable of total football for a while.  Henderson as wing back, when we have Johnson on the pitch but laying as a central defender, Gerrard and Allen as holding midfielders when we have Can and Lucas, especially when we have just learned or I thought we had that Gerrard is better further forward,  Coutinho is better when played deeper, we all know it, Lallana is not a striker and then most laughably Markovic is brought on to save the game as a left wing back, if i didn't care so much I would be laughing, the rest of the league are and its at our expense.  Rodgers appears to have totally lost the plot, he has no answers, our season is lost and I believe it is now going to take us years to recover without Champions League money.

One positive to take from the game is that we did manage to create several chances Sterling looked lively up front and did get himself several scoring opportunities, as did Balotelli when he arrived. De Gea was magnificent and our finishing was great but at last we created with Stirling looking to me like he could produce from this position.  I would also like to give a Mention to Markovic who again played well for me and has done in a few games recently it looks like just possibly he may be turning in to the player we had been hoping for.

In this game we we deserved a bit more on another day we would have scored a couple and two of United's goals came from stupid errors and the other one was offside so on another day, yeh i know never going to happen but at least we did create.

Things need to change, before we all forget that WE ARE LIVERPOOL. 


Thursday, 11 December 2014

Liverpool v Man United - The biggest game in the world?

Is Liverpool against Manchester United the biggest game in the world? It's certainly up there with the biggest.  It has the history, the rivalry, the number of supporters world wide, the star names, the success of both teams, everything.  In my opinion we are possibly pipped by Real Madrid v  Barcelona, just at the minute they have the star names in world football representing them and this probably gives them the edge, River Plate v Boca Juniors is also up there with the passion of the support certainly matching us.

But what makes the rivalry so big and the match so important, we have the derby against Everton so why are United considered by many as out greatest rivals?  In my opinion its the success that both teams have had that has created jealousy and often hatred in the opponents fans.  In the 60's and early seventies there appeared not to be the level of rivalry that there is now.  It is worth remembering that following the Munich Air Disaster the then Liverpool manager Phil Taylor offered to lend Manchester United 11 players in order that they could help towards United having a team and that Sir Matt Busby arguably Uniteds greatest ever manager was a former Captain of Liverpool.  Its hard to imagine a captain of one team moving across to the other in any role or players playing for both clubs with transfers between the two tea almost taboo.

But starting in the seventies and through the eighties Liverpool had a remarkable run of success.  Through this period United were a big team with top players but were left as mainly a cup team with any success coming in the cup competitions whilst Liverpool swept all before them both at home and in Europe, this must have hurt and created jealousy, in fact I know it does because for the last twenty years it as been Uniteds turn to dominate the game in this country overtaking our record of 18 League titles winning 20 of their own whilst Liverpool have fell behind, with their glory coming from the occasional cup win and it hurts and yes I am jealous.  We are the two most successful clubs in England and we want to be best

Why each other and not our geographical rivals in Everton and Manchester City? Simple, in my opinion despite them both having periods of success it hasn't been sustained, they haven't got the history, simply until Manchester City have recently had the big money investment neither have been a real threat to the big two's dominance.  Yes we love to bet Everton but for me and manyy others United are the big one.

As time goes by there are fewer and fewer people who attend the games ho remember times before the rivalry was so intense so fans have known nothing else it is turing or has turned into hatred almost an obsession and it shouldn't, rivalry is good, an intense rivalry is healthy it will push both clubs to succeed but hatred is not healthy it can only cause harm.  I love my team and dont want it harmed especially its reputation.  We all now the songs that both sides sing that aren't acceptable and violence and intimidation are also not acceptable.  Millions and millions of people world wide will watch the game at the weekend and I don't the reputation of my team harmed.  So rivalry and banter good it creates atmosphere.  Hatred and bile bad it creates harm.  So enjoy the game at the weekend support your team, create a fabulous atmosphere and with a bit of luck three points for Liverpool.


Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Match Report - Basel

This hurts, I believed in Rodgers, I really did, but his stubbornness and refusal to change along with unbelievably bad selections have cost us, this time our place in The Champions League but also have cost us in the league.  Last night before the game the talk was all about the selection we needed to win we had to score and he picked a team with nothing going forward only Sterling with any creativity, any pace, any threat.  Still no Borini so no chance of a change no chance of the two up we all know we need yet Rodgers has refused all season. What we are left with is a lumbering Lambert, who we all wanted to do well, but it turns out is an overweight, lower division striker with little or no threat. That Rodgers and the transfer committee can leave us in the position where with a couple of injuries we find ourselves having to play Skrtel as striker in our biggest game of the season. The same Skrtel who hasn't been able to control a header, pass the ball or win a tackle without fouling all season at the back is just unbelievable, questions must be asked. Why are we without a striker who can threaten? Why are we continuously playing a formation that simply doesn't work? Why are we playing a negative defensive team when we must score, must win? Why are we playing so many players out of position? Why have all our players, without exception taken a massive drop in form? Why are we paying huge amounts of money for players who simply are not up to the job? I could go on and on its simple frustration, we have fallen so far so quickly had nobody appears to be doing anything, I look at our bench and our manager and coaches are just sitting there staring straight ahead they look like they have no idea what to do.

The first half of the game was exactly what you would expect from the team we put out absolutely nothing from Liverpool with a string of poor passes allowing Basel to put on pressure and take control of the game and it was no surprise when the goal came.  The question that needs to be asked here is with so many defensive negative players on the field how are players getting a free strike at goal from the edge of the area - people not doing their jobs or simple inability to defend either way it has got to the stage now where players need to be shipped out if they can't or won't do it then get rid.  Today the back four was made up of four players who have proved again and again that they aren't up to the job yet still they are all picked to play for us in the biggest game of the year.

Rodgers did make changes at half time with Moreno and Markovic taking to the field replacing Enrique and Lambert decent changes I thought more pace a a bit more creativity, I was hoping for Coutinho but this would do.    Markovic was making an impact and it looked like we could be getting the performance we had been waiting for he was a threat, he was running at their defence then he was sent off, a terrible decision from the referee and terrible cheating by the Basel player.  Very unfortunate for Markovic but we must not hide behind a poor decision forcing us to play with ten men we were not unfortunate we made bad decisions and played poorly.

For the last twenty minutes we found the fight and passion we should have been playing with all game, all season, we played well and when Gerrard scored that stunning free kick I actually believed, We could just turn it around and create one of those great nights but despite a couple of penalty claims and a deflected effort from Henderson we were out.

When we look back we have had a poor Champions League campaign and don't deserve to be in the last sixteen but that doesn't effect the issues I have with the management and the performance levels of many of our players.  I support our team and the manager but if you are not up to the job things need to change.  Its embarrassing how far we have fallen, teams like Basel are laughing at us.  I'm not surprised that the support is in melt down, it is time for something to be done before its to late.


Monday, 8 December 2014

They only want our money

They want our money, thats nothing new, we all know the arguments about ticket prices, about the price of a shirt for the kids, the price of any merchandise even a cup of tea in the ground all instances of the club taking the piss out of supporters, people like me who simply can't afford it any more, they, the owners and decision makers don't care though there are plenty of others to take my place, others with more money to grab and they know that I will always be there in the background spending what I can because my love for the club won't let me go.

Not content with the above instances the club have now hit the television channel that we were able to watch previously for free we are now expected to pay for.  The channel is a key way for people who live outside of the city to keep in touch to get the Liverpool content that they crave but again the decision makers have decided to hit them in the pocket charging seven pound a month for the privilege.  This is to much, I accept that there may be a need to charge to cover costs etc even though a well run channel should be covered by advertising a small charge of perhaps one or two pound I could understand but to go from nothing to seven seems to me to be an unacceptable rise.

I have not subscribed and will not be doing so not only because of the cost but because the content has become worse and worse.  The main advantage of the channel for me is the coverage of games from the reserves and the academy when pre season the adverts told us we would not miss a kick i was looking forward to watching some of the younger players at the club hopefully develop over the season, they however, failed to show the majority of the games up to the point that we had to subscribe, why would i pay when they failed to show the games they promised its not good enough to promise and then not produce and then expect us to pay with a further promise that things will get better, I expect better of Liverpool, I am a supporter a fan not somebody just to con money out of.

The amount of money floating around the club is unbelievable, I don't know figures but i would suggest that the wages from one first team player could make a noticeable difference in ticket prices as well as give us the television channel for free.  I understand the importance of attracting top players to the club, i want the team to be successful as much as anybody but I can also point out players who are not performing to the level i would expect for their salary and haven't for some time.  Its not fair that players who are not performing and appear to not be trying are getting paid millions whilst supporters who do care more than anybody are priced out of attending the game and now even watching on the clubs own television channel.


Sunday, 7 December 2014

Match Review - Sunderland

Disappointed, very disappointed, we were starting to look better, we had got ourselves back in to a better position in the league, one or two of our big players had shown signs that they were playing themselves back into form and other results on Saturday had gone our way, then what happened, we let ourselves down.  I had no real complaints about the team the manager picked before the game.  I can see the argument that Gerrard should have played, but that only looks good with hindsight, before the game I wanted him rested for the Champions League game on Tuesday and I had thought that Coutinho had looked good in recent games and was relatively confident that we would be ok without our captain.

What went wrong, we simply appeared not to be interested yet again for the whole first half we created nothing, we had Sterling, Coutinho and Lallana on the pitch and did not even manage to create a half chance.  This is worrying our three most creative players and they managed nothing between them.  Perhaps we have been putting to much pressure on Sterling and Coutinho and Lallana has been struggling to fit in at his new club and it appears is struggling under the price tag but a whole half without any output between them is not acceptable and I hope that somebody at the club is pointing this out because all that I'm hearing is that we are working hard, things will get better and it looks to me like we are not working hard and because of this we will not get better.  It was easy for Sunderland to hold us at arms length, yes they did put everybody behind the ball but thats what we should expect teams like Sunderland to do and we should know how to go about breaking them down and we need our creative players to produce, to many times this season they haven't.

For the first half we played far to slowly, it looked like we thought we were in a friendly and I don't know why to many times this season this has been the case and we as a club are not doing anything about it, players strolling around, sideways and backwards passing, nobody getting in the box, nobody supporting our striker, the manager not doing anything to get support to our strikers still refusing to play two up, dodgy goalkeeping, terrible nervous defending and still nobody doing anything about any of it, our coaches and manager sitting paralysed on the bench, things will not improve on their own. 

In the second half things did improve slightly, it appeared that at half time the players had been told to speed things up a bit, I hope they had, one or two needed shaking warmly by the throat and reminding who they play for and why its important.  Then we got the boost we needed when Gerrard took to the field,  we did look more like a team trying to get in the top four, at least we pushed for a goal although if i'm honest we could have played for a week and never scored.  It was better after Gerrard took to the field but should we be still putting all our faith in our ageing captain, after all we have all been asking for him to be played less to act as more of an impact player.

The most frustrating game I have seen in a while, players need to pick up and they need to do it now.  If we play like this on Tuesday our season could be over its not acceptable for Liverpool players not to be challenging and several need reminding what is expected of them.


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Match Review - Leicester City

Watching the first half I was again worried, we seemed desperate to present Leicester with a goal with defenders constantly inviting pressure on themselves clearing the ball straight up in the air or only to the feet of an attacker on the edge of the box, then, when this doesn't work Mignolet decided to pass the pall directly to Leicester's most talented and high profile player directly in front of goal, whilst making sure there were no defenders or even himself in a position to prevent the goal. Somehow he missed and we were still level. Lucky yes but despite not falling behind all this does is lift the Leicester crowd, keep ours quiet, encourage a bottom of the table team that they can actually compete with us and create extra nerves in our players.  Leicester's goal proves this a period of pressure from Leicester, largely due to Liverpool's inability to clear the ball rather than any great play from Leicester led to a goal that was a comedy of errors from our defence and keeper, unlucky? Possibly, but deserved fro Leicester.

We equalised shortly afterwards with a great strike from Lallana but it was hardly deserved we hadn't played well were not creating and again players seemed to be out of form or short on confidence.  At half time I was criticising Gerrard he appeared to be missing from the game not getting on the ball and unable to keep up the the quick breaks of Sterling and Lallana leaving attackers isolated and easy to defend against.

The second half saw a change with players across the midfield pushing forward and Gerrard getting on the ball far more often allowing him to run the game, with both him and Sterling now producing the class we are used to.  But the important point to take from the game is the physicality that the Liverpool players had to produce to match that of their opponents, long balls into our box were Leicester's main weapon and we defended them along with any corners and free kicks well.  Leicester were very physical and we got little or no protection from a dismal referee but the players stood up for themselves refused to be bullied and dogged it out.  Teams have been bullying us very easily for most of the season and i am glad that over the last couple of games this has changed.

Goals in the second half came from the majestic Gerrard and Henderson both after good work from Sterling with Liverpool having to withstand at times heavy pressure, pressure that they coped with well in the second half far better.  

Liverpool were also denied a certain penalty when Schmeichel and the Leicester goal clearly fouled Gerrard when he was through on goal.  At this point Leicester were down to ten players after Morgan had been sent off for an earlier professional foul.  It is my opinion that the referee did not award the penalty as if he did he would have had to send the Leicester keeper off as well leaving them with only nine players.  A terrible spineless decision form a referee who was dismally below standard all day, if referees are not up to the job or not prepared to make decisions they should be taken out of the league there is no reason at all why the referee or one of his assistants could not have awarded that penalty when everybody else in the ground could clearly see that it was apart from that all three of them bottled it.

A good win for Liverpool and a very valuable three points but still not a good performance, terrible first half better in the second but we dogged this one, we had to stand up to Leicester and we did so well done Liverpool, three more points at the weekend please.


Monday, 1 December 2014

Match Review - Stoke City

Before I start talking about Stoke I want to mention the Ludogorets game or in particular some of the comments made after the game.  I watched the match on television and after the game commentators, experts, the manager and supporters all seemed to think that Liverpool had shown an improvement all telling us about the fight and character the team had shown.  I disagree, I thought that this was a terrible performance and to come away with only a draw was a very poor result.  I also felt that we didn't really show any fight and certainly not any character, yes we came back from a goal down, but not because of any great character but because Ludogorets were even worse than us at defending and a laughable string of mistakes presented Lambert with the equaliser, we did score a good second goal before showing exactly the opposite of character and totally bottled it with a spineless performance thats sore us attempting to waste time, taking the ball to the corner with still ten minutes on the clock, against a poor standard team, better than we previously thought but still poor.  We then showed our fear by defending deeper and deeper and eventually conceding in the face of the pressure we invited on to ourselves, not brave, not showing character and certainly not good but spineless, lacking confidence and very very poor. I bring this up now because against Stoke both on and off the field I saw character and fight and the bravery we were looking for and maybe now the shoots of the recovery that we have been looking for.

Before the game Rodgers made the tough decision to drop Gerrard and Lovren from the starting eleven, many of us have been shouting that these two needed replacing in the team but its not easy for the manager to drop out icon and legend along with the defender he only recently spent twenty million pounds on a tough decision full of character.

The first half was poor, with almost nothing happening, from our point of view we hardly created anything but we didn't look like conceding.  Coutinho was looking ok and at least was running at the defence but hadn't managed to create anything.  In the second half we seemed to take more of a risk, brave.  We pushed more people forward, played with more pace and tried to get players beyond Lambert and we looked better, much better with Sterling and Coutinho in particular putting in good performances and the chances started to come, the risk was Stoke started to get one or two chances as well but I thought we were getting the better of it and to be honest were stil doing ok at the back with Mignolet doing well when called upon.

When the goal came it was Johnson who showed great bravery and character firstly to be playing at all in the face of the huge criticism he has received over a period of months and secondly more obviously to stick his head in to score the winner when he new it was going to hurt, but he did it and we got the goal.  

Then once we had the goal we defended better, braver, with a higher line at least trying to push out, at least trying to play.  Finally a performance with  character and bravery and finally a result, finally just possibly we may be starting to turn a corner so well done Rodgers and Liverpool for finally showing some character, the character we are going to need for the rest of the season and beyond.