At The End of the Storm: The story of Liverpool's greatest ever league campaign

The first post-war Football League campaign of 1946/47 was the longest and most tumultuous ever known. For Liverpool FC, it was the ultimate triumph against adversity; a First Division championship won in a style that was to set a precedent for future Anfield success....

The day we got football back on the agenda

24th October 2010 we should remember that day. The first home game of a new era at LFC. After a hellish 3 year downward spiral under the ownership of Hicks and Gillett the most recent weeks and months have seen drama unfold in the courtroom of which many a word and opinion has been cast but now, finally, can we see the golden sky at the end of the storm?

It has been a torrid start to the season and the negativity surrounding the off-field affairs was widely felt, nowhere more so, in my opinion others will disagree, than in the dressing room. For all thewe just concentrate on playing football comments from the players it is clear that from all the negative publicity in the press, the vociferous protestations within and around the ground by angry fans and the public litigation, it must have been playing on their minds. After all, if you go in to work and hear talk of a takeover, the Exec board falling out and uncertainty over whether or not the company is going to continue after a certain date, I bet it would play on your mind wouldnt it?

Anyway, I for one am just glad that we can now get back to what we know we are good at playing football. Recent results have been less than satisfactory some may argue unforgiveable, some may argue we had a few perfectly losable games. Look at these fixtures for example; Man City (A), Man Utd (A), Everton (A) in any season we might come unstuck against these teams especially away from home so there may be justification. Lets see what we can do when we get them back to our place.

Then there was the game away at Birmingham who hadnt been beaten at home for almost a year, so a draw seemed a reasonable result, if a little disappointing. Sunderland at home should have been a win but as a result of a poor run and a lack of confidence, a point perhaps didnt seem quite so bad. Our only win of the season had been at home to West Brom, at least we got that one right! What we didnt get right, however, was the Blackpool result. Ugh! I dont want to think about that again. Just a miserable day.

But now, the new era, are LFC back? Judging by the performance against Blackburn Id say were certainly well on the right track again. The performance of the team certainly showed signs of improvement, everyone worked hard, everyone showed some desire. Wave after wave of attack, some skilful interplay and neat passing, solid defending and (rather more notably I felt) the effort and work rate, particularly if the ball was lost, battling back to regain possession.

Perhaps geed on by the rousing rendition ofYoull Never Walk Alone led by Gerry Marsden, there was certainly more of a buzz around the Ground than experienced so far this season. Electrifying at times it clearly emanated onto the pitch and the players reacted to it with an inspired first half performance which lacked only the vital goal but certainly a marked improvement. In turn the crowd got behind the team and spurred them on early in the 2nd half to get that vital goal. Thanks to Sotirios Kyrgiakos, who again was immense in the back row, leapt to head the opener on 48 from a Steven Gerrard corner. Completely against the run of play, Blackburn squeezed in an equaliser 2 minutes after. Jamie Carragher deflected into his own net a shot by Diouf, who incidentally was booed for the entire game whenever he got the ball proper panto!

What we had lacked in recent games was the ability to come back from conceding a goal but, with the crowd cheering them on, the lads continued to press forward playing nice passing football at great tempo and another lively spell meant that within 3 minutes of the Blackburn equaliser Joe Cole placed a perfect cross in to Fernando Torres who could not miss and sent the Kop into rapturous applause. What a time for Torres to get back on the score sheet and silence the travelling fans. The stadium was once again bouncing to the tune of Liverpools Number 9 and after a couple of unchallenged crosses into our box and a possible penalty shout for Kyrgiakos in front of the Kop we managed to see out the game and pick up a vital 3 points.

Ok so the win does not move us out of the bottom 3 but it keeps us in touch with several teams above us including Bolton in 8th place who we go to next Sunday.

A long way to go but we know we can turn things around if we play like we did yesterday. The end of the storm? Not quite there yet but there are signs of improvement and regaining the confidence. I reckon we can get there with a good run of decent results up to Christmas and hopefully next year well be able to forget all about relegation and concentrate on consolidating our place in the top half of the table and from there, who knows where we could finish up.

Form is temporary, class is permanent.


Dear Mr Hicks

Get out of our club!

Fantastic effort by Mike Jefferies and all involved in the making of this short film. I just hope the message gets to Tom Hicks and George Gillett and soon.

Probably best not to ask...

Someone asked me how my journey home was after that game on Sunday and rather than just give a one word answer I went off on one >>>>

My journey home was looooooong but it meant I had time alone to reflect on just how sh!t things have become at the club.

I joined the march against the Yanks before the game and remained in my seat after the game to continue the anti H&G protest. This, unfortunately, as it is becoming clearer, is the pinnacle of the problem. There is something deep rooted in the club that is tearing us apart from the inside.

H&G OUT is the start, do not refinance them is the message, we are a matter of days away from realising our fate. We could be on the verge of administration boys, we could be looking at a 9 point deduction and on current form we are not going to recoup these points through winning games because we simply are not good enough anywhere on the pitch.

Whilst my view FROM the Kop was brilliant, the view OF the game was not. Johnson and Poulsen should not be in the side. Carra, Cole, Gerrard, Kuyt and Ngog whilst industrious were 2nd best. Blackpool were fantastic, they made us look poor and, but for a 20 minute period of pressure after we scored the goal, we were – really poor.

Woy has not got a clue. Why does he play Poulsen when that game had Lucas written all over it? Lucas is a great player against the smaller clubs. Poulsen is just sh!t and couldn’t pass the ball if his life depended on it let alone make a tackle that wins the ball!

This is not Rafa’s legacy, Woy has had his time to work with the players and to state in post match press conferences that he is happy with the performance is worrying. Hence why we were chanting Dalglish after the game. The fans know that even 3rd from bottom with Kenny at the helm we’d be in a much better position. I fear for us, I really do. It is going to get worse.

I honestly can’t see Torres regaining his form, not under Woy. Gerrard is out of sorts. Carragher is getting slower. Cole has been ruined, there is no spark anymore. Who do we have to replace these players? No-one. The reason for that is the lack of proper investment by the owners. Owners of a club invest their own money in players, not use borrowed money which they then cannot afford to repay the interest on. We sell players for a half decent profit but we then don’t reuse all the money to buy similar quality, we buy lower standard players for less money and use the rest to repay the debt.

Whilst we all say it shouldn’t affect things on the pitch it has, it is clear. The noise around the ground, around the city cannot fail to be heard by the players. The anti H&G campaign has grown to a significant size now that it is having an impact.

Songs we sang for an hour after the game

“All we are saying, is sell up and go”

“Tom and George tell lies, they tell lies”

“Gillett and Hicks, are full of sh!t, Gillett and Hicks are full of sh!t, they’re full of sh!t, sh!t and more sh!t, Gillett and Hicks and full of sh!t”

“What do we want? Yanks Out. When do we want it? NOW”

“Get out of our club, get out of our club, you lying b@st@rds, get out of our club”

We’re sinking guys, we’re going under. It’s not going to stop until H&G sell up and go. Purslow is killing us and will continue to do so.

That ‘storm’ that we walk through will end but we are a long way from there yet. I have been to 2 games this season and it is so clear that the ‘buzz’ I experienced last season has changed. It’s not a buzz of expectation or excitement, it’s a buzz of inevitability. The fans support them team unreservedly but the club is dying. The cancer is eating us from the inside out. Listen to the comments made by Kenny, Thommo, Hansen etc. These guys know what it’s meant to be like at LFC. Hansen said “it’s a disgrace” – he’s right. These guys know what they’re talking about. They say Yanks out – they’re right.

End of Season Blog Post - Part Two

2009/2010 - An Erratic Season

Part Two of this blog post was going to be about off field activities, such as Albert Reira's public blast at Rafa, the anti-Rafa and anti-LFC agenda that there seems to be in the media and indeed amongst our own fan base. Worse still, the ever increasing debt brought to the club by those two American "Businessmen".

However, I remembered that the whole point of my end of season blog was to remember the good times we had in the season and not continue to be negative like too many Liverpool fans have been - and continue to be.

Yes, the club is in a bad state at the moment. Yes it is very likely that things will get worse before they get better and we may have to come to terms with the fact that we may not attract any big names to the club - and even if any of them were attracted, how on earth we might be able to fund that transfer would be frankly miraculous given our current financial plight. No we don't have an amazing array of star quality sitting on the bench to cover for when Torres, Gerrard and other 1st team regulars are injured. No we don't have the endless pit of money that many of our rivals appear to have. But what we do have is hope, passion, pride and dignity, of which, the latter I intend to retain but not allowing myself to be drawn into a tirade of anti Hicks and Gillett abuse which would no doubt ensue if I were to begin writing about the dark times they have brought our club.

I started Part One by saying I had grown tired of all the negativity surrounding the club and that holds true into Part Two, so this should be light reading but as ever, please feel free to comment at the end.

From The Sublime...

Whilst I chose the 2-0 win over United as the number 1 in my top 5 "Good" things, in my opinion, our best performance this season was the 4-1 win at Anfield against Benfica. There may be many that disagree with me on this but as this was my first European Night at Anfield it goes straight to the top of my list as the best overall display from the team.

Trailing 2-1 from the away leg, after Daniel Agger had given us the lead on 9 minutes, and coming off the back of a frustrating draw with Birmingham in the Premier League, we needed to step up a gear and put on a performance on our own turf in order to progress to the Europa League Semi-Finals.

The atmosphere inside Anfield was amazing and the 12th man were in fine voice once again to help lift the players. The first 25 minutes were nervy as we needed to score but just couldn't find a breakthrough. However, on 28 minutes there was a moment of controversy when Steven Gerrard crossed the ball for Dirk Kuyt to head in. It seemed it had been ruled out for offside only for the referee to change the decision and the goal stood. We were ahead on the night and from that moment we were ahead in the tie by virtue of the away goal.

6 minutes later a brilliant moment in football saw Gerrard play a perfect pass through for an on running (wait for it) Lucas Leiva!! who expertly rounded the goalkeeper and slotted home.

A goal not dissimilar to what we are used to seeing from Fernando Torres who got himself on the score sheet twice that night with a couple of well executed goals.

After Torres got his 1st of the night (Liverpool's 3rd) Benfica gave us a bit of a scare as Cardozo managed to get their own away goal via a skidding free kick which found it's way in to the net. This clearly lifted the travelling team as well as their fans and the Liverpool faithful, whilst still believing, had a slightly nervous final 20 minutes to endure.

Thankfully, Fernando Torres settled any nerves with eight minutes remaining as he broke into the area and superbly lifted the ball over the out-rushing goalkeeper and the ball bounced neatly into the open net. The roof at Anfield was literally lifted off by the noise created by the crowd as the ball bounced in.

That moment right there on 82 minutes as the ball was bouncing over the line for the 4th goal, I am sure I was not alone in thinking we could go on to win this competition because we are just immense at Anfield. That was an amazing match, full of grit and determination, excellent passing and moving, a goal for Lucas, 2 more for the remarkable Torres and another amazing European victory at Anfield.

...To the Ridiculous

'Beach Ball' 1 - 0 LFC

I was disappointed at the result of this game, not because of the way Darren Bent's shot was deflected off the beach ball but the fact that the ball hit the net in the 5th minute and there was still 85 minutes for us to score ourselves which we couldn't do.

I have called this "ridiculous" because of the factors involved in the result.

I just found myself asking questions;

Why did that young Liverpool supporter bat the beach ball on to the pitch?
Why didn't a steward stop him?

The beach ball, aided by the breeze, rolled into the 18 yard box where Pepe Reina put it in the goal. However, another breeze sent the ball rolling back out into the penalty area.

Why didn't Pepe get rid of the ball properly in the first place?
Why didn't the referee stop the game so that the beach ball could be removed from the pitch?

The laws of the game stipulate that if there is an object that interferes with play that the game should be halted so that the object can be removed.

So why did the referee allow the goal to stand?

All questions I find can generally be answered in the same way... "I don't know, it's just ridiculous!"

It could have been so different

I had to write this bit just to give me some kind of 'closure'! It is basically all about some games that frustrated us and ultimately tripped us up this season.

In Part 1 I made the fact that we just never got going this season top of my "Bad" list. In addition to that post I felt I needed to highlight the frustrating results that for the sake of just 1 goal our fortunes this season might have been so different.

Conceding in injury time away to Stoke after Sotorios Kyrgiakos had got his first goal for Liverpool was particularly annoying. A scrappy effort bundled over the line, but nevertheless a goal on 57 minutes after Sorenson couldn't keep hold of the ball, saw us take a deserved lead as we had previously been denied a penalty when Higginbotham brought down Lucas Leiva.

It was a strange looking line up from Liverpool who, once again were without Torres and Gerrard were up against a solid and resolute Stoke side who were playing very well at home. In a game which saw Stoke have 10 corners to our 0 it came as mighty relief when Kyrgiakos was in the right place to bundle home. We managed to hold out for the remainder of the game until right at the death when Stoke earned themselves a corner and from the resulting cross Higginbotham headed back across goal to an unmarked Huth who made it 1-1. In the dying seconds Dirk Kuyt had an excellent opportunity to grab a winner but saw his diving header crash against the post.

For me, ultimate frustration is when we just cannot score a goal. Unfortunately this happened on a number of occasions this season but there were 3 games where without doubt should have provided us with 3 points. These were Wolves Away, Fulham at Home and Hull Away. All 3 games ended 0-0!

Our lack of firepower in the absence of Fernando Torres was a major concern to us and these games just epitomised this predicament. We could argue that we had plenty of goal scoring possibilities in N'Gog, Babel and Kuyt but whilst they all found the net on a few occasions for us this season it seemed that we just couldn't rely on them as we would have liked.

And so these 3 games added to the Stoke game meant that we dropped 8 very winnable points. Those 8 points would have put us on 71 points and based on the final league positions would have meant we could have finished in 4th and saved ourselves a great deal of heartache and frustration as well as earning the club the revenue from the Champions League that we so badly craved.

Most Improved Player of the Year

I chose not to go down the "player ratings" route with my post season blog but I felt I wanted to acknowledge who I thought showed they had improved the most from last season and also throughout this season. In my opinion, Pepe Reina has been our Player of the Season although even the injury hampered Torres with his excellent goals per game ratio still performed impeccably in the games he played.

However, when it comes to the Most Improved player I believe there is only one contender for the award and in my opinion this would be Lucas Leiva.

Liverpool fans voted the 23 year old Brazilian as their Young Player of the Season and given the amount of stick he received last season (and this season to some extent) this goes to show how far he has come. He worked very hard in the close season to bulk up a little, be stronger in tackles and more confident going forward. It certainly paid off for him and it's great news for Liverpool because I believe there is still more to come from him.

Lucas missed only 3 Premier League games this campaign which is a great indictment of how much of central role he has played in the team. He forged a pretty strong partnership in the middle of the field alongside Javier Mascherano allowing Steven Gerrard to push on more.

The young Brazilians best game in my opinion was the 4-1 Europa League victory at home against Benfica. A solid, dependable and confident performance wrapped up with his superbly taken goal gave Lucas a well deserved Man of the Match award.

It was no more than he deserved. Several players stood out that night but arguably his range of passing, athleticism, desire and creativity, this was his finest display in a Liverpool shirt.

I hold my hands up and admit that I was not one of his biggest fans last term and Lucas was castigated by a certain section of impatient and frustrated supporters, but I think it shows just what an immense turnaround it has been when you hear the Kop chanting his name on a number of occasions.

He might not be the most skilful player ever to play for Liverpool but, he's getting better, a point proved by the poise he showed when scoring the second goal on Thursday evening, and there is more to come.

Congratulations on a very good season Lucas Leiva, You Will Never Walk Alone.

The Final Word

To complete my end of season review I want to acknowledge one of the most important factors of Liverpool Football Club. It isn't a player, it is not the manager, it's not a member of the backroom staff. The most consistent performer of the season, displaying constant passion is of course, the 12th Man.

Time and time again the passion, noise, and knowledge shown on match days really does lift the players. Standing in the crowd at Anfield you almost feel invincible during a rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone because every person in that crowd, singing at the top of their voice, holding their scarves aloft, believe in and love the club.

The noise generated when singing You'll Never Walk Alone is spine tingling and reverberates in your chest cavity. It makes you feel that no matter which opponent stands before you on that day you can and will defeat them.

Many opponents have come to Anfield and been left in awe at the passion shown by the 12th man. Quite simply we have the best fans in the World.

I feel proud to be a Liverpool supporter, through good times and bad there is one thing I know for definite... I will Never Walk Alone.

End of Season Blog Post - Part One: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

After a "Season Horribilis", full of negative points and forgettable moments, I wanted to write an alternative post season review and make it one that highlighted some of the positives to remind fellow Liverpool fans that there were also some good times in the 2009/10 season.

Personally I have grown tired of all the negativity surrounding the club, sadly a lot of this negativity has come from our own fan base. We all know there were plenty of bad times and certainly some really ugly times but whilst our football club is at possibly its lowest ebb for many years I think it is important for us all to remember that there were some moments of brilliance - hence my chosen blog post title.

I didn't want to copy other post season blogs I had read, I wanted to pick my top 5 highs and lows of the season which hopefully go some way towards telling the story of a frustratingly poor season. If I was asked to pick a few words to tell the story of our season (without being too political!) then I would probably go with these;
Injuries, Horse Placenta, Beach balls, Debt Lies and Cowboys, Travel Sickness, Planes Trains and Automobiles, Frustration.

The points I cover in this post by no means complete the list of chat-worthy events in the season but I feel are those that fit best under each of the categories. I haven't mentioned the amazing night at Anfield where we put on a magnificent display to beat Benfica 4-1. But whilst this game does not feature in my Top 5 'Good' things, there's a special place for it in Part 2 of my end of season blog.

I hope you enjoy reading the post but please feel free to add your own comments and opinions.

The Good

Just before I launch into my top 5 I just want to mention one more thing that didn't make it to my final 5 on the 'Good' list but I feel it should at least get a mention...

Ryan Babels change of attitude, from that infamous outburst on Twitter to the passionate display of camaraderie which led to his sending off against Benfica in the Europa League. The one time 'want away' decided to take stock of his situation and seized the opportunity to make peace with the Manager and work his way back into the team. His red card against Benfica perversely raised his profile and, for me, he went up in a few peoples estimations for the fact that he showed he cared and was fighting for his strike partner who had been cynically fouled which led to the fracas.

So Ryan didn't make it to my top 5 but I wanted to make reference to it purely for a commendation.

There are many other things that could have been listed in this category but my shortlist of 'Good' things has to be as follows.

5) This City is Ours!

Another season and another double over our bitter neighbours (2 - 0 at Goodison and 1 - 0 at Anfield) once again brought the bragging rights to the Red side of Stanley Park.
It was the game at Anfield that makes it onto my 'Good' list as this was my first experience of a Merseyside Derby. What a derby it was too, and was not without its talking points particularly when Marouane Fellaini went in two-footed on Sotirios Kyrgiakos leaving the Big Greek requiring stitches in his shin, only for the referee to decide that the punishment should be for Kyrgiakos and not Fellaini, who also injured himself in the tackle and minutes later was substituted as a result.
Dirk Kuyt's 55th minute header was to be enough to secure the win for the Reds and the petulance of Pienaar finally saw him sent off for a second bookable offence although yet again Martin Atkinson was under scrutiny for not taking action against the South African International for earlier misdemeanours.

4) A Public display of support for Rafa and the team prior to the Spurs game

I personally think that the gathering of fans to cheer the team bus into the ground epitomises what supporting Liverpool F.C. is all about. Get behind the team, get behind the manager and every fan played their part as the 12th man to roar the team to a much needed victory.
There was more public backing of Rafa inside the ground with a banner held aloft on the Kop and the game ended with the home fans singing the name of their troubled manager.
The result of the game (2-0 with Kuyt getting both but again another game where we were without our influential captain Steven Gerrard) is largely irrelevant as it was the display of support that gets my vote and is justification why many believe that Liverpool Football Club has the best fans in the world.

3) Torres v Sunderland - Goal of the season?

Magnificent. Sublime. Simply remarkable. The way Fernando Torres created an opportunity out of almost nothing to hit a shot on goal after picking the ball up wide on the left and running at the Sunderland defence was just unbelievably superb. I just don't think I can find a suitable superlative to do justice to just how good that goal was. I don't think there is much more I need say about it because we all saw it, we all watched the replay over and over again and just for good measure I've added it here. From my personal viewpoint on Kop as that goal went in I thought it looked a bit special but watching it back on tv that night just made me shake my head in awe at the talent that is Fernando Torres. How much do we all hate the fact that he missed so much of the season to injury. 22 Premier League games and 18 goals. Still a magnificent strike rate for such an injury ravaged season and this goal in particular for me sits at the top of the list this season. Probably matching if not overshadowing that amazing goal on the turn from out wide against Blackburn.

2) Jose Manuel 'Pepe' Reina

Does anything actually need to be said here? Arguably the best goalkeeper in the Premier League. All I can say is that Iker Casillas must be an unbelievable goalkeeper to keep Pepe out of Spains starting XI. But Pepe's time will come, and I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that he will shine.

Once again Pepe has been a solid rock between the sticks, it's just a shame that our ever-changing and somewhat uncharacteristically leaky back four allowed too many chances for oppositions to take aim this season. Nevertheless, the ever-present super stopper was once again superb achieving another golden glove award (albeit a joint award this season with Petr Cech) and I think the fact that he signed a 6 year contract extension should not be underestimated in terms of the positive message it sends through the club. Even without Champions League football next season Pepe is set for the long haul not the short term gain. Very simply Pepe, You will Never Walk Alone.

1) Liverpool 2 - 0 Man Utd 25.10.09

This game, believe it or not, happened to be my first ever visit to Anfield. No surprise then that it features top of my 'Good' list.

This convincing performance followed our worst run of form since 1987. A well timed victory meant we finished the weekend only 6 points behind Chelsea, who were top at the time, and 4 points behind Man Utd in 2nd.

The previous weekend saw the Reds humiliated on the road by the infamous 'Beach Ball goal' away at Sunderland. So the week leading up to this game turned into a circus with sales of the LFC Beach ball set going through the roof. As the club shop had sold out by Monday, many people decided to put their LFC beach balls up for sale on ebay and there was a media frenzy over the fact that it was a young Liverpool fan who had batted the offending inflatable spherical creator of havoc onto the pitch.

Prior to the game there was a public demonstration against the owners by the Supporters Union, Spirit of Shankly, which also attracted a fair bit of media attention. We will never really know if this off-field campaign helped to gee up the home support in preparation for the on-field battle, but one thing is for sure, the players and the 12th man were most definitely up for this one.

And so the Mancs arrived at Anfield armed with beachballs to show us Liverpool fans just how funny they were. However, what they didn't bank on was the home fans scouse sense of humour and actually beating them at their own game with a flurry of offending spherical replicas being dispatched from the Kop onto the pitch prior to kick off.

In the game itself, Fernando Torres once again proved his excellence by brushing aside Rio Ferdinand and lashing a well struck unstoppable effort high into the roof of the net past Van Der Sar at the Kop end on 65 minutes after a tense goal-less first 45. Let us not forget that Torres admitted afterwards that he was playing through the pain barrier and said that he had to shoot to Van Der Sars left because it hurt to much to kick across goal! It's ok Nando, we don't mind.

Let us also not forget that Liverpool were without the services of Steven Gerrard for this game but solid and resolute performances from Javier Mascherano and Lucas Leiva meant that their opposite numbers were kept quiet throughout the game.

The match expectedly was not without an element of controversy with 5 yellow cards, 1 red card a piece and a vociferous home crowd jeering the return to Anfield of their once heroic striker now turned Judas Michael Owen. His introduction to the game on 74 minutes almost delivered the goal that the travelling supporters so dearly craved. A decent cross by Owen was met by Valencia who smashed the ball against the bar from a very tight angle. This was to be the closest United came to goal in a fraught and nervy final few minutes.

The committment, energy, passion and desire to win this game was there for all to see and when Nemanja Vidic was sent off on 89 minutes for the 3rd successive game against the Reds it served only to lift the crowd and team even more. However, Javier Mascherano later joined Vidic on the sidelines as he saw yellow for a second time after a reckless challenge on the out-rushing keeper deep into injury time.

A good result turned into a great result when in injury time Torres' replacement David N'Gog ran clear to tuck away Liverpools 2nd and the killer blow sealing the victory and sending Anfield into raptures.

A jubilant Pepe Reina ran the length of the pitch to celebrate with the goal scorer in front of the adoring Kop which underlined what this result meant to the players and fans alike and it also provided arguably one of the best photos of the season.

The Bad

Lets be honest, this list could have gone on and on but whilst I wanted to narrow it down to a top 5 "Bad" things from the season I didn't want this part to get too political so I focussed on things on the field rather than off it. Look out for Part 2 though...

5) A Dismal Defeat

31.10.09: Fulham 3 - 1 LFC

This game in my opinion goes down as the worst defeat of the season for 3 reasons;
1. It was our heaviest defeat (although we also lost 3-1 at home to Aston Villa)
2. We had 2 players sent off one of which was Philip Degen who was also given his first start of the season
3. Possibly the worst referee was in charge (Lee Mason) and made some poor decisions which just heaped pressure on the team

As if losing wasn't bad enough it was an embarrassment to be reduced to 9 men and the overall performance was the complete opposite of the battling confident display the players showed against Man United the previous weekend. It was the end of October but already this was our fifth defeat of the season, which according to just about every pundit, newspaper publication and probably several thousand Liverpool fans was already over. Sadly they were all proven correct.

What made things worse was the serious concerns about our chances even going into the game at Craven Cottage with Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel, Albert Riera, Fabio Aurelio and Alberto Aquilani not even making the squad. Added to which, Rafa took our goal scorer Fernando Torres off on 62 minutes to be replaced by Ryan Babel who, at that moment in time, was not playing with the passion and work rate that he later come to display in the latter part of the season.

4) Sicknotes

The team was dogged by injury this season which could have been even worse were it not for the miracle of Horse Placenta! We all know that currently Liverpool lack strength in depth and on more than one occasion our bench, with all due respect to the players sitting on it, was not representative of a top Premiership outfit and our injury list this season only served to exacerbate this problem.

Whilst Gerrard missed a handful of games himself I felt it was the absence of 4 key players that was ultimately too much for our overstretched and inexperienced squad to cover up for. Just take a look at the number of Premier League games these four 1st XI players took part in:

Glen Johnson - 25 games, Daniel Agger - 23 games, Fernando Torres - 22 games, Fabio Aurelio - 14 games

Clearly our biggest loss was Fernando Torres whose 22 games still saw a return of 18 goals. If only he could have played more this season.... No point dwelling on that now I suppose.

3) Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Thanks to the Volcanic Ash cloud spewed out by Volcano Eyjafjallajokull and the resulting 'no fly' order, the team had to undertake a 1,200 mile trip to Madrid via train, coach and finally plane. Even though Rafa Benitez and Javier Mascherano insisted this would not have an influence over the teams performance it was clear that they were below par when it came to kick off.

Atletico were quick out of the blocks and gave our back four something to worry about from the off and after only 9 minutes Diego Forlan managed to scuff a shot goalwards which ended up going in. Quite how the ball managed to make it into the net still fails me but the fact is it did and sadly that was to be the only goal of the game.

A 1-0 away defeat to Atletico Madrid would perhaps not have been seen as such a bad result given that we had the return leg at home but the frustration of Yossi Benayouns incorrectly disallowed goal did nothing to help the confidence of our already physically and mentally drained team.

2) Travel sickness

After last seasons record total of 86 points there was a great deal of confidence in our ability to go one better than the 2nd place we achieved but sadly it was not meant to be. In fact it seemed our season was doomed from the start as we lost 2 of our opening 3 fixtures. Going into the season many pundits had put us as favourites to achieve our ultimate dream after going so close in the previous campaign. However, by the end of October and after 4 defeats on the bounce, many of those pundits were backtracking and now claiming that our season was over. In retrospect they were correct, sadly, but I for one never gave up (as you will have seen in my previous blog posts. Yes delusional I know but whilst there was always a chance...).

It was actually our away form that let us down. It seemed that going on the road just didn't agree with the boys this term which was proven by our travelling record in the Premier League of 5 wins, 6 draws and 8 defeats. A total of 21 points on the road is simply not good enough for a team of Liverpool's stature.

If you compare this record to that of our home record it really highlights what a miserable time we had outside of Anfield. 42 points on our own turf were accumulated, coming from 13 wins, 3 draws and 3 defeats. A similar away record could have seen us finish 3rd (assuming we wouldn't have picked up points off Chelsea or United).

So that just adds to the frustration and hence why, for me, this ranks as number 2 in my "Bad" list.

1) Bad Form

So to number 1 on my "Bad" list, the overall performance throughout the season - quite simply not good enough. You will hear pundits always talking about 'form' and unfortunately for us this season it seemed to be prefixed all too often by the word 'poor'. Prior to the 2-0 win against our arch rivals at Anfield we had been on a run of 4 defeats - 2 in the Premier League and 2 in the Champions League. It was still very early in the season and there was plenty of time to turn our fortunes around but every time we had a great confidence building game and we thought "this is it", it wasn't!

It is this "poor run of form" that I put at the top of my list for the season which resulted in a failure to finish in the top 4, exiting the domestic cup competitions early and rather more frustrating early exit from the Champions League. The only saving grace we had was to finish 3rd in the CL group stage and therefore drop into the Europa League. Ok not the greatest of competitions but a European Competition nonetheless and we all embraced this opportunity to go on and do well. The more positive fans and pundits believed that actually we could go on to win the competition, and why not, we are Liverpool Football Club playing in Europe, of course we could win. However, by this time, our confidence was shot, there were glimmers of hope but this 'poor run of form' just kept coming back to haunt us.

These stats don't really tell the full story:
Longest Winning Streak (all competitions) - 6 games between 29.08 and 26.09
Longest Winning Streak (Premier League) - 4 games between 29.08 and 26.09
Longest Losing Streak (all competitions) - 4 games between 29.09 and 20.10
Longest Losing Streak (Premier League) - 2 games between 04.10 and 17.10

It's the fact that we just never really seemed to get going and every time we thought we had turned the corner we simply found another dead end.

This is the point I am trying to make...

The 6-1 win over Hull gave the team a massive boost, however the very next game we lost 2-0 against Fiorentina in the Champions League. This was then followed by back to back defeats in the Premier League without us even scoring a goal (2-0 v Chelsea and 1-0 against the beach ball) and then an even more demoralising home defeat to Lyon in the Champions League.

How much media attention was there on the next game - Man United at home? Listening to the reports and the "pundits" on Sky Sports that day you would have thought that another defeat was going to relegate us to the Championship!

We won this game, thankfully, and bought ourselves a slight reprieve and looked like we had turned a corner. However, along came that dead end again in the form of Arsenal and we lost 2-1 in the Carling Cup. Ok, so that was the Carling Cup, nevermind, concentrate on the League we thought. Did anyone think Fulham would pose such a threat? Well this was arguably our worst game of the season and a 3-1 defeat saw our Premier League winning streak stop at 1 game. This defeat then led to a run of 3 draws which only served to further frustrate us.

Here's a couple more examples of our frustrating season:

Confidence booster: Away win at Everton - followed by 0-0 v Blackburn and back to back defeats against Fiorentina and Arsenal.

Confidence booster: Home win against Spurs - followed by 0-0 v Wolves.

Confidence booster: Home win against Sunderland - followed by defeat away to Benfica in the Champions League and a 1-1 draw v Birmingham in the Premier League.

I won't go on, you get the picture. We just never got going. Bad Form. This, for me was the biggest on- field "Bad" of the season for me.

The Ugly

Sorry, couldn't resist.

I know that's a less than grown up dig at a professional footballer but let's be honest, he isn't the prettiest is he!

On a serious note, Liverpool fans detest this ex Manc Sally Gunnell look-a-like even more now after his scrappy effort was the only goal of the game in the Vicente Calderon and the rather annoying timing of the away goal at Anfield that final ended what slim chance we had of glory this season.

Even in the Europa League final between Atletico Madrid and Fulham most Liverpool fans I know were cheering on Fulham. Was this because we genuinely wanted Fulham to win or more that we wanted to see Atletico Madrid lose? Probably more the former than the latter but one thing I think we can safely say is that there was such a hatred for Forlan that Fulham and Liverpool fans together would have loved to see him lose.

Ah well, it wasn't to be but well done to Fulham and well done to Woy, a great achievement, a great manager and no small feat coming so close to glory.

In Part 2 I want to look at some of the reasons where I think it all went wrong for us this season plus more on that fantastic European night at Anfield against Benfica.

So, that's all for Part 1 of my end of season review. Hope you enjoyed reading. Please feel free to comment and add your own thoughts about what you feel was good and bad about this season.

A Big Night...

Thursday 29th April 2010
Europa League Semi Final 2nd Leg v Atletico Madrid (0-1 agg.)

This game comes at a time when Liverpool are in desperate need of something positive in order to salvage something from an otherwise frustratingly mediocre season.

On paper you might be fooled into thinking that tonights game should be a relatively straight forward European home tie against a mid-table Spanish team. However, following last weeks 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid, Liverpool return once again to the hallowed turf of Anfield to do battle in front of their adoring fans knowing that only a win will do, and more than likely a minimum 2 goal margin will be necessary to overcome the opposition.

90 minutes from another European Final. Simple as that. Isn't it?

Steven Gerrard has described it as "a night for heroes". Having lost Fernando Torres to a recurrence of the injury that has dogged his season it now seems that Dirk Kuyt and David N'Gog look set to miss the return leg at Anfield. All eyes could be on Ryan Babel. The 'enigma', the 'frustrator', the 'hero'?

After he was expected to leave the club back in january following a public outburst on Twitter, Babel has turned his own fortunes around by firstly 'clearing the air' with the boss and then concentrating on working hard to get himself back in favour and back in to the team. Having played in all of Liverpool's European ties this season, Babel is hoping that he can be the man to drive his team to victory and ultimately another European Final in Hamburg on May 12th

"Heroes", Gerrard said. Not just players. Not just stars. Heroes. Every single one of those players must go out there tonight and give everything. Everything for their club. Everything for the fans. Everything for their team mates and everything for their Manager. The reward of a UEFA Europa League Final should be enough of an incentive shouldn't it.

So who do we turn to on nights like this?

Of course every player will need to be on top form but in my opinion there are 4 key influencers;

Pepe Reina
Solid, dependable and full of confidence. 16 clean sheets in the Premier League and within a game or two of earning yet another Golden Glove award. Having already put pen to paper on a new 6 year contract, Reina has demonstrated his long term commitment to the club which will no doubt send a positive message through the squad. Some might say the next club captain, he is certainly an inspiration to the team. On nights like this I would not want any other keeper between the posts.

Jamie Carragher
The Stalwart. The heart of the defence. Arguably the ultimate defender. Never say die attitude. Would quite happily throttle the Queen if she was out of position for a corner. Gutsy, determined, passionate, solid. We need Carra on his game tonight commanding the line and once again giving his usual 110% for the team.

Steven Gerrard
Captain Fantastic. Not been at his best for large portions of the season but in recent games he has started to show some of the old spark we are used to seeing. Recently he has been back in the goals. A brace against a beleaguered Burnley side adding to his confidence. Gerrard plays a pivotal role in the heart of midfield and can strike fear into the hearts of defenders when running forward, the team will look to their captain for more inspiration tonight. We need him on form. We need his drive and determination. We need him to lead by example, and a goal or two would be most welcome.

The 12th Man
Vociferous. Passionate. Knowledgeable. Encouraging. Awesome.
Arguably the best fans in the world, the 12th man has performed magnificently at times this season and will once again be called upon to lift the players. The noise generated at Anfield on European nights is, in a word, immense. Tonight the 12th man will sing, cheer, applaud and drive the team to victory. If any Liverpool fan leaves Anfield with his/her voice still in tact then they will feel they have not done their job.

Atletico will be up for this. They are boosted by the return of their star striker Sergio Aguero whilst the confidence is high with Diego Forlan after his scruffy effort was the difference between the two sides a week ago in the Vicente Calderon.

Liverpool will also be up for this. A 1-0 deficit is certainly not insurmountable and an early goal will settle the nerves and hopefully open the flood gates to a confident and well deserved victory.

Expect the Kop to shake the rafters and cheer the team to victory. Expect a rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone to have the travelling fans left in awe of the noise and passion displayed by the home fans.

Nights like this are made for Liverpool Football Club. Liverpool Football Club is made for nights like this.

Bring it on!


Still Dreaming.....

Just a quick follow up to my previous blog post and the possibility of us being able to grab 4th spot, there were a couple of results this weekend that didn't go exactly as we would have liked. However, a point for City and a win for Villa does not end our chances just yet.

Whilst a few are still suggesting that I am a prime candidate for a padded cell it was interesting to see that there are now also a few that are having another glance at the table.

Let me remind you that no-one predicted these results;
Spurs beating Arsenal and Chelsea back to back.
Wigan beating Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal.
Burnley beating Man Utd and Stoke beating Arsenal.

The fact is, there have been some very strange results this season which have taken everyone by surprise. Who's to say there aren't one or two more shock results to come between now and May 9th?

Granted, we have had a few shocking performances away from home this season, but our home form has not been too bad (perfect examples being the excellent performances against both of our arch rivals). If only our fortunes on the road could have mirrored our efforts at Anfield, we would be in contention for the title. It's also a little frustrating to see that if Chelsea are to be crowned Champions this season they will accrue no more than 86 points (our tally for last season which only saw us finish 2nd).
No point in dwelling on that statistic now though.

So to Sunday and a crucial match against Chelsea. What a dilemma, win and give ourselves a really good chance of staying in the race to steal 4th, or lose and increase Chelsea's chances of winning the title ahead of Man Utd. There are many different views on this, mine is just to enjoy the final home game of the season and to cheer the boys on. I am also hoping that we will be able to wish them luck for the Final in Hamburg next month (fingers crossed for Thursday).

But I digress. Man City play Villa and Spurs play Bolton next Saturday before we play Chelsea on the Sunday. Chelsea, incidentally, are in pretty devastating form. Case in point today - a 7-0 thrashing of Stoke, and that's not the first time they have hit 7 this season as Villa will testify to.

So, as the title of this post suggests I'm still trying to find a way to 4th. For us to stay in the race then a point a piece at Eastlands and Bolton to do us a favour at White Hart Lane would be extremely helpful and give us that extra incentive going into the Chelsea game, by which time Spurs and Villa would be on 65 points with Man City on 64. A win against Chelsea would then see us go 4th on goal difference. I also wonder what favours will be done at the Stadium of Light next Sunday. Will Bighead Bruce roll over and have his tummy tickled by Slur Alex? (hush my mouth)

We proved again today that losing Fernando Torres to injury has not necessarily meant we cannot score goals. At times it seems we lack that final punch but when Steven Gerrard is on form and with the 12th man at Anfield it doesn't seem to make that much difference. The fact is we have scored 61 goals this season, Torres has 18 Premier League goals from his 22 appearances - a remarkable return. Clearly proof that he is not our only goal scorer but if only he could have escaped injury...
Dirk Kuyt and Steven Gerrard have chipped in with goals this season, let's hope Kuyt's calf injury that saw him taken off on 48 minutes today is not serious. Incidentally, Yossi Benayoun, who replaced Kuyt, has 6 Premier League goals to his name this campaign. A final mention for Maxi Rodriguez who chipped in with a well deserved and well taken goal today. Hopefully that is a sign of things to come, perhaps next Sunday?

4th place may not happen but at this moment in time it is a possibility and I will not give up hope at least until full time on Saturday afternoon. Final fact, 1 point from the last 2 games will all but guarantee us European football next season.

Just want to finish by giving a round of applause to the Burnley fans who cheered their team right to the final whistle even though our 4-0 victory condemned them back to the Championship after only a short stay in the Premiership.


The Dream is still alive...... isn't it? :/

2 weeks ago I was suggesting 4th was still possible. At the time we were heavily reliant on Spurs losing to Arsenal and Chelsea whilst we had to pick up maximum points from our remaining games.  

Ok, quick progress report...

Spurs ignored the script and managed to pull out a couple of amazing victories over their London rivals - who'd have thought it?

Man City, meanwhile, were sticking 5 past Birmingham to take 4th at the time but later succumbed to yet another injury time winner against their bitter rivals, which, whilst the timing of the goal was particularly annoying, the result was actually in our favour.

These results followed our 'bore-draw' with Fulham and whilst last nights confidence boosting 3 - 0 victory over a lacklustre West Ham side kept the dream alive, it has left our chances of finishing 4th almost impossible....

....but still mathematically achievable.

The Dream

So, the Fat Lady is gargling and I'm clutching at straws with one hand...

...blindfolded... a strong breeze...

Nevertheless, I thought I'd revisit the run-in again, not just to see how much of an epic task we're now facing to claim 4th but what our chances are of finishing 5th or 6th - and lets not kid ourselves, we could well struggle for one of the Europa spots let alone that final Champions League spot!

So, whilst I have absolutely no intention of sparking a debate about the pro's and con's of Liverpool perhaps not even participating in a European competition next season it is with tongue firmly in cheek that I wondered if I could conjure up a way to get us to 4th - at least on paper!

The ratio of madness to seriousness is probably 60/40…

Ok 70/30…

Hmm maybe 80/20…

Ok 90/10 but I can’t be the only one trying to work out how LFC can claims 4th spot.... can I?

Yeah ok, I probably am but so what!!

Anyway, it's very unlikely, but how cool would this situation be?
·         Spurs lose to ManUre and Citeh, beat Bolton but draw away at Burnley on the last day of the season
·         Citeh lose to the Arse, lose to Villa then beat Spurs and West Ham
·         Villa beat Hull, draw against Birmingham then beat Citeh and Blackburn
·         Liverpool, of course, win their remaining 3 games ;o)

This would then mean all 4 teams finish on 68 points with the final positions being decided on Goal Difference!
Here's a very optimistic prediction for this scenario:

Goal Diff.

Goal Diff.



Man Utd (A)

Burnley (A)

Bolton (H)

Chelsea (H)

Man City (A)

Hull (A)

Burnley (A)



Man City


Arsenal (A)

Hull (A)

Villa (H)

Birmingham (H)

Spurs (H)

Man City (A)

West Ham (A)

Blackburn (H)



Current Pts
Current GD
Final Pts
Final GD



Man City


YES! Champions League here we come!!

What are the odds on that? 

Gotta be worth a cheeky fiver?

Or maybe it's time for the medication and a little lie down!!

Yeah ok, it's nice to dream eh? :D

The Reality

Whilst that chink of light is still existent I don't think we should give up, in fact some players have also been quoted as not giving up hope just yet.  I think the fact that few people believed Spurs would actually overcome Arsenal and Chelsea back to back serves as proof that you just never know what can happen.

However, the fact remains, we need to salvage whatever we can from the season.

5th or 6th is very achievable and presents the opportunity for another season in a European competition, so lets take it, even if some would suggest that the Europa League compared to the Champions League is like comparing a Capri to a Ferrari.

We must not forget that we are 180 minutes away from another European Final.

Once again we face an uphill struggle thanks to Volcano Eyjafjallajokull attempting to derail our chances by forcing the team on a 1,200 mile journey via road and rail, as a result of the, now infamous, ash cloud preventing flights. Although, fingers crossed the team may be able to fly the rest of the way tomorrow.

If away legs of a European competition weren't tough enough, ESPN and the FA thought it reasonable for us to play West Ham on Monday night before undertaking the tiring journey whilst Atletico had the pleasure of a Saturday game and therefore a full 4 days relaxation and preparation for the 1st leg on their own turf.

Nevertheless, the boys will be up for it, and to quote Yossi Benayoun "we need to try and win the game for him (Torres) and for the whole club. I think it's important to finish this disappointing season with a trophy"

As with the 1st leg against Benfica, a defeat is not the end of it, but an away goal and only a narrow margin to bring back home will inevitably set up another amazing European tie under the lights at Anfield.  We may be without our star striker but we have goals from elsewhere in our team and it is at times like these where we call upon the likes of David N'Gog and Ryan Babel to step up and prove that they deserve their place in the starting line up and they deserve to pull on that shirt.

We saw last night a glimpse of our Captain playing the pivotal role we know he can. We saw a good work rate and free flowing football.  We saw a solid defensive performance by Jamie Carragher and Sotirios Kyrgiakos with excellent marauding runs from Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger.  We saw another clean sheet from Pepe Reina, who some would argue is the best 'keeper in the Premier League (and with an unequalled 15 shut outs this season that's a fair shout). More importantly we saw goals, 3 of them, without Fernando Torres on the pitch - proof that it can be done.

True that this game was against a team fighting for their survival in the Premier League, but let that not detract from the professional way that our team went about their task. We have to take every positive we can find now and carry it into the game on Thursday night in the Vicente Calderon.

About Me

I'm a 30-something husband and father of 2 who has recently decided to have a go at blogging. I love watching pretty much any sport but my passion is football and in particular Liverpool F.C. If you're here then thanks for stopping by and I hope you find my words interesting and thought provoking. Any comments, feedback and constructive criticism is welcome.