Saturday, August 29, 2009

Let's hang Lucas from the nearest tree branch

Going through the football news and bloggers  since we lost to Villa was very very interesting and disheartening at the same time. 

If the slating came from the usual enemies of LFC, then it is understood. These vultures, the so-called expert on journalism but do the most copy-and-paste reporting, will forever lurk around LFC and find even a slight bit of excuse to go after us. But unfortunately, some fans and so-called 'supporters' did it too.

The enemies blame Rafa for selling Alonso (as if he would rather have an unhappy player than 30M), for buying Aquaman who is injured and for Rafa staying put at Anfield when he should just leave!

Other fans blame Lucas, who funnily have had three better games than some of the other 'superstars' on the field, and want Lucas to be benched if not hanged from the nearest tree branch. One statistic showed Lucas have had more executed accurate passes of the ball than Gerrard. I could argue that Lucas' balls were all safe balls across the field while Gerrard's were attempts for a killer-ball pass but mistakes of giving away the ball away are mistakes no matter what were the intentions.

The number of chances we created but not executed with Lucas in the midfield also suggest it was not really that bad having that kid in there, although not a match-winning performance. Any player could have made the own-goal mistake in the Villa game and was not the first and will also not be the last, as Gerrard's lunge in the penalty box that resulted the killer blow will not be the last mistake made by a formidable player.

I would not want to be Rafa now, bench Lucas with Gerrard taking over his role in Central Midfield but risk destroying whatever left of the kid's confidence if we lose the next game. But still, if he is played and we do lose again, then indeed Lucas will hang from the nearest tree branch.

I personally feel Lucas is not ready to marshall the midfield if we are to challenge for the championship. Yes, he has improved but breaking up Gerrard-Torres combination upfront that has produced so many goals and destroyed so many teams in the past is also worrisome. Lucas doesn't have the vision and the skills for the well-executed pass that split open defences. He can play in there and maybe in a few years we will see a much much better and improved player. But if we are to become the league champion this year, then I am sorry to say Lucas is not the answer. But I do not want him hanged from the nearest tree branch because we do not have other option at the moment if we were to keep the Gerrard-Torres combination.

Voronin is crap, Kuyt is doing a wonderful job at the right with Johnson, Ngog is still raw, Babel might be so-so up there so a lone rusty Torres upfront is still not a good idea. Probably Benayoun could play in that hole behind Torres and Gerrard behind him in CM. With a fit Riera on the left flank with Insua. But I trust Rafa to make the best decision since he is the expert.

Overall, our enemies  all say our season is gone, finished, kaputt, off-with-(fill in the manager/staff's and any player's name here)-head. To read these people, it is all dark and gloomy and we might as well give up on challenging for the league now. Why waste time trying then, just hand over the trophies to the Mancs and get it over and done with. Hell, kick out the manager, sell all the players, close Anfield...

To me I have only the owners to blame for taking us all for a ride with lies after lies and taking us one step backwards each time Rafa takes us two steps forward. The rest of the team should also share the blame for the below-par performances we have had so far if we were to look for a scapegoat. Blame also the ref in the Villa game that made a mistake in awarding the corner in injury time of the first half, that resulted Villa to score very much later after the injury time was over. And for not protecting Torres who might soon break a neck bone.

But to suggest our season is over is a kneejerk reaction that is uncalled for. Two defeats do not break a season. We have players injured who will soon be making their way back and they are all classy players. With the return of Riera, Aurelio (who could actually play in the midfield as shown last season if needed), Agger, Aquaman, and the new Hercules now, our bench will not be so bad after all. And who knows, before the end of the month, another new player is revealed. Such is my optimistism!

Fans and especially players should stop saying 'this is our year' and we should just aim for the top four until January. Let's not add more burden on the team and Rafa and let's get behind our team no matter what. Let our enemies say whatever they want, let them mock us all they want and hope that at the end of the season, they will all choke on the humble pies!

As for tonight's game against Bolton, a 3-0 victory in not impossible even if Bolton plays rugby and Rafa lines up the same players as in the game against Villa.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Dark Clouds and Silver Linings Over Liverpool

The gloom after the 1-2 loss to Spurs was clearly lifted after the emphatic 4-0 win against Stoke. It was heartening to watch how we bounced back after a disappointing opener of the season with such an encouraging display of football.

As the wisemen of the game keep on saying, a season is neither made nor broken with one game won or lost. If I remember reading this one somewhere right, no team has won the premier league without dropping at least 19 points throughout a season.

The two fixtures so far had also resulted us being in a better position compared to last season i.e. 3 points as opposed to only 1 point in the corresponding fixtures. That is two better than last season. And if we beat Villa away this season, then it would be four points better than last season in the corresponding games. Something in that light in being utterly optismistic.

So, it is not all dark clouds over our heads at the moment. But of course this will not guarantee us anything this season because it is more and more difficult for a team to win the league after every year. No game is ever a guaranteed 3 pointer nowadays and Burnley showed just that, back in the top flight after 33 or so years and put the Mancs to 'shame'. And for that we are glad and grateful of course because it did give us great pleasure.

We again saw how biased most media are towards us, not that we needed to see much more to start believing it. Just compare what the media and the pundits said after we lost to Spurs with the humiliation of the Mancs at the hands of Burnley. And we can fully expect that this nonsense will not ever end and Rafa will continue to be demonised by the Fergie ****-suckers behind the typewriter/PC/or whatever that is used nowadays.

We also witnessed in both games so far what Johnson has brought to the team. After rebuilding LFC for so many years on a tight budget, we feel that Rafa has finally completed the jigsaw puzzle albeit one or two missing pieces. But even then, we have always moved forward no matter what happened and this season we will continue to trust Rafa to challenge on all fronts again.

We also saw how the young guns in the squad, the likes of Ayala at eighteen, given greater exposure in the pre-season and trust to shoulder the responsibility in the absence of the first eleven. And they all came out with flying colours, which is good for the near future.

It would be interesting to see whether Rafa, after the signing of Kyrgiakos, will stick to the young guns or go for experienced in an anticipated robust game with Villa. An unheard player but with a good height, Kyrgiakos cost is like the price of a Kancil as compared to the Mercs some teams have paid. But just as in the case of Skertel, I trust Rafa would have made the right choice given the circumstances. And his presence should add strength to our depleted squad.

The past few days has also seen the rumour of Rafa quitting on us squashed when it was reported that he stormed out of Anfield and the owners. Even the bookies had stopped taking bets of him resigning, such was the strength of the speculation. But Rafa has came out and said "I can state I am committed to this club. When I signed a new contract I decided to stay here for the fans, for the staff, for the players". Note that there is no mention of the owners at all in his last line. Rightly so.

Let us all cheer and hail our team and Rafa throughout this season and the next and the next no matter what happens. I will end with a priceless quip from the man of the hour himself: "We are at the top of the table now with 23 stitches. Carra, Torres and Skrtel. I haven’t seen how many Torres has but I can guarantee you it’s 10 or more”.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Is Rafa really screwed..again?

The following article is something that I read last week at

Now, of course most fans around the world wouldn't want Rafa to ditch us. Although he is deemed as a hardheaded person who will like to stay around, take up the challenge and prove certain quarters wrong, but you tend to get scared with the outcome of all that has happened after he extended his contract. 

Some fans who have done their own calculations feel that Rafa should have something at least 50M left to spend, funds that was promised him which encouraged him to sign his extension and funds generated from sales of players. We heard about how positive his statements were at the beginning of the summer break, his admission that he did spend more than he should for Johnson -- meaning he did have the funds in the beginning -- and especially how cheerful he was. 

Well, looks like there is a spanner in the works now. It seems like Rafa has only 1.5M left to spend. 1.5M? It is not even enough to pay the season's wages of a world class player. And we don't need one, but a few players of international standard to boost our squad. 

But alas, many fans are dejected to the idea that Merrs. G&H are sucking our club dry to service their debts. Hence we have, again, this effort: and there is rumours of demonstration tomorrow at the Stoke game and suggestions of boycott among local fans.

No wonder Rafa looks down and frustrated in coming up with a statement like this one: “At least now when you have a question the answer is given quickly. Sometimes we are not happy with the answer but it’s part of the process and we have to keep on working together.” 

We do hope Rafa with stick around but for how long we ask because the media will continue to go after his head after each game. After all, I can guess Rafa, if he had a choice, would not have to play Babel who is a right-footed player at the left-wing. We trust his ability to generate profits from sales of players and from the CL, and continue to challenge against all odds with a thin squad made up mostly above-average players. And if he were to leave, we might just turn out to be a mid-table team devoid of his abilities because there will never be a better manager like him given the circumstances.

And I am not sure a better manager than Rafa would even want to come and manage LFC with those two american hawks lurking and hovering over Anfield.

Liverpool should beware of calling Rafael Benitez's bluff over transfer policy
By David Maddock

If there is a common theme throughout the managerial career of Rafael Benitez, then it is the fact that he is a man of principle.

At Real Madrid, a club he loves and that is in his blood, he was doing the youth team job of his dreams, but walked out rather than select the president of the club's son who he considered not good enough.

At Extramadura, despite winning a miraculous promotion to La Liga, he again quit after being crossed by the president of the club.

At Valencia, after winning two league titles against all odds, he walked out after promises were broken over transfer policy.

Why mention all this? Well, when the Liverpool manager was negotiating his current contract in April, a deal that will apparently keep him at Anfield for five more years, one of the main points of negotiation was over future transfer funds.

Benitez knows he has a squad that is close to being champions, and recognises that he requires perhaps just two more top class players to take the final step. He also recognises those players will cost massive money to improve on what he already has.

Hence his negotiations in April, when he secured promises from Liverpool's American owners that funds would be made available to build the squad of his desires to seriously challenge the Manchester United-Chelsea dominance at the top of the Premier League.

The details of those negotiations are unclear, but it was widely assumed that he would be given at least £20million to spend this summer on top of ANY money he raised himself through sales. Other reports suggested he would be given £40million plus sales.

With less than a week to go before the start of the new season, he has been given precisely NOTHING to spend, above and beyond the money he has raised.

To spell the maths out for Liverpool fans puzzled at this statement, the sales of Xabi Alonso, Sebastien Leto, Alvaro Arbeloa, Jack Hobbs and Paul Anderson have generated something in the region of £40million.

In response, he has paid out around £32million to bring in Glen Johnson and Italian midfielder Alberto Aquilani, leaving a PROFIT of around £8million, perhaps more.

Unless you sell Cristiano Ronaldo for £70million, it is hard to make a profit in the transfer market and retain a squad good enough to win the title - especially if you were just short of that mark the season before.

Benitez knows this, and as already suggested, he really is a man of principle. He will be seething inside that his best chance of winning the title at Anfield is apparently being scuppered by owners who have gone back on their word, and are trading long-term title prospects for short-term balance sheet concerns.

A word of warning to Tom Hicks and George Gillett, Benitez walked out of Valencia - a club that had won two titles and a UEFA Cup and were amongst the favourites to lift the Champions League - because he "asked for a table and they brought me a lampshade".

So far this summer, the owners haven't even turned that lamp on at Anfield.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Spurs 1-2 What a Nightmare to the Season Opener

For a game much anticipated, the loss to Spurs could be summed as an anti-climax. There was always the feeling of something was wrong somewhere. It felt like Liverpool has weakened by quite a bit. Players throughout displayed a team without much cohesion and looked not ready for the season opener.

We could really see what the absence of Alonso has done to the team. I guess it is pointless in mentioning Alonso now. At least Reina showed why he is considered as one of the bests in the game. Twice denying Keane at point blank range in the first half and a wonderful save from a long range attempt in the second. At those moments, it did make my heart swell in seeing what a twat Keane is, as he was at Liverpool for six months. 

But at the middle of the park, we just did not have the drive. The injuries to Skertel and Carra might have worsened the believes of the likes of Lucas and Mascha to push forward.  Both of them had come back from the pre-season injuries, hence a wee bit worrying.

And at both flanks, significantly Babel, somehow did not deliver as expected. Gerrard, starting as a forward, did not have a good game too, at least in the first half, as Torres was shackled throughout the entire 90 minutes. Benayoun, on the other hand, was a breath of fresh air when he came in for Babel.

We showed a glimpse of Liverpool of last season, but somehow there was never a real conviction that we would nail this game. Attempts at goals were scarce, while possession and first touches were ordinarily for a mid-table team.

If we are to believe the rumours that is making their rounds, Rafa will bring in at least two more players. And Voronin is again linked to a return to the Bundesliga. Well, I really hope these rumours are true. We need another player to cover the back four and definitely another forward while we wait for Aquaman to be fit.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What's Happening at Liverpool FC?

The summer transfer period is almost over. Rafa brought in Johnson and of course Aquilani to strengthen the team after Hyypia, Arbeloa and Alonso, among others, left us.

The question that most fans are asking is whether there will be more signings before the start of the season this weekend. Once upon a time, at the start of the summer break, we were made to understand that Rafa would have around 20M, on top of the funds garnered by the sale of players, to further strengthen the team to continue challenging the top spot next season. But what we have seen so far is there is no 20M to be spent, that's it if Rafa doesn't have a few surprises up his sleeves before the transfer window closes.

It is reported that Roma bought Alonso with the following payment structure for the €20M:

4 cash instalments of :-
- €5M upfront
- €3M by 4th January 2010
- €7M by June 30th 2010
- €5M by June 30th 2011.

The deal also includes:

- €300,000 for every year Liverpool qualify for the Champions League from 2010/11 to 2014/15
- €250,000 everytime the player reaches 35, 70, 105 and 140 appearances.
- €1M for the first time LFC either wins the Premier League or Champions League by 30 June 2014.
- 5% of any future transfer fee will be paid to Roma.

(This info was taken from comments by KeithSA at, attributed to info found at

If this were the case, then Rafa should have a lot of money for other players since he received 30M for Alonso, on top of the money he got from the sales of other players, but only so far spent 5M for Aquilani. The purchase of Johnson could be related to the funds promised him earlier by Messr. American Businessmen, which is still short of the 20M mentioned. We actually spent £10M for Johnson because of the £7M owed by Portsmouth for the acquiring of Crouch.

Fans from around the world would be satisfied if Rafa were given the full authority of the funds generated and for transfers of players as indicated when he extended his contract. In Rafa we trust. But I bet the fans would definitely be pissed off if what was promised is not delivered by the owners and the funds generated by Rafa, as we have seen year in and year out, were to be used to refinance whatever loans taken to keep them afloat.

If it were the case, some fans would wish that the owners were really floating porcupines and a strong current would wash them away out of our sight.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Aquilani a crock?

It is half time now with LFC trailing Atletico Madrid by two goals to nothing (commentary in chinese though). As a pre-season game, it does look good with players getting the much needed match fitness and we could see flashes of what we are capable of. Carra took a knock early in the first half and was substituted. Let's hope it is nothing serious.

With him out, Atletico managed to score the two goals quite easily -- the first when Carra was at the sideline -- and with the other central defenders still out injured, it could be a disaster in the league in the event we get into this situation of not having a formidable substitute. Rafa might want to bring in at least one more defender to strengthen the depth of our team.

In the middle, the gap left by Alonso is still telling. Lucas (someone actually tried to engineer a move for him but I think it would be silly if he were to go back to his motherland at this stage of his career) is still Lucas albeit a wee bit better than last season. 

Much has been said about Aquilani being injured and could be out for up to 8 weeks. As for me, Rafa is no donkey hence nobody could take him on a ride. For a player that has not played many games for the past two seasons, Aquilani had the much needed surgery to rectify whatever it was that sidelined him for so long. And of course Rafa knows this because it would be just mindboggling to pay 20M for a player that might play only 15 games a season.

So, I would like to think that the surgery was a successful one and he needs around 2-4 weeks to be fully healed and maybe another 2-4 weeks to get back his full fitness, during which we might see him in action on and off. But the most important thing would be Rafa must have studied Aquilani's medical records and his potential in the league and decided on the positives rather than what we have been reading in the media.

One thing for sure though, we need him fast because at the moment the engine room of LFC is missing one important wheel. And when we are told that he is better than Alonso when attacking, more mobile going forward and could play between Mascha and Gerrard, it only points to a more attacking Liverpool next season. And all the teams that come to Anfield with the intention of parking the bus in front of their goal would need to think twice!


Thursday, August 6, 2009

In comes Alberto Aquilani

It has just been confirmed that LFC and Roma have agreed the deal to bring in Alberto Aquilani to Anfield. I do not follow the Serie A, hence do not really know much about this player. But it seems that he is very highly rated and how fast he settles in the BPL will be crucial since the season opener is just around the corner.

His name was mentioned time and time again as Alonso's replacement towards the end of the Alonso's saga. This confirmation, coming so quickly after Alonso's departure, only confirms how much Rafa was prepared for losing Alonso. Aquilani would be our player is less than one week, subject to a medical since he has not played for a while because of injuries. And at 18M, Rafa might even have the funds remaining from Alonso's deal for one or two players to strengthen our squad.

Now let's hope Aquilani is the right player for us, in a league very much more notorious than the Serie A.

Alonso's Departure: A Silver Lining?

It is a pity that the inevitable happened so close to the curtains being raised for the new season -- 10 more days before we meet Spurs -- but then it is better now than next week I guess. Rafa comfirmed that Alonso made his decision two months ago and that would have given Rafa ample time to plot the strategy for the new season.

Alonso, after five good years at LFC, has gone and life goes on for us because he is not the first important player that have left for greener pastures, and will not be the last. His skills and professionalism will be remembered always. Especially his professionalism. Never once did he moan and groan about his problems to the press. When he first arrived, he was quite an unknown to us. We knew about his close relationship with Rafa afterwards. We saw his quick thinking with the ball at his feet and his famous accurate passes and some spectacular goals that included embarrasing the opponents' keepers. But sadly, he will not be remembered as one of the greatest players or a legend for us.

At times, we used to complain about how his skills was not really good enough to prise open the defence of the teams that came to Anfield and parked the bus in front of the goal. Some fans even went further and deemed this as Rafa's weakness or his negative approach of not wanting to win games but more like not wanting to lose games. And this was the reason we dropped points and did not win the league last season.

Well, with Alonso gone now, Rafa has the opportunity to change his tactics, which might see us with player/s brought in that could change the outcome of these difficult games against the so-called weak teams we need to win against to win the league. Fans that have said Rafa was building his team around Alonso, to the effect that we dropped crucial points because we lacked the ability to kill off games, will definitely be happy with the departure of Alonso.

As the transfer fee was not disclosed, we do not really know how much Real paid for Alonso or whether it was paid in cash or in instalments. But we do know that Rafa was always in control of the situation and not Parry, and we can conclude that the fee should be around 30M which was mentioned time and time again. If that were to be the case, it was a good business deal for us and hopefully the large part of the funds is given to Rafa to strengthen the squad and also maybe for one formidable CM who will not only compensate the missing Alonso but also someone who has the ability to win us the games against the difficult teams.

And in Rafa we trust.