There has been some belting newspaper articles (non tabloid, wouldn’t read any of them), blogs, forum posts and idiots on the TV with apparent degrees in the art of football; these people who clearly know how to "turn things around" at our beloved club and who have our "best interests" at heart. They are mainly washed up hacks with a vengeful spite against our unfairly dismissed previous manager and/or our club, due to either personal dislike or jealousy, caused by past defeats inflicted…whatever the reason, the knives are definitely out with afforementioned hacks and forum trolls all crawling out from under their rocks to somewhat alarming levels.
Our target was top 4 and a "good run in the cups" as I recall and understand it. The truth is, we made 8th but we could and should (with NO personell changes whatsoever and just a small increase in luck mostly), be 3rd. Sounds like crazy talk but not so when you look at the unfortunate games where we lost and could have drawn (or even won) and drawn where we could and SHOULD have won. We hit the bar and post some 29 times this season - that in itself is almost unbelievable but when you look at how many times and in WHICH games (many of which we played well - recall Arsenal 2-1 at Anfield where we should have had that win but for pure luck going against us), you can see how we have hammered some teams into oblivion and the luck has most definitely been against us more than it would normally be. I am not for one second suggesting this is ALL that’s stopping us from greatness; I am suggesting it has not been insignificant this year….seriously screwed some coupons and bookies up with goals missed and that’s BEFORE we consider the dodgy referees, the injuries, suspensions and other stuff that got in the way, most of which, you CANNOT account for or teach….you just cannot look at results in isolation.
We have played 51 games last season, playing 7 friendlies in the month before the season started (shop window for all the dross FSG wanted rid off?). Since August we have essentially completed a normal season's worth of games and another quarter again when we include the cup games we have played. From our first game to our last, the woodwork and luck has gotten in our way. I have no intention of covering how good our players are or are not and I have no intention of digging up Suarez's 1/4 of a season ban (itself coming at the worst time possible with games against some of the best teams in the League in rapid succession). I also don’t intend on covering the fact Gerrard was injured for large parts of our season (a key midfielder who can score), Lucas was out for most of the season (a key midfielder who can hold it together) or the fact that the best defensive partnership in the league (contributing to the best defensive record in the Premiership for a long period) was broken up following injury. I wont cover this because it speaks for itself and any sane person can see this could NOT have been mitigated against by Kenny or anyone else; it HAS however, played a large part in not helping our bad luck. Yes, it itself its not bad luck, its football but it’s a contributory factor which HAS to be included in any reasoned review of our season.
The reality is, Liverpool's season has been a tale of bad luck, a few poor performances which happen and in the main, a good work ethic with a shedload of chances created and some good returns on our cup efforts as well as a return to Europe and some unbelievable other stuff along the way, a lot of which is nothing to do with football and most of which, we couldn’t control and Im not going to discuss cause it frankly pisses me off.
Yes, we have drawn too many games and lost too many games for our liking. We have failed to SCORE enough goals and this season (bear in mind our defensive record already noted above) - the reasons why we havent scored are mixed and I wont dwell on it but the facts are; Suarez missed 1/4 of the season, Carroll was injured from time to time and hasn’t started firing until the final 1/4 of the season and Gerrard has been out for a lot of this season too. Its NOT an excuse for a lack of goals; it’s another, contributory reason. The facts are, we needed these guys to supply the goals and for various reasons they havent and couldn’t put away as many as we needed and I lay a chunk of the blame for Kenny's dismissal across our entire squad.
Taking a closer look at the various key points, we can start with the very first game at Anfield where we took a 1-1 draw with Sunderland...yet Downing hits the bar (worst start possible for confidence for the lad and incidentally, the only person to hit the woodwork more than his 5 shots, is Suarez with 7) and Suarez misses a penalty! That’s the first 2 points dropped - realistically, we expected to take 3 there and could and should have done. That could be put down to "bad luck" if only it stopped there! Not long after, we lose away to Stoke narrowly. History records a 0-1 result but that’s one we should and could win, easily and indeed, prove, later in the season.
We then take a 1-1 draw with Man U at home and lets be honest and fair; 1-1 with Man U is NOT a bad result….they are getts but its not a bad result given their players and form of late.
Norwich at home is another 1-1 ….yet we hit the post twice through Suarez and Kuyt hits the bar - 2 men you would bet ON scoring….! That’s a few points you would normally get, lost. That is seriously bad luck now…but surely, no more posts and bars - for the sake of an inch either way, we're dropping 2 valuable points!
A number of unlucky games befall us; Swansea - 0-0 at home as Caroll slams into the post...
Lose narrowly to Fullham away with both Henderson and Downing hitting the bar and post...
If we replayed both these games now, I'd wager we'd win. And I'd wager we would win by at least 2 clear goals. We'll find out.
A hard fought draw with Blackburn away yet again, Carroll hits the post.
Newcastle at home - we turn them over easily 3-1 and once again, Carroll suffering lack of confidence and form hits the bar. Pivotal. He scores here, his confidence rockets and he's up for it….but, its not to be and its not the last post or bar he hits this season.
Soon after, a draw at home with Stoke - looking more closely, we'd just played City 3 days previous and got a good result beating them 1-0 in the first leg of the cup with no Suarez and putting 210% into it…its only human to suggest they might be "a bit" tired.….that game took a lot out of us and I'd wager, getting them with fresh legs and more time, we'd do them big time.
7 days later and with one eye on Man City, we lost stupidly to Bolton. The fact is, we deserved that. Kenny admiited it. I doubt his training was such that he told them not to turn up but that’s what they done and he took the rare view that he would partially cover this publicly. Respect. It was needed. Professionals should be able to motivate themselves and they failed not through tiredness, through lack of effort. Never acceptable. We got nothing and Kenny gave them a big boot up the ass…..
…It worked as we fought City again and reached our first final of the season! Just THREE days later, we put Man Utd out the FA Cup in the 4th Round!!!
…Three days recovery only and that’s a damn good couple of results against the two best teams in the country after what could have been a sprial of bad results following Bolton; evidently, our man manager knows what he's doing, his methods engineering two cup wins in 6 days over the 2 best teams in England.
Moving on, and were on the road again, easily turning over Wolves (another three days after beatin Man U and six days after beating Man City)…yes, we eventually run out of steam at Anfield though a 0-0 draw with Spurs is no shameful result….at that point, Spurs were riding high and indeed, were fighting at the top of the league too.
We wont dwell on it but that game with Man Utd rolls round. Yes, we lost but more importantly, the whole Suarez thing was restoked and it done us (or him) or anyone, no favours. No more was needed yet it rumbled on. Nuff said.
Given a proper break of 8 days, we hammer Brighton and then a week later, we win the League Cup…lets just pause here. We WIN the first bit of silverware anyone has managed at LFC for six whole years. That, on the back of what’s gone on this season, is quite a feat … consider the immediate previous paragraphs and (still) our lack of consistency in the striking department. Not bad. We also beat Chelsea and City to get there. No mugs and they did not field teams that werent capable of beating us……we wanted it more, and it showed. Glimpses of what we could have been again, under the genius of the King.
Possibly the downside of this, the relief to get the duck of our back and an inexperienced team and set of players who were still lacking some confidence, regressed a wee bit from here. It was only after the cup win we went on a slump … maybe we burned out and maybe the injuries and suspensions along the way didn’t help…they didn’t. Maybe by now stocks were running low on players and it surely took a lot to get to where we were at this point. Having at this point played some 35 games, we had another 16 to go!
At this stage we had:
Won 18 games including the Cup Final as well as disposing of Chelsea (we beat them twice at this point), Man City, Man Utd (out the FA Cup) Everton and we turned over Arsenal at the Emirates for the first time in our history. After last season there, don’t anyone say that wasn’t sweet. All good teams. We beat some teams by a decent margin and we disposed of some teams by a huge margin.
Still that friggin luck wasn’t with us though. When dropping points, it had been til now, 2 points when it should've been 3 - see above. We had lost 6 by this point but drawn 10!
It was the post, the missed pens and some bad luck (and some genuine poor play at times) that contributed to that 10 draws and 6 defeats. But, a whole load of these games could have been and ARE winnable. The chances of history repeating itself to that extent again must be miniscule. Yes, theres a chance it could happen but its pretty fucking unlikely, to be fair!
During that slump from then til the end of the season, we still won a furtehr 6 games but, crucially, we took 1 solitary draw and lost 9. Yes, we beat Everton twice and Chelsea again since then, including some seriosly tough and hard fought battles to get there. But, we continued to hit posts and miss pens. This was our downfall when Villa come to Anfield and again we hit the post twice through Suarez and Bellamy! 1-1 going on 3-1. 1 point instead of 3.
Worse still, we lost to Arsenal with TWO shots of the post and Kuyt missing a penalty - you wouldn’t bet on that ! 3 chances to actually end the game and we missed them all ! 2-1 - could have been 4-2. But, we lost and no points. Anyone who watched that game would agree; we deserved at LEAST a point. In normal circumstances, we would have had at least a point. We should have had all 3.
QPR away is another example where earlier we'd taken a draw and now, its no points - AGAIN, Suarez hitting the post and its 3-2 instead of 3-3.
Newcastle away was big Carrolls worst game and it was awful to watch. Yet, possibly the catalyst and turning point for his and our end of season failures…THIS is when he started playing properly (or rather, immediately afterwads, showing some glimpses in the games IMMEDIATELY before it)…with just 8 games to go though, it was too late to make a difference. Worth noting that AFTER the NUFC game, Carroll did not hit the post or bar again!! He is on a mission and man we could've done with playing Newcastle away in the first game, instead of Sunderland.
Yes, we lost 1-0 to WBA yet again bad frickin luck with Henderson hitting the post - another point lost and nowt acheived. Im not covering the FA Cup Final. The fact is we didn’t play for 60 minutes then outplayed them for the remaining 30. Whether or not the goal was in, we'll never REALLY know. The fact is, we were shit for 60 mins and still come close to arguably one of the best in form teams in England right now, who just recently disposed of the best team in Europe who, themselves won the Champions League. I hate losing. But if you are gonna lose, if its to a team like that, fair play.
Being Liverpool ,and being the best on their day and a force to match anyone, we thereafter hammered chelsea at Anfield in the best match I have seen since the Everton game. Seen glimpses throughout the season but this is the FIRST time, the entire team has done what they were bought to do. Every one of them. Who to blame? Kenny? The players? The opposition? The owners? The fans? Bad luck? The truth I feel is somewhere in between all that notwithstanding the manager buys players on the past performance and most of our singings failed until very recently with the exception of Suarez and Enrique. Carroll has been off for the majority of the season, so have Henderson and Downing and indeed, so has Adam.
This is not one long excuseathon as I think we deserved to lose 3 games this season and we deserved to allow a draw in 2 of them. The rest, were OURS to take and some were bad luck, some were bad play, some were dodgy referring and some were just life. The point is, the sheer number of (29) times we hit the bar, missed pens and balls saved of the line and that doesn’t count the goalkeeprs who have come to anfield anad played their best for the entire season, it just doesn’t compute! You cannot account or legislate for that. The fact is, we have been fucking uncluky, compounded by some of our own doing at times and some shite referees as well, mixed in with a better squad than we've had for a while but a squad STILL not near the quality of Man City, Man Utd, Arsenal or possibly Chelsea. We are going the right way but you cannot spend what we have and expect to take the City mantle or even the Utd mantle. NOT YET, anyway. It will come again.
However, the positives. We won games against some good teams. We put both halves of Manchester, the two best teams in England out the cups. We beat Chelsea at every time of asking save for once (I know, I know) and we beat Everton 3 times. We beat the bes and we could beat the rest. We needed to calm down and remember we ARE good enough. Our young kids remember that and start to play and ENJOY playing as we did against Chelsea (WHILST WORKING, THAT IS VITAL) and there's few who will touch us much , even with this squad. Too late though, cause the geniuses at Fenway have fucked it all up.
What mattered to a lot of LFC fans against Chelsea at Anfield was NOT our 8th place. What mattered was, to a man, we played our asses off. We gubbed them. The King celebrated with us, the players were celebrating and all the while we had the FEEL GOOD FACTOR…………….no fucking CL place is worth that feeling. THAT, is what matters to the fans. Did we see mass protests at Anfield for our league standing? Did we hear them scorn Kenny's name? Or even boo bad players? No, there was genuine joy with what matters…good football.
A final point. We just won a cup, the first in 6 years. We made the final of the other domestic cup and we are in Europe again next year. Yes, it’s the Uefa Cup but I would love to hear someone tell Shankly its "only" the Uefa Cup. It’s the first European glory we won under Shankly AND Paisley and its not to be sniffed at. There is also the fact we've beaten Everton at every time of asking….beaten Arsenal and Spurs and all this without the services of our main striker and not one but TWO of our main midfielders for most of this season…………………….this is a good record given our position when Kenny took over and the fact we were HEADING in the right direction under him.
NOT the end of the world. We were 8th place going on 3rd. A simple and honest appraisal tells us, had we drawn some of the games we could reasonably be expected to draw where posts have been hit (not them all, just the ones against lesser teams) and had we got that goal or penalty in when we should have where we were drawing, we would have at LEAST another 22 points this season. JUST from converting 5 of our 11 draws where we clearly hit the bar or post once or more or missed a pen, and the combination of draws over loses and even wins over loses convertnig just of our 14 loses this season, we would have made third place by a good margin. THIRD place. Not 4th. THIRD Place. Not being romantic but even conservative. I say again, 22 points. 3rd place was for the taking….I wager very little of the fuck ups that failed us was down to Kenny Dalglish.
The figures are there. Take a look. Look at where we hit the bar - unbelivabley…look at the ACTUAL games we drew and lost and where we could, should and normally would (with normal luck!) have gotten the breaks…………..we would be third. Under normal circumstances when you look at the detail, the performances and behind the RESULTS, you can see its just round the corner…the mythical 4th place. Even better, had we kept our legend in the dugout.
Were not there yet and that’s what counted on paper but the stats and figures only show the results. They don’t show the progress and the actuals and given our players increase in confidence and some fucking luck, we could be 4 next year AND mounting another couple of good cup campaigns as well as playing in Europe.
The future with the King and even our CURRENT squad looked promising after our finish to the season showing some glimpses of hope. Give or take a couple of players, we could've been far closer to what the blssed Fenway wanted. We'll never know now. And to dispose of the man who done all that, who was ASKED to do all that, and who is the only man on the planet who COULD have done all that in the short time he had, is fucking criminal.
If the blessed Fenway don’t deliver some serious results (and to me, it'll be tainted and never the same with a lot of the joy taken out of it that we would have got with Kenny taking us), they can piss off for my money. Yes, they saved us. They are businessmen though. They got the kind of funds to buy LFC BECAUSE they are businessmen. Money breeds money. I don’t resent that. I resent their lack of judgement on this one and I think its also down to egos in boardrooms and their muscle flexing……Liverpool have always been about more than just the result. Its about the way we get there, they way when we lose we still back the team (and the Manager, especially a legend) and the way in which we stick together through the worst and darkest times, many of which come of the pitch. THAT is what Mr Henry has failed to grasp and needs to grasp very quickly.
As the great man said, "WE ARE LIVERPOOL".
YNWA and Long Live the King.