Luis Suarez a Real deal and Iago to go .. to us?

Well did anyone think it wouldn’t happen? Surely during the cause of this summer there would be some speculation regarding the future of Luis Suarez even though he has gone on record as saying that he intends to stay at Anfield?

That assurance of course was given before the biting incident which now sees him serving out a ten match ban and being subject to yet more bad press. Add to this the Evra incident, our absence from European competition of any sort, and you could argue that that’s not an earth shattering revelation to discover there is talk of a Suarez move, there is only so much a man can take?

Not surprisingly given a player of Suarez’s quality the calling appears to be from Spain, well actually it doesn’t appear to be calling just Luis saying that if Real Madrid did come calling it would be hard to refuse. This is the same Real Madrid who Gareth Bale, despite stating he would also be a this club next season, would find hard to turn down!

Speaking on Uruguayan radio Suarez said

“I’ve talked to my agent, there’s nothing concrete. To say no to Madrid would always be difficult and more so with the team they have. I have a contract with Liverpool, but it would be very difficult to say no to Real Madrid”

Suarez wouldn’t be the first player we’ve had to let go to Real, sadly it is reality, the footballing food chain and I guess over the years we’ve fallen down it. A hefty wage, Champions League football and presumably a less intrusive (more tolerant?) press tick all the boxes in terms securing Suarez’s future, advancing his footballing career and his work lifestyle. On the latter point Suarez was pretty forthright….

“My family have suffered and things have gone beyond the limits. I am tired of it. My daughter and my wife have suffered. I’m not prepared to continue suffering at the hands of the English journalists. I suffered a lot as a kid to get where I am just to be attacked unfairly by the English press. They haven’t appreciated me as a player. They’ve just judged my attitude.”

Many will feel Suarez has bought all this on himself with his conduct, the Evra, incident, the biting, the diving etc However, did all this warrant the frenzied press reaction? There are arguments on both sides and some fans would even say he should leave because of what they think he has done to the reputation of the club. Whatever the case I guess this is irrelevant in this instance even if Suarez’s reputation was such that people showered him with scented rose petals every time he appeared Real would be interested because he is good player and Suarez in Real given what the club can offer him over us? Will Real have the desire and bottle to see it through …. moreover will Suarez be able to resist them? I guess as ever during the summer, it’s a case of wait and see?

Elsewhere and some mixed news on the striking front. Daniel Sturridge played the other night for England against Ireland and set up Fat Franks’ equaliser but then departed with what looked like a pretty serious injury. Suggestions are that it’s ankle ligament damage but everyone seems to be coy over how serious from talking about a minor injury on Thursday yesterday there are now stories about Sturridge missing the start of the season?

If Sturridge is injured and Suarez does go we appear to have a replacement already lined up in the form of Celta Vigo’s Iago Aspas. The details are in the region of £8m which is a few million shy of the fee we paid for Fabio Borini last year. Perhaps it’s unfair given the injuries he has experienced but Apsa looks more of a prospect than Borini? He is 25 years old and has scored a dozen goals for Vigo this season. He is also versatile being able to operate as a first or second striker or wide. This appears to tick all the boxes for the sort of player we are after however, as ever, it is something of a gamble. BR has “struck lucky” with Coutinho and Sturridge, let’s hope, if the deal materialises, he makes it three.

If Suarez does go then presumably Borini and Aspas will have increased opportunities to establish themselves in the team. However, one supposes that BR will also have all or sizable chunk of the Suarez funds to spend? Perhaps this is why Schalke have now suggested that Kyriakos Papadopoulos is worth around £10m more than the £12m we appear to be willing to offer. I know money is an issue with anything Greek at the moment however as this is young player who has just recovered from a knee injury three words spring to mind “p*ss”, “the” and “taking”!

There is also the issue of Jose Reina who has said it would “be difficult to say no to Barca although

“I am not aware they are interested in me”

Hmmm I would find it difficult to say no to Gemma Arterton although I’m not aware she is interested in me (actually I’m dammed sure she isn’t) or has even heard of me? I sense a trend here it looks like being the summer of where players, or specifically their agents, will be finding it “hard” or “difficult” to say “no” and saying so. The words may change but the sentiment, and the strategy, never does?

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The night a Red Gayle blew through Munich!

Liverpool v Bayern Munich European Cup semi Final 1981.

As we, and all the other English clubs, are sitting at home this weekend watching the Germans invade Wembley for the Champions League final perhaps it’s an opportune moment to remember another classic “Red’s in Europe” tie – our game in 1981 against one of this Saturday’s Champions league final participants, Bayern Munich

For me Bayern Munich were the foreign team, in the early to mid seventies They had a certain coolness, and a ruthless efficiency about them Franz Beckenbaar personified the former whilst Gerd Muller “der Bomber” the latter. Muller scored 365 goals in 427 league games with Bayern Munich and 68 goals in 62 games for West Germany, no one can argue with that? Beckenbaar was simply an awesome player and my admiration increased when my parents bought me my first pair of screw in football studs “Adidas Beckenbaar” with the lime green stripes. Of course you would immediately take out the plastic studs and replace them with metal ones!

In this period Bayern won the European Cup three times in row (1974, 1975 and 1976) they also had a cool stadium, the old Olympic Stadium (Olympiastadion) in Munich and a kit – red Adidas compared to our red Umbro! I was desperate for us to play them but, apart from a Fairs Cup tie in the early seventies we kept avoiding them until the 1981 European Cup semi final.

By then Beckenbaar and Muller had gone however, they now had Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and, from the old guard, Paul Breitner. On the way to the semi final we had overcome Oulu Palloseura, Aberdeen, CSKA Sofia in the earlier rounds That’s six games to get to the semi finals which is now the amount you play now to get out of the Champions League group stages more if you’ve had to play in a qualifying round!

My only memory of these games was the 10-1 hammering of Oulu at Anfield, in which Graeme Souness and Terry McDermott both got hat tricks, and the Aberdeen tie at their place. McDermott scored the only goal of this game with a lob cum chip over the keeper from a very tight angle. My other memory is that my mate’s dad, who was working in Bootle at the time, had his car stolen the day before that match. The police eventually recovered the abandoned vehicle – in Aberdeen!

The first leg, at Anfield, was in many ways a warm up to second leg at the Olympiastadion in Munich. Bayern Munich managed a 0-0 draw at Anfield. Reports at the time attached great significance to absence of Graeme Souness which hindered our penetration and allowed Bayern to push up more. I guess for many reds the writing was well and truly on the wall. How would Liverpool be able to get the result in Munich, had we missed our chance? Then, before a ball had been kicked, the Germans well and truly shot themselves in the foot!

Sport is littered with instances of arrogance from individuals or teams assuming that all they need to do is to turn up to get a result. This is fair enough if this is kept “within house” however it can stray into troubled waters when you leak it and allow it to wind up the opposition. In this case Bayern Munich did just that I guess they fell into the fatal trap of not treating us with respect? After the first leg Breitner described our tactics as “unintelligent” and “lacking imagination”. It seemed that the German club as whole assumed progress to the final in Paris was a given, they even handed out leaflets giving directions to the Parcs Princes, the final venue. Bob Paisley had a problems with injures to Phil Thompson and Alan Kennedy, however surely this was all he needed to galvanise his team, this sort of behaviour should have been motivation enough?

On The Liverpool Echo website there’s an interview with Richard Money who, in for Alan Kennedy played in that game. He said

“I have never been in a dressing room that was more determined to get a result than that one. It was quite something to see people like Alan Hansen, Graeme Souness and Ray Kennedy so fired up. Nor do I think that anyone in that dressing room in Munich had any doubt we were going to get the result we needed.”

At the time Kenny Dalglish was central to the fortunes of the team. Ever pragmatic the Germans set about him right from the start causing him to be substituted after an only few minutes because of an injured ankle. I guess the Germans felt smug that they had “taken out” one of key players however again they had messed up because it was his withdrawal that had a decisive influence on the game…. enter, off the bench, Howard Gayle.

No doubt when the Germans prepared for this match they probably thought Liverpool would adopt their usual patient “away in Europe” tactics keeping the ball and biding their time for an opening. However, they didn’t reckon with Howard Gayle who did exactly the opposition by tearing into them. They just couldn’t handle his direct approach which involved running at them with the ball at full pelt. In the end they just resorted to desperate measures i.e. kicking and fouling. In one instance there was clear penalty David Johnson put Gayle through on goal with along ball and he was felled by a Dremmler “tackle”. The challenge went right across his legs with the ball no where, in today’s game it would have been a sure fire penalty however then the referee remained unmoved.

Understandably all this “attention” got to Gaye and he was later booked for retaliation. Eventually, after an hour or so, Bob Paisley decided to take him off – “subbing the sub” and bring on Jimmy Case. The reasoning at the time was that we didn’t want Gayle to be sent off however others, including Gayle I think, saw it as a lack of confidence in the player’s ability to kept his cool under provocation?

Eventually, Ray Kennedy edged us into the lead picking up Johnson’s cross on the edge of the area, chesting it down and, on the half volley, firing it hard, low and straight past Junghans in the Bayern goal. Bayern, via Rummenigge, did equalise however it was to late. Because of the away goals rule Bayern needed another to progress and simply ran out of time giving us an unlikely and memorable victory

Above all the game will be remembered for Gayle’s contribution which was significant. Beside the fact he was a subbed sub perhaps it is more remembered as he became the first black player to play for Liverpool and that he was a local lad, born in Toxteth and at, 19 years of age, showed no nervousness as went for the opposition?

The following Saturday Gayle started for us at Spurs and scored his only first team goal for us in a 1-1 draw. Bayern would have to wait twenty five years before they won the European Cup but Liverpool went on from Munich to the final in Paris to secure their third when Alan Kennedy struck late to get the only goal of the game. Howard Gayle was also there, on the bench, and therefore received a winners medal as a none playing substitute.

Semi Final 1st Leg – April 11th 1981
Liverpool 0 Bayern Munich 0

Liverpool: Clemence, Neal, A.Kennedy, Thompson, R.Kennedy, Hansen, Dalglish, Lee, Rush, McDermott (Heighway 46), Case Subs:: Ogrizovic, Irwin, Money, Whelan

Bayern Munich: Junghans, Augenthaler, Horsmann, Weiner, Breitner, Dremmler, Dürnberger, Kraus, Niedermayer, Hoeness, Rummenigge

Att : 44,543

Semi Final 2nd Leg – April 22nd 1981
Bayern Munich 1 Liverpool 1

0-1 R Kennedy (83), 1-1 Rummenigge (88)

Liverpool: Clemence, Neal, Money, Irwin, R.Kennedy, Hansen, Dalglish (Gayle 9, Case 70), Lee, Johnson, McDermott, Souness Subs: Ogrizovic, Rush, Cohen

Bayern Munich: Junghans, Augenthaler, Horsmann, Weiner, Breitner, Dremmler, Dürnberger, Kraus, Del’Haye, Hoeness, Rummenigge

Att 77,600

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The kit’s sh*t, Carroll’s end, Toure talk, and signing a long Greek name?

I suspect that the trophies presented at the end of the season have yet to experience their first application of silver polish however, already there is transfer talk in the air.

Whatever Liverpool’s out or inflows the future of Andy Carroll was always going to be the one thing that was decided once and for all during this break. So the recent news that fee had been agreed with West Ham is no surprise?

Many have already seen fit to question the wisdom of Brendon Rogers in letting Carroll go however one wonders just how much his hands were tied? True I suspect that in an ideal world BR wouldn’t be the sort of manager to sign a player in the style of Carroll however, he “inherited” him and was presumably betwixt and between when he was loaned out last September to Upton Park? On one side he had been “deprived” of the services of a striker who didn’t fit not his style of play and FSG, ever conscious of the purse strings, were also happy as his salary was being paid. However, as we know, this left us woefully short of striking power until the signing of Daniel Sturridge in January. A reckless, foolhardy decision which we were lucky to get away with due the continued fitness of Luis Suarez?

The reported sum of £15m (plus add ons) we will receive is clearly way short of the £35m we paid for Carroll however, it is FSG and not BR that should take the blame and the hit is not in the pockets I suspect but in the area of the body that lies between them! It must be a painful financial lesson learnt which I suspect, budget and transfer policy wise, the club is “reaping” the consequences of now?

I suspect there is a feeling amongst many reds that we should have persevered with Carroll particularly because of BR’s apparent lack of a “credible plan B” to his preferred style of play. I believe BR has no firm plan B or no real plan C, and plan D is just a distant ship smoke on the horizon, however, that does not necessarily mean Carroll is the answer to this. When you look back over his time with us, and strip out the injuries, his performances, although not necessarily bad, certainly didn’t seem to justify the £35m fee. I wonder just how much, with Torres gone, desperation there was in our offer? Whatever the case there is no getting away from it, we overpaid big style and even if Carroll was on top form, we’d probably have no chance of getting it back? Moreover I would wager good money that he will be back to haunt us in some way or another next season?

Elsewhere it looks like BR might get the “man” he seemed to think we are so short of, particularly in defence. I don’t know if Kolo Toure smokes a pipe, rips up trees, shaves with a cut throat razor, takes cold baths and talks with a deep voice however, at 32 years old he is certainly not a kid! Toure is, I guess, seen as a replacement to the experience of Jamie Carragher but does that mean he has to be as old! Of course this is nonsense Toure is Toure and Carragher is Carragher they have, and will, bring different things to the side, on and off the field.

Toure’s contract is up this summer meaning he’ll be on a free transfer which gives us an fair indication about his involvement at Manchester City recently and why we are probably interested in him! However, I guess we should look at this in context. Perhaps Toure will bookend nicely with our other defensive target, Schalke’s Kyriakos Papadopoulos who is 21 years old and highly rated. Papadopoulos, despite his few years, has been around for a while having played in the Champions League and also attracted interest from AC Milan. I guess he is just the sort of player the frugal folks at Anfield would be willing to spend their money on?

Perhaps Papadopoulos has been bought so the owners can make an killing on names to be printed on the back of their new shirts, it’s a hell of a lot of letters! The new home shirt was paraded at Sunday’s game it’s roughly the same as the one before with a little bit of white on the collar. Warrior say it harks back to the design we wore in Rome when we beat Roma in the 1984 European Cup final. It is nothing like it!

I assumed that Warrior were issuing this so that they would be able to change the away kits next season keeping the home kit for two seasons before changing it again. This seems to be the norm for most clubs, changing home and away kits in alternative seasons? However, Warrior have also bought out new second and third kits! We live austere times so I hope the fans will protest against Warrior’s commercial greediness by not buying these garish products, it shouldn’t be too hard, both look absolutely awful!

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Result irrelevant as “We all dream of a team of Carraghers”

Liverpool 1-0 Queens Park Rangers

1-0 Coutinho (23)

For most Reds this game was always going to be secondary to the occasion. Not because of the opposition, or our situation, which means we are marooned in seventh place, how many clubs yesterday knew where they would finish before they played… Oh yes, The Mancs did didn’t they!

At the end of the game the players walked around the pitch with their kids, saluted and thanked the crowd however, all it did was bring home just how little we have to thank them for in terms of something tangible to show from this campaign. Work in progress is the watchword just how many people at Anfield yesterday feel we are on course and on the way to better things remains to be seen? BR in his programme notes summed it up for me

“I have a long way to go to gain your trust fully”

Anyway I digress I’d prefer to forget all about this hone in on Jamie Carragher. It was his last game. The guard of honour, at the start of the game, and Kop mosaic showing initials and squad number were great and were the first of many tributes, even QPR were classy and decent enough to present him with a special gift. However, in true style, Carragher seemed determined to write his own script. After the game he said

“I scored on my debut 16 years ago and it would have been nice to finish that way, but it wasn’t to be”

Jamie had a bloody try at trying to with a rasping thirty yard effort that smacked the post. He even tried to handle one in which the referee spotted but, as a defender, he will surely take some solace from the clean sheet the side kept? Chants of ”one more year” were a prelude to the standing ovation Jamie deservedly received as he was substituted after 85 minutes and after match tributes in front of The Kop.

To the game and BR made one significant change. The inclusion of seventeen years old Jordon Ibe, a sign that whilst players like Carragher move on, there are others ready to replace him in the queue? Ibe had a hand in the goal cutting inside to feed Coutinho whose shot flew into the bottom right hand corner of the QPR net. QPR had their moments via Zamora and Remy however efforts from Enrique, Johnson and of course Carragher suggested that the scoreline did not reflect our domience?
So the season is ended and although there is nothing to show there is a lot to look back on. However, before that, three things about today.

This was dead rubber game however surely the score of the day should be, in terms of dignity alone, Rafa Benitez infinite, Chelsea fans none.

Secondly congratulations to Malcolm Oakley for being voted QPR’s fan of the year. It’s his fiftieth year watching the ‘Rs and he’s not missed a home game in all that time. In the hard times they even phoned him up and offered to put the kick off time back so he could finish tiling his bathroom! Well done Malc, hope you enjoyed the trip and the “honour” is really well deserved it says a lot about your loyalty, your love of football, your dedication and, as it’s QPR, your perseverance!

However, appropriately, the last words should be left to Jamie Carragher

“I’ve had lots of great times and have got lots of great memories and that is down to Liverpool Football Club and the supporters who have dragged us over the line many times. Istanbul, Cardiff; you’ve played your part. Thank you.”

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Jose Enrique, Carragher, (Coates – 85′ ), Skrtel, Phillippe Coutinho (Suso – 74′ ), Henderson Booked, Downing, Lucas, Ibe (Borini – 64′ ), Sturridge Substitutes: Jones, Coates, Wisdom, Coady, Assaidi, Borini, Suso,

Queens Park Rangers: Green, Traore, Hill Booked, Onuoha, Harryman, Derry Booked, Park Ji-sung (Hoilett – 80′ ), Townsend Booked, M’bia, Remy (Granero – 46′ ), Zamora (Mackie – 72′ ), Substitutes: Murphy, Fabio, Granero, Hoilett, Ehmer, Mackie

Att: 44,792

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Farewell Jamie Carragher – “a decent lad” and a Red legend

It seems to be a week for retirements particularly for current, and ex Mancs. The best and most pointless, given his recent participation in that area, was Rio Ferdinand announcing his retirement from international football. Still it’s good trend so I’m now going to take a leave out of Rio’s book by announcing to the world my retirement from brain surgery and professional snooker!

For Liverpool this weekend will see Jamie Carragher take his last competitive bow for us. Our opponents, Queens Park Rangers, aren’t as sniffy and aloof as Arsenal and will form part of guard of honour to give Jamie a deserved send off. As this game is something of a “dead rubber” I hope everyone will concentrate on the big man and give him a deserved and memorable send off.

Yesterday Carragher was asked how he would like to be remembered. He replied

“A decent lad who had a go”

With respect to Jamie although this is true it is also a serious underestimation, not to mention modest, appraisal of want he’s given to the game. As I’m writing this Arsene Wenger is on the TV talking about David Beckham. He’s using words such as “respect”, “passion”, “strength”, “commitment” and “dedication” and being an “example”. All of this also applies to Jamie Carragher. I would also add longevity, determination, pride and a refusal to be undermined particularly when it came to Liverpool FC.

Defenders have come and gone but JC has outlived them and despite, fierce competition still managed to see of their threats. Even this season when you could forgive BR for looking to the future and investing in youth Carragher still bounced back and featured in the team after Christmas to the point that BR wished to extend his contract. His versatility undoubtedly helped (he could play at centre or full back and even, albeit rarely, in midfield) but it’s almost as if he’s saying this is my city, my club and my place in the team and you might replace me for a bit but you are going to have to be dam good to do it permanently! Seven hundred plus appearances for us prove that he had the upper hand and that you can’t keep a good man, or a good player, down?

Then there was his England career. All to often this was forgotten as mangers went for Terry and Ferdinand. Brassed off with this Carragher retired in 2007. Someone on Talksport said he lacked bottle for doing that which is the equivalent of suggesting that when it comes to drinking Oliver Reed is a lightweight. Carragher’s on the pitch spirit transferred itself to the phone call he made to the presenter as he let him have it with both barrels! Significantly it was Carragher that Fabio Capello turned to when he had a defensive problem in the 2010 World Cup and he successfully coaxed him out of retirement, another comeback!

Another example of Jamie’s refusal to give to give up was went he broke his leg via Blackburn’s Lucas Neill tackle however, and despite threats from more new signings, he returned and featured in the miracle of Istanbul and became a permanent fixture in Rafa’s sides. Surely Istanbul must be first and foremost in Carragher’s mind when looking back over his career. He was immense in that game and seemed, at breaking point. There was one stage late in the game where he appeared to collapse with cramp but he got up and carried on and was able to advise Jerzy Dudek to adopt Bruce Grobbelaar’s wobbly legs routine in the penalty shootout. Surely for him and Steven Gerrard, given their birth place and the clubs history, this was the moment, the time where their dreams became a reality and they themselves secured a part in the clubs history that they’d been all too aware of during their youth and early years with the club?

Many have suggested that Carragher would be and ideal candidate to go into management. They say he lives and breathes football and has definite opinions on the game however he has opted to become one of the numerous ex reds that have gone into football punditry. Perhaps this will sate his appetite for the game without the added pressure? May be it’s just a breather, time to take stock before he really decides what to do? Whatever the case I can’t see him being away from the game too long..

Tomorrow, in addition to the guard of honour, the Kop will display a mosaic, the advertising boards will display messages and there will be numerous flags – take note Mancs that is how to say goodbye to someone properly! Surely this will be an emotional moment for Jamie however, yesterday he was trying to keep his feet on the ground.

“Everyone has an opinion as to whatever you are a good or bad player as long as everyone thought I put in shift in, home and away”

You can’t argue with that but as those of us who were privileged to see him play know, Jamie Carragher gave much than that.

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Michael Owen and Liverpool FC – glory and regret?

This weekend will see Michael Owen bow out of football.

When he announced his retirement it didn’t really come as a surprise. As his football career went on the injuries became a greater part of it to the point that when you look back it is safe to say that Liverpool were fortunate enough to receive the best of his services.

It’s interesting that Owen, when looking back immediately after his announcement, suggested that he was over used by us in the early part of his career and that, as a result, he paid the price physically in his later years. Many would see this as sour grapes, an ungrateful swipe at a club that gave him the chance to make it big and to go and achieve and possess everything he has now. A club with whom he won the majority of his honours, collectively and individually.

Owen made his debut for us at he age of 17 against Wimbledon. Surely then “burn out” would have been achieved earlier, say in his late twenties, it wasn’t? Surely at that age it would have been hard to hold Owen back, use him sparingly, both player and club wanted to play as much as possible. Perhaps it was just Owen, some players are more prone to injuries than others? In The Guardian last month he said

“muscle injuries are another family trait. My farther suffered from them as a player and my brothers have been plagued by them too. It is bad luck in many ways, but some would say it is the price you pay for being quick.”

Perhaps we did learn a lesson as seen when we limited Steven Gerrard’s appearances in his early years However, to suggest Owen was some human resource forced to performance against his will when he wasn’t fit to seems hard to believe.

Perhaps Owen’s ire is born of the fact that after selling him to Real Madrid for a bargain price we wouldn’t, despite having opportunities to do so on more than one occasion, take him back? (see links at the bottom of this page) I’d be reading between the lines but surely it was folly for him to go to Spain so soon? Jamie Carragher, his closest friend at Liverpool, tried to dissuade him

“Liverpool had just signed Djibril Cisse and Milan Baros had returned from Euro 2004 as the winner of the Golden Boot. Michael felt the time was right to pursue a fresh challenge. I told him he was making a mistake, that Madrid were a football club rife with politics and he wouldn’t play. They had Raul and Ronaldo, who always played, and to be a success at Madrid, you had to be more than just a goalscorer but Michael wouldn’t be moved. He thought he was the best and would become a success in Spain”

Fantastic timing as under Rafa (well done last night by the way), we were about to embark a very productive run in the Champions league. Whilst Owen flitted in and out of the side Madrid side nine months later his old club, with many of his old team mates, lifted the very trophy he had probably decided to leave us for. Was this was a warning against impatience or, if you are being really harsh, greed? Whatever the case Istanbul was a Liverpool performance and milestone that, given his contribution to our football over the years, deserved Owen’s presence, I bet Baros and Cisse couldn’t believe their luck just as much as Owen was cursing his?

Instead Owen ended up at a series of clubs but I wonder if he still couldn’t get over leaving Liverpool. They say you always hurt the one love and he did that by eventually joining The Mancs (see link at the bottom of this page) If Owen had any hopes about rejoining us they were now gone, dead in the water.

Owen had yet to hang up his boots when he announced his retirement but it didn’t stop the from press writing about his career as soon as his plans became public. Many of his football “obituaries” seem to skate over his time with us in preference to his England career. By rights he should be England’s record scorer by now however injuries did for him plus the fact that recent managers, despite his record, seemed to favour others.

Two England incidents in particular are recalled, the goal against Argentina in the1998 World Cup and the hat trick in Munich against Germany. Although both were golden moments for me my magic Michael moment was the smash and grab in the 2001 Cup final against Arsenal. We looked to be beaten on that sunny day 1-0 and very much second best. However, with seven minutes to go, Owen popped up with two goals to single handedly snatch the trophy, I still can’t work out how he managed to thread that shot between David Seaman’s outstretched glove and his left hand post for the winner!

Because of the Mancs issue many Red’s fans will balk at praising Owen too much. He won’t be held in the same affection as say Robbie Fowler however, I can forgive he’s from Chester my home town and I watched his dad play at the old Sealand Road. He might not have had Robbie’s cock sure “one of the lads” panache, Suarez’s “pantomime villain”, loveliness Torres’ strutting ruthlessness and Rush’s clinical, razor sharp, execution however, his record amongst all these striking heroes, past and present can hold its head high. Owen recently said

‘…. would I change anything if I could rewind the clock? Not a chance.’

Maybe but the sad fact is it could have been so much better…. for Owen and for us?

Links to other Owen posts

Owen joins the Mancs

Owen to join Liverpool after Newcastle relegated?

Owen to leave Newcastle?

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Exit Fergie scourge of Liverpool!

So, what can you say about Fergie?

After all that time at the Theatre of Delusion he has finally called it day. That third European Cup/Champions League trophy has eluded him which means he hasn’t equalled Bob Paisley’s record. For all the bluff and bluster his career has ended in failure!!!!!

Clearly this is nonsense although having overhauled most of our records, he was at least decent enough to leave us with that one! Given all their clubs recent success it’s surprising that The Mancs fans really don’t know how to do send offs properly. Had this been Dalglish, or Paisley leaving the Kop would have been awash with flags what did have at Old Trafford a stack of manufactured ones left on seats, clearly the crowd can’t be relied on to add their own atmosphere. Even when Fergie was on the pitch we heard “Are you watching Merseyside”. Yes we were and one wonders just how narrow minded and inappropriately parochial they can get? The Mancs is a club on the world stage yet instead of lauding them and their departing manager they still see fit to have a go at us who have ceased to be genuine rivals to them for some time

No doubt some will say that Liverpool fans will greet Fergie’s going with the same glee as Thatcher’s the month before. Add to that the fact that Everton have also had their nose’s put out of joint by losing David Moyes and many feel it’s been a good week for us. Although I often succumb to it Schdenfruade is a negative concept, in this case anyway there is no logic to suggest that a few personnel “setbacks” to The Mancs and Everton will improve our lot and make theirs worse Even if both clubs are weakened are we in a position to take advantage, least it be forgotten we’re going to finish seventh in the league the departure of Fergie and the “transfer” of Moyes is hardly going to loosen the shackles of underachievement and see us rocketing up the table? There is a stack of work for us to do it is for, Brendon Rogers and his players, still a case of trying to improve business as usual, regardless of what happens to the clubs around us.

Liverpool fans have to ask themselves this, why did they get so narked with Fergie? First things first I don’t think it was jealously we “hated” him and The Mancs in general just as much when we were the more successful club. It pains me to say this but if you strip down all the rivalry and all the clout the Mancs have Fergie was no different to any other manager. Fergie wanted to win at all costs and was prepared to resort to any legal methods to gain an edge over the opposition be it on the pitch, or off it. It was also because he cared for his team and would defend and them at all costs, even if it meant going on the verbal offensive and becoming unpopular? Towards the end this got very predictable although it didn’t stop Rafa taking the bait, hook, line and sinker! I thought the best person at dealing with all this was Kenny. Of course it was easier when we were regularly beating United but even in this second spell as manager, when The Mancs, were in the ascendancy, he dealt with it well swatting away his wind ups with a “you’re confusing me with someone who gives a f*ck” indifference.

Chelsea fans in particular, pathetically and ignorantly, forget this in their dealings with Rafa. As far as I can see, he has done a good job at Stamford Bridge yet he’s still ungratefully treated like bad smell by some of the spoilt, oh so precious Chelsea fans because a few mild things he said about their club when he we was with us. This is all part of the game and it makes it even more puzzling that those same fans can indulge John Terry and all the ugliness his behaviour has bought to the table over the years.

Fans forget that Fergie, like Rafa, has a human side. Fergie was always respectful re Hillsborough. He pleaded for Mancs fans at the last Anfield game to respect the remembrance ceremony. He could have done nothing particularly as some Reds had given to his club for so long over Munich. I also had a mate who was at St Mirren when he was manager there and some of the stories he told me about Fergie would make even the most hardened of Reds fans question their attitude towards him. I often go back to these stories when he’s coming out with all the nonsense about Liverpool and remember, as Hillsborough painfully proved later, that things need to be put into perspective? Sure it is great to have a go at him, he like many other successful people in the public eye are sitting ducks, but that’s all it is, verbal cut and trust a bit of jousting. Serious? Yes but only up to a certain point?

I guess the main reason we disliked Fergie was because, like Mark Hughes or Roy Keane or Wayne Rooney, he was a threat and, dam him, good at want he did. Had the wind ups and verbal barbs eminated from the manager’s office at Anfield we would have loved him sadly they came from 40 miles down the road which, in many peoples books, made him the enemy? Now he has left the field of play perhaps it is time to at least give him a respectful nod for a second or two only …. before we get on with the business of resuming hostilities with The Mancs once more!!!

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