Matt Sproston

Paddock Aggro

Liverpool FC – The Comeback Kings

The doom and gloom that followed the defeat at Zenit last week was understandable coming as it did on the back of the disappointing result against West Brom. However, despite the 2-0 defeat leaving the Reds with a mountain to climb there are reasons to be optimistic ahead of the second leg.

kop_euronight

Our home form has been good this season. The Arsenal game and Swansea League Cup fixture aside, Liverpool have dominated at Anfield even though the results have not always reflected that domination. We have shown that we are capable of scoring 3 or more goals and keeping clean sheets, both of which will be essential if we are to progress through to the last 16.

Furthermore, the first leg showed that we can create good chances against Zenit. Brendan Rodgers’ assertion that we put in a perfect performance for 70 minutes was undoubtedly overstating the case. A similar 70 minutes though would put is in with a great chance of turning the tie around.

However, our best hope of progressing though lies with the Anfield factor. Our history is built upon the famous European nights. Great European teams and world class players have fallen victim to the intense, suffocating atmosphere generated by our crowd. The floodlights, flags and a few bevvies after work bring out the best in our lot.

But more than that, adversity brings out the fighting spirit in Scousers whether natural or adopted and so often when our backs have been to the wall the crowd has helped the team to a remarkable comeback.

Liverpool 2 Celtic 0 (2-1 aggregate). European Cup Winners Cup Semi-final. 19th April 1966

Following a dire display in the first leg against the team that would go on to win the European Cup the following year, Liverpool would need to be at their best to reach their first European final. They tore into Celtic at Anfield but were unable to break the deadlock in the first half. With no substitutes allowed, a knee injury to Geoff Strong after 35 minutes effectively reduced the Reds to 10 and a half men but still they piled forward. A Tommy Smith free kick after an hour levelled the tie on aggregate but it was Strong who secured the win after 67 minutes, leaping from his one good leg to head the ball home.  A late disallowed Celtic goal sparked a mini riot in the away end but the Kop was too busy celebrating a remarkable transformation.

Liverpool 3 Hibernian 1 (3-2 aggregate). UEFA Cup 1st Round. 30th September 1975

The Reds were lucky to leave Edinburgh with only a goal defeat thanks to Ray Clemence saving a penalty late on. Liverpool were still expected to qualify though and looked comfortable when Toshack levelled the tie on 21 minutes. However, what should have been a straightforward game was turned on its head after 33 minutes when Hibs equalised meaning Liverpool needed two more goals to avoid defeat on the away goals rule. The home team turned on the pressure and Toshack was the hero of the night adding two more second half goals to seal a hat trick of trademark headers. It was a close shave in a competition Liverpool went on to win.

Liverpool 3 St Etienne 1 (3-2 aggregate). European Cup Quarter Final. 16th March 1977.

This was arguably Anfield’s most famous night. In truth Liverpool were the favourites to progress having only lost in France to a fortunate late goal. Keegan levelled the tie after 2 minutes at Anfield and Liverpool looked set to make the Semi-finals comfortably. However, St Etienne were a classy team and had improved from the first leg and on 51 minutes went ahead on aggregate with a swerving 30 yard shot from Bathenay. Liverpool now needed 2 goals and a quick reply from Ray Kennedy set up a barnstorming finish. It was Kennedy on 83 minutes who lifted the ball over St Etienne’s high defensive line for substitute David Fairclough who shrugged off the defender and slotted under the on rushing keeper to score the winning goal and seal his place in Anfield history. The Kop went wild and those who were there felt Liverpool’s name was already on the cup.

Liverpool 3 Auxerre 0 (3-2 aggregate). UEFA Cup 2nd Round. 6th November 1991.

The Reds returned from European exile that season and showed how ring rusty they were. Liverpool were thoroughly outplayed in the first leg and had Grobbelaar to thank for keeping the arrears down to 2. An early Molby penalty got the Reds right back into the tie and Mike Marsh levelled on aggregate after 30 minutes. Auxerre hung on until the 83rd minute when Liverpool’s pressure finally told and Mark Walters wrapped up Liverpool’s biggest ever comeback.

Liverpool 2 Roma 0. Champions League 2nd Group stage. 19th March 2002.

Although not a 2 legged tie, Liverpool knew that they needed a victory and probably by 2 goals to progress to the quarter finals. The game had added poignancy as it marked the return to the dug out of Gerard Houllier following heart surgery. Indeed Houllier had not even returned to daytime duties at Anfield and his entrance before kick-off raised the roof. Opposition manager Fabio Capello embraced him warmly but knew that the fans and the team would now be extra motivated. The Italian champions were packed full of quality and Liverpool were missing Owen and Hamann but goals from Litmanen and Heskey were enough to send Liverpool through on an emotional night.

Liverpool 3 Olympiakos 1. Champions League Group stage. 8th December 2004.

Another group stage game where victory by 2 clear goals was needed. However, this time the job was made all the more difficult by Rivaldo’s first half goal leaving Liverpool needing 3 in the second half without reply. The tie was put on a knife edge from the unlikely sources of Sinama-Pongolle and Mellor. The Reds led an all out charge for the last 10 minutes and it took a goal of the highest quality from Gerrard to seal the unlikeliest of comebacks. Striking through a spinning ball from 20 yards, it was a goal only HE could have scored. At the time it felt like it could be the start of something special. It was!

There are many other games that define our European history, glorious victories and wonderful atmospheres. So many nights to remember. But these games show that while things may look bleak, when we are at home wearing THAT kit, playing in front of THAT crowd there should always be hope in our hearts.

Season ticket holder since 1988, I get to all home games and some aways. Travelled all over watching Liverpool; Spain, Italy, Germany, Greece, France, Holland, Russia, Turkey, Switzerland, North America and Asia. Grassroots football coach in my spare time!

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  • RedTed

    “these games show that while things may look bleak, when we are at home wearing THAT kit, playing in front of THAT crowd there should always be hope in our hearts” – spot on!

    Lets find our voices boys – YNWA

    • Butragenio

      obviously you forgot our coach is mentally challenged… so he was bound to f uc k up anyways!!!!

      • munyuktae

        I suppose that you will be the right coach for LFC? How many clubs that you have successfuly managed? How many trophies won?
        Are you guardiola in disguise?

        • Butragenio

          No I am a simply guy earning less then 1% of what Brenda earns. And yet I would not have f uck ed up as bad as he did in the second half. Am I the only person who believes that he got Assaidi right, but Shelvey and Sterling wrong? Brenda is also the guy who singe handedly lost us the game to Oldham in the FA Cup. Actually, thinking about your question – yes – I think I might be a better coach then him, and cost the club far less!

  • ash

    COME ON YOU RED MEN!! YNWA

  • Butragenio

    We would have made it… if it was not for our mentally challenged manager who killed all momentum after the third by introducing the useless shelvey. now we live the rest of the season (literally three whole months) with nothing to play for. If this is progress…. ?

    • JOHNBARRETT

      You do realise – Sturridge was not able to play as Cup tied- so who else can he choose from? Next season as long as we do qualify for Europe this would not be a problem

      • Butragenio

        Hi John, that is absolutely true. If Sturridge was available this might have been a totally different story. However one needs to consider a few things too. Firstly, Brenda got it totally wrong in the market in Summer, and this is a concern for the next transfer window. Secondly, we were pressing and killing the opposition on the third goal, so it made little sense to change the team. Assiadi had a very good game (and I hope to see more of him in the future) but Shelvey was horrible… therefore his introduction was a bad judgement from Brenda. Thirdly, poor team selection and wrong suibsitutions have cost us dearly this season (just remembering our exit in the FA cup against Oldham makes me sick) and this is totally the responsibility of Brenda who doesnt seem to get one right in this department. I must admit that the style of our football is more refined and flowing (not necessary more effective since our defending is very poor and has not been addressed throughout the whole season) – but results are what count. We are now left with nothing to play for in the next three months – a very depressing situation for any fan, let alone for us who remember a mighter Reds (and let not go that far back since under Rafa we were reaching CL quarter finals each year). And next year Brenda will be faced with a few more challenges – keeping Suarez motivated in a team which is not competing in Europe – and having to find and spend big to find a long term replacement for Gerrard (this wont come cheap and we all know how cheap our owner are). It seems that Brenda will be given preferential treatment and allowed to stay even though the season has been a disaster. Nevertheless, most fans will expect, at a minimum, qualification for CL next season. I hope that no excuse will be acceptable if this is not achieved.

        • l1v3rp00lfc

          Hey lady, just calm down with the “mentally challenged” stuff! Take a look at yourself for an instance.. Firstly, you say that the manager “got it totally wrong in the market in Summer”, but then condemn him for replacing Allen and want to see more of Assaidi (both, summer additions).. Borini seems like the most unlucky person in the world right now, seconded by Yesil, who also got injured long term.. and Rodgers apparently got it totally right in January, why would someone be THAT pessimistic about next summer? Secondly, all of yesterday’s substitutions were players that had something to prove (especially Shelvey, after the twitter incident).. Rodgers gambled a turn of form a la Enrique/Henderson/Downing.. it didn’t work out, and I believe Shelvey will be loaned out in the summer.. Thirdly, the same man’s team selection and substitutions (and tactics and training style) got us some spectacular performances this season.. on our day, we play the most beautiful football in the league, all we need is consistency.. and finally, in Rafa’s last season we finished in 7th spot, last year, under Kenny, we finished 8th, so Rodgers didn’t brought us to mid-table, that was basically the norm for the past 3 years.. so lighten up, because things might change and you’ll make a fool of yourself

          • Butragenio

            i kind of understand why some fans really like the guy… the mental capacity seems to be the same. Your first point make no sense at all. I dont believe Allen is, or will even be closely worth, to 15m. We could have got far much better for that price (same stands for Borini). This has nothing to do with yesterdays match. We’re tearing them apart. Stick with the team! Secondly, you admit his gamble didnt work yesterday… isnt that what he’s paid to do? To make things work! If it aint working time and time again, what do we need him for. Thirdly, we played attractive football under all the managers you mentioned (remember ripping off Real Madrid apart under Benny or making Manure look like a second division side under Kenny). Results bring success. Rafa brought us a CL in his first season. Kenny brought us a LC and a final in his first season. Brenda brought us? When you come up with arguments, make sure they make sense before you start firing out compliments. Otherwise simply do like most ignorant people do, just insult (fullstop)

          • l1v3rp00lfc

            First of all, I’m not a fan of Rodgers, or of Benitez, or of any manager for that matter.. I’m a fan of LFC.. I was very disappointed when Rafa was sacked, even if we finished 7th.. Hodgson had it coming, but with Kenny, too, I had mixed feelings.. even if we made it a habit to lose at home to smaller sides (and even if, while we mostly transfered attackers, we scored less goals than Fulham), still, the 2 cup finals and the good defence (until Agger’s injury in Jan. at least) showed we were on a relatively good track .. but he got replaced.. the only way the owners could’ve persuaded me was if they appointed a long term manager, either a World Class one (Mourinho type), or a young, promising manager with a long term project.. they decided to gamble on the latter.. so did Arsenal with Wenger, ManU with Ferguson, Barca with Guardiola, Milan with young Capello, Ajax with Cruyff, etc.. and so did we, with Shankly (from Second Division) or young Kenny.. these were all young, inexperienced managers.. probably all of these managers had contesting “fans”, calling them “mentally challenged” when things didn’t go well.. I’m sure there was a “fan” that called Shankly “Wilma” or some other derogatory girl name.. however, they had time to prove their worth, and made everyone swallow their words.. now, if you feel impatient, and approve the idea of “1 manager per season”, I think Chelsea FC is warmly waiting for you.. I heard they also give plastic flags, you’ll love it

          • Butragenio

            i liked your point of view. I hope you’re right. And thanks for the advice but I would like to remain Liverpool supporter for the rest of my life. I have been now for over 50 years.

          • l1v3rp00lfc

            I knew there was a gentleman inside you, it’s just that football passion sometimes gets the worst out of us.. just for the record, I would have sticked with Rafa just as much as I stick now with Rodgers.. or with any other manager, unless things go really bad (see Hodgson era – ugly football, no results, unhappy players, no fight or team spirit).. I believe that, at this level, every manager has a certain vision, a certain strategy that, if given time, it could work.. obviously I’m not naive to fall for every excuse or marketing babble, but if there are signs of a good path, I think its reasonable to give it 2-3 seasons (if each season is an improvement upon the last one) and then draw the line to see where we are.. best regards

  • JOHNBARRETT

    Got to be patient, this is rebuilding season. Ok we are out of all cups, so what about the so called might Aresenal (no trophy for 8 years!!) and Chelsea, only doing well because of a rich sugar daddy – I can assure this team will be good again, whether it is with BR or not, we will come good!. I hate to admit this but we need to follow a certain MU model, not with AF but rebuilt of a few seasons. we must all be patient – this is a young team and change takes time, this is only Br 1st season – we are not going to win the title straight away – ok it has been 23 years but I think it will come good – we have Sterling, Suarez (hopefully he stays) – Lucas, Agger, Allen (give him time he is only 22. Gerrard will need replacing soon – i am sure this is being looked at. Keep positive …LFCs european record is the the best by any british team, next season fingers crossed we wlll come good.

    • Butragenio

      John, I wish I was as positive as you. Arseanal playing in CL this year and are still in a chance to qualify for next year. Chelksi and ManC might have suggar daddies, but I would prefer a suggar daddy than a miser daddy. MU model will be very hard to emulate – i hope we can.