The LFC Testament

Archive for January 2011

Fulham (H) Preview.

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Liverpool entertain Fulham at Anfield on Wednesday evening, in a league fixture that was initially scheduled for mid-December, but was postponed due to adverse weather conditions.

The last six league games (going backwards in time)…

Liverpool (11th in league): Win, Draw, Loss, Loss, Win, Loss.

Fulham (14th in league): Win, Draw, Win, Loss, Win, Loss.

Last five against Fulham at Anfield (league)…

2009-10: Liverpool  0 – 0  Fulham
2008-09: Liverpool  0 – 0  Fulham
2007-08: Liverpool  2 – 0  Fulham
2006-07: Liverpool  4 – 0  Fulham
2005-06: Liverpool  5 – 1  Fulham

Currently out…

Liverpool: Milan Jovanovic (illness) doubtful and Jamie Carragher (dislocated shoulder) out.

Fulham: Dickson Etuhu (hamstring), Matthew Briggs (ankle injury), Bobby Zamora (broken leg) and Phillipe Senderos (calf injury) all out.

If I was Kenny…

Opposition’s season thus far…

A change in system as opposed to personnel has meant that Mark Hughes’ first six months at Craven Cottage haven’t been up to the standards that we’ve come to expect over recent years.

Roy Hodgson’s departure from the club to Liverpool on the first day of the transfer window last summer certainly didn’t help their cause, as the West London outfit headed into the opening game of the season still reassessing their squad after a fantastic showing in the previous campaign.

Such awkward circumstances didn’t faze Hughes though, as his impact saw the Cottagers remain undefeated in the league until a controversial 2-1 defeat at home to Tottenham Hotspur in late September.

The situation gradually worsened from then on in though, as Fulham picked up just two wins in the rest of 2010, regardless of some strong performances.

Such form has now left Fulham attempting to climb out of what is an extremely packed bottom half of the table, but the outcome of their matches seem to be improving, with just one defeat this year, at White Hart Lane on January 1st.

Lengthy injuries to some key players have meant that their freshly-appointed manager’s first season has been continually disrupted, but the situation has quite evidently improved since the turn of the year, and I’d expect to see them finishing in a comfortable 12th, come May.

A chat with a Red…

Ahead of each league match, I interview a Liverpool supporter, gathering their views on current affairs at the club. This time around, I was allowed the privilege of conversing with Keiran Harrison, an administrator on the only LFC forum I visit: Liverpool Football Zone.

Here’s what he had to say…

A week of pure, uninterrupted preparation left Kenny Dalglish and Steve Clarke reaping the benefits on Saturday afternoon, as Liverpool comfortably victored at Molyneux. How big a win was that?

In the grand scheme of things, potentially massive. We’ve had an awful lot of false dawns under Roy Hodgson this season. I recall the Aston Villa game, which was an extremely accomplished performance, three different scorers and a comprehensive 3-0 victory. The cliche’d “season starts here” tag was bandied about and (perhaps predictably) we went on to lose to Newcastle and then to Wolves.

Under Kenny and, lest we forget, Steve Clarke, it feels somewhat different. The performances since they have taken over have been extremely encouraging, even if the results often haven’t. However there was a certain confidence about the side fielded on Saturday that has been lacking for large parts this season. Liverpool, for as long as I have watched them, have always been a side that have typically started poorly and finished the season strong. Come May, I believe the Wolves result will perhaps be one of the most significant of the campaign.

Over the course of the season, results have left us pondering the word “safety” as opposed to “Europe”. Where do you see us finishing realistically?

Realistically, now there’s the question. Realistic expectations have always been something lost on this Liverpool team. We tend to raise expectations one season then dash them the next. I believe we have the right man in charge, with the right signings and a good run of form, I don’t see the top four as an unreachable target. It’s ambitious, but with three or four world class players in your team, why not swing for the fence?
This team really is as good as it wants to be. However, if by February 1st our most notable activity in this window has been the loan of the talented Nathan Eccleston to Charlton, then i expect we may have to settle for a top seven place.

On Wednesday night, we entertain Fulham in a rearranged league fixture. Given the performance at the weekend, have your confidence levels been raised ahead of this one?

Of course, a win does wonders for everyone’s confidence, especially in our case when it’s been a long time coming. I expect the team will be equally buoyant on the back of the Wolves game, and at home we have to be confident of picking up all three points.

There is sometimes a tendency with our fans to overplay the significance of a result. Though this season, wins have been few and far between, it’s just great to get three more points on the board, and get another win under our belts, particularly an away win at a tough place.

Fulham are no push overs though, and with the likes of Duff, Dempsey, Hangeland and the increasingly impressive Dembele, we will need to produce our best to get the win.

How do you feel Mark Hughes has faired in his first six months at Craven Cottage?

As is to be expected when you get a new manager, there is always a ‘bedding in’ period, and we’ve certainly seen this at Fulham. In spite of his association with our nearest and dearest rivals, I do feel he is a good manager, quite hard done by at City. It will take some time for him to implant his own system and methods there, but he will do good things with them.

The one thing a club like Fulham needs above anything else is security, and despite remaining just four points above the drop zone, I don’t feel they are in any danger of going down. He’s not had it easy so far, the long term injury to Bobby Zamora and the departure of Mark Schwarzer to the Asian Cup has hurt them more than first thought.

Fernando Torres is experiencing something of an unusual season, with performances seemingly below what we’d come to expect, and the goals somewhat drying up. What do you put this down to?

Confidence. Arguably the most important part of any strikers game. I don’t think he quite got over his torrid World Cup and like alot of the players, he never responded all that well to Roy Hodgson. It just seemed to snowball from there.
Anyone and everyone can see he is a fabulous player, and the goals will come. Kenny has shown great faith in Fernando already in his short tenure and we’ve seen greatly improved performances, individually and collectively in most of the squad. Goals breed confidence and the brace at the weekend will have done wonders for him. Watch out Fulham!

Who’s been your player of the season thus far, at Liverpool?

The two who finished last season as my players of the season, have continued their excellent performances this year. Lucas and Pepe Reina. Lucas, a name that once went hand in hand with groans of frustration, has become Mr. Reliable in my opinion. Even in defeat this season he has been excellent. He reminds me of a young Didi Hamann.
As for Pepe, what is there to say? Proving week in week out why he is the best in the country, and in my eyes, the best in the world. I couldn’t choose between the two of them.

With an overhaul at the academy in 2009 (by former manager Rafael Benitez), we seem to be hearing nothing but positive things from those keeping an eye on our Under 18s side. How far are we from unearthing a trainee prodigy?

The work Rafa and co did with the academy deserves enormous praise because I think we are finally starting to scout, produce and cultivate genuine Premier League quality. Since Michael Owens emergence in the late 90s as the boy wonder, the academy struggled to produce the likes of Mellor, Wright and Warnock to name but a few. It was only when Rafa arrived that the emphasis was really placed on youth and the future. And now we have some very promising young players on the cusp of the senior squad. Most notably Suso who was given the first team treatment at the weekend, which must have been a fantastic experience for him.

We already have a number of quality youngsters mixing it in the reserves and even out on loan at the lower league clubs, hoping to make the grade, so the production line is very healthy. Of course there is a long way to go and it’s a big step up, but we are heading in the right direction.

And finally, unfortunately not related to our beloved team, who is going to win the Premier League this year and why?

Though it pains me to say it, I can’t see past the most obvious answer. Chelsea have problems galore behind closed doors and they have already conceded this title. Arsenal play outstanding football and possess a tremendous attack, but their defending leaves an awful lot to be desired. They also lack real leadership when Fabregas is out of the team. City have a title winning team on paper, but I’m yet to be convinced Mancini is the man to lead them to that title. They still look out of sorts, plagued by inconsistency and it may need another season for them to really show their potency.

United on the other hand have gone about their business very quietly. There is a lot to be said for stability in a team, and a settled squad who know each other inside and out is a dangerous thing. I prey I am wrong, but I expect them to run away with this title, but perish the thought they will go unbeaten.

——————————————–

I’d like to thank Keiran for taking time out to answer my questions. If you want to hear more of his view (and mine), join LFZ now:

http://s1.zetaboards.com/LFZ2010/site/

You can follow Keiran on Twitter at:

@Keiran_Harrison

And finally, the Testament’s tip…

Liverpool  2 – 0  Fulham, Torres first goal. Drawing at the interval.

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Written by The LFC Testament

January 24, 2011 at 22:55

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Wolverhampton Wanderers 2010-11, in chalkboard form.

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Just three weeks ago, arguably the worst Liverpool performance in my lifetime simulated before my very eyes, as Mick McCarthy’s goal-leaking, bottom of the league outfit, quite simply orchestrated a league match at Anfield.

It was arguably the result that brought the immediate need for a change in manager to the forefront of our recently instated owners minds and, not long after the humiliation of picking up no points at home to previously winless travellers, we got what most had been pleading for, for a while.

Kenny Dalglish’s return as temporary manager has been a bit of a mixed bag, in all honesty. The football on show has been a cut above anything we’ve seen over the past eighteen months, but the first three results showed no change to what was becoming an unwelcome part of the fabric at Liverpool Football Club (though you could argue a lack of pure, lengthy preparation has played its part).

But yesterday, as our match of vengeance with Wolves came to its conclusion, it was as good a feeling as I’ve felt in a long time.

Sky and other influential media outlets keep telling us that our recent misfortunes boil down to a poor squad, and some I know are ridiculously in agreement. These people fail to understand that sixteen of the current first-team squad were present in South Africa. Yeah, that is correct, representing their respective countries in the biggest show on earth.

Saturday’s result suggests otherwise in regards to the squad, and more to what the level-headed amongst us have been saying all season:

The squad was in need of a stronger and much more ideologically fitting guide.

So anyway, I’ve decided to check up on how a performance at Molyneux compared and contrasted with a performance at Anfield to the same side (besides the obvious).

How we set up in the 1-0 defeat. 

How we set up in the 3-0 victory. 

 

And now, for the chalkboards…

Reina’s passing in both league matches.


Torres’ shooting in both league matches. 

 

Meireles’ passing in both league matches. 

 

Oh, and that third goal.

I’m not trying to prove a point, or provide a witty conclusion. Just read and make your own minds up.

Written by The LFC Testament

January 23, 2011 at 14:18

Posted in Uncategorized

New year, new start.

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What with a recent change in management and a personal surge of followers on Twitter, I’ve came to a decision to take The LFC Testament to its third media outlet in six months…

The Blogger domain is no more, because the accessibility isn’t as ideal as I would have wanted it to be. My optimistic mind is telling me that there are many people wanting to comment on my work, yet can’t, because of the restrictions on the blog’s predecessor.

So WordPress it is. It looks nicer, doesn’t it (apart from the orange ‘The LFC Testament’ to the left. Anybody able to help my technologically-flawed self on that?)?

I feel as though, given my extensive use of a certain social networking site, my following is improving daily. It’s nice to see that so many people are interested in what I have to say. In using this site to publish my blog, I have more enthusiasm to post on a regular basis, which increases the chances of me hitting my “1000 followers” mark on almost pure merit.

So, I apologise for the change but, it really is for the best.

Written by The LFC Testament

January 12, 2011 at 11:15

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