Tag Archives: Chelsea

A Fallen Idol

10 Jul

A Fallen Idol

 

It is so sad that Luis Suarez wants to leave Liverpool Football Club and move to a club that can give him more money and Champions League football. In most scenarios you wouldn’t fault a player wanting to take a step up in his career, but with Suarez the situation is different. Suarez has constantly been in the headlines since his arrival to Anfield, and not for all the right reasons, in fact mostly for unsavoury actions that we all know about.

 

But through every controversial incident Liverpool Football Club and their supporters have constantly stood by the Uruguayan and backed him. Suarez owes Liverpool at least another season of his service, especially after his last unsavoury incident which involved him biting Chelsea defender Ivanovic. Suarez still has to serve 6 of the 10 match ban for his punishment.

 

But the way Suarez has continued to manufacture a move away from Liverpool this summer is extremely disappointing. Suarez has made his feelings known in numerous interviews while on international duty with Uruguay, and that is really disappointing. Suarez should be keeping his mouth shut and let his agent deal with a move away. His excuses about blaming the media for a move away from Anfield are disgraceful too, it wasn’t them that made him bite Ivanovic for example. There are even strong suggestions that Suarez might move to another English club, and that would infuriate the Liverpool supporters.

 

Liverpool lost Torres not so long ago to Chelsea and that hurt the Liverpool supporters after the love they showed him. Torres has suffered from the Liverpool support since his move as the fans let him know what they think each time he plays against Liverpool. But if Suarez moves to another English club the Liverpool supporters will be even more angered than when Torres moved. A move abroad would be the best move for Suarez as long as Liverpool receive good money for the transfer.

 

The whole summer saga with Suarez wanting to leave has soured a lot of fans of him and most are just wanting rid of him sooner rather than later, so that there is still time to find a replacement. Suarez has not been loved by many football supporters for his style of play. But at Liverpool he found many friends who loyally supported him. But now it looks like he has lost them too and he is proving to be just another footballer who doesn’t care about the team he plays for as long as they pay him.

 

No player is bigger than the club and Liverpool will go on without Suarez. Liverpool have lost better players in the past and found replacements and Suarez will be no different. Keegan, Dalglish, Rush, Fowler, Torres to name a few have all been replaced and Suarez will be too.

 

Suarez will be hard to replace and I fear his loss will be detrimental to Liverpool’s challenge for a top four place, but Suarez has made his intentions known and I don’t think there is any going back to Anfield for Suarez. Suarez has been idolised since arriving at Anfield but in a short summer his reputation has been tarnished.

 

Suarez will leave Liverpool this summer, the question is where will he be going ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rafa The Red

21 May

Rafa The Red

 

Rafael Benitez is fondly remembered by Liverpool supporters for his time at Anfield, the highlight obviously being that remarkable night in Istanbul in 2005.  But he also won Liverpool the FA Cup in 2006 in the “Gerrard Final” and steered the Reds to another Champions League Final in 2007.

 

Benitez is a top manager and his career has proved that.  Rafa’s playing career was blighted by injury and he joined Real Madrid’s coaching staff in 1986 and he was appointed coach of Castilla B. His team won two league titles in 1987 and 1989. He then won a third title with Real Madrid Youth B in 1990.

 

Rafa then took over Madrid’s under 19s where he won the Spanish Cup in 1991 and 1993, beating Barcelona in both finals. His team completed the double in 1993 as they also won the under 19 league. Rafa’s success with the youth side saw him promoted to work as del Bosque’s assistant manager in 1994.

 

Benitez didn’t exactly hit the ground running in his first attempt at senior management at Real Valladolid. In fact he was sacked after winning only two matches in 23 games. Rafa didn’t fare any better at his next job at second division Osasuna, where he was sacked after winning only one game out of nine.

 

Rafa’s first success came at another Spanish second division team, Extremadura, where he led them to promotion as they finished second behind Deportivo Alaves. However, Extremadura were relegated the following season after losing a relegation play-off to Villarreal. Benitez quit after being relegated.

 

After taking a year out to study in England and Italy, Benitez returned to coaching, this time to take charge of second division side Tenerife. He guided them to promotion after finishing third behind Seville and Real Betis.

 

In 2001 Benitez was appointed manager of Valencia, a team who had just reached back-to-back Champions League finals in 2000 and 2001, losing only on penalties in 2001 to Bayern Munich. Benitez engineered Valencia into a more attacking style of play and his tactics were rewarded as Valencia won their first La Liga title in 31 years.

 

Disappointment followed the following season as Valencia finished 5th in La Liga and were knocked out in the quarter- final stage of the Champions League. Season 2003-04 was a different story as Valencia regained the La Liga title with three games to go, Valencia also won the UEFA Cup by defeating Marseille 2-0 in the final. Benitez enjoyed great success at Valencia but his difference of opinions regarding new signings saw him resign as coach in June 2004.

 

Benitez joined Liverpool in June 2004 and one of his first tasks was to persuade club Captain Steven Gerrard to stay at Anfield as Chelsea tried to entice him to London. But he couldn’t persuade Michael Owen to stay as he left for Real Madrid. Benitez brought some players from Spain, most notably Luis Garcia and Xabi Alonso, both players became favourites of the Kop.

 

Benitez also made utility player Jamie Carragher into one of Europe’s top centre backs alongside Sami Hyypia. Liverpool finished 5th in Rafa’s first season in charge at Anfield as he suffered injuries to key players, but he reached his first English domestic cup final, losing 3-2 after extra time to Chelsea in the League Cup final.

 

But Rafa’s fortunes were very much different in the Champions League, despite a poor start in the group stages which almost eliminated them until Steven Gerrard scored an 87th minute goal against Olympiakos to ensure qualification to the last 16 of the competition.

 

After defeating Bayer Leverkusen and Juventus they faced Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in the semi-final where a controversial Luis Garcia goal at Anfield proved enough to see Liverpool through to the final to face AC Milan in Istanbul.

 

The final will never be forgotten as Liverpool trailed 3-0 at half-time and all looked lost. But the introduction of Did Hamann for the second half changed the match as Liverpool staged a remarkable comeback to take the match to a penalty shoot-out which they won through heroics from goalkeeper Jerzy Dudeek.

 

Benitez thanked Istanbul hero Dudek by replacing him for the new season with Spaniard Pepe Reina as he continued to improve his team. Benitez managed to take Liverpool to 3rd in the League the following season, but Rafa did manage to win the FA Cup after knocking out Manchester United and Chelsea on the way to the final where Liverpool faced West Ham. Liverpool looked beat after trailing 2-0 and then 3-2 In stoppage time when Steven Gerrard scored a dramatic late equaliser. Pepe Reina was the hero saving three penalties in the penalty shoot-out.

 

Liverpool won the Community Shield after beating Chelsea 2-1 at the start of the 2006-2007 season and Liverpool were expected to challenge for the league after Rafa’s early successes, but poor form away from Anfield saw Liverpool’s challenge fizzle out and losing twice to Arsenal in four days in both domestic competitions was also a big disappointment. The season also saw new owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks take over at Anfield with promises of money for new signings and of a new stadium.

 

Liverpool managed to return to the final of the Champions League in this turbulent season, but this time AC Milan got their revenge as they lifted the trophy with a 2-1 win. Benitez added the likes of Torres, Babel, Benayoun and Lucas to his squad after this defeat, but after a good start to the new season, poor results in the Champions league and a public falling-out with the club’s owners put Rafa’s position under serious threat. Liverpool were shocked by Barnsley in the FA Cup and failed to mount a challenge for the league and this time Chelsea got the better of Rafa’s side in the semi-finals of the Champions League as Liverpool missed out on any silverware.

 

In season 2008-09 Liverpool finished second to Manchester United in the Premiership with a tremendous run of results at the end of the season where they destroyed Real Madrid and Manchester United in the space of a few days.

 

Much was anticipated for season 2009-2010 but Liverpool finished a lowly 7th position and were eliminated in the group stages that season as all was not well at Anfield contributing to Benitez to leave the club on June 3rd 2010 by mutual consent. Rafa made a £96,000 donation to the Hillsborough Family Support Group on his departure from the club.

 

Many people blame the Hicks and Gillett partnership for not backing Rafa and taking Liverpool to the next level and we are left in wonder to what Rafa could have achieved with the backing from his owners.

 

Only a few days after leaving Liverpool Rafa joined Inter Milan as he replaced Jose Mourinho. Benitez won the Italian Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup in his short spell with the club as Inter’s league form was poor after winning the treble the previous season, and he parted with the club in December 2010.

 

Rafa Benitez’s next move came unexpectedly with a move to Liverpool’s old foes Chelsea in November 2012, to the disgust of the Chelsea supporters who vented their feelings towards their new manager. Although disliked by the Chelsea support Benitez has guided Chelsea to the semi-final of the League Cup and the semi-final of the FA Cup, but more importantly he has achieved qualification for next year’s Champions League and last week he defeated Benfica to win the Europa League to add to his European collection of titles.

 

Benitez is a great manager, but it was sad the way he left Liverpool and it would have been interesting to see if he could have won the Premiership if he had the support of his owners. Benitez will always be welcomed back to Anfield as the Kop showed when returned for the first time with Chelsea. It will be very interesting to see if Benitez returns for a second spell in charge at Anfield in the future just as Kenny did. You just never know in football, anything can happen.

 

 

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Liverpool 2-2 Chelsea Match Report

22 Apr

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Liverpool 2-2 Chelsea Match Report

 

Luis Suarez stole the headlines on Rafael Benitez’s return to Anfield with a last gasp equaliser 6 minutes into injury-time. But unfortunately it wasn’t his late goal that grabbed the headlines, but his bite on Chelsea defender Ivanovic which the match officials missed. Oscar headed Chelsea into the lead before Liverpool substitute Sturridge levelled in the second half. But moments later a Suarez handball allowed Hazard to convert a penalty to restore the visitors’ lead before Suarez’s last gasp headed equaliser.

 

The Team

 

Brendan Rodgers made one change from the side that drew 0-0 at Reading last week, with Stewart Downing returning to the side in place of Daniel Sturridge who dropped to the bench. Reina kept goal with Johnson, Carragher, Agger and Enrique the defence in front of him. Coutinho, Lucas, Gerrard, Henderson and Downing made up the midfield with Suarez in attack.

 

The Match

 

The pre-match build up was concentrated on the return of former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez who is still a big favourite at Anfield. Benitez also laid a floral tribute at the Hillsborough memorial prior to the match in tribute to the 96. A minute’s applause was also performed prior to kick-off in respect of Hillsborough Campaigner Anne Williams who died last Thursday and for the victims of the last week’s Boston Marathon.

 

After all the emotion prior to kick-off, the match started very flat with not a lot happening in the early stages. The first chance fell to former Chelsea player Glen Johnson, but he could only toe-poke an effort into the hoardings.

 

Former Kop favourite Torres was thwarted by a diving interception from Enrique as Chelsea started to settle into the match. The first quarter of the match was very laboured without any goal mouth action until Oscar headed past Reina at a corner kick at the near post after losing the Liverpool defence.

 

Three minutes later David Luiz fired in a dipping free-kick which Reina spilled only to recover just in time before the ball crossed the line. Torres then earned himself a booking for an elbow into the face of Carragher, before Suarez smashed a shot at goal but Cech made a good save at his near post.

 

Liverpool’s poor first half performance resulted in Rodgers making a change at half-time with Sturridge replacing Coutinho, and Sturridge made an instant impact with a great run before setting up Gerrard whose low shot was brilliantly saved by the left foot of Cech.

 

Seconds later Sturridge let fly from 25 yards only to be denied by the post with Cech beaten. The former Chelsea man had changed the match completely and energised Liverpool’s performance.

 

Then Sturridge levelled the match from close range after a delicious curling cross from Suarez sending the Kop wild with delight. But the celebrations were short lived as 4 minutes later Chelsea were awarded a penalty kick when referee Kevin Friend noticed a handball by Suarez in the Liverpool box.

 

Hazard converted the resulting spot-kick sending Reina the wrong way and giving the visitors the lead again. Liverpool seemed to have the wind taken out of their sails by the loss of the goal and struggled to create chances as the game became more nasty with a few unsavoury incidents as Carragher became involved with a running battle with Torres, and Sturridge was lucky to escape a red card after a nasty challenge on Chelsea defender Ryan Bertrand.

 

But the bite by Suarez was obviously the worst incident, although missed by match officials at the time, the incident was witnessed by replays shown to TV viewers.

 

Rodgers replaced Downing with Shelvey as time started to run out on Liverpool and he should have made himself a hero seconds after coming on when Sturridge presented him with a golden opportunity to equalise, but the youngster fired into the side-netting.

 

Chelsea looked to have taken all 3 points after surviving the additional 6 minutes shown by the fourth official but in extra added time Suarez headed past Cech from a Sturridge cross with last action of the match sending the Kop wild with delight and earning Liverpool a deserved point.

 

Summary

 

Rodgers was wrong leaving Sturridge out and he proved that with his second half performance. The first half was one of the worst performances from Liverpool this season as they showed no energy and cohesion and constantly gave the ball away as they surrendered possession to Chelsea. The second half was far better and it was really down to Sturridge who ignited the team, although hopefully a few choice half-time words from Rodgers may have helped too.

 

But the match and the score pales into significance as all the talk will be about Suarez biting Ivanovic and that is sad. But the incident was really disgusting and as unsavoury an incident as you will see in football and there is no defending that type of behaviour. Suarez has to be, and will be punished. But Liverpool can’t be expected to sack or sell him without a replacement of his calibre, which will not be easy to find.

 

Suarez should be given help by mental health professionals as he obviously has a problem which could happen again if not treated. He has committed this crime in the past and it could very easily happen again if not treated. He is a terrific player and like other great players like Cantona and Zidane they have a self-destruct button that can be triggered at any time.

 

Liverpool and Suarez did the right thing by issuing an apology and contacting Ivanovic, who showed remarkable restraint and professionalism to continue playing in a concentrated fashion after the incident and also for accepting Suarez’s apology. Liverpool have reportedly fined Suarez for his behaviour and state that they will continue to support their player and they will wait to see what punishment the FA will decide upon.

 

 

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