Saturday, May 05, 2007

Expect Big Changes This Summer

I've found this not-so-sure-whether-it's-reliable source on the net and it states all the players that are under our radar and the plans.

But first, talk about something we're sure that is Sinama-Pongolle's departure from Liverpool. Not on the official site yet but it's confirmed on Recreativo Huelva's website, the club which loaned Sinama-Pongolle for the entire 2006/07 season.

It is understood that he'll sign for Recreativo in a 2.5million GBP deal and that is a far cry from what clubs were offering to him before he signed for Liverpool.

Touted along with his cousin, Anthony Le Tallec, as the 2 brightest young talent in France back then, he perhaps, showed a little more promise and even made several appearances for the first team for the past 2 seasons.

People might forget about what he has given to the club but looking back, without him, we wouldn't have won the FA Cup and Champions League.

His goal against Olympiacos was just as important as Gerrard's albeit less dramatic. At Luton last season, when we're on the verge of crashing out of the FA Cup, he came on a substitute to rescue us.

So, thank you Sinama. All the best.

Summer Transfer Target:

Liverpool's budget this summer will be 75 Million.

That is money that will be guaranteed from Tom Hicks & Goerge Gillett.

They have also told Rick Parry - that any funds made from players sales - will also be handed to Rafael Benitez.

That figure could then well top the 100 Million mark.

Onto the transfers side of things, as I said in the other link there will be alot of players leaving Anfield in the summer & that will leave space for lots of new faces.

Benitez's top priority - is to secure David Villa & Daniel Alves. He also has a big liking for Samuel Eto'o - who is wanting to secure some sort of swap deal including Xabi Alonso.

Tal Ben Haim is set to snub Chelsea and sign in the summer. The fee will be minimal & Allardyce has already stated he will leave in the summer - barring a miracle.

Also other firm wants are Giovanni Dos Santos Ramirez of Barca.

Javier Saviola - who will be available on a bosman in the summer - talks have taken place before.

Rafael Vaan de Vaart is another target - talks have already been held with his club.

David Trezaguet is also an option & the stories about Juventus wanting Crouch are firm - but thus far he is only an option, should his other striking options not materialise.

Manuel Fernandes - on loan at Everton is also on Benitez's wish list - should his club Benfica lower there asking price.

Shaun Wright-Phillips is liked by Benitez and should Chelsea sell him as they are expected to - Benitez will match any offer that is made by any British club.

Morten Gamst Pedersen is someone who Benitez has made enquiries about in the last 2 months - as is Gareth Bale.

Rick parry has had contact with West Ham wigs regarding Carlos Tevez & Anton Ferdinand - should West Ham Be relegated.

Then there are a host of youngsters will arrive too. Names being floated about are -

James McCarthy - Hamilton
Nathan Porrit - Middlesbrough.
Richard Keogh - Bristol City. (50/50 with Manchester United.)
Ged Dalton - Scarborough.
Jacob Mellis - Sheffield Utd.
Danny Blanchett - Cambridge City FC.

Pedro Alcala - Malaga.
Esteban Granero - Real Madrid.
Simon Andras - Mtk Hungaria.
Dean Bouzanis - New South Wales Institute of Sport.
Mikel San Jose Dominguez -Athletic Bilbao.
Javi Garcia - Real Madrid (Luis Garcia's Cousin)
Alexander Kacaniklic - Helsingborg.

A good long list there and expect a lot of names to disappear through the summer but just what IF this is the real thing?

Anyway, Tal Ben Haim and Anton Ferdinand? Why on earth would we need another centre back for? Agger is coming along nicely, Carragher isn't going to retire while we have Hyypia and Paletta waiting in the wings so that's probably made up.

The budget, I wouldn't believe in it actually.

Giovanni Dos Santos is an exciting prospect, touted the new Ronaldinho and seemed pretty good in the games he played in.

Javier Saviola was one of my favourite players but can't be sure whether he'll make it in the Premiership due to his slight build.

van der Vaart seemed to have gone down a bit and didn't live up to his expectations placed on him few years back. But he could be an option down the left just as Morten Gamst Pedersen. But with the latter having more Premiership experience, it's better to go for the tried and tested.

Manuel Fernandes looked pretty good against ManYoo last week but with so many midfielders already, can't see him fitting in anywhere.

David Trezeguet is passed it and I don't really rate him. Neither do I think Shaun Wright-Phillips will make any difference.

Your thoughts?

What If Real Life Managers Play FM

I was doing my rounds and this sort of struck me. Have you ever wondered if managers in real life actually go home and play "Football Manager" the game? So I attempted to 'image' what the managers will be like playing FM, their action and reaction using their common behaviour in real life.

Here is some that I've came up with:

Alex Ferguson - His computer will probably last only 3 games before he gives his usual 'hair-dryer' treatment to the computer, smashing it with no mercy! Accompanied with a bottle of whiskey of course.

Jose Mourinho - His FM is run on cheat mode, with the 'Sugar-daddy' options ticked. He'll go round buying everyone who has a '15' in ANY of their stats because he can and the number of times he click on the 'player/manager/club interaction' will be far more than him clicking on his own players and setting tactics.

Rafa Benitez - Spend all his time at the 'tactics' tab. He'll adjust slider for every match, position each player nicely, set attacking/defending stance. Also rotates the player too often and there'll be a lot of 'Unh' within the squad. Has a lot of scouts in Spain and Argentina.

Arsene Wenger - The 'passing' mode must be 'short' and mentality set to 'very attacking'. He'll probably look away during the match so that he has an excuse of 'not seeing it' after the match. His search filter for players is also set to 'Under the age of 20' and 'Anything but English'.

David Moyes - Trying every way to screw Rooney in the game, like using the editor to set '1' to all his stats.

Harry Redknapp - Wheel and deal, as usual.

Glenn Roeder - Never bothered to set anything in the tactics page. All sliders and checkboxes remained as they are since the start of the game. Aghast to see so many red coloured 'Inj' in his squad list.

Stuart Pearce - Always standing up during the match, in his track suit. Still shouting with passion and not forgetting that toy his daughter gave to him is still right beside the computer.......

Neil Warnock - See Alex Ferguson.

Steve McClaren - Does nothing for 29 of the 31 days of the month before the news informing him to name his squad. What he does is goes to the 'National Pool', click on the filter for their reputation and pick the first 23 players on that list. Like Glenn Roeder, seldom touches his tactics.

Gerard Houllier - To buy a player, he'll go search for players with links to 'France' and find players who are under 21. Then set nicknames to them like Bruno 'Next Zidane' Cheyrou or Djimi 'Next Desilly' Traore.

Alright, that's some of the ones I've thought of and it'll be more interesting if you'll give me more ideas!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Gerrard To Sign Lifelong Contract?

This has to be the best pre- Champions League final present for the Liverpool fans. With the new owners coming in place and reiterated the importance for key players like Gerrard, Carragher and Alonso to sign new contract, it is understood that the Liverpool captain is currently in talk with the club.

The pay is going to be massive. If he signs this contract, it'll make him the best payed English player playing in the Premiership and it is expected to be at worth around £120,000 a week.

It is understood that co-owner, Tom Hicks, has mentioned that he can't imagine Gerrard donning any shirt other than the red one he is wearing now. The contract talk is also in its advance stage now.

Not to be forgotten, Xabi Alonso will also see his contract run out next summer and by UEFA's ruling, the player is able to buy out his contract and therefore, the club is eager for him to finally put pen on paper for a new contract.

This probably wraps up one of the most dramatic week in Liverpool's recent history and it's an excellent news that the captain is ready to commit his future to the club. It's only 2 years ago that he nearly joined the moneymen at Chelsea and now, he has seen the bright red future ahead of him.

2 Champions League final in 3 seasons and last season's FA Cup made him believe that the club is going the upward curve. With the new owner coming in, it probably makes him even more excited about where the club is heading.

Not many players sign lifelong contracts but it'll certainly be a fantastic news for Liverpool fans ahead of the CL finals.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Champions League Round Up

ManYoo's Self Destruct Performance Ensures Istanbul Encore

So much for an all-English Champions League finals.

It might be a dream to the neutrals and a dream for the United fans of a prestigious treble but all were swept away by the torrential rain in Milan last night.

It was supposed to be the weather that people from Manchester should get used to but Kaka and Co. doesn't necessarily agree.

The duo went on to torture and punish a naive Man Utd and put them under their sword.

Set out with a 3-2 lead from the first leg, Sir Alex didn't learn his lesson from his ever repetitive fellow manager, Jose Mourinho, and came to Milan thinking of perhaps, shoring up the defence, hold and see what happens.

But what happened was disastrous. It was a whitewash. No chance.

Within the first 5 minutes, Milan already found ways past the creaking United defence, breaking little sweat. They managed to race Nemanja Vidic back injury and his presence is more like a gamble than anything else.

Kaka continued to torment the shell shocked ManYoo defence till the point they self destructed and lost the grip of the game from then on. Seedorf drifted into the link-man position and nobody was there to pick him up. Carrick was nowhere to be found while Scholes is largely anonymous.

The 3 times winner of the European Cup then went on to score another, an exact carbon copy of the one Kaka scored previously. Although seemed to have lost a bit of agility and pace, the Dutchman still managed to evade a 3 defenders before placing it past van der Sar.

From then on, ManYoo threw everything they could but it just wasn't enough. The wonderful comeback over the weekends at Everton came to mind but that game alone took so much energy off the players.

They were tired and exhausted. Milan, although hailed as the 'uncle' team, had more in their reserve and progressed with some style. With Sir Alex like a rabbit caught in the headlight, he threw on Saha for O'Shea, left his right flank exposed and the inevitable happens 30 seconds later.

Of all people, Gilardino scored and that was the final nail in United's coffin. Often criticised for not living up to his reputation, Gilardino was dropped to the bench and replaced by Inzaghi up front. Maybe that spurred him up a bit.

One thing's for sure, playing at 100km/h like United are dangerous in Europe. Because they won't work. And when they're supposed to play it patient in Europe, they don't have the necessary quality and a Plan B.

Ronaldo and Scholes were made Gattuso's bitch while the rest were either abysmal or non-existent.

Maybe the Premiership race has taken it's toll and ManYoo stumbled at the last stage but the garden still looks rosy on their side. But for Fergie, it's certainly disappointing as he has only brought United to two European Cup finals in his 19 year career at ManYoo.

So it's AC Milan vs Liverpool again. I'm salivating. Are you?

UEFA Champions League Final

23rd May 2007
Athens Olympic Stadium

AC Milan (ITA) vs Liverpool (ENG)

Funny Things I Dug Out

The aftermath of the Champions League semi finals is one to savour but only if you're Liverpool or Milan fan. There are so many things flying around with even our CEO, Rick Parry coming out to have a sly dig at Chelsea having said 'I guess when you've invested £500m it's a fantastic season to win the League Cup'.

Here are two other class humour from Football365 (as always, my source):

Okay, this is really mean. Sorry ManYoo fans. But I can't help it.

Oh how about TShirt365 giving glory to our Zen Rafa. Will look really funny if you wear this out though! If there's anything funny you'll love to share, do drop me a mail or comments.

All Hail Prophet Rafa

Saw this on the RAWK forums and is a little surprised because this was taken from an article dated back in 20th February 2007.

Rafa Benitez believes Liverpool will meet Milan in this season's UEFA Champions League final.

The Spaniard has predicted that the two sides could contest the final in Athens in a repeat of the epic showpiece in 2005.

Liverpool face holders and favourties Barcelona in the last 16 and Benitez is confident his troops can cause an upset again like they did against Milan two years ago.

"I think the final will be Liverpool v Milan and that we will win again. It's sure," Benitez told Corriere dello Sport.

Liverpool face the daunting task of Barcelona this week and Benitez has hit out at critics who have ruled out his side's chances of progressing.

"In football there is nothing impossible," added Benitez. "We are ready to astonish you once again.

"Whoever sees us as victims is wrong. We were the same also against Milan in Istanbul's final and to those who see us already beaten by Barcelona, I suggest to see how that match ends."


Free Image Hosting at

We understand that the players that used to work under him says he can predict the future as in how the opponents will play but this is really quite freaky!

Andy Gray - Best Pundit, Ever!


Just like most football commentators/pundits, they usually have something against Liverpool and will spunk all over English teams, most notably ManYoo or Chelsea.

But that's beside the point because we all know Andy Gray is a bluenose of Everton. I had the joy and pleasure to read his recent article over at Football365 and was aghast at those words he wrote in there.

I myself, as a football lover and blogger, don't go around saying 'this team is hopeless' and 'that team is ordinary'. I know in football, everything is possible and 'being favourites' is just an over-rated cliche used before games because favourites or not, it's what happened on the field that counts.

Now, allow me to refer back to his article and you know what, laugh at him. Because the first thing that struck me after AC Milan pwned ManYoo last night was to find that article again. It's so laughable it's hard to believe it's from a pundit/commentator. Now, let's see:

I believe that Milan side is ordinary

Not only will United get a result in Italy next week, they will beat Milan in their own backyard. I think they've got the Italians running scared - they're not a great team and they know it.

Go through the team - the keeper is dodgy and the back four is creaking and should hold no fear for United's forwards. Anything else to be scared of? Pirlo? No. Seedorf? No. Ambrosini? No. Gilardino? Definitely not.

Chelsea will be happy to play in exactly the same way as they did in the second half at Stamford Bridge. They will allow Liverpool plenty of the ball, surrendering possession but ensuring that actual chances are few and far between. Knowing how good they are at that game, you would have to make them favourites to progress.

It's hard enough to score one goal against a resolute Chelsea

People make a lot of the Anfield crowd and yes, there is something special about that stadium on European nights, but we're talking about Chelsea and superstars of the game here. They're not going to be fazed by that atmosphere.

Some people say Ronaldo doesn't turn up in the big games. I'd dispute that with anyone


You know what, I present you:

You got merk'd.

New Poll Is Up - Best Rafa Signing?

Alright, so the last poll is closed and there's no point in further discussion for that one as everyone has their own opinions and it was just for laughs. Now, the important stuff.

As Liverpool reach yet another European Cup final, it might be a good time to assess the team as it is now before we our usual knee-jerk reaction if we win/lose the finals. Rafa Benitez has been at the club for almost 3 years now and has certainly added quality to the side which won the European Cup back in 2005.

Question is, who is the best signing by Rafael Benitez? There are an obvious few which were left out because we know they're either gone or going soon so here's the list:

1. Pepe Reina

In the 55 games he played this season, he had 30 clean sheets. Incredible or what?

Although it can be argued that the Liverpool defence are mean, take nothing away from him. Time and again, his penalty saving heroics help Liverpool like last season's FA Cup and the recently concluded UEFA Champions League semi finals.

Eccentric and non-orthodox, he's made in the mold of modern day goalkeepers who acts like a sweeper also, always ready to rush off his line to save his defenders and also, his love for punching. His mobility means defenders can push their line further up, compressing the space and that's something we take for granted.

There are times this season that suggest he's not as good as he is but as confidence comes back, his ability was never in doubt. At only 23, he's supposed to be a 'newbie' goalkeeper as a player in that position only peak at around 30.

Penalty saving or just incredible shot stopping skill, he's perhaps one of the best Liverpool goalkeeper in recent memories. If he can continue to mature, no doubt he'll dethrone the likes of Ray Clemence or Bruce Grobbelaar.

2. Dan Agger

A promising Danish defender brought in to replace the seemingly irreplaceable Sami Hyypia. But his talents and promise made the transition a rather seamless one this season as he gradually push the big Finn out of the first team.

Often compared to our very own ball playing defender back in the 80s, Alan Hansen, he has a sweet left foot and excellent ball control, never afraid to bomb forward and always looking cool as a cucumber.

Aerially he's still needs to improve and learn from Hyypia as to how to dominate in the air, he certainly has the build to do it. A keen learner as noted by Rafa Benitez in his recent interview, you could tell his eagerness to improve just by his body language last night when Carragher was talking to him. It was 100% concentration from the young and hot headed man.

If he continues the way he is growing, he'll no doubt be in that defensive unit for years and years to come.

3. Javier Mascherano

Despite his rather brief stay at Liverpool, I've decided to include the Argentinian 'Monster Masch' into the list because I for one, thinks that our Champions League success thus far owe a bit to his performance.

Before the semi finals first leg last week, Liverpool have never lost a game with him in the side. Not a lot of games but you could definitely see an impact made by him. Seeing him donning the red jersey in front of the Kop makes you think how far did he come this season. One moment, he was at West Ham with biting Jermaine Defoe the only thing notable, then he's part of the team that held their own against the impending onslaught of CSKA London.

Not the most graceful player on the pitch, it's his grit and tenacity that brings a different dimension to Liverpool. You might argue the player below this list, Sissoko, are similar to him but he's more controlled and knows when to unleash one of his deadly tackles.

Built a little like the great Maradona, he might not have his natural ability. But one thing's for sure, his desire to win is never missing from games. Let's hope we seal his signing as soon as possible.

4. Momo Sissoko

His passing is shit. Next...

Okay enough of the criticisms of him. I admit I've been a little overly critical of the Malian at times, especially this season. You just got to have a little sympathy for the man they call 'Momo the boss'. He had a terrible eye injury that still isn't totally cured while that injury he had earlier this season means he's always going to struggle this season.

With the arrival of Mascherano, he seemed to have fallen further behind and so far, only used in spare games such as the one against Portsmouth. But take nothing away from a 20 year old who have won more league title (albeit, Spanish La Liga title) than some of our so called 'good players'.

It's his style of play that makes him ever so useful against teams like Barcelona. His 'destructor' style of playing makes it difficult for players to get that extra second on the ball and with his constant running and harrying, it's as if he's everywhere at times.

Needs to improve on his technical ability but his winning mentality is never in doubt. Might go on to be one of our own cult heroes and might never score a goal ever for Liverpool but his presence in midfield is a terror to behold for oppositions.

5. Xabi Alonso

The graceful Spanish playmaker is one of the bigger signings by Rafa but you could see why.

We've seen his transition of style since his first year in England as he transformed from a seemingly fragile midfielder, constantly bullied off the ball, into a composed and useful passer of the ball but never afraid to put a tackle in.

He has gotten hold of the spirit of the English game. Look at the number of fouls he commit this season. He sure knows what to do when the opponent gets past him. And all that from a supposed weak and frail deep lying play maker. See Pirlo for example.

But he has been instrumental in Liverpool's recent successes in cups and also our 'push' for the league. Who could've forgotten that penalty which got us level at Istanbul? Who could've forgotten those goals he scored at Luton in that comeback, en route to Cardiff 2006? Who could've forgotten that performance against Everton when Steven Gerrard was sent off?

And who could've forgotten those 40 yards strike? But he's far more than that. He always seemed to have extra time on the ball and an eye grown at the back of his head. As a deep lying play maker, he's constantly harried by opponents but his graceful turns and skillful use of the ball means their efforts are often in vain.

Passing is something that he excels in and although this season he seemed a little less imposing as he did in the past 2 seasons but he's still one of the key in the Liverpool engine room.

6. Jermaine Pennant

From playing in the relegation candidate of last season, Birmingham, to playing in the Champions League semi finals. What a year of difference from the former Arsenal winger.

At first, he was a little unsure and even booed by the fans for some of the poor performance. But gradually, he started to have some belief in himself and we all know what he's capable of. He just needs to have the confidence and the right mentality, he'll play without fear and tear defenders apart, whether is it Ashley Cole or Titus Bramble.

The turn of his Liverpool career has to be the goal he score at Anfield, against who else but mighty Chelsea. It was a beautifully taken goal and it did indeed give him the boost and you could see a little consistency in his form.

Might not make it into the greatest Liverpool team XI but definitely has made his impact. His future is still unknown with the new owners coming in with big money but you could see Rafa still do admire him as a player and has a plan for him.

7. Dirk Kuyt

Everyone's favourite flying Dutchman. He's flying and roaming round the pitch every game without fail and his never say die attitude is indeed an inspiration to some.

I even went on the UEFA website to find our the number of clicks he ran on Wednesday. Because he seemed so fresh even in the extra time despite already running around for 90 minutes. Kudos to the man.

Perhaps he's the type of players people from Liverpool would love because as we know, Liverpool's a coastal port city and majority of the people are blue collared workers who have to work their arse off for the welfare of their family, this man work his arse off every game and perhaps, he epitomises everything Liverpool is about. The never say die spirit and the important of hard work.

Needs to improve on his first touch and finishing, he has done pretty well in his first season at the club. Comparing him to Dimitar Berbatov or Oba Martins is a little unfair as they all hail from different leagues and every player have their different adaptability but his performance has been quite consistent and his attitude never in question.

8. Peter Crouch

I bet every Liverpool fans had their hands in their head when it's announced we'll be signing Crouch back last season. But what a long way the big man with a great touch has came.

Every season, you hear pundits like Andy Gray coming out to say how we should get a 20 goals a season player and so, Crouch duly delivered with 19. Does he get the plaudits? Nope.

6 goals in 11 Champions League matches, it's an amazing achievement from a supposed misfit. He was head and shoulder above the rest but always looked on to as just a freak and a clown. But his rise to fame was when England realised how important and useful he could be. England's World Cup campaign was abysmal but Crouch did gave the fans some positives.

His heading can be exceptionally bad for a man that tall but it's feet that does the talking most of the time. His first touch is as good as many great players can get and his never to be forgotten overhead kicks, twice in a season!

Talk about how a person that seemingly just average can actually come good, the big man comes up with a hat trick against Arsenal recently with the fans saying 'of all people, we let the tall freak score the hat trick against us'.

That's because you underestimated him. So did well all, so did we all.....

Remember, the poll is set up just below the RetroT-Shirt advertisement and do participate! Do add your comments as well if you please.

If We Have God On Our Side....

What harm is it to have Buddha with us as well?


'Comical Ali' Employed At Chelsea

Bet you didn't know! The man who constantly comes out to say 'everything is fine and under control!' is actually secretly working within Chelsea and is currently a journalist. Don't believe? Read some of the key points I've picked up from the article at the official Chelsea website:

And incredible, the rewards a team can accrue without ever needing to be ahead in a match. The European Cup Final against AC Milan in 2005? Liverpool were never ahead, but they nicked it. The FA Cup final last year against West Ham? Liverpool were never ahead, but they nicked it. The Champions League semi-final last night? Liverpool were never ahead but they nicked it.

Arsenal tried to throw the Carling, but it wouldn't let them. They also threw the Premiership because they decided that they were 'in transition' instead (ie. confused, disorganised and not playing very well)

Liverpool threw the Carling, the FA Cup and the Premiership and pushed everything they had into the Champions League alone - the sum extent of the club's ambitions since the arrival of Rafa Benitez. And if they could scrape it on pens, even better. It left them in a position, only last weekend, to toss away a Premiership game at Portsmouth.

Can you remember the last time Chelsea played a game that didn't matter? You can't, and that's because it has been the most extraordinary season ever, one in which the players have earned our love and respect as in no other. It has already delivered a Champions League semi, a down-to-the-wire title race, an FA Cup final and the Carling Cup - all secured, one hardly need add, in the face of the kind of calamitous injury list that would have sent other clubs with less guts into administration.

And if the team has looked a little tired in the last week, then who could blame them? I feel tired, and I only watch. The players' concentration and commitment has been nothing short of unearthly, and no penalty fudge at Anfield could ever remove the shine from that.

So, we say this to Benitez and Liverpool. Congratulations on last night. Go on and win it, why not? But here's a suggestion - next season, get involved. Try and set out to win more than one thing. Go on. Give it a shot. Play some football. Hey, you might even find you enjoy it. It doesn't always come off, granted. But you get to feel good about yourself even so. And you would definitely enjoy that.

All found in the Official Chelsea website. No wonder they say the blind leads the blind, they all bunch up together walked in the path in their so called 'self righteousness'.

Kicked you out by penalties is the best thing ever because it's cruel and only Chelsea deserves this. And that last line there, all highlighted made me laugh so hard because it tasted like a chocolate with 99% cocoa. Bitter as they can be, as always.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

What A Fantastic Night

Liverpool Through To The Finals On Penalties

UEFA Champions League

Semi Final 2nd Leg

LIVERPOOL 1 - 0 Chelsea
Aggregate 1-1
(Liverpool win 4-1 on penalties)

LIV - Agger (22min);

LIV - Zenden, Alonso, Gerrard, Kuyt
CHE - Robben(x), Lampard, Geremi(x)

Agger (22min):

Penalty Shootout:

What a night at Anfield.

Just as everyone has been hyping up the prospect of yet another great Anfield night, it came to past last night and it has once again given Chelsea the blues and Jose Mourinho the nightmare.

And for the past 2 seasons, Liverpool have always been Chelsea's nemesis in Cup competitions like last season's FA Cup Semi finals and also the Champions League semi final 2 years ago, at the same stage.

The Blues and the Reds are once again pipped again each other in a major cup semi finals and it's not much of a surprise now as to who's the real 'Special One' now. Jose Mourinho can go on with his verbal diarrhea every week and even claim that the better team lost last night but it is who won on the night that counts.

Rafa Benitez not once, twice but thrice beaten his fellow tactician from the Iberian peninsular to bring Liverpool to yet another high point in their illustrious history and already exhorted high by the Liverpool fans, the Spaniard has once again brought joy and delight to the Anfield faithfuls and also the new owners.

Whatever happens in the finals remain to be seen but what we saw last night was perhaps, how much Liverpool have improved and their constant and continuous challenge for the European crown. Domestic title might have slipped past by and the past decade has been a pale shadow of what Liverpool are supposed to be.

But this man has brought us up back to the upper echelon of European football.

Managers could only prepare and instruct but what's important is what those eleven players did on the pitch. They were simply awesome last night and it was a fantastic team effort that got the team through.

In a way, it was yet another comeback for the Reds as they go one-nil down in the first leg, only to hit back, hold on and winning it the tough way. It's has become a habit for Liverpool in recent years and it certainly hasn't help the fans from getting anxiety attacks but the joy and jubilation felt after everything that has happened made it even better.

This is what football is about and up to certain extent, in life. The opponents might be better in overall quality but with the right mentality, right attitude and the heart and desire, everything is possible. How many times have we seen this group of players creating miracles and making us belief even though on paper, they're not as good as their opponents?

The way they defended, ran, closing down of players, harrying and chasing after lost cause and with the backing of the Anfield crowd, a wall of noise that is impossible to simmer, everything was made possible.

Rafa and his men must have gone into the game, quietly confident despite the 1 goal deficit and with the knowledge that if Chelsea scores one more, it would be all but over for the Reds. He came out saying how we could even score 3 goals if circumstances allows and that was a huge boost to the players.

If the manager believe in them, they know they could do it.

Their confidence and poise were reflected much on the way they scored the goal through Daniel Agger, the man who got all the stick over last week's performance at Stamford Bridge. At only 22, the Danish defender made a rather seamless transfer of mantle from Sami Hyypia and he was in the perfect mold of the Finnish centre back.

His left foot is a weapon, we all know it. But Chelsea weren't aware of how potent he really is and caught off guard. In a game as big as this, it's usually one team's mistake that proves the difference.

Gerrard's freekick was straight out of Melwood. A deep cross was expected with everyone barging into the penalty area only for him to roll the pass over to Agger, who hit the ball sweetly past 2 defenders and left Cech dumbfounded.

It was a goal that would've made Maradona proud of.

Chelsea were stunned. It was rather clear that they have set out to hold on to their one goal lead and perhaps hit Liverpool on the break but it all backfired within 20minutes. They were made to pay for their negativity. They were made to pay for all their missed chances last week.

Liverpool were always in control despite Chelsea beginning to take hold of the game and carving out some chances. Didier Drogba, always the danger man, found spaces within the Liverpool penalty box but his shot was hit straight at Reina.

The hero from the first leg, has been colossus ever since that slump earlier this season. Minutes later, Lampard's free kick was heading towards his goal and the confident goalkeeper was able to use his trusted fist to punch it clear.

With Liverpool getting that all important first goal, they decide to grab hold of the game rather than going all out to search for the second goal. Tackles were flying in fast from the first whistle and you could tell some players were like men on mission.

As they game wore on, the anxiety within the stands started to build and a fear of a late Chelsea backlash could be felt, sitting right here in front of the TV. Shivering, like many other Reds fan in the world, held out breath as Chelsea constantly launch long balls into the penalty areas and bombarded Carragher and Agger.

But the two central defenders were at their finest. Letting nothing past them and even if it did, they made damn sure nothing is going in Reina's way. Carragher flung and threw himself into every shots and like a big brother avenging for his little brother who was bullied, he eyed Drogba and made him his target all night.

Chances did fall into the hands of both teams with Liverpool, perhaps, claiming to have the better ones but it was a masterpiece of a tactical battle between two excellent managers with European pedigree.

Pennant had a chance to volley him like he did in February but Essien was all that stood in his way. In fact, he was Chelsea's most effective player the whole night with some vital blocks and good positioning.

Drogba too could've scored another two, one being just 3 yards out but was a foot slower than Carragher, who miraculously cleared the ball over the bar from that sort of range. Shaun Wright-Phillips, a late substitute, put a ball across the goal only for Carragher to fend off Drogba.

And sympathy must've been poured out to Dutchman, Dirk Kuyt, who as usual ran his socks off all night and it was as if he ran all 20 kilometres in a single night, closing down and harrying defenders. He had a header that went off the woodwork, a goal disallowed and another one on one chances that was presented to him but was ruled offside.

And how he had the last laugh.

With Pepe Reina, reliving his FA Cup final glory, with two penalty saves, it was up to Kuyt to put Chelsea to bed and finish off the tie which looked never-ending. Up steps the man who deserved a goal the most and he nicely placed it in the bottom right corner of Cech's goal.

It effectively killed off Chelsea's Champions League dream once again and their dream of a quadruple went up in smokes at where else but Anfield. A huge sigh of relief around Anfield and it was time to celebrate. Fans letting their hair down, another heart tingling rendition of 'You'll Never Walk Alone' resounded in the cauldron of noise, it was like we're back in 2005.

With a better team.

Mourinho can go on about his blinkered and deluded views on the game but Rafa has once again shown how things could be done even with a limited resource. His European pedigree was never in doubt and if he could get hold of the English game faster, he'll most likely be upheld as another Shankly or Paisely. Already a legend in the making.

And the players are now just a step away from European glory, forever leaving their footnote in football history, in Liverpool's annals.

The fans? Give yourself a pat on the back. Your reward is what we've gotten last night. Now bring on Athens!

For more videos and highlights, head down to for more!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May Kop Bless You

Well, this has to be the biggest night of our season so far. With the Premiership title out of our grasp since day one and got booted out of two domestic cup competitions in 6 days by Arsenal, the Champions League once again remain the only saving grace for what look like a rather disappointing season.

But with the Blues from London carrying over a solitary goal lead into Anfield tonight, they will once again come face to face with the wall of noise.

I'm talking about Anfield of course.

Two years ago, tonight, we've seen one of the most wonderful night in Anfield history and it's probably the best 'performance' from the Kopites in modern time.

But tonight, it's more than just the Kop doing it's best. The players have to be at their best as well. With that rather woeful performance at Stamford Bridge last week, they're lucky to escape with only a goal down.

With only a goal down, maybe Liverpool still sense some hope. But first and foremost, they cannot concede any more to Chelsea or the away goal will kill of any chance of Liverpool reaching their second Champions League final in 3 seasons.

To defend the one goal lead, Chelsea will have to do without Ricardo Carvalho, the Portuguese centre half whom in my eye, is their best defender. That'll force Mourinho to shift Michael Essien into defence after he was suspended last week.

Not so sure whether it's good or bad news but Andriy Shevchenko will miss out on this one due to unknown reason. It's another field day for the people at Fleet Street as they'll come up with 101 reasons why he's absent.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that he flopped in English football and in epic proportion.

That'll certainly mean Drogba to start upfront and with Joe Cole and Saloman Kalou just behind him in a 4-3-3 formation.

Liverpool, meanwhile, will welcome back Steve Finnan after being absent for the past 2 weeks through injury. That'll be a huge boost to Liverpool as it enables Benitez to shift Arbeloa back into the left back slot and freeing up Riise onto the left midfield position.

Despite making a comeback in the reserve game last night, it's a pity Harry Kewell won't make it into the squad tonight as well as other injury casualties such as Fabio Aurelio and the hero of 2005, Luis Garcia.

Who Benitez will decide to put upfront is still a guess but with Mourinho coming out claiming that Liverpool will go with Crouch, my bet would be he'll start. It's yet another mind game by Mourinho and from his words, you could tell he's fearing the big man.

Without Carvalho, can Chelsea cope with the height of Crouch?

I for one, can't wait for the kick off. It's going to be a really special night and I'm pretty positive that Liverpool will get the right result tonight. And let's anticipate yet another wonderful 'performance' from Anfield.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Drogballs' Weekend Roundup

Wheel Of Fortune

And ironically, the man who turned the race for the Premiership title is aptly named as Iain Turner. Despite leading by 2 goals to nil, Everton struggled to hold on and the goalkeeper fumbled an easy corner kick into the path of John O'Shea.

The rest as said, was history.

The picture to the left does paint two totally different stories in two parts of England which started out very indifferently.

With Chelsea being the favourites compared to ManYoo, they went into the game so full of confidence that Jose Mourinho dropped Lampard, Makalele and Drogba onto the bench.

How it backfired.

With ManYoo falling behind to an Alan Stubb's freekick, Chelsea once again failed to capitalise. Only last week, they failed to take advantage of United slipping up against 'Boro and only managed a disappointing goal-less draw with Newcastle.

They fell behind.

But Chelsea came back strongly through Saloman Kalou, who was at fault for Bolton's goal. He redeemed himself with two good goals that perhaps, saved Mourinho's blushes and gave the supporters something to cheer about as the scoreboard still shows 'ManU 0-1 Everton'.

Things only got worst over at Goodison Park after a brilliant Manuel Fernandes goal puts Everton two goals ahead. The crowd at Stamford Bridge was seen cheering after the score was displayed on the screen and gave Chelsea the little edge.

But surprisingly, Chelsea gave away a cheap goal through a set piece yet again with Kevin Davies heading home, unmarked. The look of horror on so many Chelsea fan's face at the moment but with United still trailing, they believe they might still be in for a shout.

How wrong were they, though.

One thing in football is constant and that's the unpredictability of it. Who would've given ManYoo a chance when they're 2-0 down at Goodison?

They themselves did and also with the help of Everton goalkeeper, Turner. John O'Shea was once again on hand to tuck in the goal that turned the game around. Even though treated like a utility player, O'Shea certainly did come up with the goods at the right place and right time.

That got United going and before you know it, it's 2, it's 3 and it's 4.

Conspiracy theorists might question Phil Neville's integrity as the former United player scored the equalising own goal but it still takes a whole lot of character and determination to overturn the game.

Just like so many other games this season when United looked like they're being held back, a moment of brilliance changes everything and how many times must we use the term 'championship form' on them?

On the flip side, maybe Chelsea just doesn't deserve anything this time round as they didn't impress with their style of play and their constant grinding out 1-0 wins are making football fans tired.

I loath the Red Devils but they're a breathe of fresh air at the moment with enterprising football and entertainment guaranteed all games. The flair of Ronaldo, guile of Rooney and the return of Scholes & Giggs will always be better than the nitty gritty millionaire team that only come up with the goods, only just.

Fair play.

Turn Of Events Down Below

Another thing to look forward to in the next 2 weeks would be the ever exciting relegation battle at the foot of the table. It might not be as intriguing as the one we've seen two years ago but with things happening so fast, it's still hard to predict as to who will stay up and who won't survive the drop.

It's just a case of proving everyone wrong at the moment.

We've been banging on about how Charlton and West Ham will most definitely go down few months back. Then a change of event saw Charlton picking up some vital points and going on a run while West Ham revived themselves after that 4-3 defeat to Spurs.

Then with Fulham and Wigan being so absolutely abysmal this season, they were pulled into the dogfight together and still might have a chance to relegate, with both teams having tough games ahead. Their survival might not even be in their hands and they need the other two teams to profligate and stumble before they can be ensured safety, even.

Wigan and West Ham met and the Londoners thrashed the sorry Latics 3-0 in front of the JJB stadium which was evacuated and emptied of all Wigan fans after the 80th minute icing on cake.They have overachieved last season and too much have been expected of them this season. Failed spectacularly.

Fulham's survival is always banking on home wins and that is extremely dangerous. Just look at last season, only one away win all season. Pathetic. Any improvement this season? Nope. Chance of going down? Pretty high but still a little safer than Wigan although they're to face Liverpool next week.

Stay tune for even more exciting showdowns in the coming weeks!

Relive That Night In Istanbul Again

Of so many fan made videos of that wonderful night back in May 2005, this has to be one of the best. With Ian Rush and Jan Molby giving their opinions, something not to be missed by all Liverpool fans.

Made me teared a little.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Bellamy To Leave Liverpool

*Not to be taken as a windup. Thank you*

Prior to the game against Portsmouth, Craig Bellamy has told BBC Wales that he is definitely leaving Liverpool after his relationship with Rafa Benitez has broken down and the manage doesn't speak to him.

He's not pleased that he doesn't start on a regular basis while he's also frustrated by Benitez's tactics.

No surprise there, from the Welsh, who already had so many stormy relationships with previous managers. Often seemed like a problematic player, his attitude, behaviour on and off the field has left much to be desired.

Rafa Benitez did gave him a chance at his childhood club, Liverpool, and splashed 7 million GBP for him last summer. Despite the impending hearing of the assault case, Benitez stuck with him through it and he finally did show some form after the trial was over.

But with Crouch and Kuyt forming a great partnership, Bellamy looked less likely to start in recent months and started to look disillusioned. It came as no surprise to me that he has decided to leave at the end of the season and perhaps, he's not the one we're looking for.

He has bags of speed and finishing prowess but his attitude and constant moaning will always clash with the ideology which Rafa Benitez has set out, which is to be selfless and hardworking without complains.

Farewell son, all the best. Do at least give us a farewell present before you goal. Like a goal against Chelsea next week, I guess....


Second Stringers Beaten

Hyypia Unable To Save Reds From Defeat

English Premiership

Portsmouth 2 - 1 LIVERPOOL

POR - Benjani (27min), Kranjcar (32min);
LIV - Hyypia (59min);

Emiliano Insua, Gabriel Paletta, Jack Hobbs, Nabil El Zhar and Daniele Padelli. Ring a bell?

To most neutrals, it won't. Because they're players from the Liverpool reserve team. But Rafa Benitez, with one eye on the Champions League semi final, boldly putting out an experimental squad to face a spirited Portsmouth side and were soundly beaten.

With the upcoming match deemed more important, Rafa ring changes to the side which lost 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. It was expected that Rafa will once again tinker with his squad but it's still surprising to see the likes of Jerzy Dudek, Emiliano Insua and Gabriel Paletta starting.

Belittling Portsmouth? Maybe. But we all know the reason why.

With most of the key members such as Carragher and Gerrard rested, the squad lack experience and some looked rusty. Paletta, who was made to look like an absolute buffoon by Arsenal in January during the League Cup tie, partnered with an experienced Sami Hyypia, who wore the captain's armband for the day.

But the Argentinian looked sluggish at times and was struggling to deal with the physical presence of Benjani. The Zimbabwean striker is not known for scoring but against Liverpool, he found his luck through some awful defending and calamitous goalkeeping from Dudek.

A long hopeful punt from David James dropped just outside the penalty box and as Dudek rushed off his line in bid to clear the ball, he was a step too slow and Benjani headed the ball past Dudek into the unguarded net.

Inexperience on Paletta's part for letting Benjani run free. But Dudek's mistake is pretty unforgivable, making all that he's done at Istanbul just a freak show.

Then Liverpool were caught out once again by yet another long ball. Zenden's poor control was capitalised by Lauren, whose first touch diagonal ball was well met by Croatian, Niko Kranjcar. Alvaro Arbeloa was out of position and the midfielder went on to score only his second goal in the Premiership.

Liverpool struggled to move into gear two as they failed to turn possession into goals. Fowler and Bellamy were left pretty much by themselves upfront with the Welsh striker playing in the right wing role, which baffles me.

Only when he's moved into the centre, he started to look threatening. But he was wasted down the right the whole time and Fowler's aging legs are finding it hard to cope with the pace of the game.

Despite Zenden's 25 yard half volley that rattled the bar, they had nothing to show for and once again, Mark Gonzalez was poor. He made some great runs but looked uncomfortable with the physical challenges of the Premiership and his final ball were often found wanting.

After the half time break though, Liverpool looked more determined and showed more urgency in their play. They were rewarded with a good goal from defender, Sami Hyypia.

Fowler's corner was met with his head and his header went past David James emphatically. Only then Liverpool showed some kind of belief and were cranking up the pace of the game.

But with Xabi Alonso man-marked by Gary O'Neill, Liverpool found it difficult to distribute the ball properly and had to rely on long diagonal balls over and over again. With Fowler and Bellamy, there was no height and were only constantly losing possessions.

But the spirited Portsmouth held on till the end and have a good chance to book a place in next season's UEFA Cup. They were disciplined and worked very hard throughout, making it difficult for Liverpool to play. Linvoy Primus was once again outstanding while Glen Johnson perhaps, deserves the man of the match award with a couple of well timed tackles.

For Liverpool, it's disappointing to lose the game through two terrible mistakes. But it was also a game were it looked more like a formality than anything and also, a match for the reserve players to learn and get the experience.

Emiliano Insua is perhaps, the most promising one out of the lot and performed up to standards. He was composed and comfortable on the ball, looked mature and older than he really is.

But the rest still have to buck up and improve if they ever want to don the red jersey again. Paletta needs more experience as he looked shaky and unsure at times while El Zhar had little time to make any impact.

Credit goes out to Sissoko who in my opinion, had a good game for his standards. We all know he loves to misplace passes but this game, he showed great composure and was able to do the simple things well. Please with him.

All in all, it was a forgettable match for the Liverpool faithfuls but one not to be forgotten by the Pompey fans.