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The End Of An Empire?

In Uncategorized on October 3, 2010 at 10:02 pm

What Next For LFC?

Throughout history there have been great empires, dating back thousands of years to the Incas, the Egyptians, the Romans and through to our own British Empire. All of them have one thing in common: They eventually came to an end.

I am inclined to write that today, with the 1-2 home defeat by Blackpool, the sporting dynasty (it would be wrong to call it an empire) that is Liverpool Football Club also came to an end.

However, that would be wrong, for the LFC dynasty did not end today. All that happened with our home defeat by Blackpool was that the I’s were dotted and the Ts were crossed and the final bells were tolled.

Tomorrow, in the national press, and especially in the tabloids, the last rites will be read and we will be officially pronounced dead.

The situation we find ourselves in, however, did not just come about today and nor did it come about at any point this season, or last. We have been in decline for a lot longer than that, right back to the day when Graeme Souness was appointed as manager of Liverpool Football Club.

On that day, our reign of terror over the rest of the footballing world began to go into decline and ever since, we have been spiralling downwards.

One of the problems with our decline has been that we have had spells when there has been the illusion of greatness, still, that has caused us all to believe that our fortunes were on the way back up and that we were close, once more, to regaining our place on that lofty perch we once occupied.

An FA Cup here, a League Cup there, throw in  UEFA Cup and Champions League miracles and you have the complete illusion, bolstered by the occasional 2nd or 3rd place finish in the league.

But, during the past 20 years, how many of you reading this has ever seen a new season arrive and truly believed that we were strong enough to win the league? Have you ever, once seen the start of a new season arrive and believed, with a strong conviction, that our players, our tactics and our style of play was better than that of our rivals?

I have begun many a season these past 20 years with hope but never belief or conviction.

You see, once a dynasty or an empire is over, it is over!

And so it is with ours.

The reality, you see, is that during those 20 years we have never had an owner or chairman with enough conviction, desire and passion to make the investments that were so drastically needed if we were to keep up with rivals who were overtaking us. Oh, we purchased a lot of window dressing along the way, yes indeed. We made purchases which, superficially seemed as if they were progressive, forward thinking additions to our squads, but we never really invested in players who you would say were ‘The Real Deal’.

Look back over the signings of the past 20 years and while there were some golden nuggets, they have been few and far between. Mostly we have been the beneficiaries of the services of ‘has beens’ or ‘never will be’s’. We have lacked the true quality from back to front to ever pose a serious threat to whoever happened to be the main threat of the time.

The other reality, aside from ownership and investment, is the quality of managers we have had during the past 20 years. Evans, Houllier, Benitez and now Hodgson. Not one of them was fit to manage Liverpool Football Club.

Roy Evans had the right, certainly, to follow in the tradition of the boot room and have a go, but he was never really manager material, without an ‘enforcer’ by his side. He was too weak and idealistic. He did, however, ensure that in failing to achieve our ultimate goal, we at least played like a Liverpool Football team should.

The next 2, though – Houllier and Benitez, were wrong and should never have been appointed. During their time, individually and collectively, LFC made no progress whatsoever. Not one single bit.

Sure, a few cups were won, including the champions league, but let us not get carried away with ‘that night’in Istanbul. It was a thrilling occasion, of course it was, and it is one which will live in our folklore for an age. BUT, it was not a stepping stone towards a brighter future.

Houllier and Benitez were simply foreign tacticians who valued themselves above LFC and they did nothing to improve our style of play or to bring in players of genuine quality, even though both spent a small fortune in the process of delivering continued and reliable failure.

And now, we have another tactician. This time an English one. A gentleman, indeed so, and a pleasure to listen to but, not a Liverpool manager. Not in this lifetime or any other lifetime.

Tacticians, you see, may seem like wonderful things, being all knowing, gurus of footballing theories with great knowledge of players and systems but I am afraid that is not what makes a winning manager. What makes a winning manager is the ability to recruit the best players for the job (not necessarily the best players in the marketplace) and then, to have the skills to get the best from those players.

In both of those cases, all our managers of the past 20 years have failed. Miserably.

Neither Houllier or Benitez recruited players who were the right ones for Liverpool Football Club and neither of those managers were ever able to consistently get the best from the players that they did have. Probably because to both of them, their own stature, kudos and opinions were what mattered most.

So now we are in an uncomfortable marriage with Mr nice guy, Roy. Knowledgeable, yes. Decent, Yes. Experienced, yes. But not, I am afraid, up to the task of raising the Titanic that is LFC.

I say that because, even if the players are not quite good enough, you would expect to see them giving everything, if the manager was the right person. But they are not. The players seem as lifeless, clueless and disinterested now as they did for the whole of last season. The new manager is simply not getting through to them and one can only assume that is because the players have little respect for their new boss.

And what of the players?

Quite simply, they are not good enough.

Of the current squad of first team regulars, we only have Gerrard and Reina who are worthy of a place in the Liverpool team. The rest?

Well, Johnson is simply not up to the task of being considered to be a reliable defender and it is a long time since he was even a half decent defender. These days, he is not too hot at going forward either. Skrtel and Agger are just not good enough. They both have poor positional sense, make bad decisions and are weak in the air and Carragher is just too old and slow now. We don’t have a left back at all. Koncheski is a hafl decent left back but not of the class to be considered a long term prospect.

The midfield is full of plodding, ordinary players with no bite, no pace and no passing ability. Lucas, Poulson and Raul are all simply ordinary, uninspiring players who are not game changers or match winners. They are easy for opponents to play through and the reality is, they contribute nothing.

Maxi, Jovanovic and Kuyt are much the same. Hard working but limited. Totally lacking in creativity and pace.

And Joe Cole? A player who once had pace and vision but who is, like so many other signings over the years, living off a past reputation. A name and nothing more.

And as for Torres . . . .once a very good striker but a player who has now become a liability. When he is not injured, he is sulking. His pace has gone and with it went his one weapon. Rather like Owen, really. Once players like that, who lived off their pace, lose that, then they are nothing more than ordinary.

When he first arrived, he was a sensation. Now, he is a sad reflection of the overall plight of LFC. Once great but sadly lacking.

So, what of the future? Well, it seems that the answer lies in matters off the field as much as on it. Liverpool have to start all over again and we have to hope that we begin by being bought by someone who has a passion to see LFC great again and who will invest appropriately. Not stupid spending. I don’t want that. I don’t want LFC to suddenly become ultra wealthy spendaholics. I want us to be able to buy some good players and I want us to have a manager with vision, who has a burning passion for success. Not a master tactician. Not an ego maniac. Just a passionate manager who gets the best from the people around him. Someone with a vision and who will work tirelessly to make that vision a reality.

For the present, however, we have a fight on our hands.

In previous seasons we have fought hard to secure a top 4 place. Now we have to fight with the same intensity to make sure we don’t secure a bottom 3 place. I know these are still early days but after the Blackpool match look at what we have to face next.

Everton away – They must wish they were playing us tomorrow

Blackburn home – Unless we learn how to scrap, QUICKLY, we are in for a bad day

Bolton away – never a good game, even when we are playing well

Chelsea home – They could make our negative goal difference massively worse

Stoke away – Jermaine must be dreaming of this one already

Those 5 matches will define our season

By the time we have played Stoke, we will either be on a confidence boosting recovery or on our way to oblivion.

Which way will it go? Who can tell but the signs are not good.

To get out of our predicament we need one thing. A fighting mentality and so far, this team have not shown the first sign of that sort of mentaility.

This could be the time when our youngsters make the difference. Spearing, Shelvey, Pacheco, Amoo . . players with no experience whatsoever but they have what the first team players currently lack, namely pace, creativity, spirit and above all hunger.

For the past year and a half, our ‘big names’ have let us down. Consistently. No point, then, in trusting that they will make things any better now we are in real trouble.

There is an old saying . . .”If you keep on doing what you have always been doing, you will keep on getting what you have always been getting”

Time to change what we are doing then. I just hope Roy considers this before it is too late. Now is the time for him to show he can manage, and that means making bold decisions and doing whatever is necessary to change things, before things change us. For ever.

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Takeover Special

In Uncategorized on September 17, 2010 at 7:26 pm

To Strike Or Not To Strike, That Is The Question

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The message boards are lighting up like a forest of Christmas trees. The online generals are planning campaigns and rallying troops and throughout the civilized cyber world, the natives are most definitely becoming restless.

Hicks is at it again . . .and again and again

Today’s press reports are all saying the same thing: Tom Hicks is reportedly trying to put in place a financial package to refinance the debt, secured by loans with RBS, by approaching another bank to fund him buying out his own debt and at the same time, buy out his partner, George Gillet.

You have to admire him, just a little, don’t you? It is certainly a very imaginative move to seek finance from a bank to buy yourself out, which is effectively what Tom Hicks is doing. He and George Gillet have put Liverpool up for sale and now, it would seem, Hicks is looking to buy it from himself!

In this edition I am not going to even attempt to look at the issue of LFC being up for sale and the various scenarios that exist. Others will do that and the speculation will reach fever pitch before too long.

What I want to do is look at the possible actions being encouraged and promoted by many Liverpool supporters, most of which entail boycotting LFC in one form or another.

Last night I had to watch the Europa league game from the comfort of my own living room. I had tickets but due to an accident that closed the M6, I was unable to get to the ground in time and so, once I was able to get to the next exit, I turned around, headed home with my Son and arrived back just as the match was about to kick off.

At least I was able to watch it, although I was gutted at not being able to see it from the Lower Centenary stand, where I would have been able to enjoy the special atmosphere which is revered around the world.

Of course, there I am wrong because, whatever the reason, Anfield was half empty and there was no atmposphere, except for that created by the away supporters.

For the purposes of this article I want you to completely forget the ownership issue. Yes, I know it is impossible but, just for a few minutes I want you try really, really hard.

Think back to your first match at Anfield. Close your eyes. Picture it. Hear it. How did you feel? Excited? Nervous? Awestruck?

Of course you did. You felt all of those things. The atmosphere is what makes us and our footballing home one of the most special sporting cathedrals in the entire world. Without it we are just simply Liverpool Football Club.

But WITH it, we are The MIGHTY Liverpool Football Club. We are so great because we play with 12 men and it is so often that 12th man that makes the difference. So often it has been the factor that has turned defeat into victory.

Last night we had to make do with 11 Vs 11 and even then, only just, because Steaua Bucharest had the edge in terms of noise and support for long spells in the match. While we were being outplayed on the pitch for much of the first half, our fans were being outplayed in the stands, too.

Is that what we really want? Is it what YOU really want?

The current boardroom situation is a real storm, that’s for sure and there are times when the future seems dark. So dark. But we need to hold our heads up high and not be afraid. Our dreams have most certainly been tossed and blown and we have been walking through the wind and through the rain now for so long, it seems like there is no end in sight.

BUT, once we desert Anfield, we are walking alone. Our Team is walking alone. Our opponenets gain strength and we weaken ourselves and before long, we will end up in mid table obscurity. Alone.

Now, people are suggesting we walk away. People are suggesting that we do, indeed, walk alone without hope in our hearts at all.

THAT is not the Liverpool way.

By all means, stop buying the merchandise. Stop subscribing to EST. Stop buying the refreshments inside the ground. Forget the match programme. Become financially minimalist and hurt the owner(s) financially, by all means, but do not hurt our team and ourselves in the process.

Just don’t do it. The legend of Anfield is immortal. Once that immortality is lost, once the aura has gone, it may never return.

The attraction, for Hicks and Gillet, is not the income generated through ticket sales. No, it is the potential merchandising revenue. It is the commercial products that are the attraction to them. THAT is the lifeblood we have to shut off, not the noise, not the passion.

When Anfield is full and when we are singing, as with one giant, deafening voice, it is THE most special place in our known world, that world where LFC are mighty, where LFC are the greatest team the world has ever seen.

But half empty?

That is when Anfield is just a football ground. One little ground in a world of thousands of anonymous football grounds.

Half empty, it is not a stadium, it is just a football pitch surrounded by some stands.

How would you have felt on that day when you first went to Anfield if it had been half empty and quiet? Would that day have been as special?

No, it damned well would not!

If Anfield had been half empty on that day, you would have been robbed, deprived of one of the most special days and one of the most special memories of your life.

On that day, all that would have happened was that you would have gone to see a football match in Liverpool. You would not have gone to experience one of the greatest atmospheres you could ever imagine.

Think long and think hard before you boycott.

At the moment, our players need all the help they can get. Don’t take that way from them. Please!

Maybe we need an additional anthem. Perhaps one of the old protest songs from the sixties “We Shall Overcome” or “We Shall Not Be Moved” (‘ . . . . .Just like a team that’s going to beat the greedy yanks, we shall not be moved’)

That’s it for now.

Over & out.

Click here to take survey

Graham http://www.12scbest.com/GrahamT.html

The LFC Times

In LFC, Liverpool, Liverpool FC, Uncategorized on September 13, 2010 at 10:59 pm



LFC - You'll Never Walk Alone


Welcome to the first edition of The LFC Times which is a new, independent view of the events at Liverpool FC.

I have written a number of blogs on a wide range of subjects related to LFC, as well as being a regular contributor to posts in the LFC website fans forum, simply because Liverpool Football Club is my passion and just like millions of other fans worldwide, I have very firm views on everything to do with this world sporting icon that I happen to love very much.

However, this new project is designed to be more than just another blog and more than can be achieved within existing forums. The purpose of this new, online voice is to counter the vast amount of negative material that is being written and spoken about Liverpool FC by presenting an honest, forthright viewpoint of events at Anfield.

The Story So Far . . . . . . . . .

Let me see. It goes a little like this:

  • The tactics are wrong
  • The manager is old school, whose failed ideas are rooted in a previous generation that is not compatible with football today
  • Our team is too old
  • Our players are not good enough
  • We have no chance of winning anything
  • We were outfought and outclassed by Manchester City when we played them
  • We need another striker

When you consider all the ‘expert opinion’ that has been written and spoken about LFC since the start of the season, it is a wonder that we are bothering to even turn up this season.

On top of all that, there is the ongoing saga of ‘The Takeover’ which is currently an issue that has gone very quiet but which seems to be a source of so much depression amongst LFC supporters.

It seems that whenever I pick up a newspaper or tune in to the television or radio, someone is voicing an opinion that amounts to “The King is dead. Long live The King”

Well, if you don’t all mind, I think that rumours of the death of LFC are a little premature. We are alive and well and I have every reason to believe that L4 will soon be buzzing again.

The media have an agenda, or several agendas, actually and the trouble at the moment is, that so many people are being sucked in by the poisonous words that they are spouting.

Let us look at the first 10 games that we have to play, in the Premier league, this season. Arsenal and Chelsea at home plus Man City, Birmingham, Everton and man Utd away, that’s 6 really tough fixtures in the first 10 matches, not to mention Bolton, a notoriously difficult away fixture for any team. If you count that one as well, that makes 5 tough, uncompromising away fixtures plus 2 very tough home fixtures.

Given that sort of start to a season, I would be happy if, at the end of that run, we had only lost a couple of matches and were within 6 to 9 points of a top four place. Currently we are 2 points from that goal!

Let me repeat that.

After what the pundits are describing as a wretched start to the season, we are just 2 points away from 4th place. Hmmm . . . . awful start eh?


How come, I wonder, no one seems to be writing about the early demise of Spurs and free spending man City? Have you had a look at their league position? Taken a peek at how many points they each have?

Well, just in case you haven’t, let me enlighten you.

Man City and Spurs both have 5 points, which is exactly the same as . . . . . . . erm . . . . . . Liverpool! And Villa have 6. Add in to that the fact that Everton have 2 points and you can see that, apart from Chelsea and Arsenal, none of the expected top 8 clubs have yet performed this season.

I don’t, however, see or hear the same terminal diagnosis for any of the other slow starters.

Liverpool, though, have become the number one, easy targets and so, this onslaught is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Allow me to explain why . . .

Firstly, they make an easy story. Journalists don’t even have to think. All they need to do is rewrite all the old stories, over and over again. Stories about the failings of LFC are easy to write but have you noticed, when you read and listen to this stuff, that there is nothing new or original about any of it?

  • Torres has never recovered from his injury
  • Torres is lazy and disinterested
  • Liverpool are short of quality and have a weak squad
  • The manager doesn’t seem to know what he is doing
  • Our players are lacking in motivation

These same old phrases keep getting written and rewritten by every Tom, Dick and Harry without any thought, research or imagination whatsoever.

Let’s have a look at Liverpool’s strongest 11:

Steven Gerrard

Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Koncheski, Kuyt, Gerrard, Meireles, Maxi, Cole, Torres.

Then let’s look at the choice of subs: Agger, Kyrgiakos, Aurelio, Lucas, Poulson, Pacheco, Kelly, Ngog,  Babel, all of which are either established full international players or Under 21, promising and talented young players and I have left a few out, too.

That makes 20 players who are somewhere between good and brilliant.

So, spare me the rubbish about the quality of our players. They are more than good enough for the top 4 this season.

Next we have the backlash from 4 successive decades of being one of the top sides in England, and for 2 of those decades we were THE top side in England, Europe and, truth be told, probably the world, at club level. During that time, in fact, we probably would have beaten most international sides.

So, there are a lot of reporters and ex players out there with an axe to grind, who have been waiting 20 to 30 years for Liverpool to stumble, just so they could gloat and exact some revenge. Most of those are part of the southern press machine.

And finally, we have the awful PR job that we have carried out these past 3 years, meaning that some of what we are currently receiving is to be expected.

Our owners have made a right pig’s ear of overseeing club business matters, we had a chief executive (Rick Parry) who just made matters worse by being inept in the transfer market and then we had Rafa, the subject of some sort of misplaced and misguided folklore status by so many of our supporters.

Rafa, with his smug, self serving media attitude did us a lot of harm and brought a lot of the poor perception of LFC down upon us himself. Had he been a bit more media friendly, I am convinced the press image of us would be much better than it has been.

Having said that, lets look at what we have won during the past 5 years:

  • Champions League
  • FA Cup
  • Super Cup
  • Charity Shield

Then, on top of that, we have been League Cup runners up, Premier League runners up, World Club runners up and Champions league runners up as well, plus Champions League semi finalists and Europa League semi finalists.

How bad is that, eh?

Last season we lost 19 matches in all competitions and so is it any wonder that we have started off in an uncertain manner? The squad has had to exist through endless rumours of takeovers, a new manager, the loss of 2 very influential players, plus continual speculation (again, magnified by the media) about key players and then, we have new players who need time to settle into the team and the team is having to get used to new personnel on and off the pitch, new ideas, new ways of doing things.

You don’t go from losing 19 matches to suddenly playing great football all in one seamless movement. It takes time.

The first thing is that a team needs to tighten up and become hard to beat, which we are in the process of achieving, in my view and then, from that comes confidence. Then, bit by bit, that confidence grows and shows itself in the type of football that is played.

On top of that, new players have to bed in and the manager has to discover, through trial and improvement, through experimenting, which combinations of players is the best suited to achieving what he wants.

It just takes time.

But be in no doubt. The players are plenty good enough. The manager is good enough. The fans are good enough.

Let’s give the team and the manager a break. Let’s be patient and see out the first 10 matches and then, once they are out of the way and once the early season international fiasco is over, maybe we will start to see the revival become stronger.

I am most certainly not walking alone. Remember, we are LFC. We are proud, we are strong, we are knowledgable and we are passionate.

Bring it on!

In the meantime, please take part in my LFC survey. I would like to build a database of views and opinions and then publish the findings. Thank you


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