Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Article taken from LFC Official site at

Paul Tomkins 23 March 2009

Sloppy, disjointed, lacklustre. Thankfully, this was only injury time; the preceding 90 minutes were electric, the Kop ecstatic. 

And you know it's a good day when the opposing fans resort to ironic chants. 
It's fair to say that we all know who the big Liverpool stars are. Home-grown lads Gerrard and Carragher win countless plaudits, and rightly so. And Fernando Torres is idolised. 
But almost five years in, this is now very much Rafa's team. 
It is one that he has fully shaped. From his predecessor's days, only Gerrard and Carragher remain in the first team, albeit in different positions to where they played up to 2004. 
(As an aside, only one other player remains from the days of Gérard Houllier: Sami Hyypia endures as a valuable squad member; one I hope to see at Anfield until he's 40. He has that naturally lean look that saw Teddy Sheringham go on to the same age, and with little pace to lose and much intelligence to use, I see no end in sight for the big Finn, if he plays in a good team. If I were him, I wouldn't want to be in a ropey defence at that age.) 
Anyway, this side is about much more than the three much-vaunted stars. It is, in every sense of the word, a team. 
The next three most appreciated players are probably Reina, Mascherano and Alonso; a trio who, in my opinion, are as good as anyone in the league in their respective positions. 
Of the three, Mascherano is the only one to struggle a bit this season, perhaps as a result of the Olympic games. But in recent weeks he's been immense. For a little man he's a real giant. 
Goalkeepers get the lion's share of the credit for clean sheet records, but the team clearly plays its part. Even so, Reina deserves great acclaim for reaching 100 clean sheets faster than any other Liverpool keeper. 
Not only that, he is one of the most creative keepers, too. A clearance to him is a chance to start a move, not merely eradicate danger or get rid of the ball. No-one can match his distribution. Liverpool play some great passing football, but rightly aren't afraid of a direct ball either. Mixing things up is vital. 
I have also always been a massive fan of Xabi Alonso. But the previous two seasons were disrupted by injury and led to indifferent form, certainly by the standards he set in his first two campaigns. Thankfully he's not only back in form this season, but better than ever. He's a joy to watch. 
Of the six players named so far, four were signed by Benítez, while the other two he remodelled. They have his stamp all over them. 
Another near-faultless player is Martin Skrtel, who had a nightmare start against non-league Havant & Waterlooville (that cost me the last of my hair), but has barely put a foot (or his close-shaven head) wrong since. Daniel Agger, an immensely talented centre-back I love to watch, has struggled to dislodge the Slovakian, even in his few periods of full fitness after two bad injuries. 
I try to laud the more unsung heroes, often because rather than given credit they can find themselves unfairly criticised. 
Some players will split the opinion of the fans, simply because we all appreciate different things. But you have to learn to appreciate what it is that individuals offer, and how they compliment one and other. You need contrasting styles, different strengths. 
I do still despair at the minority who focus on Dirk Kuyt's shortcomings rather than his attributes. For a centre-forward he's not especially prolific, but for a wide midfielder he contributes massively. His movement is superb, largely because he mixes intelligence with great stamina and heart. 
And in the last two years, he has scored an incredible amount of important goals. 
His finishes took the Reds to the semi-final of the Champions League last season, and into the group stages this time. He also took two massive penalties at Goodison Park last season, the second in injury time to win the game. 
Rather incredibly, this year his 10 goals have all been vital: either the team's first in a match, which he's done seven times, and/or late, late goals to help win games for the Reds (four times) and salvage a draw (once). Go and check: not a single 'luxury' or consolation goal in there. 
Ten solid gold goals. 
Some goalscorers rack up high figures in routs, or bang one in when the opposition is easing off with a big lead, but goal difference aside, they can be meaningless. Kuyt's great strike against Villa was just the latest in a long line of telling contributions. 
While Kuyt offers a bit of everything on the right flank, on the left Albert Riera has usurped Ryan Babel as the tricky left-winger. 
I despaired at some fans recently writing off the Spaniard after a sticky couple of months, but anyone with eyes could surely appreciate his skill and awareness in the first half of the season. 
English football is gruelling, and while Riera had adapted to the pace of the game in terms of time on the ball (perhaps due to his four months at Man City in 2006), it's another challenge to keep bright and bubbly for 10 months of unrelentingly tough matches; even the artless teams make you work hard in England. 
So remember, form is temporary, class is permanent. 
This also applies to Alvaro Arbeloa, who started with a bang by marking Lionel Messi out of both legs against Barcelona in 2007, after only arriving that January. 
His first half-season was a big success, but last year I was less impressed. However, he has responded in real style, and after a very good season so far has been better than ever in recent weeks, particularly in getting forward with skill, pace and energy. 
All of the players listed above are pretty much regular starters. It's a right they've earned, but there can be no doubt that it's harder for players who are in and out of the side. 
It's virtually impossible to keep international-class talents happy as bit-part players. Liverpool wanted to keep Peter Crouch, but with his contract running down he opted for regular football, which I understand and respect. 
He knew he would never find his best form in and out of the side, but equally that he would never displace a fit Fernando Torres. 
It's impossible to say either way, but I suspect had he still been at Liverpool, the Reds would have picked up more points during Torres' spells on the sidelines, and helped as a sub in some of the draws, but that's life. 
One player who might have felt frustrated but accepts the situation is Yossi Benayoun. In the first half of the season he wanted more playing time, which is a healthy desire, but in the second half of the season, before injury struck, his form was earning him it. In that sense, he's been the perfect squad player. 
Then there's Fabio Aurelio, who has been in and out of the side due to injury more than anything else. It seems he still can't play a lot of games in quick succession, but the left-back spot appears to be his right now (although Dossena is still adjusting, and Insua will only get better, at just 20). 
Until this season I felt the Brazilian was a 'good' player at best. He had that great game against Arsenal, in the 4-1 win, but then his Achilles' tendon snapped. It seemed he'd regularly come in to the side after an injury, looking short of match sharpness, then get injured again. And despite a great free-kick technique, they never seemed to trouble the keeper enough. 
This season he's shown me that he's a much better player than I believed, which goes to show two things: players can improve even at 29, and after three years in England; and that the manager will know what his players are capable of, even if they are not delivering at a specific point in time. At both ends of the pitch he's been superb, and looks an absolute bargain. 
Part of the challenge a manager faces is having everyone fit at the same time, and everyone in form at the same time. There's no magic wand to do this. 
Right now, it's hard to find a Liverpool player out of form; part of this is down to a shared confidence, but also down to fitness. 
Confidence on the ball often comes from your own sense of physical well-being. Tired or partially-injured players will naturally make more mistakes, which then negatively affects their confidence, and the cycle turns vicious. 
When preparing for this season, Benítez and his staff had Fernando Torres, after a long and intense first season in England, late back due to his further efforts for Spain. With him were several other colleagues, as the Reds suffered most in terms of the lack of a summer break. 
Then you had Mascharano and Babel, who were two of Rafa's biggest buys, jetting off to Japan for the Olympics, with the latter at the time still not fully recovered from the injury sustained for Holland earlier in the summer. Subsequently neither found their top form in a game for Liverpool before March. Coincidence? 
Torres then picks up a series of hamstring injuries, mainly with Spain, and Gerrard sustains several niggling problems. Skrtel misses several months, while Agger is finally injury free but lacking match fitness. Benayoun is Liverpool's best player in February but then misses March. Insua, after four excellent games, is taken by Argentina to the South American U20 championship. 
You can talk about the strength of the squad, and the tactics or selections of the manager, but it often gets overlooked how having fit and firing players can make all the difference. And this year, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal have been more adversely affected by injuries to their key players than United, who have a bigger squad anyway. 
Liverpool are playing no differently of late in terms of tactics, but now enough players are injury free and sharp. And rather than miss great chances, they're all flying in right now, making this supposedly cautious side the Premiership's top scorers (and England's top scorers in Europe), even with Torres missing more games than he's played and the sale of one of the strikers. 
It shows how good this team really is, now that the key men are fit and enough of them are on song. And that has stoked life into the title charge. 
My suspicion is that Manchester United might probably still edge it, aided by the timing of this international break (just as they seem to be self-destructing) and Liverpool's infinitely harder draw in the Champions League, that will test the fitness and hunger of the Reds to the limit, not to mention Chelsea too. 
But even if they do edge it (and they'll probably enjoy it all the more because of our raised hopes), they would do well to stop and think about the statement made by Liverpool Football Club in the past fortnight, added to the clear progress made overall this season. 
To quote the Kop choir, the Reds are coming up the hill, boys. The Reds are coming up the hill.

Mauling of Villa and International Break..again!

Watching Liverpool thrash Villa 5-0 was really something. The way we played our opponents in that game reminded me of a sight when a caged bird is suddenly unshackled and is able to fly freely. I cannot really recall when was the last time Liverpool played this way, in full control of its destiny.

There is so much confidence in the team now one must feel that the international break came at the wrong time. After all, it would a pity if we were to lose a momentum in which we scored 8 goals against two of the best sides in Europe and 5 against a team eyeing for a CL spot. But for our biggest rival for the Title, the break could not have come at a better time. The scums would be glad to hope that our momentum could break and for them to have enough time to lick their wounds and take control of things when the league resumes next week.

Another worry would be for the players on international duty themselves. Let us hope that all of them arrive back to LFC unscatched. Losing important players like Gerrard and Torres through injury would a big blow to us, more so when the depth in the squad is not that great. 

Next week, we get to play Fulham and a win will take us 2 points clear of manure. And the scums will play Villa, a game they cannot afford to lose. But it does look good for us when they will be without three important players in vidic, scholes and the shrek, who were all red carded when manure's dam was bursting (all these red cards, is it due to the infamous Rafa's rantings of Fergie and the Refs not too long ago?). Even with one game in hand, they will be really worried because of games against City and Arsenal in the cards. As mentioned by most football pundits, the title is theirs to lose. Let's hope that they do lose it in the end, and if that were to happen, it will be the biggest bonus for Liverpool fans this decade.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Articles by Paul Tomkins taken from LFC Official site



Paul Tomkins 22 March 2009 

  Thankfully, most media outlets seem to have seen the massive inaccuracy in Alex Ferguson's figures relating to Liverpool's spending. 

That he should even choose to come out with such figures in the first place is interesting, given his rather undignified reaction to Rafa's 'fact' press conference a couple of months back. 
I'm also still smiling over his 'we were the better side' comments following their total humiliation last week, which every neutral I've spoken to found hilarious. That United played so well was obviously the reason Old Trafford was so empty in the last 10 minutes. He's also had a pop by excluding Rafa's name from the best managers in the league, which seems a bit childish for a pensioner. 
You can't argue with Ferguson's success as a manager, but you can with some of the things he says. 
This season may be a learning curve for Liverpool, with the league United's to lose even before their two main rivals were drawn against each other in the Champions League (which yet means the teams aspiring to catch United play each other in titanic, exhausting battles, as seen with Chelsea and Arsenal facing Liverpool last season while United get the easy draw.) 
But the United manager is clearly worried, particularly as stability has been put in place at Anfield regarding the manager's future. 
That the United manager should already be talking about Liverpool's future spending is fascinating. Why do so, unless he's worried? 
Ferguson talks about the young players United have signed, and bizarrely says that Rafa, a man who started out in youth development, does things differently. 
Perhaps Torres, Reina, Alonso, Mascherano, Agger, Lucas, Babel and Skrtel weren't all young players – aged 20-23 – when Rafa signed them after all, and all the teenage talent brought to the club, including Insua, Nemeth, Pacheco, Plessis and Ngog, is just a mirage? 
How many players in their 30s has Rafa brought to the club? I can't think of one before or after Pellegrino, at 33, in 2005. Nor one as old as Henrik Larsson or Edwin van der Sar. 
Robbie Keane was the oldest major signing Benítez has made, and perhaps the fact that he turns 29 this summer was why he was shipped out so quickly; at that age, if it doesn't look like it's working, you can't bide your time, particularly if a good offer comes in before the age-related depreciation takes place. 
But the major flaw in Ferguson's argument is the fact that he already had half of his squad in place in 2004 when Rafa arrived. 
He hasn't needed to rebuild an entire squad from scratch, merely add the £15m-£30m adornments. Rafa has clearly had to deal in quantity to cover all positions, but Ferguson has had the luxury of looking solely at quality. 
So the two situations are poles apart. Ferguson had already spent big on players like Rio Ferdinand before Rafa pitched up. 
He already had the players who emerged because of his youth system, which took almost seven years to bear fruit beyond one player (Giggs emerged in year five). Benítez would only be at that stage in 2011. 
Indeed, if you add together every single player Rafa has bought (and there have been around 60, many of whom were mere kids), it still does not reach the total cost of United's current squad. 
Even if you also add the cost of those players Rafa inherited who are still at the club (and there are just three), it still does not reach the total cost of United's current squad. 
Including players out on loan (but not the full Tevez fee due this summer), United's squad costs over £215m, compared with Liverpool's £134m. 
Let me remind you of what I said a few weeks back: 
“Unless Ferguson is banned from fielding players like Ferdinand and Ronaldo (which would be illogical), or forced to start from scratch in 2004 (again illogical), it is not a fair comparison, is it? – I mean, come on, use your brain for a second here.” 
Benítez is trying to overturn an established superpower, one that still has a dozen-or-so players who predate his arrival in England. Rafa has just three who were good enough and young enough to endure (not that Hyypia was young, but like Giggs he is evergreen). 
As well as buy players, Rafa has had to change the culture of the club to fit in with his ideas, as all managers do; Ferguson did that 20 years ago. It's why it took him so long to win the title, as you cannot change things overnight. 
Unless Benítez was going to try and compete for honours with the likes of Diao, Cheyrou, and Diouf, or players like Smicer, Dudek, Hamann and Henchoz, who are now all in their mid-30s (and therefore had a very short shelf-life), or injury-prone stars like Harry Kewell, Liverpool needed a fairly complete overhaul. 
Particularly as Owen and Heskey had left, and Djibril Cissé was about to arrive, all of which had been pretty much decided before Rafa took the job. (Also, including Cissé as a Benítez signing only further skews the figures.) 
So the inaccuracies are clear for all to see. But let's switch things a little. 
How did Ferguson overtake Liverpool? The situation was very similar to that now, even if it was a long time ago now. 
Remember, both Ferguson and Benítez arrived aged 44, and inherited squads that had averaged 4th over the previous four seasons, and finished 4th the season before they arrived. All the fours, then! 
Each had a massive burden of expectation, brought about by a desperately long wait for the title. Alex Ferguson's average league position in his first five seasons at United was 8.6 (11th, 2nd, 11th, 13th, and 6th). Benítez's, if Liverpool finish only 3rd this season, will be 3.6. 
But Ferguson faced in Liverpool in the '80s an established team with a top-class manager. He couldn't get close to Dalglish during their time in the respective dugouts. 
Ferguson spent more money between 1986 and February 1991 (£12.8m gross, £9.87m net) than Dalglish managed in his six seasons (£12.5m gross, but only £5.77m net), but got nowhere near to toppling the Reds in that time. 
So United's net spend was virtually twice that of Liverpool, and yet Ferguson still didn't trouble Dalglish. The money Ferguson spent wisely in the late '80s on players like Ince, Pallister, Hughes and Bruce took four years to have any effect on the league title. This is only Torres and Mascherano's second season. 
So why did Ferguson spend so much more than Dalglish? 
Well, Dalglish (like Ferguson in 2004) had a lot of his squad already in place. 
Grobbelaar, Hansen, McMahon, Whelan and Nicol all spanned the entire period when Dalglish and Ferguson managed the two English superpowers. 
(Liverpool raised £3.2m from selling Ian Rush in 1987, but the Reds also spend almost as much to bring him back a year later.) 
Those men formed the heart of Dalglish's Liverpool. 
They were five players who didn't need to be signed between 1986 and 1991; the kind of quality that could cost a king's ransom if they hadn't already been snapped up before at the top of their powers. 
Ian Rush, the sixth name, also had a Liverpool connection which meant that although he needed to be re-signed, it was a relatively easy deal because of his time at Anfield. 
Of course, Rush's initial departure led to the greatest influx of talent seen under Dalglish: the wonderful quartet of Aldridge, Beardsley, Barnes and Houghton. So Dalglish was partly 'blessed' in that Rush, whom he inherited, at least raised enough money to rebuild the attack upon his transfer. 
Ferguson has enjoyed similar bonuses more recently: selling his best players for big fees as they approached their 30s (such as Stam, Beckham and Van Nistelrooy). Such sales now help keep Ferguson's net spend down, but in his first five years he couldn't get such impressive sums for Ron Atkinson's flops. So his net spend was very high for the times. 
Again, make the comparison with Benítez and the likes of Diao and Cheyrou, who raised nothing. 
Benítez never had such a luxury. Owen's value wasn't great due to his contract situation, leaving £10m less coming in. The only seriously saleable asset was Steven Gerrard. 
The biggest profits Rafa has made have been on players he himself bought: Crouch, Bellamy, Sissoko. Of course, he hasn't been in the job long enough to sell his real gems, in the way Ferguson and Wenger (with Henry and Vieira) have picked the perfect time to cash in on world-class players aged 29/30/31. 
If Rafa wanted to sell Torres he could make a massive profit, but thankfully the striker still has five years before he even reaches 30. So it's not relevant. Ideally, Torres would score loads of goals, win Liverpool titles, and return to his beloved Atletico no earlier than 2014 for a big fee. 
Therefore you cannot ignore the way Ferguson overcame Liverpool – not by spending more, but by spending twice the amount. 
So there you have it. It took the resignation of Dalglish to open the way for Ferguson, who had spent twice as much money but only averaged 9th place between 1986 and 1991. No wonder United fans wanted him out in 1990. But it just goes to show how difficult it is to overtake a side that already has the momentum, but that the best managers get there in the end. 
If Ferguson is thinking back to how he did so, then no wonder he's feeling worried. 
For details of how to purchase 'Dynasty: Fifty Years of Shankly's Liverpool', click here to visit Paul Tomkins' official website>>

Great News

Some very good news since we whacked the daylights out of the scums at their grounds. Rafa Benitez at last signed a new contract that will make him one of the longest managers of LFC, if he stays until the end.

The american owners (when are they going to sell??) have just increased the value of LFC. A stable LFC is worth a lot more money so at least one of them who sells eventually will make tonnes of money. Hopefully before the start of next season we get to see some Arab owners ,who are really wealthy, show up and start injecting the much needed funds.

Another good news was Gerrard's assault charge being dropped, although there is still the affray charge that he has to answer to. Hopefully he would be able to concentrate on football and not get distracted by it if the case goes to the Crown Court. His partnership with Torres is so so much needed at the moment.

Another good news today was the game I watched. I do not usually watch the scums play, but today I flipped through the three channels to watch the BPL games and the Bundesliga. The scums were beaten 2-0 by Fulham. One of the goals was scored by Danny Murphy. He must be on cloud nine at the moment. To top it up, two scums were red carded. So Scholes and the Shrek (yes, Rooney) will miss games after this.

I really really enjoyed the games which I started to watch seriously when Fulham was one up. It was enjoyable right until the end. I just had to laugh listening to the commentators, who I felt were about to cry when the scums were losing. On the same note, Chelsea is trailing 1-0 to Tottenham at the moment.

Of course I am not letting the above results get to my head. The scums would need to lose more games after this, and for us not to lose any, for us to overtake them at the top. If we win against Villa tomorrow, the scums will still be one point above us with a game in hand. You do the maths. One more loss and one draw at least. And we don't lose any. Still a mountain to climb but who knows..after all it IS football. Strangers things have happened before.

I am just enjoying the moments. And nothing beats watching the scums get beaten while Fergie's mouth open and close non-stop like a guppy out of water! And the rest of the scums run aimlessly like headless chickens on the pitch. We really did it to them last week! Haha!

You'll Never Walk Alone!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Paul Tomkins 16 March 2009 

Article by Paul Tomkins taken from LFC Official site 


For once I'm almost lost for words. Where do you start after back-to-back results like those? Excluding cup finals and league deciders, I do not think there can have been two better results so close together in the history of the club. 

In the grand scheme of things they are only small landmarks – two games – and United remain favourites to land the league title. But as markers of intent and ability, they could prove immense. 

If Liverpool do go on to win either of the main competitions, these will be seen as the defining moments. If not, they are still boosts to the self-belief and proof of what this team can do against the very best, and help attain future success. 
Liverpool didn't just beat Real Madrid and Manchester United, they outplayed them and thrashed them. Unlike victories at Old Trafford in the past decade, this was no smash and grab; it was smash, smash and smash again. 
To do the double over Manchester United and Chelsea and still be outsiders to win the league seems incredible. 
But it's credit to United for such an unbelievable run going into this game; when Liverpool did stumble in the new year they took full advantage. All the same, United's remarkable clean sheet record was dragged through the Old Trafford mud on Saturday lunchtime. 
Beyond anything else, this week has gone to show that a fit Gerrard and Torres combination is as good, if not better, than anything in world football. 
Zinedine Zidane, no less, said Gerrard is the world's best player, and no-one will argue against Torres being the world's best centre-forward. 
Put them together, and they will tear defences apart. If fit. 
And whatever you say about the rights and wrongs of Liverpool's season, and the manager's decisions, you cannot dispute the quality that the pair bring, and how the Reds have sorely missed it. Results have been dug out in their absence, because of other top players and a canny manager, but these two are as sharp as any cutting edge gets. 
Torres still has an ankle problem, but unlike a hamstring, it doesn't affect his pace, and is less psychologically damaging. But even with a strapping holding the joint in place, he tortured the league's best defender this season. Vidic on toast, anyone? 
A key factor regarding Torres' fitness has been how in both games it took just a long punt to open the scoring. 
Liverpool can, and do, play pretty intricate football to work openings, but if you have genuine pace up front, allied to skill and strength, you can terrify defenders as renowned as Cannavaro, Ferdinand and Vidic with any kind of pass. 
Gerrard, like Torres, is also a quick thinker, and when the no.9 wasn't running in behind United's knot-tied defenders, the captain was. 
Despite this, and despite the pair helping put four past Madrid, Andy Gray was still talking about Benítez being negative in the absence of Alonso (whose injury was another major blow – he and Benayoun have been two of the form players) by not dropping Gerrard back into midfield. Gray made some fair observations, but this wasn't one of them. 
When will people get – or maybe just accept – just how good Gerrard is right up alongside Torres? 
When will people see the Liverpool captain as a quicksilver version of Kenny Dalglish? – not quite as brilliant as the great Scot in some respects (who could be?), but arguably just as devastating playing off the main striker. Gerrard now has more goals than any United striker this term, by playing this role. 
Yes, he's great in central midfield, too. But please, let's not accuse the manager of negativity when this formation has helped thump the double Spanish, English and European champions in the space of four days, with eight goals to just one in reply! 
It's true that Alonso and Mascherano aren't prolific, but it's not like United are getting 25 goals a season from this position. United's pair of Anderson and Carrick have two league goals between them, the same as Liverpool's. 
Giggs and Scholes, who also play there a lot, are undeniably ageing well, but are no longer goalscorers; they have one league goal each this season. It's like judging them on their abilities of five years ago. 
Ditto Gerrard, who was averaging six goals a season in midfield in 2004, before Benítez turned him into a 20-a-season man playing in the hole. 
Until last season, Gerrard didn't look totally convincing in the role, particularly against the best sides. Now he's excelled there against Chelsea, Madrid and United in the past month or so. 
Part of this is due to his own improvement due to gaining experience in the position, and part of it is down to the introduction of Torres and Mascherano in front and behind him, and the much improved form of Alonso. In other words, the team is getting better, to provide him with a stronger platform. 
United also tend to play Park or Fletcher on one side and Ronaldo on the other; the same wide-midfielder/winger combination as the Reds. 
While Liverpool have no-one to match Ronaldo's remarkable record of goals from the flank, Kuyt has easily outscored Park and Fletcher put together, while Riera, Babel or Benayoun can also notch goals. 
(And any Kuyt doubters, look at his run to help Gerrard win the penalty. Top class movement.) 
I won't deny that Liverpool still lack a little of the all-encompassing depth of United's squad, and that's a reason why, over the long haul, it's proved hard to win the league. 
But even some of the less-heralded squad members have shown their qualities this week, not least Andrea Dossena, who has picked a great time to show the attacking instincts he was bought for (even if the non-stop, lung-busting gruel of getting up-and-back in the Premiership from left-back has been a big culture shock), and Lucas, who showed great heart on Saturday, and despite the odd mistake was generally excellent. 

So why not play like this every week? 
As I've been saying for a few weeks, Benítez has had to sell his own signings in order to buy better, more expensive ones; trading his way up with a lot of transfer activity (making for a big, distorting gross spend), but rather than shelling out almost £200m, the reality is that he's been recycling funds, leaving a low net spend. United's current squad is roughly £80m more expensive than the Reds'. 
The gap in squad funding is immense, in no small part due to United's success on the pitch at the precise point the English game became a cash cow (while Liverpool's own great success was in a far less profitable era), and from being able to develop their stadium while Anfield remained largely land-locked. 
Look at it like this: even if you include every single player Benítez has bought, the total still doesn't add up to what United's current squad cost to assemble. 
Now, if in times of injury and fatigue, Liverpool had been able to also call upon Peter Crouch, Craig Bellamy, Luis Garcia, Momo Sissoko and various other players bought and sold by the boss, then would the squad be a lot stronger? Undoubtedly. 
But those players were sold as part of a process of improvement; without selling Bellamy and Garcia, Torres probably does not arrive; without selling Sissoko, Mascherano probably does not arrive. And the wages are a problem, too; it's not cheap to keep a big squad together. 
Just look at the two teams at Old Trafford. 
United's starting XI cost £45m more than Liverpool's, and their 18-man squad cost £176m to the Reds' £105m. That's a chasm. 
United have every right to spend more money on their squad, if they generate such amounts; but let's not enter into this mythological world created by United fans and myopic media mouthpieces to make out Benítez has had equal spending power. He hasn't. 
I also keep hearing that when teams like Everton fail to finish above Liverpool, or even get close, it's because of their lesser resources; David Moyes is still lauded as a genius, though. 
Meanwhile, Rafa Benítez is often lambasted even though he has worked miracles in Europe, and, domestically, has Liverpool currently punching at the same weight as a £200m+ über-squad (that of Chelsea, with a similar squad cost to United), despite a collection of players that only cost around 60% as much. 
Isn't this hypocritical? Can't people see this? 
Moyes has taken seven years to make Everton a very good side; Benítez has taken five to turn what was a decidedly average Liverpool team into a very, very good side indeed, bordering on excellent (if still not perfect), with only the 5th-most expensive squad currently in the Premiership. 
Hypocrisy abounds. Rafa is seen as someone who doesn't understand or prioritise English football, even though he's racked up his first 100 league wins in 50 fewer games than Alex Ferguson. Again, I'm not arguing that Liverpool are now better than United, merely that Benítez be judged fairly, based on facts. 
As another example of misconceptions, a lot of people appear to be criticising Benítez's substitutions this season, simply because he doesn't go for broke at half-time with bravado switches. And yet Liverpool have scored more second-half goals than any other Premiership team, and a whopping 24 in the last 15 minutes of games! 
Look at vital goals against both Madrid sides in the last ten minutes of Champions League games, or Kuyt's winner in the last minute of extra-time against Liege. Look at all the last-gasp winners in the league. 
Does this not suggest that, more often than not, the manager has been proved right? Does this not suggest positive changes were made, either with personnel or tactics, or that in some instances, no changes were right, too? 
The fact is, Liverpool have never been this well placed at this stage of a season since the league was re-branded in 1992; when I saw the figures a couple of games ago the Reds were five points better off than at any point in the past 18 years (going back to 1991, when the Reds trailed off in the spring following Dalglish's shock departure), and since then it's been six points from six. 
To go from a reasonably distant 4th to winning the title in one season is a big ask, particularly when the holders are also European champions. Even if the dream of the title ultimately proves a step too far, the Reds can go to Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge with extra confidence from now on. 
There is still work to be done, improvements to be made. But that's why I've always trusted Benítez; I've never felt that anyone could guarantee Liverpool the league title (given the odds stacked against the Reds these days), but I have felt that at least he has the unerring perfectionism that will drive him, and the team, on. 
Yes, he persists with some players out of form, but simply because he knows what they are capable of (as seen this week), and trusts that his belief in them can help them succeed; but anyone who doesn't do what he needs them to is quickly sold, as better replacements are sought. 
Without the ability to spend £30m a time on a number of players, it becomes a slower process – sorting the wheat from the chaff; keeping the good signings and moving on those who don't cut it. Unfortunately, every time he does this, a club like United, who were already more advanced in their evolution, can go and spend £32m on a single player, while the league as a whole strengthens (see Aston Villa as an example). 
So if Liverpool are not yet at that level we so crave, anyone who cannot see a marked improvement this season is missing the overall picture and choosing to just fixate on the negatives. 
The progress may not be in giant steps, but it's not in baby steps either. And that's good enough for me.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Astro Bill for the next six months: RM633.00.

Transfer fee for Torres: ₤26 million.

Watching Alex Ferguson's mouth open and close like a guppy out of water while manure is being thrashed by Liverpool: PRICELESS!

We beat the scums 4-1. At Old Trafford too. This week has been a tremendous week for us in which we scored 8 goals and conceded only one, and that too through a penalty, while beating supposedly two of the world's top teams.

To tell the truth, I don't really care for the league title now. I am not going to rue all the drawn games before this one. If we go and win it, then it is a bonus. Nothing beats the sensational feelings of utmost euphoria of beating the scums. As I told a friend, not even a wanking could top this, sorry.

Watching the scums shocked to a point of disbelief during the game was sweet. Listening to the manure crowd silenced by an awesome display of football by Liverpool was double sweet. I even enjoyed the commentators being taken to a sudden speechlessness.

We are, deservedly, going to enjoy this for a very long time now. And I am pretty sure we will never walk alone with this one! 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Aggregate: 5-0

Winning 1-0 at the Bernabaeu two weeks ago was fantastic, especially when not many English teams have achieved that. But to win 4-0 against Real Madrid at Anfield is simply awesome!

I guess Real did not really know what hit them just now. It was good that they did not come to Anfield with the intention to park the bus in front of goal and play the counter attack for that one important away goal. Real came and played a very positive game, as we did, but that was really their downfall. In a very open game, it was also a night when clean football triumphed when players did not fall like matchsticks at every contact made.

In the first half, Real Madrid's defense were in tatters and Pepe has himself to blame when he put unneeded pressure on himself with his warrior-like talk before the tie. He must have been loco to fire up Torres like that. And it was indeed a sight for sore eyes when Torres scored the first goal. Surely a big relief for him to have done that given his past encounters with Real.

Our captain had a fantastic game too of course. After Gerrard's penalty, which to me was a bit harsh but that's football, Real Madrid began to attack more and more and this fell nicely into Liverpool's hands. 

All the Liverpool players had a very good game, except for Kuyt. He might have screwed his Liverpool career since he revealed Rafa's 'instruction' to him to not sign a new contract until Rafa's own contract issue was not settled. Hell, I would not want to be his friend too if he is to go around and tell the world of our 'intimate' moments! 

Unlike Babel, whose game just now was stupendous with his movements and passes, Kuyt to me had a nightmare of a game. His final passes especially were almost all screwed up, just like his recent revelation. 

After the third goal, Gerrard's superb finishing from an equally superb pass from Babel from the left side, Real Madrid knew the game was over. With the imminent changes made by Rafa in view of cruncher next week against manure, we got to see many more chances to score. Spearing, who replaced Gerrard, displayed a glimpse of brilliance too. And to put icing on the cake, Dossenna scored his first goal for Liverpool before the final whistle.

The only concern after this game is Mascherano's ineligibility in the next CL game after collecting a yellow card. As expected, he had a marvellous game. Maradona is spot on when he decided Mascherano as the captain for his national side, not to mention the statement he made of 'mascherano and 10 other players' for his team list. 

On the same note, it was not very nice to watch how our game suffered after Alonso was substituted and Lucas came in his place. 

This result will go down in history as one of the best CL results ever. And I don't think Bayern Munich's emphatic 7-1 win (aggregate 12-1) against Sporting Lisbon is going to deny Liverpool the limelight it deserves this week.

It is bragging time, folks!

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Paul Tomkins 04 March 2009 

Article by Paul Tomkins taken from LFC Official site 


Okay, it must end NOW! I've reached breaking point. The shocking transfer myth must be put to rest, once and for all. 

I've tried in the past, but the media misinformation continues to gather pace like some ill-founded rumour. It's dangerous, because it causes unjust criticism. 
Let's make one thing clear: Liverpool have nowhere near the most expensive squad in the Premiership. 
No. Where. Near. 
Indeed, there are three clubs who have spent at least 50 per cent more on their current squad than Liverpool. 
Shocked? Well, you should be if you believe what's spouted out on TV. But it's true. And one of the clubs is not a name you'd necessarily expect. 
It doesn't help that some people – such as Jamie Redknapp last night – focus on Rafa's gross spend, rather than the net amount. Effectively, this means counting all the right-backs he's bought as one big outlay, rather than looking at how he's replaced one with another for roughly the same £2m fee. 
Working with just the gross spend, you add the £2m of Josemi to the £2m value of Kromkamp (even though it was a swap), to the £2.6m paid for Arbeloa. But none of these players were at the club at the same time, and each was traded to get to the point where an outright success was secured, as happened with the final purchase. 
So even though the total cost of getting Arbeloa was just the £2.6m paid, people will use a figure almost three times as high. That is illogical. 
(Another note, Jamie: Liverpool have three right-backs on the books, not just one; but the promising Darby, like Arbeloa, was injured and Degen has had a first season ruined by various ailments. So it's wrong to criticise the manager for an unbalanced squad and playing a midfielder out of position when three right-backs are unavailable.) 
It's like the housing market: you don't just go in and buy a mansion straight from school. (Okay, so maybe some footballers do, but not the normal people of this world. As someone stuck with renting, I'm speaking generally here!) 
You start with an affordable house; you then use the money from selling that to buy your next property. Most people can only get to own a big house having traded their way up over a number of years. 
Yet when someone asks how much you spent on your house, you don't add all the houses you've ever bought together, do you? 
If you own a £220,000 house, you don't say £470,000 because you add the £90,000 starter home and the £160,000 step up. That would be moronic. 
According to the excellent and reliable, Rafa's gross spend is approximately £188m, but his net spend is only £108m, given that around £80m has been recouped. 
(I'd hazard a guess that a large proportion of the £108m net spend has also been recouped through Champions League progress rewards, particularly with the Reds being the top-ranked team based on his five-year tenure.) 
So it's easy to pluck a figure of '£195m' from the air, live on air, and make it seem like that should make a team champions, or ultra-close challengers. 
But it's only the cost of the current squad that counts. Because that's all a manager can choose from; he can't go back in time and select a player he sold in order to trade up, just as you can't just turn up to one of your old houses and let yourself in. 
You simply cannot add Rafa having spent £5.8m on Sissoko to the £18m on Mascherano, because the two were never part of the same set-up; one was bought and sold for a profit, and as with a house, the money reinvested in a step-up. If Sissoko isn't bought and then sold, Mascherano probably doesn't arrive. 
Is that really too tough to grasp? 
From my own experience in writing 'Dynasty', I can attest that researching transfer fees is never easy, given the amount of undisclosed fees and various add-ons (for various things, like appearances, trophies won, national caps and the cultivation of unexpectedly daring hairstyles). 
But taking each fee as the most a club has expect to pay when add-ons are activated, I've calculated the cost of the most expensive squads in the league, and listed them below. 
(Note: while it's impossible to be 100 per cent accurate with the figures in the public domain, I'd say that overall it's at least 95 per cent of the true amount, and with rival teams I've actually been generous and excluded a couple of players whose cost just isn't listed anywhere I could find.) 
The most expensive squads (excluding players out on long-term loan) are as follows: 
Chelsea £207m 
Manchester United £206m* 
Spurs £188m 
Manchester City £140m 
Liverpool £127m 
(*£226m if Carlos Tevez's deal made permanent, given that it is initially a unique two-year £10m agreement, and very different from 99.9 of transfer deals. Effectively United are winning games with a £30m player.) 
So what does this tell us? 
Let's start with the leaders. United's squad contains the most home-grown players, such as Giggs, Scholes, Neville, O'Shea, Brown and Fletcher, who all arrived for free. 
So that shows that it is a long-established core supplemented by a lot of expensive signings added one by one to a unified collection. In other words, classic, spot-on building of a squad when already established at the very top. 
But it shows that even if you work with the unfair use of Rafa's gross spend, it still doesn't match what Ferguson has spent on his current squad, let alone those who have been bought and sold for record fees in the past. 
And this is utterly, utterly critical, and beyond the grasp of some people who cannot analyse things with common sense. 
After all, what does it matter how much Rafa has spent since 2004 if Ferguson is currently fielding players like Ferdinand (£30m) and Ronaldo (£12.8m) who were bought before then? 
Isn't Rafa – in the real world – competing with a team whose construction started well before he arrived? 
Unless Ferguson is banned from fielding players like Ferdinand and Ronaldo (which would be illogical), or forced to start from scratch in 2004 (again illogical), it is not a fair comparison, is it? – I mean, come on, use your brain for a second here. 
After all, how much as Harry Redknapp spent since he took over at Spurs? I make it almost £50m. How much has Rafa spent since Harry Redknapp took over at Spurs? Nothing. But only a nutter would compare the two in this deeply skewed way. 
Rafa has been in his job about five times as long as Harry, so you obviously wouldn't dare compare their teams. And yet Ferguson has been in his job about five times as long as Rafa, and yet the Spaniard is expected to have Liverpool as champions by now. 
Chelsea and Spurs are actually the more interesting examples in many ways. I knew Spurs had spent a lot, but to have a current squad that cost almost £200m shocked me. Add together the cost of Bentley, Pavyluchenko, Palacios, Bale, Defoe, Bent, Keane and Modric and you more-or-less end up with the cost of Liverpool's entire squad. 
I could be sarcastic – or media-style sensationalistic – and say that with that much spent, any manager should be able to win almost all of his matches, but it wouldn't be fair or logical. It's far more complex than that, and even a good manager like Redknapp has his work cut out. 
Chelsea and Spurs have had seven managers between them since 2007. This means different men making expensive signings and ending up with a mixed squad. Based on expenditure, both of these clubs are massively underachieving this season. Almost certainly to blame for that is the hierarchy having itchy fingers when it comes to firing managers. 
Of course, this analysis doesn't include wages, either. You don't get the very top players in the world without also having to pay them a king's ransom. Michael Ballack must be most expensive free transfer ever, with wages reported to be around £130,000 a week, or about £30m over five years. Again, Liverpool are no way near the highest payers, either. 
So there you have it. By all means print it out and pass it around; 'pass it on', as the saying goes, including to those in the media who could do with reading it. By all means quibble over some of the finer details, as there is a tolerance of a few percent on the accuracy of the figures, but the overall gist is very much sound and robust. 
Note: as all good schoolteachers tell you to do, my workings are there to see, and will be available to view on my website.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

0-2 M'borough

So the Number One club in Europe lost to a team fighting the relegation battle in the EPL. Such is the football in one of the toughest leagues in the world.

There is nothing positive to say about the match. For those who still had faith in Liverpool winning the league title, this result is a shattering blow to that aspiration. We were again hit by the unfortunate own goal and Alonso had to be the victim this time around. As for our frontmen, it was the same situation as in the past months. Opportunities created but none taken. 

Looks like to truly win the league title, a team would need to have at least 6-7 players that cost 20+ million each. While some other teams could boast a bench of expensive players, LFC sadly does not have that luxury. Even when we had a few players of that calibre, such as Crouch and Keane, they would sulk and complain about being on the bench.

It is incredible to think that once we so comfortably sat on top of the league and by next week, we could be 10 points behind the leader. I guess many fans are already looking ahead to next season. And have resigned to the fact that CL is the only one competition that could salvage us something this season.