The Liver Bird  

Monday, 30 November 2009

Pride Of Merseyside

Liverpool were met with success yesterday after putting two past a lively Everton side and also managing to keep a clean sheet for the first time away from home this season.

Liverpool started a strong side although Fernando Torres was still not available after his late fitness test. Aurelio, Riera and Benayoun were all options after the 'horse placenta' continued to prove it's worth. Nabil El Zhar was also on the bench back from injury and of course Aquilani.

It only took 12 minutes for Liverpool to capitalize after Javier Mascherano opted for a punt from outside the area, after the shot took a deflection from Everton's Yobo it headed past a beaten Howard and the lads were 1-0 up. Mascherano was absolutely ecstatic judging by his celebration, it's just a shame that the "dubious goals committee" appear to have awarded it to Jospeh Yobo nevertheless the passion from Mascherano was clear to see.

For the rest of the first half there were many points to highlight. Everton appeared to be applying most of the pressure and even had the ball in the net ... twice. Both goals however were deemed disallowed as they were both offside, two great decisions from Alan Wiley who had a good game refereeing the derby, he managed to make sure that it wasn't one of those "stop-start" games.

Another moment within the first half that had a lot of fans certain Liverpool had scored again was when a brilliant cross from Glen Johnson came in to a pouncing Insua, a superb header was met with a superb save after Howard's reactions prevented the home side from being 2-0 down by half time.

So Liverpool were ahead but far from comfortable. After constant pushing from Everton in the first half the defence appeared quite shaky and to feel confident at 1-0 up was never a good idea. Pienaar was an attacking threat and if Everton's Bilyaletdinov hadn't of missed a sitter during the first 45minutes it could have been a very different story. We needed a second goal.

It took until the clock read 80 minutes but Liverpool after maintaining their clean sheet managed to score again via a Dirk Kuyt tap in. Albert Riera who had been on the pitch for less than two minutes made immediate impact after his speculative shot/cross found it's way into the path of Kuyt.

Liverpool were 2 nil up in the Merseyside derby and now was the time to relax. On a 2 goal cushion with 10 minutes to go you wouldn't feel too worried about Liverpool throwing away the lead but the lads wanted more than that.

Liverpool needed to hold on to that clean sheet to walk away from Goodison Park with full bragging rights. Reina moments before the second Liverpool goal had made a phenomenal double save to deny Everton the equalizer and it was only right that the scoreline reflected his efforts, not just our ego.

Match over and all 3 points were collected, it was scrappy, nervy, shaky and many other descriptive words that end in y and imply "bad performance" but for now it is the points that matter, not the play. We still have time to work on our performance providing we can start to bring in the results.

So with Blackburn next away in the league again we are in a position where we should start the push and capitalize on the confidence of a win but will it be a replay of the hope after the Manchester United game? Or when we felt the international break would breathe new life into the season and we would come back on top? I sincerely hope Liverpool go to Blackburn and do bring back three points because if they don't in all honesty it wouldn't be unrealistic to start actually 'worrying' about securing that 4th spot. At the moment it is still obviously do-able but constant inconsistency will do nothing in a league now littered with "top four wannabes".

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Saturday, 28 November 2009

The Merseyside Derby

Sports News - February 05, 2009
Liverpool make the short trip across Stanley Park tomorrow as the blue side of Liverpool welcomes it's fierce local rivals for the 212th Merseyside derby. A derby which is often referred to as "the friendly derby" but despite what may happen in the stands when families are split between blue and red shirts, on the pitch it is a very different story.

Famous throughout the footballing world this fixture is always one on a neutrals list.

This season the derby has come at a very interesting time for both clubs. With Liverpool's wobbly form and Everton's poor run of results you don't immediately feel as though this will be a match full of goals and excitement. Liverpool have also just suffered the blow of exiting the Champions League, but will we be able to put this behind us and get a win at Goodison Park on Sunday?

Everton's Last four fixtures have resulted in 3 losses and 1 win. Liverpool's last four fixtures have resulted in them collecting 3 draws and 1 win. So both sides provide not much to go with on form terms.

What About Injuries?

Like Liverpool, Everton have also been subject to quite a few injuries; ones to note being the loss of Arteta, Jagielka and Phil Neville. Perhaps because of this Everton have not been up to scratch so far this season and after being beaten by Hull last week they hardly did themselves any favours.

Liverpool on the other hand are finally starting to see the light at the end of the physio room and many players are now available to start. However Torres will be subject to a late fitness test and even if he manages to pass this i highly doubt he will start the game. Riera is also a doubt and Babel is still recovering from an ankle injury.

With all this rolled into one you suspect that this could very well be a somewhat unsatisfactory draw, but this fixture relates to the Manchester United one.

Again Liverpool were on a bad run of form, we had injuries, we had defensive errors to deal with but we rose to the occasion and beat Manchester United in style. The Merseyside derby is another example of when form gets thrown out of the window, it wouldn't matter if Liverpool had lost all of their fixtures in the run up to the game, as soon as Z-Cars has finished and the whistle has been blown the fresh start begins.

Stat Sandwich:
  • The Reds are looking to win three league games in a row at Goodison for only 3rd time in club's history.
  • Steven Gerrard and Phil Neville are the only players in Derby history to be sent off twice.
  • Liverpool are looking to keep their first clean sheet way from home in the league this season.

Benitez will no doubt be looking for a good performance from the lads and ineveitably a win. After the media again persist to use the Champions League exit as fuel for the "Bitch About Benitez" fire, a result will certainly add hush to his critics.

Benitez will also have the option of playing Alberto Aquilani in this fixture and although there are rumours he may start, again i feel him making a 20minute substitute appearance is more likely, i can't wait to see him get a good run out and i feel this fixture could be just the thing to get him started.

The atmosphere will surely provide to a tense game on the pitch tomorrow, it should prove difficult to say the least but we have beaten Everton when they have been on top form before, question is can we do it when themselves and ourselves are both in a rut of bad results?

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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Liverpool Exit Champions League

Liverpool last night managed to provide their part of the bargain in Budapest but a dominant Fiorentina spoiled the party with a 1-0 win over Lyon in Florence.
It is always a very surreal feeling when you are watching a match in which your team have took the lead yet you are more concerned about a result 590miles away as your Champion's League story depends on it.

I said in my match preview that win, lose or draw this game would not be forgotten. It certainly won't be remembered for an outstanding performance but for the disappointment of winning and not raking in any benefits from the result.

The game started very lively and within 4 minutes we had taken the lead courtesy of a somewhat untidy N'Gog goal but a goal nonetheless. N'Gog is becoming more and more focused each game, his ability to hold up the ball and continue play is excellent. His skill and strength are also major aspects he keeps highlighting in his recent games and his goalscoring record? Well that speaks for itself.

The early goal was just what the doctor ordered, it filled N'Gog with even more confidence and gave the team belief. After seeing that goal go in so early it was imminent that the team would pick up the prescription and net a few more to seal the deal.

This however wasn't the case and although Liverpool continued to hold on to the lead, by half time the game had slowed dramatically. The second half didn't offer much more hope with Debrecen appearing to get some sort of hold on the game and occasionally threatening the goal. Rudolf providing a lot of the attack from the Hungarian side but there were no gifts in store for the aptly named striker for this time of year.

Liverpool were already aware of the situation in Florence before the first half had ended. Fiorentina had been awarded a penalty and had successfully converted it meaning Liverpool (as it stood) would be out. Whether this had an effect on the play i don't know but this all boils down to our general performance in the competition. After the results against Lyon it was always going to be a big ask from ourselves let alone relying on the other result.

So disappointingly Liverpool exit the top club competition in Europe after a mixture of bad luck, injuries, silly mistakes and a lack of chances taken we have to turn our backs on the competition for this year.

Leaving us in the wake of the more and more interesting prospect of the Europa League. Formerly known as the UEFA Cup this competition is not one to be laughed at. In some cases it is more challenging than the Champions League itself and this is a big opportunity for Liverpool to pick up some silverware.

The competition this year is filled with talent: Ajax, Sporting Lisbon, Benfica, Valencia and not so much talent ; Everton. Joking aside even the English clubs (if they progress) will provide intense competition over two legs.

Realistically without taking the eye of the ball too much in the Premier League as it is vital we finish within the top four i feel as though this is a brilliant chance for Liverpool to collect some more silver which will only add to the reason why we are still "the most successful club in England".

We have experienced the majority of the opposition before and over two legs i am confident against any team you throw at us, with time to regain control of results and improve our form and the assumption that injuries will no longer be as much of a burden, this is a very winnable competition for the lads.

So despite the heartache it is time to focus on a brand new task;
Liverpool - Europa League Winners 2010.
Has a sort of ring to it doesn't it?

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Monday, 23 November 2009

How To Make A Memorable European Night

Two kick offs at the same time.
A list of injuries.
A run of bad results.
An atmospheric stadium.
An unhealthy reliance on another result.

Anyone who is not looking forward to the game in Hungary tomorrow night must be mental. Even though this could spell out a nightmare for Liverpool the sheer roller coaster ride of the combination of getting our result and praying that the other result will come in is going to be phenomenal.

The same as several seasons gone by, we find ourselves needing a miracle to progress past the group stages. And just like in 2005 when Olympiakos came to Anfield, the right results tomorrow night could lead to an epic European clash against Fiorentina.

Debrecen have lost all 4 games they have played in the Champion's League. They have scored 5 goals, all against Fiorentina on two separate occasions.
The task is made harder for Debrecen as they do not play their Champion's League home games at their actual home ground, this is due to it being unsatisfactory by UEFA standards. They play their home games instead at "The Ferenc Puskas Stadium" a massive 141 miles away from their usual playing grounds. This will always have an effect on a home side, and a positive effect on the visitors.

Make no mistake though the stadium should still provide a heated atmosphere and with the travelling fans adding their own heat it should add it's own elements to the match.

Injuries are still rife at the moment although things are looking up for tomorrow's clash as Riera, Benayoun and Aurelio are all expected to again be available after the miracle horse placenta continues to do it's trick. Also Johnson is expected to travel with the boy's and as we know Gerrard is well and truly back. Torres however it appears will not feature, he is rested and will be attempting to recover in time for the Merseyside derby on the weekend.

So again this fixture is "winnable" for a fairly strong Liverpool side, but after recent results i for one am not expecting this to be easy. Even if we do create a lead, we need to keep it or nail it home and bang in another! Debrecen can score and as we all know a draw spells the end of our Champion's League.

Not only this but following a favoured result on our part we are still relying on Fiorentina to lose or draw. A loss being the better option but we will take anything!

Lyon are a good side and despite the game being played in Italy i feel a draw is very feasible, i just hope it comes to fruition.

So there we have it, another night as a Liverpool fan that you will never forget, win, lose or draw. I just pray that we can firstly get the result we want and that Lyon can do us a massive favour because who doesn't want to see Liverpool - Fiorentina at a crammed Anfield on a European night?

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Saturday, 21 November 2009

Not Such A Surprise, More Of A (FORM)ality.

Liverpool walked away from Anfield this afternoon collecting just 1 point from their clash with Manchester City. The fixture was never going to be a walk in the park but the 3 points were definitely attainable.
However as i spoke of in my match preview and just as many fans had predicted, the outcome was a score draw. After City's collection of one-pointers and our own recent shaky form it was quite easy to predict the final result.

It was clear that goals were not going to be a problem in this game for Liverpool but maintaining a lead successfully would be.

Liverpool began the game positively and had a lot of good possession. With a pretty strong team considering the circumstances and a good start to the first half, even this early it was easy to become optimistic.

Things took a turn for the worst though when Agger was involved in a clash eventually seeing him stretchered off. Agger made contact with the head of Kolo Toure and the injury was immediately noticed after a wound instantly opened up and began bleeding.It wasn't until Agger was helped to the ground by Kuyt, Babel and the doc that the seriousness of the incident was revealed.

Agger suffered mild concussion and was believed to have received 5 stitches to the wound. He is expected to make a full recovery.

So with Agger now off, the defence had lost a little bit of flare and solidarity, Kygriakos was brought on to replace the Dane and would feature for the rest of the 90minutes.

Shortly after this incident Liverpool find themselves in the build up of another scenario which ultimately results in Benitez having to make his second substitution before the clock read 20minutes. Babel and Gerrard find themselves confused as they both clatter into each other during a Babel run into the area, Gerrard appeared to have took the brunt of it but it was Babel who remained on the ground, after highlighting that the problem was with his ankle he limped off the pitch but was set to come back on.

Now don't get me wrong, i know nothing about injuries and how it may feel if you are trying to "run off" an ankle problem but to me if your decision is to hobble off the pitch and then decide that you are OK to carry on, you put in more of an effort than 6 minutes.

Gerrard had to resort to picking Babel up off the ground after he sat down again, Gerrard insisting that he just needed to get moving and run it off, because as we all know if this was Gerrard, Carragher, Masch even Torres the chances are they would play as long as possible or at least look a bit more motivated to keep going.

Maybe i am being a bit harsh on Ryan Babel but for somebody who runs his mouth to the international media saying he wants to move to Ajax because Rafa doesn't start him... He needs to seriously buck his ideas up. No wonder Rafa doesn't give you the opportunity, for a starters you are very inconsistent and constantly frustrating, secondly your attitude is atrocious and you have no real strive or passion when you are in the starting 11. Nothing proved this more than today's "reaction" to from what my eyes could see was a "knock".

If you want to sod off to Ajax in an attempt to boost your international career then be my guest because i am seriously getting to the end of my tether sunshine. You aren't some sort of football royalty and you represent nothing that is Liverpool FC.

We digress.

So with Babel now off a freshly horse placenta injected Yossi Benayoun was brought into the game. After Riera and himself suffered similar injuries in the Birmingham game a new procedure involving the injection of horse placenta into the hamstring was given to both of the Liverpool wing men, this pioneering medical practice appears to have worked.

The first half although it had started lively and arguably in Liverpool's favour did fizzle out, with the two Liverpool substitutions and the decreasing pace of the game, there was not much action to report. The highlights being the excellent save from Shay Given when a Skrtel header was sent goal bound and when Reina had to make a quick decision after Barry caused problems with his cross - shot?

Liverpool needed a goal second half and they knew this. At almost the first real opportunity Gerrard whips in a free kick and Skrtel manages to get a foot in front of Adebayor sending the ball into the back of the net and giving him his first goal for the club.

So job one was done. We had scored. This was not going to be the problem though as the following 20 minutes would prove.

After the Lyon game and the Birmingham City fixture before the international break, you can't help but feel doubtful when it comes to holding on to those 3 points. And today was no different.

Man City popped up with Adebayor and equalised proceedings after Liverpool again conceded from a set piece. Is it the zonal marking? Or is it the defence? A question that persists to arise. I for one cannot turn my back on a system that works so well for other clubs and has been proven at our own club in seasons gone by. The system is not to blame, it is simply the sloppiness of the defence so far this season.

Barely 5 minutes later and the worst had happened, Man City create a super goal finished by Ireland adding to his current goal tally for City. Offside or not offside? Again you could argue that Liverpool are suffering from a lack of lady luck. Can we really keep sitting back and relying on excuses though? We had taken the lead at home and lost it, we have no-one to blame but ourselves.

Phenomenally, not even a minute later Benayoun had brought Liverpool back level at the other end of the pitch. It was nice to see that the City defence could be just as vulnerable as our own after Benayoun was allowed to easily slip through into space and slide the ball home.

The remainder of the second half was a means to push for a late winner but as seems the law of our season so far, it just wasn't to be. The best opportunity arose when Lucas was presented with a free header in the dying seconds of the game. Unfortunately he didn't do as well as he perhaps should have but this did not take anything away from his excellent performance.

With a crucial, crucial Champion's League game on Tuesday, it makes you wonder whether we can actually do our bit of the deal never mind bask in the hope that Fiorentina do not win.

On the other hand, you can never write Liverpool off, the game on Tuesday will be tense but the fat lady definitely hasn't sung yet.

Everton next in the league and again we will be looking to begin the season turn around. After looking at today's game it is clear that as a whole, we didn't actually play too bad. Silly defensive errors and missed chances appear to be the problem, if we can just resolve this and maintain a fit squad we can quite easily begin the turn around.

All i know is we must begin the push to secure that top 4 finish soon and what better way than getting one over on the old blue noses?

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Friday, 20 November 2009

Liverpool Welcome Sky Blues To Anfield

With the international break now over, Liverpool look to revamp there season once again after continuing a bad run of form via the draws picked up against Birmingham and Lyon.

Currently sitting 7th in the table on a total of 19 points Liverpool have the prospect of leap-frogging City and at best sealing 5th place on goal difference.

This is a key match in terms of the fight for a top four finish, with Liverpool's desire to continue to compete in the Champion's League and even more so the need for the revenue, City and their megabucks are looking to break into the top four and shake things up a bit

So will the cash of City compete with the tactics of Rafa?

You only have to look at Rafa's last few signings:
£17.5m – Glen Johnson,£17.1m – Alberto Aquilani, £2m, Sotirios Kyrgiakos and Daniel Ayala for £160,000 a total of just over £36m. Then glance over to Manchester City and realise that Robinho and Tevez were almost that alone.

Benitez not only faces a team with more cash, he also faces a team with more depth. Injuries at Anfield so far this season have been rife and for Saturday's clash the likes of Riera, Benayoun, Agger, Johnson, N'Gog and Gerrard still remain doubts although the boss is confident that Agger, Johnson and Gerrard will be available.

Torres & Aurelio however are deemed not to make an appearance. Torres is still suffering from a recurring problem whilst Aurelio is nursing a calf injury which kept him out of the Brazil – England fixture.

City have most options available, however Petrov has been ruled out and Robinho is still an uncertainty.

So what if we lay out the stats?
The Last 5 Meetings:
Man City 2 Liverpool 3
Liverpool 1 Man City 1
Liverpool 1 Man City 0
Man City 0 Liverpool 0
Man City 0 Liverpool 0

City have never managed to score more than two goals against Liverpool since the start of the Premier League.

Liverpool have an impressive record at home against City and have only lost on one occasion when they were beaten 2-1. Milan Baros was the goalscorer that day. The biggest ever victory in this head to head clash came when Liverpool put 6 past City in 1995.

With all this in mind, on paper it is a winnable fixture for Liverpool, especially with the home advantage. Form suggests otherwise and this could well be a score draw. With City picking up a lot of frustrating results themselves along with our current form it is clear that goals won't be a problem however maintaining a lead will be.

Liverpool cannot walk away with just the one point, it will simply not be satisfactory. With a must win game in the Champion's League midweek and then the Merseyside derby to follow Liverpool need to seal the three points as smoothly as possible.

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Monday, 16 November 2009

Past Players: Volume 1 - Robbie Fowler

Robbie Fowler, the man that the Liverpool faithful simply refer to as "God". A career spanning 6 clubs, 2 continents and a mass haulage of goals.

The Basics:
Full Name: Robert Bernard Fowler
Nickname: God
Weight: 12st 10lbs

Family Life:
Fowler got married in 2001 to Kerrie Ann Hannon, together they have 4 children, Madison, Jaya, Mackenzie and Jacob.

Outside Of Football:
Fowler is part of a company called "The Macca and Growler partnership". It is a company which invests in racehorses, Steve McManaman is also part of the company. He has seen a few successes through this venture and horse racing is a passion of his outside the footballing world.

Robbie Fowler made his debut for the Liverpool first team on the 22nd of September 1993. The game against Fulham in the league cup also resulted in him gaining his first Liverpool goal.

Fowler had worked his way up through Liverpool's academy system and there was always a big sense of hope when he arrived in the first team. Any doubters were quickly hushed as not only after scoring on his debut Fowler in the second leg against Fulham scored an amazing 5 goals! This made him a very rare diamond as it would make him one in only 4 players in Liverpool's history to score 5 goals in a first team game.

All this and he was only two games in. The early signs proved that Fowler was destined to be a Kop favourite.

Fowler's Liverpool career resulted in him amassing a total of 183 goals for the club. The 3 at the end of this figure can only be highlighted by perhaps the most famous moment of his career at Liverpool.

In the 94/95 season Robbie Fowler scored the fastest ever Premier League hat-trick against Arsenal. A feat which still means his name is in the history books, and one that may not ever be beaten.
Fastest Hat Trick - More free videos are here

In 2001 Fowler left Anfield and headed to Elland Road where he would start a new career with Leeds United. After seemingly being "pushed out" of the team when Houllier constantly started his favoured strike partnership of Owen & Heskey, Fowler decided he needed first team football.

Fowler has played for a total of 6 clubs now (currently based at North Queensland Fury) but unfortunately he never achieved as much as he did at Liverpool on any of his other ventures.

Fowler made a shock comeback to Liverpool in January 2006 when Benitez agreed to bring him back to Anfield on a short term basis as a free transfer. The fans were delighted, Fowler netted another 8 goals for Liverpool on his return.

In 2007 Fowler said goodbye to Liverpool for a second time and signed for Cardiff City. In 2008 he headed for Blackburn Rovers and by 2009 he had signed for North Queensland Fury, the move to Australia was on.

Fowler has scored 8 goals for NQF so far and this total is certain to rise. The Australian fan's are falling in love with Fowler and the A-League is benefiting greatly from his presence. Some of his goals can be seen in the video below, take note of the 3rd goal - excellent.

I wish Robbie all the success in his career at North Queensland Fury and hope he continues to add to his already superb goal tally of 242 goals in his footballing career.

Winner (Liverpool):
League Cup - 1995, 2001
FA Cup - 2001
UEFA Cup - 2001
UEFA Super Cup - 2001
Runner Up (Liverpool):
FA Cup - 1996
Winner (England):
1993 UEFA Under 18 Championship
PFA Young Player Of The Year - 1995, 1996
UEFA Fair Play Award - 1997
Premier League Player Of The Month - December 1995, January 1996
PFA Team Player Of The Year - 1996

Next Time - Ian Rush

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Thursday, 12 November 2009

Quite Shankly, I'm Amazed.

So with the eve of 50 years since Shankly showed up at the Liverpool quarters nearly upon us, the 1st of December will mark exactly 5 decades since the great man began his reign at Liverpool Football Club.

William (Bill) Shankly was born on the 2nd September 1913. A small, isolated village in Ayrshire - Scotland would be host to the young life of arguably the greatest ever manager to grace the football league.

Shankly began his footballing career in 1931 when he became a player for his local team - Cronberry Eglinton. A year later he headed for Carlisle United but it wasn't until he again moved clubs to Preston North End that his playing abilities were truly realised.

His successes at PNE included;

Playing statistics:
Debut: 9th December 1933 v Hull City
Games: 297
Goals: 13
1933-34 Runners Up Division 2
1936-37 F.A. Cup Runners Up
1937-38 F.A. Cup Winners

Shankly has his own stand at Preston NE with his face depicted using the seats and colours of the club
see here.

Shankly had a memorable year in 1938 after making his debut for Scotland and collecting the FA Cup with Preston. By 1949 Shankly was coming to the end of his playing career, although he himself felt he had much more left in the tank he decided his next move would now be to manage his former club - Carlisle.

Shankly went on to have successful managerial periods after Carlisle at Grimsby, Workington and Huddersfield before the call came from Merseyside. Shankly was officially appointed as manager of Liverpool Football Club on December 1st, 1959.

Shankly's undisputed excellence at Liverpool was backed up by the list of honours he achieved during his time at the club;

1961-62 - Division 2 champions
1963-64 - Division 1 champions
1964-65 - F.A. Cup Winners
1965-66 - Division 1 champions, European Cup-Winners-Cup finalists
1970-71 - F.A. Cup finalists
1972-73 - Division 1 champions, UEFA Cup winners

1973-74 - F.A. Cup Winners

Shankly was much more than a great manager in terms of silverware, promotion and stature though. He was far, far more influential. To list just a few of the essential changes Shankly made which now shapes LFC as we know it;
  • When Shankly arrived the training ground (Melwood) was in very poor condition, the facilities were atrocious. Shankly decided in order to dismiss the psychological effect of turning up at such a run down place he would meet the team at Anfield, then the staff & players could travel together to Melwood.
  • Shankly introduced diet assessments.
  • He introduced skills training - The famous goal painted on a wall at Melwood consisted of several painted targets or boxes where Shankly would instruct players to hit.
  • Shankly introduced "5-a-side" training, this was so that he could enforce his simplistic tactics - pass & move effectively.

Most famously however there are two distinct moments in Shankly's decisions at Anfield; Firstly the introduction of "The All Red Strip" and the introduction of the "This Is Anfield" sign.

All Red

When Shankly turned up the Liverpool strip consisted of a red shirt, white shorts & white socks with a red trim.

In 1964 Shankly had another idea that would change Liverpool FC forever. Shankly thought that by changing the shorts from white to red it would make the players look bigger and have more of a presence. After Ian St.John suggested changing the socks to red too, Shankly agreed and the rest is history.

Considering this idea was enforced in 1964 Shankly was arguably a pioneer in this way of thinking. You only have to look back to last season when Chelsea introduced a bright orange goalkeeping strip for Petr Cech, the idea was that the colour would make Cech appear bigger and put off the strikers. Shankly was way ahead of the game.


Another famous moment in Shankly's reign was when the "This Is Anfield" sign was introduced to the Anfield tunnel. Shankly was quoted as saying; "It's there to remind our lads who they're playing for, and to remind the opposition who they're playing against."

The sign is still there today and no player will argue the fact that when you are stood in front of that sign with the roar of Anfield in the background, it will always have an effect.

So with the silverware, the professionalism, the close bond with the fans, the ideas that have made Liverpool FC what it is today, we shall never forget the player,the manager, the man.

Bill Shankly The Player;
Cronberry Eglinton 1931-31
Carlisle United 1932-33
Preston North End 1933-49
Scotland 1938-43

Bill Shankly The Manager;
Carlisle United 1949-51
Grimsby 1951-54
Workington 1954-55
Huddersfield 1955-59
Liverpool 1959-74

Bill Shankly The Man;
1913 - 1981 R.I.P

"You'll Never Walk Alone."

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Tuesday, 10 November 2009

A Story Of Wasted Chances

Liverpool were held to a 2-2 draw at Anfield last night and no matter how you look at it you can't help but feel that result is unsatisfactory. With a generally strong 11 fielded, numerous chances and an opposition that shouldn't have really posed much of a threat it is no wonder many a fan is more than disappointed.

Along with the run of results in the league, the situation of Champions League qualification and just general bad luck it appeared that things couldn't get much worse for Liverpool and Birmingham City at home was the ideal fixture to start the league turn around.

13 minutes in and after David N'Gog's persistence, eventually he drives the ball past Joe Hart with a superb effort. The ball is crossed in by Riera, N'Gog connects perfectly and smashes the ball into the roof of the net.

So after starting positively and getting on the score sheet early on in the game, the positivity seemed to be heading back but as you can guess, the script simply wasn't as simple as that. Despite the constant pushing of the lads, Benitez puts the ball past Reina with a close range header after the defence dealt pretty badly with the incoming free-kick. Unfortunately this will only add to those critics of the "Zonal Marking System" and also adds to our tally of goals conceded from set pieces.

Not the ideal situation to be in but still completely in our hands. At home to Birmingham when the scoreline reads 1-1 you would be foolish to not expect a winner from the boys.

So with half-time looming it is clear that it would be very nice to go into the second half at 2-1. Responding to this were the chances from N'gog, Kuyt, Mascherano, Skrtel, Lucas, Riera and Agger but not one of these chances were successfully converted.

Missed chances are becoming more and more in unison with the name Liverpool FC so far this season and boy is it becoming more and more important that we actually take them Dot on half time and Birmingham take the lead, a stunning shot from Jerome who sends his effort home from more than 30 yards out.

So we enter the dressing room subject to being a goal down, with the collection of chances from Liverpool in the first half it is amazing that the scoreline is not something totally in contrast. 45 minutes to get two goals, no two ways about it, Liverpool needed 3 points and Birmingham should not be allowed to stand in their way.

Second half and after Riera was forced into being substituted due to injury, Steven Gerrard would be on for the whole 45 minutes. There is always a sense of relief when Steven Gerrard steps on to the pitch, if anyone can encourage a well needed turn around it is the skipper.

Chance after chance refuses to find the back of the net as Liverpool continue the second half in a similar fashion to the first 45 minutes. With the clock steadily ticking down the nerves begin to kick in and the pressure is on.

70 minutes and Liverpool find themselves in receipt of a penalty. David N'Gog goes to ground in the area, unfortunately his trip to the grass was in fact on his own behalf. Whether he skipped the tackle or did actually dive is a different question but Lee Carsley was certainly not to blame.

Steven Gerrard secures the equalizer with a typical cool and calm spot kick. With enough time remaining all Liverpool had to do was net the winner, but as we had seen throughout the game, aside from the N'Gog effort very early on scoring appeared to be a difficult task today.

Aquialni makes his appearance with less than 10 minutes to go and the hunt for the winner is now well and truly on. The hunt however proved unsuccessful and as the final whistle is blown Gerrard's reaction paints a thousand pictures for every fans inner feelings.

Liverpool now sit still in 7th place, 19 points,11 points behind top spot, but thankfully only 3 points behind fourth. It is becoming more and more apparent that this season is actually going to consist of a strive for 4th spot and securing that Champions League place.

After the success of last season with essentially the same team that has now been improved nobody was wrong to be positive about this campaign, but with this very bad start it is going to take a large series of unfortunate events for Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal along with a big barrel of luck for us to be in with even a glimmer of hope this season. However i have always been a strong believer in Maths and Science and until that calculator says the challenge is impossible i refuse to put my head down.

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Monday, 9 November 2009

SOS - Let's educate the fans.

Ok folks so if you are anything like me you will be fully aware of the Liverpool FC supporters union; Spirit Of Shankly. The first of it's kind in England, the union aims to bring Liverpool back to what Liverpool FC should be.

Primarily their aim in the current climate is to remove Hicks & Gillet from their Anfield podiums after the turmoil, debt and quite frankly in some terms crisis that they have left the club in.

However a lot of people do not realise the full detail of how they work, what their plans are and what else they have to offer i.e. driving down the costs of travel to and from matches.

So if you would like to find out more about Spirit Of Shankly, learn more about them and possibly even join the cause firstly i recommend you read these two excellent articles on Gareth Robert's Well Red Liverpool FC Blog below;

Then secondly, get yourself over to the official website -

Topics such as this are often a vital aspect that fans who aren't located in Liverpool such as myself often feel left in the dark on. You can't simply gain this information from Sky Sports News or the latest article on the Liverpool FC website, therefore i felt as though it was high time you all got stuck in. Spirit Of Shankly holds its arms open to fans from across the globe all with the same target of reclaiming Liverpool FC.

"You'll Never Walk Alone."

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Liverpool Welcome Birmingham City To Anfield On Monday Night

Birmingham City travel to Anfield tomorrow and i should hope that Alex McLeish turns up more prepared than he did to The Molineux yesterday after forgetting his remembrance day poppy. Luckily he did manage to sort the situation out and eventually took his seat in the stand complete with poppy but will he be able to sort out the situation at Anfield?

Birmingham are currently sitting 15th in the table with the prospect of moving further down depending on results today. So there is no doubt that the Blues will be looking to improve on their current league position and will be more than up for the game at Anfield.

Top goalscorer at the moment for the Midlands side is Lee Bowyer although a grand total of 3 in all competitions is hardly something to be too weary about. Goals appear to be a key aspect Birmingham are lacking, let's hope that this problem continues to occur on Monday.

So with the news flying around that Gerrard may start, he may not start, Torres may start, he may not start it is pretty uncertain due to the calls of late fitness tests by Rafa who will actually start. Also with the suspension of Carragher and Degen the defence needs to be as solid as possible.
Big rumours appear to suggest that Aquilani could gain his first Premier League start on Monday too but this is still too sceptical to be certain.

Stat Sandwich:
+Birmingham are unbeaten against Liverpool in the last six league games.
+The Reds' last win over Birmingham came in May 2004 when goals from Michael Owen, Emile Heskey and Steven Gerrard secured a 3-0 win.
+Birmingham have scored eight league goals this season. Of all the teams in England only Darlington (League Two) have scored fewer - 7.

Liverpool enter this game on the back of a draw against Lyon in the Champions League on Wednesday. Usually a draw away to Lyon wouldn't be as affecting but looking at the situation it leaves us in this will obviously be on the lads minds.

The boys however will be aware that this is a winnable fixture and the three points must be gained, Gerrard or no Gerrard, Torres or no Torres, whoever is fielded should quite happily be able to go out and do this.

My Prediction: 2-0.

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Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Lyon Take 2

So after throwing away some valid points at Anfield last time out it is of utmost importance that tomorrow we come away with 3 points. A draw would not mathematically put us out of the situation but boy would that be a mountain to climb.

With injuries/absences galore, the news that Torres appears to also have surgery and just that negative vibe lurking around the place this will prove to be a tough away trip for the lads.

We currently sit on 3 points in the group putting us in third place. A win along with a Fiorentina win would not change our positioning but if we succeed and Fiorentina get anything less than a win we move second so it is a massive game in terms of group positioning. Not forgetting that first point of call is to qualify but we realistically need to try and aim for top spot to avoid the big boys next draw. Although for now setting our sights to qualify is all we need to do, any improvement is a bonus.

The stats are relatively similar to the last time out, Lyon's top goalscorer is still Gomis, he has added another goal to his total since we last met. Lyon also remain in the top three of the French Ligue currently placed 2nd.

As for form (all competitions);

Lyon = WLWLW
Liverpool = LLWLL

So we know what is at stake and we know what the task ahead is but can we do it? I feel as though if the 12th man can get right behind the team in Lyon tomorrow and really get an atmosphere going, along with that belief we can come back with the favoured result.

What do you think?

Head over to The Liver Bird's own forum.

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Sunday, 1 November 2009

A Treat Was Far From On The Card's Today As Liverpool Crash To Frightful Defeat

Almost an indescribable stream of events at Craven Cottage today for a yo-yoing Liverpool side. After triumphantly beating Manchester United in superb style last weekend Liverpool suffered a 3-1 defeat to a rampant Fulham who were determined to punish at maximum for Liverpool's mistakes.

The starting eleven under the circumstances was a good team, the only exception being Kygriakos, Voronin and possibly Degen depending on how you look at him. Despite this, the fact is, that 11 were more than capable of coming away from Craven Cottage with 3 points. At minimum a draw, that team had too much talent/experience in to fall to a defeat.

The starting eleven in the first half were clearly the better side, with bags of possession and numerous shots, it should have only have been a matter of time before we netted. 24 minutes and in the midst of a Liverpool dominated half Zamora is allowed to send his chance goal bound and against the run of things Liverpool are left trailing in the first half.

42 minutes and Torres continues to do his job as a prolific goalscorer after smashing home an excellent volley. So we go into half time level, not exactly the preferred scoreline to go in on but we know this can now be turned to our advantage.

So the second half begins, no changes and Liverpool again start well, keeping possession and play but as we all know, having the possession is not even half the battle as Liverpool throw away chance after chance it appears the winner cannot be scored.

63 minutes and with the scoreline still reading 1-1 Benitez makes the change, Torres off, Babel on. Now look at this which ever way you like but Fernando Torres is key to our season, if we risk him in a game against Fulham (which may i point out should be winnable without him on the field) and he is injured, out for a month or even more then where is the threat? In my eye's although maybe i would have preferred Torres to have came on for twenty minutes as opposed to playing 60, the managers decision was right. In long run terms, he was correct.

Babel as the replacement now makes up an 11 which i shall again highlight should quite happily be able to go out there and give Fulham a run for their money, there were still goalscorers on the pitch i.e. Benayoun, Kuyt, Babel etc who could have turned the result around.

73 minutes and Fulham score again. The point made about Kyrgiakos in defence was made clear as himself and Insua are involved in a shoddy piece of defending and the ball is again in the net. The situation was actually put in Fulham's favour by a desperate attempt of Dirk Kuyt to keep a ball in which could have quite harmlessly gone out for a throw in, after losing possession but keeping the ball in play, Fulham capitalized.

77 minutes and as much as i am with Rafa and as much as i will stick by him, this was the only decision/matter to do with him today that can realistically be criticised. Yossi Benayoun replaced with Nathan Eccleston, was this an example of the game is lost, let's just try to shake things up a bit and try for a last gasp equalizer with the fresh legs and want of debutant Eccleston? Was it because Rafa truly felt the difference Eccleston would make would change the game? Did Rafa feel Yossi wasn't up to scratch? All i know is that bad decision or not, this game should have been won by half time.

So with a now desperate Liverpool things go from bad to worse; two players sent off within the space of 3 minutes and both red cards were controversial to say the least. Philipp Degen is first to go after a tackle which looked a lot worse than it actually was, after making an attempt for the ball, the body of the defender takes out the Fulham player and Degen is shown a straight red.

Firstly, the challenge was never a straight red card and it was clear as daylight that there was no malicious intent.

Jamie Carragher is the next person to succumb to the Referee's red card after a challenge on Zamora. The number 23 from the first angle appears to get caught in a tangle with the striker but the referee claims he had brought the man down. After Zamora himself said that Jamie had in fact got the ball it appears Liverpool were again without lady luck.

84 minutes, Benitez removes Kuyt and gives Ayala a run out also in an attempt to steady the defence. This didn't however go as planned after Clint Dempsey nets a third for the cottager's. With Kyrgiakos already looking unsteady in the first half without the reassurance of Carragher and with Degen also off the pitch, the Greek was left sleeping and Fulham were almost open to stroll around the defence.

So with another fixture that will fill the Rafa Band Wagon with more pathetic reasoning as to why he should go is this really, even with his slightly questionable changes today his burden to bear?

Let's look back at the line ups for two of the other fixtures we have lost so far this season...
Aston Villa
For this game we fielded a super strong team;

Reina, Insua, Johnson, Skrtel, Carragher, Lucas, Mascherano, Kuyt, Benayoun, Gerrard, Torres.
Result: 1-3

Tottenham Hotspur
And again another strong line up;

Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Insua, Kuyt, Mascherano, Lucas, Babel, Gerrard, Torres.
Result: 1-2

So ask yourself... If a fully fit Liverpool go out against the likes of Aston Villa and Spurs and come away with a loss, who do you blame? Benitez? No of course not, why would you? Because he had all his options and the best team available was played. You hold your hands up and face facts that the team was not good enough.

Now stop for just one second and have it in your head that Liverpool in fact went out and played well in these fixtures, so well that we bagged 6 points. The Fulham result today would have appeared a lot less affecting than it actually is.

Yes, Rafa made some bad decisions and yes he doesn't always get it right but the real explanation to this is that the team, the players have simply not started well enough, barely anyone in the squad had started positively up until the United game when everybody showed their true colours. The players are simply not up to scratch. If they were they would have secured the wins when the team was at it's best.

Rafa is under immense pressure at the moment and for a man who is dealing with injuries, viruses, possibly the worst boardroom in football and a world of media determined to push him out the door i can quite easily step back and calm down after a result like this and remain by his side.

What would have happened to United if when in the Ferguson early days he was forced out like the fans "thought" would be best... Where would they be? You must stick by a manager in order to create success, people don't seem to realise how hard it is to win the Premier League, and if you seriously think Mourinho or whoever else may be in your fantasies will walk in and get it us, you are wrong.

There is no manager out there at this moment in time that under the same circumstances as Rafa could do any better than what he has already done and is currently doing.

If you picked Benitez up and dropped him at Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge or the Bernabeu, there is no doubt in my mind that he would rake in the success. This is a manager in one of the most toughest jobs in football, managing a club packed with history and attempting to take them back to the glory days when title's came in like buses. Well which ever way you look at it these things take time.

Stick with him and he WILL succeed.

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