Tag Archives: Dirk Kuyt

Positive changes have LFC looking toward bright future

27 May

Liverpool didn’t exactly finish the season on the best of notes, getting shut out in its last two games against Tottenham and Aston Villa.  The losses meant that the Reds finished in sixth place, one spot out of Europa League qualification.  Even though it’s disappointing to not be playing in Europe, who would have thought we’d even have a chance at it in January?  I, for one, thought we would be lucky to even finish in the top half of the table, but oh, how things can change over the course of a year.

2010-11 was one hell of a dramatic season for Liverpool with the painfully long, drawn-out ownership battle taking center stage early on and fraying nerves everywhere.   It didn’t help of course that the team was playing rather poorly and looking like they would all rather get a root canal than be on the pitch.  In the end, the bad guys were ousted and John Henry and Fenway Sports Group took over.  While new ownership does not necessarily mean success is in the offing, John Henry and co. helped kick start the change in atmosphere around the club.

It wasn’t too long before they decided that Roy Hodgson was not the right man to lead Liverpool.  At the point of his termination, Hodgson had the Reds in 12th place and only four points clear of the bottom three – clearly unacceptable.  For the first five months of the season, the team looked like a bunch of lost puppies out there.  There was no hustle, no passion, no heart.  It was incredibly depressing to watch.

Enter one Kenny Dalglish.  You might have heard of him, he’s a little bit of a legend.  He signed on to be the caretaker manager of the club through the rest of the season after Hodgson’s departure and there couldn’t be a starker contrast between the sides PD (pre-Dalglish) and AD (After Dalglish).  While Hodgson’s side relied way too heavily on the long ball, Dalglish clearly emphasized the importance of passing.  It did take a little bit of time for the players to get used to the system (LFC did lose its first two games under Dalglish), but once they did, they were a new (and dangerous) team.

Of course, the season’s drama couldn’t simply go away with the hiring of a new manager.  During the January transfer window, rumours started popping up about Fernando Torres wanting to leave the club.  At first, I’m sure I was one of many to dismiss it all as typical transfer BS, but as the rumblings got louder, I got more worried.  (In retrospect, I’m not really sure why as its not like he was in stellar form prior to leaving).  He ended up signing with Chelsea and Liverpool was able to use the absurd amount of money they received to buy Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll.

Looking back, it was an awesome decision.  Torres never found his stride at Chelsea either, scoring a grand total of one goal and honestly, I’d rather have players that want to rock the red for LFC.   And Suarez?  Well, he is something else.  The Uruguayan didn’t score a lot of goals, but he certainly set up his fair share.  He was an excellent signing and will only become more dangerous for LFC.  Carroll is a bit more of a question mark.  He was hurt a good chunk of the spring, but he also has potential to be a big scoring threat.  They’re both young and talented, which is exactly what LFC needs to be successful in the future.

Anyways, getting back to the team, as they became more and more comfortable under Dalglish, you could see the positive changes.  There was hustle and fight and determination – all the things you should be seeing out of a top flight team.  Players like Dirk Kuyt and Maxi Rodriguez stepped up to the plate big time and the passing game quickly became one of their strongest attributes.  By no means were the final five months of the season perfect, but there was drastic improvement and hope for the future and that’s really all you can ask for out of such a turbulent season.

Dalglish recently signed a three-year deal to stay on as manager, which is obviously great news for both players and fans.  Steven Gerrard will also return after missing the last three months of the season with injury.  There are younger players stepping into key roles like Lucas and Jay Spearing.  There should be some action on the transfer market this summer as well because let’s face it, we struggled with width all year and could definitely do with some strong wingers.

It really is an exciting time to be a Liverpool fan – a major turnaround from this time last year.  I’m already pumped for next season.  Is it August yet?

Advertisements

Late drama at the Emirates

19 Apr

Holy final couple minutes, Batman.  Liverpool and Arsenal exchanged penalties late in stoppage time at the Emirates as Liverpool further dented Arsenal’s hopes of catching Manchester United in a 1-1 draw.  Thoughts and observations below:

  • The foul on Lucas?  Definitely a penalty.  The commentator went on and on about how it was a dive and he sold it to the ref, but in reality, it was a stupid foul by Emmanuel Eboue.  He didn’t even argue it.  Running straight into the back of someone like that was just dumb and unnecessary especially with the ball moving away from goal.
  • I love Kenny Dalglish.  His post-game “exchange” with Arsene Wenger was awesome with the “Piss off” taking the cake.  It even sparked a #PissOffWenger trend on Twitter.
  • Despite losing two defenders in a single game (again), Liverpool’s make-shift defense did a superb job.  Teenagers John Flanagan and Jack Robinson played very well.  Flanagan could have easily been shaken after his clash of heads with Jamie Carragher knocked the man unconscious, but he recovered well.
  • Arsene Wenger was upset about the amount of stoppage time.  Get over it.  You learn at the youth level to play to the whistle.  Why should the Premier League be any different?
  • If Arsenal was a true title challenger, they would be able to put games like this away.  They’ve failed to capitalize on opportunities too many times this season, especially when United drops points.
  • Major credit to Liverpool for fighting back after giving up that late, late goal.  They could have easily folded, but kept going hard pushing for an equalizer.  And what a concept, it paid off.
  • Well taken penalties by both Robin Van Persie and Dirk Kuyt under big pressure.  With his tying penalty, Kuyt becomes the first LFC player to reach 10 goals this season.  Nicely done.

Kuyt, Suarez shine in win over United

7 Mar

Liverpool’s recent addition Luis Suarez had his coming out party against Manchester United yesterday. The Uruguayan dribbled circles around three United defenders before sending the ball across the goal for Dirk Kuyt to sweep home for the game’s opening score. His vision and ball skills are something that Liverpool had been lacking until his signing. Dirk Kuyt benefitted from the presence of Suarez as he notched his first hat trick for Liverpool.  The duo caused problems all day for United with their movement around the field.

Liverpool was the better team by far in this clash. Their passing has improved drastically and they are able to pass the ball out of tight spaces now where before they would simply hoof it clear.   Steven Gerrard was not as involved in the attack as he has been in the past, but along with Lucas, they made it difficult for United to work though the center of the field.  Even though Fabio Aurelio went off early with an injury, the back four adjusted well as Jamie Carragher moved to right backm Glen Johnson went to the lef and Sotirios Krygiakos came in to partner Martin Skrtel in the center.  Raul Meireles also played a very good game, proving his value at both ends.  He cleared a Berbatov shot off the goal line (definitely no hand ball there) and made some good runs on the offensive end.

Other than the fact that Liverpool clearly dominated the game from start to finish, the other main talking point was Jamie Carragher’s poorly timed challenge on Nani at the end of the first half. Old Man Carra caught Nani high on the shin with his studs showing and was only shown a yellow card. As much as I love Carra and LFC, I’d have to say it was a red card tackle since Carra got him high on the leg and was nowhere near the ball. However, Nani didn’t help the situation by writhing in pain and then getting up and pushing the ref and yelling about the foul and then falling over again. It made the whole thing look like theatrics. Moments later, Rafael came flying in studs up at Lucas, but only earned a yellow card as well. The first half ended on quite the heated note, but the tension did not carry over into the second half.  In a lame move, Alex Ferguson did not speak to the media afterwards nor did any of the players.  Poor sportsmanship at its best.

The team played with the fire that they lacked against West Ham last week.  With the season coming down to the wire, Liverpool has to put the same effort and intensity into all its games, not just against the big guys.

Oh, how could I forget, Andy Carroll made his debut as a substitute.  He did not have much to do, but the partnership of the big Carroll along with the small and speedy Suarez has potential to make some waves.  Kuyt will probably drop into the midfield once Carroll is fit for the starting lineup.

LFC wins without Gerrard

22 Nov

Liverpool fell back to earth with a resounding thud after their win over Chelsea, the top team in the league, going winless against Wigna and Stoke.  They got back on the winning track Saturday, notching a 3-0 victory over hapless West Ham.  Glen Johnson, Dirk Kuyt and Maxi Rodriguez all netted goals in the win.  It was exactly the kind of game Liverpool needed after a rough previous couple outings.  They also won without skipper Steven Gerrard, who was ruled out for a month after picking up a hamstring injury on international duty (damn it, Capello!).

The win put the Reds into ninth place and only six points out of the top four.  With the way this season is going, there is no reason to count Liverpool out of the running for a top four spot.  Granted, they will have to find some more consistency, but it’s by no means an impossibility.  As of right now, there’s no team that is head and shoulders above everyone else.  At the beginning of the year, Chelsea looked like that team, but they have struggled as of late and as a result, Manchester United is now equal with the holders on points.  It’s a wide open race at this point and will make for some excellent clashes coming up.

Liverpool will face their next test at Tottenham on Sunday.  The Spurs are currently sixth and are coming off an impressive come-from-behind 3-2 win over Arsenal.  The home side will be full of confidence going into Sunday’s match and Liverpool will have to be on top of their game if they want to claim a win.

LFC roller coaster

14 Oct

It’s been a crazy couple weeks for Liverpool fans. First, news that NESV is going to buy the club elicits cheers all around.  Then, the asshat owners take the board to court. Man, buzz kill for sure. Yesterday, the court rules Hicks and Gillett can’t stop the sale! Yay!  Oh wait, but they somehow manage to do just that by filing an injunction in a Texas district court, saying the new deal with NESV is an ‘epic swindle’.  What the fuck? Is tarring and feathering still legal?

I know I haven’t written too much about what’s going on, but there are just too many rumours and stories coming out, that it’s hard to keep track of. I must say though, I STILL don’t really understand how a district court in a U.S. state has any sway over the High Court in the U.K.

It really is taking everything I have not to let loose with a expletive-laden rant against Hicks and Gillett. The Reds are back in court this afternoon regarding the injunction and meanwhile, the threat of administration looms ever larger with the deadline Friday. Thanks Tom and George, as if you haven’t done enough damage already.

I heard a couple rumours that some LFC fans might file a class action suit against the duo for emotional distress and the like. While I’m not generally a fan of lawsuits like that, I’m all for it in this case.

Oh yeah, and while all this shit is going on, there’s still the Merseyside derby to be played on Sunday. That’s right, the season goes on even as the club’s future is up in the air. Word just came down that Fernando Torres is fit to play, which hopefully will be a boost to the faltering Reds.  On the injury front, Dirk Kuyt hurt his ankle playing for the Netherlands and could be out until January.  A strong performance would go a long way for the fans.

European drama

12 Oct

Euro 2012 qualifiers continued today and I finally got to watch some of the action. (Yay for ESPN3 at work!) 

  • Germany absolutely dominated Kazakhstan and had Mesut Ozil been able to find the back of the net, the Germans could have won 7-0 instead of 3-0.   I love watching Germany play. They spread the field so well and move the ball up the field quickly on counterattacks. They currently sit top of their group with four wins out of four games.
  • In the same group, Azerbaijan upset Turkey, 1-0.  Turkey looked lackluster against Germany last week and obviously did not improve much today. Turkey can still qualify, but they have a lot less margin for error now.
  • Seriously, can Liverpool catch a break?  Both Dirk Kuyt and Daniel Agger picked up injuries playing for their respective countries and first reports say that Kuyt could be out until February.  However, I’m skeptical of that as he was able to walk off the field under his own power and did not look like he was in too much pain.  Guess we will just have to wait and see.
  • England was zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Oh, sorry, I fell asleep there. Yeah, that bad. Way to go Montenegro.
  • Spain was able to hold off a plucky Scotland, thanks to a late goal from Fernando Llorente. I have to give props to Scotland though for not sitting back against the defending champions of everything. They kept their calm after going down 2-0 and were close to pulling off a huge draw.
  • Robbie Keane missed a couple big chances to give Ireland a win over Slovakia.  He had a penalty saved and also skied a clear look at goal. Keane and Ireland had to settle for a 1-1 draw.
  • Of course all the teams I said that needed to win this week did. France, Portugal and the Czech Republic all got their campaigns back on track.
  • The Faroe Islands, yeah that team with a -13 goal difference and not a point to its name, frustrated Northern Ireland in a 1-1 draw. Way to go, little guys.
  • Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the chaos in Italy.  The match between Italy and Serbia had to be called off completely due to “crowd disturbances”. In other words, Serbian hooligans were throwing flares on the field towards their own team (I don’t get it either) and were generally causing massive amounts of trouble.  The game was originally delayed just over half an hour, but had to be abandoned only six minutes after starting. If you want a startling first-hand account, check out http://twitter.com/marcotti.

Quarterfinal drama

2 Jul

Wow, what a day.  This was by far the best day of the tournament. 

In the day’s opening game, Brazil dominated the first half against the Netherlands.  Robinho gave Brazil an early lead after a gorgeous through ball from Felipe Melo and it looked like it was going to be all Brazil.  The second half, however, was a different story.  Dunga’s disciplined defense showed signs of cracking after Melo was credited with an own goal after a long ball into the box from Wesley Sneijder.  (To make matters worse, it’s Brazil’s first ever own goal in World Cup play.  Although to be fair, it could have easily been called a Sneijder goal.)  Sneijder scored the game-winner in the 68th minute, heading the ball in after Dirk Kuyt headed a Arjen Robben corner across the goal.  Melo put the stamp on a crappy game minutes later, rightfully earning a red card by stomping on Robben’s leg.  

It was a huge victory for the Dutch as they have a long history of underachieving at the World Cup.  A win over Brazil will give them a major boost of confidence going into Tuesday’s semifinal.  It was an impressive turnaround in the second half after a seriously lackluster first half.  

The day’s second game was one for the ages.  A resurgent Uruguay against Africa’s final hope.  Sounds like a bad TV movie.  Anyways, Uruguay came out strong, but Ghana fired back with a couple close chances of their own.  Ghana struck first with a long range strike from Sulley Muntari in stoppage time of the first half.  It could’ve been a knockout blow for Uruguay, but Diego Forlan had other ideas.  The striker curled in a free kick in the 55th minute to level the game at 1-1.  It continued to be a back-and-forth affair with neither team able to break through in regulation.  

So to extra time we went.  Again, both teams struggled to find the back of the net.  It looked like things would be headed for penalties, but no.  A last minute free kick from Ghana caused chaos in the box and Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez deliberately handled the ball on the goal line.  Penalty to Ghana in the dying seconds of extra time – holy cow!  Asamoah Gyan stepped up to take it and looked set to send an African nation through to the semifinals for the first time, but he hit the crossbar!  Holy drama batman, what an ending.  To penalties they went.  Gyan showed nerves of steel to convert first for Ghana mere minutes after missing in extra time.  Uruguayan keeper Fernando Muslera made two saves on less than stellar shots, but it was enough to send Uruguay through to the semifinals and cause ultimate heartbreak for Ghana.

It was definitely the game of the tournament so far.  Both teams played solid football and created good chances.  It was quite the game to watch and ended in one of the most dramatic way I think I’ve ever seen.  The (I think) deliberate handball from Suarez ended up being Urguay’s saving grace.  He will now miss the semifinal, which is a big loss for the team.  I think it was a smart move by Suarez to get the red card though because at the point in the game, you’d rather give up a penalty than a goal because players can miss penalties (like Gyan did).  

I can’t say that I wanted Ghana to win, but that had to be the most heartbreaking loss to handle.  Gyan is probably kicking himself for missing the penalty in extra time after he was able to make it in the shootout.  It would have been something else if Ghana had been able to become the first African nation to make it to the semifinals of the World Cup.

Here’s hoping the Germany-Argentina game and Spain-Paraguay game live up to today’s standards.

Video of Gyan’s extra time miss right this way: