The Season So Far

The Season So Far

As we are now just over half way through the season it may be worth reflecting on the events of the season so far. No doubt, much talk over the next few days/weeks will be centred around the events of yesterday. Finally, Philippe Coutinho has got his wish and has left the club to join Barcelona. I’m not going to dwell too much on that event as players leave our club on a regular basis. What is disappointing however is the way the whole affair has been handled by the player and his and Barcelona’s representatives. All those responsible for the very blatant ‘tapping up’, leaking stories to the press, to Nike their sponsors. It really beggars belief as to how they are consistently allowed to get away with their underhand tactics.

Anyway, on a positive note we will pocket a sum in the region of £142m. I am sure we are in very capable hands in ensuring we spend that wisely. As the saying goes, in Jurgen We Trust!! More on my thoughts on how to replace Coutinho later. So, back to the main topic of this post, the season so far.

The Season So Far

Mo Salah-A Point Gained Or Two Points Lost

Mo Salah-A Point Gained Or Two Points Lost

Like most teams (with the exception of Manchester City) we have experienced up and downs since the season commenced in August. Hands up all those who would have taken a top four berth, last 16 of the Champions League, finally signing a top quality centre-back and leader, losing Coutinho and beating Everton in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup back in August? I for one would have without a doubt. We all knew Coutinho was going at some stage so it all became about timing. Ideally, him going in the summer was the best scenario but it wasn’t to be. With regard to the on field exploits so far, how do you rate the season so far?

Carabao Cup

An early exit in the Carabao (League) Cup was a blow obviously when losing 2-0 to Leicester. Especially as the game itself followed the oh so familiar pattern where we dominated throughout. And of course it meant another trophy had slipped through our grasp. Still, it wasn’t to be. Given the choice, Carabao Cup or Champions League progression? No brainer really. Yes, in the ideal world progress in both is to be hoped but our resources would have really been stretched. So much so, our Champions League progress may have been put in jeopardy. But, as we now all know, Champions League progress has been made.

Champions League Progress

Steven Gerrard-Liverpool's Best England XI

Steven Gerrard-What A Legend!!

At times it looked as though we were doing our best to screw the Group up. Leading Seville in both games and only getting draws in both was a bit kamikaze. Even though we were only 2-1 up at Anfield they were not posing that much of a threat. But we somehow managed to conceded a soft second goal to add to the very, very soft first goal we conceded. At that stage of the season, we seemed to shoot ourselves in the foot quite regularly.

If the home tie was bad enough in terms of squandering points (remember we also missed a penalty at 2-1), the away tie was bonkers. Having strolled into a comfortable 3-0 half-time lead we somehow managed to conjure up a 3-3 draw from this seemingly dominant position. How on earth did that happen? Well it would seem it may be acceptable to point the finger at certain individuals for the capitulation. Rather than name them, I think we all remember who they were.

As it happens an avalanche of goals against Maribor (twice) and Spartak Moscow at Anfield ensured we did safely make it through as Group winners. No complaints about the last 16 draw either. I think we would have all taken Porto wouldn’t we before the draw was made.

Champions League Qualification Ensured

With Champions League qualification ensured in early December we could now concentrate on the glut of League fixtures ahead of us in December and early January. For so many teams, December can define your season. A good December can set up you nicely for the remainder of the season. A bad December can see you falter for the rest of the campaign. Our December League form was excellent, so hopefully we have a great platform to push on. But how have we fared generally in the League for the season so far?

League Campaign

Only two defeats, albeit two good hidings against two of our nearest rivals, isn’t too bad is it? The 5-0 mauling against Manchester City is a difficult one to assess in terms of taking anything forward out of the game. With Sadio Mane being sent off quite early on when we were more than a match for City distorted the rest of the game, the result and what could be learned from the game.

Not taking anything away from City though. They have shown that can steamroller any team. And ultimately they steamrollered us on the afternoon in September. But how different might things have been if Mane wasn’t harshly sent off (how many raised feet have we seen since go unpunished?). I feel next week’s encounter at Anfield will provide us with a more accurate barometer of how far away we are from them.

The 4-1 hammering from Spurs though provided us with enough evidence of where we need strengthening. defensively we were all over the place. Yes, Lovren had a nightmare on the day but don’t forget Matip though. He hardly covered himself in glory. The important thing is though we do seem to have learned a few things defensively from that game. You can’t expect to not lose any League games in a season, so defeats have to be taken on the chin and learned from. For me the most frustrating part of the season so far has been the draws.

Disappointing Draws

When you think of the points we have dropped from winning positions this season. Not only from winning positions, but from positions of total dominance. Everton, Arsenal, Newcastle, Chelsea to name four games. We were also ahead against Watford in injury time but we weren’t what you would say totally dominant, but nevertheless we threw away a winning position.

If we had managed to see those games out, those extra ten points would see us sitting pretty in second. And comfortably so as well. We would have been only eight points behind Manchester City. Given that we are playing them next, that would have been an incredible position to find ourselves in. But, as the saying goes, “that’s football”.

The important thing for me is that we are very, very close I feel to being a really top side again. I always had faith in Jurgen Klopp in making us a force again. The margins between success and failure are so fine. As I said, if we had managed to see those 5 games out and gained the maximum points we deserved, then who knows? Being ten points better off and with a manager who recognises and is now dealing with our well documented weaknesses. The season so far would take on a different look.

The Rest Of The Season

Obviously losing Coutinho is damaging from a squad quality point of view. Losing such an important player will be felt if we don’t plug the gap this window. It will of course damage our top four and Champions League aspirations if left untreated. If we haven’t got somebody lined up this window then that may suggest that Coutinho has let us down and reneged on an agreement for him to leave at the end of this season.

While there is no disputing his contributions this first half of the season, his behaviour as soon as the last two windows opened is questionable to say the least. Another mysterious injury as soon as this window opens? Rumours of him telling the club he has played his last game is very unprofessional as well if true. Yes he will be missed but his loss is nowhere near as big a loss if we had missed out on Virgil Van Dijk. We have plenty of cover for Coutinho already and with the promise of new signings from the incredible £142m fee for him. But in terms of signing a player you can build your team around, then Klopp has finally got his man in Virgil Van Dijk. Ignore the money for the moment (especially now we have just received an inflated £142m for Coutinho), Van Dijk is a brilliant signing.

Our Modern Day Colossus

When Shanks signed Ron Yeats all those years ago he referred to Yeats as his colossus. Yes football has changed but all successful teams need a strong spine. Our spine in recent years has been poor to say the least. To sign Van Dijk is a massive statement of intent for me. And another piece of the jigsaw is now in place. Naby Keita’s arrival is another huge piece of that jigsaw. No doubt a new goalkeeper is now high on the list of priorities.

Reasons To Be Optimistic

I think we can look forward to the rest of the season with great optimism. Not only for what we may achieve in the second part of the season, but also because we have every reason to look ahead to next season with great enthusiasm. For me for the remainder of the season to plug the gap left by Coutinho’s departure we need a major signing. Mainly to keep the momentum and the squad quality at a high level. If we weren’t in the Champions League then I would expect us to sit tight until the summer.

But as we have a Champions League to aim for then a quality, not cup-tied player is the ideal scenario. It’s a shame that playing in the Europa Cup cup-ties you in the Champions League. Otherwise I would hope we would be making an offer for Alexis Sanchez. Ideal player for us. We could even consider him and another who can play Champions League.

There aren’t many players with the quality of Riyad Mahrez knocking about that aren’t cup-tied. Although his work-rate may be a bit suspect, his undoubted skill isn’t. And you never know what the Klopp effect could have on him in a positive way. If he would turn out to be half the signing Mo Saleh has been then that’s a huge plus. Saleh has been an incredible signing.

In Klopp We Trust

All in all I would be happy with whatever Klopp decides. He may wait until the summer and rely on his current squad. He may sign a Mahrez or a Sanchez. Whatever he decides makes it even more exciting. I thinks it’s fair to say we are in good hands and the future is bright.

The season so far has been a bit of a mixed bag, but mainly a positive one so far. Let’s hope we can progress even more in the second part of the season.

What are your thoughts on the season so far? Why not leave a comment below.



Saturday Night Football

Saturday Night Football

Well, it’s closer isn’t it. What is, you may ask? Today saw the announcement that there will be live Saturday night football on TV. This further kick in the proverbials for match going fans is to commence from the 2019/20 season. Which brings me to my original statement of ‘it’s closer isn’t it’. To clarify, I remember saying on our way back from the 1995 League Final against Bolton that clubs would accept an invitation to play on the moon at midnight, if the money was right. Some scoffed at this at the time but when you look at it, there is more chance of that happening than us reverting to all Saturdays enjoying a 3pm kick off.

Saturday Night Fotball

Saturday Night Football

Liverpool v Bolton 1995

So, what was significant about Liverpool v Bolton 1995? It was significant because it was the first League Cup Final to be moved from its normal Saturday 3pm kick off. Instead it was played at 5pm on the Sunday. The actual date was the 2nd April. They managed to miss April Fool’s at least. The kick off time was widely criticised by fans travelling down to the game. But what about the clubs? Not a peep really. They were too busy counting their 30 pieces of silver. After all what do the match going fans matter?

That was the start of the rot setting in for me. Football selling its soul to the devil. Don’t get me wrong, all clubs are guilty. Not just Liverpool. But I do find it quite amusing at times to hear employees and ex-employees of the club refer to Liverpool FC as a family.

Liverpool are fortunate in that they enjoy a hugely passionate and extremely large fan base. Fans will turn up come what may. After all, arguably our greatest talisman, Steven Gerrard, confirmed this. He said, ” If Liverpool FC played a cup final on the moon,our fans would find a way of getting there.” I’m not criticising him for saying that by the way. And he’s not wrong. The club knows this only too well. As do other clubs.

Liverpool v Sheffield Wednesday, October 1994

Another example of how the fans are treated. After the standing Kop was demolished in April 1994 we were faced with a temporary, 4,000 open top, mobile stand for the commencement of the 1994/95 season. Luckily, me and my pal were two of the lucky 4,000. I remember a 3pm kick off game against Sheffield Wednesday in October. The queues were particularly bad trying to get in. There weren’t any particularly orderly queues either. As kick off was fast approaching and we were going nowhere fast it seemed, someone in the crowd shouted to a policeman on a police horse.

“Oy mate, why don’t you radio through and ask them to delay the kick off?”

What do you think the policeman’s response was? Well, it wasn’t the one we all wanted to hear. He said….

“Not a chance. You’re all season ticket holders aren’t you. They’re not bothered about you. They’ve had your money.”

Charming!! But never a truer word spoken maybe.

And So It Continued

As the years went by, the kick off times got even more obscure and bizarre. Sign of the times and all that. Fans that have never been to a live game maybe will not understand this. But, I often say to armchair fans that actually going to the game feels that you are contributing. Daft maybe, but that’s how it feels. Yelling your lungs out in the Kop or wherever and you are helping. Shouting at the TV? Nah, not the same.

As it happens I’ve had a season ticket since 1984. I pride myself on being a season ticket holder and class myself as a loyal and passionate fan. Yes there are millions of loyal and passionate armchair fans as well. And I could have opted to become an armchair fan. But when it’s in your blood, it’s in your blood. Sadly though for some fans there has to be a breaking point.

Moving some games to a Sunday afternoon to start off with was bad enough. Then there came the select few Saturday lunchtime games. These of course then became a regular feature on the football calendar. Still, fans found a way around it. Having now stretched fans loyalty so far, the clubs went even further. What about a Saturday tea time, a Friday night and a Monday night option? Needless to say all clubs view is, “not a problem.”

An additional problem to match going fans of course is that the times are often switched at short notice. Again when this happens, who are the clubs actually thinking of when they agree to this?

Saturday Night Football

Today’s announcement of forthcoming Saturday night football is neither a surprise, nor is it welcome. Well, not to the match going fans at least. Were supporters clubs approached about this latest development? Probably not. But if they were, what were they thinking? Armchair fans will be rubbing their hands no doubt. So will the clubs, because agreeing to Saturday evenings kick offs will no doubt mean a shedload more money. And that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about whether or not you are a ‘family club’ any more. Those days are long gone.

Sky’s introduction to the world of football has been so good for millions, but for others? Not so good. The initial introduction of a 4pm Sunday game was acceptable to many. But all these add-ons has really pushed match going fans patience and loyalty to the limit. Saturday night football? At the moment, not for me thanks.

As I said, the days of us playing at midnight on the moon in an FA Cup 4th Round replay is ever closer. Will I be there? Sorry Stevie, I don’t think this fan will be there.

A Point Gained Or Two Points Lost?

A Point Gained Or Two Points Lost?

It could have been better, it could have been worse. Ultimately a point each seemed to be fair all round really. So was it a point gained or two points lost? At about 10 minutes before half time, my mate and I in The Kop agreed that we would be happy to get to half-time all square. I wouldn’t say that Chelsea were turning the screw, but they were looking extremely dangerous each time they attacked. As the half wore on, those attacks were becoming more and more frequent. It was particularly clear that the link up between Morata and Hazard was causing us problems. Two really good, quality players. Especially Hazard. He seems to love playing at Anfield. I seem to recall seeing him about four times or so. On every occasion he has stood out for me.

A Point Gained Or Two Points Lost?

Mo Salah-A Point Gained Or Two Points Lost

Mo Salah-A Point Gained Or Two Points Lost

Although at half-time some would have taken a point, a draw in some respects was disappointing. After all, we had again taken the lead. So, from that perspective, a draw was a disappointment. The now all too familiar criticism of being unable to keep a lead surfaced again. Our inability to see a game out is clearly a problem isn’t it. Five draws in the League this season. In three of them we have been ahead. Watford, Newcastle and Chelsea. The effect of those extra six points is self explanatory really.

And of course, don’t forget leading against Sevilla on two occasions and failing to see the game out.

No Surprise

However flukey or well intentioned Willian’s equaliser was, the fact it came was no surprise. Talking to someone coming out of the ground confirmed what most fans already think. We have on so many occasions not got what we have deserved out of a game. The number of times we have dominated teams and only end up with a draw. Or worse, a narrow defeat.

We couldn’t recall a game where we have been dominated, or really should have shared the spoils but we have sneaked a squeaky 1-0 against the odds. Don’t get me wrong, Chelsea didn’t necessarily dominate us, but they did deserve a point. And a point is what they got. How many times have we said we deserved to win, or get a point but failed to achieve that. The old cliche of course is being able to win ugly. We very rarely seem to manage to do that. When we win, we win in style. Nothing wrong with that of course. It would be nice though now and then to see our opponents on the receiving end of an ‘undeserved’ defeat.

Game Management

Much has been said about game management. Not for the first time question marks exist over game management. As already mentioned we have been ahead in 3 of our 5 drawn games this season but have failed to see the game out. In fairness, credit has to be given to the opposition on occasions. Having said that though we do often play into the other team’s hands. The game against Chelsea a case in point. At 1-0 up we went very deep and decided to hold onto what we had. And why not? We’ve seen other teams do it against us. But our 8 or 9 back behind the ball wasn’t as controlled as we’ve seen other teams employ.

It seemed at times that our defensive strategy was to launch the ball clear even when we had time. Quite a few of the clearances were ‘panicky’ even when they didn’t need to be. I am sure that the plan was to sit deep and hit them on the counter. Why on earth then Mane wasn’t brought on much sooner? But how could we hit them on the break when the ball was unnecessarily humped into “Row Z”?

Cesc Fabregas is a quality player. And it was somewhat of a relief not to see him start. No surprise that he had a big impact on the game when he came on. But did we have to let him see so much of the ball? He got plenty of praise for his contribution to Chelsea’s cause. But, we didn’t really make it difficult for him did we? The room he was given was incredible. Quality player given plenty of room, added to ‘panicky’ clearances equals, dangerous situations to contend with.

Newcastle Equaliser

No doubt we can all remember Newcastle’s equaliser against us earlier this season. There was a catalogue of things that was wrong about that goal. One of which was the lack of pressure put on Jonjo Shelvey when he was on the ball. Fast forward to Saturday just gone and the lack of pressure on Fabregas was incredible. Fans can criticise the back four all day long and say that they are not good enough.

They are right in that certain players in our back four are simply not good enough. But when you add to that a midfield that has no defensive shape or discipline then the inevitable is going to happen. We may have had 8 or 9 back in numbers, but how many were bypassed or were just mere passengers?

I thought Kante was also particularly good for Chelsea on Saturday. He has the defensive discipline without a doubt. But isn’t he really good on the ball as well though. He goes past players with ease at times. He is so effective. The ability to win a ball and then in a matter of seconds get your team moving forward. A quality players. And the type of player we will get in Naby Keita.

Seeing A Game Out

Our inability in seeing a game out is well documented. On Saturday we tried to do so by sitting deep with numbers behind the ball. A dangerous game to play if you have a midfield that offers very little protection to the back four. You can of course see a game out by keeping possession. Our ‘panicky’ clearances were just being recycled back to Fabregas standing in oceans of space in a matter of seconds. Rinse and repeat.

Hopefully, Keita will give us that extra bit of control and poise required. The ability to nick the ball and retain possession as well. I still think we need a specialist defensive midfielder as well though.

Also, we hopefully get Van Dijk (or someone similar). Someone who will provide a calming influence at the back and some leadership – both verbally and with their ability. Ominously though Manchester City are reportedly interested in Van Dijk now. If it isn’t to be with Van Dijk, hopefully we do have a Plan B, C. D etc…

In Conclusion

A draw against Chelsea is no disaster. But it would have been nice to see the game and see Chelsea end up with nothing even though they deserved something from the game. A point gained or two points lost? Make your own minds up. I think, as we took the lead, it was ultimately two points lost.

Expect The Unexpected

Expect The Unexpected

Speaking to a few Reds fans after the game and I think it’s fair to say that the final score of 3-3 was no big surprise. It should have been, but what this current Liverpool side has taught us is to expect the unexpected. In recent years we have had a fair few roller-coaster games where the supposed unexpected has happened. The outcomes of Read More…

Liverpool’s Best England XI?

Liverpool’s Best England XI?

We have been very fortunate over the years to have a wide array of English talent at our disposal. So many have gone on to represent England as well as star for the Reds. But what would you consider to be Liverpool’s Best England XI? Read More…

Favourite Songs and Chants

Favourite Songs and Chants

There is much criticism nowadays of the lack of atmosphere at grounds all around the country. And yes, that includes Anfield. Having said that though, on our day we are one of the best, if not the best. What are your favourite songs and chants though. We do have some real classic anthems don’t we. Top of the pile of course Read More…

Best Opponents Goal Seen At Anfield

Best Opponents Goal Seen At Anfield

As much as we love to see our opponents net bulge after another Reds goal, we do also consider our opponents sometimes. We are rightly giving credit where credit is due. Over the years, Liverpool fans have had the reputation of being Read More…

On This Day 13th November

On This Day 13th November

On this day 13th November 1974 we signed one of my favourite players. A player that rightly went on to enjoy legendary status with us. Step forward the one and only Terry McDermott. Think of the most industrious, hard working, energetic midfielder you can imagine, then compare those attributes to those McDermott displayed week in, week out.

McDermott played against us for Newcastle United in the 1974 FA Cup Final. For those of us old enough to remember, this was the final where Malcolm MacDonald was going to do all sorts of things to us. Fast forward to about 4:50 pm on 4th May 1974. The 3-0 scoreline did not truly reflect the balance of play. We absolutely battered them. Two goals from Kevin Keegan and one from Stevie Heighway put SuperMac (aka SuperMouth) firmly in his place.

Having said that, of all those that flopped for Newcastle that day, McDermott was probably their best player on the day. No doubt we’d already noted his talents anyway. So it was no surprise that a few months later we sign him for a fee in the region of £170,000.

On This Day 13th November

On this day 13th November 1974-we sign Terry McDermott

On this day 13th November 1974-we sign Terry McDermott

Here’s Terry with the, obligatory for that era, curly perm and droopy moustache. In his first two seasons or so, McDermott struggled to make it into the starting XI. That wasn’t uncommon in those days. We would sign a player then put him in the reserves for a year or two.

But when he did make the first team, what an impact he had. Box to box midfielder, great engine and a scorer of important, and often spectacular, goals were just a few of the strengths he brought to the team.

His impact was so profound as time progressed, his efforts were spectacularly recognised. He was the first player to be awarded the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and the Football Writers Footballer of the Year in the same year.

That was in 1980. By then he had well and truly announced himself to Reds fans. I don’t suppose scoring the first goal in a European Cup Final would harm your reputation would it? That he did against Borussia Monchengladbach in Rome in 1977.

He also chipped in with a belter of a goal in another key fixture that season. An absolutely brilliant turn and chip against Everton in the FA Cup Semi Final. This goal was voted “Goal Of The Season” by BBC viewers.

100 Players Who Shook The Kop-Number 37 Terry McDermott

Here is a short video of the very best of Terry McDermott. Voted number 37 in the 100 Players Who Shook The Kop. That’s not a bad achievement is it?

McDermott was very underrated and was such an integral part of Liverpool’s success. Enjoy the video…..

As already stated, he scored so many important and often spectacular goals. Right foot, left foot, headers, piledrivers, chips…you name it. They were all in his repertoire.

But which was his best? It’s all about opinions obviously, but this one is still talked about today. It is included in the video above, but it is that good, it is worth seeing again on its own.

Liverpool 7 Tottenham Hotspur 0

I was lucky enough to be in the Kop that very hot day on 2nd September 1978. Liverpool 7, Tottenham Hotspur 0. Argentina had just won the World Cup a couple of months before. In those days it was very rare indeed for any First Division team to have overseas players in their ranks. Tottenham were pioneers to a certain extent in that respect. Among their playing ranks were two, exciting new signings. World Cup winners, Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa ensured the main focus before the game was on them.

During the World Cup Argentinian fans started a new craze when celebrating a goal or a victory. Or even just seeing their favourites take to the pitch for that matter.

An avalanche of ticker tape cascaded down onto the pitch whenever they had something to celebrate. I vividly remember Tottenham fans mimicking that when their idols came out in tribute to Ardiles and Villa.

That initial explosion of ticker tape was the last paper we saw on the day. After 90 minutes, the talk was no longer about Ardiles and Villa. Instead it was all about how Liverpool absolutely destroyed Tottenham. And in particular, the 7th goal Liverpool scored was, and still is, a huge talking point. The perfect counter attacking goal. From Clemence in goal to McDermott in seconds.

Is this the best Liverpool goal ever seen at Anfield?

You decide…….

Thanks for the memories Terry Mac. A true Liverpool legend who gave us so much joy and one who contributed greatly to our magnificent successes in the 70’s and 80’s.

On This Day 11th November

On This Day 11th November

On this day 11th November, 1970, Liverpool completed the signing of striker John Toshack. He signed for a club record fee at the time of £110,000 from his hometown club, Cardiff City.

It is incredible to think isn’t it Read More…

Who Will Make It?

Who Will Make It?

We have been down this road so many times before. You know the one. When we see plenty of names of our up and coming youngsters put forward. As if making it is not hard enough anyway, some players in the past have been labelled with the, “this is the new…….” Read More…