Friday, April 15, 2011

A Tribute to the 96

You loved Liverpool FC just as much as anyone else.You were born a Red and you left a Red. The silence till date is deafening in our hearts and minds just to imagine what it might have been if we were in your place. You filled the Leppings Lane end in the hope to see your side give you some joy, but the cruel circumstances had something else in mind. The disaster that unfolded was of unprecedented pain, suffering and agony not only to us all, but to everybody related with the sport. The explanations ain't convincing, the truth far from it and the justice still remains to be given. 15th April, 1989, the day 96 of you were gone, but in our hearts, in our mind, You Will Never Walk Alone ..... JFT96

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Liverpool Vs WBA [BPL 2010-11]

After the midweek European exertions, the Reds returned to league action , with a double whammy which saw the unprofessional Mascherano depart to Barca and Liverpool swiftly securing the services of Portuguese international Raul Meireles from FC Porto for around £ 11.5m to fill the midfield void.

The setup was 4-4-1-1 with Gerrard supporting Torres upfront with Kuyt and Jovanovic on the either wings and Poulsen along with Lucas making up the midfield.Agger was recalled to play in the unfamiliar left back role.

Since WBA were promoted to the first division this year , it was upto us to put in a strong display with the key players being rested midweek. But it was the away side who started brightly, sticking to their footballing philosophy and switching the play nicely to retain the majority of the first half possession. The only notable effort from the Reds was when Torres made a curling effort in the opening minutes to be easily saved by Carson.
Seeing how ineffective we had been during the first period, the manager made a tactical switch of making Jovanovic play on the left with Kuyt moving to the right side of midfield.. The main problem we had was controlling the midfield, with Lucas and Poulsen being forced into hurried and sometimes slack passing. On the 60th minute mark, Jovanovic was replaced by Maxi Rodriguez. The Anfield crowd had been pretty quite this afternoon, and the team wasn't giving them any reason not to be. But on the 66th minute mark , the game suddenly came to life, when Reina made a quick clearance after saving from Jara, and Kuyt at the other end, clipped a delightful cross for Torres to volley it low past Carson. The Spaniard had held his run and met the ball perfectly for a stunning finish. With the goal ,came on a bit more purpose with Gerrard picking Torres beautifully with his cross only for Carson to deny the Spaniard a brace with a good save. But the visitors didn't panic and kept plugging away but ultimately came short in the end.

As far as the performance is concerned, it wasn't the best, giving yet more proof that Lucas should not be playing . Poulsen was a bit better. Another thing clearly visible is that we need a left back, because Jovanovic doesn't get enough support on the left as Dan Agger is naturally a center back. Even Nando and Stevie G were spectators for large part, till showing a little bit of class. I am happy that we came through with a positive result and things can only get better with the arrival of Raul Meireles, who alongside Poulsen, would hopefully make our midfield more dynamic again. YNWA

Friday, August 27, 2010

Trabzonspor Vs Liverpool [UEFA Europa League Qualifier 2nd Leg 2010-11]

The humiliating defeat at Eastlands has been marred by the revelations that Mascherano refused to play, after it was cited that Barcelona had made a lowly £12 m offer for the want away midfielder.. And its so shameful for a professional footballer to behave like this towards a club who saved him from the brink of anonymity at Hammers reserves to the best defensive midfielder in the world and the freaking captain of Argentina ffs !

But focusing on the football side , Liverpool now turned their attention to the midweek away fixture against Trabzonspor to qualify for Europa League proper. Even though the team played well in the first leg, we were wasteful and only had a slender lead to carry to Turkey where the Reds braced themselves for a hostile atmosphere. The manager opted to leave Torres,Gerrard and Jovanovic back at home. We started with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Lucas and Poulsen anchoring the midfield and Aurelio Kuyt and Cole supporting Ngog upfront..

We were hoping for the best possible start and got off to one of the worst ever, with Trabzon scoring through their striker Gutierrez in the 4th minute . It shook the team, who were initially outplayed, but as the half progressed , started playing on a more competitive level. But the only notable chance of the half was when Johnson put the ball in the back of the net from an Ngog through ball only to be ruled offside.
The second half, though, was much better. There was a bit more purpose about the team.. And we managed to get back , even though a bit luckily, when after some good work on the right flank by Johnson, his low cross was deflected into the net for an own goal by the Trabzon defender . And the scoreline was made safe by Kuyt , who put the ball into the empty net after Kivrak failed to hold on to Pacheco's low shot.

Don't get me wrong , the 2nd half performance was much better than the 1st, but overall,pretty average. We are seriously short of ball playing players, and precisely why we have suffered during the past 12 months, where we have tried to compensate for quality too often with hardwork . One last thing, would like to see Babel and Pacheco get more match time.. YNWA.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Manchester City Vs Liverpool [BPL 2010-11]


Liverpool traveled to Manchester to lock horns with City, and the way City had been outplayed by Spurs on the opening weekend, we had reason to be optimistic of getting a positive result. Part of the reason being that although City had multi million signings, they would take time to adjust and gel as a team, while Liverpool had kept all their best players and made a few additions.. Liverpool started with a 4-4-2 formation, with Ngog and Torres leading the line, Lucas supporting Gerrard in midfield, Jovanovic and Kuyt on either wings, and Martin Skrtel partnering Carragher  in the centre of defense, and Dan Agger slotting in at left back. 

And though I was hoping we ll hit the ground running , the gulf in quality and class started to show and we were in for a torrid evening.. ManC got the breakthrough when Johnson slided a neat through ball for debutant Milner, who picked out Barry to coolly slot it past Reina.and Adam Johnson was proving to be a thorn for the Reds defense .. And they doubled their lead shortly after the interval with a scrappy goal from a corner which seemed to come off Micah Richard's head. And around the 70th minute mark, Johnson was tripped in the box, resulting in us conceding a penalty, and Tevez scored from the resulting spot kick.

Liverpool as a team , were pedestrian for long periods of the game, except short good spells, with no control in midfield, poor link up play and below par performances by many of the lads out there. I felt that maybe Hodgson was a bit too adventurous with the formation considering it was an away game. The defense was very leaky and doesn't exactly transpires confidence for a goalkeeper. New boy Jovanovic had a night to forget. Lucas and Kuyt, were sub par , at best. And it also showed that we need another recognized center forward, because Ngog struggled mightily to hold up play or link up with Torres. The only man who can walk with his head held high is Steven Gerrard, who contributed more than the whole team put together.

Now it very early to sound pessimistic and start drawing conclusions, but a strong lesson has to be learnt from tonight, because performances like these are unacceptable. I was worried when Aquilani got sent out on loan, and I am worried I might be right as there was no link up play, and Lucas and Kuyt  are good to have just as squad players, rather than being in the starting 11. I hope we don't lose Masch as he was badly missed tonight, and we must buy a good centre forward before the transfer window closes. This performance is definitely a reason to worry, and its back to the drawing board for Hodgson and the boys.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

This Season so Far


As the 2009-10 season kicked off, Liverpool were installed as one of the front runners to contest for the Barclays Premier League having come agonizingly close last year. But no one was prepared for what lied ahead. In a strange and embarrassing way, the level of performances dropped. Lack of hunger and paucity of goals, never mind the constant injuries to Gerrard and Torres, coupled with the departure of Xabi Alonso, our midfield supremo to Real Madrid, led to the downfall of a team who had  deteriorated from championship contenders to an average team [I know the language is harsh, but we cannot deny that it was the truth]. And after the appalling season we had last year, which saw us finish 7th and fighting for a place in the European second tier competition, the Europa League, we as fans hoped that this was just a bad phase, and Liverpool FC would come back stronger come August 2010.

But just as we thought nothing worse could happen, it did.. If  there was  glitter in  World Cup 2010 in South Africa, it was all gloom on Merseyside. After six years of service, manager Rafael Benitez parted company with Liverpool FC with mutual consent with the Liverpool Board. And with the club also incurring debts of upto £351 m due to the parent company KOP Holdings , it looked like a dark and uncertain future for the coming days ahead. And as much as it can be attributed to Rafa's man management and defensive style, we cannot run away from the fact that the American owners Hicks and Gillett have ruined the club. Never ever have they put in a single penny and have always disrupted the on field events due to the boardroom turmoil and uncertainties surrounding the club .With circumstances like these, it was always going to be difficult for the team to perform on the field . And it wasn't looking good amidst the World Cup, as there was constant speculation regarding the future of key players Torres, Gerrard and Mascherano, and with the vultures circling over Anfield , it was always going to be an anxious summer for us fans..
The replacement for the successor for the Liverpool hot seat, which saw us linked with a host of names , finally came to an end when after much speculation, the Board decided to hand over the managerial reign to Englishman Roy Hodgson, who had had an exceptional season with Fulham , leading them all the way to the Europa League final.

I do agree he might not have been the most flamboyant choice, but his ability to work with limited budget and excellent man management skills meant he was the right choice to bring the club out of its dire state. And even though I wasn't too sure if he is the man who will take the club forward, I am glad that he has proven me wrong till now. With the arrival of Hodgson, the want away players,namely Benayoun and Riera, were sold, and static transfers of Milan Jovanovic and Danny Wilson were swiftly completed. He even pulled a transfer coup of sorts , by persuading Joe Cole to leave London and the attraction of Champions League in favour of regular first team action. We have further bolstered our ranks with Christian Poulsen [from Juventus] and Brad Jones [for competing with Reina plus the homegrown criteria is assisted]...
And the performances against Rabotnicki , Arsenal and Trabzonspor have shown that the belief and the hunger to succeed is back in our ranks..

One negative, though, which happened very recently, has left me bitterly disappointed. And that has been the loan deal for Alberto Aquilani to Juventus for regular football. Even though the lad is fragile, he is one of the best talents of the club alongside Torres and Gerrard. And with his flair, forward thinking and the ability to link up play and score goals would have proven immense this season. However, I do understand where Roy is coming from but I still haven't been able to get over it. It leaves us depleted in the midfield department with Gerrard the only forward minded of the four we have. The only saving grace for Roy would be to sign a striker who can take the goalscoring burden off from El Nino, and that would perfectly justify his decision to loan out a key player.

This season, with its outlook, promises to be much better than the last one, and I hope the Red Army can achieve some silverware to put the disappointment of  last season behind us. YNWA.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Liverpool vs Chelsea [BPL 2009-10]

It was the final home game of the season and I was expecting us to finish on a happy note in a season to forget.. But it wasn't to be.. Chelsea ran out 2-0 winners..And the miserable season we had was rounded off when Stevie G presented Drogba  a goal with his back pass.. The second goal was crucial for them as they would have a margin for error.. But for us, it was insignificant ... I am sad and humming our song as I write this.. With the belief that we can bounce back next season and achieve the success we yearn for...

[Hoping this is as bad as it can get....]


Friday, April 30, 2010

Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid [UEFA Europa League SF 2nd Leg 2009-10]

After thumping Burnley 4-0 at Turf Moor, Liverpool turned back their attention to the return leg against Atletico, the biggest game of the season, where a win by a margin of two goals would see us go through to the final of the Europa League..But would have a more formidable opposition to face with Aguero back in their ranks..

The home team started with a 4-4-1-1 formation, with Kuyt leading the line upfront, and Gerrard for support, while Aquilani also started alongside Lucas as Benayoun and Babel played on the wings..I found the defensive line a little suspect, with Masch on the right and Johnson on the left, and Carra and Agger in the middle..

Liverpool showed their intentions very clearly from the start when a flick on from Kuyt resulted in Benayoun taking a shot across goal which was parried away by the young De Gea.. Liverpool won several corners to put Atletico on the back foot .. And created a glorious chance when Aquilani , Gerrard and Kuyt played in neat little triangles to put the ball wide to Masch, who put in an inviting cross which Kuyt somehow missed from 3 yards..
Then, at the end of the half came the breakthrough.. Benayoun ran to the byline and crossed the ball beautifully in the box, which was stabbed home by Aquilani with accuracy..The Italian showing his quality in the final third..
The second half though was a bit more subdued with neither side forcing the issue taking the match into extra time..By the start of ET, the influential Aquilani was substituted by El Zhar and Masch by Degen.. Liverpool got the all important breakthrough on the 95th min when Benayoun broke the offside trap to meet Lucas' pass and hit it across De Gea to give Liverpool the all important lead in the tie..But the Merseyside hearts were broken by an old foe..Reyes took advantage of Johnson's poor positioning and crossed into the box which was thumped by Forlan into the top corner to give Atletico the advantage on away goals.. Liverpool's vain attempt at goal after that beared no fruit as we went out of the Europa League on away goals..

Final Verdict - If Fulham could do it, so could we.. I feel the team is in a turmoil at the moment..

I don't even feel like rating the players  today as I am bitterly disappointed .. The only players worthwhile of wearing a Red shirt today were Aquilani, Benayoun and Reina.. Rest of them need to take a long , hard look at themselves to see if they should have the crest on their shirts..I do praise the team for working very hard and giving it their all, but too many individual performances cost us dearly..Kuyt might work hard but his glaring miss just reflects he's not good enough.. Ditto for Lucas .. I empathize with Johnson and Masch for playing in unfamiliar roles.. But the poorest was of the skipper..He was utterly anonymous...

And I feel that its time that Rafa stands up and takes the blame..Playing players out of position and favoritism are just two of his flaws.. He keeps cribbing about lack of funds when we have spent close to 38 m £ on Aqua and Johnson.. His biggest mistake is not being able to get the best out of his players and motivate them enough..He should take a leaf out of Hodgson's book.. I feel for the club to move forward, something's got to give , and fast..