Fernando Torres: Water Under The (Stamford) Bridge?

Just over 11 years ago now (March 11 2008), I found myself standing in the away end of The San Siro watching Liverpool dump Inter Milan out of the European Cup by way of a 1-0 defeat (3-0 aggregate) thanks to a 64th minute stunner from Fernando Torres. Along with Steven Gerrard, Torres and the reds put on a masterclass in Milan to become the fourth English side in the quarter finals of the competition. That night, we all fell in love with Fernando a little bit more. We had, within our midst, a world class goal scorer who was capable of turning any match on its head in a heartbeat along with a distinct ability to score big goals in big games. Life was bliss and the reds were marching on. What could possibly go wrong?

Fast forward to early 2011 and, with 65 goals from 102 appearances under his belt, Chelsea had taken our Fernando away amid a flurry of transfer window action which left many of us stunned and perplexed. The £50 MILLION bid was accepted on January 31st and before you could blink, he was gone. Fernando would return a measly 20 goals from some 110 appearances for Chelsea during his four and a half year stay in London. He wasn’t the same player but he did win some silverware along the way during an injury plagued stint at Stamford Bridge. Winning trophies was what he wanted and, with Chelsea, he got what he wanted.

How could you not hate him?

For a long time, I held a good deal of resentment towards Fernando. A vulgar picture had been painted of him from behind the scenes at Liverpool which led to an incredible amount of abuse every time he stepped out against the red men. I even went out of my way to stop and pose for a photo with his image whilst passing by Stamford Bridge in 2012. I just couldn’t help myself! Why on earth would he want to jump ship at Anfield and move to a club that were essentially writing their own history off the back of dirty Russian money?

Fernando had shown visible signs of misery in his final weeks with Liverpool. You kind of knew something was up.

It’s been well documented in recent times as to why Torres was unhappy at the end of his Liverpool stay. The clubs new owners felt he was past his prime and even the back room staff had turned on him including Damien Comolli, then the clubs director of football, and other board members. Torres was essentially trying his best to stay yet, the club did all they could to push him away and paint him as a villain. Something they did very successfully.

Mending the wounds.

Following his departure from Anfield, Fernando made 248 appearances for Chelsea, AC Milan, Athletico Madrid (2nd spell) and Sagan Tosu and returned just 51 goals. Perhaps, as it turns out, the new Liverpool owners were correct in their assumption that Torres was well past his best. It’s something we will never know of course. What I have learned is that Torres had Liverpool FC in his best interests all the way. He wasn’t the nasty money grabbing “lady boy” as some of our supporters (myself included) had come to view him as.

Fernando recently turned 35 and still looks as cool and stylish as he always has done. With so much water under the (Stamford) bridge, I can’t help but think that it’s time to admit we (the supporters) got it terribly wrong with our judgment of El Niño. Looking back over his time with Liverpool, it’s clear he deserves to be placed in the class of Anfield icons. It might have taken us a little longer to see this for what it is but our lovers tiff is surely over?

Happy belated birthday Fernando! And thank you for that magical night in the away end all those years ago in Milan!

Todavia te quiero!

Todavia te quiero

Why Liverpool Supporters Should Be Cheering On Manchester City!

It’s undoubtedly been a tremendous week for Liverpool FC. A solid home victory over Burnley last Sunday at Anfield followed by an emphatic victory over German powerhouse Bayern Munich in Europe during the week has been topped off by a most favourable draw in the European Cup quarter finals today having drawn Porto. What’s more, victory over a hopeless Fulham at Craven Cottage on Sunday will see the red men go 2 points clear at the top of the league all be it with one game less to play with their title rivals. City should have been playing Manchester United this weekend in a season defining match however, their involvement in the FA Cup has seen the Manchester Derby moved to April 24.

This is where the plot thickens!

Manchester City play Swansea in the FA Cup quarter finals this weekend. It’s highly likely City will progress to a semi final date on April 6 at Wembley which would then see their home fixture against struggling Cardiff City moved to early May. If they progress in the European Cup, this will also mean another fixture on April 30. Essentially, the dream would be to see City progress in both the FA Cup and European Cup and make April an even more compelling month than it was already going to be.

Busy times.

City potentially face 8 games in the space of 24 days. Something will have to give and Liverpool supporters will be hoping that will see their title rivals drop precious points in the title race. So how ugly could April look for City? Let’s take a closer look at the potential fixtures.

April 6: FA Cup semi final at Wembley

April 9: Tottenham away in the European Cup

April 14: Crystal Palace away in the EPL

April 17: Tottenham home in the European Cup

April 20: Tottenham home in the EPL

April 24: Manchester United away in the EPL

April 28: Burnley away in the EPL

April 30: European Cup semi final

One thing we know is this. The title race is going to go down to the wire and with their FA Cup run factoring in, Manchester City will likely be chasing Liverpool all the way into the start of May and beyond as the title race draws to its conclusion whilst City play catch up on games in hand. One can only hope they drop more points than our Red men in the process. And by continuing their FA Cup run, it can only build pressure on their league charge. It’s why all reds should secretly be cheering on Manchester City in the FA Cup this weekend.

Buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Everton Set The Masterplan While Liverpool Simply Roll With It

When you think of Everton, one tends to instantly conjure thoughts of “The People’s Club”, a term coined by then new manager, David Moyes in the summer of 2002 upon his arrival on the blue half of Merseyside. The supporters latched onto the idea like a fat kid in a candy store and quickly began reminding their Merseyside rivals that, unlike the red half, the blue side of Liverpool was supported by the battlers, the fighters, the strugglers and the working classes. They’ve gone with it ever since.

What’s the story? (Morning Glory).

Much to the dismay of many Reds, Everton went on an Oasis love in last weekend. During the build up to kick off in the derby, it was a surprise to learn from friends at the match that the Goodison staff played a selection of Oasis songs over the tannoy before kick off last Sunday in some kind or morbid support for Manchester City. It’s common knowledge that the Gallagher brothers are avid supporters of City and their music is played before and after home games at The Etihad.

Baffling.

So why do those behind “The People’s Club” appear to be smitten with the concept of their rivals being run down by Manchester City? Think about that for a moment. Manchester. City. A club, may I remind you, that often fails to fill their own stadium as I have found from personal experience of attending matches there (see photo below) including City’s 2-1 Champions League victory over Hoffenheim in December just gone. They are also a club that are currently under scrutiny for breaking financial fair play regulations and look set to face massive fines down the track for doing exactly what we have assumed all along.

Backed by the riches of Sheikh Mansour with an estimated net worth well over £20 BILLION, Manchester City have climbed to the summit of English football. On their way from also rans in 2008, the club have spent just over £1.4 BILLION on players during this time. A period that has yielded no less than 4 Premier League titles, 1 FA Cup and 4 League Cups. An impressive return by any means.

Perspective.

City now spend more money on players than Real Madrid who have won 4 of the past 5 European Cups. Just let that sink in for a moment.

Whilst City seem to lack any serious ambition in winning the European Cup, it appears Everton supporters have become obsessed with City denying Liverpool their first domestic title in almost three decades. A strange train of thought for those following “The People’s Club” one would think when you look at what Manchester City now stands for. Hardly a club for battlers and fighters.

As much as Everton supporters would like to think, Liverpool themselves are far from being out of the running despite a recent dip in form that had seen no less than 8 points dropped to Everton, United, West Ham and Leicester during recent times. Any Liverpool supporter giving up on the Reds with 9 games to go obviously hasn’t watched enough football over the years or simply gives up far too easily in life.

It must be said, I have a few friends who follow Everton. Hell, I even make regular visits to Goodison Park to watch them play if it means I can catch up with good people and take in a match. I come from the “friendly derby” era where both Reds and Blues got along well. There was no animosity and none of the putrid vile hatred that is shared between both sets of supporters over the past 20 years or so.

In a nutshell, Everton supporters are backing a team, funded by dirty oil money to win the league over their local neighbours. This logic is firmly against everything supporters of “The People’s Club” stand for. The irony is loud, clear and a perfect reminder of just how bitter Everton supporters have become standing in the shadows of their Merseyside neighbours.

It’s 1975/76 All Over For Liverpool

Cast your minds back to the 1975/76 football league season. More specifically, to late February when Manchester City won the league cup following a 2-1 victory over Newcastle United at Wembley. Meanwhile, in the league, Liverpool were in a neck and neck battle with QPR for the title under management of Bob Paisley who was in search of his first title. The race itself came down to the final game of the season against Wolves. The red men needed just a draw to win the title after QPR had defeated Leeds 2-0 to finish up equal on 59 points a few days before but, with a better goal difference. Down 1-0 early on, Liverpool would steady the ship, go on the win the match 3-1 and with that another league title. The clubs ninth. For a long time in the run home, it appeared Liverpool were always going to be pipped.

Leeds United, Derby County and Manchester United were also in the race until late on in the season. It proved to be a remarkable time to be a football supporter on many accounts.

What’s interesting about this mid 70’s campaign is the run of poor form suffered by the Reds during the second half of February. Following a goalies draw at Old Trafford (sound familiar?), the Reds would follow on with a win, two losses and another draw. Many critics began to suggest that Liverpool had let the title slip following 4 points collected from a possible 10 (or 5 points from 15 in the modern era) but somebody forgot to tell Paisley’s red chargers. Following a 2-0 loss at home to Middlesbrough on March 6, Liverpool went on to win eight and draw one of their final 9 games to reel in QPR and clinch the title in style. In fact, Liverpool were still down 1-0 away at Wolves in that final match as the clock ticked over to 76 minutes at Molineux. Enter the likely lads with goals from Kevin Keegan, John Toshack and Ray Kennedy for the 3-1 victory. There were more fans at Molineux on this famous night than home fans. It became a magical evening steeped in history and too often forgotten about when we talk of Liverpool’s rich history. Still, 1-0 down, it could have easily gone pear shaped. Talk about leaving it late!

Liverpool went on to complete a domestic and European double in May following a UEFA Cup Final victory over two legs against Bruges.

The sheer beauty of the 1975/76 campaign for me has been delivered many times over when sitting down with fellow Reds who were there at the time. Right in the thick of things as it were. Being fortunate to sit back and enjoy the many wonderful stories of those who were at Molineux on that fateful night in early May 1976 remains a perfect reminder as to why you simply cannot write off this current Liverpool team from producing perhaps an improbable domestic and European double in 2019. One simply cannot throw in the towel with so much to play for.

Football is a beautiful game. At times, a truly remarkable game that leaves you hanging right until the very end. The football gods might still have a few twists and turns up their sleeves yet and you would be a fool to think that the race for the title this season is over by now. It’s not over by a long shot!

It’s incredibly important for all Liverpool supporters to remain calm and positive with a long way still to go in this campaign. I mean, we have already had a bit of good luck and fortune this season so who says we aren’t due a little more in the weeks to come?

Just like 1976, Liverpool could win the league in 2019 on the final day of the season against Wolves. All this in a season where Manchester City won the league cup just like they had achieved in 1976. Hmmmm. Stranger things my friends, stranger things.

Liverpool Send A Message: The Title Is Ours To Lose

The sight of a stern and concentrated Jurgen Klopp’s throughout tonight’s 5-0 drubbing of Watford suggested the Liverpool manager wants this title desperately. On the pitch, his players sent out a loud and clear message that the title is theirs to lose despite the continued negativity from some sections of the media and supporters.

The reaction to the goalless stalemate at Old Trafford on Sunday could have led one to think there had been a death in the family. It was, in fact, a good point earned and could prove to be decisive as the weeks to come unfold. Despite all the recent doom and gloom, we must remember one thing. Liverpool have suffered just the one defeat this season. The team are on track to amass enough points to deliver the much longed for title with a defence that hasn’t looked this tight in over a decade now. Add the ability to plunder goals as shown by the bag full netted against Watford tonight and you have all the makings of champions elect.

So why the glum faces? And have the Reds run out of steam?

It’s inevitable that Liverpool are going to drop points again this season and look flat at times. It’s also inevitable that Manchester City will drop some points too and also look flat. Neither side will run out of steam. The longer Liverpool stay on top, the more likely City are to slip up with the added pressure of dwindling fixtures and chasing the leaders.

Has Mo Salah really lost his mojo?

Despite reports from some scrupulous media outlets suggesting a form slump, Mo Salah has still contributed no less than 17 goals and 7 assists in the league this season. More than likely, he will finish the season once more a 20 plus goal scorer and may yet win a second consecutive golden boot. Mo was almost unplayable tonight and unlucky not to take a couple of goals away from the match. Critics would be best suited to take a step backward and hold off on inflated knee jerk reactions.

At the other end of the pitch, Alisson has kept an impressive 16 clean sheets from 28 appearances to date. Better still, the side as a whole have only conceded just 15 goals in total all season thus far and look likely to concede only a few more come May. Last season, the team conceded 38 goals in total. It makes for a massive turnaround inside 12 months and is a credit to Klopp’s ability to adjust where needed.

In recent years, the champions have allowed plenty of goals through the back door. Manchester City had 29 put past them on route to last seasons title. The year before, Chelsea saw 33 hit the bag and Leicester City conceded 38 on the way to an improbable title during the 2015/16 campaign. It’s puts Liverpool’s impressive defence this term right into the spotlight.

Breaking down the race into blocks.

Following a difficult trip to Goodison on Sunday, the Reds then host Burnley before travelling to Fulham on March 17 which leads into an international break before resuming hostilities at home to Spurs on April 1st. In all likelihood, Liverpool will still be top come the commencement of April and, by then, the psychological warfare will be in full swing. For now though, all the Reds have to do is think about the small block of three games to finish off March coupled with a visit to Germany to face Bayern Munich on March 13. For now, we shouldn’t really look to far past this run of matches.

As Spring rolls into sight, Liverpool are siting on top of the league. There’s absolutely no reason why that should change come the second week of May. Be strong Reds. Keep the faith and enjoy the run in.

Is The Catholic Church Crumbling?

Imagine if you arrived home from a long day at work to find the evening news service bombarded with stories breaking on institutionalised child abuse within the confines of American retail powerhouse, Walmart. Imagine if this child abuse, carried out by countless staff members and management had carried on for decades and been covered up at every turn along the way. Chances are, the mass outrage would see Walmart closed down in a heartbeat. A reputation in tatters, beyond repair with the remaining innocent staff themselves washing their hands of the company in record time. Quite rightly, those found responsible would be packed off to prison for long stretches and the many victims would be looked after in any way possible.

Why then, in 2019, are people still defending the Catholic Church?

In 2012 when Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard forced through a Royal Commission into child abuse within the Catholic Church, we had no idea just how many would fall. We had no idea as to the incredible volume of victims that would step forward to testify. Thousands would come forward. Many (myself included) would not have the courage to come out and challenge the worlds largest organisation.

On a personal level, I had done ok since 1989 when I was last interfered with by a priest. I’d moved on and forged a comfortable life with modest surroundings. I wasn’t ready to bring it all back up. I guess I just wanted leave the past in the past and continue to forge my own life. I sat in awe as I began reading victim statements which all seemed very similar to what I had gone through. I could not help but applaud the courage these people had shown stepping forward. It would not have been easy.

To hear that Cardinal George Pell has been found guilty of child abuse has helped close some chapters for many victims of the Catholic Church. To be honest, I had assumed the powers in Rome would throw enough money at the case to make it all go away like they have done so many times before. The Royal Commission has, this far, brought numerous Priests to justice for offences committed over a number of decades.

The question still remains. Why are people not demanding the shut down of the Catholic Church? It’s been a source of serious criminal activity for as long as we can remember and is only just now being held accountable for destroying the lives of millions of victims worldwide over a very long time. As mentioned earlier, had Walmart been been the perpetrator and not the Church, how long would Walmart stay in business.

We cannot deny the facts laid out on the table in recent years and we now know that the cover up goes all the way to the top. The Vatican.

It’s time to put the Catholic Church out of business once and for all.

Liverpool’s form slump? A Harsh Reality Or Media Hype?

A lot has been made of Liverpool’s recent “form slump” in the Premier League. Apparently, the “slump” has been going on for most of January if you read the newspapers. The reds are, as we are led to believe, collapsing under the pressure of a title race with their more favored challengers from Manchester. Not being one to listen to hype, I decided to have a quick comparison of both, City’s and Liverpool’s form guide going back to mid December and the results paint a much different picture to what the media will have us all believe.

The solid 3-0 victory over Bournemouth yesterday went a long way to answering the critics with a final score that flattered Bournemouth. Almost instantly, media pundits began installing Liverpool back in the box seat as we move through February.

Over the past 11 matches, Liverpool have collected 29 points from a possible 33. During the same period, City have amassed just 21 points. that’s a whopping 8 points less than Liverpool. The reds have also scored a healthy 29 goals over the eleven matches which is 6 more than City. More than that, City have shipped 13 goals to Liverpool’s 9. In both attack and defense, Liverpool have the wood over City yet the media would leave you to believe that the Reds are on the slide in the race to the title? Fascinating.

Of course we pick and chose statistics that lend weight to an argument yet, even over the past 5 matches since Liverpool lost 1-2 at The Etihad, they have still only collected one point less than City. Hardly the sign of a team caving into the pressure of a title race is it?

As I write, Liverpool sit 3 points ahead of City with just twelve games to go. Neither side is looking anything like bottling it. Still, it won’t stop the media from sending us into a spin with knee jerk reactions when Liverpool drop points along the way. The only thing this can achieve is extra sales and ratings on talk-back radio. The Reds are alright and, in all likelihood, the Reds are also going to win the league so keep calm, enjoy the ride and most of all, don’t go into meltdown over the odd dropped point here and there.

Liverpool resume Champions League hostilities in just over a week and then head to Old Trafford to for a massive test against an in form United. Victory there will potentially go a long way to securing the title. In the meantime, here’s hoping Chelsea can do us all a favor and give City a crushing defeat later today at The Etihad and make our run towards the title a little easier.