Saturday, November 26, 2016

Rafa: Door is open for Gerrard at Newcastle

Newcastle United boss Rafael Benitez told reports that he and the club are open to Steven Gerrard joining them as a coach at St James' Park.

This is what he had to say:

"I think the club was talking about it having an 'open door policy'."

"You are talking about a player with such a high level and who has been so good that he could be a coach anywhere. So I don't think that he will say 'oh, I will go to Newcastle'. Normally, he will say 'I will go to Liverpool'. But if he wants to talk about that, then we can talk. Always, we have space for good people."

"I was really lucky because we got the best from Steven. He scored 104 goals for us when we were there. He was the kind of player where you will not find too many now – a good professional and leader on the pitch. He was working so hard off the pitch and an example for everyone. He played in different positions so he was learning the understanding of the game, maybe he can be a good coach in the future."

"If he wants to talk to me about that, we can be in contact, and hopefully I can give him some good ideas."

"We are talking about one of the best players I ever had. He can be an inspiration to the rest of the team like in Istanbul. Thanks to him, we won the Champions League in Istanbul. Everything was special that day. If he wants to come and talk about how to approach things, I can give my ideas, but he also has a lot of people around who can give him some advice."


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Sturridge scores twice in Reds win over Villa

Benteke, Firmino and Lovren (to the relief of most) were ruled out with injury while Sturridge returned after being rested against Carlisle to pair alongside Ings who was fresh off scoring in the mid-week fixture.

For what nearly seemed high-pressure game for Rodgers given the speculation around his continued tenure at Anfield, the Reds got off to a terrific start as captain James Milner opened the scoring inside 2 minutes with a low drive into the bottom corner after Coutinho found him at the edge of the box.

Liverpool had control of the game and the ball for most period of time, pushing Villa back into defending with nearly all players back during the first half. We had couple of chances to increase the lead but didn't manage to capitalize on that.

Into the second half, Sturridge scored his first goal of the season after such a long injury spell and what a goal that was he strikes a volley from outside of his left foot, across the keeper into the goal. It was a beauty after managing superbly well to control the ball before finishing it.

Villa pulled one back with Gestede but Sturridge double his tally and restored the 2-goal by slotting the ball past the keeper after some brilliant interplay between Coutinho who set the goal up by a sweet backheel.

Gestede again got a goal back for the visitors with a towering header, and the keeper couldn't have done anything about that. They managed to twice walk over our defence which made it slightly nervy end to the goal but we played with lots of determination and attacking intent. While defence would still need a lot of work, it is a great boost to have Sturridge fit and kicking. It was 3 points at the end as the game finished Liverpool 3-2 Aston Villa and Brendan Rodgers lives to fight another day.

Originally posted on A Red Diary.


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Reds held to 1-1 draw by Norwich

Daniel Sturridge (yes, finally!) and Coutinho return to the lineup against Norwich City after a disappointing spell of games, and having played out a 1-1 draw mid-week against Bordeaux.

First time this season we had our best available striking partnership up front with both Sturridge Benteke leading the team out. Sakho, back of signing a long-term contract with us, and Moreno also came into the side after their encouraging performance in the Europa League tie.

The first half didn't have much for either side to show for as it ended goalless. There were few off chances for both sides but nothing coming out of it. This sparked a half-time substitution by Rodgers to replace Benteke (injury?) with Danny Ings - and this reaped immediate return as Ings grabbed his first goal for the club inside 3 minutes of coming on after calmly controlling a sweet through ball by Moreno before carefully slotting it past Ruddy (who was up to anything and everything that we threw at them, expect for this one occasion).

Russell Martin level the scoreline at 61' minutes by lobbing the ball past Mignolet, who wasn't able to punch the ball into safety and instead dropped to Martin - and he made sure we were punished for that.

Ings had a wonderful chance to get another after what was a good build-up play between him and Lallana to force their way into the penalty box full of defenders but he lost control with a heavy touch after having dribbled past the keeper. Coutinho also had a chance as he was set one-on-one with the keeper after the Referee allowed a good advantage for Reds, but his shot was right at oncoming Ruddy and was pushed away to safety.

Coutinho, Lallana, Ings and Moreno seemed in better shape today playing in their natural positions and were creating few openings late into the second half. Obviously this was too little too late, and yet again Firmino (who came on for Lucas in the second half) didn't make much impact.

Boos rang around Anfield (even the Kop end if you'd believe!) at the final whistle as Liverpool failed to make the most of the chances created in the second half and the game ended with a point for each side. Disappointing, yes - but atleast we created chances. Don't get me wrong, a draw against Norwich at Anfield is bad and what is more pathetic is that we are without a victory in the last 5 games. And the increasing majority want a change at the position held by Brendan Rodgers as the heat just keeps on increasing.

Next up - Carlisle United in the Football League Cup Third round on the Wednesday, 23rd September. Gone are those days when we could actually be sure about any game. It might as well be a completely different struggle when we face off the League Two side.

Originally posted on A Red Diary.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

The problem is more than Brendan

I am sure every red right now is frustrated not just with the result last night but also the way Brendan dictated terms in the game. The press conference was equally annoying for all of us. I couldn't sleep for sometime after the game as I was thinking what is the actual problem. Is it Brendan Rodgers or something else?

Brendan is the man who has been playing our good players in wrong position. Be it Sterling, Can, Markovic, Gomez, Ings, Firmino etc etc... The list goes on. Also spending so much this season, depending on a hope of successful return of injury prone Sturridge, missing Henderson in spite of having a good set of midfielders, conceding goals with an unsettled centre back pair, not using Sakho and loaning out Ilori without trying him are some of the reasons why we can be realistic of finishing outside top four. Even if we get there will that mean an achievement? Will we ever win a league?

After so many thoughts, I couldn't still come to a conclusion that if Brendan is replaced with say Klopp or any other macho man, are our problems going to be solved???

Let's not blame the kiddo Sterling for leaving us. You can't expect everyone at Anfield to be a Dalglish or a Gerrard or a Carragher that they would give their blood all the time to the club at the cost of the lucrative offers.

Our owners have to be blamed a bit more I guess. Brendan always came in here as a long term project and he has been unsuccessful except the season when SAS fired us back to top two. Every English club has a problem with ownership here and there. Arsenal don't prefer paying huge wages and United owners are hated by their every fan. Chelsea and City have billionaires funding them. These owners either have money or special liking towards buying players and a strong understanding of the game, or even both. Liverpool owners lack both. They won't spend smartly huge (by smartly huge I mean say 40Mn for Mata or 300,000 salary to attract stars) and they don't understand English football dynamics. Look at how Chelsea brokered a deal for Costa. We could not even pressurise Barca to give Sanchez in return when we sold Suarez to them. I don't say our owners are misers but they spend too much in panic (Carroll, Balotelli, Benteke). Carroll all believes I am sure. Balotelli was a huge risk for 16 million. I still think Remy should have been bought. How can he fail a medical and clear it at the Bridge? Definitely something fishy. For Benteke, his last night goal was awesome. But 32 million for him will remain debatable unless he scores 25+ goals in the league by the end of this season. Also, the lack of English football understanding and more business oriented methodology is making our owners lose the battle since they started it. Definitely better than our previous owners but things need to be put to practice in an innovative approach and that too quicker.

We were linked with Ayew in the past but never got him, also Agger should have been kept not just for his loyalty but the way he has been strong at back. Still Brendan thought of buying a Saints defender by paying more than 20 million. Not a business to be used as a success story.

Considering that this season, Brendan has been given authority to choose his targets, he could have done better. Too early to judge our recruits. So let us not get into that. But, are the departments that wanted change or better recruits been answered? Losing Sterling? Ibe is good but would take 3-4 years to get there, lets be honest. Goalkeeping again Mignolet is inconsistent. Bodgan is average and can't be put between the sticks right away. Migno is not the one who can change the game for us, the way De Gea does for United. We could have tried Romero as a better back up. Definitely many were available in the market who were better than Bodgan. Clyne is better than Johnson as the right wing back. But what about left? Moreno needed competition. Enrique couldn't be sold. And Brendan is using Gomez on the left flank now. The kid is doing a great job but for big games we need experienced and proven players. We could see the way we gifted penalty to United yesterday. I have already mentioned about the centre back positions. Lucas is good as a defensive midfielder but not sure how long he will be fit this season. Can is definitely going to improve over a period of time but more of an attacking player. Strikers yes we have many. But using Ings as a winger is a sign that Brendan has got it all wrong.

I just hope all these issues are addressed quickly by Liverpool as a club. I do agree sacking Brendan is not the only solution. Our owners need to intervene more and demand some players they really want here. Also, they need to give an ultimatum to Brendan and remind him that long project is quantified enough to throw him out. Fingers crossed. The club needs to deliver now for its supporters. You will never walk alone!


No consolation for Reds

Liverpool came into this game one point better off than same time last year as they visited Old Trafford for a face-off which is known all round the world for one of the fiercest rivalries in football. The Reds (nah, not Man United) secured Christian Benteke who scored both home and away last season against the Red Devils for Aston Villa; David De Gea returned to the Manchester United side after his Real Madrid move fell through.
Both teams were missing some of their stars - Danny Ings replacing the suspended Philippe Coutinho (Henderson and Lallana still out with injury) while on the other end, Marouane Fellaini was named up front instead of Wayne Rooney who missed the game as precautionary measure ahead of the their Champions League group stage match against PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday.
The first half of the game was lackluster, with neither side having a single shot on goal. The possession was largely dominated by the home side and Liverpool were susceptible at the back. Benteke could do very little in the striker position with no one there to support or feed off him.
Into the second half, Ashley Young replaced Memphis Depay to try and liven up things. And shortly after coming on, he won a free-kick at the edge of penalty box after being fouled by Clyne (who was booked as well). Daley Blind sidefooted the ball into the goal net from the low free-kick, giving home side the lead at the 49th minute mark.
Liverpool tried pushing United back a little with what was the first shot at goal in 54 minutes when Ings controlled the ball inside the penalty box and took a shot, as he was lost his balance, which bounced awkwardly but was saved by De Gea. That marked the end of what little spell the away side had in control of the ball. Much like the recent few games, we were far too careless by giving the possession away and at the same time not making the most of it when actually on it.
Firmino offered very little in the game and was replaced by Jordan Ibe moments after somehow not managing to put the ball into the net after a goal-line clearance off of Skrtel's attempted header. That aside, United remained in control of the game and could afford to offer Anthony Marshals who came on to replace Mata. Shortly after that, Ander Herrera was brought down by Joe Gomez, giving away a penalty and the opportunity to double the lead; and that's exactly what Herrera did from the resulting spot kick.
Divock Origi was given his competitive debut for Liverpool when he was substituted in for Danny Ings, but that really wasn't a move which was meant to turn things around with the home side sitting comfortably 2-0 ahead and still controlling majority of the ball play.
WIth 6 minutes remaining on the clock, Benteke pulled one back with a magnificent bicycle kick as De Gea could do nothing to stop that from going in. Although we clearly didn't do much to deserve a single point here, much less win, that goal gave the players little bit of hope. However, it didn't last for long as owing to shambles in our defence with Skrtel the main culprit on this occasion, Marshals restored United's two goal lead by slotting the ball past the helpless keeper.
The positioning was terrible to start off the game with Ings and Origi (who came on later) were put on the wings while Benteke remained all on his own up front, Milner not allowed to go much forward and Firmino missing in action the game was, much like the season and recent performances under Brendan Rodgers, was in complete disarray.
More people join in to call for Rodgers' head and with performances like this, it is you can't argue with that. There needs to be an assessment of how the season is headed so far and contingencies need to placed - someone has to take the accountability because this much more than coincidences and bad luck. Bordeaux in mid-week would probably be a good springboard 4 consecutive home games follow it before heading into the Merseyside Derby.

Originally posted on A Red Diary.





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