Friday, April 13, 2012

May All Remember the 96

With the FA Cup semi-final coming up against Everton on Saturday, the Hillsborough anniversary is coincidentally a day later. May all remember the 96!

King Kenny scoring at the Kop End in the Hillsborough charity match a few years back

You'll Never Walk Alone

You'll Never Walk Alone

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Kingdom of Kenny

It is said that the first, and most difficult, responsibility of a king is to convey his royal vision to the populace. A king must be a great orator, willing his subjects to not only believe in this vision, but to work toward its fulfillment. At times, however, the king himself must be the greatest example, using not words but deeds.

And always, there is the need to contain the doubt and, it must be said, the treachery of that part of the citizenry who believe him to be a false king, unduly appointed to his throne not on grounds of ability, but on lineage alone.

In this light, Kenny Dalglish, the once and future King of Merseyside, has performed his duties most seriously and most successfully.

Appointed caretaker manager after Roy Hodgson’s sacking, King Kenny has used a mix of airy proclamations and peasant-like resolve to transform Liverpool’s season, and, one might say, their future. His permanent appointment to the position only goes to reinforce that feeling.

Struggling to retain their traditional Top Four status during the end of Rafael Benitez’ reign in 2009, the men in Liverpool jerseys had in 2010 turned to Roy Hodgson to lead their revival. Hodgson himself was a bit of a kingly figure, delivering his former club Fulham out of impending relegation and eventually into a spot in European football in the span of 2 seasons. Tapped to do the same with Liverpool, Hodgson perplexingly could not find the same touch.

Step in Kenny Dalglish, the former Scouse legend. Dalglish had previously played for the Merseysiders between 1977 and 1990.

Beginning in the late 80’s, he had assumed the role of player-manager, leaving the club in 1991 only after being unable, as so many were, to shake the unfortunate grip of the Hillsborough disaster. Dalglish’s dignity during those trying times earned him great respect, building on a reputation first gained through his play and management abilities.His return to the club in 2011, therefore, was seen by many as a return of the rightful heir to the Liverpool throne. Sport is well-known for an almost knee-jerk reaction to the replacement of leadership, suggesting an attitude that “anyone is better than the last guy.” But Dalglish’s appointment was greeted with nothing less than courtly fanfare, and the results have proven why.

The club have steadily climbed the table since the move was made, rising from the bottom third to their current position of 6th, with a return to European football a strong possibility. Dalglish himself treats the success with typical nobility. Asked recently whether he was disappointed at having only earned a late draw with Arsenal after a stunning 3-0 win in their prior fixture over Manchester City, Dalglish mused: “Sadness? In my eyes we are still the best club in English football, if not world football, so I am not very sad at that.” He added, "It will be fantastic to get back (to the top), but you need to hit the standards other teams have set.”

Two statements that sum up the people’s King: one of inspiration, the other of determination. When combined with the support of the masses, who know his legacy is based not on arcane lineage but on service, there appears to be no heights to which King Kenny cannot lead his people.

By Ken Sweda ©

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Can Liverpool Steal 5th Spot?

As disappointing as Liverpool’s exit from the Europa League against Sporting Braga last week was, Reds fans can console themselves with the fact that for the first time in a couple of years now, there are plenty of reasons to be positive. Since the arrival of Kenny Dalglish, the fortunes of a club - who unthinkably considered the possibility of relegation just a few short months ago – have been transformed and there is cause for optimism once again at Anfield.

Just two seasons ago, Liverpool were part of the “Big Four”, a group of clubs at the top of the Premiership so dominant that we were told it couldn’t be broken into. Not only are Liverpool not in the top four anymore, they aren’t even in the top five! It is certainly possible Liverpool can regain their Champions League place by finishing in the top four next season, but to do that, they are going to have to secure European football next season.

As he struggles to find form at Chelsea, Fernando Torres is already a forgotten man at Anfield as the Kop worship a new season. Luis Suarez shirts have been flying off the shelves ever since the Uruguyan hitman arrived at the club and wowed fans with his exciting range of skills and finishing prowess. His classy finish against Sunderland on Sunday underlined his quality and the potential he offers Liverpool.

Liverpool are still in need of more quality additions to their squad to supplement the undoubted quality of the likes of Steven Gerrard, Raul Merieles, Suarez and Andy Carroll. With new owners who have pledged to invest in the team and the feelgood factor returning to the team with Dalglish, the summer certainly looks like being an exciting one for Liverpool supporters. But key to attracting players to the club is the lure of European football.

As things stand, not many would fancy Liverpool to catch Tottenham for fifth spot, with Harry Redknapp’s men sitting four points clear with a game in hand. However, the obvious distraction of Spurs Champions League quarter final with Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid could be the source that lets Liverpool creep in for an unlikely comeback.

Liverpool fans are certainly starting to believe. Sales of Liverpool football shirts complete with official football shirt printing have significantly increased since the arrival of Dalglish and victories over Chelsea, Manchester United and Sunderland have added to the confidence levels at Anfield. That setbacks will occur is undoubted, as the squad is still not deep or strong enough to show the level of consistency boss Dalglish would like.

But with Suarez in the form he is in and £35m striker Andy Carroll still to be fully integrated into the team, the signs are positive for Liverpool. It will be a tough ask to overhaul Spurs but with 24 points still to play for it is certainly a possibility.

Written by Eddie Smith, a sports writer who blogs about cheap football shirts.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Luis Suarez – The New Hero

The 31st of January 2011 was an extremely busy day for Liverpool football club. The club had sold Fernando Torres to rivals Chelsea for a record-breaking £50 million, which upset many fans as they saw the departure of a world class striker as a major step down and that things might look bleak for the future. Fast-forward to March and things seem very different…

On the same day that Torres left the club, Liverpool purchased both Andy Carroll from Newcastle and Luis Suarez from Ajax, who cost roughly the same combined as Torres did. Andy Carroll made his debut on Sunday and will surely offer them something different up front and Torres has not made much of an impact at Chelsea so far. On the other hand, Luis Suarez has come into the Liverpool side and already looks like he will be a fantastic acquisition.

There seems to be a new lease of life for those wearing Liverpool football shirts at the moment. A lot of this is down to the return of Kenny Dalglish to the club, but Suarez has injected more energy and buzz about the time that has not been seen for quite some time.

The Dutch league is often criticised for having a poor standard as several players have come over from the Eredivise with a fantastic goal scoring record and have completely flopped in the English Premier League. Suarez’s goal record at Ajax was 81 goals in 110 games and although it doesn’t look like he will score anywhere near that amount in England, he can offer an awful lot more than putting the ball in the back of the net.

He might actually be the perfect partner for Andy Carroll and could end up with a great amount of assists at Liverpool. There’s no doubt that the Uruguayan forward can score goals, but I think he’ll be more useful playing the way he did against Man Utd on Sunday.

Suarez seems to be able to beat a man (or four) with ease at times and with energy levels that can match Steven Gerrard, it can only be a positive sign for things to come at Liverpool. It will be very interesting to see how his partnership develops with Andy Carroll over time, especially next season. Many wondered if Suarez and Carroll combined would be better than Fernando Torres for Liverpool, but it could turn out that Suarez on his own will do more for the club.

Written by Eddie Smith, a sports writer who blogs about replica football shirts.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

What Will Liverpool Settle For Now?

If you had asked Liverpool fans at the beginning of the season if they would take a 6th place finish in the English Premier League and to get to the latter stages of the Europa League, I’m sure most would have given you a strange look. Unfortunately though, most Liverpool fans would now probably take this offer with both hands.

Liverpool had a dreadful start to the season and therefore sacked Roy Hodgson in early January. There were several changes at the club last month, including Kenny Dalglish being re-appointed as manager, the departure of Fernando Torres to Chelsea and the late signings of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll. Things at Anfield do seem to have improved, but with the season so far through, there is only so much that King Kenny can do in a short space of time.

Fans will now have to be realistic in their ambitions for the rest of the season and accept that there is a lot of rebuilding needing to be done at the club. The acquisitions of Suarez and Carroll are certainly a step in the right direction and they both have youth on their side. If Liverpool can hang on to other players like Reina, Gerrard and Meireles, then there is a good spine to the team and 2 or 3 other good signings could mean that those wearing Liverpool football shirts will be able to compete for a Champions League spot next season.

After a run of four consecutive wins and also clean sheets against Wolves, Chelsea, Fulham and Stoke, fans were starting to look up the league table and fancied their chances of challenging for fourth spot in the league. Unfortunately, a home draw against Wigan has stopped this run and the task to earn a Champions League position has started to fade again. That is not to say that the team cannot get into another run of form again, but there are certainly some very tough games ahead.

Liverpool still have to play Man Utd and Man City at home in the next few weeks. They also have matches against Arsenal at the Emirates and a home game against Tottenham and a final day clash with Aston Villa at Villa Park. With only eleven games to go, these are four very tricky matches to win. One team from Man City, Chelsea and Tottenham are also likely to miss out on a Champions League place, which shows how tough it will be. I certainly think that with how this season has panned out for the club, a 6th place finish for Liverpool would be regarded as a reasonable success.

They are also still in the Europa League and few would bet against Liverpool winning the trophy. Man City are seen as favourites at the moment, but Liverpool are certainly in with a shout. I would be interested to hear anyone else’s thoughts on this, especially Liverpool fans. Have I been too harsh or is this the consensus among Liverpool fans too?

Written by Eddie Smith, a sports writer who blog about football shirts.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The List to Dump for Liverpool’s Revival Process

Liverpool has gone through an immense amount of change in the past year; new ownership, Fernando Torres gone, arrival of some big names and big flops…after an impressive transfer period, the Reds appear ready to change up the squad to get back into contention amongst Europe’s elite teams. Some players will arrive, some will certainly have to go. Here’s who the Anfield faithful should start waving goodbye to:

1. Milan Jovanovic: Though the winger arrived on a free from Standard Liege just over 6 months ago, it’s time for the Reds to get any value they can out of the 29-year-old Serbian flop. He’s been atrocious since his arrival and if anything, they can try to sell the winger back to Liege or listen to “supposed” interest from Wolfsburg. Jovanovic is not worth the long-term contract he was given and the sooner the men in Liverpool jerseys can free up a spot on the bench, the better.

2. Fábio Aurélio: The 31-year-old winger back is well past his prime now. He’s starting to become injury prone and a back-line that has conceded a not-as-respectable 32 goals in 27 league games, the defense needs shoring up if they are to become part of Europe’s elite again. Plus, the club signed Aurelio on a free, too, so getting a tidy transfer fee for a player on his down years is a plus for John Henry and the gang.

3. Sotirios Kyrgiakos: Another 31-year-old defender for the Reds has performed decently at times, however, he never has been truly Premier League quality. When Liverpool seem desperate, Dalglish has employed the Greek international to become a target man and he’s largely failed at that role, too. Really, most of the backline needs help. It starts with replacing some pretty average players with some players of quality.

4. Joe Cole: It seems as if Cole has been letting age get the best of him. The 29-year-old England International has had 2 pretty awful past seasons (one with Chelsea, now halfway through his Reds season) and is now becoming an injury prone mess. Though his talent is undoubtedly good when he’s on form, it’s been a few years since this occurred. And no, Steven Gerrard. Joe Cole is not “better than Messi”. Maybe Blackburn could purchase the downtrodden “speedster” with all the rumors about Kaka flying into the Rovers this summer. Yeah, right.

Written by: Chris Behrens,

Friday, January 28, 2011

Luis Suarez: Liverpool’s Revival Need

110 goals in 154 appearances. 38 appearances for the Uruguayan national team by the young age of 23. Dutch Footballer of the year. Pretty good credentials, right? Many top clubs around the world are believing the hype, too, about Luis Suarez, current Ajax captain and absolute phenomenon. His transfer to a major league in Europe is nearly inevitable and the Amsterdam-based club will be catering to the top bid available. Rumor has it that interested clubs include: Tottenham, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Arsenal, and of course, struggling Liverpool. Out of all these squads, the Reds need Suarez the most (the club have the fewest goals out of any of these sides in league play thus far.

Let’s face it; Liverpool are in desperate need of a revitalization, and what better way to start one than with Suarez in a Liverpool jersey. What Reds side would lose to Everton, Blackburn, Stoke City, Newcastle United, Wolverhampton, and even Blackpool twice? A side desperate to find some form. Under Kenny Danglish, the side at least look interested in playing on the field now. Only 7 teams in EPL league play thus far have produced fewer goals than Liverpool. Fernando Torres is beginning to find a bit of his old form from time to time but when he’s not on, the club can’t realistically rely on David N’Gog or Ryan Babel to man the reigns and take responsibility to account for a few goals here and there. Enter Luis Suarez.

In my mind, there is no inherent flaw to Luis Suarez’s game. He’s one of the most deadly box finishers in the game, he can hold up the ball, and has pace. Plus, he can distribute and has an underrated game out of the air. He is the ‘new’ Fernando Torres signing and marquee man Liverpool need to get back on track. The Reds are reportedly working out a fee to sign Suarez this January and fans are drooling at an opportunity to see the man in a Liverpool jacket. Honestly, I am too. He may cost a pretty penny to the English club and he would be worth every one. He has all the tools to become as beloved as Torres and partnering the two together would immediately make the tandem the most feared attack in all of the league. If John Henry is looking to make a splash, and make the club relevant again, he can do no better than signing one of the hottest commodities in Europe.

Written by: Chris Behrens for