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Football and Politics: An uncomfortable truth

Ср, 06/05/2015 - 19:00

With the UK General Election taking place on Thursday, Jeff Goulding explains why it’s time to consider the politics of football – and why there has never been a greater reason for football supporters to get political.

 Liverpool fans protest against high ticket prices with banners 'A Working Class Sport?', 'Football Without Fans Is Nothing' during the Premiership match against Manchester City at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Some argue it has no place in our game, but I want to convince you that there has never been a greater reason for football supporters to get political.

It’s a privilege to be around at the birth of a movement. Even when viewed from a distance you cannot help but be inspired by the coming together of millions of people in a common purpose. In my life I have been fortunate to have lived through many.

The collapse of the Berlin Wall under the weight of countless East German citizens swinging pick axes and sledge hammers, their oppressors powerless to stop them, was a truly jaw dropping moment. Likewise the end of Apartheid, the abolition of the Poll-Tax, the peace settlement in Northern Ireland all spoke of the power of ordinary people all over the world saying enough is enough!

Different movements with different aims in disparate parts of the globe, but they all have one thing in common for me. Each of these epoch defining monoliths were said to be immovable and permanent. That is until the masses decided they had other ideas.

I grew up being told that ‘you can’t beat the system’, that those who have the power will never let go. This ‘It’ll never work’ attitude frustrated me as much back then as it does today. Then one evening I sat in disbelief, as I watched a single Chinese Student bring a column of tanks to a halt in Tiananmen Square. That powerful iconic image, beamed around the world blew that old argument out of the water.

In reality it has always been this way. I can’t think of a single advance in the rights or freedoms of ordinary people that hasn’t been won through struggle. To put it simply those in control of the power never relinquish it voluntarily. If we want reform of any kind we have to campaign for it. Sometimes that involves sacrifice. It always involves collective effort. Bill Shankly himself said “I believe the only way to achieve success in life is through collective effort”.

Central to Shankly’s philosophy was the notion that as individuals we can only achieve so much, but there is strength in unity and common purpose. This ‘Spirit of Shankly’ gave rise to another great movement and it has led to the ‘politicisation’ of a significant number of Liverpool fans over the last decade.

 Liverpool supporters' banners of Bill Shankly and Ronnie Moran in action against Manchester City during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda) [general pic]

When it comes to politics most of us, if we engage at all, will get involved in the ‘big ticket issues’. This week Russell Brand interviewed Ed Miliband on ‘The Trews’. Whatever you think of either of them, what they both said really resonated for me. They talked of a new politics, of community activism bringing pressure to bear on governments and political parties and ending the power of rich lobbyists.

In Liverpool we have been demonstrating the power of community activism for twenty five years. There would have been no Hillsborough Independent Panel or Inquests without ordinary supporters and the families of the bereaved coming together and refusing to give in. A certain ‘newspaper’ would still be on sale in our shops, if it wasn’t for a mass boycott that has remained gloriously solid throughout all of that period. Liverpool supporters are well versed in collective effort and community activism and they have made the establishment sit up and take notice.

It is therefore no surprise to me that Liverpool supporters are in the vanguard of the movement against obscenely inflated ticket prices. Up to a thousand of them boycotted an way match at Hull. This was a tremendous show of strength and a model for football supporters of all clubs.

Ours is a truly grass-roots campaign and that’s where its power lies. I remember the formation of Spirit of Shankly. The union grew out of desire to rid the club of Hicks and Gillett and place supporter at the heart of decisions made about the club. At the time they drew criticism from sections of our own support.

 Liverpool supporters on the Spion Kop hold up a banner reading "Tom & George Tell Lies| as they protest against the club's American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Complaints ranged from the ‘you can’t fight city hall’ argument to criticisms of their grammar. Some even argued that politics, unions and demonstrations had no place in football or sport in general. Then there were those who suggested we should look to the ‘professional’ campaigns being organised by United fans to get rid of the Glazers, rather than the jeans and trainers campaigners that were the masterminds of SOS.

All I will say on this subject look at where those respective campaigns are today. While United fans were being urged to wear multi-coloured scarves, SOS were busy organising a global campaign that struck fear into the hearts of anyone thinking of lending our Tom and George any money.

So effective was this movement that Hicks himself was forced to acknowledge he had been undone by a bunch of ‘internet terrorists’. As we survey the fallout we have rid ourselves of Tom and George, while the Glazers grip on United is as strong as the debt on their books. What’s happened to the green and gold scarves?

 David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The fact is SOS have gone on to greater heights, joining forces with Spion Kop 1906 and taking on the cartels controlling ticket prices. The club have been forced to listen and other supporters around the country are uniting to bring pressure to bear. It collectivism. It’s community activism and it’s working.

We can all see the logic of mass movements on issues as big as the right to vote. Ending corrupt states through mass demonstrations resonates with most of us. We will even contemplate civil disobedience when faced with unjust laws or infringements on civil liberties. Maybe injustice in sport seems too trivial to justify such a passionate response.

I would strongly disagree. Yes we may have come to terms with the fact that football is not more important than life or death, but it’s still very important. Think about how much time and energy you invest in the game, let alone the money.

Whole communities are built around football teams. Think about what Liverpool Football Club means to you, how passionate you feel about it, the joy it has brought you and the crushing despair. Your team is as much a part of your life as your job, maybe more so. You would fight to defend your job. Why wouldn’t you do the same to defend your club, or your right to watch your club.

As Brand said, after his much publicised chat with Ed, democracy is for every day. I believe he is right. It’s for the big stuff and the little stuff. The only way we can secure the things that matter most to us is to engage with politics and become activists.

There can be no suggestion any more that football isn’t political. Stadium disasters all over the world tell us it is. Allegations of corruption at the heart of FIFA and the usurping of our clubs by the rich and powerful tell us that football is deeply political.

 Empty seats as Liverpool supporters boycott the game to protest at high ticket prices during the Premier League match against Hull City at the KC Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In Europe there are different models of ownership where fans have a greater say in the running of their clubs. Why can’t we have that here? Could a foreign owner take over a club in the Bundesliga and change its badge or name, without the fans consent? Why can’t we enjoy the same protection? The Premier League is staring down the barrel of unimaginable wealth, yet it sees fit to price the ordinary fan out of the game. How can this be allowed to happen?

Whether you like it or not, these are all political questions. On our own we can moan about the situation, but we cannot change it. Together we can. For too long football supporters have been happy to leave the running of their most cherished pastime to others, content to pay whatever it takes for the privilege of watching their heroes.

Football is never going to be free, but it has to be affordable if the lifeblood of the game, the supporters are to keep up. Fans are realists. They appreciate clubs have to turn a profit, but it’s the sense that we are being fleeced that angers many of us. Shankly also talked of a world where everybody worked for each other and everybody shared in the rewards at the end of the day. We are light years from this vision in my view. Instead, most of us are watching from the sidelines as our clubs disappear over the horizon.

It’s time to reclaim our game and that means getting political. It means coming together with like minded supporters and campaigning. It means lobbying your MP or Councillor. It means marching or even boycotting games. You don’t have to join a supporters union to do any of this, but think how powerful we would be if we all did.

Polling for #GE2015 starts tomorrow – there's still time to lobby candidates on football reform http://t.co/ipbfkfgJ8m #votefootball

— The FSF (@The_FSF) May 6, 2015

I want my kids and eventually my future grandkids to be able to afford to go the game long after I’m gone. I want them to be treated fairly by the clubs they support and to be safe when they go the game. I want the communities in which our teams are rooted to be respected and for our grounds to be community assets. In my view there is nothing more political than that and it’s time we all woke up to that fact.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool agree deal for Portuguese youngster Paulo Alves

Ср, 06/05/2015 - 14:59

Liverpool have agreed a deal to sign Portuguese Youngster Paulo Alves – also known as Paulinho (Little Paul).

 Liverpool's Academy during the Under 21 FA Premier League match at the Kirkby Academy. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The deal was reported by Portuguese press, saying that the 17-year-old’s current club A.D. Sanjoanense have agreed the transfer with Liverpool after a recent trial at the club.

Paulinho has already agreed personal terms and undergone a medical and will join the club this summer.

The Liverpool Echo write that the midfielder is expected to start off next season at the Kirkby Academy but the hope is that he will prove his worth and make the leap to Melwood.

Alves will join up with compatriot Joao Carlos Teixeira on Merseyside. The 22-year-old impressed while out on loan at Brighton last season but suffered a broken leg last month, scuppering his hopes of impressing this pre-season.

Liverpool’s Academy currently boasts several highly-rated midfielders and many of them will be looking to impress when given the chance this pre-season. We ran the rule over Cameron Brannagan, Sheyi Ojo, Ryan Kent and Harry Wilson in the Reds’ under-21 game earlier this week.

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Ex-Reds Football League Season Roundup: How have Coady, Robinson and others fared?

Ср, 06/05/2015 - 14:31

With the football league season finishing last weekend, we take a look at how some of Liverpool’s former youngsters who left the club last summer got on for their new sides this season.

 Liverpool's captain Conor Coady in action against Manchester United during the Premier League Academy match at Langtree Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

We spend hours on end discussing Liverpool Football Club, whether it be the performance of the manager and team, potential signings or business that happens away from the pitch.

One thing that can often be neglected, however, is the progress former Reds youngsters are making at their new sides. Some have been sold while others have been released in the last 12 months, as they look to bounce back from the disappointment of leaving the Reds and moving down the football league ladder.

Here is a look at how those young players have fared in 2014/15, as they look to kick on in the next stage of their careers. The results are mixed.

Conor Coady

Conor Coady was always one of the most promising players in Liverpool’s youth academy, and outlined his pedigree by captaining England at the Under-20 World Cup in 2013.

The St Helens-born midfielder never quite made the grade in the first-team at Anfield though, making just two appearances in the 2012/13 season. He was eventually sold to Huddersfield Town last summer for a fee in the region of £350,000.

Coady has been a virtual ever-present in the Terriers’ midfield this season, appearing in 43 of their 46 Championship games and helping them to a respectable 16th-place finish. He also scored three goals.

Coady’s first season at the Yorkshire club saw him named Huddersfield’s Young Player of the Year.

Jack Robinson

 Liverpool's Jack Robinson in action against Manchester United during the Premier League Academy Elite Group Semi-Final match at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In May 2010 against Hull City, at the age of just 16 years and 250 days, Rafa Benitez made Jack Robinson the youngest ever Liverpool debutant at the time.

Kenny Dalglish then drafted him in to face Arsenal at the Emirates almost a year later, along with Jon Flanagan, where the two impressed.

Like Coady, things never quite materialised for the young left-back, and he made just 11 first-team appearances in and around several loan spells, before moving to QPR permanently last summer.

Robinson was immediately loaned out to Huddersfield, where he teamed up with old friend Coady. He made 31 appearances in all competitions, until a serious knee injury in March saw him return to Loftus Road. He may not make a full recovery until early next year.

Armin Hodzic

Hodzic was signed in May 2011, having broken numerous youth goalscoring records in his homeland of Bosnia, but he never really came close to being a success story at Anfield.

He was released in the summer of 2014, before moving to Dinamo Zagreb. He has scored one goal in five league appearances for the Croatian giants.

Yalany Baio

Baio spent three years in the Reds youth team, between 2011 and 2014, but was deemed surplus to requirements at the end of that period.

The 20-year-old midfielder made the move to Sparta Rotterdam in January, where he has one goal to his name in nine matches.

Michael Ngoo

 Liverpool's Michael Ngoo in action against Southampton's Matt Targett during the Under 21 FA Premier League match at the Kirkby Academy. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ngoo was a player highly rated at Liverpool for a number of years, having arrived in 2009 as a 16-year-old. The tall striker was a star of the youth and reserve side, but never made the leap to the first-team.

Having spent spells at Hearts, Yeovil and Walsall, the then 21-year-old joined Kilmarnock upon his release from Liverpool in 2014. He has failed to score in seven appearances for the Scottish side.

Stephen Sama

An imposing central defender, Sama made the first-team squad on several occasions, but never got a chance to make his debut.

In September 2014 he joined Stuttgart II, currently playing in Germany’s third tier. He has made 25 appearances in 2014/15, scoring once.

Yusuf Mersin

The young English-born Turkish goalkeeper was signed to the Liverpool academy from Millwall in January 2011, but never managed to usurp the likes of Danny Ward and Tyrell Belford as first-choice.

Released by the Reds in 2014, he joined Turkish side Kasimpasa on a free transfer. He is yet to feature for the first-team there.

Craig Roddan

Football - NextGen Series - Group 2 - Liverpool FC v Molde FK

Roddan joined Liverpool’s academy at the age of 14 in 2007. The midfielder had short loan spells at Carlisle United and Accrington Stanley, in 2013 and 2014 respectively, but barely featured.

The Reds released him last summer, and he eventually signed for Northern Irish side Witton Albion in February. He has made just one appearance to date.

Villyan Bijev

The 22-year-old American-Bulgarian impressed at times for the Under-21s during both the 2012/13 and 2013/14 campaigns, but a first-team bow evaded him.

Bijev joined Bulgarian side Slavia Sofia in July 2014 but only lasted five months, before signing for Cherno More. The striker has scored one goal in eight games for his new side.

Jakub Sokolik

Sokolik spent just a year at Liverpool before he was released in the summer of 2014. Yeovil Town snapped him up on a two-year deal, but he was loaned out to Southend United in October. A knee injury cut short his spell with the Shrimpers.

Which of these players do you have the highest hopes for in the future? Let us know in the comments below.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

2.42% – Liverpool’s chance of a top four finish this season

Ср, 06/05/2015 - 14:19

Man United have suffered three straight defeats but Liverpool are still four points (plus goal difference) behind their rivals going into the final three games of the season.

 Liverpool's Emre Can in action against Manchester United's Ashley Young during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Despite that, you’ll be hearing soundbytes from players and no doubt media on how Liverpool could still upset the odds and somehow nick the final Champions League spot. It’s already started with Adam Lallana quoted on the offical website saying:

“It’s not over yet. We can still finish in the top four but we need to take maximum points now. We’ll keep fighting right to the end. We all know what can happen.

“United have some tough games to play and I am sure they will drop more points.

“We have to put pressure on United by going to Stamford Bridge and getting three points. Pressure is a tough thing to deal with.

“We need to beat Chelsea and Palace and hope it all comes down to the final weekend.”

Liverpool’s last 3 games: Chelsea (a), Crystal Palace (h), Stoke (a)

Man United’s last 3 games: Crystal Palace (a), Arsenal (h), Hull City (a)

According to the guys at the Euro Club Index, Liverpool’s statistical chance of finishing in the top four stands at 2.42 perecent, with United at 97.37 percent.

Liverpool's Adam Lallana: "It's not over yet. We can still finish in the top four" He's right. 2.42% chance #lfc pic.twitter.com/KcasScVQFV

— Euro Club Index (@EuroClubIndex) May 6, 2015

At the other end of the table, they calculate QPR and Burnley as 99 percent certain of relegation, with Sunderland favourites (63 percent) for the third spot.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool revoke contract offer to Brad Jones leaving player “furious”

Ср, 06/05/2015 - 12:41

Liverpool have reportedly revoked a contract offer they made to backup goalkeeper Brad Jones and the 33-year-old has now been told he will leave the club this summer.

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Brad Jones in action against Swansea City during the Football League Cup 4th Round match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Daily Mail‘s Neil Ashton explains that Jones is “furious with the club after he was initially told that he would be given a new contract at the end of the season.”

Last week, the Liverpool Echo reported that Liverpool were keen to keep Jones and that he would be offered a new deal.

The Australian keeper has been at the club five years, making 25 appearances and is out of contract in the summer.

Jones has often been praised by Brendan Rodgers for his professional work ethic and Ashton writes that he had been “given assurances that he would be given another 12 months at Liverpool because of his positive influence in the dressing room.

“Instead he believes the club have gone back on their word and he will be free to leave Liverpool at the end of the season.”

The news of Liverpool’s u-turn on Jones’ future arrives the day after it was reported that the Reds had renewed their interest in Fiorentina goalkeeper Neto.

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Daniel Sturridge undergoes surgery – will miss rest of the season

Втр, 05/05/2015 - 23:46

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has undergone surgery on a hip problem in the United States.

 Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge in action against Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The 25-year-old’s season had effectively been ended once the decision was made to send him to America for further investigation into his ongoing injury issues which have seen him miss the majority of this season.

However, after undergoing surgery in New York the England international will now begin a programme of recovery and rehabilitation.

“Just want to let the world know I’ve had a successful operation on my hip today and I want to thank God for allowing that to be possible,” Sturridge wrote on Instagram.

“Onwards and upwards from here. Thanks for the support.” He added on Twitter: “Today was a big day for me…Thank you Jesus. Hip operation was successful. Road to recovery starts today!!”

It is the second time this season Sturridge, who has made just 12 starts and six substitute appearances, scoring only five goals, has travelled to the States in an attempt to solve his ongoing fitness issues.

Towards the end of a five-month absence with a thigh problem sustained on international duty in early September, which was followed by a calf strain, he was dispatched across the Atlantic where he spent 10 days in Los Angeles as part of his rehabilitation.

He then flew back to the east coast to work with the medical staff at baseball side Boston Red Sox, the other major sporting venture of Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group.

After spending some time there he then travelled to the west coast to continue his rehabilitation in California, eventually returning to England where he made his comeback as a substitute in the 2-0 win at West Ham on January 31.

However, injury problems returned – this time associated with his hip – and he has not featured for a month since playing 85 minutes of the FA Cup quarter-final replay at Blackburn.

 Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge and manager Brendan Rodgers as he is substituted against Sunderland during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Last week manager Brendan Rodgers said they believed they had made a breakthrough in the diagnosis of Sturridge’s injuries – which the player has previously suggested may be hereditary – which was why they were sending him away.

“I think we have found some underlying issues that maybe relate to Daniel’s issues and problems this season and the ongoing problems he’s had so the medical team here, liaising with some of the medics in America, are doing everything we possibly can to give Daniel every opportunity to stay consistently fit and available,” he said on Friday.

“It is just unfortunate for him. If you look at his career he’s had little issues along the way but when we brought him here we knew we wanted to give him every chance to be one to the top goalscorers in Europe.

“We have to do everything we can to get him on the training field and into the game, hence the reason for looking into the issue.”

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool board need to prove they have the ambition to keep Reds at the top table

Втр, 05/05/2015 - 21:56

Andrew Ronan sees this summer as being a crucial one – perhaps the last throw of the last dice – if Liverpool are to remain among the Premier League’s top sides.

 Liverpool's owner John W. Henry, wife Linda Pizzuti and co-owner and NESV Chairman Tom Werner before the Premiership match against Aston Villa at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It wasn’t the defeat to Manchester United or Arsenal. Or even the dropped points at West Brom and Hull. Liverpool’s failure to claim a top four finish this season goes back to the summer of last year, and a lack of ambition from the club’s board.

Liverpool had a very valuable commodity in Luis Suarez who wanted to leave the club. Barcelona showed their interest. We showed our interest in a less valuable but still high class Barca commodity, Alexis Sanchez. The Reds, supposedly, were top of the queue for Sanchez’s signing and it looked a foregone conclusion that Suarez and Sanchez would swap clubs before the start of the season.

Of course, Luis got his move and Arsenal stole in and nicked Sanchez with the Anfield board rather conveniently stating that Sanchez preferred life in London – as if Liverpool is some backwater, one-horse town. Sure, Sanchez and his family may have had a preference for living in the capital with its less-harsh weather, but how much did Liverpool’s board really, really want the Chilean?

Clearly not enough, and that lack of ambition coupled with a risky strategy of buying players who are unproven at the top level stunk out Anfield. Mario Balotelli came in for a small fee of £16 million and stunk the place out some more. Some nine months or so on, Liverpool’s tally of 47 goals – less than half of last season’s total – is the harsh truth behind a club with no ambition when it comes to buying top-class players.

Yes, Suarez was irreplaceable, and yes, Daniel Sturridge was injured for best part of the season, but surely there had to be someone at Anfield who noticed a) Liverpool needed someone like Suarez (Sanchez), and b) Sturridge has always been injury-prone and stood a good chance of getting injured at some point this season. Evidently, there isn’t someone at Anfield who can prioritize common sense over some sort of flimsy Moneyball transfer policy.

 Manchester United's Juan Mata celebrates scoring the first goal against Liverpool during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Brendan Rodgers has been heavily criticised since the defeat by Man Utd at Anfield in March, and rather harshly the David Brent comparisons are back in vogue. It must be remembered, though, that Rodgers took a side who were on their knees in early December and put them on an unbeaten run which made the United game at Anfield an important one. Of course, we were beaten and then well beaten in the next game by Arsenal, but suggesting that Rodgers should be sacked is far-fetched.

Okay, he does deserve some criticism; he does tinker with systems a bit too much, and his on-off selection of Balotelli is strange, but the club are in a better position since he took charge three years ago. He has implemented a way of playing football and demands a certain type of player for that style, which is why technically-sound players like Philippe Coutinho, Raheem Sterling and Sturridge are comfortable playing their football in a red jersey.

From the outside looking in, though, he needs to be more demanding of the clubs owners. As he said this week, Liverpool need marquee signings; the type of players who can lift those around them. Now is Rodgers’ chance to tell the owners to show their ambition and give him the money to sign two or three top players who could make all the difference. The core of a very good side is already there, there are just two or three pieces missing.

It was no more apparent than in the games at West Brom and Hull. We had all the ball, done a lot of huffing and puffing but there was no one with that something special who could make the difference. Sure, it can be argued, that Coutinho and Sterling should be able to make that difference but they are both still very young and lacking that sort of leadership.

Who can Liverpool bring in? Perhaps it will be Memphis Depay, or Edison Cavani. Or James Milner, or Alexandre Lacazette, or all of them, or one or two. Silly season is just beginning so all we can do is speculate. We can’t speculate, though, on how important this summer’s transfer window is to Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers.

If the club get it wrong and there’s another repeat of this season then Rodgers’ days may be numbered. That scenario would mean a new manager with his own style and idea of the players he wants for it. The club can’t really afford another overhaul as long as teams around it continue to prosper financially.

It’s said nearly every summer that Liverpool must get their signings right in the transfer window, but this summer could really be the last throw of the dice if the club want to stay in touch with the likes of Chelsea, Man City, Man Utd and Arsenal for the foreseeable future.

Andrew Ronan

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Philippe Coutinho named in Brazil’s Copa America squad

Втр, 05/05/2015 - 18:28

Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho has been named in Brazil’s squad for this summer’s Copa America in Chile.

 Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia celebrates scoring the first goal against Queens Park Rangers during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The 22-year-old, who was named in the PFA Team of the Year last week, is named in Dunga’s squad ahead of Chelsea midfielder Oscar.

Oscar’s omission is reportedly due to injury.

Brazil's squad for Copa América has been announced, Oscar not called up because of an injury: pic.twitter.com/yxmofe6SlM

— Paulo Freitas (@Cynegeticus) May 5, 2015

Statistically speaking, the two players are very similar in this year’s Premier League, with Oscar just edging it on goals and assists but Coutinho leading the way with key passes. Given Oscar has been playing in a far more successful Chelsea side, Coutinho’s stats arguably have more weight in his favour.

  Coutinho Oscar Goals 5 6 Assists 5 8 Pass Completion 81 82 Shot Accuracy 54 51 Key Passes 46 28
(Stats via Squawka)

Copa America takes place in Chile from June 11th to July 4th, with Brazil in a group alongside Colombia, Peru and Venezuela.

If Brazil progress to the latter stages of the competition, it means Coutinho won’t join up with Liverpool until after their pre-season tour of Australia and Asia.

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Brendan Rodgers and why he deserves to avoid getting the Klopp

Втр, 05/05/2015 - 17:36

Danny Gallagher backs the boss and says we should wait until after next season to review Brendan Rodgers‘ position as Liverpool manager, not convinced that Jurgen Klopp is the solution.

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers against AC Milan during the International Champions Cup Group B match at the Bank of America Stadium on day thirteen of the club's USA Tour. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A tactical manager recognised across all of Europe, renowned for his attacking style, fast tempo and stingy reluctance to concede possession. He guided the club to a second-place finish last season and ensured comfortable Champions League qualification. He truly was one of Europe’s finest performing gaffers last year.

This season you can see why fans are feeling aggrieved. He’s not been able to repeat it. The club won’t be in the Champions League next season and doubt hangs over the immediate future.

… still, that’s Borussia Dortmund and Jurgen Klopp’s problem, let’s concentrate on our own very similar ones.
Oh, you thought I was talking about Brendan Rodgers. Alas not.

Is this an article outlining why Rodgers is a better manager than the German? Absolutely not.

Brendan Rodgers has cut a forlorn figure in recent weeks and the vultures are circling.

The man who missed out on last years’s title by a mere three points – in only his third season as a Premier League boss – is hotly tipped to be replaced by a man who has had a very mirrored campaign to his own. I don’t quite see all the logic.

Recap

A 3-0 defeat to Manchester United back in December and Rodgers’ days were numbered. He “didn’t know what he was doing” and was tactically “all out of ideas”, we heard.

A ten game unbeaten streak was to follow and the naysayers were soon to disappear.

Liverpool would fall 1-0 to the hands of Chelsea in a close-fought cup semi-final at the end of January, but would then go on another 12 game unbeaten run and prove to be the form team in Europe.

Rodgers was hailed, football critics lauded his tactical flexibility, his composure in crafting a winning 3-4-2-1 system utilising wing-backs.

It was too good to be true. Manchester United would rear their heads once more and things would go awry.

Struggle

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers shakes hands with referee Martin Atkinson, who sent off a Liverpool player, awarded Manchester United a penalty, and failed to send off an opposition player during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The 2-1 defeat at the end of March, with Steven Gerrard at the epicentre, had much the feel of last season’s Chelsea encounter. Of course, the two fixtures had great disparity in terms of what a victorious outcome would mean, but both were pivotal.

The Reds fell again, admittedly when it mattered. The run of form since – just like Phil Jones completing a 90 minute game of football – has just got uglier and uglier.

So here we find ourselves, enduring a serious case of déjà vu.

Defeats to Aston Villa in the FA Cup and Hull City in the league have left Rodgers again heavily scrutinised. The man who turned around the soul-destroying Christmas period slump is now once again “out of ideas”, apparently.

His signings have been brought in to question once more, despite promising performances of Lazar Markovic and Adam Lallana at the turn of the year and the steady rise of potential-laden Emre Can being the recipients of much praise.

The fact cannot be masked over that the three games prior to QPR were abysmal, lacking togetherness, end-product and a whole host of other vital components. The pessimists are back.

Deutsch Temptation

Results aside, there is one key factor driving the wagging tongues of managerial overhaul – a 47-year-old, six foot native of Stuttgart by the name of Jurgen Klopp.

If the German’s availability hasn’t been the root of unrest regarding the Anfield hot seat, it’s certainly been the catalyst to the discussion.

As much as it pains Liverpool fans to hear the oh-so-often used term, this season was one of transition.
The Reds were never going to match up to last season’s highs; even the most rose-tinted among us could see that. Though it is fair to say that Rodgers should have taken experience from the 2013/14 campaign and safety guided Liverpool to a Champions League finish this year.

Even if four wins see out the remainder of the season, last summer’s transfer dealings will be used as a stick to beat Rodgers with, regardless.

It will be overlooked that the Reds made two cup semi-finals this year and, were it not for completely losing their nerve, were well on course to return to the Champions League.

Had fourth placed been scraped, I’m willing to suggest the signings wouldn’t have been too badly spoken of. Fine lines and even finer margins.

The point remains that the hysteria surrounding Rodgers and his precarious custodianship of Liverpool Football Cub would not be as prominent had Klopp not openly placed himself in the shop window.

He is now the grim reaper looming over the shoulder of every manager at an elite tier club in Europe.

13.08.2011, Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena, Sinsheim, GER, 1.FBL, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim vs BvB Borussia Dortmund, Juergen KLOPP, Trainer Borussia Dortmund, Portrait mit Kappe..// during the match from GER, 1.FBL,TSG 1899 Hoffenheim vs BvB Borussia Dortmund on 2011/08/13, Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena, Sinsheim, Germany..EXPA Pictures © 2011, PhotoCredit: EXPA/ nph/ A.Huber ****** out of GER / CRO / BEL ******

But consider Klopp had signed a new deal with Dortmund, who do the knee-jerkers turn to? It is interesting to see whether those who believe the German is the perfect solution for Liverpool think he will be handed an astronomical transfer kitty.

FSG still have the definitive say over the Reds’ financial actions, and to believe they would back a potential new manager any differently to Brendan Rodgers this summer would be blinkered.

Bigger picture

“Rodgers spends badly, he can’t handle big money” has been doing the rounds. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that three of Rodgers signings – in Can, Markovic and Moreno – will be key players next season. Last summer’s acquisitions could have been better, though they could have been worse – it’s easy to let a negative run of form distort that perspective.

The main and very crucial error came in the forward department, and it has cost us badly. But should Divock Origi come in and hit the ground running this summer, does that suddenly make Rodgers’ striking recruitment a success?
The jury is still out on whether each transfer under Rodgers’ reign has been rubber-stamped with the Northern Irishman’s approval. See: Aspas, Luis Alberto, Manquillo… I could go on. But this summer that has to change, and transparently at that.

Loyalty

In a recent interview Rodgers said he was the right man to lead Liverpool forward. Surely it’s now at the crossroads stage in his working relationship with FSG where he states – give me the capital to sign big-name, impacting players and judge me next summer.

If a title challenge doesn’t materialise and the ship goes down, so with it the axe falls. Chop and change.
For what it’s worth, Dortmund have lost 13 games this season, been on a five game losing streak and also seven games without a win. Granted, they’ve made a cup final and kept their bottle whereas the Reds truly swallowed theirs, but the point remains that Klopp, as well as Rodgers, has endured a frustratingly poor season.
Yet one is the saviour while the other a dead man walking.

June 1 will see Rodgers’ three year anniversary as Liverpool manager. Come the end of this summer’s transfer window, it would be fair to say his building project has had ample time to take shape – the safety blanket of that excuse can be removed.

Pending no dubious committee dealings throwing in the likes of a surprise Oussama Assaidi transfer for good measure, Rodgers should be truly judged after next season.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

LFC Transfer Rumour Roundup: Neto & Ings in? Lambert & Jones out?

Втр, 05/05/2015 - 15:53

The constant transfer speculation continues to gather pace as the summer approaches, and we look at the latest rumoured ins and outs at Liverpool.

Newspapers

Another day, another host of transfer news affecting the Reds.

It is becoming more and more clear that Brendan Rodgers is trying to get some of his summer business done early, with numerous players being linked with imminent moves to Anfield.

Positive news arrives from one report which claims Rodgers is keen to recruit two new forwards this summer – although, the source being MailOnline makes this more likely to just be conjecture than any inside information.

Here are Tuesday’s rumours:

Neto & Brad Jones

According to the very reliable Paul Joyce of the Express, Liverpool have renewed their interest in Fiorentina’s highly-rated goalkeeper Neto.

The 25-year-old has been linked with a move with Champions League semi-finalists Juventus, but is wary of just being an understudy to Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon.

That has reportedly seen Rodgers once again consider bringing in the former Brazil Under-23 star, as he looks to add more competition for Simon Mignolet.

Which brings us to Brad Jones. Joyce reports that the Australian will be released by the Reds when his current deal expires in the summer, bringing an end to his five years on Merseyside.

The 33-year-old is clearly not good enough for Liverpool, as shown by his woeful showing against Man United in December, and has never been an acceptable deputy to Mignolet.

Neto would undoubtedly make life tougher for the Belgian, which can only be a good thing.

James Milner & Danny Ings

 Manchester City's James Milner in action against Arsenal during the Premiership match at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

That same report from Joyce also states that James Milner and Danny Ings both remain very much on Liverpool’s radar.

It would appear that Milner is looking like virtually a certainty to make the move from Manchester to Merseyside in the summer, with his contract at Man City expiring and the Reds therefore able to get him on a free transfer.

The 29-year-old may not be the most brilliantly gifted player around, and is certainly one who has his critics, but he would be a shrewd signing by the club.

The England international is an extremely versatile footballer, capable of playing in central midfield, out wide or even as a full-back, and is the kind of player teammates appreciate hugely.

Ings, meanwhile, is also looking like he may well be a Liverpool player next season, with the Reds “favourites” to sign the 22-year-old.

The young Englishman has enjoyed an impressive season in a struggling Burnley side, scoring nine goals and consistently looking his side’s most accomplished player.

He has plenty of potential, and would most certainly be a better back-up striker than the likes of Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini.

Rickie Lambert

 Liverpool's Rickie Lambert celebrates scoring the second goal against Aston Villa during the Premier League match at Villa Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With Ings looking quite likely to be at Anfield next season, the future of Lambert has unsurprisingly come into question.

The Mirror claim that the 33-year-old could be set for a shock move to champions Chelsea.

With 37-year-old Didier Drogba out of contract, and seemingly on his last legs, Jose Mourinho is looking for a replacement third-choice striker, with Lambert reportedly an option.

The former Southampton man has endured a difficult year with his boyhood club, scoring just three times in 33 appearances, and with all due respect, it would be a huge surprise were he to move to Stamford Bridge.

Kieran Trippier

According to the rather flaky Daily Star, Burnley right-back Kieran Trippier could be set to join Liverpool, with the Reds among a host of clubs interested in his signature.

The 24-year-old has enjoyed an impressive campaign, despite his side’s precarious Premier League position, producing more crosses than any other player in the league and providing four assists for teammates.

With Glen Johnson surely on his way out of Anfield, and Jon Flanagan a long-term absentee, right-back is definitely an area that needs to be addressed.

Trippier may be more of a risky signing than someone like Martin Montoya, who has also been linked with the Reds, but his age and the fact he is English would both appeal to FSG’s transfer policy.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Son Heung-Min: Why Liverpool should pursue interest in Bayer Leverkusen attacker

Втр, 05/05/2015 - 12:59

After Liverpool were linked with a move for Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Son Heung-Min, Jack Lusby outlines why the South Korean should be a prime target.

02.08.2011, Imtech Arena, Hamburg, GER, FSP, Hamburger SV (GER) vs Valencia FC (ESP) im Bild Einzelaktion Heung Min Son (Hamburg #15) ..// during friendly match Hamburger SV (GER) vs Valencia FC (ESP) on 2011/08/02, Imtech Arena, Hamburg EXPA Pictures © 2011, PhotoCredit: EXPA/ nph/ Witke ****** out of GER / CRO / BEL ******

Liverpool could begin their summer of transfers in earnest with the pursuit of Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Heung-Min Son, reports claim, and the 22-year-old would be a fine addition to Brendan Rodgers’ squad.

Tentatively, the South Korean international’s agent is quoted as saying: “I know Liverpool have scouted him several times this season and would like to have him in their team.”

With Leverkusen reportedly eyeing a move for Hoffenheim winger Kevin Volland, there is every possibility that Son would be available to sign this summer.

Of course, this could all be pure agent talk, but Son is speculated to be available for £15 million.

So why should Liverpool be targeting the fleet-footed Leverkusen star this summer?

Strengths

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Son has been with Leverkusen for just two seasons so far, after joining the Bundesliga challengers in a £7 million deal in 2013, after a five-year progression through the ranks at Hamburger SV.

What drew Leverkusen to Son was his immense potential, and this has been honed dramatically since his switch.

This season, for example, the 22-year-old has so far scored 11 goals and made two assists in 27 league games—considering this has come largely from a left-wing position Son represents a highly accomplished goal-scoring midfielder, with more goals than any Liverpool player this season.

He is a phenomenally crafty, slight forward, capable of performing in variety of roles from out wide to behind the striker to centre-forward. His intelligence lends to this versatility.

There is an immense elegance to Son’s play, with his first touch and movement on and off the ball evoking an even more nimble Adam Lallana but, married with this Lallana-like finesse, Son also performs with a surprising, pacey intensity—he covers the ground quickly for a player so gracefully thorough.

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With an average of 1.4 key passes per Bundesliga game this season, Son would be the fifth-most prolific creator of chances in the current Liverpool squad.

Furthermore, with an average of 1.7 successful dribbles per league game, Son would the fourth-best player at taking the ball past his man in Rodgers’ current roster.

An unquantifiable quality that will no doubt endear Son to Rodgers the most is his never-say-die work ethic. He will rarely give up on a seemingly lost cause, which particularly aids him when deployed in a centre-forward’s role, as he was for South Korea during the 2014 World Cup.

Son is an enjoyably slick, surprisingly clinical, versatile forward option.

But where could it go wrong for Rodgers in lining up a potential deal for the Leverkusen man?

Weaknesses

When considering weaknesses for any potential deal to bring Son to Liverpool this summer, they largely preside on the Merseyside end of the discussion.

Firstly, with Leverkusen likely to qualify once again for the Champions League through their Bundesliga efforts this season—with Roger Schmidt’s side currently sitting fourth in the table with three games to go—to convince Son to join the Reds, who are unlikely to finish in the Premier League’s top four this season, seems like a tall order.

This is a problem Rodgers discussed last month:

“Liverpool is a phenomenal club that players want to play for, but, of course, players want to play at the top level of the game and if you are not in the Champions League it makes it difficult for you. We know that, but we just have to continue to fight in order to be a stable club in there – and we will continue to do that.”

What Rodgers would need to rely on, rather than the immediate prestige of top-tier European qualification, is his ability to sell Liverpool’s long-term project to Son, likely with him as a central figure.

His ability warrants this, of course, but it would still be a difficult sell.

Furthermore, as revealed by Dave Phillips via Twitter, the South Korean’s patriotic commitments may hamper any deal for the Reds:

“Heung-min possibly a no-go for #lfc – hasn’t done his mandatory 2 year military service.

“That military service would become compulsory c.2020, making any deal of v. limited future resale value without him receiving an exemption.

“Heung-min would need to e.g. win a medal at a major tournament (such as next year’s Olympics) to receive such an exemption. Big risk.”

If Son was required to enlist in 2020, this would mean that Liverpool would potentially only have access to his talents for four seasons — the risks beyond this would be that any resale value of an inactive Son would plummet.

Son’s potential success in the upcoming Olympic Games with South Korea, as Phillips outlines, could negate this, but it is a big risk for Liverpool.

They must weigh up whether a four-year spell at Liverpool for Son would be worthwhile, so where would he fit into Rodgers’ squad?

Where Might Son Fit in at Liverpool?

Owing to his typical tactical positioning for Leverkusen, it could be expected to see Son lining up as an attacking midfielder for Rodgers at Liverpool. He could a join fluid, interchanging advanced-midfield line with Philippe Coutinho, Jordon Ibe and Raheem Sterling.

Son would make an immeasurably better option in this role than fellow reported summer target, Denis Cheryshev.

But perhaps more interestingly is Son’s suitability to a centre-forward’s role.

He is slight, but hard-working and fast, with intelligent movement and a great finish—in theory, he would suit a role up front under Rodgers.

His goal rate of one every 2.5 games in the Bundesliga this season is nothing to be sniffed at when considering these mainly came from a left-wing position.

Convert him into a centre-forward, and Rodgers could see Son thrive even further.

Wherever he fits into Rodgers’ vision of Liverpool next season however, and so long as the manager and owners Fenway Sports Group weigh up the potential risks of any deal, Leverkusen’s Son should represent an excellent addition to the squad, with serious potential to develop further.

Statistics via WhoScored.

Should Liverpool target Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Heung-Min Son this summer? Let us know in the comments below.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Glen Johnson: What happened to the once-promising Liverpool right-back?

Пнд, 04/05/2015 - 23:05

On the eve of his departure, Aaron Cutler reflects on the Liverpool career of Glen Johnson and asks how a once top player became a target for the boo boys.

 Liverpool's Glen Johnson injured during the Premier League match against Manchester City at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In two weeks’ time Anfield will pay tribute to one of Liverpool’s greatest ever players as our Scouse superhero, the irrepressible Steven Gerrard, dons his cape one final time. On what is certain to be a bittersweet afternoon, Captain Fantastic will bid farewell to his adoring public amidst rapturous applause and a wave of emotion.

But as Gerrard is afforded his rightful send-off, a long-time teammate will exit stage left without so much as a murmur.

Glen Johnson was signed as a buccaneering full-back in 2009, the kind Liverpool had deemed redundant since Roy Evans called time on his adventurous 3-5-2 more than a decade earlier.

Billed as the English equivalent of Dani Alves, Johnson was acquired for a sizable £17 million, a fee that ratcheted up expectations and ultimately became a cross to bear.

For a period he justified the hype, faring admirably in a team languishing in mid-table. But in recent times he has become a figure of fun, chastised by the Twitterati more than any of his under-performing peers.

So where did it all go wrong and how will Johnson be remembered?

Misplaced Spending?

 David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A major factor behind The Kop’s indifference towards Johnson dates back to his signing itself. Few doubted his ability or potential but most questioned his necessity, particularly given a perceived dearth of funds.

In the summer of 2009 the Reds had run Manchester United agonisingly close to the Premier League title, and were perhaps two players shy of overhauling their great rivals the following season.

In what has become comical tradition, Liverpool floundered in the subsequent transfer window, failing to identify or land that elusive ‘missing piece’.

Instead they focused their efforts on a right-back, despite boasting the ably consistent Alvaro Arbeloa. All the while a striker eluded them, Robbie Keane’s exit the previous January a squad-depletion criminally ignored.

As Arbeloa departed for Real Madrid Johnson stepped into the fray and set about re-defining the very idea of a Benitez full-back.

For a while at least he did just that, a debut surge against Spurs winning a penalty before his Anfield bow was capped with an acrobatic effort against Stoke.

Before long however Liverpool’s inconsistency derailed their season, causing Rafa to retreat.

The bombing full-backs were quickly reined in and seemingly ordered not to venture past the halfway line. As civil war engulfed Anfield the attacking verve of the previous campaign dissipated and Johnson became a high-profile casualty, unable to play his natural game.

The Benitez Empire crumbled amidst acrimony and protest, the American owners so despised on Merseyside underlining their foolhardiness in replacing the Spaniard with Roy Hodgson.

What proceeded was a depressing six months, both for Liverpool and Johnson in particular.

Meddling Roy Hodgson, Kenny Dalglish the Redeemer

 Liverpool's manager Roy Hodgson during the Premiership match against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If Benitez’s latter-day tactics served to quell his attacking instincts, Hodgson’s sought to extinguish them altogether. Two banks of four became the norm, with no room for pressing or individuality.

Archaic tactics roundly criticised, ‘Hodgeball’ was better suited to Boris than Glen Johnson.

The manager’s penchant for haranguing players publicly also left a bad taste. Having already ostracised Daniel Agger in favour of Soto Kyrgiakos, Hodgson said this of Johnson:

“He’s the England right-back and, if he plays like that, one would expect him to come back in when he’s fit. But then he’d have to play like the England right-back and up to now, to be quite frank, he’s not performed – very often at least – to the level I’d expect of him. You would have to ask him ‘do you think you’re playing like the best right-back in the country for your club?’ If he says yes, obviously we will have to agree to differ.”

Man-management, Hodgson style.

Thankfully FSG dispensed with Gentleman Roy before the very real threat of relegation was realised. The appointment of Kenny Dalglish – temporarily at first – brought out Johnson’s best Liverpool form to date.

Ironically, such an upturn commenced at left-back.

 Liverpool's Glen Johnson in action against Aston Villa during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

When deployed on the opposite flank Glen appeared totally attuned; remedying lapses in concentration that had long littered his game.

The Dalglish era had peaks and troughs but Johnson was a consistent performer throughout, his athleticism, unrelenting provision of width and occasional goal threat a key component.

The highlight of Kenny’s one full league season, and indeed Johnson’s Liverpool career, came at Stamford Bridge in November 2011.

With the scores tied our No. 2 embarked on a late slalom before caressing the ball into the bottom corner with his weaker foot. A picture-book moment, it gifted the Reds a memorable victory on a ground Dalglish dominated.

When yet another changing of the guard ushered in Brendan Rodgers and his progressive tactics it was presumed Johnson would flourish. Sadly that was not to be, although the assumption Glen has stunk the place out for the entirety of Brendan’s reign is not strictly correct.

Modern-Day Glen

 Liverpool's Glen Johnson in action against West Bromwich Albion during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Indeed, in January of 2013 I wrote an article for this very website stating that, Luis Suarez aside, Johnson was on course to be named Liverpool’s player of the season. Call it a writer’s curse but from that point on Glen’s form fell off a cliff. Soz abar that.

One game in particular, at home to West Brom, appeared foreboding. Johnson was dire that evening, as were the entirety of the Liverpool defence, collectively bullied by Romelu Lukaku.

But whereas Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger played themselves back into form, Johnson has never recovered. He spent the next three months going through the motions, a hangover that crept into the following campaign and beyond.

While 2013/14 was an uplifting season for Liverpool, Glen Johnson struggled throughout.

What triggered this curious demise is difficult to pinpoint. Many point to a breakdown in contract talks but surely such a stand-off would inspire improved performances, thus forcing the issue?

Whatever the reason, Johnson lost his attacking mojo—the key facet of his game. He would still meander into dangerous areas but seemingly forget his very profession when invited to join the play.

 Liverpool's Glen Johnson in action against Borussia Dortmund during a preseason friendly match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Defensively meanwhile, those slipshod moments one time oppressed were back with a vengeance, contributing to our supermarket-sweep approach at the back.

Johnson has always been infuriatingly casual in possession but could be forgiven the odd lapse when offering plenty the other way. When that threat disappeared, so did any slack.

Indeed, it is far easier to recall him losing a man at the back post than influencing the final third these past two years.

Rodgers persistence with Johnson was at one time understandable, given his previous endeavours. Before long however such loyalty became misplaced and inexplicable, a blind faith still being played out to the bitter end.

Why for instance the outgoing Johnson is preferred to Javier Manquillo is bewildering. Even Ryan McLaughlin would be worth a punt in games clearly meaningless.

The sad truth is nobody will lament Johnson’s exit, with street parties planned around L4. But, in all seriousness, Glen should be remembered not as a flop but a player in the right place at the wrong time.

A Fitting Epitaph?

 Liverpool's Glen Johnson in action against Swansea City during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Glen Johnson that signed for Liverpool would have added another dimension to the Benitez side of the previous campaign; his overlapping forays maybe enough to turn costly draws into all-important wins.

Instead, this rampaging full-back arrived when that team and Benitez himself were on the decline.

Fans often slate the thought process behind this deal but perhaps it made greater sense than we originally thought, only for circumstances to conspire against player and manager.

Similarly the Johnson of the Dalglish era, wherein he was at his prime, would have been the archetypal full-back for last season’s runners-up – a team that instead contained a watered down version of the man himself.

A single League Cup and one title challenge is scant reward for six years’ service but while critics toast his leaving perhaps we should bemoan the fact a top player underachieved and ask ourselves why.

It is both lazy and easy to apportion all blame to the individual when maybe Johnson – like Dirk Kuyt, Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez before him – was failed by Liverpool and their crippling mismanagement. Each sold a vision we, and by association they, could never truly realise.

Then again, perhaps he was just sh*te.

Does Glen Johnson deserve credit ahead of his Liverpool departure? Let us know in the comments below.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Liverpool U21s 2-1 Leicester City U21s: Wilson, Sinclair, Ojo, Kent and Brannagan in Focus

Пнд, 04/05/2015 - 21:59

As Liverpool U21s ran out 2-1 winners over Leicester City U21s on Monday, Jack Lusby shines the spotlight on five potential first-team hopefuls.

Football - Under 21 FA Premier League - Liverpool FC v Leicester City FC

Michael Beale’s Liverpool U21s edged closer to the U21 Premier League title with an impressive 2-1 comeback victory over their Leicester City counterparts at Chester’s Swansway Stadium on Monday evening.

After the Foxes went 1-0 up through a Jamie Davis goal in the first half, a header from Daniel Cleary and a stunning, long-range strike from Cameron Brannagan gave the young Reds a priceless three points.

With first-team manager Brendan Rodgers outlining his vision of youth development by means of next season’s Europa League this week, which U21s stars could make the step up?

Goalkeeper Danny Ward and midfielder Alex O’Hanlon impressed, but Brannagan, Harry Wilson, Jerome Sinclair, Ryan Kent and Sheyi Ojo perhaps look the most likely to make it.

So how did the quintet get on against Leicester?

Cameron Brannagan (Central Midfield)

 Liverpool's Cameron Brannagan in action against Manchester City during the Under 21 FA Premier League match at Ewen Fields. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Deployed in his typical prowling position in midfield, Brannagan busied himself breaking up play and passing the ball on with simple touches—laying off to deep-lying playmaker O’Hanlan, there were shades of the Joe AllenJordan Henderson tandem from the first team.

With Leicester representing a particularly physical outfit Brannagan’s tenacity was vital in midfield, and the U21s captain’s influence in a box-to-box role grew as the game went on.

His pressing play was particularly useful, and this is perhaps why Rodgers has found a place for him on the first-team bench in recent games.

Brannagan sealed the victory with a sensational goal, launching a drive beyond Ben Hamer from outside the area.

Performance Rating: 7 (Out of 10)

Ryan Kent (Left Wing/No. 10)

 Liverpool's Ryan Kent in action against FC Basel during the UEFA Youth League Group B match at Langtree Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After Kent’s two-goal heroics in the U21s’ last victory, a 3-1 win over Everton at Goodison Park, much was expected of the midfielder, who initially lined up in a right-wing role. Taking a knock early on, however, the 18-year-old struggled in the first half.

He should have won a penalty after being barged over on 37 minutes after a great, bursting run spanning from near the halfway line into the box, but did little else before the break.

Kent came into life in the second half after switching into a central role, utilising his pace and vision to carve open the Leicester defence.

After launching a long-range strike out of the stadium on 50 minutes, Kent became more selfless in possession, and was unlucky some of the chances he created didn’t end up in the back of the net.

Replaced by Sergi Canos on 84 minutes.

Performance Rating: 7

Harry Wilson (Right Wing)

 Liverpool's Harry Wilson in action against Southampton's Will Wood during the Under 21 FA Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A terrifying prospect when running at defences, Wilson nonetheless endured a tough time at the Swansway, with Foxes left-back Ben Chilwell shackling him impressively.

He had some fine chances when he cut inside onto his left, but the No. 7 struggled to truly impose himself on the game—his delivery from set-pieces was particularly weak. Wilson is a fine talent, but very raw, and has much to learn before Rodgers can trust him in the first team.

Subbed off on 73 minutes, with Corey Whelan replacing the midfielder.

Performance Rating: 5

Sheyi Ojo (No. 10/Left Wing)

 Liverpool's Oviemuno Ejaria Sheyi Ojo in action against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad during the UEFA Youth League Group B match at the Georgi Asparuhov Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ojo stands out in encounters such as this due to his brutal, athletic physicality—he looks every bit first-team ready—and he continued his impressive season’s form with a composed display.

Starting off just behind Sinclair in the first half, Ojo came close with a long-range, low curler on 14 minutes, but initially struggled overall.

Switching to left wing in the second half however, with his pace and strength utilised more effectively, Ojo shone.

He continued to test Hamer with right-footed drives, showing his ability with both feet, dazzled the Foxes defence with great dribbling technique and carved out opportunity after opportunity for his teammates.

Liverpool’s star performer.

Performance Rating: 8

Jerome Sinclair (Striker)

 Liverpool's Jerome Sinclair celebrates scoring the third goal against FC Basel during the UEFA Youth League Group B match at Langtree Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Operating—as is often the case with the first team at present—as a lone striker, Sinclair was somewhat isolated up front throughout Monday’s clash, and struggled to truly threaten.

He combined well with some fine touches when he dropped deep in the first half, but couldn’t spearhead moves as a result.

Sinclair’s attacking movement and work rate improved in second half, and he came close with a far-post header on 70 minutes.

The 18-year-old, possessing great pace and movement as well as an intelligent use of strength and close ball-control, represents somewhat of a Daniel SturridgeRaheem Sterling hybrid in attack, and if he develops his all-round game further he could make an impact next season.

Replaced by Samed Yesil on 88 minutes.

Performance Rating: 6

Which Liverpool U21s star has most impressed you this season? Let us know in the comments below.

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Категории: LFC NEWS

Brendan Rodgers to utilise youth in next season’s Europa League

Пнд, 04/05/2015 - 15:00

With Liverpool looking likely to only qualify for the Europa League this season, Brendan Rodgers says he will use it to blood the club’s considerable youth banks.

 Liverpool's Ryan Kent celebrates scoring the first goal against Everton during the Under 21 FA Premier League match at Goodison Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool have just three Premier League games left to salvage a coveted top-four finish, but if they fail to do so and merely qualify for the Europa League next season, Brendan Rodgers believes this is a good opportunity to utilise his youth stars.

The Reds take on Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Stoke City in their remaining league games, with current fourth-placed incumbents Manchester United in a better position to progress.

Depending on Aston Villa’s success in the upcoming FA Cup Final, a fifth, sixth or seventh-placed league finish could see the Reds qualify for next season’s Europa League.

Rodgers says he will look to utilise this potentially extended fixture list to give Liverpool’s academy talents an opportunity to impress.

“If you go back to my first year here when we were in the Europa League it was in that competition that we found some of our young players.

“I gave a lot of them the opportunity, a chance for the likes of Raheem [Sterling] and Andre Wisdom and young Suso, and in the end we finished on the top of that group with 10 points.

“So yeah it will be an opportunity for young players I’m sure and a competition that we will want to do well in.”

Liverpool’s U21s side are currently in contention to win their own league competition, vying with United’s side for the top spot.

A 3-1 victory over Everton U21s last week has helped them on the way, with a brace from Ryan Kent and a penalty from Sheyi Ojo sealing the three points as well as continuing to put names on Rodgers’ radar.

“Ryan is a young player who has done really, really well of late and he’s really maturing into a real talent.”

Kent could join the likes of Ojo, Jerome Sinclair, Harry Wilson and this season’s first-team components Jordan Williams, Jordan Rossiter and Cameron Brannagan as part of a group that could grace next season’s Europa League.

With the second-tier European competition now a route to the Champions League, however, whether this approach is the right way forward remains to be seen.

Should Brendan Rodgers utilise his Liverpool youth stars if the Reds qualify for the Europa League next season? Let us know in the comments below.

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Liverpool Transfer Rumour Round-up: Montoya, Son, Benteke, Cavani & More

Пнд, 04/05/2015 - 13:16

As silly season increasingly comes to the fore, we round up the latest transfer rumours affecting Liverpool in recent days.

As the Reds’ 2014/15 Premier League season slowly begins to wind down, thoughts have predictably turned to how Brendan Rodgers can strengthen his squad this summer.

It is evident that a number of new players need to be brought in for Liverpool to return to the top four next season, with others needing to be sold.

Liverpool very lucky there. Really missing a top-class match-winner, which will only get worse when Steven Gerrard departs. #LFC

— Jack Lusby (@jacklusby_) May 2, 2015

Saturday’s 2-1 victory over QPR may have ended a very poor run of results, but Steven Gerrard‘s late winner once again highlighted how few match-winners Liverpool will have when the legendary captain leaves.

It is this, among numerous other things, that needs to be addressed in the summer transfer window. Here are the latest rumours surrounding Liverpool:

Martin Montoya

According to Spanish website fichajes.net, Liverpool have agreed terms with Barcelona right-back Martin Montoya.

Quite how reliable a source they are remains questionable, but the 24-year-old would be a terrific signing by the club.

The Spaniard has endured a frustrating season at Camp Nou, struggling to oust the brilliant Dani Alves in Luis Enrique’s first-choice starting eleven.

Montoya has won two La Liga titles since his debut in 2011, and his Alvaro Arbeloa-esque defensive expertise would be a welcome change from the erratic Glen Johnson.

Quite whether he would be allowed to leave Barca is debatable though, with Alves rumoured to be departing at the end of the current campaign.

It is also worth noting that the Catalan club are currently banned from signing any players until 2016, with Brazilian duo Adriano and Douglas serving as Enrique’s only other right-back options if Alves and Montoya were to depart.

Son Heung-Min

Liverpool are interested in bringing in talented South Korean star Son Heung-Min, according to rumours in Germany.

The Bayer Leverkusen starlet’s agent reportedly told German publication Bild that his client is someone the Reds are looking at to improve their side next season and beyond.

“I know Liverpool have scouted him several times this season and would like to have him in their team,” said Thies Bliemeister.

The 22-year-old is a key part of an exciting young attacking unit at Leverkusen, and 29 goals in 79 appearances for the Bundesliga club shows the silky forward has goals in his locker.

Equally happy playing out wide, in a No. 10 role or as a lone striker, Son’s combination of vision, pace, goals and versatility would appeal hugely to Rodgers.

Christian Benteke & Edinson Cavani

 Liverpool's Alberto Moreno and Joe Allen tackle Aston Villa's Christian Benteke during the FA Cup Semi-Final match at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It is clear that new strikers are vital for the Reds this summer, and the Mirror claim that Aston Villa’s star man Christian Benteke is “the stand-out choice.”

The report states that Rodgers is so concerned at Daniel Sturridge‘s constant fitness problems that signing a new goalscorer has taken precedent over bringing in PSV’s highly-rated Dutchman Memphis Depay.

Benteke seems the most realistic option out of several names linked with a move to Anfield, which links us nicely to Edinson Cavani.

The Paris Saint-Germain and Uruguay superstar, who has scored 50 goals in just 91 matches for the Ligue 1 giants, is believed to be of interest to Liverpool, but a move appears extremely unlikely.

The 28-year-old is widely acknowledged as one of Europe’s most lethal strikers, and were he to move from PSG this summer he would surely demand Champions League football.

Charlie Austin

 Queens Park Rangers' Charlie Austin looks dejected after missing a chance against Liverpool during the Premier League match at Loftus Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

We finish with this ludicrous report from our famously unreliable friends at Metro, who claim that Liverpool are set to beat Chelsea in the race to sign Charlie Austin.

The rumour includes a link to a Daily Star story stating the Reds are among a host of clubs interested in the 25-year-old.

That’s all it says. Nothing about Liverpool being in pole position ahead of Chelsea.

Regardless of whether there is any truth in the story or not, Austin is not the answer to Liverpool’s striking woes, despite an impressive campaign with QPR.

The former Burnley man is a decent Premier League striker, but he could not be relied upon to lead the Reds’ line if Sturridge was on the sidelines for an extended period of time.

Should Liverpool be targeting any of these players this summer? Let us know in the comments below.

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Jordan Henderson: ‘We’ll cope without Stevie’

Пнд, 04/05/2015 - 12:36

Jordan Henderson believes Liverpool will be able to cope without influential captain Steven Gerrard next season as they have quality players forming the nucleus of a good squad.

 Liverpool's vice-captain Jordan Henderson and captain Steven Gerrard in action against West Bromwich Albion during the Premier League match at the Hawthorns. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Henderson, who is expected to take over the armband when Gerrard leaves for the LA Galaxy at the end of the season, expects the summer transfer window to provide a further injection of talent which will help provide a boost for the new campaign.

And if, as expected, Liverpool fall short of the top four, the 24-year-old England midfielder insists they will not allow the Europa League to hamper their domestic prospects.

Gerrard was the match-winner in Saturday’s 2-1 Premier League victory over QPR, heading in three minutes from time after earlier missing a penalty on his penultimate appearance at Anfield.

“It is typical Stevie. He will be disappointed with the penalty but he erased it very quickly, got on with the game and came up with the goal,” Henderson said.

“I was pleased for him because I am sure he wouldn’t have been able to get that (miss) out of his mind all night. That just shows his character.

“Sometimes that can affect people but he gets on with it and he came up with the winner right at the end.

“I have said many times before he is a big loss to the team: he is our leader and a big influence on games so you will miss big players like that but at the same time we have to move on when he does go.

“I think we have the players who can improve and have a really good go next season.

“We have quality players. Obviously bringing in people in the summer we will welcome because the better the players we have here the better it is for us in terms of competition to get into the team and push on and try to win trophies and try to play in the Champions League.

“We have great players here, we just have to keep improving as a young squad and I am sure come next season we will be raring to go again.”

Manchester United’s surprise home defeat to West Brom has offered a glimmer of hope Liverpool could yet close the four-point gap in the remaining three matches and sneak into Champions League qualification but much more likely is a place in Europe’s second-tier competition.

If that is the case Henderson said the players will embrace it for what it is worth – a chance to win silverware.

“You have seen it in the past when teams have gone into the Europa League their league form as struggled a little bit,” he added.

“We have to make sure that doesn’t happen really but the more competitions we are in the better because we want to be winning trophies.

“I think everyone will still be looking forward to it if we get into that.”

Victory over QPR ended a miserable fortnight in which Liverpool lost an FA Cup semi-final and dropped crucial points in the race for the top four.

“It has been difficult obviously not having performed and not winning as many games as we would have liked,” said Henderson.

“But we have to keep going and working as a team and keep trying to improve on the areas we need to improve on and try to win as many games as we can until the end of the season.

“It is important to get back to that winning mentality. That was the main objective.”

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Video: Brendan Rodgers praises ‘remarkable’ Steven Gerrard after QPR win

Вс, 03/05/2015 - 20:58

With Steven Gerrard‘s late header sealing Liverpool’s 2-1 victory over QPR on Saturday, manager Brendan Rodgers was full of praise for his captain.

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Brendan Rodgers, speaking to the BBC after the game, recognised the match-winning ability of Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, who is set to depart from the club in the summer to join MLS franchise LA Galaxy.

The manager described Gerrard as a “truly remarkable player.”

“He’s made a career of that, Steven. The big goals, a big contribution.

“I’ve seen a lot of players, I’ve watched hundreds and hundreds of games over my career and been involved in games where someone misses a penalty and it affects them and they go the other way [and drop off in form].

“With him you know that if he misses a penalty, it actually inspires him even more. So it didn’t surprise me that he got the header…He’s done that all of his career.”

Rodgers also praised 22-year-old playmaker Philippe Coutinho, whose goal opened the scoring for the Reds in the first half.

“It was a good move on the counter-attack, we worked the ball well and Rickie Lambert made a great pass.

“When he peels out onto that left corner and comes inside, he can go either way – he’s got a wonderful technique and it was a great finish, too.

Liverpool now lie just four points off fourth-placed Manchester United in the Premier League, with three games left to play.

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Video: Steven Gerrard on his QPR penalty miss, his best headed goal

Вс, 03/05/2015 - 20:43

Speaking in his post-match interview following Liverpool’s 2-1 win over QPR, Steven Gerrard discussed his penalty, the winner and the club’s future.

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The Liverpool captain salvaged a late victory for the Reds with his 87th-minute header making up for an earlier penalty miss.

Asked whether he was relieved to have scored the winner, Gerrard said: “Definitely. It was a poor penalty from myself and I am very disappointed with it. I changed my mind on my run up, which is something you can’t do when you’re a penalty taker.

“Maybe it was the game, the emotion, being desperate to score and get on the scoresheet…I don’t know.

“I take full responsibility for that but it was nice to make up for it and help get the team three points. It’s very big for us.

“I’m delighted with the header and everyone goes home happy because we’ve got three points.”

Gerrard reserved special praise for the player who supplied the ball for his winner, Philippe Coutinho, whose opening strike had been cancelled out by Leroy Fer in the second half, saying: “I think he’s been our Player of the Year.”

The captain also had some choice words for his interviewer when asked whether this was his best headed goal:

BBC Interviewer to Gerrard: "was that your best ever header?" Sg: "Istanbul wasn't bad." BBC: I forgot about that." " SG: "I don't."

— John Brewin (@JohnBrewinESPN) May 2, 2015

Ending with a wry smile, it looked like Gerrard was enjoying every moment of his penultimate Anfield outing.

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Video: Brendan Rodgers laughs off ‘Rodgers Out’ Anfield plane banner

Вс, 03/05/2015 - 19:14

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers saw the funny side of things as he reacted to a ‘Rodgers Out’ plane banner flying over Anfield on Saturday.

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Video: 101 Great Goals

The banner, possibly commissioned by a group less than content with Liverpool’s performances under Brendan Rodgers of late, was emblazoned with the slogan ‘Rodgers Out, Rafa In’.

Happily for Rodgers, and those with a more level-headed perspective amongst the Anfield faithful, the Reds ran out 2-1 victors over Queens Park Rangers, with goals from Philippe Coutinho and Steven Gerrard securing three precious Premier League points.

Asked about the banner after the game, Rodgers joked: “I thought it was Rafa’s agent in it!”

Rafa Benitez is one of the most successful Liverpool managers in recent memory, having masterminded Champions League success with the Reds in 2005, but Rodgers is determined to look to the future.

“Football has a short memory,” he continued. “We sat here last year having nearly won the league and now we have planes flying over so you can do nothing about it.

“I’m very fortunate and privileged to work here at Liverpool and as I said before there will be many names linked with the job because of the size and scale of the job to be undertaken here.

“I’m hugely honoured every single day of my life, and I will continue to be, however long it lasts.”

Rodgers is right, last season Liverpool supporters were ridiculing a Manchester United ‘Moyes Out’ banner – to stoop to their desperate level would be mindless.

Does Brendan Rodgers deserve to stay on as Liverpool manager? Join the debate in the comments below.

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Liverpool 2-1 QPR: Steven Gerrard steps up once again

Вс, 03/05/2015 - 18:36

After Liverpool earned a valuable three points with a 2-1 win over QPR, Jeff Goulding offers his unique view of events, with much praise for Steven Gerrard.

 Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard in action against Queens Park Rangers during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Match day arrives and usually I’m full of it, but yesterday the mood was flat. Fourth place is the worst of consolation prizes and even that seems to be vanishing in the end-of-season gloom. My phone went off around 11AM. It was a text message: “Meet you in the pub at one.” I looked out the window and conducted a brief internal debate about whether I really wanted to go.

The Hull City debacle lingered like a bad hangover and looking at the weather it would have been easier to curl up on the couch and give it all a miss.

Like the match itself, even allowing myself to contemplate staying away was a pointless exercise. Despite our recent woes I continue to consider my regular pilgrimage to Anfield a privilege. I know many of us feel the same and that there are countless fans who would give anything to swap places with me.

This why it’s so easy for the club to take advantage of us when it comes to setting prices.

Many have expressed disappointment that only a thousand fans boycotted the Hull game in midweek, a protest at obscene ticket prices. Their logic is that everyone should have stayed away. That would have been better, but it ignores what a wrench it is for supporters to miss a game.

Our away support are some of the most fervent and passionate fans in the game. For so many of them to consciously give up their seats only serves to demonstrate the strength of feeling and should be regarded as a huge success for Spirit of Shankly and Spion Kop 1906.

Anyway, as I turned on the news I was greeted with wall-to-wall coverage of some woman’s pregnancy and quickly gave myself a mental slap in the face. I’d rather watch paint dry than sit through endless guff about the birth of the Queen’s grandkid. So off I went to see Liverpool play her Park Rangers instead.

There was no escape though, because as we sat debating how much time Brendan Rodgers had left the Beeb’s royal correspondent waxed lyrical on the TV above the bar.

Someone must have moaned because it was quickly swapped to the snooker.

Support for Brendan Rodgers

 Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers during the FA Cup Semi-Final match against Aston Villa at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It won’t surprise anyone to hear that opinion is split on the manager. He has made mistakes. They’ve been well catalogued. His post-match sound-bites seem to really get under people’s skin.

Even without the context of last season, this season is a bitter disappointment.

Despite all of this I was in Brendan’s corner yesterday. I just don’t want us to become that club. You know, the one that swaps its manager every couple of seasons?

I’d rather build something. FSG made a bold choice after sacking Kenny Dalglish. They went for a young, unproven manager because they wanted to build a dynasty. It’s time for them to back their idea by putting their money where their rhetoric is.

Now let me clear here. That’s my opinion and, lets face it, the game is all about people arguing the toss in the pub before and after the game. Many of my mates passionately disagree with me. We are still friends.

Believing that Rodgers should go is a perfectly valid point of view. It’s also reasonable to speculate on his successor. As supporters we have that right.

However, I also want to make something else abundantly clear. If you hire a plane to fly over Anfield calling for the manager to be sacked and replaced with Rafa Benitez, then you are a blert, you have probably always been a blert and my guess is you will always be a blert.

As we made our way to the Kop in the drizzle, many of us were disgusted at the sight that greeted us in the skies.

All around us people were shaking their heads in disbelief. There is a lot wrong with modern football in my opinion, but this latest manifestation of the Soccer AM generation takes the biscuit. In my opinion this is not how we do things at Liverpool. Nor do we shout at the manager from behind the dugout, as Brendan suggests, calling for him to substitute the captain.

Some have called this wool behaviour. I say that’s an insult to wools. Such tactics are beneath Liverpool fans from any postcode and are an embarrassment to us all.

Liverpool 2-1 QPR

 Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia celebrates scoring the first goal against Queens Park Rangers during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The game got under-way and immediately Liverpool conceded a corner, from which the ball ended up in the net. I was barely settled into my seat and hadn’t really seen the build-up. A moment of confusion and disbelief followed.

Here we go again, I thought, before realising the ‘goal’ didn’t stand.

As the first half developed, Liverpool dominated. QPR’s players, despite desperately needing the points to stave off relegation, appeared to be dreaming of sunny shores. To put it politely they didn’t seem bothered.

Given Liverpool’s recent woes, you’d have thought they might have seen this as an opportunity. Certainly their fans, who had travelled in large numbers, did.

Rickie Lambert was afforded a rare start in place of the perennially injured Daniel Sturridge and the mysteriously absent Mario Balotelli. He was full of industry throughout.

This will probably be one of his last home appearances and it showed. Liverpool shouldn’t have gone for Rickie in the summer. He was doing brilliantly at Southampton and the move has derailed his career in it latter stages. Who can blame him for joining his boyhood club.

 Liverpool's Rickie Lambert celebrates scoring the second goal against Aston Villa during the Premier League match at Villa Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I desperately want him to get a goal at the Kop end before he departs – from his display yesterday so does he. You get the feeling that if it eventually happens the roof will come off, the heavens will open and Rickie will ascend to heaven; content that his life’s work is done.

It wasn’t to be yesterday, but he did turn provider for the imperious Philippe Coutinho.

On 19 minutes he delivered a great pass to the Brazilian who calmly and expertly dispatched the ball with his right foot into the top corner. Robert Green had no chance.

I allowed myself to briefly entertain the fact that we might have a go. The players owe us a performance. Someone is due a rout and here were relegation fodder aching for a sound thrashing.

Last season we would have delivered. Can you imagine what Luis Suarez and a fully-fit Sturridge would have done to the Hoops yesterday? Sadly this is a very different vintage and the half settled into a very familiar pattern. The Reds dominated without ever really looking like delivering the hammering we craved and QPR deserved.

To see us traipse into the dressing room at half-time only a goal to the good was as depressing as it was familiar.

That world-class striker simply has to arrive this summer, or Liverpool will slip even further behind the top four.

 Liverpool's Raheem Sterling looks dejected after missing a chance against Arsenal during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The second half offered little hope either. Attempt after attempt went begging. One in particular from young Raheem Sterling, brought groans of sheer disbelief from the Kop. How did he miss?

His contract wrangling have annoyed and irritated the Kop, and so far they’ve vented their fury on his agent, but as the campaign draws to a disappointing conclusion you sense their frustration with this impudent millionaire is growing.

He is an incredible talent and it is to be hoped that somehow the impasse will be sorted.

The papers this week suggested Liverpool will stand firm even if he doesn’t sign. The problem for him, is that he risks irrevocably damaging his relationship with the supporters, especially with displays like this.

On current form you couldn’t imagine him playing week-in, week-out at any of the current elite of English football, let alone either of the Spanish giants.

Then, inevitably, predictably and agonisingly the equalizer came. QPR won a corner down at the Centenary corner flag at the Anfield Road end. Defensively Liverpool have improved massively in the second half of the season, but the handling of this set-piece was depressingly reminiscent of our earlier troubles.

Leroy Fer shot from the centre of the box, restoring parity and the Londoners’ belief that they could snatch something from this game. I turned to the lad next to me and ominously predicted we would lose the game.

Luckily I’m no ‘Mystic Meg’.

QPR briefly flickered into life and for a spell looked like they could grab an unlikely three points. Then came apparent salvation on 78 minutes.

Nedum Onuoha upended Martin Skrtel, who was attempting a spectacular winner from a corner kick. Penalty! Steven Gerrard and Lambert appeared to exchange words, with the latter apparently conceding that the skipper should take it.

Steven Gerrard, and a View to the Future

 Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard misses a penalty kick against Queens Park Rangers during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Gerrard stepping up to take a pen is usually greeted with a sense of happy expectation on the Kop. However, the usually consummate captain has been somewhat accident-prone of late and there was nervousness as he placed the ball on the spot. It proved well founded as Green save well to his left.

In reality it was a poor kick.

Stevie’s Liverpool career is at risk of petering out. This would be a tragedy for such a talismanic player. I have written that he is Liverpool’s best ever and I stand by that.

As the ball skidded out for a corner I couldn’t help asking myself: ‘How did it end up like this for the skipper?’

With just 10 minutes left, another draw seemed inevitable. It would have been gut-wrenching. Even when QPR were reduced to 10 men, I just couldn’t see us grabbing a winner. We are so toothless up front.

Fortunately the captain had other ideas and chose the 87th minute to roll back the years and come to our rescue.

This time it was the future of Liverpool, Coutinho, who centred the ball for its soon-to-be past to head home. It was a great header, but as he said himself in the post-match dispatches, he’s scored better.

Frankly I wouldn’t have cared if it went in off his arse. I’m just glad it went in. I’m also delighted it was him who scored it.

 Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard celebrates scoring the winning second goal against Queens Park Rangers during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Reds are playing for pride only now. They are fighting for the right to end the season with heads held high and for at least the glimmer of hope that next season we can go again. Stevie’s celebration at the winner was full of pride and relief and the Kop responded by singing his his name loudly.

He soon left the pitch to rapturous applause and appreciation.

Bill Shankly once said: “When you’re part of the Kop, you are part of a big society. You’ve got friends all around you who are united and loyal.” These words are the foundations on which a spirit and ethos was built at Anfield. It is what separates us from the herd in my view.

Bob Paisley tried to express this ethic in an interview many years later. He said, with characteristic understatement: “It’s like when you’re lost in the fog and you know someone will be there to help you out.”

This is Liverpool today. Lost in the fog and needing that spirit of Shankly and Paisley more than ever.

Anyone who tries to undermine that is just plane wrong!

Where do Liverpool go after their 2-1 win over QPR on Saturday? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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