MiscellanousPosted by Leif Larsson Thu, May 14, 2015 14:40:56
How incredibly quick 17 years flies past you. It feels like yesterday Steven Gerrard made his debut in a Liverpool shirt - but in fact it was 16 years and 6 months ago. And now it´s just two games to go, and only one at Anfield left. It´s hitting home and it´s not a nice feeling.
On the 29th of November 1998 local lad 18-year old Steven Gerrard entered Anfield in the 90th minute to make his first appearence for his beloved Liverpool FC. He started five matches and came on as a sub in eight matches in the 1998/99 season. The following season he really established himself and from time to time kept players like Danny Murphy, Vladimir Smicer and Jamie Redknapp out of the starting eleven.
His scored for the first time in a red shirt on the 5th of December 1999 when Liverpool demolished Sheffield Wednesday 4-1 at L4. Up to that match I was not completely convinced about the raw youngster but in that game he really arrived for me. The turning point was his fantastic solo goal to make it 3-1. Then I knew Liverpool had discovered some heck of a player.
The way he at full speed danced past two defenders, what we now would describe as Coutinhoesque style, and hit a low shot into corner was pure magic.
The goal can be seen ocn You Tube at this adress: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVc65NiCXIY - fast forward to the 21st minute of the clip and enjoy.
Since then Gerrard has scored a lot of important and spectacular goals, played over 700 matches for the Reds and won a few trophies along the way. My all-time favourite Gerrard goal is the one he scored against Olympiakos which sent Liverpool through from the group stage of the 2004/05 Champions League and we all know how that campaign ended. Check that goal out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9AW3RjHjmA.
The memories are in abundance but soon enough no new ones will be created. It will be strange to see Liverpool without Captain Fantastic next season. I have always thought of him as the perfect role model for footballers, both on and off the pitch. We will probably never again witness a player of the same calibre representing Liverpool for so long and with such distinction.
Hopefully Steven Gerrard can end his playing career in Liverpool with two wins and a couple of goals. I will certainly have my fingers crossed. And would it not be a fitting end if he could get a hattrick against Crystal Palace at Anfield on Saturday in his last outing in front of (crying?) Kopites? Gerrard will never say we go again as a player but perhaps he can return as a manager in the not too distant future and once more utter his own cult words:
We Go Again.
MiscellanousPosted by Leif Larsson Thu, April 16, 2015 17:51:59
Liverpool is all about winning trophies is often said by people connected to the club, for instance manager Brendan Rodgers. Well, Red fans hasn´t seen much of it in recent years so even if the talk is taken care of the walk isn´t. Time to, starting this season. We must pick up the FA Cup and get among the teams winning things regularly.
If you examine trophy haul Liverpool lead the pack in England. Through the years we have won 32 major trophies in these six tournaments: League, FA Cup, League Cup, European Cup/Champions League, UEFA Cup and Cupwinner´s Cup. Right behind us is Manchester United with 30 trophies.
But while our firece rivals has collected 13 major trophies in the last 15 seasons the Reds has only managed to get their hands on seven and that includes three League Cups, the least prestigious of the six trophies. Man Utd has on the other hand grabbed eight league titles since 1999/00 to our none.
Our record is even more dismal if you only take the last eight seasons into account. Then we have one single trophy to our name, the League Cup in 2012. That is not nearly good enough for a club of Liverpool´s stature. A regular influx of silverware is long overdue.
We came close to win the league last season, but missed out and finished second. Runners-up are not remembered for long so we must avoid a similar occurrence this season and make sure we do everything to triumph in the FA Cup. It could be the stepping stone we have been waiting for so long. Winning trophies breeds confidence and that makes teams stronger and better equipped to keep winning things. A platform has to be set and a victory against Arsenal, especially after our pitiful showing against them in the league, would be a groundbreaking first stride. But first we must overcome Aston Villa in the semifinal, another tough task. In the other semi Arsenal is big favourite to down Reading.
If Liverpool manage to be winners again on the 30th of May then perhaps a similar success story to the one Alex Ferguson had can emerge for Brendan Rodgers. Ferguson won the FA Cup in his fourth year as a boss at Man Utd and never looked back after that. Three years later he lead his team to the title and another twelve league wins in the following 19 seasons.
A FA Cup success could be the springboard for Brendan Rodgers, in his third season at the helm, to go and achieve corresponding great things for Liverpool. Let´s hope it pans out that way starting with a trophy in a few weeks so it´s possible to believe that:
We (Can) Go Again.
MiscellanousPosted by Leif Larsson Thu, January 22, 2015 14:24:24
This season Premier League referees has been critisised for weak performances. And rightly so, they have too often made bad decisions. There is a simple solution to the problem: Introduce a two ref system.
In English papers, mainly Daily Mail, bad calls by referees has been highlighted. Reporters and even former refs has slated the present crop of refs. A lot of wrong decisions in matches has been made, some of them deciding the outcome of the game. The refs have missed blatant penalties and given them when no foul was made. A lot of other pretty easy calls has also been wrong. And difficult and tough ones has also been misjudged.
One argument for this is that refs can´t keep up with intensity and pace of the football in the top tier of English football. There is probably some truth in that. They aren´t close enough to be able to judge situations and on other occasions things happens so fast that they just doesn´t see them properly.
If a system with two referees was introduced things would improve instantly and remarkably, that I´m sure of. Then each referee would have 50 percent of the football pitch to take care of. They needn´t run so much as today and in the process being less tired. This would mean that they always could be near the action and therefore making fewer mistakes.
Perhaps some believe it would be chaos with two referees. Arguments being they would have trouble knowing who should make the calls around the centre of the pitch, different calls being made or hesitation in refereeing relying on the other ref taking charge. Maybe all this things would happen at first but soon enough the co-operation would work. And why not. It does in a lot of other sports with two refs such as ice hockey, handball and basket. It´s my firm belief that we would see far less wrong decisions with two refs.
No time to lose, introduce a two ref system which would make football results more fair and at the same time enhance referees reputation.
But we probably have to wait for years for FIFA to realize this. In the meantime:
We Go Again.
MiscellanousPosted by Leif Larsson Fri, January 02, 2015 15:24:42
Sad news was confirmed this morning when Liverpool FC icon Steven Gerrard´s departure became official. For almost 17 years he´s been, not my hero, I am too old for that, but the player I have always referred to when describing the complete footballer. Next season we will not see him in the red shirt, it will be a strange and unreal feeling.
I remember seeing him at the start of his career and wondering how this raw kid could keep more seasoned midfielders on the bench. It didn´t take long before I knew why. Steven Gerrard was a unique player. It was evident after just a few games in the red kit.
Since then he has taken us supporters to highs not possible if he hadn´t existed. Because during his 17 seasons hardly any Liverpool team has been of significant quality. Without Gerrard Liverpool wouldn´t have come near the trophies and wonderful matches as we fans has been fortunate to experience. Olympiacos, Milan, West Ham to name a few.
Steven Gerrard leaves at a time when he should be enjoying a season as reigning league champion. But a slippery blade of grass stood in his way to the ultimate prize, the final glory. He ends his career with a lot of trophies to his name but without the Premier League. Gerrard and Liverpool has been runners-up three times during his career, in 2002, 2009 and 2014.
After last season´s near miss he was devastated and I think that has influenced his decision now. He knew when Luis Suarez left that Liverpool wouldn´t be in the title fight this season and probably not for a few years. It was back to rebuilding. He had missed his chance and it would never come back. Gerrard didn´t want to play out another season or two as an also-ran so he decided to seek pastures new. That is at least my guess.
He´s had many ups and downs, mostly ups, during his Liverpool years but the thing that must have been the toughest was to almost always play alongside players far below his own capacity. He loved Liverpool too much to leave so he endured season after season with players who couldn´t help him fulfil his Premier League dream.
And when a few world-class players did arrive it was never really enough to lift Liverpool to the summit. And then they left, like Xabi Alonso, Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez, and Gerrard knew that a couple of trophy-less years was to follow again. Through his career he has been the one to drag the team forward, only once in a while he´s got help from other players of the highest calibre to do it.
Had he played for another, richer club, then he would now have ten Premier League medals in his trophy cabinet. Steven Gerrard is one of the best players ever not to win the top tier in English football. I feel sad about that fact but all the fantastic memories he´s given me is what I in the end will remember about the player I have respected most through all my years as a Liverpool and a football fan.
I wish him all the luck in his final months at Anfield and in the future and can´t wait for him to return as manager for Liverpool FC with Jamie Carragher as his assistant, because then:
We Go Again.
MiscellanousPosted by Leif Larsson Tue, November 11, 2014 17:28:36
He has impressed in training is a common explanation from managers when a player is picked on matchday. But how players are doing in training is far from always a proof that they will perform in a competitive match.
This season Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has selected a lot of different teams and formations. More than before. He is chopping and changing and is critisised for some of his decisions. And rightly so, some selections and substitutions aswell has been a bit peculiar and hard to understand.
Recently he said that Emre Can impressed in training and he has been chosen twice on the spin now and performed quite good. So in this case Rodgers has been spot on.
But I believe that managers are too quick to put an equal sign between good trainer and good performer. And in the process telling everybody outside the club that they don´t have the whole story and therefore can´t judge players as good as a manager.
Well they are wrong. The only interesting thing is how a player performs on the pitch in matches. And the games are in the public domain all over the world so everybody has the same possibility to judge players.
How a player does in training is in fact irrelevant. To be good in training doesn´t mean a thing if you can´t reproduce your skills and ability in games. So the only interesting arena to judge a player is on matchday.
Of course some players are good trainers and good performers. But some aren´t. They freeze when in games. And sometimes managers take too long to realize this. Hopefully Brendan Rodgers gets this and doesn´t pick players just because they train good.
The message must be: Be as good in matches as in training because then:
We Go Again.
MiscellanousPosted by Leif Larsson Fri, October 03, 2014 10:05:17
A lot of people has being talking about Liverpool is at risk doing ”a Tottenham”. Manager Brendan Rodgers has promised it won´t happen. But why are everybody so negative about that prospect, I would take it in a heartbeat.
When Tottenham sold superstar Gareth Bale in the summer of 2013, and replaced him with eight new players, a lot of experts predicted a backlash for Spurs. The London team would slide down the league table as if it was made of soap. And when the following season was concluded, the one without Bale, every expert talked about it as if they had been right. Well, hardly. Here´s proof:
In the season 2012/13, when Bale still was at Tottenham, the club finished fifth with 72 points. A year later, with Bale gone, a lot of people claimed that Tottenham had a disastrous season and that they sorely missed the Welshman. But the fact is that Tottenham achieved almost the same as the season before. They ended up in sixth place with 69 points. So without Bale Tottenham was one place worse off and collected three points less. Well, that is some catastrophe of biblical magnitude.
When Liverpool sold Luis Suarez this summer and replaced him with eight players talk about a repeat of Tottenham´s undoing got going. As we now know, they didn´t recede so much and if Liverpool is going backwards as much as Tottenham did we will end up in third place with 81 points come May 2015. In other words a position that secures an automatic place in the Champions League group stage the following season. With Liverpool´s shaky start in mind it would be a fine effort to grab 81 points, come third and do ”a Tottenham”. So, why not just do it and aim higher the next year when:
We Go Again.
MiscellanousPosted by Leif Larsson Fri, September 12, 2014 17:56:10
Nowadays teamsheets look completely different from one season to another. Evidence is shown tomorrow when Liverpool face Aston Villa. This is the fourth game of the season and a year ago in the fourth game five, six or even seven players who then appeared in a red shirt won´t be participating this time.
Liverpool has added nine new names to the squad this season compared to last. Around the same amount has left. The turnover this summer is a bit out of the ordinary, but not so much. New-look squads in August is commonplace these days. Back in the day it was a different story. The squads were often quite intact year after year.
But now clubs ring the changes as often as the church bells go off. The Liverpool squad this and last year is a fitting example.
When the Reds last year met Swansea in the fourth league game players like Andre Wisdom and Victor Moses made the starting eleven. They are now gone. Only four players that started in that match is certain to do it in the fourth game this season, the encounter with Aston Villa tomorrow. It´s Simon Mignolet, Mamadou Sakho, Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson. And Sakho is playing only because Martin Skrtel is out injured.
Another three players participating in the Swansea game has a decent chance of starting now. Philippe Coutinho was rested in the last match but could return now. José Enrique and Lucas Leiva has a small chance to make the cut. Skrtel played against Swansea but is out now, so is Daniel Sturridge.
In theory seven players from last season´s fourth fixture can start this season´s fourth match. But the probable outcome is that only four is actually doing it.
If we look at the teamsheet from last season´s home match with Aston Villa about the same player turnover occurs. From that game in January this year only Mignolet, Gerrard, Henderson and Sterling is likely to start. Coutinho is the possible fifth player to do it. The other six is either sold, out injured or on the bench.
When the fourth game of the season comes around next season then probably only a couple of players is the same as two years before. But it doesn´t really matter, as long as:
We Go Again.
MiscellanousPosted by Leif Larsson Sun, August 24, 2014 13:27:42
I don´t know if it´s mind games and/or if Manuel Pellegrini is scared ahead of the clash with Liverpool tomorrow night. Whatever it is he is not showing any humility at all.
Yesterday I posted an entry about the drivel that came out from the manager of Manchester City in a recent inteview. Today some more codswallop were published in the papers, and it probably came from the same interview.
He claims a few things, all of them not even close to reality. And downright disrespectful.
He says, for istance, that Liverpool´s 3-2-win against City last season was unjust and that the referee favoured Liverpool. He contends that Manchester City was the better team. Well, in my book the team that scores more is the best. That is what football is all about, score more than the opposition. Not creating chances or dominate possession. So his assessement is totally wrong.
And furthermore I don´t remember any major mistakes from the referee. Perhaps there was some but not as vital as the one in the game at Etihad between the teams. At 0-0 Raheem Sterling put the ball in the net only to be flagged off for offside despite being at least a yard onside. Check this link for proof:
A few minutes later Philippe Coutinho put Liverpool one-up and that goal would and should have meant a 2-0-lead had the referees done their job right. Why isn´t Pellegrini mentioning this? Oh, I forgot, that would undermine his biased reasoning.
He also says that title was decided over 38 games, yes that´s right, but if he thinks so why is a couple of alleged wrong decisions in the game against Liverpool so important. If all Citys games were examined then we certainly would find that they got a lot more wrong referee decisions going their way than what the opposition got. So again Pellegrini is on really thin ice with his comments. Twisted logic I would call it.
Ha also says that Steven Gerrard´s slip didn´t decide the title race. It was all the 38 games. He is both wrong and right. The team that collects the most points over 38 games is of course worthy champions. But, after 35 games Liverpool had it all in their own hands. Seven points from the last three matches would have been enough. And none of the games were against Man City so it was out of their hands to decide the title outcome. If Stevie hadn´t slipped then Liverpool had been league champions. So to say that the slip wasn´t decisive is wrong, at that time it was.
Ahead of the match tomorrow Pellegrini is also claiming that money is not the main thing in Manchester City being champions. It´s character, how they play and bla bla bla. If so, how come the club wasn´t champions for four decades and when the Abu Dhabi billionaires stepped in and splashed the cash they suddenly rose to the top? Another case of twisted logic. Chelsea is the other proof that money is essential. They hadn´t won the league for 50 years and not until the Russian billions flooded in they were able to.
And if money has little bearing on results how come Pellegrini never won anything as manager for five years with Villarreal where money surely were harder to come by.
One thing is for sure, Pellegrini knows that his team was lucky to win the league last season. They couldn´t do it on their own so they needed a slip from others to do it.
At least Pellegrini could admit that City had luck on their side and that it was Liverpool who handed them the championship. But he can obvioulsy only see things from one side. And that is a pity since he is representing the football champions of England. A man in his position should be more humble. He can afford it.
If Liverpool win on Monday night, it will be interesting to hear if the home manager comes up with new excuses.
We Reds do another thing, whatever the outcome:
We Go Again.