My All Time Liverpool XI

Picking your favourite all time Liverpool XI is a hard thing to do. Everyone has their favourites and not everyone will agree with picks especially mine. You put one player in one position and the question pops up what about this player, he’s better, he had more assists or has scored more goals or was part of a successful defence or he was a midfield general. I’m going for a 4-3-1-2, bet you can guess who the one is! Anyways here we go.

Goalkeeper – David James:

Ok not everyone’s first choice for a goalkeeper but I grew up with Jamo in goals. I even had a jersey with his name on the back the only player I’ve ever done this for. Plus while playing in goals I had a few Jamo moments in goal myself! 

Right Back – Steve Finnan

Finnan’s contribution to the win in Istanbul should never be under estimated. A strong right back (probably the best right back Liverpool have had for the last 20 years). Adapt at going forward as he was going back he was a fan favourite and will never be forgotten by the Anfield faithful. Oh he was the last Irish man to win a European trophy.

Centre Back – Alan Hansen

While I never actually got to see him play live apart from on YouTube, Hansen was a rock at Liverpool’s defence in what was arguably Liverpool’s most successful ever period. Many managers tried to replace him and for me the arrival of Joël Matip, could finally see the Scotsman replaced.

Centre Back – Sami Hyypia

I was going to go with Mamadou Sakho as my other centre back option, but that was up until the snapchat incident recently. Hyppia won everything there was to win as a Liverpool player bar the Premeir League. He was an integral role part of Liverpool’s treble winning season in 2001 and showed his class as a player when he handed over the captains armband to Steven Gerrard without a fuss and got on with his own game. He’ll always be a hero on the Kop.

Left Back – John Arne Riise

This is another position I had a problem with. Like the right back role, Liverpool haven’t been blessed with decent left backs. Riise gets the nod for me for banging Katie Price and his willingness to answer fans tweets on Twitter, also he had the ability to bang in a free kick or two.

Midfield- Javier Maschanero

The little Argentinian bulldog is another player, Liverpool have failed to replace since he left for Barcelona. His ability to play centre back at the Camp Nou shows his versatility. He wasn’t afraid to tackle and hounded players down until he either got the ball or forced them in to a mistake. Also his dedication of his Champions League win over Manchester United went down a treat with the red side of Merseyside 

Midfield – Xabi Alonso

What can I say about Alonso. His ability to pick a pass or score a goal from an outrageous distance, Alonso had it all. I for one was absolutely heart broken when he decided to leave the bright lights of Anfield for the Bernabau. I still get a shiver down my spine when I see him controlling the park at Bayern Munich, and like every Liverpool fan I still dream of an Alonso return to Anfield. And who can forget his penalty in Istanbul and Jamie Carragher trying to dicapate him after he scored the equaliser as he ran towards the Liverpool fans.

Midfield – Didi Hamann

For me Hamann is a cert in any fantasy XI. He is the hero of Istanbul. When he came on in the second half he completely changed the game. After signing from Newcastle, the German quickly established himself as a firm favourite amongst the Liverpool faithful. Like Alan Hanson, his no nonsense approach to football was a joy at times to watch. Like Mascherano, Hamann is another player who is yet to be replaced at Liverpool. 

Attacking Midfielder – Kenny Dalglish

King Kenny, the Liverpool fans must loved ex player, like Hamann is a dead cert for any Liverpool fantasy XI. Brought in to replace the departing Kevin Keegan, Dalglish was not only a worthy replacement for Keegan, his presence in the Liverpool team surpassed Keegan’s. He is also one of few player managers Liverpool had, taking over from Joe Fagan after the Heysel disaster, Dalglish assembled the best Liverpool team ever. His actions after Hillsborough guarantees, Dalglish’s hero status until his dying days. How he isn’t knighted is beyond me. Hopefully after receiving the freedom of Liverpool recently, a knighthood is only around the corner.

Forward – Robbie Fowler

God. My favourite all time Liverpool player is for me a Liverpool legend. The word legend is banded about too easily, but Fowler deserves the title. His scoring abilities at the time were first class. His I don’t a fuck attitude on the pitch was a joy for Liverpool fans around the world. From supporting the Liverpool dockers to sniffing the white line against Everton after scoring Fowler is one player when thought of always brings a smile to the faces of the Anfield faithful. I’ll not mention his hat trick against Arsenal when he scored three goals under ten minutes is a feat strikers around the world dream of.

Forward – Ian Rush

In his hay day there simply was no better striker in English football. Hailing from Wales, Liverpool signed Rush from Chester and he made an immediate impact quickly rising up the Liverpool scoring charts. When it was announced that he was leaving for Juventus it was like a family member had died such was the shock amongst fans. His Italian trip lasted one season before Rush came back to Anfield to finish what he had started. A constant threat in and around the box, teams had nightmares when they saw his name on the team sheet, just ask Everton fans. Rush currently holds the record for most goals scored for Liverpool, most FA Cup goals scored for Liverpool and most goals in a season for Liverpool. 

I was debating on whether or not to add substitutes to my team. I eventually decided against it but if I was pushed to name 7 players to make up the bench in my all time Liverpool team I would go with;

Goalkeeper – Elisha Scott

Defender – Stephane Henchoz

Defender – Steve Nicol

Midfield – Graeme Souness

Midfield – John Barnes

Midfield – Steve Mc Macmanam

Striker – Roger Hunt

Written by @TheMoanyOne

Is Jurgen Klopp Football the Best Type of Football?

I’ll start this piece of by confessing I’ve never been fussed by styles of plays. Whether it be tiki-taka, parking the bus, pressing or whatever, I couldn’t care less. As long as my team gets a result and wins things, they could play Big-Sam hoofball and I’d be happy with the win.

In the past few years we’ve had a bit of everything at LFC. We had Rafa who wanted to dominate possession how ever he had no problem with parking the bus, especially away in Europe. I won’t even give Hodgson a brand of football when he was here, unless ‘absolutely shite’ constitutes as a style of play. Kenny Daglish flirted between dominating the ball and hoofing it to Carroll when needs be, and at times successfully. Brendan Rodgers came in primarily as a Martinez type Guardiola cast-off. We dominated the ball a lot and at times it felt pointless, with the most exciting time under the Northern Irishmen being when we adopted a counter-attacking style of play.

There wasn’t a style of play in that list I can say I preferred and winning felt the same as a fan whether we hoofed it to Carroll or had 99.9% of possession and won playing ultimate tiki-taka football.

We saw the style of play Klopp demands from his team at times last year. The media were keen to brand it ‘heavy metal’ football due to a throwaway comment Klopp made a few years ago.

Against the likes of  Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund and Villarreal we saw signs that under the pressing style Klopp demands, we were very hard to beat. Having worked on it in pre-season, so far this campaign it has been revamped and improved. Whereas last year felt like a compromise, this year everyone knows their jobs due to time on the training field and the early signs are that we are seeing the benefit from this.

And I have to say, I absolutely love it. The way we play is perfect for a fan and is everything football should be. In an interview with Gary Linaker, when asked about his style of play, Klopp said “it isn’t the smartest way, but it is the right way to play football”. I think he’s spot on. It’s everything a team should be. When they have the ball, everyone is working hard to get it back. When we have the ball, everyone is involved in attack and we are trying to score every single time we have the ball. Watching Liverpool is a pleasure at the minute, talking about Liverpool is a pleasure at the minute, writing about Liverpool is a pleasure at the minute.

Long gone are the days of what appeared to be pointless possession at times under Rodgers. In attack we are fluid, scoring more goals than anybody in England since Klopp came in and creating the most chances in Europe this season. In defence, we are improving game by game and everybody knows their job. Around the 60 minute mark in our win against Hull on Saturday, 4-1 up, I saw Firmino sprinting from centre back to centre back, desperate to regain possession. That’s when I really began to think about this style. It’s absolutely superb to see and is what every fan wants. It appears to have revitalised Anfield too, with the atmosphere at Leicester and Hull a significant upgrade to last year’s general atmosphere.

Long may us working our bollocks off and scoring goals continue, as I’m certainly enjoying it at the minute.

Written by @JackMitchell_5

Jordan Henderson – Bouncing Back

After an early blip, both Liverpool Football Club and Jordan Henderson have come back bigger, stronger and better this season. Burnley was a big low for both, with plenty declaring that the Reds were destined for another poor finish and even more questioning Henderson’s contribution as captain.

Although, as I write that, ‘questioning Henderson’s contribution as captain’ doesn’t really do it justice, does it? Henderson has had dogs abuse from large sections of the Reds’ support, the pinnacle being having videos made of him struggling in games early in the season thrown around social media and laughed at. Henderson seemed to be massively struggling playing in the number ‘6’ role and the general consensus was that without Emre Can, this team couldn’t compete.

Fast forward a month and the Reds are joint third, second favourites for the title with the bookies and have battered the Champions and won at Stamford Bridge in the process. Liverpool and Henderson have come back fighting. Despite all the stick and criticism, Henderson has got his head down, listened to Klopp and Buvac and has massively improved in the number 6 role.

I don’t think any of us saw this coming after Burnley, yet we shouldn’t be surprised. Time and time again Henderson has proved people wrong and bounced back for us. He’s gone from being a make-weight in a move for Clint Dempsey *shudders*, to being a pivotal cog in our title charge goal-scoring machine in 2013/14. He’s gone from acne-riddled school boys making videos of him giving the ball away in the second game of the season to his screamer against Chelsea trending all over social media.

It’s clear that Henderson possesses a relentless hard working ethic and to quote our old mate Brendan, ‘terrific character’. It’s clear that anybody who is asking interviewers ‘what do the fans think of me’ after interviews takes pride in their performances and wants to impress us, the fans. We have had players at this club whose effort or character you could question. Players that have looked good elsewhere but have crumbled at Anfield. Henderson isn’t one of those. An injury-hit year last year decimated his first year as captain, but it seems now that he is finally settling into the role after two excellent seasons in 2013/14 and 2014/15.

I think the one of the highest endorsements any Liverpool captain can get in the modern era are rave reviews from Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard. Those two Liverpool legends giving the current skipper the thumbs up is enough for me at the minute. Henderson is beginning to look like a Liverpool captain and, despite what was deemed impossible, a very good ‘number 6’ too. Against Hull on Saturday he arrogantly jogged round the park, controlling the game, demanding the ball, looking to make things happen. Anfield is a tough place to be brave and make things happen, yet that’s what we’re seeing from him at the moment.

Long may the rise of our captain continue.

Written by @JackMitchell_5

Alberto Moreno – Liverpool’s Scape Goat

This is a piece I have been thinking of writing for a few weeks now. I have been trying to put the words together in my head so that’s it is readable to those of you who have the misfortune of reading it. Before we get in to the bones of the article, this is not an attack on any one person. One name will feature heavily in this article because he is the go to guy for Sky Sports and many tabloids when it comes to Liverpool Football Club. 

It does not matter who you are but as an ex Liverpool player you are always going to be asked about the club and how it is doing at any particular time of the season. It does not matter if you are Jan Molby, Harry Kewell or John Arne Riise, newspapers and television stations are always going to be interested in what you have to say about what is happening in and around Anfield. While most ex players always try to be positive about the club no matter how it is  doing some will take the chance to kick the club and certain players when they are down.

This is something I do not see the need for. If a player does bad, he knows it himself. He does not need some ex professional player telling him he has had a shite game. 

One example that annoyed me last season was the infamous Jamie Carragher tweet in regards to Alberto Moreno. Moreno was not having a great season by any stretch of the imagination, according to Squawka.com, Moreno only had two defensive errors in the whole of the 2015/2016 season, he averaged four defensive actions per game. Because of Moreno’s mistakes, the good things he did last season have been forgotten about. Moreno, in the Premier League, won sixty nine tackles in the 2015/2016 season with a success rate of 46%. He made sixty three interceptions, sixty three clearances and five blocks. 

I am sure the last thing he needed to see was Jamie Carragher calling for Liverpool to buy a new left back. Let us not forget Moreno is only twenty four years old, when Carragher was his age, he was far from the finished article. Thankfully for Carragher when he first started playing for Liverpool there was no such social media. His every move on the pitch was not put under the kosh by millions of fans world wide. His many mistakes and own goals were talked about for a day or two on various sports programmes but forgotten about quickly. I would even go as far as to say that because Carragher was from Liverpool, a lot of his mistakes were over looked by fans.

Unfortunately for Moreno, the 2016/2017 started off the way last season finished, him getting caught out of position and making mistakes that occur in goals for the opposition. In saying that according again to Squawka.com in the three games he has played for Liverpool this season in the Premier League he has NOT made any mistakes which occurred in Liverpool conceding a goal.

The abuse Moreno was getting from the fans forced manager Jürgen Klopp to pull him from the team against Burnley and he has only made fleeting appearances since then. He started the game against Derby recently in the League Cup, Moreno did very well. He defended and attacked like the player that Sevilla trusted in La Liga before his move to Liverpool. Will he get credit for that? No. Why because he is the fans scape goat and he will continue to be until he leaves Liverpool. 

I will finish this off by saying some ex players should watch what they say about the current Liverpool players, you know glass houses and stones. 

Written by @TheMoanyOne

Let’s Get Carried Away

In an recent with Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp I saw recently, he was talking about how Football should be. To quote him, he said that ‘fans should be leaving the ground and they can’t wait for the next game, this is how it should be’. Walking back to the car from the game on Saturday, this is exactly how I felt. 

Everything post-match was positive. Even the fella behind me who moans behind me every minute of the match said we did “alright”, which is as big a compliment from him the Reds will get this year.

Probably due to our record in recent years against the ‘smaller’ teams (no disrespect intended to Hull, who’s following was impressive on Saturday), Saturday’s game felt far bigger than it probably should’ve been. It epitomises our crazy form in recent years that beating sides we should do at home come as more of a surprise to us than winning at The Etihad, The Emirates, The Bridge etc.

There was a big game feel in the week, and Klopp contributed to that by asking the fans to be “as positive as possible” when filling the seats at Anfield. And the Reds delivered. Liverpool were too fast, too aggressive and just too good for Hull City. 

It had been widely suggested that being clinical against the smaller sides is what this team needs to really become contenders; that observation is probably right too. Last year it was only Manchester United out of the ‘bigger’ sides who beat us, yet points dropped at home to Crystal Palace, Norwich, Newcastle and Sunderland really hindered our chances.

Hull got a man sent off, but we were one up and had just won a penalty against 11 men dedicated to sitting behind the ball. This has so often been an Achilles heel over the years for us. Leicester came and wanted to be compact too, only to be blown away. Couple these results with our impressive wins at the Emirates and Stamford Bridge and it’s hard not to get carried away. So let’s get carried away.

This Liverpool side has no superstars in my opinion. Nobody who would get anywhere near a World XI or anything like that. What we have got is a group of very good players, under a very good manager, playing very, very well. The last time we had a points total this high at this stage was 2008/09, one of a few years we should have won the title.

I’m not suggesting we’ll win the title. It looks like it’ll take a hell of a side to oust Manchester City, but there’s no reason why we can’t believe it could be us. We’re scoring goals, working harder than every team we play and have mixed it with the big boys as well as putting weaker sides to the sword. Lets get carried away. ‘Doubters to Believers’ and all that…

Written by @JackMitchell_5

Klopp knocks out strikers..

Has Jurgen Klopp turned his back on the need for out and out strikers? I’m asking myself this question now having earlier in the summer written an article here concluding that liverpool would buy a new striker if Benteke was sold.

I was wrong. And having watched the first six league games this season I can see why the manager decided not to. The departure of Christian Benteke left Liverpool with a compliment of thre recognised strikers in Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi  and Danny Ings. Origi and Ings in my opinion need more time to develop and learn their game under manager Jürgen Klopp before being held responsible for our attacking performances, thus leaving only an injury prone Sturridge to hold the line and carry the burden. So I thought.

The stats for the first six league games show us that combined our three strikers have started only one game, played 314 minutes and contributed no goals and only one assist. THAT’S COMBINED.

A lot has been made so far of the amount of goals we have scored especially compared to last season. Sixteen goals so far as it stands. Nine of those coming at home and seven away. 

I’ve spoken recently also about our inability to break down the so called smaller teams who set up a packed defence especially at Anfield. Thus I reckon Klopps response to such problems he witnessed last season was to bring in attacking midfield players who can break through those set lines and break games open. Hence the arrival of Saudi Mané and the more surprising the purchase of Georgina Winjaldum from Newcastle. The later not been seen by a lot of fans as what we really needed on midfield, most crying out for the club to buy a defensive midfielder to protect a leaky defence. The transfer widow closed with a lot of fans bemused and quite angry that the manager didn’t actually go that route even though the much mentioned Mahmood Dahoud was apparently trailed all summer by the club.

The shape of the team now has a packed midfield with players who can interchange and break forward regularly into the box. So many of our goals scored so far have been scored with a large number of players actually in the opposition box. Something we have lacked for seasons now.

The four players that seem to start now regularly are Roberto Firmino, Mané, Philippe Couthino and Adam Lallana. No striker included you will notice.

The stats for these players in our first six games reads as follows;  twenty one starts, 1790 mins out of a possible 2160 mins available, eleven goals and six assists. Impressive figures for sure from Liverpool’s midfielders.

A lot of people now talk about Roberto Firmino being Klopps first name on the team sheet every game and actually being a striker. Firmino is not a striker and hasn’t really played that role in Germany either. He did have a huge reputataion in Germany for winning back the ball and interceptions, a part f his game Klopp wild have seen first hand there.

The manager we all know loves his players to work hard off the ball to regain possession as soon as possible, in forward dangerous areas when possible. Adam Lallana has been impressive in this part of the game since the arrival of Klopp. His game has been transformed, regularly posting large distances covered in games. He’s starting to score goals and contributes so much more to this team than we had previously seen from him.

So now we have a midfield that presses the ball, looks forward with their passing, makes the runs off the ball into the box, is scoring a huge amount of goals and is dominating possession in most games.

For me this all due to the manager being ruthless in his approach to change our style of play from a  traditional two up top over reliant striker formation. When compared to this flowing interchangeable and fast possession game it’s hard to argue against his plans. We don’t play long balls up front or down the channel now for a striker to chase and try to work wonders on his own with slow support from behind. This is also a fact I believe on the lack of game time for Origi also. 

Although he is a talent he had been trained on those similar traits of an up front striver.  He works the channels and gets in behind opposition defences. A lot of fans have often called for his introduction in a game or to be I’ve his chance. Klopp has spoken lately as has the player himself about needing to develop his game and to work hard on certain areas. This is a hint at being more mobile to connect with a midfield full of possession. Not to be thinking about running in behind as often and to always support the players next to you.

So as I write this article and having looked over the figures I’m even more convinced now that Jurgen Klopps game plan is not to rely on up top strikers for most games we will have this season. If a midfield can work around and break down a defence set with 2 banks of 4 players then it’s with possible this system is here to stay and our strikers may have to get used to limited playing time and regularly being pulled in favour of another option. Something a player at the age of Daniel Sturridge may not see as good for his future prospects at the club.  After all they say it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks..Klopp has all the tricks to teach but I get the feeling he likes new puppies to develop also.

Written by @StephenKing75

James Milner – Mr Versatile or what? Let’s remember Nick Tanner and Ray Kennedy.

James Milner (born 4 January 1986) was signed from Manchester City on a free transfer in June 2015. Throughout his career at Leeds United, Newcastle United and Manchester City he was always deployed in a central midfield role. In his first two seasons at Liverpool this was also where he was deployed by both Brendan Rogers and Jürgen Klopp. But this season has seen Milner move position to left back after reported Liverpool target Ben Chilwell decided to sign a new long term contract for Claudio Ranieri’s successful new Leicester City team.

Jürgen Klopp was aware as were all Liverpool fans that Alberto Moreno could be a constant liabilty at the left back, he was fault for goals against Sevilla in last seasons Europa League cup final and in the first game of the season against Arsenal, hence the interest in Chilwell and other left back options during the summer, so as a compromise on not signing any of his targets Klopp decided to use James Milner as an uncanny left back in pre-season. I wasn’t amazed by the idea of having a right footed midfielder as a left back. In fact, I was thinking the left footed centre back Ragnar Klavan would be a more obvious left back option than Milner, but the same Milner is now about to prove both me and all other doubting fans wrong.

In an interview with Liverpool Echo 30th July 2016, Milner said: The manager pulled me at the start. He’s obviously looked at his squad and what players he has. He’s asked me if I was willing to cover the full-back positions, basically, if there was a point in the season where injuries or like at Man United last season in the Europa League when I played left back. We had a conversation about it and I told him it’s not my favourite position and not one I particularly like playing, but he’s the manager and if he wants me to play there, I’ll play there. The team comes first, always has, always will.” 

We have seen James Milner doing a good job as a left back both in pre-season against Barcelona and in the Premier League against teams like Tottenham, Leicester and Hull. It makes me think of a couple of other players in Liverpool’s history who were converted to new roles as they became Liverpool players. One is more famous than the other, but both share the same story.

Let me start by mentioning Nick Tanner, who originally was signed from Bristol Rovers as a central midfielder in 1988 and converted into a centre back. He only made 51 Liverpool appearances before a back injury cut his career short in 1994, and he retired from active football. In the 1991/92 season, Tanner played 32 games for Liverpool after Gary Gillespie had been sold to Celtic. A midfielder turned into a centre back.

Then LFC chief scout Ron Yeats was sent out to watch a particular Bristol Rovers player, but another player caught his eye: the left-sided midfielder Nick Tanner. Yeats could see that Tanner was a defender-to-be. One good centre back option. Kenny Dalglish signed the non league player Tanner, who all of a sudden found himself in the company of a lot of first class defenders and midfielders. He was duly sent out on loan spells with Norwich City and Swindon Town to gain experience, and wasn’t really utilized very often. He did play a few games in the 1989/90 season, but not enough games to be awarded a league champions medal. Greame Souness came in and gave him the chance to be a first team regular soon after Gary Gillespie had moved on to Scotland.

Talking to LFChistory.net Nick Tanner said:I only cost £20,000! I can honestly say I did my best in every game and feel I gave good value for money at a very difficult time for the club.”

Let me now mention a much more merited example here. Ray Kennedy was Bill Shankly’s very last signing. He was signed from Arsenal where he was a striker. Bob Paisley looked at him and thought to himself: “This is a midfielder.” Paisley had known that Kennedy had been a midfelder as a youth player and converted him into that role. Ray Kennedy became the kind of left-sided midfielder who could score a lot of goals and also create chances for others, like John Toshack, Kevin Keegan and Kenny Dalglish. People talked of him as one of the Liverpool players European opposition teams feared the most because he was so versatile, fast and smart.

Ray Kennedy won trophies as an Arsenal striker. Shankly signed him as a striker, Paisley soon after converted him into a fantastic midfielder who would collect lots of trophies for a new club in a very new position as compared to the position he was used to playing in at Arsenal.

So let’s return to James Milner. He is a good tackler, he is fast, he is right footed, but man, can he use that right foot! He creates assists, he starts Liverpool’s attacking game from behind, and runs up field to act like a left winger with an eye for what goes on in the box, into which he  has the ability to pass the ball brilliantly for players like Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Adam Lallana, Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi to make the best of. As things stand we as fans might not have to wait for all the times Milner will be caught out of position at the left back, but trust that if he does what he’s best at he will create lots of chances going forward as all Liverpool players are pushing forward at high speed.

I’m no longer all that worried about that lacking left back option to an ever-erratic Alberto Moreno as James Milner seems to fit the bill nicely.

 

Written by @magneleokarlsen