Category Archives: Opinions

This is where the reds from Delhi and around ramble.

Brendan Rodgers: Didn’t he earn two more seasons?

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By: Aakash Munjal

Brendan Rodgers: Didn’t he earn two more seasons?

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A year ago, all of us, including myself, were raving about how good Brendan has been for Liverpool Football Club. A year ago, Liverpool were chasing Manchester City for the Premier League Crown, only to drop points in must win games – to Chelsea at home and then to Crystal Palace. Interesting thing is that both these games, if you ask me, were a testimonial of the lack of shrewdness and game management of Brendan’s team. Knowing Chelsea so well, they chased the game a little too much for my liking and allowed Chelsea counter attack. And at Crystal Palace, they threw away a 3 goal lead; guess they were focusing on scoring more to reduce the goal difference.

But, this season was always supposed to be a test of Brendan’s complete management, much more than just of Shrewdness and Game Management. If I may say and if that’s how Liverpool owners wants to see Brendan’s time at Liverpool, he did learn from his mistakes and in the second half of this season, Liverpool showed pretty good resolve in terms of game management. From 14th Dec 2014 (when they lost to Manchester United) until 22nd March (when they lost to United again), in 13 games, Liverpool won a lot of games and they enjoyed clean sheets 8 times, many of them were wins by 1 goal margin.

But the season was supposed to test Brendan in totality and not just game management. After the departure of Suarez, all eyes were on the club, as to how it will use the money received, to fill the gaps. A gap that was never filled! The biggest problem, that persisted thru out the season. And that one factor is the single biggest reason why Brendan could be in trouble or at least that’s debatable now.

You cannot doubt his ability to manage the big names in the club (though I am still shocked and disgusted at how they dealt with Gerrard, but that has become a debate of its own). He brought the best out of both Suarez and Sturridge last season and these two literally took the club to the top.

Tactically, most of the times, except and sadly at crucial times this season (when it has been a disaster), he has been lauded. But until now, no one in the club is sure of one formation or combination. The team suffered from this.

The best thing he brought to the club is the kind of football which the fans admired, especially the last season. It was fast and exciting; sometimes the game was over in first 20 minutes. Best thing was, we still looked for more goals!

For me, it comes down to how he or the club management or more precisely the famous “transfer committee” performed this season.

Millions were spent on either above average players or punts. Ricky Lambert looked at Ok at times and tired other times. Most frustrating for me, he was barely used! You bought someone, who might well be playing his last years in the game and you don’t let him play! Fabio Borini never looked like a proper Premier League Striker. And Mario Balotelli? Did Brendan really think he can manage what Jose Mourinho and Mancini couldn’t? Well, if he thought so, he now knows. And at a very heavy cost. Mario was the biggest mistake of his managerial career according to me.

Should he be replaced, if he can be replaced by someone who has the capability to take Liverpool upwards, or should he be given a season, with a better, stronger transfer market performance?

Did you see those goals from Sergio Aguero yesterday? That’s what Suarez used to do for Liverpool last season. We need strikers like him to suit Brendan’s style of play.

I believe, if he makes better recruitment decisions this summer, if Liverpool owners give him the money to buy real, quality strikers, we can reach Top 4 next season.

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An Ode to Steven Gerrard and a Lament on English Football

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Where will the next Gerrard come from? Not England.

English football and the identity crisis.

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‘The story of British football and the foreign challenge,’ wrote Brain Ganville in Soccer Nemesis, ‘is the story of vast superiority, sacrificed through stupidity , shortsightedness and wanton insularity. It’s a story of shamefully wasted talent, extra-ordinary complacency, and infinite self-deception.’

Britannia was at a standstill. A synchronized churning in the collective gut across the length and the breadth of the class system.

A moment of seething white introspection was numbing the mental faculty of the great Empire. This quiet before the storm was of course, a precursor. A rumbling, thundering spiel of indignation came down by the bucketful. The nation of the self-righteous felt scandalised. Someone ought to take responsibility!

The score was England 3 – Hungary 6. The year was 1953. 13 years later England were World Champions.
A fairy tale narrative, right?

The famous WM. Three sweepers, two half backs, two number playmakers, two wide forwards, one centre forward.

The famous WM.
Three sweepers, two half backs, two playmakers, two wide forwards, one centre forward.

Winning the World Cup was the worst thing that could have happened to England. The antiquated WM formation and regimental training methods remained as is. As a nation, the natural response of that rollicking Hungary afforded, was to broom it under the carpet. And why not? – thought the governing body – before Hungary, England was only ever embarrassed once in their fiefdom by The Republic of Ireland. An anomaly, they deduced – Of course, it had to be a fluke. But as posterity saw, England’s run in the 1966 World Cup was more the case of a shot in the dark, than anything else…England winning the World Cup was a fairy tale and it remained so since.

Fast forward, it’s 2015 – a year shy of half-a-century. It has only been a couple of years since the glaring lack of infrastructure and vision in the English under-21′s were acknowledged. Before the Barclays Under-21 Premier League, there were only a handful of fixtures that were made available for the young’uns to compete in, with the reserves having to wait for as long as four weeks to play in a ‘competitive’ fixture.. The lack of a grander, more comprehensive model to blood the English youth was further underpinned by the sheer parochialism and aloofness as to which the bigger teams approached the games. Senors over at the Liga Nacional de Futbol Profesional, however, weren’t as myopic as their English counter-parts. They answered the question before it was even posed.

First appeared in 1954, this popular British comic strip follows the heroics of a fictional footballing behemoth.

First appeared in 1954, this popular British comic strip follows the heroics of the first fictional footballing all-purpose, heavy-duty superstar.

The paella pandering pioneers envisioned a ‘Segunda Division’ where the heavy hitters of La Liga above can field their reserve teams to play in full competitive matches against seasoned professionals fighting for promotion – giving Spanish youth every opportunity to make it to the top level.The catch being that the reserve sides were not eligible for promotion. So, say, if Barcelona B topped the table, the team below it will leapfrog into the bright lights of La Liga. Bright idea, innit? Brighter still when you consider the fact it was 1939.

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“I was put on this earth to steam into tackles. For most professionals, tackling is a technique. For me, it’s an adrenaline rush … the sight of the other team with the ball makes me sick … I have to claim it back. It’s my ball, and I’m going for it. “Tackling is a collision which sorts out the cowards from the brave.” – Steven Gerrard, on the subject of tackling.

Where does Steven Gerrard feature in this? Oh, he does, abundantly. Steven George Gerrard from Whiston, Merseyside is the living, breathing Roy of the Rovers. A working-class boy who outgrew the word ‘impossible’. A leader among men. An exhibitionist of the teeth-gritting, flying full-blooded tackle and the Hollywood pass. A hurricane with studs on, twisting and turning with the ball at his feet and without – leaving haplessness and wanton hope in his wake. A manifestation of defiance, seething energy and physical courage.

A lightning rod for footballing miracles – he will be remembered in posterity, among the football pantheon as one of the most complete players to ever play the game, and yet… somehow falling short. Essentially, a text-book summation of English-est of the ‘English players’. A perfect point of reference.

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The ancient Greek playwrights called it ‘hamartia’. In tragedy, it’s the hero’s final error or flaw that ultimately proves to be the denouement – the final act. Take the parallels between the mighty Ajax and Paul Gascoigne (who ironically, as narrative would have it, is Ste Gerrard’s hero). Both incomparable physical specimens in their zenith, but both of whose demise came from a fragile mind. While one fell crying on his own sword, the other crumbled to a heap in the dying embers of England’s best-ever World Cup foray since that fateful day… Now, compare the storylines of Heracles and Ste Gerrard…

There has been a tectonic shift in the geography of the footballing landscape. One whose ripples have been felt across the cream of English football. The big, burly and the cumbersome number nines have been pushed towards the brink of extinction like the well-meaning Dodo birds. The wide-eyed, flarey-nose, gritty-jawed water carriers are now being decommissioned by smooth operators. Globalisation, ladies and gents, has fluxed the balance, dismantling the steam-powered machinery of ‘British’ football bit by ‘archaic’ bit. The impetus now lies with the English academies churning out the diminutive, fleet-footed and the tactically leashed. The Premiership is an exhibition of the best in the world. But at what cost?

As if, after years of sheer negligence there is a pressing need to over-compensate with hubris. An infernal loop-de-loop. While the blowhorn badgering, persistent pilloring, a self-conscious Luddism, a superior-inferiority complex hasn’t helped with the disillusionment of past international tournaments – the response to uproot core values of the ‘English game’ is hardly prudent.

Italians have stayed true to their wily cynicism, Brazil to their flippancy – if England, as the trends suggest, look to disown their bravado, in the face of the brightly-lit express-way of a ‘working’ international route; in stead of the rocky roads of acknowledging deficits and self-actualisation – England will lose itself and future Gerrards in a haze of yet another hamartia.

Someone ought to take responsibility.

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This article was originally published at Football Paradise – http://ynwa.in/nbmuA

Not Today.

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By: Pritish Srivastav

“What do we say to the god of death?”

“Not Today.”

– A Quote from Game of Thrones

Not today. Stevie. This was not supposed to happen today.
It feels worse than a break-up. It feels like death. I told my family, friends and others about it,
no one seems to understand.

‘This happens in sport’, ‘Transfers keep happening’, ‘A time comes when they have to think about themselves’ and whatnot.
This doesn’t happen in Sports, transfers don’t keep happening, this is Steven Gerrard!

I thought this romance would never end, watching Stevie in another team would be like a nail to the eye.
This is not Stevie and this is not Liverpool. This is Liverpool without Stevie and Stevie without Liverpool.
No one would be complete without each other.

People say at least he’ll play for another 5 months, I think it would be worse to see him play knowing that this might be his last match for Liverpool ever. This might be the last time, I’m watching him play. The thought hurts more than any physical pain in the world. When he goes, everyone will be in tears, even our Fortress Anfield will cry.

Maybe I’m too attached, maybe I’m obsessed, call it whatever you want to call it but

“If you don’t believe we’re family, you haven’t felt what we’ve felt.”

-FIFA 15 Trailer

you haven’t felt what I’ve felt.

The times I’ve got goosebumps on a Gerrard pass, or a through ball or a tackle or a goal or just a sprint
does not even begin to summarize what he has made me feel over the years.
Torres got me thinking about Liverpool, Gerrard made me fall in love with the club, the fans, the whole ecosystem that surrounds Liverpool.
I won’t go into stats, trophies, medals, the transfers he rejected and how many times he’s saved us single handedly.
He didn’t have the pleasure of a premier league medal in his career but that only shows how he chose Liverpool over a premier league medal, he gave his all for the club and wanted Liverpool to win the trophy rather than him getting a medal.

People tease me, reminding me of how he slipped a few months ago and lost the title, the title was lost at West Brom when we drew 1-1 and when Hull City beat us 3-1. If I was him, I’d have left Football for life after that slip, millions of fans watch Gerrard and look up to him and he slipped and everyone’s on his head. I couldn’t have handled the pressure. I might even had gone underground and maybe lost my mind.

He said the next day-
"We Go Again!"

“We Go Again!”

Gerrard has given me the gift I was not even aware of till now, the gift of belief, the gift of hope, the gift of faith.
I have felt it multiple times, when we’ve been losing, when we’ve been going through a hard time, if Stevie’s in the team we still have a chance and eventually it came into my existence, my subconscious. In everything I do, I keep my faith, hope and belief alive no matter what I do.
He was my Idol, My Inspiration.

He was my Idol, My Inspiration.

If I could I’d keep writing till the last match of the season.. There are so many moment, so many memories that he has given us. I know how I feel about this, every Liverpool fan must be crying or sad of this news, but it would be the hardest time for him, it would’ve been the hardest decision he’s ever had to make.

I have loved you more than Liverpool FC itself and I will love you forever, my captain, my hero, my idol, my friend. You Will Never EVER Walk Alone!

“My dedication to Steven Gerrard”

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By: Aakash Munjal

Steven Gerrard: An Anfield Great, a Legend who inspired Liverpool FC

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My Liverpool story is a sad one to some extent. When I started following the club, Liverpool had already lifted the Champions League trophy at Istanbul. Or should I say, Steven Gerrard had already inspired Liverpool to one of the greatest comeback the tournament will ever see. And to probably the greatest moment yet for any Liverpool fan.

But I knew the story of Istanbul (had watched the adrenaline filled video 100 times) and had always looked up to him as a great captain, player, a family man. He was always my hero. I always looked at his family and admired him for the man he is and he has a dream family.

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For me it was always an “almost” perfect story. His passion and adrenaline during the big games always rushed thru my blood and I was always hoped that I will see a game that I will never forget in my life. I will never forget the free-kick he scored against United during the 2010 game which we lost 2-3. Stevie puts us back in the game twice: the perfect game was almost there, only to lose it in the end. But that was another hint of a Vintage Steven Gerrard.

Since then though I saw him doing his usual “peach pass” in many games, but best of the memories were in 2013-2014 season when he made so many goals for Suarez and Sturridge. And that game against Manchester City when we grabbed the winner with Coutinho goal. Stevie was all pumped up to tell his team, we won’t let it go this time. I was pumped up too and almost could not sleep many nights in anxiety. That was the one of the best games of my life as a Liverpool fan.I was waiting for my incomplete footballing story to get its perfect end. It ended in a manner none of us ever anticipated and left me with a grave feeling: something I would never be able to heal myself with. Now imagine what he would be going thru each day of his remaining life.

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Having said that, no serious fan would ever blame him for us not winning the league. I would say it was yet another example of Steven Gerrard not getting his hand on that elusive trophy thanks to some mediocre team performance during the big games. I felt sad for him. I felt sad for myself.

But as Stevie himself says: he we go again. And how he almost re-created the Olympiakos during the Basel game is unbelievable. Well they say, sometimes it doesn’t happen twice. Golden moments are not repeated. I missed it in 2005, but my admiration for this man never will be reduced. And who says every story has to end perfectly. Some people leave a mark on your life irrespective. It’s never about the trophies in the cabinet, but about the Man on the Field.

If trophies were the criteria, he could have moved to Chelsea or Madrid long back. He chose to remain as a Loyal and Liverpool city’s most favourite son.

The news that Steven Gerrard will leave Liverpool football club at the end of 2014-2015 season might have come as a surprising but yet an inevitable one for many in the football fraternity, but it is still something that millions of Liverpool Faithfull are still recovering from.

This is not because Steven Gerrard is at the peak of his career or was part of Liverpool’s regular line up week in week out, nor because we were not contemplating something similar after he was left on bench for so many matches including on his 16 year anniversary appearance for Liverpool. But it’s because since his debut for Liverpool 16 years ago, he has been a star born for Liverpool football club.

It’s only fair to say that all Liverpool success during these 16 years came with Gerrard’s crucial contributions: he scored when Liverpool beat Alaves in 2001 UEFA cup final, in the league cup final against Manchester United in 2003, in the FA Cup final and who can forget his thriller against Olympiakos in December 2004, which took Liverpool out of group stages of Champions League final and then the first goal against AC Milan in the unforgettable comeback win in the final.

It was heartening to see him almost re doing the act for Liverpool during this year’s Champions League last group stage game against FC Basel with his trademark free-kick. It was “almost” another Gerrard Speared Breakthrough for Liverpool.

He will probably leave Liverpool with one regret: not winning the Premier League with the club. But, what he did with generally a mediocre Liverpool side (especially if you compare it with Dalglish times), for me, puts him as one of the greatest player ever played and lead Liverpool FC.

Liverpool FC supporters and admirers always looked up to Steven Gerrard as a midfielder who comes only second to Frank Lampard with respect to number of goals from a midfielder in Premier League, as a leader who lead the club to all the success they had in last 16 years, as one of the rare loyal footballer who served his club with same passion for more than a decade in spite of all the opportunities from different club.

His shoes will not be filled ever at Liverpool FC.  He gave me some of the best moments to live with.

Thank you Steven Gerrard for the man you are.

3 Reasons why Patience is Key for Liverpool.

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Caught between journalistic platitudes, propaganda, or the calls for instant-success, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture in football. Here’s three reasons why patience is not only a virtue, but a need of the hour.

 

Luis Suarez shaped hole.

Natural enthusiasm – that’s the whole thing. It’s the greatest thing in the world!” – Bill Shankly.

Replacing the 3rd best player in world football is no mean feat.

In the record-breaking 2013-14 season of the Barclay’s Premier League, Luis Suarez was the engine in the Liverpool machinery – a manifestation of ‘natural enthusiasm’ – a virtue Bill Shankly spoke of so emphatically.

There exists a thin line that separates good players from great players – good players play well, while great players make good players play better. On his own, while he was relentlessly, single-mindedly sniping away at the heels of anyone who had the gumption to keep the ball from him – the entire team pressed or covered space in regimental harmony. An ebb and flow of a near-perfect synchronicity.

Singularly, Luis Alberto Suarez was a player for the collective brilliance; and his absence cannot be understated.

A Liverpool bereft of his qualities, nevermind his goals, will require new recruits and the old guard, singing off the same hymn-sheet again. Trial and error is all a part of the dance.

 

Waddle before you walk.

“That’s the problem with being a manager – it’s like trying to build an aircraft while it is flying.” – Brendan Rodgers.

 

Pragmatically, objectively, securing Champions League spots for next year is important for sustained progress. Liverpool had to make do with the deficit of revenue off the pitch, and the consequent dearth of quality on it.

A failure to do so, saw the club caught in a vicious cycle of sub-standard results garnered by sub-standard players piling sub-standard performances, ending up in a sub-standard league position.

Affluent Manchester City struggled to get out of their group, on their two successive seasons of Champions League football, despite every resource at their disposal, proving the transition of Premier League success to Europe is hardly ever straightforward.

While this season’s European foray may prove to be a learning curve for Brendan Rodgers and his young blood, up against seasoned opposition, the experience will prove invaluable.

 

The kids are all right!

“I believe a young player will run through a barbed wire fence for you.” – Brendan Rodgers.

Raheem Sterling (19), Coutinho (22), Emre Can (20), Javi Manquillo (20), Alberto Moreno (22), Divock Origi (19), Jordon Ibe (18),  Jordan Rossiter (17), Jon Flanagan (21)… There are very few clubs in Europe that can boast a more able-bodied set of youngsters, and fewer managers in the European game who are more competent than Brendan Rodgers, when it comes to nurturing youth.

A tough season in character building, learning curves, acknowledging deficits and coming to the fore, will only further polish the diamonds in the rough, in course, for what should make for an exciting future.

 

Srijandeep Das.
@srijandeep

Valuable 3 Points!

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By: Aakash Munjal

I was hooked to TV for 6 hours from Saturday itself, with Premier League coming back after the international break and what a comeback it was. Good games, great goals, a good start before we get ready for our game at QPR.

While I watched City and Arsenal games one after the other, I told myself that one thing that has been missing in our recent games, after the unfortunate injury to Sturridge and of course the departure of Suarez (oh god, when will I stop this!!), is the X factor you need to convert chances in to goals.

Sergio Aguero’s first goal for Man City against Spurs and Sanchez’s first goal against Hull clearly shows what one moment of magic or if you want to call it, that extra ordinary finishing skills from your striker, can change the whole complexion of the game and hence, the result too. Goes without saying how it lifts up the fans and the whole team.

I was convinced that we have been missing exactly that X factor in our recent games. Clearly, Mario Balotelli has not been that factor for us and today’s game against QPR was another example.

He was poor according to me. There was nothing Super about him at all. Chances after chances and he wasted them. much like he did against Everton. And as the games are passing by without he scoring his first premier league goal for Liverpool, he is feeling the pressure , the frustration and his body language and moment in the pitch has become pathetic.

I must say, I will be the happiest man in the world if he comes good for us, but with more games passing by, more convinced I get that we need to look for alternatives now. After today’s game, I really thought that Borini might have given more positives to the game. Could be wrong, it’s a personal opinion.

That said, it was an amazing game, not because we really played well to deserve the 3 points, but the way it eventually pan out in the second half and the way, we at least never gave up and eventually got lucky! In fact, we were lucky right from the first minute with QPR right on top of us in every department of the game and with close escapes at the 28th and 34th minutes with Leroy Fer striking the bar twice.

But, I guess, it was a day, (remembering all those unlucky moments during 2012 season), we got lucky for a change. It was our day and it was just not Harry Rednapp’s.

I thought we were too predictable as well in the first half with Sterling either making the run and trying to play Balotelli or long passes thru our Middle 4, trying to counter, looking to find a player near the final third. This did not work at all and QPR enjoyed good possession and obviously more clear cut chances to score. Against the run of the play though, we did come close to score thanks to Steven Gerrard’s attempt, but in summary for me, it was a pathetic half for us. I won’t put the whole blame on Balotelli for this one. His worst came on the second half actually.

Every one during the break said Gerrard needs to go back and he did go back and it made some impact and he was in much better control of the ball. It did not made a huge different though, as QPR, I thought was still much better in the game, much more eager for the ball. I can’t remember how many times Jose Enrique was crowded and he threw the ball out?

We did not have the finishing factor we needed, was also showcased during the 47th minute, when Sterling made an excellent run, giving it to Lallana and Lallana playing Henderson in the final third, only to see him hitting it wide and over. It was repeated in the 61st minute and it was Balotelli this time in the final third, with space, but he could not convert.

It was all dull and poor for Liverpool and something special was needed to change that. And it came again thanks to our 19 year old super star. The game took an unexpected turn during the 67th minute, thanks to another great run from Sterling, winning the free kick, making use of lack of awareness and concentration from QPR players at the defence and taking a quick one and playing Glen Johnson, who swung the ball in. It was to bring Balotelli in the game, only to hit an unfortunate QPR defender Dunne for an own goal. We might not have deserved it, but I will give it to Sterling’s and Johnson’s energy there.

Then happened, what has always happened – sadly, frustrating, without a miss. We could not close off the game, yet again and conceded a loose one, yet again from a set piece. This time during the 87th Minute.

I have always been a great fan of Coutinho and his lack of form has frustrated me more than anything else, but he made an impact right from the moment he came on during the 66th minute . And how he made this opportunity count with his excellent finish to the far corner on the 90th – again though thanks to a run from Sterling and a pass this time by Stevie.

I thought we won a great game! But we had to concede again on the 92nd, only to have a different sort of ending this time, getting a winner on the 94th Minute of the game. This time it was Coutinho who picked Sterling. The moment Sterling took the ball to the final third, I was shouting “Sterling will do what Sterling does best today: put it back of the net”. He doesn’t though: he tries to play in Balotelli, only to find another QPR body ( Steven Caulker this time) and getting the ball in the net for us.

I was down laughing on the floor: what a game, what a day. But if you see the slow motion of the last goal again from another angle, you will see a disappointed and Frustrated Balotelli as he sees the ball going inside the goal. Well, he must surely be relieved that the team won, but he knew that another possible opportunity for him to score his first League Goal for Liverpool went begging.

I am extremely happy the way it ended, I want to celebrate tonight. I am very happy to get 3 points and move up the table. Very happy to see the fight back. Extremely happy to see Coutinho Scoring Assisting. But I doubt now that Balotelli will prove to be a Super One. Not because of the fact that he hasn’t yet scored, but because of his contribution to the game overall. He barely moves at times, he is caught offside so many times, simply because he is slow to get back and he has become a frustrating figure, who has missed some easy chances in last few games.

What would you do if you are BR? Should you show your trust on him and give him more time? Should you give Borini or Ricky a full game? I mean come on, hasn’t been its frustrating to see Ricky on the bench – all the time?!!

Whatever we do, we do need to pray harder to have Sturridge back in the team and probably get ready to buy another striker during January. Don’t take me wrong: I will be happy to see Mario Scoring. But I don’t see it happening: what’s your say?

 

I am working on a dream…..

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By: Aakash Munjal

I am working on a dream…

I am working on a dream

Though sometimes it feels so far away

I’am working on a dream

And I know it will be mine some day

  It’s a beautiful song by Bruce Springsteen, have you heard it?

No, trust me; this is still a footballing article, not about romance or life otherwise. But wait, I would say, yes, it is about romance and life. I mean you can take it whichever way you would want to take it.

To avoid this annoying confusion, this is what happened: I happened to hear this song when Liverpool just finished its game against West Ham last Saturday evening. And there won’t be a bigger coincidence. This was also an evening when I received a set back from my work place too.

Evening never ended the way it should have for all of us and for me personally too. I was sitting in my sofa for hours, thinking when this will change? Coincidently, I had the same thought both for the game, as well as for my work. Frankly, I will not bother you with my personal life, that’s not the objective of this write up. But for a moment, I realized how close my dreams are to each other.

A dream of achieving that goal in my career. A dream of a proud and exciting life.  A dream of my love completing my life. A dream of Liverpool winning the League. Sounds like “what the F”? Yeah, kind of. But this is it!

We have had a great last season, an amazing one in fact. The derby was not even played like a derby, rivals were blasted away from the game. Our age old rivals were made to lick their wounds (you know what I am talking about). 2013-2014, for me was the year of getting higher on my career goal as well as feeling the love i never felt before.

We kind of expected this season to start the way it has to “some extent”, with so many new faces in the team, as well so many early season injuries. Plus other teams coming to grip of our attacking style. But, we did not expect it to be this bad. We did not expect to lose 3 of the first 5 games. Suddenly it was like the 2010-2011 or 2011-2012 season, the way we were left frustrated to close off the games.

Sometimes, the dejected mind tells you, we will never be good enough again to win the league, leave alone the champions league. Is it worth waiting for years and years, expecting something that may never ever happen. Ask a neutral, not a United fan, ask a real neutral, they don’t expect it to happen in years coming ahead. Some say, it was just Suarez and Sturridge magic last season, and, it’s over.

Is it worth it? I say yes, of course it’s worth it. It’s worth waiting until you die in fact. I mean what kind of love it is, if it gives up.  I was gutted last evening, seeing Liverpool conceding another dying moment goal. But when I see the highlights of the game, I only have feeling of positivity and a never dying obsession for the club. I said to my friend 2 years back “Liverpool is one of the reasons I am alive”. I was kind of drunk, but I don’t think I lied or exaggerated. Win or lose, we are Liverpool. We are not the fans, who change their loyalty for glory. We are a proud bunch of knuckleheads, who are in a stupid obsession with the best club in the world and we are working on a dream.

We are working on a dream to lift the league title, imagine how beautiful it will be if it happens for once. We are fans who wear the badge of loyalty, because we have the backs of those who carry their cross week in week out for the club. We don’t have to win every week to be Kopites, do we?

After a lacklustre display at home against Villa and then at West Ham, I think we were much much better at the Derby. We were aggressive, we created many chances. We had 24 shots, 8 on goal.  Comparing to this we had 11 shots/ 5 on target against West Ham. We were horrible against Villa at Home.

We could clearly see the improvement in Lallana, Coutinho and in our defence. One thing that was lacking in last couple of games was balls coming from right and left sides. In Comparison with West Ham game, where we had 10 each, there were 16 from left and 8 from right. And it’s not about the number, it’s about the quality. We found the strikers on many occasions, but the end product was missing.

Media before the game was full of criticism of Steven Gerrard and how he did he reply! His long balls are still the best in the league, he managed to find the right heads with his corners, he won tackles and he of course scored that magnificent free kick.

That goal could have been the beginning, a beginning of more goals. Had Lallana found the net in the 10th Minute and had Balotelli just tapped in the ball in the 66th, Jagielka’s injury time stunner would not have mattered. You cannot deny it was another good Derby, though we have seen better, but we could see more positives than negatives.

I sat in my sofa for a few minutes, stunned and disappointed. And after a while, I remember this:

I’m working on a dream
Though trouble can feel like it’s here to stay
I’m working on a dream
Well our love will chase trouble away

We are hosting West Brom On Saturday. Lets keep dreaming – here we go again!

 

The Amazingness is back for Liverpool!

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By: Aakash Munjal

The Amazingness is back for Liverpool. Last time they played in Champions league was in December 2009, when the game ended with a stoppage time loss to Fiorentina at Anfield ending Liverpool’s campaign in Champions league that year. They were out in the group stage itself.

To be very honest, I didn’t experience that. But it sounds like a start of a downfall. Frankly, my love for the club is not as old as yours. I fell for it during the 2010 season and never took my eyes off it. It became my passion, my footballing obsession. Obviously that was the year Liverpool could not play in Champions League.

4 seasons since then and I always wondered if my Footballing Love will ever make my European Nights Complete and even more beautiful. One thing that made me proud in all these years is that I never doubted it, just waited for it eagerly – a lifelong obsession, a lifelong faith.

You talk about Liverpool and Istanbul glory and Champions League glory comes with it. Goosebumps you get when you read about those nights when your club was involved in those unforgettable games. Funny thing is, it was 2007 when my boss once asked while on a drive for a meeting “so where are you watching the Liverpool AC Milan game tonight”. I was like what? (yeah, that was me back then). Then he briefed me of what happened in Istanbul 2 years back and hence, what tonight’s game is all about. And he was right, I was in Qatar and believe me, all Qatari papers were filled with preview on this Final. I can swear, the whole town was talking about it.

Well, I did not happen to see the final, I wasn’t much into football then, but I understand today what I have been missing since then.

But how wonderfully since then, my faith paid off, thanks to an amazing season 2013-2014. We are kind of unexpectedly, handsomely back in Europe and although I cannot do anything about missing that night in 2005 and another one in 2007, but I can start dreaming again, have faith and until then have a pint with Liverpool on TV at the Champions League. It’s a Wonderful and Proud Feeling! Especially when our biggest competitor is on the other side, trying to make for next year’s Champions League Qualification!

I am not sure how many of you will agree with me and how many will hit me for saying this that it would have been just perfect had Suarez been part of the Club on Tuesday night. His sheer energy and passion for the game is perfectly suited for the Nights. But no one is bigger than the club and we have certainly moved on with a new set up and new promise.

New set up, new promise is an apt thing to say from Tuesday’ experience – Liverpool’s first Champions League game after nearly 5 years. They say you need European Experience to excel in the competition and we understand what it means. We went with a new team, a new set of players who have not played many games even in the league together. And with the unfortunate injuries to so many – Sturridge to say the least, it made the combination even more of a starter.

That’s how I will sum up the game that happened. What a night it was, right from the beginning. That Champions League music at the Anfield, that grin on our faces after so many years. Most importantly, there was a sense of huge excitement but also some nerves and question on what the team will exactly do.

For me personally, it was no doubt exciting but frustrating at times. You wonder how it will be if the team plays the way they played in the League last year and much of the first part of this year. But the harsh reality is that the team was facing a new challenge altogether and with at least 5 new faces in the team from that team of last season, it was never going to be a walk in the park.

It was a frustrating first half for me with the Ball never picking the right player in the area, the missing link between Coutinho, Sterling and Balotelli, the frustrating bad form for Coutinho, and some selfish choices made by the front men. Apart from couple of Shots on goal by Balotelli and Lallana, it was more of a “what it could have and should have been”.

The most sumptuous part of the play in the half was Moreno. He was simply outstanding and for now, seems like our best buy of the year. He ran all over the park and back to do his defensive duties, tried THAT Spurs goal. He was good to watch.

Second half showed an improved and calmed team (goes without saying what BR must have said inside). There was more possession near the edge of the area. But that last ball inside was still missing, one due to so many bodies of Ludogorets players and two due to that still lack in link between our midfielders and strikers. It was Aston Villa all over again, I was thinking probably one individual brilliant moment is needed from someone.

No show off, but it was perhaps that moment of brilliance and perseverance from Balotelli in the 82nd minute. I could not believe that it’s a goal until the celebrations started at the Kop. I must say though that our game improved to a great extent even before that. Needless to say, it took us 69th minute to throw that first perfect ball in that area, first time finding a man – Borini, making Borjan stretching to save it for Ludogorets.

You sometimes feel it’s your night or not in football. That frustrating Aston Villa game had Coutinho hitting the bar and today it was Ludogorets on that side – you just knew it’s your night.

And how our night it was indeed! We had to experience that Sick feeling after giving away the lead yet again – I wondered if I will be able to sleep tonight. Crystal Palace game haunted me for quite some time. But it was our night after all – you have to give credit to Manquillo for running in and forcing that foul from Borjan in the dying moments.

You never doubt Stevie with a penalty, but it was huge moment for Liverpool. When you are back in the elite tournament after 5 years, you need to win the home game before anything else. And we just managed it.

I would not stop myself saying that it was not the most comfortable nights of football, it was not a performance that every Liverpool supporter can talk about, but it was a perfect result on a perfect night – a night we came back where we belonged.

I heard on TV most match “Liverpool lacked the creativity they are known for since the last season”. I could not agree more with that. But I guess its lack of experience in the Champions League added by an entirely new set up on the field than anything else that we clearly saw in the game. This team will take some time to gel , some experience and few wins under the belt and I am sure it will be a different experience altogether then.

Basel next. And with the result at Bernabeu, we have a right to be positive. Bring Sturridge back there and hopefully Coutinho in form and we have an amazing night in store for us.

 

In BR we trust!

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By: Aakash Munjal

In BR we trust.

I couldn’t agree more with this piece they said in Outsideoftheboot:“football, over the last couple of seasons, has been witnessing ‘change of guard’. Players who we adored in their prime have retired, managers that headed some of the greatest sides in history have resigned giving rise to the next generation football personnel, whose talent showcased some incredible, unpredictable games”

41 year old Brendan Rodgersis one of the youngest football managers to see this kind of considerable success especially considering he came to Liverpool in a very difficult time. For someone who abides by the code of conduct, he is known to have reinvented The Liverpool style , a cultural change bought by someone I strongly believe has a rare ingredient that is unheard of in the adrenalin driven world – EQ. Probably that’s why it so easy to trust him to lead your team to glory !

Taken from The Independent:”Brendan will walk in here and remember the names of everyone sitting at the bar,” says Debbie Burns, landlady of McCauley’s the Bridge bar in Carnlogh. “He’ll have a bit of time for everybody and even though he wouldn’t be a big drinker now he won’t rush, he enjoys himself when he comes in with his brothers.” This the man who has not only taken Liverpool back to the Champions League, while making the club a formidable force, but has installed an amazing culture at the club as well.

A small piece of history that you, in all probability, already know:Diagnosed with a genetic knee condition, his football career was short-lived and he opted out of it at the age of 20 to pursue his study of coaching methods. After a disappointing spell at Reading, returned to full-time management with Swansea City in 2010. He led the club to win promotion to the Premier League, the first Welsh team ever to do so, before guiding them to finish 11th the following season(btw Swansea were favourites to be relegated among bookies). In 2012, BR was roped in by Liverpool . “He couldn’t have written a better script for himself”.

 

After 2 years at Liverpool, how do you gage his success? Expectedly, his tenure at Liverpool started gradually, with the club finishing 7th (one position higher than the previous season). But 2013-14 season started with a real bang! He was awarded with PL manager of the month, as the team won its first 3 games. The success continued in the month of March, where he was again awarded the Manager of the month. We all know how the season ended and that has settled BR at the Melwood more than any other manager in recent past. And that has to do not only with the success of the team with respect to coming back the CL, but also the way it happened:

 

  • Liverpool played the Liverpool way: We scored 101 goals in the season, second only to the Champions City. There was a global consensus that Liverpool played the most attractive football in the league. The team not only managed to win week in week out, but they had put a grin on our faces, with the way they demolished the opponents including the likes of Arsenal and Spurs. I don’t remember when was the last time we did the in the PL. It was fast, counter attacking football, with which Liverpool usually went 1-0 up by the time the opponent could settle down. It was certainly the style of football, BR pushed thru the system.
  • An Eye for Talent: Sterling was picked and signed by Liverpool from QPR academy by Rafael Benitez in 2010, but he made his first senior debut on March 2012. Then he was only 17 years, making him second youngest player ever for the club to appear in PL. BR did not hesitate to introduce him in PL as well as in Europe at that age. In fact very soon, he started to be a part of regular squad and played full 90 Minutes. He also became the second youngest player to score for Liverpool – in a competitive fixture, only after “One Owen”. That was the time and today, he is an obvious part of the first team selection, not only for his pace and assists for goals, but for he being an immaculate finisher himself now. Brendan played an obvious part in this success and when Sterling scored THAT opening goal against City last year, BR must be so proud.

 

Brendan did not have too much to spend in the transfer market. But he has developed the talent immensely –Philippe Coutinho and Jordon Henderson. As Ian Holloway said in The Mirror: “he is clearly committed to ­developing talent as much as recruiting through the transfer market.Henderson’s rebirth  is a credit to him and his manager for not giving up on a player who had lost his way following a big-money transfer.”

 

  • A man on a mission (and he knows what he is doing): Ben Smith writes this for BBC: “On his desk, colour-coded files hold the secrets behind the transformation – the tactical intelligence, hunting in packs, pace on the counter attack. Detail is everything and each training session is planned meticulously, with a four-day schedule designed to lead the players into game day.”And this “Rodgers himself has also changed. Mind games have gone – now his players do the talking. Where once “relentless possession” was his managerial pillar, Manchester City(3-2),  Arsenal (5-1), Tottenham (4-0) and Everton (4-0) were torn apart by counter-attacking football coupled with a relentless and devastating pressing game. Rodgers’s players practice the “five-second rule”, in which the team press their opponents immediately on losing possession for five seconds, before easing back. They then wait for precise triggers to press again. If a pass bounces off a foot, or an attacker needs to look down at the ball – as soon as their opponents’ options are limited, Liverpool pounce. Possession is no longer the be all and end all. Liverpool are arguably at their most dangerous when they don’t have the ball.”

 

  • Down to Earth, a learner: calm, calculated, very down to earth, and never panicked. Brendan has no arrogance about him at all. He knows his stuff and speaks with confidence. He always knew exactly what he wanted to do.He termed his learning with Mourinho as “going to harvard”. Let’s not forget that during his tough times, Sir Alex Ferguson took time to dictate a letter to be sent to Rodgers, asking him to keep his chin up and that his time would come. And success hasn’t changed him at all. We can see that in his interviews.

The thought of 2014-2015 season fills us with an unbelievable excitement, but we are also aware, that it will be a different challenge all together with Suarez gone and we have CL in our calendar as well. We may not see the dominance Liverpool showcased last season, but hey, that’s the exciting part of this game and we need to say “here we go again” as BR has made us Believe!

 

What makes you follow a Football Club, Religiously? I mean Seriously!

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By: Aakash Munjal

I have always wondered what makes us Indians get up from the usual dominance of Cricket and follow a football club from England or Spain or Germany, so religiously, that we can leave all our work in hand to watch them play (hope my boss doesn’t read this), follow them daily on Internet, we cry sometimes when they lose ( I mean I don’t remember when was the last time I was so heartbroken as I was during the Crystal Palace blunder). Our rooms will be covered with posters, scarfs, tee shirts of our club. It becomes so much a part of our lives eventually that our happiness somewhere depends on how our clubs performed on Saturday or Sunday. I mean after all, it was all meant to be for entertainment, right? Where is the loyalty there?

Footballers we adore and worship leave the club eventually for either more money or top flight football and for various other reasons (with the exception of a few). Managers are changed at one single failure – they then go to another club and talk shit about the same club they were managing for years may be. So where is the loyalty? How can we be loyal to something that.

I questioned this for quite some time, because honestly, I started watching club football only in 2007/2008 when my friend took me to a bar in Doha to watch Manchester United and Chelsea game. I guess it was 2007 FA Cup final. Chelsea won, he was happy and I started following Chelsea- For many years. I was the happiest man on the planet when Chelsea won the league in 2009-2010. But things were different after that, a long story and today I am a diehard Liverpool fan. I have been a Liverpool fan since the dark days of Hick and Gillett and obviously have been patiently and proudly seeing our Revival in the League. And it makes me wonder if that is a crime? Why can’t I shift clubs if players, managers, owners shift them on yearly basis? How can I be loyal and why should I be, if there is so much entertainment around. I started thinking of what makes it happen. And I guess this is what I have to say:

  • City of Origin – This happens obviously if you are staying in the city from where the club originates or develops. Obviously this doesn’t apply to me and many of you reading. But makes sense otherwise, or even when we travel to say a particular city in England and belong there due to one or the other reasons – we studied there and lived there and my classmates followed Burnley, etc
  • Players – We get connected to a set of players and cannot help loving them week in week out. The Liverpool SAS plus Stevie G, Chelsea legends – Lampard, Terry, Drogba, Barca’s ever loyals Lionel Messi, Xavi, Iniesta. You just get so hooked to them and their way of playing football, in fact their way of living their lives. For you, they become an addition to your family, your closest allies, people who you follow and admire.
  • History and Culture of the Club: Liverpool, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, they bring with them a huge history – more than a decade of football and many many years in top flight football. Liverpool’s success in the years prior to PL inception made millions of Indians back then love the club and we have somewhere inherited that love as well. The YNWA, the city, the Hillsborough incident, it becomes a part of your lives as well. You become in a way Patriotic – in club sense
  • A Gut and Philosophy: I have to put these 2 together. I have to say this today, that THE most crucial factor and above all, is the GUT to follow a club, its philosophy, more than anything else. Do you ever question why you love that girl more than any other girl? When you start watching a whole lot of football, your gut puts you in love with a certain club, their certain players and their philosophy and that’s it. It’s not easy to explain this, but we all feel it and will probably follow our gut no matter where we are and what we do. I will not miss a Barcelona game this season because of one Luiz Suarez, but I would always want Liverpool to do well and in fact, I will love Liverpool no matter what the end result is.

It’s going to be an incredible season again. I will look forward to some amazing games, rivalry, some out of the world individuals, in many different clubs. But, I will have my mind, body and soul on my Liverpool. YNWA!!

Liverpool v/s Southampton : A Fan’s Analysis

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Liverpool welcomed Premier League action to Anfield and Brendan Rodgers will be delighted that his charges secured the three points against a “very good second half” Southampton.

It was a game of 2 halves with Liverpool impressing in the first. Kopites thought it was business as usual when Sterling scored when a “sterling” through ball by Henderson created space between the left back and centre halves. Alas, the champagne football was a bit flat as Southampton sat back, a contrast to last seasons’ pressing game they played here.

For a moment in time, it seemed Suarez never left.

For a moment in time, it seemed Suarez never left.

Lovren , who scored the winner here, was imperious in the air, and snuffed out any dangerous situations. He looks , on the face of it, a very good centre half, in the mould of Hyypia , or dare I say, Vidic ( sorry, but he was an excellent centre half). Here’s hoping he scores more than Carragher, the legend he was bought to replace, at the right end of course.

Southampton grew in confidence as the half wore on, with ward-Prowse impressing and Schneiderlin pulling the strings in midfield also having a shot saved. Koeman would give his right arm to keep him, well, at arm’s length from Tottenham.

As soon as the second half began, it became clear that Southampton would not grant as much time on the ball as they afforded in the first. they pressed, forcing the Reds’ midfield to hurry into passes and relinquish possession.

Thus, it was no surprise when Clyne, the person semi culpable for the opening goal, linking up well with Tadic, whose back flick granted him acres of space in the penalty area, and unleashed a venomous shot into the roof of the net. Memories of last season came back, when we had to score 4 to guarantee victory, and no doubt , the defence seemed in a bit of bother.

I almost had my heart in mouth when Davis was preparing to shoot, and all inside L4 and anyone supporting the Redmen heaved a sigh of relief when fluffed his chance and shot at Mignolet.

Rickie Lambert made his Anfield debut, coming on for Coutinho. Both set of fans gave him a warm reception. His link up play was good and his tackle to win the ball back was impressive. He really wants his second chance with his boyhood club to be a success.

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Back to where it all began.

Sturridge scored, after good work from our captain , Stevie G, and Sterling, who headed the ball to sturridge who stroked home the ball from 3 yards out.

Sturridge wheels away, celebrating what would ultimately be the winner

Sturridge wheels away, celebrating what would ultimately be the winner

Saints then went for broke, with schneiderlin unleashing a tremendous volley only to see it deflected by mignolet. later Long headed the ball out of play when scoring would have been not that difficult.

i was relieved to get the 3 points. as the commentator said ” Those are 3 points we didn’t get last season”

2 conclusions from the match can be made:

1. Buy a striker : it has been said so many times that it has become redundant, but if we can get even 50% of the Mad Genius who departed for Catalonia, we can hope for a top 3 finish. Lavezzi , anyone?

He will be hoping a proven striker can help him to prove that last season was not a fluke

He will be hoping a proven striker can help him to prove that last season was not a fluke

2. After scoring, keep defensive shape, don’t defend deep. We unnecessarily played ball to and fro between the keeper and sweepers, inviting needless pressure. Powers such as Real Madrid won’t be as forgiving.

To Etihad now, here all of the supporters hope that Linesman has perfect vision, or is wearing corrective glasses.

Man of the match : Lovren. For bringing back some authority to the back 4.

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Moments of the match : Tadic back flip for Clyne & Henderson ball for Sterling

All images are from Liverpool FC official website

If you have any opinions on my opinionated blog, please do provide them.

That Time Of The Year

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The Premier League season is upon us. Goals, controversies, goals, skills, and more goals to enthrall us for the next 9 months which as usual promises to be the closest competed just like last year.

Who will be holding this trophy aloft come May?

Who will be holding this trophy aloft come May?

 

Man City pipped Liverpool by 2 points last season and I won’t be surprised if the gap between 1st and 4th reduces further. Realistically, 4( Liverpool, Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal) teams are challenging for the title with a further 3(Man United( mostly due to the Van Gaal effect), Everton, Spurs) expected to challenge for the Economy Wonderland of Champions League.

I hope for my beloved club, Liverpool to have a good CL run, consolidate place in Champions league spots (1st to 3rd place) and win a domestic trophy.
Though I said I expect Liverpool to challenge for the title, it might prove a bit too much due to the privileged burden of CL, but the added depth will help to battle on these 4 fronts. The new SAS ( Sturridge and Sterling) along with the boys from Southampton, Markovic, Lovren, Manquillo( loan) and Moreno will help to offset the loss of Suarez and prove BR right in the sense that we’ve not done a Tottenham and instead ‘Make us Dream’ again.

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As for the transfer rumours, I don’t read much into them and not certain of ‘ pending signing’ or ‘almost done deal’ till the ink has dried on the contract. I still hope BR signs a striker who has 15-20 goals in him or reinstate in Assaidi in the squad. He really impressed while playing for Stoke last season plus that goal against Chelsea in the dying moments was a beauty.

Let another season of ‘ The Most Entertaining and Best League in the World’ begin. We Go Again.

Yes, We Will

Yes, We Will

 

Rickie Lambert to Liverpool? Trying to make sense of it all.

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By: Harshit Bassi

As soon as the news was broken by all the prominent media houses across the UK, it’s fair to say that there were a few raised eyebrows and more than a few WTF expressions. On the back of a season they didn’t themselves expect to have, expectations from the club rose exponentially, to go out and make a statement of intent with a couple of “marquee” signings after long drawn bidding wars to provide a sense of achievement off the pitch as well, and Rickie Lambert, a 32 year old with a majority of his career in the lower leagues, was never thought to be a part of it, even in the most desperate situation. Yet, on a closer analysis, it all makes perfect sense for the club and of course, Lambert himself.

One of the most cliché yet true arguments we hear are the need for experienced squad members at the top of the pitch for a squad bubbling with the exciting pace of the youth. With enigma and enthusiasm of a youth, there also lies vulnerability of succumbing to the glamorous life of a rising star and a growing sense of arrogance that accompanies it. Luis Suarez, discounting a phrase full of superlatives for his performances on the pitch, is not exactly a role model for discipline and Daniel Sturridge, despite his form is less of a team player as compared to his attacking counterparts. In such a situation, Rickie Lambert provides for the perfect solution. A scoring record in double digits, a similar assists record, and 2 yellow cards in 37 games in the year gone by, is a formidable record on all fronts. Not only is he an expert at the technique of finishing, he often falls back as a “false 9” and provides the team with an adept range of passing out to the flanks or final balls for players making runs from deep within the midfield, a fact justified by his terrific assists record. Moreover, his range of goals is no less than any other world class striker. From headers, free kicks, shots from range, finesse shots from inside the box, and finally penalties (a penalty record which includes 2 penalties missed in his entire career), you name it, and you’ll easily be able to find a video on YouTube. With all these qualities, and the threat of much maligned aerial presence (Liverpool paid 35 million JUST for that, who can forget), it’s fair to say that he is the, almost hypothetical, “big English No. 9”. Although Liverpool’s scoring record last season doesn’t justify the need of any kind of striker, we often saw the vulnerabilities of the youth exposed, with poor decision making by Sturridge and Sterling, the ability to find solutions to parked buses (we all know what we’re talking about here) amongst a few. In such a situation, a vastly experienced player solves the dilemma and Lambert with a huge skill set to go with it is indeed the right option. An engine of the team, a driver of the attacking force for years, Lambert, when brought off the bench can easily answer all these questions with a composure that no one in the attacking line can provide. No one, including Lambert himself, expects him to start but when the youngsters of our squad, find themselves in a fix, he provides much more than just an able backup.

Now that we’re at the topic of substitutions, we often saw that the best option we had on the bench was Iago Aspas, a player whose unparalleled lack of skill coupled with lack of experience, game time and a bunch of nerves was exposed when he took an atrocious corner right at the death against Chelsea, which not only failed to find a team member but also gave a very generous ball to Willian, who all but handed Manchester City the title. Any comparison of such a player will be an insult to his talent who provides an equally strong third option in attack, an option almost non-existent last year. While we can argue Fabio Borini’s case here, who returns on the back of a much improved season with Sunderland, but he surely lacks the experience Lambert possesses for a third striker (as emphasized earlier) and it’s also fair to say that of the two seasons both the players have played in the Premier League, there are no two ways about who the better player has been.

Finally, bringing in the emotional side, Liverpool as a club, loves a Kopite. Lambert’s love affair with the club ended very abruptly in its first spell and after having seen it all in his career, including a stint at a beetroot factory to make ends meet, he for sure won’t let the chance go at the second time of asking, as is evident in his very first interview after signing for the club. In the past, we have had Craig Bellamy, a lifelong Liverpool fan, play for the club who proved quite a bargain in both his stints at the club. His presence was epitomized by a goal at the Nou Camp against Barcelona in 2007 in the Champions League, at the height of their powers, which helped knock them out of the competition. As for concerns about Lambert’s age (32), the name of Gary McAllister comes to mind, who signed for Liverpool at the age of 35 and his two year stint is remembered as no less than a fairytale with a magical last minute free kick in the Merseyside derby helped him etch his name in the Kop hearts forever. Talent and skill knows no age, and a fee of a mere 4 million for a player still very much at the height of his powers, can only brag about their negotiation skills. In Rickie Lambert, the club is signing a true fan, a face in the Kop, and what he lacks in his game, he is sure to make up for it with his passion and his love for his boyhood club, which is sure to make him the prodigal son of Liverpool Football Club.

Liverpool V/S Hull City AFC : A fan’s analysis

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Liverpool needed 3 points or risk sliding down the table. They sure did deliver. They weren’t their imperious best like they have been at Anfield( bar Southampton) but it is the three points that matter.

First Half:

Since the match wasn’t live on Tv in India and it took me a while before I could find suitable streams( found mine at eplhome.com) , 12 minutes of match were up and I was just in time to watch Sagbo volley over the crossbar and into the Kop. That would be the closest they got to the Liverpool goal all the match. I ain’t even mad.

On 19 minutes, a Coutinho free kick( earned by Suarez by a Meyler tackle) found Suarez who headed the ball into the net. Suarez  found the linesman’s flag up for offside.

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That usual sight,but sadly offside

As the match wore on, it soon became clear Hull came into this match with one, and only one agenda : Stop Luis Suarez even if you have to break his legs. the treatment he has been receiving since the city game, is a bit shocking. I am all up for ” manning up” but this is going too far. earlier it was Meyler, now it was Alex Bruce. I would  borrow Moyes’ quote( I apologize profusely :P) ” He was being kicked from pillar to post”.

Coutinho shot from the free kick straight at McGregor and was again called into action when Sterling shot at him after being put through by Cissokho).

The breakthrough came through a setpiece. Countinho delivered one sumptuous corner from the right hand side and it was met by Daniel Agger who thundered in a header on 37 mintues. McGregor was unsighted due to the clever presence of Jordan Henderson( that smart lad).

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Agger heads Liverpool into the lead

Aspas was silent( he really needs to find his feet in the Premier league) and hadonly  one telling contribution when he turned Coutinho’s pass into the path of Jordan Henderson who should have scored. Similarly, when Coutinho was put through by Johnson by a lofted pass, he controlled the ball beautifully but he put his shot wide, much to the chagrin of Anfield faithful. the first half drew to a close with Liverpool carrying a slender lead through Daniel Agger.

Suarez was booked, i think not for the one foul he made, rather the reason was he kept going on at the referee.

at the end of first half, I wad neither too happy or unhappy. We needed to finish Hull off before they could pull level. With the kind of luck we had, they might as well had.

Second Half :

The second half began with Jake Livermore floating the ball over the LFC box.

Then the moment which we had been waiting for over 180 minutes of Premier League minutes. 25 yards to goal. Kop End. Suarez over it. Top left corner.  That has been repeated so oft this  season, that brilliance seems routine. 2-0 to Liverpool and may i say, “There is only one Pistolero”. Now that we had a two goal lead, the Hull city players started to focus on the football more than they did on Suarez.

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Another sight we have become used to.  And brilliance too.

Johnson was taken off for Toure, and will be assessed for injury, I hope it’s not a lengthy layoff.

On 60 minutes, Anfield welcomed its most celebrated son, Steven Gerrard for Iago Aspas after nearly a month, with Daniel Agger handing over the captain’s armband to where it belongs.

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LFC welcomed back Gerrard

Coutinho it seemed had a grudge against Hull City( like Suarez apparently has against Norwich City) going on mazy runs( THAT run in the dying minutes) and shooting on sight. much to the dismay of the Kop, either it was in McGregor’s hands or in the hands of supporters. He really did deserve at least a goal for his efforts. He should maybe take finishing lessons from his Uruguayan team-mate.

So, all in all,3 points in the bag and back in the Top 4. All we need to do is keep on winning and let the table care of itself. One match a time.

Till later, You’ll Never Walk Alone.

PS : Star Sports, you are as useful as “ay” in okay. why do you buy rights of English Premier League and only choose to show it on 1 channel.  I know you want to earn  through your HD channels, but it ain’t fair if you keep showing highlights of test matches.

All images from www.liverpoolfc.tv

Chelsea V/s Liverpool : a fan’s analysis

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Let me start by saying 3 things which need to be said, and I think most of LFC fans will agree :

1. We weren’t that good as compared to City match( still did not deserve to lose)

2. This squad needs strengthening. We were laid bare.

3. We just can’t catch a break with refereeing decisions going against us.

This match brought together the two men that were at centre of the biting storm , Luis Suarez and Branislav Ivanovic for the first time.

First half :  Skrtel got us to a dream start , booting a left footed goal from a Coutinho free kick on 5 minutes which sent Reds across the globe into raptures. First decision ( though we got the freekick). Samuel Eto’o should have been shown red. now let me clarify before the Chelsea fans accuse me of being too biased, had that incident happened, say 60th minute, a knee-high challenge is red card offence. I’ve seen red cards given for lesser fouls( cue Jonjo Shelvey against United). Lampard stung Mignolet’s glove who did admirably well to push the Chelsea veteran’s goal bound shot for a corner.

Skrtel

Skrtel puts Reds into the lead( image rights : Liverpoolfc.com)

Chelsea equalized through Eden Hazard. it was a terrific finish but was aided by Agger when the ball hit him on his standing leg and he hit a curler beyond Mignolet.

Hazard

   Hazard celebrates the equalisesr for Chelsea( image rights : Liverpoolfc.com)

Chelsea got the lead through Samuel Eto’o. It was poor defending by the Reds and tough luck for Mignolet when he made the save but the ball bounced off his shoulder and into the net.

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  Samuel Eto’o celebrates the ultimately decisive goal( image rights : telegraph.co.uk)

The Reds midfield, which was so cohesive in the City game, were harried by Chelsea players who were sent out to destroy the passing rhythm and did admirably so( David Luiz sure did a good job of booting the ball out ).

Second Half :  The half started at a frenetic pace with Liverpool searching their equaliser. Frank Lampard was subsituted for John Obi Mikel ,Two Chelsea players were booked, Sakho hit the post and that was about the most lively part of the second half. The Red Midfield finally started to get some passes together and had more attempts at the Chelsea goal. Johnson tested Petr Cech with a stinging shot from the edge of the box, so did Suarez from same kind of range, but Cech was upto the task. Chelsea threatened on the counter but found little joy in he second half with the defence getting meaner( how i wish they weren’t so lenient in the first half). Allen got injured , and Rodgers brought on Smith , an Academy graduate, who in my opinion, looked a bit out of his depth, but he needs experience and these kind of matches will do him a world of good rather than break his confidence. Johnson was substituted for Iago Aspas, and i don’t think he touched the ball much, due to David Luiz simply booting out every ball that crossed centre line.

brendan

  Brendan has his task cut out for the remainder of the season but he needs to buy this January.

Now, for the most contentious decision. Chelsea penalty box, Luis Suarez, Cesar Azpilicueta and Eto’o vying for the ball, AND Eto’o CHEEKILY fouls Suarez. If that’s not a penalty, I don’t know what else is. more of a penalty than what Chelsea got against WBA in my opinion.  As the clock ran down, Mourinho brought on the Much-maligned-since-move-to-Chelsea Fernando Torres and tested Mignolet once with a  shot from 6 yards. Time was running out for Reds and during the final minute of stoppage time when the two Brazilians, Lucas Leiva and Oscar got into a petty fight which was pretty much ,well , petty. the final score card read 2-1 to Chelsea and Liverpool will feel hard done by refereeing decisions again, though I expect a reaction against Hull City( Tigers?) at Anfield on New Year’s Day.

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  Mourinho out thought his protegé in the first half.

This is the first time Rodgers has lost two matches in a row since taking up the hot seat at Anfield, which speaks volumes about his acumen, despite having a thin squad. So lets not get too despondent with the result, we will get them at the fortress called Anfield. He will be without Allen, Sakho along with Sturridge though he might hope might have skipper Steven Gerrard back.  Till later, YNWA.