Tag Archives: Fernando Torres

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?

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Fernando who?!

7 Apr

Because it’s hilarious that Fernando Torres is utterly useless for Chelsea, I offer you this: http://hastorresscoredforchelsea.com

and even better, this:

Champions League Quarterfinals Continue

6 Apr

Hopefully today’s games will be more competitive than yesterday’s slaughter.  Today we’ve got Barcelona, the “best team in the world”, taking on Shakhtar Donetsk.  Lionel Messi picked up a knock while playing with Argentina and only saw sub action against Villarreal this weekend, but I’d be surprised if he wasn’t in the starting lineup today.  While Barca is clearly the favorite, Shakhtar has the ability to surprise.  They dominated Roma in the round of 16, winning 6-2 on aggregate.

On the British isles, we have Chelsea hosting Manchester United.  Will Chelsea avenge its 2008 Champions League final loss?  Will Fernando Torres finally score a goal?  Will Wayne Rooney go apeshit?  These are all vital questions being asked in the buildup to the game.  Chelsea will miss the playmaking ability of their better January transfer, David Luiz, who is cup-tied.  Of course, if I were Carlo Ancelotti, I wouldn’t be playing Torres either as he doesn’t exactly deserve it.  Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka would start instead since they actually know how to score goals.  Stamford Bridge hasn’t exactly been a great place for ManU to play either as they have lost six of nine at the stadium.

TV Schedule
Chelsea vs. Manchester United – 2:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)
Barcelona vs. Shakhtar – 2:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer Plus (Live)

Carra returns as Liverpool does the double over Chelsea

7 Feb

Liverpool’s clash with Chelsea would’ve been a big game regardless, but the transfer of Fernando Torres from Merseyside to London made it that much more intense. Here’s my thoughts and observations on the game and the excellent 1-0 result for the Reds.

  • After the astounding amount of goals and ridiculous games on Saturday, it would have been hard for Sunday’s game to match the craziness.  The super-hyped match was not particularly exciting, especially in the first half.
  • Fact: Fernando Torres looks bad in blue. Although I must admit, it wasn’t as disturbing as I thought it would be to see him line up for the opposition.  Weird, yes, but disturbing, no.  His craptastic day was nice to watch though.
  • Welcome back, Jamie Carragher, we missed you.  Carra might not be the youngest guy out there, but his leadership and smart tackling made the difference yesterday.  His tackle on Torres’ shot was beyond clutch as he helped the Reds earn their fourth straight clean sheet.  Having Carra back in the lineup will make a difference as Liverpool continues to build momentum.
  • Kenny Dalglish’s 3-5-2 stymied Chelsea and Carlo Ancelotti.  Chelsea’s forwards (Torres, Drogba, Anelka) could not do anything to penerate Liverpool’s back three of Carragher, Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger.  Liverpool was also able to dominate in the midfield, thanks to the strong midfield diamond of Lucas, Maxi, Gerrard and Meireles. Lucas is quickly becoming a vital part of Liverpool’s success.  He’s starting to play with more confidence and makes fewer bad mistakes than he did even a season ago.
  • Maxi Rodriguez did not have the best of games for Liverpool.  He came close to making Torres an instant hero for Chelsea after gifting the striker a poorly placed pass only 90 seconds into the match.  Thankfully, Torres fired well over.  Rodriguez also missed a sitter late in the first half after a cross found him unmarked at the back post.  I already had my hands raised in celebration…but then he somehow managed to hit the crossbar from two yards out.
  • Thankfully, Raul Meireles ensured that Maxi’s miss did not cost Liverpool with his fourth goal in five games.  Meireles has come to life for the Reds as of late.  Meireles played more like an attacking mid yesterday, forming an integral part of the diamond that kept the Chelsea midfield in check.  He was all over the place, tracking back to make tackles and sprinting forward to provide an option at goal.  On his goal, you can see that he started his run from about 30 yards out and comes streaking towards the far post unmarked.
  • Chelsea was actually more effective going forward after Torres came off the field.  The change allowed Anelka to push up further and created more space.  Ancelotti has a difficult task ahead in trying to integrate Torres into the game plan.  The removal of the totally ineffective Spaniard was greeted with raucous cheers (and jeers) from the Liverpool fans and the Reds scored four minutes later.
  • Luis Suarez did not see the field for Liverpool, despite scoring a goal in his debut Wednesday.  To be honest, the Reds were clicking without him and once they scored, there was no need to bring on another striker.  It’s a good move by Dalglish though as Suarez is still adjusting to the team and how they play and Dalglish saw no reason to upset the balance.  I’ll bet that Suarez will see the field against Wigan at the weekend.
  • I loved Daniel Agger’s elbow to Torres’ face.  Cheap? Of course.  Did it deserve a card? Probably. Worth it? Definitely.
  • With the win, Liverpool moves up to sixth place, only six points out of fourth.  (Chelsea and Tottenham both have 44 points, but Chelsea is fourth on goal difference.)  There are still 12 games left in the season and the resurgence under Kenny Dalglish has fans (including myself) thinking that Champions League might not be such a pipe dream after all.
  • The arrival of Kenny Dalglish has clearly reenergized and revived a floundering, passionless side. Liverpool is playing with fight and passion and playing possession football. What a concept.  I loved what Dalglish said after the win, “It’s four games now and we’ve played different systems and got no goals against. That’s not down to any system – it’s down to them and their great pride and work and fantastic respect for this football club.”

YNWA.

We’ve got a new #9 (and #7)

1 Feb

It’s official, the Fernando Torres era is over at Liverpool. The striker is now a Chelsea man. (Ugh, that sentence was harder to write than I thought.) While a stellar player while on form, Torres has contributed his fair share to Liverpool’s woes this season with lackluster and less than inspirational performances. You want to go right when things are starting to look up? Fine, your loss. Let’s move on, shall we?

With Torres gone, Liverpool replaced him with not one, but two, strikers. (Woo!) New No. 7 Luis Suarez (yeah, the same one who batted away the shot off the goal line in the Uruguay-Ghana game) and No. 9 Andy Carroll will look to partner up top for the Reds. Carroll is still out for a couple weeks with an injury, but should be back to health soon. They are both young and talented and I think they both have the potential to do good things (aka score goals).

Of course, the Torres transfer just made this weekend’s clash with Chelsea that much more juicy. I, for one, can’t wait.

More details and thoughts on the new duo to come later!

Hodgson done at Liverpool, Dalglish in

8 Jan

Roy Hodgson’s tenure at Liverpool is officially over.  Hodgson’s six-month reign ends with Liverpool in 12th place and only four points clear of the relegation zone, not exactly a stellar record.  The Reds have only managed one away win this season and taken only five points from 10 away matches.

Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish will take over the team until the end of the season.  Dalglish was a fan favorite as both player and manager and led the squad to three league titles.

Hodgson was never a good fit at Liverpool. He was put in charge as a safe choice by owners that everyone and their mother hated. He’s not a bad manager, but his unwillingness to change his style and alienation of loyal fan base showed he was not a good match for Liverpool.  Hodgson’s squad played inconsistent football and without much passion.  It was clear that the players never really felt a strong bond with Hodgson.  The highlight of his short tenure was a 2-0 win over Chelsea, but even that isn’t as impressive as it seemed at the time given that Chelsea has only won twice since then.

Under Hodgson, the Reds have relied more on the long ball than short passes up the field.  This is not the kind of football that sees players like Fernando Torres succeed.  The defense has also been surprisingly shoddy.  Of course, Liverpool misses Jamie Carragher, but that’s no excuse for the poor defensive performances.  Paul Konchesky, who Hodgson brought over from his former club Fulham, has been a disaster and despite his clear shortcomings, continued to see extensive playing time.  Raul Meireles and Joe Cole have been okay at best, but Christian Poulsen, along with Konchesky, is a joke.

As the interim manager, Dalglish has his work cut out for him.  He inherits a team and fan base low on confidence.  There is a lot of work to do to get the team back in contention for a spot in Europe, although the team is only five points out of that seventh spot.   The team’s first game under Dalglish comes against Manchester United in the FA Cup tomorrow.  Dalglish also is tasked with keeping players like Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard invested in the club.  If Liverpool continues to falter, it is not out of the question to see both players hand in transfer requests. On the other hand, it would be helpful to the club to be less reliant on that duo.  It would also be beneficial to look to strengthen the squad this January, but we will have to wait and see if the funds are made available.

While I would love to see Liverpool get back on the winning track and make a charge up the table, I’m keeping my expectations tempered.  What’s important to me is for the players to start playing with some passion.  Even if they lose, I want to be able to say that they played hard.

Liverpool is consistently inconsistent

14 Dec

After thrashing Aston Villa earlier in the week, one would think that Liverpool would go into a game at Newcastle full of confidence and ready to earn another win, especially with all the manager drama at St. James Park.  Apparently that wasn’t the case as the Reds were justly flattened, 3-1.  That’s been the story all season – they’ve either been good or rubbish. There’s not much middle ground.

If Liverpool has any aspirations of ending up in the top seven, they will have to get points out of games against teams they should be beating.    Oh, and they will have to start converting clear chances at goal (cough *Torres* cough) and playing some defense would probably help too.  The Skrtel/Krygiakos combination failed rather spectacularly on Saturday and we are likely to be subject to the same central defense pairing again this weekend against Fulham.  However, Liverpool could be boosted by the return of Steven Gerrard this weekend. 

Before the Reds take on Fulham, they’ve got to play Utrecht in a meaningless Europa League game.  Liverpool should still be able to get a victory over the winless Dutch side to ensure finishing top of the group.