Author Topic: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger  (Read 11316 times)

Offline Yorkykopite

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My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« on: December 3, 2012, 07:38:02 PM »
Daniel our brother.

What does it mean to sign this new contract?

It means everything to me. This is where I want to be. And I’m really happy the club want me. I feel part of this club. I feel part of this city.


Danny Agger, 5th October 2012

When Danny Agger put pen to paper earlier this season and signed the long-term contract that keeps him at Anfield for the next few years you could hear the entire Liverpool global village exhale. It was a massive relief to a couple of million palpitating supporters (though probably a danger to the planet). He’s arguably our best player and probably our most important one so the prospect of losing him to a rival – especially one so short of class and heavy with dough as Man City - was nothing short of catastrophic. If he'd gone I'd have given up football. Well, almost.

Danny gave an interview to the official site after he re-signed which was unusual, and even odd. We’re used to hearing top sportsmen and women being asked to describe the extreme feelings and intense emotions they experience while performing their work, and it’s become a standing joke to point to the trite language and stale metaphors they almost all resort to. But with Agger there was no ‘football-speak’, there were no clichés, there was no ‘over the moon’, and he didn’t use the word ‘obviously’ once. Instead he listened to the questions closely, he answered them directly and occasionally he sounded short of breath, as if choking a little on the emotional significance of what he’d just done to that dotted line. Half way through the interview you realised you were listening to a proper conversation. That’s to say you didn’t know what he was going to say next. He was genuinely delighted and yet totally reflective. And the reason he didn’t need a cliché was because he was being sincere. It felt like listening to a fan. It was how you and I would sound if we’d just agreed a contract with Liverpool (ok, minus the fist-pumping and the sweary bits).

We’re not used to hearing Danny speak much. He rarely gets the headlines. Few defenders do. But we’re extremely familiar with how he sounds. That’s because every time he takes to the field there appears to be a BMW engine ticking over somewhere in the vicinity of our defence. It sounds great from the Kop. It must sound even better if you’re standing where Martin Skrtel’s standing.

That’s the thing about Agger and it’s called composure. All great footballers have it. They tick over. They keep something in reserve and can deal with the unexpected and with emergencies because they know that they have an extra gear, or an extra fuel tank, or however you want to put it. On Saturday, against the Saints, Agger suddenly pulled out a piece of gymnastics to cut out a dangerous cross from the left wing. You’ll remember it because his foot was higher than his head when he connected with the ball. It took great reflexes and astonishing agility to make that clearance. But it took composure too. I’m sure Agger knew that it was possible he might have to twist himself like a contortionist even before the cross was made. It was something he considered when wondering how to protect the space between himself and Reina. It was also something he'd done before (as recently in the summer for Denmark to deprive van Persie). Therefore when it came to throwing himself at the ball he had something just as important as acrobatic skill. He had a calm head.

That’s one of the reasons I love Agger. He’s calm therefore I’m calm. I trust him. He makes watching Liverpool tolerable when everything about watching Liverpool (or whoever your beloved club is) is designed to kill you.

Of course he’s made for Brendan Rodgers. We know that. He told us himself. After he scored his first goal for Liverpool – that stunning long-range strike v West Ham (hopefully after Sunday you’ll all be saying “which one?”) – Agger said to reporters “You just have to have courage to do it and maybe that’s what other centre-halves don’t have”. Cocky? Perhaps. But wrong? No, definitely not. He wasn’t talking about the shot itself of course (who needs courage to shoot?). He was talking about stepping forward from defence to receive a square pass in a congested midfield. Even today, in the modern game, it’s rare to see a centre back willing to do this. They don’t like the idea of getting the ball with opponents behind them. The quality they lack is, indeed, courage. Rodgers talked a lot about courage when he first arrived at Anfield. He wanted his players to have more of it because he wanted them to retain possession better than they’d been doing. When we all sighed that big sigh back in October there would have been no Liverpudlian more relieved than Brendan Rodgers. Things are possible when Agger is in the team that are simply impossible when he’s not. Agger committing his future to Liverpool was the first trophy of the season.

*  *  *

Never underestimate the temptation to hoof! It’s a powerful one. At the end of a match it’s possible to look at the statistics and conclude that the defence played too many long balls. Yet in the middle of one it’s hard to be so calm and analytical. For on each single occasion a defender gets the ball you can find a bloody good reason to belt it. That’s why ‘Get Rid!’ has become the English football national anthem over the years. Each individual hoof, in other words, can be justified by the pervading sense of emergency that cloaks all defensive work. But add all those hoofs up and the deplorable result is a team that is always chasing the game. One of the greatest things about Agger is that he doesn’t appear to feel the temptation, let alone succumb to it.

He’s an elegant player and you can tell that as soon as he touches the ball. That first touch is usually immaculate. Most centre-backs, when they collect the ball, tend to fold it into themselves. It’s a safety-first thing. Once the ball is under your knee, or even – in Carra’s case – literally under the sole of your boot it’s yours. No one can take it off you. But, inevitably, what this caution does is kill speed. It also narrows your options for a second touch and you squander any momentum that the rolling ball (ie the pass) has given to you. You see it in Lescott too. He comes to a standstill once he’s controlled the ball and finds it almost impossible to start moving again (no wonder Mancini came for Agger).

Compare and contrast with Agger my friends. The Agger first touch – when appropriate - puts the ball two or three yards ahead of him into space (you can do that at centre back). By the time he touches the ball a second time he’s cancelled out the opposition front line and he’s travelling pretty quickly - and once he’s accelerating into the ball the opposition’s back line takes a step or two backwards. They’re bound to. It’s instinctive and it’s necessary. What that means to Liverpool is a bigger pitch and more space for us between the lines. That becomes even more true if Agger adorns his run on the ball with either a successful feint and dribble (so removing yet another opponent from the script) or caps it with a forward pass to a player already half-turning towards the opposition goal. People talk about ‘defending from the front’. If you do that well you give your team a real chance. But ‘attacking from the back’? That’s harder because there’s inherent risk involved. But when Agger is carrying ball at speed into those gaps you realise what a potent thing it is to have a creator in your back line.

What’s also wonderful about this archetypal Agger move is the economy of effort involved. The skill is tremendous, the balance awesome, but the actual movement involved is actually very small. All professional football more or less conforms to the sporting equivalent of the ‘butterfly effect’ in the sense that small movements have big and unanticipated consequences - and no player illustrates this better than Danny Agger. That dropped shoulder of his is enough to have a knock-on effect all over the pitch. I love this about him. If he doesn’t like what he sees in front of him Agger is able to change what he sees! He simply flaps his wing. He does so usually by an abrupt movement with the ball, perhaps by setting off on an unexpected tangent. Or he just drops his left shoulder and sees three or four opponents lose their balance. It might be slight and it might be momentary, but it’s usually enough to open up a bit of space for him to use and to put his team on the front-foot instead of the back. I know this. Everything on the pitch changes when he does it.

*  *  *
   

I’ve talked about courage on the ball but there’s another type of courage too in football. It’s called the ability to rise above mistakes. Agger has this too, and two different examples come to mind. The first was the night he was bullied by Drogba at the Bridge in the European Cup semi. Even I thought that he might be ‘rested’ for the return leg and that the old trooper Sami Hyypia would be called to the colours – or, at the very least, that Carragher might be detailed to mark Drogba at Anfield. But neither of these things happened. Rafa stuck to what he wanted and it was Agger v Drogba Round 2.

At one point early in the game Chelsea managed to squirrel the ball into the right-hand channel and Agger and Drogba went shoulder to shoulder in pursuit of the ball. You feared the worst. You waited to see Danny spinning off into a sideways shuffle and Drogba, unmolested, bearing down on the goal. I’m sure I shut my eyes. Of course when they opened it was to see Drogba sitting in a heap in front of the Kop and Agger taking the ball the other way. It was the start to a remarkable evening for the young lad. The crashing goal was the highlight (the most difficult shot in football too, coming square on to the favoured foot), but the whole game was a testament to an indomitable spirit. I think it was after that performance that I began to think he might one day belong with Hansen and Lawrenson at the very apex of the Liverpool centre-back tradition. 

The second example was the Wigan cock-up of three or four seasons ago. For once he was dispossessed on the ball at the back and the centre-forward practically walked the ball into the empty net. “That’ll put him back a few weeks”, I thought to myself.  Minutes later he got the ball again in an identical position. A hoof would have been forgiveable. Once bitten and all that. But Agger obviously thought different. A dropped shoulder, a shimmy, a one-two and he was suddenly dancing along Wigan’s goal-line and pulling the ball back for an equaliser. Most footballers would have hidden from the embarrassment of moments ago. Danny decided to erase it.

Some will say that because Danny is an artist on the ball he must, as a corollary, be a bit of a soft touch when the opposition have it. I don’t know where that idea comes from but it’s a tenacious one in British football. Even such skilful half-backs (as they were then) as Dave MacKay or our own Tommy Smith are now remembered exclusively as ‘hard men’. It’s as if we fall for the division of labour imposed on our economy by capitalism and refuse to accept that the artist and the artisan can exist inside the same breast. There’s always one who grunts and one who sighs. Danny Agger, too, suffers from this failure of collective imagination. Good on the ball therefore a bit suspect in the tackle. Capable of back-heeling a goal (as he did v Benfica) and therefore not able to head one in a goal-mouth melee (must have been dreaming v Southampton). Delicate in his touch therefore no thunder in his boots.

But it’s not true. Agger’s tackle is ferocious when it needs to be. He attacks the ball well on the ground and in the air (I’d say with even more determination than Skrtel, who tends to reserve his most aggressive tackles to players at the side of him, not in front of him).  Famously, Torres found out about Agger’s combative side when he swapped his red shirt for a blue one. The elbow that hammered into his neck was technically a little bit illegal but it was a delivered by a fan of Liverpool FC and not just a footballer. You sort of had to let it stand.

I started with a quote from a couple of months ago. I’ll finish with one from September 2010. “The coach has a philosophy that players up front play the football and a different style prevails at the back. But that’s not my philosophy. That’s not the type of footballer I am. I prefer keeping the ball on the ground. And I’ll keep doing that!” You probably remember it. The sheer fucking defiance! It was said by Danny moments after our defeat at Old Trafford when Hodgson had called him from the bench for the last few minutes and, no doubt, implored him to put a few ‘in the mixer’.

It was a bad time for all of us. It’s over now. We have a different manager. We value a different ‘philosophy’. Danny’s still here. He’s staying here. He’s only 27. I reckon the best is yet to come.
« Last Edit: December 5, 2012, 12:02:23 AM by hinesy »

Online The 5th Benitle

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Re: My favourite Player 5: Danny Agger
« Reply #1 on: December 3, 2012, 08:19:43 PM »
As good as I'd hoped. Thank you mate.

Offline Mr Dilkington

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Re: My favourite Player 5: Danny Agger
« Reply #2 on: December 3, 2012, 10:04:23 PM »
Fap*
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My favourite Player 5: Danny Agger
« Reply #3 on: December 3, 2012, 10:49:20 PM »
That was a delight Yorky mate. Thanks.
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Offline Hinesy

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Re: My favourite Player 5: Danny Agger
« Reply #4 on: December 3, 2012, 11:14:33 PM »
Brilliant mate, thank you.
Yep.

Offline royhendo

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Re: My favourite Player 5: Danny Agger
« Reply #5 on: December 4, 2012, 10:43:29 AM »
It's true. He's emblematic of where we're headed, that's got to be the hope. Fantastic read as always, thank you.
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Offline Corkboy

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Re: My favourite Player 5: Danny Agger
« Reply #6 on: December 4, 2012, 01:08:38 PM »
Gorgeous stuff, Yorky, thanks..

You did make one slight omission, though.

Quote
The Agger first touch – when appropriate - puts the ball two or three yards ahead of him into space (you can do that at centre back). By the time he touches the ball a second time he’s cancelled out the opposition front line and he’s travelling pretty quickly - and once he’s accelerating into the ball the opposition’s back line takes a step or two backwards. They’re bound to. It’s instinctive and it’s necessary. What that means to Liverpool is a bigger pitch and more space for us between the lines. That becomes even more true if Agger adorns his run on the ball with either a successful feint and dribble (so removing yet another opponent from the script) or caps it with a forward pass to a player already half-turning towards the opposition goal.

He uses a third option even more frequently, which is to glide towards the opposition penalty area and then "buy" a free off someone dumb enough to try to dispossess him. Just a faint touch away from the tackler and then, oops, you put your thigh in my way, oh watch me crumple, thank you very much. This is a teensy weensy bit cynical of our Danny but I don't care.

Offline Yorkykopite

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Re: My favourite Player 5: Danny Agger
« Reply #7 on: December 4, 2012, 01:22:00 PM »
Gorgeous stuff, Yorky, thanks..

You did make one slight omission, though.

He uses a third option even more frequently, which is to glide towards the opposition penalty area and then "buy" a free off someone dumb enough to try to dispossess him. Just a faint touch away from the tackler and then, oops, you put your thigh in my way, oh watch me crumple, thank you very much. This is a teensy weensy bit cynical of our Danny but I don't care.

So true Corky. The Didi Hamann school of football cynicism. If I fall on the ball and pick it up it's as good as blowing the whistle myself.

Offline Corkboy

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Re: My favourite Player 5: Danny Agger
« Reply #8 on: December 4, 2012, 01:52:13 PM »
So true Corky. The Didi Hamann school of football cynicism. If I fall on the ball and pick it up it's as good as blowing the whistle myself.

The other thing about his forward runs is that they have genuine menace. You highlighted his shot taking prowess elsewhere and you can bet that the defensive midfielders and centre halves of the league know all about it too. If Skrtel was to come marauding forward, the opposition knows he doesn't have a thirty yarder in his arsenal, so they can mind the other options. With Agger, they're worried because they know if they don't get out to him, it might just as easily be a shot on target as a pass or a feint.

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Re: My favourite Player 5: Danny Agger
« Reply #9 on: December 4, 2012, 02:16:22 PM »
*Bows in adulation*

Offline Cpt_Reina

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Re: My favourite Player 5: Danny Agger
« Reply #10 on: December 4, 2012, 04:30:06 PM »
The fight he showed to stay at the club when Hodgson and others were looking to move him on, behind his back nonetheless, shouldn't be forgotten either. He was having none of it.

The lad is made Danish granite.

A fine peice befitting of a fine player.

Offline Hinesy

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Re: My favourite Player 5: Danny Agger
« Reply #11 on: December 4, 2012, 05:46:33 PM »
does he remind anyone else of Hansen? Lovely piece mate, will be a real treat tomorrow.
Yep.

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Re: My favourite Player 5: Danny Agger
« Reply #12 on: December 4, 2012, 07:25:58 PM »
Yeah, reminds me of Hansen, because I'm old enough. Loved that read, yorky. He's vital now, more so than ever. We're talking about additions, or will be soon enough, but we're back to a situation in which the spine - Reina, Agger, Lucas, Allen/Gerrard, Suarez (and add in Johnson) looks both strong and tasty.

Offline Hinesy

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Re: My favourite Player 5: Danny Agger
« Reply #13 on: December 5, 2012, 12:01:26 AM »
On the 5th day of advent, yorky brought to us, a thread on the Danny the Dane. Enjoy.
Yep.

Offline SYLENTm

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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #14 on: December 5, 2012, 12:02:55 AM »
DAGGER has arrived!
You can only love this man, future captain!

« Last Edit: December 5, 2012, 12:05:58 AM by SYLENTm »
Must admint Cesc is a great prospect new him before he went to Arsenal, same with Pique(now at ManU) and Messi also from Barcelona. Watch out for these guys in the future look very good.

Get him in the scouting team ASAP!

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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #15 on: December 5, 2012, 12:18:53 AM »
That’s one of the reasons I love Agger. He’s calm therefore I’m calm. I trust him. He makes watching Liverpool tolerable when everything about watching Liverpool (or whoever your beloved club is) is designed to kill you.
Superb as usual yorky, appreciated this bit, he's got an old head on those trendy shoulders. Class personified as the old cliche goes.

I remember being close to the corner of the Anny Rd end when he broke a finger or fingers, I can still see the look on his face as he stared shocked at the disjointed mess. He trotted off holding his arm and two minutes later he was back, strapped up and in the action. Of course many of us have become doubters and have lost patience with his injuries, but thank God he's shown some form and resilience so far this season.

You're right about the you-know-who era, when you look back you could weep and cringe in any order.

He seems to love life here, he has a lovely big house facing a park where he walks his dog.

My claim to fame is that I chatted to him in my dentist once and got in the dentist chair immediately after him :)

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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #16 on: December 5, 2012, 12:22:20 AM »
Best post that I've read here for a long time. Beautiful attention to detail. Thank you.

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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #17 on: December 5, 2012, 12:29:08 AM »
As long as Agger is playing, we have a better chance of winning the game. Think this will be the case for as long as he's at the football club.
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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #18 on: December 5, 2012, 12:31:49 AM »
Absolutely love that man.
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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #19 on: December 5, 2012, 12:33:44 AM »
Nice one yorky

Offline Samie

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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #20 on: December 5, 2012, 12:35:32 AM »
Great post yorkykopite.  :thumbup

Love Daniel Agger one of my favorites. You just don't worry about the defence if he's around.

Offline Sangria

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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #21 on: December 5, 2012, 12:36:51 AM »
A Kuyt goal against Wigan at Anfield a few seasons back. Agger was at fault for losing the ball to their striker, I forget his name, to give them the lead. But our equaliser was his merit too, as he brought the ball out of defence. Yorky's written before about the courage of that, but that wasn't what captivated me. It was an extended instance of watching Agger run with the ball, not really close control as we imagine dribbling to be, but putting the ball ahead of him with precisely the right weight to allow him to take full strides into the next step that he wanted the ball, yet never losing control of the ball to an opponent or pushing it where he didn't want it to be. Unlike most dribblers who go slow slow quick, there is no slow involved, and while there is no sense of rushing as you get with kick and run, you still get an illusionary sense of Agger speeding up with the ball. Including the 1-2 that got him to the last part of the way, that Wigan goal had a full 60-70 yards of Agger running in possession.

Drool.
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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #22 on: December 5, 2012, 12:45:37 AM »
i love danny agger.  great post mate.

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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #23 on: December 5, 2012, 12:59:32 AM »
Boss read. Boss player. ;)
September 12, 2012:Truth today, justice tomorrow.

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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #24 on: December 5, 2012, 01:32:16 AM »
A super read!  :)

I remember a few years back we were away at Old Trafford and in the final 20 minutes we were a goal away from an equalizer, and virtually every single one of our players were just going through the motions and no effort was being made to bring about the equalizer, most of the body langage and sentiment on the pitch was hugely negative, besides that of Daniel Agger's. He was waving his arms upwards in dialogue to the rest of the team, he seemed in disbelief of the lack of nerve and fight in front of him, right then was one of the moments I felt reflected his character and winning mentality, for me he has the strongest mentality out of the squad.

I have to admit also that Drogba back then was virtually unstoppable. That was some feat that second leg. Now we just gotta sort out a chant for him! Now he did admit he likes the song maroon 5 got the moves like agger  :)
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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #25 on: December 5, 2012, 01:40:49 AM »
Wow what a cracking post. *Standing o*
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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #26 on: December 5, 2012, 01:53:02 AM »
Beautifully written Yorky.
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Offline The Infamous_LFC

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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #27 on: December 5, 2012, 02:59:11 AM »
Great post I agree he has always been one of my favourite Liverpool players. Like his over head kick he pulled off against Spurs to almost set up Suarez for the equaliser shows he's outstanding natural talent. His goal against Southampton was over due for a defender of that quality he can offer a lot marauding forward dictating plays from deep. His signature was one of the most important pieces of business we did during the summer along with tying Suarez down.
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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #28 on: December 5, 2012, 03:17:07 AM »
Just delightful! Thanks for a wonderful read!
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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #29 on: December 5, 2012, 03:27:37 AM »
One of the better articles I've read on this site. Agger seems to be one of a dwindling few footballers who are truly loyal to their club.

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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #30 on: December 5, 2012, 03:37:12 AM »
I can think of only Pique that is as assured and as skilled at recieving a pass at the back and instantly moving onto the front foot with momentum and purpose - a truly rare commodity indeed.
Thanks for the op, really did capture why so many of us are taken with Danny boy.
Then we,
As we beheld her striding there alone,
Knew that there never was a world for her
Except the one she sang and, singing, made. - Wallace Stevens

Offline Angelius

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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #31 on: December 5, 2012, 05:51:24 AM »
Absolutely beautiful, Yorky. Congratulations.

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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #32 on: December 5, 2012, 05:56:34 AM »
Great OP, and thanks to all the contributors for this series, thoroughly enjoying the posts. That Anfield Wrap episode after the Man City game this season was brilliant paraphrasing: "Oh shit here comes Agger charging down the pitch, who the fuck is going to pick him up [City players looking around at each other]?" the fucking panic he unleashes. Love him for his attitude and loyalty as much as his silky ball-playing skills.
Err... What?...  Difficult as it is for you to understand, many people can actually think for themselves and form their own rational worldview without the need for prophets.

Offline Kovai Red

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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #33 on: December 5, 2012, 05:58:25 AM »
Excellent piece mate. Enjoyed it very much as do seeing Agger play. We got moves like Agger
"Liverpool are the ones with the ball. I support them just for that"
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Offline Malaysian Kopite

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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #34 on: December 5, 2012, 06:04:07 AM »
Great read Yorky.
They say it fades...if you let it.

Football without fans is nothing.

We've won 18 titles, 5 European Cups, 7 FA Cups, but today must be the greatest victory of all.

Offline Georgia

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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #35 on: December 5, 2012, 06:11:39 AM »
Brilliant stuff, enjoyed reading it. Thank you.

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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #36 on: December 5, 2012, 06:35:46 AM »
Lovely stuff. Could see those Chelsea/Wigan performances clear in my mind as I started reading that last part, like it was yesterday. Cracking attention to detail.
Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose.

Offline dorsetgill

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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #37 on: December 5, 2012, 06:38:13 AM »
Brilliant read

Offline Gerrvindh

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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #38 on: December 5, 2012, 07:12:01 AM »
Fucking love Agger. What a person, aside from being a great footballer. Him, Lucas, Reina are just flawless human beings. Footballing ability comes a distant second for me when men are as good as them, as men.
I would prefer a

R.Ferdinand - Terry - A.Ferdinand

Defence.

Offline Lofty Ambitions

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Re: My favourite Player #5: Danny Agger
« Reply #39 on: December 5, 2012, 07:23:46 AM »
This summer was at least to me a most uncomfortable transfer season.

With King Kenny sacked, a young manager in place, no scouting system in place, do we finally see an exodus of the remaining world class players we've still got?

Rumours of Agger to Manchester City for an ridiculous amount of money were a big worry. To lose Agger would have been a disaster. Money would be utterly wasted again, to add to injury.

And the rumours went on. And went on. BR making ambiguous quotes about the situation.

Then we had the little girl tweeting as she was watching our players leaving Melwood.

Among them this tweet:

Hey Danny, are you leaving?

Never.
#JFT96