Wednesday, 28 January 2015

I hate Chelsea !

I hate Chelsea, the manager, the fans, the plastic flags, the people payed to wave flags, the team, the players, everything, but I have to admit they are good at winning football matches, I hate the horrible, snide way they go about winning them, but they do win.  When the draw was made for the semi final there was no doubt that I was worried Chelsea are a very tough nut to crack and I doubted that we had enough to progress.  But then came the first leg and we out played them our new system worked and we had the better of the game, of course Chelsea got a snide, half dive penalty and the game finished 1-1 but we were the better team, despite what Mourinho claimed.  That result, however, left us needing a win at Stamford Bridge to go through, very difficult but this time I felt we were in with a chance, we could produce the same performance again.

We did produce the performance, especially in the first half but some exceptional goalkeeping kept us out with Moreno, Coutinho and Sterling all forcing excellent saves, in the second half we seemed to run out of steam, every one of our players left nothing on the pitch and worked themselves to a stand still, we had to to keep Chelsea out, they are an exceptional team with great individuals.  The injury to Sakho really cost us and was the beginning of the end, he had been imperious at the back for Liverpool.  Before the game, during the warm up he had been holding his back and it looked to me like he had played with an injury that had simply got to much Johnson replaced him and we immediately struggled and with Balotelli taking to the pitch shortly afterwards and producing nothing we were in trouble.  We did manage to hold on until the end of normal time with most of the credit going to Mignolet for a couple of really good stops.

In extra time Liverpool looked exhausted Lucas especially looked out on his feet and it was Lucas who gave away the free kick, admittedly following a terrible ball from Balotelli, that led to the goal, poor marking, again, allowed a free header and the goal.  Lambert took to the field at half time in the extra period and produced nothing with Liverpool unable to create anything in this period of the game Chelsea we simply to strong.  We did have one glorious chance to take the game to penalties when some excellent wing play from Sterling found Henderson in the box but he put his header wide when it seemed a goal was certain.

For me today we played very well up to the point where we became tired, and Sakho became injured.  The subs let us down Johnson, Balotelli and Lambert gave us nothing as has been the case from these three all season,  The manager had little choice as to what to do, I know Lallana was on the bench but when you need a goal you turn to your strikers and ours aren't good enough, I think we all know where any money needs to be spent and I could name three players who for me are not earning their wages and I would have absolutely no problems if they left the club.   

Now this may sound like sour grapes but i don't really care.  The tactics employed by Chelsea as a team and by individual players are a disgrace and i don't know how they get away with it.  We saw Costa clearly and purposefully stamp on players not once but twice.  He also had a run in with Gerrard where he pushed is head into the Liverpool captains face, three times was accused of diving by the referee and as normal spent most of his time with his hands in the faces of Liverpool defenders enough to be sent off three times if you include a yellow for diving four times in one game and unbelievably Mourinho defends this so I assume that this behaviour is encouraged by his manager this is how he is told to play by Chelsea.  If Suarez, whilst he was at Liverpool had acted in the same manner he would have been all over the front pages of the papers, had questions asked in parliament and would have been banned for most of the season, Costa picked up a yellow card eventually.

Further we see Mourinho at half time challenging the referee, putting pressure on for the decisions to be made in favour of his team, blatant cheating, this is not allowed, when he is caught by the fourth official what happens?  No action, he is simply warned that the cameras are on him and he skulks away behind a crowd of players, cheating but no action taken by the officials, again.

We watch Hazard, a wonderful footballer, or could be if he stands on his feet diving time and time again, any action taken by the referee? of course not, Mourinho has already put the pressure on in the press and as we have seen in person so nothing gets done, again

We see John Terry smash through the back of Sterling in an obvious attempt to slow him down, a reducer, any action taken, nope, again, in fact later in the game when Ivanovic hacks down the same player we actually do see a yellow card for the Chelsea player followed by a warm handshake between player and ref.

Despite this when Liverpool foul, which they did, almost the whole Chelsea team would surround the referee requesting a booking, i'm certain this is an instruction, they do this to put pressure on the referee.  Mourinho is the same, in the ear of the officials on the side lines continuously, in fact he missed his teams goal still moaning for a card to be given to Lucas several minutes after the foul.

Chelsea won this semi final because they had the stronger squad, we were not able to replace tired players with equal quality when we needed to at the end of the game and Chelsea could, on this occasion they were to strong, but i am proud of the Liverpool team we did well pushed them to the very limit, you can see by the tactics they had to employ to beat us.  We have shown that we are good enough to compete with the best teams in the country so for that well done.


Sunday, 25 January 2015

Not all bad against Bolton

The FA Cup, in fact all the cup competitions are important to me, I think it is maybe an age thing but I always see the FA Cup as a major competition and one that Liverpool should take very seriously.  Having said that the league is important as well and players sometimes need a rest, we as a club need to find the best times to give players a game off and in the case of some give them minutes on the pitch or valuable experience to younger members of the squad, so when the team for this one showed that several changes had been made I was not too disappointed.  I possibly didn't agree with some of the players who had come in to the team I would rather some younger ones got a chance but players certainly needed resting and one or two coming back from injuries needed game time.

As is always the case in cup matches the opponents especially if they are from lower leagues, along with their supporters come fired up and Bolton were no exception, they started the quicker and for the first few minutes they were asking questions of the Liverpool defence.  Recently however, our defence has looked stronger and today with Sakho taking the lead we held out when a few weeks ago we would possibly have conceded, we have been struggling against strong powerfully forward lines, set plays and teams who put our defence under pressure, Heskey is certainly strong and powerful, they definitely put, or tried to put us under pressure and they had the set plays. Today we came through it relatively comfortably and after around ten minutes or so were starting to create. 

Bolton defended with a high line allowing the pace of Sterling to be a problem, we were finding it easy to play him in behind the defence but not so easy to get up and support him meaning that the Bolton defence despite being stretched to the limit at times always managed to block him out even if at times they had to resort to giving away free kicks.

In the second half we pushed up more ourselves, making it easier to get support to Sterling and making us more of a threat.  Liverpool looked very dangerous right up to the final ball or shot that, time and again was blocked out by the narrow Bolton three man central defence, Bolton gave us the wings and blocked out the middle and we failed to find a way through. The creativity was there the finishing was missing and despite several superb saves by the keeper we today missed a natural striker and in my opinion shows why we should be spending money in this area, we missed Sturridge desperately, yes he is due back but we need cover, he needs help, Sturridge will not be able to do it on his own.

Only one goal conceded in the last four games is a definite improvement, especially from where we were.  We look solid at the back for me with teams now not creating any chances against us, many not even getting any shots, even Mignolet appears to have recovered his form, coming off his line more, appearing to have more confidence and controlling his box better.  He still has problems with distribution but even this is improving, we still have a lot if work to do but at least we can see things moving in the correct direction.

Against Bolton I thought we played OK, probably deserved the win but we're lacking in front of goal and with our decisions around the box.  A great performance from Bolton defence and keeper foiled us but we are still in the hat for the next round so not all bad.


Friday, 23 January 2015

Weren't We Good

Before the game against Chelsea I was worried.  We are getting better, players and formations are developing but Chelsea are good, they have strength in every position, experienced players at the top of their game all over the pitch and on top of that they are bloody horrible, nasty, cynical, devious players with the the most horrible, devious, cynical, nasty bastard in charge, I bloody well hate Chelsea and everything they stand for.  But it has to be said that they win football games and that's why I was worried, I simply couldn't see a way we could get the result, surely they would be able to find a way through our defence, find the weaknesses in our formation, expose our wing backs, surely they would dominate the midfield and I couldn't see how we could get the goals against their defence and the quality Matic.

From the start we more than matched them, for me with none of the above coming to pass.  I'm hearing what people are saying, that early on Chelsea despite not threatening were controlling the game, not for me, in fact the opposite, they were struggling to control the game, the pressure we were putting on was starting to produce errors.  They were not in control, they were on the edge, they couldn't create, neither could we, but we were certainly not controlled.

Next came the penalty for Chelsea, again I'm hearing most people say that this was a penalty, again I disagree, for me Hazard dived into Can, if you watch the replays he is on his way down before the contact, not just fractionally but definitely on his way down, another example of cynical, nasty Chelsea football that has at least been halve earned by the managers comments in the media over the last week or two.

From the goal onwards Liverpool dominated playing some exciting quality football that deserved far more than the single goal, we should of but more importantly could of won.  What we did do is show that our players are equally as good as those of Chelsea and proved to people like me that had concerns before the game that we were wrong, we can control teams as good as Chelsea, we can compete at this level.  Chelsea never looked like scoring again, in fact only managed one more shot during the entire game, whilst we peppered their goal with efforts, teams the quality of Chelsea don't get hammered, 
they don't give up loads of clear cut chances, ever, but we did well and on another day would have got a couple more goals, a fabulous display.

At half time pundits criticised Can for his performance, again I disagree, I have already covered the penalty, and apart from that I thought he put in a very good performance against some of the world's best talent, as did our other defenders.  Lucas was superb and Henderson once again showed that he has the character to be the captain of our club, I loved watching him put Costa in his place, but for me the most pleasing aspect was seeing partnerships starting to develop all over the field, down the left Sakho and Moreno are looking good, as are Can and Markovic on the other wing so much so that we now longer have to concentrate every one of our attacks down the left, Henderson and Lucas dominated midfield and look at the quality of the names they were up against, Sterling and Coutinho also looked to be enjoying playing together more, regularly waltzing through the Chelsea team with today only the final ball missing.

The crowd also appeared to be back on form, quality support with good humour, that's how it's done Chelsea.  Hopefully all of this has given us the confidence to move on, it has me, I now can't wait for the second leg, we have a chance, I can now see how we get the win, well done Liverpool.


Sunday, 18 January 2015

Player Profile - John Barnes


John Barnes was born in Jamaica on the 7th of November 1963 and moved to Liverpool from Watford for a transfer fee of £900,000 on the 9th June 1987 in my opinion one of the best signings made by the then manager Kenny Dalglish, forming one of the most formidable attacking line ups the club has ever seen, with Beardsley, Aldridge, Rush and Houghton.  Barnes made his Liverpool debut on 15th August against Arsenal at Highbury setting up a goal in a 2-1 win, he scored his first goal a month later on the 12th September in a 2-0 win over Oxford United at Anfield.

In his first season Barnes and Liverpool lifted the championship trophy and we're only denied a double as they lost the FA Cup final due to some very strange refereeing and a missed penalty, despite these achievements it is probably his performance on the clubs Cup Final song, the Anfield Wrap that he is best remembered for, all round a fabulous first season.  He was voted PFA Player of the year and won rave reviews from everybody with Bobby Robson claiming he was as good as George Best at his peak.

Barnes would win another title and two FA Cups whilst at Liverpool but many felt that due to the European ban following Hysel Barnes and his team missed out on further glory in Europe, they were certainly good enough to challenge the very best.

During his time at Liverpool Barnes suffered at the hands of racists and it is a testament to the man that he always handled his with grace and dignity generally making opposing fans eat their words with his performances on the pitch.  The Everton Chairman at the time Philips Carter disowned a section of their own fans following them abusing Barnes during the Derby.

Following the Hillsborough disaster Barnes along with the manager Kenny Dalglish at his team mate's attended many funerals and visited the injured in hospital even pulling out of an England game in order to fulfil these duties for which we all owe a debt of gratitude.

In 1992 Barnes picked up a severe achilles injury not only forcing him out of that seasons FA Cup final but causing him problems with his acceleration, he was never the same player again.  He played in for Liverpool in a deeper midfield position that after a poor start he did master but we never again sawn him gliding through opposition defences.

On 13 August 1997 and after 10 years and 407 games for Liverpool Barnes was given a free transfer joining Newcastle United.  A true Liverpool legend and a player who I am delighted to say I saw play and was one of the best I have ever seen.


Clean Sheets

At last some, well two clean sheets and doesn't it feel good.  Two wins against Sunderland and Villa, two good performances away from home and two weeks where finally we don't have to listen to people telling us how terrible we are at the back and how poor our goalkeeper is.  We have shown a steady improvement all over the pitch with the fluidity returning to our game but now even at the back we look more solid, more composed.  Even Mignolet seems more commanding, yesterday against Villa he seemed to dominate his box, taking control at corners and when the ball was crossed into our box. Twice he was even accused of good distribution by commentators huge steps forward from where we were only a few weeks ago.  But for me the biggest improvement seems to have come in the back three with support form Lucas in the middle and our wing backs.  Sakho has been immense and i think is now a big player in our defence bringing not only natural talent and strength but also the leadership we have been looking for allowing Skrtel to regain his confidence and form resulting in a fabulous performance against Villa and on the other side of the defence the very young, very inexperienced Can but he appears to be the answer to our problems providing the ability on the ball we have been looking for along with all the physical attributes you need, he is still learning but is doing it very quickly.  Game by game we are seeing huge improvements and again yesterday at Villa very very good taking Benteke out of the game when many felt that Can was the weak link and there to be bullied.

This new formation appears to have given Lucas a new lease of life he did appear to be on his way out of the club but with nobody else able to play the defensive midfield role, or Rodgers version of it, he has become a vital cog in our machine and once again we are all starting to see what he is capable of.  The stats bear out what we are seeing with our own eyes, yes he has lost a yard of pace but it is not effecting his game he is one of the best in this role.  When compared to the media darling, Matic of Chelsea, the figures show that Lucas compares favourably with interceptions, tackles won, headers won and passes completed showing what a key if under valued player he is.  Rodgers recently told us he is not going and I hope this is true he is once again proving everybody wrong.

In the wing back roles we have Moreno and Markovic both excellent going forward, in the case of Markovic already one of the best attacking threats in our team and who will undoubtably go on on be a world class attacking talent, but can they defend.  Moreno is a full back by trade on despite one or two mistakes whilst settling in in I have no worries that once he learns the wing back position and develops the awareness required to know when to attack and when to stay back he will provide an excellent defensive contribution.  Markovic on the other hand was seen as to week, not interested in the defensive side, would be up for it on a wet and windy weekend say in Sunderland but what we have seen is a player prepared to work, prepared to put is foot in and who is certainly up for a challenge and who has defended well from both wing back positions and he has done all this whilst still providing a very high level of attacking threat and whilst showing an incredible level of technical ability, still young but Markovic like Can can be anything he wants to be.

Our defence has shown a huge improvement recently, some of it down to the formation, some of it undoubtably down to the whole team but most of it down to the players in the defence and we are now playing a very young back five all with plenty of time to grow and develop.  Of the five Sakho, Can, Moreno and Markovic are all very young with only Skrtel older and more experienced.  I still feel we need a top class keeper but hopefully with these players this will not be the last of the clean sheets.   

Friday, 9 January 2015

The Sakho Myth

  Liverpool signed Sakho from Paris St German in September 2013 for a fee of 15 million pounds.  Sakho was already at the age of 23 a full international and highly rated on a world level and had captained his home town club Paris on many occasions.  He was well known as a leader and for his physical attributes mainly his strength but he is certainly no slouch and can show a turn of pace when he needs to.  His strength was certainly noted by his new manager as Brendan Rodgers described him as "a beast" following him breaking records in training during strength tests indeed it was reported that he actually broke machines not just records.


His first season with Liverpool was OK he did well and settled in showing quality especially for a player who is so young, he does have lots of experience but is still young especially for a centre half, I think sometimes we forget and it is probably a testament to his talent that everybody regularly forgets how young he is.
Now for the myth, towards the end of the season, through the summer and at the start of this season I was constantly been told by commentators, so called experts, the press and even our own supporters that Sakho couldn't pass and was terrible on the ball, this is the myth, it's simply not true, he looks awkward, gangly even but he can and does pass the ball well.  It seems to me that this is again a case of people simply listening and repeating what an idiot commentator says who doesn't watch the player properly, to many people just repeat what they hear rather than forming their own opinion and actually watching.  Sakho can and does pass the ball very well especially for a defender, he does play the ball forward, not just the easy cross field ball he can play short or long and he is accurate even when under pressure.  He is not perfect, nobody is, he has made occasional mistakes, there has been the occasion mis-placed pass but not enough to be classed as a problem in fact the opposite I think his passing is one of his strengths.
Now normally this would not be a problem, we are all used to commentators and journalists talking site and being lazy just reporting what they have heard others say rather than putting in any work, but in this case it seemed to gather momentum and then seemed to become a fact, Sakho can't pass.  This caused Liverpool to waste around £20 million pounds on Lovren whom plays as a left sided defender, Sakho's position, we probably did need cover, but twenty million pounds suggested replacement, twenty million pounds to solve a problem that didn't exist.  Of course Lovren was picked, Sakho was dropped and we saw over the first half of the season what a defender who can't pass looks like time and again, game after game he presented the ball to the opposition.  Lovren is not near the ability of Sakho in any attribute he is weaker, slower, worse in the air, worse positional, less of a leader, weaker in the tackle, less of a threat going forward, more prone to individual errors and definitely, without a doubt worse at passing the football.
When Lovren was injured and Sakho regained his place in the team recently, again we had to listen to commentators telling us he couldn't pass and this was a weakness whilst I was watching him play back heels, telling forward passes, pinging Gerrard like cross field diagonals all with perfect accuracy, again he does look awkward but his passing is almost always accurate, in the same game Gerrard mis placed easy ish passes five times leading to chances for the opposition and one directly to a goal whilst we were told how he is the best player on the ball in the squad and should be the first name on the team sheet because of his passing ability. Please don't just repeat the same old rubbish say what you see not what you think you will see. It is a myth that Sakho can't pass and it has cost him and the club hugely  that people believe it.


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Why Gerrard Is So Special

   I have been supporting Liverpool for years, my whole life and I have seen many players both playing for Liverpool and against us and in all that time I have never seen anybody that I would swap for Steven Gerrard.  He is possibly not the best player Messi and Ronaldo and even Suarez would have an argument about that but he is up there, certainly in the top ten, but the reason I wouldn't swap him is what he has done for our club that I doubt anybody else could have.  He has been at the very front when we have won things he has scored the goals he has changed the games, think back its almost always Gerrard.  That goal against Olympiakos, that strike in the cup final against West Ham, Istanbul and on and on.  But its not just the finals and the big games although he has got his share against United and Everton think back its always Gerrard he has been a constant through the years from the early days clearing the ball off the line against Everton to last seasons title challenge and his "we go again" speech we have had a player we will never see the likes of again, playing at the highest level game after game, season after season.
Throughout this time Gerrard has won praise and has been classed as one of the best players in the game but he has achieved all of this in, at times, poor Liverpool teams, he has not always played alongside Alonso, Suarez and Torres at times it has been Adam, Downing and Diouf and he has still dragged our club to wins and trophies we couldn't have expected, time and time again he has pushed the team forward almost single handedly winning games and in my opinion there is nobody else in world football who has consistently done this.  There have been other one club men, some of them very good players but none have produced this level over so long dragging their clubs with them at times kicking and screaming and this is why I would never have swapped him the best player for Liverpool without question.
I find it hard to think of watching Liverpool without Gerrard in the team but we all knew there would be a time when we had to go without him and perhaps now is that time.  I am delighted he has said that he will never sign for a team in direct competition to Liverpool I cant imagine what it would be like seeing hime line up against us or even worse score at the Kop end for one of our competitors, we should have known he wouldn't he's not Lampard, but it was nice to hear anyway.  Perhaps the time has come, Gerrard's style does not suit a player who is getting on in years and he is finding it difficult to adapt, I hate seeing him face criticism, especially from our own fans, he can still hold his own in the premier league but this is not enough Gerrard never just held his own he stands out head and shoulders above everybody else and thats how I want to remember him.  So go, enjoy your time in America, go with our thanks and admiration, but remember us and when you are finished playing come back and drag us forward again.  There will always be a place at Liverpool for steven Gerrard. YNWA


Monday, 5 January 2015

The Holiday Period

The holiday period is a busy time for any club and normally I look forward to it, lots of football and usually a few wins but this time I was dreading it, we have been in terrible form, terrible results and terrible performances from both the team and individuals, poor up front, poor in midfield and poor at the back and the manager seemed to have little idea as to what to do about it.  Then came the Manchester United game and two big changes we dropped Mignolet for Jones and changed formation.  The position with goalkeepers is difficult they are both not good enough we have all watched Mignolet get worse and worse as his confidence has been eroded  but Jones appears to have hands made of smoke and is totally unable to stop a shot and in my opinion this was a huge factor in us loosing this game yes we had had our normal defensive issues but the new formation appeared to be suiting us we created enough chances to win the game but on this occasion couldn't find the finish and with Sterling looking good playing through the middle providing plenty of movement things for the first time in a while looked promising.
More good attacking football against Bournmouth with a couple of goals from the impressive Sterling and a superb performance from Markovic along with a better defensive performance led by Sakho and more encouragement with only the keeper again looking a problem.
Arsenal next and more encouragement not the win we wanted as Jones again waved a couple into the net but for me another good performance and we were getting better every game encouraging at least, followed by a win away at Burnley not a stunning performance but three difficult points and a goal from a moment of absolute magic from Coutinho and another finish from Sterling.
Next up were Swansea and the performance we had been waiting for a big win and a ninety minute performance with the team producing something like the type of football we played last season, the new formation appears by now to be suiting the vast majority of our players and everybody appeared to have found some kind of form especially the front three of Coutinho, Sterling and Lallana who are now looking very impressive.  Still worries at the back but better than it had been Mignolet back in goal and still looking very nervous but going forward we looked great and the result was never in doubt, a comfortable win and moving up the table.
Finally I started to feel a little confident that things were going the right way and then on New Years day cam Leicester, bottom of the table Leicester, at home and although we were not playing great we strolled into a two nil lead thanks to two penalties from Gerrard and a half time I was happy we would then gone on and get the points but then came the worst most disgraceful performance I have seen from a Liverpool team for years, they gave the fans nothing and they let themselves the supporters and the manager down, very poor in every department and not good enough, we were close to getting back into the fight and then threw it away.  I hope that somebody has let the players how bad they were and have left them in no doubt that this is not acceptable.
We have to move on and start again the formations and form we have been showing  are better and i hope we can get back to this and get thte performances that we we the supporters deserve