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James is excited by the prospect of Luis Suarez.

I was handed the privilege of speaking to James Herd, writer/radio host/student/you name it, ahead of Kenny Dalglish’s first European tie at Anfield as Liverpool manager. Here’s how it went:

With early exits in domestic competitions and consistently poor league form up until recently, have your expectations of Liverpool in the Europa League changed over the course of the season?
James: To an extent, yes. I must say; the European form was one of very few real positives during the Roy Hodgson era. We didn’t play fantastic football, but nobody can argue the results – in general – were very good. I think our recent Premier League form under Kenny has been excellent, and we are now in a very good position to secure a European spot for next season. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot of work to do in the league, but for me – now is the time to take the Europa League very seriously. As much as I like the idea of the youngsters gaining valuable experience, Liverpool Football Club win trophies, and by playing our ‘first team’ from now on – I believe we can still win this competition. That’s not to undermine the competition, though, there are some very strong sides left, you only have to look down the road at Manchester City.

Me: Kenny Dalglish’s return to the managerial position at Anfield (on a temporary basis) has resulted in a drastic and positive change in fortunes for the club. If you were given the power to appoint him permanently, right now, would you?
James: I keep changing my mind on this subject. As I write, what I’d do is wait. Kenny has been fantastic so far, but for me, there’s no need to rush any decision. If they make the appointment now, and the team has a difficult time on the pitch for the rest of the season (unlikely, I know) then the owners would have put themselves in a very awkward position. I’d love Kenny to be our permanent manager, everybody would – but there’s no rush, he’s unlikely to be approached by another side, he’s not going to go anywhere, I think we should be patient.

Me: Despite being unable to secure an away goal in Prague, taking a goalless draw back to Anfield would suggest that Liverpool are in control of this Europa League tie. What sort of team are we expecting our manager to select in the return leg?
James: As I said above, I’d really like to see us take this competition seriously. That’s not to say we haven’t done so far, I think we’ve found a perfect balance in the squad, and team selection to date. I’d expect a very strong line up on Thursday; Reina, Carragher, Lucas, Meireles, Kuyt – all players who have, in my opinion, been excellent in the past few weeks. And if Gerrard is fully fit, I’d have him captaining the side too. Kenny first home European game as manager of Liverpool; add our captain into the equation and I think it could be a very special night at Anfield. No plastic flags required.

Me: Luis Suarez headed back to Amsterdam at the weekend, in order to say goodbye to the Ajax supporters. From the farewell alone, it is clear that our Uruguayan acquisition is adored by his former club. Are you excited by his arrival?
James: Absolutely, I’m yet to see a picture of Suarez where he’s not beaming from ear to ear. A goal against Stoke was clearly the perfect start, but you can ignore that, just look at his all round game – and still be excited. Here we have a guy that doesn’t seem your ‘typical’ footballer. Watching the footage of him saying goodbye at the weekend would have bought a tear to a glass eye. The man oozes class, both on and off the pitch. As a supporter, you try not to get too carried away, but if I’m honest, it’s very difficult not to when talking about Luis Suarez. Saying this, we must be patient; he’s just moved to a different country, he’s playing in a different league, with a different set of team mates. Suarez may well need the rest of the season to fully settle in, but with the stability that Kenny has bought to the club – he’s got that.

Lastly on Suarez, another exciting moment will be to see exactly how he and our record signing Andy Carroll line up. Whether it be part of a front three, or just the two of them working up top together. I think it is an exciting time to be a supporter of this club, and Suarez will be a big part of the future.

Me: Regardless of what happens between now and the end of the season, we’re guaranteed a summer of great importance, as our new owners experience their first close-season window. Where do you feel we need to improve on the pitch?
James: The squad Hodgson, and Dalglish inherited was always going to need work, that’s not to say it wasn’t a good squad, particularly when considering the financial restraints of the past 3/4 years. Losing Torres was a blow, but getting in Suarez and Carroll meant that overall, January was very successful for us. Work needs to be done, however. Xabi Alonso has never been replaced; we’re talking about somebody who played ‘Quaterback’, he was the fulcrum of all that was good about our attacking force. We’re lacking a fulcrum; Lucas is a holding midfield player, Gerrard is an attacking midfielder, and recently we’ve seen Meireles play a more advanced role. But, arguably, we need somebody who can play in the centre of midfield, and dictate the game. You’ve got the height of Carroll, the pace and skill of Suarez, add somebody to play defence splitting through balls to that and the prospect is frightening.

We also need pace on the wing, again if you look at Andy Carroll, he’s fantastic in the air. Kuyt has a role, but no pace. Maxi has a lot of skill, but again, he’s not the quickest, and his crossing isn’t quite there. We need a winger who has that ability to beat the full back. Babel did it once or twice, but was never consistent enough. For me, you don’t have to look far to find the player we’re after – Ashley Young.

And then there’s the left back situation. I’m a big fan of Fabio Aurelio, but you simply can’t rely on his fitness. Johnson has done well there, but can you have a right-footed player as your permanent left back? I’m not so sure. Can Insua return and fulfill that role? I’m yet to be convinced. One thing I can categorically say, it won’t be Paul Konchesky.

Also in defence, I’d like to see another centre back. I think Skrtel has been very poor this season, Carragher hasn’t got too many years left, and despite his good form this season, I don’t believe Kyrgiakos is the man we should be looking at to win us trophies next season. Maybe Danny Wilson will get his chance there. Overall, we need at least one winger, a centre midfielder, a left back, and a centre back. Possibly too much to ask?

Me: And finally, your prediction for the match…
James: I’m confident; this will be a very special night at Anfield. Liverpool 3-0 Sparta Prague. Ngog, Kuyt and Gerrard with the goals.

Follow James on Twitter: @James_Herd
Read his blog on ‘The Kop’:


Written by The LFC Testament

February 22, 2011 at 17:57

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Liverpool dealt Shelvey blow.

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The talented midfielder looks set to be on the sidelines for the remainder of the 2010/11 campaign.

Jonjo Shelvey’s season appears to be over, after it was confirmed by Liverpool Football Club that the tendon problem in his knee will keep him out for up to twelve weeks.

The eighteen year old central midfielder, who has featured in nine Premier League matches this season, said “I’m a bit down at the moment but I’m just hoping now I can come back stronger. I am now going to take a twelve week rehabilitation and hopefully I’ll be back soon.”

Written by The LFC Testament

February 10, 2011 at 16:13

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A chat with a Red: Matt Kenny.

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The eighth most expensive signing in footballing history and his new guide.

Ahead of every Liverpool match, I get the views of a supporter on current affairs. Today was the turn of Matthew Kenny, a younger journalist learning the trade, like myself (he’s fond of the land of Catenaccio, too). Here’s his thoughts.

The way Fenway Sports Group’s first transfer window as Liverpool owners ended was compulsive viewing, eh?

It was certainly captivating from a Liverpool fan’s perspective, since we don’t usually do a lot of business in January, let alone on deadline day. The Torres situation looked set to threaten the rest of our season, but FSG reacted remarkably in signing both Suarez and Carroll to leave the supporters feeling optimistic. Spending £58m in January is a statement of intent, and proves that Liverpool can compete at the top table for transfers.

Fernando Torres’ time at the club has came to an end in a fashion that isn’t welcomed by anybody. How are you feeling about that?

It was a sad way for things to end, and certainly not the way I imagined Torres leaving the club. Supporters really connected with Fernando. We felt that he understood us and the Liverpool way after all his gushing comments about our history. It turns out that he hass wanted to leave since last summer, and his “desire to stay” was just a pack of lies. The fact that he has moved to Chelsea makes his exit even more disappointing, since they symbolise everything that Liverpool are not (classless and brash) and everything we thought Torres was not.

Leaving for City or Barca would have been understandable, and he could have left the club with his head held high with no hard feelings. But instead he chose to rub our supporters’ noses in it, and make comments about a “massive step up in his career”, when in reality we are not too far behind their ageing squad. Overall I’m massively disappointed.

Two forwards, Andy Carroll of Newcastle United and Luis Suarez of Ajax, were purchased. Can you see our manager changing the system because of this, though?

I don’t think Dalglish will make drastic changes once they’re both fit. Since his return as manager he has persisted with 4-4-1-1, which I believe would suit both Carroll and Suarez. The problem then is fitting both Gerrard and Meireles into a midfield four which could be difficult considering neither are holding players.

I think the best system would be a 4-3-3, as we could incorporate Lucas, Gerrard and Meireles into their favoured positions, with Carroll the central striker and Suarez playing as a wide forward (something he is very familiar with). 4-3-3 is a very adaptable formation and I believe that Suarez and Carroll will give us much more variety in attack than what Torres did.

Kenny Dalglish’s name has donned the manager’s door at Melwood for almost a month now. How’s it going in your opinion?

I think he’s been brilliant in just about every aspect. The club was at an all-time low after Hodgson’s sacking, but Kenny’s arrival just gave everyone a lift. He’s united the fans which is crucial if we are to succeed.

On the pitch, he has gone back to the pass and move style which gave us so much success in the past, and we are already starting to see the rewards. The players seem to really enjoy the way they are playing and the new system allows Kenny to get the best out of the likes of Maxi and Meireles. I can only see us moving up the table under the King.

Stoke City travel to Anfield on Wednesday evening. What do you make of them?

I think they’re a very underrated side who pose a huge threat to us, so we must be very careful. Stoke are often labelled as a long ball side but they have a lot more to their game and possess two pacey wingers in Pennant and Ethrington, that wouldn’t look out of place in our current side. Obviously they have the huge paring of Kenwyne Jones and John Carew upfront, who will cause our centre backs a lot of problems, but they are by no means one-dimensional and we’ll have to be at our best to beat them.

If you were Dalglish, who would you be starting with, and how would you set up the selected in order to beat Pulis’ side?

I don’t think he should change his team or tactics too much. The only changes I’d make, would be Cole in for the departed Torres and Kyrgiakos in for Skrtel to help combat the aerial threat Stoke poses. Skrtel’s heading ability has long been a concern and the Potters will be looking to take advantage if he does start alongside Daniel Agger. Otherwise I’d start with the same set of players that beat Wolves and Fulham.

If Matt were the King.

Finally, how’s this match going to pan out? Score? Scorers?

It’ll be a tough test but ultimately we will be too much for Stoke. I see us winning 2-0, with Kuyt and Gerrard getting the goals.


I’d like to thank Matt for taking part in the pre-match interview.

If you’d like to hear more of his views, you can follow him on Twitter: @MattKenny_LFC

You should read his blog, too:

Written by The LFC Testament

February 1, 2011 at 18:09

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Lucas Leiva the subject of two bids, last night.

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A new deal for our flaxen-haired Platini?

Two teams (one of them being Villarreal) submitted bids/enquiries for Lucas Leiva yesterday evening, I have been told.

Liverpool declined both offers though, as the player is currently in talks with the club about a long term contract extension.

FSG know the score.

Written by The LFC Testament

February 1, 2011 at 17:05

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