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CARRA - Memories - The future - successors

& MUCH MUCH MORE INSIDE

March 2013 Issue 3


Contents 04 08 12 16 20 24 26 28 32 26 36

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Carra Replacements? February Review Promising signs for ‘13/14 Pepe Reina - The Last Straw? FSG - The Pantomime Villains Carra Memories The Rodgers Reign Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t. Coming out of transition

What Next?

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Martin Kelly The Successor?

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very Liverpool fan knew it was coming soon. But it’s only when you see Sky Sports’ yellow ticker pan across the screen that you start to really believe it. After amassing over 700 appearances in a career spanning over 17 years, Jamie Carragher has announced he will pull the curtains on his glittering playing days at the end of the current season. To replace such a club legend is a mere impossible task. There will never be another Jamie Carragher, same as there will never be another Steven Gerrard; similarly there has never been another Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush or Robbie Fowler. You get the picture. I’ve seen one argument put forward that the number 23 shirt should be retired as an honour to Carragher, a very flattering gesture. But as pointed out by Paul Dalglish, would this really be a very good idea, however sentimental it would be? Every kid coming through the ranks now will want to be “Carra,” he embodies everything to do with the fans, the city, and the club. Wearing ‘his’ shirt will not only create something to strive for, but once on their back, provide a responsibility to wear the shirt displaying the same pride as the previous owner. Much like the Newcastle number 9 and our number 7, the Liverpool number 23 will from now on always be synonymous with the man who wore it: the irreplaceable Jamie Carragher. So, who could potentially fill the boots left by the club legend once he hangs up his boots? Step forward Martin Kelly. It was very apt that the day after Carragher announced his retirement; Liverpool also announced the tying down of young defender Martin Kelly to a new, long-term contract. The 22 year old, who has been at the club since the age of 7, is seen by many as the most natural successor to Carragher. Kelly could well be a mainstay in the Liverpool back four for years to come, with his versatility allowing him to play at fullback or at centre back. The last couple of seasons has seen Kelly operate as an attacking right-back, and he has demonstrated his suitability to the role with his strength, powerful runs and accurate crosses – traits which may have come as a surprise to many people.

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ral position of centre back later on in his career. It’s a career move that Carra himself undertook, and one that many fans hope Kelly will now take. Andre Wisdom could also be another one waiting in the wings to fill Carra’s boots.

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elly has spoken in previous interviews of his desire to one day be moved infield and into a centre back role, a position he sees as more natural to himself. With Skrtel, Agger and Carragher to compete with in recent seasons, Kelly has been preferred as a full-back, a role in which he has excelled. However, with the imminent retirement of Carragher, the uncertain future of Sebastian Coates, and the patchy form of Martin Skrtel; Kelly could be given the chance to show what he can do at centre back next season and beyond. At just 22, Kelly already has experience in big games, putting in tremendous performances against Manchester United and Everton, as well as European experience and a call up (albeit a shock one) to England’s 2012 European Championship squad. He is highly regarded amongst the players and the hierarchy at Anfield, and this is demonstrated by the new contract given to him despite his current injury problems. Whether he comes back stronger and better after his injuries and finally puts his treatment table history behind him remains to be seen; but if he does, the move in to centre back could be one that really pays off for Liverpool, much the same as Carragher’s move to centre back under Rafa Benitez in 2004 paid dividends.

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With Andre Wisdom proving a capable understudy to Glen Johnson, John Flanagan yet to fulfil his early promise and exciting full-back Ryan McLaughlin coming through the ranks, Kelly’s transition to centre back would be relatively smooth, and his versatility key in times of need. Let’s hope Martin Kelly overcomes the injury problems he has been plagued with since his break through to the first team, and goes on to have a Carragheresque, one-man team career at the heart of Liverpool’s defence. Any other candidates?

Another possible candidate is promising local star Conor Coady. A product of the academy since 2005, Coady captained England to their first ever U-17’s European championhips in 2010 and has been knocking on the door of the first team ever since. Excelling at centre back in his youth days, Coady now tends to operate in a holding midfield role, and it is in this position that he made his first team debut in the Europa League against Anzhi earlier this season. It remains to be seen if and where Coady will make a name for himself in the Liverpool first team, but he remains an exciting potential candidate to be part of the “Scouse heartbeat” needed in the first team, either in centre midfield or centre back.

Andre Wisdom has made a very solid start to his Liverpool career, filling in at right-back in the midst of constant back four injury problems this season. Leeds-born Wisdom has excelled at centre back throughout his youth career, captaining the England U-19’s along the way – but has filled in at full-back remarkably well this season, bagging himself a debut goal in the Europa League and going on to make 17 further appearances so far.

It will be an unbelievably sad day when Carragher hangs up his boots and makes his final ever appearance for Liverpool Football Club. We will never see another Jamie Carragher - a man who tried to play on with a broken leg, and who sold his wedding photos to the Kop magazine for £1 instead of Hello! Magazine – a man who will always be remembered for putting his body on the line in Istanbul. But, what we do have is a number of young defenders who will strive to have just half the career that the Potentially, Wisdom could see his irreplaceable Jamie Carragher has career take a familiar path to Kel- had. ly, who is 3 years younger than himself. His versatility and ability to operate at full-back allowing him to gain first team experience, @phil_hammond_7 before eventually making the switch back to his more natu-

PHIL HAMMOND


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FEBRUARY REVIEW

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Man City 2-2 Liverpool 3rd February 2013

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fter an embarrassing exit from the FA Cup and the hands of League One side Oldham and a disappointing draw at the Emirates, a match against the reigning champions couldn’t have come at a worse time. The manager decided against a complete rethink however, making only one change to the team that faced Arsenal. The first fifteen minutes looked promising for the Reds. The passing looked confident and problems were caused on the counter, however, the home team were the first to find the net with City striker Edin Dzeko opening the scoring with a close range shot from James Milner’s cross. Liverpool weren’t behind for long, six minutes later Daniel Sturridge fired one from 25 yards and walked away without celebrating. The half ended with the score onea-piece. The visitors continued to dominate possession in the second period. Steven Gerrard put the visitors ahead with a trademark thirty-yard belter. However, Liverpool’s lead was shorter than City’s. Star striker Sergio Aguero leveled proceedings with a bizarre goal from the most acute of angles, aided by some panicky keeping from Pepe Reina and the Liverpool back line. Both teams shared the spoils, but the Liverpool fans walked away frustrated after their second 2-2 draw of the week.

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LIverpool 0-2 West Brom 11th February 2013 The Baggies’ visit to Anfield was a frustrating one for the Reds. The hosts dominated play for 75 minutes, before a penalty miss from the captain signaled the beginning of a downfall. After scoring twelve and conceding none from the last three games at home, the West Brom loss was a confusing result.

Sterling and Fabio Borini to try and break the deadlock.

Liverpool shaped up in a 4-2-3-1, with Jonjo Shelvey playing behind Luis Suarez. By the half hour mark, Liverpool were up to 59% possession and had registered five attempts at goal against West Brom’s zero, it was a matter of when, not if.

Some five minutes later, some poor defending from a corner resulted in an unexpected goal from Gareth McAuley to make it 1-0 to the visitors. With minutes to go, Romelu Lukaku hammered the last nail into Liverpool’s coffin with a goal from just West Brom’s fourth shot.

At half-time West Brom had still not recorded a shot, whereas Liverpool listed ten, but the game remained goalless. 15 minutes into the second half, it was clear the manager was running out of time and patience, on came Raheem

With just over ten minutes left, Steven Gerrard was presented with a perfect opportunity to put his team in front when Luis Suarez was fouled in the box. However a brilliant save from Ben Foster kept the scores level.

This result meant that Liverpool were 12 points off the top four with twelve games to go, and Champions League qualification seemed more unlikely than ever.


Zenit St. Petersburg 2-0 Liverpool 14th February 2013 Liverpool suffered their second 2-0 defeat of the week against Russian side Zenit in the last 32 of the Europa League. The first half saw good chances from both teams, with Luis Suarez wasting a number of good opportunities in front of goal. Zenit seemed to have the edge at the break, amid Liverpool struggling to launch attacks. The uneasiness continued in the second half. The defining moment in the match came from Brazilian danger-man Hulk, who picked up the ball 40 yards from goal and danced through the defence before firing one of his trademark drives at goal, leaving Pepe Reina no chance. Liverpool crumbled after Hulk’s goal and it wasn’t long before Zenit’s lead doubled, Sergey Semak was left in acres of space and didn’t hesitate in tucking his team’s second goal in at the back post. Liverpool’s main aim in the game after that was to salvage an away goal to give them some sort of advantage back at Anfield, an ambition that went unfulfilled. The Reds were given a big job to do back in Merseyside the Kop was ready for another great European night at Anfield.

LIverpool 5-0 Swansea 17th February 2013 Brendan Rodgers’ former Swansea side visited Anfield next, as Liverpool found themselves on the back of two defeats. Daniel Sturridge returned to the starting XI and Philippe Coutinho made his full debut in a red shirt. The game kicked-off after a rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone from the home fans and the hosts attacked heavily straight from kick-off, the first 25 minutes of play was all Liverpool, with the Red’s having twelve shots and taking a 60% share of the possession. Steven Gerrard accomplished what he set out to do the previous week from the penalty spot, giving Liverpool the lead. By the forty minute mark Liverpool had fired 21 shots, just one less than they had against Manchester City in 90 minutes. Rodgers’ side didn’t waste any time in finishing the job after half time; Philippe Coutinho fired in his first Liverpool goal before Jose Enrique finished off a slick move for his second Liverpool goal, and Luis Suarez curled in his eighteenth league goal of the season to raise the score line to 4-0, eleven minutes into the second half. Wayne Routledge handled to give Liverpool their second penalty of the afternoon. Steven Gerrard generously presented the ball to Daniel Sturridge to place past Vorm for his fourth goal in five games. The match ended with the home crowd singing, “There’s only one Brendan Rodgers”, as Liverpool’s point tally climbed up to 39 points from 27 games.

Liverpool 3-1 Zenit (3-3) 21st February 2013 Liverpool had a challenge to overcome as they walked out on the pitch for the second leg of their Europa League tie against Zenit. The Reds needed three goals without reply to progress to the last 16. Rodgers’ men seemed motivated as the match kicked off, creating a few chances within the first 15 minutes, however, Zenit too were looking for an early goal to secure their place in the next round. Disaster struck as Jamie Carragher, making his 150th European appearance, made a horrific mistake that set Hulk up nicely to score the opening goal. Liverpool now needed four goals to go through. A well placed Luis Suarez free-kick gave Liverpool some hope eight minutes later, and a rare from Joe Allen goal just before half-time halved the required tally. Screams of “Attack! Attack!” echoed around the ground as the home team attempted to take a step further in their comeback. Just before the hour mark came a beautiful Beckham-esque free kick from Luis Suarez to put Liverpool within touching distance of victory, they now only needed one goal. However, after huffing and puffing, it never came and the team crashed out of Europe because of the away goals rule. Jamie Carragher had played his last European game for Liverpool, and Rodgers was out of his last cup competition.

Chris McNally

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Promising signs for 2013/14

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ollowing Liverpool this season has been infuriating. After a run of two or three impressive games, hope of a ȋth spot finish cloud your thoughts. A couple of truly lacklustre performances against fairly low-level opposition follow to diminish any optimism. The likelihood of Anfield hosting Champions League next season looks unrealistic, although there are lots of promising signs for the future. Firstly, it has to be remembered that this is Brendan Rodgers’ first season at Liverpool. Adapting to a new manager’s style is hard for the players, and whilst they get used to it, consistency is bound to be an issue. By the time the 2013/14 season starts, as long as FSG have been sensible enough to keep Rodgers, the players will be used to the manager and to his elaborate, precise method of play. This should mean that the snippets of brilliant play we’ve seen at points this season is maintained throughout the next. Also, there is the matter of new signings. January purchases Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge have shown great potential in their early careers, and once they have settled in to the side they have the capacity to be extremely effective. Daniel Sturridge in particular could be key, as Luis Suarez has shown he operates brilliantly with a second striker. Sturridge may well be the answer to the questions being asked about Liverpool’s chance conversion rate. As well as this, there will be a chance for us to strengthen the squad further come the summer, meaning the

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weaknesses in our team can be ironed out by new arrivals. The defence in particular could do with improvement, and if we are able to bring in a good new defender before next season it could go a long way to helping us get the right results. Furthermore, there are a lot of players who were brought into the side in the Dalglish era who are only just starting to come into their own. In recent months Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing have been playing brilliantly, in fact they stake a claim to be the first names on the team sheet. If they continue in this run of form, something they didn’t manage at all under Dalglish and have only just started to show under Rodgers, they could be key in helping Liverpool to reach 4th or higher next season. Henderson in particular could play a huge role in the future, as Steven Gerrard, though still currently playing excellently, will have to retire at some point, so Henderson will be needed to ensure the central midfield remains a strong point for Liverpool. In conclusion, although a lot of fans are upset with the inconsistency of Liverpool this season, to the point where some are calling for Brendan Rodgers to be sacked, on the whole Liverpool are showing a lot of positive signs. Everyone should be patient, there’s a lot of potential in the current team, by next season I believe everything will fall into place; the performances and results will finally start to come on a consistent basis.

James Martin @JamesMartin013


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Pepe Reina Past It?

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he goalkeeper who has broken numerous clean sheet records for the Reds, won personal accolades and often single-handedly kept us in games we had no right not to win is fit for the knackers yard. All because he’s made a few mistakes in what has been his only poor season as a Liverpool ‘keeper. Reina appears to have reached that stage in his career now (as all great players do) were he has passed the stage of being appreciated when he does something great, because it is what we expect so continuing to do it garners no praise. Instead, he is overly castigated when he does make a blunder because, unlike your average run-of-the-mill goalkeeper, he is expected to constantly keep his levels high. Less is expected of worse players and the best athletes tend to not get given the same leeway when they under-perform. When Rafa Benitez remarked in 2009 that “a good goalkeeper can win the title… he is a very good ‘keeper, the best in the world for me. He is No.1”, he was referring to Pepe Reina; who had just come off the back of his third consecutive Golden Glove award in the 2008-09 season. Since then Reina almost won the award again in 2009-10, only being beaten out by Petr Cech having played fewer games, therefore having a better game to clean sheets ratio. What I am basically attempting to point out is that Reina has been a consistently class ‘keeper for the club for many years and has often been seen as the best in the world, besides Iker Casillas. You don’t just lose that ability overnight, which is why the constant “he’s past it” and “we need to replace him with ‘insert name here’” nonsense I keep hearing is driving me to insanity. Here is a player who – Casillas aside – would have well over 70 caps for the greatest international side in the world over the past 6 years. I’d even go as far as to suggest that, had Reina played for Madrid and Casillas Liverpool, then Reina would have been Spain’s number one during those years. I remember some years back when another Liverpool legend was enduring a tough run of form and fans wanted him out after a particularly torrid display in the Merseyside derby. That man was Sami Hyypia and he came back even stronger to finish his Liverpool career with a flourish, leaving us to wonder what we would do without him.

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I believe that, should we let Reina go, we’ll be mourning that decision once he hits form again at a new club. Also, let’s try not to forget that the club being most heavily linked with the 30 year-old is his former club, Barcelona. Yes, that Barcelona, the strongest and most respected footballing side in Europe at present. Do sides like Barcelona sign average and past-it players? Silly question, we know the answer to this. The outcry against Reina has been rumbling all season but appeared to reach its crescendo after his supposedly ‘howler’ against Man City at the Etihad. Maybe he made a mistake in coming so far out of his box, for me he had no choice but to come out and try and arrow the angle but can we all agree that Sergio Aguero had absolutely no right to score that goal. Aguero is one of the world’s best, but the angle alone should’ve been too much. 99 times out of 100 he would’ve put that well wide or it would have hit Reina and we’d have been praising his brilliance as a top ‘keeper finding his form again. Which reminds me: how many times has Pepe come flying out of his box and caused an attacking player to miss after slipping through our defence? Numerous. Reina is, for all intents and purposes, a sweeper-keeper, slipping seamlessly off his line in times of need and basically becoming an extra defender. When he does this we love him for it, but it’s inevitable that he was going to pay for it eventually. I’ve also read a lot about how many mistakes he has made this season that have led to goals. The highest

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I’ve seen quoted is 8, with a total of 14 points he’s apparently cost us. This is utter drivel and it’s disappointing that so many of our fans seem so keen to use this in their attempts to have Reina replaced. Some of those errors were actually not in the league, so the total stands at 4 errors leading directly to goals and has more than likely cost Liverpool as few as 4 points. Of course, this doesn’t excuse Reina from making those mistakes but it does represent a small contribution to the sheer amount of defensive mistakes that have cost us this season. Another factor that isn’t taken into account (to refer back to how much we’ve taken him for granted) is the amount of times Reina has pulled off great saves that could potentially have saved us points. There isn’t a direct stat for this and the fact that Reina tends to not have as high a ‘saves-per-game’ ratio as other goalkeepers is usually taken to mean he doesn’t make enough saves. What it actually indicates is that Liverpool tend to dominate possession, so he rarely has to make any saves. However, when he is called upon, Pepe tends to be one of the best shot-stoppers around. An example of this was his save near the end of the game against Swansea at Anfield. Yes the points were in the bag but it so could have been another goal conceded. Yet another stat that can be brought up in favour of Pepe is the fact that, over the past two seasons he has a 100% record when it comes to catching balls


from crosses, corners, free-kicks and so on. Kind of puts paid to the idea that he isn’t very good at commanding his area from set pieces, don’t you think? It’s a brutal kick to the shaky foundations that he isn’t a dominant ‘keeper. So far this season Reina has 8 clean sheets in 22 league games. There are only three Premier League goalkeepers that have kept more and those, unsurprisingly, are Joe Hart (11), Petr Cech and Asmir Begovic (both 9) who are considered three of the best around. Not only that but, unlike Hart and Begovic Reina hasn’t played every minute of every league game this season. Also Asmir is a keeper who has gifted goals most (errors) this season. Would we want him to replace Reina if he is prone to making mistakes? It also goes to show what a new manager, coaching staff and philosophy can do to change a player’s form and it is here where I believe that Reina is suffering more than anybody. Since the days of Roy Hodgson, we have swapped and changed goalkeeping coaches almost every season. From the moment Hodgson declared that he wanted Reina to start playing more like an English goalie, we knew things were wrong. But for me, it was when John Achterberg took over as goal-keeping coach that Pepe’s form really started to dip. Now, that isn’t to say that it’s Achterberg’s fault, but coaching ‘keepers is often a one-on-one thing and it could be something as simple as incompatible personalities or ideals. I also don’t see how a man that spent his whole career playing low-league football can offer a world-class international any real or substantial experience/advice.

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It surely can’t be a coincidence that Reina hasn’t been the same since Xavi Valero left. Again, this isn’t to say that Valero is an amazing coach (although he was) but he and Reina worked well together and his methods helped make the Spaniard one of the best in the world. A smart move would be to bring in a coach of Reina’s choosing. If that were Valero, then so be it. Perhaps more crucially, I think he needs some genuine competition for his position. It won’t do to have somebody like Brad Jones as the only back up, as he is nothing but solid and that isn’t enough. Even Jones is known for a few howlers; Northampton, Blackburn, Mansfield and Oldham spring to mind. Similarly, hailing Jack Butland (or any other young up-and-comer, given that he’s now signed for Stoke) as his ideal replacement is nonsense. He’s spent most of his professional career (all 56 games of it!) in League 2 and the Championship, so would it have been worth splurging a fortune on another young English goalie, given our track record? Top goalkeepers are so few and far between, it’s ridiculous. So for me, selling our number one and Spanish international keeper in the summer would be a grave error. One that we will ultimately prove to regret. I agree that his form has been off at times this season, but Carragher, Gerrard and other legends have had bad seasons and have been persevered with for what they’ve done before and Reina shouldn’t be any different. He has deserved our faith and trust and should be given at least one more season to get his form back.

Katie Price @MRSSG


FSG THE PANTOMIME VILLAINS F

enway Sports Group has come in for some serious abuse this season. For some fans, they are the reason why we haven’t progressed as they would have liked, whilst for others they are just “another set of money grabbing yanks”. I quote, as that has been said to me. Although, have FSG really been that bad? Have they really damaged this club and allowed it to languish in the depths of mediocrity? Have they really been that bad or do we just have selective memories? Now, this story isn’t a happy one. It’s also one that I’ve gone over quite possibly 45, 46 or 47 times in articles (I’m fibbing, I genuinely don’t remember) but I believe some fans must remember the financial environment that the club was in when FSG took the reigns. Liverpool Football Club was days, yes days, away from administration. The club you love, a conqueror of

European football, was days from an embarrassing 10-point deduction and possible bankruptcy under those who must not be named. FSG came in and they, with the work of the last independent board members, saved this club. For that, I will always be thankful and perhaps why I’m a little more forgiving for their errors. FSG, contrary to some fans belief, have invested in the club. They paid off most of our crippling debt, that would have hindered us for decades and they gave Kenny a transfer budget that to adequately describe it was a war chest. Now they are not football people, they’re in sports, but they knew little about a football club’s inner workings when they took over. They appointed a Director of Football and left good old Damien and Kenny to buy what they wanted for a fee they saw fit. I love Kenny, but he wasted a hell of a lot of money. He really did.

FSG were burnt by that investment. It didn’t come off and looked like a huge waste of money. They learnt a lesson. That was to look at the money situation at the club and ensure that we were getting value for money and the promise of some money back on players we sold. They didn’t let the chequebook get abused. I can’t blame them for that. They spent money behind closed doors on the legal fees for the new stadium, which were significant. They had to pay off the cretins who they had replaced to stop a long legal battle. FSG with Brendan in the summer took the hit for a new manager who by all accounts had a breakdown of communication with Ian Ayre, who didn’t actually have the money he believed he had. They did that to take all the pressure and criticism away from the man. They knew they had to take the hit.

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Now, has their ownership of the club been perfect? No. Of course it hasn’t. They really do need to appoint an Executive Director to oversee the club when they aren’t here or to help make staff appointments high up, as frankly I don’t trust Ian Ayre. They need to show their faces more, but fans criticise them for this; although fans now have a link with the owners with the supporters’ representatives who were elected. The fans can sit in a room with the owners and talk. They don’t have to do that; they aren’t bound by rules for shareholders or to have an AGM. We are a privately owned company, but they do it. They’ve made mistakes; they won’t say they have been perfect owners. They have been a little too believing in the UEFA Fair Play rules and perhaps not spent more believing that we could be burnt by those rules. . For me though, they are being cautious with the money. Can

you blame them? They’ve invested £150m plus in transfer fees and god knows how much in wages, yet we still have problems in some areas. Would you not think what on earth did we spend that money on? They’re also trying to make Liverpool self sufficient, or as close to as possible. You can be cynical and say that’s so they don’t have to invest money and they want out blaa blaa blaa. Or, you could look at it as, that Liverpool will exist even if an owner behaves like that or they are hit with money problems that the club will not be tied to an owner’s finances and be put into a situation of such dire straits as we were. The club will exist long after they sell up, after some fans have died… hopefully after I’ve popped my clogs. The club must be run properly. Ultimately, it’s a business. I think some fans are harsh on FSG, criticize them and moan, fair enough but to dismiss them com-

pletely, for me isn’t fair. Remember where we were and where we are now financially. We don’t know the inner workings of the club’s bank account; you don’t know the full picture or events. For now though, just like some of our fans need to do with Brendan, give it time and hope for the best. Too long has a cloud of negativity and complaint hung over the team and the club. Let’s have some optimistic hope and belief that the project is there and that the team will get the investment it needs. If we’re wrong, we’re wrong. But let’s believe. I’ve always believed that you should look for the best in people and situations, until events prove otherwise. To my fellow Reds, I ask you to have that view towards the owners. With or without FSG, we’ll never walk alone.

ADAM HEAYNS @awh91

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JAMIE CARRAGHER A CAREER OF MEMORIES W

inner, leader, legend - all could be used to describe Jamie Carragher. Saying that, he’d probably say he hasn’t earned the right to be called any of them, showing what a down to earth guy he is. One thing that can almost certainly be used to describe Carragher as a player is “role model”. Children of all ages up and down the country can look up to Jamie Carragher and would hopefully feel encouraged by the determination and fight that he shows, day in day out. This fighting spirit and winning mentality has led Jamie Carragher to be revered in the footballing world. To fans of the club, he is regarded as one of Liverpool’s greatest ever players - which for a Liverpool player, is quite some feat if you ask me. It has also led to one-club man Jamie notching up an impressive 700+ appearances for the reds, during which there have been some wonderful (and a small amount of not so wonderful)

memories. It began in 1990. Jamie, an Everton fan as a child, joined the Liverpool youth setup and started what would turn out to be an illustrious career at his new favourite club. In 1996, he and the youth side that included his friend and former Liverpool striker Michael Owen, won the FA youth cup, beating West Ham United 4-1 over two legs. Jamie’s career as a winner had begun. Not long after that, Carra signed his first professional contract for the club at the young age of 18 with him making his debut under then Liverpool manager Roy Evans just a few months later. His first start for the club came against Aston Villa, a game in which he scored a rare goal, towering above the Villa defence to nod home in front of the Kop. The following two seasons saw Carragher hold down a firm place in the first

team which eventuated in him only missing four league games in the 1998-99 season. Once Gerard Houllier had taken the managers job, however, and with the introduction of new players, Jamie started being used wherever there was a hole in the team. This subsequently led to him struggling to hold down a first team place and he spent most of his time playing in one of his lesspreferred positions as a right back. Renowned by opposition fans for his own goals during his career, Jamie then had one of his more forgettable moments in a Liverpool shirt, scoring 2 own goals in a 3-2 defeat to rivals Manchester United. The 2000-01 season was one that saw him win his first senior silverware with the club. It was the treble winning season that saw the reds win the League Cup, the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup in a matter of months - meaning it was probably one of his favourite seasons

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utes and went on to win the trophy in an intense penalty shootout. Carragher played an instrumental role in the match with his leadership. Getting cramp part way through the game, he began limping and looked in pain. But as you’d expect with Jamie Carragher, he didn’t want to go off, not in the Champions League final. Making two vital blocks in extra time, Jamie’s determination was something to be admired. Everytime he stretched to deflect a shot from goal he’d need treatment. But he carried on regardless, just as you’d expect from a player like him. Jamie then won Liverpool Player of the Year in 2005, an award that he also won two years later. He managed to get only the 2nd league goal of his career for the Reds in 2006, in a match against Fulham. Daniel Agger flicked the ball on to Carragher who was able to slide it under the goalkeeper at the far post. This was his last goal to date for Liverpool and only his fourth goal ever.

as a Liverpool player.

road to Istanbul.

From 2002-2004, Carra suffered 2 major injuries, which resulted in him missing the 2002 FIFA World Cup. However, in 2003 he was part of the Liverpool team that won another League Cup, beating Manchester United 2-0 on the day and adding to Carragher’s previous 3 winners medals in major competitions. Having the honour of being the clubs vice-captain was what followed for Carra.

Then came that night. Possibly the greatest and most memorable night in the club’s history. 25th May 2005. A swarm of Liverpool fans descended upon the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul - transforming Turkey’s largest city into a sea of red. Liverpool were to come up against Italian giants AC Milan in the Champions League final. Milan were clear favourites before the game kicked off and by the end of the first half, it looked like that was the case - that a Milan side that contained the likes of Maldini, Pirlo, Kaka and Shevchenko were just too good to lose to a Liverpool side that contained the likes of Djimi Traore and Harry Kewell. AC Milan led 3-0, the tie all but over to most. But not to Jamie Carragher and co. The team wanted to at least restore some pride for the travelling Kop to walk away with. They did that, and more. The reds scored three goals to level the scores in the space of just six min-

Rafa Benitez replaced Gerard Houllier in 2004 and the Spaniard immediately moved Carragher into his favourite position as a centreback. This season (2004-05) would turn out to be a defining one in the career of the Bootle born player. Alongside his defensive counterpart Sami Hyypia, he and the 6ft 5” Finnish defender became one of Liverpool’s greatest ever centre back pairings with some brilliant performances in the Champions League that helped the club on the

In the same year, Liverpool won their 7th FA Cup and the 2nd that Jamie has been involved in - in a penalty shootout win over West Ham United. This, along with his performances in the Premier League, led to Carragher being named in the PFA Team of the Year (the only time that he’d be awarded with this accolade). The final trophy that Jamie Carragher has to his name is the Carling Cup that Liverpool won at Wembley only a year ago. The aftermath of this victory brought about some brilliant scenes as Jamie celebrating alongside his son. Jamie Carragher has had many memorable moments as a Liverpool player. - There have been some low points, as there always is in a footballer’s career. But after being at the club since he was 12 years old, Jamie can look back at his time with Liverpool with great pride. He’s a true one-club man. He goes down in the record books as having the second most appearances for the club and will be remembered as one of the Liverpool greats.

Joe Handley

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They say our days are numbered, we’re not famous anymore. For once, they just might have been right. When Kenny Dalglish was relieved of his duties in May of last year, FSG took the brave decision to appoint Brendan Rodgers as manager of Liverpool Football Club. The King had been dethroned, and in his place was a man whose first name bears the meaning “prince”. But a prince is inferior to a king, isn’t he? Rodgers inherited a squad that had failed since coming so close to winning the club’s maiden league title of the modern era. Three managers had come and gone, taking with them disappointing 7th, 6th and 8th placed league finishes. At his disposal

was a squad full of underperforming players who had yet to live up to their reputation. He had taken hold of the most successful club in English football, but at a time when the famous trophy cabinet had been unlocked just once in six years. For once, they just might have been right. Almost three quarters of a year have passed since Rodgers was appointed, and of all the superlatives available to describe his tenure, perhaps the most fitting would be inconsistent. The football has been a joy to watch at times. Norwich were shredded to pieces both home and away, and Fulham, QPR and Sunderland were passed into submission in the space of just

two festive weeks. On the flip side are the substandard home performances put in against West Brom, Arsenal and Aston Villa, as well as the sheer embarrassment of that Sunday afternoon against Oldham. Both lists go on. But let’s look at the positives. The undisputed plus point from this campaign has been the form of Luis Suarez; a man who, last season, seemed to need multiple chances before he could stick one away. Rodgers and his backroom staff have turned a misfiring striker with undoubted potential, into a goalscoring juggernaut who strikes fear into the heart of every defence in the country. You could argue that it’s been a natural transformation for Luis as he has become more accustomed to English football, but there’s more

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THE RODGERS REIGN to it than that. It’s visible to see that his whole demeanour on the pitch has changed. No longer is he constantly harassing the officials into giving him what he wants, or getting into petty arguments with the brutes who were trying to stop him. He’s much more focused on his own game. If things aren’t going his way, he’ll brush himself off and go again. This season he’s shown a greater hunger and determination to succeed, and that is a result of the man management skills of Rodgers. Further evidence of the boss’ superb handling of players is evident in the recent performances of Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson. Both seemed surplus to requirements just a few weeks into the season, with Downing even admitting he

was told he could leave in January.But ever since he sat down with Rodgers and had what must have been a brutally honest conversation, he’s started all bar one league game since November 25th. Much like Suarez, they both seem more focused on their game; ignoring the burden of the huge price tags placed on them by the media. They seem more comfortable in their surroundings; happy to be more adventurous in possession whereas last season they’d have taken the easy option. Rodgers’ pep talks have transformed them into the players we thought we’d signed 18 months or so ago, and in the process he might just have saved the club a few quid in the transfer market. It was well publicised that a deal

was in place to sign Mohamed Diame on a free transfer from Wigan, but it was cancelled following Dalglish’s dismissal. For me, the biggest mistake Rodgers has made during his short time at the club was not resurrecting the deal. The Senegalese midfielder is exactly what we’ve been lacking this term. The box-to-box powerhouse would have complemented Lucas and Gerrard superbly, roaming around the park to disturb our opponents play, as well as providing an extra dimension going forward. The squad lacks any great power and a nuisance in midfield, which was evident at, unsurprisingly, the Britannia Stadium more than anywhere else. Diame would have been a better option than Nuri Sahin - who was reasonably similar to what we already had at the club - and he wouldn’t have needed time to adjust to the Premier League. But what does the future hold? Well, that’s anyone’s guess. But one thing’s for sure, things are certainly on the up. If Rodgers can get consistent performances from his players then a return to the Champions League won’t be long in coming. I think we can certainly expect defensive additions in the summer – particularly in goal and in the centre of defence – and maybe a genuine right-sided winger as well. For the first time in several years, fans are genuinely excited to watch the Redmen play, and the glory days suddenly don’t seem a million miles away. Our days certainly aren’t numbered anymore. And who knows? Maybe Scousers will rule the country like we’ve always done before.

Nick Hill 27


DAMNED IF YOU DO, DAMNED IF YOU DON’T

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L

iverpool Football Club seems to be going through a very unfamiliar period nowadays. While the success on the field is perhaps one to question, things off it are not too well either. The club doesn’t have the money to compete with its contemporaries, but it also seems to have lost its famous “Liverpool Way” of doing things. Anfield was always famous for doing things secretively without much of media interference or exposure, somewhat similar to the way Manchester United are run nowadays. The manager had details of every penny coming into the club or going out of it but it’s different with the current owners who themselves have proved to be astute businessmen. This summer’s transfer dealings were always about moving out the dead wood and lowering the wage bill, it has failed in a way because even though it sounded good on paper, it really isn’t the way to move the club forward. Yes, financially we may be sound for years to come, but we may just remain a business model for a long time to come. The danger is we may come to remain only a mid table side with an odd cup run or an odd challenge for the 4th spot here and there. Though it may be good enough considering the financial climate, it may potentially be harmful to the club’s identity. The famous boot room left the club at the zenith of footballing dominance, however the fact remains that while others have not only closed the gap but also moved ahead, we may soon disappear far away. The pressure of managing this great club has also fallen upon the young and inexperienced shoulders of Brendan Rodgers. While it seems he is a powerful orator and appears to be a wordsmith, he can never appease the fans with whatever he says. When he revealed how “any improvement on last year’s league position will be an improvement” he was accused of aiming too low for the size of this club and then only a few weeks later when we were on a good little run he believed that ”the points difference between 2nd and Liverpool’s current position in the table isn’t too big and could be closed down”, he was blasted for being “loony” and “dreaming”. No one, it seems, can satisfy the fans. Even the socalled “best fans in the world” can be seen regularly arguing with each other on social platforms over who are the “proper fans?” The Scousers generally take the moral high ground by saying they regularly go to the games hence their argument holds more weight than others. Another thing that seems to have ticked them off is the new trend of Liverpool’s global accounts. While being a foreigner myself, it honestly makes me cringe a bit but it is necessary; after all LFC is a global club and a touch of personalisation makes them feel closer to the team they support after breaking sleep in midnight and early morning.

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Personally, I feel we lack a CEO to act as an intermediary between the staff at the club and the owners and that lack of leadership is quite visible. In my opinion, it is better Rodgers concedes this, it will only help him as this is the last chance for the club I feel and it’s better we learn from our mistakes and move on rather than regret it 10 years later. Sacking the manager is a no go for me; it will only restart the cycle and push the club back further again.

RISHABH TRIPATHI


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Coming out of trans patience & stability is key 32


Lingering in 8th position in the Premier League. An ambition of finishing in the elusive Champions League places seems an unlikely dream. Early exits in the FA Cup and League Cup, both competitions in which we reached the final of last season. Failure to make it to the second knockout round of the Europa League. Only one win against a team in the top half all season, and we are nearly in March. All these signs give Liverpool fans the right to question whether any progress has actually been made this season, and whether Brendan Rodgers is in fact the right man to take the club forward. Liverpool fan’s opinions on the current manager seem to be very mixed. On the one hand you seem to have the very proRodgers brigade. “He’s young; he has a great aura about him and has got us playing some of the best football we have seen in years.” In stark contrast, we also have a set of fans who firmly believe Rodgers is not the man for the job. “The Liverpool job is too big for him, he’s tactically inept and we should chop and change immediately.” Personally, I sit in the middle of both opinions. There seems to be fans that are more interested in seeing the back of Fenway Sports Group and Brendan Rodgers than seeing Liverpool Football Club progress. I will admit that in the summer when FSG where on the hunt for a new manager, I was a fan that was very much shouting for Rafa Benitez to return to Anfield. Now, I don’t know if it was pure nostalgia that was willing me to see the Sky Sports News yellow ticker bar appear with the headline “Rafa Returns” last summer; thoughts of glorious European nights and the oh so nearly title-winning season of 2009. You only have to look at liverpoolfc.com’s recent list of “greatest European nights at Anfield” to see that half of the top 10 were in the Benitez era. A pine for them days is what I believe led me, as well as many other fans, to wanting Rafa back. Would a Rafa and FSG combination have worked? Who knows. The fact is, in the summer of 2012 FSG made their decision to go with a young, hungry manager and appointed Brendan Rodgers. The moment he signed on the dotted lines, we as Liverpool fans welcomed him with open arms and fully supported him. It’s what we, as fans, do.

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Early signs were encouraging. Rodgers certainly talked the talk. Many fans commented on a certain Shankly-esque ilk he seemed to carry. Excitement was growing. Nearly a year on and Liverpool’s season has whittled Although Rodgers is adamant our season doesn’t finish until the final whistle at QPR in May, the truth is our season finished last week. Too far off the pace to realistically make the top 4, with the harsh reality of only one win against a top half team all season proving we really don’t deserve to even be in the top 4, plus exits from all cup competitions, means realistically all we are playing for in the remaining Premier League games is to improve on last season’s 7th place finish, and hopefully finish above Everton. Underwhelming, considering a few weeks ago fans were talking about how a string of good results against Arsenal, Man City and West Brom would get us right back into the equation.


The same also happened when we played Aston Villa and Stoke in successive games. It’s very much been a stop-start campaign, a “two steps forward, one step back” season. But, it was always going to be that sort of season, wasn’t it? To chop and change manager now would be the most counter-productive move imaginable for our club. We’ve all heard it a copious amount of times but it really is true: patience is key. To change the whole philosophy of playing, plus overhaul the already limited playing squad he has at his disposal - will take time. There have been many encouraging signs this season, but this really needs to be the last “transitional season” we have in a while. Now, we need to push on. If we are to progress, Rodgers needs to learn from his mistakes this season, as do FSG and the players. Individual errors have cost us all season and this needs to be addressed. Lapses of concentration in key moments in games, such as both games against Man City and also the away tie versus Zenit are stellar examples of this. FSG’s biggest mistake was to not sanction a move for Daniel Sturridge in the summer; instead waiting until January. What if they had provided the cash to sign him earlier? Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Rodger’s stubbornness also needs to be addressed, as well as his ability to “mix it up” and not religiously stick to his ways when it is clear a different approach is needed. Rafa Benitez made a number of errors in his first season in charge, our home form was good yet our away form was patchy and we struggled with away days against the Bolton’s and West Ham’s of the league. This was addressed in Rafa’s second season in charge and in came signings such as Sissoko and Crouch, to add a bit of steel and bite to the team. Rodgers needs to tackle the mistakes made this year and go about it in the same way Benitez did in the summer of 2006. Adding to the “group,” as Rodgers likes to call

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it, is critical - and with the imminent retirement of Carragher, the uncertainty of Coates’ future and defensive mistakes being an Achilles’ heel of Liverpool this season it looks like a back-line shake up will be required. A Sami Hyypia-type player would be the perfect addition, a commanding centre back with a real presence to come in and stabilise our defence without Carragher there to marshal the troops. Upon his unveiling, Brendan Rodgers was quick to remind fans that this is a “project,” and FSG have also been very vocal in their stance that they are in this for the long-term goals. This is no quick-fix. A crucial element to this project is stability. I, as well as many other Liverpool fans, am critical of Brendan Rodgers. His substitutions in the European crunch tie with Zenit are a perfect example of where sometimes his decision-making leaves fans wondering. The changes he made had an adverse effect on the team, and to take off two of our midfielders who were key to the

way we were pressing and hounding Zenit with just one more goal needed was baffling. I am however, confident that with a second successive summer in charge, and a bit more patience from fans, results will start to come. We get ridiculed as Liverpool fans for forever saying “this will be our year.” Now, I’m not saying next season will be “our year” but I certainly expect significant improvement from Liverpool and for us to do a whole lot better than this campaign. Our squad - as deemed by our own fans - is currently further off top 4 material than a lot of us would like to believe, yet I also believe our squad is closer to the top than opposition fans like to believe. The atmosphere for last week’s Europa League game against Zenit was electric, and something a lot of the players out there would have experienced for the first time. Next season, we need to be back amongst the top four. Brendan Rodgers, your mission is clear.

Phil Hammond


advertise here Contact editor@attackofthekop.co.uk

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WHAT NEXT?

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I

t’s been a few weeks since Jamie Carragher announced his retirement from Liverpool Football Club. The man has played over 700 games for Liverpool since the start of his career in 1996. What a servant he has been, winning every major club honour except the Premier League and playing a major role in each one. It’s scary to think where Liverpool would be without our number 23 at the back. But what does the future hold for the man himself? When he walks out for the last time for the Reds, presumably against QPR at Anfield, what is his next step?

COACHING ROLE I think what most fans would want him to do is stay on at the club in a coaching capacity. The experience and knowledge he could offer the younger players in the squad, as well as the up and coming youngsters in the reserves and the academy could be priceless in their development. Plus, you’d hear him at Anfield barking out instructions and guidance, just like he does in the Liverpool defensive line now. Added to this, he loves the club, the club is in his blood and forever will be. He won’t be away from the club he’s spent his whole career at, while still making a good living for himself and his family.

MEDIA ROLE Undertaking a media role is probably the more likely scenario. There’s bound to be media outlets crying out for Jamie’s services, be it on television or in a newspaper. Gary Neville’s accustomed well to the transition since he retired and as much as we hate him as a player, he has been probably the best pundit on television since he joined Sky. Jamie and Gary are similar in some aspects. They both have a burning passion for their clubs and both speak sense. You only have to look back at Jamie appearing for ITV during Euro 2012 and having Roy Keane in his back pocket the whole time to see his footballing intellect. As much of a loss he’d be if he didn’t stay on at the club, he’d be a huge gain to Sky or ITV should he choose that path.

STAY AT HOME I honestly can’t see this happening, or if it does, not for long. He has a beautiful wife and two kids, and surely he must miss spending time with them. Watching the kids grow up and saying their first words must’ve been difficult with training and travelling most of the week, resulting in him missing out on some special family moments. But now he can more than make up for it and spend his retirement with them. If he does indeed do this, I can’t see it being for long, however. Whatever Jamie decides to do, I’m sure the supporters and footballing world will be behind him. He has been a tremendous servant to the club, to football and fully deserves this. Thank you for everything Jamie, you will never ever walk alone.

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Martin Turner

@turnernatorl5c


AOTK Magazine - Issue 3