5 Shankly Tributes from Past and Present LFC Footballers and Managers

Bill Shankly changed Liverpool Football Club forever. He pulled the team out of second division, which ultimately led to the world-class five times Champions League winning club we know and love today.

His achievements undoubtedly had an impact not just on the club, but on the team’s legacy, future managers and players. We therefore thought it was high-time we took a look back at some tributes to the great man from past and present Liverpool managers and players.

1. Kenny Dalglish

Fellow Scot Kenny Dalglish is one of Liverpool’s finest players and managers, which led to his nickname King Kenny by the club’s supporters. His time playing football at Liverpool were some of the club’s most successful years, as he helped to win six Football League First Divisions, two FA Cups, four League Cups, seven FA Charity Shields, three European Cups and one UEFA Super Cup.

His time as manager was just as successful, as his experience, support and management skill resulted in Liverpool winning three First Divisions, two FA Cups and Four Charity Shields.

The video below shows just how much of an influence Bill Shankly was not only to Liverpool FC but to Kenny Dalglish.

2. Jamie Carragher

Recently retired Jamie Carragher was an integral member of the club since his debt in 1996, and is the club’s second-longest serving player. His honours include two FA Cups, three League Cups, two Community Shields, one Champions League, one UEFA Cup and two Super Cups.

Here Jamie talks about Shankly’s influence on Liverpool FC, the supporters and the city of Liverpool.

3. Roger Hunt

When Bill Shankly joined Liverpool FC in 1959, the club had been in Second Division for five years, Anfield was in a state of disrepair and there were no means of watering the pitch. Bill Shankly insisted the club spent £3,000 to rectify the problem, and placed 24 players on the transfer list. Roger Hunt, however, remained a part of the team and was a major factor in Liverpool’s success during the 1960s.

Roger Hunt was undoubtedly influenced by Shankly during his time with the reds, as the below video demonstrates…

4. Roy Evans

Roy Evans is a former Liverpool player who rose through coaching ranks to become a successful football manager. He joined Liverpool in 1994 when the team were in rapid decline, as the club struggled to recover from Kenny Daglish’s departure four years earlier. Roy Evans was pinnacle in assembling one of the most exciting side’s Liverpool FC had ever seen, picking a team of talented players that created an impressive team, which consisted of Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler, Stan Collymoore and 17-year-old Michael Owen.

It was Bill Shankly that spotted potential in Roy Evans, and it was he who suggested the ex-Liverpool player try a career as a coach. Here Evans talks about how Shankly was an inspiration to him, the fans and the club.

5. Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers has recently been hailed by the press as the new Bill Shankly, as he helped the club end the 2014 league season with 101 goals scored – the club’s highest number since the 1895-96 season, and the third-highest in Premier League History. He was also awarded the LMA Manager of the Year Award in May 2014.

Watch Brendan Rodgers speak about how Shankly inspires him and Liverpool FC.

Has Shankly inspired you? Tell us how by dropping us a comment below.

Liverpool 1-1 Everton

Shanks Grandson Chris Carline on the positives behind those derby day blues for the Reds fans……..

As I made my way home following yesterday’s (almost) high noon showdown with our neighbours; the feeling of disappointment at our 1-1 draw with Everton was tinged with some philosophical positivity.

We dominated the game and deserved the three points. The most hardened of Blues fans could never dispute that. Everton looked fairly toothless and the only way they were ever going to score was via something quite out of the ordinary. Phil Jagielka’s 92nd minute strike was just that.

For me, this was our best, most balanced performance of the season, and CRUCIALLY, finishing aside, is the most we have resembled the Liverpool of last season.

We looked solid at the back, something, that has scarcely been able to be levelled at Liverpool this season. Lovren and Skrtel always looked in control and I think Moreno has an absolutely fantastic game at left back, where he absolutely nullified the threat of Lukaku, who seemed to be pulling to the left of the back four for the majority of the game, quite why, I am unsure of; especially given that every time he came up against the young Spaniard; he came out second best. Moreno excites me and looks like he potentially has it all; the only thing he lacks at the moment is experience and the occasional overly enthusiastic lunge linked to this needs to be harnessed but the Belgian wont relish coming up against Moreno again any time soon.

Praise once again, should be lavished on Adam Lallana. He was Man of the Match for me. I was always an advocate of his genuine quality on the ball and have spoken about in recent blogs; but almost equally impressive is his work rate. He hasn’t stopped running in any of the games he has played in a Liverpool shirt and his tenacity was key to a good performance. He is going to be a quality player for Liverpool; and clearly, as I have conveyed in past blogs; is the man to re-establish the link between the midfield and the front three.

And then there was the Captain. Who has set message forums and social media on fire this week in the debate as to whether he should or shouldn’t warrant a place in the Liverpool 11. I made my own comments on the matter in my last blog and will re-iterate them here. Steven Gerrard is one of the best footballers I have ever seen in my life. He is Roy of the Rover incarnate. A hero. The best player to ever wear a Liverpool shirt. Is his age catching up with him? Of course it is. If it wasn’t; he’d still be playing an advanced midfield role. It happens to us all, nobody escapes it and my point was that he should be used more tactically by Liverpool in games, and rested for others depending on the opposition and the circumstance. The problem is that some ‘fans’ make their point on him in a completely disrespectful manner, in a way that disregards what he has done for the Football club. He shouldn’t be picked on what he has done in the past; that is backward and he wouldn’t want that either. He should be picked by the manager when he assesses what is the best team for each game; if he is indeed that best option. ‘Fans’ however should always broker the subject with respect, and not speak about a player who has carried many Liverpool teams for years as if he is someone who has come through the revolving door of the football club and no sooner left than he has arrived. There can be no doubt that the Captain was the best man for the job yesterday, his free kick goal sublime and his celebration fraught with the sentiments I convey above. He isn’t ready yet to step aside and quite rightly so.

Raheem Sterling continued where he left off last game. And the game before that. He crucified Everton all game, in particular Tony Hibbert who must have unusually been cursing Seamus Coleman for being injured. He was the pick of the front three, with Balotelli and Markovic both having indifferent performances; and what was most positive from this game, and what in my opinion led to this being our best performance so far; was that the link between the defence, midfield and attack was restored, allowing for a much more fluid transition up the pitch that troubled Everton, and Lallana’s presence and performance was key to this in the final third. We should have been out of sight; and Everton can thank Howard for that not being the case, plus a woeful finish from Balotelli which should have made it 2-0. When Sturridge return to the fold; I hope that we can build on the positive performance that fingers crossed should see us firing on all cylinders once again!

 

Liverpool 2-2 Middlesbrough (14-13 on penalties)

Shanks Grandson Christopher Carline on the Capital One Cup victory

Wow. Not seen anything like that for a while. Think that was the sentiment on many fans lips as they left the ground coming on for 23:00 last night.

The epic penalty shootout that eventually saw Liverpool run out 14-13 winners, both teams having missed a penalty a piece in the initial 5 taken, before a sudden death shootout that saw 4 of the original 5 takers have to go for second time, perhaps masking what is a niggling concern I have with our spluttering start to the season.

Sterling and Lallana were for me surprise starters in a first 11 that was largely made up of players who aren’t considered first choice starters in Brendan Rodgers strongest team. Even more surprising however was that both finished a gruelling 120 minutes ahead of the Merseyside Derby on Saturday. I have to say; that worries me as both should in my opinion start that game. It was perhaps for the best however in the interest of ‘getting a result’ as both were Liverpool’s most inspired performers on the night. Lallana for me was man of the match, and looks to be getting fitter with every game. At the end of last season; I was asked who we should sign and he was the first name that rolled off my lips. His low centre of gravity allows him to twist and turn under pressure and he possesses the ability to glide past opposition players riding challenges. He ran his backside off last night adding work rate to his game and he of course despatched TWO penalties in the shoot out.

Sterling was Liverpool’s creative spark all evening, and always looked the most likely to do something; yet in a strange twist of fate doubled up as pantomime villain on the night also; being the player who’s misplaced back pass allowed Boro to win a late penalty to equalise; and being the player who missed Liverpool’s crucial 5th penalty that would have avoided the epic 9 that were to follow. Still; his performance was refreshing and a Sterling in full flight is a site to behold.

Honourable mention also for Jordan Rossiter; who making his Liverpool debut bagged himself a first goal, demonstrating calm beyond his years to slot home into an empty net from distance after a defensive mix up by Boro. His overall performance was neat and tidy in the centre of midfield and fingers crossed the kid has a future here.

Most notably so is the lack of fluidity up front that seems to be dogging us and is hands down the defining characteristic that sets Liverpool of 13/14 apart from 14/15 so far. It is my hope that the return of Sturridge to the team will address this, his movement and pace a key feature of our game. For me, when he is fit, Liverpool should prioritise Sturridge, Sterling and dare I say Balotelli as the consistent front three and try and to settle them into some sort of partnership. We were so devastating last year because of the understanding and fluidity of Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling and we need to try hard to bring something back that resembles that; but key to this is Balotelli improving his work rate and movement.

A quick word of note on the penalties, which from Liverpool’s perspective, one aside, were coolness personified, even from the likes of some unlikely candidates. If we could add some of that coolness and composure to our defending at times, we wont go far wrong. For now however, we as fans were left to behold another defensive performance that at times dare I say brings flashbacks to the days of Bjorn Tore Kvarme and co! The defensive frailties continue to dog us consistently and whilst three of the back four who played last night are hardly first choice, we’d be lying if we said what we saw last night was a break from the norm of what we have witnessed so far in Premiership and Champions League games. It needs sorting. And fast. Especially ahead of the derby at the weekend, where we will be faced with delivery from the likes of Baines and aerial prowess of that belonging to Lukaku.

West Ham 3-1Liverpool

Shanks Grandson Christopher Carline on the West Ham debacle, defensive issues and the elephant in the room ; the midfield 3

To date, my blogs have been quite mild mannered; as we haven’t really had a situation that has provoked any form of outspoken or controversial opinion. Yes, the Villa game was disastrous; but there remained an err of  “it’s only early in the season and it’s a new team,” to dilute any furious thrashing of the keys on the keyboard for my post match blog.

The showing at Upton Park yesterday pushed me over the edge slightly, but with a number of specific issues rather than total doom and gloom. I was a rare absentee from the game in London yesterday, as I have just become a new father, to William David Shankly Carline, named of course, after his great granddad Shankly. I watched the game on television from my living room with my new born son on my knee kitted out in his brand new Liverpool baby grow purchased from the club shop at the ground on Friday. I’m glad he slept through the performance as if he had to witness that too often; he might start casting his eye further afield, despite his blood line!

Let’s get it right straight away, the performance was shocking; being outplayed by a Sam Allardyce managed team is unacceptable to me. We lacked intensity and pace both in attacking and defending. No pressing when we didn’t have the ball, and too pedestrian when in possession to have any cutting edge. Too many players hid when their team needed them the most; and perhaps most frustrating was the amount of individual mistakes being made.

There are however, a few burning points that I want to address in my blog.

Firstly, the defending from set pieces. Some fans see fit to blame the manager and coaching staff for this; with some idiots last night calling for a change at the top. I wont pay those sentiments any attention whatsoever as they don’t deserve to be addressed with my time; but a point I made last night about some of the defending is that there comes a time when a line has to be drawn and PLAYERS take responsibility for actions. Last week, in training; the team spent a lot of time on defending of set pieces. It beggars belief therefore that after 75 seconds of the next game, Jordan Henderson completely loses both the flight of the ball and his man, from the first set piece we have to defend, and we are a goal down. That is NOT an issue with the manager. That is plain and simple a player switching off and going to sleep when his team need him. Likewise; is it Rodgers fault that Sakho decides to inexplicably head the ball straight to a West Ham player in the onset of the third goal that killed the game? The manager must have wanted to pull his hair out and for me, the message to the players is to wake up, get tight, get organised and take some responsibility.

Secondly; and perhaps controversially, the more pressing problem we have is the selection of the midfield three, which at the moment, is Gerrard, Henderson and A Nother, yesterday Lucas being that man. Rodgers got that wrong, like he did in the first game against Southampton. Those three players are all far too similar. They sit deep, they want the ball off the back four and they rarely forge forward into the final third, or more importantly, rarely show to take the ball under pressure in the final third, hold off the challenge, turn and pick a forward pass. What results is absolutely 0 service to the front three, meaning Liverpool are camped in their own half going nowhere fast. Is it any wonder the stat that was revealed yesterday that Lovren has made more passes than any other Liverpool player? It’s because it gets as far as Gerrard, maybe Henderson and then comes back as there is nothing on.

Steven Gerrard is a situation on his own in this sense, as he is clearly told to play that deep role, and effectively become a third centre half, but the other two positions in that midfield three should be striving to take the ball from him in forward positions, make angles and play through midfield. At the moment; this clearly isn’t happening. Teams are now more than savy that if they press Gerrard high, they will not just disrupt the Liverpool tempo but also stand a chance of picking up the scraps from the Liverpool skipper when he has no out ball. I touched on this point in my last blog. For me, if we play Gerrard, then the other two positions in that midfield 3 need to be occupied by attack minded players, good on the ball, who can turn and pick passes. For me; Id play Gerrard, Lallana, Coutinho and go for it, more often than not.

Lallana clearly made a difference when he came on yesterday and he should have started.

To stick my neck out more; and to make my third point; I also don’t think Gerrard should be automatic first choice EVERY GAME either. To make this statement, draws ridiculous reactions from some Liverpool fans. My response is to say get real. Steven Gerrard is the best player who has EVER played for  this football club. That is quite some honour. He is one of the best footballers to have ever graced the planet and I absolutely worship the man. He has given me some of the best moments of my life. He is however; now 34. His legs have gone in that he isn’t box to box anymore and he is having to adapt his NATURAL game to play another role. At times, he has been targeted and he has been isolated by teams. There are occasions when the manager should look at games depending on who we are playing and really analyse whether Steven is the best option in that role for that game. There is no disrespect in this, nor any shame. Age is something that NO player can defeat. It will eventually claim Lionel Messi and others. It always does and to try and argue that this should be ignored because of what a player has done in the past is backward. Ryan Giggs would still be ambling down the wing at Old Trafford as we speak otherwise.

At the end of the day, let’s not panic. It is early in the season, the team is still trying to bed in and we wont see the best of it until another month or so. BUT; it is important to begin to address and understand the three points I make above if we are to pull ourselves from what at the moment is a bit of a cat nap by Liverpool in the midst of the Premier League campaign. Let us not forget also, this is the most competitive league in the world, and if that doesn’t help improve your mood, the example that proves this is that as I write this, Manchester United’s expensively assembled squad has just come a cropper 5-3 against little old Leicester City!

What better game to bounce back in than our lovely neighbours next week………post Capital One Cup of course.

 

 

 

Liverpool 2-1 Ludogorets

Shanks Grandson Christopher William Shankly Carline on Liverpool’s return to the Europe’s elite…..

The return of Champions League football to Anfield saw a spine tingling sense of excitement and anticipation to fans making their way to the ground on Tuesday night.

I have to say that as I made my way up Arkles Lane, seeing the old ground with flood lights beaming across the night sky brought all the memories flooding back, and the anticipation of the good old Champions League anthem booming round the ground was a strange excitement.

In the end, relief was the overwhelming emotion served to many fans, but you know what; who cares. It’s three points on the board and that’s more than any of the other English teams managed on match day 1 of the premier club competition.

Non Liverpool fans will pour scorn on the following; but Ludogorets will surprise many teams this year. They are a very good side. Pace throughout the side, with half a dozen players capable of carrying the ball, and a few tricksters in their to boot, they don’t look out of place at this level. I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if they take points off Basel or even Real Madrid.

And with Liverpool still reeling from a poor home defeat to Villa; it was probably a great time for the Bulgarians to try their hand at claiming our famous and most coveted scalp. It is with that in mind that I think ultimately this was a good result, despite the closeness of margins.

The team is still bedding in with several new personnel and the manager’s point that we are nowhere near up to speed is a fair one. Balotelli is still finding his place in the team and as my blog from the Villa game stated, he still has much work to do on his movement and contribution. That said; he bagged his goal to get him off the hook (just my opinion that) and it was a cool well taken finish which will hopefully do wonders for his confidence and work rate.

Lallana continues to impress me as he works back to fitness. He was the one player I wanted us to go out and sign when last season ended and we duly did so, and I think he will be a huge asset going forward. Coutinho too appeared to have more urgency about him, although unusually so, his decision making and final ball let him down in this game, something that can rarely be levelled at the Brazillian.

One conundrum that continues to weigh on my mind however, is the Gerrard – Henderson situation. Im sure I wont be popular for saying this but it is on my mind so why not. Im not sure they should BOTH play. I think they are too similar at the moment and Im not sure it brings the best value to the team. Certainly at home, I think one should drop to the bench to allow for a more attacking dynamic. For me, that player should be the vice captain (who drops to the bench) and not the captain. Just an opinion but one that has weighed in with me for some time now.

The back four have to be disappointed however with the goal conceded. a slide rule pass many seconds in the making in between centre half and full back is far too easy a way to split a defence at this level, and Lovren and Manquillo must be disappointed with the goal.

The Spanish full back however immediately set about redeeming himself by chasing a dead ball down at the Kop end. Ludogorets goal keeper wont want to see what happened next I’m sure, on many more occasions. To say the penalty was soft is an understatement. Mis-controlling it was bad enough but to then take Manquillo out when he was running into the dead ball line away from goal was ridiculous. That said, happy days for us, and we all know that when the Captain stands behind the ball 12 yards out, he doesn’t miss.

A collective sigh of relief breathed by all but onwards and upwards.

I do have to mention one last thing before I sign off. Im sure it wasn’t just me; but I have to say; the performance of the referee was one of the most inept and shocking performances Ive ever seen. Has this man ever played football at any level, even down the park with his mates when he was a kid? I hope it isn’t the standard we have to look forward to in coming games from UEFA officials.

Liverpool 0 – 1 Aston Villa

by Shanks Grandson Christopher William Shankly Carline

So after the wonderful tonic that was our 3-0 win at Spurs, the international break provided a period of longevity that Liverpool fans really wanted to do without before seeing the players taking to the field again in club colours. By the end of the International round of fixtures, it had additionally provided a serious frustration for Liverpool’s physio’s and club doctor!

The news that Daniel Sturridge returned home from England duty with a rather serious thigh strain that leaves him doubtful for the Everton game was greeted with anger and frustration by Brendan Rodgers and the fans, exacerbated by the news that Joe Allen and Emre Can also returned home with injuries of varying severity. All missed the cut for the Villa game as a result, and Rodgers was suitably distressed enough to leave Sterling on the bench, with all the good intention at heart to protect the 19 year old from the burgeoning pressures being put on his shoulders as the saviour of the national side.

It meant Liverpool’s team to play Villa, though packed with international talent, had an air of the unknown about it. The front 3 on paper, completely changed from the front 3 last year that rattled so many goals on route to almost winning the Premier League. And it told.

The performance was disjointed and lacked tempo, pace or cutting edge. Players looked like it was the first time they had ever set foot on the field together, and perhaps in some cases it wasn’t far off being the case, but the fact of the matter is that an average Villa side (yes they have had a decent start to the season against lesser teams) won far too easily at Anfield. It wasn’t like Senderos and Baker were making last ditch challenges. It wasn’t like Guzan was having to perform miracles in goal.

A bundled goal from Agbonlahor after 10 or so minutes should have easily been cancelled out and more by Liverpool in the remaining 80 0dd minutes. It wasn’t, Senderos stooping to beat Lovren to a corner and the rebound being scruffily turned home by the Villa man. We huffed and puffed with little end product. Lallana making his debut tried his hardest to inspire and showed some neat touches, but was offered vey little assistance from his team mates in the final third. Markovic started well but faded; but there is enough evidence to suggest he is a talented player.  Coutinho far too often had to come deep, too deep; to get the ball, and was offered little by way of movement in front of him, although the little Brazillian nearly snatched something from the game, hitting the post with a curling effort late on that had Guzan beaten all ends up.

We were offered an insight this week as to why Micah Richards came to blows with Mario Balotelli some years ago at Carrington. “I told him he has to move'” proclaimed Richards in a training match. You can see his point, Mario far too often was pedestrian and seemed to be waiting for it to happen for him rather than MAKING it happen for him. Contrast that to a front three last year of Suarez, Sterling and Sturridge who so constantly are on the move, interchanging and making defender’s lives a misery, and you can see why last year we plundered over 100 goals, yet yesterday struggled to muster more than one shot on target against Villa. Must do better is the verdict for Mario if he is going to lead the line. The bright side is that of last years front three, we still have 66% of it ready to return in coming weeks and the return of Champions League Football to Anfield tomorrow night.

 

The 5 Greatest Football Managers in History

There are some football managers that should never be forgotten for their management skills, achievements and the general passion they brought to the game. For this reason, we take a look back at 5 of the greatest managers of all time.

1. Bill Shankly

Shankly

Bill Shankly was a remarkable manager due to his unrelenting passion for the game. After a lengthy career as a professional footballer, playing nearly 300 times in the league for Preston North End and seven times for his native Scotland, he knew the game like the back of his hand, if not better.

He was as honest as he was determined, and respected the fans more than the people that signed his pay cheque. One of his most notable management decisions was ensuring the LFC ground was renovated, whilst stripping out team’s average players to introduce talented footballers. He was inspiration to many both on and off the pitch, and changed how Liverpool FC played the game, taking them out of second division and making them champions.

2. Sir Matt Busby

Matt Busby was a phenomenal manager, and was the backbone of Manchester United between 1945 to 1969, returning again for the second half of the 1970-71 season. Despite his history as a football player at two of United’s biggest rivals, Liverpool FC and Manchester City, he went on to serve as the longest Manchester United manager in history, helping the team win the FA Cup in 1948 and the league championship in 1952.

3. Bob Paisley

Bob Paisley had a lot to live up to following Shankly’s departure from LFC, as it is fair to say the fans fell in love with the Scottish manager. However, Bob Paisley proved he was up to the task, as in 9 years as manager he helped the team take home six league titles, three European Clubs, one UEFA cup, three league cups, five Community shields and the UEFA Super Cup.

4. Brian Clough

Brian Clough sealed his fate as one of the country’s finest football managers when he pulled Derby County from Second Division to crown them Champions of England in 1973. Instead of riding high on one successful team, Clough helped pull another team out from Second Division, Nottingham Forest, helping the club win back-to-back European Cups.

5. Sir Alf Ramsey

Sir Alf Ramsey is one of the most successful England managers in history, helping the national team win the 1966 World Cup on 30th July 1966. However, he didn’t stop there, as he ensured the club came in thirds in the 1968 European Championship, and his guidance ensured England reached the quarter-final stage of the 1970 World Cup, as well as the 1972 European Championship.

Have you got a favourite football manager that’s not listed above? Tell us who your favourites are. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Fish and Chips from the Chippy. Shanks’ Birthday’s were a very normal affair!

On Grandy’s 101st Birthday I thought it would be nice to bring you all a small snippet. The third installment from an interview with my mum Jeanette and daughter of Bill Shankly.

And there is no better occasion than to bring you a birthday related story. I simply asked the question;

“So what would a normal birthday occasion be like with Grandy?” to be told, “It depends if Liverpool were playing!”

That gives you some idea of what life must have been like with Shanks as your dad. His commitment to Liverpool football club unwavering as ever; but I did manage to glean some extra info from mum via persistence. “So what if Liverpool weren’t playing and he was at home with the family?”

Bill Shankly and family

The response was that it was all rather a normal affair. “We’d just sit with him and take him his presents and cards.” And what do you get the man who has everything (her phrase not mine). “The last present we ever got him for a birthday was a special posh case that contained high end items for cleaning and polishing your shoes. He was obsessed with his shoes being clean and polished and wouldn’t accept anything less, so naturally he was pleased with the gift.”

Following the giving of presents, would the family go out for a posh meal to some swanky restaurant?

Hardly. Mum advises that either Nan would cook or even more so, they would go to the much loved local Chippy on Eaton Road. “He loved our local chippy so we usually just went there and got Fish and Chips. He wasn’t a fussy eater so would get a variety of things whenever we went there. He’d usually send one of the son in law’s down to get it; but more often than not would head down himself; in the car! (see previous blogs to qualify my use of the exclamation mark).”

“Every now and then we would go out to eat but there were only a few places he would go when eating out with one in particular his favourite.”

You’ll have to wait for future blogs and the tour to find out that well known Liverpool location!

Happy Birthday Grandy.

XXX

Tottenham 0-3 Liverpool…..Chris William Shankly Carline’s Post Match Verdict

Following Monday’s defeat in Manchester; I was looking forward to yesterday’s game with high flying Spurs, strangely, with a sense of excitement and a philosophical mind set that the game represented a chance for us to take defeat on the chin and bounce back in style. We didn’t disappoint.

Spurs have made a good start to the season and will always represent a challenge on home turf, but I was confident that if we played as I know we can, we would get chances and score goals. Let’s not forget, we rattled 9 past them last year without reply.

Pre match chat was always going to be dominated by Mario. On the journey down to the capital, word started to reach us that he was starting and whilst everyone knows my concerns with the Balotelli signing; I do have to say that it did give a lift and sense of wonderment and excitement. Word on the street all week was that he had been fantastic in training, both with the ball and with the players and staff and long may that continue.

Indeed the Italian should have opened his account after two minutes, failing to convert a text book headed opportunity that would have sent the travelling Kop and the football world alike into rapture. It didn’t take much longer however for Liverpool to take the lead, the breakthrough coming on seven minutes. A slick move between Sturridge and Henderson seeing Raheem Sterling turn home at the far post for his second goal of the season.

Sterling is vastly turning into a world class footballer at 19 years of age. When I first saw him as a 15 year old kid, I knew it then and I said it then. When he was first blooded in the first team; he showed flashes of that talent then, and when he was called on by Rodgers early in his reign (probably a bit more than Brendan would have liked to with a sparse squad), he again left fans with a sense of excitement that longed for more if not a small sense of concern with some of the players immaturities off the field and some inexperience on it.

It was at this point that I think we saw two things as fans. The man management and personal skills of our manager and the proof that young, talented footballers with the world at their feet and the trappings of fame and fortune skewing their every decision; CAN make the right choices. It is a lesson and an example that Mario himself would do well to look at whilst he navigates himself through the make or break next few months of his football career.

Brendan took the young Sterling out of the lime light, faced with issues in his personal life and faced with burn out on the pitch as a raw 17 year old. He took him out, sat down with him with the team at the club and worked with the player to iron out any issues. He took the same approach on the football pitch, working on the players weaknesses mentally and physically before putting him back into contention for first team action. What returned to the first team was a mature level headed young man. Free of personal issues; tactically more aware, with eradication of notable weaknesses in is game and vast improvements in others. A player on the verge of stardom, who captured the nations imagination at the World Cup and catapulted himself to the attention of the world. Just look at the way he has adapted to being able to not only play as a winger, but through the middle and more specifically yesterday at the point of the diamond. He crucified Spurs all game; and if not for a weak finish, would have registered  a contender for goal of the season after a mazy dribble past a number of bemused Spurs players. The whole situation shows that if you are prepared to help yourself; then you are half way there. Over to you Mario…….

And speaking of Mario; the Italian demonstrated a willingness to work for the team that we haven’t seen before  in his game. Brendan indicated yesterday that in training last week; the player was asked to mark a man at defensive corners. Mario retorted; “I don’t mark at defensive corners,” to which the manager replied, “You do now.” On more than one occasion; he won headers in his new role. He held the ball up well and got through a decent amount of running. He did however, show signs of rustiness and will need time to adapt to the role as part of  a front three that will mean he needs to be flexible in the positions he takes up in relation to the players around him.  He missed a great opportunity just before half time to double the Liverpool lead following an error by Hugo Lloris that presented him with the opportunity to lob home from distance but the half volley was shanked wide.

Liverpool could thank Mignolet for the fact they went in 1-0 up at half time, the Belgian saving well from just before half time. It took Liverpool no time whatsoever in the second half to double the lead, Allen being felled by Dier’s soft challenge. It’s fair to say all eyes were on the Captain as he stepped up top convert the spot kick superbly. It was the first spot kick he has had to take since his much publicised slip against Chelsea last year that fans of clubs all over the country have taken delight in singing from the terraces about. The Captain didn’t disappoint, his nerves of steel matching his world class talent.

With Spurs huffing and puffing, the travelling Kop were furnished with a special treat, a wonderful solo goal from Alberto Moreno. The Spanish full back dispossessing Aaron Lennon with dogged defending and then racing the length of the field to dispatch a wonderful left footed strike past Lloris before joining the reds fans to celebrate.

Liverpool look to have done a wonderful piece of business with the signing of both Spanish full backs Maquillo and Moreno. They look every inch the modern full back. They can attack, defend, are good positionally, can tackle, can cross and can strike a ball. The entire back four looked solid I thought yesterday, bar a couple of lapses in concentration. Sakho needs to work on his propensity to give hospital balls to team mates when he isn’t really under any pressure but that is something that will surely come. Lovren was outstanding. He provides an aura of solidity missing for many years, since the day of Hyypia and Henchoz, and long may it continue.

So. Three points. Back on track following the results for other teams over the weekend. A fantastic performance and Mario’s debut done and dusted with nothing but positives. Onto Villa following the international break!

Oh and one last thing; I thought the atmosphere was outstanding yesterday from Liverpool fans. I felt good. Really good.

 

Christopher William Shankly Carline