Saturday, June 30, 2007

Frank Lampard On Holiday

Well, my mate saw him. This is just one of the few sneaky photos taken from his back...

Put on another few stones, didn't he? :P

7: Peter Crouch (3rd) vs Arsenal

I was so devastated because back then, I didn't catch this game and I probably missed one of the most spectacular match we're involved in for some time, in the Premiership of course.

Peter Crouch grabbed the 'perfect hat trick' with his right foot, a header and then this one that sealed the fate of Arsenal.

Mesmerised by the way he controlled the ball and with Gallas & Toure hovering near you, it takes much more than skill to beat the two. He was confident, he was comfortable. Here I see a football journeyman whom finally made the mark and is going a level higher.

If Rafa starts him more often, I can't wait to see what damage he can do to some top teams out there.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Here Comes Torres...?

Athletico Skipper To Move To Anfield For Record Breaking £27m

Smokescreens and speculation fire fanned into flame, Fernando Torres' deal with Liverpool seemed imminent. After months and months of intense speculations and thought-to-be-made-out rumours, the deal now seemed to be struck.

Once the player returns from his holiday at Polynesia, he'll be available to sign on the dotted line and will become Liverpool's most expensive signing in their history.

Previously, £14m was the transfer record, which brought Djibril Cisse from Auxerre to Liverpool. Although throughout his stint at the Anfield club, he didn't manage to justify the high price Gerard Houllier paid for him.

This time round, another big gamble on a Spanish striker. Will it turn out to be Fernando Morientes MKII? Will he be yet another flop? To tell you the truth, all transfers ARE gambles and whether it pays off or not is not really up to us to determine.

Working with Rafa to get the best out of himself is one mentality he must have. He must be teachable and willing to learn. Seeing that he captains the Athletico Madrid side at the tender age of 22 shows perhaps, maturity beyond his age.

Then, he must cope with the physical side of the English game, unseen in his homeland. Adaptability is another we can't do anything about other than just making him feel at home here. There'll be times when he'll face goalscoring drought especially early on when he's settling in and I hope to God that you fans won't make a din out of it and stay behind him IF possible.

Pressure will be on him, for he is going to be the record signing for a club with great history and reputation. But I'm certain he'll excel here at Anfield and has many years ahead of him to offer for the club.

Another key of note, Liverpool will not pay the full price of £27m for him to trigger the release clause but in exchange of Luis Garcia in that direction for a fee around £4m. So it'll be a money + player exchange deal.

Luis Garcia has been a fine servant for the club for the past 3 seasons and we all have seen what he could offer to the club. Goals against Chelsea and Juventus brought back good memories of the days we went from zero to Champions League winner, all the way back in 2005.

But as he's now nearing his 30s and stated his desire to one day, play in his homeland once again, maybe it's the perfect opportunity to send him back to where he always wanted to play, Althetico Madrid.

Also, injuries are getting to him as he missed a large portion of last season. Rafa loves him as a player, we all know, but maybe the manager feels it's time to let him go and bring in fresh blood.

The signing of Torres could be announce next week and it could mean more players are to follow, most importantly, Luis Garcia's replacement. It could very well be Yossi Benayoun of West Ham.

Source 1: The Independent Online: Liverpool will pay record-breaking £27m for Torres

Source 2: Guardian Unlimited Online: £27m Torres heading for Anfield as Benítez makes striking move

Is This REALLY The New Anfield?

Leaked on various forums, not sure if it's legal to upload it but better have a look before I get sued, anyway.

Excerpts from people who actually saw the stadium design, it actually fits the bill.

From This Is Anfield:

All four sides are said to be unique and different from another, one description used states “Whether intentional or not it seems to reflect the way British grounds have been built in the past, i.e. where stadiums would grow and modernise by developing one side at a time, reflecting the era they were built and creating a rather adhoc arrangement of styles. If this was the source of inspiration I think it has been very bold and clever.”

Gillett and Hicks have already stated The Kop will be the focal point and hold 20,000 supporters. This is described as being a vast single tier stand which overlooks the rest of the stadium, particularly the opposite end which is said to be similar to the smaller end at Porto’s Drago Stadium.

Fans will be pleased to hear The Kop is somewhat similar to Dortmund’s Sudtribune, but rounding at the sides.
What do you think of the new design, compared to the old one? Is it a little to over-sophisticated? Is it too bold and brazen? Is the checkered colours on the Kop making you feel sick?

Hang On, Rafa....

Hang on, hang on! I thought Jerzy Dudek put on a sh*t load of weight over the summer and balding occured. But why on earth is he shaking Momo's hand?

Oh, it's Rafa Benitez with the new look goatee. Brilliant, looking more like a typical scouser (no offence, really).

In other news, Momo Sissoko just signed a 4 year contract with Liverpool. This means there is serious competition in the central midfield area with Gerrard, Alonso, Mascherano & Lucas providing the challenge for the Malian international.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The All-Spanish Update

Will History Repeats Itself After Real Sack Capello?

Shock and horror. Real Madrid decides to get rid of the title winning Italian coach, Fabio Capello, despite the prestigious club winning the coveted Spanish La Liga title for the first time in 4 years.

For a club with it's stature and history, being barren for 4 whole years is not a good reading, especially being pipped by Catalan rivals, Barcelona, for the last 2 years.

I might not watch the La Liga matches as religiously as I watch Liverpool but I do read about them on various websites and watches the highlight show on TV. 4 weeks before Real Madrid were actually crowned the champion, I already knew they were going to win it.

Written in the stars? Last gasp winners? Perhaps even because it was Beckham's swan-song? But to some extent, it was Capello who breathe new breath into the once glorious club, stabilised the rocking ship and ultimately getting to the holy grail.

Not exactly shocking but more baffled by the decision of the Real Madrid president, Ramon Calderon, to sack the manager after only one season at the club.

You have to ask whether have they learned anything from the past decade. Underachieving, massive ego problems, player power and cliques within the 'Galaticos'. Just when it all finally seemed to settle down, Mr. Calderon decides to drop a bombshell that will rock the ship again.

Seeing the news actually brought back comparison with their former manager, Vicente Del Bosque, who was sacked back in the 2002/03 season despite winning the league and reaching the semi finals of the Champions League.

From then on, Real Madrid's road to glory went pear shaped and like a ship tossed to and fro in the stormy seas, they struggled to steady it. Changing 5 managers in 4 years tells a story about the stability of the club, that they never manage to settle down with someone.

Different coaches brought in different styles of play and the way each manager works are totally different from the rest. Therefore I believe it is important to stick with the same guy for the job for as long as possible. Winning the league for them is a good enough job, so why the sacking?

Unless they have someone better in place?

Arsenal fans, I can hear your heart rate going up. Because Arsene Wenger is one of the managers in line for the job but I myself don't feel good at all, with Rafa Benitez constantly linked with a move to the Spanish capital.

Bernd Schuster, the German manager of the high-flying Getafe, is also heavily linked with a move to the Santiago Bernebéu.

Whether this decision proves to be a success or not is still to be seen. Capello's handling of the Beckham affair makes him look rather silly while his authoritarian style might be going against the principle of Real Madrid and it's superstars.

What's next for Real Madrid? It's going to be worrying for them because the image that they portray to the public is that they are constantly looking to chop and change things and the pressure of the job is going to be so great that it might scare some potential managers off.

To me, a bad move. Whoever they'll appoint for next season, they're going to have a tough time readjusting to the new style brought in and new life under the coach.

With Barcelona already signaling the intent to up the ante with the signing of Thierry Henry and perhaps, Eric Abidal & Cristian Chivu, Real Madrid needs to build a consistent team with a leader that will be there throughout, not for a short period of time.

Liverpool Sign Mikel San Jose & Nikolay Mikhailov

Another 2 youngsters into the academy squad. Not much known about them but I take it as an intent from Rafa Benitez that he is here to stay for as long as possible, to oversee the development of these young gems.

San Jose is a youngster from Athletico Bilbao and plays in defence as well as in the anchor role. Seems like we're having absolutely no trouble in that position, eh? Keeping a collection of defensive midfielders is always good I guess...

Mikhailov is from Levski Sofia and is a Bulgarian goalkeeper, son of the head of Bulgarian FA. A talented goalkeeper in training, his attitude seemed to be the problem many people have highlighted.

He has got Champions League and international football experience under his belt despite only celebrating his 19th birthday today.

Performance wise, he has certainly not set the world alight with some careless mistakes like the one where he failed to control a backpass and the ball ending up in the back of his own net. Other notorious incidents including conceding 5 goals against the Scots *cough cough*.

Whatever it is, we shall welcome these kids with open arms and hopefully, they'll turn out to be something we expect them to be.

8: Steven Gerrard vs Bolton

Dear oh dear, it's our skipper on the list again. But who can blame him for constantly scoring some majestic goals such as this one, a perfect example of arriving in the box late, catching defenders sleeping and finishing it with some style.

Throughout the coverage of the Top 25 goals, I noticed that Pennant actually did a great job for the team and he has been pretty decent to be honest. I still have my doubts over him but overall, he seemed to play a heavy role in some of the fantastic goals we scored.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

9: Steven Gerrard vs Middlesbrough

You know you're going to see an awful lot of that name when it comes to goal of the season competition, isn't it? Well, more so when he scores one wonder goal each season against Middlesbrough.

We remembered that volley from 35 yards out and once again Gerrard became the jinx of 'Boro again.

I personally love this goal because it was started off with a fantastic move. The passing and movement between the midfielders was superb as they held up the ball, move it around and then found Gerrard with acres of space.

Without a doubt, the skipper finished with aplomb.

10: Xabi Alonso vs Watford

I think not many of us would've remembered this great goal. Only after I started to go back and look at all the goals scored in the 2006/07 season then I realise what a fantastic goal it was.

It was a move from the back to the front and Xabi Alonso, the technically gifted midfielder side footed it past Ben Foster.

Reaching the top 10 finally, are you excited? :p

Monday, June 25, 2007

Relax, Maybe Torres Is On His Way?

Perhaps Rafa had seen my article that lamented on our general sloppiness when it comes to the transfer market. For the past few seasons it has been due to the lack of resources. We're a pretty successful club but being a modest club, Liverpool seldom splash big bucks for players.

Looking at our record signing, 14 million GBP for Cissé, says it all. Although he ain't really that good and still probably didn't justify that price tag, 14 million is usually looked to as a small sum when it comes to the bigger teams across the continent.

Time to spend big now, with huge backing from George Gilett and Tom Hicks but hey, we're still waiting.

Incidentally, Rafa Benitez came out and preach a message of patience to the masses of fans like us to stay calm. The words are from the very man whom got all agitated and annoyed earlier this month when he quoted saying 'we only talk and talk but no action'.

Maybe he already has something in place. For he also mentioned that he'll want to add 'someone'
into the squad before the Pre-season training starts, which is by the way, this Thursday. Snoogy doogy perhaps?

According to papers and the media, we're closely linked with Fernando Torres, the Spanish striker whom was seen wearing his Atletico Madrid armband with 'You'll Never Walk Alone' on the flip side.

With the impending departure of Theirry Henry from Arsenal, it could pose a serious threat to our bid as Arsenal might just hijack the deal but seeing that they will not be ready to offer big money as to trigger Torres' contract clause, it's really up to Liverpool to seize the moment.

Rumours has it that Atletico wants Peter Crouch in return but we all know how important the 'bean pole' is to the club. Craig Bellamy is never the most wanted player in Europe and it's left with Djibril Cissé, who will not be farmed out to any clubs anymore. The faster we get rid of him the better, according to Rafa.

The minimum clause for Torres' contract is believed to be up to 25 million GBP and that the discussion between Atletico and Liverpool has come to a compromise that Liverpool will offer Cissé in their direction plus cash, little less than 20 million.

As a football fan with a soft spot for Spain (I supported them in the '06 World Cup), I always thought Torres is a pretty decent striker with good pace and intelligence on the pitch. Although his goal return in the La Liga seemed to deteriorate each season, with only 13 to account for in the 06/07 season, it's perhaps time for Torres to move on.

Whether he'll turn out to be the new Ian Rush with a big price tag or just another victim in the dearth of strikers at Anfield, it's probably pleasing to hear about our interest in the big names. Capturing Torres would mean more than his contribution on the pitch.

He's like a Beckham of Spain, in some ways. The suave and stylish Spaniard could probably boost Liverpool's merchandising sales in the continental region while it shows forth the club's ambition to move on from a club that signs players of quantity rather than quality.

Although still unsure whether he'll be able to adapt to the English game, I'm all for this move and here's hoping that we'll strike the deal fast. His arrival could probably spark off interest from players to join in the 'Rafa-lution'.

What's your take?

11: John Arne Riise vs PSV Eindhoven

Goal that came from a defensive error on PSV's part but what a goal from Riise again. He seldom scores but when he scores, he always seemingly ensures that it's enough to break the net within the goal.