Thursday, 31 May 2012

Jika Diberi Pilihan

Saya rasa umum dah mengetahui akan perihal Brendan Rodgers.

Ya, biarkan Liverpool haters terkinja-kinja kegembiraan akan fantasi mereka yang membayangkan kejatuhan Liverpool sekali lagi musim hadapan.

Apa mereka ini shaman kah begitu awal meraikan sesuatu yang tak pasti? Apa mereka lupa mereka juga tak memenangi apa-apa musim ini? Atau mereka lupa yang mereka itu hanyalah golongan bandwagon?

Ah. Siapa peduli itu semua ye dak? Paling kuat, alasan mereka adalah, "Bila last Liverpool menang liga?". Ya, itulah yang selalu diulang-ulang mereka. Tapi bila ditanya balik berapa lama kelab kamu ambil masa untuk memenangi kejuaraan pertama selepas pak idung merah memerintah? Jawapan kamu? "Errr...errrr...errr...". Sedih bukan?

Atas sebab itulah, jika diberi pilihan saya lebih prefer Zin Shahar jadi pengurus Liverpool. Siapa Brendan Rodgers ni? Swansea je kot.

Tadaa!

Brendan Rodgers - Our New Gaffer


"In many ways the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgement.

"We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and read.

"But, the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.

"But there are times when a critic truly risks something and that is in the discovery and defense of the new.

"The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends."

- Anton Ego in the movie, Ratatouille

On a similar note, I would very much agree to what Anton has to say and more so towards unpaid critics. The current dogma we suffer is the belief that only a superstar name fits the managerial void in Liverpool.




I am glad that many articles have been written with regards to why Brendan Rodgers is the right candidate to succeed Kenny Dalglish and I do not plan to reiterate each one of them. But, I do like to stress the fact that everyone deals with choices and options in life and no doubt, they come with associated risks. The same goes to the decision made by the owners which I believe has the clubs best interest in mind when deciding on Mr. Rodgers.

Mr. Rodgers may not have the pedigree of managing a cup winning side yet, nevertheless the achievements Swansea made and the style of play they showed last season was astonishing. Stout when defending, fluid when they do attack. They definitely try not to force a goal but instead patiently open up spaces and gaps where they can exploit.

I trust that the players we have in our stable is more than able to grasp the new set of training regime with differing coaching techniques brought along by Mr. Rodgers but the question is, how long? Will they need half a season to figure it out? A season or two?

I would assume that some lady "liverbirds" might have reacted differently if the picture below is of Mr. Rodgers. Friends, looks can be deceiving.




Just to sum it all up, we should not be expecting a cup double or a premier league championship next season but we do look forward to a place in the Champions League and a more emphasized pass and move gameplay.

I read somewhere that on a whiteboard in his Swansea office he wrote "Per Ardua Ad Astra" which means "through adversity to the stars"; Mr. Rodgers, surprise us.

#YNWA ./

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Captain Fantastic




The first time we saw Steven Gerrard played for Liverpool's first eleven was on the 29th of November 1998 against Blackburn Rovers at Anfield. It was a last minute substitution by Gerard Houllier for Vegard Heggem and upon coming in, Steven Gerrard played the role of a winger. The game ended in a 2-0 win with goals from Paul Ince and Micheal Owen, both scored in the first half.

In his debut season Steven Gerrard made 13 appearances and scored no goals, coming in to replace Jamie Redknapp who was injured. Regularly he was playing out of position, defensive at midfield or putting in crosses from right wing. Steven Gerrard was an unknown then, well to the rest of the world at least. He was also not selected to represent England youth even though he excelled in Liverpool's youth squad. His entrance at the tender age of 18 into the EPL scene was, I would say, average at best. Nothing exciting.

How things have changed. Fourteen years on, at the age of 32, Steven Gerrard is regarded as one of the best England midfielder ever if not the world. He is quick, skillful, good at passing with excellent long range shooting ability and most importantly has legendary leadership quality.

He won everything with Liverpool FC except the English premier league title and world club cup honours. He is talismanic in play and Liverpool without Steven Gerrard is like a ship without its sail.

Yes, in life nothing last forever and with injuries getting a bit more regular with every season, we can see that Steven Gerrard is at the twilight of his career. Yet he still leads the team very well by showing eagerness in tackles and determination in making forward runs but eventually the limelight will fade. I trust Steven Gerrard still has another 2 more seasons in the bag before he calls it quit hence there is ample time for Liverpool to seek a "padawan learner" as his understudy.

What will happen after Steven Gerrard? Is there a replacement for such an iconic figure? Can Jordan Henderson do it? I doubt it. He may become Liverpools future captain but he can never replicate Steven Gerrard's footballing skills in the middle of the park. Only time will tell.

By the way, happy birthday captain fantastic.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Tentang Zain & Wembley


Berdasarkan sebuah kisah benar.

***

Zain (bukan nama sebenar) tersandar tatkala mendengar berita bahawa tempahan tiket berharga RM600 ke perlawanan akhir Piala FA England 2012 diantara Liverpool dan Chelsea yang dibuatnya sebelum perlawanan separuh akhir menentang Everton lagi, gagal. Ajen yang tidak pernah mengecewakannya kali ini mengecewakan.

Memang Zain akan berada di London seminggu sebelum perlawanan akhir FA Cup itu atas alasan kerja tetapi sekiranya tiket yang ditempahnya itu ada, dia akan tambah lagi 2-3 hari lagi di sana.

Bukan mudah untuk berada di Wembley menyaksikan Liverpool bertarung diperlawanan akhir. Malah, peminat Liverpool yang tinggal di UK pun azab nak mendapatkan tiket, inikan pula peminat yang berada 6,500 batu jauhnya dari London. Maklumlah, kuota tiket dibahagikan kepada pemegang tiket bermusim dahulu, kemudian kepada kelab peminat yang berada di Liverpool dan begitulah seterusnya. Harganya pun memang sangat mahal.

Zain tahu jika dia mempertaruhkan untuk menempah tiket final ketika sebelum perlawanan separuh akhir lagi dengan harapan Liverpool akan ke final, dia akan mendapat tiket pada harga yang jauh lebih murah. Zain benar-benar kecewa.

"Ahh, malam ini kau nak lepak dengan Fowler dan Macca. Tak payah pikir pasal tiket final 6,500 batu jauhnya dari KL ni. Buang masa dan tenaga aje." Hati Zain cuba menenangkan jiwanya.

***

EPL Masters yang dianjurkan oleh Football Focus tamat kelmarin ditutup dengan majlis makan malam di sebuah hotel terkemuka di Kuala Lumpur. Liverpool Masters, juara kali ini diwakili oleh pemain lagenda seperti Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman, Patrick Berger dan Vladimir Smicer akan meraikan kejayaan penganjuran dengan hadir ke majlis makan malam anjuran pihak penganjur. Jam 8.30 malam Zain sudah tercegat dipintu masuk hotel.

"Dub dub dub." Hati Zain berdegup kencang. Bukannya Zain tak biasa makan di hotel mewah tetapi malam ini dia akan makan semeja dengan dua idolanya, Fowler dan Macca. Dia agak teruja.

Masuk ke majlis, Zain terus mencari mejanya dan kelihatan Fowler dan Macca sudah disana. Lidah Zain terus kelu.

***



Makanan malam itu memang sedap. Ditambah pula dengan kehadiran dua idolanya, Zain makan bukan main-main.

Fowler yang sudah agak 'tipsy' disebelah Zain ialah seorang yang suka bergurau. Sekali-sekala dia akan cuba mengusik Zain dengan mencuitnya dipinggang. Zain pasrah.

"So, someone told me that you cant get tickets for the FA Cup Finals." Fowler memandang muka Zain.

"Yeah, Thomas Cook just couldn't cook one for me this time." Zain balas.

"Tell you what, if you were to go to Wembley without tickets and you tell those scousers there you flew 6500 miles across the globe to watch Liverpool play in the finals, they'll definitely help you man. Hey, you'll never walk alone mate!" Fowler memberikan pendapat didalam keadaan pipinya yang mula kemerah-merahan kerana separa mabuk.

"You sure?" Zain tanya Fowler.

"I am 100% positive boss." Fowler jawab dengan lagu Fearless dari Pink Floyd berkumandang dibelakangnya.

Zain terdiam dan akalnya mula menerawang jauh. Malam itu membuka lembaran baru didalam sejarah hidupnya.  Dia tekad ke Wembley untuk meyaksikan Liverpool, bersama atau tanpa tiket final itu.


(.. bersambung)

Monday, 28 May 2012

Liverpool In Crisis? - Part II

Phase II The New Phase II
The original plan where the caretaker manager gives way to a new, younger manager had to be readjusted. Kenny Dalglish had overwhelming support from the fans to continue.

Since phase II had to be readjusted, phase III kicks in and they swapped places. The new phase II is now bringing in new players who are young and has lots of potential under the supervision of the manager and was handled by the Director of Football then, Damien Comolli.




Phase III The New Phase III

This is where the tricky part started. FSG realize the fact that there were risks in getting Kenny on board full time 12 months ago and a line had to be made. A key performance indicator (KPI) had to be in place. Hindsight tells us that FSG is in this deal for a very very long time. Replacing Kenny Dalglish after one and a half year seems rather odd. We are all fully aware of the clubs league standing end of this season but frankly, the bulk of the team is rather new and definitely FSG understands that they need time to gel. So, what was Kenny's KPI at the end of the 2011/12 season?

Putting myself in FSG's shoes, how can I return to the original plan with least furore? Please remember that the grand plan was putting great emphasis on a youthful setup, management and player wise.

As I have said earlier, releasing Kenny at the end of season 2010/2011 would have turned Liverpool upside down, but what if the club finished low in the league, even lower than the blue half of Liverpool at the end of this season? I would not want it to be too low so why not contend for two cup finals and win one, not both. I know its a bit too much like the tail wagging the dog story.



In other words, winning at least one cup and being number 8 in the league at the end of the season, was Kenny's KPI? Kenny did say that "if I can be of any help, I will."

In a rather controversial perspective, everything that happened last season fell nicely to pave the way for a return to the original plan. To carry Liverpool back to glory days on shoulders of strong and youthful individuals. If we were to plot a chart on Liverpool's progress from the day FSG took over, I bet next season will look good statistically.

I sincerely do not think Liverpool Football Club is in a crisis. There is a change in the way they do things and I am just thinking "outside-the-box".

After all maybe it's "The New Liverpool Way".

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Liverpool In Crisis? - Part I

18 months ago, Liverpool Football Club was in shambles. Roy Hodgson was managing a free falling team, 4 points off the relegation zone. The clubs financial affair was horrific and there was a possibility that the club might go into administration.

Fans were divided. It was anarchic.




In the midst of these chaos, came New England Sports Venture (NESV) lead by John Henry and Tom Werner to salvage Liverpool. They presented a plan to move forward this great club which included investments in a youth setup both in terms of players and management. The court was happy with the plan and later allowed NESV to wrestle Liverpool away from Hicks and Gillette.

I would imagine the plan to be so comprehensive that it would definitely require a few phases to complete. Remember, they are not running a brothel. Liverpool FC is a huge club and decisions have to be made based on a proper, well thought plan.

Listed below is my assumption of what the plan might have looked like:

Phase I   - To stabilize the ailing club after the mess left by Roy Hodgson, Gillette and Hicks

Phase II  - When the club has stabilized, a new young manager is put in place

Phase III - To start investing on players, focusing on youth with potential

Phase I
At the time when Roy was about to leave Liverpool, the fans were divided and the clubs result, pathetic. If Roy leaves, who in the world can breath hope into the players to make them perform? Who can unite these divided fans into a strong force, back to being the 12th man in Anfield and make them trust the management again? The answer was Kenny Dalglish.




Ian Ayre, commenting on the departure of Kenny Dalglish in the latest Liverpool debacle had only this to say about Kenny's initial appointment back on 8th January 2011;


  • "It absolutely wasn't a mistake and couldn't be further from it, to be honest. If you look back across that period, let's be clear - we asked Kenny to come back, he didn't ask for the job. We very much went and asked him to take the position, to come back and to help and he did all of those things. He always said 'if I can be of any help, I will'. He really was the catalyst to everything we have now to go forward. He was the person who galvanised everyone around such a difficult time, he brought people together, he brought the club, the fans and the players together. There were issues all over the place and in bringing all of those together he cemented us all with this unity to work together."


Kenny Dalglish second coming was very much anticipated and his appointment as caretaker manager proved to be a fantastic decision as it brought the fans together and made the team perform better. At the end of the 2010/11 season, Liverpool finished 6th in the league. Up 6 spots from where they were when Roy left. The mild success Kenny brought to the club at the end of last season meant phase II of the grand plan had to be adjusted. Kenny's managerial contract was extended from caretaker manager to 3-years full time.

Honestly, the change in plan was a natural decision. Last season ended with the fans thriving and the players upbeat. If they had kept to the original scheme of things, Kenny would have not been offered an extension, the new young manager would have started the season for Liverpool and the whole of Anfield would have gone berserk.

(..to be continued)