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Wednesday, 22 February 2012
Liverpool 6-1 Brighton Match Report
Liverpool warmed up for their trip to Wembley in next Sunday’s Carling Cup final in emphatic style as they put Championship side Brighton to the sword in the 5th round of the FA Cup. The sides had already met in the Carling Cup earlier this season, with Liverpool winning 2-1 in that tie. But Liverpool looked greedy for another trip to Wembley by brushing Brighton aside and eyeing up a home tie against Stoke City in the quarter-final.
Dalglish fielded a strong team against Brighton with Carragher coming back into the side alongside Gerrard, Suarez and Carroll, who were starting a match for the first time together. Dalglish showed that he was not going to take Poyet’s side lightly with the side he sent out to win a place in the quarter final.
Liverpool got off to a great start with Martin Skrtel heading home Gerrard corner inside five minutes, but the visitors responded with LuaLua blasting a 25 yard free-kick past Pepe Reina. Liverpool regained the lead seconds before half-time after Bridcutt deflected a goal line clearance into his own net from a Glen Johnson header.
Liverpool was buoyed going into the second half with the lead, and they added another in the 57th minute when Andy Carroll fired home a Downing cutback with his left foot. Liverpool made it 4-1 when the unlucky Bridcutt scored his second own goal when trying to keep out a Gerrard effort. Amazingly Liverpool’s fifth goal was from another Brighton player when Dunk tried to clear after some ball juggling, only to send the ball over his own goal line.
Suarez missed a penalty late on after Kuyt had been brought down, but the Liverpool striker was not to be denied as he headed in a sixth goal for the home side late on. This was Liverpool’s biggest win of the season and a victory that will certainly boost their confidence with important games coming up.
After the match Kenny Dalglish showed how pleased he was with his team’s goals tally when he said “Someone said we had 15 attempts on target. We’ve said we’d like to get our conversion rate up and today that’s not a bad return.”
Great to see Dalglish send out a strong team and not underestimating Brighton. We struggled a bit the first half, although we still had more of the play. But scoring the second goal just before half-time really sent us on our way, although we did get plenty of help scoring wise from Brighton defenders who were prolific in front of goal. Played some great stuff second half and brilliant to see Carroll and Suarez scoring. I thought Downing played really well, especially after receiving plenty of criticism recently. A home draw against Stoke now to look forward to in the quarter finals and hopefully followed by another trip to Wembley.
Man Of The Match- Carroll – caused mayhem in the Brighton defence all day and took his goal brilliantly.
Posted by james walker at 05:00
Tuesday, 14 February 2012
A Quiet Incredible Man
On the 23rd of January 1919 in a little known town called Hetton-le-Hole in County Durham, was born a baby who was to grow up to be the most successful manager in Liverpool Football Club’s history. His name of course was Bob Paisley.
Paisley started his long road to success at non-league Bishop Auckland before signing for Liverpool in May 1939, but due to war breaking out Paisley had to wait until 5th of January 1946 to make his debut in Liverpool’s first post-war competitive match. Paisley became a regular in the Liverpool team at left-half and he helped Liverpool win their first league title in 24 years in his first full season at the club. Paisley had to wait until 1948 to net his first goal at Liverpool on the 1st May at Anfield in a 2-1 win over Wolves.
Paisley scored the opening goal in a 2-0 FA Cup semi-final win over Everton in 1950 only to suffer heartache when he was dropped for the final against Arsenal in the club’s first ever trip to Wembley, which they lost. Paisley stated that this experience helped him deal with players during his time in management when he had to tell a player he was being left out of a big game.
Paisley became the club captain the following year. He retired from playing as a one club man in 1954 and continued to work for Liverpool as a self-taught physiotherapist. He later became coach of the reserves before becoming a member of Bill Shankly’s famous “Boot Room”. In 1971 he became Shankly’s assistant manager until Shankly’s shock resignation in 1974, where Paisley succeeded as manager.
Liverpool had become one of the top clubs in the country under Shankly’s leadership and had won numerous trophies. Paisley’s task seemed a formidable one to continue in Shankly’s footsteps. But the unassuming Geordie took to management like a duck to water, although his first season did end without a trophy.
Bob Paisley went on to manage Liverpool for 9 years winning 6 League Titles, 3 European Cups, 1 UEFA Cup, 3 League Cups, 5 Community Shields and 1 UEFA Super Cup. The only cup that eluded him was the FA Cup which he lost in a final in 1977. It really is a remarkable record for a man that never really wanted to become manager.
Paisley inherited a great team from Shankly but through time he had to shape the team into his. He lost great players like Kevin Keegan but he replaced him with an even better player in Kenny Dalglish. He could change the role of an established player like Ray Kennedy who was a superb striker for Arsenal, but Paisley could see that he would be a better player in midfield.
Paisley retired from management in 1983 after serving Liverpool Football Club in so many different roles in 44 years unbroken service. He did return to help Liverpool in 1985 as a consultant and advisor to new player-manager Kenny Dalglish for two years before being appointed a director of the club until 1992, having to retire due to ill health after being diagnosed with Alzhiemer’s Disease. Bob Paisley died on the 14th of February 1996. But Liverpool Football Club honoured his fantastic service and achievements by erecting the “Paisley Gates”.
For me, Bob Paisley is the most under-rated manager in the history of British football, his record of success is astonishing. He is the only manager in history to win the European Cup 3 times. During his time as manager he always tried to shun the spotlight and maybe because he was so quiet may be the reason why he is not talked about as much as Ferguson or Mourinho.
It’s not just Paisley’s incredible management career that excites me, but his service to one club in so many roles that he played to help Liverpool Football Club achieve what they have. Paisley was the opposite of Shankly in terms of personality but similar in terms of success.
Although Paisley was quiet he did come away with some memorable quotes –
"Kevin was quicker off the mark, but Kenny runs the first five yards in his head."
“Mind you, I’ve been here through the bad times too – one year we came second”
“It’s not about the long ball or the short ball, it’s about the right ball”
“Other people have earned more money than me in football but no-one has enjoyed it as much as me”
Although this great man is overlooked by many people on his achievements in football, he has legendary status in the hearts of Liverpool supporters. Paisley was manager of Liverpool when I started supporting them and I took the winning for granted at the time, but now after nearly 30 years since his departure from management I realise that success does not come easily in football, and I now I can fully appreciate how great a manager Paisley was.
Bob Paisley - You’ll Never Walk Alone
Posted by james walker at 11:11
Monday, 13 February 2012
Suarez Let Liverpool Down
I was shocked and disappointed with Luis Suarez on Saturday by his decision to not shake Patrice Evra’s hand. I was more disappointed by his actions because he had the chance to put this sorry episode to bed, and I knew the vultures that are the British media would tear this latest episode of controversy to pieces, and lead to further bad publicity for Liverpool Football Club.
Liverpool have not handled this affair very well as they have showed a siege mentality in their defensive attitude. Liverpool has shown obvious disappointment and anger towards the decision to ban Suarez for a lengthy period. Personally I thought the punishment and the handling of the case was wrong and I was disappointed to see Liverpool accept the resulting ban without appeal. If Liverpool felt aggrieved by the decision then they should have appealed, but on their decision to accept the ban, then they should have just moved on. But there have been constant comments of displeasure from the club concerning Suarez’s ban which should not have happened. Like Dalglish’s comments after the Spurs’ match last Monday.
I was worried when I saw Suarez was named in the team on Saturday, in case something happened. Dalglish should have left the striker out of this game to avoid any kind of controversy, but also his team had been playing well without him and he can’t be match fit after missing so long. Dalglish could have even have named Suarez as a substitute and this would have at least avoided the mandatory handshake before the game.
Rightly or wrongly Liverpool Football Club has backed Suarez during this whole sorry episode and he was out of order and let the whole club down by refusing to shake Evra’s hand. To be fair to Suarez his conduct during the game was first class as he refused to get involved in any shenanigans, but the damage was done and the fallout has been massive. Any news programme on the TV or the radio has been about Suarez and racism, it has been unbelievable, the news has even reached America, prompting an apology from Liverpool Football Club to Manchester United, no doubt from their American owners.
Dalglish looked shocked when told during the post-match interview that Suarez had not made the handshake with Evra and he did the right thing to not get involved with the subject until he knew more. But Dalglish must have felt betrayed by the man he has protected since his arrival to Anfield just over a year ago. I think Liverpool should punish Suarez for his conduct and embarrassment to the club, but I’m not sure they will, however I’m sure he will be well warned over his future conduct as a Liverpool player.
Suarez has made a rod for his own back now and he will be constantly scrutinised by his every move and life will be more difficult for him now playing in this country. It is a great shame because he is such a great talent and a very important player for Liverpool.
I have commented plenty about Suarez and Liverpool Football Club just like the media has, but not mentioned Manchester United. To start with Evra and his actions should see him receive punishment for his apparent role in a tunnel bust up at half-time, but for more seriously for his celebrations at the end of the match, where he deliberately tried to provoke Luis Suarez, this could have caused trouble and Suarez showed great restraint in avoiding retaliation.
But far worse was United manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s comments after the match where he told Liverpool Football Club that Suarez should never play again for them and that they should sell him, he also stated that Suarez has tarnished the history of this great club. Ferguson has no right to tell Liverpool Football Club what they should do with any of their players and he should just concentrate on his own.
I never saw Ferguson kicking Cantona out of Old Trafford after he attacked a supporter, or Ferdinand when he missed a drugs test, or Giggs and Rooney when they brought bad publicity to his club. He did not kick them out because they were important players for him and he protected them. I can’t remember an opposing manager telling him to get rid of any the players mentioned, so why should he instruct Liverpool to do so.
Ferguson just tried to stoke the fire that was already burning and he knew it would ignite the media. Ferguson knows Liverpool are a sitting duck for the media and his comments has worked perfectly too, with every newspaper at the weekend highlighting his comments to get rid of Suarez. The FA should hammer him for this, but we all know this won’t happen. He can do as he pleases and say what he wants, where other managers get punished for their comments.
To end this article I really feel the whole episode has been blown out of proportion by the media, just because a player refused to shake hands with someone he doesn’t like. Suarez was ignorant to think his actions on Saturday would not be highlighted. But the media have overwhelmed their coverage on this incident and they are not helping things. Liverpool is an easy target right now and they are really being savaged by the media, although a lot of the attention could have been avoided. Hopefully the media can start to report on matters on the park now after Liverpool’s recent apology.
Posted by james walker at 03:45
Sunday, 12 February 2012
Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool Match Report
Only two weeks after facing each other in the FA Cup United and Liverpool squared up to each other again, this time at Old Trafford. Both teams had plenty to play for, with United chasing the league title and Liverpool chasing a top four place. This would also be the first time Suarez could face United and Patrice Evra since serving his eight match ban.
Liverpool made four changes to the team that faced Spurs last Monday with Dalglish bringing back Henderson, Downing, Enrique and Luis Suarez, with Carroll, Bellamy, Adam and Kelly missing out. Liverpool’s strong and settled defence was regrouped with Enrique being passed fit to play alongside Johnson, Agger and Skrtel. Downing, Spearing, Henderson, Gerrard and Kuyt formed a five man midfield, with Suarez playing up front alone.
Emotions were higher than usual with Suarez being named in Liverpool’s line-up, and he lit the touch paper by refusing to shake hands with Evra before the match. Evra almost got revenge in the first minute when Suarez rushed on to a loose ball but as Evra committed himself to the challenge he ended up colliding with Ferdinand in a nasty looking collision, thankfully no one was seriously injured.
Liverpool started on the offensive and Johnson stung De Gea’s hands with an effort before Rooney tested Reina. Then Johnson went very close with a curling effort, just missing the far post. But United started to dominate possession as the minutes ticked by and Rafael brought out another save from Reina with a curling effort.
Liverpool were struggling to mount any attacks as United dominated and the Liverpool defence were opened up when Giggs picked out Scholes on the edge of the six yard box, but the veteran’s close range header was straight at Reina who managed to save. Evra then headed a Valencia cross over before Gerrard had a long range shot deflected just over De Gea’s bar and then Skrtel volleyed over just before half-time. There was a moment of controversy right on the stroke of half-time when Suarez was tackled by Ferdinand as he raced through on goal, the Liverpool striker felt he had been fouled by the England defender.
It took only two minutes of the second half for the deadlock to be broken when a Giggs’ corner was flicked on at the near post by Henderson and sweeped the ball home from close range by Rooney. Things got worse for Liverpool two minutes later when Valencia robbed Spearing of possession 25 yards out before setting up Rooney who slid the ball past Reina.
Dalglish brought on Bellamy and Adam for Downing and Spearing to try and get back into the game, but Liverpool rarely threatened until they pulled a goal back with 10 minutes left when Adam’s free-kick fell into the path of Suarez who prodded home from close range. It made for a nervy ending for the home side but the closest Liverpool came to equalising was in stoppage time when Johnson’s shot from the edge of the box was brilliantly tipped over the bar by De Gea.
I thought Dalglish got his team wrong by leaving out Bellamy and Carroll and he should have left Suarez out of the side to rule out any more controversy, plus Suarez must be lacking in match fitness. Suarez was out of order not shaking hands with Evra and he has embarrassed everyone connected with the club. Liverpool set up far too defensively and got deeper as the match went on. Liverpool’s passing was unbelievably poor and I include Gerrard in this. But I was so disappointed with the lack of hunger and appetite for this match, against our biggest rivals. Liverpool were second best all day long.
Posted by james walker at 10:21
Friday, 3 February 2012
A Week Is A Long Time In Football
What a week in Liverpool’s season. Liverpool’s season could have been over if results went against them in the last week, but instead the week just past has been a memorable one, with wins in the Carling Cup against Manchester City, followed by knocking out Manchester United in the FA Cup. All this after Liverpool suffering one of their worst performances and results since Kenny Dalglish’s return to Liverpool the previous weekend away to Bolton, where Dalglish came out and made it publicly clear that he was not happy with his team’s performance.
Liverpool supporters must have been fearing the worst going in to two massive cup games against the two Manchester clubs that are flying high above Liverpool in the league right now. But Dalglish was looking for a reaction from his players, and he certainly got that in abundance. The performance against City in the second leg of the Carling Cup semi-final was superb. The hunger that was shown was great to see from the players, especially after suffering two setbacks as City took the lead twice. The excitement at gaining the result needed to take the club back to Wembley was there for all to see. Liverpool has never been to the new Wembley and now they have a cup final to look forward to for the first time since 2007.
Little time to celebrate Liverpool had to prepare for another massive cup tie against bitter rivals Manchester United at Anfield. This match was a totally different match with Liverpool approaching the game more defensively as they allowed United most of the possession and looked to hit their visitors on the break. Kenny got his tactics spot on with Carragher deployed in midfield to protect the defence and Kenny’s tactics limited United to very few chances. But in the second half Dalglish made attacking substitutions with Charlie Adam, Dirk Kuyt and Liverpool’s in form player, Craig Bellamy coming on as Liverpool looked to knick a winner in the closing stages. Scripted perfectly in a Liverpool memoir was United nemesis Dirk Kuyt to score the winner in the last couple of minutes and shatter Fergie’s dream in the FA Cup.
It really was make or break time in Liverpool’s season with two cup ties in a week followed by a league fixture away to Wolves on the Tuesday in their chase for a top four place. It would have been easy for Liverpool to ease into complacency after their success in two cups, but Liverpool kept their momentum going with a convincing win at Molineux, even resting Steven Gerrard in the process as Liverpool’s squad is showing strength in depth, where Dalglish felt he never needed to bring in any new faces in the January transfer window. Liverpool have stuttered a bit in the league this season but their cup form has been an important distraction and has also brought them some confidence with some great wins against tough opposition. Liverpool have managed to progress in the cup competitions and kept up their challenge in the league in the absence of their star striker Luis Suarez. The much maligned Andy Carroll has looked a much improved player in the last couple of games and Liverpool’s defence is looking water tight.
So there is much to look forward to in the remainder of the season, but whatever happens I’m sure it will be a long time before we forget last week with the importance of keeping our season alive and proving how far the team has come in just over a year under Kenny’s management.
Posted by james walker at 02:48