Saturday, April 21, 2007

Rafa Comes To Momo's Rescue

Maybe Rafa have seen my match report on Thursday. Or perhaps he went round the fan's forum for a quick glance across the board. Because today, the manager has came out and shielded Momo Sissoko.

The reason being his recent performance, especially the one against Middlesbrough 2 days back.

The Malian international nearly went to the wrong side of town (you know what I mean) before Rafa rescued him and as cliche and like the previous 385 times, he was supposed to be the next 'Patrick Vieira'.

Judging by the number of mis-passes, which is now noted as 'his usual self', it's not difficult to see why the manager has come out to advocate for the midfielder. He even shared the blame by saying it was his mistake by placing him ahead of Mascherano, alongside Gerrard.

"The other day I tried to change things. I was using Mascherano behind Gerrard and Momo. But because the other team was playing really deep, compact and narrow, it was really difficult for him."
Judging by the quote, Rafa seemed to be experimenting with his squad and a brand new 4-1-4-1 formation which is seldom seen as his personal preference is 4-2-3-1 and also due to the influence of the English game 4-4-2 was implemented on many occasions as well.

It's hard to believe Sissoko used to play as a striker because he seemed to have no basic foundation in technique and those attributes required to be an attacking player is sadly lacking.

Against Boro, when Lee Cattermole and George Boateng doing the destructive work in midfield, Sissoko was not allowed any space or time on the ball. Adding to the fact that he lacks the technique and also the composure, he looked lost seemed confuse.

Soon after he was withdrawn, Gerrard was pushed back to central midfield just ahead of Mascherano and Kuyt ahead. That was when the formation started to work and got the result ultimately.

It's fine for Rafa to experiment and test out various systems and players as he continues to learn along the way and gather experiences. This experiment could've gone absolutely wrong if 'Boro scored and Liverpool losing the game but at least now, Rafa will understand the players, the strength and their weaknesses.

In my humble opinion, Gerrard should always start in the middle with either Alonso or Mascherano. But with the Argentinian 'monster' picking up form and now a mainstay in the team, Rafa has an extra worry and I don't know he'll hate that at all.

With Gerrard ahead of the destroyer, Mascherano, and the deep lying playmaker, Alonso, Liverpool have one of the most potent central midfield anywhere. Sissoko should be saved for games where Liverpool is expected to defend a lead or when the 'under siege' alarm lights up.

He's only 22 and still has a lot to learn but under the new ownership, if Momo continues to struggle with form and fails to do the simplest thing with effectiveness, I foresee him leaving the Spanish armada.

I have sympathy for him as he has been through two major injuries in two seasons and I understand that it'll take sometime for him to regain his 'imperious' form last season but that's reality and if you're deemed a surplus, you're out.

Come on, Momo. Show us what you're capable of! We don't call you 'Boss' for no reason!

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Well, we all know how good Lionel Messi is and maybe we're lucky that when Liverpool faced Barcelona a month or so back, Messi just returned from an injury and he wasn't at his best when he faced up with Arbeloa and Carragher.

But we should be thankful or he might do something like this:

And the team might have no place to bury their heads in. The 4 players who tried to stop him looked absolutely powerless as he weaved around, avoided a sliding tackle, rounded the keeper and finishing it with his weaker foot at an awkward angle.

Reminds you of a certain Argentinian great isn't it? No, no, not Veron or Pellegrino....

Gerrard Double Spares Blushes

Shifting Captain Back To Central Midfield Was The Key

English Premiership

LIVERPOOL 2 - 0 Middlesbrough

LIV - Gerrard (58min, 65min);

Gerrard - 58min:

Gerrard - PEN 65min:

Sometimes it just takes a moment of brilliance to change the face of the game. Last night, Stevie G was the ultimate difference between two sides after a rather lacklustre and frustrating first half.

But it was only made possible after Rafa Benitez decided enough is enough and took off Momo Sissoko off the central midfield position. His passing was up to his usual standard (you know what I mean) and wasted a load of possession from the middle of the park.

In came Gerrard into his favoured central midfield position. Not right wing, not supporting striker. And he showed where his true self lies and that absolute cracker from outside the box characterised that.

He's still the man that change the game and as cliche as it sounds, grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck. When his fellow men in red failed to push into gear two and look anywhere interested, he stood up and made the difference.

The first half was absolutely torrid and wasn't a very pleasant match to watch in the eyes of the neutral but also, infuriating in the eyes of the Liverpool fans. We all know they have something to play for yet they continued to show their lethargic self and struggled to get into any sort of momentum.

It was especially frustrating to see the number of misplaced passes everywhere on the pitch and it's unfair to pinpoint one player because everyone was just as bad. And the number of diagonal long balls baffles me and most of the time, it just flew out for a opposition throw in.

The Liverpool players were unable to motivate themselves and looked very distracted by the upcoming semi finals against Chelsea. Even the ever reliable Jamie Carragher had a lapse of concentration and presented Boro the best chance of the first half.

He slipped and Fabio Rochemback, supported by Yakubu, was nearing the penalty area with only Daniel Agger back in position. Instead of passing it to his Nigerian team mate, he took a pot shot and it went just wide to the relief of Reina, to the dismay of Yakubu, who was obviously better positioned.

It does definitely rang the alarm bell at the back for Liverpool but with only Crouch up front, there was a lack of support for the striker and with both managers setting up 4-5-1 formation, the central midfield was congested and players were canceling each other out.

Momo Sissoko, despite showing that he can get into the box at the right time, was once again utterly disappointing. As clubfooted as he is, one of Liverpool's best chance fell to him and all he could do was to mis hit it and it went out for a goal kick tamely.

He squandered possession on countless of occasions and looked low on confidence. When he was later replaced by Dirk Kuyt, his body language showed everything. With Benitez laying down the challenge for players to play for their future, you've got to wonder how long will the manager bear with his wastefulness and ineffectiveness.

But the introduction of Kuyt was a good decision as he provided more support upfront for Peter Crouch, who had to drop deep into midfield on some occasions just to get the ball. Gerrard, who was largely anonymous in recent games and also in the first half, was moved back into central midfield.

With Boro packing the defence and looking well drilled, Gerrard decided that playing it all patience isn't the key always and had a go with his miraculous right foot that had saved Liverpool on so many other occasions. He rifled it into the goal and Anfield erupted, like waking up from a long slumber.

It was a much needed confidence booster to Liverpool and when they finally found the momentum, they sored a second through a controversial penalty. Peter Crouch was adjudged to be pulled back by Andrew Davies and Graham Poll pointed to the spot.

Gerrard, who have missed some penalties in his career, including one at the World Cup, stepped up and finish it with aplomb.

For the rest of the match, Liverpool once again looked disinterested and was just going through the formality of finishing the whole 90 minutes. Although Crouch could've added a third as also with Kuyt but overall, it was a good job done and an important 3 points.

With such a demonstration of class and tenacity in the middle of the park, does Rafa still need more evidence of where Gerrard should be playing? Playing him elsewhere seemed like taking the very soul out of him and last night, he was given the freedom and license to roam and dominate again.

No better evidence, than this.

For more goals and highlights, visit for more!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

'Show Your Worth' Says Benitez

After quashing the link between himself and Real Madrid, Rafa Benitez laid down a challenge to the Liverpool players that is to play for their future.

"If you want to win the league, you need players who are going to perform for nine months and not just one or two months or three games," says Benitez. "You need to see the consistency of the players. They need to be competitive in every game.

And what other games to prove yourself other than this week, when Liverpool will play Middlesbrough tonight before facing Wigan again, both at Anfield. Two wins could prove to be very important as it'll most probably secure Liverpool's third placing finish and Champions League football next season.

After Arsenal's win last night, Liverpool have been dethroned and will have to win tonight to regain third place and they'll have to do it without Craig Bellamy, who has been ruled out of the tie with a knee injury that he suffered last week.

After the insipid 0-0 draw with Man City, Liverpool will have to sharpen up their knives for the push and get a result tonight. Peter Crouch and Dirk Kuyt will be most certainly start tonight up front with Gerrard, perhaps, shifted to the right again.

Drogballs' Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Middlesbrough

Poor Sheva...

A source close to Sheva told the Daily Express: "There is very little warmth shown to the players. Mourinho shouts at them, says things like, 'You all have Ferraris and Aston Martins but you are nothing. You have to work'.

"Andriy feels Mourinho treats the players like robots. He is a sensitive soul and sometimes with all the problems he has had he has been in tears when he arrives home."

As Liverpool fans, let's hold a 1 minute silence for the man.

Yo, Graham Poll In Da House

Add your own Graham Poll jokes here.

Oh, now you know why ManYoo are going to win the league. Even the referees favour them!

Montse > Rafa

Well, if you're not aware, Montse is Rafa's wife and today, Benitez finally admitted about rejecting Real Madrid's approach publicly and one of the reasons why he turned it down is because of his wife!

He fully commits his future to the club and reiterated his desire to stay at Liverpool for as long as he could because of an exciting future prospect.

"Madrid may be my town, but I am happy here and pleased with everything. We want to stay because of the new ideas and the new owners are very exciting.

"It is so positive for the future. And I could not ignore the noise and support I received from the supporters last week against Eindhoven, it was tremendous and moving. I repeat, I am very happy here.

Rafa also highlighted that there is now, a new mission for him after Liverpool's takeover by George Gillett and Tom Hicks. The two men are obviously pleased with his management and will do whatever they can to keep Rafa.

Rafa though, highlighted a major problem in his life at Liverpool, which is of course the scouse accent.

"I do not like to talk about my family, but they are really happy here at Liverpool and I am prepared to have my daughter with a Scouse accent, even though it is sometimes a problem for me!

And if Rafa really wants to move to Madrid, he'll better be buying a lot of watches for Montse!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Strangely how England always seemed to one dimensional in and the lack of left wingers made McClaren scratch his head...

Oh hang on, lack of left wingers? Gareth Barry, Matty Taylor and now, Leighton Baines.

But is it me, or do I think Paul Robinson COULD'VE done a little better there?

The Weekend Round-up

Yes, I know. It's already Tuesday and only now, I've the time to look back at the weekend and post my thoughts. Maybe there are things that have already slipped my mind but I'll just do my best.

The Difference Between Right & Wrong Mentalities

Football is such a complicated matter that there are many circumstances and situations that you just can't use your normal human logic to explain.

Take it as just unpredictability. Many a times, that's what make us love football.

West Ham's defeat last weekend to fellow struggler, Sheffield United, came not as a total surprise. But logical mind thinks 'how can a team that have beaten Arsenal away managed to lose to Sheffield United?'

Honestly, that's what football's all about. But only on the surface. Luck and many other factors that are underrated by the press contributes to results and forms. Looking at ManYoo's performance this season, only a word could use to describe their push for the treble. 'Steamrolling'.

That's beside the point. The thing I'm about to point out is the mentality of the players. Just like how Alan Pardew took a parting shot at his former players at West Ham, what he said is true to a certain extent, that players care more about their Bentleys and money than putting up good performance in their club colours.

The ultimate downfall for West Ham this season will have to be the mentality and attitude of the players. Is it really all down to the players or maybe Curbishley does have to take up some blame?

For me, Alan Curbishley never seemed to be like someone who inspires confidence and drive. He seemed laid back and when bad goes to worst, he'll just admit to defeat and wave the white flag. Maybe I might be wrong but listening to his post match interviews, he sounded like a defeated man.

When the Hammers sacked Pardew, there wasn't a lot of choices and Curbishley seemed to have the pedigree to save West Ham from the inevitable but sadly, he doesn't seemed to have it in him. Let's not even talk about the millions squandered during the winter transfer window.

Might be down to his lack of motivational skills, his players looked disinterested and uninspired against the Blades. Going down 3-0 against a team not so far above them is not a good sign for their bid for survival.

Just how could you explain their 3 wins against Arsenal home and away, adding to the fact that they even defeated ManYoo at Upton Park while losing to 4 of the 6 from the Premiership basement level?

I just don't think the players have the right attitude and will to fight unlike Charlton and to an extent, Watford. If those two teams were to be condemned, they know at least they tried. West Ham are going to go down and Curbs will probably say 'we deserved it'.

Players Are Thick, Still...

The PFA Player of the Year award nominees are out and just as predictable as the announcement of the 23 names on the England squad list, it's full of 'surprises'. The only one difference is the names are picked by football players themselves and who can blame them?

PFA Player of the Year:
Paul Scholes (ManYoo)
Cristiano Ronaldo (ManYoo)
Ryan Giggs (ManYoo)
Didier Drogba (Chelsea)
Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal)
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)

PFA Young Player of the Year:
Cristiano Ronaldo (ManYoo)
Wayne Rooney (ManYoo)
Kevin Doyle (Reading)
Micah Richards (ManC)
Aaron Lennon (Spurs)

A pretty acceptable list of names but of or two does raise some eyebrows. As a Liverpool fan, the inclusion of Steven Gerrard does makes me scratch my head as he's not even the best performing player at Liverpool, bar the league itself. Players like Jamie Carragher, Steve Finnan or even more audaciously, Daniel Agger, could've made their name on the list instead of the captain.

But being defenders, there is a stigma attached and that is you'll never really get recognised unless you have a brilliant World Cup. Goalkeepers are victims as well because they never get the mention.

Over the season, players like Kolo Toure, Michael Essien, Ricardo Carvalho and Petr Cech performed exceedingly well and consistent but they'll always be behind the pack probably due to their lack of superstar likeness or reputation.

Dimitar Berbatov does deserve a mention on there but could very well go down the list of 'one season wonder' if not careful so as far as I'm concerned, he should not be on the list, YET.

Even Everton haters like me have to take our hats off for players like Mikel Arteta and Joleon Lescott. They've performed wonderfully and does deserve some credit.

But other than that, the list is pretty clear cut and I don't think you'll need a second look to tell who's going to win them, eh?

Just A Mention....

If only all the matches are as exciting as Spurs vs Wigan on Sunday. It's by far one of the best I've ever witnessed and perhaps, it's just Tottenham that entertains. Because previously, their 5-4 game against West Ham was a favourite.

It was end to end stuff and the game started off with Spurs conceding an early goal (surprised?). Then the flood gates opened with wonderful goals going by each end with the Leighton Baines one, perhaps one of the nominees for the goal of the season.

At least Spurs showed the desire to go forward and if they manage to plug in the gaping hole in defence, they'll probably do a lot better than they are now. Their 3 strikers combine a total of 53 goals and you've got to wonder how on earth are they still languishing in mid table with a negative 1 goal difference.

Monday, April 16, 2007

"I Swear, He's The Next Zidane"

Well, because he IS the next Zidane! He's Zizou's son, Enzo Zidane and he plays for the Real Madrid youth team. Look at those tricks and that crying Barcelona boy at the end. Brilliant future, eh?

Hopefully, Materazzi's son doesn't meet him..

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Hillsbrough Anniversary

Like Christians commemorated the death of Jesus on Good Friday, Liverpool fans take this day, 15 April, as a day to remember the 96 who perished at Hillsbrough 18 years ago. They suffered the fate that they don't deserve and worst thing was those lies that was written on that rag named The S*n.

Whatever it is, take this time and remember those who've perished and let's hope such tragedy will not happen again on the terraces of football.

To the 96, You'll Never Walk Alone.

How Well Are They Paid?

Have you ever wondered how much is Harry Kewell's pay? Thinking about the incentives that the players and manager receive? Well, I saw this 'exclusive' report about Liverpool's pay structure and it doesn't surprise me one bit actually. It just seemed like there is a need to 'save' some resources and use it in a better way...

Here are some facts:

HARRY KEWELL (Left, in case you forgot how he looks like)

Contrary to popular rumour, the injury prone Aussie does not get £80,000 a week - he has to make do with £40,000 for the duration of his five-year deal.

Kewell has shunned the performance-related bonuses (just as well, probably) but he is the only player at Liverpool to have an image-rights clause. Also has a deal that will give him a slice of any transfer fee over £6million.

Liverpool pick up the tab for six business class flights back to Australia.


A whopping £3.5million for the six years of his contract, which expires in June, 2010. That's a total pay packet of £21million.

Where do you start? A cool million if he wins the Champions League and £300,000 if he keeps Liverpool in third place in the Premiership. Various incentives in the other competitions.

Again - where do you start? Mobile phone, business class flights to Spain, company car ... and English lessons for himself and the family.


A nice, round £100,000 a week until June 2009.




Only £25,000 a week

Travel back to Norway on Economic class flights.


£10,000 per appearance


£2 million per annum
*Contract improvement upon qualification for Champions League


Will receive 10% of the transfer fee IF Liverpool ever sell him


Champions League winners: £100,000 a man

Premiership winners: £25,000 a man

FA Cup winners: £15,000 a man

Carling Cup winners: £12,500 a man

UEFA Cup winners: £15,000 a man

That's about it. Make your own decision on whether they're overpaid or underpaid....Oh hang on, how can they be underpaid?!

Reds And Blues In Bore Draw Shocker

Dreadful & Insipid Performance

English Premiership

Man City 0 - 0 LIVERPOOL

Shocking result? Not really, it was as expected. More so when I saw the starting line up for this game. Yet again, Rafa got it wrong from the start and he made changes a little too late.

There was a distinct lack of creativity from the Liverpool side, who welcomed back rested stars like Gerrard and Carragher but the scouse duo were not able to inspire Liverpool to the win.

City themselves are in a run of decent form as they're undefeated in 5 games but their home form has been pretty atrocious as they haven't found the net at the COM stadium for the last 5 games. Well, make it 6 then.

Rafa started with a 4-5-1 formation and in trying to stifle the opponent, Liverpool suffered and were negative. Bearing in mind that he is a cautious man, sometimes you've got to wonder whether he's been too cautious at times and his hesitation to gamble might have cost Liverpool points over the stretch of the season.

City, knowing that getting a point off Liverpool is a decent result for them, stood firm throughout and the defence comprising of Richard Dunne and Sylvain Distin was solid throughout. Rafa made their jobs easier by resting Peter Crouch and the only striker on the pitch was Kuyt.

Gerrard was supposed to support Kuyt but was largely peripheral while Liverpool failed to exploit the flanks with Pennant and Riise not being able to provide much ammunition. Alonso's passing was found wanting most of the time and it made the game very difficult to watch.

Rafa has got a brilliant record in Europe and has the pedigree to bring Liverpool to yet another European triumph but when it comes to domestic league, Rafa still got to learn to gamble sometimes and be a little adventurous.

With Arsenal closing in with only 2 points behind, Liverpool will have to go out and win the game at Anfield against Middlesbrough. For City, it's a precious point but for the visiting team, it seemed more like 2 points dropped.