Tag Archives: Kenny Dalglish

Top Moments of 2011

31 Dec

Happy New Year one and all!  2011 has been quite the year and here are my favorite moments:

1. Abby Wambach’s game-winner against Brazil – This goal was one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen.  Playing a man down and a goal down in stoppage time of extra time, Megan Rapinoe picked out Wambach with a pinpoint cross and Wambach’s header sent the game to penalties, which the U.S. dominated.  Not going to lie, definitely made me cry – on par with Landon’s Donovan’s late winner against Algeria in 2010.  Amazing moment.

2. Hodgson out, Dalglish in at Liverpool – After reigning over one of the worst starts for the Reds in a long time, Roy Hodgson was finally shown the door in January 2011.  His replacement?  None other than the legendary Kenny Dalglish.  The team was revitalized under Dalglish, showing the passion and desire that was missing the rest of the season and moving up the table to finish seventh.  Dalglish was given a three year contract in May.  New ownership, combined with the return of Dalglish changed the outlook for fans all over.

3. Japan’s Women’s World Cup victory – Even though it came at the expense of the U.S., it was impossible not to feel good for Japan.  Homare Sawa equalized for Japan late in stoppage time and the team went on to win the penalty shootout.  It was the first World Cup title for Japan, which was  (and still is) battling with the aftermath of the horrific earthquake and tsunami.  The victory was about more than just soccer.

4. Barcelona’s triumph – Barcelona showed why it truly is the best team on the planet, winning the Champions League title in convincing fashion over an outclassed Manchester United.  Barcelona also claimed the La Liga title and recently the Club World Cup title as well.  The team was (and is) mesmerizing to watch, especially player of the year Lionel Messi and midfield maestros Xavi and Iniesta.

5. City thrashes United – I don’t think it’s any secret that I am not the biggest fan of Manchester United.  Manchester City totally embarrassed the defending champs, 6-1, in mid October, much to the surprise of all but the most delusional of fans.  It was quite the win for City, a warning shot that they are to be taken seriously in the league race.  And let’s be honest, who doesn’t like to see United get knocked off its high horse every once in a while?  To top it off, United (along with City) was eliminated from Champions League play in early December.

What are your top moments from this year?

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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?

LFC decides: Dalglish is the man

12 May

After leading Liverpool back from the brink, Kenny Dalglish has been rewarded with a three-year deal at the club.  Since he took over in January, he had led the team from 12th place to the verge of clinching a spot in the Europa League (that would be fifth place, people).

While moving up the table is clearly fantastic, the real change with Dalglish has been in the attitude of the team.  He has instilled a sense of pride that was missing earlier in the season.  You can see the changes in the players every time you watch a match.  There’s more hustle, fight and determination.  People aren’t giving up on plays.  It seems like half the goals the team has scored lately are the result of staying strong throughout the entire run of play (here’s looking at you, Maxi).  Opponents aren’t having enough time to string passes together because they are constantly being harassed.  And speaking of passing, oh my, how Liverpool’s has improved.  The whole pass and move thing seems to be working quite well.

He has also done a great job of keeping a strong squad on the field while still dealing with a string of defensive injuries as well as the loss of Steven Gerrard.  Heck, at this point, it doesn’t even look like the team needs Gerrard out there (although with the way they have been playing, adding in a healthy Gerrard is kind of a scary thought).  I also like how he has given some of the young players a chance to play and is actually giving them significant time on the field.  Developing young players is key for the future and he recognizes that.

This was absolutely the right move for the team.  Dalglish has rejuvenated the squad and the fans and I, for one, am so incredibly excited about what next season could bring.  The team has a lot of talent returning and hopefully a couple smart summer transfers could vault the squad back into the top four.

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.

Reds falter at West Brom

4 Apr

Yeah, the team clearly wasn’t helped by two defensive injuries in the first 25 minutes of the game, but that’s hardly an excuse for the way Liverpool played in a 2-1 loss to West Brom.  They looked like team USA (prior to the other team scoring the opening goal of course).  That is definitely not a compliment.  LFC couldn’t string together passes and just looked sloppy all over the field (although not as bad as Sunderland looked against Manchester City, but I digress).  Giving away two penalties is a mistake uncharacteristic of the squad.

Sotirios Krygiakos played poorly, but what other option did Kenny Dalglish have, other than going to a three-back formation?  It’s not like the team has a wealth of healthy defenders and the team has not played well with three backs.  Andy Carroll was ineffective up top and let his temper get the best of him several times.  Raul Meireles and Jay Spearing never really clicked into a solid partnership in the middle of the field, although Meireles did supply the assist for Martin Skrtel’s goal (off a corner).  The team missed Steven Gerrard’s distribution in the middle as well as Daniel Agger’s confidence and passing out of the back.

The bottom line is that this was a must-win game for Liverpool.  Yeah, it’s great when you can step up and beat up on the big boys, but you’ve also got to be able to win against teams like West Brom and West Ham.  The Reds are five points back from Tottenham and Spurs still have a game in hand.  A spot in European competition is looking increasingly unlikely and would likely require Spurs to fall apart in addition to some stellar results from LFC.  A clash with Manchester City is up next.

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.

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.