Friday, May 28, 2010

End of an era

There were some good, great, fair and balanced articles on Rafa in the last few days. Here are ones I liked from Rory Smith, Dion Fanning and James Corrigan.

This is a final reminder of the man's class. I hope we do but I fear we won't see a man of his stature here for quite a while.

The phrase "safe pair of hands" has cropped up an awful lot in recent times. I read that as uninspiring, cautious and boring. You're right that we could have done worse but that's damning with faint praise. Given the choice between Stan, Bryan Robson, Sven, David Platt or Roy, I would make the decision we did. But there are much better managers out there and we didn't go for them which is annoying. I don't think exciting/exotic name comes into it. I'm more interested in past record or signs of managerial potential, neither of which Roy has. His record away form home is shocking. 3 away wins in 2 years with Fulham. I don't think his teams play good attacking football either. His transfer record is hit and miss. Don't think he set the world on fire at Blackburn or Inter when he had cash.

He's a mid table manager in my view and that's where I see us going. Curbs was interviewed for the job when Rafa got it as he was flavour of the month then too. Thankfully he didn't get it as the owners made the right appointment. RH is superior to Curbs but given a similar choice here they went with Roy over Pellegrini and I think it's the wrong appointment. Don't see him kicking up a fuss when the Americans break their promises about funding/stadium etc. That might go down well with the board but not fans who think.

I wouldn't give us any chance of making fourth as things stand. We have Arsenal at home first game and then have City away, Utd away and Everton away in our first 8 matches. Baptism of fire. I hope to be proved wrong and for him to turn out an unqualified success.

The one big difference with him and Rafa is he'll have the press onside. There'll be no more talk of bizarre selections, rotation, zonal marking, even if Roy does all three every game.

It sounds like Roy won't get any money bar what he raises from sales. Don't think there is any money knocking about. Sales of Babel/Degen look likely and I wouldn't be surprised if a few others leave too. Mascherano has been talking up a move for around 18 months and would raise a good bit of cash, especially if he turns out to be the world cup winning captain. As I said before, I would have no problem with Gerrard leaving as long as we get a good price for him, but I'm probably in a minority there among fellow reds.

Here's another great article from Paul Tomkins. It's an analysis of Hodgson, his strengths and weaknesses.

Fabio Aurelio has left L4 as his contract has ended and we couldn't agree a pay as you play deal. He was a top player when fit, which wasn't that often unfortunately. But his quality was there for all to see and we can't complain too much considering we signed him on a free. A model professional. Thanks for the memories.

David Moores has written a letter to Hicks and Gillett telling them they should do the decent thing and sell up. Rumours abound of a takeover but nothing concrete as yet. To be honest, I've lost a lot of interest in the club while the two Americans remain in charge. Rafa getting sacked was the final straw. I don't think that I'll be writing this blog while they remain in charge. I may think differently if they leave but I'm going to scale back on this and just go with occasional updates on twitter instead.

The BBC get a lot wrong but this is a great piece by them on the history of the Spion Kop in South Africa.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dull Hull

A 0-0 draw away to Hull was a suitably drab way to end to finish what has been a dour and depressing season. We did manage to hit the woodwork through Gerrard and their keeper made a string of good saves. But we didn't have it all our own way and Pepe had to stay alert to keep us in it. In the end we got what we deserved, 1 point. Our dire away form continued, we've only 5 "road wins" this season which is a damning indictment. The only notable aspect of the match was the fact that 16 year old full back Jack Robinson made his debut as a second half sub to become our youngest ever player. He's being tipped as one to watch but it'll be a while before he's ready to challenge for the first team on a regular basis.

With the season now over and no games to look forward to, some might say thankfully, it's time to take stock and figure out what went wrong this year. It's been shocking, on and off the pitch, in a year in which I expected us to challenge or even win the league. Obviously we needed to strengthen the team with the departures of Xabi, Sami, and Arbeloa. Their replacements had mixed results. Johnson had a pretty good season, injuries aside. Kyrgiakos did well, better than expected for a £1m signing. Xabi was sorely missed. Mascherano and Lucas isn't a midfield that can dictate play. Aquilani was a big gamble by Rafa and it didn't come off. I think he's shown some good form since Christmas but he was much more badly injured than initially expected and took a long time to gain match fitness. Rafa could and should have given him more game time this year. I expect we'll see the best of him next year and he'll prove to be a good signing in the long run. His problem is that he'll always get compared to Xabi, which is a high standard to meet. Maxi was a great signing and has slotted in perfectly. We got a bargain there for £1.5m. It's a pity we didn't buy him in the summer as we could have used him last Autumn.

I was and remain a Rafa fan. I still think he's the best man for the job. Some fans, in growing numbers, think sacking him would be a panacea for our ills. I think that's pretty short sighted and misses the point. The only reason to sack him is if you think we can get somebody better in to replace him. Who might that be? As long as the two Americans remain our owners we're fucked. Whoever the manager is will have to cope with debt repayment squad sales and being undermined at board room level. My fear is that they will push Rafa out and get a yes man in who won't call them for the cheat, lying theives that they are, like Benitez has since Athens. He's the only one in there fighting for the club and the fans. Yes, he's had a bad season this year, really bad, but I think he's enough credit in the bank to deserve another go next year. If next season is as bad as this one then it's time for a parting of the ways. For now, I'd keep him and keep hoping that we get investment sorted before the September 1st.

Mascherano is putting contract talks on hold. I fear he'll be sold and he probably won't be the only one. Sad and sobering times.

I'll be taking a break over the summer unless there are some big transfer deals or a bit of investment news over the summer. Keep it red.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Europa knockout and Chelsea collapse

What a week it's been. FIrst we crashed out of Europe on away goals with a 2-1 win over Atletico Madrid. We played pretty well for 60-70 mins but ran out of steam and ideas. We did get to see some nice goals for Aquilani and Yossi but when Forlan scored in extra time we had nothing left in the tank. Pretty disappointing.

But nothing compared to the way we surrendered 2-0 to Chelsea at Anfield last Sunday. We did a decent enough job of suffocating the Londoners for the first 30 minutes. Then Gerrard decided to try another one of his suicidal back passes, ala France in the world cup, and Drogba pounced to given them the lead. We had no response and Lampard added a second to given them no more than they deserved. Some fans were happy to see us lose but I wasn't one of them. I want us to win every game regardless of the consequences.

We travel to Hull City tomorrow for our last game of the season and it's hard to give a shit about a nothing game like this. The only hope of it being mildly interesting is if we get to see a bit more of the youngsters like Pacheco and Ayala who's been doing well in recent games. They both have talent and could really kick on and become regulars next year. put together a montage of Maxi's play this month. He's been one of the few brights sparks in a dull second half of the season. I expect him to build on this and give us even more next season. His quality is plain to see and the likes of Gerrard, Aquilani and Torres love playing with him.

Yossi doesn't know if he'll stay around this summer. I wouldn't be surprised to see him sold. He's a salable asset and isn't young. I rate him and want him to stay but we've got debts.

Rangers teen Danny Wilson is expected to complete his move to L4 in the next week according to the BBC. They reckon the fee is £2m plus future conditional payments. This seems very cheap for a highly rated young British defender but his contract is running down, hence the value for money. You can see him score a header for Rangers here.

Things continue to get worse off the pitch. The annual accounts were released this week and they it turns out that we're in a worse state than expected. The always reliable Tony Barrett in the Times breaks down the implications of the debt and the extent to which the stateside leeches are bleeding our club dry. If we don't get sold soon we are heading the same direction as Leeds United.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

To the Maxi

Atletico beat us 1-0 in Madrid on Thursday night to put them firmly in the driving seat of this two legged tie. In truth, it wasn't a great game or performance from either team. Forlan did well to beat Pepe but it was a scrappy goal that we should have cleared. This was compounded when Yossi scored a legitimate goal minutes later which was disallowed for offside. Ngog struggled up front and couldn't hold the ball up on his own. Atleti will be happy that they managed to prevent us from scoring and will fancy their chances at Atfield on Thursday given they'll have Aguero back, we're missing Torres and they have a lead to protect. Not good. We can do it but Atleti are deserved favourites.

We finished the week with a 4-0 away win over Burnley. The first half was crap and we only got going with a deflected goal in the second half. Gerrard's strike wrong footed the Jansen when it took a deflection off a defender. His second was a sweet strike from distance, the kind of goal which he made his name with. Maxi scored his first goal for Liverpool, not before time. He's been a superb signing since he arrived and you can see how his technique, passing and movement help those around him. I expect him to bag a lot more goals next season.

Aquilani had a good game and reveled in the space available to him. He managed to set up three goals which is a pretty good return regardless of the opposition. I would like to see Alberto get an extended run and build on it with a full pre season behind him next season. Rafa has said he could play in the hole more regularly rather than in central midfield.
Some of the UK Press have been linking Torres with a move to City. I think this is unlikely and if he does leave us in the future, it will not be to another English club from theses quotes. I'd hate to see him leave but if he does, I could accept him playing for FC Barcelona a lot easier than City or Chelsea. He is also very complimentary about Rafa and his man management style, not something you hear very often in the press.

We've opened out summer spending with a move for Charlton midfielder Jonjo Shelvey. It a done deal now for around £1.7m rising to £3m and it's connected with an arrangement with Charlton. He's only 18 but has been talked about as a talent for a few years. The Mail suggest we're signing 15 year old Swede Kristoffer Peterson who's been on trial at the Academy.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Three and easy

Thanks Hammers. A 3-0 home win was exactly what we needed ahead of a Europa league semi final on Thursday. The Londoners turned up in body but not in mind and didn't really look up for it. Yossi opened the scoring from a Gerrard free kick on the right. It tucked it into the net with his chest, not his arm as some of the defenders were claiming. Ngog got the second with a fine finish from a Maxi cross. The French kid has had the difficult task of doing a Torres impression with our Spanish talisman out injured. He did have Dirk as backup here and it seemed to help him. The lone striker role doesn't really suit David. Rafa was impressed with young Ngog's performance against the Hammers.We added a third goal in the second half when a Kygiakos header hit the post and went in of Rob Green. The big greek is really dangerous at set pieces and could score a shed load if we get the delivery to him right. Zola and his charges offered nothing to trouble us and we were able to take our foot off the gas in the second half.

With the continuing air travel restrictions due to the volcanic ash cloud, Liverpool started a 24-hour journey to Madrid on Tuesday. It's a train, plane and coach journey to reach the Spanish capital, not ideal preparation for a European semi final. They players will probably be knackered when they get home later this week. Atletico will be tough opposition over two legs, especially now that El Nino will be absent for the rest of the season. It's a pity that Fernando is injured as he would have loved to have played against his old club. We'll be looking for the likes of Kuyt and Babel to deliver in his place. They have some dangerous forwards in Reyes, Forlan and Aguero, who is suspended for the first leg. Talented but flaky is how they're described by Sid Lowe here.

Paul Tomkins has an article detailing the importance of a good keeper and stresses the importance of Pepe Reina to the way we play. Maybe the way we played last year would be more accurate. I'm a huge Pepe fan and I'm thrilled he's signed his new contract. We won't do any better than him.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fulham frustrate

The 0-0 draw with Fulham on Sunday was sadly predictable. As is often the case when Torres is out, we lacked the cutting edge to break down a massed defence, despite all of our possession. Watching the game, it didn't look like a goal would come. Fairplay to Fulham, they parked the bus and got a point. They'll be happy with that. Ngog didn't have a great game up top. It was good to see Pacheco get another few minutes towards the end. Hopefully Rafa will continue to play him now that fourth spot looks gone.

We play West Ham on Monday night. They are in a desperate state and are fighting for survival so I can see their desire being greater than ours. There have been too many occasions this year where the players look like they don't care and aren't giving it everything. I can accept a player not being good enough, if he is trying. When they don't try, that annoys me.
The big news this week was the statement from Hicks and Gillett that they're going to step down and appoint Martin Broughton as Chairman. This coupled with their stated desire to sell the club looks like good news. But we've had so many false dawns with them over the years that I'm remaining skeptical for now. Rafa gave a it a cautious welcome.

David Conn in the Guardian has a good piece on Hillsbourgh this week, the 21st anniversary of the disaster.

Young Hungarian Keeper Peter Gulacsi has joined Tranmere Rovers on emergency loan for a week. He should get a bit of game time while he's there. I'd happily let Cavalieri leave this summer and let the likes of Gulacsi step up as our backup keeper.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Europa joy

What would you prefer, a Europa cup or fourth spot in the league and a Champions League place? I would have said fourth spot at the start of the season but as time goes by, I'm warming to the idea of a Europa cup. The
4-1win over Benfica on Thursday night got the heart racing. It was a great performance from the lads. We went at them, like we often do at Anfield on a European night. If only we had taken this form into our away league games this year.

Dirk Kuyt opened the scoring and Lucas followed soon after. It was the Brazilians first of the season and he showed great composure to latch onto a superb ball from Gerrard and round the keeper. I think the kop would like to see more of that side of his game. Our third goal was a superb counter attacking move at pace with Dirk hitting a class cross from the right and El Nino slotting home. Torres lobbed the keeper for the last goal after a superb Lucas tackle in the middle set us on the attack. The only downer on the night was the consolation goal for Benfica when a free kick took a deflection off the wall and went in. It gave us a few nervous minutes before we got our fourth. Special mention to Javier and Fernando who avoided bookings which would have kept them out of the next round. Not so Sergio Aguero who was booked in Ateltico's match with Valencia and he'll miss the first leg, two weeks from now. Atleti will be a tough game but we should be able to beat them over two legs, despite their talented squad.It's back to the league matters tomorrow with Fulham visiting Anfield. The cottagers could be Europa cup final opponents if we manage to get that far. Their away form isn't great unlike our home form which means we really should be able to do them. I know the chances of sneaking fourth are slim but we have to keep pushing in case City do slip up.

Pepe Reina has given us a massive boost by signing a six year deal which will keep him at the club until 2016. This is brilliant news. I wouldn't swap him with any other keeper in Europe, with the exception of Casillas.

Rafa has said that we need investment in the team and we won't get back to competitiveness by wheeling and dealing as we have been doing over the last two seasons. If it's not forthcoming, I can see him leaving the club in the summer. That would suit Hicks and Gillett as they wouldn't have to pay him off and could get somebody cheaper in to do a job.

The Mirror have a transfer rumour with quotes from Dutch Wunderkind Georginio Wijnaldum, saying it would be a dream move for him to come to Liverpool. Let's hope that he lives up to his billing, unlike our last dutch Wunderkind, Babel. Feyenoord would want around £5m for him.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Benfica away and Birmingham home

We went to Portugal last week and came back with an away goal but little else. Danny Agger gave us the opener with this lovely flick. Then Luisao went through Torres from behind in a tackle that should have seen him see red. Babel decided to step in and defend El Nino, which is fair enough. But he then stuck his hand in Luisao's face which was thick and the ref sent him off. After that we were up against it. Insua got booked and conceded a peno. Later on, Carra conceded another with a handball inside the area. They took both of their kicks and we left Portugal with a 2-1 deficit. The away goal means it's not insurmountable but we're up against it. We've no left back for the second leg tomorrow as Insua is suspended. It could be three at the back or else Agger at left back? We'll find out soon.

The weekend started well with Spurs losing to Sunderland. I can see them falling away now. Unfortunately we didn't fulfill our side of the bargain and all we could manage at Birmingham was a 1-1 draw. Gerrard hit a great shot from inside the area in the second half but we let them equalise soon after. Rafa took Torres off with around 25 mins to go. I didn't really agree with it but maybe he had a knock. In fairness, Ngog changed things when he came on and we created lots of chances. He wasn't able to convert any and we left with a point. On the face of it, it's not a bad result as they've held everybody decent to a draw at home. But with games running out and City in pole position, it looks like we'll miss out on fourth. It would take a catastrophic dip in form for them to throw it away now. Looks like we're headed for the Europa league again next season.

But first there is the small matter of this years competition. We've got to overturn the 2-1 score at home tomorrow. They showed they're dangerous in the first leg and our defence will be a bit patched up as we've no left back. I think we can do it but we'll need to keep the likes of Di Maria quiet and watch out for them hitting us on the break. The ref in the first leg gave us very little so I'm hoping that evens itself out here.

Milan Jovanovic has confirmed that he'll sign for Liverpool on a free transfer this summer, work permit permitting. Sky Sports say that we're chasing 18 year old Rangers defender Danny Wilson.
It seems like Riera will be staying in L4 for the rest of the season after his move to Russia stalled. It's a pity as I doubt he'll play again and will be collecting his pay packet while sitting on his arse. Sky say we've offered a trial to 15 year old French player Moussa Kouyate who plays for Paris FC.

Here are the highlights of the reserves 2-1 win over Bolton. The goals came from David Ngog and an own goal from a Bruna free kick.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Goal of the season?

When the kid's on form, we're on form. Torres led from the front in a stunning 3-0 win over Sunderland. He struck after 3 mins with an incredible goal, likely to win goal of the season. Johnson added a second before half time. El Nino struck again to make it 3 with a nonchalant finish inside the area when set up by Johnson. It was a dominant display from the team and not a beach ball in sight. The only surprise is that the victory wasn't greater.

There were many standout performers in a great showing from the home team. It's hard to say anybody played badly. My top picks would be Torres, for obvious reasons. He's in brilliant form right now and it looks like nobody can stop him. He could have had many more after hitting the post and missing a few presentable chances. Johnson seems to be back in the swing of things. He's showing the form of the early season when we were playing well. He's such a threat with his dribbling ability on the right. His goal was with his left foot from outside the area. He linked up well with Maxi who's coming into his own now. His technique and movement are fantastic. His not a pacey winger who'll beat the full back on the outside, more like an inside right. He was at the centre of many great moves we put together. More of this kind of thing. We really need Spurs and City to slip up but if we can build on our good home form, we're still in with a shout of fourth.Liverpool face Benfica away on Thursday night. This is going to be really tough. I expect Lucas to return to the lineup for this one. We'll probably try to keep it tight and hit them on the break with Torres and Babel. They're a good team, the best Everton have faced this season according to a Toffee supporting mate of mine.

The guardian say that we've accepted an initial £6m bid from CSKA for Albert Riera. However the Echo contradict this by saying it's Spartak Moscow who will capture him, on loan until the end of the season. Either way I expect he's likely to leave at the start of April.

Here's a highlights package of Dani Pacheco. Another one of the reserves, Jordy Brouwer, scored a long range screamer against Hull reserves this week. That 1-0 win means the reserves remain unbeaten this season, a great effort by John McMahon.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lille home and Utd away

A 3-0 win over Lille on Thursday was enough to overturn the 1-0 away defeat and put us through to the quarter final of the Ueropa league. Gerrard opened the scoring after Lucas won a penalty. Torres beat the last man and the keeper with a deft finish to show he's approaching full fitness and form again. He added a third in the second half to put the tie beyond doubt. It was a pity that Aquilani caught a virus in the run up to this match and wasn't able to build on his good form against Portsmouth. We'll face Benfica in the next round. They'll be a tough side to beat and have already embarrassed Everton in the same competition this season.

Given we'd put a bit of form together over the last few games, we weren't so nervous going into the game against Utd at Old Toilet. It showed as we went at them from the off and El Nino opened the scoring with a great header after four minutes. Dirk sent in a great cross from the right and Nando looped it beyond Van Der Saar into the far corner. It was a great start and set us on our way towards anther historic victory at the Toilet. Unfortunately Howard Webb decided to gift Utd a peno when Mascherano fouled Valenica outside the box. I was a bit worried when I heard Webb was reffing this one. Reina saved Rooney's peno but He managed to slot home the rebound. Great effort from Pepe all the same. The Park added a second for the home team with a great header in the second half to consign us to defeat. It was a very even first half but in fairness Utd were the better team in the second period and controlled the game once the took the lead. It finished 2-1 but quality was lacking from both sides and it was a poor enough game overall. We did manage to fashion one great chance at the end but Torres fluffed his effort after Gerrard set him up and Yossi sent his headed effort straight at VDS. Unfortunate. I fear this defeat has killed off any lingering hopes for fourth place. Our only hope for the season is a Europa cup. Our next match is Sunderland at Anfield next weekend. They aren't in great form but beat us in the beachball game earlier this year and have dangerous forwards in Bent and Jones. We've decent home form and should be able to win this.

Albert Riera hasn't done his chances of a first team recall much good by blasting Rafa in the Spanish press. I've no doubt that he's leaving this summer. I was impressed with him last season but he's been poor enough this year on the odd occasion he played.

Liverpool's latest signing, 15 year old Raheem Sterling made his debut against Everton for the Academy team this week. He capped it with a goal, highlights here. No doubt some fans will be demanding Rafa give him his first team debut for the next game.

David Conn in the Guardian has a good article summarising the dire financial position Hicks and Gillett have dumped us in since they bought the club. He also details the Rhone groups bid for a 40% share in the club.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A week is a long time in football

That was a world away from the Wigan game. Portsmouth came to Anfield last night and left on the wrong end of a
4-1 hiding. We were great. Two goals for a rampant Torres, one for Babel and a first Liverpool goal for Alberto Aquilani. Indeed, it could have been more as we should have had a peno when Johnson was taken down and we hit the woodwork twice. All in all, just what the doctor ordered.

Aquilani impressed me greatly on Monday. Highlights here. It must be admitted that it was against Portsmouth and he got a lot of time and space in the middle of the park. He dictated the play ala Xabi at his best. I hope he can build on this and establish himself in our midfield. We've sorely missed some creativity in there, no offense to Javier or Lucas but it's not their forte. I would like Rafa to give him starts for the rest of the season so he can get more experience. He looked stronger, quicker and more confident last night. Great performance and justified man of the match.Gerrard should consider himself lucky not to have received a red card for an elbow on Michael Brown. Given the player that's in it, I can nearly understand why he did it, possibly avenging this headbutt. As it happened, the ref decided that to give a free against Liverpool and talked to the player so he won't now face an F.A. ban. Silly boy as he would have been out for three games and unavailable to play against the Mancs in Old Toilet on Sunday. This is going to be massive. We've a great record against them having won the last three meetings in the league. And we have the advantage of an in form Torres ready to put the shits up his mate Vidic. Let the slaughter commence. Another red card for the Serb would be lovely. In reality, they're playing much better than we are at the moment and I'd be surprised it we took more than a point. I would like to see the same team start as played against Pompy but we'll probably see Lucas and Dirk come in for Aquilani and Babel.

Before all that, we face Lille in a vital European game at Anfield on Thursday. They've got the goal advantage from the first leg so we need to score. We might see a similar team, with Yossi in for the cup tied Maxi. Finishing in the top four is a bigger prize than the Europa cup but it's going to be harder to win given how often we've slipped up in the league. I suspect fourth is beyond us now as City and Spurs have too many games in hand.

The Mirror recken we'll bid £8m for Steven Ireland. He's out of form and favour at city so they'd consider letting him go. I think he's top quality and would love to see us bid for him even if he is a bit of a mentalist.

Aldo was impressed with another Irish midfielder at the Wigan debacle. James McCarthy was probably the best player on the pitch and looks to have a real future ahead of him. We tried to buy him before and should go in for him again now that he's showing he can adapt to English football.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The end of the road?

Just when I thought this season couldn't get any worse, Wigan 1-0 Liverpool, proved me wrong. We were desperate. The team had a collective shocker. Kuyt, Insua, Torres had terrible games but Gerrard pissed me off more than the rest of them. It was a gutless display with Wigan the first to every ball and they looked the more committed team too. I would have withdrawn three of them at half time if I were in charge. Rafa didn't try to defend them post match. They let themselves, the fans, the shirt and club down with that display.

I was in work late on Thursday night so I didn't get to see the 1-0 defeat to Lille. The goal was a poor one to concede and I don't think Pepe will be happy with himself for not going for it. Again, we should have had a defender heading it clear. On current form, Kyrgiakos more than deserves his place in the team for his aerial dominance. We can turn this around in the second leg but if we continue to play like we are now, then it's unlikely.

Another Monday night game and another banana skin on the cards this week. I really can't see us winning this given the attitude that the players have been showing. Portsmouth should be dead and buried but yet their players are fighting for everything and getting some results. If our pack of wasters showed their attitude then we're be far better off in the league.

Which brings me onto the subject of the manager. I'm a big fan of Rafa and have been since before he came to the club. But it has to be said that he's made some bad mistakes this year. His gamble on Aquilani's fitness has backfired and left us creatively bereft in midfield. He's also been too cautious in playing the Italian since he's returned to fitness. But besides all of that, I still think he's the right man for the job and would give him another season. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the players or the fans agree with me. They played like they couldn't care less on Monday. I think they've given up on this season and on the boss. If that's true and they won't respond to him anymore then he'll have to go, probably this summer. I fear we'll regret it in the long run and I shudder to think who the Americans will appoint in his stead, considering they've approached Klinsman before. It's a shit job given the owners, the debt, no transfer funds, no new stadium and a squad that needs serious investment. We've made a profit the last three transfer windows and while that's the case we won't remain competitive in the league. Anyone who thinks we'll attract a big European name like Mourinho, Hiddink or Capello is dreaming. Why would they sign up for this mess? With our current owners and investment scenario, we'll remain a poisoned chalice and any top manager will steer well clear of us. I'm surprised Rafa's put up with them for as long as he has. One of the few silver linings in this nightmare of a season is the prospect the bank forcing the Americans to sell up at a reasonable price this summer. Missing out on the top four places and the champions league money might force their hands. They are a cancer that slowly killing the club we love.

Pepe Reina has signed a new deal with the club which is a massive boost. He's the best keeper in England and one of the best in Europe.

This season has made it clear that we need some new blood in defence. If I were in Rafa's shoes I would break the bank for Kjaer of Palermo. He's Agger's international colleague and a Red by all accounts. He's done well in Italy and it sounds like he'd be interested in a move to L4. I fear he will go elsewhere as he'll be out of price range. That's no big surprise considering our transfer budget will be £0. If we had some cash we could spend it on Arda Turan who is a red and would love to join us. I would happily sell Babel and Riera if we could get him in to replace them.

Swindon youth Goalie Jamie Stephens is to spend a week on trial at the Academy. We've a number of young prospects between the sticks so I wonder how he'll fit into that set up if we sign him.

Aurelio injured himself again in last weeks match with Blackburn and will be out for 2-3 weeks. I like Fabio as a player and he seems a decent chap but I do question whether he will be offered a new contract this summer given how injury prone he is. Maybe he will stay on if he accepts a pay cut.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Unirea away and Rovers at home

A 3-1 win over Unirea saw Liverpool progress to the next round of the Europa league where we'll face Lille. The game was played on a terrible pitch and we were put up against it when Unirea scored early on. But we struck back with goals from Mascherano, Babel and Gerrard to give a fairly comfortable win in the end. It was good to see young Martin Kelly get another few minutes in Europe after him being out injured since the Lyon game.

Big Sam's Blackburn Rovers visited Anfield on Sunday and left with nothing. Which was nice. We took the three points thanks to a 2-1 win with goals from Gerrard and Torres. The win came no thanks to the ref who let them away with some nasty shit. I don't know how Nzonzi stayed on after getting Lucas in a headlock and throwing him to the ground. How great it a thing it is to see our Spanish Supremo strike terror into the hearts of men. He converted the winning goal after some great work from Maxi on the byline. The Argentine had a useful game with good movement and an amazing first touch. If he had a bit more pace, he'd be lethal. As it is, I think he can offer a lot from the flank with his delivery and I'm sure he had goals in him too.We don't play again until Monday when we visit the DW to play Wigan. This one should really be winnable. We're building up a bit of momentum again now and I'm hoping that El Nino will push us onwards in the final 10 games. Unfortunately, Skrtel broke his foot in Romania and is out for 8 weeks. We'll miss him as he's been in decent enough form recently but we should have Johnson back now and Kyrgiakos is finished his suspension.

The Liverpool Echo are suggesting that Pepe Reina has agreed a new deal which will be finalised soon. If true, this is great news. He's the best keeper in England by a long shot for me and I wouldn't sway him with anyone, with the possible exception of Iker Casillas. No doubt this deal will be used as an excuse why Rafa won't be given any cash this summer.

A player we've been linked to in the past, Afellay of PSV, has cropped up again this week. This link reckons we could be chasing him this summer. The source may not be the most trustworthy but he might be a cheap signing as he'll have a year left on his contract, which would fit in with our restricted budget.

QPR youngster Raheem Sterling has signed up at the Academy. He's 15 but has already been identified as one with great potential. If he lives up to it, this could prove to be quite a coup considering we captured him ahead of City, Utd and Arsenal. Here are 10 facts on him from the Mirror.

Friday, February 19, 2010

That was the week that was

Our Europa league campaign began with a 1-0 win over Unirea Urziceni visiting L4 on Thursday night. We made a bright start but it settled into a poor enough game with Unirea packing defence, trying to get a draw. We created quite a few chances but our finishing was off and we struggled to convert our superiority into goals. Second half sub Babel impressed after replacing the disappointing Riera. The impact sub role is one that Babel does well, much better than his performances when he starts. Young Danny "Patches" Pacheco came on and managed to set up Ngog for the winner with a far post header back into the path of the frenchman. Pacheco has had a few impressive cameos this season and this was another one. Let's hope he gets some more before the end of the season. Anfield likes to see a teenage prodigy strut his stuff on our hallowed turf.The week finished with with a bit of a damp squib today. We played out a 0-0 draw with City at Eastlands but in truth, it was a game low on quality. Neither team played very well and a point a piece was a fair result. Our defence coped well enough with what City threw at us with Skrtel doing a good job on Adebayor. He was guilty of spurning out best chance of the game when he headed wide from a Gerrard corner when he really should have done better. Our passing was sloppy in midfield and our movement was slow and laboured up front. We did improve when Yossi came on for the ineffectual Babel. It was great to see the Iraeli back in side, he's been sorely missed. We even got to see El Nino make a surprise cameo off the bench. I hope that the two of them get match fit ASAP.

It's more Europa league "action" this week. Let's hope that we keep another sclean sheet and score a few goals, something we haven't done much of on our recent travels. Maybe we'll see Pacheco get some more minutes. But it's another game that it's hard to get excited about. I would like to see us go all the way in the Europa league but it's hard to get into it at this stage, when playing the lesser names of Europe in far flung outposts. Given the season we're having, I suppose we have to take the victories anywhere we can find them.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Arsenal review

I thought we played ok as did Arsenal but ultimately it's a results business and the result was a 1-0 defeat at the Emirates. Neither team was great. Arsenal worked their goal well and we defended poorly for it. If Kyrgiakos weren't suspended or if Carra were still on the pitch, I'd have fancied us to successfully defend it. We coped with them very well in the first half but our level dropped a bit when Degen came on for the injured Carra. But it has to be said we didn't create a huge amount of clear opportunities. Ngog could have done better when through on the keeper. Babel had a good shot saved by Almunia, who picked a bad time to remember how to make a save. Gerrard had a couple of frees and corners. I do think the Fabregas handball was a deliberate foul but outside the box so a free and red card but not a peno. I thought we did enough for a point but not a win. But the fact that we didn't create much means we can't be too disappointed.

Rafa says that El Nino will not be fit enough to face Man City. Maybe Yossi will be back in time for that game but it doesn't sound like any of our other injuries will have recovered in time. Before the City game on Sunday we face Unirea in the Europa league on Thursday night. It's hard to get very excited about this competition but I'm sure I'll be thrilled if we get to the final and win it like in 2001.

The Mirror reckons we've lost out to Arsenal in the race to sign Chamakh from Bordeaux this summer but we've succeeded in getting Jovanovic of Liege on a free. The Times are saying that Ireland may leave City this summer. I know he's a bit of a loon but he's a quality player who I'd love to see us sign. Probably won't happen.

Sky Sports give young LDV the once over in their Sky Sports Scout section. This kid is a star in the making from what I've seen.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Toffees turned over

Another Darby victory, a 1-0 win at Anfield, was enough to put us back into fourth place. Other results went our way with Spurs drawing and City losing so our champions league faith is back in our own hands now. Things are a lot rosier than they were a few weeks back.

It was a poor enough game but lots of tackles and fouls which appeals to old school fans. I thought we were the sightly better team but there wasn't in it. It was an even enough first half. I thought Fellaini could have seen red too for the Kyrgiakos sending off. I've no arguments with the Greek getting done for that challenge. Pienaar should have gone for a shocking tackle on Mascherano in the first half. The Ref was poor enough all match.

Deadly Dirk did it again with a header before half time. He's making a habit of scoring derby goals. Moyes and the toffees must hate the sight of him. He performed well as did most of the team. Javier did a good job when moved to right back when Soto saw red. Lucas and Gerrard held the midfield and the defence dealt with what little Everton threw at us. It's a pretty damning indictment of them and their manager that they couldn't make their man advantage count and we were never put under any serious pressure.All of the results went our way yesterday. Was hoping for a Villa draw or win. Nice to see City fuck it up too. We've two massive away game with Arsenal and City in our next two fixtures. Arsenal lost to Chelsea yesterday and they might be vulnerable when they play us on Wednesday night. Even at that, they're good at home so I'd be surprised if we get more than a point there. We're coming back into form but they're still the kind of team who could rip us apart. I'd be more than happy with a draw in the Emirates as the City mach could be much more important in relation to the race for fourth. showed the top ten derby goals of the decade this week and you can view them here. Some crackers in there but I think the Gary Mac one is still my favourite.

Here is Rafa putting a sky sports reporter in his place. About time.

Sky Sports reckon that we're going to sign Jovanovic on a pre contract agreement. Young Bulgarian Keeper Mihaylov has joined FC Twente for £1.5m. We made a very healthy transfer profit this Jan with the his sale added to that of Voronin and Dossena. Maxi was the only arrival and he came on a free.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Wolves and Trotters

We went to Molineux last wednesday to face Wolves. It was the first of what I viewed as two winnable games, with Wolves being the easier of the two. How wrong I was. We were shockingly bad. The only positive to be taken from the match was that we didn't lose and Gerrard returned to the first team. Other than that, we showed nothing.

Thankfully we moved on with a 2-0 win over Bolton at Anfield on Saturday. Dirk continued his good goalscoring form after Aquilani set him up with a far post header. Insua had swung in the cross and had a great game overall. I'm happy for Emiliano as he's been below par for a while as have most of the defence. What a difference a Greek makes? Kyrgiakos has come in and stabilised the entire back line. He's a no nonsense type who knows what his job is and sticks to it. Not the most cultured distributor of the ball, but one who get stuck in, wins headers and blocks at vital times. He cleared a ball off the line in the first half which could have changed the complexion of the match.Everton are level with Liverpool and Chelsea on 14 points from 18 according to the premier league form table. I'm happy to have Kyrgiakos in there to combat the aerial threat of Cahill and Fellaini. The defence will have a busy day as I'm sure the toffees will be well up for it, as they always are in the derby. This is another massive game, they all are now for us to finish fourth. A win would set us up nicely for the Arsenal match but I suspect we could be heading for a draw.

Not for the first time in recent years, the Liverpool rumour mill went into overtime and the word in the city was that Rafa was going to resign today. This proved to be rubbish, quelle surprise. The boss dismissed the rumours and said he's committed to the club.

In an odd move, promising German full back Chris Buchtmann has been sold to Fulham for £100k plus future conditional payments. I thought that he was rated highly so this is very strange unless the kid is having problems off the pitch.

We've signed a co-operation deal with Genk in Belgium. This will enable us to sign promising players from South America and Africa and let them develop in Genk, where the work permit laws aren't as strict. Arsenal and Man Utd have similar deals with Beveren and Royal Antwerp. I've always wondered why we didn't do this a few years ago.

The Liverpool Echo says that we've offered a pre contract agreement to Milan Jovanovic of Standard Liege as he's on a free in the summer. In the same paper Dirk talks about his Scouse family and their love of fish and chips. Dirk is one of my favourite players. He sounds like a really decent and down to earth bloke. Former target Nicolas Lodeiro won't be coming to Anfield as he's signed for Ajax. If the hype is to be believed, Martin Jol has pulled off a coup here as this kid is going to be a star.

Just as the transfer window was about to slam shut, it seems we managed to slip one through the gap. If some reports in Greece are to be believed, we've managed to sign Greek full back Vasilis Torosidis on loan from Olympiakos on loan. If everything goes well, this will become a permanent deal in the summer for around €7m. I really wasn't expecting us to do any business today so this comes as a pleasant surprise. As to the player himself and his abilities, I don't have a clue. He's good mates with Kygiakos, if that helps. Then again, it could be speculation which comes to nothing.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How good was that? A 2-0 win over Spurs at Anfield on a rocking Wednesday night was just what the doctor ordered. 'Arry said the Kop in full voice is "the most amazing sight in football". Get in.

We benefitted a lot from the early goal. Great strike from Kuyt after a clever bit of skill from Aquilani. He looked much better last night, playing the Gerrard role. You could say that creates a problem of where to play Gerrard when he returns but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

The heart and passion shown against Stoke was upped a notch here. Carra was superb at right back. I know that he's expressed some reservations about playing there but if he played like that every week it wouldn't be a problem. Degen offered an outlet on the right and while he's limited, he did give us a bit of pace and drive which we lacked with Torres and Gerrard out. He was guilty of bottling it when he was put through on Gomes but chose to abdicate responsibility and pass back to Dirk instead.

Kuyt missed a few sitters and it should have been a lot easier in the end than it was. Balls of steel from Dirk to retake the peno and put it in the opposite corner. Spurs did cause a few problems at times but overall we were great value for the win. I really thought they'd give us more of a game given the injuries we had.

We're second in the premier league form guide with 13 points out of 18, only Arsenal ahead of us. Not bad form considering this is supposed to be the worst Liverpool team ever with a cretin of a manager according to the media.It seems that we did make an effort to get Jones on loan from Sunderland but they didn't go for it despite the player being interested. Fair enough.

Tony Barrett in the Times has an excellent piece on George Gillett. There are rumours that his share of the club will be sold soon enough. I really hope it's true this time but we've all heard these rumours before.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Reading and Stoke

The sporting week has been pretty crap for me as I was supposed to attend the Spurs match at Anfield only for it to be cancelled. This left me disappointed and out of pocket.

It continued with a dismal F.A. cup exit at the hands of Reading on Wednesday night. Watch this if you dare. We were shocking and Reading deserved to go through. To make matters worse, we lost our three most attacking player to injury. Torres is out for six weeks, Gerrard for a fortnight and Yossi three or four weeks.

So we travelled to the Britannia without Gerrard, Torres, Yossi, GloJo and Agger who got injured before Saturday. This meant a reshuffled team built for Stoke's aerial bombardment, and it very nearly worked. Kyrgiakos was drafted in at the back, to head away the artillery fire. He had a great game and did a passable impression of Sami H. He even managed to score the opening goal after some confusion in the box. Maxi got a run out in the second half. Unfortunately Huth scored at the death to level it. 1-1 was rough justice for us but you don't always get what you deserve in this game, especially with shit referees like Lee Mason around. We could have had a peno when Lucas was taken down but he booked the Brazilian instead and then gave a goal kick. If he believes the defender got a touch on the ball, how is it a goal kick? Kuyt and Ngog laboured up front and Dirk hit the post in the closing minutes. A few inches from salvation.Next up Spurs visit Anfield on Wednesday for the rearranged match. This is going to be really tough. I would expect that we'll see some of the guys who were rested yesterday get a start, like Riera, Maxi and Aquilani. I don't know whether we'll go with Kuyt or Ngog up front but it will probably be Kuyt. I'm hoping that Agger is back for this but there doesn't seem to be any easing up of the injuries at the minute. It's going to be messy and I don't see us getting much more than a point.

Watch this bit of madness to try and cheer yourself up. It probably won't work but it's worth a try.

Dossena has completed a €5m switch to Napoli. If for nothing else, Dossena will always be remembered for this and this. The less fondly remembered Voronin also completed a move this week. He's off to Dinamo Moscow for £2m. The Liverpool Echo suggest that we might be in for Jeremy Menez at AS Roma after he fell out with Ranieri.

Pacheco is thankful for the help he's received from Torres. It must be great for the young Catalan to have Nando there to help him settle in L4. Our younger youngsters had a great victory in the FA youth cup this week. They beat a much fancied Leicester team 5-1 to go through to the next round. Lauri Della Valle, our fab Finn, was the hero on the night with a hat trick. You can watch highlights here including an interview with Rodolfo Borrel the Academy manager.

Tom Hicks Jr got himself in a bit of hot water this week with an abusive e-mail to a Liverpool fan. Silly boy. You can read what the Guardian had to say about it here. It resulted in Hicks Jr resigning his position on the board. Rafa gave further news of how shit things are under the Yanks. If a substantial bid comes in for our top players this summer then we'll have to consider it. Let's hope the club is sold or there is some investment in the meantime.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Cup runneth half full

Yesterday we saw the Reds settle for a 1-1 draw at Reading to bring the match to a replay at Anfield next week. In truth, it wasn't a great match and we didn't play well. Reading did enough to earn the draw and it's especially impressive considering they only have a caretaker manager at the minute. Gerrard hit a cross shot which Dirk dummied to confound the keeper and it was 1-1 at half time. We had played well enough as we neared the interval and looked like we'd push on in the second half. Alas, we let Reading back into it and it evened itself out overall.

So we'll have to do it all again. I suppose the owners will be happy at the extra pay day from the home match but I don't think Rafa will be jumping for joy at the extra match and possibility of injuries and suspensions. Carra praised young Steven Darby who filled in for GloJo at right back. He was much better than his previous game against Fiorentina but I still don't think he's up to our level. Martin Kelly could be back for the next game and I would expect him to replace Darby in the XI.It's another tough test this Sunday when Spurs visit Anfield. They're in top form and Defoe is one of the most dangerous players in the league this season. I'm attending this game so I'm hoping for a good display but I'm not overly confident. I wouldn't be surprised to see this ending in a stalemate.

Victor Moses could be available on the cheap according to the Daily Mail. Babel is "not for sale" according to Rafa. He also played down the suggestions that we might move for RVN.