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Revenge of Mr M's Avatar
Get off my island
It's pretty hard to dislike Liverpool, even if I thought that Milan had been a better team during the cup and deserved to win the final as well in spite of playing like 41 year olds. Wait! They are 41 years old!
You're kidding, right? The only team in England as boring as Liverpool are Chelsea, and what's worse, they're intentionally boring. Their whole tactic revolves around sending the other team to sleep. Not that this is ineffective, but it's a negative 'we must lose at any cost' mentality which the Italians are always getting completely slaughtered for. Why do Liverpool escape criticism? Why is it that when any other team wins in a penalty shoot-out, it's "an injustice", "a lottery" or "cruel and inefficient way of deciding games", yet when Liverpool wins on penalties, it's "the Greatest game ever", "Truly Memorable" or, and this is an actual quote after that dreadful Chelsea game during which I literally fell asleep (could have been all that Halcion I took though) "They've won in the most dramatic fashion possible!!". I rooted against them in the Final, but was astonished by the way people like Alan Green (Liverpool fan) seemed so angry at United and Everton supporters who were happy when Pool lost, saying "Oh, but they're an English team!" Hey, even if I cared about that, what's English about them apart from Pennant's ASBO? Gerrard, some kind of scouse hero? Wasn't he the one who said repeatedly he wanted to leave so he could win things elsewhere?
So now there's all this talk about them getting a striker like Torres to push them over the edge, but I can tell you right now, and this is a fact; That any striker that goes there with Benitez as manager, will die a horrible death goals-wise. But whoever started talking about spending power of Liverpool compared to United is missing the point. It's not how much you spend, it's how; Liverpool have taken such a high volume of players recently it's ridiculous. Most of these guys are still around, so what are they gonna do now that they have all this new money? Cut them all? How much will that cost? How many of them will have to take a pay cut elsewhere and then sue Liverpool for the difference in wages left on their old contract? Liverpool already have better depth anyway than United, who haven't bought a lot of new players recently. I mean compare Mascherano (who wanted to join United but wasn't allowed) with Darren Fletcher, who I'm fairly sure is colourblind and can't tell the difference between red shirts and other shirts which is why his passing is so godawfully bad. Er... My point is however much Benitez has to spend now, it won't make too much of a difference. They'll still be the most boring team in England.
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The People's Republic of Clogher
My point is however much Benitez has to spend now, it won't make too much of a difference. They'll still be the most boring team in England.
Apart from Chelski, of course, who are apparently intentionally boring.

Alan Green was a Linfield season ticket holder, by the way...

You make an interesting point about Benitez killing off strikers' careers but when has he actually bought a world class striker, or even anyone close?

Fowler - Fat free transfer, worth a gamble for a season, didn't pay off so bye bye Robbie.

Crouch - Their top scorer this season and playing about as well as he can, but no world beater. A shoe-in for a UEFA Cup chasing side but that's about his level.

Bellamy - I first saw him play at Highfield Rd as a youngster and he looked like a star in the making. It's a pity that he's 'matured' into the narkyest little bastard this side of Robbie Savage and isn't half as good as he thinks he is. Again, a shoe-in for a UEFA Cup chasing side, where I imagine he'll end up next season.

Kuyt - Banged in the goals in Holland but that's hardly the exclusive preserve of a class striker. He's hit 14 in 34 for Liverpool so far (first season in England as well) and would be an excellent partner for a 6 yard box poacher. Has a wife called Gertrude, which is good enough for me.

Voronin is on the way but he's never been a 20 goals a season man either so I imagine he'll take Bellamy's place on the bench.

He didn't have much in the way of world class strikers at Valencia either - John Carew and Adrian Illie anyone?

My point of view is that Liverpool need a striker who is expected to net 20+ in the league (because, unlike Man Ewe, they don't have a lot of goals in their midfield) and even though Benitez hasn't favoured that approach in the past he's gonna have to change if they're to get anywhere close to the league. Otherwise I can see them in 4th next year because L'Arse surely can't continue to be as profligate as they were this season...
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"Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how the Tatty 100 is done, they've seen it done every day, but they're unable to do it themselves." - Brendan Behan



Revenge of Mr M's Avatar
Get off my island
Dirk Kuyt, okay, it's Holland where defences apparently don't exist, but he was still considered an elite prospect who every top team was chasing, but in Liverpool's system he hasn't looked anything like an efficient finisher.
Ditto Cissť, another elite prospect who had all the tools, arguably better both physically and technically than Kuyt. He couldn't seem to finish off any chances either.
Morientes, great in Spain, great in France, great at national team level, great when going back to Spain supposedly on the downside of his career, but what did he do at Liverpool?
Milan Baros, had a lot of potential as he displayed in the Euros but got totally mismanaged
His problem is as you pointed out, he comes from a background of no strikers and obviously doesn't have a clue what the heck to do with them! He nearly always only plays one and that guy always seems to drop back or wide.



The People's Republic of Clogher
The reason I didn't mention those guys is that they weren't Benitez signings, in fact I don't think (though may well be wrong) that Cisse and Baros even played for him - they were all Houllier men and didn't exactly perform for the former manager, anyway, so were prime candidates to get moved on. Baros went to Villa where he was equally hopeless so I'd conclude that the physicality of the English game just didn't suit him - not necessarily not suit his style of play but his personality. He seemed to have a heart the size of a pea.

Morientes, if I remember correctly, had been a perennial Real Madrid reserve who had had one good season on loan in France. He's done well back in Spain but, then again, so have Diego Forlan, Savo Milosevic and Mateja Kezman.

I think Cissť is still technically a Liverpool player but he broke his leg soon after his loan move and I doubt if he'll play for them again.

I'd say that striker is the most difficult position for a manager in the Premiership to fill successfully and it seems to take them longer to bed in than most. Remember the Drogba of 2 years ago, Henry's and Bergkamp's first seasons etc? Someone like, say, Van Nistelrooy who immediately made an impact is rare, and as Ferguson found out - one man who your team depends on to score the goals confines your club to a certain way of playing. Fine if you've got a Plan B but S'Ralex confounded everyone last season by completely doing away with his Plan A and romped to the League title.



Revenge of Mr M's Avatar
Get off my island
Morientes, had an international strike rate of 27 in 47, which is better than the likes of Raúl, Michael Owen and Thierry Henry. He was also a Real regular and a regular goalscorer until they signed Ronaldo.

You do have a great point about striekrs taking time to bed in. All the attention naturally focusses on them and if they struggle, it looks a hundred times worse than any other position, because they have the most tangible statistic.



The People's Republic of Clogher
I've been thinking about this, even though we'll differ on whether Benitez is ruining his strikers or not, Liverpool do have a problem scoring goals.

If the papers are to be believed, Benitez is after 2 wingers which is fair enough because the wide men at his disposal are barely adequate for a side chasing a top 10 slot, let alone one with (faint) title pretensions.


To be honest I've not watched them enough to prove my suspicion - It's Gerrard's fault!

How many times have we seen him in the centre circle launching a golf-like Hollywood ball forwards which invariably gets headed straight back at him by an opposing centre back? Gerrard definitely has his strengths - pace, power, a fierce shot when he's in the mood - but Beckham he ain't.

Of course, if I was a midfielder in a side which contained Zenden, Pennant, Kewell or Gonzalez I'd want to bypass them too...



The People's Republic of Clogher
Conversation of the season, between smarmy Sky Sports reporter Geoff Shreeves and Sir Red Face himself, as transcribed by the ever-wonderful Football365.com...

* "I asked him..." - Geoff Shreeves starts talking to Sir Fergie...

* "F*****g (inaudible) bastard" - Sir Alex Ferguson, Knight of the Realm, responds with the courtesy you would expect from a man of his rank.

* "Don't talk to me like that" - Shreeves.

* "F**k off to you" - Fergie.

* "Don't talk to me like that. Don't even think about it" - Shreeves.

* "Don't you think about it, you ****. F**k off. Right?" - Fergie.

* "Listen, are you going to do the interview in a professional manner or not? Do you want to do it or not?" - Shreeves.

* "You f*****g be professional. You be professional. You're the one" - Fergie. Or possibly an angry 13-year-old girl. We're losing track.

* "I'm entitled to ask...Cristiano gave the right answer" - Shreeves.

* "F*****g hell with your answers" - Fergie.

* "Don't talk to me like that. Go away. If you want to behave civilly, fine. Don't talk to me like that" - Shreeves.

* "F**k off" - Fergie



I am having a nervous breakdance
Conversation of the season, between smarmy Sky Sports reporter Geoff Shreeves and Sir Red Face himself, as transcribed by the ever-wonderful Football365.com...

* "I asked him..." - Geoff Shreeves starts talking to Sir Fergie...

* "F*****g (inaudible) bastard" - Sir Alex Ferguson, Knight of the Realm, responds with the courtesy you would expect from a man of his rank.

* "Don't talk to me like that" - Shreeves.

* "F**k off to you" - Fergie.

* "Don't talk to me like that. Don't even think about it" - Shreeves.

* "Don't you think about it, you ****. F**k off. Right?" - Fergie.

* "Listen, are you going to do the interview in a professional manner or not? Do you want to do it or not?" - Shreeves.

* "You f*****g be professional. You be professional. You're the one" - Fergie. Or possibly an angry 13-year-old girl. We're losing track.

* "I'm entitled to ask...Cristiano gave the right answer" - Shreeves.

* "F*****g hell with your answers" - Fergie.

* "Don't talk to me like that. Go away. If you want to behave civilly, fine. Don't talk to me like that" - Shreeves.

* "F**k off" - Fergie
Ha ha... What was that about, Dave?
__________________
The novelist does not long to see the lion eat grass. He realizes that one and the same God created the wolf and the lamb, then smiled, "seeing that his work was good".

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They had temporarily escaped the factories, the warehouses, the slaughterhouses, the car washes - they'd be back in captivity the next day but
now they were out - they were wild with freedom. They weren't thinking about the slavery of poverty. Or the slavery of welfare and food stamps. The rest of us would be all right until the poor learned how to make atom bombs in their basements.



The People's Republic of Clogher
Ha ha... What was that about, Dave?
I think it was something to do with Christiano Ronaldo's inner ear problem. Being unable to stay on his feet, in other words. Not 100% sure though.



Revenge of Mr M's Avatar
Get off my island
I've been thinking about this, even though we'll differ on whether Benitez is ruining his strikers or not, Liverpool do have a problem scoring goals.

If the papers are to be believed, Benitez is after 2 wingers which is fair enough because the wide men at his disposal are barely adequate for a side chasing a top 10 slot, let alone one with (faint) title pretensions.


To be honest I've not watched them enough to prove my suspicion - It's Gerrard's fault!

How many times have we seen him in the centre circle launching a golf-like Hollywood ball forwards which invariably gets headed straight back at him by an opposing centre back? Gerrard definitely has his strengths - pace, power, a fierce shot when he's in the mood - but Beckham he ain't.

Of course, if I was a midfielder in a side which contained Zenden, Pennant, Kewell or Gonzalez I'd want to bypass them too...

It sometimes looks as though he tries to do too much by himself. Of course, that kind of effort is loved by fans, but it's not always backed up with efficiency. I do wonder though if he were to leave or get injured, Liverpool might suddenly become better, becoming another example of the Ewing Theory.
Just thought I'd mention, Zenden was a terrible pick-up. I just don't see how he fits into that team at all. Has he ever done anything of note for them?
Oh and also, just thought I'd mention how underwhelmed I am by United's gross overspending. Again, I'm not sure how these two, Nani and Anderson, fit into our system, I dread the ways in which the system might be altered to fit them in, and overall don't think they represent good value for money.



The People's Republic of Clogher
It sometimes looks as though he tries to do too much by himself. Of course, that kind of effort is loved by fans, but it's not always backed up with efficiency. I do wonder though if he were to leave or get injured, Liverpool might suddenly become better, becoming another example of the Ewing Theory.
Yup, I agree. It doesn't help that he's so versatile either - Benitez stuck him on the right for a lot of the season and McClaren is probably thinking smugly to himself that Lampard and Gerrard can now play together after 2 years evidence says no. He's not getting the chance to shine often where I think he does the most damage - at the head of a midfield diamond.

Liverpool playing better when he's not in the side, I think, was mirrored by L'Arse at the turn of the year. When Henry got crocked, van Persie and Adebayor began steamrolling teams until the Dutchman broke his foot. I think the similarity between Gerrard and Henry is that they try to do everything themselves. Being captain also gives them license to roam where they shouldn't, too.


Just thought I'd mention, Zenden was a terrible pick-up. I just don't see how he fits into that team at all. Has he ever done anything of note for them?
If I remember correctly, Chelsea let him go because he was crap and he found his way to Middlesborough. It ain't hard being the most skilful player in a McClaren team so old Bolo probably thought that, actually, he was a good player and let his contract run down. I could see Benitez's thinking if they picked Zenden up to be a squad player for a season while they chased a bigger talent or allowed a kid to mature in the reserves but he starts far to many matches for that.

I think he's been released now, which will alert West Ham and Fulham...

Oh and also, just thought I'd mention how underwhelmed I am by United's gross overspending. Again, I'm not sure how these two, Nani and Anderson, fit into our system, I dread the ways in which the system might be altered to fit them in, and overall don't think they represent good value for money.
I'd never heard of them before their names started to be bandied about in the press as Utd targets. Now, of course, they're the best two young players in the world.

I'd imagine that Nani is a long term replacement for Giggs and Anderson for Scholes, their signings (along with Hargreaves) can only be good news for Utd fans, I think - can you see Fletcher and Richardson getting anywhere near the first team now?


Anyway, Nigel 'Solid Pro' Worthington is the new Norn Iron manager so I'd like to offer my congratulations to Spain and Sweden in Qualifying for the Euros.

Hopefully Nige will prove me wrong (after all, Sanchez had an equally poor reputation when he was hired, but then again, the team were outside the world's top 100 and not 33 as they are now) but I honestly can't see it.



Revenge of Mr M's Avatar
Get off my island
Haha, wella ctually I had heard of both, a good friend of mine lives in Portugal, follows Porto and every week I'd talk to him over the past year he'd tell me about something new and amazing Anderson had done. But still, £40m is a helluva lot to be spending on two guys totally untested who could turn out to be incredible busts. I wasn't worrying about Keiran Ricahrdson coming back though; isn't he in the Big Brother house now, albeit in drag?

And well, to be honest I didn't hold out a lot of hope for NI qualifying. Not just the glaring lack of talent. Sure they beat Spain 3-2 but lest we forget, early on in Spains Euro 2000 qualifying campaign, they lost 3-2 to Cyprus and were bottom of their group. Historically, they always start slow and gather pace. Which is fine for 12-14 games qualifying stage but of course sucks for a 3-6 games knockout tournament.

As for Sanchez, I'm gonna go out on a limb (or not) and predict he will be Rex-posed come next season with Fulham as they nose-dive their way out of the Prem.



The People's Republic of Clogher
I wasn't worrying about Keiran Ricahrdson coming back though; isn't he in the Big Brother house now, albeit in drag?
If he could play footie as well as his cousin can talk sh*te then he'd be a world beater. I always got a 'Craig Charles' vibe from the way Richardson looks - and he often plays like he's been puffing on a crack pipe too...

EDIT - His cousin looks like Carlton Palmer, if that's not a politically incorrect thing to say...

And well, to be honest I didn't hold out a lot of hope for NI qualifying. Not just the glaring lack of talent. Sure they beat Spain 3-2 but lest we forget, early on in Spains Euro 2000 qualifying campaign, they lost 3-2 to Cyprus and were bottom of their group. Historically, they always start slow and gather pace. Which is fine for 12-14 games qualifying stage but of course sucks for a 3-6 games knockout tournament.
The Denmark - Sweden result didn't help us, that's for sure.

As for Sanchez, I'm gonna go out on a limb (or not) and predict he will be Rex-posed come next season with Fulham as they nose-dive their way out of the Prem.
You're not alone in thinking that Sanchez will struggle. As a club manager he did absolutely nothing, even when accounting for the confines of the division he was managing in, apart from one glorious cup run. I guess you could equate International football to club cup football as the infrequency of qualifying matches imbues them with a 'one off' cup-style significance, where motivation is the key.

Sanchez was suited to International footie with a small team in that respect. Any Norwich fans I've heard on the subject say that Worthington was an awful cup manager...



I am having a nervous breakdance
Sooo, the English thought they'd gotten rid of Svennis for once and for all, eh? Apparently not..... This will be interesting..



Revenge of Mr M's Avatar
Get off my island
i like the way City sold the club to a guy who's had half his bank accounts frozen and is facing corruption charges in his home country. A sound business move if ever I heard it. If Sinawatra sent you an e-mail with a proposition to buy your club, would it not look disturbingly similar to the e-mails sent by lawyers representing the displaced African princesses in search of somewhere to store their cashwhile they reclaim their rightful place?



The People's Republic of Clogher
Those emails are fake?
Of course they're not fake! People are so cynical these days...

Sven has either been spending the last year pimping himself around European football stadia, making notes on guys who he knows will fit into whatever system he is planning on implementing with his new club (wherever that may be) or he's deliberately spending millions on players that no one's ever heard of because he fancies a woman who works for Amnesty International...

After all, his new boss makes Abramovich look like Cliff Richard.



Thursday Next's Avatar
I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
Here we go again then, Charity shield and all that. Boring already. For all this fuss about the tv rights to the 'big four'...I would rather watch anyone but the 'big four', and would rather anyone but the 'big four' won the league this year.

So...any predictions for the season? (Apart from the obvious, clubs will spend too much money on players who will spend too much time injured... )