Tag Archives: liverpool

Questioning Corporate Kits

Nothing says ‘off-season’ quite like the media coverage given to Adidas’ decision to incorporate blue in Liverpool’s third kit for the upcoming campaign. Apparently, 70% of internet-based Liverpool fans are opposed to the colour scheme, the inference being blue is for Everton. So on the face of it, an apparent far-reaching, Toffee-based conspiracy is in the works; perhaps Adidas’ retaliation for Liverpool’s decision to wear hockey shirts the year after next.

However, I would suggest the Everton accusation is a crimson-hued sardine of sorts; the blue in question is not Everton’s royal blue, but actually shirt sponsor Standard Chartered’s ‘Off-shore Caribbean Tax Haven Cyan’. And whereas some Reds’ supporters think Adidas have deliberately fouled up their design brief, sadly it appears they hit it bang on the head. Assuming the brief was: ‘make our corporate log into a tight-fitting, wallet-lightening shirt, which we can give away every time someone in Asia opens a bank account’.

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Haiku Match Previews of this Weekend’s Games

Arsenal v Blackburn

Mad Jens starts in goal.
Lets in three and gets sent off.
Does Seaman still play?

West Ham v Manchester United

Fergie predicting
the ref will have a nightmare.
That guarantees it.

West Brom v Liverpool

Hodgson wondering:
‘Do they still think about me?’
Most have forgotten.

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Restoring a Reputation

Think, think about it

Last Sunday marked the return of Roy Hodgson, swinging his leg over the saddle at The Hawthorns and taking the reins at West Bromich Albion, as they bid to avoid relegation. He returns to Premier League management just over a month after being relieved of his duties at Liverpool. Hodgson now faces the dual task of ensuring the Baggies remain in the league, whilst also attempting to repair his damaged reputation, following his turbulent time as the Reds’ boss.

Following last year’s league campaign with Fulham it seemed Hodgson could do no wrong and was voted the LMA Manager of the Year for his achievements. However, during the intervening eight months he has undergone a media metamorphosis from Kindly Uncle Woy, to a bumbling Mr. Bean character. It has been a cruel deconstruction of a solid coaching career.

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Joe Cole: A History of an Uncrowned Prince

Uncrowned Prince

Wednesday night marked the coronation of Luis Suárez, Crown Prince of the Kop. Meanwhile, Joe Cole sat in an empty castle cursing his wretched fate. As servants hurried away the remnants of the evening’s feast, Lord Cole mused on fickleness and fortune.

* * *

July 2010 was a period of great uncertainty in the Scouse Kingdom. The Spanish Duke Benitez had been deposed and the Machiavellian barons, Hicks and Gillett, were trying to auction off the crown jewels. There had been little fanfare when the House of Hodgson took the new throne; indeed many questioned its legitimacy. But one event drew the people together and offered an optimistic future – Joe Cole signed. The most technically gifted midfielder of his generation, the English Ronaldinho, had thrown his endorsement behind the new regime. Even the Duke of Gerrard modestly described him as better than Prince Consort Messi.

However, Cole’s start was an ignoble one, dismissed in the opening battle against Arsenal after an anonymous 45 minutes. Upon his return, he took up a regular position, beginning six straight skirmishes, before being felled in Bolton. He survived, but the regime did not. During this crucial time, a constitutional crisis arose questioning the legality of the Barons’ rule. After much protestation, the Court decreed Liverpool were to be ruled by the Knights Who Say NESV.

It was a period of increasing optimism, as the Red Empire appeared to be rising once more. However, Lord Cole was becoming increasingly marginalized; absent from affairs of State due to ill health. Rumours also began regarding his monarch’s own health. Specifically that he was suffering from a peculiar case of leprosy, whose symptoms could only be relieved by intense rubbing of the hands and face. His condition grew worse until he could no longer carry on.

* * *

When Hodgson abdicated (by mutual consent) the clamour was for a return to the old lineage, namely King Kenny of the Dalglish clan. A descendant of strong boot room stock, many view him as the rightful heir. Unfortunately for Lord Cole, he is not known to suffer fools gladly. Despite belief that Cole’s infirmity continues, he has sat behind King Kenny on three out of five occasions. Yet, in each one, the young squire Jonjo Shelvey has featured in his stead.

It is apt that Lord Cole’s last contest was also the last of Hodgson’s reign (a dismal rout at Blackburn). The promise of both quickly evaporated as circumstance contrived to undermine them. Both have become intrinsically linked to the old regime. Although there is still a glimmer of hope for Cole, there is a sense that it’s only a matter of time before he too is exiled. History does not remember the losers and on Wednesday night Cole’s visage faded a little further.

Hopes & Expectations: January Frontmen

The January transfer window was defined by clubs throwing caution, and sack loads of used fifty pound notes, to the wind. So what did all that money buy and what can reasonably be expected from the top five wallet-emptying forwards?

Darren Bent, Aston Villa (cost £18m, rising to £24m)

Expectation: Four key goals. Villa are just five points clear of relegation and still twelve from the safety of forty points, which adds up to four key wins. If Bent can provide vital goals to get those wins he’s paid for his transfer fee. Simple. A winning goal against Fulham at home on Saturday would be a great start.
Hope: Another fifteen goals to match his tally from last season would make him the bargain of the window (if he’s not already). Ideally, he could also bring the best out of Ashley Young, Stewart Downing and Gabby Agbonlahor. A new England front four?

Fernando Torres, Chelsea (cost a cool £50m)

Expectation: Stay fit, stay in form and stay classy (less of the ‘I’m at a big club now’ talk). If Torres can continue to look like the recently invigorated player, scoring three in his last four games, Chelsea could well threaten a late title tilt, or at least a serious run in the European Cup. However, if he starts challenging Nicolas Anelka for most infantile strop, watch out Blues’ fans.
Hope: If he can score another eleven, bringing his season total to twenty, he could effectively force Didier Drogba and Anelka to move on at the end of the season, leaving him as heir apparent to the new free-spending Chelski. Roll on the roubles.

Luis Suarez, Liverpool (cost £22.8m)

Expectation: Though scoring for fun in the Dutch Eredivisie (81 goals in 110 games, since 07/08 with Ajax), Liverpool fans may want to consider Dirk Kuyt also had a similarly impressive scoring record there before his move to the Reds (71 goals in 101 games over three years with Feyenoord). Perhaps expectations should be as modest as settling into the team quickly and offering to work hard, something Kuyt knows well. Oh, and don’t bite anyone.
Hope: That unlike Kuyt, Suarez can actually hit a barn door from six yards and scores some goals. Torres accounted for almost a third of Liverpool’s league goals so far; what better way to make the Kop forget about it’s Spanish fling than matching that.

Edin Džeko, Manchester City (cost £27m)

Expectation: Make an impact on the first eleven. Not earth-shattering, but plenty of forwards have tried and failed at City in recent years. With such a rotating squad and fluid tactics, ‘The Lamppost’ (‘Kloc’ back home in Bosnia) will do well to keep in first team consideration and better that next season.
Hope: That he develops into the perfect foil for Carlos Tevez. He appears to have a great first touch (see his assist against Wolves on his debut) and already scored in the FA Cup. If he can strike up an understanding with the wee Argentinean, his name might be guaranteed second on the team sheet.

Andy Carroll, Liverpool (cost £35m)

Expectation: What do you expect from a 22 year old who’s halfway through a decent debut season in the Premier League and suddenly becomes the club record signing? A bit of humility might be a start. The price was mental, but mitigating circumstances were involved. But not many Liverpool fans will be excited to hear him say he didn’t want to leave Newcastle.
Hope: That he can somehow justify the outlay; be it in assists, goals, or simply avoiding Liverpool Crown Court for a while. He may also want to watch where he parks his Range Rover.

A Fairytale of Transfer Deadline Day

Fairytale of Transfer Deadline Day

The head of the League Manager’s Association, Richard Bevan, recently said the transfer window system should be scrapped as “it doesn’t create stability, it doesn’t create a level playing field.” It’s a viewpoint which appears to be shared across the English Premier and Football Leagues and is backed up by simply observing the incredible circus that was the closing hours of yesterday’s January window. However for the fans, it can provide a second ‘start of the season’ feeling, when all mistakes can be erased with just one new record signing. It is a bank holiday in the middle of winter, which should be celebrated with feasts and the burning of ex-star shirts.

For Sky Sports News it is a combination of Black Friday and Christmas. For a day they become the centre of the football world in England, as their army of round-faced, pale men, hang around empty parking lots hoping to get a glimpse of a tinted-windowed sports car, which can be breathlessly reported as “something possibly happening”. Half the time they appear to have just arrived at some different empty parking lot, desperately trying to work out which one from the local dialect, while Jim White barks orders into their ear.

If they are lucky enough to be stationed at one of the clubs who “possibly does something”, a nation hangs off their every word as they stand, pantomime like (they’re behind you!), in front of a growing mob that cheers the slightest mention of their club and any player who may, or may not, turn up there.

There’s also the roaming armchair pundit who takes this day of days to finally summon the courage, visit his local ground and get his opinion on the latest happenings, on air:
“What do you think of the news that Tuncay is leaving?”
“Well, you know, I wish ‘im the best. What can you do?”
What indeed.

Bryan Swanson is back in the studio, giddily adding up the day’s net spend, as though it will all be emptied into an Olympic-sized pool for him to crawl through. In another corner, Tony Cascarino keeps coming back to the mantra “big men, up top”, perhaps channeling messages from The Other Side (or Wolverhampton). Next to him Iain Dowie appears frozen in an acute moment of self-awareness that he no longer manages football teams, just commentates on rumours that some of them might buy, or sell players.

Transfer deadline day is a celebration of the hype and speculation that is such an engrained part of modern-day English football. It truly is the end of the holiday season, after which fans can reflect on whether their club has been naughty or nice. A time to regain hope in a disappointing season, or wonder if they kept the receipt for Andy Reid. As unstable and damaging as it may be for the majority of clubs and managers, the transfer deadline day is one last extravagance purely for the fans. Tomorrow we resolve to go on a diet, until the next one.

Trying to Reach the Nadir

I have been thinking about what it means to fail. Specifically, what does it mean for your football team to fail? What is a big enough failure to register?

Over the last few weeks Roy Hodgson has suffered the ignominy of having his own fans plea he take a job elsewhere (chants of ‘Hodgson for England’). Has seen the team he manages reach historic levels of ineptitude in its modern history (lowest point total at end of a calendar year for 57 years). Two recent games (against Wolves and Blackburn) seem to have sealed his fate and most fans/ media/ sentient beings expect him to be fired soon. But, has he been bad enough, yet?

As a fan, I want to see the team play exciting, attractive football, receive hyperbolic accolades and be bestowed with trophies. Maybe even an acknowledgment from a United manager that the 5-0 drubbing we just gave them was richly deserved. Perhaps not this season, then.

Unless we really hit relegation form, we’ll probably finish within a place or two of where we are now (12th). This would be a historic low for Liverpool, as we’ve never finished below 8th since returning to the top flight in 1962. But, in reality finishing 12th in England’s top division is pretty decent, right? It’s exactly where Roy left Fulham last season and they seemed fairly happy with that, so why aren’t we?

Consider Manchester City. In the last twelve years they have been as low as the third tier, before rising, phoenix-like, to the summit of the English game and could soon win their first title in over 40 years. What an achievement! What a journey to have traveled as a supporter!

As much as I wish for the current malaise to end, it still only feels like a blip. An embarrassing, annoying blip, but one nonetheless. It’s unlikely we will be relegated. We’re not in danger of going out of business; the team will still be here next year. Some clubs cannot say the same for certain. My only fear is that we haven’t gone low enough to truly see a revolution (we were relegated before we received Shankly). We want inspirational leadership, not ship-steadying anymore.

So, let’s celebrate our mediocrity! Raise your glass to tactical buffoonery! Naïve defending? Prost! If we are to take anything from our slump, it is that we will rise again at some point and it will feel that much more rewarding for having been here.