Tag Archives: Liverpool

Torres move perfect tonic for Chelsea and Liverpool

So Chelsea finally bagged their main target, a proven European goalscorer, in Spain’s Fernando Torres for a hefty £50 million on the final day of the January transfer window; but, for both the London club and his former employers, Liverpool, it was money well spent.

Torres’ move to the Premier League champions should come as no surprise, what with the former Atletico Madrid man, who left his hometown for Merseyside in search of trophies, yet to win any silverware in a barren four-year spell at Anfield. Add to the equation no Champions League this season (and possibly next as well), a player with Torres’ ability – a European and World Cup winner with Spain – must surely be competing for football’s most coveted prizes.

One former Liverpool teammate of Torres, Luis Garcia, told BBC Five Live in January it was only right Torres and Liverpool should part company: “Torres left Atlético looking for trophies and titles and he has not achieved any of them and maybe it is time to think about it [a move],” adding,” “Liverpool are in a position where they are struggling in the league and maybe with all the changes they have done it is a good moment [to leave].” And, unfortunately, with the sudden downfall at Liverpool these past 12 months, Chelsea’s offer was too good to turn down for their beloved El Nino who took only 84 games to reach 50 goals at Liverpool, the quickest in the club’s history.

The closest Liverpool came to winning their first Premiership trophy was in 2009 when, despite being favourites at one stage towards the end of the season, they were piped to it by Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United by four points. Since then, the departures of two key figures from that team, Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid and Javier Mascherano to Barcelona without being replaced properly, has to many unsurprisingly coincided with Liverpool falling off the forever demanding top four pace, making Torres question where his future should lie.

Chelsea’s gain, however, should not be seen as Liverpool’s loss. Far from it. The London side’s season has not gone according to plan, having looked far beyond their old reliable ways, particularly when they went to the Emirates in December when they were made to look, mainly by Theo Walcott’s pace, well, old. Torres’ arrival will come as a timely boost to boss Carlo Ancelotti and the team’s defence of their title, and will surely add greater potency in front of goal which has been severely lacking, as fans and it appears the club have become frustrated with the bit-part performances of their current strikers Nicolas Anelka and Salomon Kalou. Chelsea currently lie fourth in the league but, with the Spaniard now theirs, the Blues will feel quietly confident of overturning a nine-point margin with leaders Manchester United who they still need to play twice.

Liverpool, on their part, were right in accepting Chelsea chairman Roman Abramovich’s millions simply because Torres needed a new challenge and, right now, so do Liverpool. Failing to finish in the top four last season was a huge blow and has ultimately modified Liverpool’s priority. To get back to where the club feel they belong, they will need new and ambitious blood; the signings of Luis Suarez, the former Ajax star who made the headlines in South Africa for the right and sometimes wrong reasons, and Andy Carroll, a handful of a striker if ever there was one, which were funded by the sale of Torres, will add more hunger and desire to a historic English club that was in danger of going dangerously stale.

The sale of Torres could yet prove the makings of a new and prosperous chapter in Liverpool’s history. Yes, Liverpool still need to add to a squad lacking in numbers and quality, which is why the likes of Aston Villa’s Ashley Young, Stuart Downing and Blackpool’s captain Charlie Adam have all been linked with a summer move to Anfield. With Kenny Dalglish back in charge and doing, it seems, everything right to impress the owners, it is not so fanciful to think that that long awaited Premier League title may come sooner rather than later.

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Didier Deschamps will spare Liverpool’s blushes

With a matter of five games remaining in the Premier League, the end of the season is almost upon us. Which means that many clubs will already be plotting their revival on the next.

Out with the old and in with the new, will ordinarily be the order of the summer for most clubs as they seek reinforcements amongst their playing squad. Only this summer may yet see the biggest movers and shakers in football occur in the dugout.

Only one team wins the league, and so 19 teams will be classified as losers – particularly if you happen to finish in the bottom three. However, this year comes a fourth team that have extra cause for concern.

Underachievers

Liverpool were acknowledged as serious title contenders having run Manchester United close the previous season. Nine months on since the opening day of the 2009/10 season and Liverpool face not only losing out on yet another Premier league title; they also seem in danger of becoming the biggest underachievers in 2009/10, by failing to finish fourth and, therefore, missing out on the final Champions League qualification spot for next season.

Liverpool sit glued to sixth position in the league, six points adrift of Manchester City in fourth, having played a game more. With only four matches remaining for Rafa Benitez’s men – bar a miracle – Gerrard and co will have to brace themselves for yet another stint playing in the good gestured Europa League.

However, Liverpool may find themselves heading into the competition as reigning champions, if they manage to get past Athletico Madrid and either Hamburg/Fulham in the final. But such a feat will do little in softening the blow to Liverpool’s star players, particularly if other clubs – i.e. Chelsea or Manchester City – come in for them offering not only vast amounts of money, but a quick-fire return to Europe’s biggest stage.

Yet, will that be an incentive for Torres and Gerrard to remain faithful to the Merseysiders? Unrest at boardroom level continues to disrupt the club, with Benitez becoming increasingly impatient at the lack of support from the board – particularly financially.

Benitez Juventus bound

But the board argue Benitez has had ample money to spend in order to create a Liverpool side that should be equipped to sustain a strong charge on both the league and Europe’s biggest prize, every season. Failing to win the league and also losing out on Champions League qualification, arguably places more blame on the manager than the men upstairs.

Even disgruntled Liverpool fans are starting to vent their anger at the manager, with many suggesting the Spaniard has achieved all he can at the club.

Reports indicate Benitez is heading out of Liverpool and the English game – towards pastures new in Italy. Juventus seem the popular choice amongst the tabloids, yet such small-talk remains unreliable.

But if Liverpool decide to part company with Benitez, they will do no better than filling the position with the Marseille manager Didier Deschamps.

Despite telling reporters that he will shun the French national team in favour of honouring his two-year contract that he signed at the beginning of the current campaign, it may be a little harder to ignore Liverpool should they seriously put together a proposal to poach the Frenchman.

If Liverpool only take a glance at Deschamps’ managerial CV, they will soon realise it will be a punt worth taking.

Miracle man Deschamps

Deschamps started his managerial career at Monaco. The former Monaco midfielder led the side to the French League Cup title in 2002/03 before guiding them to their first Champions League final in 2004, eventually losing out to the special one’s Porto 3-0 in Germany. The following season started badly and quickly fell apart, with Deschamps resigning after a heated disagreement with the club’s president.

Role on Juventus in 2006 and all that tasteless baggage of the Italian side being relegated to Serie B after being found guilty of match-fixing their way towards the Scudetto title. No bother. In comes the Frenchman to take the Old Lady back to Serie A at the first attempt. Add winning the Birra Moretti Cup – after defeating Inter and Napoli – and you have Deschamps working miracles yet again.

Unsurprisingly, Deschamps resigned shortly after Juventus were confirmed Serie B champions. Unsurprisingly, it was reported the Frenchman left Juventus due to ongoing clashes with the board.

A return to Marseille was next up for a manager who already had a reputation of being his own man. Deschamps signed a two-year contract last summer, and nine months into his first season as manager, Marseille currently occupy top spot in Ligue 1. Many are now backing them to stay there come May, suggesting a possible league title to go along with the Coupe de la Ligue they won back in March – the club’s first major trophy since 1995.

It seems Deschamps’ expertise lies in rejuvenating clubs from the depths of despair. Ask any Liverpool fan today, and they’ll tell you Anfield has seen far better days. The club are seeped in despondency, with an uncertain future very much a reality.

Come the summer, should Liverpool appoint Didier Deschamps as their new manager if Benitez leaves, it will be the club’s most astute signing ever.

But should Liverpool part company with Rafa Benitez? And if so, is Didier Deshamps the right man to take Liverpool back to winning league titles?

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Premier League sees record number of red cards

Carragher

Seeing Red: Jamie Carragher was sent off this weekend away to Fulham

 

(Courtesy of Wikipedia)

This weekend’s Premier League fixtures mustered up a record number of red cards – an impressive 9.

Here’s a list of the culprits:

  • Jlloyd Samuel – Bolton Wanderers 0-4 Chelsea
  • Geovanni – Burnley 2-0 Hull City
  • Diniyar Bilyaletdinov – Everton 1-1 Aston Villa
  • Carlos Cuellar – Everton 1-1 Aston Villa
  • Philipp Degen – Fulham 3-1 Liverpool
  • Jamie Carragher – Fulham 3-1 Liverpool
  • Kenwyne Jones – Sunderland 2-2 West Ham United
  • Radoslav Kovac – Sunderland 2-2 West Ham United
  • Barry Ferguson – Birmingham City 0-0 Manchester City

Is it a case of the referees being told to clap down on physical contact altogether, whether it be a whack to the knee or a peck on the cheek? Or could it boil down to the English game becoming too aggressive?

Right or Wrong?

Carragher, Kovac, Cuellar and Geovanni can all feel hard done by with being sent off.

The Liverpool captain’s tug-of-war with Zamora could easily have gone either way, and both Kovac and Cuellar can feel unlucky with the referee’s decision to hand out a second booking for what looked like challenges worthy of just a foul.

And what can you say for Geovanni? The second booking was rightly awarded to the Brazilian, but the first!? Who wouldn’t be aggrieved with having a perfect goal ruled out for…well… I’m still not sure exactly why it wasn’t allowed.

However, a cynical last ditch challenge from Samuel on Drogba, as well as an eye-catching high flying two footer from Swiss Degen, were rightly punished.

Laughable

A last mention for the Kenwyne Jones red card incident.

Yes it was a sending off offence – simply because the striker raised his hands. Time and again, whether you whack a player straight on the nose, or flick their ear, it’s a straight red.

As the Sunderland manager Steve Bruce pointed out, however, Ilunga’s histrionics were so appalling it was laughable. The West Ham defender needed a miniature ice pack to nurse the fatal tickle to the chest/face from the Trinidadian International.

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