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Reds progress highlighted by ‘fix’ investigation?

Date: 6th February 2013 at 6:05 pm
Written by: | Comments (20)

Liverpool FC Champions LeagueON 24th November 2009 I was sat in the Ferenc Puskas Stadium in chilly Budapest watching a lipid Liverpool win 1-0 against unheard of to go out of the with a game to spare.

I remember thinking that I couldn’t recall a more dull game, but that I was sure we wouldn’t be that bad next season and that with a few key signings (and hopefully different owners) we could get back to those heady days of the final stages of the Champions League.

Thankfully we got the new owners, but little did I realise that years later we wouldn’t even come close to qualifying again for Europe’s premier competition!

Neither did I suspect that this most unheralded of opponents would put us amongst a investigation!

With Debrecen’s own stadium only holding 10,200 and not meeting standards for the Champions League, the Hungarians had moved to the capital city and the concrete behemoth that was the Ferenc Puskas, with a capacity of 56,000. The game itself was very forgettable, even if the occasion and stadium wasn’t. Budapest is a beautiful city, and the Hungarians were warm and welcoming, but I’ve never been to a stadium before where the men so brazenly pissed in stairwells, and to this day it is one of my least favourite stadia in the world.

At the time of this article being written, details of the match fixing allegations were still sketchy. , the European Union’s criminal investigation arm, stated 380 European games were under suspicion of match-fixing but one of which that took place was in England. A Danish newspaper, Ekstra Bladet, has claimed that the game in question was Liverpool’s game against Debrecen at Anfield – also a 1-0 win to the Reds. Europol hadn’t released further details of these allegations but it was clear that are in no way being investigated.

Indeed, Debrecen have released a statement stating that the issue was resolved some time ago, with their then keeper, , being the man who had previously admitted he had been approached to throw a match – but claiming he refused the bribe. For not having come forward to the authorities straight away, he was banned by UEFA for two years, a ban that was upheld after appeal.

This may be a storm in a teacup, and there’s certainly no indication that Liverpool FC or its players are culpable in any way.

However, this news did get me to thinking back to that cold night in Budapest where we went out of the Champions League and how our side has progressed since then.

Our team that day, with Torres injured, was:

Reina

Johnson Carragher Agger Insua

Mascherano Lucas

Kuyt Gerrard Aurelio

Ngog

Subs: Cavalieri, Kyrgiakos, Skrtle, Benayoun, Aquillani, Dossena, Spearing

At this stage Reina was still at the top of his game, Johnson was still suspect defensively and Lucas still roundly criticised on a regular basis. Ngog was never going to cut it as a Liverpool player and a quick look at the bench (Dossena and Spearing being lowlights, alongside no back-up striker) was an indicator of how weak a team we had.

Even so, we were strong favourites to beat an unheralded Debrecen side so it is difficult to understand exactly how either game, home or away, could’ve been fixed. Given that both games finished a close 1-0, when Liverpool were clearly trying to score more goals with the opposition keeper making key saves in both, it is harder still.

If Debrecen, or their keeper, were trying to throw the game it would have been unlikely to have ended up with such a narrow victory for Liverpool, and it is even harder for a team to fix the exact number of goals scored in a game of football without garnering suspicion (according to Ekstra Bladet, telephone taps indicated the fixers had wanted at least three goals scored in the match at Anfield).

It’s interesting, however, to see how our team has progressed since that day. In the recent strong performance against the Champions Manchester City, our side (with a remarkably similar back five) was:

Reina

Johnson Carragher Agger Enrique

Downing Lucas Gerrard Henderson

Suarez

Sturridge

Subs: Jones, Wisdom, Skrtel, Allen, Sterling, Shelvey, Borini

For me, the side against Man City is actually stronger. Reina isn’t in the form he was previously, but Johnson is a better player and Enrique, despite his weaknesses, is a significant improvement over Insua (who has recently joined Atletico Madrid). Lucas is a far better player than before, even if it is taking him time to return to pre-injury form, while Sturridge and Suarez make for a vastly more potent attack.

While our subs bench is not yet one to strike fear into an opposition manager, it is full of young players who have developed good reputations for their age, even if they are not yet at the level we would expect of them.

It’s hard to argue that we have progressed significantly since that fateful day on 24th November 2009 when we last went out of the Champions League, when we haven’t come close to getting back into it again. However, a look at the comparative sides perhaps indicates that it’s as much the strength of our competitors, particular the rise of Manchester City and a strong Tottenham team, that have kept us out.

If our present side is stronger than that 2009 team, even if you add in a fading Torres to the mix, then what is clear is that other teams are much stronger still than they were then.

Hopefully this match fixing storm will be cleared up sooner rather than later and we can re-consign our games against Debrecen to the history books.

Let’s hope our participation in the Champions League isn’t consigned with it.

You can catch more from me on my own blog: http://taintlessred.blogspot.co.uk/

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20 thoughts on “Reds progress highlighted by ‘fix’ investigation?

  • redrum
    2 years ago

    Yes these ARE dark times for LFC . Those days of getting through the group stages easy peasy every year are long gone . Dont forget that night v Debrecen Rafa was resting most of his best players . That years team was FAR superior to todays in every way .

    I cant see us getting back there under these owners , and certainly not with the manager we have now

    Reply
    • Bill
      2 years ago

      If we didn’t have our present owners we would without any doubt be playing in the Blue Square and no ground to play on. We would have gone the way of Rangers. Hicks and Gillett were bankrupt, we were one day from going out of business. If you can’t understand that you are living in cloud cuckoo land.

      Reply
      • stevieG
        2 years ago

        Bill once again you are the definition of stupid on this site . Your the one in cloud cuckoo land . If it wasnt for FSG – somebody else would have bought Liverpool and that somebody might actually care about being successful , not making money

        Reply
      • bob
        2 years ago

        silly comment bill , administration would have been best thing for liverpool . they would have been queing up to buy liverpool at cheap cheap price . plus anything is better than being in hands of another set of cowboys

        kop on

        Reply
      • Scott
        2 years ago

        Yes , idiotic comment Bill . Liverpool is one the top biggest brands in world football . There was no chance of Liverpool not being bought . You dont understand football or business mate

        Reply
      • Dickie
        2 years ago

        Shame on you Bill…what were you thinking…?

        Reply
    • Dessert Orchid
      2 years ago

      Rubbish

      Reply
    • TaintlessRed
      2 years ago

      That day Rafa played the strongest team available as we had to win to have a chance of getting through to the next round. We won but the other results meant we were knocked out a game early. The team I wrote down above was our strongest team (minus injured Torres), that’s a fact.

      Reply
      • stevieG
        2 years ago

        What about Alonso , Riera , Babel ??

        Reply
        • stevieG
          2 years ago

          sorry Alonso was gone , just checked date

          Reply
  • bob
    2 years ago

    on paper the two sides look similar in quality , but dont forget back then carra and gerrard were at the top of their game , and mascherano is a big miss . still that was the season where it all started to go wrong , the signings of aquilani ngog and kyrgiakos were mistakes . dont know what happened to rafa that summer , huge errors in judgement

    Reply
  • Scott
    2 years ago

    ahhhhhh .. Those were the days , Champions league every year with hopes of actually winning it , Hopes and aspirations of winning the premier too every season , wondering if this would finally be our year to win PL

    Now ? Mid table misery , and no hopes of any trophies . And not much hope of any better next season with FSG and Rodgers in charge

    Reply
  • King Kenny II
    2 years ago

    Which is worse – the highs and lows of H&G or the steady mediocrity of FSG ?

    H&G did one good thing , they stayed in the US and didnt appear to mess in the running of the club . They brought success and nearly success in the PL – closest we have had in over 20 years . They gambled with our club and brought it to verge of bankruptcy .

    FSG have balanced the books , brought ‘stability’ , inflicted a frugal self-sufficient policy which means we cant ever hope to compete with top clubs , and there policy has virtually zero chance of success

    So…. The rollercoaster of H&G – some success , being contenders ,and disaster ….. or steady steady mediocrity of FSG ?

    Bearing in mind there was never any real danger at all of LFC going out of business , despite what the scaremongers say – i might actually go for H&Gs tenure , shocking but true

    Reply
    • TaintlessRed
      2 years ago

      You cannot be serious?!? H&G bought the club with the bank’s money, and used fans revenue (that would otherwise have gone on players) to service the debt and progressively pay off the principle. Not visiting the club was a sign of them not caring about the club. They weren’t on speaking terms with each other let alone Rafa and Parry. Without a new buyer we would’ve gone into administration, with at least a 10 point penalty. They spent 10s of millions on new stadium plans to pay their texan architecture cronies. Even this last tax year the club had to write off £20m of money paid to their texan designers and relating to botched new stadium. FSG are vastly better. Incomparably so. We’d love a Qatar billionaire but we don’t have one do we have to build commercial global revenues which every year since FSG too over we have done. People have such short memories its ridiculous.

      Reply
      • King Kenny II
        2 years ago

        All true , however FSG dont care about the club either and have made ridiculous decisions in running the club too .Also FSG being there is stopping a Qatar billionaire or whoever from buying the club , if we were up for sale then there would be billonaires interested .

        I know H&G were evil and bad for LFC but i think FSG are too . At least it was interesting and exciting under H&G rather than mundane and hopeless under FSG

        I cant wait for the day when LFC is totally free of both sets of yank invanders

        Reply
        • TaintlessRed
          2 years ago

          I agree that FSG are also in it for the money. They’re not in it for the love of LFC, or for glory per say. As any venture capitalist will say, all investments are made with an exit strategy in mind. For FSG that also means selling the club at a higher price to another suitor, possibly some Billionaire or other. However unlike H&G who were siphoning of our money FSG are investing time and business acumen to grow revenues with the intention of being successful. They do want to leave the club in a better position than they found it. It’s only in this way will they be able to increase the clubs value and sell at a higher price than they bought it. That’s fine by me because it means we get a bigger, better more successful club. It’s win win. H&G were destroying us.
          The only thing that does worry me is that if they don’t get a buyer then they are likely to take dividends, or another form of payment a la Glazers at Man U. However I disagree that we’re not for sale. We are. If a billionaire came in and offered above market value to FSG they would sell. In the meantime they are trying to make us successful the only way business men can, grow revenues and give it to the football people to spend it. Their main errors have been getting the wrong football people or the right football people who gave made the wrong decisions and wasted lots of money.
          Following the recent financial restrictions that the Premier League have today implemented that a club cannot lose more than £150m over 3 years only 3 clubs would presently have failed this criteria – Man City, Chelsea and us. That says everything of the disaster that H&G have left us in. By the way when Moore was trying to sell for years no Billionaire Qatari wanted to buy us. And the couple of years H&G were trying to get rid the only ones interested were FSG. Any richer billionaires weren’t interested. There’s no point dreaming of a knight in shining armour with gazillion to spend to come and save us. That’s akin betting your life on a lottery ticket. We gave to manage the club right, leverage our brand, grow global revenues and reinvest that in the squad. FSG aren’t saints but their infinitely better than FSG and they were the only ones, I repeat the only ones, who came when we were close to defaulting on the debt and going into administration.

          Reply
        • King Kenny II
          2 years ago

          I take your points and agree with most , however – 1 . When Moores were selling there were many interested including DIC . 2 . When H&G were selling – FSG were not the only ones in for Liverpool , they were however the only ones to do a sneaky behind closed doors takeover ( virtually theft) , Many many others would have been interested but were waiting for LFC to go into administration first . I mean – Why buy it off H&G for 750m when you can take it off the administrations for a third of the price ? administration would have been a good thing , so what we lose 10 points , then the administrators would have chosen THE BEST buyers for the future of LFC

          Reply
        • TaintlessRed
          2 years ago

          Firstly King Kenny, apologies for my earlier above spelling mistakes. It’s the stupid auto correct on my phone!
          Fair point about DIC. That was a horrendous decision by Moore and Co.
          You make an interesting point about administration. If our only penalty was 10 points then going into administration would attract more buyers at a lower price and may have been our best choice. I agree also that FSG paid less than market value for the club, one of the reasons Hicks & Gillet were so peeved. In administration it isn’t certain that administrators look for the best deal for the club (which is what Martin Broughton, Ian Ayre and Co. were clearly trying to do over the previous year or so). Administrators work for the creditors, which is primarily the bank and also H&G if they had invested their own cash for Equity (I’m not sure what percentage that would be). In this sense they would often go for the higher price, but I agree that they do take other things into consideration as they are also looking for the offer that creates the most stable longer term company. However I would ask the question, if other potential buyers were happy to see us go into administration and get a minimum 10 point penalty (more severe penalties could also have happened) and not willing even to match the monetary value of FSGs pre-administration offer then what kind of investors are they? Perhaps they’re even less the kind of owners we want. The behind the scenes shenanigans only occurred as the best offer that was put forward was not high enough to satisfy H&G. If a higher/better offer than FSGs had been submitted Broughton would’ve gone through the same process to oust H&G. I personally think we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Broughton for ousting H&G. Certainly if any rich Billionaire sugar daddy offers had come in during the period the very well connected Broughton who was leading the process would have sold to them. Those type of buyers were, for complicated reasons we may never know, weren’t interested. Even in administration I’d be fairly confident that FSG would still be our owners but we’d have started with the 10 point penalty and as a result may have had to sell the likes of Suarez who would’ve known we’d start the season without a hope of getting into Champs league.

          Reply
        • King Kenny II
          2 years ago

          Taintless . I think FSG did their sneaky deal when they did because they knew competition would be fierce when LFC entered administration , and FSG would have little or no chance of winning the race to buy pool .

          I reiterate – Wealthy businessmen are NOT stupid , so why pay the ridiculous price set by H&G , and also have to do business with H&G (and there were offers or parties doing negotiations ) – when you can wait for administration and take LFC for a snip of the price ??? Nobody does that in business , Nobody !!

          Also your poont about players leaving was irrelevant , because we were managed by Roy and had NO hope of champions league qualification anyway , it was past the transfer window and Torres already wanted out ( suarez hadnt arrived yet )

          Reply
  • Terry Mac
    2 years ago

    Time machine please – back to the days of Rafa – b4 we had even heard of the cabbage called Brendon Rodgers

    Reply

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