Well, I decided it was about time I got back in to this writing lark again. I have been checking the site out through the season but not getting involved in the forums much. Must say, great to see all the brilliant articles still coming week on week. I am hoping, maybe I can add to them again.
The 2009/10 season ended with the same bad press as it had ran through all season. Benitez arguing in public with Beavis and Butthead (Hicks & Gillette), them (well Hicks mainly) arguing back in their (his) usual, ‘I am the owner, do as you are told minion!’ kind of way and we finished 7th. A complete mess! A star striker whose shine was diminishing and a disjointed team that could be brilliant one minute and Sunday league the next. It was going to be a long summer. Only a couple of weeks after the end of the season, Rafa was gone. It seemed a foregone conclusion due to his clashes with the owners, but he still had us, the fans. Well most of us anyway. I liked him, but he was too stubborn for his own good. I think we could understand his frustrations and the boundaries in which he was working, but in fairness, it was him who broke the Liverpool tradition of keeping it all in house. Nothing was kept quiet and that I think was maybe his downfall. As a person, he could not be faulted, he contribution to the community and charity was unquestionable. He was there again at this years Hillsborough memorial service, in tears. It hurt him to leave a club which he really fell in love with. We loved him and he will eternally remembered for the 2 seasons in which he gave us the Champions League and the F.A. Cup. Two finals that have been declared the best ever!
It was time to move on. Ian Ayre had been given the task of improving our commercial aims. Martin Broughton, to sell the club (that’s for later). The first task was to get a new manager in place and start all over again. There was to be a team that included Kenny Dalglish that would look for the new man. Dalglish was told in no uncertain terms were they considering him for the job, regardless of what the fans thought.
On 1st July 2010, Roy Hodgson was appointed only Liverpool’s 18th Manager in its history. He declared it was THE job in football and his rapport with the press and fans started. He said all the right things. WE had hope. He started by doing his best ever thing at Liverpool in his short tenure. He signed Raul Meireles.
Things did not start great. The friendly against Al Hilal was cancelled and the initial 3 friendlies produced 1 draw, 2 defeats and no goals scored! In between those was a Europa league qualifier away to Rabotniki, at least we managed a 0-2 away win. The same result in the home leg gave some more hope. Our first Premier League game under Hodgson was to be Arsenal at home. It was to be a stiff first test.
The season was under way, a half decent 1-1 draw given that we lost Joe Cole in the first half. Would have been a win, if not for the uncharacteristic fumble by Reina.The rest of August was uninspiring. A loss away to ‘Megamoney’ Man City and 2 wins in the Europa and home to West Brom. 4 points from 9, not brilliant but we had got Arsenal out of the way!
September was a similar story. Half decent results in Europe but only 2 points from 3 Premier League games showed a sorry story on the pitch. Emphasised by a kicking in the Carling Cup from Northampton! Off the field, things were getting very bad. Beavis & Butthead not happy at what was eventually to be declared (by Hicks) as an Epic Swindle! Civil war had broken out at Anfield and it really seemed to be affecting the players. In the red corner we had Ayre, Broughton and Purslow (maybe even RBS!). In the the other, we had Beavis & Butthead and their offspring. Firstly, trying to sack the man you brought in to sell the club was a poor move on their part and just galvanise the fans and the red corner further.
After a lot of ‘tooing and frowing’ and a 1-2 home defeat to Blackpool, and the little mater of sitting in the bottom 3 with a negative goal difference, on the 6th October, Liverpool was to be sold to New England Sports ventures. The owners of the Boston Redsox and their Fenway Park Stadium. We were glad to see the back of Beavis & Butthead but was this a case of ‘Out of the fryingpan ……………..? Only time would tell. We took solace in the fact that John W. Henry and Tom Werner had taken a famous but ailing Baseball team with a once great stadium (sound familiar) and invested heavily in both the team and stadium to make them a real force in the World Series. Could this really be what Liverpool needed. John W. Henry was described as one of the most powerful men in Baseball. More importantly, he was also described as ‘Popular’. Things may be looking up! What remains is how can a businessman like Hicks who bought Dr Pepper & 7UP, for around $88 million then sold them for $1.3 billion 18 month later have wanted with a “little old soccer” team? I have said it before, he really was “All hat and no cattle!”.
October continued on the pitch, not bad but not great. A defeat to Everton, an extremely dire draw to Napoli (at one point I almost considered chopping my bits of with a blunt rusty spoon for entertainment) and 2 wins against Blackburn and Bolton. Hodgson was losing the fans and in a big way. Liverpool has always supported their managers, but Hodgson seemed to be just being ‘Mr Nice’ to everyone. The team do have to take some blame but he needed to galvanize them. He seemed to be failing. Miserably!
November went on and so did Beavis & Butthead. We did not care, Henry was not professing all kinds of promises when he was interviewed. He made one, that was to try and improve Liverpool both on the pitch and off it. Anfield could possibly be redeveloped, Fenway Park was and the rich history of the Baseball team kept. Is this what Anfield needs? Maybe. We will see. A good win at home to Napoli was followed by an even better 2-0 home win against Chelsea. Things looking good already? Not really, a dire 1-1 away draw at Wigan brought us back down with a bump! Then it just got worse, much worse. A 2-0 away defeat to Stoke then a 3-0 home win against lowly West Ham. Then a 2-1 away to Spurs, how costly this and the recent home defeat to them will be found out in about 2 hours or so!
Forward to Christmas and it was not looking like being a happy one for Roy Hodgson. Rumours were rife that the new owners were looking to replace him. These were only rumours but the fans did not seem too bothered, as far as we were concerned we had the only man waiting in the wings. 5 game could rescue Hodgson’s short Liverpool career. DWLDL was to prove the final nail in his management career at Anfield. A Home loss to Wolves said it all.
The new year beckoned but Roy’s days were numbered. A 2-1 win at Bolton on New years day was shadowed 4 days later by a 3-1 defeat at Blackburn. 3 days later the legend returned. Roy was sacked and King Kenny given the job on a caretaker basis. In Came coach Steve Clarke to work with Sammy Lee and Kenny. A Baptism of fire beckoned at Old Trafford. 0-1 1 game in charge 1 loss. Already the papers said he should not have returned! After one game! A joke! It got worse though a 1-2 away defeat to Blackpool! The papers had a field day! Then it got a little better, a 2-2 at home to the ‘auld enemy’ in the derby then back to back wins against Wolves, where Torres actually looked happy (how wrong could we be) and a 1-0 home win to Stoke.
The bombshell was dropped, Our star striker had asked the board to listen to offers for his services. He wanted out. He had been poor for some time, not looking happy at all. Was it Liverpool or was it just his psyche? From the way he looks at Chelsea, it is not the Liverpool! Chelsea came in with £40 million, it was rebuked. Little did we know what was going on behind the scenes. Luis Suarez was joining but Ajax were standing firm and it cost us an extra few quid. Chelsea came back…..£50 million, it was accepted. Silly money for someone we know when happy can play well but for the last 12 months had looked unhappy in England and had started to pick up injuries. Why £50 million? Suddenly we have another new striker! Andy Carroll joined for £35 million! A rather large sum of money for a ‘prospect’. Why did we pay that and why did we get £50 million for Torres. John W Henry raised his head to tell all. It seems that the Torres price was based on what we were paying for Carroll and it had to be £15 million more than we paid for Carroll.
Along with Nando, out went the flattering to deceive Ryan Babel. I was sad to see him go and felt under Benitez he never really had a great run in the team. Overall some great business, a net spend of £1.8 million. John W Henry seemed to say thing when it mattered. His voice was lower than Hicks and we hear it less often. That’s good. Let the men that know football do football. The men who do business do business. Seems logical to me.
Through all of the ups and downs of the season to date, one shining light came through. That light looked like it would go out in the summer of 2010! Lucas Leiva whilst not being a ‘revelation’ had pressed on. He had started to prove many people wrong. He was consistent and his tackling was better. This started under Hodgson but has improved so much since Dalglish and Clarke have come in. If you trawl all the unofficial polls, Lucas is the man the fans are voting for as player of the season. Even Glen Johnson has said that he agrees. Lucas is coming good (took a while) but he needs to keep it up and push on.
February again was hit and miss. A win at home to Stoke followed by a resounding (albeit 1-0) win away to Chelsea and Torres looked lost. We were laughing our heads off! Then………………….bump…………….1-1 at home to Wigan. Dire Europa league games were next but we progressed and then again…….bump 1-3 against lowly West Ham! What the hell was going on. At least we seemed to be passing better.
March was to be a little better, in the league anyway. It was relatively quiet, only 4 games. Knocked out of the Europa league but great wins against Man Utd (in which we completely outplayed them in no small way with Louis Suarez tearing them apart) and a decent away win at Fat Head’s Sunderland.
We were way back up the league and there was a possibility we may even get Champions League. It’s a long shot but give us those straws to clutch at.
Through April we were certainly no fools (see what I did there ;-) – am so easily amused!) We had a bit of a poor loss to Hodgsons new boys, WBA but then we pushed on with a great 3-0 win at home to European place rivals Man City and a hard fought 102 minute game at Arsenal in which we grafted a point. A destruction of Birmingham 5-0 may help our Euro place as they have to go to Spurs on the last day of the season needing a win hopefully!
May started so well, a smashing 3-0 win at home to Newcastle, saw Andy Carroll given a lot of stick from the travelling fans but it went over his head. Then a smashing 2-5 away win to Fulham gave hope. Then back down to earth again with a 0-2 home defeat to Spurs and Europa league qualification is not looking good.
Today, here I am sitting typing this in one window whilst in the other streams the match against Villa. I cannot figure out what the hell language the commentary is but it sound like something from the Fast Show, interspersed with Shelvey, Hodgson, Leiva, Suarez, Carracker (yeah that’s how it sounds!), I half expect somebody to suddenly say “est, est, est, est chrithy waddell sccorcchiooooooooo!”
Few team changes, Cole and Aurelio starting. Could it be JC’s last game for us or will he step up next season? Spearring gone off already injured. Shelvy on! Not doing too bad. Now I think it is Spanish..they are comparing Joe Cole to Harry Kewell I think so there is no hope for poor old Joe! Now I am hearing “Quando Quando Quando”! are they reciting Englebert Humperdinck!? Ahhhhhh shit…Downing…………1-0 Villa. These commentators are mentioning Joe Cole and QPR in the same sentence! A transfer possibility? 50/50 decisions going to Villa! Suarez is quick but getting frustrated! Joe Cole is adding nothing to our midfield! Maybe money from QPR would be good! If I am hearing right! There is definitely a Scouser commentating on this game influent Spanish but you can tell from the accent (if anyone knows who he is, let me know. Stream is on SPORTMANIA). Big cheer from Villa fans says to me Spurs have scored against Birmingham. Ah they have, there goes any European footy. We are very poor. I cannot help thinking that we do not want Europa league and will concentrate on the league and FA Cup next season! Controversial? I think not. We could do without an extra load of games! Joe Cole is still poor. Downing skins Flannagan…the lads done well but he needs experience. Downing at LFC? Not sure! Ah well the stream is down now. Gutted……..Radio on! Now Birmingham have equalised against Spurs, come one redmen 2 goals!!! Although still not sure I want Europa over nothing! Bloody hell wish I had spent more time on the other games than ours. WBA 3-0 down now 3-3!! Birmingham didn’t seem to know they were in the bottom 3 and sat back!!! Wolves 3-2 but out of the relegation! (Sorry this is an LFC review overall!) So there we have it, Kenny gets the job and we lose 2 games on the trot………sack hiiiiiiiiim!!! Nah seriously, I really felt the players could not be bothered with Europa. They will never admit it but you never know.
Now the work truly begins. We have 3 months to get our team in proper order. Kenny, Sammy and Steve can build what they want and get rid of the deadwood. Poulson, Konchesy and maybe Cole have to go. Get a couple of great additions and who knows.
This has been a crazy season for Liverpool. This last day of the season has been even crazier around the country and goes to show how goal difference can change a season. I am glad we finished 6th after where we were at Christmas. We must now build and Kenny is THE man to do it.
See you all next season.