Tag Archives: Steven Gerrard

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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The international break is finally over

1 Apr

After what seemed like an eternity, the international break has mercifully come to a close. Heck, I practically forgot the Premier League race was still on. (Kidding…) In case you forgot, Sir Whines A Lot and his Red Devils sit at the top of the table, five points clear of Arsenal. Meanwhile, my Liverpool boys are in sixth and four points back of Tottenham and a spot in Europe.

On the positive side, no LFC players got hurt over the break, which I believe is a first for the season. Even more positive? We could possibly see the return of one Steven Gerrard. Remember him? He’s the captain and #8.  The Reds are back in action against West Brom and former failed manager Roy Hodgson on Saturday.  Liverpool is unbeaten against West Brom in nine meetings and has not conceded a goal, so let’s hope they can continue that streak tomorrow.

There’s no mouth-watering clashes this weekend, but we’ve got a full slate of games to keep us all entertained.  While the top of the table isn’t too exciting at the moment, it’s the relegation battle that is shaping up to be a good one.  The bottom EIGHT teams in the league are separated by only three points.  Things could get interesting, folks with only eight (or nine) games remaining on the schedule.

Saturday, April 2
West Ham vs. Manchester United – 7:30 a.m. ET/ESPN2 (Live)
West Brom vs. Liverpool – 10 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer Plus (Live)
Stoke vs. Chelsea – 10 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)
Newcastle vs. Wolves
Everton vs. Aston Villa
Birmingham vs. Bolton
Wigan vs. Tottenham
Arsenal vs. Blackburn – 12:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)

Sunday, April 3
Fulham vs. Blackpool – 8:30 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer Plus (Live)
Manchester City vs. Sunderland – 11 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)

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.

Time for friendlies

9 Feb

It’s that wonderful time again…that’s right, it’s time for meaningless international friendlies. Woo. The U.S. was supposed to play Egypt in Cairo today, but the game was cancelled last week amongst the political turmoil happening over there.  While it would have been a good match for the U.S., it was clearly the correct decision to cancel.  There’s more important things to worry about than football sometimes (shocking as that may be). 

One of the day’s best matchups should be Lionel Messi’s Argentina vs. Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal.  The duo shares top spot on the La Liga leaderboard with 24 goals each.  Will either of them play enough to really make an impact?  We shall have to wait and see.  Meanwhile, Frankie Lampard will captain England against Denmark as both Rio Ferdinand and Steven Gerrard are missing out with injuries (don’t worry LFC fans, Stevie G will be back for the weekend’s game).

The nice thing about this international date is that it is only a midweek thing, which means we will be back to the fun of league matches this weekend – none of this two weeks without real games crap.

Babel faces FA action over tweet

10 Jan

Liverpool’s Ryan Babel has been charged with improper conduct by the FA after criticizing referee Howard Webb on Twitter. Babel posted the following on his Twitter account following Liverpool’s controversial 1-0 loss to Manchester United in the FA Cup:

“And they call him one of the best referees? That’s a joke. SMH.”

Webb awarded Manchester United a penalty in the first minute (!) after Dimitar Berbatov was supposedly taken down by Daniel Agger in the box.  If it takes you three steps to go down, you’re diving. Just throwing that out there. Check the clip out for yourself.  Webb also sent off Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard half hour into proceedings. Again, I think it was a dubious call as both Gerrard and Michael Carrick were sliding in for the ball from the same angle and both players went in with studs up. 

It’s a little absurb for the FA to take action against Ryan Babel for what he tweeted, especially after he apologized (via Twitter of course).  Babel removed the offending tweet and posted ”My apology if they take my posted pic seriously.  This is just an emotional reaction after losing an important game. Sorry Howard Webb.”  Why can’t the FA take it at face value for what it was? Doesn’t the FA have better things to worry about than Twitter? Like diving?

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.

Gerrard is fit again

22 Dec

Word on the street is that Steven Gerrard has recovered from a hamstring injury that has kept him out for a month and that he will be good to go for Sunday’s game at Blackpool. The Reds have gone 2-2-2 in his absence, but will really benefit from the leadership he brings to the field. Liverpool has a span of five games in 15 days beginning with Blackpool and they will need all the healthy players they can get.

Reportedly, Daniel Agger will also be fit to play against Blackpool. This is particularly good news as the center backs have been struggling (to put it nicely) as of late. The Skrtel/Krygiakos pairing has been especially dysfunctional, so bringing someone else into the middle has got to improve things. (Right?!)

A strong start on the games post-Christmas could go a long way for Liverpool.  Even though Manchester United leads the pack right now, there is no really clear separation between the top teams.  Granted, I’m not saying Liverpool will win the league, but they definitely have a chance to work their way back into the top four IF, and that’s a big if, they can start stringing some positive results together.