Saturday, 29 May 2010

Heysel Remembered

25 years ago today 1000s of Juventus supporters travelled to Heysel to watch their side play in the biggest match in club football, the European Cup final.

Tragically, 39 never returned.

A variety of causes, including the inaction of the police, the sale of alcohol close to the ground and, most importantly, the fragile nature of a stadium that was obviosuly not fit enough to stage such a massive occasion, led to 32 Italians, 4 Belgians, 2 French people and a Northern Irish man being crushed to death after a surge by a small minority of Liverpool fans caused a wall to collapse.

Contrary to popular opinion Liverpool supporters were not completely to blame for the disaster,however our role in the tradegy is inescapable.

This is a list of the 39 who died:

Rocco Acerra (29)

Bruno Bali (50)

Alfons Bos

Giancarlo Bruschera (21)

Andrea Casula (11)

Giovanni Casula (44)

Nino Cerullo (24)

Willy Chielens

Giuseppina Conto (17)

Dirk Daenecky

Dionisio Fabbro (51)

Jacques Francois

Eugenio Gagliano (35)

Francesco Galli (25)

Giancarlo Gonnelli (20)

Alberto Guarini (21)

Giovacchino Landini (50)

Roberto Lorentini (31)

Barbara Lusci (58)

Franco Martelli (22)

Loris Messore (28)

Gianni Mastroiaco (20)

Sergio Bastino Mazzino (38)

Luciano Rocco Papaluca (38)

Luigi Pidone (31)

Benito Pistolato (50)

Patrick Radcliffe

Domenico Ragazzi (44)

Antonio Ragnanese (49)

Claude Robert

Mario Ronchi (43)

Domenico Russo (28)

Tarcisio Salvi (49)

Gianfranco Sarto (47)

Amedeo Giuseppe Spolaore (55)

Mario Spanu (41)

Tarcisio Venturin (23)

Jean Michel Walla

Claudio Zavaroni (28)

On behalf of all Liverpool supporters I would like to offer my condolences to the families of the 39 people who lost their lives. We truly know how you feel. We are so sorry.

(For those who want to find out more about the Heysel Stadium Disaster I suggest you read "From Where I was Standing" by Chris Rowland. You can buy the book off Amazon. com, just type the title of the book into the search engine of the site.)


Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Why is David Moores afraid of Google?

David Moores spoke out against Tom Hicks' and George Gillett's ownership of the club yesterday, and admitted that he made a massive mistake when he decided to sell to the American duo.

In an open letter to Tony Barrett, a red working for The Times newspaper, Moores said, "I hope against hope that Messrs Gillett and Hicks will see this letter, or some portion of it, and do the right thing. In holding on and holding out, they risk damaging a sporting institution of global renown and if they have any conscience or nobility they will stand aside and allow new owners to take over the club for its future benefit and that of its lifeblood- the club's fans."

Whilst the news that Moores has finally taken a stance opposed to the Americans is encouraging, and will keep the ownership issue on the back pages of the national media for at least a few days, his lack of an serious apology is startling considering it was his poor judgement in deciding to sell to Hicks and Gillett that signalled the beginning of a decline in our fortunes, both off and, more importantly, on the pitch.

In the remainder of the letter Moores seems to blame everyone apart from the main culprit. Himself.

He starts off by blaming a "loud minority" of supporters. Moores claims, "I experienced my first real backlash from the fans. It started with a few letters in the Echo and quickly grew into a campaign aimed at forcing me to sell. There's an irony there somewhere that, in holding on and giving prospective new owners the third degree I was somehow seen as deliberately holding the club back! It was a loud minority giving me stick, but this growing ill-feeling was certainly a factor I took into account."

This quote is much more shocking as, earlier in the letter, Moores claimed, "I don't really care whether the supporters like me or approve of me." Ok then David, if you don't care what the fans think of you, then why did you succumb to pressure from what you yourself describe as only the minority of supporters. This is a pathetic and weak attempt at putting the blame for the sale on anyone apart from himself. He's essentially saying to the supporters, "You brought it on yourselves."

Well, Mr Moores we weren't the one's who signed the deal with Hicks and Gillett. We weren't the one's who failed to fully check out Hicks' financial record and we weren't the one's who pushed the board to accept the yanks offer. You were! Now take responsibility and stop blaming us!

Later on in the letter Moores attempts to pile some of the blame on the minority shareholders who sold their stakes in the club to the American duo.

Moores says, "We moved ahead with Gillett and Hicks with all due speed (even now I cannot accept that we were hasty)- and here is an element of the process I accept we could have handled better. We had looked into Geroge Gillett's affairs in detail, and he came up to scratch. To a great extent, we took Tom Hicks on trust, on George's say-so. There was still the very real business of obtaining approval of the shareholders, however. I was the 51% majority stakeholder, but I was obliged to-and I wanted to- obtain a mandate from Liverpool's shareholders great and small.

Gillett and Hicks produced a very substantial offer document containing all the key assurances re debt, the stadium, investment in the squad and respect for Liverpool FC's unique culture, traditions and legacy. It was impressive stuff- and it did the trick. For the motion to be carried we needed around 90% in favour. Over 1700 shareholders voted and the result was 100% in favour of accpeting Gillett and Hicks' offer."

It may be true that 100% of shareholders voted in favour of accepting the takeover offer, however that begs the question "Why did they universally accept the offer?"

Once again the answer lies at the feet of Moores and Parry.

In a statement to shareholders Rick Parry said, "I am absolutely certain we have now ended up in the right place, with owners who will help the Club succeed and prosper." With such a ringing endorsement from Parry, and significant financial incentives, it was inevitable that the shareholders would accept the bid from Hicks and Gillett.

So, after attemping (and failing) to shift the blame onto anyone apart from himself, Moores moves onto the subject of Google, the incredibly popular, and well respected internet search engine. He states, "So many times I have had people ask me, and write to me, and quiz the people who are close to me: 'Wouldn't a simple Google search have told you all you needed to know about Tom Hicks?' I could be flippant and tell you I don't know what Google is (I have never used a computer in my life). I could point out that internet searches are as likely to mislead as to inform."

Moores contradicts himself yet again here as he comments on the reliability of internet search engines in the same breath as claiming that he has never used a computer!

Whilst Moores is certainly correct that a Google search would not be the best way to check up on Hicks' financial background, all the same it would have proven an invaluable source revealing the opinion in which he is held by the supporters of his various other sporting "franchises".

More specifically, it would have revealed startling similarites between Liverpool's situation and the situation at Brazilian club Corinthians. According to Wikipedia, a site that Moores could have easily accessed using Google, "In 1999 Hicks...entered into a partnership with Sport Club Corinthians Paulista, a successful Brazilian team... Hicks... assured the fans that a new stadium was in development, but this never materialized. After legal/financial troubles and partner infighting, Hicks retired from the company and the ownership group eventually left the partnership with Corinthians."

Sound familiar? Well, if Moores had used that wonderful invention called "the internet" that he seems so afraid of, then maybe, just maybe, he would have read about Hicks' failings at Corinthians and had second thoughts.

And maybe, just maybe, Moores wouldn't have to write a letter of apology. And maybe, just maybe, Liverpool wouldn't be hurtling headfirst towards meltdown.

Whilst I have been scathing in my criticism of Moores in this post (and rightly so) the fact that he has spoke out against the Americans remains positive.

However, it is not enough. Moores is rumoured to have received a healthy £89 million from the deal that saw Hicks and Gillett take the reigns at Anfield. If he is serious about making up for selling us down the river then Moores must follow up his words with some serious action.

Mr Moores, take the £89 million and plough it into either Spirit of Shankly ( or Share Liverpool ( Not only will this clear your family name, it could go a long way to rebuilding the club that you, and we, so dearly love.


Friday, 21 May 2010

Who was mostly to blame for last season?

Last season Liverpool failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time under Rafa Benitez. We were knocked out of the League Cup in the 4th round at the Emirates, and were embarrassingly thrown out of the FA Cup by Championship side Reading.

On top of that we failed to get out of the group stages of the Champions League for the first time during Benitez's 6 year stay on Merseyside. Although the Europa League provided brief respite, we were left heartbroken as Diego Forlan struck again to send us crashing out of Europe for the second time.

It's been one of the worst seasons this decade.

But who's to blame?

Many of the main stream media lay the blame solely at the feet of the manager, Rafa Benitez. They claim his signings during the summer were lunacy, that his substitutions have been illogial and that his tactial knowledge is somewhat lacking.

Moreover, they consider him to be too cautious and defensive minded,whilst also criticising his use of zonal marking (despite of the fact that Liverpool have continually performed well defensively under Rafa, and that Reina kept the joint-highest amount of clean sheets this season, for the fourth season out of five, all with zonal marking in place).

Others blame the players, claiming that consistently poor form from the majority of the players (with the notable exclusion of the excellent Pepe Reina) has led to the malaise that has engulfed Anfield this season.

Whilst neither the manager nor the players can be absolved of all guilt, my belief is that the majority of the blame lies at the feet of Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

When they took over both Hicks and Gillett promised that they would be responsible custodians of the club, upholding the club's magnificent tradition and history whilst also developing the club by giving Rafa money to buy any transfer target he desired (remember Snoogy Doogy) and building a new 60,000 seater stadium.

In fact, Hicks promised that there would be a spade in the ground in 60 days. Over 3 years later and still Stanley Park looks the same.

Most importantly, they guarenteed that they hadn't purchased the club using a leveraged buyout, like the Glazer family had when they bought Manchester United.

For those not in tune with the business and financial world a leveraged buyout is, according to, the "takeover of a company or controlling interest (in our case takeover), using a significant amount of borrowed money." Moreover, the site goes on to say, "Often the target company's assets serve as collateral for the borrowed money."

Essentially, the cowboys bought our club using RBS's money and are now making us pay off the debt they created.

This has meant that the development of a new stadium in Stanley Park been put off, expanding the massive divide in matchday income between us and the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and even Chelsea, who have a capacity of 7000 fewer than Anfield however, due to the astronomical cost of going to Stamford Bridge, and other commercial ventures, the London Blues still make significantly more than Liverpool do at Anfield.

This leaves Liverpool behind the other top sides financially right from the start. Add to that the £450 million debt that has been lumbered onto the club by the yanks leveraged buyout and you've got a recipe that might just even make Pompey choke.

With money being a major contributing factor towards success in football these days the likelability of new trophies filling the Anfield trophy cabinet shortly decreases every year these parasitic cowboys stay at our club.

Financial pressures have left Rafa scraping the barrel searching for cheap, or free signings. Rafa's net spend for last summer was £10,000. The season before that, when we finished 2nd only four points behind Manchester United, he had a net spend of only £2.5 million.

If he can achieve a runners up position with this sort of investment then what could he do with half decent owners in charge?

Some supporters claim that the problems with the owners have covered for Rafa's bad management. However, you cannot ignore the financial situation that the club faces. As long as Rafa is forced to sell in order to buy than the only place we'll go is backwards. No one should be expected to win, or even challenge for the title with the sort of money that he has been given. I cannot think of any manager who could do better under the circumstances.

Also, if any other manager had achieved a 7th place finish and reached a European semi final with a net spend of only £10,000 they would be given the title of manager of the year. But with Benitez it's different, with the Spaniard repeatedly slaughtered by the ignorant and agenda driven media and supporters who should know better.

The announcement that the Yanks have put the club up for sale provides some hope for a better season next time around, however with Hicks rumoured to be wanting an eye-watering £800 million out of the deal it seems incredibly unlikely that any sale will take place quickly enough for Benitez to receive backing in the transfer window.

This leaves Rafa having to make do as well as he possibly can, yet again. Of course, that's if he decides to stay at the club this summer. I obviously want him to stay but I wouldn't blame him at all if he walked away.

After all that he has had to suffer from the owners, the media and, worst of all, a small section of our support, it is clear that the only reason he is willing to continue is his love and passion for the club.

That's why we love Rafa, and want him to stay.



Thursday, 13 May 2010

End of Season Awards

Believe it or not, despite the torrid nature of this incredibly disappointing season there were a few bright sparks who shone out through the darkness of the turmoil that has surrounded and engulfed the Reds during the past 10 months.

In this blog I will be assessing the performances of the players, and awarding the titles of "Player of the Season" and "Young Player of the Season."

Player of the Season

There is simply no doubt about this one. It has to be Pepe Reina. The Spanish stopper has been on top form once again this season, and without him Liverpool would have suffered badly at the back.

Time and time again Reina has put in flawless performances, allowing the Reds a firm foundation on which to build. His shot stopping has been excellent, and his abilty on the ball means that in many matches he acts like a sweeper, clearing any potential danger before it has time to develop.

At Anfield especially he is often untested for vast periods of play, and yet he has such a high level of concentration that he manages to make crucial point winning saves which lesser keepers would fail to make.

A brilliant example of this was when Fulham travelled up to Merseyside in the middle of April. Roy Hodgson's men parked the metaphorical bus and refused to budge for the whole 90 minutes. Although their style of play was boring and extremely defensive, it was effective as they became the first team to stop Liverpool scoring at home all season. During injury time the Cottagers had their first effort on target, however Reina was more than up to the task as he produced an instinctive stop to beat away Damien Duff's driven strike.

If that goal had gone in then not only would it have cost Liverpool a point, it almost certainly would have also led to the destruction of team morale, leading to even poorer results at the business end of the season. As the old saying goes, "Kill a butterfly in the past and it could dramatically change the future."

Reina has played so well this season that despite of the fact that we have had to rotate our back four time and time again due to injuries to various players, his startling displays have meant that Liverpool have the third best defensive record in the Premier League.

Moreover, he received the Golden Glove award for the fourth time during his spell at Liverpool, as a result of keeping the joint highest amount of clean sheets. Pepe has now achieved that magnificent achievement in four out of the five seasons he has been at Liverpool.

The Spaniard outshone all of his teammates this season with his consistently top draw displays, however a couple of others also had good seasons. Javier Mascherano had a shaky start to the season as he worried over whether Argentina could scrape into the World Cup, however once Maradona's men had secured qualification Masch reverted back to his old self, giving 100% every game and throwing himself into tackle after tackle, showing full commitment to the cause. His domineering performances in the middle of the park meant that when he was moved to right back to cover for the injured Glen Johnson, although Mascherano performed relatively well (with the notable exception of the Chelsea game) Liverpool missed his voracity in the centre of midfield, and failed to control matches in the same manner as we had done before.

Fernando Torres played well this season as well, even though injury denied him the opportunity to really push on and help Liverpool's charge for Europa League glory and a fourth placed finish. The 26 year old scored an impressive 22 goals in 32 appearances this season, easily surpassing his closest rivals for the title of Liverpool's top scorer. Steven Gerrard had one of the worst seasons he has ever had in a Red shirt, yet still managed 12 goals, whilst Dirk Kuyt's form deviated significantly from the sublime to the ridiculous. Nevertheless, the Dutchman scored 11 times.

Overall, there is no doubt that Reina was by far the best performer this year. Unlike the Tories, he managed to collect an overwhelming majority of 75% of the vote in the official website's online poll to determine who the fans player of the season was. Thankfully Reina has recently signed a new 6 year deal, which will keep him at Anfield until 2016.

As well as securing the services of one of the world's best goalkeepers for the next 6 years, this deal could prove to a crucial sign to supporters that things are looking up. Reina could walk into any other team in the world, so for him to sign a long term contract with Liverpool must surely mean that fresh investment is just around the corner.

Young Player of the Season

There was little doubt about this decision either. Not only has Lucas been by far our best young player this season, he has also been one of the best and most consistent perfomers in the whole of the squad.

Lucas has been unfairly set up as a scapegoat by many supporters. They seem to think that he is the root cause of all of the team's problems, when nothing could be further from the truth. These are the type of people who display the full extent of their footballing knowledge by posting comments along the lines of "Rafa, drop Lucas and we will start winning. It's that simple" onto Facebook and other social networking sites.

The truth is that Lucas has played superbly well this season, and has been the second most consistent performer this season, behind the simply excellent Pepe Reina. The 23 year old Brazilian has stepped up to the plate this season, putting in some excellent displays that have won other many doubters. His passion and thirst for a tackle are evident every time he plays.

Also, his passing has improved greatly, with many of his passes in the Xabi Alonso ilk. His long through ball for Torres winner against Blackburn was fantastic whilst his wonderful lofted pass to play through Babel to score our fourth away to Burnley was out of the top draw, however his best, and most important pass this campaign was in the second leg of the semi-final against Athletico Madrid, where he kept his cool to play an intelligent chipped ball to Yossi Benayoun, who had the space and time to score our second.

Due to injury many other youngsters have been thrown into the team this season. Martin Kelly put in a man of the match display at home to Lyon in the Champions League, whilst Stephen Darby performed solidly when he was selected to face Reading at the Madejski Stadium.

Many fans have been calling for the inclusion of Dani Pacheco, however his involvement has been restricted to a few substitue appearances. The most significant of these came at home to Unirea in what was our first game in the inaugural Europa League. Pacheco added life to our attacking play, and even managed to bag an assist as he cleverly set up Ngog, who headed home from yards out.

That leads me nicely to David Ngog. The former PSG player has had some big boots to fill for large parts of the season as he has regularly filled in for the often injured Fernando Torres. Ngog has scored 8 goals in 24 appearances this season, a vast improvement from his 3 goals in 19 appearances during the previous season. Although he still has a long way to go, if he continues to develop at this rate then he could be a vital part of our future.

Lucas has been a key performer for us this season, and deserves recognition for what has been an encouraging season. He must now go on and prove his abilty by having an even greater impact next season, when Liverpool will need all players to be performing at 100% for the majority of the season if we are to have any hope of even challenging for number 19.

Finally, congratulations to both Pepe and Lucas. Let's just hope that we have more candidates for both player and young player of the season next year...


Monday, 10 May 2010

Reds End Season with Bore Draw

Liverpool's season ended with a wimper as we struggled to a 0-0 bore draw away to already relegated Hull City. In what was clearly an end of season affair, with little to nothing riding on the outcome of the match, both sides showed little desire to take the game by the scruff of the net and claim all 3 points.

The game was starved of goalmouth action, especially in the second half as both sides looked like they couldn't wait to get the last 45 minutes of the season over and done with, and then concentrate on re-building for next season.

It was in many ways a typical Liverpool away performance, as we lacked creativity or any sort of attacking drive. The Reds have managed only a pathetic 18 goals away from home this league campaign, which is completely unacceptable. That measly total is less than Wolves, who have hardly set the world alight going forward, and equal to Wigan Athletic, who are one of the worst sides in the league on their travels. We must improve on the road next season if we are to compete with the top sides once again.

The significant team news came from the substitues bench as 16 year old left back Jack Robinson, who is yet to feature for the reserve side, was selected as one of the seven substitutes.

Worryingly Yossi Benayoun was excluced from the match day squad all together. There have been rumours abounding that Rafa is looking to offload the Israeli in order to raise funds to spend in the summer, and Yossi has recently refused to deny the possiblity that he could be playing his football away from Anfield next year. Whilst Rafa will certainly not want to sell Benayoun, it is a sad fact that he might have to if he is to have any sort of transfer budget in the transfer window, as the club's persistent financial problems continue to hamper the development of the squad.

The fact that he was left out yesterday will do nothing to stop the rumours that Benayoun could be sold shortly.

The Reds started the match on top, and dominated the opening exchanges, however they failed to fashion any serious openings. Midway through the half Nabil El Zhar, who was given a rare start, tested the keeper with a fantastic effort from the edge of the 18 yard box.

The Moroccan controlled a pass from Ryan Babel before skipping past a challenge from a Hull City defender. He then fired the ball goalwards, and Duke had to be on top form to stop the ball screaming into the top left hand corner, by expertly tipping the ball over the bar. It was encouraging play from El Zhar, who is yet to endear himself to the Anfield crowd after a few anonymous substitute performances.

Liverpool went close again from the resulting corner kick, and the lively El Zhar was involved once again. Gerrard's corner kick from the left was punched away by Duke, however it only found El Zhar on the edge of the box. El Zhar's strike bounced into the ground before Kuyt flicked the ball goalwards with his head. It looked like Kuyt was going to break the deadlock, however Boateng was on hand to clear the ball off the line.

After the half hour mark the home side came back into the game, and had a glorious oppotunity to take the lead. Atkinson floated a cross into the box from the right and Mark Cullen had found space between two of the Reds defence. Somehow, Cullen couldn't take advantage of the free header as he headed wide from only yards out.

It was a wake up call for the Reds, as up to that point Hull hadn't threatened Pepe Reina in the Liverpool goal. The Spanish keeper was desperate to keep a clean sheet to claim yet another golden glove, and thankfully he kept another shutout, however he has to share the award with Chelsea keeper Petr Cech after the Czech was a spectator as his team demolished Wigan Athletic 8-0 at Stamford Bridge, a result which hands Chelsea their third Premier League title.

After that, a neat exchange of passes from Liverpool ended with El Zhar's shot being blocked by a Hull defender. The ball landed at the feet of Aquilani. The Italian adjusted his feet before hitting the cross bar with his shot from 7 yards out. The ball bounced out to Agger, who was free in the box yet somehow managed to shoot high and wide when he had an open goal in which to score.

Liverpool went into the second half looking to improve their performance and score a few goals, as a way of saying thank you to the ever loyal fans who had travelled down to watch the match. Unfortunately, the second half display was even worse as neither side looked to have any motivation or desire in what was a tepid affair.

The closest either side came to scoring a winner was on 51 minutes, when both Vennegoor of Hesslink and Cairney failed to capatilise on a great chance to give the home side a massive victory, which would have filled them with confidence and momentum heading into the Championship campaign next year.

Bernard Mendy put a fantastic cross into the box from the right, and the ball zoomed past both Vennergoor of Hesslink, who was tussling with Carragher at the near post, and Cairney, who was stretching to beat the Greek Kyrgiakos at the back post, and went behind for a goal kick.

The rest of the half was a dull and uninteresting affair, and we had to wait until the closing stages for another clear opening for either side. With minutes remaining Gerrard ran with purpose at the Hull backline, easily skipping past an attempted tackle by Mouyokolo. Our skipper then struck goalward, but he couldn't grasp a last gasp winner as the ball struck the post before going behind.

The only other highlight from what was a instantly forgettable second half was a significant moment in Liverpool's history, as Jack Robinson became the youngest player to represent the Reds as the 16 years and 250 days old left sided player replaced Ryan Babel on 84 minutes.

The game was marred at the end as there were nasty scenes as both sets of supporters exchanged angry words. It was understandable though as both Liverpool and Hull fans have had to suffer through awful season's from their respective teams, and the frustrations of an agonising campaign boiled over.

Moreover, Steven Gerrard was mobbed by home supporters who invaded the pitch after the final whistle. As our captain was trying to applaud the loyal away following he had to push away some irritating Hull fans who were surrounding him.

Apart from flashes of promise from El Zhar, and the introduction of Robinson, the only positive to come from this match is the fact that it signals the end of a thoroughly miserable season. We now must rebuild over the summer and start afresh in August.


Saturday, 8 May 2010

The Liverpool Way- The Reason to be Red and Proud

Liverpool has a long standing, professional and traditional way of doing things. It's called the Liverpool Way, and it's what sets us out as a club distinct from every other. Since it was first established by Bill Shankly, when he transformed the club after arriving as manager in December 1959, the Liverpool Way has dominated every aspect of the club.

The principles of absolute support for every single manager and player who represents Liverpool Football Club, and respect for opposition teams has seen Liverpool become one of the most successful teams in British history, with an enviable honours list to boot.

No matter how poorly the team may have performed, the Liverpool Way has remained intact, setting the club out as markedly different from all other clubs.

These are the brief outlines of the Liverpool Way, and how they show a massive difference to every other club.

1) Always support the team, no matter how badly they play.

I was watching the 2005 UEFA Champions League final today. I have watched it many times since that glorious night five years ago, but only today did I realise how terribly we performed in the first half, especially in defence. Traore was making error after error, Kaka was running past our midfield like they weren't there and, apart from a brief spell after the first goal had gone in, we rarely threatened the Milan goal.

Yet, the supporters never gave up hope, and at half time all 40,000 fans sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" with such passion and belief that the tremendous noise seeped through to the dressing rooms. The full support of the fans lifted the players and inspired them to make history, giving all Reds fans a night that we'll never forget.

Very rarely have Liverpool fans ever booed the team. In fact, even during this shocking season I cannot remember hearing booing at any game at Anfield throughout the campaign. This support is in stark contrast to other supporters, and is what sets us out as one of the best, if not the best supporters in the world.

2) If a player is struggling sing his name louder and more often as he needs the support.

Lucas, Ngog and Insua have all received criticism from some fans this season. In Lucas' case I believe this criticism is unwarranted, and is just a case of some supporters creating a scape goat to blame for all of the team's problems, when actually Lucas has been one of our best players this year, and has improved greatly.

Ngog has done well, however he isn't Torres, so he has been on the receiving end of some of the fans anger. Insua performed steadily at the start of the season, but his form gradually got worse and worse as the season developed.

However, all the way through the season none of the fans have turned on the players during matches. 100% support has always been given. Yes, some supporters may blame them for some of the team's problems, but when the game starts they receive the full backing of the Anfield crowd.

3) Respect the opposition

We live in an age where respect is dwindling as football becomes more and more about winning, and respect for both the referee and the opposition has greatly declined as many teams try and win at all costs.

Whilst Liverpool is all about winning trophies, respect for the opposition is a key part of the Liverpool Way. Every home game without exception the Kop applauds the visiting side's goalkeeper, as he runs out towards the Kop. This is a tradition unique to Liverpool, as regardless of the opposition, respect is shown to the away team's keeper. Even if Van der Sar is visiting with United, or Tim Howard is tasking to the Anfield pitch with Everton, they receive a warm welcome from the Kop end.

Moreover, if Liverpool have simply been beaten by the better side, then the fans will applaud the away side's efforts. Off the top of my head, Valencia received a round of applause when Rafa Benitez took the Spaniards to Anfield for a Champions League clash in 2002 and gave us a footballing masterclass, easing to a 2-0 victory. In fact, that match was a key factor in convincing the Liverpool board to bring Rafa in as manager, as his side played us off the park. Also, when Chelsea thrashed us 4-1 in the Premier League in October 2005, they were given a round of applause for their fantastic display.

Irrespective of circumstances, the Liverpool Way has always remained the crucial factor in our identity as a club. It's a unique aspect of Liverpool's proud tradition to be respectful of other teams, and yet fiercely passionate about our own.

It's the Liverpool Way.

It's what Liverpool Football Club is all about.


Monday, 3 May 2010

Chelsea Overpower Poor Reds

Yet another disappointing defeat for Liverpool handed Chelsea the intiative in the title race, leaving Manchester United with little chance of claiming a record 19th League Championship. It was a frustratingly poor performance from the Reds, and the only positive to take from the match is the fact that a loss means that our bitter rivals are unlikely to win the title.

Liverpool started brightly, and dominated play for the first 20 minutes, however after a mistake from Steven Gerrard had allowed Didier Drogba to give Chelsea the lead Liverpool never looked liked threatening the Chelsea goal, and once again looked devoid of any sort of attacking creativity in the absence of the injured Fernando Torres.

Even Alberto Aquilani, who was starting his third consecutive game (which is probably a record!), failed to inspire a tepid Liverpool, who really seemed deflated after our season ended on Thursday night, following an away goals defeat to Athletico Madrid that sent us crashing out of the Europa League at the semi-final stage.

After only 40 seconds Frank Lampard's shot sailed wide from 25 yards out, before Mascherano disappointignly drove a shot wide of goal, after a Steven Gerrard corner had been cleared towards the Argentine on the edge of the box. Then, Malouda skipped past several of our defenders before his weak effort rolled wide of the post.

The first real opportunity fell to Alberto Aquilani after ten minutes had been played. The Italian received a square pass from Steven Gerrard before unleashing a scintilating strike which went inches over the cross bar. It was a fantastic shot from Aquilani that deserved a goal.

At this stage Liverpool were on top, however that wasn't really anything to do with the Reds as the away side sat back and aimed to keep the game tight for the first 20 minutes.

Just before the half hour mark Gerrard sent a pass from deep to the feet of Maxi Rodriguez. Maxi flicked the ball through for Aquilani, who was free in the penalty area. Unfortunately, Aquilani was easily pushed off the ball by Ivanovic. The supporters appealed for a spot kick but Alan Wiley was never going to give it.

After that, Gerrard ran with purpose down the right wing, then sent an inviting cross into the penalty area that Maxi just couldn't reach. It was a magnificent chance, and Maxi should have netted to give Liverpool the vital first goal.

Only a minute later Liverpool paid for failing to capatalise on that glorious opportunity as a mistake from Steven Gerrard gifted Chelsea the lead. Our skipper attempted a back pass from too far out, and Drogba sprinted onto the ball and cleverly took it round the corner before slotting home at the Kop end. It was a terrible mistake by Gerrard, and one that he has made in the past as well. From memory, similar back passes against France and Arsenal have gifted Theirry Henry goals from nothing.

That goal set Liverpool back, and we never recovered from there. The rest of the match was just a horror show as our weak forward line was comfortably blunted by the strong Chelsea defence.

Ten minutes before the break Ashley Cole, who has just recovered from a long term injury, received a long forward pass, in an advanced position on the left wing. Cole played a magnificent square pass to Frank Lampard, who was in acres of space on the egde of the box. Lampard took a touch before shooting just wide of the right hand post. It was a bad miss from the England man, as he squandered a great opportunity to inflict more pain onto Liverpool.

On the stroke of half time Chelsea had a penalty appeal turned down by the referee. Kalou ghosted past Carragher with consummate ease, and was clean through on goal. Lucas desperately ran back in an effort to make a challenge, however, as Kalou ran into the box he cleverly ran into the path of the Brazilian, meaning that contact was inevitable.

The penalty was not given as, although Lucas had touched him slightly, Kalou also tripped up over his own leg. If the roles were reversed, and Liverpool had been denied the spot kick, then I would be furious. Although Kalou did trip himself up there was some contact, and usually in those situations there would be a penalty and a red card for Lucas. It was a massive let off for the Reds.

Liverpool came out for the second half looking to improve and grab an equaliser, however the exact opposite happended as the Reds performance deteriorated. Early on, Kalou, Cole and Malouda exchanged passes in a triangle before Kalou ran past Mascherano, who was starting at right back once again, like he wasn't even there. Kalou ran across the by-line, then sent a pass to the feet of Anelka. All the Frenchman had to do was touch the ball and he would have doubled Chelsea's lead however, stunningly, he missed from a mere three yards.

Soon after, Chelsea did score again to seal their victory, sending their fans into euphoria. Ivanovic played a pass to Didier Drogba, who intelligently chipped the ball wide to Anelka. Anelka fired the ball square to Lampard who converted with ease from close range. It was horrible defending from Liverpool as Lampard was left unmarked, and Anelka was played onside by a slow Mascherano.

On the hour mark Babel had our only chance of the half, as the Dutch forward, who had replaced the injured Maxi, volleyed the ball wide of goal under pressure from Alex and Terry. It was hardly a chance, yet it was the only attempt, of any note, that the Reds had in a shocking second half display.

Reina had to be on top form to keep the score at 2-0, as he managed to stop Malouda's fantastic first time volley with a brilliant save, especially considering Nicolas Anelka was blocking his view.

With 12 minutes left to play Reina easily beat away a free kick from Michael Ballack. After that, Chelsea counter-attacked and found themselves up against only three defenders. Malouda passed the ball to Anelka, who's shot was beaten away by Reina into the path of Kalou. Reina recovered excellently to deny the Ivory Coast player by smothering the ball.

Overall, it was a horrible display from the Reds, however that can be expected after a long and agonising 120 minutes at home to Atletico Madrid only three days earlier. Perhaps if we had won that Europa League match then this game could have had a slightly different outcome, as the morale gained from a victory would have encouraged weary legs to perform against Chelsea.

Unfortunately it wasn't to be as we put in a thoroughly miserable performance. There are rumours that this could be Rafa's last game in charge of Liverpool at Anfield. If that is the case then it is a very disappointing note to end on.

I cannot wait until this season is over, and we can start afresh in August, whether that is with or without Rafa Benitez in charge of the club.