I believe Liverpool have scored 33 goals in 28 games, surely that is some kinda record for a Pool side.
YNWA? More like YAWN.
YNWA? More like YAWN.
I agree on benitez tactics. Not a fan of them.Red Bed said:Certainly, but I don't think Benitez's tactics are helping.
Chelsea can do that and get away with it because of their amazing wingers and world class striker in Crespo.
oh STFU, YNWA is a beautful song that doesnt deserve idiots like you trying to insult it. :yuck:Red Bed said:YNWA? More like YAWN.
and Pauleta is top scorer there year in year out but can't seem to hit a cows arse for Portugal. :lala:arfy05 said:lets not forget drogba and diouf also came from there :lala:
thanks for further enhancing my point jernJern Lizardhous said:and Pauleta is top scorer there year in year out but can't seem to hit a cows arse for Portugal. :lala:
not forgetting 50 goal Stephane Guivarch, :sweeteye:
also not forgetting that Cygan was voted the best defender there only 4 years ago.
Yea but the problem is that the strikes don't score all the assists, if they would, Gerrard would have 10-15 assists till now :sigh:Red Bed said:I also looked up the assists table in the premiership.
Gerrard and Alonso have only 4 assists each, midfield players of that calibre really should contribute more.
Owen wanted to come. The fact he’s not here is down to Liverpool
Still reeling from the Champions League disaster, Steven Gerrard is determined to bounce back at Arsenal today
The most influential player in England. Bar none.” Sir Alex Ferguson on Steven Gerrard, March 1, 2006. A week that Gerrard would rather forget saw Liverpool’s inspirational captain travel to France on Thursday to present the new Champions League trophy to the mayor of Paris. Appropriately enough, it was delivered Red Star.
Gerrard’s team no longer had an interest in the most celebrated of all club tournaments, the glittering prize won that sensational night in Istanbul having been torn from Liverpool’s grasp by Benfica in midweek. The next day the England midfielder was in Leicester for the funeral ofGary McAllister’s wife, Denise. In such circumstances many footballers would have ducked out of the interview we had arranged.
Gerrard, however, has never ducked anything. The obvious starting point was the holders’ elimination from Europe. One-nil down from the first leg in Lisbon, Liverpool were confident of overcoming the disadvantage at their Anfield fastness. What was one goal to a team that had clawed back three against mighty Milan? “Everybody connected with the club thought we’d go through,” says Gerrard. “I definitely thought we would. The changing room before the game was buzzing, you could see all the boys were up for it, and we could hear the crowd were too.”
Instead, Liverpool spurned their opportunities and Benfica gave them a lesson in finishing to win 2-0 on the night and 3-0 on aggregate. Gerrard still can’t believe it. “The idea was to get an early goal, and we created the chances to do it, but we couldn’t put the ball in the net. I went straight home and sulked. Driving home with a few friends, all we could talk about was the chances we’d had and the massive disappointment of going out.
“Being captain, I’ve got to lift my chin off the floor and try to help the boys get over it because there’s still two important things to play for: finishing second in the league, and the FA Cup. But it’s hard. You were at the game, so you know how it went and the support the fans gave us. They were superb, they deserve a trophy.”
Failure to translate possession and territorial advantage into goals is the story of Liverpool’s season. On Wednesday they used four centre-forwards, Peter Crouch, Fernando Morientes, Djibril Cissé and Robbie Fowler, all of whom were again found wanting. The stats make dreadful reading. The club that couldn’t stop scoring in the halcyon days of Ian Rush, Kenny Dalglish and John Aldridge has managed eight goals in the past 13 games, its strikers have contributed a paltry two in 2006, and in 44 appearances between them they have come up with just one.
In midweek Gerrard created a gilt-edged chance for Crouch, only to see the beanpole finish with all the dexterity of a man on stilts. Morientes was at his worst yet, utterly unrecognisable from his Real Madrid incarnation, and Cissé continues to play like one. Gerrard weighs his words carefully before saying: “Scoring is a team responsibility and I don’t want to sit here and criticise the forwards, but their confidence is low and the goals are not going in. Statistics don’t lie.”
Crouch has four goals to show for 24 league appearances and Morientes three in 21. Gerrard, with 18 in all competitions, is easily the leading scorer. “I’m happy enough with my return, but from the team’s point of view it’s obviously a problem,” he says. “Sometimes you lose games and can’t put your finger on what’s going wrong, but in this case we know what the trouble is, it’s there for every body to see.”
If the problem is readily apparent, so is the answer, which could be articulated in two words: Michael Owen. Gerrard explains: “I’ve got confidence in Peter Crouch, but to get the best out of him, he needs to play alongside a prolific scorer. Peter has never been prolific and I don’t think he’s ever going to be. He’s a target man; you’ll only get maximum benefit out of him if you play him alongside a prolific partner, and we haven’t got one. We’re desperate for one. I’m not going to sit here and disguise the fact that we need a poacher.”
No prizes for guessing the predator he has in mind — the one who joined Newcastle when he left Real Madrid last summer. “I know Michael Owen wanted to come here,” Gerrard says. “I’ve got a good enough relationship with him to know that. We speak regularly and I know what Michael’s feelings were. He wanted to come back and play for Liverpool. The fact that he’s not here now is down to Liverpool not making it happen, rather than Michael not wanting to come.
“It’s difficult for me to say what difference he might have made the other night, but Michael Owen scores goals. Domestically, in Europe and at international level, he has proved that. He’s a great player. Someone asked me in the interviews after the game on Wednesday if I’d like him back, which is a silly question. He’s a world-class player and one I love playing with. Of course I’d love to have him back. I was disappointed when he didn’t come, and so were the rest of the lads, because we all knew he’d have improved us, but it was a tricky situation. Michael was desperate to get away from Real quickly. If he’d given it a bit more time, I think he would have been a Liverpool player again.”
Might he still be? “Who knows what the future holds?” Gerrard says. Meanwhile, the manager, Rafael Benitez, has identified different targets. Gerrard says: “We’ve got Mark Gonzales coming from Spain (Albacete), a tricky winger who plays on the left. Rafa has said he’s also after a right-sided midfielder, and I’m sure, after what has been happening, that he’s going to bring in a striker as well. He has said he needs the money, which is right. That’s the way it is in football now. If you want the best players, you’ve got to find top money. I don’t think it will be a problem. The board will back Rafa because I know they’ve every confidence in him.”
But what of Benitez? Will he be staying? “Yeah, I’m confident about that. There’s been a lot of media speculation because of what’s going on at Real Madrid, and I know Inter Milan are interested, but that’s only normal. He’s one of the best coaches in the world, so there will be clubs chasing him, but I’m confident he wants to stay here. He’s got a lot of belief in this squad, and if the board back him, Rafa will bring more trophies here. We finished fifth last season (37 points behind Chelsea) and we were really struggling. This time we’re playing better football and feel we’re moving forward. Finishing second is the immediate challenge. Manchester United are slight favourites at the moment, but we’ll fight them all the way for it.”
Gerrard agrees that Chelsea are still operating “on a different level from the teams just behind them”, but insists there is no danger of them disappearing over the horizon. “I don’t think the gap is that big. When we play them, it’s not as if they play amazing football and you feel they’re invincible. We always feel they are beatable, but over a season they’ve got this consistency, this will to win and incredible strength in depth. They’ve got top-class players who can’t even get into their 16, so at the moment it is very difficult to compete with them.”
What is it they say — if you can’t beat them, join them? Gerrard nearly did. Twice. “The first time (June 2004) was largely media talk, although I do have to admit their interest did turn my head,” he says. “The second time (July 2005) I was very close. I was having problems sorting out my contract here, and it nearly happened (a fee of £35m was agreed between the clubs).”
Before, and even after an 11th-hour change of heart on July 6, he was vilified as a “Judas” by his Scouse fan club, who had idolised him, above all the foreign imports, as one of them. “I remember a guy burning a Gerrard shirt outside Anfield,” he says. “I’m not sure if he was a real Liverpool fan or if he’d been given a few quid by the press to do it, but I’m strong enough to move on from things like that.” Once he had made the decision to stay, he threw himself into his work. “I don’t feel I owe the supporters anything extra because I got involved with Chelsea. I owe them every time I play because they pay my wages and the support they’ve given me since I made my debut at 19 has been unbelievable.
“I’m not proud of how I made them feel when they thought I was going, but we’re fine again now. It took the Chelsea thing to make me realise how much I love this football club. I’ve no regrets. On the contrary, I’m so glad I stayed and I want to be successful at Liverpool, nowhere else.”
Was it filthy lucre that attracted him to Roman’s revolution? “Of course not,” he shoots back quickly. “Before the Chelsea speculation started I was okay for money. I don’t play football to get richer, I play to become more successful. What turned my head was what was happening at Chelsea at the time. You could see they were going to win trophies, it was as simple as that. Now I’ve got confidence that I can do that here, and it will mean more to me, winning them at Liverpool, than it would anywhere else.”
Talk of financial matters turns the conversation to our first meeting, more than six years ago, when he arrived from insalubrious Huyton in his dad’s Honda saloon. This time a top-of-the-range Mercedes swept him in from Formby’s millionaires’ row. Times have changed for the boy from the Bluebell Estate. “Yeah, I remember that first interview,” he says, smiling at the memory. “I couldn’ t even afford my own car. My family never had much money, so I appreciate having it now and try to make sure I use it right.”
He is able to provide well for his partner Alex (they are getting married next year) and his two-year-old daughter, Lily. For what seemed like an eternity (he is still only 25) a complaining body held back that towering talent, and growing pains hampered his progress. Only a couple of years ago he was still deemed too fragile to play twice a week, but he has all the strength he needs now, as many an overpowered opponent will testify, and has rattled through 47 matches already this season. “These days, whenever I go on the pitch I’ve got a lot of energy, and I’m confident,” he says. “I feel I can play well in every game. I’ve been very consistent this season, playing near to my maximum, but I’m still striving to get better.” As his physique filled out, so did his game. “When I broke on to the scene, because of the way my body was developing I never had the strength or the energy to get around the pitch, so I became more of a holding player. As I’ve got stronger and my body has adjusted to the demands of playing at this level, I’ve settled into what I feel is my best position, an attacking midfielder.”
Cue England. “It’s nice that Joe Cole has come in and done well on the left, because I’ve been lumbered with that a few times,” he says, grinning. “That’s been the case at Liverpool as well. I’ve always had to fill in for various people, and because I’ve done okay I’ve been my own worst enemy. Managers have tended to use me not in the position that suits me best, but where they’ve got nobody else. It’s all about attitude — just getting on with it. Thinking about the team instead of being selfish.”
Of England’s prospects at the World Cup, he says: “The expectation is already massive, and I don’t want to add to that, but if we can keep everyone fit (Gerrard missed the 2002 tournament through injury) and we get the bit of luck you always need, we’ve got the players to deliver in the summer.” Foremost among them is Wayne Rooney. “Wayne has the ability to go there and shine and be our key man. I just hope people don’t hang too much expectation on his young shoulders. He’s still a baby at international level. We’ve got to remember he’s only 20. Let him go there and enjoy it — that’s the way to get the best out of him, not by piling pressure on him.
“We’re mates and we speak quite a bit on the phone. I don’t preach to him, but he knows I’ll always be there if he does need advice or any sort of help. And what a fantastic player. I’m just glad he’s English.”
Sven-Göran Eriksson is not alone in saying the same about the one-man army they call Stevie G.
Gerrard: Bring back Owen
Joe Lovejoy, football correspondent
STEVEN GERRARD, the Liverpool captain, believes Michael Owen could make a shock return to Anfield at the end of the season. There is a clause in the Newcastle United forward’s contract that allows him to leave the club for £12m in the summer and Gerrard is urging Liverpool to buy a new striker in the wake of their elimination from the Champions League last week.
Gerrard, in an exclusive interview with The Sunday Times, says a penalty area “poacher” is needed if an improving team is to achieve its potential, and that re-signing Owen last summer would have been the ideal answer. The England forward instead moved to Newcastle from Real Madrid for £17m.
“I know Michael Owen wanted to come here,” said Gerrard. “I’ve got a good enough relationship with him to know that. That he didn’t was down to Liverpool not making it happen, rather than Michael not wanting to come.
“It’s difficult for me to say what difference he might have made the other night, but Michael Owen scores goals. Domestically, in Europe and at international level he has proved that. Someone asked me after Wednesday’s game if I’d like him back, and it’s a silly question . . . Of course I’d love to have him back.”
Liverpool have scored only eight times in their past 13 matches, with their strikers managing just two goals this year. “Statistics don’t lie,” said Gerrard. “I’m not going to disguise the fact that we need a poacher. The problem we’ve got is obvious. Sometimes you lose games and you can’t put your finger on what’s going wrong, but in this case we know what it is — it’s there for everyone to see.”
Against Benfica in midweek, manager Rafael Benitez used four centre-forwards during the course of the game, but none of them looked like translating possession into goals, and the European champions were dethroned on a 3-0 aggregate. Peter Crouch wasted the best chance of the match, prodding the ball weakly at the goalkeeper in a one-on-one situation. Gerrard said of his England teammate: “Peter has never been prolific, and I don’t think he’s ever going to be. He’s a target man, you’ll only get the maximum out of him if you play him alongside a prolific striker, and we haven’t got one at the moment.”
Owen scored 158 goals in his seven years with Liverpool, but despite playing a leading role in the winning of three domestic cups, the Uefa Cup, five top four finishes and two Champions League campaigns, the Cheshire-born forward was never taken to supporters’ hearts in the same way as Gerrard, from Huyton, and Jamie Carragher, raised in Bootle, who are idolised as “local” heroes.
Gerrard expressed his sorrow at Owen’s treatment at Christmas, when he was jeered by the Kop on his return as a Newcastle player, but his main concern now is where Liverpool’s goals are going to come from. Gerrard, a midfielder, is the club’s leading scorer in the Premier League with seven.