Monday, 24 October 2016

Exciting Times

     For so long we have reached this stage of the season and despite trying to remain optimistic I have known in my heart of hearts that we were out of the race for the title, facing up to another year without a realistic title challenge, with the odd exception we are normally off the pace and at best looking for a place in the top four and hoping for a successful cup run.  The frustration most fans have felt has been massive leading to a change in how we have supported inside the ground, sometimes nervous, sometimes negative but never fully backing the team.

     Since Klopp arrived he has set about changing the atmosphere around the club we have seen him challenge the fans support, ask us to believe, ask us to create the atmosphere whilst he has set about developing the team.  We have seen a change on the pitch, without a doubt it is better.  Klopp's decisions over the summer, although heavily criticised, have been proven correct and we, the fans are starting to learn.  We have improved the atmosphere, we are showing the belief and the negativity inside the ground is disappearing replaced with hope and support.

     On the pitch the players are doing their bit, I am not forcing myself to be optimistic, for once my head and my heart are in agreement we are in this, we are in it up to our necks.  I don't know if it will stay that way, I don't know if we can maintain it but for this first time in a long, long time I think it will.  We look like we can win against the big teams, we look like we can break down teams who "park the bus" we look like we have fight, we look like we have character, we look like we have a bit of depth to the squad, our manager looks like he can and does make a difference everything looks good, we are making a challenge.

     We are joint top coming into a run of, on paper, easier games, that will be the next big challenge not to slip up and allow the frustration in we can't and won't win every game but we can and should win most of them and keep the challenge alive and keep the optimism.  We have already played some of the seasons most difficult challenges and come out with wins away at Arsenal, Chelsea and home to the current champions Leicester a draw at White Heart Lane and a draw at home against United all positive results whilst we did slip against Burnley we have also got results against Hull and WBA keeping the positivity going. It also should be noted that we have played a deficit in home games due to the new stand, more home games should mean a better chance of more points putting Liverpool in the best current position of their rivals.  Plenty to be positive about, lots of excitement ahead but we need to guard against the negativity, don't wait for the dip in form, for the bad results, we are a different team under Klopp and as the manager says ......WE MUST BELIEVE.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Walk Outs and U-Turns

      When FSG announced the new ticket prices supporters of other clubs may have just shrugged their shoulders, ticket prices go up, that's what happens, clubs talk every last possible pound out of supporters, that's what they do, some supporters won't be able to go any more, they just can't afford it, don't worry others will take their place, what about future generations the kids can't afford to go, we will worry about that later fans, fans always turn up.  At Liverpool things are a little different their had been mumblings their had been discontent over ticket prices, membership schemes, online sales, away prices, match categorisation for a while but we were aware that the owners or club were talking to supporters groups about these issues so although I don't think we were expecting miracles, we were at least expecting consideration and a sensible approach to some of the issues.  When the announcement was made it appeared that all the discussions were for nothing, they hadn't listened, nothing was different, nothing had changed apart from more money as to come out of most people's pockets.  The club had made one or two concessions but on a very small scale.

     Many were upset, the club had missed a massive opportunity, we could have been the first, we could have taken a lead there was an opportunity.  The huge increase in television money makes gate money if not insignificant considerably less important we could have taken a small hit for the benefit of the fans, we are not asking for the club to make a loss, just To make less of a profit, not less than last year, just a little less than they could have made. We are not asking for free or really cheap entry to games, just reasonable with a view to looking at reductions in the future, a sensible overview to ticketing and pricing.

     The response to the announcement about ticketing was protest, a planned walk out in the game against Sunderland with fans to walk out of the match after 77 minutes.  I didn't know what to expect, how many would go, many on social media appeared against the idea, but walk out we did, in our thousands sending a message that would be heard in Boston.  We all owe a huge thanks to the people who walked out, the people who organised it and those in the media who publicised and comments on the event.  It is worth pointing out that many on the Kop who walked out were not effected by the new proposals they were leaving in solidarity with those who were, they were fighting for us all and for future generations of Liverpool and football fans and that makes me very proud to be a red.

     Our owners heard the message and have responded and acted quickly, making a complete U-Turn and offering a full apology in a letter to Liverpool fans.
This is what they wrote :-

Dear Liverpool supporters,

It has been a tumultuous week. On behalf of everyone at Fenway Sports Group and Liverpool Football Club, we would like to apologise for the distress caused by our ticket pricing plan for the 2016-17 season.

The three of us have been particularly troubled by the perception that we don’t care about our supporters, that we are greedy, and that we are attempting to extract personal profits at the club’s expense. Quite the opposite is true.

From our first days as owners we have understood that serving as custodians of this incredible institution is a distinct privilege and as such, we have been driven solely by the desire to return LFC to the pinnacle of football. In the world of modern football, growing the club in a sustainable way is essential to realising this objective.

To that end, we have never taken a single penny out of the football club. Instead we have injected vast sums of our own money to improve the playing squad and modernise LFC’s infrastructure - exemplified by the £120million advance from FSG to build the new Main Stand. This massive undertaking was made in order to provide more supporters access to Anfield and also to produce additional revenue to help us compete financially with clubs that have greater resources. When it opens in August this year, the stand will accomplish those goals, thereby fulfilling a promise we made upon acquiring LFC in 2010.

We were strongly engaged in the process to develop the ticketing plan for 2016-17. We met directly with representatives of LFC’s Supporters’ Committee and along with LFC management, wholeheartedly agreed with major concerns raised, notably: access for local and young supporters; engagement and access to Anfield for local children; access to Premier League matches for those in Liverpool most challenged by affordability.   

We believe the plan successfully addressed these concerns and are disappointed that these elements have been either lost or, worse, characterised as cynical attempts to mask profiteering in the plan as a whole. Rather, we prefer to look at them as the parts of the ticketing plan we got right. 

On the other hand, part of the ticketing plan we got wrong.

In addition to the other elements of the plan we proposed price increases on a number of tickets. These pricing actions generated growth in general admission ticketing revenue on a like-for-like basis exclusive of revenue from newly-added GA seats. 

We believed by delivering a vastly improved seat offering in what will be the newest stand in English football, concentrating the price increases on those tickets typically purchased by fans least sensitive to affordability, and highlighting the need for LFC to begin repaying the £120million advance from FSG for the new Main Stand that these increases were supportable even in the context of growth in revenues from the new Premier League TV deal.

However, the widespread opposition to this element of the plan has made it clear that we were mistaken.

A great many of you have objected strongly to the £77 price level of our most expensive GA seats and expressed a clear expectation that the club should forego any increased revenue from raising prices on GA tickets in the current environment. 

Message received.

After an intense period of consultation with LFC management we have decided to make major revisions to our ticketing structure for 2016-17:

Removal of game categorisation – regardless of the opposition fans will pay the same price for matchday tickets.
The pricing of tickets will be readjusted to result in zero revenue growth from GA ticketing on a like-for-like basis.
Though individual ticket prices may move marginally from this season, we are freezing our 2016-17 GA ticket revenue at the 2015-16 level exclusive of newly-added seats in the new Main Stand.
The price of our highest general admission ticket will be frozen at the 2015-16 level - £59.
The price of our highest season ticket will be frozen at the 2015-16 level - £869. The lowest price reducing a further £25 from the 2015-16 level to £685, as well as all other tiers being frozen or reduced.
£9 GA seats will be offered for each and every Premier League match, an allocation of more than 10,000 tickets across the season.
We would hasten to add that the other initiatives announced last week in the 2016-17 plan will remain:

17-21 young adult concession – 20,000 tickets across the Premier League season available at a 50 per cent reduction for young people.
1,000 tickets to Premier League matches across the season will be given away free of charge to Liverpool schoolchildren based on merit, as recommended by their teachers.
As a sign of our commitment to this improved ticketing structure, we are further announcing that this plan shall be in effect for both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. For the next two seasons, LFC will not earn a single additional pound from increasing general admission ticket prices.

We believe we have demonstrated a willingness to listen carefully, reconsider our position, and act decisively. The unique and sacred relationship between Liverpool Football Club and its supporters has always been foremost in our minds. It represents the heartbeat of this extraordinary football club. 

More than any other factor by far, that bond is what drives us to work tirelessly on behalf of the club and its future. We have great conviction in our world-class manager and our young, talented squad and know that in time the on-pitch success we all crave will be realised. 

We look forward to sharing in that success with you.

John W Henry, Tom Werner, Mike Gordon

    This is a superb response and one FSG should be praised for massively praised for, addressing almost every issue the support had and apologising along with attempting to explain the reasoning behind the original proposals.  I hope this is just the start and the club will now listen to supporters especially over this issue and continue to work towards affordable ticketing for all into the future.

    Liverpool supporters have made a stand and we have benefited because our club listened to us let's hope other clubs and owners are also getting the message, football is for everybody, the game would be nothing without the fans and with no atmosphere I am certain there would be no television money, use fans to create the atmosphere to sell to television, use fans to create the atmosphere to sell around the world, use fans to inspire the players to perform even charge them for the privilege but don't price them out don't get to greedy, it's our game and they are our clubs don't take them away.  


Wednesday, 27 January 2016

We're On Our Way To Wembley

     So, we are on our way to Wembley, a poor performance from the Reds, who as always, did it the hard way, with a penalty shoot out win.  For me the most memorable things from the semi were Lucas appearing to want to fight the whole Stoke support and the post match interview from Jurgen Klopp, how can you not smile when your manager told you it doesn't matter who we play in the final we will in the cup.

     I'm delighted to have made a final, we have our big day out and for me it shows that we are developing under Klopp.  I know it's "only" the league cup and we would probably swap it for a top four place but it's a cup final a huge chance of silverware and its Liverpool back at Wembley, where we belong, challenging for trophies.  We have made it to a final amidst the worst injury crisis this club has seen for years, without our star player for almost the whole season and with according to most commentators no creativity, nobody to take a chance, the worst defence in the country, the worst keeper, the worst record from set plays both defending and attacking and having changed managers half way through the campaign it would appear that our manager can work miracles, especially when you consider we have had to play far to many games in a short period and we are still in both the FA Cup and the UEFA league more chances of glory.

     Success in the League Cup is often seen as a stepping stone with supporters believing it will lead to further success in bigger trophies, " it shows the team are heading in the correct direction".  In the case of Liverpool this season I'm not sure we had far to many problems with the team but what it does who is the manager is working along the correct lines h can do it, he can do it with the players he has available at the moment, imagine what he could could achieve without the injuries, imagine hat he can achieve when he has had time to work with the players, imagine what he can achieve when they understand fully understand his philosophy , imagine what he can achieve when they have completed a full pre season and are a fit as he needs, imagine what he can achieve when he a brought in his own players, when we have a goalkeeper who can catch and a striker who can score, just imagine.  I liked Klopp from the moment he walks through the door but I had been hoping he would take us forward that he could take us to finals but he has now proved it to me, to all the support, to the players and to the owners there is now no reason why he can't be given everything he needs and when he is watch us go.


Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Problems At The Back

      It's getting beyond the point of worry or concern now for years we have had weaknesses at the back but over the last year or so things have appear to be getting progressively worse until we are now at the point that it seems every shot on target is a goal, a corner for our opponents is as good as a penalty, every attack causes fear to spread around the support and players and our individual international level defenders all appear to have never played the game before with horrendous individual errors a weekly occurrence with communication and organisation a thing of the past.

     I am not claiming to be a coach and certainly not to have all the answers but I along with most other supporters have seen some issues that need addressing sooner rather than later.  Firstly and for me the biggest issue is our goalkeepers, Mignolet and Bogdan are not good enough, Mignolet our regular starter appears now to have reached the stage of Reina before him where every shot on target is a goal, a huge problem when his only attribute was that he was a good shot stopper.  His distribution is still appalling, organisation non existent, command of the area equally poor and his confidence appears to be totally shot and I believe all of this has caused problems with his defenders in front of him, people have no confidence and the panic is spreading.  Bogdan is worse so we don't have the solution of giving him again he has similar problems but actually seems to add to the problems causing problems that aren't there almost throwing the ball in his own goal.

     What's the solution, for me a new goalkeeper and long term we need to look at our keeper coaching, Mignolet is not the first keeper we have broken, when you are this far down there is no way back.   I am aware that we have recently given Mignolet his new contract and I simply don't understand why, I am hoping we will be bringing in a new number one and he will be our reserve cover although I would like to see the promising Ward given a chance as well.

     Our defenders are not without blame all of them seem to have a mistake in them.  Skrtel in my opinion flatters to deceive he is one of those players who is often not directly to blame but is always at the edge of the crime, Toure has been quality in his day but is finished his legs have gone and is prone to a bit of panic despite his constant calm down gestures, Lovren before his injury was in the process of proving me wrong for a whil he looked like a joke player but under Klopp has been far better, in the wait and see basket for me, Sakho also is proving me wrong I thought he was quality but recently has been coming down to the level of the rest of our defenders and doesn't seem to be strong enough in the air needs to do far better mor often.  Moreno is an idiot just seems to be to thick to learn, a superb athlete with very little brain and Clyne has been a disappointment started off well it's consistently good defending but has got worse each week to the point that he is now targeted by many teams as the week link and thats amongst those listed above.  What's the solution? Again for me it's personnel changes but I think we can improve from coaching we have no communication , nobody taking the lead nobody organising and when mistakes are made somebody should be handing out a bollocking, we need to get nasty, we need to get physical and we need to get in the front foot and individuals need to do their jobs if your marking somebody then mark him and make sure he doesn't get his head in the ball, oh and just as an aside get somebody on the posts from corners I have been told all my life that this is what you do but for some reason we have stopped and we have conceded goals because of this

    Overall we need players who can do the job to the required level and that's going to mean replacing one or two or more of our back line but we also have to get organised and get nasty it's has been to long since we have looked comfortable at the back to challenge at the top we have to be strong at the back. 

Sunday, 24 January 2016

What a Game !

      I don't normally do match reports but what a game we watched at Norwich and it could just be the turning point we have been looking for.

     Liverpool were not good, we were bloody terrible, all over the pitch both as a team and individually we were terrible with the exception of Firmino and Lallana and up to the very last minute of the game I was fuming with them all.  For the whole first half it looked like we didn't give a shit, for the whole match we couldn't defend, childish errors all over the field, every Norwich attack caused panic, every shot was a goal every corner was like a penalty, by half time I was predicting a humiliating defeat, possibly as big as Stoke last season and when Moreno gave away the most idiotic penalty I have seen for years, I mean what was he thinking, not once but twice absolutely bloody stupid, that was it I was of the opinion we should just get rid of them all and start again.

      But then we showed that we have something we have a bit of fight, following the third Norwich goal going in Toure grabbed the ball from the back of the net and ran to the half way, he was saying come on we can sort this, we can get this back and we bloody well did, within seconds Henderson has got us back in it and now there was two players Henderson and Firmino grabbing the ball and rushing it back to half way and minutes later following Firmino's equaliser most of the team were there determined to get on with the game, we can win this now.  We must remember that we were not good we got back into the game because Norwich were shit even worse than us, they sat back and can't defend a huge tactical error if they had continued to attack they would have continued to score proven by them grabbing a late late equaliser following Milner capitalising on the worst error of the game to give Liverpool an unlikely lead.  Surely it was all over 4-4 three minutes in to injury time, no, remember we are fighters now And Lallane grabbed a fifth and winning goal and wild scenes of celebrations led by the manager.

     We were rubbish but what a quality game and a quality three points and there is every possibility that that terrible performance could start us on the road.  Klopp, who is the man for the job,who will bring success has been putting messages in all our heads players and supporters, don't leave early, a game last until the final whistle, anything can happen and if that wasn't heavy metal football.  The messages are getting across late equalisers against West Brom and Arsenal and that against Norwich, confidence must be increasing maybe in the years to come we will look back at this game as the one where it all started again for Liverpool.