Wembley Stadium

The date was April 16th 1988, and yours truly was on his way to see Liverpool FC play at Wembley. For the best part of a couple of decades, Wembley was my ‘local’ stadium. I went to see plenty of games there, mostly to watch England play. But on this day I was going to see the mighty reds grace Wembley’s hallowed turf for the first time. England’s finest at the home of football. The occasion was the Football League Centenary Continue reading “Wembley Stadium”

Fangs For The Memories

Oh such a cliche, predictable and tabloid-esque headline.  But someone has to say it, so I might as well get in there first. Luis Suarez has been sold to Barcelona for a whopping £75,000,000. Most Liverpool fans feared at the end of last season that this might happen, but hoped it wouldn’t come to pass. That he has since gotten himself a long ban for biting, again, made it an easier deal for Liverpool to swallow.

I will miss seeing his genius on the field at Anfield in a red shirt. He was something very special. Over the last twelve months he has been the best player in the world. Only Messi and Ronaldo can do the things he does with the ball. He is the finest, most talented player I have ever seen at Liverpool. And there have been some mighty talented players at that club. Sure, he could be a bit temperamental, a bit emotional and most of all a little bit bitey. Is he the greatest red ever? No, of course not. The King will always been Kenny.

As much as we will miss him, we will go on without him. The guy is as much a liability as he is a genius. Had we kept him, he would have missed another thirteen games at the beginning of next season. By the time he is fully back in the swing of things, half the season will have gone.

But the biggest question of all, had Liverpool kept him – what happens when he goes in for a fourth chomp of a bit of shoulder, calf or neck at some point in the future? What will the ban be then? I suspect it would be enormous. We will miss you Luis and every Liverpool fan will wish you well. We’d have been happy had you stayed. But every story must come to an end eventually. Thanks for the £75 million.

Half Time

The group stages are done. Sixteen teams have progressed to the knockout stages. Sixteen teams, and one other, have gone home. It has been a fantastic tournament so far. Absolutely fantastic. Of course, it would have been better had England managed to….well, win a game. But I’m a football fan, and the football in Brazil has been of the highest order. I have some opinions to share, naturally.

  • Roy Hodgson should be fired. He might have selected a youthful squad. But then he ruined it by picking Welbeck. Not once, but twice. He has no tactical vision and no idea how to change a game. Worse, he doesn’t even be able to spot gaping flaws in his grand plan when they occur in front of his eyes. The entire nation watched Italy rip us to pieces down the wings from the 1st minute to the last, and he did not even attempt to stem the flow of the Azzuri attacks.
  • Steven Gerrard should retire from international football, along with Lampard, Baines, Jagielka and Milner. I’m a huge Gerrard fan. But at 34, he’s not going to be around for the next World Cup, and the time to start the transition is now.
  • Luis Suarez biting an Italian defender, shocked me, but not disgust me. It was bizarre and he clearly needs help. By all accounts, he’s a really nice down to earth chap off the field. He sure is a talent on it. But the guy is prone to going nuts. It’s a shame. I was cheering on Uruguay as my third choice team behind England and Mexico.
  • The attitude and behaviour of the Uruguay team, press and people in general did both shock and disgust me. Conspiracy? Nothing to see? Chiellini is a snitch? Guys, the dude bit him. On TV. In front of millions. He should apologize, and his team should acknowledge his wrong doing. Suarez brought shame on himself. Uruguay has brought shame and contempt on itself. I hope Uruguay get thrashed by Colombia on Saturday. It’s what they deserve.
  • Shakiras song is a bit meh. But she is Shakira.
  • A four month ban? That is overly harsh. I also find it hard to reconcile an offence which leaves minor bruising at worse being worthy of a greater sanction that a leg breaking challenge.  I know it’s biting. But still. Bruise versus broken leg. I know which I’d rather be a victim of.
  • I am a Liverpool supporter. I’ve loved watching Suarez at Anfield. I would love to see him play there next season. But frankly, if Barcelona or Madrid offer the right money, get shot of him. And bring in Alexis Sanchez and the wonderful James Rodriguez, who looks the finest young player I have seen in a decade. And who would no doubt cost a small fortune.
  • Most of my predictions have gone woefully wrong. But I’m still holding on to my pick for a Germany v Argentina final.
  • I gave Mexico no chance. I’m happy that prediction went wrong. They are doing what England simply seem to find almost impossible. To play as a team, rather than as a collection of assorted stranger. Marquez has been imperious. Their game against Holland in 50/50. Too tight to call. I shall be watching and wearing my Mexico top.
  • Have I bored you yet?

 

A Footballing Interlude

Today is the last day of the transfer window in the UK, and Europe, a last chance to buy a player or three to help chase a place in Europe. Or to stave off relegation. While the window opens on January 1st, the most exciting deals are often completed in the final hours on the 31st and this year is no exception. Especially if, like me, your team is Liverpool. Especially after the painful torment of the first half of the season, with a dunce for a manager, two crooked owners and the crazy threat of relegation hanging over the club.

But we’ve got what we wanted. Hicks and Gillett are gone, and so is Hodgson. King Kenny is back in charge after a 20 year absense, and our star player, Fernando Torres, is firing again. Except. Torres then goes and hands in a transfer request. He will in all likelihood be a Chelsea player by 11pm this evening, heading one way down the motorway while £50 million is going in the opposite direction. Disaster?

Not in my opinion. In fact I am feeling more positive about the second half of the season than I ever thought I would be. As I write, Newcastle have just accepted Liverpool’s record breaking bid of £35 million for striker Andy Carroll, Uruguay’s Luis Suarez has agreed terms on a £23 million deal, Charlie Adam looks like switches Pool’s, from Black to Liver, and there may yet be more to come.

I’ve been suggesting for the last year at least that if someone comes in for Torres with £50 million or more, the club should take the cash and run. Nando has spent far too long injured over the last couple of years, and I have more than a sneaky feeling that he’ll carry on hogging a table in the physio room for years to come. Yep, he’s a fine striker, one of the best. Yep, his goals per games ratio will always be better than Carroll’s over the long term. But no, he probably won’t be scoring in as many games. And that is key. Goals in bunches looks great, but earns very few points. We need a player who can scores 10 goals in 20 games, not a player who’ll score 11 goals in 5 games.

Carroll is just 22 years old too, and will undoubtedly improve further still. He is the closest thing in the Premier League to Alan Shearer in terms of attributes – great with his head and with either foot, from 1 yard out or 20. Not that he is the ‘new’ Alan Shearer. The stats reveal there is really only one Alan Shearer, metaphorically as well as literally. And Carroll is a perfect foil for Suarez, who can add some very literal bite to the Liverpool attack. If his name sounds familiar, it may be because he was the guy who broke Ghana’s heart in the World Cup with his handy intervention.

Liverpool still lack width, and I’d have loved to see a wide player or two come into the squad. I guess there’s still four hours of the transfer window going, so you never know. Defensively, the team have looked fragile for a year, so strengthening there would have been nice too. But that may stretch the coffers too far. There’s a recession on, you know. The prices we’ve paid for Carroll and Suarez are way, way over the odds, but if they work out, and if Torres does go on to have an injury plagued few years, then this might well be looked back on as having been good business.