Thursday, 30 October 2014

Swansea City - Match Review

I know people often aren't bothered about the league cup or Capital One Cup as I should call it.  But I am, I can't help it, I accept that it's a chance to rest players who are playing week in, week out, whilst giving some youngsters or squad players some valuable game time, but I still badly want us to Win, I love trophies, games at Wembley, semi finals etc and when we get knocked out i still get that sinking feeling in my chest.  I say I'm not bothered, Micky Mouse Cup and so on, but I am bothered, I'm always bothered when Liverpool play and I expect the management and the team whoever is selected to be bothered.

I was OK with the selection before the game several players had been rested but we were still fielding a strong enough team.  Still only one striker and this seriously weakened us, it's obvious we need to get two central strikers playing but it appears we are not going to, at least until the return of Sturridge, so we are just going to have to get on with it.

For most of the first half I was relatively happy with the performance, we were certainly on top, looked in control and we're defending relatively well, it didn't look like Swansea were going to score and how many times have we been able to say that this season.  The problem was that we were not creating much, Borini was doing very well but was playing wide and not giving the support to the central striker, in this case Lambert, that he so desperately wants and needs.  Swansea didn't look like scoring but despite a better performance from many of the players, if we are honest neither did we.

Then at the start of the second half, disaster Swansea did score, a great finish, but another goal conceded highlighting one of our weaknesses yet again.  After the goal for most of the second half we again seemed to control the game had some decent moments but never really looked like scoring, the major emotion was frustration, why can they not see it, get two up, give him the support, 

Then when it was almost to late the changes were made Balotelli arrived and finally two up and once again we came to life, chances started to be created, the crowd woke up and the team exerted pressure, good long lasting pressure on the Swansea defence, then at last, at long long last it came, a brilliant cross from Manquillo on the right found Balotelli arriving, yes arriving, that's making a run and the ball was in the net around five minutes to go and at last we were level.
To our credit we were not happy with equalising, we were not happy to go to extra time and we pushed for the winner and then deep into injury time Lovren got on the end of a Coutinho free kick a great header gave us a dramatic winner and a place in the quarter finals.

As I said at the start I believe that this competition is important and this win means that we are now reaching the business end, whilst doing so we have given time to several squad players and finally from this game, for confidence, we couldn't have had two better scorers if any of our players needed a boost it was Balotelli and Lovren and a last minute win can only help the team as a whole, a tough win but a good one.


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Brendan Rodgers - Man Management

Branding Rodgers worked miracles last year and correctly won plenty of praise from almost everyone.  He took Liverpool to the edge of glory and even without a trophy seventh to second is certainly not to be sniffed at, especially as due to our finishing position we are back in the Champions League.  All this is very commendable but what won him the most praise were his man management skills and his work with the players, individuals made huge improvements.  Jordan Henderson has risen from a make weight in a low scale transfer deal to an indispensable, vice captain of the team, Raheem Sterling has made similar improvements seeing him reach the heights of unofficial best teenager in Europe, Sturridge was seen by many as a huge risk when purchased and look at his standing for club and country now even Suarez did far better under Rodgers than under other managers at Liverpool and remember he was training alone at the start of the season.  Undoubtedly great man management skills from the manager.

So what has happened this year I'm not noticing huge improvements in any of our players I'm seeing the opposite, several players seem to be going in the opposite direction or have been seriously over rated by the management when we spent big on them in the summer.  Lovren and Sakho roughly twenty million each and neither setting the world alight, actually it's worse they both actually look like total jokes not just once but again and again, they have gone backwards this year.  Mignolet was never the best keeper especially not for Liverpool but this year he looks totally shot, bereft of confidence and bottle also appears to have gone backwards this year.  Gerrard very good last year, very poor this it's gone beyond a bad start now and our manager is still doing nothing about it, big step backwards this year,  Coutinho very disappointing this year after looking like he was on the verge of breaking in to the world class bracket, another who has taken a step backwards although he does look to be stepping up to the plate a bit more recently.  New signings Lambert, Balotelli, Markovic and Lallana have also been short of what we were promised or expected.  With all the above I'm not seeing any signs of the famed Rodgers man management in fact occasionally I'm now seeing he opposite.  

Sometimes now in post match press interviews we are starting to hear excuses, we have a lot of injuries etc. Not what we want to here, I suggest that last year he would have been doing everything to take the criticism away from the players and trying to increase the confidence at every opportunity, things appear to be a little more of a back covering exercise at the minute.

Recently Rodgers has openly criticised Balotelli giving him two months to prove himself or suggesting that he will be on his way.  I'm certain this is not the best way to handle a player who we all know does not react well to criticism.  Everybody can see that Mario plays better with a partner yet he is consistently being asked to play in a format that doesn't suit him and is then criticised by his manager when it doesn't work, again a little bit of covering your back going on.  Now I'm certain Balotelli needs criticism from time to time and Rodgers knows far better than me how to manage a team and individuals but surely behind closed doors in this situation. 

I don't want to criticise to much, I love Rodgers, I think what he has achieved for us is miraculous, we forget to quickly what a terrible state we were in.  There is no way we should consider replacing him.  He has just maybe took his eye off the ball a little, let's get back to fighting with your life for Liverpool rather than announcing in press conferences that you would one day like to manage in Spain, forget that, we want to hear Liverpool is the most important and nothing else matters.


Monday, 27 October 2014

Match Review - Hull City

Why won't we change?  I'm getting bored of writing the same after every game.  Yet again we played one striker for most of the game and yet again it didn't work because it doesn't fit the style of play of almost all our players, Sterling, Lallana and Allen all had poor games, Balotelli again misfired and I believe it's because of the formation and it's costing us our season, the figures, the stats and what we can see with our own eyes prove it, with twenty minutes to go we changed to two upfront and we came to life, chances were created the team looked more comfortable the crowd came alive as for the first time in the game we looked like we just could score and this was with Lambert and Balotelli as the two, the same two who I heard compared to bags of cement this week, imagine if we had tried anybody with a bit of mobility.

For the first half this was another tepid, frustrating performance with Henderson rested it appeared that we were missing his work rate in the middle, Can is showing signs that he can become a solid player but Allen was missing his partner and seemed to be struggling on his return following injury, he didn't have the physicality needed and seemed a little off the pace.  Balotelli was holding the ball up well and showing one or two good touches but Lallana and Sterling from wide positions were failing to give him the support he needed and with nobody getting up from the midfield we were unable to put any real pressure on the Hull defence.

In the second half we were better, especially after the change allowing us to get some support to Balotelli with Lambert joining him up front we dominated possession, put some pressure on the defence and created chances, Unfortunately, today we couldn't take them, with Balotelli again guilty.  

Balotelli has had far to much unfair criticism, he is working hard, he hasn't done anything stupid, we are told he is training hard, and his general play as been ok.  What has been missing is goals and he has been getting chances, good chances and he has been missing them, again today he was guilty of missing two reasonable chances that I would expect an international striker to take, well at least one of them and that would have been the difference between winning and drawing, the same against Everton and Basel, imagine how differant our season would look with a win in the two league games, four more points and a draw against Basel and the extra point.      For me Balotelli is playing ok, just ok, but the failure to take chances is not acceptable.  The same is true of Lambert he is also not scoring but is not taking the criticism when in my opinion before today his play had been far worse.
One positive to take from today was that we finally got a clean sheet and in getting one our defence played better, at least individually.  Lovren made a marked improvement and looked solid. With  Manquillo and Moreno back in the full back positions we managed to stop at least some of the threat from the flanks, both played well defensively in my opinion.  Skrtel looked happier with Lovren's form allowing him to play with less panic and Mignolet looked to be playing with a bit more confidence hopefully this is a start, it looks like we have been working on defending as a team and at set plays.  We have decent players, it just looks like we have forgotten how to defend, hopefully this is the start of the long road back.

A disappointing result but some encouraging signs from the defence and we were again shown that when we play the correct formation the team  can look a threat, we need two strikers and four in midfield, I just hope Rodgers was watching and can see it.  I really believe Sterling could play up with Balotelli or Lambert and give us a real threat


Thursday, 23 October 2014

Match Review - Real Madrid

This is what we had waited for, this was our reward for our stunning season last year, The Champions League at home to the current European Champions Real Madrid.

We knew before the game it was going to be difficult Madrid are one of the best teams in world football with an array of stars that anybody would be jealous of.  But this is what Liverpool do, this is what we are all about, a big fixture against a top team under the lights at Anfield.  We feared the worst our defence against Madrid could only end one way but we were told don't worry, Liverpool will raise their game, Madrid are poor at the back, their keeper is out of former making terrible mistakes and remember it's what we do.

For twenty minutes or so I thought, game on here, we were rushing them into mistakes we were matching them, Yeh this is what we do, this is Liverpool in Europe and for the first time this year the crowd were on top form as well,  it had all the makings of a big Liverpool European night.  Then Madrid showed us what they do, we dropped of the pace slightly, just slightly, slower in the press and all of a sudden we were on the back foot and the absolute quality in the Madrid team started to shine through a stunning chip through our defence and Ronaldo in a flash had stroked a lovely goal into the corner a brilliant goal, that's what Madrid do.  Then we panicked, they were extremely good, but the normal terrible, embarrassing defensive errors were there for all to see and within fifteen minutes we were 3-0 down, that's what good, world class players do.  Liverpool simply can't continue to defend like this everybody can see how to beat us anything direct and high into our penalty box and we are in trouble and against Real Madrid big trouble.

The second half and and with Lallana on for the again ineffective Balotelli and Liverpool looked a little brighter but again we couldn't find a way passed the Madrid defence who looked fine me, maybe I am now just used to watching Liverpool but they looked class never panicked always in control certainly not the vulnerable defence we were promised anything that did get through was adequately tidied up by the keeper who looked assured not the panicking out of form keeper we were promised.

Although for most of the second half it appeared that we were if not holding our own then doing better, I got the impression that Madrid had taken their foot of the gas, I was left with the impression that if they chose to do so they had several gears to go through and we're confident that if they needed they could score almost at will.  They were definitely taking things easy for their big game at the weekend against Barcelona and that for me sums things up Real Madrid were very confident that we would be brushed aside, they were hardly concerned about us, we were nothing more than an inconvenience before the big game at the weekend.

Unfortunately that is our standing in the game at the moment, we are struggling in our own league and we seem to have no answers, short-term I'm sure that the management will sort out some of our many issues and we will improve hopefully in time to challenge for qualification for this tournament next year.  But if we get a little to good, a little to close, the likes of Barcelona and Madrid will take our players, who will leave at the drop of a hat because generally we aren't competitive at this level at the moment.  We can't complain, that's what we have done to clubs in the league for years, look at Southampton in the summer.  What we need to do is get things correct in the transfer market it can be done, again look at Southampton or at the higher levels Dortmond or Athletico Madrid Madrid have lost Torres, Aguero, Falcao, Costa all in recent times and still don't seem to struggle we lose Suarez and it's like the end of the world.

I seem to be saying it after every game but lots of work to do after all we struggled against QPR why did we expect any different against Madrid


The Balotelli experiment is over

The Balotelli Experiment is Over.


The Balotelli experiment is over or at least we hope. Now let's make it clear. I am not calling for his head nor am I trying to sell him in January. The experiment of playing one striker up top should be over. It does not work with this group of players. 


Balotelli has been given chance after chance to change and adapt to a striker that is willing to run in behind the back four, or be dragged out wide to allow others to push up. The latter was seen in the Real Madrid game, where we saw a tactical change of Balotelli being on the right wing for ten minutes. The problem with that though was when he was looking to cross, which he did do pretty well, no one was there to meet the ball. Although it may surprise many of you Balotelli had the second best Squawka rating behind Coutinho in the first half. So being taken off at half time was purely tactical as Brendan Rodgers suggested. With that being said to only stat that matters is the goals column. 1 goal after all these matches with few and far between chances proves to me that this system with Balotelli does not work. 


Let's be clear Balotelli is a contribution to why we are not winning. He is not the reason why we are leaking goals and losing important games. It is unfair and reckless to heap the blame on a new striker, playing out of position. Many fans are getting on his back about his attitude towards the game and how he projects his emotions on the field. Fair points in my opinion. But we all knew he could be like this when he signed. He was and is a risk.


My solution to the problem is to allow Borini and Lambert time over the next couple of matches to develop a partnership. The next couple of matches we play are Hull, Swansea and Newcastle. Perfect games with the right about of pressure to win combined with confidence that we should win these games, to form a winning combination. My hope is that Borini will run in behind defences and Lambert would be a target man for crosses. Both aspects that Liverpool's toothless attack is lacking. Too often does the ball get moved forward to be greeted by the disappointment of no one running into space. Let alone the sense of regret wide players and full backs must feel after looking up and crossing to no one in the box. Only 2 out of 22 crosses actually found red shirts during the Champion League game against Real Madrid at Anfield. We can look at our squad full of play makers, but all too often this season we are lacking players in advance roles to make plays for. 


Balotelli and Lambert cannot play at the same time. They both occupy the same area on the pitch and do the same job. Balotelli has called out for a partner and Lambert needs one too. Borini is all we have to partner either of them. Sterling could fill that role but at times he can get lost in the trees that are centre backs when crosses come in to the box. We saw that in full effect during the Real Madrid game. When Liverpool constantly went wide with no one of stature to whip a cross into. 


With two strikers up front it will allow Liverpool to play in the diamond midfield giving rest to Gerrard Sterling and Skrtel. With Can Allen Lucas and Toure all coming into the team more. Einstein explained insanity as doing something over and over again and expecting a different result. It would be insane to play Balotelli up front alone again. 


Alan Bruce


Monday, 20 October 2014

Do We Already Have The New Suarez?

Since we sold Suarez in the summer, we have struggled.  Suarez himself tells us it is because he was carrying us, I doubt this is true, a great player yes but not a one man team.  The problem with great players is that when they leave you miss them, it's not easy to replace them, Suarez was in most people's opinions, in the top three in the world, so to replace him with a player of equal stature we needed to sign either Ronaldo or Messi, not going to happen, currently we can't get anybody close to the worlds top twenty we just aren't a big enough club and we don't have the money to be able to pay this type of player even if they were available.
So we can't we replace Suarez, or can we?  In Raheem Sterling do we have a ready made replacement sitting in our squad, a mini Suarez.  Liverpool have been playing a lone striker in Balotelli a man who is crying out for a partner and not using our most successful formation, the diamond, I believe because Rodgers, does not trust our other strikers, but is the solution right in front of his face in Raheem Sterling.

Suarez seems to me to have many of the same abilities as Suarez and a similar style, good with the ball at his feet, unpredictable, can create and score, strong with low centre of ability, good pace.  It seems to me that they are very similar, yes i would agree that Suarez is more complete and probably the better finisher but that is because Sterling is young, still learning, still inexperienced by comparison.  Will Sterling learn and develop, undoubtably.  If you think back Suarez could see it, he appeared to take Sterling under his wing whilst he was at Liverpool.

Can Sterling play up front as a striker, I'm sure he can, maybe not as a loan striker but certainly as part of a two, similar to Suarez last season buzzing all over the pitch frightening defenders and giving space to his partner.  Is he as good as Suarez?   No, not yet, but he has a chance of developing in to a player as good or better than Suarez, he's extremely talented for his age, many suggesting he's the best teenager in Europe, so yes he has a chance of going beyond the level Suarez has reached, think back Suarez struggled to hit the net as consistently as he does now during his first season and a half at Liverpool.

Comparing the two we lose out on experience and possibly consistency in front of goal but we gain on pace Sterling is quicker, attitude Suarez was always on the edge of blowing up and biting again or worse, Sterling appears to have far more self control and age Sterling is younger he has it all in front of him hopefully at Liverpool.

Playing Sterling as a striker would also bring other benefits.  Firstly, I think he would help in closing down, pressing this is a natural part of his game and he has the pace to worry every defender when they have the ball.  Secondly, it allows Rodgers to play somebody else in the number ten role, this is another reason why we are not using the diamond in that we have so many attacking midfielders and I think Rodgers feels obliged to play them 4-2-3-1 allows him to do this.  Moving Sterling to play as a striker would allow the summers big signing Lallana to play regularly in his own preferred position of No 10.

In short I think it's time to see if Sterling can prove himself to be a striker  and if he can reach the very top replacing Suarez in the process.


Sunday, 19 October 2014

Match Review - QPR

I think we should have played the diamond formation, it is our strongest formation, best fitted to most of the players we have and with two up front would give the support to Balotelli that he is crying out for.  But I have banged on and on about this in other posts so will try to leave it at that.

During the first half in particular we were terrible, QPR are a team at the bottom of the league and seemingly in disarray, with a manager who it seems doesn't care about their situation and for the majority of the first half they destroyed us and we're very unlucky not to have scored hitting the woodwork twice.  We were completely overrun with our team simply unable to break out of our own half, it was what we do to teams when playing at our best only this was QPR doing it to us, QPR!!

Gerrard was playing higher up the pitch with Can playing as the more defensive of the midfield players, a mistake in my eyes, Gerrard was moved further back as he was becoming less effective in this more forward role over a year ago, he can still have an effect here for short periods or when making an impact from the bench but not for a full game, not from the start, he did come closest to scoring for Liverpool but other than that one chance hardly had a kick as the rest of the team couldn't get the ball to him.  Can was ok but like the rest of the team we were getting steamrollered and bullied

As normal our defence was very shaky, Zamora bullied them and left them destroyed for most of the first half not even bothering to challenge him he was allowed to do exactly as he pleased.  Lovren simply could not cope, in my opinion Zamora showed him to be exactly what he is an average defender at best, I hope my opinion changes, but he is not getting any better still making the same mistakes, still diving in, still been found out of position, still having the slips in concentration and now not even winning his physical challenges, totally outplayed by Zamora a decent striker but not world class.

Our passing game was to slow, everybody seemed to take several unnecessary touches before releasing the ball allowing QPR to put the pressure on Mignolet, Lovren, Enrique, Lallana and Balotelli all seemed regularly at fault, taking to long on the ball and giving it away regularly allowing QPR to build up a head of steam and preventing Liverpool creating anything.

At half time Rodgers made a decent tactical switch returning Gerrard to the more defensive role and pushing Can further forward before replacing him with Allen and Lallana with Coutinho.  Truth be told the best thing that changed for Liverpool was Zamora becoming less influential a little because Gerrard kept an eye on him but mostly because he tired and his hip injury seemed to slow him up.

We were better in the second half at least we were a threat and with Zamora gone we looked a little more comfortable at the back.  The first goal was a quick free kick that caught QPR napping poor play from them rather than good from us and it was certainly not deserved.  As the second half wore on I actually started to think we were going to win with a clean sheet, of course I had forgotten about our total inability to defend any type of ball into the our box or set peace.  Those last few minutes were mad, both teams looked like they could score at will, I was certain we were going to lose then we would score, then more crap defending and we were level and I would be feeling that they would snatch it then we won and wasn't Sterling fast not just fast lightning, didn't look tired at all.

We won, we got three points but we certainly didn't deserve it, we were atrocious, embarrassingly bad.  I'll take the three points there have been plenty of times when we have totally outplayed teams and lost.  The manager and players know it was bad and they know that they absolutely must improve or we have big problems and I know I said I wouldn't mention it again, but bloody well use the diamond!


Friday, 17 October 2014

Injuries and Tiredness

Injuries are part and parcel of football, no matter if you are playing on the park on a Sunday or turning out for Liverpool in the Champions League you would be silly if you didn't expect to get a knock over the course of the season it doesn't matter if you are professional or having a kick about with the kids in the garden everybody is at risk and you will no doubt feel a little stiffness afterwards, it's all to do with relative fitness, both the park player and the pro put in everything they have its just that generally the pro has a bit more to give or they should they have dedicated their lives and train every day to be able to give that bit more.

Now injuries are annoying we invest so much as supporters in our team that it hurts when a star player is missing through injury it, it seems unfair when you have to play full strength opponents with six or seven regulars missing.  We have to accept them, or do we?  Some injuries are part and parcel of the game and we do have to accept them but are all injuries like this or could some be prevented?

Would Sturridge have picked up his recent injury if The England manager and staff had listened to the experts at his home club and allowed him the recovery time he needs, we will never know, but I doubt it, I believe he would have been available to play for both club and country instead of kicking his heels.  Would Michael Owen not have been so badly effected later in his career if he had not be so overused when younger, again I doubt it.  Are Arsenal correct to change their training pitches when so many of their players have suffered muscular injuries over the last couple of years, probably. I can't prove any of the above but there is a good chance that these injuries could have been prevented and that is why they are annoying.

Many injuries aren't preventable so we should be concentrating on those that are, it beggars belief that when a young, star player such as as Sterling turns to the manager of his national team tells him that he is to tired to play and perform at his best, he is then widely criticised.  Why would we make the same mistake with Sterling as we did with Owen, we have to learn our lesson, he is to young to have the fate of Liverpool and England on his shoulders let him develop naturally, keep as much pressure of him as possible and keep him as low risk as possible with regards to injury, invest in his, the clubs and the countries future.  I hear comments such as its "only bloody October" from Stan Collymore, the boy and he is a boy has played at the very top of the game week in week out for over a year, with, because of the World Cup, hardly any break and under huge and growing pressure all that time and does it really matter when it is, if he is tired , he's tired, let him rest so we get the player we all hope he will develop into.  If he says he is tired and needs a break then bloody well give him one if he is the saviour of English football and Liverpool then he deserves a couple of weeks rest now and again.  After all Ronaldo was given several weeks off by Alex Ferguson whilst he was still developing at Manchester United and it has appeared to have done him no harm, in fact, again we can't prove it but it looks like he has actually benefited from this small rest period.

I hear the comments, when I was a kid I played every night and was fine, I loved it, these professionals need to toughen up, the money they are on they should be able to play every day. Rubbish when you played as a kid you were not playing under the pressure these young players are and to be honest when you were tired you probably did have a rest.  Yes they are pampered professionals that are probably over payed but that doesn't mean we should be risking injury, when players from my club are injured I'm disappointed I want us to win games and trophies we need the players fit,  so when they need it, give them a rest!

I fully expect our clubs to be up to date with training methods, recovery, diet, medical treatments, have the best facilities all win the aim of helping players reach their potential but also to keep them on the pitch performing at the highest level possible, I'm sure that's what the players want as well and certain that as the clubs are paying the wages they want to see a return in that investment.  Making it all the more frustrating when we are let down by international managers and staff.

in short injuries are frustrating, for everybody concerned, But with a bit of forward thinking I'm certain can be reduced, give young players the correct advice, give them the rest they need and we may just see some of our young players develop in to world beaters rather than spending time on the treatment table


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Champions !

CHAMPIONS !!! In extraordinary circumstances Liverpool Ladies have been crowned Women's Super League Champions and retained their trophy after another excellent season lifting the trophy on goal difference on the final day of the season

At the start of a nail biting afternoon Chelsea were firm favourites to lift the title, they were in first place two points ahead of Birmingham in second who were a further point ahead of outsiders Liverpool who needed results to go there way in the other two games as well as a victory against Bristol.  Chelsea were given a further boost just before kick off when several key players were missing from their opponents Manchester City team sheet.  Birmingham were the first to stumble falling behind after only three minutes and things soon looked even better for Chelsea with Birmingham appearing out of the race as they fell 2-0 behind half way through the first half, but then it was Chelsea who slipped conceding a goal from Jill Scott with a powerful drive and when Tony Duggan grabbed a second Chelsea were now also hoping that the other results would go their way.  Birmingham then pulled a goal back and just before half time Kim Carney missed a golden chance to equalise from the spot, meanwhile Liverpool were going close hitting the crossbar but things remained even between Liverpool and Bristol.    

Shortly after half time Birmingham equalised and were forcing themselves back in with a big shout of lifting that trophy, then, ten minutes into the second half Dowie put Liverpool 1-0 up, the reds then doubled their lead with a cross shot from Bronze  and then virtually assured themselves the victory and the three points they desperately needed with a Williams penalty and the added bonus of the boost in goal difference they wanted.
That left twenty minutes for either Chelsea or Birmingham to score and take the trophy, Chelsea were given a boost as City were reduced to ten players following a sending off.  But it was former Chelsea manager and current Liverpool boss Matt Beard who was left with a huge smile on his face as both Birmingham and Chelsea failed to grab a goal, with Chelsea players left heartbroken knowing they had missed a massive opportunity.

Liverpool despite leaving it late, really late, fully deserve their title after a difficult season, they started relatively slowly slipping behind but mainly due to a number of injuries to key players.  They did however, always keep themselves in contention and as players returned to the team put together a consistent run playing a very high standard of football, culminating in a tense but enjoyable last day of the season.  It must be hard to take for Chelsea who were firm favourites to lift the trophy before the game but that's football they couldn't get across the line and Liverpool were there to grab the cup from under their noses.

People will tell me that is "only ladies football", don't bother Ive heard it before And you a wrong, it's simply not true, these footballers are incredibly skilled athletes, who have dedicated the lives to the sport and are playing at the very very top level of the game and I'm very proud of our Liverpool team who have reached the top of the tree in this country, winning leagues and trophies is what Liverpool are all about, so we'll done ladies, thank you and keep the trophies coming.


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Victor Valdes - What Would He Bring To Liverpool

Victor Valdes has been heavily linked to Liverpool since the close of the transfer window. He is a goalkeeper who carries great respect. His destination since he declared that he would leave Barcelona last year has been unknown. But after a recent ACL injury, that cut short his swan song at Barça, clubs willing to take a chance on him diminished. Many clubs have been linked with the La Liga winning keeper but Liverpool are the most resent. 


So why do we need Valdes when we have a young international goalkeeper of our own? Where Mignolet is a great shot stopper and can at times pull off miraculous saves, we all know too well that he is inconsistent from set pieces. Mignolet needs some competition for the No. 1 position and that completion isn't coming from Brad Jones. It's fair to say that Mignolet has never had completion since he has been at Liverpool. With Reina being shipped out to Napoli for a years loan and then being sold to Bayern this summer. Mignolet has never had the experience of a veteran goalkeeper to help himself progress. This is why we have seen a stall in Mignolets abilities, and why he hasn't advanced as much as Liverpool or Brendan Rodgers had hoped. Valdes is a proven goalkeeper at the highest level. Something Liverpool need. A strong shot stopper with the ability to control his box. Although he was blessed with a pair of world class, World Cup winning, centre backs in Puyol and Pique I still believe he had a lot to do with the success he enjoyed at Barça. 


It has also been pointed out by former players, such as Gary Neville, that Mignolet is lacking some goalkeeping fundamentals. Fundamentals that are obviously not being picked up by the coaching staff. This is clear because Gary Neville can take us back to last year and show everyone Mignolet is still making the same mistakes. Bringing in a veteran such as Valdes will surely only add to the knowledge of the coaching staff and leave Mignolet in a more educated position than he was before. This would happen whether Valdes starts or not. In my opinion if you want to challenge for the title this year, Valdes must start and start soon. 


If Valdes ever does get the dressing room at Anfield he will find our must successful player Steven Gerrard. Gerrard can boast FA cup, League cup, UEFA Cup, Super Cup and Champions League medals. Moreno could boast about his recent triumph with Sevilla in the Europa League. Manquillo could tell tales about the way Atletico Madrid went about securing La Liga last year. But after that finding players that have won and won repeatedly on the highest stage would be few and far between. Valdes himself as been a part of teams that have triumphed in the World Cup, world club cup, champions league, Copa del Rey and most importantly he has won league titles. 6 to be exact with Barça in La Liga. He knows what it takes to go from August to May in a competitive league and both win and be narrowly beaten. He also knows how to move out of that shadow of a close call and build on it. Something that so far in this season looks severely lacking. 


What Valdes would bring to Liverpool, wouldn't be his medals to be passed around and looked at, he would bring a winning attitude. An expectation to win now and to keep being successful.  He can do this by either being between the sticks or on the bench and the training pitch. He could be the key that would lift this squad from the all mosts to the champions. That all derives from his mind set of winning, not winning sporadically like Gerrard, but by winning time after time season after season like Valdes. 


Who knew a 32 year old former Barça goalkeeper with a dodgy knee could be the biggest signing of the year for Liverpool?


Alan Bruce


The Academy

   I can remember, not to long ago, we were all complaining about our academy, we were not producing any players for the first team, nobody was making a name for themselves and looking like bursting into the firstmteam and we were not even selling players from the academy for a decent amount of money to clubs lower down the ladder, in short the academy wasn't paying for itself.  There were some exceptions but overall we were seen to be falling behind our rivals both at home and in Europe with both the quality and quantity of players coming out of the academy.
Rafa Benitez in his time managing the club seemed to take the youth squads more seriously, brought in his own coaches and for the first time insisted that the tactics and formations used mimicked the first team, allowing players to learn and prepare for hopefully a future callous tongue senior squad but also allows the staff to learn far more about the players giving them far more opportunities to succeed.
Brendan Rodgers has carried on the work done and although he has changed many of the coaches he has kept the same ethos and beliefs in the academy, with all the teams still mimicking the formations of the first team.  It's vital that the academy is allowed to continue the work they are doing rather than rip everything up and change along with every change in management or because of a poor season, long term planning is essential.
Liverpool have started to feel the benefits of this long term, forward thinking approach as players have, over the last few years started to push for first team places and as we now have a manager who is prepared to take the risk and give young players a chance.  We have seen Sterling, Ibe, Suso, Teixeira, Sinclair, Rossiter, Williams, Flanagan, Robinson, Smith, Wisdom all given a chance over the last couple of seasons with Sterling and Flanagan establishing themselves as first team regulars and Sterling in particular winning rave reviews and now classed by many as the best teenager in world football.  All the names listed have a chance of making it at Liverpool but if they don't will make our club some money.  Not all the players at Melwood will make it into the first team but it is vital that if they don't make it at our club that they reach a high enough standard to be sold on making the club money and paying for the future of Melwood.
Not all the players at our Academy are scouted and brought into the club at a very young age we are buying in young players as well, recent sensation Rossiter has been at the club since he was six years old and is tipped for a big future, others Sterling and Ibe both cost the club but in both cases looks like the investment will pay off big time.  It's important that we continue to find the very best local players and work towards getting them in to the first team, i would hope that we would be able to have a local player around the first team squad, I think the support like it.  It would be a shame if local boys started leaving the area and making it big in other teams, we need to ensure that nobody slips through the net.  At the same time we need to be bringing in the best young talent from around the world, we can't afford as a club to but the worlds best players but if we can find them as juniors then we may just stand a chance.  We can do it Sterling has every chance of developing into a world beater and already has a transfer value in the tens of millions.
Our academy has come on in leaps and bounds and over the next few years with the players listed above reaching their potential, I think we will be classed as one of the best in the world, with this reputation and the reputation of our manager for playing and developing young players we should be able to attract many young players to the club making us even stronger. 


What To Do With Gerrard

Steven Gerrard is undoubtably one if the best players to ever have played for Liverpool.  For well over a decade he has at times, single handedly carried our team, whenever we have won anything over that period Gerrard is at the centre of it, he is simply a legend.  But time passes and as he is reaching the later stages of his career the debate rages on how to best utilise him in the new look Liverpool.
It seems like it has always been the case that supporters and media have always argued as to where Gerrard should play, on the right, through the centre, as a box to box player or more of an attacking player and to be honest it's never really mattered he has had the ability to excel in any position always standing out as world class no matter what he is asked to do.  Gerrard still has all the ability but age is now starting to catch up and have an effect, along with this Gerrard has had a tough career with not only injuries but I believe his style of play, all action, combative, box to box, physical style also taking its toll.
Brendan Rodgers has made the decision over the last year to move Gerrard a bit further back on the field, with him acting in a quarterback style of play, attempting to use his passing to control and effect the game from this deeper position.  In my opinion he is not currently playing as a traditional defensive midfielder, he is certainly not a destroyer, that's not his roll, although I'd do believe that with him sitting deeper, often as far back as between the centre backs gives us the confidence to release the full backs providing the width when we play the diamond formation.
This season Liverpool have started poorly, there are many reasons for the poor start and it's certainly not down to any individual but several players are struggling for form and Gerrard is one of them, he hasn't suddenly become  a poor player it's just not working for him at the moment, on top of that many teams are now detailing a player to pressure Gerrard when he has the ball making it far more difficult for him than some games last season, also, he is, at times, becoming isolated in his defensive roll allowing players to run at him.  He hasn't become a poor player or unsuited to this roll it is a combination of a poor run of from and teams working out our tactics.
Many people are suggesting that Gerrard move position again some suggesting that he would be able to play even further back in central defence, I'm not sure, he definitely has the ability, but his strength has always been his attacking with his defending, not a weakness, but weaker, he is a midfield player one of the best in the world so let him play there.  Others are suggesting a move further forward, back to his older attacking midfield role.  I don't agree, he was moved back for a reason as he was getting older the pace dropped a little, the power dropped a little, again he does have the quality to play here but no longer the ability to produce the all action displays we remember, not for ninety minutes and not for every game.  Another argument against moving Gerrard further forward is that we have other, quality players in this area of the field, we can only play eleven players and we have Sterling, Lallana, Coutinho and at times Henderson all playing "No 10" who do we drop.
Gerrard will come back into form as I believe the team will but we have to ask if Gerrard can any longer play a full ninety minutes in every game, I'm not sure he can, but in any case it is time to start looking at what we do when he is no longer around.  There is times when he should be dropped to the bench with others given his roll.  I think that this is the solution, he can hold back the years a little if he doesn't have to play the whole game surely half an hour of the old dynamic Gerrard is well worth using and what an impact he could make in games.  Play full games when fully rested and on other occasions give us twenty to thirty minutes of full on dynamic Gerrard.  This would keep him fit, extend his career, allow him to affect games and win us points and would also allow a younger player to gain experience in playing in his role when he isn't there.
There will be a time when we have to admit that he has to hang up his boots, but that's for Gerrard to decide and not us as fans, we can just hope for many more superb performances before he has to step down


Mario Balotelli - Marmite Man

When Super Mario arrived from Milan most were surprised, his signing seemed to come from out of nowhere and on the face of it he's not a Liverpool style player, but we needed another forward, desperately, he undoubtably has talent, he is a big name and he was only priced at sixteen million, I'm laughing at myself with "only sixteen million" but it's relative at the time clubs were reportedly offering us around thirteen million for Borini, a decent player, but not on the same planet talent wise as Balotelli.  Almost immediately opinion was split, was he more trouble than he was worth? Was he really unmanageable? Would we be able to control him off the field? Would his sulking cause a problem for team spirit? We're countered with We can't lose at that price, It's his last chance he has no choice but to buckle down, look at the quality he provides, he's scored goals at every club despite the problems, and so on, the debate has raged ever since.
I'm still unsure myself, I think we need to give him more time.  As yet he has not produced the goal scoring form I had hoped for, but his game is about far more than that and I believe we are starting to see his hold up and link play.  I also think that when he returns from injury Sturridge will bring out the best in Balotelli, mostly by giving him the support he needs but also taking some of the pressure away allowing him to play.  One thing I do know is that some of the criticism he is receiving is unfair.
The media, commentators etc are spouting the same old Balotelli statements, He's lazy, he's sulky, he doesn't listen, he can't or won't be coached, I've heard them all, time and again, every game from every commentator, in every paper, in every article online and all over social media, even from our own fans.  In my opinion it's simply not true, for me he has not looked overly lazy he has worked, he has closed down he has been seen defending in open play and at corners, he's not perfect, he has been caught been slow getting back onside, his movement could be a bit better but that's not lazy it's just not being perfect.  I haven't seen him in a sulk once, disappointed yes, but not sulking.  Staff and the manager have said he is listening, he is staying back doing extra training, determined to fit in and you can see the evidence, the manager said he wanted him playing more centrally that's exactly what he got, he said he wanted him to defend corners, again exactly what he got, so yes he does listen and yes he can be coached.  He has got faults, he's not perfect, he hasn't really got going scoring goals and has been guilty of poor decisions, perhaps trying to hard, taking on daft shots when better options were available.  So my comment to the media is don't be lazy, watch the game and report or comment on what you see not the cliched responses we all knew we would get.
What about off the field I hear you ask, there are plenty of potential problems there.  Problems or is that just what the media report again?  Is it really a problem that a young man who has earned plenty of money spends large chunks of it on cars, or that a young fashion conscious man wears a hat that is a bit of a fail, who hasn't made a bad fashion choice, he wore a T-Shirt with a message in it that criticised the media for their treatment of him, really I couldn't care.  He set a firework off in his house, not a great idea, but nobody died and anyway I'm sure I watched a TV programme where a young lad set one off in his own arse way stupider, he gave money to people in a pub and others in a petrol station, good I say, seems like a nice young man.  I know he gave Mancini a slap but again there are loads of bust ups behind the scenes this one was just made the papers and both people said it wasn't as bad as reported. Daftness yes but not necessarily a problem we have had worse and so have every other club.  Let's compare to some of the biggest names in the game Gazza did all of the above and worse even hitting his own wife.  George Best literally drank himself to death, the great Bobby Moore ended up in a foreign jail, Eric Cantona was a fool who let his club down over and over again, Suarez did the same to Liverpool, the list goes on and on, again make your own mind up don't follow the media.
Another major criticism is that Mario doesn't score as many goals as you think if you take out the penalties he has scored at other clubs.  This is undoubtedly true he possibly should score more goals but look at his whole game the contribution he can make to the team and make up your own mind.  Balotelli is terrible according to the media whilst Wellbeck or Rooney or even Lambert are the golden boys who at times can't buy a goal.  Plenty of players have relied on penalties to boost their scoring records including our own captain with all his goals apart from one last season coming from either penalties or free kicks, who cares, a goals a goal.
I guess what I'm saying is love him or hate him because of what you have seen and believe, make your own opinions, not because of what some lazy journalist or commentator has told you, I don't know yet, but I certainly hope all will be well and the goals will come.


Match Review - West Brom

A wins a win and we badly needed one before the game, I would have taken anything, we got one and i was pleased that on top of the three points there was one or two positives to take from the game.
Before the game most of the talk was about Balotelli being dropped or rested and Lambert taking his place in the starting eleven, I wasn't sure I haven't been impressed with Lambert so far, he has looked out of his league, very slow and with a poor touch, I know he is better than he has looked, but perhaps nerves etc of playing for Liverpool are costing him.
This game Liverpool managed to find the fast, high intensity start that has been missing from last seasons performances and it was good to see we still had it in us, we didn't get a goal during this period but we looked more lively and threatening than in recent games, unfortunately the intensity appeared to drop and after around the first fifteen minutes we returned to the frustrating, slow paced football that has plagued the start to our season and didn't really look like scoring right up to the moment we did, some brilliant interplay between Henderson and Lallana gave Lallana the chance and he took it with a superb left foot finish across the keeper.
We did defend better as a team throughout the game limiting the number of chances that WBA were able to create and that was good, signs that the team are starting to function a little better, but there were still plenty of problems particularly with the centre backs and in my opinion Lovren in particular, we still had problems defending set plays and crosses in to the box continue to be a problem for Mignolet, but Lovren had one of his poorer days and this is happening to often for me with poor decisions and positioning costing us and when the penalty came it was again a poor decision and a lazy challenge from Lovren that cost us.  I'm sure he has it in him to be the twenty million pound defender that we need but we haven't seen it yet, I expect far more.
When the penalty to WBA came it was as I have said partly poor defending but also was in fact not a penalty the contact was well outside the box and was a terrible mistake from the officials, this could have cost us hugely, and we shouldn't just have to accept mistakes of this magnitude, referees must do better, yes it's a tough job but It's not acceptable to make mistakes and then just brush them under the carpet, the consequences for players and mangers could be careers threatening.
After West Brom equalised from the penalty i feared the worst but we actually got a good reaction from the team and the management and it wasn't long before Henderson had restored the lead after good work from Sterling a good goal and reaction from the players but it was the slight changes in formation and the substitutions that really impressed me. Balotelli took to the field and played in my opinion his best game for the club so far, linking well and looking a threat, perhaps a very good decision from the manager to start him on the bench.  Henderson was played or at least allowed to push forward more resulting in an assist and a goal and a superb performance with his physicality noticeable in the midfield and finally Gerrard was pushed forward for the last fifteen minutes and impressed, creating plenty, possibly the reason why Balotelli looked so good, nice to see and a few more options for the manager. 
I said in my last blog that if we were going to insist on playing this formation we needed to make slight changes and find a way to make it work, I don't know what these are or should be but today we looked better with one or two noticeable slight changes.  Still lots of work to do, still plenty of players needing confidence and a return to form but a small step in the right direction, well done Liverpool.


Match Reciew (Rant) - BASEL

I started to write this yesterday and had to stop delete it and start again after a nights sleep, I was to frustrated and what I had written looked just like a rant, but that's how I felt and still do to be honest but hopefully I can be a bit more objective now a night has passed.
I simply don't understand why we don't learn lessons, the most obvious ones from this game are firstly, that yet again, we refuse to use the diamond formation that has been so successful, it has worked, the figures show it, with two up front we score goals and create chances with one we don't and it baffles me why we aren't accepting this and using the formation that seems
to best suite the players we have, I suspect there are two reasons, that we have injuries to a couple of midfield players limiting choices and that in the diamond it is difficult to see how both Sterling and Lallana fit into the team and I think Rodgers wants to play both.  If this is the case the 4-2-3-1 doesn't work for us so we need to find something that does its ok if it's not the diamond, but find something that's works rather than stubbornly persisting with something that is plainly not working and is in danger of costing us our season.
Secondly our defending is bad but from set plays is a total disaster and has been for a long time and we appear to be doing nothing about it, or the players are not listening and refusing to change, I don't accept that they are not good enough they are almost all full internationals.  An example is Skrtel a full international with plenty of experience who has gained criticism for several years for pushing and pulling players at set pieces so much so that many feel he concentrates on the player without even looking at the ball.  This issue was highlighted for months last season by supporters, coaches and the national media, so why over a year later is he still making the same mistakes, either he hasn't been told or isn't listening, both not acceptable.  Last night for the Basel goal, he was totally focused on the attacker, physically pushing him with two hands away from the goal, a penalty in itself, he wasn't looking at the ball or aware of its flight, he couldn't have been or it wouldn't have it him on the back of his head, forcing the keeper to make a save that lead to the goal from the rebound off the keeper, the same mistakes again and again.
I know this is turning into a rant again but it hurts, we had a chance this year and are blowing it and nobody seems to be doing anything about it.  I fully support Rodgers and all the players but bloody hell get a grip.
Against Basel as in many other games this year to many players just simply played badly no terribly, disgracefully bad, yes Sterling is young and we are undoubtably putting far to much pressure on his shoulders but to fall over the ball when through on goal is bad and shows somebody out of form to do it twice, simple mistakes all over the field, from a group of players who look like they have never seen each other before.  It is exactly like watching England and yes I mean Roy's England, it is that bad, I am that frustrated.
Players and management need to have a long look at themselves and sort this out and do it now, it may already be to late.
I'm sorry if the tone of this article is negative but I want to write what I am actually feeling not what I think people want to hear, I am normally optimistic and I certainly love the club and all the players are heroes to me, but, to sum it up, I spent all day, a few days actually looking forward to the game and it spoilt my week instead of making me happy and that's not because we lost its because I can't see any positive signs that things are getting better.

Come in Liverpool I'm sick of kicking the dog.


The Spanish Amada - How Are Manquillo And Moreno Fitting In



Who are they?


Let's start with Alberto Moreno Pérez. Born in the Spanish city of Seville. He grew up playing for his hometown team. Rising thought the ranks of Sevilla B, where he played in the third division of Spanish football. ( something that English and Scottish leagues should look at to develop young talent. But that a different article for a different day). He quickly progressed playing 49 games and scoring 8 goals. Moreno graduated from there to the main Sevilla team, making his first full La Liga debut at the end of the 2012 season. By the start of the 2013 he was a fixture in the starting Sevilla team. He made 45 appearances scoring 3 goals and grabbing a Europa League winners medal at the end of the 13-14 season. 

It's interesting to note that both Moreno and Javier "Javi" Manquillo Gaitán have risen to success at similar speed. Both played for teams from their home cities. Manquillo being from Madrid, started in Real's youth ranks with his twin brother, Victor. Victor, who was a forward, was released by Real. So both boys stuck together and decided to take their talents across the city to rivals Atletico. Both Moreno and Manquillo broke into senior football in 2011. Both played for the B team of the clubs they were at. Where the paths start to differ is at the A team level. While Moreno stood out in the Sevilla first team. Manquillo was a little more intermittent with his playing time. That was for two reasons. One was the neck injury sustained during an aerial challenge with Cristiano Ronaldo during a Copa Del Rey match against Real. The second reason was at 19 years old it pretty hard to break into a team that is challenging for both the La Liga crown and the Champions League trophy. Last season Manquillo made 6 appearances and scored no goals. Having said that he does have a couple more medals in his cabinet than Moreno. Those medals include the La Liga winners medal to go along with his Copa Del Rey Medal from the previous year. 

While we are chatting about medals both Manquillo and Moreno have won youth medals with Spain. U19 and U21 European championships respectively. 


How did they get to Liverpool?


Manquillo was brought in to the club on a two year loan deal, from Atletico Madrid with the option to buy after that time period. The loan fee is believed to be around 2m with his current market value (according to of 6m. On arriving at Liverpool FC Manquillo was quoted as saying " I'm very happy to have signed for a club like Liverpool. I think it's one of the biggest in Europe. Any footballer would want to come and play here."


Moreno on the other hand is a £12m permanent signing from Sevilla. During the transfer window it was thought that the fee would be closer to £20m. Moreno signed a 5 year deal. He was seen crying while waving goodbye to the Sevilla fans, in Cardiff. He was scratched from the line up in the Super Cup as a result of his transfer. Even after his emotional goodbye he had this to say about his move to Merseyside. " Liverpool are the best club in England and I couldn't waste an opportunity to come and play for them."


So how are they fitting in?


Moreno has appeared in all but one of Liverpool's games this season. He has rapidly grasped his role within the team. After a shaky start against Man City he has went on to score against Tottenham and dominate Lukaku in the Derby. Where he needs to improve is his over lapping abilities. When Sterling is above him on the pitch on the left hand side, Sterling becomes very isolated. This makes it very easy for defenders to double team Sterling. If Moreno would over lap more this would cause the right back to respect Moreno's position and open running lanes for Raheem. Some other teething problems that look to have been fixed, was his ability to close down attackers when running at him. I think we can all agree this have been something that was worked on in training. The evidence is for all to see in the way he dominated Lukaku on the right wing. Fundamentally he was sounds and long my that continue. 

Manquillo has been fantastic is other ways. He has been helped by Glen Johnson's injury. This has afforded Manquillo time to bed into the system and show BR what the has to offer. What he has to offer are skills such as, incredible closing down speed and sensational crosses. Although at times he can be reluctant to push forward, but when he does he offers Liverpool something different. Due to the fact that he is hesitant to move further up the pitch it gives him a unique position to cross the ball from. He tends to whip the ball into great areas from being in a position much closer to the halfway line than the by-line. This brings a different angle on to which Balotelli can attack the ball from. The variety of angles on the right wing will be something to watch later in the season. It will be a real advantage against poorer defences. 


In all both players are of the high quality that Liverpool fans have come to expect. With highly reasonable transfer fees, their young age coupled with international experience and high football IQs many Liverpool fans are very excited. Why wouldn't you be. We just stumbled upon Spain's next two full backs! 


Alan Bruce


Financial Fair Play

Financial Fair Play or FFP has been around for a while, although you may not think so, Originally this seemed to me to be a good idea with the basic principle behind it seeming to be to stop clubs spending themselves out of existence in an attempt to secure those all elusive trophies or trying to keep up with the Jones.  To many clubs were or are spending way beyond what they earn.  Not only do they need protecting from themselves, to many are in danger of financial collapse and also clubs spending in this manner is unfair on their competitors who may have a little more control over their spending.  Simply put clubs feel they can spend now, get the success and the income this success brings and then using this new wealth pay off the original debt, this could work, but is risky and obviously not fair on their competitors. 
I don't know what the rules are and I think you would need to be an accountant to start to understand some of the fine print, but basically, I believe that a club is not allowed to make a loss of more than thirty eight million over a couple of years, with lots of exceptions, including money spent on infrastructure and on youth development.  On the face of it a good idea, but is it working?  We have all had a laugh at Manchester City and their pathetic argument that they were in fact making money as they somehow paid themselves many millions to name there own stadium and therefore were making a profit, they were found out but then the sanctions were a fine, surely not a big problem for Manchester City and their owners.  They are also finding ways around the rules by using unofficial feeder clubs to get players on their behalf as we can see with the recent "loan" of Frank Lampard, legal yes, but only just and still unfair against smaller clubs in the league who haven't got cash to throw around.
FFP seems to have little respect in Spain with Barcelona and Real Madrid still throwing around huge amounts of cash at will, despite having massive debts and massive real terms annual losses, they seem to have little or no sanctions thrown at them and be allowed to continue to collect the worlds best, most expensive players.  I question the fairness when smaller less powerful clubs in Eastern Europe do have meaningful sanctions issued against them when the more powerful clubs of Western Europe can carry on as they please.
Recently Liverpool have come under the scrutiny of UEFA's accountants after reporting losses, over the limit for the last couple of years.  I would be surprised and disappointed if we fell outside the rules.  Our owners FSG stated, when they bought the club, that one of the reasons they chose to invest was FFP, to go against this and become one of the teams taking the risk would be very bad financial management, especially after the situation we found ourselves in a few years ago. On top of this it would be unfair, we have criticised other clubs and I don't want to be one of the teams seen to be buying success.  Yes we have spent a lot of money on players again this summer but it must be remembered that we sold as well bringing in huge amounts of money particularly from the sale of Suarez.
Despite been under investigation Liverpool remain confident that they have not broken any rules and I am happy with this, we have significantly increased the income of the club signing deals with partners all over the world and their has been significant invest in the infrastructure so we should be ok.
Clubs including Liverpool do need to think of new ways of working, within the framework of FFP, I think we could do worse than have a look at Chelsea. They appear to have set up a player trading arm of the club that is working almost outside of what Mourinho is trying to achieve with the first team.  They are buying up most of the continents young talent (young players are not considered in the FFP process) keeping them if any become good enough for the first team then all well and good If not they are sold on for a profit, income that is counted towards FFP a win win situation for Chelsea. FFP is a good idea, it needs UEFA to enforce it with all clubs even the powerful big names not just smaller clubs and it needs to be looked at again and loopholes to be closed or clubs will continue to a use the system. Finally the sanctions imposed against any offenders need to be relevant and enough of a threat to prevent further breaches, point deductions or disqualification from competitions rather than fining the richest clubs in the world


At Last - A Left Back

At last, at long long last it looks like we just may have solved our left back problem.  Going back almost as long as I can remember we have struggled with players who are not quite what we needed, playing out of position or let's face It, to often, down right bloody awful, yes I'm looking at you Konchesky and you Dicks and you Traore see what I'm getting at.  David Burrows, Steve Harkness and Steve Staunton were not much better, Jim Beglin looked like he could be then injury spoilt that plan, Rob Jones, Carragher, Agger and Johnson all had games with varying levels of success but were and are better in other positions, Aurelio a great player but made of glass, looked like he could be the solution for a while before injuries again struck even Sakho has had a game in the role with disastrous results, Ziege, Riise the list goes on an on.
But then, this summer we heard about Moreno, or Alberto Moreno Perez to give him his full title, playing at Valencia.  Throughout the summer Liverpool tried to sign him, it felt like his transfer was constant news, it was the backdrop to my summer, with Twitter reporting he was on a plane at least five times over the period, before he eventually arrived for around 12 million pounds, about 8 million less than it was reported Valencia had earlier rejected, a good price for Liverpool, I think we got a bargain.
Moreno came with a good reputation, only just turned twenty two and already a full Spanish international.  Valencia certainly didn't want to sell and apparently he was highly recommended by our transfer committee, but I had seen very little if him so must admit was a little unsure.
From day one in the Liverpool team I have liked him, he looks like he has the lot.  Moreno made his debut for Liverpool against league champions Manchester City and again looked good, he made a mistake that cost us a goal, but we could see from this game he looked a decent player, we could forgive the mistake, a young player, on his debut, settling in to a new team, getting used to the pace of the English game were all excuses but we forgave the mistake because we could see he was good, yes he made a mistake but this kid can play.  The following games just confirmed my opinion we haven't been playing well but Moreno is winning constant praise for his performances he is attacking exceptionally well and delivering some excellent balls into the box and in defence he has been the stand out player for me, at last a full back  or two actually, who stop crosses, who close wingers down and let them know they have a problem.  Then Moreno confirmed his quality with that goal against Spurs taking the ball off Andros Townsend, an international winger, sprinting half the length of the pitch and scoring with a fine finish across the keeper into the corner a lovely goal.  I knew he was fast but not that fast he outpaced the entire Tottenham defence including Townsend who is no slouch, he's not just fast, he runs like the wind and as he is gaining confidence we are seeing him flying down the wing more and more for Liverpool
It's  early days yet, but we look to have finally found somebody who can defend, is strong enough in the air, who can attack, who is a real threat to opposition, who can score goals and who is young enough to improve.  Step up Alberto Moreno, I think we have our left back. 


Match Review - Everton

Last season was mad, that run in was mad, we played mad, exciting  football and it worked, we got mad results and we did well.  This season we have been sensible, slow, not rushing in to attacks, thoughtful, but certainly not mad, it's not exciting, it's frustrating and we are not doing well, we aren't creating, we are not mad and we are dropping points. Now, when Liverpool play Everton people tell us the form book goes out of the window, it is by its very nature fast and exciting you could even say mad.  We were forced to play mad football again and to my eyes it looked better, better than any of the slow, thoughtful football we have played this season, I hope it reminds us how we play, I don't want to see slow, I want mad in fact I think I want absolutely insane.
Against Everton we at last got out of the blocks quickly, early on We pushed, we hassled, we passed the ball quickly Lallana and Sterling looked threatening, Henderson and Gerrard hassled and pressured and pushed Everton players in to mistakes, Moreno and Manquillo were flying down the wings with real pace and the defence was not under pressure so looked good and organised. We looked good, we didn't score but looked like we could.  We managed to maintain the quick pace throughout the first half and although we didn't create any clear cut chances we did get several half chances, a couple of powerful strikes from the edge of the box and we were for the first time this season getting behind the defence with some great play out wide and also from a couple of great through balls from Henderson, it was starting to look mad.  
Markovic was the only player who seemed a little of the pace, he wasn't bad, just not yet up to the pace of the rest of the team and the Premier League, he still had some good touches but still has work to do, but he does look like he has a touch of madness about him.
At half time I felt more confident, certainly than I had at the start of the game and probably for the last few games, we just needed to keep the pace going, finally players were playing well and we looked a threat.  we did Everton had their moments but we actually defended well and we kept going forward, we were still looking good then it came, Gerrard silenced his critics, yet again, with a superb free kick to put Liverpool in front, a very good goal from a player that needed a good game and was having one, shortly afterwards Balotelli got on the end of a left wing cross and hit the bar, yes Howard did get an unbelievable touch on the ball to prevent the goal.  
It appeared that at this point Liverpool as a team had a think, they thought they should calm down, slow things down, keep the ball and see the game out for the win, very sensible, not mad at all, unfortunately we sat deeper and deeper inviting Everton on to us, sensibly?  We still looked ok, we were defending pretty well but we were not attacking we were being sensible and calm not mad, then what was a good head clearance from Lovren fell on the half volley at the feet of Jagielka and stunningly, madly even he smashed the ball in to the top corner at the Kop end for the equaliser two minutes in to injury time, a great goal.
I think we played well Lallana, Sterling, Henderson, Gerrard were all back playing with style and pace, Balotelli was, well, Balotelli but I reckon he has it in him to be the maddest of them all.  We defended well, no individual errors, you can see we have been working on it and we did create chances.  It was unfortunate that we didn't win but it was a stunning strike that got them a point so, you have to take it, sometimes you can't do anything about a goal.
I hope the derby has reminded us what we do best and we can forget the frustration and get on with enjoying the madness of it all, it has been a while since I've laughed at a football game


Is The Derby as Big As Ever?

The Merseyside Derby is one of the biggest games in world football is a statement that was perhaps true for a period time, at one point both clubs Liverpool and Everton were at the very top, fighting it out for most of the major honours between themselves.  Both clubs had some of the best players in Europe, players who were famous all over the world, players who could have made a name for themselves in any team.  But if we are honest, both clubs have declined, yes on our day we can still take on anybody and we have now and have had some outstanding players and we have to admit so have Everton, but neither club can claim to have regular challenged for the trophies   Not like the good old days.  Over the same period both Manchester clubs have moved ahead of us, both clubs have exceptional squads and have been contesting trophies for a number of years now but recently United have fallen from grace so perhaps this Derby has lost a little from where it was a few years ago.  Arsenal and Spurs is also a big game but I feel the number of Derby games played in London takes a little of the shine off this game.  The Tyne and Wear derby is a huge game for local fans but is it on a national level  I'm not so sure, it's like a lot of derby games massive in the region they are played and yes we love to watch and sample what can be tremendous atmospheres but they are not important on a national level, so perhaps when you look around the Merseyside game is as big if not bigger than any around.
Some will argue that the games are not like they were because victory over other teams has become more important to the supporters, perhaps as our fan base has widened so has the importance of games against teams from further away,  Or perhaps because different teams are challenging us in the league, we have certainly always loved to give Manchester United a beating, but recently games against Chelsea and Arsenal have been eagerly anticipated and have had added importance depending on the clubs league positions.
I, like many other supporters, don't live in Liverpool so don't have to face Everton supporters at work after a defeat or have the opportunity to poke fun following a victory, what I do have like many others are plenty United and Chelsea supporters making their mouths go when things have gone wrong and I'm usually unable to find any of them when we win, I only have one colleague who I know to be an Everton supporter.  I know how important it is to people who, live and work in the city and desperately want the team to do well for you all.  The situation with the players is similar, more and more members of both squads are are not from the city, yes we are lucky our captain is from Liverpool and the passion Gerrard feels for this fixture is obvious, it's there for all to see and always has been, but his career as a player is coming to an end and it is highly possible that next season Liverpool will field a team without a local player in this fixture.  Yes we drum the importance of the game into new signings but it can never be the same for a Spaniard or German or African or wherever, they can just never understand fully what it means.
Despite all the above the fixtures against Everton still have that little bit of magic about them, the atmosphere is just that bit better, it means just that bit more for even the foreign players, more than a bit for the local boys, both teams are on the up and at least challenging for top four so the importance of the game his heading back to where it was and we love it, we still look for the date of the game as soon as the fixtures are released, it is still almost impossible to get a ticket for the game and I would argue that a victory in this game means more than any other, it has the power to lift the team, improve confidence possibly making an entire season, as we are all hoping will be the case this year.
    So yes the Derby is relevant, in my opinion is almost as big as it ever was and as both teams move higher and higher up the table  it is becoming more so.  One of the biggest games in the country yes without a doubt, in Europe maybe it has a huge tradition and atmosphere and we are certainly heading back that way.  So everybody enjoy the game at the weekend, and make sure everybody knows why the Merseyside Derby is still classed as one of the biggest games in the world.