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Mark Pearson challenges pessimistic Liverpool fans to release the worry — maybe this year the hand of doubt won’t come down to strike what could be a season of celebration.
You don’t have to cast your mind back further than Rafa’s Reds and the closely run title chase of 2008/2009, or preceding that Houllier’s treble winning season of 2001/2002, to be forgiven for fearing that the progress evidently being displayed by “Brendan’s Group” of 2013/2014 will plummet faster than a Ashley Young swan dive at Old Trafford (or at any stadium anywhere actually).
So I ask the question. “Is the fear of another false dawn at Anfield overriding the enjoyment of this seasons Rampaging Reds?”
I can only provide an opinion based upon the emotional turmoil of Reds supporters I am surrounded by on daily basis, and the self-enforced containment felt at Anfield of those Reds that dare not whisper the words “title challenge” for fear that this current form, so fragile in nature simply uttering the words might very well break the spell and we will once more have to suffer the indignity of taking three steps backwards whilst watching our rivals sail off into the distance.
If the short lived periods of enjoyment mentioned under Rafa and Houllier have taught Liverpool fans anything it’s that caution is as upmost in our thoughts as celebrating the wonderful football the current crop have been displaying with increased regularity, both this season and the last few months of Brendan’s first season at the helm.
This season alone sections of support have been quick to turn to despair when a result hasn’t gone as expected. Two games particularly stand out, Hull City away and Aston Villa at home.
On both occasions those feelings of a Liverpool resurgence built on sugar pedestals have been whipped out of the memory draw because the pain of letting hope and belief of something better being within grasp has tripped us up and hurt us before.
So following routs of Everton and Arsenal, heroic comebacks at Fulham and a ruthless efficiency shown at Southampton there is still a hushed anticipation that maybe, finally, a very long and winding corner has been turned.
When we can no longer protect ourselves from reaching those dizzy heights of expectation for a sustained period of rebirth and footballing prosperity we need to find another shield.
Enter the Liverpool accounts released this week. Pick up any newspaper or read any online article and it leaves all those without a Master’s Degree in Accounting, or a spare month of free time to un-riddle the seemingly purposely over complicated dossier of Financial Fair Play and those that dare not believe have a new plate of armour to protect themselves.
We can’t possibly play in the Champions League even if we manage to obtain a Top Four finish because we are in breach of financial regulations. Three steps backwards. Normality. Comfort.
Fittingly our next match is against our fiercest rivals. The super commercially rich, all successful reigning champions Manchester United.
If ever there was a reason to throw up a barrier and resign ourselves to impending doom it has to be this fixture. Who else but the enemy to halt our winning run and place in doubt not only an impossible title success but to derail hopes of a top four finish?
Well I challenge any doubters to cast aside the fears and start to believe that this time, a wind of change has not so much blasted through the Shankly Gates but gently and steadily breezed along, taking with it much if not all of the debris that has stopped us from building solid foundations to a sustained chance of obtaining success.
Surely even the most pessimistic of supporters can sense something different is happening. That “Brendan’s Group” have found and begun to learn inherently what it takes to win games consistently and not sporadically on the pitch.
To win games playing fluid, attacking and exciting football not seen at Anfield in what seems like a very long time. To have other teams admiring us for the way we are sweeping aside all before us.
Showing weekly a philosophy and identity of who we are and how we play. Dare I say a team with a plan? To have custodians of our great club executing things quietly, correctly, and more importantly offering sustainability as a blueprint for future success. Dare I say owners with a plan?
You see this is what I believe is different to the flashes of promise shown under the Rafa and Houllier regime. This time I see a club, unified, on and off the field and moving forward with a considered plan.
What better place in my opinion to show that an empire is rising. That a sleeping giant is reawakening then at Old Trafford?
Perhaps it’s time to release the shackles of our own uncertainty and doubt and believe that this time we can start to enjoy without the need of fear being a Liverpool.
Bring on Manchester United…
Every game is crucial now to Liverpool as they embark on what could be a very exciting final 10 games of the season. Oliver Smith picks apart the challenge in front of Brendan Rodgers’ men.
It’s been a long time since Liverpool were in with a shot of winning the title at the business end of the season- five years, to be precise.
In the 2008/2009 season the Reds were in third place after 28 games, level on 58 points with Chelsea but seven behind leaders Manchester United, who also had a game in hand. At the end of arguably Rafael Benitez’s best season in charge of the club, the Merseysiders sat in second, their huge haul of 86 points, which would normally be more than sufficient to claim the title, beaten by the remarkable 90 points accumulated by United.
Fast forward five years and, to the delight of Kopites, not only are Liverpool back in the title race, Manchester United have been, to borrow a famous Fergie quote, ‘knocked off their f***ing perch’. Second placed Liverpool are only four points behind Chelsea, while David Moyes’ laughing stock languish in seventh, and may even struggle to qualify for the Europa League if their form continues on its current downward trajectory.
Have Liverpool got it in them, though, to go all the way and finally win their 19th League title almost a quarter of a century after they last finished top of the pile?
One factor that is certainly in the Reds’ favour is the absence of any distractions from cup competitions.
While Chelsea, City and Arsenal will have to juggle the demands of the Champions League and the FA Cup at least until next Wednesday, by which point City and Arsenal are likely to have exited European football at the hands of Barcelona and Bayern Munich respectively, Liverpool can concentrate fully on claiming as many points as possible from their final ten League fixtures.
Although Liverpool’s long-term aspirations should be to emulate their title rivals in competing on all fronts, the short term benefits of a fairly uncongested fixture list could prove significant. With only one midweek fixture scheduled during the remainder of the campaign, Liverpool will have a full week to recover physically and prepare mentally and tactically for upcoming matches.
In addition, Liverpool’s fixture list, although fairly tough, offers the Reds some great opportunities to not only improve their title credentials, but also damage their rivals’ chances of claiming top spot. Massive six-pointers against Manchester City and Chelsea at Anfield await the Reds’ in April, and those matches could prove decisive in the title race.
Away matches against Norwich and Crystal Palace, who will both probably be fighting for their Premier League survival, are potential banana skins, but, if Rodgers’ side pick up enough points in those matches to keep themselves in with a shot of winning the title on the final day of the season, they can count on claiming three points at home against Newcastle, who have pretty much nothing to play for and therefore should be easy to defeat.
With the likes of Lucas and Sakho returning to the squad to add depth and provide more options after prolonged spells on the treatment table and the SAS instilling fear in defences across the country, Liverpool certainly can win the title. Whether they will or not depends on them improving their defence and holding their nerve when it really counts.
Ignoring the clean sheets kept in the Reds’ first three League fixtures, which appear to be anomalies, defence has been an area of weakness throughout the season for Liverpool. Injuries and poor form have blighted their back line and rendered them unable to develop a stable defence, while individual errors have also frequently proved costly.
Consequently, they have conceded on average 1.25 goals per game, which is significantly higher than the average for title winners in the Premier League era of 0.85. Moreover, Manchester United are the only team to have won the title while conceding on average more than one goal a game, achieving the feat three times but only once since the turn of the millennium. Having already let in 35 goals this season, Liverpool would have to concede only three more goals in their final ten fixtures to lower their average to a goal per game.
Those statistics should worry Brendan Rodgers. He must marshal his defensive troops and get them to improve their displays; otherwise, history suggests, Liverpool’s title challenge will unravel.
At the same time, he must equip his squad to cope mentally with the pressures of a title challenge. Competing for top spot in the Premier League is tough at the best of times, but the fact that Liverpool haven’t won the top prize for such a long time just heaps even more pressure on the players trying to break that hoodoo.
Hopefully sports psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters, who has been working at Liverpool since November 2012 and will travel to Brazil with the England squad for the World Cup this summer, will prove his worth in the closing stages of the campaign.
At the end of the day, the fact that Liverpool still have a chance of winning the title with ten games to go is testament to how exceptional their season has been.
In August, a title challenge was beyond the wildest dreams of even the most optimistic Kopite, with most supporters and pundits fairly reasonably foreseeing the Reds taking part in a tough challenge for Champions League qualification.
Now, at the business end of the season, Liverpool supporters are starting to believe that what was previously deemed impossible could actually happen; come 11th May, Liverpool could be Premier League champions.
Gareth Crimmins discusses the importance of good sport psychology in building success, and how Brendan Rodgers and Dr Steve Peters have introduced mental strength to improve players at Liverpool.
The modern age of football has become an elevated state of awareness and knowledge. There has been a healthy ascent in education in systemic intricacies involved in a football match across all levels of support.
It is no longer just managers who are acutely aware of just how important a formation, a set-up, a method and the group as a whole really are.
With infographics, flow charts, statistics and more maps than the New York underground, deep analytics of this sport has become not only common place, but something of veritable interest to many.
The idea of ‘go on out there lad and just enjoy yourself’, seems now as archaic, as steak and chips before a match.
But in a week where the England national team’s appointment of Dr. Steve Peters raised as many eyebrows as concerns, at what point does sports psychology become part of the acceptance that this multi-billion pound industry is more than just 11 men running around after a pigs bladder?
Is it still an almost verboten area within a testosterone driven dressing room like men’s football? If a player felt he needed to sit down and talk to a psychologist after training, would it be viewed as a form of weakness? (Wasn’t he just at training working on other weaknesses anyway?) Or should this become common practice within sport because psychology and our mental capacity is simply to important if you want to succeed?
If we were to look at Liverpool’s success this year, it has undoubtedly been peppered with moments, performances and individual enhancement, that lends itself to a much greater prowess of psychological resilience.
Liverpool’s manager himself, Brendan Rodgers is a staunch advocate of the advantage a strong mental core can give not only the player, but the team.
Despite the many admirers and innumerable superlatives he has earned this year, this wouldn’t have been something he instantly activated upon arrival.
In those early months when Liverpool won one out of their first seven matches and Rodgers had become a figure of public mirth drawing on comparisons with David Brent, it is undeniable that even the players could have been at best, unconvinced.
In these moments of doubt Rodgers could not call upon his back catalogue of medals to provide a foundation of faith. His primary focus was to make the players envisage his vision.
Jurgen Klopp took his players out camping in to the woods, not because he believed that the ability to make fire with a rock and stick might one day prove useful in-game for his Dortmund players, but because it would trigger that primitive tribalism instinct within his players.
Rodgers dipped in to Pep Guardiola’s box of mind tricks for the 3 wins in a row dinner prize. It’s a simply ploy but sometimes the mind is simple.
The reward makes sure the group is together in times of triumph. That feeling becomes something the participants want to become commonplace.
Some of Liverpool’s players, on an individual level presented Rodgers with stern psychological challenges. The harsh reality is the option to sell half the squad and replace with new parts simply wasn’t viable.
A player like Jordan Henderson visibly had the foundations to be the player we see today, but always looked like a man who felt he didn’t deserve to be playing for Liverpool. Didn’t deserve to be playing beside Steven Gerrard.
You neither have to be Dr. Peters or an expert in body language to see how unrecognisable the Henderson that was captaining the England U21s was. It was the Jordan Henderson we recognise today.
His steady progression comes from his own instinctual energy, but it was Tottenham away on December 15th that turned that energy in to a strut. It was a clear moment where Henderson mentally came of age.
That same player, with that same ability, the same skills set was now looking twice the player he has ever been because he had hurdled his own mental block.
That victory in itself was a hurdling of this team’s own mental blocks. This season has been dotted with hugely significant moments, where certain wins, because of their psychological value, were worth much more than three points.
The opening day 1-0 win at home to Stoke. On paper, a less than spectacular victory but you only need to watch Gerrard’s reaction to Simon Mignolet’s late penalty save to comprehend that this was as important, as had it happened 37 games later.
Liverpool would not rue their raft of squandered chances. Liverpool would win on the opening day for the first time since 2008. Liverpool would also win away to Stoke, and away to Southampton.
Liverpool would also dismantle the idea that they or Rodgers were incapable of winning big games by obliterating league leaders Arsenal at Anfield.
It is these psychological microcosms they have finally overcome that allow for the belief that the bigger fences can be scaled.
Their next game is the biggest psychological battle of them all. For 20 years, the most unforgiving mental disability of all, Manchester United at Old Trafford. It is one more wall that most be demolished if the shackles are to be finally unchained.
Psychology in sports isn’t something new. It isn’t something new because it is in everything we do, inside or outside of sport or even competition.
Someone like Dr. Peters only symbolises the necessity of expertise in that field and the benefits it can provide ones ability to function to their optimum level in any field.
For Rodgers it has clearly been a huge assistance in getting his squad to buy in to his project. You only have to look at Manchester United this season to see the dissimilarity in the two clubs incline.
Even a collection of serial medal winners can plummet if they do not psychologically believe in their manager’s direction.
If Liverpool are to achieve what we now think they will or even beyond that, what we hope they will, it will be because their paper thin squad has the mental capacity that their rivals can’t buy.
The post How Brendan Rodgers and Dr Steve Peters improved Liverpool’s mental strength appeared first on Liverpool FC This Is Anfield.
In the concluding part of “Making the grade” PJ Vaughan looks at possible solutions to the loan system. He also suggests what changes could be made to the U18 & U21 leagues and to first team substitute benches.
Loans and Affiliated Clubs
It is clear that “B Teams” will never work in England. However I think a clearly defined affiliation club system could work. How I see the system working is that Premier League clubs will have an affiliation in the Championship and in League One. The system must work for all parties and not just the Premier League clubs.
The affiliated club can loan three players at a time from the Premier League club. Clubs that are relegated from the Premier League and in receipt of parachute payment would not be entitled to loan Premier League players until the parachute payments have expired. They can however loan players to a League One affiliate.
Premier League clubs would not be allowed to loan players to clubs in the same division anymore. If the affiliated Championship club is promoted to the Premier League the affiliation ends. Also clubs would not be allowed to loan players to clubs in the same European competitions as they are in anymore. The 3 exceptional talent loans as mentioned in part 2 of “making the grade” to top flight foreign clubs must also comply with this rule.
The way I see the affiliation system working is, Liverpool would sign an affiliation with Blackpool. Both clubs would agree on loaning Jack Robinson, Jordan Ibe and Joa Carlos Teixeira at the start of the season.
On 1st January Liverpool might call back a player that is performing beyond expectation or Blackpool might decide to return a player that is under performing. Blackpool’s main striker might have got injured so they might send back Jack Robinson and loan Samir Yesil instead.
Liverpool would pay the players wages if the player plays a certain number of games. If the player comes on as a substitute a percentage of his wages will be paid based on the minutes he plays. If he doesn’t play the loan club pays his wages. If he’s injured while at the club the wages are split 50/50.
League One Affiliation
A similar arrangement would be set up with a local League One club, such as Tranmere Rovers. Both clubs would agree to loan Kristoffer Peterson, Jordan Lussey and Jack Dunn. Liverpool would share coaches with Tranmere Rovers while the players are on loan.. They would also loan young coaches for a season and send top coaches when the club has international matches.
If Liverpool decides to let a player go, the affiliate clubs would be given first option on signing them. If the affiliate then developed the player and then decided to sell the players then all transfer fees should be split 50/50.
There could be rewards to the affiliate club for example if someone like Jack Dunn spent a season on loan at Tranmere Rovers and played 30 games or more and the club decides to sell him to Wigan for £2 million then Tranmere would get 15% of the sale price.
However if Dunn made it at Liverpool a substantial development fee could be worked out based on the number of games he played with the affiliate club. These development fees would be standardised by the Premier League and would reward the developing club handsomely.
First team benches
I think there should be a certain portion of the first team benches allocated to players that have played in the academy set up for at least two years. We could trial 11 subs like they do in Serie A, but 5 of these subs must be U21’s for between two and three years. It would give young players an opportunity especially if Liverpool were 3-0 up with 15-20 minutes to go. I believe not getting a chance is preventing development the most. In time the subs could be reduced back to 7 with 3 academy graduates.
Regulating the U18 & U21’s
While I feel the U21 system has its merits, I feel it would be better served if the established Primer League clubs played each other more often. I would like to see Liverpool play Manchester United and City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs, Everton, Aston
Villa etc at least 2 times a season if not 3 or 4. I would also like a strong European U21 competition that includes more clubs.
I would like to see the U18 league developed in a similar manner again with a European competition. It’s clear that the games against the bigger teams matter more and are played at a higher intensity.
We can’t let a situation like last year develop again where Liverpool didn’t have any game against Everton at U21 level and no games with Manchester United and Everton at U18 level.
I think the U18 and U21 leagues need uniformity and the kids need to play as many highly competitive games as possible, there needs to more emphasis on European competition for both the U18 and U21s.
The main purpose of the three part article was to start a discussion on how we can make it easier for younger players to make the step up from the academy to the first team. Most people disagreed with my opinion on paying TV money to the clubs that generate it. That proposal probably was too elitist and would be bad for the league as a whole. I want to thank everyone for their constructive comments on the same.
I firmly believe that stockpiling and excessive loaning is damaging the chances of young players from making the step up to the first team. I think that regulations need to be set up in order to control this before it total spirals out of control.
I also believe that the loan system needs to be reformed and I think the affiliation system is worth discussing. It’s not always the biggest club that has the best academies. Southampton and Aston Villa have had excellent academies. I would like the affiliation system to regulate so there is no clear advantage for any club over another.
I think that it would be great if there was a graduate requirements for squads at each level from the U16’s to the first team. I also think having young players on the bench might allow more opportunities.
The U18 and U21 leagues need to be improved and I feel players will develop more if they play against better oppositions. They could think of playing some of these league games in Ireland, Norway or Asia where the clubs have big fan bases.
I wish to again thank everyone for taking the time to read my articles and for the excellent feedback.
The post Making the grade from the English Youth System: Part 3 appeared first on Liverpool FC This Is Anfield.
West Ham U21s 0-2 Liverpool U21s
Liverpool Under-21s travelled to London to take on West Ham earlier tonight at Grays Athletic’s Rush Green Stadium, as Alex Inglethorpe’s side looked to bounce back from Monday’s 2-1 home defeat to Reading.
Due to the lack of senior fixture this weekend, the young Reds were joined by established first-team players Mamadou Sakho and Lucas Leiva, who both started the game as they looked to gain some vital competitive match practice after relatively lengthy absences through injury.
Joao Carlos Teixeira, who impressed on his senior debut at Fulham last month, was also handed a start. The Portuguese attacking midfielder, in fact, went into the match as the Reds’ Under-21s’ top goal scorer this campaign.
The Reds started the game on the front foot, with Brad Smith going on a lung-busting run from left-back; the Australian sent his shot into the side-netting though.
Lucas looked relatively lively, controlling proceedings from a central position behind Jordan Lussey and Cameron Brannagan; similar to the regista role Steven Gerrard is currently playing in the first-team.
As the half wore on, both sides seemed to struggle to find any sort of rhythm, with West Ham only threatening occasionally from long balls and set-pieces into the Liverpool box. Allardyce will have been glowing with pride.
Liverpool, aided by the presence of Mamadou Sakho, dealt well with any aerial danger though. The French international, Sakho, looked strong and assured, putting in a typically unforgiving and thunderous block as West Ham forward Elliot Lee tried to get a shot away from the edge of the box in the 35th minute.
On the stroke of half-time, Liverpool perhaps fortuitously took the lead, thanks to a calamitous goalkeeping error from the Hammers’ Raphael Spriegel. Kristoffer Peterson, playing in a right-sided forward role, took a shot which was sent squirming past a hapless Spriegel by a deflection off of Jack Dunn. The Scouser will no doubt claim the goal.
That strike just prior to the break failed to ignite any real change of pace in the game at the start of the second half though, as both sides seemed to be playing within themselves. The Reds, however, began to control possession.
A heart-in-mouth moment came for Liverpool fans in the 68th minute when Mamadou Sakho felt his hamstring after making a strenuous sliding block. The Frenchman was replaced immediately by Rafa Paez, hopefully carrying just cramp.
Inglethorpe’s team doubled their lead in the 77th minute, this time with a goal of genuine quality. Jordan Lussey played a brilliant, defence-splitting pass from the centre of the pitch into the stride of Cameron Brannagan, and the England Under-18 international squared for Jack Dunn to grab his second of the night with an instinctive, close-range finish.
The exuberant Dunn was again involved ten minutes later, as he embarked on a mazy run before unleashing a fierce shot from 25 yards which was parried by Raphael Spriegel into the path of Kristoffer Peterson. The Swede dispatched emphatically into the roof of the net, but the goal was rightly ruled out for offside.
That proved to be the final piece of significant action, as Alex Inglethorpe’s young Reds got back on track after their disappointing loss on Monday.
Although youth football is about progression of talent rather than winning games at all cost, it’s worth noting that our Under-21s now sit second in the league, one point behind Fulham with a game in hand on the Cottagers. Significantly, the Reds have scored 42 goals in 15 matches: a record equally as impressive as our first-team’s this campaign. The development of our young talent is tangible and the Academy conveyor belt keeps on rolling.
Liverpool (4-3-3): Mersin; Williams, Jones, Sakho (Paez 78), Smith; Lucas, Lussey, Brannagan; Peterson, Dunn, Teixeira.
Unused substitues: Firth, Maguire, Rossiter, Bijev.
Goals: Dunn (47, 77)
Man of the Match: Jack Dunn
The post West Ham U21s 0-2 Liverpool U21s: Inglethorpe’s Reds React to Reading Defeat appeared first on Liverpool FC This Is Anfield.
Following David Moyes’ attempts to win over Man United fans with a rather embarrassing and cringeworthy letter to season ticket holders, Neil Poole takes a look at how such a letter from Brendan Rodgers might read.
While I knew this job would be a challenge when I took it on, I was actually confident and envisaged I would do a good job. I didn’t arrive with a bag full of excuses. I had my 140 page book of boss ideas but because I’ve got this job on merit rather than being someone’s mate I’ve had the common sense to adapt and not stick rigidly to the blueprint that won me nothing for 11 years.
Understandably, it may not have been the case that supporters thought I could do this, but you were open-minded and as a consequence of clear signs of development on the pitch, the players, staff and I are not desperate to compensate for anything. Actually, we’re buzzing our tits off. We know you are too.
You had almost become accustomed over the last 4 years to seeing some turgid performances and results. The burden of 24 years without a title also hangs heavy round your necks. Despite this, the backing you have given the club, the players and I has been genuinely incredible. I’m not just trying to get you to like me by saying this, honestly.
I could carry on for another two paragraphs essentially repeating what I’ve just said and trying to get you to love me with my sad eyes. ‘Away fans are great’, ‘easy to support when we’re winning’ blah blah blah. But you know all this and you don’t need an old man, lost on the pitch instructing you to like me. You have your own minds. You know this is football management speak by numbers.
I won’t patronise you. To patronise you means to speak down to you. [I’m doing my big Brendan grin because you get that joke. It’s not mine by the way I ripped it off The League of Gentlemen]
Everywhere we turn people outside the club have a lot to say about Liverpool. However, who can be arsed creating a siege mentality in a futile gesture to get all you behind me. Winning games of football has turned the tide for me. It is looking like we’re coming out at the other end and we’re all stronger for the experiences. People are saying nice thing about us now anyway. But you and I know that really doesn’t matter.
This year you have seen a great winning side. Let’s not get into making promises I can’t keep about the future. Let’s just enjoy the ride.
The big step has already occurred and the transformation of Anfield back into the fortress it has long been renowned for has already taken place. It never really went away. This has been demonstrated time and time again. We’re giving you lots to shout about. Luckily that hasn’t included black mailing you into to buying a ticket for a less glamorous game we’re in the middle of losing against some Greek lads by suspending your season ticket for the local derby if you don’t. Thankfully, you wouldn’t roll over and take that.
Currently in Tenerife having a relax and chatting philosophies by the pool before we come back and carry on with the exciting football stuff. Anyway got to go; Moysie is on the line again asking for some tips. Phone never stops ringing.
Love, Hugs and Kisses
P.S. Thanks to Pascoe for writing this for me. CBA TBH :-)
The post Brendan Rodgers’ Postcard From Tenerife – a parody of David Moyes’ letter appeared first on Liverpool FC This Is Anfield.
Liverpool’s on-loan striker Fabio Borini says his goal for Sunderland in the League Cup Final last weekend means he should be playing for a big team.
Borini will return to Anfield after his loan spell at the Stadium of Light expires at the end of the season, and will be hoping he’s impressed enough to be part of Brendan Rodgers’ plans.
The 22-year-old Italian gave the Black Cats a surprise lead against Manchester City, though the Mackems ended up losing the match 3-1, with Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson cheering on his boyhood club from the stands.
Jordan Henderson was spotted among the Sunderland supporters at Wembley on Sunday. pic.twitter.com/dgSlh6CYcy
— The Twelfth Man (@_The12thMan) March 3, 2014
Including bonuses, Borini’s move from Roma to Liverpool in 2012 is worth £10.5 million, though after a slow start in his first season on Merseyside, he was sent on-loan to the Stadium of Light.
Now Borini is hoping to settle at a big club where he can continue his career.
“That means I am made for a big team,” Borini told the Mirror.
“We will see what will happen until the end of the season, and try to beat the big teams and the small ones, and then let’s see in the summer.
“It was a great feeling scoring in the cup final. Two or three times what I normally feel for a goal.
“A great feeling, all emotions, especially against a big team when no one expected us to be in front against Manchester City at Wembley.”
Borini has become somewhat of a legend in his brief time at Sunderland, scoring some very important goals in their League Cup and Premier League campaigns this season.
Gary McLaughlin from Sunderland fan site We Are Wearside wrote this excellent piece on what the Black Cats faithful think of the forward.
The post Fabio Borini: “Cup final goal means I’m made for a big team” appeared first on Liverpool FC This Is Anfield.
Liverpool have been boosted by the news that both Mamadou Sakho and Lucas Leiva are set to resume training with the first-team within the next few days.
French defender Sakho has been sidelined since picking up a hamstring injury during Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat at Chelsea in December, but tweeted today to tell fans of his progress:
Glad to be back on the fields today with the Reserve team. And then, back to the training with the group on Tuesday ! pic.twitter.com/Elj92rz9ha
— Mamadou Sakho (@mamadousakho3) March 7, 2014
As explained in the tweet, Sakho will play for Liverpool’s Under-21s tonight, who face West Ham U21s at Rush Green Stadium in Romford, Essex. Kick-off is 7pm and it’s live on LFC TV.
Lucas, who has been sidelined for almost two months after suffering knee ligament damage during a brief appearance in Liverpool’s 2-2 draw at home to Aston Villa in January, will also play for the Under 21s.
The Brazilian midfielder has been doing light training for two weeks, but he too returns to action with the U21s tonight, and will train with the first-team next week.
Today I make my return with the reserve team. I am glad that my recovery went very well and I am looking forward for the last 10 games.
— Lucas Leiva (@LucasLeiva87) March 7, 2014
Both players returning mean that Liverpool are almost back to full strength after a season with many injury problems.
With the Reds not in action this weekend, Jose Enrique looks set to be the only absentee from the squad when they travel to Manchester United next Sunday, 16th March for their next Premier League game.
Whilst the international friendlies have taken place this week, Brendan Rodgers and some of his backroom staff took the opportunity for a few days holiday in Tenerife, according to the Daily Mail.
The post Liverpool nearly at full strength as Lucas and Mamadou Sakho resume first-team training appeared first on Liverpool FC This Is Anfield.
Danny Gallagher on the rejuvenation of Jordan Henderson that has seen him go from a transfer flop to a shinning light in Liverpool’s future.
13th August 2011, and a freshly purchased Jordan Henderson makes his debut for Liverpool against former club Sunderland; firmly under the spotlight following a big money move, reported to be around the £16 million mark. The question on fans’ lips everywhere, could this lad become a regular in the iconic Liverpool midfield, and daresay, a long term replacement for Steven Gerrard?
Fast forward 18 months and the same player finds himself enduring what would frankly be labelled a torrid time on Merseyside, occupying a regular position upon the bench and growing accustomed to the social wilderness with regards to first-team international football. It got to a stage where many fans had already cast their aspersions about the lad from Wearside, deeming him ‘not Liverpool standard’, despite sporadic encouraging performances woven amongst a culmination of consistent mediocrity.
The purchase and immediate impact of Joe Allen, along with the born-again Lucas Leiva in the heart of the Liverpool midfield appeared to spell the end for Henderson, with the former pairing acting as well-oiled cogs in a rigorous line-up, meticulously accommodating Steven Gerrard. So much so that it seemed almost imminent that the youngster would be passed on as part of an amicable transaction to Southwest London club Fulham, in order to accommodate Clint Dempsey’s arrival at Anfield in the summer of 2013.
Nevertheless, said move never materialised and Rogers at the time declared that Henderson had vowed to stay and fight for his Liverpool worth. And fight he certainly did.
Henderson’s form this season, thus far, has been nothing short of magnificent. To the watchful eye, his performances have included the full package of aesthetic pleasure; from astute passing to methodological tackling, from off the ball play-reading to calculated pressing, all areas of Henderson’s game have improved exponentially, a joy to behold.
This, a far cry from the miserly lows of the previous two seasons, perfectly captures the essence of a player who vowed never to give up and prove his ever-increasing queue of critics wrong.
Following the throwing down of the gauntlet by Rogers at the beginning of the season, Henderson has not only taken his chances, but displayed the rare combination of both consistency and simultaneous growth; subsequently seeing him stand only third behind Simon Mignolet and Steven Gerrard in the number of minutes played for Liverpool this season.
With only 10 games left to go in the current premier league season, Liverpool’s current form and new found ruthless streak has many asking the unimaginable question.
Henderson’s form is in part, hugely responsible for this. Alongside messers Sterling, Sturridge, Suarez and Coutinho, Henderson’s rise and understanding with his team mates has provided Rogers with a delectable platform of which to construct his preferred art of play. Performances such as the 5-1 demolition of Arsenal or the hard-fought 4-3 with Swansea best encapsulate this, with Henderson and his midfield compatriots providing both stability and creativity for our highly potent attacking line-up.
With Gerrard openly admitting of his ongoing transition to modify his game in order to optimise his vitality to Liverpool, Henderson’s rise arrives at a perfect time to ensure all that the reds’ midfield is both assured, but also more than ready to develop. Although it is still early days, Henderson’s value is certainly currently being felt around Anfield, and who knows how much this could be accelerated come the end of the season.
The sign of a good player is particularly one who does not take their current form for granted. This is certainly the case with Henderson as of this season – the number 14 himself conceding that the training staff often tell him not to overdo it following additional individual training.
This hunger and desire is something that is exceedingly well received by the passion of the Kop, with chants for the midfielder growing in volume, week-in week-out.
What is deeply satisfying however, is that with the current form of Liverpool’s midfield, fans are rewarded with seeing a familiar unity and intensity at the heart of the Anfield pitch, something that has been sincerely lacking since the departures of Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso alike.
With this new steely determination and contagious confidence, there is no reason to doubt that Henderson cannot become a permanent fixture in the Liverpool midfield for years to come, truly staking a claim to be one of the first names on the team-sheet.
This season alone, thus far, Henderson’s chance creation is up by a large percentage, standing at 49 as opposed to last year’s 33, still with 10 games to go. Likewise, his 44 recorded dribbles vastly engulf last season’s lacklustre 17.
With the minor event of a World Cup looming this summer, Roy Hodgson must be well placed in assembling a high calibre midfield.
Given the current form of other home-grown players that the premier league has to offer, Henderson’s exploits for Liverpool must place him highly upon the inclusion list; at the moment an odds-on starter in the minds of many.
Aside from Wayne Rooney and perhaps Southampton’s Adam Lallana, it is debatable that no other midfielders aside from Liverpool’s own Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling have been on a similar performance level to Jordan Henderson.
With his succinct understanding with Gerrard and the constant enhancement of his own game, Henderson could stand as a real asset for England this summer. Brazil is a place that Hodgson will certainly see Henderson’s flexibility as a god-send, affording him the option to either sit alongside Gerrard or provide a productive outlet for the ever marauding Rooney.
Time will tell as to if or how Roy Hodgson uses Jordan Henderson, however one thing is for certain; if the Wearside lad’s form continues, Liverpool fans could be in for a very enticing end to the season. Few things are more pleasurable in football than seeing a young lad, knocked back by the critics, rise in the face of adversity and become one of the most outstanding performers within their respective league.
I will end this piece with a quote I’m sure many will enjoy, deriving from an autobiography recently written by some old bloke going by the name of Fergie – former manager of currently 7th placed Manchester United. Some people’s losses really are others’ gain…
‘’We looked at Henderson a lot and were enthusiastic about him but noticed that he runs from his knees while the modern day footballers run from their hips. We thought this might cause him a problem in his career later on. ‘’
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We hear from Gary McLaughlin at Sunderland fan site We Are Wearside about the growth of Liverpool’s on-loan Italian forward Fabio Borini this season into a much treasured player at the Stadium of Light.
There wasn’t a great deal of excitement on Wearside when Fabio Borini was announced as a deadline day loan signing. In fact, you’d have been pushed to find anyone inspired by the move. Ask the question now though and there is not a chance you’d find a Sunderland supporter who doesn’t hold him with the highest regard.
I think our initial scepticism was well-founded to start off with, I mean he hadn’t done a great deal in his career up to that point other than cost a lot of money or get injured. I feel compelled to mention his move was also coupled with Andrea Dossena’s arrival; he is an absolute joke of a footballer.
Unless of course you’re a massive fan of the ‘Where’s Wally’ franchise, because in that case ‘Where’s Dossena’ is equally as entertaining and difficult.
Anyway, Borini didn’t start brilliantly with us, then again at that point Paolo Di Canio was here so the line certainly is drawn under that. Then he scored that goal – and what a goal it was!
We had one, pathetic point on the board. Our club was a laughing stock after signing a hundred players during the transfer window, who then revolted against Di Canio not to mention that this was a worse start to a season than our record breaking 15 points campaign of 2005-06.
I’ve felt so many lows being a Sunderland fan but, like most of us, I was struggling to remember a lower point. Gus Poyet was still trying to make something of the mess he had inherited as we went into the Wear-Tyne derby watching between our fingers.
Poised so tentatively at 1-1, in the 84th minute, Borini smashed home a wonderful winner – there has only been one goal I’ve celebrated more but I’ll come to that a little later.
There are a lot of things I love about Borini, his temperament and professionalism is pristine. During our crucial away game at Cardiff City (he had already established himself as a key first team player by this point) he fought his way through the first half despite being unwell to the extent he was rushed to hospital during the interval.
He conducts interviews with the utmost respect for a club he could very easily have cared little for, given that he is only here for such a short length of time.
Ever willing and running, you’d be pushed to find many forwards who cover as much grass as this lad – but he is far more than that. Like any proper football fan, we appreciate quality footballers massively in the Northeast and Borini has quality in abundance.
Technique, composure, intelligence – he has got everything you would have on your checklist for a top player. He is too good for Sunderland and he won’t be coming back here.
If he doesn’t get the opportunity at Liverpool, some other big club will come in for him and he’ll become a regular for the Italian national team too, I’ve got no doubt about it.
We have been quite lucky with a lot of loan players at Sunderland. Danny Rose was huge for us last season, Nicklas Bendtner was important, Danny Welbeck was part of arguably our best team since Peter Reid and Jonny Evans was a brilliant player for us.
The one thing that will no doubt immortalise Borini above any of those is his knack of scoring crucial goals at crucial moments. He hasn’t scored loads, only three in league and six altogether – but all massive goals.
The winner against Newcastle at home, the first in our 3-0 away win against them too (he would have been immortalised just for those to be honest), the goal to start the comeback against Southampton at home for 2-2 then there were his cup goals.
He has scored three in the League cup for us this season, the 88th minute equaliser in the quarter final against Chelsea, the winner against Manchester United at home and one more goal which I will be telling my kids and grandkids about for the rest of my life.
The fact that we even got to Wembley was a feat completely out-of-sync with our recent history, relegated with 15 points and 19 points both within the last decade, enduring manager after manager with dull ideas and poor transfer policies. Howard Wilkinson man – what did we do to deserve that?!
Anyway, the feat was made even more remarkable when you consider where we were when Di Canio left.
Ironically, Di Canio was in charge for our first round win over MK Dons, a match where we were 2-0 down before scoring four goals in thirteen minutes (Jozy Altidore even got one!).
Then 88th and 118th minute goals against Chelsea followed by a 119th minute goal against United leading to a penalty shootout victory (the worst shoot out you’re ever likely to see).
So, there we were, going to Wembley, the proudest moment of my life supporting Sunderland, so heavily fuelled by emotion there is only one thing that I can remember with any vividness.
Borini scored the opening goal after schooling Vincent Kompany and, my word, the scenes were indescribable. The noise still rings in my ear even now, the sheer euphoria was almost unbearable to the extent self-combustion seemed a real possibility.
We lost that game 3-1, but the heartbreak really only lasted a matter of hours. I am so proud of that day and I honestly think that the fondness with which I hold that memory will be forever immortalised purely because of Borini’s goal. If that was 3-0, or 2-0 or even 1-0 City – it would probably be so much different.
So yeah, I absolutely love this bloke. He deserves nothing but success and I know for a fact he will find it somewhere. It won’t be here, not just because we’re not likely to win anything anytime soon but we all know he won’t be here next season – despite our best hopes.
Cheers for letting him stay, he’s a legend.
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Internationals week always brings the transfer rumours out of the very back of the dusty rumour mill, and this week has been no different as far as Liverpool are concerned…
The 24-year-old has been one of the better performers in an underwhelming season for Valencia, scoring twice in 19 appearances in La Liga this season.
The former Real Madrid and Getafe players works as a central midfielder, and spent a loan spell at QPR in 2008.
He’s created 38 chances for Valencia this season, and boasts a pass accuracy of 87 percent, according to stats website Squawka.
talkSPORT report that Parejo could be seen as an extra option to Liverpool’s bustling midfield, although the development of Luis Alberto seems the more logical option for the Reds right now.
Rodgers is a fan of Parejo and sent his head scout, Barry Hunter, to monitor the 24-year-old during Valencia’s 2-1 win over Granada on February 23.
Elsewhere, reports in Spain suggest Liverpool youngster Suso could be set to end his hopes of regular first-team action at Anfield and return to La Liga permanently.
The 20-year-old is currently on-loan to Almeria for the season, having made 24 appearances so far.
Andalucia-based newspaper El Desmarque claim Sevilla are interested in buying Suso permanently in the summer.
To date, Suso has made 20 appearances for Liverpool.
Finally, remember Gabriel Paletta? He played for Liverpool four times in 2006/07 under Rafa Benitez, before being shipped to Boca Juniors.
Gabriel Paletta playing for Italy here. Rememer him? Mad.
— Craig Rimmer (@Craig_Rimmer) March 5, 2014
The post LFC Transfer Rumours: Valencia star IN, Suso OUT, Ex-Red to Man Utd appeared first on Liverpool FC This Is Anfield.
It’s three years to the day since the Dutchman scored a hat-trick at Anfield against Manchester United. Henry Jackson (@OnFootballTweet) looks back at Kuyt’s Liverpool career, in particular his impact in big games.
When it comes to ability, Dirk Kuyt was far from the most gifted player ever to grace the Anfield turf. He wasn’t the quickest or the most creative, but he was mighty effective.
His work-rate was extraordinary, while his movement and unselfishness in front of goal was hugely underrated. He wasn’t as exciting to watch as any of Liverpool’s current attacking crop, but he was a very fine player in his own right.
The 33-year-old spent six years at Liverpool, between 2006 and 2012, scoring 71 times in 285 appearances. While some forwards get cheap goals to add to their tallies throughout their career, Kuyt was very much a player who did it time and time again when it really mattered.
The aforementioned hat-trick, scored on this day in 2011, was typical Kuyt; gritty but effective. All were close-range, poached efforts, but they got the Reds over the finish line against a strong Manchester United team who would reach the Champions League final that year.
That was not the only time Kuyt helped break United hearts, however. A year later, with their FA Cup fourth round clash tied at 1-1 at Anfield, he pounced clinically late on to send Sir Alex Ferguson’s side crashing out.
He was terrific in the unforgettable 4-1 win at Old Trafford in 2009, and also created a goal for Fernando Torres there a year later.
Evertonians everywhere must have been delighted to see the back of Kuyt in 2012, such was his success against them in Merseyside derbies. He scored five times against the Toffees, and virtually every goal was a crucial one.
His two penalties at Goodison Park in 2007 are probably his most famous. With the Reds trailing 1-0 after a Sami Hyypia own goal, he twice stepped up under immense pressure to earn a massive win for his side. He also scored the vital second goal there during the 2009/10 campaign, as Liverpool won 2-0.
The current Fenerbahce star’s two derby goals at Anfield were equally as important. The first, a header in 2010, was the only goal of the game, while the second was also from the penalty spot, helping earn his side a 2-2 draw in 2011.
Kuyt had some unforgettable moments in the Champions League, with a number of them against some of the other so-called ’big four’ sides in the Premier League at the time.
He scored the winning penalty in the 2007 semi-final shootout against Chelsea, dispatching the ball coolly past Petr Cech to send Anfield wild. In the subsequent final against AC Milan, although Liverpool lost it was the Dutchman who scored his side’s goal on the night.
He also gave the Reds the lead in the 2008 semi-final against the same side, and scored at Stamford Bridge in the unforgettable 4-4 quarter-final draw a year later.
With Liverpool losing 1-0 to Arsenal in the first-leg of the quarters in 2008, it was again Kuyt who popped up with a goal to give Liverpool a vital away goal. They would go on to progress in the return leg.
The 98-time capped Netherlands international has also scored massive goals against some of Europe’s biggest clubs. His late strike against Inter Milan in 2008 was pivotal in the context of the tie, while he played a key role in Liverpool’s fantastic win at Camp Nou against Barcelona in 2007.
OTHER BIG GOALS
The striker turned winger scored plenty of other memorable efforts in big games. His extra-time goal helped Liverpool win the 2012 League Cup triumph over Cardiff; he also converted his penalty in the shootout.
His last-gasp winner in the Reds incredible 3-2 away win at Manchester City was one of the standout moments in Liverpool’s superb 2008/09 campaign, while Chelsea and Arsenal have both suffered at the hands of him in the league as well as the Champions League.
Dirk Kuyt was never a great player, even in his prime, but he was someone who made a team great. Others around him- Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres are examples- invariably made more headlines than him, but the impact he often made in games was as noticeable as anyone.
He might be easily forgotten now because of the attacking brilliance Brendan Rodgers has at his disposal, but there will times when we as Liverpool fans will be crying out for Kuyt to be on hand to score one of those vital goals. Especially with these enormous, season-defining games coming.
What’s your favourite Dirk Kuyt moment? Would he get in the current Liverpool side?
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has been speaking about the importance of bringing through the new generation of footballers as well as commenting on his visions for the future of Liverpool FC.
The Reds boss was speaking to LFCTV GO – Liverpool’s new, exclusive video on-demand service that is bringing fans ever-closer to the team they love.
“There’s no point in having a youth system and an academy system in place if you’re not going to look from within” Rodgers explained.
“For me and how I work, it’s part of my definition of success. Some people will be based purely on trophies – and that is ultimately what you are judged on.
“But for me and when I eventually retire from football I want to be able to look back and see that not only have I won trophies but I’ve developed a football club that has brought through their own players.
“That’s something that’s very important in my work. Other managers may be different and might just be about purely winning trophies, but for me success isn’t just picking up the trophy at the end of the season.
“It’s also about the football club, giving the value to young players and seeing them develop.”
To see Brendan Rodgers’ full interview and to hear how he’s fostered team spirit amongst the squad and staff, subscribe to LFCTV GO, Liverpool FC’s new and exclusive video on-demand service that offers interviews, news, views, behind-the-scenes action, goals and footage from the latest Reds games. For more information, visit www.liverpoolfc.com/video
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Si Steers provides an assessment of the Liverpool’s finances following the latest set of accounts being revealed earlier this week. The future looks bright despite a headline loss.
The latest set of accounts for Liverpool Football Club provides some significant metrics as to how the club is progressing under the ownership of FSG. The headlines don’t make for great reading, but the headlines don’t always tell the real story, and that is the case in the latest set of accounts.
The club has posted another loss of almost £50m, which at face value doesn’t paint a great picture, but its what sits behind the loss that are the real indicators for the financial health of the club.
When FSG acquired the club in 2010 they made a clear commitment that they would lead the club on a journey of self sustainability, and that means profitability that can be used to grow the club both on and off the pitch. A great deal of work has been going on behind the scenes to realise that vision, and the foundations are now very well set.
When FSG acquired the club revenue was at £184m, including Champions League revenue that likely made up almost a quarter of that figure. That’s why Champions League football is crucial.
In the latest set of accounts revenue is at £206m, growth of just over £20m in three years isn’t really that impressive on the face of it given the commercial potential and worldwide fan base of the club, but when you consider that figure isn’t inflated by Champions League revenue, it is more like £50m of organic growth in just over three years. That’s impressive.
To put that into context, that’s £50m extra we are earning year on year without a reliance on Champions League football since FSG took over, or two world class players. And the most recent figures are now 18 months old and don’t take into account recent deals with Dunkin Donuts and Garuda Airlines for example.
What FSG have done brilliantly is transform our commercial dealings, we now have a wide range of international parties tied into lucrative contracts that all contribute to our revenue.
Revenue is a really strong indicator of financial health, and we sit 5th behind the other Champions League clubs in England for total revenue, and we are the highest ranked side not in the Champions League in the Deloitte Money League. We are also growing revenue at a rapid pace through being smart in the commercial space.
When you consider the constraints of Anfield and the lack of Champions League football (both inherited and complex issues) the increase in revenue from 2010 is a clear sign of a club heading in the right direction.
The best thing about our revenue is that we have been able to build and sustain a team that is competing at the top end of the league without Champions League money.
So why are we making a loss?
The club and owners will be advised by very good lawyers and accountants on the best way to present the clubs accounts. The financial story of the club has many facets that include complex calculations around player depreciation, book value and debt.
One of the real positives from this set of accounts is that the clubs bank debt is now at £45.1m, which to put into context is a quarter of the clubs total revenue, a very manageable amount. There is also debt on the books from two intercompany loans that FSG have injected to clear some of the legacy debt from the previous regime. But in reality, those loans are an injection of cash to help the club progress towards financial health.
The losses from the last two sets of accounts do raise some questions about whether the club is set to meet FFP requirements, but there are a number of exemptions that are included (likely including stadium costs which make up almost £40m of losses), and FSG are smart enough to navigate FFP requirements whilst posting losses with the intent of getting the balance sheet into profitability.
There is also the legacy of bad player contracts that is still having an impact on the wage bill. The wage to revenue ratio is now at a more manageable 63% (down from 70%) of total revenue, but it is still too high. A ‘healthy’ wage to revenue ratio is between 55-60%, and as revenue rises and players like Pepe Reina and Glen Johnson are moved on or offered more sensible contracts that will fall further.
FSG don’t escape criticism here either, the spending in 2011 has had a big impact on the balance sheet as the club has had to take big losses on players like Andy Carroll and Stuart Downing. The book value of players also depreciates year on year which contributes to the balance sheet.
Under FSG we haven’t been great at player trading out of the club so far, and that’s something they will want to get right in the future. It also in part explains the clubs transfer strategy, rigidly sourcing value. By overpaying for somebody like Andy Carroll, it can have a big impact on your profitability.
That said, I think in football at the top end of the market you do need to take a considered risk on occasion, and the club needs to make sure it finds the right balance between prudence and progression on transfer strategy.
One thing that will be at the forefront of the minds of the owners is the cost of stadium redevelopment. It is likely that the club will need a loan in the region of £100-150m as a bank loan to fund redevelopment.
Before the club takes on that commitment, they will want a clean balance sheet so that the debt doesn’t act as a barrier to progress on the pitch.
Why do the finances matter?
The accounts matter as the amount of money we earn as profit has a direct correlation to progress on the pitch. The accounts provide an important context going into transfer windows and give some idea about how much we can invest in the squad.
They also provide an important reference point when talking about topics like ticket pricing.
There are so many facets that make up the clubs financial story, and the headline losses in recent accounts are a potent reminder that the club is still playing catch up after a long period of financial mismanagement.
But the story is improving year on year, we have a very sustainable structure in place that is focused on getting value for every £1 we spend, we aspire to build a world class academy that can provide world class players, and we are taking every opportunity to generate new revenue streams that can impact our affordability on fees and wages at the top end of the transfer market.
Finances at a football club matter because they provide much needed context, and they act as part of the metric of progression.
Whilst we have seen a loss this year, finance has not impacted our ability to compete at the top end of the league. In the summer John W. Henry made the decision to stand firm and keep hold of Luis Suarez, despite a £40m release clause. In similar situations Arsenal have taken the opposite approach (selling Robin van Persie to a key rival for starters).
Henry may well be rewarded for his decision with Champions League qualification this year (or if the wind blows in our favour, a league title). But from a purely financial standpoint, £40m in the bank would have looked better on the balance sheet. Henry knows that he has to play the long game to succeed with Liverpool, and won’t take short-term decisions if he knows it is going to hinder long term gain.
When Luis Suarez signed his new contract in the autumn, it was an investment in ambition. With a wage bill that is 63% of total revenue, sanctioning a £200k week deal once again is putting progress ahead of economics.
It’s a balancing act, and one that needs strong leadership and clear vision. We haven’t had the success we would like at the top end of the transfer market in recent windows, but we have been prepared to invest in large fees, the club are in a position where they generate healthy revenue, but its not a black hole and the intention not to deficit spend (build up debt) is exactly the right one.
What the accounts tell us is that we are a club with an eye very much on the present, but also an eye on the future. We are building a financial foundation that can manage the cost of stadium redevelopment and investment in the team, whilst operating within FFP rules.
The fact we have been able to reach this point with whilst competing for the league title in just over three years of ownership are a good indicator the years of mismanagement prior to FSG will soon be a distant memory.
With a redeveloped Anfield and Champions League income the club has the potential to break the £300m revenue barrier in the next five years, especially with the current growth in the commercial space.
Everything the club does is with an eye on the long term, and I expect the latest financial figures are painting a picture by numbers that is part of that process.
The post Painting by numbers – Explaining Liverpool’s financial picture appeared first on Liverpool FC This Is Anfield.
The tides may have changed in Manchester United and Liverpool’s fortunes, but the fixture remains as hotly contested and eagerly anticipated as ever, writes Saikat Mandal.
March 16th could be a very special day in terms of the Premier League title race this season, with Arsenal taking on Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, while Liverpool face arch-rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford. If you’re a horse-racing fan taking in the races at Cheltenham 2014 next week, make sure you save your gambling money for the Premier League – there will quite a few good bets to be made (and won) in these two crunch matches.
But only one of the two matches seems to be of real significance to the title race, with Arsenal looking to prove doubters wrong following a nervy few weeks. The continuation of Liverpool’s rivalry with United however is something very different entirely.
This particular high-octane clash is unique. It has a tinge of romanticism attached to its history; unlike other great top flight events, where the balance of power has shifted frequently, here the domination has changed after decades. If the 60’s belonged to United, the 70’s and 80’s were Liverpool’s, while the 90’s and the modern era goes to Sir Alex Ferguson’s team.
Interestingly, these two titans of the modern game haven’t been joint title contenders recently, as Manchester United weren’t a huge threat during the heydays of Liverpool and vice-versa. This fixture therefore hasn’t been a title-deciding clash for an age, with Manchester United even managing to lose twice to Liverpool in the 2008/09 season, but still being crowned champions.
But, this time around, Liverpool find themselves the superior force to United.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is not willing to put unnecessary pressure on his team by claiming they are ‘title contenders’, and is happy to take things one game at a time. A victory at Old Trafford would further improve their slim title chances, however, as well as further damage United’s hope of salvaging something positive in an otherwise dull and frustrating campaign.
Are we about to feel the winds of change once again? Liverpool have undergone a dramatic change in approach under a relatively new manager while a new era may well have begun at Old Trafford as well.
Manchester United vs Liverpool on March 16th may not just be about winning or losing, but about a fight for supremacy in one of football’s most famous match-ups.
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The Europa League is lambasted by many as an unwelcome distraction to the domestic league season, so should Liverpool fans be wishing that on their arch-rivals?
Liverpool fans know all too well the restrictions not being in the Champions League impose on a club.
Recently in the transfer market, the Reds have missed out on the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Willian and Mohamed Salah to clubs competing in UEFA’s elite competition. Not only do players of this calibre cost more, but they also want to be playing Champions League football.
Should Brendan Rodgers’ side qualify for next season’s competition, their first involvement since 2009/10, it will bring with it all the riches it promises: broadcast revenues, match day revenues, sponsorship and commercial opportunities and better calibre of new signings.
As reported by David Bond for the BBC in January, Manchester Utd are running on a budget that expects them to be in the Champions League every season, and at least get to the quarter-finals stage:
That is already looking unlikely, although one season out of the top four will not cause any major problems. But two or three seasons out of Europe’s top competition? Well that’s a different matter altogether.
Their expected failure to qualify for next season’s competition could have lasting ramifications for the club that dominated English football for over 20 years.
Existing player contracts will be too high to cope with the club’s drop in revenue, commercial opportunities will look less appealing to potential partners, and players will reject a move to Old Trafford in favour of clubs who do have Champions League football.
Next season, David Moyes’ side will have the chance to rebuild from the ground up, but having no European football at all would be a far bigger threat to Liverpool and the Premier League’s top four.
Should United have the added distraction of Europa League football, that will more than likely disrupt their domestic campaign to get back amongst the teams at the top of the table.
The Europa League is full of Thursday night trips to distant clubs — sometimes a tour of Europe’s dodgy pitches, and increasing the involved club’s fixture schedule, without the rewards of the Champions League.
Henry Jackson wrote in his piece, ‘Europa League: the competition nobody wants to be in‘ last week:
The disruption that this will do to their Premier League fixture schedule next season is the biggest factor. It is likely to hurt their form, and chances of returning to the Champions League, significantly. Unwanted trips to some of Europe’s least attractive sides on a cold Thursday night is far from ideal preparation ahead of an important league game three days later.
It will also hinder their chances of attracting world-class players to the club. Are some of the top players they’ve been linked with – Tony Kroos and Edinson Cavani are a couple of examples- really going to be swayed by the prospect of Europa League football next season?
After Manchester City’s League Cup Final win over Sunderland on Sunday, as things stand, there will be Europa League places for the teams that finish fifth and sixth in the table. United are currently three points off Everton in sixth.
United’s fall from grace is not the same as it would be for some other clubs — they still have their worldwide brand and appeal.
As long as they have that marketability, they have a platform on which to build on, though they can’t afford to stay out of the Champions League for too long.
The likes of Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City, Tottenham and Everton will be hoping a distraction such as the Europa League can held prevent any route back to the top for United.
Ultimately, a United side without the distraction of the Europa League next season would be a far bigger threat – just as being out of Europe this season has helped Liverpool.
So, here’s hoping they finish sixth.
The post Why Liverpool fans are hoping Man United qualify for Europe appeared first on Liverpool FC This Is Anfield.
With rumours circulating about Brendan Rodgers’ interest in signing Steven Caulker, Jack Lusby (@LusbyLatest) looks at why this would be a good move for the Liverpool manager.
Last week, The Telegraph reported Brendan Rodgers’ interest in signing another of his former charges, current Cardiff City captain Steven Caulker:
“Brendan Rodgers is interested in Cardiff captain Steven Caulker as he considers how to tighten up Liverpool’s defence in the summer.”
Signing Caulker, as journalist Matt Law astutely points out, would significantly enhance Liverpool’s often shaky back line; as an added bonus, at 22 years old, the English centre-back has plenty of years left to develop.
The Current State of Affairs
Assessing Liverpool’s current first-team centre-back options, at present Rodgers possesses two senior left-footed and two right-footed defenders – Mamadou Sakho and Daniel Agger; and Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure respectively.
Therefore, Caulker, as a natural right-footer, would pose a threat to Skrtel and Toure if he were to join the club.
Toure, brought into the club over the summer to compensate for the loss of leadership and experience following the retirement of Jamie Carragher, initially performed admirably for the Reds.
However, his early form has since diminished. This is particularly shown with an outfield-high of two defensive errors leading directly to goals, courtesy of Squawka: a statistic made more significant given Toure’s infrequent game-time.
Elsewhere, Skrtel boasts, again according to Squawka, an average duels won percentage of 60; the defender also averages at 15 defensive actions per game.
However, statistics cannot cover all aspects of a player’s game.
Skrtel’s increasing propensity to grapple with his marker in the box in dead-ball situations has led to many believing the 29-year-old is an accident waiting to happen; this was initially brought to the spotlight this season after several altercations with Caulker earlier this season.
The likely future is that Rodgers will hold onto Toure, and whilst he continues to publically back the often-shaky Skrtel – as reported by The Guardian’s Andy Hunter – the Northern-Irishman could well consider the future of either Skrtel or Agger at this season’s end.
With at least one centre-back surely headed for the Anfield exit at the end of this season, Caulker would provide a solid solution on the right-side of defence for many reasons.
An Impressive Campaign
Along with the composed Peter Whittingham and the Mascherano-lite Gary Medel, Caulker has proven one of few bright spots in Cardiff City’s dreadful maiden Premier League campaign.
In a team under-the-cosh in seemingly almost every fixture, Caulker has managed to near-equal Skrtel’s average of duels won with 58 percent and an average of 12 defensive actions per game.
The Englishman also seemingly has an eye for a key pass, his total of eight chances created double that of Skrtel’s this season.
It is also worth noting that Caulker hasn’t made a single defensive error this season, despite consistent attacking pressure; all statistics courtesy of Squawka.
The ex-Spurs man is a composed presence amid a shaky back-four, something which could be allayed with his projected future centre-back partner Sakho.
As previously mentioned, Caulker as a 22-year-old presents a long-term defensive prospect for Rodgers were he to sign for the club.
The Daily Express recently reported the manager as claiming his club as vital in the development of young British players:
“I think it is a good signal and a good statement – especially for young British players – that if you come to Liverpool, you will get your opportunity if your focus is right.”
It would be natural to assume that if Caulker were to join the club, as evidenced by the immense progress of Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Jon Flanagan under Rodgers, he would be in the best place to develop his game.
Moreover, an impressive 2011/12 season spent on loan with Rodgers’ Swansea side should be more than enough to convince the pair this is the right deal.
Whilst Caulker undoubtedly has time on his side, the London-born defender would also come into the squad with a wealth of experience.
As mentioned, the towering centre-back was employed by Rodgers to marshal his defensive ranks in Swansea’s debut Premier League season; Caulker made 26 starting appearances in total, as per WhoScored.
Returning to parent-club Spurs, Caulker played a significant part in their Premier League and Europa League campaigns for the 2012/13 season, providing the young defender with vital experience amongst elite competition.
Signed by Cardiff City for a BBC Sport reported £8m this summer, Caulker now has experience in leading a side, with ex-manager Malky Mackay appointing the Englishman captain upon his arrival.
With Toure currently, purportedly, filling the void left by the influential Carragher, Caulker should have more than enough experience to step into the breach.
Naturally, there are opposing factors to the signing of Caulker.
With Skrtel, on the whole, performing admirably at the heart of defence this season, it could be argued that the Slovakian should command a first-team position for the foreseeable future.
Elsewhere, with the return of Tiago Ilori from a loan spell at Granada next season, many would favour the adept young Portuguese to partner Sakho for years to come.
Finally, with recent Daily Mirror reports linking Spurs’ Jan Vertonghen with a move to Anfield, this may raise the argument that Caulker isn’t the high-profile signing Liverpool should be looking to make for their projected Champions League campaign.
Whilst these factors could also be argued convincingly, as a player with the Premier League experience, defensive influence and vast potential to develop under Rodgers, Caulker surely fits the bill.
With Cardiff City relegation-bound, a cut-price move for the England international would be an astute piece of business for Rodgers and Liverpool this summer.
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A number of Brendan Rodgers’ younger players will never have played in games of such magnitude from now until the end of the season. The older stars must play a big part if Liverpool are to win the Premier League, says Henry Jackson (@OnFootballTweet)
It may be a cliche, but Liverpool have 10 cup finals remaining this season. Although finishing in the top four remains the undisputed priority- Tottenham are still far from out of the Champions League equation- a first league title since 1990 is no longer the pipe dream it was back in August.
To achieve that remarkable feat, Brendan Rodgers will be reliant on his older players coming to the fore between now and May. Their knowledge of playing in enormous games is absolutely priceless.
Steven Gerrard has played under as much pressure as any Liverpool player in history. All hopes have rested on his shoulders too many times to remember over the past decade, and the 33-year-old has delivered consistently. Whether it be his Man of the Match displays in Champions League and FA Cup finals, or vital last-minute penalties, the skipper has done the lot.
Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel have been part of the Anfield setup for many years now, playing key roles in numerous unforgettable European nights and Premier League clashes since the mid 00s. There is an argument to say that, when Mamadou Sakho returns from injury, his lack of experience could be detrimental. He may be a better defender than both the Dane and the Slovakian, but would the pressure be more likely to get the better of him?
Kolo Toure, although far from a regular after his poor run of form, will be a massive influence in the dressing room and on the training ground. He has won the Premier League twice, one of which was in a side then went unbeaten all season. He knows the ruthless, winners mentality that is required to get over the finish line in these situations.
Luis Suarez has matured greatly this season, and is a natural leader. He captained Ajax at a very young age, inspiring them to Eredivisie glory in 2010/11. He has a desire and competitive spirit that is almost unrivalled.
Lucas and Glen Johnson, meanwhile, are also players with vast experience, with the latter having won the league title while at Chelsea in 2004/05.
All of the above, barring Lucas, have also appeared at major tournaments, playing with their nations expectations and hopes on their shoulders.
The biggest worry going into the final straight of the season is how the youngsters will cope under immense pressure. People often say that their fearlessness can act as a positive, but that can easily turn into naivety in big games.
Jordan Henderson, Philippe Coutinho, Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge have all been hugely important players this season, but none of them will have remotely experienced the tense, season-defining matches on the horizon. The same applies to Simon Mignolet, Jon Flanagan and Joe Allen.
Something that could certainly be beneficial to the Reds over the next few months is Dr Steve Peters, a sports psychiatrist who has been working with the club since November 2012.
Gerrard has worked with him one-on-one, and speaks very highly of the effect his influence has had on him.
“He has helped me a lot from a personal point of view. He helped me with a groin problem in 2010, when I feared for my career,” he said.
“He can’t help you do a Cruyff turn or a 40-yard pass better, but he can help you learn what goes off inside your head. If the players buy into what he says, it will help. He is the best. I’ve played my most consistent form for Liverpool and England since seeing Steve.”
Peters will be working with the players on how to deal with the huge pressure and expectation that they are currently experiencing. His input could make all the difference. Such is his reputation that Roy Hodgson has acquired him to help England’s players deal with their constant failure at major tournaments. Penalty shootouts, in particular.
In terms of quality, Liverpool are arguably playing better than their rivals for the title, Chelsea and Manchester City. What gives them both the advantage, however, is the amount of players in their respective squads who have been there and done it on the big stage.
At Stamford Bridge, the likes of Petr Cech, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Branislav Ivanovic, among numerous others, know what it takes to get over the finish line, while even younger stars like Eden Hazard and Oscar have played under massive pressure internationally. They don’t have much inexperience at all.
City, meanwhile, have World Cup winners in David Silva and Jesus Navas, and players like Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero who inspired them to title glory two years ago. They will have leaned a colossal amount from those final few games in 2011/12, standing them in good stead this time around.
Whatever Liverpool do between now and the end of the season they will have done themselves proud. They’ve exceeded expectations greatly, and are 10 games away from possibly the finest achievement in the club’s history.
It’s been the young guns who have made many of the headlines, but it’s time for their older counterparts to stand up and perform when the pressure is really cranked up a notch.
Glen Johnson has revealed that waiting to be offered a new contract at Liverpool has been an unnecessary distraction and wants to stay at Anfield for years to come.
The England full-back’s current deal expires in summer 2015, but he is keen to get an extension tied up so that his future is more certain.
Johnson recently came back into the team after some time on the sidelines to recover fitness after never fully rehabilitating from injury problems earlier in the campaign.
Now Johnson, who was signed by Rafa Benitez in 2009, says he’s loving life at the club under Brendan Rodgers and hopes the club reward him with a new long-term deal.
“I’ve loved every minute of the five years I’ve been here and I’d love to stay but really the only truth in it is that I’ve not been offered a new contract on any level,” he told the Daily Mail.
“I know some people have been saying Liverpool don’t want to pay me my current wages, but I’ve not heard that. No one has come to me from Liverpool at all.
“I don’t know the situation the club are in or if they want to renew it. So I’ve not got a decision to make other than to see my contract out because no-one is telling me any different.
“It is an unnecessary distraction. I’m more than happy to sign a new contract and I’d love to stay here for many more years. But at the moment that is not for me to decide because I’ve not been offered anything and I’ve not been told I’m going to be sold.
“I just have to honour my contract and try not to let it distract me.”
Johnson could face Reds teammate Daniel Agger on Wednesday night if selected to play for England in their international friendly at Wembley. Kick-off is 8pm.
At 29-years-old, Johnson is thought to be on wages of around £110,000 per week — making him one of the higher earners at the club.
By the time his current contract expires, Johnson will be almost 31-years-old.
With Liverpool players on international duty on Wednesday night, we’re looking at whether the most expensive players in club football will be dominating this summer’s World Cup.
World Cup betting experts WorldCupOdds.com have come up with an infographic that shows what would happen if transfer fees decided who wins the World Cup. Other alternative methods of rankings the World Cup teams are also examined.
Brazil Come Out On Top
Brazil have the most expensive first eleven based on most recent transfer fees of their most used players at the Confederations Cup. They come out on top at £261.1m, £55.2m more expensive than nearest rivals Portugal. On the infographic however it is Belgium rather than Portugal who fill the runners up spot at the World Cup despite Portugal’s side costing their clubs £46m more and this is because of the pre determined World Cup draw that would see Portugal meet Brazil in the semi final should they win their respective groups.
England aren’t expected to have a successful World Cup but they finish fourth according to these projections. They don’t have the fourth most expensive team though. Seven other sides can actually boast a more expensively assembled team than England. England only finish fourth here because of the World Cup draw.
The Limitations Of Transfer Fees
The big limitation from looking at transfer values is that some players are still at the clubs they began their career at. No side shows this better than Spain with five of their eleven most used players in qualifying having never played for any other team. Those players are Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Pedro, Xavi and Iker Casillas. Spain’s team only generated £104.9m in transfer fees but independent valuations of the same eleven players put their value nearer the £278.5m mark which would make them the most ‘valuable’ team in the world.
Lionel Messi is another Barcelona youth product who goes down as a free transfer. Argentina’s total transfer value is £141.7m but Lionel Messi alone has been independently valued at over £100m and if looking at the total team values (ignoring transfer fees) then Argentina add up to £265.1m which makes them the second most valuable team, ahead of third most valuable team Brazil who are independently valued at £257.3m.
There are also some very expensive players who didn’t make some of the teams’ most used elevens. The most expensive single player not to be included was Fernando Torres. He cost Chelsea £50m when signed from Liverpool in 2011 yet played just 16 minutes for Spain in qualifying.
Champions League Players
The Champions League is considered the best club competition so surely the best teams at the World Cup should have more players involved? Only Spain are able boast all of their eleven most used players in qualifying being involved in the Champions League this season. This is because their most used eleven was made up entirely of Barcelona and Real Madrid players.
Germany were next best with 10 players representing clubs that were involved in this season’s Champions League, only Lazio striker Miroslav Klose missed out. France had 9 players involved whilst England and Argentina are next best with 8 players involved in this season’s Champions League. The three England players who have missed out this season are Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard and Everton’s Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines.
England Hoping To Avoid Penalties
Things could have been very different in the 1966 World Cup final had England not won the game in extra time. It turns out that Germany are the best World Cup team at taking penalties as they have won all 4 World Cup penalty shootouts they’ve been involved in. England are at the complete other end of the scale, they are the worst team at penalties at the World Cup having lost all 3 World Cup penalty shootouts they’ve faced.
Will the hosts Brazil win the 2014 World Cup? View the latest odds, stats and tips on the World Cup at WorldCupOdds.com.
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