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Archive for February, 2011

I joined just over 3,000 fans at the Racecourse ground for this match, although I am not an official Wrexham fan, I still cheer for the home side like any other, wishing them to do well.

I decided before I left that I would write a match report for this game, little did I know I would happen upon one of the most eventful games I can ever remember, goals galore and almost as much action off the pitch as on it.

I’ll start by apologising for the length of this post, match reports aren’t normally this long but being as this game was so eventful, I felt the whole story needed to be told.

After seven straight wins expectation was high going into the double header against Crawley, but despite arguably being the better side over the two matches the dragons only took 1 point.

That leads us to todays match against Gateshead, the home side make two changes, Marvin Andrews comes in at centre back for Frank Sinclair and the hugely influential Jay Harris returns after suspension to replace Jamie Tolley. 

Wrexham (4-3-3) – Maxwell, McMillan, Ashton, Andrews, Creighton, Blackburn, Harris, Keates (C), Morrell, Mangan, Pogba. SUBS – Taylor, Sinclair, Cieslewicz, Tolley, Knight-Percival

Gateshead (4-4-2) – Deasy, Tavernier, Liddle, Curtis, Clark (C), Brittain, Nelthorpe, Turnbull, Gate, Fisher, Shaw. SUBS – Farman, Baxter, Winn, Wake, Gillies

Gateshead kicked off and before Wrexham had even touched the ball it was 1-0, Shaw appeared on the left hand side of the 18 yard box, tried a cross which came back off Andrews and he rifled it inside Maxwell’s near post with only 23 seconds gone. 1-0.

After nine minutes Wrexham have a corner which Keates plays low to the edge of the box but Harris puts it just over.

Wrexham are piling on the pressure now after 11 minutes Mangan coming in from the left wing teases the full back but his shot is deflected behind, from the resulting corner Andrews has a free header which he crashes against the crossbar.

However one minute later Wrexham equalise, a scramble after a corner and Keates slides a ball through to Mangan who in turn squares it to Morrell for an easy finish.

An eventful game is being almost overshadowed by an organised protest over the ownership of the club and ground, read more about that here.

With just 15 minutes on the clock its 2-1 to the away side, Wrexham fail to clear their lines which results in a tap in for Nathan Fisher.

Things go from bad to worse with a Brittain cross being handled in the area by the much maligned Andrews, Brittain stepped up to make it 3-1 to Gateshead.

The dragons had a chance on 21 minutes when Morrell received the ball inside the area, a clever turn but sadly a tame shot which was easily saved.

Wrexham seem to be doing a lot good work but for no return, a good move involving Keates and Blackburn sees the ball end up with Morrell, but his square ball is agonisingly out of the reach of Pogba.

Almost unbelievably after 32 minutes it becomes 4-1, a good run by Gate finds him free in the box and a quick square ball leaves Fisher with the easiest of chances to double his tally for the game.

The game quietens down for a while with chances being scarce before a hopeful cross by Tavernier into Wrexham’s area gets left by all defenders and Nelthorpe runs in unchallenged at the back post to make it 5-1.

As the board comes up saying 3 minutes extra to play Pogba starts a run from well inside his own half and takes a shot from all of 25 yards but just over.

Phil Turnbull tries the same from the opposite side with a little more success forcing a great save from Chris Maxwell, the resulting corner being cleared off the line by McMillan.

At half time it’s Wrexham 1 – 5 Gateshead.

A change of formation by Saunders at half-time as well as two substitutions, Tolley on for Pogba and Sinclair comes on for Blackburn as Wrexham start with a 3-5-2.

Four minutes in and Wrexham have a good chance, Ashton with a long ball into the box, which is knocked down by Morrell for Tolley to half-volley, but it was straight at Deasy in goal.

On 51 minutes Gateshead thought they had their sixth goal when Sinclair turned in a Brittain cross only for it to be given offside as Shaw was running ahead of him.

After an hour the demonstrations against the owners step up a gear, banners being waved with messages against the owners (this comes after an official notice on the Wrexham website banning negative banners) it seems to have been organised but I’m sure the score line wasn’t helping.

This clip doesn’t show it that well but you get the idea..

[kyte.tv appKey=MarbachViewerEmbedded&uri=channels/377163&tbid=1284&p=p/3498&height=399&width=416]

Wrexham have been far better this half and a chance is created when Sinclair puts a good cross in for Mangan but his header is weak and easily saved.

But just one minute later the fight back is on, a high cross into the area looks to be comfortable for the keeper but he drops it under the pressure of Taylors challenge and Tolley pokes it in to make it 5-2.

However any chance of that fight back is short-lived as Wrexham continue to fall apart, on 72 minutes a free-kick on the touchline is whipped in by Brittain and Shaw has a free header to make it 6-2.

Wrexham’s indiscipline starts to show as two quick yellow cards are issued, Sinclair for dissent and Ashton for a bad challenge on Brittain. The free-kick is played in and finds its way back out to Brittain who places a cross perfectly on the head of Shaw, he is unmarked to complete his hat-trick and make it 7-2.

Wrexham continue to make chances and on 83 minutes Morrell is put clean through by Keates but is stretching for it and Deasy makes a good save.

There are no more goals but as the board goes up to show two minutes of injury time the demonstrations step up another level as around 40-50 fans storm the director’s box to show their dissatisfaction with the owners. The stewards quickly step in and peace is restored.

The final whistle sounds and the game finishes 7-2 to Gateshead, talking to the assembled press nobody can remember Wrexham ever conceding seven at home before so this was a new record.

The protests continued outside the ground for a while after the game and lots of police turned up to make sure nothing got out of hand, it was a peaceful (but very loud) protest and eventually it all calmed down.

Needless to say it was one of the most astonishing games I have ever seen and I am privileged to have witnessed it, even if the result wasn’t what I, nor the 3,000 others at the racecourse wanted to see.

Man of the match: Martin Brittain, 1 goal and 4 assists showing a class above this league.

Marcus J Mitchell.

Here are highlights courtesy of the Wrexham Supporters Trust

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A match that will live on in the memory, not for the brilliance of Spurs, but for the ineptitude of the referee, the frequent moments of rage, idiocy and finally the total lack of respect for the opponents – and, in particular, the Gattuso headbutt on Tottenham’s Assistant Manager Joe Jordan. A physical attack that, had it happened on the street, would be a matter for the police.

Regardless of the outcome of the second leg, the Spurs players can hold their heads high, as can the manager Harry Redknapp – a manager not renowned for his Champions League tactical mastery. The performance of his team, the organisation and discipline, the level-headed reaction to the Italian intimidation. They didn’t flinch from a plan.

For all his hot-headed idiocy, Gattuso’s major flaw was his weakness tactically. Compare the central midfielders positional discipline. Sandro and Palacios were perfect, looking at the Gattuso/Thiago Silva partnership you can see the pair drifting toward Van Der Vaart, nullifying the threat and distribution to the attacking trio for AC Milan of Robinho, Ibrahimovic and Seedorf/Pato.

The organisation down both flanks was also a crucial factor. Lennon/Corluka and Pienaar/Assou-Ekotto were both positionally outstanding and Lennon especially caused Antonini major problems down the right hand side.

Spurs’ domination was highlighted, rather surprisingly, in a goalless 1st half. AC Milan didn’t have one shot on target and couldn’t even force a corner. This led to Pato replacing Seedorf in the 2nd half to try and influence Milan’s threat going forward. The away side were unlucky not to score and territorial advantage was frustrating much of AC Milan’s possession advantage.

The passing chart below shows the possession, as expected, was edged by the home side, but it was the diagonal, middle-range, cross field balls looking for Crouch who regularly pulled off to the right to challenge Nesta, and Van Der Vaart was looking for the knock down, as was new signing Pienaar. The ability of Modric to keep the ball was an ideal substitution for ‘Arry’s team to play out the final 10 mins, and again could’ve been a factor in Gatusso losing his head at the final whistle.

Well played Spurs, and when AC Milan arrive at White Hart Lane, the Serie A leaders will have to take the game to Tottenham, and this could play right into Redknapp’s plans as they will have Bale and Modric starting, providing more opportunities for the counter-attacking pace of Lennon, Defoe and maybe Crouch.

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Lawrence Donegan, writing about the Dubai Desert Classic, and the hype-fuelled, crowd-pleasing, three-ball of Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood and Tiger Woods, claims,

…if Thursday’s three-ball will inevitably fall short of expectations it should still provide a fascinating snapshot of where golf’s balance of power lies, particularly in relation to Kaymer, who many people believe is the best player in the world…

Does he have the game, and the fortitude, to withstand the scrutiny? If he does the answer is yes, and if he can go on to win the tournament on Sunday, then not even Martin Kaymer will be able to deny that Martin Kaymer is the best golfer in the world.

Well, Martin Kaymer might not deny it, but I will. Winning the Dubai Desert Classic – even if you do spend the first two rounds with Westwood and Woods, playing in front of a huge golfing galleries, the focus of all the media attention and scrutiny – does not make you the best player in the world.

Here is the current ranking,

Lee Westwood, golf’s current World Number 1. Well played Lee, you might say. Not me. How can a player who’s finished second in the last 43 major championships (or an equivalent record similar to our other recent sporting runner-up Tartan Tim) be classed as the best player in the world? Westwood even spent months on the sidelines injured. An injury that ruled him out of the final major championship of last year, the USPGA, a withdrawal that didn’t seem to have a negative impact on his charge to the top of the rankings. In fact, the injury, the six-week lay off before the end of last season (after his brief cameo at the Ryder Cup) and his consistent approach to not winning a major title, seemed to cement his place at the top of the golfing world. But how can this be I hear you cry? Well, let’s take a look at how the ranking system works,

The World Ranking Points for each player are accumulated over a two year “rolling” period with the points awarded for each event maintained for a 13-week period to place additional emphasis on recent performances – ranking points are then reduced in equal decrements (of 1/92nd of the original amount)  for the remaining 91 weeks of the two year Ranking period.  Each player is then ranked according to his average points per tournament, which is determined by dividing his total number of points by the tournaments he has played over that two-year period. There is a minimum divisor of 40 tournaments over the two year ranking period and a maximum divisor of a player’s last 58 events.

The winners of the Masters Tournament, the US Open Championship, the Open Championship and the PGA Championship are awarded 100 points (60 points for 2nd place, 40 for 3rd, 30 for 4th down to 1.50 points for a player completing the final round), and the winner of the Players Championship is awarded 80 points (points are awarded down to 1.20 points for 60th place and ties).

Pretty simple stuff? Hmmm… Ranking reward, for consistency, seems to be the jist of the above equation. A noble, but still counter-productive system that allows a player to repeatedly finish second or third, but still claim the top spot. Take a look at Westwood’s 2010 record for yourself,

You can’t beat the Nedbank or the St Jude. A barrage of top five finishes. However, the true test of golfing superiority has to be the major championships, and Westwood throughout his whole career, hasn’t won a single one. But as the world rankings suggest, is still considered to be the best player in the world.

I’m a huge fan of Lee Westwood. His first Ryder Cup outing with Nick Faldo in 1997, his incredibly successful pairing with Sergio Garcia in 2002 at the Belfry, his recent performance in helping the Europeans defeat the Yanks in Wales at the Celtic Manor (again after a period off with a calf injury) all contribute to my support. But what has always struck me, and I hope I’m proved wrong this season, is his ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Go over the number of  ‘close run things’ that have contributed to Westwood’s ranking success. In the majority of his runner-up major championship finishes, he’s had the chance to win. A steady back nine or a decent 18th hole tee shot. A regulation par, a cool head or a five iron straight down the middle would have secured victory. He didn’t. He found a way not to win. Because, as the rankings suggest, winning major titles isn’t everything in golf.

Am I being too harsh on Westwood? Maybe, and like I said above, I hope I’m proved embarrassingly wrong this season (and I’ll be the first person to print off this article, put it between two slices of wholemeal bread, and eat it, if he does claim a major victory.) Let’s consider tennis for moment, do you think it would ever happen that a player could climb to the top of the world rankings without winning one of the four major titles? No. So am I being harsh? Probably not.

As for Kaymer, he actually won a major championship, the USPGA title last August, so he would have more of a valid claim at being the best player in the world than Westwood. However, a bizarre sequence of events led to his victory.

The finale will be remembered for the controversy that befell Dustin Johnson.

Leading by one going down the last, the 26-year-old carved his tee shot into the crowd on the right, before grounding his club as he addressed his second shot on a patch of trampled sand.

Johnson explains the misdemeanour in more detail,

It never once crossed my mind I was in a sand trap, said Johnson, who led the US Open by three shots going into the final round at Pebble Beach in June, only to crash to a round of 82.

The only worse thing that could have happened is if I had made that putt on the final hole.

I just thought I was on a piece of dirt where the crowd had trampled it down. Obviously I know I can’t ground my club in a bunker but I should have looked at the rules sheet a little closer.

Stupid or naive? Well, considering

…the PGA of America put a notice in the locker room all week to remind players that every patch of sand was to be treated as a bunker regardless of its location

I’d say idiotic.

So Kaymer won his only major title by way of Mr Dustbinhead Johnson forgetting the rules? Not quite, but if a player can’t judge between a grassy patch of dirt that looks like sand or a sandy patch of grass that looks like dirt – then I for one would be claiming it the United States Professional Golf Association Major Default Championship #1. So that rules Kaymer out of world number one reckoning.

Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer I’ve ever seen. Will we ever see him rise to great heights of holding all four major championships at once, a feat referred to as the ‘Tiger Slam’ (insert your infidelity jokes as you please), I’m not so sure. I heard him on the radio today stating he no longer spends as much time on the practice ground – and that what time he does, is ‘focused’ and ‘more intense’ than his old sessions. That worries me. He now spends the majority of his time, since his new found love of all things moral, with his children. Good on Tiger. If he quits now, he’ll be regarded as the second best player of all-time. I can’t, with the drive and desire, the sheer single-minded domination and breathtaking skill the man has shown over the last 15 years, believe that he will quit until he’s overturned or equalled Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championship wins. The only thing stopping Tiger from completing his dream, is Tiger himself. If any sporting legend can spend less time practicing and still succeed, I dare to say it’s Tiger Woods. He is golf’s real number one.

*On a side note, if Tiger returns to the porn scene and forgets all about the game of golf, there are a few (other than Westwood and Kaymer) who could challenge this season.

Ricky Fowler was impressive in the Ryder Cup and on the US Tour last year, and as an outside pick, is one to watch.

Graeme McDowell, who had the bottle to sink the winning putt at The Ryder Cup, and claim the first European victory at the US Open since 1740, deserves a special mention.

Only an idiot would discount Phil Mickleson from being ranked number one at the end of 2011, so I’ll say he’s got no chance.

But if I had £10 to spare and I wasn’t allowed to pick Tiger Woods, I’d spend my hard-earned currency on Rory McIlroy to be World Number 1 at the end of the season. He’s probably the only player, ability-wise, who worries Tiger. He’s got it all, he can construct shots from nowhere, shape the ball both ways, brilliant touch around the greens – but has he got the bottle? The upcoming 2011 golf season will certainly give us the evidence to decide whether he’s the next Tiger Woods or the new Lee Westwood.

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-GUEST POST-

Andy Murray, touted by many as the best British tennis player since Fred Perry, recently lost his third Grand Slam final without winning a single set, with a staggering set aggregate score of 9-0 over the three finals! Considering Murray’s recent form against Djokovic, having won the last three meetings, it appeared the Scot would certainly see his best chance of being the first Brit to lift a Grand Slam title since Fred Perry way back in 1936. However, it seems Andy suffers from the British disease of ‘lost bottle’. Perhaps not to that scale of the English football team but nevertheless he clearly lacks the ‘big game mentality’ required to be a world beater. It would seem he has the bottle of everyone’s favorite snooker loser, poor old Jimmy White. Murray, despite his youth, is in danger of becoming ‘poor old Andy Murray’ unless he can grow himself a set of balls (excuse the pun), man up and realise his potential.

How? Maybe Boris Becker hit the nail on the head by suggesting he needs a mentor. Boris should know, having won 49 titles in an illustrious career whilst still finding time to pose nude and have sex in cupboards. Maybe he needs to develop a personality! Poor Murray has the charisma of a lettuce leaf, a soggy one at that, but that’s him, could he change that? Sure he seems relaxed, but surely that’s a front? The frustration is immense and I do feel that if (when???) he finally breaks his duck, the Grand Slam titles will be flowing his way.

He certainly looks moody enough so maybe he should swear more, a la McEnroe, channel his aggression on to his opponent and the umpire, and anyone else who stands in his way! Attempt to scare the opposition into losing! If a player is confident he will have an aura around him, he lacks swagger and arrogance which all sporting greats have. Watch Federer stroll on to the court and you know he means business. He wins because he ‘knows’ he is the best, not because he ‘thinks’ he’s pretty good and might have a chance.

Murray looks uncomfortable and ill-fitting when he ambles on to Centre Court. The boy’s certainly not pretty enough either. Maybe he should channel his aggression in the gym, I know he’s beefed up a bit but he’s no Adonis, no Rafa Nadal! And that hair….. Need I say any more? Maybe its the pressure of his mother Judy turning up every time! Remember your first school play? I think I was a shepherd. One thing I am sure of is that I was shit! Desperate to impress my parents, all ending in the inevitable ‘Nevermind, we still love you Son.’

Murray claims he doesn’t care if he’s labelled a ‘bottler’ but the longer he goes without a Grand Slam title the more infamous he will become as the nearly man of tennis, sure he’s better than Henman ever was, but is that something to be proud of? On a positive note Agassi and Ivanisevic lost their 1st 3 Grand Slam finals and that didn’t seem to do them any harm (Ivanisevic won his fourth and last final, beating Pat Rafter after disposing of Henman in the semi, so perhaps not a great example) and Ivan Lendl lost his first 4 and then went on to win an impressive 8, nobody will remember him as a ‘bottler’!

In conclusion, it seems, Mr. Murray needs a new gym membership, a few sunbed sessions, to wear more vests, more aggression, a personality transplant and to tell his mother to politely ‘do one!’. I pray, for his own sanity, that he can take heed of this advice and maybe invest in an Adam Sandler box set to cheer himself up. Relax, stop taking yourself so seriously and, most importantly, WIN (a Grand Slam title!)
By Shaun Hurley

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When we started this blog we wanted it to be a sports blog covering lots of different sports, so far we have covered football, tennis, snooker and cricket, there are other sports we intend to write about to keep this as varied as possible. We were also very careful to make sure this does not become a blog about Liverpool FC, there are plenty of LFC blogs out there and even we don’t want to have another one, however myself and George are both fans of Liverpool so it is inevitable that we are sometimes going to write about the club that we love (even our one guest post was by a Liverpool fan about Liverpool FC).

But at least this is a positive post as opposed to my last article about the Liverpool management which was posted on December 30. I wrote it in the aftermath of a 1-0 home loss to Wolves and begged for Roy Hodgson to either resign or be fired, Liverpool were languishing in 12th place and a relegation battle was a very real possibly, the league table tells it’s own story…

Then on 8th January every LFC fan got their wish, Roy Hodgson was sacked, to make the news even sweeter Kenny Dalglish was handed the task of turning this dismal season around. His first game in charge was the small matter of Manchester United at old Trafford in The F.A Cup, we lost 1-0 but the signs were encouraging. Then it was a trip to Blackpool who had turned us over at Anfield 2-1, a great start by LFC was rewarded with a brilliant Torres goal after 2 minutes, things were looking good for about another 5 minutes before the inevitable happened, LFC couldn’t take the game to the opposition and Blackpool capitalised, scoring twice before half time and holding on for their second 2-1 victory over Liverpool this season.

Were things changing though? Was Kenny’s influence starting to show? Were Liverpool beyond help? All good questions and you felt some would be answered at Anfield on Sunday 16th January (my 32nd birthday incidentally) when we faced Everton.

Only 10 minutes in I knew I was watching a different team, aesthetically they were the same as before but you could feel something different, it was like they had a new focus, a new enthusiasm, a new mentality, Kenny’s presence was starting to be a factor. Liverpool took the lead mid-way through the first half with a great strike by Meireles, his first LFC goal. It looked as though a victory was a formality but 1 minute into the 2nd half Distin scored from a corner, 6 minutes later Beckford scored (which was Ben Thornley’s fault!) and that gave Everton the lead, fortunately we were awarded a penalty from which Kuyt made it 2-2 and that is how it stayed. I said after the game that I would still have been happy even if Liverpool had lost as it was just so nice to see them playing well again.

Now what Kenny needed was a win and that was delivered only 6 days later with a very comfortable victory over Wolves at Molineux, it was a fantastic performance with one of the goals of the season from the ever improving Meireles. The game was overshadowed somewhat by the controversy surrounding the female assistant referee, Sian Massey and the comments made by Sky Sports presenter and commentator, Richard Keys and Andy Gray, I am not commenting on it,  just making reference to the fact it was at that game where the incident occurred.

Suddenly the table started to make better reading…

 

Obviously 10th is unacceptable, but it was unthinkable 3 weeks earlier.

Next game was home to Fulham, it wasn’t a great performance but enough was done to secure a 1-0 win, back to back victories and back to back clean sheets, the Steve Clarke effect was being felt as much as the Kenny Dalglish effect.

In between the Fulham match and the upcoming Stoke match was the end of the transfer window, I have already posted about it before so won’t go into it again, highlights were…Torres went to Chelsea, we got Carroll and Suarez, I am happy with it as are plenty of LFC fans.

Back to Stoke, we had been fundamently outplayed by Stoke in November and needed to keep this run going to banish the memories of that defeat, another goal from Meireles and a debut goal from Suarez coming off the bench meant a 2-0 win for LFC and another clean sheet.

This brings us to our last game before this post was written, Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, the hype surrounding Torres was crazy, will he play? Won’t he play? Will he score? Will Carragher try to break his legs? In the end only one of these things happened, he played, well…sort of, 65 minutes of anonymity and he was substituted. Meireles was the hero once again as he pounced on a Cech error to score and Liverpool held on for a fantastic 1-0 win.

For the record that is now four wins from four, two home and two away, with no goals conceded, the instant impact that Dalglish is having is in such contrast to the negative, boring football employed by Hodgson, I like Hodgson the man, but he was the wrong man for this job and proved it so.

So exactly one month after Daglish was appointed and was asked “Do you think you can get Liverpool out of this relegation battle they are heading for?” he now gets asked the question “Do you think you can make the Champions league places?” Here is the current league table that proves the impact Kenny has had…

More enjoyable though than moving up the table and keeping clean sheets is the way LFC are playing, I have spent a long, long time watching Liverpool matches on TV and thinking ‘this is awful, I want to change the channel’ I never do and just endure the boredom. Not now though, now watching Liverpool is fun again, you can see how much the players are enjoying it, how much the Anfield faithful are enjoying it, you can even see how much Kenny Dalglish is enjoying it, and all of this has happened in just…. one month.

Roy Hodgson said during one of the darker times of his tenure that you need “plenty of time to get a new managers methods across”

No you don’t, you need to understand the club, understand how to handle the players, be tactically astute against other clubs, know how to speak to the media, know how to buy a player that will enhance the squad (that is not a dig at Konchesky, he always tried his best, its just his best wasn’t enough) but most importantly, you need to know you are manager of Liverpool Football Club…

…and that is something Kenny Dalglish definitely understands.

Marcus J Mitchell.

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-GUEST POST-

Being a lifelong Liverpool fan it’s been heart breaking watching their recent demise. I have spent many a sleepless night analysing the reasons of this dramatic fall from grace, and I know most of you reading this will be thinking one of three things, the sale of the club to the money hungry Americans, the crazy philosophies of Rafa Benitez or the unfortunate appointment of ‘Mr Nice Guy’ Roy Hodgson. All plausible and possible reasons, but I have looked deeper than this. Think back to the great Liverpool teams of the 70’s and 80’s. Picture these Liverpool greats; Keegan, Toshack, Rush, Souness, McDermott, Johnston, Lawrenson and Dalglish. Maybe not that much in common you may think! But now picture these current Liverpool players; Reina, Konchesky, Skrtel, Shelvey, Spearing, Meireles, Ngog and Babel. For those of your who haven’t realised the significant difference between these two groups of people it is very simple….. HAIR!

Not in my memory has a Liverpool team been so low down in the league. Is it a coincidence that I have also not seen a Liverpool team with so little hair? I think not! The awesomeness of Keegan’s perm, the sheer brilliance of McDermott and Sourness’s hair ‘tache combo were simply sublime! Rushies moustache was magical(RIP) and Dalglish’s flowing locks…. Just magnificent!

If you need more proof look back to the mid 90’s. The dark days of the Souness era, very tough times I’m sure you’ll agree. Yes Souness still had his spellbinding combo but look at the players we had; Dicks, Thomas, Grobelaar (began receding the 90’s), Wright, Matteo, Babb and Ruddock, all bald or balding and all part of a desperately mediocre tenure. When things started looking during the Houllier days he brought in players such as Hyypia, Smicer, Barmby and Berger. Unfortunately there was also Camara, Diouf, Traore and Heskey, and although things were looking up it was always going to be a roller-coasterster ride. Then Benitez came in and brought in the likes of Garcia, Alonso and Kewell, all with beautiful heads of hair. We then went on to win the Champions League and come the closest to winning the Premiership since its incarnation.

Yes it would be simple and easy to blame Hodgson and his overly polite manner but I would ask you to take a deeper look at the signings and selections he made during his short time at the helm. Was there ever enough hair in his team? No. Could he have given chances to players with more hair (Pacheco and Kelly sooner than he did). Yes. Please do not think for one second that I believe Poulsen should be playing, how he has made a career as a footballer amazes me!

Its no coincidence that, when Fernando Torres* cut his hair short that the goals began to dry up and he seems to be getting better and better with every game that goes by without a haircut. Nor is it just by chance that when Gerrard stopped shaving his head and left it as a nice sensible crew cut that he became one of the best midfielders in the world!

Fortunately for us suffering Reds fans the king is back where he belongs, if anyone knows how important having enough hair per player is then it is Mr Dalglish. With Konchesky dropped and soon to be shipped out and Babel gone expect players with hair to be signed and the good times to return (Hooray!)

I predict a bright future under Dalglish. I am already hearing whispers of Fellaini crossing Stanley Park,Yossi making a return and Gattuso perhaps in a player coach role. Oh and expect Lucas to start growing a moustache! Just as soon as he starts puberty!

Written by Shaun ‘the newest Special guest of the Podcast Four’ Hurley. Or as I (George) have always known him Mr “Bear”.

*As this article was written before Fernando sought alternative employment, I hope he goes for the EDL-Paul-Konchesky-style-bald-man look.

**Andy Fucking Plenty of Hair King Carroll has signed. So this theory clearly has been listened to by the LFC hierarchy.

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I think my favourite January transfer window cliché is…

It’s silly season

…It is said because clubs will only sell players for crazy amounts of money, but it never actually happens, as Sky Sports News have repeatedly said, last year’s total for the entire window was just over £29m.

However, there must have been something in the water at this year’s LMA Xmas do because it has gone….well…silly.

This is what was so silly…

January 7th – Manchester City sign Edin Dzeko for £27m, this wasn’t a crazy price considering he was one of the most sought after strikers in Europe but his transfer fee almost covered the entire expenditure of last years window.

 

January 19th – Aston Villa pay massively over the odds for Darren Bent completing the transfer for an astonishing £24m.

Not a lot happened until January 30th, when Spurs put in a number of bids for a series of unobtainable Spain based players, making offers for Aguero, Negredo, Rossi and Llorente, none of these bids were accepted and Spurs finished up with nobody. But the rumour mill involving Fernando Torres started up and media reports suggested Chelsea had put a bid of around £35m in which was rejected out of hand by Liverpool. However some journalists suggested that Torres was keen for this transfer to happen.

So we move onto January 31st, transfer deadline day, It started with Newcastle claiming they had rejected a £30m bid from an unnamed club, although ‘Sky Sources’ suggested it was Liverpool, seemingly getting ready for life without Torres. Liverpool also were just awaiting the formalities to seal the deal to sign Luis Suarez.

A lot of faffing around was followed by this amazing series of events…

…Liverpool confirmed the signing of Suarez for £23m, breaking their transfer record (Torres’ transfer was £20m)…

 

…Then also confirmed the new British record transfer of Andy Carroll for £35m, a staggering amount of money for a player who has only scored 34 goals in his professional career, this also meant that Liverpool had broken their own transfer record for the second time in 2 hours, oh and it is the 7th largest transfer in the history of football…

 

…Carroll’s transfer would have been the 6th highest transfer in world football but just 3 minutes later, Chelsea confirmed the signing of Fernando Torres for £50m, the highest fee ever paid in British football and the 4th highest fee in the world behind Ronaldo (£80m), Ibrahimovic (£60m) and Kaka (£56m)…

 

…the total spent is just over £215m, that is nearly ten times what was spent 12 months ago.

Now there are a lot of “experts” saying that the money spent is simply ludicrous, I have a different opinion on this, if a club offers a certain amount of money for a player and the other club accept this offer then the player can move between the clubs, why should the value be any issue of yours or mine, I won’t be poorer because Liverpool have spent £35m on Carroll, I think Carroll is an excellent player and I am truly excited by the prospect of him and Suarez linking up, so the cost is irrelevant, they needed players to replace Torres and Babel and have bought them.

Let me say this, as a Liverpool fan I have never been so excited watching transfer deadline day unfold, I’m devastated Torres has left but that chapter is over and a new one is about to begin.

But it has been a bit silly though.

Marcus J Mitchell.

P.s. I feel like an idiot for forgetting to mention Apostolos Vellios, Evertons ‘nominal fee’ signing, so here he is (thanks to KevCeeJay for the reminder)…

…This is also the only time Everton fans will see him for the next three years before he is farmed out on loan to Swindon before being released.

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