Archive for October, 2007

Triple or Nothing

 rafascratch.jpgAfter settling down on my couch to let the Besiktas loss sink in (and watch ‘Serenity’ on HBO… not half bad), I let my mind run. Where it went sort of suprised me.

Shockingly, I didn’t go for the doom & gloom. I didn’t rage against the inadequacies I’d just witnessed. I wasn’t even perturbed at Sami’s newfound love for putting us in a hole.

Instead, I just thought, “They can still do this. It’s not done. They’ve still got a shot.”

(How much of this is down to the influence of Joss Whedon, I don’t know) 

As it turns out, I’m not the only one. Rafa on yet another European disappointment:

Obviously it is very difficult now for us to get through but I believe we still can. There are three games left and we must win all three, but we can do that.

We have to wait to see now what we must do, how the numbers add up. The fact that Porto drew with Marseille in the other group game was a help for us, it certainly improves our options.

A sober view from the manager. Glad to hear him not sugar-coating it. Then again, he did slide this in:

If we continue to play like we did in this match, with so much dominance, we have a chance.

Whaaaaat?

What he’s talking about is 26 shots, 11 corners and 64% of the possession. You would expect, looking at those numbers (especially compared to those of Besiktas), that Liverpool won.

Obviously they didn’t and for a multitude of reasons. Mostly, silly defending which leads to crap goals and an inability to put the ball in the back of the net when they desperately need to. Oh yea, keeping their wits about them, not breaking down and abandoning their style of play for desperate ploys, too.

Yet…

I hate to be the optimist, because I’m not the rah-rah/Paul Tomkins-type. But as unlikely as qualification to the knock-out stages seems, it really isn’t all that impossible.

No, seriously. I haven’t drank any Kool-Aid. Hear me out.

Continue reading ‘Triple or Nothing’

A Bunch of Turkeys

My life has been a lot like Liverpool’s recent performances and results lately; I’m not sure which each day will bring or how it will end up. But, much like the team, I’ve ever hopeful that an incredible purple patch is right around the corner that will lead both the club and my life back where it belongs.

In unrelated news, I’ve had a slight cold the past few days, but I donned the jersey (which I hadn’t worn in awhile) in hopes that a spectacular performance would make me feel that much better.

Sadly, it worked quite the opposite way.

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Liverpool deserve all the criticism they’re going to get after this loss. But, I’m not going to get angry because I have better things to get worked up about. I’ll let everybody else do it — and rightfully so.

Let me point out a pre-match quote from John Arne Riise:

We have only four games left in this group now, so the time for mistakes is over.

Apparently, everybody didn’t get the memo.

A 2-1 loss puts qualification to the knock-out round in serious jeopardy (What is the result of reoccurring amatuerish defensive lapses, Alex?). Basically, there are now two schools of thought:

  1. The Pessimist: We’re fucked. Absolutely cooked. This team is butt-naked last in the group and has NO chance of digging themselves out of the abyss they’ve fallen jumped into. The Champions League dream is dead and they should start focusing on the league immediately.
  2. The Optimist: We’re in a shitload of trouble. Qualification might happen if we can win out, get goal difference on our side, the stars align and the other results go our way. Oh, who am I kidding? We’re fucked. Absolutely cooked.

Frankly, I’m writing Europe off.

Rafa, this team better be ready come Sunday for Arsenal. Because a loss versus the Gunners and the knives will rightfully be out.

Get your shit together, lads. You have about half the equation worked out right now. You’re playing the ball quickly and intelligently, but the defending is woefully lacking and your passing and efforts tend to get lazy after an hour. Sort it out.

The first Besiktas goal.

The second Besiktas goal.

Too little, too late from Gerrard.

My thoughts on the match: Continue reading ‘A Bunch of Turkeys’

Let’s Wash This Bitter Taste Away

Liverpool at Everton

Premier League

12:45pm (7:45am EST) Saturday, October 20 

The Lowdown: Let’s start with the obvious…

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3-0.

Need I say more?

The Merseyside Derby comes at an interesting (some might say crucial) time of the season for the Reds. Not only does Liverpool have the memory of last season’s embarassment at Goodison Park to scrub away, but after a string of poor performances and average results, the team looks needs to get back to its winnings ways.

Once again, Rafa’s catching shit for his rotation policy, some in the squad have come under heavy criticism for individual performances and some people are whispering that the departure of Paco has sent the squad into a tailspin. But, everybody recognizes the next few matches (at Everton, at Besiktas, vs. Arsenal) as either getting Liverpool’s season back on track or derailing that train.

Rafa on the importance of Saturday’s match: Continue reading ‘Let’s Wash This Bitter Taste Away’

Is England’s Loss Liverpool’s Gain?

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Although the final nail hasn’t been put into the collective coffin of Steve McClaren and his merry bunch of underachievers, falling to Russia 2-1 and now having to rely on a result from the plucky Israelis, storm clouds continue to hover over English football.

But after sorting through the ashes of the Three Lions’ almost predictable collapse in Moscow, I can’t help but wonder if amongst the debris there resides a Phoenix for Liverpool fans of the non-Ingerland-supporting-type (as in “We’re not English — We’re Scouse” variety, amongst others). Should McClaren & Co. fail to beat Croatia and the Israelis fail to vanquish the invading Russians, England’s players will be spending next summer in the comforts of their own homes with their heels up. And quite frankly, it can’t do anything but help Liverpool.

If England don’t make it to Austria/Switzerland (Switzria?)  in 2008, then Steven Gerrard (and less importantly — Peter Crouch, who may or may not even be with the club by then) will then have the summer off and can properly recharge his batteries. Assuming England would come out of the group stages (a big assumption these days) only to crap out in the semi’s (like death & taxes), that’s five matches and a solid month of training with the squad that the England vice-captain won’t be taking part in. The effect on his body, his form and Liverpool’s fortunes the following season could be significant.

The season directly following a World Cup, how often do we hear how fatigued and burnt-out the international players are because they’ve been ‘playing non-stop for almost two years’? Playing for such long stretches not only takes its toll on the muscles and joints, but can leave even the most fervent footy enthusiast feeling jaded. Although they’re professional athletes whose bodies are conditioned to perform, everybody needs downtime to revitalize both body and mind. (Red Bulls don’t count)

I don’t think there can be any true argument that a fresh and rejuvenated Captain Fantastic would be a major boon to Liverpool’s fortunes next season. I’m sure watching the European Championships on TV will bring him back to training chomping at the bit, wistful from missing out on such a grand stage. Hopefully, he’ll be coming back to training fully-healed, energized and motivated to defend Liverpool’s Premier League title. (*knock on wood*)

So, as a Liverpool fan, don’t you owe it to the club and yourself to root against England and Israel next month?

I know who I’ll be pulling for.

(and for any reason should somebody be looking for a writer/correspondent to send to Austria & Switzerland for next summer’s tournament, Ich bin Sie Mann.)

Don’t Hold Your Breath, But…

xabi.jpg With a watershed match like the derby on this weekend’s horizon, it’s no surprise that a few injured players settled upon the Everton match as their target return date.

What might be surprising is the number of those who actually make it.

In ‘good but not great’ news, Xabi Alonso is done with the gym part of his rehab and is once again running on his mending metatarsal. Although he rates his chance of taking part in the game at “50-50”, the news is certainly encouraging.

From the Official Site:

I am progressing. In the last few days I have started running on the pitch, which is good news because I’ve been spending a lot of time in the gym.

It’s always a relief to get back exercising on the pitch and at the moment it’s looking good, but I don’t know if I will be fit enough to be ready for the derby. The fact it’s the derby doesn’t make me more determined. I’m always determined to recover as quickly as possible. I want to be back as soon as possible but I have to respect my foot. I have to see how it feels.

Thanks for contradicting me, Xabi.

But, it’s not just the midfield maestro who’s nearing a comeback. While his brother-in-broken-feet, Daniel Agger, still toils away in the gym, Fernando Torres, Dirk Kuyt and Harry Kewell are all making solid progress and could be available to feature against the Toffees.

While it’s still early in the week, Rafa sounds encouraged. Continue reading ‘Don’t Hold Your Breath, But…’

It’s Beginning to Sound A Lot Like Christmas

 shopping.jpgWord on the street is that Aston Villa’s Big Bad John Carew (whose injury status and general lack of goals this season has rendered him just ‘big’) is whispering sweet-nothings into the ear of his fellow countryman, John Arne Riise, in hopes of luring the ginger-haired left back/midfielder to join him at Villa Park.

Speaking to a Norweigan paper, the journeyman striker had this to say:

It seems like John Arne wants to go, so I can’t see why not? There is a possibility. He would fit in very well at Villa, so that would be a positive.

Sounds a lot like, “So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.”

In my mind, this had its origins the last time Norway met up for an international match…

INT. DINING ROOM – DAY

JOHN ARNE RIISE sits at a long table, eating and politely smiling as his TEAMMATES conversate and crack jokes over their meals.

JOHN CAREW walks up to the mess table, food tray in hand, hovering over Riise.

Continue reading ‘It’s Beginning to Sound A Lot Like Christmas’

Heal the Anfield #9!

It’s no secret the ill will Rafa harbors towards the clutter of international matches and succubus-like effect they have on our players. Having general disdain for the USMNT and general disinterest in Macca’s underperforming Ingerland (although the Scots look to be on their way to Austria!), I’ve been a subscriber to the Goateed One’s newsletter on the matter for quite awhile now.

But, after this weekend, international friendlies and qualifiers are that much closer to being completely dead to me.

“More dead than your dead mother.”

 torres2.jpgAfter losing Agger and Alonso to cursed metatarsal injuries sustained on international duty, Fernando Torres is the latest Liverpool player to suffer serious damage while with his national side. El Nino pulled up out of training after “feeling a twinge in his right thigh” and is said to have a small muscle tear that would rule him out about ten days (which would include the Merseyside derby).

While such is the risk when your squad is populated with top international players, I’m fully encamped in Rafa’s corner on the matter of the crowded international calendar. There are simply too many matches — both in qualifying and pointless friendlies. Do you realize that the South American teams are already holding 2010 World Cup qualifying and play something like 20 matches in the process?

But, arguing against/with FIFA is like pissing into the wind — but not as fun. Moving on…

If you’re like my mother and like to get your X-mas shopping done before Halloween, figuring out the perfect present for Ryan Babel shouldn’t be too hard — an alarm clock.

Maybe one described as “an alarm clock for the deaf and the dead”?

Continue reading ‘Heal the Anfield #9!’