View from the Kop

Hands-Up Who Said “No Europe? No League Problems!” Last Summer?

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THE 2010/11 season started in nightmarish fashion; owners at loggerheads with each other, the club in financial disrepair, facing mountains of debt and lurching towards administration with its mandatory ten point penalty.

On the pitch things weren’t much better; Roy Hodgson was the new man at the helm, and he was steering us to the bottom of the ocean.

Defensive tactics, poor signings (Konchesky/Poulsen), an inability to convey his thoughts to the players, a lack of empathy with the fans, delusional post-match interviews, and a willingness to allow himself and his players to be walked over by Alex Ferguson, all combined to see Hodgson lose both the dressing room and the Kop.

With the Reds out of the Carling Cup, losing at home to Northampton in the third round, and sitting 19th in the Premier League, 8 games in, having just lost to Everton, it was perhaps unthinkable that events would conspire as they did to save us. First the Fenway Sports Group succeeded in their hostile takeover of the club, then, they listened to the fans and kicked Hodgson out, replacing him with Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish. He in turn, inspired us and led us on a march up the table to finish in seventh place, just missing out on Europe, but a remarkable turnaround nonetheless.

Not qualifying for Europe allowed many to trot out the line, as it is in the title of this piece, “no problem, we can focus on the league”, a cliché which to my mind is used hopefully rather than sincerely, when the club that you support has failed to reach a certain point in, or qualify for, particular competitions. There is little evidence to suggest that failure in one, or two, or more competition/s, directly results in success in another, on the contrary in fact, I would suggest that success is a habit, and winning breeds winners, just ask our old friends up the M62.

So, we come to the 2011/12 season; a season, may I remind you all, that is not over yet. Our league results have not exactly been awe inspiring so far; we began the season in positive fashion, with Charlie Adam flighting a perfect free-kick for Luis Suarez to score the first Premier League goal of the season, against Sunderland. However, as would become the pattern for our season to date, Liverpool were profligate with the other chances created in the match, and conceded a wonder-goal from Seb Larsson to end up drawing the game.

Now here we are, in seventh position, and with a real job on to improve our league standing before the season draws to a close. However, Liverpool’s league results and the table as it stands, only tell a fraction of the story of this turbulent and transitional season, and if we were to judge our club on only these cold, hard numbers we would be missing the crux of the narrative.
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The first thing to say is that we have played much better football consistently this season than we did last time out, and in fact, better football than in Rafa’s last season in charge. The chances created, saves made by opposition goalkeepers, efforts that have come back off the woodwork (22 in the Premier League), and our territorial dominance in many games, show a team that’s hungry for goals and success, and that we are moving in the right direction, without quite being clinical or ruthless enough. What it shows is that we have not yet developed the killer-instinct to take our chances when they come, and to finish teams off so that there’s no way back. However, I don’t see this as a problem for now, the team has been together less than a year, the management and ownership have been together for just over a year, these things take time to come together, and above all, continuity in the playing staff and management philosophy.

More promising signs that this ruthlessness, which is necessary for ultimate success, is coming, are the performances and results in the domestic cup competitions this season. In the absence of European competition, these were the only chances of silverware that Liverpool had this year, we’ve already won the Carling Cup, beating Chelsea, Stoke and Manchester City on our way, and we travel to Anfield South for an F.A. Cup semi-final against the Toffees in a fortnight. As suggested above, winning breeds winners, success in these cup competitions can bring a winning mentality to the young squad that we have, which will put us in a fantastic situation going into next season. European qualification, albeit via the preliminary rounds has been assured for next season already, and with a couple of shrewd signings in the summer, we can walk on with hope in our hearts. Remember, Manchester United won the F.A. Cup (1990) and the European Cup Winners Cup (1991) and used them as a platform to go on and win the Premier League (1992/93).

Injuries to key personnel have also affected Liverpool’s league position this year. Yes, all clubs have to deal with them, but all clubs have players that they struggle to do without; van Persie for Arsenal, Kompany for Manchester City, Scholes/Rooney for Manchester United. For us it has been Lucas. Other injuries have set us back, Agger, Johnson, Gerrard for example; however the one player that we could not replace and the last person we would’ve wanted to get injured this season, was Lucas Leiva.

Rapidly becoming the best ball winning midfielder in the Premier League, if not Europe, when he ruptured his cruciate ligaments, we have rarely been the same team without him. The protection he gives the back four is vital, but even more importantly, his calmness, discipline, energy, and flawless tackling in midfield allowed Charlie Adam to shine. Playing with Lucas, Adam looked worth every penny of the £7million he cost, and he has suffered more than most from the Brazilian’s unfortunate lay-off, struggling to re-capture his early season form playing alongside Steven Gerrard.

Taken holistically, our league form has not been bad this season, results have not been what we may have wanted and of course we would prefer to be sitting slightly higher, but realistically speaking, we would have been doing well to finish fourth given the upheaval the club has been through recently, and the state we were in not two seasons ago. There are still eight games to go, and if we achieve twenty points from those games, we’ll finish four points better off than we did last time. It may seem like a big ask the way the last two games have gone, but looking at the fixtures, it’s certainly not beyond the realms of possibility. As far as the season as a whole goes, finishing seventh (although I reckon we’ll sneak 6th at least) and winning the two cups would, for me, meaning that the only team in England who could legitimately claim to have had a better season than us, would be the Premier League Champions. Unfortunately for us, I reckon that’s going to be our old friends again.

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  • Bekim says:

    Excuse after excuse. We played good football blah blah blah. Opposition goalkeepers made save after save. (that’s why they r in there for) blah blah blah. The FACT is that when u look at the PL table we r 7th. And we could go in the game against Newcastle at 9th. Just when everybody will wake up and c that that the players we have bought r average and not Liverpool players. Two yrs ago Newcastle were in championship and with less money spend they r eight points above us. The quicker we wake up the better.

  • Realist says:

    Let’s not make excuses for a poor liverpool team and a poor Liverpool Manager, let’s remove the rose tinted Lennon style glasses and look at things honestly.

    Look at Sunderland in comparison two points behind us, 11 new signings (compared to 7) mostly forced and spent a fifth of what we have. All this with a more ballsy change of approach and getting rid of the wrong man at the right time.

    Injury problems? Lucas is hardly of a high enough elk to blame for more than a few points lost on, not to mention that everyone else has lost key players, Arsenal have lost Wilshire, United have lost Vidic and at most points had 5 or 6 key players out.
    Transition – Are Man Utd not in transition? Is there not a necessity to sign good players to move forward. Bellamy has been a good signing (almost 33), Coates has had no game time with preference on the oafish Jamie Carragher, Downing has Delivered no sort of final product in the league (why pay over the odds for an English player when they take so long to settle in) Henderson has been played massively out of position and is clearly a round peg in a square hole (more awful management decisions). In fairness Jose Enrique has been a great addition but then one out of 7 isn’t enough.

    Let’s also not pretend that the woodwork is an excuse, all teams play into the same size posts. The lack of goals exists as a problem throughout the team, Suarez hasn’t got enough goals, let’s not mention Andy Carroll and the previous problems mentioned with Downing and Adam hasn’t added as many as he should. Gerrard has been good as usual but he is getting on a bit and Henderson hasn’t had a chance to succeed as heir apparent.

    Let’s save the best for last “King” Kenny. Rafa’s record was better over longer, he delivered a proper trophy and not a stumbled effort over the League Cup finish line. His reaction to the Suarez debacle was handled atrociously from beginning to the end, from the over the top denial, the lack of an appeal while still taking the morale high ground and the idiotic attack on Geoff Shreaves. He has handled himself in the worst manner for himself, his family and the club. His arrogance would be somewhat acceptable, if like Fergie, his arrogance delivered trophies. Best case scenario is 2 Mickey mouse trophies and no Champions League.

    Let’s stop making excuses, let’s leave the past successes of managers behind and let;’s look to the future we need a manager who hadn’t settled for the pipe in slippers a manager who is new a manager like Rodgers or O’Neill or even Mouriniho.
    If you want to debate these points please feel free but it’s time for the truth.

    • Jimmy Areabi says:

      You have made valid reasons backing up all of your views, but then you spoilt it all by mentioning O’Neill. Tut tut tut.

    • Septimus_Red says:

      Well said,

      However the Kenny Brigade will continue to support him.
      My view is Kenny will ‘survive’ until Xmas 2012.
      The problem will have to be sorted out in 2013.
      Which means no CL until at the earliest 2014/2015.

      This is going to be painful to extract Dalglish if we prolong his ‘reign’.

    • Neil Patterson says:

      Ok Realist, I appreciate your stance, but since you wanted the truth, here is the truth, and not just as you see it.

      Firstly, granted Sunderland may have had a boost since Bruce was sacked and O’Neill came in, but recent results suggest that that initial flurry of results is coming to an end (2 wins in 7 in all comps, and 1 win in last 4). The O’Neill effect can be likened almost exactly to the effect that Kenny had on Liverpool when he took overlast xmas. The real test for Martin will be how he fares next season, when he’s had a chance to sign his own players and the weight of expectation from the fans has, unrealistically, risen sky high.

      Secondly, Lucas is worth far more than a couple of points over three quarters of a season.He has The most completed tackles in the Premier League the last two seasons, and has the highest number of passes by a Liverpool player, with a great degree of accuracy,86%. Of the twelve games Lucas started in the league before the injury we won 6, since the injury, we’ve won 6 out of 17, taking our win ratio from 50% down to just over 33%. In the 12 he started we lost just twice, since the injury, 8 out of 17, a defeat ratio rising from around 16.5% to almost 50%, fairly stark.
      Lucas by my reckoning, will have been worth at least 15 points by the season’s close. for more info check here http://thinkfootball.co.uk/lucas-injury-may-cost-liverpool-top-four-spot/

      Thirdly, it depends how you define transition. Sure Man U have some new players, but they have had the same owners for nearly a decade, the same manager for 2 and a half decades, and they are not trying to climb the league, merely retain their position, a feat, I would suggest that is much more readily achieved. Utd might be top, but are they better than last year, have they improved? No is the short answer. Last year Utd were in the CL Final, not this year. Last year they were in an FA Cup semi, not this year. And let’s not forget their exit at home at the hands of Palace in the Carling Cup.

      Utd may be clinging on grimly to the league top spot this year, but it is fair to say that they are going backwards rather than forwards, the same cannot legitimately said about Liverpool.

      I’m not going to get into individual signings but to say that no manager gets it 100% right, in fact it’s much closer to 50%, and rationally speaking, it is absolutely too early in their Liverpool careers to pronounce final judgement on any of them, for better or worse.

      Goals are a problem, as I’ve said, so we agree on something, and a new striker will have to be signed in the summer to compliment the ones we have. I would suggest though that the spectre of not scoring enough goals has hung heavy over the team for a long time now, causing confidence in front of goal to dip.

      The lack of goals from midfield has been a problem, but yet again that comes back in part to Lucas.When he played we failed to score in just 25% of games, since the injury, we’ve failed to net in 35%. Gerrard has been good, and although he’s in his 30’s that’s not really the problem. It was his lengthy injury lay off, over half the season, that has also contributed to our lack of goals from midfield, another fact that cannot be written off so easily.

      Shall we save the best for last? Well, if you insist. First of all Rafa’s league record may eventually have been better over longer, but in his first season, he dropped down a place on the year before, finishing 5th. If you take Dalglish’s win ratio as a whole instead of being selective,statistics have dropped because of the last 2 results, but he still has an overall win ratio of 49.2%, he’s unbeaten in 73% of matches and we went 15 games unbeaten at Anfield, until Arsenal stole a win there in March. Again I would suggets a little tweak rather than wholesale change is what’s required.

      As far as the Suarez affair goes, I won’t say much other than; that as one of the Reds who has actually read the 115 page report front to back,listened to as much testimony as possible, and pored over the available video footage for hours, I found no concrete evidence against Suarez and believe him to have been falsely accused, and made a convenient scapegoat.

      As such I feel Dalglish and club acted in the proper way to defend their player, much like Ferguson did with Cantona over the assault, and Schmeichel over the Ian Wrightracism affair, which by the way was dismissed practically on the say so of the UTD boss. A manager protects his players, trhat is his job. No appeal was made due to the threat of a season long, and the possibility a lifelong premier league ban for Suarez. Hardly worth risking losing your best player forever, especially up against the FAs miraculous 99.5% conviction rate, now is it!

      There are no excuses in my article, just facts and reasons. It is time to start looking to the future, most of us have been for the last 14 months, the future started then, not now. The quick fix managerial merry go round does not work, it has been shown not to work, so why perpetuate the myth?

      Continuity is a must! Kenny Dalglish is one of a club of only 4 managers to have ever wonb the Premier League, why replace him with O’Neill or Rodgers, who have never come close? Just because they’re in vogue at the moment? A little short-sighted I feel; as for Mourinho, great manager maybe, but I wouldn’t really welcome the side show he brings with him, nor relish bringing in the man who tried to take Steven Gerrard away from us.

      You wanted the truth, there it is, hope it satisfies you 😉

      • Neil Patterson says:

        Sorry the last para should read 1 of only 5 managers to win the Premier League. My mistake.

      • Realist says:

        Martin O’Neill has done great with more of a challenge than Kenny has ever had. We are sitting second bottom in the form table with only Wolves below us, so to say Sunderland are off the boil is irrelevant the point really was that they are doing better now.

        Transfers – 50% is fine but when it’s more like 22% at the moment and that with an English premium on players like Carroll and Downing. It is understandable that not all decisions are going to be right but at the premium end of the market it should be at least that, not less than half. Can you argue that the signings have been good enough?

        The Magnificent Lucas effect – The statistics show that Lucas makes a few tackles but the statistics show that Henessey has the most saves in the league. What do you think Neil, sign him up? This is not to mention the lack of depth and the fact that other teams have lost bigger and better players?

        Transitions – Man Utd have lowered their average age massively, they still have a wealth of experience and now have the skeleton of a new generation, this is the important thing. Consistency of owners, I don’t think any united fan would see their ownership as a good thing considering they are raping the club and the fans. They have less money to spend than many of the teams below them and us. They lost to Crystal Palace – Get real, do you think United fans get excited for that trophy? They will have 25 by the time we come close to challenging again.

        Rafa finished 5th that’s better than 7th and we are dropping like a stone, Everton will be above us by the end of today. 17 games unbeaten at Anfield, lies and statistics? 23 points out of a possible 42, Fortress Anfield?

        I do agree that the team doesn’t need a massive overhaul, there are solid foundations there. But I would suggest the signings haven’t been good enough and Kenny’s attitude is embarrassing and his results becoming that way. We need a manager who will be there for 10 years, Kenny won’t, even if he does turn it around. The excuses are becoming more and more ridiculous, even recently blaming the cup “success” as an excuse for getting beat by Wigan, this from a team that wants to play 10 more matches a season in Europe.

        “I think people should take an intelligence check. It’s not true that you should only look at the league table,” Dalglish said. “Some people will look at that but there’s a bigger picture than that.
        I think most real football fans would appreciate the league table and Dalglish needs an intelligence check.

        We need Champions league football to move forward especially with the new financial rules.

        Dalglish (one of FIVE) only delivered it once, hardly building a team is it, he moved upstairs and delivered nothing from there. He was poor at Newcastle and Celtic, if you can’t win a 2 horse race there isn’t much to be said. Camolli will have to start delivering youngsters like he has in the past but at the moment the European management hierarchy isn’t working.

        Rodgers is in vogue at the moment but look at what he is doing with Swansea, that style is fantastic.
        O’Neill flavor of the month? That’s disrespectful, he has managed more games than Dalglish, mostly smaller clubs (Leicester and Villa compared to big spending Blackburn and the inherited a great team at Liverpool) and still has only a 1% less win percentage.

        As far as the Suarez affair goes you are not the only fan who has read the report:

        Mr Suarez signed his witness statement on 6 December, which was after he had received
        the experts’ report. In paragraph 13 of his witness statement, Mr Suarez said this:
        “I explain in paragraph 34 below [this should read 35] that I did use the word
        “negro” by reference to Mr Evra during the game on 15th October 2011.

        Read the fact that he admits he used the word negro and read the independent linguistic experts view of this, unless you know more than the linguistic experts (do you?) or have seen evidence that might clear him in an appeal then I suggest you stop calling it a conspiracy theory and get real.

        GS: Do you think you have to take a serious look at his refusal to shake his hand and the way it set the tone?
        KD: I think you are very severe and I think you are bang out of order to blame Luis Suárez for anything that happened here today, right.

        I think if you believe some of your rhetoric you, like Kenny are bang out of order.

        • Robert Anderson says:

          Spoken like a true Manure fan!

          Disrespect? what a nerve you have! Support your manager and your team instead of dragging the m through the mud.

          With fans like you who needs enemies!!

  • unbekim says:

    enough said, just concentrate to FA cup…what the hell with PL and CL…we just dont have enough game to make amend to this seasond in PL/CL …so everybody just keep quite and do support our team in FA cup

  • Akash says:

    sack dalglish & appoint FRANK RIJKAARD

  • red.red says:

    rubbish excuse when they put on a red shirt and manage a red shirt you should not be poor. Lost 100million dont tell me its for the future henderson will be average ay best shelvey is valued more.

    What we want is right tactics right approach being a legend does not give you an excuse. Most games we lost because we would have a cow adam starting every game destroying hendo confidence played out of position, downing getting no competition best players sold out raul aquiliani so bench or leets say forgetten e.g maxi bellamy.

    I wonder is roy would have survived if he had done the same??

  • red.red says:

    lets be realistic do you see us going up or down? We should have been better than arsenal newcastle chelsea because we where capable but we aint a inch close rubbish article

  • EMEN08 says:

    I think instead of sacking the manager&wanting 2 get rid of certain players, we better off getting rid of these superficial fans..LFC supporters were regarding as the best their is but of late we have a new generation of playstation fans who think they knw all &complain&moan without giving constructive insight..So U guys pls jump ship&support another team&leave the real LFC fans 2 support our club,manager&players..Its darkest before dawn but dawn comes..LFC4Life..LucaswemissU

    • Robert Anderson says:

      I agree mate, some of the so called fans on here are a disgrace. This is meant to be a Liverpool Fan Site, not some United Fanzine. If you’ve nowt constructive to say, then say nowt!

  • Can I host our facebook fan page too?

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