Liverpool legend backs Klopp to sign Bundesliga star

Liverpool look set to bolster their attacking options this summer.

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Liverpool new signing fires Three Lions into Under-20 World Cup finals

Sheyi Ojo helped to create two goals as England reached the FIFA U20 World Cup final for the first time with a 3-1 victory over Italy on Thursday.

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Showing posts with label mayank adhye. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mayank adhye. Show all posts

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Verdict on Stewart Downing

When you sign a proven premier league player worth twenty million pounds, you are expecting him to run riot from the beginning.That is just a natural footballing instinct.Firstly, the market for British players is inflated and a joke to say the least. And secondly,I put ‘overall contribution to the football team’ over goals when it comes to a midfielder. Patrick Viera, Roy Keane, if you get my drift.

The jury has been out on Stewart Downing and will continue to do so for as long as he plays for Liverpool Football Club. The Liverpool fans need to understand that Downing will not get you 10-15 goals a season.That is the empirical truth.He is not a prolific scorer.This is a flaw in his game and from what I have observed,he is not going to get any better.Here are the statistics- Middlesbrough 181 appearances 17 goals, Aston Villa 63 appearances 9 goals. So,on an average he will fetch you a goal every 9 games. He is not the greatest English winger to have graced a football field but he is definitely not as bad as he is brandished to be.

Stewart Downing is a good footballer. He has a great work-ethic. He has the ability to drift past defenders.His positional sense on the pitch is immaculate. He has a lethal left-foot and a decent right foot too. He defends his wing-backs well. How often do you see Glen Johnson getting caught out? Liverpool fans have failed to recognize the defensive aspect of Downing’s game. Downing has moulded himself into the Liverpool set-up very well. Downing is a primarily a winger that will provide you goals. Apart from Luis Suarez there is nobody to finish off those chances. You need a Raul Gonzalez, Robbie Fowler, Henrik Larsson or Ruud Van Nistelrooy to derive the best out of Stewart Downing. Until Liverpool buy that quality striker all of Downing’s good work will go unsung.

I rate Stewart Downing highly and still believe that he will be a brilliant signing.

Final Verdict – Is Juan Mata better than Stewart Downing ? – Yes but Mata is poor defensively if you observe a Chelsea game closely. So apples and oranges.

Written by Mayank Adhye, who blogs at The Musical Escapade and also a Reds supporter.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Get off Jamie ‘The Stalwart’ Carragher’s back

Jamie-Carragher Football fans and critics have a very short memory. Opinions that stem out of this memory also lack rationality and border baseless criticism.

Since the last three years,Jamie has been getting a lot of stick for his lack of defending. As a Liverpool fan, my reflex is to defend one of the greatest players to have ever played for the club. But it’s not only about the bias.

Every defender has a bad game. Footballers go through lean spells but world-class footballers put in that one performance that silences their critics. And Jamie did just that in the Merseyside derby.

Jamie Carragher undoubtedly has lost some pace but his astute reading of the game has not deteriorated one bit. On a sunny, pressure-packed afternoon, Jamie Carragher stamped his class at Goodison Park. Tim Cahill has an effective aerial prowess and scores headers with ease in the league. Carragher won almost every aerial ball against Cahill. Everton were a depleted side after the sending-off but it’s always harder playing against 10 men and Carragher effectively killed off, the unpredictable Luis Saha’s game with his incisive tackling. He did not put a single foot wrong.

Carragher’s verbose organizing skills often go unsung. You rarely see a mix-up between the goalkeeper and the defence. Carragher plays every game with his heart on his sleeve and is still one of the first names on that team sheet.

Within the England setup, Jamie Carragher is under-rated. He is no less than John Terry and as effective as Rio Ferdinand (if not better). In my opinion, he did not get enough games to prove his mettle. This fact being emphasized by Fabio Capello persuading him to come out of retirement. What has instigated me is the fact that even Liverpool fans have been questioning his abilities. His last-ditch tackles have saved countless games for Liverpool.

Lets rewind Liverpool fans , If Jamie Carragher can out-wit and out-fight Andriy Shevchenko in a European Final with a strained muscle, he deserves more than ‘Carra’s getting old’. He has been found wanting in a lot of games, he drops too deep,he doesn’t get forward too often, doesn’t score too many goals but he had Fernando Torres in his pocket at Stamford Bridge , the same Fernando Torres who walked all over Nemanja Vidic (arguably, the best defender in the league) at Old Trafford.

Do not write him off yet.

Jamie Carragher can defend, just ask Rigobert Song and the AC Milan squad of 2005/2006.

Written by Mayank Adhye, who blogs at The Musical Escapade and also a Reds supporter.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Return of Craig Bellamy

I know its still pre-mature to judge him completely but the signs look good. A man of the match performance against BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION does absolutely no harm to his case.

So, What does Craig Bellamy possess? – Pace, agility, skill, movement. These are some of his noticeable attributes. Having observed his game for years now, he’s also laser-sharp in the box, a fox in the box, is a good finisher and can head too.

His failure at top-level clubs has intrigued me. His temperaments is definitely a flaw. Consistency has also proved to be his downfall.

Bellamy started as a 9 year old. He has made his way up the English league. A career that started at lowly Norwich City. He had spells at Coventry City, Celtic, was part of that successful Newcastle United team and flourished at Blackburn. It was his form for Rovers that convinced the Liverpool hierarchy to sign him. His initial form at Liverpool was good, fitting in well into the system.

Injuries have plagued Bellamy constantly throughout his career. Major injuries and a drop in form lead to few opportunities into his Liverpool career. What begun a promising start soon withered away.

Bellamy still managed 7 goals from 27 games. That is still decent in my books for someone who was left in the doldrums for most the season .

The sings were ominous, though and Bellamy was sold to West Ham. Following his departure, there was a general feeling among Liverpool fans that he was not given a fair chance.

Bellamy, the professional that is, continued his ways and let his football do the talking. Successful moves to West ham and Manchester City amplified the fact that Liverpool let go too easily.

When Bellers took the step down to move to Cardiff City, he raised more than a few eyebrows. But the move paid rich dividends as Liverpool came back calling for his services.

Much more of an accomplished player, now, Bellamy can operate as a winger,too. Bellamy along with Ryan Giggs have been one of the most influential players for Wales in the last decade.

At 32, he still has the same desire and hunger. It seems like he has not lost any pace. Bellamy looks like the ideal foil for Luis Suarez. Come the end of the season, Craig Bellamy could prove to be more than just the ‘back-up’ striker.

Written by Mayank Adhye, who blogs at The Musical Escapade and also a Reds supporter.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Alberto Aquilani - The Italian Flop?

Xabi Alonso signed for Liverpool in 2004 . Since his arrival, he established himself as a Liverpool mainstay.

Combining technical ability with a wide array of passes, Xabi Alonso won over the Liverpool faithful . Alonso was one of the best players during the Benitez regime.

He was also instrumental in Liverpool winning the European Cup and the FA Cup . Considering the success, it came as a shock that Liverpool were planning to cash in on him.

Since his unceremonious departure to Real Madrid ,a massive void was created in the Liverpool midfield. His role has been hard to fill. And, an Alonso-mould midfielder was the necessity at Anfield.

Alberto Aquilani was much touted across Europe for his performances for Roma and the Italian national side. Aquilani, like Alonso is gifted with immense technical ability. He began his career at Roma and after a brief spell at Triestina returned to Roma.

Aquilani can play in various positions. He can play holding midfielder, attacking midfielder or in the hole behind the strikers. Aquilani's versatility makes him an essential squad player.

Aquilani's early potential was recognised by Chelsea and Arsenal who offered him contracts aged 16. But Aquilani chose to stay in his beloved homeland and represent Roma.

He made his Roma debut at the age of 18. Aquilani impressed everyone at the Stadio Olympico and was given the coveted No. 8 jersey. Aquilani quickly adjusted himself in the heart of the Roman midfield.

He formed a formidable partnership with Danielle De Rossi. Aquilani was consistent for both club and country. Marcelo Lippi heralded him one of Italy's finest midfielders.

Rafa Benitez was looking to replace Xabi Alonso with a player of similar stature.

Alberto Aquilani was signed in 2009 for reported fee of £17million. The signing was criticized because Aquilani had suffered a thigh injury and was ineligible to play for Liverpool until fully fit.

Alberto Aquilani made his much-anticipated debut almost a year later after constantly battling injuries. His start was indifferent failing to mould into the Liverpool setup.

The constant change of management also did not help his cause. Aquilani was trying too hard to impress the Anfield faithful, failing to capitalise on his major strengths that are long-range shooting and long-range passing.

Aquilani was constantly playing too close to the strikers and making dashing runs into the box with no joy.

Towards the end of the season, he did find his feet and put in decent performances but the jury was still out on his form and fitness.

A return to Juventus was on the cards. At Juventus, Aquilani finally justified his high-potential. Along with scoring 2 goals, Aquilani was their main playmaker and impressed everyone at the Delle Alpi .

Juventus failed to meet Liverpool's requirements for him and so he returned to Anfield.

Alberto Aquilani was Liverpool best player in pre-season raising more than a few eyebrows in Merseyside.

However, Liverpool still remain unconvinced of his true value to the club.

Kenny Dalglish has indirectly stated that Aquilani does not feature in his Liverpool plans.

AC Milan have shown a genuine interest in the midfielder to replace their talisman Andrea Pirlo. If reports are to be believed then they seem destined to sign him this week.

Good riddance for a player who has failed to live up to expectations but deserves another platform to showcase his undoubted talent.

Written by Mayank Adhye, who blogs at The Musical Escapade and also a Reds supporter.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Jose Enrique - Is he the answer to our left-back crisis ?

Liverpool FC have never replaced John Arne Riise who established himself as a solid left-back who would score the occasional scorcher.

Riise has been the only left-back that has cemented his place in the hearts of every Liverpool fan in the recent past. What Riise possessed very few left-back in world football possessed. He had sheer pace, a deadly left foot, strong defensive attributes, was good in the air and could dribble. Alan Kennedy is another one that springs to the mind as we talk of legendary left-backs at Anfield.

Since Kennedy retired and Riise left, Liverpool have suffered a major crisis with respect to that position.

Many players have been bought, utilised in that position but have failed to stabilize the shift. This has been primarily down to the rotation policy, change of managers and failure of the player to settle into a position.

Liverpool, for the past seasons, have looked like a predictable side because  of their one-directional football.

There is barely any attacking done from the left flank largely due to an ineffective left-back. Fabio Aurelio performs well sporadically but is constantly plagued with injuries. Emiliano Insua is just not good enough .Jack Robinson lacks the necessary experience . England's first-choice Right back Glen Johnson was played out-of-position last season and although he did play admirably , his best attributes are not fully utilised playing left-back.

And so began a hunt across Europe to fill a massive void in the Liverpool defence.

Jose Enrique was putting in eye-catching performances for Newcastle United which caught the eye of several European clubs . Barcelona were also rumoured to be interested in his services. Such was the level of his performances.

Arsenal and Liverpool were in the forefront to sign him. With the departure of Gael Clichy to Manchester City , Arsenal were willing to do quick business with Newcastle United and replace Clichy.

Liverpool had scouted Enrique for the past two seasons but were unconvinced by the player. However, towards the end of the season , Phil Thompson revealed that a deal was agreed in principle to bring Enrique to Anfield.

The rumours began turning into reality. As Jose Enrique refused to sign a new contract amidst news that he was about to quit the club. Newcastle Manager Alan Pardew also stated vociferously that Enrique did not wish to sign a new contract .  It was evident that Enrique was seeking a move away from St. James' park.
Various reports in the media suggested that Liverpool was his only destination yet Kenny Dalglish was reluctant to sign him because of his suspect defensive positioning. Once Liverpool's interest was firmly established it was a matter of time before Jose Enrique became our new left-back as concrete interest from other clubs faded.

Laying to rest all the mounting speculation, it was announced on Liverpool's website that a deal was indeed struck between Newcastle and Liverpool for the transfer of Jose Enrique.

Having keenly watched the premiership for 10 years now, Jose Enrique does look the part. He is an ideal premiership left-back. Enrique possesses bundles of pace, trickery and is no mug defensively .

Jose Enrique started his career at lowly Spanish side Levante. Made the step-up by joining Valencia. Valencia wanted to give him first-team experience so they sent him out on-loan to Celta Vigo.

At Celta Vigo, Enrique found his feet again and made some superlative performances that season. This caught the eye of Villarreal who snapped him immediately for the 2006/2007 season. Instantly, he was a massive hit and a bigger move beckoned for the talented full-back. A move to Newcastle was next where he cemented his place as one of most talented full-backs in Europe.

Having watched Enrique at different clubs, he can adapt suitably to any side. He has great tactical awareness, is a solid tackler and a blistering athlete. Enrique also whips in quality balls that are tailor-made for strikers to head. Jose Enrique reminds me of a left-footed Sergio Ramos. Very rarely, does he have a bad game. Jose Enrique is an attacking full back who can defend .

His only flaw is lack of goals.

With an impressive Liverpool debut against Sunderland already under his belt, Liverpool have secured a quality signing.

Overall, he might just prove to be the bargain of the season at £6 MILLION.

Written by Mayank Adhye, who blogs at The Musical Escapade and also a Reds supporter.

Apology on the misleading name of Alan Hansen for Alan Kennedy.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Liverpool FC’s Pre-Season - An Overview

After finishing the premier league season 2010-11 with a gusto , the expectations on the red on the red half of Merseyside were high.

A Liverpool side languishing in Twelfth had managed to salvage the season . Kenny Dalglish had worked his magic charm , the confidence was back and Liverpool were playing with a sting in their tail .

But , in retrospect , it was all too late and sixth was a paltry showing for a side boasting the likes of Pepe Reina , Jamie Carragher , Raul Meireles , Steven Gerrard , Glen Johnson , Dirk Kuyt and Luis Suarez.

Nevertheless , Melwood was buzzing with excitement in earnest for the new season.

The Liverpool side last season had a lot of glaring loopholes . Defensive  and attacking reinforcements were needed . Our New American owners made no secret of the fact that they were willing to invest heavily into the squad .

Kenny Dalglish drew out his transfer-targets and began pursuit swiftly. First in-line was the surprising signing of Sunderland's young midfielder Jordan Henderson . Much coveted over the last few seasons because of his impressive performances at the stadium of light , earning him a call-up to the senior side , signing him raised a few eyebrows.Considering Liverpool have a plethora of midfielders , Signing Henderson for £16 MILLION showed a level of intent.

Charlie Adam's rise to prominence in the premiership was unmissable . So, it was only fitting that Liverpool jumped into swoop for him. Liverpool have for the past few seasons, lacked some serious width and a quality winger . Stewart Downing had put in match-winning performances for Aston Villa since signing and after a long-drawn out transfer saga , Downing put pen-to-paper on a five year deal at Anfield. Roma's Alexander Doni was next signed on a free . The Brazilian having endured  a poor season with Roma , having fallen out of favour in Rome. In Doni , Liverpool possess an experienced back-up for Reina.

All the right moves were made in the transfer market and , now it was time for the players to function as a cohesive unit.

Pre-season is all about getting the players back into the right frame of mind , getting their fitness up to the mark and using a lot of the fringe players to gauge the depth of the squad. The pre-season fixture list was drawn up and Liverpool's fixtures were as follows - A trip to Asia , Hull City , Galatasaray , Valarenga and Valencia .

Copa America winner Luis Suarez was given the month off , Steven Gerrard was still recovering from a groin infection while all the new signings were expected to get a good run-out.

Pre-season gives the manager a clear indications of his side's strengths and weaknesses.

Liverpool have a massive fan base in Asia . So , it was a good ploy  football and business-wise to play two friendlies in Malaysia and Singapore .

Liverpool kicked off their pre-season against Guangdong Sunray Cave. The game ,  on the whole was controlled by Liverpool . In the first half , Liverpool raced ahead with goals from David N'Gog and Christien Poulsen and stamped their immediate authority in the first half only have a goal pulled back because of slack marking. Kenny Dalglish rang out wholesale changes in the second half with the introduction of Charlie Adam , Alberto Aquilani in particular .The impressive Conner Coady scored the third slotting home brilliantly after trading passes with Andy Carroll

Charlie Adam showed glimpses of his wonderful array of passes , Liverpool showboated in the front of the cheering Chinese supporters. But football is an unpredictable game and Liverpool were caught napping as two quick-fire goals from The excellent Lu Lin and Ying Hongbo took the gloss of an established Liverpool performance . The Match ended 4-3 .

Next up for Liverpool was a trip to Malaysia to face the Malaysia XI . Liverpool started off well but faded off as the half wore on . Charlie Adam scored his first Liverpool through the penalty spot to give Liverpool the lead . Safiq Rahim equalised with a superb free-kick to make it 1-1 . The game sparked into action in the second half with both teams playing attractive ,flowing football. But Liverpool's experience and skill overwhelmed the Malaysian resistance as 2 goals each from David N'gog and Maxi Rodriguez put Liverpool into the driving seat.Malaysia XI fought back bravely though with quick goals from S.Sali but a Dirk Kuyt Goal demolished all hopes of a remarkable comeback . Liverpool winning comfortably on the night 6-3 . Alberto Aquilani was the standout performer for Liverpool pulling all the strings in central midfield.

However , the trend emerging was Liverpool's inability to keep a clean sheet. After the Asian escapade it was back to England for the remaining fixtures .

Hull City at the KC Stadium was Liverpool's next encounter.

Liverpool's new signings Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing were on the bench while Alexander Doni was given his debut. Hull City started the sharper of the two sides and  broke the deadlock on 21 minutes with a superb strike from on-loan Manchester United youngster Robbie Brady. The home side doubled their lead 13 minutes later when Slovenian international Robert Koren found the net after working a one-two with Aaron McLean.Dalglish made 11 changes at half-time but failed to change the outcome of the game as Hull added a third following sloppy Liverpool defending to cap an impressive 3-0 win . Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson failed to make a mark but showed a few touches of class . Next up on the menu was a daunting trip to Istanbul,Turkey. It was built-up as Liverpool's glorious return to the unforgettable city of Istanbul that marked the club's most famous triumph in 2005.

Galatasaray possess a lot of Europe's has-been coupled with skilful youth . Surprisingly , Liverpool fielded an under-strength squad with Charlie Adam , Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson not travelling with the squad. The game from the onset was dominated by an experienced Galatasaray squad . Two goals from former red Milan Baros and a thumping Volley from Johan Elmander sealed the game on a rather forgettable night for the reds. The Liverpool attack lacked cohesion and the defending was shambolic at times. Although a friendly , the manner of the defeat left much to be desired . Liverpool went back to the drawing board and after a hard workout at Melwood travelled to Oslo to play unfancied Norwegian Valerenga . Liverpool put out a strong amidst criticism following the Galatasaray game with Glen Johnson (playing his first game) Jordan Henderson , Charlie Adam , Stewart Downing , Dirk Kuyt , Daniel Agger and Andy Carroll all starting. Liverpool dominated the early exchanges with Downing , Kuyt and Carroll linking up well. Valerenga took the lead though against the run of play with a low cross from the left that was neatly slotted home by Lars Iver Strand . Minutes later the Norwegian’s went two ahead as the ball broke to Yssouf Kone inside the Liverpool box and, while he was in the act of shooting, he was carelessly, clipped by Charlie Adam and the referee showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Fegor Ogude finished off a neat penalty giving Reina no chance . Liverpool huffed-puffed after that without threatening the Valerenga Goal . Just before the half-time interval , the impressive Stewart Downing delivered a delightful cross towards Andy Carroll who controlled and finished a well worked goal . In the second half , Liverpool grew into the game and dominated possession following the introduction of Alberto Aquilani . The Italian International , rumoured with a move away from the club , forcing two good saves from the Valerenga keeper . The Liverpool pressure finally paid off as Daniel Agger scored off two Aquilani corners to put Liverpool 3-2 up . Liverpool looked to have pulled a narrow comeback only to be denied by a wonderful 20 yard goal from Mohammad fellah as he dribbled past two Liverpool defenders and struck a rasping left-footed shot past the helpless Reina. The match ended 3-3 , a fair result in the end.

Liverpool's final pre-season game was at Anfield against Valencia . On paper , Valencia was the toughest fixture . The pressure was on the hosts as they needed to perform in front a expectant crowd following a mixed pre-season. After a cagey start , Valencia defender Davil Albelda made a back pass that was intercepted by Andy Carroll and after his initial shot hit the post , He made sure of the rebound finishing expertly from an acute angle to give Liverpool the lead. Juan Mata found himself overshadowed by a decade of Premier League experience in Downing, whose barrage of deliveries into the Valencia area began in the opening minutes. Valencia barely threatened Pepe Reina's goal and they failed to find their rhythm . The second half continued much like the first with a pedestrian Valencia performance and Liverpool failing to make the most of Downing's whipped balls from the flanks. The game got its second goal as Sotirios Kyrgiakos scrambled home a Jay Spearing free-kick from the Left . Liverpool ran out comfortable victors with a deserved 2-0 victory . The victory came at a cost as Glen Johnson picked up an Hamstring strain which will rule him out for two weeks.

And with that , came to end a mixed pre-season for Liverpool FC having won 3 games , losing 2 and drawing 1 .

The fringe players showed a lack of class and skill . Players like Christian Poulsen , Jonjo Shelvey ,Emiliano Insua , Philip Degen ,David N'gog, Daniel Ayala and Joe Cole are far from proving they are Liverpool material . The youth players like Andre Wisdom , John Flanagan , Conner Coady , Jack Robinson and Raheem Sterling impressed and showed that the future is bright for Liverpool football club. Amongst the most notable indicators from pre-season were Liverpool's lack of defensive cover , inconsistent attacking play and creativity in the final third . At times , they looked one-dimensional with their direct passing . Alberto Aquilani was easily Liverpool's best player combining immense technical ability with flair and accurate passing . Liverpool's new signings Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing put in able performances . Jordan Henderson needs to play more games to justify his £16 million price tag. Daniel Agger needs to remain fit in order to steady the defensive shift . Andy Carroll looked sharp in the final two games . With Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez to come back into the squad , Liverpool have the necessary depth this season to finish in the top four . Consistency in the away games has been Liverpool's downfall past seasons . With abundant and variable resources available this time , it remains to be seen what actually transpires on the football pitch.

Written by Mayank Adhye, who blogs at The Musical Escapade and also a Reds supporter.

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