Sunday, December 28, 2008

In Rafa We Trust

If against Bolton on Boxing Day Liverpool was sublime, today against Newcastle for the last game of the year, we were stupendous to say the least.

With the empthatic 5-1 win, LFC made a few statements. That we are still at the top of the league after the energy-sapping games over the Christmas period. And that we did it after Rafa, yet again, tinkered with the squad. Call it whatever you want -- rotation system, Rafa's hardheadedness, etc but I can see Rafa smiling gleefully with both middle fingers upwards (not that he would actually do this) towards the so-called expert pundits.

Against Bolton, he utilised the wide players to perfection which of course benefited Keane who went and scored two goals. Players like Insua and Lucas played like true pros and with the introduction of Alonso displayed how lethal our forwards could be. Rafa tinkered with the back four too with Carra playing as rightback. Such was our domination in that game that we saw the defence having a field day upfront, even with the old Hyypia and Carra joining the attacks as they wished. And we could also afford to take out and rest Gerrard for today's game.

Just as everyone thought this formation would again be used in the game against Newcastle today, Rafa did the unthinkable. No Keane who scored two goals on Boxing Day in the starting lineup (his looks on the bench today again showed how confused he is). Nor was Reira, who played sublimely on the left and scored the first goal in the same game, played. Kuyt played upfront alone (oh no, the headless chicken) with Gerrard behind him and, (goodness us) Lucas and Mascha in the middle. 

Lucas showed how he is coming to age with a fine display attacking, with defence-splitting and long passes that we don't normally see him convert before. Insua was terrific. Carra showed yet again how potent he could still be in the position at the rightback which he started his career at. And Gerrard again showed how damaging he could be if given the freedom to roam upfront with two goals. And he was again rested much early before the game ended.

If we had lost or drawn this game, the pundits would have had their day of course. But we won, proving yet again why Rafa is the best there is. We finished unbeaten at home in 2008 and are still in contention for the elusive 19th title (some might argue our 21st and why not?).

To all the pundits out there, please bow down to Rafa now. Frankly, he knows much much more than what you all do.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Jingle Bells, Jingle all the Way

I forget how many times I have asked the same question: are we good enough to win the title this season? A justified argument as to why we are still at the top of the table (we might not be tomorrow if Chelsea wins) is because of the favouring results of other games in which the teams gunning for top spot lost points too. We will see what happens at the end of the season.

The only silver lining in the draw against Arsenal today was the goal scored by Keane. A superb one too. A pity he doesn't do that every week.

We created enough chances to win the game. Now, how many times have we mentioned that this season? The fact that we only managed a draw is a wee bit heartbreaking as usual. I am still wondering what happened in this game. And let's not talk about the misses we had because it is nothing new.

Reira was mostly a passenger throughout the game, whether as a winger or in defending Arsenal attack on the side of his flank. We were lucky that Arsenal did not really exploit this, especially when we had Insua in fullback there, although Arsenal did most of their attacking on that side. Probably they still lack a better player with more experience to do the damage.

In the midfield, we always lose the vision and creativity of Alonso when Lucas is playing. As to why Lucas always gets the nod by Benitez still baffles me. If Mascherano as holding midfielder were to play, Alonso would always be deadlier with his freedom to create chances for the forwards, with his killer passes and attempts. We lost the battle in the midfield and also forward today when Gerrard had to leave Keane alone at the front.

And with our flanks keep drifting into the midfield, the middle of the pitch was really packed much to Arsenal's favour playing compact.

Now, what really confuses me was what happened after Arsenal was down to ten players. We played better against eleven men in this game. It is always mentioned that a team down to ten men always raise up their efforts to make up for the shortage.

But Liverpool went into a coccoon when we started to have the one man advantage. Maybe the players did not know what to do since it would require a quick tactical change and since Benitez was not at the sideline, an instant decision was not possible. Sammy Lee, as we could see, had to refer to Benitez through the phone in all instances. After taking out Keane, Kuyt was asked to play upfront. Only towards the end of the game we saw the introduction of Ngog. By then, it was too late.

Someone suggested that our players were affected by the jeers from the thousands of spectators. To me, they were mostly lost in deciding what to do. They looked worried, played worryingly as if Arsenal had the upperhand which resulted in Arsenal really having the upperhand in most situations, which made them looked far more superior than us. Maybe our players were waiting for instructions from the sidelines to change the game plan, which did not come or came too slowly.

We can start to ponder on what has happened to the normal decisions a team makes when it has one extra player on the pitch. You know, the opponent without the usual strike force would start defending. They play deep and hope for a quick counter-attack. You push them to play deeper by ensuring you do more of the attacking. They can't really attack well because you force them to defend. And you stretch your opponent wide with your flanks. You tire them with your passes. Eventually your opponent will have a lapse in concentration in which you deliver the killer blow.  In this game, nothing of that sorts happened. But of course, that is easily said than done.

I am sure in the papers tomorrow, Arsene Wenger and Arsenal would be described as the winners in this game. I can see the headlines now "Ten men Gunners held Liverpool to a draw' with Arsene complaining how unjustified the sending off was and how, if that did not happen, Arsenal would have won the game. How the referree is ALWAYS against Arsenal and how Arsenal are the heroes to have almost beaten 11-men Liverpool. Not to forget the fact that they play a beautiful game. You know, the usual stuffs we read about Arsenal in the papers.

A team that leads the table on Christmas day wins the league for that season, they say. Of course we know that it is not true. Getting a draw away against Arsenal is always a good result. Yes, we might lose the top spot tomorrow after the Chelsea game. But they will be having only one point lead over us if they win. And that is a big IF. And if they do, we know that the season end is still so far away. And of course we know we are still not champions even if Chelsea loses tomorrow.  But of course too I would not mind for us to remain at the top of the table come this Christmas.

Merry Christmas!! Ho! Ho! Ho!


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

To be or Not to be Disappointed

So, Liverpool is back at the top of the table by one point after failing to beat a very disciplined West Ham. West Ham knew just what to do to nullify Liverpool forwards and showed, yet again, how to match Liverpool in their own turf.

Many would agree if I were to say that one point for us is justified, which is enough to go top of the table. West Ham came close to clinching a victory themselves and fully well deserved a point. They defended very well and some of their players seem to have found a loophole in the new 'ball-to-hand' ruling. Keep arms close to your body but make sure that the elbows are always sticking out to stop the ball. Their keeper also showed how every keeper that comes to LFC seem to grow wings and save impossible balls. All in all, West Ham proved again that Liverpool has a problem finding the back of the net when the opponents park the bus in front of the goal and go for the counter attack approach.

To me, the man of the match for the first hour was Hyypia. He defended so stupendously and was a sight for sore eyes. And he came close to scoring a few times too. And when Hyypia, at 35, is the man of the match for that long a period, then you know something is wrong. 

The flanks for us were a real disappointment. Putting Benayoun at the right flank was utter nonsense. Kuyt is much better there and should have been played there. Benayoun kept losing possession, could not cross and a few times made a mess for Arbeloa too. He, like Riera at the left flank, kept drifting into the middle and most of the times was running around like a headless chicken. He was lost, without any conviction of what his role really was. I am still asking myself what is it that Benitez sees in him to justify his playing Benayoun in that position.

As for the left flank, Riera and Dossena showed yet again how they can't really cross. What is the use of having wingers and overlapping fullbacks when they do not provide the amunitions for the forwards?

As for Keane, well, where do I start? Suffice to say that he has lost it. Forget about seeing his old damaging striker's role in his new LFC jersey. We can all wait until the cow comes home, and he will still be struggling to come to terms as to what really happened to him. Patience, as we know, has its limitations.

People always say when Gerrard plays badly, Liverpool play badly. This game sums that up rather aptly. He lost his marbles sometime during the break. When other players see their captain trying so desperately to the extent of making a mess of things when being cool-headed would have been better, they of course become panicky too. Maybe if, a big if of course, Torres were around, we could have won this game with a Gerrard goal.

So, did Benitez choose the proper line-up for this game? As the Master, he of course knew what he was doing. But I would have started with Kuyt at the right with Keane and either Babel or Ngog in front. Kuyt because he has been so used to that position and even in this game he had to do a lot of work for Benayoun (mangkuk ayun if you want to know what I really call him). Babel with Keane would have posed more threat to West Ham defence and who knows, we would have scored a goal or two too. Babel is never afraid to let loose one of his powerful shots and is always a big threat with his speed and muscles. 

Anyway, I bet there are actually a lot of fans out there who really did not believe LFC was going to win this game. They would not say it openly of course as they would be lambasted left and right. Hell, I am sure many fans are also not so convinced that Liverpool is really going to win the Premiership this season. I mean, we should be a few points above Chelsea now, not by a solitary point. But, as a fan, we will continue to have faith in the team. Although a massive makeover come this January transfer window is most welcome. And of course we have hope. As long as there is hope backed by our current position, we will always continue to have the believe.  No matter how disappointing this game was for us, we should look at the one point gained, not the two lost. After all, being optimistic is a virtue they say. Maybe if I really dug deep, I might find that virtue myself.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Another Chance for Top Spot

So, Chelsea lost to Arsenal. Good news for everyone except Chelsea fans I suppose. With this result, Liverpool has a good chance to go to the top of the table if they win tomorrow. And yes, there will be a live telecast at 4am for malaysian viewers after all.

I normally do not watch other games, but this time around decided to watch the Chelsea vs Arsenal match. Not completely though, but in between the Stuttgart vs Schalke match in the Bundesliga. This was right after manure beat mancity with a solitary goal which I caught a bit here and there but was watching when the goal was scored.

After a few minutes in the second half at Stamford Bridge, I switched channels for the Bundesliga game.  And yes, unfortunately I missed both Arsenal goals. No big loss there. But what I really wanted to mention of this particular game, which I do not normally watch, is how both teams were playing so badly. Watching this game has made me believe how superior Liverpool really is. And I do also believe that this would be our year. Happy watching the tuesday morning match and You'll Never Walk Alone!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Quick Fix: Owen or Heskey?

If the media is to be believed, Benitez is currently looking at bringing back either Owen or Heskey to LFC.  Both players will be on sale at a very low price it seems, and Owen is at 2 million. Now, which player is the better choice?

I like Heskey, a player with so much potential before coming to LFC but did not really stand out as a LFC material and was booted out eventually. As for Owen, he proved to be a deadly striker both for us and england when he was with LFC. Then he jumped ship, leaving us high and dry when LFC needed him the most. For that, I don't like him at all.

Yes, we all rooted for him and loved him before he 'got greedy' and left us at his prime, at a crucial moment. LFC could have made a lot of money out of him, but alas made nothing since no contractual issue was to be settled.  He tried to make a comeback to LFC, at a price higher than the one received, and it would have been crazy had LFC bought him back at that time. 

Does this beg for some Liverpool fans to hate him, for abandoning us when we needed him? I am sure there are thousands of fans out there, including players, who hate his guts..really. Some might even be happy that he is in the rut now. So, will he help LFC's cause this season with Torres injured? At 2 million, I think it is a good gamble, but it will take a lot of persuasion on the part of Benitez to bring him back to LFC. As for me, I don't really care as long as we win games.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

O Keano

Correct me if I am wrong, but I have this feeling, after reading a few headlines these past few days, that Benitez is ready to leave Keane on the bench. And revert to Gerrard-Torres partnership upfront.

This, if true, would be the best news I have heard this season. "Rafael Benitez believes the understanding between Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard will be key to Liverpool's trophy hopes. The duo plundered over 50 goals between them last season as they formed a frontline that was likened to the legendary Rush-Dalglish partnership." (Official website)

We still remember how devastating to the opponents we were towards the end of last season.  We also saw glimpse of how it works between Gerrard and Torres in a few games so far this season. We could see this partnership as early as the midweek CL game, and I personally cannot wait to see it again. 

But this also means that Keane would be on the substitute bench most of the times and I think will only come on in place of either Babel or Reira, or when Torres needs to be rested. Hence, the much-anticipated 'stupendous combination' 4-4-2 with Keane and Torres upfront will not happen any time soon. But, how will Keane take it? I don't remember where I read it, but Benitez mentioned something about Keane needing to accept the fact that sitting out games in a big club like LFC is a normality. Maybe Benitez has given up hope on this bloke. Hopefully not.

I feel for Keane, coming to LFC with such a big reputation and having been so used to being regarded as the main striker but suddenly finding himself in the shadows of Torres. Maybe he was trying too hard. Maybe he lacks the confident and can't handle the pressure. Whatever it is, I hope he gets things right again soon and somehow prove his worth on the training ground and prays that Benitez gives him another chance. Probably he would get one since Benitez would have to justify his purchase and we don't really think Benitez would offload him soon. Some fans might argue that he has had his chances to prove himself and he should be contented of being a mere squad player. But we all know how important the depth in the squad is if we were to challenge for trophies.

So, good luck to Keane. I hope you would continue to be a faithful servant for LFC for years to come and may the future be a successful one.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Half Full or Half Empty?

Benitez: "We tried to use two or three players with fresh legs but you could see three or four players didn't have the energy. Lucas had fresh legs but Dirk Kuyt and Albert Riera played 90 minutes in midweek and had to fly around."

Hodgson: "It's interesting because the three players I thought did really well, Schwarzer, John Pantsil and Brede Hangeland, had long journeys in midweek to play for their respective countries."
"I joked with them that if they can play that well every week then they are welcome to go away every week as well."

Well, Kuyt looked a bit tired but to me Riera was all himself last night. I am positive many would have prefered Alonso to Lucas. Maybe play Alonso first rather than Lucas,  get the goals and then after Alonso gets tired, bring in Lucas. How come I have this feeling that this almost always happens whenever there is a CL game in the midweek?

Same Old Story

It was the same old story against Fulham but with different outcome. Many times before this game Liverpool had played like this but somehow, with one or two moments of magic, had won the game for them. Not this time. Many would say it has been a long time coming and I would have to agree. All the last minute wins so far has put a shroud over Liverpool’s shortcomings. 

People talked about the championship quality of a team that plays badly but still wins the games. Liverpool has done that many times this season and fans began to believe this would be the year Liverpool would win the premiership. But really, can a team that performed in that fashion is really a championship material?

Apart from Torres and the defence, the others were pure amateurish. Hell! Torres must be thinking what the heck he is doing amongst the other players on the pitch for Liverpool tonight. He is a few classes above the rest, but there’s so much a fantastic player like him could do when there is no support from the others. Without Gerrard to dictate the engine room, Liverpool’s attack was listless. 

Blame it on the international break, but really, ask yourself whether Liverpool would have won the game with that line-up even without the break. Lucas is clearly not EPL material. And Keane, I am sorry; I don’t see him as a suitable partner for Torres upfront. With the championship at stake, could Liverpool afford to keep on hoping that he will eventually be the Keane of yesteryear one of these days and still continue to partner him with Torres?

Yes, everyone knows the cliché when it says a team doesn’t lose the championship in November. But come December and the new year, if Liverpool is too far off the pace behind the leaders, we can then forget about the whole idea of becoming the champion. Last season it was the many draws that hurt us in the end. This season, we belief we now have a better team that beats the big guns like manure and chelsea. But, again a cliché, we would also have to beat lesser teams like Fulham. But frustratingly we could not. Against a team with the worst away record this season too, mind you. As long as we rely on the hope that other teams around us falter and drop a point or two after we did the similar, we will continue to be frustrated. So what would Benitez do now? 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Something Personal

When I was a young kid, I used to watch and listen to the big arguments between two of my elder brothers. The arguments were mostly about Liverpool and Manure. Jeff, as we used to call him and four years older than me, used to be very fanatical about LFC. The other brother, who is also four years older than Jeff, was on the dark side supporting Manure. Listening to them at that time used to confuse me because I did not know much about the English League then. I decided to take Jeff’s side and got into much of the arguments after learning about LFC.

Supporting Liverpool in those days was easy. During the 80s it was much easier. Both Jeff and I were always winning all the arguments and we used to enjoy it very much. The other brother, being fanatical about Manure of course, would occasionally win when Liverpool lost one or two important games. Live games on those days were very much rare and the newspapers used to be our guide and the sports section would always be the first to be scrutinised. Jeff and I used to talk about the great players and sometimes had our own arguments too. The only times we had our own heated arguments between us, Jeff and I, were when we discussed about our Malaysian teams. He supported Selangor while I supported KL. The funny thing was the other brother supported KL as well and then Jeff would be the one who would be alone whenever we talked about Malaysian football. 

We were all very fanatical about our teams, to the extent that the arguments would be so heated up and everyone raised his voice, much to the amusement of those around us. I still cannot forget one live game in which Liverpool played an FA Cup final. We were all watching it with a friend and when Liverpool lost after taking the lead, my dark side brother had a field day. I almost cried openly (maybe I did) watching the game and was chided like crazy afterwards. I still feel that one particular game left a psychological scar in me. And I also remember the look on Jeff’s face at that time.

Jeff used to be very fanatical about Liverpool, but not to the extent of buying any LFC’s merchandise. Most probably he could not afford them then. Whenever I did buy some and showed them off, he would just smile. His only comments were when I bought some videos tapes, such as the ones that showed the goals scored by Liverpool in a season. He said they were not really enjoyable because they did not really show the moves that resulted in goals. 

Supporting Liverpool during the 90s was difficult. Except during the occasional triumphs, both Jeff and I were usually glum. More so when Manure did very well during that time, much to the amusement of my dark side brother of course. We used to be chided whenever we argued about which teams was the greatest and the only solace for us was Liverpool’s fantastic history. But of course it was never easy to argue along that line when you have an equally fanatical supporter of Manure as an opponent. One of the biggest issues for Jeff that he still maintained even until 2008 was how stupid Leeds was when they sold that ‘Kung Fu’ French to Manure. Yes, who can argue against the stupidity of selling Eric Cantona to Manure right after winning a league title? Or him being the catalyst to Manure winning ways? After I got married and moved out of the house, I subscribed to Astro and Jeff would always call me about the latest score if he was not sitting next to me watching the game. We used to always surf the internet to settle some arguments with those who were our ‘enemies’ in supporting Liverpool to get some facts right. And of course we always talked about Liverpool before and after a game and most of the times shared the same aspiration although not on which team was going to win or lose. Even when we were a few hundred miles away from each other.

On the 30th of April this year, a few hours before Liverpool played Chelsea in the CL 2nd Semi-final, Jeff was involved in an accident. He suffered severe internal injury to his liver. When Liverpool was playing that game in the wee hours that night, early morning the 1st of May, I was at the Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah in Klang and Jeff was in the operation theatre. I got my updates of the score from friends and yes, we lost the game. One day after, I lost my beloved brother. He was 44 and left a wife and two children. I will not have Jeff around anymore to talk passionately about Liverpool but I do hope that he is watching how well Liverpool is doing at the moment.

May his soul rest in peace. AlFatihah.

Monday, November 17, 2008



We controlled the match more than Bolton. But at times the thought that it was going to be another one of those ‘Spurs games’ kept you worried. One of the games in which we controlled possession but gained nothing. When you see chances after chances not being taken -- Keane’s and Gerrard’s especially – the thought becomes stronger. The almost-goals when the woodworks denied us a few times did not help either. Then you receive SMSes from friends reminding you of the Spurs game. You begin to almost lose the belief totally.

You feel that this is a game we should win but then again you continue to worry. Because it has happened in the recent past. You have seen it before. And deep down you continue to belief Keane is not really going to score. You still belief our strike force in the line-up is not formidable enough to win our games comfortably for us. You belief that we have always struggled to win this season and this game is not different. You belief we are overly-dependent on Gerrard’s form and when he plays badly we will struggle further. You lose the confidence when Torres does not start.  

Even after the second goal you still do not celebrate. Mind you, we were playing without the usually strong defence. You could see how sometimes they were struggling in the game. It showed too in Reina’s performance, probably due to a lack of confidence in the lineup in front of him, especially during set-pieces. And when you see Bolton playing so robustly, you start to worry whether Agger or the aging Hyypia might get injured. And the substitute would not be able to hold on any longer and we begin to concede goals.

So when the final whistle was blown, you managed only a meek sigh of relief and start to worry about the next game.

The win put us on top for a short while before Chelsea took over the spot again. Of course losing this game was not going to be a disaster for this year’s campaign but if we were really to challenge for the top until the end of the season, we need to win games like this one. In fact, you don’t really expect Chelsea to lose many games this season. And of course we do not win the league title by beating only the big four. 

When the ref was signalled for Torres to come in, the look on Keane’s face said a thousand words when he saw he was the one being substituted. Many thought Keane was blatantly angry or even arrogant. Disappointed I am very sure but I felt he was just as surprised as many of us. Maybe Benitez had a game plan in the preparations for this game. Something like Torres to come in and play alongside Keane. But I guess Benitez was thinking of the deadly combination of Torres and Gerrard upfront that worked so well towards the end of last season. And it worked as well too when we scored the second goal. This line-up also meant Bolton were a bit more cautious at the back and defended a bit deeper which affected their raids forward. This was truly one of those ‘In Rafa we trust’ moments. Imagine if we had not bought Keane or we do not really need to play him as often as possible to justify his purchase.

Who can argue against this fact? He comes in, shows how big a threat he is with his positioning and speedy runs and skills and attempts, and then executes the perfect pass to Gerrard to head in the second goal. Something which he created out of nothing. Yet again we see the understanding between him and Gerrard. That one act alone is worth millions, not to mention how it also helped Gerrard’s to make-up for his earlier poor efforts.

Benitez mentioned the other day it would be fantastic if we had 5 Gerrards and 5 Carras in the team. But I prefer to also have at least 3 Torreses. Simply brilliant! Many fans would not argue against one of the SMS sent by a friend (Selva) after the second goal that read ‘Torres we love you’. If Torres were English, he would have been the new ‘God’ of England football surely.

I remember around ten years ago when Hyypia was signed up by Houllier for 2.5 million, everyone asked who the hell is this guy? Together with Stephane Henchoz, he proved to be a towering pillar in the central defence. Then his partnership with Carra has made him into a legend at LFC. Now at 35 years old, you would think he would be less of a force he used to be. But seeing his blonde head clearing one after another aerial threats in the few games he has been played this season is very comforting indeed. He was disappointed to be left out of the squad list for the CL this season, but I guess Benitez knows better. He is not as fast as he used to be and should have more rest than the other youngsters, but he is certainly a great player to be trusted as a cover for either Agger, Carra or Skrtel.

They are at it again and this time it is about the extension for Benitez’s contract and the issue of copyrighting of the Liverbird. We need better owners who are true to their words. Period.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Parental Care

Assalamualaikum and a very good morning to the course coordinators, fellow course participants and my dear friends. I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very good day and may God bless us all in our effort to improve ourselves and our professionalism.
I stand in front of you today to discuss the topic that has been given to me, Parental Care. According to the Oxford Little Dictionary, Parent means someone who has borne an offspring and is named either the father or the mother. It also carries the meaning of forefather, and the source or origin. The word care, on the other hand, means concern, anxiety, serious attention, caution, task, charge and protection. Care also means to feel concern or interest or affection towards a being. 

Parental Care, in the context of our discussion, would therefore denote the Concern shown by the father and/or the mother toward their offspring. It would include all efforts taken by these people who are responsible for their children’s welfare. It also denotes the behaviour portrayed by the parents in undertaking their responsibilities in the art of parenthood. It is important to note here that, when we use the word ‘parent’, we mean those human beings that are deemed as normal and not those who are not mentally unstable. Because of the big scope of the topic, I would like to just touch the surface and hopefully we all gain something out of this short speech.

The goal for every parent from around the world is the same. Before even a child is born, all parents have a common objective, which is to provide the best for the unborn child. They also want to carry out the duties of parenthood as best as possible. This would include from the types of nutrition to be taken by the mother, so that the foetus would grow healthily, to visiting the best gynaecologist possible. After the birth of the child, all parents would then do everything possible to ensure the child grows up well and healthy. They also want to ensure that the children’s safety is well taken care of. Everything in the powers of the parents would therefore be focused in achieving the child’s welfare to fulfil the Bloom’s Taxonomy. From the best teachers to the best insurance and education policy, to the best partner in life, parents would usually be able to move mountains in ensuring their child’s development is well provided for. 

According to UNICEF, children without the guidance and protection of their primary caregivers are often more vulnerable. They are at risk of becoming victims of violence, exploitation, trafficking, discrimination or other abuses. We, as teachers, face thousands of school children everyday in school. Our expectations are basically the same. We expect all the students in our school to have come from a perfect family. We also expect the children have been raised accordingly by their parents in all aspects of life. We hope for our students to be well-disciplined, to have focus in their studies, are visionary and above all, have the moral values to lead them into the world after their schooldays.

Unfortunately, what we face today includes students that have disciplinary problems. Some students are rude towards the elders and society in general. Some students, unfortunately, are also morally corrupt. We then ask ourselves, what forces in the upbringing of the child have provided for these shortcomings? We read about and sometimes witness students involved in truancy, and vandalism. We see their involvement in gangsterism, and also all sorts of other disciplines problems. We read about the Mat Rempits, the gang-fights, thefts, and bully cases amongst students. We even know that some students resort to settling their differences with the teachers by beating the teachers up. Are we wrong in asking about the effectiveness of the Parental Care employed by the parents?

Unfortunately, in our world today, not all children are fortunate enough to have parents that could provide the best parental care for them. In our ever-demanding world, both parents are usually forced to have a career. This situation is brought about also because parents want to give the best to their children. And to provide the best for their children, it is deemed that parents would need a lot of money. And to have a lot of money, both parents need to work hard to make those ends meet. But in the process of trying hard to provide the best for their children, parents are forced to send their babies to childcare institutions. Some parents have maids to take care of their children at home. Others send their children to be taken care by the grandparents. 

What we have here now is a difficult situation. Parents, in the effort to provide the best for their children, forgo the very basic of parental care, which is taking care of their children themselves. We need to accept the fact that children under the care of other than parents themselves usually will not have the best provided for them. Nobody can really claim they love a child as much as if the child was his. How many times have we heard about child abuse cases by maids, which will forever leave a psychological as well as physical scar in the children? How about the caretaker that gives cough syrup to babies so that they will go to sleep? We have read or heard about terrible things being done to innocent children that no parents would do to their own offspring. 

It is so easy to blame the parents when we see a problematic child. We can say that the child hasn’t been given the proper parental care. In most cases, that would be true. But we have to remember the fact that no parent would want his child to grow up as a problematic child. These children did not get the best out of proper parental care because their parents had to work in a system that demands them to be tolerant in the shortcomings. Because they want to provide the best for their children, they are forced to neglect the basics of parental care.

If we were to discuss on how to overcome these shortcomings, it would take years and we would still be stuck with the problems. What we can do is understand the problem and do our best as teachers. If it needs us to be second parents to the students under us, so we become one. We need to always keep in touch with the actual parents and work together in providing the best form of parental care for our students. But looking at the broader picture, we need to go one step further and start asking ourselves whether the system we live in is the best form mankind can offer us. Do we need a revolutionary mindset and proper paradigm shift to come to a solution for the lack of proper parental care for the children? Do we need to revamp the system that we live in so that children would not be neglected anymore and parental care truly is what it denotes? If you think we do, then let’s all work together hand in hand for a brighter future for our children and also the nation in particular.

Before I end this speech, I would like to once again say thank you to the organiser for giving me the opportunity to convey my message across and to all of you in the audience for listening patiently. 
Wabillahitaufiqwalhidayah, assalamualaykum wbt.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Harry Houdini: How important is the Manager

The last three games saw Spurs making a dramatic u-turn. From a team hyped as relegation material, they are now a team eyeing for a spot in the UEFA championship. This impressive turnaround began when their former manager Juande Ramos was sacked and Harry Rednapp took over the hot seat. Redknapp is currently seen as the person who has, using his managerial expertise, revitalised Spurs back to their winning ways. And unfortunately for Ramos, he is now deemed as a ‘bad’ manager. So, without questioning Redknapp’s ability as a manager, we ask ourselves how important is the manager and how crucial a manager’s expertise really is. 

I read somewhere of a so-called mutiny amongst the players at Spurs before the arrival of Redknapp that led to the sacking of Ramos. It was also suggested that one of the culprits that started the mutiny has left the club whilst the rest remained. Okay, we are not supposed to believe everything that we read on the internet, but what if the idea of mutiny were true? That means that the players were the ones who decided that Ramos would eventually be sacked by playing maybe half-heartedly with the intention to sabotage the team performance. 

We can only start guessing why the players did what they did. And unfortunately for Redknapp, it also suggests that in the past three games that he was in charge, the players had played to their true capabilities after their objective of getting Ramos sacked was achieved. And that has helped Spurs to start winning again. We now wonder if Spurs would have still achieved the two wins and a draw if a monkey was appointed as the manager to replace Ramos.

Any football fan will be able to tell you there is just so much a manager could do. The performance of the team is always dependent on so many other factors. My own experience for the past 15 years as a manager cum coach has shown me how far that truth is. I have had a year when the selection process before a tournament was a breeze and preparing the team was an easy task too. Players listened to instructions on and off the field and were very dedicated in training. We became the district champion and went on to play in the last eight at the state level. Some of the players who have been under me are playing for some state teams and also have played for the national team, which shows the quality in the players themselves. I have also had a year when preparing for a final game, the players did not heed to my advice to not watch the European Champion League games the night before. And we eventually lost because players could not perform when they lacked the much needed rest. 

There was one year when only 30 students turned up for the selections as opposed to almost one hundred in previous years because everyone seemed to be more interested in futsal. And we did not even make it past the second round. I used to watch the KL team train under its coaches such as Chow Kwai Lam and used some of the methods they used to train the players in my teams. Some years it worked wonders but for other years it did not when the players who turned up had limited abilities.

My point is there is so much a manager could do. He could spot talents and make the correct decision in the formation and importantly decide where a player of certain ability should play. If they are available of course. No one sane enough would doubt Benitez’s ability as a manager although we know that he has made mistakes in the past. He is human after all. If he were to be given the players of his choice, I am sure our chances of becoming the champion would be brighter. Maybe we would have been one already during the Rafalution since his arrival at LFC. Even at Valencia before he left, he was eyeing to bring in unknown players such as Ronaldo of Manure and Drogba who are not so unknown today. This shows how shrewd he is as a manager. 

In my opinion, to blindly start throwing accolades or otherwise at a certain manager as if he is the sole factor in the performance of his team is foolish. So Redknapp, in my books you have not done much for Spurs revival and there’s no such thing as the ‘Redknapp Revolution’, yet. And against LFC, stop taking all the credits and give credit where credit is due. You can start by thanking Carra.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Granted that the league is never won in November. Granted also that the league is never lost in November. But still, having beaten the likes of Chelsea and Manure, you would expect that we would beat the most bottom team in the league at this stage. After all, we are challenging for the league title. I have to admit that I saw this coming. The loss to an on-form Spurs and also the lead to Chelsea is not a good sign at all. Last season, if we had beaten Manure both home and away, we would have won the league. This time around, we have beaten almost all of the top half teams but when we are expected the beat the lesser teams, we failed. Remember Stoke City at home?

It is pointless of having two third of possession and numerous chances when you don’t score goals. After Kuyt’s goal in the third minute, we saw Spurs’ defence being panicky and were making mistakes after mistakes. And we should have killed the game there and then. At that stage, I am sure we were all very confident of scoring a second goal. But alas, it never did come. In fact, Liverpool actually went into a cocoon and we suspect they were preserving their energy for Wednesday’s CL game. The start of the second half saw us raiding Spurs again and again. But yet again, all the forwards were disappointing. As the match continued, our belief started to diminish too. When Alonso and even Gerrard did not hit the ball good enough to score, we lost the belief. Where was the next goal going to come from? When even the goal post is against us, I guess that was when we started to think maybe we have used up all our luck in the previous matches.

Then the unthinkable happened. Benitez took out Keane and put in Babel. Sorry la, to me that was not astute at all. Here we are, looking for goals and you bring in a player who is so used to playing on the left flank in place of a 20 million proven striker? If Keane was injured or something, how about playing Kuyt as the striker? Yes, Babel has in the past got us out of jail, but after being sidelined for so long, did we really expect him to be at his best? He was so rusty that I was surprised Benitez decided to play him. Did he really perform so well in training to be given that particular responsibility in this match? 

This begs the question of whether we have the depth in our squad. If Benitez argues that the players available to him are not all good enough to win matches, then I am on his side. Oh, we need to play Kuyt on the right because he is the best and only option. Oh, we don’t have a better rightback who could really overlap and cross like Dossena on the left hence Kuyt needs to be played on the right. But a rusty Babel as the striker? This is also not the first time we controlled a game and either lost or drew because we could not kill off games with a second goal. If LFC is really serious in becoming a contender for the league title, they have to address this soon, in the January transfer window. That’s it if we are still in the running. All the hard work of instilling the belief that we are good enough for the league title is now halfway into the drain. Yes, leagues are never won in November, but when you see the other big four teams (Arsenal is not one of them, really!) winning comfortably against lesser teams, we need to start improving our squad. We could theoretically be so far off the pace by Christmas because of games we did not win in November that buying players in January would just be a formality. Then, we will only look for so-so players for the future and knock our heads over and over again for the opportunity lost. There’s no denying that we need strikers of Torres calibre on the substitute bench. So, in summing up pessimistically, I would like to dedicate the international gesture of contempt using both my middle fingers to the not-so-new American owners. Thank you for screwing us around and for not doing enough to make us into a formidable force. May a thousand flies….

End to the Albert Riera Saga

something else from the  past:
It is reported that Albert Riera is already at LFC for medical and if everything goes as planned, he will be the latest signing for us. For a fee of 8.5 million, he is not a highly rated player because a 'good' player would cost about 20 million. Someone like Barry for example, and this fantastic price tag is not only because he is an English player. So they say. 
Riera speaks English well I assume since he was born in the popular British holiday island of Majorca. I also assume that he reads the papers, maybe even the British tabloids. And I assume he would have seen and read the Barry saga. And I assume that he is relieved that he is just one of the options for LFC because Rafa could not land the service of Barry. I mean, nobody would want to go to a fantastic club like LFC with a huge burden that demands you to deliver because you were chased for the whole summer and where expectations are so high, they write evil things about you in the papers. Going to LFC as he does, people do not really expect any wonders from him. After all, he is not known to be prolific goal scorer and some quarters also deem him as a failure at Man City when his loan was not made permanent. Many look at him as an average player. And he has been bought because LFC couldn't afford Barry. This is indeed good news for him, on top of the fact that LFC supporters are usually patient with new players and trust Rafa and his decisions. He will definitely get a song or a chant from the Liverpool fans. This non-high-expectations would help Riera to settle down quietly at LFC, with or without the tag of being only a squad player in Rafa's side.
But the situation at LFC at the moment is such that I think he will be a key player in Rafa's usual plans to try to win all the trophies this season. We have a problem at the left flank and Riera is supposed to be the answer to that problem. We do have problems in different areas too, such as the right flank, but that is a different issue because Riera is a left flank player. It will be interesting to see how he plays his role in this area and how many games he gets to play with Babel and Benayoun as other options. 
I watched a few videos of Riera at the Mirror site, a total of about 25 minutes worth of him at different clubs and for Spain. Doesn't do him justice since he has played for so many years and footages like these ones can't be considered as the whole truth of what he is capable or incapable of. There is even one on youtube entitled "Top 15 longshot goals" and the producer of the video doesn't even know his name. And I am not joking. Just a '?' (question mark) that put him at 5th place. You can catch it here : .He looks like a strong lad, dribbles well, has pace and looks like he could hold the ball well too. He looks great at counter attacks with his speed and skills. But his shortcomings are apparent too (in the short videos that do not do him justice, of course). He can't cross the ball well. He gets into great positions but his final ball is most of the times crap. And unlike Babel, he doesn't score that many goals. Watching him in those videos, I am reminded of Pennant and his shortcomings. All skills and not much of a danger. But of course, as I said, this should never be considered as the whole truth. He could turn out to a better Ronaldo in the league because Riera has another side to his game. Scoring from a long range. He did strike a cracker once in his lifetime. And this is according to what I have seen in the videos.

Oh The Agony

something from the past:
Watching the Liverpool-Standard Liege game was almost similar to the famous one in Istanbul. It had all the dramas albeit of different proportions because of the number of goals scored (or not scored in this game), the near-misses, great saves and the lingering feeling of defeat. This was especially in the extra time periods. One goal by Standard Liege and we would be doomed as there would be no CL football for us this season. The difference this time was we celebrated without the penalties kicks. Good thing too because I don’t think my heart could have survived that.
I could not afford to sleep to wake up at 3am for the game. Just couldn’t take the risk because I was way too tired and did not trust myself to wake up to the alarm and stay awake before the game started. With a few mugs of strong coffee, I started watching the game with much confidence. After all, this is Anfield. We never really had any problems in qualifying games under Benitez. But as the game progressed, and watching players like Benayoun and Gerrard playing below par, an agonistic feeling of despair started to creep in. Watching Torres miss kick an intended cross into the stands did not help either. What if the unthinkable happens tonight? What if we do not qualify for the group stage? Not only that would suck like hell, it would also mean the loss in income of tens of millions. That itself would send LFC into a harder shade of red (pun intended), not to say that LFC is not free of debts at this moment. 

 Everyone could see what we lacked in that game. And it was apparent in the three games before this game. Wide area player has been the hottest topic so far this season. We need a true winger and not Benayoun who strays into the middle of the field all the time. Or Kuyt, who can’t really cross and who is more a striker than a winger (not that we are complaining now). The Barry saga, Reira, Milner, Downing and other so-called sagas have been the talk of the town lately. So, watching the game last night, I asked myself why the bloody American owners aren’t giving Benitez what he wants. No money? That could not be the case because I have read many reports that said the fund needed for new players is there for Benitez. Parry is being the usual croak he is in the transfer sagas? Maybe not so too since the latest reports says Parry and Benitez have kissed and made up.  

 Then it dawned on me that maybe, just maybe the owners were waiting to see whether we qualified for the group stages and buy players needed only after we qualified. After all, qualifying means more money in the coffers. 

As the match continued to look like a stalemate, I started to curse at the owners, not the first time by the way. These is probably a case of the owners not really wanting LFC winning any silverware but a case of ensuring money saved at all costs and only spent when there’s money guaranteed from elsewhere, such as Benitez having to sell players to raise the money for new players. Amidst my curses, I began to think of the unthinkable. Losing last night’s match would have meant that LFC will not be ensured of the tens of millions. Without this lucrative income, the owners would not be able to service their debts. This will mean that they will have to sell at last. Good news for DIC and a blessing in disguise for us all? Especially for those who hate the bloody American guts and what they stand for in terms of football. Utter shit and I don’t think the owners really care whether we get our CL football fix during the season.

 The owners could have just given what Benitez wanted, players capable of providing the good crosses like the one by Babel last night. They are genuine businessmen, I am sure they know where to get a mere 20 million from. By doing that, the owners would have ensured a better chance for us to win last night’s game. After all, isn’t that what everyone connected to LFC wants? Even if we had lost (unthinkable, really!), at least we would have known that the owners are on our side in this particular case and we will be seriously challenging for the premiership this season. Now, what if we had really lost last night? Benitez would have been told, because we did not qualify for the group stage and because we lost the potential income, we can’t afford to buy any more good players. A conspiracy theorist would even suggest that maybe the owner really wanted us to lose so that they could kick out Benitez for the failure.

 As the game went into extra time, the feeling of despair was a wee bit too much for me. This feeling was a bit different from the Istanbul game. In that game, the belief of a comeback was always there especially after our first goal. But in this one, it was more like a feeling that we have ridden our luck too many a times in the first three games this season and the unthinkable was about to happen. Most probably it was because of the way we were playing, not convincing at all, and watching sadly at a few of our players being ‘ole’d by opponents and outplayed in the middle of the field. When the goal was scored, there was no usual screaming and shouting from me. Just a weak ‘YES’ and a little sigh of relief. Watching the reply and seeing that Kuyt actually connected the ball with his shin rather than his foot sent me into further despair and I asked myself what has happened to the Liverpool that we saw towards the end of last season. Until the final whistle was actually heard, the worry that the one away goal needed by Standard Liege would be scored swelled until I actually became numb! Only when the whistle was finally blown by the referee did I actually start breathing normally. Not good at all when it is only a qualifying match.