Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Kopblog.com: The blog's dollocks!

Kopblog.com: The blog's dollocks!

Link to This Is Anfield » Kopblog

Kopblog: The Rules Are Being Re-Written

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 11:05 AM PDT

The latest from Kopblog – do Liverpool have one hand on the Premier League title? According to The Guardian Liverpool have one

The post Kopblog: The Rules Are Being Re-Written appeared first on This Is Anfield.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Kopblog.com: The blog's dollocks!

Kopblog.com: The blog's dollocks!

Link to This Is Anfield » Kopblog

Kopblog: The Real Deal

Posted: 05 Apr 2014 07:54 PM PDT

Back in November I penned a blog titled ‘The Real Deal or Yet Another False Dawn‘. 4 and a half months later

The post Kopblog: The Real Deal appeared first on This Is Anfield.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Kopblog.com: The blog's dollocks!

Kopblog.com: The blog's dollocks!

Link to This Is Anfield » Kopblog

Kopblog: We Have Our Swagger Back

Posted: 26 Mar 2014 05:33 AM PDT

Whilst we tidy up a few things and revamp Kopblog, enjoy Joseph Cousins’ blog post today focusing on the sheer confidence that

The post Kopblog: We Have Our Swagger Back appeared first on This Is Anfield.

The Return of the Prodigal – Gerry’s back at Kopblog

Posted: 26 Mar 2014 04:13 AM PDT

Kopblog editor and award winning blogger, Gerry Ormonde, makes a long awaited return to action, penning his thoughts on the summer so

The post The Return of the Prodigal – Gerry’s back at Kopblog appeared first on This Is Anfield.

“What Can We Take(away) From Sunday?” … or “Ivan to Drink Your Blood” … or “There Are Easier Ways to Get Your Daily Bran, Lad.”

Posted: 26 Mar 2014 04:16 AM PDT

Who knew Branislav Ivanovic was finger lickin' good? Personally, I'd have never guessed it. He doesn't look it. But then again, I'm

The post "What Can We Take(away) From Sunday?" … or "Ivan to Drink Your Blood" … or "There Are Easier Ways to Get Your Daily Bran, Lad." appeared first on This Is Anfield.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Kopblog.com: The blog's dollocks!

Kopblog.com: The blog's dollocks!

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Forget Top Four, I Want More!

Posted: 27 Feb 2014 02:14 AM PST

I’m a greedy football fan. At the beginning of the season if you offered me fourth place in the Premier League I would have said “yes please” and run away before you had a chance to change your mind. Now, with Liverpool in 4th place, only 4 points behind the league leaders with 11 games to go… Well, now I want more. Greedy bastard that I am. I’m usually cautious when evaluating our chances to succeed, a glass half empty kinda guy, such is the cynicism that has built up in me over the years observing false dawn after false dawn. Being a negative fucker has proved to be quite an effective protection mechanism. But something changed in me after we tore Arsenal a new arse. A new belief kicked in, real optimism, but I kept it in check just in case we fucked it up against Fulham. After we beat Fulham, although we defended like a Pub side, for the first time since we beat Fulham 1-0 in April 2009 (thanks to an injury time winner from Benayoun). I allowed myself to imagine the possibility of winning the league.

After the last round of fixtures, where we beat Swansea and both Everton and Spurs lost their games, it now looks like a top 4 place is ours to throw away. 6 points clear of Spurs with a vastly superior goal difference. It would take a monumental collapse to not get a top 4 place now. There is the possibility of United winning the Champions League which would mean us needing to finish in the top 3 to qualify but there’s very little chance of Moyes conquering Europe.

In terms of points we are closer to the top of the league than we are to 5th place. 4 points off the top with 11 games left. This represents a real chance of winning the league especially considering we play both Chelsea and City at Anfield in April. We are the league's top scorers with 70 goals, we’ve slaughtered 3 teams in the top 7 and we competed very well in the away games against City and Chelsea. When I look at it from this perspective I say fuck the top 4. I want to win the league! It’s not certain we’ll be in this position again, we could regress next season. On the last 3 occasions we’ve got over 80 points in the Premier League we’ve gone backwards the following season. So let's go for this!

It’s possible we could do something similar to Wolfsburg in 2008/09 where they won the Bundesliga out of nowhere. Previous 3 seasons they finished 15th, 15th and 5th. Or Lille, who won the French Ligue 1 in 2010-11. Previous seasons they finished 7th, 5th and 4th.

Wolfsburg and Lille show its possible but it has seemed impossible for an English club to win a title against the odds because of the financial power the ‘rich 3′ have in the Premier League. Lille won the French title with 2 points per game. Wolfsburg won the Bundesliga with 2.03 points per game. That sort of points haul hasn’t been enough to win the English Premier League since the 90s.

I’ve had a look at the points the champions have amassed each season from 1989/90 to last season, to see what the average points has been required to win a title. I’ve split the averages into eras. See below.

Average points for the league winners

1990-1999. 79 points.
2000-2009. 88 points.
2010-2013. 86 points.

I think the top sides are too rich and powerful now for the league winners to get less than 80 points. Since the Champions League era and billionaire sugar daddy owners came to town, the top sides just have too much for the rest of the league and consistently compile over 26+ wins a season. This makes it almost impossible to get a shock league title winner. It’s normal for one powerful club to have an off season but it’s unlikely 3 powerful clubs each have seasons where they punch well below their weight. I think at least one of the rich 3 (well, rich 2 as United are out of it) will get 26 wins. Which means I think we will have to get 26 wins as well. To win the title. We have 17 wins so far so that’s 9 more wins needed from 11 games. Is it possible? Yes it is but it’s not probable.

Over the last few weeks I’ve had many debates on what it will take to win the title this season. There is a notion some believe, that the top teams are inconsistent this season therefore giving us a better chance than we would normally have. That’s true to a point. United have been poor and Chelsea and City have dropped points you wouldn’t expect them to. It’s part of the reason we were top of the league at Christmas. However since November both Chelsea and City have been in Championship form.

Chelsea’s last 12 league games: WDWWWWWDWWDW. 9 wins. 3 draws.
City’s last 12 league games: DWWWWWWWWLDW. 9 wins. 2 draws. 1 loss.

The perception is these teams are dropping points but the reality is that for 3 months they have been excellent and I would expect their form to continue. If they keep up their form of the last 12 games for the rest of the season they’ll likely get 86-88 points.

So for Liverpool to make it interesting we need 9 wins and 2 draws. Or 10 wins and a defeat. 85-86 points. Can it be done? Well we’d have to break a few trends that’s for sure. All season long we haven’t won consecutive away games. Our away results goes like this:

WDWDLDLWLLWDW. Consistent in it’s inconsistency. If we can’t win 2 away games in a row we shouldn’t even be talking about the title. So this has to be rectified. Another trend is the fact we’ve not won more than 4 league games in a row since 2009. None of these things worry me more than our defending though.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 12, 2014: Liverpool's Kolo Toure looks dejected after scoring an own goal against Fulham during the Premiership match at Craven Cottage. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I’ve never in my life seen a side with a shambolic defence win the league in England. There has been a lot of debate on our defence (or lack of). There are plenty of interesting stats such as the amount of individual errors we’ve made.

Individual Defensive Errors This Season

Liverpool 33
Arsenal 26
Norwich 23
Stoke 21
Man City 20
Fulham 19
Swansea 18
Spurs 17
Man Utd 15
Everton 13
Southampton 12
West Ham 12
Newcastle 12
Aston Villa 11
Sunderland 10
West Brom 9
Cardiff 9
Chelsea 8
Crystal Palace 6
Hull City 3

So we’re the worse in the league at defensive errors with 33. The culprits are as follows:

Mignolet 5
Gerrard 4
Toure 3
Agger 3
Skrtel 3
Henderson 3
Johnson 2
Sturridge 2
Sakho 2
Jose Enrique 2
Alberto 1
Lucas 1
Moses 1
Suarez 1

Last season we were joint 3rd worse with 36 errors.

So what’s causing the errors? Is it systemic? Are the defenders left too exposed by the rest of theteam. Is it down to Mignolet coming for absolutely nothing? I think these are contributing factors but the over riding factor in my humble opinion is that our defensive players are not very good at defending.

Toure began the season well and then got injured, since he returned from that injury he’s been all over the fucking place and that’s being kind. Against West Brom he was shocking. Skrtel has 3 or 4 good games a season where he looks like Sami Hyypia, most Liverpool fans then think he’s the newLawrenson. I think he’s shit. Put a striker with any kind of physical presence about him and he shits himself. He has a fuck up in him at all times.

Agger looks like his Liverpool career is nearing it’s end sadly. He just doesn’t look confident these days. Nowhere the player he was a few years ago. It looks like Sakho will take his place in the first team as left centre back.

Glen Johnson has been out of sorts for 12 months now and its looking like he will have to take a significant pay cut if he’s to get a new contract.

Cissokho was a stop gap loan signing, he reminds me of Djimi Troare.

Flanno has done well in some games, not so well in others – he’s still learning his trade.

The back 4 don’t get good protection. We currently have Gerrard at DM, he’s done the job alright but there are times where he loses a player making a run and when he does this we’re in trouble. Kolo’sown goal at Fulham being the best example I can think of. Kieran Richardson strolls through the middle of the field. Gerrard is watching the ball on our right side where he cannot affect the play. There are 2 Liverpool players over there not doing much to close the ball down. Richardson takes a casual stroll into the right side of our penalty area and to everyones surprise the ball is played into him and we’re fucked. Richardson plays a poor pass across the six yard box and Kolo slices it into is own net. It’s comedy gold if you’re not a Liverpool fan.

When I think of teams that have won the title I think of their defence and there are top players in their back 4.

United had Bruce, Pallister, Irwin, Parker, Neville, Rio, Vidic, Evra, Heinze.
Blackburn: Hendry, LeSaux, Henning Berg, Kenna, Gale
Arsenal: Adams, Keown, Bould, Dixon, Winterburn, Cole, Campbell, Kolo, Lauren.
Chelsea: Terry, Cavalho, Gallas, Cole, Ivanovic, Cahill
City: Kompany, Zabaleta, Kolorov, Clichy, Richards, Lescott

Look at our current back 4 and I don’t see the same sort of quality. Sakho I think will be a top class centre half. He looks the part and has the pedigree but hasn’t done anything yet. The others, well I don’t think many of us would be gutted if they were all sold and replaced in the summer.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 21, 2013: Liverpool's Mamadou Sakho in action against Southampton during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I think Rodgers is sold on having Gerrard as the DM now so the defenders are going to have to be superb athletes, quick, aggressive, dominant. This won’t be addressed in the next 11 games so it appears Brendan is concentrating on our strengths. Try to score more goals than the opposition. Fuck it.

In the summer Brendan said he wanted to add 20 goals to the team. We scored 71 goals last season. This season we’re on course for 99 goals which is incredible. Our attacking play has been breathtaking. For years I have moaned about a lack of pace up front and on the wings. For a time we had Torres who was very quick but at the time only Babel had pace and he was in and out of the side, began really promising and regressed badly. The other attacking players Riera, Benayoun, Gerrard,Kuyt. Not going to scare anyone with their pace. I spent years being jealous of United who always seemed to have quick players who would murder a side on the counter attack. Chelsea’s best team had Drogba, Robben and Duff. Now we have our own. Sterling and Sturridge can both dribble at speed while Suarez isn’t super quick but isn’t slow either and is the best player in the league. They all scare the shit out of defenders and we’re now deadly in attack.

The way Suarez, Henderson, Coutinho and Sterling press the ball is something else and when they win it back they are very clever in what they do with it. Often you’ll see a few quick passes, then a sumptuous through ball and Sturridge is rounding the keeper and slotting the ball into the net. It’s become almost routine now. The way Sterling won the ball against Swansea, and delivered that outside of the foot, perfectly weighted pass all along the grass to Sturridge. Lovely. I think it was the Arsenal game or where Coutinho went past 4 players and put Henderson through with the best through ball I’ve seen since Zico to Junior for Brazil in the 1982 World Cup. If Henderson scores that it’s the goal of the season. The Suarez volley that hit the post against Arsenal – my goodness. Another goal of the season contender it would have been. Gerrard’s through ball to Sturridge at Fulham, fucking hell, also one for the scrap book.

If we are to do the improbable and win the league or make it interesting by being in the mix with a few games left I think we’re going to have to rely on the attack continuing to do what its been doing rather than hoping the defence will be sorted. Maybe that’s why Brendan wanted Salah and thenKonoplyanka in January while most fans were screaming for a DM or fullback. Maybe he’s looked at the defense and thought. “This is going to take a long time to sort, but if I get another quality attacking player we can score 100+ goals and really surprise people”.

A minor worry is Suarez goal drought. He’s still playing well but a few months ago we were saying he was the best in the world on form. Everything he hit went in the net. If we get him back to that form then we stand a better chance winning the 9 or 10 games. How do we get him back to that? I think the 2 week break after the Southampton game might do him some good. Could really help us actually – refocus and go full steam in the last 10 games.

We have 3 away games in a row so now would be a good time to sort out the away form. The first one. Southampton, is the most difficult I think. We just don’t seem to do well against teams who are high energy and press us. We also don’t defend well against big physical strikers. Southampton do all of the above. High energy, press and have the big Scouser Lambert up front to give Skrtel nightmares. I’m having nightmares as well.

I think Allen has to play in this game and by the way he was fantastic against Swansea. I’d putCoutinho on the bench. The front 3 are untouchable at the moment. All are playing great. Behind them Allen, Gerrard and Henderson. Then at the back we go with the Key Stone Cops and hope for the best.

I had this game down as a loss in my predictions but now I think we’ll get a draw. 2-2 I think.

The next 2 away games I have 6 points predicted. I am looking forward to giving United a good beating. 4-1. Annihilate them on the counter attack. Watch Old Trafford empty out after 60 minutes.Then the Cardiff game. They are in a right mess and now look a poor side. We’ll scrape this one 3-2.

Can you believe we are in a title race and United are shit? Oh it’s beautiful. I’m loving this season. I’m a happy boy right now. Believe it or not. If we finish anywhere between 1st and 4th I’ll be a very happy boy.

Those of you who read my posts in the comments section will remember me calling out Brendan Rodgers as a fraud, that he talks shit and he’s winging it. I have a big portion of humble pie to eat butits in the freezer. I’ll take it out in May and tuck in with relish, I also have an apology blog to write as well but I’ll shelf it until May. Up to now, Brendan has done a magnificent job and would get my vote for manager of the year if the season ended today. Players such as Henderson, Coutinho, Sterling,Sturridge have improved to a different level. The manager has to get credit for that. The way he handled Suarez from the summer and throughout the season appears to have been very good looking in from the outside. The team is electric to watch and so far has not crumbled under pressure. There is a belief and togetherness, you can see it in the goal celebrations. One of my criticisms was that we were a soft side but I no longer think we’re soft. We have big balls. We just can’t defend. Whether we are 5-0 up or drawing the game we are a shambles at the back so I don’t think its down to character. When we concede we don’t flinch, we just continue pressing forward. It’s great to see. I put that down to the manager taking the pressure off and allowing everyone to just express themselves.

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 19, 2013: Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers before the Premiership match against Newcastle United at St. James' Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

We have 56 points, this is the most points we have had after 27 games since the 1990-91 season. Yes we have more points now than at this stage in 2008/09. That season though we won 10 and drew 1 of our last 11 games. The only draw being the 4-4 against Arsenal at Anfield. Everyone else was brushed aside.

2008/09 Final 11 Games
Sunderland (h) 2-0 W
Man United (a) 4-1 W
Aston Villa (h) 5-0 W
Fulham (a) 1-0 W
Blackburn (h) 4-0 W
Arsenal (h) 4-4 D
Hull City (a) 3-1 W
Newcastle (h) 3-0 W
West Ham (a) 3-0 W
West Brom (a) 2-0 W
Spurs (h) 3-1 W

10 wins. 1 draw. 34 goals scored. 7 conceded. 7 clean sheets. Wow.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could do something similar this time around? Just imagine it.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Kopblog.com: The blog's dollocks!

Kopblog.com: The blog's dollocks!

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Liverpool’s Transfer Policy Full Of Hot Arye

Posted: 02 Feb 2014 03:26 AM PST

In my last blog I said that I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t sign any players in the January transfer window and if that were the case I didn’t really mind. However this was before Lucas got injured and will be put for what appears to be a number of months and Glen Johnson was taken out of the side due to him carrying a number of injuries. His return date is unknown. Both players are key, not only are they amongst our better players, we don’t have a natural back up for either player. One would think it reasonable to expect the club to try to strengthen in those areas during the transfer window. But no. The club wasn’t seriously linked with any fullbacks or central midfield players. Maybe the club think we are well covered, with Gerrard being transformed into the new Dunga and Flanno, Cissokho and Kelly capable of doing a fine job playing full back for a large part of our run-in.

What has been clear in both transfer windows this season is that the club want an attacking player who can either play wide or centrally. In the summer the club was heavily linked with Mkhitaryan and Willian but failed to get either of them. They had to settle for Victor Moses on loan. In the Winter transfer window we spent the majority of it in talks with Salah only for Chelsea to step in and say “thanks for doing all the ground work, we’ll take over from here”. We then spent the rest of the window in the Ukraine trying to sweet talk Mr Kolomoyskyi into selling his club’s best player but unsurprisingly failed to do so.

What makes me laugh is Liverpool based journalists and Liverpool fans, sensible fans saying things like: “The deal was virtually done, the player had agreed terms and passed a medical and Liverpool had triggered the release clause, but the club’s owner wouldn’t sign the paper work. It’s not Ayre’s fault. He did everything he could to seal the deal”.

What fucking nonsense. We did everything apart from agreeing terms with the selling club. Just that annoying, small technicality of the selling club actually wanting to sell the player.

I guess Arsenal fans and journalists were saying the same in August. “The deal for Suarez was virtually done. The player wanted to come to us. Wages were agreed with his agents. We had a medical booked. Just that pesky John Henry wouldn’t sign off on the deal. It’s nobody at Arsenal’s fault the deal didn’t happen and its not their fault they spent the whole window chasing one player whose club didn’t want to sell while missing out on other targets.”

What also made me chuckle, was the LFC official twitter account tweeting this Brendan Rodgers interview as soon as it was reported the Konoplyanka deal was off.

Classic PR stunt, not even subtle in its timing or delivery. Even funnier were the replies to that tweet.

image

I would love to know what the LFC delegation was doing in Dnipropetrovsk for 3 days and at what point did they realise the owner didn’t want to sell. What a joke. There clearly is a problem when we’re either trying to sign players for over £15m or when the player we want to sign is also coveted by another club. In short, when things get competitive, we are shit.

Ian Ayre seems to be very good at negotiating commercial deals and the club has progressed very well in this regard. But when it comes to negotiating with other clubs for players within a competitive market, well the proof on how he’s done is there to see.

The club need someone who is better at negotiating in the transfer market. A senior, experienced football administrator or sporting director, it matters fuck all what his job title is. We need someone who is allowed to use judgement and decide if its a good idea or not to over pay by a couple of million pounds and make decisions quickly. Someone who can smell the bullshit and not waste 3 days in Ukraine trying to negotiate a deal that was never likely to be concluded in 3 days. A senior decision maker that Brendan can talk to about football. That someone needs to be based in Liverpool as well. Or in the UK at least for fuck sake.

We are currently in 4th place having just slaughtered Everton at Anfield. 3 points clear of 5th place with 15 games to go. We have our best chance to qualify for the Champions League since we were last in it in 2009. However we have the smallest squad of the top 7 teams and we have a lot of key players injured. If ever we wanted the chance to try to secure our position or even push on and compete with the top 3 it was in this transfer window. Yet we sign nobody.

The transfer policy is confusing and looks as if it lacks a clear strategic plan. During the summer we let Suso go out on loan and buy Luis Alberto for £7m. Last season Suso started 12 games for us. Alberto has started 2 games for us this season. So why did we do that? Was Alberto considered a better player?

We bought young centre back Ilori for £7m and send Wisdom out on loan. None of us see him in a red shirt and he’s sent out on loan as well (while 2 of our centre halves are injured).

Flanno was offered to clubs on loan even though Johnson was playing through injuries. It’s a good thing nobody wanted him on loan as he’s now the best fullback we have available.

Borini is sent out on loan and we buy Aspas, another £7m signing who now can’t buy a game.

Downing was sold and replaced by Moses on loan.

Many fans, including me were waxing lyrical about the transfer committee after they signed Sturridge and Coutinho in January 2013. Since then though they have signed 8 players and only one of them – Mignolet – has made a significant impact. I realise he’s struggled of late but overall I’d say he’s been a positive. Sakho has looked a promising prospect but hasn’t convinced yet in my opinion. At £18m you’re expecting him to be a world class centre half. Or was he a last day of the window – oh shit after fannying around for 3 months of the transfer window we now need a centre half – panic buy?

The other summer signings have left a bit to be desired. So it just goes to show how well Brendan Rodgers has done with the team. 46 points after 23 games is a great achievement considering the squad at his disposal. If we finish the season in the top 4 I would consider Brendan to be manager of the year.

FSG did very well to hold firm and tell Suarez he was going nowhere this season, but other than that they and Ian Ayre have failed to help Brendan strengthen the team. If we miss out on the Champions League I know where I will be pointing the finger. It would be likely Suarez will be off once his buy out clause is met and we’d probably have £100m to spend in the next transfer window. Oh how much fun will that be.

I missed the bloody Derby and only saw highlights but I was amazed at the score. Everton slaughtered at Anfield oh how badly I wanted 6 or 7-0. 4 will do though. My favourite bit was the celebration after the third goal and Sturridge’s explanation of that celebration. When asked by LFCTV why he didn’t do the dance he answered:

“It’s coming back, but you have to make them want it, no? It’s not a given! It will be back, but sometimes you have to just chill out, look at the Everton fans and let them realise what time it is!”

Next up West Brom and it looks like Joe Allen will be back. So what do we do? Put Allen in the side to sure up the midfield for an away game? Or go with the same side that wiped the floor with Everton? I think we’ll win the game either way if BR approaches the game properly as in not underestimating the opposition and making sure the players are fully focused and up for it. Its a big game because we have Arsenal next which will be a tough one.

15 games left, I think if we win 9 of them we’ll get top 4. So where will the 9 wins come from?

West Brom (a) win
Arsenal (h)
Fulham (a) win
Swansea (h) win
Southampton (a)
Sunderland (h) win
Man United (a)
Cardiff (a) win
Spurs (h) win
West Ham (a)
Man City (h)
Norwich (a) win
Chelsea (h)
Crystal Palace (a) win
Newcastle (h) win

What do you think?

Another question. Will Suarez break the Premier League goal scorers record? 34 Andy Cole and Alan Shearer. He’d need 12 in those 15 games to break it. Currently has 23 goals in 18 games.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Kopblog.com: The blog's dollocks!

Kopblog.com: The blog's dollocks!

Link to Kopblog - The blog's dollocks!

Clueless Football Fans (Me included)

Posted: 17 Jan 2014 02:44 PM PST

“Flanno is shite, carthorse of a player, rash in the challenge, not great defensively and very limited going forward. Not really good enough for a side with hopes of qualifying for the champions league.”

This was my analysis of John Flanagan up until the Merseyside Derby a few weeks ago. Fast forward a couple of weeks and guess who is totally gutted when they see the name ‘Flanagan’ missing from the starting line up against City at the Etihad? Me.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 15, 2013: Liverpool's Jon Flanagan celebrates scoring the third goal against Tottenham Hotspur during the Premiership match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

During the Cardiff match I was convinced Flanno had been possessed by former French international Bixente Lizarazu. I was fucking furious when Brendan took him off after 60 minutes and took to twitter to vent my rage. What I didn’t know was that he picked up an injury.

So what happened in the space of a couple of weeks that caused such a drastic change in my opinion of the player? Well, he put in some fine performances and as I’ve said before, desplayed all the qualities I thought he lacked. Those performances put him from 4th choice to 1st choice left back for us in my eyes. Fickle eh?

In my defence even our manager took Flanno to one side and basically said “you’re a bit shit, lad”. Actually what he said was “You’re not Cafu, stick to what your good at”. Even Brendan didnt see the hidden Lizarazu in there.

This got me thinking. Shouldn’t we as fans give it a bit more thought when labelling a player as ‘not good enough’? How many players attempt to make it as a pro? Well apparently 10% of Premier league academy graduates sign professional contracts. Even less sign a pro contract for a Premier League club because most have to go to a lower league club to get a contract. And of the amount who sign a pro contract at a PL club how many get multiple appearances in the first team of a top 6 club? A small amount I’d say. So how can anyone who made it that far be shit?

I played football with 3 guys who went on to become pros. Carl Cort, Jason Euell and Shaun Newton. Carl was in my school team and was in the Wimbledon youth team at the time as well. He was light years ahead of everyone else on the pitch whenever we played. Scouts would pester him after a game we lost 6-1 “lad, do you play for a club”, “yeah, Wimbledon”, “oh shit, thats a shame”.
In the Premier League Carl looked like an average player. Heskey looked a superior player and yet most of us think he’s shit.

The conclusion I’ve come to is that most if not all pros have the talent to be top class. Whether they become top class or not depends on a wide variety of things. Health, injury, luck, attitude, dedication, confidence, self esteem, life at home, support network away from the game… etc etc etc.

In the late 90s who thought Carragher would have gone on to be behind only Ian Callaghan in appearances for Liverpool? Certainly not me. I thought he was very limited and would be a stop gap. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 21st, 2004: Liverpool's Jamie Carragher in action against Wolverhampton Wanderers during the Premiership match at Molineux. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After the game at Hull about 6 weeks ago everyone had written off Raheem Sterling. According to some idiots the notion was that now he’d signed his lucrative contract his hunger had gone. Others questioned his attitude, said he needed to concentrate more on scoring goals than scoring with women. He was clearly ‘regressing’. Most of us thought he needed to be shipped out on loan. Now if we sent him on loan we’d question the club’s sanity.

Daniel Sturridge is another one. Poor attitude apparently, arrogant, thinks he is better than what he is. That’s what journalists said and no doubt it came from people in the game. Fans lapped this up. So did our manager and skipper. To a degree. You could tell from the tone of their interviews when he first signed.

Gerrard: “He has said he wants to play football for a big club,” “There’ll be no excuses. He’ll be with good players at a great club. He's at an age now where he should be performing week in week out.”

BR: “We are bringing in a player who knows he has to perform if he wants to be at one of the biggest clubs in the world and this is probably his last chance.”

Last chance saloon for a 23 year old? I don’t get it.

He scored goals immediately but whenever he had a bad game it was due to laziness. Not fitness issues. Laziness. He apparently couldn’t be arsed. I remember someone on the Anfield Wrap saying he needs a slap! Some fans couldn’t help think “ok so thats why Chelsea got rid of him”.

When Chelsea first made a bid for Torres they offered £30m + Sturridge. We rejected the offer. They then offered £35m + Sturridge. Again we said no. I remember how the offer was ridiculed by most of us. Sturridge!? Fuck off! We ended up getting £50m and then spending £35m of it on Andy Carroll who now looks to be an inferior player to Sturridge by some distance.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 5, 2013: Liverpool's goalscorer Daniel Sturridge applauds the supporters after his side's 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I've been getting quite annoyed these past few weeks with the over analysis, and excessive critique of Coutinho's game as well as the outright disrespect towards Victor Moses.

Coutinho is a 21 year old lad playing in a foreign continent. He's had 31 appearances for Liverpool, scored 5 goals, 8 assists and created 48 chances.

He scores a goal every 6.2 games and assists a goal every 3.9 games. Just to compare – Jack Wilshere is 22 and scores every 13.5 games and assists a goal every 7.6 games. Oscar is 22 and scores every 4.5 games with an assist every 6 games.

I looked up Gerrard and Lampard's stats from when they were 21 years old. Gerrard at that stage of his career scored every 9.3 games and Lampard every 6.3 games. I couldn't find assists stats going back that far.

So Coutinho's stats compare well against the Premier League elite at his age. Stats aside Coutinho passes the eyeball test for me. He just looks a class player and is a threat. I can't think of anyone in the Premier League his age who is better than him. Wilshere is 22 and has over 100 games for Arsenal under his belt. Aaron Ramsey is 23 with over 100 games for Arsenal. Oscar has already played 91 games for Chelsea aged 22.

I think the expectation on Coutinho from Liverpool fans is set way too high. Not even the media can be blamed for this one because I don't' see any criticism of Coutinho anywhere but on Liverpool fans forums. I don't know if we're expecting him to be (Brazilian) Ronaldo or Messi at this stage but it baffles me. I'm really not interested in his shot to goal ratio. The boy is a class player and when he's able to play a high number of games without picking up niggly injuries I have no doubt he will be a top top player for us.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 1, 2014: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia in action against Hull City during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

At the moment Moses is being ridiculed big time by LFC fans. "Send him back to Chelsea" is one of the more polite suggestions being made by the majority. He is clearly struggling but he has shown in his career that he has talent to make an impact. Why you would want to write him and send him away half way through the season makes no sense to me. It's not as if he is keeping a better player out of the side. If we were to sign a class winger which meant Moses wouldn't get a chance then fair enough. But why weaken the squad by turfing out a player that has talent that could possibly make a difference in the latter half of the season?

I've read fans calling him lazy and disinterested. This is a player that at 16 made his pro debut at and has over 200 senior club appearances not to mention 17 caps for Nigeria. He just turned 23 years of age. I don't' see how you get to this level by being lazy. I think it's a lazy thing to say, calling a professional football player lazy. (See what I did there?) Lacking in confidence, self belief a bit low, maybe feeling disillusioned? Most probably. I doubt Moses left Chelsea to come to Liverpool on loan to half arse it. He could have easily stayed at Chelsea and chill out in their reserves. His contract is lucrative and water tight. He didn't have to go anywhere but did so to get more football. I respect that.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 5, 2013: Liverpool's Victor Moses in action against Crystal Palace during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Players lose form, especially young players and when they do it can often appear that they are lazy or lack energy, especially if they are flair players slight in frame. The likes of Moses and Sterling won't be flying around the pitch launching into tackles and pumping their fist to the crowd. That's not their game. I think very few players take the field with a don't care attitude. People who don't care don't make it as top level professionals. Again I go back to the percentage of players who make it as a pro. It's minute, I can't see anyone without an excellent attitude and level of dedication making it as far as Moses has in his career. 200 club appearances, 17 international caps. Goals in the Premier League and Champions League. I think it's too easy and slightly ironic for fans, a lot of whom are over weight (that's me) and not at the pinnacle of their profession (also me) to sit on their arse and call a top level professional athlete lazy.

That's not to say we as fans can't criticise. Of course we can – it's all a part of being a football fan. However I think a little more thought should go into it before calling out someone as shit or lazy. Maybe we should think a bit more about why a player's form has gone or why a player looks poor yet the manager keeps picking him.

Glen Johnson's form is a concern. My mate texted me the other day asking "Is Glen Johnson done?". I don't see how he can be 'done' so suddenly but he's not been at a high level that's for sure. The trouble is we do not have competition for his place. A 5 out of 10 Glen Johnson for me is better than our other right back options. I have heard and read that the club isn't in a rush to renew Johnson's contract and if they do renew it he'll have to take a significant drop in pay. A new right back is high on the wish list.

I don't think the contract issue has anything to do with Johnson's performances but something isn't quite right.

I don't know if any of you have read the Anfield Wrap's interview with former red Howard Gayle. There was a bit of the interview I found fascinating and it was about Ian Rush and his initial lack of confidence when he first signed for Liverpool.

'The rigour of the banter was relentless and it hindered some of the lads' progress,' Gayle admits. 'Maybe they took it to heart. Rush was one of them. People question why he didn't score a goal for Liverpool in 12 to 18 months when he first signed, but a lot of it was down to confidence off the field. He let the banter get to him and nearly went down because of it.

'He'd get slaughtered because of his clothes and his hair. I remember speaking to him one day and he was really down. Because he was from Flint in Wales, he'd never mucked about with a group of lads who had generally grown up in the inner city. Everybody thought they were style icons, wearing the best gear and being quick about the tongue.

'I wore whatever I wanted and turned up at Melwood with flared bottoms. I come in one day and Evo said, "What the fuck are they?" I didn't give a damn. I had an Afro comb that I used to keep in my hair on the drive into training and the lads would rib me about it. Souey would say, "Ere comes the satellite dish." Again, I could take it because I could give it. Rushy, for a time, couldn't.'

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 6, 1996: Liverpool's Ian Rush celebrates scoring the fifth goal against Rochdale during the FA Cup 3rd Round match at Anfield. Rush set a new cup record by scoring his 42nd FA Cup goal, beating the record held by Dennis Law. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Maybe Aspas is being slaughtered in the dressing room for his tight kit? I jest.

I see in the comments section there is debate on what position we should strengthen this month. Well according to my sources we are looking at both full back areas, defensive midfield and winger/wide forward. I think the club are treating each position with equal importance and we'll bring in who we are able to bring in. So we could think we need a DM badly, if the wide player the club wants is easier to get than the DM we'll end up with a winger and no DM. I don't think the club see that we are desperate in any one position where we simply HAVE to get a player for the position. The summer was different where we just had to get a centre back and so splurged £17m on Sakho. Not the case this window. There will be no last minute £20m bid on player X, well not in my opinion.

For what it's worth I think our defence needs better protection but defensive midfield players who are better than what we currently have aren't cheap or easy to attract. Neither are right backs better than Glen Johnson. In the left back area we are sorted as we have the new Lizarazu. We are alright, not elite in the wide forward area of the field but I won't be gutted if we don't' strengthen there this month.

Aston Villa up next at Anfield. I am expecting a comfortable home victory. That might not turn out to be what happens but it's what I expect which is a clear indication of the progress made this season. You all know I am a half empty kinda guy when assessing LFC so if I predict an easy home win, you know things are rosy. We should give Villa a damn good hiding.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Kopblog.com: The blog's dollocks!

Kopblog.com: The blog's dollocks!

Link to Kopblog - The blog's dollocks!

Liverpool On Course For Fourth

Posted: 08 Jan 2014 03:06 AM PST

20 games gone in the league and we’ve now played every other team. I always thought that the league table after 20 games was a lot more significant than the table on Christmas Day, especially with the 2 most difficult away games still to come. We led the league at Christmas, lost 2 games, dropped down to 5th and then beat Hull to go up to 4th. I’ll take that.

For a while this season we’ve been getting good results without convincing everyone that we are good enough to stay the course. The first few games we won 1-0 by hanging on in the 2nd half. Then we were beating the lesser sides at Anfield but couldn’t beat a top half of the table side away from home. The defeat to Hull appeared to confirm some people’s doubts but since then we have been very good. As if the poor performance and result at the KC stadium provided the kick up the arse that was needed. After the Hull debacle we slaughtered Norwich and West Ham at home and then went to Spurs and gave them a good hiding. The team seemed to come of age at White Hart Lane. We controlled the game, defended well and was quite ruthless in attack. Players like Flanagan and Sterling impressing. Henderson and Allen in midfield doing great as well. 5-0 actually flattered Spurs, it really could have been 8 or 9.

We followed up the White Hart Lane massacre with what I thought was our best display since Kenny’s first spell as manager. That first 60 minutes against Cardiff was fucking filthy. The pressing, passing, movement, interchanging… Iw as on the edge of my seat, creaming my pants at the sexy football. “Aww, ahhhh yes, awwwww! Ooooohh! Oh my god! Fucking hell, shit, where’s the tissues ?” I haven’t eulogised over a performance like that since Mcmanaman and Fowler ran rings around Middlesborough at Anfield in December 1996 and before that you have to go back to Kenny’s first spell for such flair, style and panache while giving the opposition a beating. I got the impression that this was Brendan’s philosophy coming to fruition. I’ve noticed that our pressing game has come on big time since Gerrard got injured. Now the skipper is back and Allen is injured it will be interesting to see if the pressing disappears or if it’s maintained.

Although we lost at City and Chelsea I was impressed with how we played. Some fans who thought we would go on to win the league were hit with a sense of reality. I think those games showed that we aren’t at title winning level but I definitely saw signs to suggest we have come a long way since the start of last season. It was a bit demoralising to drop to 5th especially with Everton above us but a good win against Hull put us back in the top 4 to make us feel good about ourselves.

After 20 games it’s clear we are genuine contenders for a top 4 spot and that’s what we all hoped for at the start of the season. Credit to the manager and players. So far so good!

For the first time in a long time I am looking forward to the 2nd half of the season. I think we’ll be battling United, Spurs and Everton for 4th. I don’t see us challenging for the title or finishing in the top 3. Unless of course we strengthen the team with top class new transfers this month.

Certain parts of the team/squad need improving if we are to challenge for the title. Full backs on both sides. We have no back up for Johnson when he’s injured and no competition for his place. When he’s off form, as he’s been the case for a while, there is still no realistic chance someone else takes his place in the side. Left back is a problem area and has been for a while. Have we ever had a top class left back at Liverpool? I don’t rate Enrique at all, but he gets injured, Cissokho gets his chance and doesn’t look great. Flanno gets a chance and is a revelation, displaying all the ability I thought he didn’t have. Intelligent runs off the ball, good passing and first touch, offering a constant attacking threat and solid in defence. Then he gets injured and we’re playing Agger at left back at Chelsea.
Left back is the priority but ultimately I think we need a right back as well. We’ve been linked with Martin Montoya from Barca and Ryan Bertrand from Chelsea but ai doubt we’ll be signing either player.

Defensive midfield player to ultimately take over from Lucas. I think we need to upgrade on the Brazilian if we are to progress to the next level. Get someone in with more mobility, pace and power. Those players aren’t easy to get so I’m not holding my breath on this one.
I am not writing off Lucas, I think he’s a very good player, I just don’t think he’s a great player. I think if we are to win the league or the CL again we’ll need a great player in the defensive midfield role. This is because the way Brendan likes to play means its likely the defensive midfield player is isolated at times and I think it takes a special talent to handle that against quality opposition.

Wide forward/attacking midfield player. We need more goals from midfield, whether from wide forward or the number 10 position. Sterling and Coutinho are doing great for players at their stage of development, but to compete for a title we need elite level decision making and end product in the final third. We get that from Suarez and Sturridge but the level drops with other players. It looks like the club are trying to address this as we’ve been linked with the likes of Ivan Rakitic and Mohamed Salah. Again I think signing either is a long shot but I don’t think we are in desperate need to strengthen this area.

It wouldn’t surprise me if we didnt sign anyone this month. It wouldn’t be the end of the world for me as I think when our injured players return we’ll have a squad capable of finishing in the top 4. However if the ownership see this season as an opportunity to win the league ahead of schedule maybe they would sanction moves for top top players. Then again getting those players is very difficult and very expensive. I think we’ll have to qualify for the CL and look good doing it before signing any top shelf players.

Next up is Stoke away and according to reports we should have Sturridge back available for this one. I’d have him on the bench. Stoke have only lost one game at home this season and have already beaten Chelsea and almost beat Everton but for last minute idiocy from Jermaine Pennant when he have away a penalty. It’s going to be a difficult game but one I think we should win considering the players will have a full week to recover and prepare for the game.

We then have Aston Villa at home which is a must win and then Everton at Anfield. 9 points would be nice.

We have a lot of big games at Anfield in the second half of the season that will determine our fate. Key home games are:

Everton 28th January
Arsenal 8th February
Spurs 29th March
City 12th April
Chelsea 26th April
Newcastle 11th May

The majority of our away games are against bottom of the table sides. The more of those we win the less pressure on the big games at Anfield. We have the following away games to come against the lesser sides:

Stoke 12th January
West Brom 2nd February
Fulham 12th February
Cardiff 22nd March
West Ham 5th April
Norwich 19th April
Crystal Palace 3rd May

The most home wins we’ve won in a season in the Premier League era is 15 in 1995/96. We’ve already won 9 this season. I think we’ll win 14 or 15 come the end of the season.

Our away record has to improve. When you look at the fixtures to come it should improve. I’m predicting 5 wins, 2 draws, 2 defeats from our remaining 9 away games.

So my season prediction is:

Home. Win 14. Draw 3. Lose 2. 45 pts.
Away. Win 8. Draw 5. Lose 6. 29 pts.
Total. Win 22. Draw 8. Lose 8. 74 pts.

This wouldn’t have been my prediction before a ball was kicked this season. I thought we’d get around 68 points. So far Liverpool have exceeded my expectations, and I think we’ll continue to exceed expectations. I’ve tried to remain realistic though. I think 74 points is doable and will be good enough for 4th place.
There is a lot of football to be played however and no honours or champions league places are handed out in January.

In early December after all teams had played 14 games I predicted what the table would look like after 20 games.

Predicted table:

Manchester City 44 pts
Chelsea 43 pts
Arsenal 42 pts
Liverpool 37 pts
Tottenham 36 pts
Manchester United 36 pts
Everton 35 pts
Southampton 29 pts
Newcastle 29 pts

Real table:

Arsenal 45pts
Manchester City 44 pts
Chelsea 43 pts
Liverpool 39 pts
Everton 38 pts
Tottenham 37 pts
Manchester United 34 pts
Newcastle 33 pts
Southampton 27 pts

I got City and Chelsea spot on but slightly under estimated Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs. United failed to meet my expectations. Ha ha.