Thursday, November 15, 2007

Memoirs Of A Liverpool Fan

Came across this article and it's really worth a read, though a little lengthy.

50 Hell’s angels, February 26, 2002
There was plenty of apprehension for any British fans going to Istanbul in the early years of this decade. After all, two Leeds United fans were stabbed to death in 2000 before playing Galatasaray and the locals’ ‘Welcome to Hell’ banners had sent shivers down Manchester United spines. However, Liverpool’s visit to Gala in the second Champions League group was different. The visiting fans’ approach was summed up with a banner; “Welcome to hell my arse. If you think this is hell, try the Grafton on a Friday night.”

The Grafton is a nightclub, famous for ‘grab-a-granny’ nights, where innocent young scallies find themselves at the mercy of predatory Liverpool divorcees. But the attitude was perfect: no fear, no aggressive confrontation and a slice of humour. It sums up the best attributes of the modern Liverpool fan. And, since then, every time the Reds have played in Istanbul, the local supporters have joined their party. And this is the essence of this list. The culture of football is about more than players and managers – in ten years, most of them will have moved on. It exists and grows through the supporters as much as the team.

24 Liverpool 1 Real Madrid 0, European Cup final, May 27, 1981, Paris
To really play with the big boys, you need at least three European Cups. After all, small clubs can win two – Nottingham Forest, FC Porto, Manchester United. This was the hat-trick in the Parc des Princes, against one of those big boys. Alan Kennedy completed the job with a late goal at a time when no team in Europe relished playing Liverpool.

3 Half-time, Liverpool v AC Milan, European Cup final, Istanbul, May 25, 2005
“That’s it. Game over,” Andy Gray said, unable to keep the tone of satisfaction out of his voice. Of course, no one in the Ataturk could hear the television commentary but, at 3-0 down as the break loomed, Liverpool looked beaten. Then, with the players trooped down the tunnel, someone started singing You’ll Never Walk Alone. It started hesitantly, with an undertone of anger, but suddenly turned into the ultimate assertion of culture and belief. When it finished, the tension had lifted and the 40,000 Liverpool fans were no longer broken and defeated, even if the team was. Did this act of faith inspire the subsequent comeback from the team? If it didn’t, they don’t have a shred of soul between them.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Star Men Earned Reds Victory

English Premiership

LIVERPOOL 2 - 0 Fulham

LIV - Torres (81min), Gerrard (pen 85min);

A late show from the deadly duo of Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard gave Liverpool a hard fought 2-0 win at Anfield. They struck in the final 10 minutes of the game and secured all 3 points just when the home side thought it was not going to be their day.

The match was a stark contrast to that 8-0 demolition of Besiktas in the midweek Champions League game as Liverpool found it difficult to break down a resilient and organised Fulham side.

This game, once again, epitomises Fulham's Achilles heels, which is the final 10 minutes of the game when players tire out and loses concentration. A shocking statistic showed that if a Premiership game would last only 45 minutes, the London side would've been on top of the league.

Their current league position tells the story, really.

Rafa Benitez, perhaps listening to his 'rotation' critics, named an unchanged side, to the surprise of many including the fans. Yet in this game, Liverpool struggled to keep up the tempo of the game and didn't look as fluid as they did on Wednesday.

For 80 minutes, Liverpool laboured and found it extremely frustrating, trying to break down the wall that Fulham had put to mitigate them yet it was the class of Fernando Torres and the composure of Steven Gerrard that ultimately breached the defence of Fulham.

Coming on as a substitute for the ineffectual Andriy Voronin, Torres latched onto a clearance from goalkeeper, Pepe Reina, before putting the ball past Antti Niemi, something which Liverpool struggled to do for the whole game.

The goal frame did deny Liverpool a chance to go ahead though. Peter Crouch headed a Fabio Aurelio freekick onto the crossbar just before half time while Sami Hyypia and Yossi Benayoun forced Niemi to pull off some decent saves.

The goal gave Liverpool belief and relieved the pressure and tension that was building up around the Kop End.

As Liverpool upped their tempo, they began to impose themselves more and as fortune favours the brave, they were awarded a penalty for a foul which looked to be outside the box. Carlos Bocanegra was adjudged to have clipped Peter Crouch on his heels and referee pointed to the spot straight away.

With several penalties missed against London sides, Gerrard didn't let past experience haunt him and he sent Niemi the wrong way, planted the ball into the right bottom corner of the net.

The Kop was in full voice and the elation of the fans were apparent.

A game which summed up pretty much about the gulf of quality between the clubs, which without a doubt, exist in the Premiership. Yet for Fulham to hung on for 80 minutes against a rampant Liverpool side, they must be given some credit.

But what is the point of playing well for 80 and then lose it all in the final 10? This is when the difference in quality comes in.

Fernando Torres came to Liverpool as a scorer and yesterday, we could say he did his job. He came on, he made an impact and all three points in the bag. It was the quality that oozes out of the 23 year old that really impresses everyone, his maturity and his adaptiveness to the hustle and bustle of the Premiership is admirable.

His finishing was clinical and his movement supreme. His pace gave Liverpool something more, an extra cutting edge. Credits should go to him, remembering that he just came back from an injury.

Like a heavy weight boxing match, it wasn't, at times, the best match to watch as chances are at premium. Yet when Liverpool smash the final blow, it was just enough to finish the opponents off.

It was a fairly equal match but as we know, it only takes a second to score and a quality player like Torres is all that is needed to turn a game around.