Tag Archive: Kenny Dalglish


By Laurie Fitzgerald

After nine months and 825 clubs battling it out in the oldest cup competition in the world, we have reached the last two to battle it out in this year’s FA Cup Final.

Liverpool and Chelsea will meet at Wembley tomorrow evening to decide the 131st showpiece event for English football’s most famous domestic cup, and these are two sides that have a rich FA Cup tradition.

The Reds have won the trophy on seven occasions and last lifted the cup back in 2006, when a last-gasp equaliser by Steven Gerrard and heroics from Pepe Reina in the penalty shootout saw them overcome West Ham in one of the all-time great finals.

Chelsea’s recent history in the competition is unmatched; while they have won the cup six times, three of those triumphs have come in the last five seasons and are now one win away from four in six.

While Liverpool have stuttered in the Premier League this season, their cup form has been peerless; having won the Carling Cup back in February, Kenny Dalglish’s side are looking to complete a domestic cup double.     Continue reading

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By Laurie Fitzgerald

One of the main talking points from last weekend’s action was the issue of diving, and how an unethical part of the beautiful game is coming to the fore.

There were a few incidents of note that led to many believing they either went down too easily or that they simply fall to the ground with no contact whatsoever.

Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko won a penalty in their 3-3 draw with Sunderland after seemingly falling into the tackle of Black Cats midfielder Craig Gardner.

Bolton midfielder Mark Davies also drew some criticism after he won a crucial spot-kick for the Trotters when they were a goal down at Wolves, after falling under minimal contact in the box. It was a game that they would go on to win 3-2.

The most talked-about incident of the weekend though took place at the Sports Direct Arena, when Liverpool striker Andy Carroll caused derision amongst the Newcastle faithful that used to chant his name when he inexplicably fell over having gone round Toon keeper Tim Krul.     Continue reading

By Laurie Fitzgerald

Liverpool’s recent slump continued at the weekend when they suffered one of the shock defeats of the Premier League season, going down 2-1 to strugglers Wigan at Anfield.

That loss to the Latics made it five defeats in six league matches for Kenny Dalglish’s side, and all but ending any hopes that they had of qualifying for the Champions League next season.

The Reds have secured European football for next campaign following their Carling Cup triumph last month, which gave them a place in the Europa League – but their recent setbacks have coincided with their Wembley win over Cardiff City on penalties.

Four of those five losses have followed winning their first silverware in six years, and it has left many Liverpool fans wondering what the main issue is regarding their sudden downturn in fortunes.

But recent history shows that they are not the only side to suffer such a hangover after winning the League Cup as recent winners have also struggled to carry that momentum into the business end of the league season.     Continue reading

By Laurie Fitzgerald

Liverpool face Everton in the 217th Merseyside Derby this evening with more pride at stake than what would’ve been imaginable a couple of months ago.

At the turn of the year Everton were in danger of being stuck at the wrong end of the table with a severe lack of goals in the side and no immediate solution to the problem.

Meanwhile, Liverpool were well in the hunt for a top-four finish and looked set for at least a top-six position come the end of Kenny Dalglish’s first full season back in charge at Anfield.

However, manager David Moyes was able to strengthen his attacking options in January with the likes of Steven Pienaar and Nikica Jelavic brought in to the squad.

They have since gone on a run of seven league games unbeaten, a string of results that have also included consecutive home victories over Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City.

As for the Reds, their recent form has been one of struggle as just two wins from their last 11 league outings has left them well out of contention for a Champions League place and sitting in seventh.     Continue reading

2011/12 Carling Cup Final Preview

By Laurie Fitzgerald

Today the first domestic final of the English season takes place, as Liverpool and Cardiff City battle it out at Wembley stadium in the Carling Cup Final.

The Reds are firm favourites to win their eighth League Cup against Championship opponents that are competing in their first final in this competition.

But while Cardiff are familiar with the new Wembley after they lost in the 2008 FA Cup Final to Portsmouth, this is Liverpool’s first trip to the famous arena since it was rebuilt and opened back in 2007.

For Kenny Dalglish it’s a welcome return to a major cup final as Liverpool manager, his first in the Anfield hotseat since winning the all-Merseyside FA Cup Final back in 1989.   Continue reading

By Tony Alvarez
As you know both Laurie and I chose a team at the start of the Carlintg Cup and followed them throughout the competition if they lose we follow the team that beat them.
With only 4 sides left myself and Laurie both found ourselves with the same side Crystal Palace as you can see Laurie has already published a preview of that game and I’m sure you don’t want to read the same thing twice so I will look ahead to arguably the bigger clash of the two semi finals Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City vs Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool.

Continue reading

By Laurie Fitzgerald

12 months ago, Liverpool were a club in turmoil after undergoing severe problems both on and off the pitch.

A bitter takeover embroiled Anfield, with John W. Henry taking over from the despised fellow Americans of George Gillett and Tom Hicks.

Meanwhile, Liverpool were at the wrong end of the table as new manager Roy Hodgson was unable to turn their fortunes after they began to fade under previous boss Rafa Benitez.

But a new year brought new hope; with Henry’s takeover rubber stamped, he brought back the Kop’s prodigal son to try and revive the glory days on Merseyside.

Having won eight league titles and three European Cups in 14 years as a player and manager, Kenny Dalglish was re-appointed almost 20 years after he resigned.

After being given a contract until the end of the season, it soon became apparent that the Scot was the right appointment in the long-term.

Having been firmly consigned to the bottom half of the table, Dalglish guided the team on run that saw them move to the brink of an unlikely European spot.

The Reds went on 14-game run that saw them win ten and draw two matches to propel them within touchings distance of the Europa League.

Despite eventually missing out on Europe, a 6th placed finish was secured and the 60 year-old was rewarded with a three-year deal.

Now Dalglish has had almost a year to mould the squad in his image and the way he wants them to play, and there has been a marked improvement.

Gone is the one-dimensional style adopted under Hodgson of being well-organised but limited in an attacking approach.

Now Liverpool are dominating games with their constant pressing and high tempo that allows them to get on top of their opponents, as well as having the best defensive record in the top flight.

There was no need to make any changes in goal, with Pepe Reina one of the top goalkeepers in the Premier League.

Defensively there has been some re-adjusting; Jose Enrique has been brought in at left-back, while Martin Kelly has emerged from the academy to contest with Glen Johnson on the right.

At the heart of defence, both Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger have become first-choice centre-backs, whilst the experienced Jamie Carragher and new addition Sebastian Coates provide reliable cover.

The midfield has seen the biggest overhaul; out have gone the likes of Christian Poulsen and Joe Cole, and in have come the likes of Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson.

Possibly the best example of the improvement under Dalglish has been holding midfielder Lucas.

For two years the Brazilian was unable to win over the Kop faithful, looking unable to cope with the pace and physicality of England’s top flight.

However, in the last 12 months he has made a host of excellent performances to make him the heartbeat of the Liverpool side before being ruled out for the rest of the season with a cruciate knee ligament injury.

It is a problem that Dalglish will look to address in January, especially with their other midfield talisman in Steven Gerrard struggling with injury problems throughout 2011.

There has been investment within the flanks, with Stewart Downing and Craig Bellamy brought in to add width on the flanks, although Downing has found it difficult to maintain a regular place with the form of Maxi Rodriguez and the tireless Dirk Kuyt.

Up front has seen a big turnaround. Out went star man Fernando Torres and the less than prolific David N’Gog, and in came Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll for a combined total of £57 million.

This has seen differing returns though, as while Suarez has been a revelation in the no. 7 shirt, Carroll has been unable to live up to his £35 million price tag and settle into Liverpool’s style of play.

It has been the one aspect of Dalglish’s first year back in charge that has raised eyebrows – the money spent on the new additions.

The likes of Carroll, Henderson and Downing were brought into the club for over-inflated sums of money, and all have so far had mixed success.

But as with any major overhaul, time has to be given to the big-money arrivals before they are deemed a success or failure, especially when Henderson and Carroll are in their early twenties.

While the squad is in a far healthier state than it was before, the primary aim has to be getting back their place in the top four before ending their long wait for a 19th title.

If there’s one thing we can take from Dalglish’s second coming, it is that Liverpool are a lot closer to the glory days than they were a year ago.

By Laurie Fitzgerald

The racism row that has developed over the past week involving Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra threatens to develop into a worrying story.

Manchester United defender Evra has accused Liverpool striker Suarez of repeatedly using a racially abusive word during their clubs’ 1-1 draw at Anfield last weekend.

Suarez has vehemently denied the accusations, which the Football Association began to look into after Evra and United manager Sir Alex Ferguson asked for the alleged abuse to be put into the referee’s match report.

But the French left-back is adamant that he was a victim of repeated racism by the 24 year-old, and is continuing to press on with these allegations.

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has come out and backed his Uruguayan forward in light of the brewing controversy while the investigation by the FA continues.

It should be made clear at this point that there has been no evidence publicly produced to support either Evra’s claims nor Suarez’s pleads of innocence, so no-one can say that either of them are right or wrong at this stage.

However, what we can debate are the consequences for the person found to be the guilty party in this unwholly saga and the repercussions that should await them.

If Evra’s allegations are proven to be legitimate, then serious action should be taken against Suarez in racially abusing not just another professional, but ultimately another human being.

There is no excuse for that kind of mentality, and when you ply your trade in role which makes you impressionable to younger people, then the appropriate authorities within football need to make an example of Suarez.

Especially when you consider that English football has worked so hard in recent times to oust racism from the game by players and fans alike, highlighted by the ‘Kick Racism Out Of Football’ campaign.

So potential long-term bans and heavy fines would await Suarez if he is proven guilty – but if the allegations are proven false, then what does this mean for Evra?

Making a complaint of this nature about another person is an incredibly serious accusation to make, as this is the sort of stigma that can haunt someone for the rest of their careers.

Unless it is completely proven that Suarez did not use a racist term then the former Ajax star will always be viewed by some members of the public as a person that does not respect all forms of race.

For Evra to categorically stand by his original statement of the events means he must feel he has a viable case, but if it is proven that the 30 year-old has lied, then he needs to take responsibility for his own actions.

Both men can state their misunderstanding of the situation if proven to be in the wrong; Suarez can say he was mistranslated by Evra, and Evra can indicate that he misheard what was being said.

Until the FA have concluded their enquiries then we will not have a clear picture, only the word of the two individuals involved.

Whichever man is proven wrong though must know that the worst is yet to come.

So what do you think? Should either man be punished depending on the outcome of the allegations? Leave a comment and let us know your views.

By Laurie Fitzgerald

It says everything about the past 12 months in the career of Joe Cole that his loan move to Lille on transfer deadline day was not one of the biggest headlines.

Last summer the England midfielder was the prized Bosman transfer of the summer, with Arsenal and Tottenham battling for his services before Liverpool swooped to give Cole a three-year deal.

Many were hailing the East Londoner to spearhead a revival under new manager Roy Hodgson and bring better times back to Anfield.

But his league debut saw him given a straight red card against the Gunners, and unfortunately for Cole it only got worse from there.

Niggling injuries throughout the campaign didn’t help, but when he did get on the pitch he looked a shadow of the player that helped Chelsea to three Premier League titles.

Since the turn of the year and Hodgson’s departure from Merseyside, Cole started just three games – and two of those were in the Europa League.

So while better times have arrived at Anfield under Kenny Dalglish, it was not inspired by Cole, who knew he needed a fresh start to breathe new life into a faltering career.

Thankfully he may have found a place to do that in the unlikely setting of France with Lille.

At the age of 29, Cole could have taken the simple option of joining another Premier League club and go through the motions of a comfortable lifestyle he has grown used to.

Instead, by joining the French champions he is testing himself not only as a player but as a person who still has the desire to have more success within the game.

Having come through the ranks at West Ham, there has always been a perception that he has never wanted to stray too far from his London roots.

But by going to a new country with his young family and aiming to settle into a culture unfamiliar to him deserves great respect.

More importantly for a player with such gifted ability, he also has a platform to rediscover the talent that made him so important for both club and country.

Not only is he playing for a strong side in an underrated league, but he also has the added bonus of playing regularly in this year’s Champions League.

Last weekend saw Cole make his debut by coming on during his new team’s 3-1 win over St Etienne as he works his way up to full fitness after such insignificant playing time in 2011.

He still found the time to set up Ludovic Obraniak‘s goal that clinched the three points, and with confidence and match sharpness growing every week he can become the playmaker of this side if he rediscovers his best form.

Cole has already pointed out the difference in his new surroundings, saying, “There are a lot of things changing and it’s a big challenge. But every day I go into work, it becomes a little bit familiar and i think to myself ‘yeah, I’m in the right place here.'”

Hopefully by the end of the season, Cole will have proven to his doubters just how right his move to France proved to be.

So what do you think? Will Cole rediscover his best form in France? Leave a comment and let us know your views.

By Laurie Fitzgerald

This weekend sees the return of the biggest league in the world, and Shouts from the Stands is doing a club-by-club preview of all 20 teams in the Barclays Premier League.

Today, we look at Merseyside giants Everton and Liverpool, Martin Jol’s Fulham, and the Manchester duo of City and United:

Manchester United

Last season: 1st

Summer so far: Having secured their fourth title in five years, it has been a summer of many changes at Old Trafford, as Sir Alex Ferguson looks to build the latest United team of the future. The trio of Phil Jones, David de Gea and Ashley Young have an average age of 22 and an average price of £18 million, but it was needed following the departures of Paul Scholes, Edwin Van der Saar, Gary Neville, Wes Brown, John O’Shea and Owen Hargreaves. However, as their comeback win over Manchester City in Sunday’s Community Shield proved, United still remain the team to beat.

Transfers In: Ashley Young (Aston Villa) £16 million, Phil Jones (Blackburn Rovers) £18 million, David de Gea (Atletico Madrid) £20 million.

Transfers Out: Edwin Van der Saar (Retired), Paul Scholes (Retired), Owen Hargreaves (Unattached) Free, Wes Brown (Sunderland) £1 million, John O’Shea (Sunderland) Undisclosed, Nicky Ajose (Peterborough United) Undisclosed, Conor Devlin (Unattached) Free, Bebe (Besiktas) Loan, Ritchie De Laet (Norwich City) Loan, Ryan Tunnicliffe (Peterborough United) Loan, Scott Wootton (Peterborough United) Loan, Robbie Brady (Hull City) Loan, Joshua King (Borussia Monchengladbach) Loan

Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson – Superlatives don’t do the 69 year-old justice, so let the facts do that: 12 Premier League titles, two Champions League’s, five FA Cups and four League Cups in his quarter of a century in charge at Old Trafford. Having led United to become the most successful English team in history following their 19th title in May, the Scot takes his current squad into the new campaign as favourites to make it number 20.

Key Man: Wayne Rooney – Predictable yes, but the 25 year-old is now one of the more experienced men in the United squad following a raft of seasoned campaigners departing. After a difficult start to last season on and off the pitch, Rooney rediscovered his good form in the title run-in to help overcome the challenge of Chelsea. With Euro 2012 coming up at the end of the campaign, fans across the country will be observing the form of the influential forward with fervent interest.

 

Manchester City

Last season: 3rd

Summer so far: It wouldn’t be a usual summer at Eastlands without City spending a million or two. Stefan Savic joined from Partizan Belgrade, and Gael Clichy moved from Arsenal to Eastlands. The big signing though, was Atletico Madrid’s scoring sensation Sergio Aguero, who joined for a meagre £38 million. It remains to be seen though whether he is to partner or replace Carlos Tevez, who has made it clear he wants to leave Manchester to be closer to his family. His future could decide whether or not City became title contenders this season.

Transfers In: Gael Clichy (Arsenal) £7 million, Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid) £38 million, Stefan Savic (Partizan Belgrade) £6 million, Costel Pantilimon (Poli Timisoara) Undisclosed.

Transfers Out: Felipe Caicedo (Levante) £950,000, Patrick Vieira (Retired) Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich) Undisclosed, Shay Given (Aston Villa) £3.5 million, Jo (Internacional) Undisclosed.

Manager: Roberto Mancini – There was a huge pressure on Mancini to deliver last season with the aim of trophies and Champions League qualification, and he succeeded big time. A top-three finish and an FA Cup triumph that seemed their first silverware in 35 years answered the critics that felt his tactics were too negative to achieve success. Now with new reinforcements to an already strong squad, Mancini will be expected to push City onto another level.

Key Man: Yaya Toure – The Ivory Coast international is a great example of the modern-day midfielder. He can play the holding midfield role, as demonstrated during his successful time with Barcelona, and as he showed with City last year, the 28 year-old can also flourish in an attacking midfield role. His ability to get from box-to-box is down to his strength and deceptive pace. The performances in his debut season in England got better as the season progressed, typified by his tireless performance in the FA Cup semi-final win over Manchester United. With Tevez’s future up in the air, Toure will become the heart of City’s push for major honours.

 

Liverpool

Last Season: 6th

Summer so far: After a strong finish under the legend that is Kenny Dalglish and a host of big-name signings in 2011, optimism amongst the Kop faithful is at it’s highest since they launched a serious title push back in 2009. Money has been invested in key areas as well as potential, with big-money moves for 20 year-old Jordan Henderson and Aston Villa winger Stewart Downing. Charlie Adam could prove crucial in the heart of the midfield, while the deadwood such as Paul Konchesky and Milan Jovanovic have moved onto pastures new.

Transfers In: Jordan Henderson (Sunderland) £20 million, Charlie Adam (Blackpool) £7.5 million, Doni (Roma) Free, Stewart Downing (Aston Villa) £20 million.

Transfers Out: Paul Konchesky (Leicester City) Undisclosed, Milan Jovanovic (Anderlecht) Undisclosed.

Manager: Kenny Dalglish – Rightly regarded with a legendary status after his achievements as a player and manager at Anfield, there was only one man that John W. Henry could turn to when he ended Roy Hodgson’s disastrous spell in charge. He led the side from an unthinkable relegation battle to the brink of Europe, and did so by playing some wonderful free-flowing football. Now with Henry expecting a push for the top four, Dalglish has to deal with expectation rather than hope.

Key Man: Luis Suarez – The Uruguayan may have come to international prominence when he helped his country to fourth place in last year’s World Cup, but there were still doubts about the 24 year-old’s ability in a top league after scoring for fun with former club Ajax. But following his £22 million move in January, El Pistolero made an instant impression at Anfield, causing havoc for opposition defences. Having helped Uruguay win the Copa America this summer, Suarez and his partnership with Andy Carroll will be pivotal to Liverpool’s chances of Champions League qualification.

 

Fulham

Last Season: 8th

Summer so far: It’s difficult to do a preview for a team that began their season weeks ago, but Fulham’s early start in the Europa League didn’t make their summer any less eventful. Mark Hughes resigned as manager, much to the annoyance of owner Mohamed Al-Fayed, who then went about bringing in his first-choice as manager 12 months ago in Martin Jol. The Dutchman has acquired some unknown quantities, although he produced a smart signature in former Liverpool left-back John Arne Riise.

Transfers In: Dan Burn (Darlington) Undisclosed, Tom Donegan (Everton) Undisclosed, Csaba Somogy (Rakospalotai) Free, John Arne Riise (Roma) Undisclosed, Marcel Gecov (Slovan Liberec) Undisclosed, Pajtim Kasami (Palermo) Undisclosed.

Transfers Out: Zoltan Gera (West Brom) Free, Eddie Johnson (Unattached) Free, Diomansy Kamara (Eskisehirspor) Free, John Pantsil (Leicester City) Free, Matthew Saunders (Unattached) Free, Pascal Zuberbuhler (Unattached) Free, Kagisho Dikgacoi (Crystal Palace) Undisclosed, Jonathan Greening (Nottingham Forest) Undisclosed, David Stockdale (Ipswich Town) Loan

Manager: Martin Jol – The former Tottenham boss returns to England following a three-and-a-half year spell overseas with Hamburg and Ajax. He almost joined the Cottagers last year, but saw the move blocked by the Dutch club. Jol’s previous experience in the Premier League is good, helping transform Spurs from mid-table mediocrity to back-to-back top five finishes, and will be confident of guiding Fulham on from their top-eight finish last season.

Key Man: Bobby Zamora – Having had an outstanding 2009/10 season, Zamora had last campaign cruelly interrupted when he broke his leg following a tackle by Wolves midfielder Karl Henry. Now he’s recovered, the striker will be looking to carry on where he left off the season before last. His brilliant hold-up play and an ever-improving strike-rate in the top flight makes him imperative to Fulham’s cause.

 

Everton

Last Season: 7th

Summer so far: Different summer, same old story for David Moyes in the transfer market. With the resources limited as per usual, the Scot has missed out once again on his main targets suchg as Charles N’Zogbia. It means another season of getting the best out of what he’s got. Thankfully, Moyes has a squad with huge talent that can be a match for anyone on their day, although he’s faced a fight in keeping Phil Jagielka, after the club rejected a £10 million bid from Arsenal for their talismanic centre-half.

Transfers In: None

Transfers Out: James Vaughan (Norwich City) £2.5million, Iain Turner (Preston North End) Free, Kieran Agard (Yeovil Town) Free, Hope Akpan (Crawley Town) Free, John Nolan (Stockport County) Free.

Manager: David Moyes – The 48 year-old goes into his 11th season as manager at Goodison Park, a record only exceeded by Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger. However, he’s had to do things a little differently to the more illustrious duo, taking the Toffees from relegation strugglers to regular European contenders. It remains to be seen how long Moyes is willing to work under the continuous restrictions placed upon him by the board, but it hasn’t stopped him from becoming one of the most respected bosses around.

Key Man: Mikel Arteta – The Spaniard had a forgettable season last time around, with injuries and a loss of form hampering his campaign. But the 29 year-old goes into this season back to full fitness, and when the midfielder is pulling the strings for Everton, they can open up any side.

So what do you think? How will your team fare this season? Has your club strengthened well this summer? Let us know your thoughts.

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