Posts Tagged ‘Liverpool’

Dan Sturridge; Two Sides of the Coin

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Daniel Struridge has completed his move from Chelsea to Liverpool and is move that has been met with a lukewarm reaction from the supporters of Merseyside club. Sturridge has had a mixed career to date and at the age of 23 it really is time for Sturridge to step up and prove he is more than just wasted potential.

There is definitely two ways to look at this transfer. It is either a positive move for both Liverpool and Sturridge or Liverpool are banking on potential talent that simply isn’t there.

Well, lets not be too cynical about it and take a look at the positives first.
It is no secret, that when it comes to the goal-scoring side of the game Liverpool are far to dependent on Luis Suarez. Suarez has weighed in with 13 league goals this season in 19 matches which is 42% of clubs goals coming from the Uruguayan. Suarez, with Borini injured, has been the only central striker at Liverpool at the moment and he cannot be expected to continue at his current goal-scoring rate. If he picks up an injury or a lengthy suspension like last season, Liverpool would’ve been forced to play either Shelvey, Sterling or Gerrard in the central striker role. So Sturridge has been brought in and the burden is lessened on Suarez but what will he add to the team with Suarez? As I’ve said previously Suarez has scored 13 league goals this season, but, those 13 goals have come from a mammoth 116 shots. There is two ways at looking at that stat, a) Suarez is a wasteful or inaccurate shooter or b) that he is forced into shots because of lack of passing options. I said I’d save the cynicism for later so lets focus on the b) option first.
Unlike other strikers with 10+ goals this season, Suarez plays as the only natural forward. van Persie has Rooney/Hernandez, Demba Ba has Cisse and Michu often has Danny Graham. But Suarez doesn’t have this luxury when Suarez looks up in a position where he should probably pass rather than shot he’ll probably see a very promising yet equally very inexperienced Raheem Sterling, after Sterling he may see a slightly more experienced yet still massively inexperienced Jonjo Shelvey. Shelvely’s runs will often come from deeper so his decision-making in what position he takes in the box is key. Two exciting young players yes, but at the moment still learning and can’t be expected to read a game like a forward, especially like an experienced one. So, now Suarez can expect to look up when in these position’s and see another striker looking for the ball, probably taking up a cuter position and a more inviting pass will be on.
On the ball what can be expected of Sturridge? he is a skillful player although like most young players sometimes over does a piece of skill instead of laying a simple pass off. He is a player who if given no thinking time, his instinct can be enough to score a vital goal where others may have panicked. His time at Bolton proved he can be effective through the middle where he netted 8 goals in 11 starts. He has a shot accuracy of 44%.

 

A more cynical look.
Daniel Sturridge has being playing Premier League football for 6 seasons now with his best spell being two years ago with Bolton only playing 12 games, can that seriously be used to evaluate a player now? When he returned to Chelsea the following season he was given plenty of opportunities under initial boss Andre Villas Boas, in the 2011/12 season he started 31 games (Total 63) but only scored 13 goals, what Suarez has managed in half a season. AVB then lost his job and Di Matteo taking over leading Chelsea to a Champions League and FA Cup double, but Sturridge hardly featured under Di Matteo. This season he has only started one game but has played in 7 and has only managed the one goal. He is said to be a selfish striker, which in itself is not always a bad attribute to have as a striker, but Sturridge can be overly selfish at times, and simply makes the wrong decision, often shooting form 25 yards rather than passing the ball and trying to create a better goal scoring opportunity. This Liverpool side has Suarez already and when looking for a second striker would be better suited to find a target man than a selfish, one-minded type striker. With Suarez needing 116 shots to score 13 goals, can Liverpool afford another striker who will squander a lot more of his chances then convert them?
Sturridge is a player whose attributes far suit him to being a winger, right midfielder to be exact and with Sterling being only 18 he could do with longer period of rest between games then he is currently getting, in order to develop and also not to burn out to soon. As a right midfielder Sturridge would be simply asked to provide width, and when he receives the ball beat the full back before passing the ball back inside to the vacated space between himself the midfield and the striker. But alas this isn’t the role Sturridge wants and when AVB played him out there on numerous occasions, he murmured some complaints about wanting to play through the center and even his dad backed him up on his complaints saying “in terms of potential, we have to see him play in that (central) position to see how far he can go” so it can be inferred that Sturridge, in his contract negotiations with Liverpool has stressed the importance of playing as a striker.

All in all, it is a transfer that needed to be made by Liverpool, then needed a striker, Sturridge is a striker, he is also young and English which is sticking with Liverpool’s tradition (Bar Rafa’s). But as much as this transfer appears to make sense, it could easily backfire. At 23 he is no longer a kid and if he doesn’t hit the ground running, the term flop will soon float over his head.

Mindless thugs or adrenaline junkies?

From one corner of Peru to the far corner of Poland, hooligans have been a part of football culture for a countless number of years and it doesn’t look like it’s going to disappear anytime soon.

 

Hooliganism has been associated with football as early as the ninetieth century. Then, like now, the biggest rivalries took place between sides from the same city or area. However after the two world wars violence at football matches started to decline.

The 1960’s was plagued with social uprisings by angry and misunderstood youths. Juvenile’s crime rates were increasing rapidly throughout Britain. Looking for violence – an adrenaline rush – the youths targeted football stadiums as it was an ideal place to fight due to the large number of people at the games. Following this, teenagers mainly from council estates began to form alliances among themselves, known as firms. This gave them a sense of community, a place where they felt like they belonged.

The “English disease” was now spreading rapidly in 1980’s Britain. A rise in unemployment, racism and inflation are among the main contributing factors for increased hooligan activity. Along with the growing numbers of hooligans came a decrease in the number of police due to government cut-backs. As a result to the cut-backs only 150 police were left to control 10,000 travelling Millwall supporters on their way to Luton for an FA Cup tie. During the game Millwall fans climbed out of the away terrace and stormed the Luton fans, ripping up seats and firing missiles at the home supporters. Following this incident, known as the ‘Kenilworth Road riot’ Luton Town banned away fans for the next four seasons. It was evident that hooliganism was getting out of control.

 

 

 

 

 

On the 29th of May 1985 the Heysel Stadium disaster occurred. On this day 60,000 supporters made their way into the stadium in Brussels for the European Cup final between Juventus and Liverpool. Roughly an hour before kick-off, the opposing fans began taunting each other but quickly things became violent as missiles were thrown and Liverpool supporters began to charge the Juventus section. This led to the wall dividing the supporters to collapse under the pressure which resulted in hundreds of fans being crushed and trampled. Thirty-nine fans were killed and another six-hundred injured, a majority of them Italian and Belgian. The Liverpool fans were largely blamed for the deaths; as a result of this English clubs were banned from European competition for the next five years. Six years for Liverpool. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher supported the ban, saying; “We have to get the game cleaned up from this hooliganism at home and then perhaps we shall be able to go overseas again.”

 

England was definitely not the only country prone to hooliganism as it was becoming a major problem in Italy, Netherlands, Germany and many parts of Eastern Europe. Social class was the main contributing factor in England but in Spain it’s down to sub-nationalist politics, sectarianism in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and historical regional antagonisms in Italy. In most European countries football related violence is an internal problem, meaning the violence occurs at club level. Most European sides international support is well behaved, but there are a few exceptions such as England, Germany and the Netherlands who are known for organising fights with opposing fans at major tournaments. It is believed that close to 10% of European football fans are classified as ‘violent’. So it is clear that hooliganism is not an English problem, but a European problem, and on a greater level, a world problem.

 

The government and police have worked side-by-side to prevent hooliganism and advanced techniques were being used to tackle the issue. One such technique is by using spotters. The spotter system involves a liaison officer being attached to a particular club. His job is then to identify and monitor hooligans when they are travelling to away games. The spotter would then co-operate with police forces from both the UK and abroad to inform them of any hooligans travelling who may cause trouble. As technology has developed over the years, it has as a result played an important and crucial role in the policing methods used to prevent hooliganism. CCTV cameras are now a common sight at any modern grounds, this has been the most successful method so far. The sale of alcohol has been reduced in a majority of stadiums across Britain which was seen as a catalyst to football related violence. The police have been successful at combatting hooliganism in the football grounds but these methods do not prevent the violence that occurs outside the grounds, at times organised between two rival firms. Despite the efforts of police and governing bodies hooliganism does not seem to be going away at any time soon. It may be less prevalent but it still continues throughout the world.

 

Are these die-hard fans that spend their hard earned cash travelling the country and continent to see their team play or are they thugs just using football as an excuse to locate violence?

Michael Owen Digs a Hole

Michael Owen took to Twitter this morning to rubbish reports that he has dived in the past to win a penalty.

Owen said he was “let down” by the British media and even went as far as saying that headlines like ‘Owen: I dived to win a penalty’ were a disgrace. Which would be true if it weren’t for the fact that the night before Owen did admit to simulating a fall after minimum contact that led to a penalty, which would fit, in most peoples definition, of diving or at the very least conning the ref.

“I’ve earned penalties in 2 World Cups both against Argentina where I was touched yet could have stayed up if I had tried” Owen tweeted last night. So according to Owen he could have stayed on his feet but didn’t, yet he is still struggling to understand why most people see this as diving/simulating.

When you think of divers within the game Michael Owen’s name rarely comes to the forefront of many peoples mind. Most think of Luis Suarez, Ashley Young or Sergio Busquets, but his comments may have changed that fact. He also needs to realise that after admitting he could have stayed on his feet on occasions that most football fans will see him going down as trying to convince the ref to award a penalty, when he should be more focused on trying to stay up and score a goal.

Michael Owen’s defence to going down when touched is something pulled by many forwards, that he simply wanted to aid the ref, but Michael needs to understand that that is not his job and by doing so a referee has every right to wave an appeal away as diving is something that officials are desperate to stamp out of the game.

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Fergie Bits Back At Suarez

Alex Ferguson has responded to claims by Luis Suarez that Manchester United control the politics in the English game.

Ferguson who wants the issue put to bed said of the comments “It’s not going to go away if Suarez keeps on making headlines out of it. It was nothing to do with Manchester United.”

Liverpool boss at the time of the incident, Kenny Dalglish, was sacked at the end of the season and Fergie believes it was his support of Luis Suarez that ultimately cost him his job. He said “I think John Henry has obviously looked at the Suarez incident and felt it wasn’t handled in the right way. I think that must have been part of it. It certainly wasn’t a nice thing to happen, you know.”

The United boss also claims he wasn’t surprised at his fellow countryman’s sacking.

Suarez was banned for eight matches by the FA and Liverpool boss always backed his striker, among his continued backing of Suarez in the media it was also Dalglish’s idea that the Liverpool squad would wear t-shirts in support of their banned teammate.

Suarez’s comments may have come of a surprise to many after new Liverpool boss, Brendan Rogers, said it is time for Suarez to move on and for the whole issue to be consigned to the past.

Ferguson was speaking in Durban, South Africa as United kicked off their pre-season with a 1-0 win against AmaZulu.

Suarez Blasts English Football Politics

The Liverpool striker has claimed that Manchester United run the politics within the English game and that was the deciding factor in the Evra race row. He stated “Within Liverpool, many people were convinced that Manchester politics was behind the Evra episode.”

Suarez speaking to Uruguayan TV also suggested that the ‘Evra episode’ was created to ban Suarez he said “In fact, I think it was all arranged against me again, as it had happened with the punishment.”

Speaking of English football politics he said “In England, Manchester United has this political power, and you have to respect that and shut your mouth”.

Suarez was handed an eight match ban after being charged with racial insults towards United left back Patrice Evra and was also fined £40,000.

 

Suarez may want to be more careful in his next interview as he may find himself in more hot water with the FA.

 

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Liverpool – A club in turmoil?

There is no doubt about it that Liverpool F.C is one of the greatest clubs in Britain, dare I say it, the world. A club decorated with major trophies from FA Cups to First Divisions t0 Champions Leagues. They are known and respected by almost every football fan from around the globe.

Yesterday Kenny Dalglish was sacked as manager of Liverpool. “King” Kenny is regarded as a legend at the club having won multiple trophies as both player and manager in his first stint in charge but failed to live up to his name this time around. The news brought mixed emotions for the Liverpool fans, some said it was the right thing to do, others believed he needed more time. The owners were convinced though, they felt that despite winning the League Cup and guiding them to the FA Cup final were they narrowly lost to Chelsea, that their league performance was simply not good enough. Dalglish was the third manager to lose his job at Anfield in just two years.

This year saw rivals Everton finish above Liverpool for only the fourth time since 1962 despite the Toffees spending far less money. Is this a sign of things to come?

It now seems like a lifetime ago since Liverpool lifted the Champions League in Istanbul. That was just 2005. They also made the final two years later only to be bet by Ac Milan 2-1, but unfortunately for Liverpool it doesn’t look like they’ll replicate that for some time to come.

The club spent over £136 million from Summer 2010 – January 2012. Giving the amount invested into the team they were expected to challenge for the top four in Dalglish’s first full season in charge, they didn’t even finish close.  They came eighth,  a total of 17 points off the top four. The Reds lost as much as they won last season, 14 games. Definitely not acceptable for the money that was invested into the team.

Dalglish’s men had a bit more success in the cup competitions though and came close to doing a cup double. Would that of kept him in the job?

Will the owners be able to continue to pump money into the club without selling? I seriously doubt it. Top goalscorer Luis Suarez is heavily linked with a move to PSG so they could be faced with a real dilemma, keep arguably the best player or try make a healthy profit on the Uruguayan. Charlie Adam and Dirk Kuyt are also rumoured to be leaving Merseyside this Summer.

Will Suarez still be a Red come next season?

Plenty of managers are being linked with the Anfield job as you would imagine. The main names being thrown around are Andre-Villas Boas, Wigan manager Roberto Martinez, Frank Rijkaard and former boss Rafa Benitez.

Whoever takes over is going to have his work cut out for him. The fans want European Football again and ultimately, eventually, a Premier League title. Although that would be a long term goal.

Are Liverpool starting to decline and become just a top half side who won’t realistically challenge for a top four spot for some time to come or can they rebuild and break it? With the right man in charge you never know.

 

 

Top European Striker Want’s a Move to England

A top European striker wants a move to England.

Fernando Llorente has fast become one the hottest properties in European football and after an impressive campaign with Athletic Club, a campaign in which he helped his team reach the Europa League and Copa Del Rey finals, he is on all the top teams radar.

Athletic Club have been widely praised for their all out attacking style and passionate play and fans. Llorente has been at the forefront of all praise and at the age of 27 this is maybe his last chance to force a move to a top European team.

Many people feel that Llorente is a player designed for the Premiership and this is something he agrees with, he says “I’m the sort of player who would be successful in the Premier League… (But) it’s all hypothetical.” He went onto say that he feels it’s one of the best leagues in the world, saying “I’d love to get to know it and enjoy it” but he did finished off by saying that he was still very happy in Bilbao. But Llorente didn’t stop flirting with the Premiership just yet. When asked what did he like to do in his spare time, he again brought up England. “…I love travelling… We (himself and his girlfriend) went to London on holiday last year, I loved it, I saw Big Ben and Buckingham Palace and went to see the Wimbledon tennis, but I don’t speak English. I need to learn the language.”

Llorente “I’m the sort of player who would be successful in the Premier League”

And it is that last sentence that fuels most of the flames to this transfer rumour. Llorente clearly has strong intentions to return to England and shows a strong intent to stay for a long time. Well long enough to need to learn the language.

But who would be in for Llorente and who could afford him? Manchester City will be the favourites for the marksman but they may not need to sign him if Carlos Tevez decides to stay and if Balotelli isn’t sold. Chelsea will also be in for the Spanish foreword, as Didier Drogba is out of contract in the summer. Manchester United will also have tabs on Llorente as Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen look set to be on the way out of Old Trafford. Others that will have interest are both Tottenham and Liverpool, who will need to reinforce their squads to stand a chance of challenging for a Champions League spot next season.

But out of the five who would be able to afford him? Well, Manchester City and Chelsea will happily spend what is required to get their man. Manchester United would be able to afford him but may struggle to match his wage demands, especially if facing direct competition from rivals Man City. Tottenham and Liverpool’s best chance of signing the Spanish giant would be if City, Chelsea or United don’t go in for Llorente as neither Tottenham or Liverpool could guarantee Champions League football every season.

This rumour could run all the way through the transfer window as the striker will not make up his mind until after the European Championships, where he may have to play a huge part for Spain as David Villa is struggling in his race for full fitness.

Llorente has scored 28 goals already this season and has provided 6 assists for his teammates.

See also; Europa League Final 2012