The Ultimate Beatles Tour of Liverpool

Home of the Beatles, you can’t explore the best of Liverpool without walking in the shoes of the Fab Four. From Liverpool’s leafy suburbs to city centre landmarks, there’s an essence of John, Paul, George and Ringo wherever you go. At Shankly Tours, we’re here to ensure that your sight-seeing journey runs smoothly, so that you can enjoy a full Beatles experience. Your visit to the city may be fleeting, but there’s plenty you can fit in with some organising.

Cementing an iconic era, the rise of the Beatles ran parallel with Liverpool Football Club’s rise into a ‘Bastion of Invincibility’. It didn’t take long for excitement surrounding Liverpool’s stars to intermix; Bill Shankly’s Liverpool FC was one of the first clubs to have fans sing Beatles songs from the terraces. Liverpool is now renowned worldwide for two defining reasons: the Fab Four and its vibrant football culture. So, we thought we’d combine the two to create the ultimate tour of Liverpool.

For Beatles fans visiting Liverpool, it can be tricky to fit everything in. To truly experience the Beatles’ Liverpool, you’ll need to head out of the city centre and discover the most sentimental spots of the suburbs.  That’s where we come in to save the day!

What to Expect

  • Begin and finish the tour at the fabulous Shankly Hotel in Liverpool city centre
  • A combination of sights, incorporating Bill Shankly/football history and Beatles landmarks
  • The houses of the Fab Four
  • Strawberry Fields gates
  • Anfield football stadium
  • Bill Shankly’s former home
  • 20% off food & drink at the Shankly’s Bastion Bar & Restaurant
  • A once in a lifetime Beatles/Shankly memorabilia viewing at the Shankly Hotel

A Full Experience of Liverpool

Nestled away from the bright lights of the city centre, the story behind John Lennon’s nostalgic and and dreamy “Strawberry Fields Forever” revolves around Lennon’s very own childhood dreamworld.

You’ll be taken to the gatepost to Strawberry Field, where Lennon and his childhood friends would spend hours playing within the wooded garden. The popular tourist attraction is located close to Lennon’s childhood home in Woolton, one of Liverpool’s most scenic suburbs. A chance to truly follow in the footsteps of John Lennon, exploring this sentimental suburb will certainly be a day to remember for Beatles fans from near and far.

The Bastion Bar & Restaurant

What better way to end a busy day than with some hearty food at the Bastion? Upon returning from your tour, you’ll be awarded 20% off at this Liverpool favourite for food and drink, the perfect excuse for a refreshing Beer or a fruity cocktail!

With an array of delicious dishes to pick from, you’ll find everything from our famous Shankly Burger to Beer-Battered Fish and Chips, Steak and Mushroom Pie and Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato and Rocket Risotto. And for those with a sweet tooth, don’t miss out on our tasty desserts, ranging from Baileys and White Chocolate Cheesecake and Glazed Lemon Tart.

Whether you’re planning your first visit to Liverpool or it’s one of many, we’re sure this memorable experience won’t be your last! To enquire about our fabulous Fab Four and Shanks Tour, our helpful team would love to hear from you here. You can also contact our team on info@shanklyexperience.com.

 

Second Euro Exit Within a Week is Not as Shocking as the First!

I have to confess right away, I am not a fan of the English national team. I’m not sure when and where this happened; I seem to remember being full of patriotism during Euro 96, but somewhere between now and then I’ve actually developed something of a dislike for our nations football team. I can only hazard a guess as to some of the reasons why.

I think traditionally a lot of patriotism towards the national side is London-centric, and over the years travelling around the country with Liverpool has lead me into contact with a number of fans of other clubs whose behaviour left a sour taste in the mouth. Perhaps I identify them with fans of England. There is of course the feeling that Liverpool as a city and Scousers see themselves as fiercely independent from the rest of the country. We rally round our own and after being on the receiving end of the biggest government cover up in the history of the British justice system; you can’t really blame us for looking away from that British Bulldog style feeling.

Or maybe it’s the idea that an inherent arrogance surrounds the national team’s plight, despite only ever achieving success way back in 1966 as a nation. It was an arrogance in many ways that was in full flow last night against Iceland and yet a familiar story come the final whistle. An arrogance with no substance resulting in England out of yet another tournament, having hugely underachieved and with another manager heading for the hills.

I have to admit, I sat with a wry smile last night as the England’s superstars postured uncomfortably as they ran out of ideas on how to break down ‘little’ Iceland. I’d already developed a soft spot for them in the wake of Ronaldo’s comments after his Portugal side failed to beat them in the first group game.

His sentiments irked me a lot if I am being honest and in many ways were the perfect metaphor for England’s national teams problems. A sense of self entitlement. Ronaldo seemed to think that Portugal had a god given right to roll over Iceland, a country I believe in their first ever meaningful International Tournament, and a nation with just 330,000 people in situ (so less than Liverpool as a City). Indeed the fact that they celebrated wildly having avoided defeat to Portugal was in some way offensive to Ronaldo who insisted that, “only one team came to win the game,” and that, “you’d think they had won the tournament.” It brought down the red mist for me personally and I indicated via social media that instead of the petulant stance he had taken, perhaps it would have been better to look at his own personal failures in front of goal that night, and that of his team on the whole, rather than point the finger of blame elsewhere.

England team

It is a notion that the English national team should take heed of also. Every single tournament they approach it with the same sense of arrogance and self-entitlement. “We are England, home of the Premier League, fear us!” (a sentiment that seemed to have spilled over to the fans also until the Russians turned up). And every time, it ends the same way. Exit and sub-standard performances. In a world that saw Leicester City defy the juggernaut that is modern day football, right here in their very own back yard; you would have thought England’s footballers would have entered Euro 2016 with a sense of caution; and a refining of the essence of the game that inspires no ego’s, hard work and a desire to run through brick wall’s for your team mates. Sadly for England there was only one team on display last night that elicited that and they play France in a few days’ time whilst Joe Hart and co sun themselves on a beach.

This current England side seemed to be seduced by the successes they had in a sub-standard qualifying group, and coupled with the usual over indulged romanticism of the nation’s press when it comes to England, brought rise to the notion that this group of players seemed to be some sort of golden generation. A misguided sentiment if ever there was one. Throw into the mix the fact the manager, a lovely bloke we are all told, is one of the most over rated, average managers I have ever had the displeasure to experience, what was produced was a team high on over confidence, full of individuals, harbouring a fierce sense of self-entitlement and one with no discernible game plan imposed on it by the ‘manager’ and ‘coaching’ team. You can, if you wish, drill down into specifics.

Why was Wayne Rooney shoe horned into the side with this idea that all of a sudden he is a world class midfielder. No. He is either good enough to start up front or not. Which one is it. If it’s ‘not’ then he starts from the bench. Midfielders who had great seasons with their clubs were either sat on the bench or not in the squad at all. Milner, Barkley, Noble, Drinkwater all spring to mind.

What was the game plan and the system? What was the preferred starting XI. Roy is still working it out, it is just a shame he didn’t work it out as quick as he worked up that resignation statement.

If a team/squad had been put together that had a clear game plan, with players playing in their correct positions, based on form and not reputation, and crucially, had been moulded into a unit designed to work for each other and as a team, not individuals, then I am sure progress would have been much more achievable. Previous England sides have had much bigger and better individuals in tow (Gerrard, Lampard, Beckham, Scholes, Terry), and failed due to the same misgivings and having fallen into the same trap that individuals will bail the team out or drag them through with pieces of individual brilliance because let’s face it, “we’re England and we deserve it.”

Antonio Conte summed it up brilliantly with his perspective on Italy, a side who I personally am tipping for success this year. He stated that his squad does not harbour the same individual brilliance of former Italian sides and that his task has been about moulding a team who work for each other and win as a unit, not as individuals. It was a beautifully refreshing piece of honesty and humility from a manager of a nation who have achieved regularly throughought their history. Maybe when the FA look to appoint their next manager, they take that into consideration but I wouldn’t hold your breath. As for me, I’m a Shankly, aren’t I? Scottish blood flows through these veins!

 

Sink or Swim time for Klopp

To kick off the first leg of the Europa League semi-finals, Liverpool FC are due to take on Villarreal. A challenge for Jürgen Klopp, who is yet to bring home a UEFA win on Spanish soil. Both sides are entering the fray unbeaten, with our reds being the first team to have gone 12 games undefeated in a single UEFA Europa League campaign. Let us hope that the last four wins for Jürgen can afford us a victory on Spanish turf, and give him something worth smiling about.

smile

source; www.skysports.com

 Since a friendly match ending 0-0, in 2008, Villarreal and Liverpool have never faced off in a UEFA Club competition. Although “The Yellow Submarine”, did grace the shores of the Mersey in the summer of 2015, going up against the Reds’ nemesis’ Everton and came out on top in a 2-1 defeat. The Villarreal fans followed up this win by gracing The Cavern’s patrons with a rendition of the “Yellow Submarine” song, made famous by The Beatles, but the title of which is a nickname the supporters chose for their team in the late 60’s.

Yellow Sub

source; www.absofcakes.blogspot.com

Liverpool fans are hopeful that 2016 could be the year to bring home a fourth UEFA Europa League title, with the second leg of this meet going down on home turf, and with Liverpool having remained undefeated at home this campaign. Villarreal yet to win at any of their last 10 matches against Premier League opponents, only adds to the high spirits of Liverpool supporters.

Villarreal vs Liverpool

source; www.premiertrophies.co.uk

However a comment from Marcos Senna, former Villarreal player, sums up the reaction to the pairing with UEFA.com news “There are no favourites anymore”, and with Cedric Bakambu, Villarreal star forward, being on top form, Klopp knows what lies ahead. Hopes are pinned on Simon Mingolet, having not missed a minute of play since group stages began, being on his game for this meeting.

cedvssim

source; www.espnfc.com and www.whoscored.com

To credit the Spanish side, The Bastion Bar & Restaurant, will be serving up a feast of the ever present footy food staple, meat and potato pie, but with a twist of Española. Supplied by Homebaked Anfield, a socially enterprising local bakery, the usual meat and potato filling will be substituted with a chorizo, Spanish meatballs, and patatas bravas creation. All profits of which are invested back into the local community.

Combine this with a free drink and a seat in The Bastion Bar, you’ve found the ideal surrounding to watch this clash play out. To book your seat call 0151 601 8801.

The Modern Game of Football

“Make no bones about it; this is the biggest rebuilding job faced by a Liverpool manager since my Granddad in ’59.”

I don’t want to start my latest blog by sounding like the harbinger of doom, so at least give me a chance to offer some rational consensus on my opinion above. What I am trying to do is bring a sense of reality to the modern day football fan’s perspective.

The modern game and, by default, the modern fan, demands instant success, at times to farcical levels. When a new manager (and often a player, too) comes to a football club, there is, these days, an air of expectation that come equipped with a magic wand; something exacerbated when they come with a track record of success, as Jurgen Klopp has.

My point is that fans need to step back, take a reality check and examine the situation and the facts before they make a decision on when success is ‘expected’.

Jurgen Klopp is an exceptional manager. We all know that. He, on paper, comes across as someone who is completely in touch with the fans, and someone who would walk through walls for his players and his club. Dare I say, he has a touch of the Shankly about him.

But let us look at reality. He has inherited a squad from Brendan Rogers, which is one of the poorest, quality wise, in many, many years. For a majority of the years, we have spent since our last top division league title. We have been able to state with conviction that we have a least one world class player in our midst. At present, we can’t make such a claim.

Anfield-Stadium

There are perhaps two pretenders to that throne in Phil Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge, but the former is inconsistent and the latter has yet to shake off the injury jinx tag. Roberto Firmino displays signs of ability, but is a work in progress, to say the least. If you were to ask me, with hand on heart, who from the current squad would you honestly state with 100% conviction that they needed to be part of the rebuilding process going forward, I wouldn’t be able to look past the three players listed above, and even they are touch-and-go for the reasons stated.

Outside of the playing side, the situation with owners remains a cause for concern. I’m not as hard on FSG as many people are. I don’t think they made any sweeping statements like Gillet or Hicks did. I think it was fairly transparent what their plan was. They are pure businessmen. They bought a commodity that was in debt, reduced and got it out of debt, whilst establishing a margin for it tmake profit, but are now looking, I’m sure, to sell it on for a profit as a business in good shape. THAT IS NOT TO SAY I AGREE WITH THIS; ON THE CONTRARY.

In an ideal world, football owners would be in it for the love of the game and their team; to build and develop it into a partnership with the fans, in an effort to make it the best it can be, and in a sustainable manner. Sadly, the world we live in, with modern football, means this is rare. I cast an envious eye to the Etihad in many ways. Grass isn’t always greener and all that, and who knows what the long term plan is, but the owners at Manchester City seem to have invested in a vision of development and success.

Refurbishment of the Etihad, construction of what can only be described as a small city on site neighbouring the ground that plays host to an academy, youth team stadium and training facilities, and, of course, what seems like unlimited funds available to improve the squad. It all seems very impressive. Too good to be true? Maybe. On the face of it, they seem to have a good deal and one that is worlds apart from where Liverpool currently find themselves.

Throw into the mix that the club currently has no guarantees at Champions League Football, and the knock on effect this has on attracting the best players, and it all serves to reinforce my point that Klopp has a huge task on his hands. One that he simply cannot achieve overnight. One that needs to be given a more than realistic timeframe to complete. I think my Granddad’s first game in charge ended in a 4-0 defeat. At home. To Cardiff. It took him two years to get them out of the second tier. He was given time, however, and look what happened there. The same applies to Alex Ferguson. I just hope the modern football fan remembers it!

What Went Wrong for the Reds Last Night?

I don’t think anyone can hide their disappointment at last night’s result. To lose two cup finals in one season is hard for any fan to take and, of course, we can’t overlook the vast incentive that had been on offer of Champions League qualification for next season. Whether this will play a factor in Klopp’s rebuilding strategy for next year remains to be seen. My heart says no, but my head says yes. My hope is that the infectious nature of the manager combined with the fact that Liverpool FC will always be one of the biggest clubs in the world will see us still able to attract the biggest players on the planet. Goetze certainly comes into that category and, frankly, I’m not sure how true the rumours have been up until now. I’m from the school of people who don’t believe it until I see them sat at Melwood holding the shirt up, but, the fact is, he is a world-class performer and, if Klopp wants him, I hope we get him. The signing of a proven world-class schemer will always then be an anchor for others. We shall see.

So what went wrong last night? I don’t think it was anything that hasn’t been symptomatic of Liverpool’s all season. That said, the issues we had last night that conspired to hand us defeat are the issues we as fans and the manager and his staff have been acutely aware of all season.

First up is the lack of a genuine on field leader. Jordan Henderson as club captain didn’t play a part last night due to fitness and, even so, I am not convinced at his leadership qualities when he is on the field. He is a mouthy little so and so and I like that; he won’t back down to anyone, but that tends to be with opposition players and referees. I am not convinced he believes himself that he has the credentials to lead a Liverpool team and when his team mates need geeing up and picking up, it rarely comes from him as an individual. The self-belief just isn’t there, in that I think he truly thinks that if he started screaming at team mates he’d be almost told to “do one!”

lfc sturridge

As vice-captain, James Milner is more your lead-by-example type of captain. His tireless work ethic sets the benchmark for the rest of the team, but the problem here is that this doesn’t always inspire team mates, more so the crowd in many respects.

When either of these has been absent from the field, the captain’s arm band at Liverpool this season has been passed round from pillar to post, (I think even Sturridge took it against Chelsea for a period), confirming the fears that there just isn’t a natural leader in the team who fits the bill. As a result, and you can chart this the whole season, not just last night; when we face adversity on the field, namely in the shape of conceding a goal, heads drop and players start hiding, as there is no leader to rattle them from the slumber.

Sevilla’s equaliser last night was a classic example of this. Players sleeping from the first whistle, and a goal conceded 30 seconds in the half and all of a sudden, panic stations, heads down and a game of hide-and-seek from many of the players in Liverpool red. What was needed was a period of calm for 10 minutes after conceding. Keep hold of the ball, slow the tempo, give every player a touch of the ball and take the momentum out of Sevilla who clearly have their tails up after getting themselves back in the game. With no ‘leader’ to orchestrate this Liverpool fell into the trap they have all season after conceding and a second and more that point were always inevitable; you only have to think back to games like Southampton away, Newcastle at home and Sunderland at home to see my point.

lfc europa

Secondly, was the lack of performance from our so called better players when it most matters. True world-class footballers don’t wait for the game to find them. They go and take the game by the scruff of the neck and run it themselves. I don’t want to single out players but it is hard not to, so I will. Phillipe Coutinho is often mentioned in the same sentence as the words, ‘world class’, yet for me, he will always struggle to justify that if he continues to float in and out of games, especially big ones. Is that something you could ever level at Messi, Ronaldo or Suarez? He skirted round the periphery of the game last night and had no impact on proceedings at all. And he wasn’t the only one. Roberto Firmino has caught the imagination of Liverpool fans in the clichéd difficult first season in English football, but there is a worry there for me that he suffers to much from the same problem of his Brazillian counterpart Coutinho. He is either right on it or he is anonymous and, again, last night he had little impact on proceedings. Sturridge at least produced one piece of genius in the game, yet in the second half when the chips were down, looked like he had one eye on Euro 2016. Where was the running in behind, working the channels etc.?

The only consolation you can take is that Klopp now must know clearly what his team needs for next season and must now set about getting it. Genuine competition for Sturridge up front is needed; as well as a genuinely class ball playing midfielder who is comfortable in possession, understand the game inside out and isn’t afraid to put a foot in where needed. A world class centre half is needed and I think we can all now see the need for another left back. Within his recruitment of these players, Klopp needs to find himself someone who has the persona to be his leader and his general on the pitch, an individual who not only leads by example performance wise, but has the self-belief to say, “I am captain of Liverpool FC,” whilst truly believing he is worthy of that accolade and whom knows that is he asked it, his team would go to war on his command.

Over to you, Jurgen. “Shankly, don’t worry, about a thing, cos every little thing, is gonna be alright…”

Klopp of the Kop

So despite my reservations in my last post; Liverpool ultimately made the decision to get rid of Brendan Rodgers, taking the opinion that he wasn’t the man capable of dragging Liverpool out of their spiral.

I said at the time that I couldn’t work out how I felt about it (the prospect of us getting rid of Rodgers). Now it has happened, I have to admit the sense of excitement I feel about Klopp seems to indicate it was the right decision to make. It doesn’t however alter the points I made about the danger of being fickle and that how Rodgers was working with one hand tied behind his back. From my side, I feel sorry for him for these reasons and I wish him all the best. Say what you will but he still presided over one of the best seasons of football I have ever seen two seasons ago and almost achieved the impossible. For those who say, ‘it was all Suarez,’ I simply don’t buy it. You buy players for huge sums and pay them huge wages to win you games. Suarez played under Kenny remember and never hit the levels he did until Rodgers set about a system and style of play that brought the best out of the Uruguayan. It’s like saying Pep Guardiola isn’t great as Lionel Messi won Barca everything.

If we take the points about Rodgers operating with his hands tied behind his back out the equation for just a second, his biggest problem was that he seemed to have lost the ability to inspire what he had. The players looked lost and in need of some motivation to get them going again and for the best will in the world it appeared Brendan was failing to address this.

It is with this in mind that the appointment of Klopp looks like a good one. The man has charisma and character (there is that word again), and is the kind of manager that players would run through brick walls for. As a fan, I already feel excited about going the game again, and I am sure players cant wait to get back from international duty to start training and playing for him.

Darest I say also that Klopp seems to have a touch of the Shankly-esque about him. In his first weekend at the club, he has spent a lot of time taking in the city and meeting fans out and about in everyday locations such as local pubs, shops and restaurants. He certainly seems to be a man of the people.

It is however; the sentence he uttered in his first press conference that really struck me when talking about Liverpool’s infamous transfer committee. When I talk about Rodgers having to work with his hands tied behind his back, it is in reference to feeling that he was at times, overawed and maybe even bullied by the committee into taking players that he didn’t want. Klopp was emphatic is his take on the situation. When speaking about how he had no problem speaking with a committee about players, his statement that, “I will have the first and last word,” was exactly what every Liverpool fan wanted to hear. So long as Klopp sticks to this, there shouldn’t be a problem. He identifies a player, puts him on the table, discusses him with others, and then HE makes the decision as to whether it goes forward or not. It is simple in theory but one look at Rodgers demise shows it may not be as easy in practice. Time will tell.

My big hope however is that fans remember the clamour they have had for Klopp over the past weeks and don’t jump on the fickle bandwagon if things don’t take shape sooner rather than later. For now however, let’s enjoy the excitement and anticipation his appointment brings. And if he wants to bring a few of those Dortmund players with him, that’s ok too. Marko Reus for a start will do……

The Great Rodgers Debate – Fact vs Fickle

I have to say; if I am being honest, I’m quite fed up with the whole Brendan Rodgers debate and the quite incessant talk of Jurgen Klopp who is starting to sound more and more like some mythical god or holy grail.

The problem we have however is that it is a hot topic and if you are a Liverpool fan you can’t fail to have an opinion.

Cards on the table, I have been one of the most vocal supporters of Rodgers and whilst I am being truthful; I do have to say; I really don’t know if I want him to go or not.

Football is a fickle game, it is a fact, and we are all guilty of grass is always greener syndrome. All you can do is look at the situation and try to make an informed opinion on it, as at the end of the day, there is only one man who makes the call on Rodgers and that is John W. Henry unless of course Brendan took matters into his own hands!

I like Brendan Rodgers and I think he is a good manager. I like his football philosophy and his ideas on how the game should be played. As I said, football is fickle and not 2 years ago, the man nearly won Liverpool the Premier League against all odds. As Tim Sherwood rightly said, if he had, he could have been at Real Madrid with Liverpool struggling to hold onto him. These are the fine lines you deal in with modern football.

The reason I have more sympathy for him than many is down to the fact regarding the conditions he is working to. Like it or not, everybody knows that Liverpool have a transfer committee and that Brendan Rodgers is only a part of that rather than being a absolute deciding factor in who should and shouldn’t be signed. In that respect, when players are ‘forced’ on you who aren’t your own choices; it is difficult to build a team to operate in your image; and instead; you are required to make players fit where you possibly can to try and do a job that in many cases they may not be capable of.

It is down to this in my opinion; that we have seen the recent Liverpool sides look like they lack a game plan of any sort; or any kind of discernable ‘plan’ on how to go about each game. Rodgers has had to see his philosophy and ideology bleed into a hybrid of what he wants and what he is forced to work with and the result is what we are seeing on the pitch now and it isn’t good. The team look lost and it transpires into asking the question from the players body language as to whether or not he has lost the dressing room; and when you get to that stage you rightly do start questioning your manager.

My point however is; ‘is it his fault?’ given my earlier point regarding the transfer committee etc? There is a real case to say it is not and that he is working with his hands tied.

It also leads you to the next questions as to whether if this is the case; won’t any manager befall the same problems?

People are crying out for Klopp and I like the guy I do; so if he ends up here, I won’t be unhappy. But is he going to guarantee results? And we all know what comes with a new manager. Paying off of the old managers staff, bringing in the new managers own staff, claims that the new manager needs to sign his own players to fit his own system and therefore the onset of the systematic dismantling of the old managers team and before we know it, we’re in another 5 year plan, with massive outlay, little recouping of the money on outgoing players and no guarantees whatsoever of success. I have to say; that worries me greatly and the concern for me is that we really will end up cementing ourselves as a mid table team resorting to clinging to a history that we rightly so should be proud of; but that carries little weight in the modern game, with modern players and fans.

The natural instinct when it is isn’t going right is to knee jerk to plump for change; and I have to say, I used to be the same and of course I’ve looked at it and considered it. BUT; maybe there needs to be a wider appreciation of fact before fickle wins the day. I must be growing up!

Chris

Season ticket holder and away day veteran Matthew Evans on ‘his captain’.

In the week that Steven Gerrard announced he is to leave Liverpool after a collective 25 years at the club; Liverpool fans have been pouring out their hearts with regards their captain.

Here, Matthew Evans talks about why the man means so much to him……

Where do I start? What do I say that hasn’t been said already? All I can do is explain from my own personal view what he meant to me. The captain. My captain. Our captain, Steven Gerrard has decided to leave his beloved Liverpool Football Club at the end of the season. From when he danced through Sheffield Wednesday’s defence 17 seasons ago to scoring the two pens versus Leicester in that very same goal the other night, I’ve had nothing but admiration for the man. A Scouser. A fan. The club’s greatest ever player.

There’s so much joy he’s brought me. To start with he’s absolutely damaged our two greatest rivals over the years. Take a minute to look back. The Rocket against the Mancs as a kid at Anfield. Laughin’ at the Evertonians, with his tongue out running down the line at Goodison. Kissing cameras at Old Trafford countless times. Silencing opposition fans at numerous times after they mocked his family. Hat tricks. The joy on his face when he did this. As a fan, as a Scouser, it meant the world to me. He was one of us, doing what every one of us wanted to do. He was doing it for us. He represented us on the pitch. That’s why there’s such a bond there between him and us.

When he spoke, he spoke like us. He said what we wanted to say. He was honest. To the point. Fair. A true captain. No rubbish.

At times it felt like fans of the national side didn’t deserve him.  He always spoke about his pride about captaining his country but we didn’t care about that. And the fact that many of these fans have mocked him since May for his slip versus Chelsea just backs that up.

One fond memory was an away day at Newcastle United. England had been eliminated midweek from qualifying for Euro 2008. They’d been vilified in the press. The reds went to St James’ Park, not concerned with any of this. The Geordies however booed Gerrard every time he touched the ball, simply because he played for England in the week. The red men sang “we’re not English, we are Scouse” in defiance. What does the captain do? He silences them all for us by scoring a blistering free kick and one of the best I’ve seen. Then salutes us in the Gods. Brilliant.

It’s moments like these you remember as fan. Of course there are the obvious ones, Olympiakos, Istanbul, Cardiff but there are loads of moments that I as a fan remember thinking that’s my captain, right there ‘. Feeling a sense of pride that he was mine. Ours. Who’s the man who threw that tackle in to get the team going? He was. Who was the man that stepped in when necessary and squared up? He was. Who did what was absolutely required and expected to play for this football club? He did. And is still doing it consistently 17 years on. It seriously brings a tear to my eye. A lump in my throat, when I talk about him. Don’t know why, it just happens.

17 years ago, I was 15 when he made his debut. He’s been there ever since I truly understood what it meant to support this club. That’s why it’ll be so hard not to see him on the pitch anymore, doing the things we want him to do. You remember stuff like that. Moments.

I hope there’s still a few more moments to come before he leaves. Notably, Goodison Park in February please!

Steven Gerrard. Captain. I wish you all the best for the future. You deserve everything you’ve got and earned over the years. I hope to see you back at our club one day. It’s your club. Thank you.

Shankly football news: Reds right to stick with Rodgers

As we come to the end of 2014; it is unavoidable to say that the majority of Liverpool football fans wouldn’t ever have expected to be finishing the year still in search of our 19th league title.

Struggling in 8th place in the subsequent Premier League campaign. Especially given where we were 12 months ago.

Football is a harsh task master however and it is how you recover from these setbacks that ultimately sets you apart from others.

A good start to the year

Last night’s 4-1 win against Swansea was an ideal tonic to take us in to 2015. We have a good run of games on paper, and two games in sees us with 6 points out of 6.

Next we look forward to welcoming Leicester to Anfield. An ideal opportunity to build momentum to try and retain our top four status.

A month ago; I’d probably have said Liverpool football club had no chance of making the top four. However we now find ourselves five points off the 4th spot, by no means an insurmountable target.

A new source if optimism

The dwindling points difference is by no means the source of optimism for trying to gate crash the top four. It is a factor of course, but the means of there is another source of positivity.

Brendan Rodgers seems to have found the formula to make Liverpool football club threatening again. The formula that sees us pressing high up the pitch looking much more like the LFC of last season.

The right man for the job

Liverpool football manager Brendan Rodgers

www.provenquality.com

When our season seemed to be imploding and the manager was taking some quite astounding criticism; I however, remained firm in my point of view. I said he was still the right man for the job and that his task was quite clear. He needed to go back to basics.

Trying to make the formation and system we used last season work in this one was clearly the wrong move.

It was no longer fit for purpose.

Why? Because it was geared around getting the best out of players either no longer at the club or those unavailable to play.

The task was to find a plan ‘b’. A new formation that allowed him to get all his best players in the same 11 that would get the best out of them.

Step forward the 3-4-3.

I have to say; on paper it isn’t a formation that I ever thought I would like. It’s a formation that at the back certainly leaves space for exploitation. Brendan however, has utilised it and the selected the right personnel to carry it out.

This formation allows Rodgers to play all the best players in the team at once together at optimum performance.

Previously players like Lallana and Coutinho were being rotated far too often. They couldn’t be accommodated in the old system. Coutinho’s case in particular, whose form, for a player of unquestionable ability was inconsistent to put it mildly.

Lallana & Coutinho Liverpool football

www.empireofthekop.com

With Sturridge injured, Borini seemingly out of favour and Mario Balloteli being, well; Mario Balloteli, the threat up front was pretty non-existent. This for a team who last year outscored every other.

It was no surprise therefore that when the 3-4-3 was deployed, eyebrows were raised. Three front players, none of whom were out and out strikers playing for a team that had been struggling to score goals all season.

It has however worked. Gary Neville said on MNF last night that Liverpool football club have got their threat back.

As a fan, it certainly feels that way. Dare I say it feels like we are exciting to watch again.

Credit to Brendan Rodgers

In the face of mounting pressure; Rodgers sat down with his staff and went about finding a new system to take us forward. A system that gives us our attacking threat back and addresses defensive frailties. Bringing the best out of our available players.

The boy genius returns

I said at the end of last season that Coutinho could and would fill attacking voids left by the departure of players in the Summer. The boy is a genius on his day, a little magician who can run games. Sadly his form this season has been far too inconsistent.

Coutinho Liverpool football

www.goal.com

By deploying him ‘upfront’ he has the freedom to go anywhere he likes on the pitch. No longer shackled by defensive duties that come with being part of a midfield three. He has revelled as a result, and his performances have been much more consistent. Getting amongst the goals and contributing numerous assists, culminating in a fantastic performance against Swansea last night.

A spot on purchase prediction

Another star from last nights game Adam Lallana. Now coming forward into a more central role. His two goals last night, although both polar opposites; were typical of the player. The first, sheer dogged determination reaping dividends. The second, an example of the exquisite ability, balance and composure he has on the ball.

Shankly Hotel in Liverpoolp160823-059-burton_liverpool-1

www.thisisanfield.com

Carra spoke on MNF about his ability and two footedness being reminiscent of a continental player. An educated point to make.

Last season when I was asked who we should buy Lallana was the first name on my list.  He hasn’t disappointed and will only get better.

Our new front three…and Leiva

The front three of Sterling, Coutinho and Lallana are all willing to close down and press. A key factor for the style of play that Rodgers likes and of our success last year. A value that was absent from our play earlier in the year when the likes of Balloteli was starting. Now present once again and vital that the pressing starts from the front before spreading to the rest of the team.

A mention should also go to Lucas Leiva who was fast becoming a forgotten man. His restoration to the first team fold has coincided with our upturn in form. Leiva has brought a solidness we were missing and has also been a key advocate of the pressing style.

Football is fickle

For me, it goes to show that sticking by the manager was the right option. Don’t get me wrong; top 4 is by no means guaranteed. A few decent results means nothing.

The next couple of months will be telling but I think Rodgers has answered some of his critics. Taking things back to basics and implementing a system that, for the time being, seems to have given us our threat and stability back.

Football is a fickle game, last season Rodgers was untouchable. The minute it starts to go wrong, some fans default to asking for the managers head without giving them the chance to put it right.

Look at West Brom. They sacked Irvine last night in the face of poor results but what do they expect?

Gary Neville hit the nail on the head last night. Somewhere between 14th-17th is where they are gong to be expected to finish. There is still half a season left to play so why not give him the chance to get them there rather than shooting from the hip at the midway point.

Steadying the ship

For me it was the same for Rodgers. He had earned his right to be given time to put it right. Fingers crossed he has started to do that. Sacking him and staring again would achieve little.

 

He is a good young manager and we should get behind him as he seeks to steady the ship. All in the wake of a fairly traumatic end to last season and the subsequent Summer exodus of the Liverpool football clubs best player.

Just some general observations; Leicester away, feeling good, the role of the Captain, Mignolet madness, Sunderland and those referees!

by Bill’s grandson Christopher William Shankly Carline

On the eve of yesterday’s game with Sunderland, I have to admit, I felt good again.

The way in which we ground our results against Stoke and then Leicester had left a nice feeling in my stomach that had been absent for the past few weeks, if not months. Call it overly optimistic if you like (and believe me Im usually the pessimist), wins against a mid table Stoke side at home and against a rock bottom Leicester are hardly the cue to state we’re on our way back to the form of last season, but based on previous months where it looked like we couldn’t buy a win, let alone a clean sheet, meant I was feeling good.

Tuesday night’s trip to Leicester was especially pleasing. An early dart from work at half 3 and driving down to the King Power isn’t usually my away day modus operandi but needs must! On a cold evening in the midlands, the way in which we fought back from one down deserves credit. The game was notable for a few things for me in addition to the steely resolve we showed.

Mignolet’s increasing persistence to give Liverpool fan’s heart failure was again at the fore. Whilst he was unfortunate with the own goal, his pass that presented Leicester with an open goal that they failed to convert was quite inexplicable. I said it 18 months ago when he was signed; that we shouldn’t have gotten rid of Pepe Reina and that it if he didn’t show command and dominance of his penalty area like Pepe it would upset the back four. I was bang right. The goalkeeper is for me, the majority reason as to why we have been so poor defensively. Simple as that. His nervousness, limitations in the air and inability to command have made the back four nervous. How else do you account for international defenders all of a sudden being incapable of keeping a clean sheet against even the poorest forward lines. There isn’t an anomaly, you can clearly chart the situation on a timeline with the keeper’s arrival. The problem we have is that there is no competition for him and he knows it!

A second point from the game was the role of the captain. I’ve long said that Liverpool wrote him off in an attacking midfielders role too early. It was like he hit 30/31 and he had to go to the sitting midfield role. Do not pass go. Do not collect £200; or rather do not pass the halfway line and do not collect any goals. All of a sudden we have woken up to this and he is being deployed further forward; with us reaping rewards. We saw flashes of it at Ludogorets, for 20 minutes against Stoke and against Leicester. Whilst Steven may not quite have the legs for the lung busting runs beyond the striker, he does still possess his exquisite passing range, touch and ability to shoot and hold the ball. With players like Lallana , Henderson and Lucas doing some of his running for him; he can thrive in the number 10 role. His goal against Leicester with the late run into the penalty area was typical Gerrard and his celebration coupled with our celebration as fans as he ran towards us felt like group therapy for what we all knew. The captain is far from finished. What Liverpool must ensure however is if he plays there, he needs runners ahead of him, with pace. At Leicester, Sterling was the only out ball in that effect; as Lambert offers much more of an aerial, operating on the line presence rather than beyond it. Surely Sturridge’s return in that respect can’t come soon enough.

I mentioned momentarily the role of Sterling above. I thought at Leicester, his selfless running showed how his game has matured; but much more so; the way he dealt with the over physical treatment from Leicester and the lack of protection from the referee was a sign of his evolution into a complete footballer both physically and mentally. The fact that he left the field on Tuesday heavily limping was exacerbated by the poor performance of the referee and officials.

The FA this week released their ‘DNA’ blueprint for England being World Champions in 2022. They want to go about turning their attention to addressing the sub standard performance of officials in this country and the processes behind being unable to address it. Lee Mason’s performance was extremely poor against Leicester. He allowed Sterling to be kicked from pillar to post with no protection. And before people say it; I know it is a contact sport and I personally relish the physical side of the game and applaud good hard tackles, but a foul is a foul, and when it constantly isn’t picked up it becomes a joke. None the least, the blatant penalty on Steven Gerrard following Schmeichel’s foul, which clearly wasn’t given because Mason felt he would have to send him off and clearly wasn’t prepared to having already dismissed Morgan. It is these discrepancies and inconsistencies that have dogged officials in this country for years. The 4th Official clearly saw it was a penalty, but did nothing as he looked to the referee first; saw he was giving nothing and shirked the responsibility. It happens like that every week. It is therefore even more galling that in addition to not addressing the woeful standard of officiating; managers and players are unable to speak out about it for fear of fine or sanction; and that referees are not made to be held accountable for their actions. The FA clearly don’t connect the dots between the impact these decisions have and other issues in the game. Is it any wonder trouble breaks out between fans at times when they are constantly on the receiving end of these poor decisions. Manager’s lose jobs, and players suffer in their careers all as knock on effects, yet the FA throw a shroud over the situation year on year and ban people from talking about it. When a player messes up on the pitch or a manager messes up tactically, he is made to answer to fans and the press and/or governing bodies based on what they have perpetrated. Why aren’t referees? The FA invests so much money in campaigns and projects. It is about time they addressed the elephant in the room and did something to encourage and bring through officials of a good standard rather than those who ruin our beautiful game week in week out.

So it all brings me back full circle to feeling good on the eve of the Sunderland game. The 0-0 draw left me in a bad mood so my pre match feel good factor was soon replaced by frustration mote than anything. A chance to notch 3 wins from 3 for the first since April gone. The game itself was a non entity you feel. We huffed and puffed but couldn’t blow the house down. An observation I am keen to make however is the style of play around Lambert. Rickie is our only real choice up front at the moment (Borini seems to be in exile!) We al know what his weaknesses are and we all know his strengths. He has no pace and isn’t going to run in behind, but he is good in the air and can bring others into the game. At Liverpool last year, the front three was all made up of quick players who liked to run in behind and could play on the shoulder. As a result, Liverpool’s build up play meant patience and working the ball into positions around the penalty area wherby looking to create an opening. That won’t work for Lambert. We will be playing round the edge of the penalty area all day as he isn’t going to run in behind or between centre halves.

That is however how it felt yesterday. Like we were waiting for something that wasn’t going to happen. We had so many occasions when we could have thrown a decent ball into him from wide areas, but instead overplayed it waiting for something else. That has got to stop. If he is going to play, we have to work the ball into decent areas where we can then fathom a decent crossing chance; and look to react to knock downs if nothing else.

Whilst a 0-0 draw was a frustrating result, we go into the must win with Basel on Tuesday unbeaten in 3 and with a positive air in camp.

 

 

Players mental strength is something I really admire

by Bill Shankly’s Grandson Christopher William Shankly Carline

Say what you want about Glen Johnson. but he did well for the goal yesterday. He put his head in where it hurt and it is the reason we have 3 points today and everything feels just that little bit better. “And why would he not!” I hear you cry. “He is on about £100,000 per week!” Of course he is, and a point well made. I expect every player wearing a Liverpool shirt to have that level of commitment, but I sometimes think some fans need to step back and remember that players are still human. Johnson has come in for a lot of stick in the last 12 months, some justified, some not.

Criticism of players is something I have quite strong views on. Let’s get it right, when you are a professional footballer with all the trappings of the modern game, of course you are accountable and of course you should expect criticism. My issue however is how it is delivered. I’ve always been of the opinion that screaming abuse at our own players when they are playing live in front of us is completely counter-productive and quite moronic to be honest. How is it going to help the player and therefore in turn how is it going to help the team? Anyone who has played football at any sort of competitive level knows how it works. If as a player; your confidence is low, you don’t want the ball because you are scared to give it away or mess up. If the crowd is therefore on your back prolifically; what do fans expect when the individual therefore fails to perform. As you are about to receive the ball; all you are thinking is that everyone in this crowd is expecting me to mess up. And you will.

When I have been at the game over the years and people around me have been screaming at an individual (I had one idiot throughout the Real Madrid game abusing Balotelli non stop. Literally that is all he opened his mouth to do. No encouraging or singing for the team, just abusing Mario); I have turned round and said something to them. I find it ridiculous. Players know when they are playing poor. And if they don’t, do people think their coaches, manager and team mates don’t pull them on it? I’m not for one minute saying they should be immune from fans’ criticism, not at all, I regularly have a rant on social media (never direct to players however, don’t even get me started on that) or in forums or with my mates about players; but my point is that. There is a time and a place for it, where it can take place constructively; and not in the middle of a live game of football whilst they are representing my team.

It all brings me on however to my main point. I admire the mental strength shown at times by these players who have become the vehicle for fans frustrations, and often at times; a scapegoat. I could go back over my match going years ( I won’t though) and name the players who have been the target of frustrations of Liverpool fans and at times, carried the can for the frustrations of the fans. Danny Murphy springs to mind as one. The man who scored the winner how many times against Manchester Utd? Lucas Leiva is another and a prime example of my point.

Lucas was abused horrendously in his first season or so at the club, as he struggled to come to terms with a new culture, a new country, a new team and a new league. Yet the Brazillian managed to turn this full circle and went through a period where he was one of our best performers and an integral part of the team, with fans revelling in his performances. It is that which I really admire. It surely takes a great deal of mental strength to turn your performances round from being screamed at by fans, abused and actually ironically cheered when you are subbed; to having fans realise that you are an integral part of the team. To be able to block out the abuse and consensus on the pitch to just stay concentrated on your game; safe in the knowledge your ability will ultimately shine through; is something that I personally feel must be a great challenge and that those who achieve it and come out the other side must be applauded for it; as many have fallen on this path believe me.

Glen Johnson epitomised my point yesterday. Despite the non stop abuse he has had; many of which is a direct frustration at the teams overall plight at the moment, he turned in a man of the match performance yesterday (and that wasn’t just my opinion, it was backed by Aldo too on City) and put his body on the line to secure us the 3 points. He HAS been poor at times over the last 12-18 months but I also remember that for a period of 2 years he was fantastic for us; and as far as I am concerned, is still the best right back at the club. Id rather channel my attention towards encouraging him to try and get back to his former form; than vilifying him all the way towards the exit door. That’s what he did yesterday; channelled his mental strength into turning in a performance.

Let’s not forget. We are Liverpool. We pride ourselves in being the best fans in the world and being a unique set of people who aren’t like other football fans. Let’s remember that when we are screaming abuse at our own players when they are wearing a Liverbird upon their chest right in front of us trying to win us a football match.

Reds problem is that they simply beat themselves rather than teams having to do it for them!

by Christopher William Shankly Carline

As the dust settles on yet another frustrating match day for Liverpool; a stark reality hit home as the clock ticked on towards yet another defeat.

Whilst Chelsea are head and shoulders the stand out team this year in the Premier League; and will bar a catastrophic collapse, win the league at a canter; I couldn’t help but realise that they never really had to beat us to claim the 3 points. We did that ourselves. And it isn’t the first time!

Let’s start with this seemingly inexplicable need to play ourselves into trouble in our own half, most notably in front of our own penalty area. At times I wonder whether there is some strange bet going on between the goalkeeper and his back four, as to who should be the first one to launch the ball long loses. I admire a team and a manager who have principles and a style of play; and I admire it even more when it involves keeping the ball on the floor. What I don’t admire; is when a team shows a complete lack of flexibility in their play to adapt this style when the opposition is clearly counteracting it. News flash. Teams know that we like to play from the back, with Gerrard dropping in and the full backs creating options wide; and they set up to stop us doing it. It beggars belief to me therefore that these players seems to be incapable of looking at the situation and mixing it up a bit to counterbalance this. It’s like a gang of kids who’ve been told what to do by their teacher and none of them want to break rank for fear of reprisal. Instead, they’d rather continuously play themselves and their team mates into trouble, without ever getting out their half. This mindless course of action presented Chelsea with a plethora of chances today that Liverpool were lucky to get away with; the only surprise being that the away teams two goals didn’t come from this schoolboy method of play.

Indeed the manager should not escape criticism for this. Why he isn’t screaming for his players to adapt and look to plan B and C is quite astounding at times, and was today compounded when; pre half time Liverpool contrived to present Chelsea with a host of chances; and then came out post half time and picked up exactly where they left off. It really beggars belief for me right now.

You can also throw into the mix; the team selection. Again, I ask, what did Jordan Henderson bring to the party today? How is Adam Lallana on the bench and equally; when we are losing, how does he not get on the pitch but Joe Allen does? And whilst on that topic; Coutinho and Can off, whilst Henderson stays on, with Allen being one of the replacements! I made the point last week that Gerrard, Allen and Henderson on the pitch at the same time is a no no. A BIG no no. It means no creativity whatsoever. Furthermore; the last substitution was wasted with one striker off for another on. Last season, the Henderson, Gerrard combination was ok, as what it lacked in creativity was cancelled out by the all encompassing creativity of one man up front. He isn’t here now so it needs to change.

I’m a Brendan Rodgers fan; but he really needs to heed the warning signs and look at the history and fates of some of his predecessors in the Anfield corridors of power. Namely Rafa Benitez. Rafa’s stubbornness cost him his job. I really hope Rodgers doesn’t go the same way. Last season, the 433 worked because of the players we had. It worked because of the majestic Uruguayan up front who was infectious. It doesn’t work for us at the moment and it needs to change. You’ve got to work with what you have and Rodgers needs to show he isn’t a one trick pony and that he does have a plan b, a plan c, and a plan d, e and f. It’s clear to fans that two up top works better when Mario is playing and it’s clear to fans that Borini’s admirable persistence and work rate has played his way into the fans thoughts at least. He should be starting up top with Mario and we should be deploying the diamond behind it, with Adam Lallana a focal point of that. Additionally, maybe he also needs to tell his full backs that in a time when it seems a distinct impossibility for Liverpool to keep a clean sheet, maybe they should spend a bit of time staying fairly close to their central defensive cohorts and learning to defend in a line going back to basics, rather than being told to hare forward at every rush of blood to the head (I seem to remember Philipe Coutinho being in the right back position for Chelsea’s controversial winner).

If that wasn’t all bad enough; I cant sign off without commenting on another woefully inept referee performance. It seems to me that the FA have a production line for turning out incredibly poor officials. Taylor was poor today; the ball looked out of play from where I was for Chelsea’s winner (Im prepared to admit I was wrong once if I am once Ive seen it on the TV, but I was sat in the Main Stand and it looked out from where I was) and we were denied a blatant, stonewall penalty in the closing exchanges for handball. Chelsea might have got the 3 points today; but they will play harder games throughout the season; having to only take advantage of the implosive nature of their hosts.

Come on Brendan, it needs sorting out!