Saturday, August 29, 2009

Back on track?

Does a 3-2 away win get everything back on track? In a way yes. It was important that we went into the international break of the back of a win. As is often the case, we didn't do this the easy way, falling behind twice to scrappy goals. But Glo Jo got the first to leave us level at half time. After conceding early in the second half, we went on the rampage, which became easier once Davis was sent off for a second yellow. El Nino scored after a superb lay off from Dirk and Gerrard added the winner with a few minutes to go. We battered them second half and could have added a few more as Gerrard hit the bar and Torres had an effort cleared off the line. Some fairly measured analysis here from Le Tisier on Sky Sports.

I wouldn't say it's all full steam ahead but it's a definite improvement on the Spurs and Villa matches. But the defence is a real cause for concern at the minute. If we don't get our act together we'll win eff all this year. Kyrgiakos made his debut and did ok. He's clearly good in the air but was sloppy in possession a few times. Carra hasn't been helped with trying to organise a defence with 2 new players and an inexperienced one in Insua. I'm hoping that Aurelio and Skrtel will be back for the next match against Burnely on Sat 12th.

Now that they seem to be over their giant killing spree, it should represent a good opportunity for us at home. They play a fairly open game which should leave space for our stars to exploit. Johnson can continue his fine form and make the right flank of the pitch his own. He's been nothing short of a revelation so far. Long may it continue.The draw for the Champions League group stages was made on Thursday. We're in a group with Lyon, Fiorentina and Debreceni of Hungary. Is Hungary a country? Lyon will be tough enough but we should be good enough to top the group.

Paul Tomkins has a good article on the need for patience. He compares the treatment that different premier league managers receive for the same behaviour. Well worth reading.

Looks like Andrea is going nowhere. Earlier in the summer it looked like he might have gone to Napoli or Juve but at this stage he seems set to stay. Similarly I don't see us selling anybody else as there would be no benifit to doing so. Itandje is off to Kavala fc on loan. Even if Rafa were to get a good offer for him or Babel, he's unlikely to get the money to reinvest. Thanks very much Chris Purslow, Tom and George. A fine bunch of pricks.

Friday, August 21, 2009


It's my fault. I have to hold my hold my hand up and accept responsibility for the 3-1 defeat to Villa. I had Johnson, Gerrard and Torres in my fantasy football team. You'd think I'd learn after all these years. When I have Liverpool players in my team, we play shit. You'll pleased to know that I"m going to revert to my usual tactic of not picking any LFC players and loading up with Rooney, Rio and the lads.

Here's a surprisingly balanced report from Football 365 on the result. We created a load of chances in the first 20 minutes but didn't take them. We went behind to a freaky deflected goal and were chasing it after that. That suited Villa who sat back and hit us with pace on the counter. In fairness to them, they did quite well in that kind of game where the onus was on us. Quite a few of our players had off games. Gerrard and Torres both had poor games, El Nino not helped by receiving some elbows to the head. But it was a shitty performance once we went behind. I'm always wary when we play teams who haven't won in ages. They often turn it around against us, ala spurs last season.

Bolton on Saturday gives a chance for revenge. I know it's very early early but we can't afford to slip to far behind and trying to catch up every week. We should batter Bolton but they are the kind of physical team that often causes us problems. If we score first we could batter them like the Stoke game. If we go a long time without scoring then we might start to fret like we did last night.

Babel had want to watch it according to Rafa. He's running out of last chances. His display against Spurs was so pitiful that I'd happily see him leave this summer. Aurelio is back in training. He'll have a job getting his place back from Insua.

Hungarian kid Nemeth is on his way to AEK Athens on loan for a season. It'll do him well to get some first team football on a regular basis. He looks a good finisher but could bulk up a bit as he's not blessed with pace.

Man Utd have shown a bit of class in relation to a fan getting a Hillsbourgh t-shirt printed and are to be commended for it. I would hope that Liverpool would respond similarly if one of our fans got a Munich t-shirt printed. I have no time for those appalling chants and two wrongs never make a right in that regard.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Johnson's magic

It's hard to remember a better debut than Glen Johnson's last night. He scored one goal, was instrumental in others and kept a clean sheet. If he can do that every week, we'll have some player. He himself said it was a perfect night. He was good against Spurs but this was a whole new level. £17m is starting to look cheap. We've found ourselves an English Danny Alves after Rafa failed to buy the Brazilian one when he was at Seville.

4-0 was a decent way to get our Anfield account off to a flying start. Lucas was good in the middle again, El Nino opened the scoring and looked a little sharper. It may take him time to get back to full fitness after a short summer off. Yossi was vastly superior to Babel and should be there every game for now. Himself and Riera will scrap it out for that spot on the left but the Israeli gets my vote for now. Gerrard was pretty deadly and the build up to Kuyt's goal was a great team move, but a sublime touch from Gerrard capped it all. Young Ayala did nothing wrong at the back and kept it simple. It will have done him the world of good to have that clean sheet under his belt.We've a few days off until the Villa match next Monday night. It won't be easy as they've had a mediocre start to their season and will want to show the league that they're still contenders for a European spot. Skrtel should be back in action then, maybe wearing a mask. Riera could be in contention for the left midfield but that would be really hard on Benayoun. I'm expecting our injury crisis to ease in the near future.

Former Rangers defender Kyrgiakos is on his way to L4. I can see this happening as he'll be coming in as a cheap 4th choice centre back who's good in the air. A Sami replacement for those games where the ball is bombarded into the box. We'll need him as Agger had surgery on his back and will be out for 6 weeks. Leaving on loan will be Mikel San Jose who's off to Bilbao on loan for the year. Fair play to you boy.

Tony Barrett in the Times raise the slim possibility of a bid for Van Der Vaart from Real Madrid. He's a player that we've been linked to in the distant past but I can't see us having the cash now. The only way it could happen would be a loan deal with an option to buy next year. He'd give us great cover in the attacking positions. I don't see it happening in reality.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A bad day away from the office

Not quite what I was expecting. If we're going to win the league we need to improve on these kind of results. A 2-1 defeat against Spurs isn't a disgrace but with the other teams at the top winning, it's not ideal to be dropping three points on the opening day. As many have said, you can't win the league in the autumn, but you can lose. Not that I think we have, but I don't want us to spend the season playing catch up and relying on other teams to slip up again.

Obviously it's way too early to press the panic button but we need to get back on track ASAP. How can we change this for the Stoke clash tomorrow night? Hopefully Skrtel is fit to start alongside Jamie after their clash of heads, Rafa will make a late call on his fitness. Carra had a poor enough game by his standards. Young Ayala did nothing wrong but I wouldn't want to see him starting this game. I would expect Yossi to come in for Babel who was quite poor on the left flank as he nearly changed the game when he came on. Riera may have recovered from an ankle injury and could start. Babel was pretty shit. He's running out of last chances and doesn't look like he knows what to do with the ball. Unfortunately, Aquilani won't be ready for a few weeks yet so I suppose the majority of the team will be as it was on Sunday. Being in front of an expectant Anfield should gee up the team. Given that Stoke managed to take two league draws last season, there should be an appetite to exact some sweet revenge from the Potters. It appears the Adam Hammill has signed a permanent deal with Championship club Barnsley. He was highly tipped at one stage but hasn't been able to transform his talent into a first team spot. Another talented teen, Danny Pacheco, has signed a new deal which will keep him at the club until 2012. The former FCB striker did well in pre season and might get a look in during cup games this year. He was impressive last night as a young Liverpool XI beat Bohemians 2-0 in Dublin.

Japanese midfielder Keisuku Honda has been linked by Sky Sports. He's based in Holland with VVV Venlo. Dynamio Kiev defender and Sengalese International Pape Diakhate is a target if you believe this. The man himself is flattered by the link. The Sundays reckoned that Hertha Berlin have made a new £3m bid for Voronin. I think he's fine as a back up player but I'd prefer to see him go and give one of the younsters a go, as they're on lower wages. Tony Barrett in the Times today suggested that we only have around £2m to spend so it does look like Voronin and maybe others will need to be shipped out to provide funds. It seems that Rafa isn't happy with the amount of cash available to him at the moment. At the moment, we're breaking even rather than the boss being given a transfer pot, like in previous years.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The King, the little Prince and the swordsman

Pre season training is nearly over. Any rustiness or sloppiness was swept clean, like this sloppy fecker. It started with a training camp in Switzerland and two friendlies. St Gallen drew 0-0 with Liverpool and then we were defeated 1-0 by Rapid Vienna. Then the asian leg of the tour started with a 1-1 draw against Thailand. Then things started to click into gear against Singapore with a 5-0 win. Kuyt and Nemeth were particularly strong performers. Then came an embaressing 3-0 loss to Espanol and a 2-0 win over Lyn Oslo featuring a goal from Babel. The final pre season game was a 2-1 loss against Atletico Madrid today, a big game for El Nino who hit the post and contrived not to score against his old team. Lucas was the scorer for us.

The second XI also played a few friendlies including a visit to Dunmanway in west Cork. I drove through the village last weekend and they were painting it red in anticipation of the red invasion. One of the worlds biggest teams playing one of the smallest. The match itself featured a free kick from young Danny Pacheco. This Monday will see the reserve squad play against Bohemians in Dalymount Park, Reds in Dublin. Not a 15 min walk from my own house here in the city centre.

The biggest news of the summer is that £30m+add ons Xabi Alonso will be replaced by £16m Alberto Aqulani who passed his medical on Friday. This is huge news. I really like Xabi, and he was probably my favourite red. A gentleman and a midfielder of such poise and technique that he lit up any game he played. He always made it look like he had much more time than everyone else. But now he's gone. He'll be missed but he gave us five great years and he wanted to move back to spain with his family, which is fair enough. He got a sword when he left Atletico, maybe he'll get a pan of scouse when he leaves merseyside? Good luck Xabi, unless you're playing against us.

While the Xabi saga rumbled on Bob Arbeloa was on his way to the bernabeu after a much quicker deal was agreed a fee of £3.5m + clauses for his transfer. I'm sad to see him go but he's only a year left onhis contract and clearly wants to return to Real Madrid. It means there will be opportunities for Degen and young Martin Kelly at right back. So out with the old and in with the new. Bertie Aqulani is setting up shop in L4 and let's hope he brings his girlfriend with him. There is no doubting the talent that this lad possesses. But what is doubtful, is his injury record. He has struggled a bit in recent times and is out at the moment with an ankle problem. But Roma fans seem to think that this is more to do with their training methods and medical staff. I'm hoping that we can get him fit and firing. His playing stats can be a little misleading because Spaletti often preferred Pizzaro to Bertie in recent years.5 Hungarian kids are coming over on trial and could end up joining their compatriots Gulasci Nemeth, Simon etc. Another young recruit is Danish midfield teen Kohlert who'll go into the reserves.

Hicks and Gillett have secured their refinancing deal which will require them to pay off some of their initial loan. While this sounds good on paper, I'm sure that they'll find a way to bill the club for the expense. They're a pair of leeches, sucking the life out of our club.

There is a certain purity and blind optimism to the first game of the season, you can legitimately expect all of the old problems to have sorted themselves out over the summer. It's a clean slate for all and the new recruits will make the difference. This time we'll go the extra yards. This year is our year. Number 19 is coming home.Celebrity red Samuel L Jackson is well up for the season. I'm sure he backs us to go far, maybe even the whole way to ending our 19 year league drought. The guardian season preview thinks we'll do it. I've been fairly cautious over the past few years and never said we'd do it. I correctly predicted second last season but this time I'm going to stick my neck out and say we'll reach the promised land of the league trophy. You can argue that we're weaker with the loss of Xabi and Arbeloa but the addition of Johnson and Aquilani doesn't leave us far off and might make us more attacking and capable of breaking down a packed defence, in time. There will be a bedding in period, for Alberto especially who hasn't had pre season with the team. If we can keep him fit alongside Torres and Gerrard, then we can do it. I know that's a big if but our inability to field our best XI cost us last year. I think we were the best team but Utd won the league as they had a best squad. I think the loss of Lady Ronaldo will be a problem for them as he destroyed teams and pulled goals out of nowhere so often. We we're very close last year, only four points off and I think that his loss will affect them more than our loss of Xabi. Of course, it will need the Americans to keep their noses out of Rafa's business and let him get on with training and coaching his team. Chelsea will be in there too but they'll need adaptation time to Carlo's methods and tactics. Sure we'll find out over the next 9 months, starting with Spurs on Sunday. The league is like a pregnancy. There are many bumps and kicks along the way but you have to wait until the end to find out the result. Here's hoping that it's the second coming of our league domination.