Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Start of a New Era

I must admit that I was very disappointed when I heard Rafael Benitez was let go. In my opinion, Rafa was a legend and did real good for the club. But our new chairman, Martin Broughton, thought otherwise and decided it was time to say goodbye to Rafa. It all seemed gloomy.

It was a tense period in Liverpool FC when many of our star players were linked to other clubs and we were without a manager for few weeks. Many of them refused to comment on their contracts until the World Cup was over. Fans were also not pleased with the massive debt of the club thanks to the Yanks.

But a ray of light emerged with the announcement that Roy Hodgson was going to be the new Liverpool manager. It was just the kind of news everyone related to and concerned about the club was looking for.

There were quite a few people linked with the job, but Roy had to be the man to manage Liverpool FC. Hodgson has managed the national team of Switzerland and Finland and the clubs Inter Milan and Fulham. I’ll be honest that I really didn’t know how well he performed with Switzerland and Finland, but the man is experienced and respected by many. I believe that no one would have anything against Roy, except for Mohamed Al-Fayed, the owner of Fulham. Roy can speak eight languages apparently, despite being English. Quite an achievement in itself.

Roy Hodgson has started off on a positive note. He knows how to deal with the press and has all the right things to say about the club. Roy along with Christian Mark Cecil Purslow, managing director of LFC, have managed to keep the star players like Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard, Dirk Kuyt, Daniel Agger and Pepe Reina at the club in spite of being linked to other big clubs.

Talking about signings, within a month or two, Roy has shown that he is pretty good. Rafa Benitez had confirmed the signing of Milan Jovanovic in January 2010. Good news is that the new player is adjusting well to life under the new manager. Signing Danny Wilson, who managed to find a spot into the defense of Rangers at the age of 19, is one good investment for the future. Re-signing a classy left back in Aurelio, when we were falling short in that department, was also a classic move. But the icing on the cake was signing Joe Cole. It has lifted the mood altogether. With a few more days remaining in the transfer window, I expect Roy to make a few more additions to the squad.

It all seemed to be going downhill for the club. But things do look positive for Liverpool Football Club. It’s a start of a new era for Liverpool FC. We have a new manager, promising new signings and current players staying loyal to the club. It’s all over the news that Americans are willing to sell the club with Kenny Huang and Yahya Kirdi being the frontrunners for the takeover. They both have enough money to buy new players, clear the debts and build the new stadium.

At the end of a storm, there’s a golden sky.

--Manas Singh

Friday, May 7, 2010

My fears for the future of Liverpool FC

A diehard Red from Kirkby who stood on The Kop as a boy and went on to realise his dream of playing and captaining the club.

A classy defender who served Liverpool with distinction for over a decade and spent seven years on the coaching staff under Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness.

A dedicated servant who couldn’t resist the lure of the Reds when Gerard Houllier came calling to offer him the job of assistant manager.

These days Thompson’s passion for his first love burns as bright as ever but the Sky Sports pundit is hurting.

At the end of a nightmare season supporters can’t wait to see the back of, his club is wracked by uncertainty – from the search for new owners to intense speculation over the future of manager Rafa Benitez.

Liverpool are seriously lacking direction and Thompson admits he fears for the future.

“Doing what I do for Sky, I have to fight the demons all the time,” he said.

“People love to see the demise of Liverpool Football Club and have a pop at us. What’s going on upsets me – I hate seeing the football club being ridiculed like this.

“I’m an ex-player and an ex-assistant manager but overall I’m a fan.

“As a club we always did things well in the past but the way things have gone under the current ownership is shameful.”

Thompson admits there are parallels between now and May 2004 when Houllier and himself were shown the door after finishing fourth.

“I’ve been there and it’s not nice,” he said. “Everyone is talking about what’s going to happen. All the speculation is awful and this is the city when it comes to rumours.

“It’s a difficult time for everyone and you have to try to carry on under extremely difficult circumstances.

“I don’t relish the position Rafa and his staff are in. The only people who can sort it out are Rafa and those who run the football club.

“Whatever way it goes I hope it gets sorted quickly and in a sensible way.

“When Gerard left he gave a fantastic press conference. If Rafa does go I hope they come to an amicable agreement.

“This club has been in enough mess. We don’t want any more recriminations.

“In 2004 we wanted to stay but this time it’s probably going to be Rafa’s decision. It’s a very difficult situation he finds himself in.”

Supporters are split over Benitez. Many believe after six years the time has come for a parting of the ways, while others insist the club must fight tooth and nail to retain his services.

Juventus are waiting in the wings, desperate to prise Benitez away, and the Reds boss has demanded reassurances about the transfer cash at his disposal.

Thompson believes Benitez has been let down by the Anfield hierarchy.

“I sympathise with Rafa because a top level club needs strong leadership but it’s not there,” he said. “Our owners handle the club from far away and only seem to agree to disagree.

“If Rafa stays he has to be given a lot more help. Not just in terms of money but more consideration for the job he’s doing. He has to be allowed to concentrate on football, not balancing the books.

“We have to invest in the team because the squad is clearly not good enough. Spurs, Man City and Aston Villa have risen in recent years and their finances have got a lot bigger. Compare Spurs’ squad to ours, it’s got so much more depth.

“When Gerard and I finished fourth that wasn’t deemed good enough. But we didn’t have a billionaire-backed Manchester City in our way and Villa didn’t have the money they’ve spent in the last few years.

“If the club don’t back Rafa financially they might force him into the hands of Juventus. He might decide ‘how can I function with no finances to turn it around?'

“The other side of it is that a manager is judged on the signings he makes.

“Against Atletico Madrid last week he brought on Pacheco, El Zhar and Degen to try to turn things around.

“Okay we had injuries to Insua, Skrtel, Aurelio and Torres, but apart from Torres none of the rest would have made much difference.

“Our critics always pointed to the fact that big signings like Cheyrou, Diao and Diouf didn’t work out for us. Rafa has spent nearly £20million net, while we only spent £10million net.”

If Benitez does go, Thompson insists there is no guarantee Liverpool would land one of the top names who have been linked with the job.

And the 56-year-old believes the club won’t be able to progress until Tom Hicks and George Gillett sell up.

“The likes of Roy Hodgson, Martin O’Neill, Guus Hiddink and Jose Mourinho have been mentioned but would any of them come amid all the turmoil and if there’s no money to spend?,” he added.

“I hate the speculation about Torres and Gerrard leaving and I’m expecting it to go on right through the summer.

“There are no guarantees that even if we sold Torres, the manager would be able to use the cash to strengthen the squad.

“In a way it doesn’t matter whether Rafa stays or goes because until the club is sold we’re going nowhere.

“People are saying chairman Martin Broughton needs to sort out Rafa’s future but he wasn’t brought in for that. His brief was to sell the club and that’s what we need him to focus on.

“Martin has to tell the owners what is a proper price for the club and convince them to get the deal done quickly.

“These are worrying times and I’m dreading another transfer window where we have to settle for free transfers and cheap buys.

“It’s frightening where the football club is going. I fear for my club.”

Article published on LiverpoolEcho

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Return of 'THE KING'

Liverpool supporters were rejoicing last night after it was confirmed that Kenny Dalglish is to return to Anfield.After months of negotiations, the legendary former Liverpool player and manager has agreed to take on a senior role at the club’s academy, where he will be responsible for overseeing the development of their burgeoning young talents.Dalglish, 58, will also serve as a global ambassador for the club, fulfilling much the same duties as Sir Bobby Charlton does at Manchester United, although perhaps more pertinently in the eyes of Liverpool fans, he will act as a sounding board for Rafael Benítez, the manager.“I am very excited, but also a bit nervous,” Dalglish said. “For the boss to put his trust in me is a great compliment and I am coming back as a very lucky person. When you leave a club you don’t often have a chance to return, so I am fortunate. Rafa has made a very brave decision to revamp the academy.“There are lots of positive things happening here and there is a real feel-good factor around the place. Hopefully we can start producing players to challenge for a place in Rafa’s plans. It won’t happen overnight. There’s a lot of work to be done and I will do whatever is asked of me.”Benítez was instrumental in urging Dalglish to rejoin the club, more than 18 years after he resigned as manager, and his role as a buffer between the Spaniard and an incoming chief executive and Christian Purslow, the recently appointed managing director, could prove crucial to Liverpool’s success in the years ahead.The Liverpool manager often clashed with Rick Parry, whose 11-year tenure as chief executive formally ended on Wednesday. But fans will hope that Dalglish’s presence can help to avert some of the boardroom confrontations that have hampered the club in recent years and also have a positive impact on Benítez’s relationship with Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr, the American co-owners.“When you talk to Dalglish about players and football systems it’s clear he has a lot of experience,” Benítez said. “That’s good for the club and young players. We are bringing in new ideas and people \ but we’re keeping the spirit and the heart.”As far as mentors go, Liverpool’s aspiring players could probably not ask for anyone better to guide their futures than the man widely regarded as the best player in the club’s long and distinguished history.Bob Paisley, the former Liverpool manager, broke the British transfer record by paying Celtic £440,000 to bring Dalglish to Anfield in 1977 as a replacement for Kevin Keegan, and he did not disappoint. Dalglish scored 172 goals in 515 games for Liverpool, winning the European Cup three times and a host of other trophies in the process. As player-manager, he guided the club to their first league and cup double in his debut season in charge in 1985-86. He was also the last Liverpool manager to win the league title, in 1990, although Benítez will hope to change that next season.Although Dalglish’s resignation in February 1991 came as a bitter disappointment to the club, he brought a smile to the faces of Liverpool supporters again by managing Blackburn Rovers to the Premier League title at Manchester United’s expense in 1995 and he subsequently worked for Newcastle United and Celtic -TIMES ONLINE

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hillsborough Disaster.... 20 years on......

The Hillsborough disaster occurred on April 15, 1989, at Hillsborough, a football stadium in Sheffield, England, resulting in the loss of 96 lives.
Liverpool F.C. were involved in their 17th FA Cup Semi-Final, to be played against Nottingham Forest F.C. at Hillsborough, the home of Sheffield Wednesday F.C..

Football had been plagued by hooliganism for years in many countries but particularly in the United Kingdom. Football hooliganism in the UK often involves pitch invasions and the throwing of a variety of missiles - in response most stadiums placed high chainlink fences between the seats and terraces and the pitch (terraces were cheaper standing areas without seats). However, it was not hooliganism that day, but the fear of it, that led to the death of ninety-six people.

The stadium was divided into two parts in order to keep the opposing fans apart: the Liverpool supporters being assigned to the Leppings Lane End. Kick off was scheduled for 3.00pm and many of the Liverpool supporters were late arriving. By 2.45pm there was a considerable buildup of fans outside the turnstiles at the Leppings Lane End, all eager to enter the stadium before the match started. With a crowd of 5000 fans (est) trying to get through the turnstiles the police decided to open a second set of gates which did not have turnstiles. The resulting inpouring of hundreds (possibly thousands) of fans at the rear of the terraces caused a crush at the front where people were pressed against the fencing. For some time the problem was not noticed and it was not until 3:06pm that the referee stopped the game. By this time a small door in the fencing had been opened and by this route many escaped the crush - others climbed over the fencing.

The pitch quickly started to fill with people sweating and gasping for breath and with the bodies of the dead. The police and ambulance services were overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster and fans helped as best they could, many attempting CPR and some tearing down advertising hoardings to act as makeshift stretchers. The crush ultimately took the lives of 96 people.

Graphic footage of the disaster was available because the match was being broadcast and this along with the number of fatalities made an extreme impact on the general population.

A permanent tribute to those who lost their lives can be found alongside the Shankly Gates at Anfield. A further tribute was set up in 1999 at Hillsborough.

The Taylor Inquiry

Following the disaster, Lord Justice Taylor was appointed to conduct an inquiry into the tragedy. Taylor's inquiry sat for thirty one days and published two reports, one interim report that laid out the events of the day and immediate conclusions and one final report that made general recommendations on football ground safety. As a result of the inquiry, fences in front of fans were removed and stadia were converted to become all-seated.

There was considerable debate over some aspects of the disaster; in particular, attention was focused on the decision to open the secondary gates. It was suggested that it would have been better to delay the start of the game as had often been done at other venues and matches. The police claimed that they were concerned that the crush outside the stadium was getting out of control and accusations were made that some Liverpool fans did not have tickets and were trying to force the turnstiles. Other accusations of misbehaviour were made in relation to the crowd, however, no substantial evidence was presented to this effect.

Boycott The Sun

On the Tuesday following the disaster, Kelvin MacKenzie, then editor of The Sun, a British tabloid newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch, used the front page headline 'THE TRUTH', with three sub-headlines: 'Some fans picked pockets of victims'; 'Some fans urinated on the brave cops'; 'Some fans beat up PC giving kiss of life'.

The story accompanying these headlines claimed that 'drunken Liverpool fans viciously attacked rescue workers as they tried to revive victims' and 'police officers, firemen and ambulance crew were punched, kicked and urinated upon'. A quote, attributed to an unnamed policeman, claimed that a dead girl had been abused and that Liverpool fans 'were openly urinating on us and the bodies of the dead'.

In their history of The Sun, Peter Chippendale and Chris Horrie wrote:
'As MacKenzie's layout was seen by more and more people, a collective shudder ran through the office [but] MacKenzie's dominance was so total there was nobody left in the organisation who could rein him in except Murdoch. [Everyone] seemed paralysed, "looking like rabbits in the headlights", as one hack described them. The error staring them in the face was too glaring. It obviously wasn't a silly mistake; nor was it a simple oversight. Nobody really had any comment on it—they just took one look and went away shaking their heads in wonder at the enormity of it. It was a "classic smear".'

Lord Justice Taylor's official inquiry into the disaster disparaged The Sun's story and was unequivocal as to the disaster's cause:
'The real cause of the Hillsborough disaster [was] overcrowding, the main reason for the disaster was the failure of police control.'

Following The Sun's report, the newspaper was boycotted by most newsagents in Liverpool, with many refusing to stock the tabloid and large numbers of readers cancelling orders and even refusing to buy from shops which did stock the newspaper.

MacKenzie explained his reporting in 1993. Talking to a House of Commons National Heritage Select Committee he said "I regret Hillsborough. It was a fundamental mistake. The mistake was I believed what an MP said. It was a Tory MP. If he had not said it and the chief superintendent had not agreed with it, we would not have gone with it." This explanation was not accepted by families of Hillsborough victims. Even fifteen years after the Hillsborough disaster, the circulation of The Sun in Liverpool is still reckoned to be only 12,000 copies a day where previously it was around 200,000.

The Sun itself issued an apology "without reservation" in a full page opinion piece on 7 July 2004, saying it had that "committed the most terrible mistake in its history." The Sun was responding to the intense criticism of Wayne Rooney, a Liverpool-born football star who then still played in the city (for Everton), who had sold his life story to the newspaper. Rooney's actions had incensed Liverpool dwellers still angry at The Sun. The Sun's apology was somewhat bullish, saying that the "campaign of hate" against Rooney was organised in part by the Liverpool Daily Post & Echo, owned by Trinity Mirror, who also own the Daily Mirror, arch-rivals of The Sun. Thus the apology actually served to anger some Liverpudlians further. The Liverpool Echo itself did not accept the apology, calling it "shabby" and "an attempt, once again, to exploit the Hillsborough dead."

Monday, January 5, 2009

Spaceman Spiff...Speaks

Ok, if you're expecting a raving lunatic going ga-ga over Liverpool, then you'll be disappointed as you read further. So, here's the Statutory Warning: Post by a Non-Liverpool/Football Fan. Wearing a Blue tee to a LP match, I think, is proof enough.
So, as I moved my butt through occupied bar-stools, a few tore they eyes off the big screen to give me a dirty look..which said…"Oi! It's Liverpool mate…. Red..not Blue!". Finally into a uncomfy chair, I ordered for a tall .. cool glass of….Ice Tea :P. And without doubt, it was one of the best I've had.
Anyways, by the time I was settled in, Arsenal had scored 1 LP's 0. I won't go through the commentary, or the match highlights, this post isn't about that. This post is about the hooligans that were seated at Irish Pub, Khar, hurling abuses at the opposite team with more fervor than the players themselves.. and a few directed towards the Referee too.
While I am a complete noob when it comes to players and teams, game rules, I am acquainted with. So, it was fairly easy to side with Liverpool once I figured out which jersey was LP's… thirst quenched, I showed off the best of the array of bad words I had for the referee .. He just wasn't strict enough ..bloody bald bugger.
While the match wasn't the best performance by LP afaik, it did show that LP fans in Mumbai do know how to don their sombreros, mouth off the choicest slang, and at the end of the day… have a great time, which also includes singing mundane songs, which made no sense to me…. Remember that movie where first contact is made with the aliens, and communication is done using some mundane tune? Well, yeah.. I felt like the alien from space, only thing was, I simply didn't get what these almost extinct dodo's were trying to say in their whole cacophony of cheering.
All in all… looking forward to the next LFMC meet… till then I'm learning new languages…by which I mean the abuses from those languages of course!