Stuart Holden Returns to the Men’s National Team (by U.S. Soccer)
denim | #usmnt
our new signing dropped in to say hi :)
Face save is the best save
Welcome Back, Robbie
“You could see it on my face; I had a huge smile of enjoyment. Okay, I’m back, this is normal and very supportive. I keep saying the word: normal, normal, but it was. Once I got on and I saw the support, I just zoned in…It was good to be back and I’m excited to move on from here…I’ve kind of been on this huge journey trying to figure out my life. And now I’m back here. I think kind of where I’m supposed to be.”
On a night where the weight of history seemed overwhelming, the most remarkable part ended up being how unremarkable the entire moment seemed. Months after coming out of the closet and retiring from professional football, Robbie Rogers made his debut for the Los Angeles Galaxy in the 77th minute of Sunday’s match against the Seattle Sounders, becoming the United States’ first openly gay, male professional athlete. Robbie jogged onto the pitch to a chorus of support from the announcing crew and the Los Angeles crowd, who both recognized the significance of the moment, but just as quickly, the focus turned back to the game. It all seemed so normal.
@PReina25 - Pepe Reina official twitter account!
- Easy and very effective
- Requires nothing but your body
- Includes attack
Obligated to pass this on. Knowledge is power ladies
Kyriakos PAPADOPOULOS - Goals, Tackles, Passes - HD
To complete Liverpool’s defense for a few seasons to come, Liverpool are looking to sign Kyriakos Papadopoulos from Shalke 04 along with all the best clubs in Europe. This lad is an absolute beast for club and country, and any club that signs him will have one of the best young defenders in the world.
The Best of Kolo Toure - Welcome to Liverpool - excellent Youtube compilation of the man & football legend ready to be Liverpool’s new defender. To be honest, LFC couldn’t ask for a better replacement for Carragher. Toure has a wealth of experience only surpassed by his professionalism. YNWA
As the end of the Premier League season approaches, and as Liverpool are left with nothing to play for but pride in what has been a dismal league campaign; the focus of all those at the football club has turned to the summer transfer window. With glaring holes in the back four, holding midfield, and a lack of consistent quality, ever-ready within the current squad depth – Liverpool have a lot of work to do despite signing talent in Philippe Coutinho & Daniel Sturridge in January.
To go forward, often we must look back, and the same can be said for LFC who have felt the heat after 3 awful summer transfer windows, that have resulted in world class players being replaced by those who are mediocre in comparison. Alonso. Arbeloa. Mascherano. Benayoun. Kuyt. Torres. Rodriguez. Meireles. Aurellio. Babel: have won 64 major honors between them. Add in the retirement of Sami Hyppia, who won 12 honors throughout his career, and that number goes up to 76 trophies leaving Liverpool since 2009.
Their replacements by comparison in Aquilani, Jovanovic, Poulson, Konchesky, Downing, Henderson, Carroll, Coates, Allen, and Borini have a combined trophy tally of only 27.Ten trophies come from Christian Poulson who won 5 trophies with Sevilla in 2007. Eight of that number comes from Milan Jovanovic, whom won 6 trophies in the Belgian Pro League during his time with Standard Liege & R.S.C. Anderlecht.
If Liverpool’s 2012 League Cup win and Christian Poulson’s tally are excluded, only 4 trophies can be claimed from Europe’s top 5 leagues between 10 players.
The opposite can be said for the first group of players who collected a staggering 53 of 76 trophies within Europe’s top 5 leagues. Alonso, Torres, and Arbeloa have won a World Cup and are twice European Champions with Spain. Javier Mascherano was a part of Barcelona’s incredible quintuple in the 2011 season. With the exception of Maxi Rodriguez & Fabio Aurellio who have gone home to their respective countries in South America – all of that group of players are still striving for the highest standard at some of the best football clubs in the world.
Coupled with the inevitable aging of Steven Gerrard & Jamie Carragher, it’s easy to see how Liverpool has suffered its recent decline.
There has been much talk about how Liverpool went from Champions League semi finalists and 4 points from a Premier League title to 8th place 2 years later. A failed ownership. A managerial turnstile. A poor scouting network. Sure. But the failure to replace top talent is the real reason that Liverpool have suffered while new rivals have emerged in Tottenham and Manchester City. The validity of this argument is proved with Chelsea who have had 7 managers since 2007, but have won the Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League since then, despite having their fair share of controversy.
The players are the petrol. They power the engine that fills stadiums, pockets, and hearts. It’s players that Liverpool need to reach the pinnacle of the game once again, not speeches, tv specials, or second chances. You cannot replace proven players of world class caliber with unproven players that are merely have the potential to be great. Perhaps, in years past, this was true. But in a football climate currently dominated by money and short attention spans – keeping up is everything.
Liverpool are at a disadvantage compared to other top European clubs. They play in the Barclay’s Premier League where the competition for Champions League places has truly been whittled down to 1 open spot. Manchester United will qualify as long as Fergie is breathing. They win games before a ball is kicked, much like Liverpool did in the 70s and 80s. Chelsea have too much money to fail for more than one season, Roman Abramovich sees to that. The only hope for football purists is that he gets bored soon and sells the club – this may only happen if he goes through the remaining 4 managers in Europe he hasn’t driven from CFC, and would actually want to deal with him. Manchester City have more money than fathomable, they aren’t going away unless FIFA actually enforces FIFA Financial Fair Play – which seems to only apply to poor clubs who don’t pay their wages in the first place.
That leaves a single place for Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham & whoever else is having a good season to fight over in order to be in Europe’s premier club competition. At the risk of sounding like a spoiled, whiney child: it’s not fair. But it’s reality. So Liverpool, like all Premier League clubs have to deal with it. Lucky for Liverpool, LFC is an established club. We have a fan base that will never go away, therefore guaranteed revenue. We have a history that will always attract quality players, so we don’t have to deal with the rollercoaster of relegation. Liverpool fans by nature are always looking up at a golden sky, and our club being the best again is always on our minds. We’ve only began to look down again as others around us cast their shadow. With Tottenham, Manchester City, and Chelsea annually acting on ambition, spending millions on players at the drop of the hat; Liverpool will have to sign talent on integrity, and get rid of players who do not perform.
Xabi Alonso and Christian Eriksen are two players everyone wants at Anfield next season. If Eriksen doesn’t arrive, predict a riot, because there will be one from Liverpool fans across the globe. Ian Ayre & co should be doing whatever they can to sign the talented want-away Ajax star. If Xabi Alonso came back to Liverpool, he would be welcomed with open arms. Liverpool is craving consistency above all else, and no one can ever doubt Xabi Alonso’s quality. He is often the very first name on Jose Mourinho’s team sheet at Madrid, as he was for Liverpool, and the same can be said for La Seleccion. Alonso manages the game from the first whistle to the last, and controls the ebb and flow of momentum in a way that is worthy of the FIFA World XI.
After sorting out the attack in January, and hopefully the midfield with the aforementioned players – Liverpool also desperately need to plug the gaps in defense. Far too many goals have been let in from simple defensive errors. An errand backpass. A missed marking assignment from open play and set pieces. A simple offside trap squandered, resulting in a 1 v 1 with the keeper, which many teams have finished against Liverpool this campaign.
There is a strong argument that the midfield is not offering the back four the kind of protection they need to be solid throughout. This is also glaringly apparent when playing with two wingbacks in Glen Johnson & Jose Enrique. When a player sees number 3 or number 2 storming up in front of them, they should instinctively know that there are only two players behind them to defend a swift counter attack. Other than set pieces, Liverpool have conceded a majority of goals this season from counter attacking play, against the games’ momentum.
Martin Skrtel has repaid the signing of a new long term deal at Anfield by, quite frankly, playing awful. This is worrying as he was Liverpool’s player of the season in 2012. He seems to have lost some pace, but has also made some glaring errors in defense. Bad mistakes. Poor on set pieces. Holding players onside. He’s cost us more goals than anyone, resulting in Jamie Carragher being restored to a starting centre back role. Skrtel isn’t the only one. Carragher is aging, and has lost that half step that has allowed him to make tackles of legend in the past. His lack of playing time early on in the season has seen him have to shake off some of the rust. Daniel Agger has been average all year. He has been healthy. He has been better than Skrtel, but Agger is not on form, and Liverpool desperately need him to be excellent at the moment. Coates is missing. Apart from hanging out with Lucas and Luis Suarez – he’s only made 10 total appearances in four competitions this season. Only three of those games have come in the league.
Some would argue that apart from a quality goalkeeper, an ultra reliable centre back is the rarest commodity in the game. Spurs have benefited from signing Jan Vertonghen in the summer; he has easily been their best player apart from Gareth Bale. Spurs have always scored goals, but they also conceded them until this season. Liverpool will truly be ruing a missed opportunity in not signing that player, especially as Spurs will look on to qualify for the Champions League next season, appeasing the player’s ambition. Without some miracle, Liverpool will not be able to say the same.
I am not afraid to admit that I haven’t had time to do the research on which quality centre back Liverpool should sign next season. I’m not just going to throw names out there everyone else is saying. I don’t believe in that sort of compromising of integrity, if I suggest someone, then I believe the club should sign them tomorrow. What I will say, is that whoever we sign must have three qualities. They have to have pace – Brendan Rodgers style leave us open on the counter attack. We need a centre back that’s able to recover. Martin Skrtel can’t do that, neither can Jamie Carragher, or Coates – it’s a main reason we’ve been conceding goals this year. It’s not enough for only Agger to be able to keep pace with a striker because Enrique and Johnson are halfway up the pitch.
They have to be able to contain, and tackle without fouling. It’s a given. However, if you look at the goals Liverpool have been conceding this year, defensive positioning has been dismal. Despite no new players adding to the back four, the chemistry between Agger, Skrtel, Carragher, Johnson, and Enrique has been terrible. Martin Kelly’s injury has had a big impact, because he’s a consistent player that offers another option. It is rumored that he may be given Jamie Carragher’s iconic number 23 next season. A lot of missed tackles have resulted in the defense being caught out, and an opposing team gaining an advantage on the break.
The most important quality of any footballer is their decision making ability. It only takes one second to win or lose a game, and the stakes aren’t any higher than at the centre back position. Go left, go right, push up, move back, risk a yellow card – or not. By nature, defenders are at a disadvantage, because they are continually reacting to the opposition with no room for expression. Attackers are the creative ones, defenders try to crush their muse. Often the center defenders are the smartest players on the pitch because usually they are facing opposition who are better on the ball, and faster. Being intelligent is their only advantage, other than brute strength; if a player relies on the later they will concede fouls, earn cards, get sent off, and plateau their level of football before the elite level. Liverpool need to find themselves an elite centre back, or one who has the mental and physical discipline to keep pace with the Premier League.
The lack of being able to build through midfield, and dominate the center of the pitch, coupled with gaps in Liverpool’s defense see them losing against West Brom, Swansea, Stoke, Aston Villa, Oldham, and Southampton. Drawing games instead of winning, after conceding poor goals. All the while, dominating possession in every match played so far this season. Another glaring factor is Liverpool also aren’t physically dominant, in a physically dominant league.
Some teams get by in the Premier League on their physicality alone, being able to run 90 minutes, go shoulder to shoulder, win headers, and create space by shielding and using their bodies, etc. Liverpool have the youngest squad in the Premier League with an average age of just over 23; at one point at the start of the season, 5 teenagers were rotating in and out of the starting squad. Players like Joe Allen, Suso, and Sterling are still growing into their bodies. Andre Wisdom has really only become a beast of man-child in the last year, and is also working on body control, along with Henderson. Being able to deal with 90 minutes of physical play is something that Liverpool has struggled with all season.
Liverpool will never settle for 8th place, or 5th really. Fourth is a consolation prize for a club that will always want to win the league. We came close in 2009, but after that our quality of play has sadly dissipated. What happened? We did not replace our star players, and our rivals have become stronger. This has resulted in poor league form.
The key is players. The last two seasons have been an opportunity to reflect on what has made us so strong in the past. The quality of players is everything in football. Very rarely is there a player who has their best game every single game. Liverpool want players whose average game is still better than almost anyone else. The only way to get back to that point is to win games. The only way to win games is to plug holes. The only way to plug holes in the grind of a 4 competition, 9 months season, is to sign great players – the cycle begins again. Liverpool have a chance this summer to change their cycle; if we spend the money, and sign the quality of players the club needs to qualify for the Champions League outright – LFC will start a cycle of domination once again.
Incredible Mural of Jerzy Dudek’s incredible save on Andriy Shevchenko in Istanbul 2005
Some would say Liverpool won the game in that moment. Certainly, it was the greatest game ever played.