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      Writing about Liverpool Football Club

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      what-a-hit-son
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      • @MrPrice1979
      Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Mar 21, 2014 08:46:03 pm
      There was something similar in the old dug out of which I can't find so thought I'd start a new one.

      There are some superb writers about and I think its worth having a thread so that some of the excellent writing and journalism can be showed off.

      I'll start it with an excellent piece from my favourite, Gareth Roberts from the Anfield Wrap who has a hell a lot to do with the online magazine they do for free.

      Written in the wake of us going to Old Trafford and smashing that shower 3-0:

      BUILDING LIVERPOOL PRIDE


      BY GARETH ROBERTS @robbohuyton

      AS you approach Old Trafford over a bridge that spans the Manchester Ship Canal, the Lego-like frame of the ground begins to loom large; a white support structure visible as the traffic edges closer to a stadium that was once ruined by Luftwaffe bombs.

      The ground was rebuilt of course, and is now second only to Wembley capacity-wise on English shores. But as Hitler’s bombs rained down in 1941, and decades later as new tiers were added and seats were fitted, one building looked on defiantly, same as it ever was; untouched, aging, but still standing proud and significant.

      It’s another landmark on the Salford docklands, one that, for me at least, always grabs my gaze and lifts the spirits: The Liverpool Warehousing Co Ltd.

      The bottom line is that it’s just a disused warehouse. But it sits there watching and waiting for a new lease of life on that corner, reminding the thousands that pass it every day of the name: of the city and of the football club – Liverpool. You can bet that for every Scouser that passes it and smiles, there are hundreds of Mancs that see it and growl. Imagine a huge reminder of Manchester within sight of Anfield every time you went to the match. Yes.

      It flies the flag on enemy territory, it reminds match-goers that they didn’t always have it their own way at Old Trafford and perhaps now, this season, the sight of the name Liverpool stirs up thoughts of how a seemingly unstoppable football supertanker can quickly veer of course with the wrong people at the helm. For Graeme Souness and Roy Hodgson read "The Chosen One".

      But while the name of Liverpool has been a constant on the Salfordian landscape since 1932 according to the building’s frontage, for far too long its significance has only resonated in history. Since Liverpool last lifted the title in 1990 – and won at Old Trafford with two goals from John Barnes along the way – the Reds had won just four more times in 27 attempts in all competitions in front of the Stretford End before Sunday.

      In that time Liverpool finished above United in the league just twice. Last season, the Reds ended the campaign 28 points behind title-winning United. Seemingly as far away as what had become all too depressingly familiar.

      So the warehouse was left waiting another year for its name to bring fresh significance and annoyance to the matchgoers, and few would have expected come August that the rise of Liverpool – and the fall of United – would happen so quickly and dramatically. Many thought Moyes was the wrong man. Few predicted Rodgers was the right one. But wherever opinions lay back then, the degrees of success and failure have been a surprise to most.


      FLANNY JOY: Jon Flanagan ‘salutes’ the Manchester United fans after the 3-0 win at Old Trafford on Sunday. Pic: Dave Rawcliffe

      Sunday’s 3-0 stroll saw Liverpool do the league double over United and put the Reds 14 points clear of "The Chosen One"’ side, who now look almost certain to finish outside the Premier League’s top four.

      That the result has further fuelled dreams of number 19 for Liverpool while simultaneously kicking a rival in the plums is to be savoured and enjoyed, laughed at even. But when the sniggers settle and the smiles subside, pride in a Liverpool side restoring dreams of football’s top prizes will remain.

      But back to the laughs first. Because pretty much everything about Sunday’s game was hilarious. From Moyes suggesting Liverpool were favourites before a ball had been kicked to the half-and-half scarves. From the non-Mancunian replica shirt wearer asking the very Mancunian fanzine seller where the Stretford End was (oh yes) to the fact that ‘The Chosen One’ banner still hangs high in said stand.

      Then the game. As comfortable an Old Trafford win as you’ve seen. All the ball. All the shots. All the penalties. Liverpool as dominant as they have ever been and a United manager making defensive substitutions to save face as the scoreline glowed with Scouse superiority on the scoreboard. ‘Oles’ from the away end. The midfield bossing it. The defence assured. The attack a constant menace. It should have been seven. What no Ferguson?

      An explanation then, for the permanent smiles on the faces of Reds right now. It’s been a while since a Liverpool team, and Liverpool fans, have swaggered around Old Trafford like they did on Sunday. It felt good.

      Talk of a changing of the guard remains premature and in the grand scheme of things it’s just one more win, three more points and a step closer to making the improbable possible. Because West Brom, Everton, Newcastle, Tottenham and Swansea won there too, right?

      Bollocks to facts and figures. It’s much more than that. Some United fans’ dream scenarios have stretched to winning the Champions League to deny Liverpol re-entry into Europe’s top competition after the Reds had finished fourth in the league in their alternative reality.

      Given that mindset, you can guarantee many United supporters expected a performance. Their team would be up for it against Liverpool, they’d raise their game. Brendan Rodgers’ side would freeze in the enemy lair. And Luis Suarez only ever scores against the smaller clubs.

      Steven Gerrard had it spot on in more ways than one. Given what had come before for Liverpool at Old Trafford, the bad decisions, the late equalisers, the inexplicable misses and the below-par performances, 1-0 up was no time to celebrate. 2-0 was though. And 3-0 definitely was.

      Wayne Rooney’s ‘worst day in football’ was just one win for Liverpool. There’s plenty more to play for. But this was a statement. A tale of one manager on the way up and the other on his way out. Of one club figurehead adequately succeeded and another most definitely not. A tale of Liverpool on its way back, becoming one again. A story of a club no longer shrugging its shoulders about mediocrity. More sentences for the chapters about positivity and progress after years of burning the book.

      And all of it on their doorstep. “20 times, 20 times Man United”? The chant during and after the match was desperation and defiance from United fans rather than backing and battle cry. Next season, tickets for ‘The Theatre of Dreams’ will no longer bear the word ‘Champions’. It’s the type of song they’ve long derided us for. But who really noticed anyway with laughing to be done?

      And all within spitting distance of that reminder of the city’s name.

      If warehouses could smile, the former home of The Liverpool Warehousing Co Ltd would have a grin wider than the Mersey right now. As they can’t, Manchester will have to settle for mine. And for the record, it’s not far off.

      http://www.theanfieldwrap.com/2014/03/building-liverpool-pride/
      what-a-hit-son
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      • @MrPrice1979
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #1: Apr 06, 2014 07:06:07 am
      Interesting read from the Manc angle:

      The Real Matchday Experience
      EXTORTIONATE ticket prices, stupid kick off times, absentee owners fleecing the club you love… With all that to bear, it would be easy to walk away from the game – especially when things start to go tits up on the pitch. But we stick with it through the wind and the rain. And why? Well, who better to ask right now than a Manchester United fan? STEPHEN ARMSTRONG from fanzine United We Stand explains.

      I KNOW what you are thinking. Why is a Mancunian – a United one – being invited to write stuff on here? Down with this sort of thing, as Father Ted would say. Before you finger me off your iPad though, I’m not some internet warrior blogger who never goes and still lives with their Mam.

      I go home; I get in all away’s by hook or crook and I’ve missed just two Euro aways since the ban was lifted in 1990. Had I not cocked up by getting married midweek you could halve that. Anyway, I think I’m clued up enough to make sense to you, so stay with me.

      As a place, Liverpool has been professionally very kind to me over many years and that helps me to put aside the ubiquitous ill feeling that manifests between both sets of supporters. This isn’t going to be a Manc-Scouse love in, or one of those ‘hands across the 62’ articles. I’ve never felt the need. Anyway, I’m more of an East Lancs man myself.

      I’ve had my moments on Merseyside. I went to my first game in 1977. I first saw United play against Liverpool at Goodison in 79. It was mental. I was addicted to just about everything that going to the match was about from that night on.

      I come from an era when getting back to Manchester in one piece was a right result. I’ve ran and been caught on the streets around L4 enough times. It came with the territory. Your lads will say the same thing about their trips to Old Trafford. It’s what going to the match was about.

      United had little to be pleased about back then. We had to watch as Liverpool swept most things aside; the 80s in particular being a period of unbearable dominance for many a Mancunian. It never bothered me. A small part of me admired it and I saw only Liverpool’s following as alike to the support I was part of. That does I agree place me in the minority. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never want you to win anything. I just disliked City more. And Leeds. Oh, and for Panini Sticker reasons, Middlesborough.

      I started going when United weren’t moving anywhere fast. The odd cup run and what became an almost annual result at Anfield being all we could muster. It didn’t matter though. It didn’t matter because I never once lost sight of the reason I started going to the match. I’ll come back to that in a bit.

      My most dismal Anfield memory came in September of 1990. United had won the cup the previous May and Liverpool had placed an eleventh title on top of United’s seven. Alex Ferguson was starting to move the club and we came to Anfield with the hope that this was at time when it was going to turn our way.

      United got butchered.

      It was 3-0 in no time and could have been 10. It was probably John Barnes’s fault. Never in my life had we felt so near on the pitch but ended so far away. The club was by then 23 years since winning a title, and that didn’t look like it would ever end. If you would have told anyone in the ground that day that the home fans would reach 2014 having seen nothing added to that total of 18 titles and that their most fiercest of rivals in the away end would be by then sat two ahead of them they would have thought of you as deluded and probably called for your immediate recapture. I should add here that this isn’t one of those ‘20 times’ gloats that leads to one of those ‘5 times’ responses. I’ve never really been arsed with all that.


      Many reading will feel privileged to have seen a lot of glory. I certainly do. I’ve seen United become League, European and World Champions. Only you can understand what a period of colossal dominance feels like. You did it for two decades, and then we did the same. In United We Stand this summer I made a small reference to your club on that very subject. The world was talking about the post-Busby era and how post-Ferguson United had to avoid repeating it. I said this instead:

      “This transition could take some time and then how the fans react to the inevitable media spin becomes very important indeed. If this doesn’t work out then the cash-laden clubs waiting to pounce will do just that and it isn’t beyond the realms that United’s imperious dominance of the domestic game could well be about to end. If that sounds ridiculous you have no further than about 30 miles to go to see what that looks like. United of 1970 isn’t what must be avoided, it is the Liverpool situation of 1990.”

      The club clearly didn’t read it. If you are a United fan in your 30s you’ve only known United under Alex Ferguson. You’ve only known the quite ridiculous success that he brought to Old Trafford; culminating last season in what was for me his greatest achievement of them all. It’s been just six months since he left. It’s fair to say that since then it’s turned to sh*t.

      http://app.theanfieldwrap.com/issue/08/Page5-real_matchday_experience.html
      what-a-hit-son
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      • @MrPrice1979
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #2: Apr 13, 2014 08:50:13 pm
      What have you done in the last 25 years
      By Amy Lawrence

      WALKING up Wembley way, en route to an FA Cup semi-final in an all-seater stadium for an all-ticket match, it was impossible not to take a moment to look back.

      What have you done in the last 25 years?

      I left school, got a degree, landed a series of mundane jobs before stumbling into a unexpectedly wonderful career. I learned to drive, was thrilled with my first vehicle, a vauxhall astra van in which I could play cassettes as loud as they would go. Vinyl went by the wayside and along came CDs. Videos got packed into dusty boxes and along came DVDs. I bought an iPod. I stopped the need to queue at phone boxes with a handful of 20ps and got a mobile phone. I stopped posting letters and started sending emails. I forgot about that wait for your camera films to be developed to see if pictures were any good as each image could be instantly deleted.

      I watched incredulous on television as the Berlin Wall fell and Nelson Mandela was released out of prison. In time I travelled to East Germany and South Africa. I silently got on an aeroplane the night of 9/11 on the way back from a match in Spain. I saw the Iraq war break out on live 24-hour rolling news.

      I watched my team win the title. I took the train and hovercraft to Italy for the World Cup in 1990. The next one, in the USA, was breaking new ground in taking the tournament to an emerging football nation. Since then the greatest show on earth went to France, Japan and South Korea, a united Germany, a South Africa unshackled from apartheid. Next we look ahead to Brazil, then Russia, and beyond that a strange and controversial winter World Cup in Qatar with the prospect of air conditioned stadia.

      Years ago I was forcibly removed by the police from a football terrace for the last time. I observed the football experience change, change, change. All seater-stadia, ticket prices rocketing, an influx of foreign players, overseas managers, broadening horizons, fresh ideas, rebrands all over the place – Division One morphed into the Premier League, the European Cup became the Champions League, where you didn’t even have to be a champion to take part. I have the chance to watch a dazzling Argentinan or phenomenal Portuguese every week from my sofa at home. I can debate with strangers from anywhere in the world in bite-sized 140 character immediate messages.

      I have met countless people, taken countless journeys, written countless words.  I have made friends, some who have stuck around all this time, others who were like ships that passed in the night. I have loved. I became a mother, and I watch my sons grow in a state of constant awe and gratitude. I made a home for my family.

      On FA Cup semi-final weekend 25 years ago I went to football. I stood on a terrace. I heard through the Chinese whispers rolling through the crowd that there was trouble at Hillsborough. People dead. The number kept growing. It was too catastrophic to bear.

      The Hicks sisters, Sarah and Vicky, died together. Teenaged girls who adored their football, just like me, in 1989. At the inquest last week the detail emerged that Vicky wanted to be a football journalist and wrote Liverpool match reports in secret. What might they have made of their lives over the last 25 years? What experiences might they have had? What people might they have met? What lucky ones might they have loved? What everyday conversations and occasions might they have shared with their parents, their extended family, their friends? What children they might have parented themselves?

      The thought extends, embraces, painfully, to all the 96. What might they have done, been and enjoyed about 25 years of life?

      They only went, excitedly, to an FA Cup semi-final. Justice for the 96 is so desperately overdue.


      what-a-hit-son
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      • @MrPrice1979
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #3: Apr 17, 2014 08:15:57 pm
      WHAT ABOUT JUSTICE FOR HEYSEL?
      by Oliver Kay

      NOW that the lies, the smears and cruel myths about the Hillsborough disaster have been exposed once and for all, those who clung to them out of warped tribalism have but one straw left to clutch. “What about justice for Heysel?”, they plead. “What about the truth of what happened there?”

      Actually, they might have a point, even if they raise it out of malice rather than consideration for the bereaved. The publication – and belated national acceptance – of the real truth about Hillsborough has been a source of great vindication for all who were affected by that tragedy. But questions undoubtedly remain about the Heysel Stadium disaster, in which 39 spectators – 32 from Italy, four from Belgium, two from France, one from Northern Ireland – were killed in a stampede before the 1985 European Cup final between Liverpool and Juventus.

      Those bereaved and outraged by Hillsborough have fought to keep their campaign for justice alive and been entirely vindicated for doing so. By contrast, Heysel remains the tragedy that dares not speak its name. So let us talk about it. Let us state a few of the facts about whether justice was done.

      We all know that English football, collectively, was punished, with clubs excluded from Uefa competition. Liverpool immediately withdrew, in disgrace, from the next season’s Uefa Cup. Within hours the FA, under pressure from the government, announced that no English club would play in the following season’s Uefa competition – and that of course included Everton, denied a tilt at the European Cup, and Norwich City, denied a first ever European campaign. Two days later Uefa announced an indefinite ban on English clubs. It ended up at five years, with Liverpool serving a sixth as punishment for their supporters’ behaviour at Heysel.

      This was not a knee-jerk reaction to a one-off night of mayhem. This – both the sanction and, it could be argued, the widespread loss of life – had been coming. Heysel was the disgraceful culmination of more than a decade of ugly incidents involving English supporters on their European travels: Tottenham Hotspur in Rotterdam in 1974 and 1983, Leeds United in Paris in 1975, Manchester United in St Etienne in 1977, the national team in Basle in 1981 and so on until the spiral of moronic violence reached its tragic conclusion – logical in one sense, crazy in all others – in Brussels.

      As to whether individuals were brought to account, 27 arrests were made on suspicion of manslaughter and 26 men were charged. (These, incidentally, do not tend to be described as Liverpool supporters – in part because of claims at the time from John Smith, the club’s chairman, and two Merseyside councilors that National Front members from London had been responsible. There are many sensitive issues here, but let us not pussyfoot over this one. As Tony Evans, football editor of The Times and author of Far Foreign Land, a brilliant book about his experiences following Liverpool at Heysel and all over Europe, put it: “It was a red herring. Hooligans from the far right would not have been welcome.”)

      The prosecutions stemmed from television camera footage of the charge – the third such charge in a matter of minutes – that led directly to the deaths of those 39 innocent spectators. There are dozens of points that are usually offered to explain the context, not least over ticketing, segregation and a crumbling stadium, but the context does not begin to excuse what happened. No amount of context ever could.

      Those stampedes might have been considered standard terrace fare at the time, a token act of territorialism and intimidation, but it led innocent fans to flee in terror. Some tried to climb a wall to escape. The wall crumbled. Thirty-nine people were crushed to death. The world was appalled. Turin went into mourning. Liverpool and their supporters were left to live with what they know, 27 years later, to be an indelible stain.

      As for “justice”, an initial inquiry by Marina Coppieters, a leading Belgian judge, found after 18 months that the police and the authorities, in addition to Liverpool supporters, should face charges. Quite apart from the hooliganism, ticketing arrangements and police strategy and responses were criticised. By this stage, English supporters were regarded across Europe as such animals that shock was expressed at how the authorities had played into their hands.

      There was bewilderment, too, at the choice of stadium. And where have you heard that before? Uefa chose a ground that had been built in the 1920s and condemned in the early 1980s for failing to meet modern safety standards, which were far from stringent. Evans recalls that the outer wall, made of cinder block, was decaying, that he was not required to show his ticket and that, long before the stampede, he saw a crash barrier in front of him crumble.

      Jacques Georges, the Uefa president at the time, and Hans Bangerter, his general secretary, were threatened with imprisonment but eventually given conditional discharges. Albert Roosens, the former secretary-general of the Belgian Football Union (BFU), was given a six-month suspended prison sentence for “regrettable negligence” with regard to ticketing arrangements. So was gendarme captain Johan Mahieu, who was in charge of the policing the stands at Heysel. “He made fundamental errors,” Pierre Verlynde, the judge, said. “He was far too passive. I find his negligence extraordinary.”

      In 1989, after a five-month trial in Brussels, 14 of the 26 Liverpool supporters who stood trial were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and given a three-year prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and each ended up serving about a year in total in behind bars. The remaining ten defendants were acquitted of manslaughter, but some had their £2,000 bail money confiscated, having been absent for part of the trial. And civil damages estimated at more than £5million were provisionally awarded to families of the Heysel victims against the convicted fans and the BFU.

      But you never hear of this because the tragedy is taboo. It was only brought into the open when Liverpool and Juventus were drawn together in the Champions League quarter-final in 2005, at which point the Merseyside club, after consultation with their Italian counterparts, announced it would be a game of “friendship”. Before the first leg at Anfield, Liverpool supporters held up a mosaic to form the word “amicizia”. Some of the visiting Juventus fans applauded. Most, it seemed, turned their backs in disgust. And while the rejection of the olive branch met with a little consternation on Merseyside, Liverpool’s supporters know all too well about the type of apology that comes too late, brought by events, to sound truly sincere.

      Heysel is an unspeakably awkward subject for Liverpool – perhaps more, perhaps less, for the anguish the club and the city endured four years later at Hillsborough. It is a black mark and it will be there forever. Supporters of rival teams chant “Murderers” and the Liverpool fans have little response. On one infamous occasion at Goodison Park in 2008, the away fans responded by singing “2-0 to the Murderers”. I know that this was somewhere between a knee-jerk response and an attempt to “reclaim” that offensive description, but it sounded awful. Were they listening in Turin? You would hope not.

      For many years, Liverpool ’s response to Heysel was woefully inadequate. I was shown a copy of the club’s official yearbook for 1985/86. There were two articles about the tragedy on page three, but they were both of the “Let’s put this behind us, improve the matchday Anfield atmosphere and look to restore the club’s good name” variety. There was no direct reference to what had happened. There was no hint of an apology. Later there was a round-up of the previous European Cup campaign, in which 1985/86 was identified as a “watershed” because it would be Liverpool ’s last for some time.

      Over time, there was a recognition that more – much more – needed to be done. In 2000 the city of Liverpool officially commemorated the anniversary of Heysel for the first time – on the suggestion, incidentally, of Peter Millea, the chairman of Liverpool City Council’s Hillsborough disaster working party.

      They do at least now have a memorial plaque at Anfield, they do have extensive coverage of the tragedy on their official website and they do pay tribute on May 30 every year, even if it took far too long for the club to recognise the tragedy and the stain it had left — not unlike Sheffield Wednesday with Hillsborough, although the circumstances there involved appalling failures at executive level.

      Heysel is a huge stain on Liverpool ’s history. It is undeniable. And yet none of this diminishes the club’s or the supporters’ right to grieve or to campaign or to express anger over what happened in Sheffield four years later.

      One real mystery surrounding Heysel is that the tragedy is even more of a taboo in Turin.

      Go on to the Italian club’s official website in search of a tribute and you will struggle to find anything beyond 106 words within a 645-word article called “Juventus wins everything”, a tribute to their successes in the 1970s and 1980s.

      Of the club’s first European Cup triumph in 1985, it says: “The long-awaited success in Europe ’s highest accolade was tainted with sadness” … “Something unexplainable happened …. and 39 innocent victims lost their lives. Football, from that moment, would never be the same again.” … “It’s a joyless success, but the victory enabled the Bianconeri to fly to Tokyo in winter to play the Intercontinental Cup final. Argentinos Junior were beaten on penalties and Juve were the world champions.”

      You will have to do an archive search to find anything more than that – specifically a couple of news articles on the anniversary. One includes details of a permanent Heysel exhibit at the museum which opened last year at the new Juventus Stadium. The club has decided that relatives of the victims will always be allowed permanent free access to the museum.

      This is progress. For many years the bereaved met with what they perceived to be a sense of denial from Juventus about a disaster that overshadowed the club’s long-awaited first European Cup win. In The Truths of Heysel – a book written by Andrea Lorentini, whose father Roberto died in Brussels and whose grandfather Otello has led the campaign for the victims to be officially recognised by the club – writes of the “bewilderment, reticence, guilty silences and suspicion” the bereaved have faced in their dealings with Juventus.

      Justice for Heysel? There can never be justice for 39 lives lost at a football match, but it is in Turin , not on Merseyside, that the cries of the bereaved have met with silence down the years.

      The families do not want their lost ones to become a cause celebre in England , particularly not when the purpose has purely been to score points on the terraces. A little more recognition closer to home is what they want.

      http://www.theanfieldwrap.com/2013/05/what-about-justice-for-heysel/
      what-a-hit-son
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      • @MrPrice1979
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #4: Aug 24, 2014 08:35:22 pm
      Excellent bit of writing about our manager that sums up exactly how I felt when he was brought in and how I feel about him now:

      BECOMING BRENDAN RODGERS
      by TheAnfieldWrap // 8 June 2014 //

      NEIL SCOTT had his doubts when the current Liverpool manager was appointed two years ago but now he’s a believer

      THERE will be a time, and it won’t be too long coming, when they will make a film about Liverpool’s 2013/14 season. Some kind of fantasy action adventure thing, replete with unexpected twists, daring escapades, unlikely heroes and mean-faced villains. The Goonies with pyro.

      They will assemble a glittering cast, carefully selected to reflect the unique character traits of the main participants.

      Daniel Craig *is* Steven Gerrard.
      Benicio Del Toro *is* Luis Suarez.
      Vin Diesel *is* Martin Skrtel.

      The tortured, howling figure from Munch’s The Scream, trapped in a landscape of eternal damnation, *is* "The Chosen One".

      The world’s sulkiest toddler *is* Jose Mourinho.

      But what about Brendan Rodgers? Who can we get to fairly represent the Liverpool manager, to capture his persona, illustrate his growing assurance and replicate the journey both he and his team have been on since last summer? Because that’s sure-fire BAFTA material, right there.

      Look at the narrative. Trace the story arc. Follow the character development.
      From resented usurper to overreaching tyro to ideological devotee to spiritual leader. He’s come a long way in a short time. And it is to his eternal credit that he has achieved this transformation, and has effectively changed the perceptions of all but his most unreasonable detractors, while maintaining a dignity, a serenity even, that is absent from many of his peers.

      Morgan Freeman?

      It is no secret that I was initially a Rodgers sceptic. I doubted his credentials, questioned the transferability of his methods and inwardly cringed at some of his more contrived soundbites. I was far from convinced that he had the stature to manage a club of the magnitude and ambition of Liverpool.
      There was another issue, though. And although it was an issue that, in effect, had nothing to do with Brendan Rodgers, it was inevitable that he would be caught in the after-blast. That goes with the territory when you’re asked to fill the boots of a legend, particularly when the boots in question have been brutally hacked from said legend’s feet.

      Yes, I’m one of those head-in-the-sand, over-sentimental, backwards-looking dinosaurs who felt that the treatment of Kenny Dalglish in 2012 was a shameful chapter in this club’s history. And, without wishing to reopen old wounds, it’s a view I am happy to stand by. To me, as the FSG choice to take their franchise forward, Rodgers was guilty by association. He wasn’t about to be given an easy ride.

      Welcome to Anfield, Brendan. Watch the door doesn’t hit your arse on the way out.

      Given the different factions that made up our fanbase, the Dalglish loyalists, the Benitez fundamentalists and the infamous hardcore Hodgson ultras, it’s little short of a miracle that, in less than two years, Rodgers has managed to oversee what now appears to be a unified and uniquely committed support. For the first time in a decade our divisions seem behind us and the almost mystical bond between the manager, the club and its followers is on its way to full restoration. Forget, for a moment, the league table. That in itself is an almighty achievement.

      Liam Neeson?

      We’ve all learned a lot over this past season. About our team. Our glorious, unpredictable, irrational team. About our players. Their strengths and weaknesses, their belief, their character. About ourselves and our capacity to grasp hope and follow a dream with unswerving conviction.
      We’ve learned a lot about Brendan Rodgers, too. And he in turn has learned so much more.

      One of the charges levelled against Rodgers during his first season was that we had been saddled with a manager who would, of necessity, be learning on the job. When you consider the alternative, this should perhaps have been less of a concern than it originally appeared.

      Managers, like players, can never regard themselves as the finished article. The game provides a fluid stream of fresh scenarios and changing perspectives. There is a constant need to refine and renew, to challenge your own notions and develop your thinking. Rodgers, as much as anyone, is prepared to embrace this.
      Of course, the basic ethos remains unchanged. Controlling the tempo, optimising the attacking threat, managing the game. But we have seen a growing flexibility in the means used to achieve these objectives, with the emphasis always coming back to the need to coax the maximum outcome from the available resources.

      Three at the back. Midfield diamond. High pressing. Deep-lying playmaker. Interchanging front three. All employed at varying times. All reflecting Rodgers’ willingness to adapt to the demands of his role. And while it is fair to say that not every strategy has been an unqualified success, and questions remain as to his ability to balance attacking fervour with defensive solidity, the team’s results, on the whole, are a testament to the manager’s vision.

      John Malkovich?

      There is, of course, another thing that Rodgers has learned this season. Something that will, in the long run, prove to be an invaluable lesson. He’s learned exactly what it means to be a Liverpool manager. Note the wording. It’s important.

      Anyone can be the manager of Liverpool. Roy Hodgson was the manager of Liverpool. He was never a Liverpool manager. There’s a distinction, however subtle. It’s not something that’s easy to define. It’s all about a feel for the club, an immersion in its history, an understanding of what it represents to its supporters, and an acknowledgement and appreciation of your position in its ongoing mythology. It’s why Mourinho could never be a Liverpool manager and it’s why Dalglish forever will be.

      Brendan Rodgers is now a Liverpool manager. The supporters recognise this. He’s even got a half-decent song, at long last. Face it, as songs go, “There’s only one Brendan Rodgers” is but a short step from the ubiquitous ‘Sloop John B’ chant in terms of mind-numbing banality. If nothing else came out of last season, that alone was reason to rejoice.

      More than anything, it’s a question of trust. As a city, we’re naturally suspicious of incomers, until such time as they prove themselves worthy of our respect. Week by week, match by match, Rodgers has earned our trust. He’s shown that he is committed to helping his team improve, both as players and as people. He’s demonstrated a willingness to allow youth to flourish. He’s cultivated a calmness before the media and a penchant for saying the right thing at the right time that would astound the Being Liverpool cynics. With the faith of the supporters firmly established, there’s no limit on what can be achieved. And that’s quite a prospect. Ask yourself, who would you swap him for? It’s a short list, isn’t it?

      Meryl Streep?

      As he guided us through each of the season’s hurdles, continually finding the answers, moulding a team whose only thought was to score and to score again, winning, always winning, then winning some more, hope gave way to belief. Some spoke of destiny. This was our year. And now you’re gonna believe us… In truth, we were only ever one bad result away from the end of the dream. That we came so close, came within one result of the most astonishing triumph in our history, is testament to the giant strides made by Rodgers and his team.

      Taken rationally, the achievements of this season were staggering. After the initial despair faded there was a general sense of jubilation, an unprecedented (for a team finishing second) outpouring of acclamation and gratitude. The city was bursting with it.

      I found it hard to share in the celebrations. To me, the way the campaign ended was a crushing disappointment. Even now, footage of our run-in, the blitz of Arsenal, the dissection of United, the overcoming of City, invokes sadness, a pulling in the gut, more than exultation. Not because we might not get the chance again. I don’t buy that for a minute. But because we deserved it. We bloody deserved it.

      What do you say when your heart’s in pieces?
      Many didn’t like it but I understood what Alan Hansen meant when he deemed the season a failure. That’s the kind of unbending, winning-is-everything stance we need to return to.

      If Brendan Rodgers is the man I think he is, he won’t be taken in by the celebrations. I think coming second will burn him up inside. I think it will eat away at him every day and every night. I think it will make him strive for improvement, strive for perfection and teach him to be uncompromising in his efforts to achieve this.

      He’s come out of the shadows of his predecessors. The future is his. The future is red.

      There’s only one man who should play Brendan Rodgers. And that’s Brendan Rodgers.

      I think he’s ready.

      http://www.theanfieldwrap.com/2014/06/becoming-brendan-rodgers-liverpool-manager/
      what-a-hit-son
      • LFC Reds Subscriber
      • ******
      • Started Topic
      • 14,550 posts | 3571 
      • @MrPrice1979
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #5: Nov 11, 2014 11:47:59 pm
      Brought a tear to my eye this.

      I take my Dad to Arrowe Park Hospital for his last operation early tomorrow from his battle with bowel  and liver cancer so this really touched me.

      By the way Ian, if you ever read this, you really have done him proud, believe me.

      God bless your family and may your old man never walk alone.


      We'll meet you by the wall after the match
      By IAN SALMON

      IF you’ll allow me something of an indulgence, I’d like to talk to you about what’s really important.

      I didn’t go to the Chelsea game. I haven’t seen the game, neither live nor on Match of the Day. I haven’t seen the goals, I haven’t seen any match reports, haven’t followed the obvious Twitter explosion (a nailed on penalty apparently?) and haven’t read any of the undoubtedly fine analysis on this site.

      I was supposed to be there. Main Stand, my Dad’s season ticket. My brothers, Keith and Kevin, were supposed to be on The Kop. They weren’t. We didn’t sell our tickets on, didn’t pass them to our mates; there were three empty seats at Anfield on Saturday.

      We spent Saturday and Friday and most of Sunday in Fazakerley Hospital with our Dad and a great deal of extended family and on Sunday, as our Keith put it: “on a sunny Sunday Liverpool afternoon, at two minutes past two, our Father and best mate passed away.”

      Robert Salmon –– Bob, Bobby to his brothers, sisters and workmates –– Dad, was born in 1935. 20th of Feb 1935. 79 years old, going to the match since the 50s. A season-ticket holder for nearly 60 years. He’d seen it all. He’d seen some rubbish in the early days, the second division days, but he’d seen the glory. He saw Shankly build a team, he saw Shankly build HIS team, the team we were given, the team we follow. He saw the birth of all we hold dear, he saw the empire start. He named me for two of the foundation stones of the empire, he named his first son for the men who built the glory.

      He holidayed in Butlins in Pwllheli in (1960 I think), impressed by the fact that Jimmy Melia and Bobby Campbell and Johnny Morrisey were holidaying there. The fact that he and his friends were also associating with a singer called Rory Storm was less notable. Rory’s drummer was even less noted. Lad called Ringo.

      He was there in ’65 at Wembley when we brought home that first FA Cup; that holy cup, the one that started everything, the one we’d wanted for so long. He was there when the lads still went the match in suits and overcoats. When they went to the match in overcoats in May.

      He was there at the semi final when there was a pitch invasion, when the last whistle brought a joyous pitch invasion with the knowledge that Wembley beckoned. All the time that our Father stood as a role model for us we knew that he’d kept the copy of the Echo that contained a photo that featured him as a member of the army that invaded the pitch. We loved him all the more for that. One of the many, many things that we loved him for.

      He did the homes, he did the aways. With his mates, with our Uncles; Lenny, Dave, Jimmy. With his mates. He did the hard miles in the years before motorways. Sunderland in winter without motorways? He did 74 to watch us ram Supermac’s words down his throat. He did the leagues, all those leagues, all those glorious leagues that we took as birthright, he saw them all. He saw such things, such wonders. He saw the glory which was Rome. He stayed sober for three days (he always claimed he did anyway) in order that he could see the city and enjoy the city. He ate nothing but ice cream for three days because he was a simple Liverpool lad; an Everton-born Liverpool lad who didn’t trust that fancy foreign food. When he found a menu which contained the word ‘spaghetti’ (which one would imagine would be plentiful in that particular city) he ordered it and was amazed at ‘this white stuff’ that arrived having fully expected it to be of the tinned Heinz variety. That’s what he told us, we believed him, you believe your Dad on these things.

      Bruges in 78 by boat. Back by boat. Nearly back to Bruges by boat. The ‘no-drinking’ concept firmly abandoned, he had decided to get back on the boat to (and I quote) ‘thank the captain for a nice ride.’

      He drank in the Park Hotel in Netherton after home games in the 70s and 80s. Drank with Roy Evans and Ronnie Moran and Ronnie Whelan and Ian Rush and that period of stardom and greatness (and if the dates are wrong or the players were others then it’s because the legend has become bigger in my mind ––Evo’s a definite though).

      Paris. Three European Cups. He was at three European Cup wins. Not bad that, is it? Not many teams can do that can they? And he’s one of so many that can claim that. His story, his footballing story, is the same as yours, or your Dad’s or your Granddad’s, it’s what we all share, it’s what unites every one of us. My Dad was one of us. Unique and wonderful and brilliant and one of us, one of this big thing that we all have in common. In love with the game, in love with the club.

      He was at Hillsborough. He was in the stand and he watched as the stretchers came past, powerless to do anything and waiting to see if the next one had either Keith or Kevin on it. He was lucky. We were lucky. Our family came home but he knew how close it could have been, knew how lucky we were. He didn’t talk about what he saw, we didn’t discuss the details very often. One of the guys that went there on the coach that my Dad went on was one of the 96. The coach waited, had to leave without him, had to come back not knowing. We don’t know who it was. When the phone call came through that evening that told him that it was the first time that I’d ever seen my Father cry.

      And he brought us up on this club that he loved, this game that he loved. The three of us. Keith and Kevin before me. I came to the game relatively late on but I got there. Late 70s, through the 80s, educated the right way. The Paddock first. For us. Back when it was a big gap between the main stand and the pitch. Then the Kop. But he was the Main Stand. As long as I can remember, the Main Stand. Where the grown ups sit. I’m older now than he was then but the Main Stand is where the grown ups sit. I’m not a grown up, I never will be. At heart I don’t think he was either. But he was Main Stand and we were Kop. And we’d go together and we’d split up when we got there and we’d agree one thing, always one thing (and this is where the tears start) “We’ll meet you at the wall after the match”.

      The wall. Facing the corner where the The Kop and The Main Stand meet. That’s where we’d meet them; my Dad, Lenny, my Granddad (his best mates, reunited with his best mates now), we’d meet them by the wall. Gone now. Gone for years, replaced by a fence but still it was “We’ll meet you by the wall”. The fence has gone now, it’s just ground waiting for the expansion but we were “meeting by the wall” up until about a month ago when Dad became too weak to go anymore.

      Walking had been an issue for a while but he’d done his damnedest to keep going. We hoped for more, hoped to get him to the game, hoped for the Madrid game, for possibly one last big European night, spoke to the club, asked if we could arrange to bring him in a wheelchair, get him to his seat, store the chair somewhere (they offered up a space under the Kop, they were as excellent as you’d want them to be) and get back to him at the end of the game.

      But he was too tired and the weather was foul and it was cold. It didn’t happen. Chelsea maybe? Maybe we could get him to the Chelsea game? He had oxygen at home, if we could get a portable version? If we could find a space where he could watch from the wheelchair?

      We didn’t get to ask the question. He was hospitalised a week before the Chelsea game and on the day before the match he started to go downhill.

      So we didn’t go the game. We didn’t see the coverage, we didn’t watch Match of the Day. We possibly never will because, whatever happened in the game, it doesn’t really matter.

      I found out a few years ago that my Dad’s ambition had been to be a sports journalist. I’ve somehow, luckily, in a pretty unlikely turn of events, managed to do some of what he wanted to do. I’m delighted by that fact. Delighted, proud and comforted. Something of him is here, always here, in my opinions, in the way I voice them, in the fact that I do it at all. In the fact that I go to the game.

      My Dad’s story is the same as yours, as your Dad’s as your Granddad’s as all of us. One of the many thousands of us whose name you never know but you might have passed by as you walk to your seat or in the street before the game. I’m lucky enough to be able to tell you it here because of everything he gave me. Because of the love and the passion and the allegiance and the faith in the team.

      I hope I’ve done him some justice here, I’ve not even covered the things that made him truly special; they’re unique and indescribable. His fight to stay with us over the last three days has been immense and inspirational. It allowed us all to say our goodbyes, to tell him how much he was loved. And God he was loved. By so many people. He was that most wonderful of things; a truly good man.

      As we were with him we played him You’ll Never Walk Alone. Twice on that last morning. A song to support him, to let him know that we were there, to let him know that he wasn’t alone. He knew. He wasn’t. He was never alone. The Palace game is going to be difficult, I may not be able to handle the minutes before kick off. It’s always an emotional song, obviously it’s always an emotional song, this time it’s going to be a million times more powerful. This time it’s for my Dad, for every time from now on, it’s for my Dad.

      We told him this. And we told him one other thing. One of the last things that we told him; to let him know that we know we’ll see him again, to let him know that he’ll see his friends again, those that went before him who he’d missed and whose lives had contained as much of the passion for this great thing that we all share as his had.

      We told him this:

      “We’ll meet you by the wall after the match.”

      And we will.

      Good night, Dad.

      YNWA.

      stuey
      • LFC Reds Subscriber
      • ******
      • 33,686 posts | 3285 
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #6: Nov 12, 2014 11:23:09 am
      Brought a tear to my eye this.

      I take my Dad to Arrowe Park Hospital for his last operation early tomorrow from his battle with bowel  and liver cancer so this really touched me.

      By the way Ian, if you ever read this, you really have done him proud, believe me.

      God bless your family and may your old man never walk alone.


      We'll meet you by the wall after the match
      By IAN SALMON

      IF you’ll allow me something of an indulgence, I’d like to talk to you about what’s really important.

      I didn’t go to the Chelsea game. I haven’t seen the game, neither live nor on Match of the Day. I haven’t seen the goals, I haven’t seen any match reports, haven’t followed the obvious Twitter explosion (a nailed on penalty apparently?) and haven’t read any of the undoubtedly fine analysis on this site.

      I was supposed to be there. Main Stand, my Dad’s season ticket. My brothers, Keith and Kevin, were supposed to be on The Kop. They weren’t. We didn’t sell our tickets on, didn’t pass them to our mates; there were three empty seats at Anfield on Saturday.

      We spent Saturday and Friday and most of Sunday in Fazakerley Hospital with our Dad and a great deal of extended family and on Sunday, as our Keith put it: “on a sunny Sunday Liverpool afternoon, at two minutes past two, our Father and best mate passed away.”

      Robert Salmon –– Bob, Bobby to his brothers, sisters and workmates –– Dad, was born in 1935. 20th of Feb 1935. 79 years old, going to the match since the 50s. A season-ticket holder for nearly 60 years. He’d seen it all. He’d seen some rubbish in the early days, the second division days, but he’d seen the glory. He saw Shankly build a team, he saw Shankly build HIS team, the team we were given, the team we follow. He saw the birth of all we hold dear, he saw the empire start. He named me for two of the foundation stones of the empire, he named his first son for the men who built the glory.

      He holidayed in Butlins in Pwllheli in (1960 I think), impressed by the fact that Jimmy Melia and Bobby Campbell and Johnny Morrisey were holidaying there. The fact that he and his friends were also associating with a singer called Rory Storm was less notable. Rory’s drummer was even less noted. Lad called Ringo.

      He was there in ’65 at Wembley when we brought home that first FA Cup; that holy cup, the one that started everything, the one we’d wanted for so long. He was there when the lads still went the match in suits and overcoats. When they went to the match in overcoats in May.

      He was there at the semi final when there was a pitch invasion, when the last whistle brought a joyous pitch invasion with the knowledge that Wembley beckoned. All the time that our Father stood as a role model for us we knew that he’d kept the copy of the Echo that contained a photo that featured him as a member of the army that invaded the pitch. We loved him all the more for that. One of the many, many things that we loved him for.

      He did the homes, he did the aways. With his mates, with our Uncles; Lenny, Dave, Jimmy. With his mates. He did the hard miles in the years before motorways. Sunderland in winter without motorways? He did 74 to watch us ram Supermac’s words down his throat. He did the leagues, all those leagues, all those glorious leagues that we took as birthright, he saw them all. He saw such things, such wonders. He saw the glory which was Rome. He stayed sober for three days (he always claimed he did anyway) in order that he could see the city and enjoy the city. He ate nothing but ice cream for three days because he was a simple Liverpool lad; an Everton-born Liverpool lad who didn’t trust that fancy foreign food. When he found a menu which contained the word ‘spaghetti’ (which one would imagine would be plentiful in that particular city) he ordered it and was amazed at ‘this white stuff’ that arrived having fully expected it to be of the tinned Heinz variety. That’s what he told us, we believed him, you believe your Dad on these things.

      Bruges in 78 by boat. Back by boat. Nearly back to Bruges by boat. The ‘no-drinking’ concept firmly abandoned, he had decided to get back on the boat to (and I quote) ‘thank the captain for a nice ride.’

      He drank in the Park Hotel in Netherton after home games in the 70s and 80s. Drank with Roy Evans and Ronnie Moran and Ronnie Whelan and Ian Rush and that period of stardom and greatness (and if the dates are wrong or the players were others then it’s because the legend has become bigger in my mind ––Evo’s a definite though).

      Paris. Three European Cups. He was at three European Cup wins. Not bad that, is it? Not many teams can do that can they? And he’s one of so many that can claim that. His story, his footballing story, is the same as yours, or your Dad’s or your Granddad’s, it’s what we all share, it’s what unites every one of us. My Dad was one of us. Unique and wonderful and brilliant and one of us, one of this big thing that we all have in common. In love with the game, in love with the club.

      He was at Hillsborough. He was in the stand and he watched as the stretchers came past, powerless to do anything and waiting to see if the next one had either Keith or Kevin on it. He was lucky. We were lucky. Our family came home but he knew how close it could have been, knew how lucky we were. He didn’t talk about what he saw, we didn’t discuss the details very often. One of the guys that went there on the coach that my Dad went on was one of the 96. The coach waited, had to leave without him, had to come back not knowing. We don’t know who it was. When the phone call came through that evening that told him that it was the first time that I’d ever seen my Father cry.

      And he brought us up on this club that he loved, this game that he loved. The three of us. Keith and Kevin before me. I came to the game relatively late on but I got there. Late 70s, through the 80s, educated the right way. The Paddock first. For us. Back when it was a big gap between the main stand and the pitch. Then the Kop. But he was the Main Stand. As long as I can remember, the Main Stand. Where the grown ups sit. I’m older now than he was then but the Main Stand is where the grown ups sit. I’m not a grown up, I never will be. At heart I don’t think he was either. But he was Main Stand and we were Kop. And we’d go together and we’d split up when we got there and we’d agree one thing, always one thing (and this is where the tears start) “We’ll meet you at the wall after the match”.

      The wall. Facing the corner where the The Kop and The Main Stand meet. That’s where we’d meet them; my Dad, Lenny, my Granddad (his best mates, reunited with his best mates now), we’d meet them by the wall. Gone now. Gone for years, replaced by a fence but still it was “We’ll meet you by the wall”. The fence has gone now, it’s just ground waiting for the expansion but we were “meeting by the wall” up until about a month ago when Dad became too weak to go anymore.

      Walking had been an issue for a while but he’d done his damnedest to keep going. We hoped for more, hoped to get him to the game, hoped for the Madrid game, for possibly one last big European night, spoke to the club, asked if we could arrange to bring him in a wheelchair, get him to his seat, store the chair somewhere (they offered up a space under the Kop, they were as excellent as you’d want them to be) and get back to him at the end of the game.

      But he was too tired and the weather was foul and it was cold. It didn’t happen. Chelsea maybe? Maybe we could get him to the Chelsea game? He had oxygen at home, if we could get a portable version? If we could find a space where he could watch from the wheelchair?

      We didn’t get to ask the question. He was hospitalised a week before the Chelsea game and on the day before the match he started to go downhill.

      So we didn’t go the game. We didn’t see the coverage, we didn’t watch Match of the Day. We possibly never will because, whatever happened in the game, it doesn’t really matter.

      I found out a few years ago that my Dad’s ambition had been to be a sports journalist. I’ve somehow, luckily, in a pretty unlikely turn of events, managed to do some of what he wanted to do. I’m delighted by that fact. Delighted, proud and comforted. Something of him is here, always here, in my opinions, in the way I voice them, in the fact that I do it at all. In the fact that I go to the game.

      My Dad’s story is the same as yours, as your Dad’s as your Granddad’s as all of us. One of the many thousands of us whose name you never know but you might have passed by as you walk to your seat or in the street before the game. I’m lucky enough to be able to tell you it here because of everything he gave me. Because of the love and the passion and the allegiance and the faith in the team.

      I hope I’ve done him some justice here, I’ve not even covered the things that made him truly special; they’re unique and indescribable. His fight to stay with us over the last three days has been immense and inspirational. It allowed us all to say our goodbyes, to tell him how much he was loved. And God he was loved. By so many people. He was that most wonderful of things; a truly good man.

      As we were with him we played him You’ll Never Walk Alone. Twice on that last morning. A song to support him, to let him know that we were there, to let him know that he wasn’t alone. He knew. He wasn’t. He was never alone. The Palace game is going to be difficult, I may not be able to handle the minutes before kick off. It’s always an emotional song, obviously it’s always an emotional song, this time it’s going to be a million times more powerful. This time it’s for my Dad, for every time from now on, it’s for my Dad.

      We told him this. And we told him one other thing. One of the last things that we told him; to let him know that we know we’ll see him again, to let him know that he’ll see his friends again, those that went before him who he’d missed and whose lives had contained as much of the passion for this great thing that we all share as his had.

      We told him this:

      “We’ll meet you by the wall after the match.”

      And we will.

      Good night, Dad.

      YNWA.



      Teary-eyed meself here Dave on reading that emotional testament to what supporting Liverpool Football Club means to generations of a family and how facets of the club's history so profoundly affected them.
      Much respect to the writer.

      Hope your father is responding well to the treatment mate, suffice to say I know what is involved and believe that determination and strength of character can go a long way in confronting the insidious disease that is cancer.
      Keep your pecker up mate. 
      Diego LFC
      • Forum Legend - Paisley
      • *****

      • 18,940 posts | 2507 
      • Sempre Liverpool
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #7: Nov 12, 2014 01:44:08 pm
      Brought a tear to my eye this.

      I take my Dad to Arrowe Park Hospital for his last operation early tomorrow from his battle with bowel  and liver cancer so this really touched me.

      By the way Ian, if you ever read this, you really have done him proud, believe me.

      God bless your family and may your old man never walk alone.


      We'll meet you by the wall after the match
      By IAN SALMON

      IF you’ll allow me something of an indulgence, I’d like to talk to you about what’s really important.

      I didn’t go to the Chelsea game. I haven’t seen the game, neither live nor on Match of the Day. I haven’t seen the goals, I haven’t seen any match reports, haven’t followed the obvious Twitter explosion (a nailed on penalty apparently?) and haven’t read any of the undoubtedly fine analysis on this site.

      I was supposed to be there. Main Stand, my Dad’s season ticket. My brothers, Keith and Kevin, were supposed to be on The Kop. They weren’t. We didn’t sell our tickets on, didn’t pass them to our mates; there were three empty seats at Anfield on Saturday.

      We spent Saturday and Friday and most of Sunday in Fazakerley Hospital with our Dad and a great deal of extended family and on Sunday, as our Keith put it: “on a sunny Sunday Liverpool afternoon, at two minutes past two, our Father and best mate passed away.”

      Robert Salmon –– Bob, Bobby to his brothers, sisters and workmates –– Dad, was born in 1935. 20th of Feb 1935. 79 years old, going to the match since the 50s. A season-ticket holder for nearly 60 years. He’d seen it all. He’d seen some rubbish in the early days, the second division days, but he’d seen the glory. He saw Shankly build a team, he saw Shankly build HIS team, the team we were given, the team we follow. He saw the birth of all we hold dear, he saw the empire start. He named me for two of the foundation stones of the empire, he named his first son for the men who built the glory.

      He holidayed in Butlins in Pwllheli in (1960 I think), impressed by the fact that Jimmy Melia and Bobby Campbell and Johnny Morrisey were holidaying there. The fact that he and his friends were also associating with a singer called Rory Storm was less notable. Rory’s drummer was even less noted. Lad called Ringo.

      He was there in ’65 at Wembley when we brought home that first FA Cup; that holy cup, the one that started everything, the one we’d wanted for so long. He was there when the lads still went the match in suits and overcoats. When they went to the match in overcoats in May.

      He was there at the semi final when there was a pitch invasion, when the last whistle brought a joyous pitch invasion with the knowledge that Wembley beckoned. All the time that our Father stood as a role model for us we knew that he’d kept the copy of the Echo that contained a photo that featured him as a member of the army that invaded the pitch. We loved him all the more for that. One of the many, many things that we loved him for.

      He did the homes, he did the aways. With his mates, with our Uncles; Lenny, Dave, Jimmy. With his mates. He did the hard miles in the years before motorways. Sunderland in winter without motorways? He did 74 to watch us ram Supermac’s words down his throat. He did the leagues, all those leagues, all those glorious leagues that we took as birthright, he saw them all. He saw such things, such wonders. He saw the glory which was Rome. He stayed sober for three days (he always claimed he did anyway) in order that he could see the city and enjoy the city. He ate nothing but ice cream for three days because he was a simple Liverpool lad; an Everton-born Liverpool lad who didn’t trust that fancy foreign food. When he found a menu which contained the word ‘spaghetti’ (which one would imagine would be plentiful in that particular city) he ordered it and was amazed at ‘this white stuff’ that arrived having fully expected it to be of the tinned Heinz variety. That’s what he told us, we believed him, you believe your Dad on these things.

      Bruges in 78 by boat. Back by boat. Nearly back to Bruges by boat. The ‘no-drinking’ concept firmly abandoned, he had decided to get back on the boat to (and I quote) ‘thank the captain for a nice ride.’

      He drank in the Park Hotel in Netherton after home games in the 70s and 80s. Drank with Roy Evans and Ronnie Moran and Ronnie Whelan and Ian Rush and that period of stardom and greatness (and if the dates are wrong or the players were others then it’s because the legend has become bigger in my mind ––Evo’s a definite though).

      Paris. Three European Cups. He was at three European Cup wins. Not bad that, is it? Not many teams can do that can they? And he’s one of so many that can claim that. His story, his footballing story, is the same as yours, or your Dad’s or your Granddad’s, it’s what we all share, it’s what unites every one of us. My Dad was one of us. Unique and wonderful and brilliant and one of us, one of this big thing that we all have in common. In love with the game, in love with the club.

      He was at Hillsborough. He was in the stand and he watched as the stretchers came past, powerless to do anything and waiting to see if the next one had either Keith or Kevin on it. He was lucky. We were lucky. Our family came home but he knew how close it could have been, knew how lucky we were. He didn’t talk about what he saw, we didn’t discuss the details very often. One of the guys that went there on the coach that my Dad went on was one of the 96. The coach waited, had to leave without him, had to come back not knowing. We don’t know who it was. When the phone call came through that evening that told him that it was the first time that I’d ever seen my Father cry.

      And he brought us up on this club that he loved, this game that he loved. The three of us. Keith and Kevin before me. I came to the game relatively late on but I got there. Late 70s, through the 80s, educated the right way. The Paddock first. For us. Back when it was a big gap between the main stand and the pitch. Then the Kop. But he was the Main Stand. As long as I can remember, the Main Stand. Where the grown ups sit. I’m older now than he was then but the Main Stand is where the grown ups sit. I’m not a grown up, I never will be. At heart I don’t think he was either. But he was Main Stand and we were Kop. And we’d go together and we’d split up when we got there and we’d agree one thing, always one thing (and this is where the tears start) “We’ll meet you at the wall after the match”.

      The wall. Facing the corner where the The Kop and The Main Stand meet. That’s where we’d meet them; my Dad, Lenny, my Granddad (his best mates, reunited with his best mates now), we’d meet them by the wall. Gone now. Gone for years, replaced by a fence but still it was “We’ll meet you by the wall”. The fence has gone now, it’s just ground waiting for the expansion but we were “meeting by the wall” up until about a month ago when Dad became too weak to go anymore.

      Walking had been an issue for a while but he’d done his damnedest to keep going. We hoped for more, hoped to get him to the game, hoped for the Madrid game, for possibly one last big European night, spoke to the club, asked if we could arrange to bring him in a wheelchair, get him to his seat, store the chair somewhere (they offered up a space under the Kop, they were as excellent as you’d want them to be) and get back to him at the end of the game.

      But he was too tired and the weather was foul and it was cold. It didn’t happen. Chelsea maybe? Maybe we could get him to the Chelsea game? He had oxygen at home, if we could get a portable version? If we could find a space where he could watch from the wheelchair?

      We didn’t get to ask the question. He was hospitalised a week before the Chelsea game and on the day before the match he started to go downhill.

      So we didn’t go the game. We didn’t see the coverage, we didn’t watch Match of the Day. We possibly never will because, whatever happened in the game, it doesn’t really matter.

      I found out a few years ago that my Dad’s ambition had been to be a sports journalist. I’ve somehow, luckily, in a pretty unlikely turn of events, managed to do some of what he wanted to do. I’m delighted by that fact. Delighted, proud and comforted. Something of him is here, always here, in my opinions, in the way I voice them, in the fact that I do it at all. In the fact that I go to the game.

      My Dad’s story is the same as yours, as your Dad’s as your Granddad’s as all of us. One of the many thousands of us whose name you never know but you might have passed by as you walk to your seat or in the street before the game. I’m lucky enough to be able to tell you it here because of everything he gave me. Because of the love and the passion and the allegiance and the faith in the team.

      I hope I’ve done him some justice here, I’ve not even covered the things that made him truly special; they’re unique and indescribable. His fight to stay with us over the last three days has been immense and inspirational. It allowed us all to say our goodbyes, to tell him how much he was loved. And God he was loved. By so many people. He was that most wonderful of things; a truly good man.

      As we were with him we played him You’ll Never Walk Alone. Twice on that last morning. A song to support him, to let him know that we were there, to let him know that he wasn’t alone. He knew. He wasn’t. He was never alone. The Palace game is going to be difficult, I may not be able to handle the minutes before kick off. It’s always an emotional song, obviously it’s always an emotional song, this time it’s going to be a million times more powerful. This time it’s for my Dad, for every time from now on, it’s for my Dad.

      We told him this. And we told him one other thing. One of the last things that we told him; to let him know that we know we’ll see him again, to let him know that he’ll see his friends again, those that went before him who he’d missed and whose lives had contained as much of the passion for this great thing that we all share as his had.

      We told him this:

      “We’ll meet you by the wall after the match.”

      And we will.

      Good night, Dad.

      YNWA.


      This is a beautiful read. YNWA Robert
      billythered
      • LFC Reds Subscriber
      • ******
      • 6,664 posts | 2207 
      • From Doubters to Believers
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #8: Nov 12, 2014 03:27:15 pm
      Brought a tear to my eye this.

      I take my Dad to Arrowe Park Hospital for his last operation early tomorrow from his battle with bowel  and liver cancer so this really touched me.

      By the way Ian, if you ever read this, you really have done him proud, believe me.

      God bless your family and may your old man never walk alone.


      We'll meet you by the wall after the match
      By IAN SALMON

      IF you’ll allow me something of an indulgence, I’d like to talk to you about what’s really important.

      I didn’t go to the Chelsea game. I haven’t seen the game, neither live nor on Match of the Day. I haven’t seen the goals, I haven’t seen any match reports, haven’t followed the obvious Twitter explosion (a nailed on penalty apparently?) and haven’t read any of the undoubtedly fine analysis on this site.

      I was supposed to be there. Main Stand, my Dad’s season ticket. My brothers, Keith and Kevin, were supposed to be on The Kop. They weren’t. We didn’t sell our tickets on, didn’t pass them to our mates; there were three empty seats at Anfield on Saturday.

      We spent Saturday and Friday and most of Sunday in Fazakerley Hospital with our Dad and a great deal of extended family and on Sunday, as our Keith put it: “on a sunny Sunday Liverpool afternoon, at two minutes past two, our Father and best mate passed away.”

      Robert Salmon –– Bob, Bobby to his brothers, sisters and workmates –– Dad, was born in 1935. 20th of Feb 1935. 79 years old, going to the match since the 50s. A season-ticket holder for nearly 60 years. He’d seen it all. He’d seen some rubbish in the early days, the second division days, but he’d seen the glory. He saw Shankly build a team, he saw Shankly build HIS team, the team we were given, the team we follow. He saw the birth of all we hold dear, he saw the empire start. He named me for two of the foundation stones of the empire, he named his first son for the men who built the glory.

      He holidayed in Butlins in Pwllheli in (1960 I think), impressed by the fact that Jimmy Melia and Bobby Campbell and Johnny Morrisey were holidaying there. The fact that he and his friends were also associating with a singer called Rory Storm was less notable. Rory’s drummer was even less noted. Lad called Ringo.

      He was there in ’65 at Wembley when we brought home that first FA Cup; that holy cup, the one that started everything, the one we’d wanted for so long. He was there when the lads still went the match in suits and overcoats. When they went to the match in overcoats in May.

      He was there at the semi final when there was a pitch invasion, when the last whistle brought a joyous pitch invasion with the knowledge that Wembley beckoned. All the time that our Father stood as a role model for us we knew that he’d kept the copy of the Echo that contained a photo that featured him as a member of the army that invaded the pitch. We loved him all the more for that. One of the many, many things that we loved him for.

      He did the homes, he did the aways. With his mates, with our Uncles; Lenny, Dave, Jimmy. With his mates. He did the hard miles in the years before motorways. Sunderland in winter without motorways? He did 74 to watch us ram Supermac’s words down his throat. He did the leagues, all those leagues, all those glorious leagues that we took as birthright, he saw them all. He saw such things, such wonders. He saw the glory which was Rome. He stayed sober for three days (he always claimed he did anyway) in order that he could see the city and enjoy the city. He ate nothing but ice cream for three days because he was a simple Liverpool lad; an Everton-born Liverpool lad who didn’t trust that fancy foreign food. When he found a menu which contained the word ‘spaghetti’ (which one would imagine would be plentiful in that particular city) he ordered it and was amazed at ‘this white stuff’ that arrived having fully expected it to be of the tinned Heinz variety. That’s what he told us, we believed him, you believe your Dad on these things.

      Bruges in 78 by boat. Back by boat. Nearly back to Bruges by boat. The ‘no-drinking’ concept firmly abandoned, he had decided to get back on the boat to (and I quote) ‘thank the captain for a nice ride.’

      He drank in the Park Hotel in Netherton after home games in the 70s and 80s. Drank with Roy Evans and Ronnie Moran and Ronnie Whelan and Ian Rush and that period of stardom and greatness (and if the dates are wrong or the players were others then it’s because the legend has become bigger in my mind ––Evo’s a definite though).

      Paris. Three European Cups. He was at three European Cup wins. Not bad that, is it? Not many teams can do that can they? And he’s one of so many that can claim that. His story, his footballing story, is the same as yours, or your Dad’s or your Granddad’s, it’s what we all share, it’s what unites every one of us. My Dad was one of us. Unique and wonderful and brilliant and one of us, one of this big thing that we all have in common. In love with the game, in love with the club.

      He was at Hillsborough. He was in the stand and he watched as the stretchers came past, powerless to do anything and waiting to see if the next one had either Keith or Kevin on it. He was lucky. We were lucky. Our family came home but he knew how close it could have been, knew how lucky we were. He didn’t talk about what he saw, we didn’t discuss the details very often. One of the guys that went there on the coach that my Dad went on was one of the 96. The coach waited, had to leave without him, had to come back not knowing. We don’t know who it was. When the phone call came through that evening that told him that it was the first time that I’d ever seen my Father cry.

      And he brought us up on this club that he loved, this game that he loved. The three of us. Keith and Kevin before me. I came to the game relatively late on but I got there. Late 70s, through the 80s, educated the right way. The Paddock first. For us. Back when it was a big gap between the main stand and the pitch. Then the Kop. But he was the Main Stand. As long as I can remember, the Main Stand. Where the grown ups sit. I’m older now than he was then but the Main Stand is where the grown ups sit. I’m not a grown up, I never will be. At heart I don’t think he was either. But he was Main Stand and we were Kop. And we’d go together and we’d split up when we got there and we’d agree one thing, always one thing (and this is where the tears start) “We’ll meet you at the wall after the match”.

      The wall. Facing the corner where the The Kop and The Main Stand meet. That’s where we’d meet them; my Dad, Lenny, my Granddad (his best mates, reunited with his best mates now), we’d meet them by the wall. Gone now. Gone for years, replaced by a fence but still it was “We’ll meet you by the wall”. The fence has gone now, it’s just ground waiting for the expansion but we were “meeting by the wall” up until about a month ago when Dad became too weak to go anymore.

      Walking had been an issue for a while but he’d done his damnedest to keep going. We hoped for more, hoped to get him to the game, hoped for the Madrid game, for possibly one last big European night, spoke to the club, asked if we could arrange to bring him in a wheelchair, get him to his seat, store the chair somewhere (they offered up a space under the Kop, they were as excellent as you’d want them to be) and get back to him at the end of the game.

      But he was too tired and the weather was foul and it was cold. It didn’t happen. Chelsea maybe? Maybe we could get him to the Chelsea game? He had oxygen at home, if we could get a portable version? If we could find a space where he could watch from the wheelchair?

      We didn’t get to ask the question. He was hospitalised a week before the Chelsea game and on the day before the match he started to go downhill.

      So we didn’t go the game. We didn’t see the coverage, we didn’t watch Match of the Day. We possibly never will because, whatever happened in the game, it doesn’t really matter.

      I found out a few years ago that my Dad’s ambition had been to be a sports journalist. I’ve somehow, luckily, in a pretty unlikely turn of events, managed to do some of what he wanted to do. I’m delighted by that fact. Delighted, proud and comforted. Something of him is here, always here, in my opinions, in the way I voice them, in the fact that I do it at all. In the fact that I go to the game.

      My Dad’s story is the same as yours, as your Dad’s as your Granddad’s as all of us. One of the many thousands of us whose name you never know but you might have passed by as you walk to your seat or in the street before the game. I’m lucky enough to be able to tell you it here because of everything he gave me. Because of the love and the passion and the allegiance and the faith in the team.

      I hope I’ve done him some justice here, I’ve not even covered the things that made him truly special; they’re unique and indescribable. His fight to stay with us over the last three days has been immense and inspirational. It allowed us all to say our goodbyes, to tell him how much he was loved. And God he was loved. By so many people. He was that most wonderful of things; a truly good man.

      As we were with him we played him You’ll Never Walk Alone. Twice on that last morning. A song to support him, to let him know that we were there, to let him know that he wasn’t alone. He knew. He wasn’t. He was never alone. The Palace game is going to be difficult, I may not be able to handle the minutes before kick off. It’s always an emotional song, obviously it’s always an emotional song, this time it’s going to be a million times more powerful. This time it’s for my Dad, for every time from now on, it’s for my Dad.

      We told him this. And we told him one other thing. One of the last things that we told him; to let him know that we know we’ll see him again, to let him know that he’ll see his friends again, those that went before him who he’d missed and whose lives had contained as much of the passion for this great thing that we all share as his had.

      We told him this:

      “We’ll meet you by the wall after the match.”

      And we will.

      Good night, Dad.

      YNWA.




      A truly moving piece of writing,  brought tears to my eyes, thank you so much Ian for sharing,

      Take comfort that your dad would be immensely proud of you,


      RIP  Bob Salmon    YNWA
      hardcoresoldier
      • LFC Reds Subscriber
      • ******
      • 4,467 posts | 954 
      • The Liverpool Way is The Only Way
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #9: Nov 13, 2014 12:19:16 am
      Brought a tear to my eye this.

      I take my Dad to Arrowe Park Hospital for his last operation early tomorrow from his battle with bowel  and liver cancer so this really touched me.

      By the way Ian, if you ever read this, you really have done him proud, believe me.

      God bless your family and may your old man never walk alone.


      We'll meet you by the wall after the match
      By IAN SALMON

      IF you’ll allow me something of an indulgence, I’d like to talk to you about what’s really important.

      I didn’t go to the Chelsea game. I haven’t seen the game, neither live nor on Match of the Day. I haven’t seen the goals, I haven’t seen any match reports, haven’t followed the obvious Twitter explosion (a nailed on penalty apparently?) and haven’t read any of the undoubtedly fine analysis on this site.

      I was supposed to be there. Main Stand, my Dad’s season ticket. My brothers, Keith and Kevin, were supposed to be on The Kop. They weren’t. We didn’t sell our tickets on, didn’t pass them to our mates; there were three empty seats at Anfield on Saturday.

      We spent Saturday and Friday and most of Sunday in Fazakerley Hospital with our Dad and a great deal of extended family and on Sunday, as our Keith put it: “on a sunny Sunday Liverpool afternoon, at two minutes past two, our Father and best mate passed away.”

      Robert Salmon –– Bob, Bobby to his brothers, sisters and workmates –– Dad, was born in 1935. 20th of Feb 1935. 79 years old, going to the match since the 50s. A season-ticket holder for nearly 60 years. He’d seen it all. He’d seen some rubbish in the early days, the second division days, but he’d seen the glory. He saw Shankly build a team, he saw Shankly build HIS team, the team we were given, the team we follow. He saw the birth of all we hold dear, he saw the empire start. He named me for two of the foundation stones of the empire, he named his first son for the men who built the glory.

      He holidayed in Butlins in Pwllheli in (1960 I think), impressed by the fact that Jimmy Melia and Bobby Campbell and Johnny Morrisey were holidaying there. The fact that he and his friends were also associating with a singer called Rory Storm was less notable. Rory’s drummer was even less noted. Lad called Ringo.

      He was there in ’65 at Wembley when we brought home that first FA Cup; that holy cup, the one that started everything, the one we’d wanted for so long. He was there when the lads still went the match in suits and overcoats. When they went to the match in overcoats in May.

      He was there at the semi final when there was a pitch invasion, when the last whistle brought a joyous pitch invasion with the knowledge that Wembley beckoned. All the time that our Father stood as a role model for us we knew that he’d kept the copy of the Echo that contained a photo that featured him as a member of the army that invaded the pitch. We loved him all the more for that. One of the many, many things that we loved him for.

      He did the homes, he did the aways. With his mates, with our Uncles; Lenny, Dave, Jimmy. With his mates. He did the hard miles in the years before motorways. Sunderland in winter without motorways? He did 74 to watch us ram Supermac’s words down his throat. He did the leagues, all those leagues, all those glorious leagues that we took as birthright, he saw them all. He saw such things, such wonders. He saw the glory which was Rome. He stayed sober for three days (he always claimed he did anyway) in order that he could see the city and enjoy the city. He ate nothing but ice cream for three days because he was a simple Liverpool lad; an Everton-born Liverpool lad who didn’t trust that fancy foreign food. When he found a menu which contained the word ‘spaghetti’ (which one would imagine would be plentiful in that particular city) he ordered it and was amazed at ‘this white stuff’ that arrived having fully expected it to be of the tinned Heinz variety. That’s what he told us, we believed him, you believe your Dad on these things.

      Bruges in 78 by boat. Back by boat. Nearly back to Bruges by boat. The ‘no-drinking’ concept firmly abandoned, he had decided to get back on the boat to (and I quote) ‘thank the captain for a nice ride.’

      He drank in the Park Hotel in Netherton after home games in the 70s and 80s. Drank with Roy Evans and Ronnie Moran and Ronnie Whelan and Ian Rush and that period of stardom and greatness (and if the dates are wrong or the players were others then it’s because the legend has become bigger in my mind ––Evo’s a definite though).

      Paris. Three European Cups. He was at three European Cup wins. Not bad that, is it? Not many teams can do that can they? And he’s one of so many that can claim that. His story, his footballing story, is the same as yours, or your Dad’s or your Granddad’s, it’s what we all share, it’s what unites every one of us. My Dad was one of us. Unique and wonderful and brilliant and one of us, one of this big thing that we all have in common. In love with the game, in love with the club.

      He was at Hillsborough. He was in the stand and he watched as the stretchers came past, powerless to do anything and waiting to see if the next one had either Keith or Kevin on it. He was lucky. We were lucky. Our family came home but he knew how close it could have been, knew how lucky we were. He didn’t talk about what he saw, we didn’t discuss the details very often. One of the guys that went there on the coach that my Dad went on was one of the 96. The coach waited, had to leave without him, had to come back not knowing. We don’t know who it was. When the phone call came through that evening that told him that it was the first time that I’d ever seen my Father cry.

      And he brought us up on this club that he loved, this game that he loved. The three of us. Keith and Kevin before me. I came to the game relatively late on but I got there. Late 70s, through the 80s, educated the right way. The Paddock first. For us. Back when it was a big gap between the main stand and the pitch. Then the Kop. But he was the Main Stand. As long as I can remember, the Main Stand. Where the grown ups sit. I’m older now than he was then but the Main Stand is where the grown ups sit. I’m not a grown up, I never will be. At heart I don’t think he was either. But he was Main Stand and we were Kop. And we’d go together and we’d split up when we got there and we’d agree one thing, always one thing (and this is where the tears start) “We’ll meet you at the wall after the match”.

      The wall. Facing the corner where the The Kop and The Main Stand meet. That’s where we’d meet them; my Dad, Lenny, my Granddad (his best mates, reunited with his best mates now), we’d meet them by the wall. Gone now. Gone for years, replaced by a fence but still it was “We’ll meet you by the wall”. The fence has gone now, it’s just ground waiting for the expansion but we were “meeting by the wall” up until about a month ago when Dad became too weak to go anymore.

      Walking had been an issue for a while but he’d done his damnedest to keep going. We hoped for more, hoped to get him to the game, hoped for the Madrid game, for possibly one last big European night, spoke to the club, asked if we could arrange to bring him in a wheelchair, get him to his seat, store the chair somewhere (they offered up a space under the Kop, they were as excellent as you’d want them to be) and get back to him at the end of the game.

      But he was too tired and the weather was foul and it was cold. It didn’t happen. Chelsea maybe? Maybe we could get him to the Chelsea game? He had oxygen at home, if we could get a portable version? If we could find a space where he could watch from the wheelchair?

      We didn’t get to ask the question. He was hospitalised a week before the Chelsea game and on the day before the match he started to go downhill.

      So we didn’t go the game. We didn’t see the coverage, we didn’t watch Match of the Day. We possibly never will because, whatever happened in the game, it doesn’t really matter.

      I found out a few years ago that my Dad’s ambition had been to be a sports journalist. I’ve somehow, luckily, in a pretty unlikely turn of events, managed to do some of what he wanted to do. I’m delighted by that fact. Delighted, proud and comforted. Something of him is here, always here, in my opinions, in the way I voice them, in the fact that I do it at all. In the fact that I go to the game.

      My Dad’s story is the same as yours, as your Dad’s as your Granddad’s as all of us. One of the many thousands of us whose name you never know but you might have passed by as you walk to your seat or in the street before the game. I’m lucky enough to be able to tell you it here because of everything he gave me. Because of the love and the passion and the allegiance and the faith in the team.

      I hope I’ve done him some justice here, I’ve not even covered the things that made him truly special; they’re unique and indescribable. His fight to stay with us over the last three days has been immense and inspirational. It allowed us all to say our goodbyes, to tell him how much he was loved. And God he was loved. By so many people. He was that most wonderful of things; a truly good man.

      As we were with him we played him You’ll Never Walk Alone. Twice on that last morning. A song to support him, to let him know that we were there, to let him know that he wasn’t alone. He knew. He wasn’t. He was never alone. The Palace game is going to be difficult, I may not be able to handle the minutes before kick off. It’s always an emotional song, obviously it’s always an emotional song, this time it’s going to be a million times more powerful. This time it’s for my Dad, for every time from now on, it’s for my Dad.

      We told him this. And we told him one other thing. One of the last things that we told him; to let him know that we know we’ll see him again, to let him know that he’ll see his friends again, those that went before him who he’d missed and whose lives had contained as much of the passion for this great thing that we all share as his had.

      We told him this:

      “We’ll meet you by the wall after the match.”

      And we will.

      Good night, Dad.

      YNWA.


      Thanks for sharing that mate. That read was quite simply brilliant.

      When i was growing up i spent a lot of time with my Dadcu (grandfather) and he told me hundreds of stories (trust me on this, that is not an exaggeration) about his rugby days. Working down the mine on a Saturday morning and then playing in the afternoon etc. I just hung on his every word and would listen to him for hours and hours. Even to this day whenever i'm in a pub with my mates i'll always end up sitting with the older men and listening to their tales of mischief and woe. So much respect for my elders, proper hard men and women who just got on with it and never complained. The true core of our society.

      Hope everything goes well for your father mate and as last time, make sure you pass on mine and my family's best wishes to your father and family too.

      All the best for tomorrow, our thoughts are with you and yours.
      what-a-hit-son
      • LFC Reds Subscriber
      • ******
      • Started Topic
      • 14,550 posts | 3571 
      • @MrPrice1979
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #10: Nov 14, 2014 08:16:36 am
      Thanks for sharing that mate. That read was quite simply brilliant.

      When i was growing up i spent a lot of time with my Dadcu (grandfather) and he told me hundreds of stories (trust me on this, that is not an exaggeration) about his rugby days. Working down the mine on a Saturday morning and then playing in the afternoon etc. I just hung on his every word and would listen to him for hours and hours. Even to this day whenever i'm in a pub with my mates i'll always end up sitting with the older men and listening to their tales of mischief and woe. So much respect for my elders, proper hard men and women who just got on with it and never complained. The true core of our society.

      Hope everything goes well for your father mate and as last time, make sure you pass on mine and my family's best wishes to your father and family too.

      All the best for tomorrow, our thoughts are with you and yours.

      Cheers mate, much appreciated. All went well so we're hopefully nearing the end of this.

      Thanks to everyone who passed on their regards. Really appreciated.
      Beerbelly
      • Banned
      • *****

      • 6,983 posts | 2054 
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #11: Nov 14, 2014 08:41:30 am
      Brought a tear to my eye this.

      I take my Dad to Arrowe Park Hospital for his last operation early tomorrow from his battle with bowel  and liver cancer so this really touched me.

      By the way Ian, if you ever read this, you really have done him proud, believe me.

      God bless your family and may your old man never walk alone.


      We'll meet you by the wall after the match
      By IAN SALMON

      IF you’ll allow me something of an indulgence, I’d like to talk to you about what’s really important.

      I didn’t go to the Chelsea game. I haven’t seen the game, neither live nor on Match of the Day. I haven’t seen the goals, I haven’t seen any match reports, haven’t followed the obvious Twitter explosion (a nailed on penalty apparently?) and haven’t read any of the undoubtedly fine analysis on this site.

      I was supposed to be there. Main Stand, my Dad’s season ticket. My brothers, Keith and Kevin, were supposed to be on The Kop. They weren’t. We didn’t sell our tickets on, didn’t pass them to our mates; there were three empty seats at Anfield on Saturday.

      We spent Saturday and Friday and most of Sunday in Fazakerley Hospital with our Dad and a great deal of extended family and on Sunday, as our Keith put it: “on a sunny Sunday Liverpool afternoon, at two minutes past two, our Father and best mate passed away.”

      Robert Salmon –– Bob, Bobby to his brothers, sisters and workmates –– Dad, was born in 1935. 20th of Feb 1935. 79 years old, going to the match since the 50s. A season-ticket holder for nearly 60 years. He’d seen it all. He’d seen some rubbish in the early days, the second division days, but he’d seen the glory. He saw Shankly build a team, he saw Shankly build HIS team, the team we were given, the team we follow. He saw the birth of all we hold dear, he saw the empire start. He named me for two of the foundation stones of the empire, he named his first son for the men who built the glory.

      He holidayed in Butlins in Pwllheli in (1960 I think), impressed by the fact that Jimmy Melia and Bobby Campbell and Johnny Morrisey were holidaying there. The fact that he and his friends were also associating with a singer called Rory Storm was less notable. Rory’s drummer was even less noted. Lad called Ringo.

      He was there in ’65 at Wembley when we brought home that first FA Cup; that holy cup, the one that started everything, the one we’d wanted for so long. He was there when the lads still went the match in suits and overcoats. When they went to the match in overcoats in May.

      He was there at the semi final when there was a pitch invasion, when the last whistle brought a joyous pitch invasion with the knowledge that Wembley beckoned. All the time that our Father stood as a role model for us we knew that he’d kept the copy of the Echo that contained a photo that featured him as a member of the army that invaded the pitch. We loved him all the more for that. One of the many, many things that we loved him for.

      He did the homes, he did the aways. With his mates, with our Uncles; Lenny, Dave, Jimmy. With his mates. He did the hard miles in the years before motorways. Sunderland in winter without motorways? He did 74 to watch us ram Supermac’s words down his throat. He did the leagues, all those leagues, all those glorious leagues that we took as birthright, he saw them all. He saw such things, such wonders. He saw the glory which was Rome. He stayed sober for three days (he always claimed he did anyway) in order that he could see the city and enjoy the city. He ate nothing but ice cream for three days because he was a simple Liverpool lad; an Everton-born Liverpool lad who didn’t trust that fancy foreign food. When he found a menu which contained the word ‘spaghetti’ (which one would imagine would be plentiful in that particular city) he ordered it and was amazed at ‘this white stuff’ that arrived having fully expected it to be of the tinned Heinz variety. That’s what he told us, we believed him, you believe your Dad on these things.

      Bruges in 78 by boat. Back by boat. Nearly back to Bruges by boat. The ‘no-drinking’ concept firmly abandoned, he had decided to get back on the boat to (and I quote) ‘thank the captain for a nice ride.’

      He drank in the Park Hotel in Netherton after home games in the 70s and 80s. Drank with Roy Evans and Ronnie Moran and Ronnie Whelan and Ian Rush and that period of stardom and greatness (and if the dates are wrong or the players were others then it’s because the legend has become bigger in my mind ––Evo’s a definite though).

      Paris. Three European Cups. He was at three European Cup wins. Not bad that, is it? Not many teams can do that can they? And he’s one of so many that can claim that. His story, his footballing story, is the same as yours, or your Dad’s or your Granddad’s, it’s what we all share, it’s what unites every one of us. My Dad was one of us. Unique and wonderful and brilliant and one of us, one of this big thing that we all have in common. In love with the game, in love with the club.

      He was at Hillsborough. He was in the stand and he watched as the stretchers came past, powerless to do anything and waiting to see if the next one had either Keith or Kevin on it. He was lucky. We were lucky. Our family came home but he knew how close it could have been, knew how lucky we were. He didn’t talk about what he saw, we didn’t discuss the details very often. One of the guys that went there on the coach that my Dad went on was one of the 96. The coach waited, had to leave without him, had to come back not knowing. We don’t know who it was. When the phone call came through that evening that told him that it was the first time that I’d ever seen my Father cry.

      And he brought us up on this club that he loved, this game that he loved. The three of us. Keith and Kevin before me. I came to the game relatively late on but I got there. Late 70s, through the 80s, educated the right way. The Paddock first. For us. Back when it was a big gap between the main stand and the pitch. Then the Kop. But he was the Main Stand. As long as I can remember, the Main Stand. Where the grown ups sit. I’m older now than he was then but the Main Stand is where the grown ups sit. I’m not a grown up, I never will be. At heart I don’t think he was either. But he was Main Stand and we were Kop. And we’d go together and we’d split up when we got there and we’d agree one thing, always one thing (and this is where the tears start) “We’ll meet you at the wall after the match”.

      The wall. Facing the corner where the The Kop and The Main Stand meet. That’s where we’d meet them; my Dad, Lenny, my Granddad (his best mates, reunited with his best mates now), we’d meet them by the wall. Gone now. Gone for years, replaced by a fence but still it was “We’ll meet you by the wall”. The fence has gone now, it’s just ground waiting for the expansion but we were “meeting by the wall” up until about a month ago when Dad became too weak to go anymore.

      Walking had been an issue for a while but he’d done his damnedest to keep going. We hoped for more, hoped to get him to the game, hoped for the Madrid game, for possibly one last big European night, spoke to the club, asked if we could arrange to bring him in a wheelchair, get him to his seat, store the chair somewhere (they offered up a space under the Kop, they were as excellent as you’d want them to be) and get back to him at the end of the game.

      But he was too tired and the weather was foul and it was cold. It didn’t happen. Chelsea maybe? Maybe we could get him to the Chelsea game? He had oxygen at home, if we could get a portable version? If we could find a space where he could watch from the wheelchair?

      We didn’t get to ask the question. He was hospitalised a week before the Chelsea game and on the day before the match he started to go downhill.

      So we didn’t go the game. We didn’t see the coverage, we didn’t watch Match of the Day. We possibly never will because, whatever happened in the game, it doesn’t really matter.

      I found out a few years ago that my Dad’s ambition had been to be a sports journalist. I’ve somehow, luckily, in a pretty unlikely turn of events, managed to do some of what he wanted to do. I’m delighted by that fact. Delighted, proud and comforted. Something of him is here, always here, in my opinions, in the way I voice them, in the fact that I do it at all. In the fact that I go to the game.

      My Dad’s story is the same as yours, as your Dad’s as your Granddad’s as all of us. One of the many thousands of us whose name you never know but you might have passed by as you walk to your seat or in the street before the game. I’m lucky enough to be able to tell you it here because of everything he gave me. Because of the love and the passion and the allegiance and the faith in the team.

      I hope I’ve done him some justice here, I’ve not even covered the things that made him truly special; they’re unique and indescribable. His fight to stay with us over the last three days has been immense and inspirational. It allowed us all to say our goodbyes, to tell him how much he was loved. And God he was loved. By so many people. He was that most wonderful of things; a truly good man.

      As we were with him we played him You’ll Never Walk Alone. Twice on that last morning. A song to support him, to let him know that we were there, to let him know that he wasn’t alone. He knew. He wasn’t. He was never alone. The Palace game is going to be difficult, I may not be able to handle the minutes before kick off. It’s always an emotional song, obviously it’s always an emotional song, this time it’s going to be a million times more powerful. This time it’s for my Dad, for every time from now on, it’s for my Dad.

      We told him this. And we told him one other thing. One of the last things that we told him; to let him know that we know we’ll see him again, to let him know that he’ll see his friends again, those that went before him who he’d missed and whose lives had contained as much of the passion for this great thing that we all share as his had.

      We told him this:

      “We’ll meet you by the wall after the match.”

      And we will.

      Good night, Dad.

      YNWA.


      Nice read. RIP Mr Salmon YNWA.

      Sorry to hear of your new WAHS, all the best to you and yours.
      what-a-hit-son
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      • @MrPrice1979
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #12: Nov 14, 2014 01:24:09 pm
      Nice read. RIP Mr Salmon YNWA.

      Sorry to hear of your new WAHS, all the best to you and yours.

      Ta la, much appreciated.

      But.....

      Nowt to be sorry for my mate, I'm with him in Hospital now waiting to take him home already which was a surprise. Everything has gone well so hopefully he'll get over this op and it'll all be over. At least they are the sounds that are getting made.

      Buzzing I am!
      FL Red
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      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #13: Nov 14, 2014 04:24:22 pm
      Ta la, much appreciated.

      But.....

      Nowt to be sorry for my mate, I'm with him in Hospital now waiting to take him home already which was a surprise. Everything has gone well so hopefully he'll get over this op and it'll all be over. At least they are the sounds that are getting made.

      Buzzing I am!


      Good to hear! Take care of you and yours and thanks for posting that article. ;)
      what-a-hit-son
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      • @MrPrice1979
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #14: Nov 14, 2014 05:13:44 pm
      Good to hear! Take care of you and yours and thanks for posting that article. ;)

      Nice one FL
      Beerbelly
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      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #15: Nov 14, 2014 09:40:34 pm
      Ta la, much appreciated.

      But.....

      Nowt to be sorry for my mate, I'm with him in Hospital now waiting to take him home already which was a surprise. Everything has gone well so hopefully he'll get over this op and it'll all be over. At least they are the sounds that are getting made.

      Buzzing I am!

       :gt-happyup:
      reddebs
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      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #16: Nov 14, 2014 09:55:01 pm
      Ta la, much appreciated.

      But.....

      Nowt to be sorry for my mate, I'm with him in Hospital now waiting to take him home already which was a surprise. Everything has gone well so hopefully he'll get over this op and it'll all be over. At least they are the sounds that are getting made.

      Buzzing I am!


      Fantastic news that wahs great to hear mate  :gt-happyup:
      what-a-hit-son
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      • @MrPrice1979
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #17: Oct 05, 2015 11:16:26 am
      BRENDAN RODGERS SACKED: A REACTION - by Neil Atkinson

      http://www.theanfieldwrap.com/2015/10/brendan-rodgers-sacked-a-reaction/

      BY NEIL ATKINSON

      AFTER Liverpool beat West Ham United 2-1 at Upton Park on 6th April 2014 I recorded a show on top of the tower. While recording the show I was getting texts about where the drink was happening. The Saddle on Dale Street. I couldn’t believe it. With Steve Graves I walked across town. “I mean, it’s not a good pub this, Steve. There must be some mistake. Maybe it is a holding position boozer.” When we opened the door it hit us. The heat. The sweat. The glow, the effervescent glow of smiles on faces, the joy making the light shimmer. And the noise. The wall of noise. Adam Melia and his brother Daniel glorifying “This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan on the karaoke and an entire room of Liverpool supporters and lesbians chanting the chorus back at them. South Central does it like nobody does. People on tables, roaring, laughing, dancing, carousing.

      This was the happiest I’ve ever been in my whole life.

      When Liverpool made Brendan Rodgers manager I didn’t really know what to think. Let’s see, I thought. Let’s just see. And, I thought, it’ll also be nice to have a manager I don’t wake up in the night anxious about, you know, like the bloke who nearly died or the bloke who fought for the soul of the club or the bloke who closer than anyone else alive personified the soul of the club. I thought maybe this will help. A bloke coming in from outside who no one knows much about. Someone not infected with our nonsense. Maybe he’ll get us playing. And if he doesn’t, well we just get rid of him. Which ever way it goes, it’ll be nice to get a full night’s sleep.

      In the February of his first season we went to Bray and the night before I spoke to Tony Evans and said I thought Rodgers might have to go in the summer. Just too inconsistent. Tony was adamant that he should be allowed three years. He talked me round.

      What transpired to be the key positive transfer window of Rodgers’s time had just happened. Liverpool had signed Phil Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge. The latter, especially, inspired an upturn in form and by the time the campaign had finished Liverpool had been able to look genuinely dangerous and had gone just shy of 2 points per game for the second half of the season.

      Rodgers then spent the summer highlighting the importance of improving the goals scored column but very few people anticipated what was to follow.
      Because of what has happened since Daniel Sturridge got injured on international duty in September 2014, the 2013/14 season has suffered a ton of revisionism. Hopefully now that Brendan Rodgers is no longer Liverpool manager that will stop and the most remarkable league season of my adulthood can be remembered for what it was. An incredible collective effort across the entire season that very nearly became Liverpool’s most remarkable title win since 1947 if not ever. Not one big push (Liverpool were top on Christmas Day) and not due solely to one player.

      Footballers will always be the most important part of any football team, especially across 38 games. In 13/14 Luis Suarez was remarkable. From having been desperate to leave he was entirely committed and played the best football of his Liverpool career by a mile. His form from October to December was the finest sustained spell I’ve ever seen any Liverpool player hit. After the turn of the year he dropped off a couple of rungs to being simply incredible.

      But he wasn’t the sole reason for Liverpool’s success, the season before had shown the way. Rodgers brought the best out of both Suarez and Sturridge, he gave them able support in Gerrard, Henderson and Sterling from whom he also coaxed the very best and he committed wholeheartedly to an attacking approach which allowed all to shine and Liverpool perpetually improved. If you take any run of 5 games from when Rodgers arrived in 2012 up to when Gerrard fell over the performances, results or both were better than any other given 5. This, more than anything, is indicative of Brendan Rodgers’s remarkable abilities as a coach. This, more than anything, marks him down as the sort of momentum manager which would be part of this eventual failure at Liverpool. No backward steps wasn’t just an attitude, it was a lifeblood and since they were taken Liverpool haven’t been able to stride freely again.

      Rodgers created something which could be got behind. Liverpool were about something in a way they arguably hadn’t been since September 2009. In the first month of Rodgers’s reign John Henry was having to pen open letters to the support. The stench of Hicks and Gillett, Purslow and Hodgson, and yes, in part, Parry and Moores still lingered about the place and even Kenny Dalglish hadn’t been able to wipe it clean and him being sacked had dirtied the place up again.

      Liverpool’s football was zipless, seamless, mustard. The approach, watching young lads play and play and play, lightened everyone’s mood. Lightened everyone’s life. The purpose of the enterprise suddenly back.

      Liverpool Football Club was suddenly unfettered.

      For too long, since 2007, possibly 2005 and perhaps even before then, Liverpool Football Club had been fettered. Supporting Liverpool, going the game, talking about the game had been to have an argument, a perpetual argument. Over ownership, finances, protests, Benitez, our place in the world and our direction of travel. Supporting Liverpool had been supporting a thoroughbred race horse beladen with baggage. Suddenly, through the approach of Rodgers and his men, as much as anything else, that baggage had gone and the horse was striding.

      Suddenly everywhere you went in the city, everyone you spoke to, everything that happened had a buzz. Everyone was talking football, talking The Reds. It helped that Everton were playing well too. The whole city was alive with the sound of togger.

      Suddenly Liverpool was having a pint. Even more of a pint than normal. The Saddle tableau wasn’t unique. All over the city parties were being had every weekend. Boss were putting on Boss Nights which were boss. The whole city bounced to the weekend’s rhythm, boozers packed for almost every game which had any sort of an impact at the top, boozers spilling over before, during and after when The Reds played. This wasn’t limited just to the city of Liverpool. The worldwide diaspora were going out and watching it together. Suddenly it was football that made you want to be with your mates, football that made you want to make new mates. Because these Reds.

      Suddenly it was a joy to be alive.

      It is important not to forget what 13/14 felt like. There is a history of football which is handed down to us through record books and television. It’s a history which is predominantly written by the greybearded and the distant and by the cynics. Some of these dwell within our own parish, a darkness in their souls uncleansed, consistently unable to forgive Brendan Rodgers for not being the bloke who nearly died or the bloke who fought for the soul of the club or the bloke who closer than anyone else alive personified the soul of the club.

      For many of these the hard facts of the matter will always prevail. Hard facts can’t dance. Hard facts have no rhythm. No one wants to get off with hard facts. The football history that really matters is about the stories, the collective experience, the days and the nights, the coaches and the buzz. Remember not the hard fact of the 3-3 draw, your side losing a three goal lead, but instead remember that they were trying to score ten. Remember they were trying to do the impossible. Remember how proud you were of how close they came.

      And at Liverpool, there are others factors, other issues. Those who can’t get beyond having seen behind the curtain, can’t get beyond the backroom and the gossip, can’t get beyond what has gone before. Football minds melded beyond what happens on the green thing to obsess only over what happens everywhere else. I know this. It’s hard to get your innocence back. I recognise that. Because that is 2008/09.

      Liverpool’s title charge in 2008/09 mostly wasn’t an enjoyable experience. It was fraught. It was stressful. It was about sticking it to people. Not about the adventure and not even really about sticking it to people who didn’t support Liverpool. It was about sticking it to people internally. It’s an amazing thoroughbred, Benitez’s 08/09, because it was carrying all sorts. Mostly weaponry either stuck in it or thrusting weaponry back. Even now too much of Liverpool’s support is about sticking it to people internally.

      I’d never go back to 08/09. Not for a second. Not for a moment. Not even for 1-4 at Old Trafford. It was thoroughly unpleasant, waking at 3am wondering if tomorrow is the day Benitez ridiculously gets sacked, arguing in the ground every other week. But I’d do 13/14 again, knowing what I know now. I’d live that nine months over and over and over again if I could. Groundhog season. No one was looking to stick anything to anyone. Not when you could give them a cuddle instead. I’d go back in an instant, back to waking at 3am excited that it is Saturday Saturday Saturday. I’d go back in the blink of an eye. I’d do it mostly so I could see my friends that happy again, faces moist with sweat, improbability and delight.

      On the 20th September 2014 Liverpool returned to Upton Park. Liverpool played the diamond. Borini and Balotelli up front, a million miles from Suarez and Sturridge. Gerrard dominated by Downing, a million miles from the previous season. Liverpool beaten. Liverpool broken. And from that point Liverpool have been nothing but fettered.

      Brendan Rodgers can point to external factors. The loss of Sturridge on England duty arguably hurt more than the loss of Suarez but both together was a bitter blow. The reality of extra games meant there had to be an influx of new players and it can’t be underestimated what the run in 13/14 did to the footballers – no one has managed to retain the title this decade and most defences have been very poor. Liverpool didn’t have the depth or the experience of the other three sides that have competed for the title in the last five years; what they did have was the emotional energy. And if that turns…

      Yet there was more than just that wrong. It seemed the greybearded, the distant, the cynical had got to Rodgers and Liverpool. From a clear, stated commitment to add to the goals scored column in the summer 2013 Liverpool had manifestly gone into reverse. The backwards steps had been taken too early, they were there in the summer with talk of consolidation before Daniel Sturridge gets his knock. And Rodgers himself seemed like a man who had to prove he was a responsible leader, not a manager who just sent lads out to rip into teams, spoke like he felt had to add more steel. More substance. Martin Fitzgerald likened Liverpool of 2014/15 to a band who made a terrific punkpop debut album but who are looking for a more grown-up follow up, looking for less dancing and better reviews in the broadsheets before releasing something turgid, something the broadsheets wouldn’t applaud and something leaving fans of the band wondering what on earth had gone on – can you just play it faster?

      The desire for mainstream acceptance, the startling drop off in quality in attack and the collective physical and mental exhaustion after 13/14 did for Rodgers. He struggled to get his side going and then when he finally did, when they got on their run, it was when they got off it that the rot for his reputation set in. If he wasn’t a man fighting with himself at the start of 14/15 he most definitely was by the end and the thing about fighting with yourself is that you will always lose.

      Liverpool lost. They lost and lost and lost. United, Arsenal and Villa with its three formations in forty five minutes, showing a manager unsure of his team, unsure of himself. Crystal Palace. And then Stoke. In many sense Stoke was the final straw – how can you trust the man who oversees losing 6-1? For those who were there Stoke would live long in the memory. What do you do about that? How do you rebuild those bridges?

      Rodgers kept his job and he tried – this season started with three consecutive clean sheets but then West Ham happened and West Ham looked so much like Crystal Palace. And if Crystal Palace can happen again, then can Stoke?

      In the end Rodgers stayed for only eight league games too long. To have removed him from his post earlier than Stoke away would have been very harsh on the man who managed the side to the most unlikely title challenge since Abramovitch turned up. To have kept him beyond that point now feels tougher on him than on us, frankly, and points are on the board.

      What have we learnt? That our darkness, that our nonsense can infect anyone? That the job is a very hard job indeed? That we want/need everything, all the everythings, more than one man can provide? Perhaps. But why dwell there? That’s one for another day.

      The key aspect of Brendan Rodgers’s reign as Liverpool manager is that he came closest to doing what has become structurally more and more difficult since 1990. Closer than the bloke who nearly died or the bloke who fought for the soul of the club or the bloke who closer than anyone else alive personified the soul of the club. And he came closest to doing it in the most electrifying, high wire act way that none of them could have done, that perhaps no one else in the world would have done.

      I’ve learnt to love footballers again under Brendan Rodgers, because at his best he so clearly does. Footballers doing amazing things, making children of us, is a wonderful thing. Learnt that goals are paramount to proceedings and learnt that without them nothing can be achieved. These might seem like straightforward and obvious enough virtues but it had been a dark place for far too long.

      It is time he goes because Hope has gone and he’s shown what Hope can do. Hope and her responsible elder brother Belief, her irrepressible younger brother Delusion. This is the holy trinity that any future Liverpool success will be built on and so I’ll say it now: I believe the next Liverpool manager whoever he will be will win the league. You should too. Because if you don’t what’s the point of it all?

      Regardless though, this is for tomorrow. For today, I can close my eyes and see Sturridge juggling it on the goalline against Stoke, Steve Graves on Gibbo’s shoulders after Arsenal, Henderson forcing it in against Swansea. I can see Skrtel rising against Arsenal, Mike Nevin falling off the kerb hectoring me after West Ham, Flanagan rattling into Soldado.

      Gerrard with his top off against Fulham, Gerrard with his top off against Fulham, Gerrard with his top off against Fulham.

      It can’t be taken away and it emerges in odd places. If I ever need to think of 13/14 I put on “I’m On My Way” by The Proclaimers and think of Ben Johnson and Adam Melia singing it after one of the wins, nailing it, absolutely perfect in every sense:
      I’m on my way from misery to happiness today
      I’m on my way from misery to happiness today
      I’m on my way to what I want from this world
      And years from now you’ll make it to the next world
      And everything that you receive up yonder
      Is what you gave to me the day I wandered

      At Glastonbury last year we went to see The Proclaimers all together and they played it. I took this photo of Adam and Ben singing along:
      Just look at them there. It’s Suarez hitting the post against Arsenal isn’t it? The best twenty minutes of your life.

      These are my memories. If you were doing 13/14 right, you’ll have your own, your own photographs, your own stories, your own moments. (If you weren’t doing 13/14 right, you’ll probably be wondering when I’m going to mention defending). You’ll know immediately the ones I mean and you’ll be able to substitute in your own. You’ll have everything and you’ll know that those days couldn’t have happened without Brendan Rodgers.

      It was the happiest I’ve been in my whole life.

      All the best, Brendan. All the best.
      what-a-hit-son
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      • @MrPrice1979
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #18: Nov 10, 2015 06:16:09 am
      The Trouble With Anfield… Is Me

      By @thecenci


      ‘The word fanatic has been used many times. I think it’s more than fanaticism. It’s a religion to them. The thousands who come here come to worship, it’s a sort of shrine, it isn’t a football ground.’
      – Bill Shankly

      Makes you think, doesn’t it?

      Last season, I took my niece to her first ever Liverpool game. She was 15, not especially interested in Liverpool or, indeed, football, but had heard of the Kop and wanted to see what it was like. There was also something to do with Daniel Sturridge too but I didn’t examine that motive too intently. Anyway, she enjoyed the day, enjoyed torturing me with her music on the drive back and said she would like to go back ‘at some point.’ Not exactly commitment.

      Anfield Me.

      I have other friends who have been to one game too – just to see what it’s like. They’ve nodded around the stands, sang You’ll Never Walk Alone, sat through the game and gone home with a tick on the Bucket List.  Anfield – done.

      Anfield is something to see at least once.

      The ground itself usually takes people by surprise. It’s smaller than most others. Very compact with the front rows being mere metres from the pitch. The players can hear you. I can testify that, following one goalless and soulless draw against Birmingham, John Arne Riise could here every word I gave him as he trotted over for an ill-advised round of applause. I won’t repeat them here. Not due to the expletive count on this site, but as they soon lost their structure as individual words and ended up in some sort of jam of vowels as I shrieked at his careworn face. What I gained in passion I lost in coherence.

      Anfield is also beautiful. I never want to leave there and fought against the ‘but we need to compete’ and ‘if it were up to people like you we’d still be in 1892 in front of ten people and a dog’ crowd when it looked like we were moving across Anfield Road. On European nights it’s unrivaled and the envy of the continent, but it’s not just the sight of the place, it’s the feel of it too. On its good days nothing can generate that intangible sense of greatness, of difference, of, well, Liverpool. It gets into your bones. When Anfield shakes, so does the world.

      But it’s not always like that. In fact it’s seldom like that. Nowadays, we turn up, we watch, we go home again as we would a night out at the pictures. People blame each other for this but sometimes the crowd just aren’t arsed. The frowns when someone starts singing on their own. The snickering when no one joins in. The ‘Jesus, lad. It’s only Bournemouth, not Real Madrid’ when someone goes off on one. We sit and watch and wait and wonder where the atmosphere has gone.

      And you know who’s to blame for this? You are. Not me. You.

      Well, alright, me too.

      There are times when people just aren’t up for it. Pre-match drinking can either leave you buoyant or sluggish depending on your ABV capacity. It’s also very difficult to go into full on histrionics when Stoke City are standing in front of you and you’re dying for a piss. It’s equally tricky when you’re looking at another cross float harmlessly into the stand or the back four are passing it round at 0-0 with ten to go. Atmosphere isn’t always easy and not everyone can get one going. I can’t.

      Anfield now has a singing section. I was against the idea of that at the time. Well, not against as such. More ‘embarrassed’. The whole ground should be singing, not just those standing at the back of the Kop. It’s great singing away and pausing to realise that, yes, even the Main Stand is doing it too. (For those who don’t know, the Main Stand is famed for, shall we say, less than enthusiastic people who prefers tartan blankets to scarves and colours. I love it) A singing section seemed like an acknowledgement of failure throughout the ground. ‘We have to do something.’ I feel differently now. It’s become a focal point so when Blocks 305 and 306 get going elements of the Kop look around and join in.

      Sometimes.

      A mate of mine calls the average Anfield patron ‘atmosphere voyeurs’. A photo here, a video there but nothing like actually joining in. We’ve all stood next to people who take photos of every corner and we’ve all frowned at them at some point. Live and let live and all that but I did bring this up with someone who had clearly travelled thousands of miles to watch Steven Gerrard score a penalty through the lens of his video camera rather than jerk his head around to watch the real man do the real thing. Each to their own, obviously, but it can detract from the atmosphere if whole blocks are basically watching telly.

      This is not to criticise our global support (I’ve co-edited a book about it after all (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Were-Everywhere-Us-Liverpools-Through/dp/1785310429  at somewhere between £9 and £12 with an introduction from John Barnes. Yes, John Barnes!) – or those who want to take keepsakes of that famous square of grass, but by not joining in (or being too scared to join in) the thing that makes Anfield a great Anfield is somehow reduced a notch. That fear thing is as real as it is stupid. That worry that you may not be doing the right thing is ludicrous. I’ve had two instances of this. At the Arsenal Champions League game in 2008 some dickhead told me ‘not to come here again’ after I advised Dirk Kuyt to try passing it to one of our lads this time. I went nose to nose with him, calculating that I’d been in the ground hundreds of times before his own Dad had even considered having children so he had no right to advise me on my level of support, but that all went nice once we scored and I got to jump on his back in the celebration. The other time was against West Ham years ago when again I was keen to provide some feedback or other. The lad next to me was about to square up to me before he inexplicably looked at my footwear (Adidas Samba), nodded and silently decided that my point was valid. Absolutely ridiculous.

      If you’ve not been to the ground very often you may not always know what to do so you stay quiet. The noise quotient is thus further reduced.

      Incidentally, he could have battered me so I’m glad I left the K-Swiss at home.

      So we’re all to blame to some degree. Those who want everyone to sing don’t always want everyone to join in. No one wants to see Soccer A.M seal claps on the Kop.

      There’s someone else to blame too.

      Those other lads.

      Yes, them.

      This is a symbiotic process. They play well and do great things – we sing them home and everything is great. They do whatever Dejan did last week and the crowd are too fu**ed off to get involved. If we know we’re clearly the better side and this is going to be great then we’re all up for it. If we don’t, we don’t. Look at 13-14. In the early months, specifically Palace at home, it sounded like the entire ground was collectively doing a crossword such was the quiet mumbling around the place. Fast forward a few months to the Tottenham game and minutes before the teams come out when, for absolutely no reason, the entire ground just decided to roar. There aren’t many league games where that happens but that minute will always stay with me. As one we decided to just roar as we knew what was coming. You’re getting battered today, lads. Absolutely battered. And we’re part of it. Two minutes into game we were a goal up and Roberto Soldado was looking to get off the pitch as soon as possible.

      But if that doesn’t happen, if Liverpool are either struggling or underwhelming, that atmosphere dissipates. This isn’t a recent thing. It’s a myth that the Anfield of the 70s and 80s always resembled the St Etienne game. Often as not crowds were low and singing was at a premium. My first ever game in November 1981 was almost silent. A case of ‘come on then, show us something.’ They did too. They showed us a 1-0 defeat.

      Things became really bad during the Hodgson tenure. Red was at war with Red. Some wanted Rafa gone and openly celebrated the decision to let him go while others pointed at the pitch, at Cole and Konchesky and reminded others of being careful what you wish for. Hodgson’s last home game against Bolton saw a crowd of just 35,400 and people still sat down when we scored the winner in injury time. No one cared until things changed.

      The same can be said today albeit it not of Hodgson proportions. Ours is a fractured fanbase and has been since 2008. For every anti-Brendan shout there are equal zealots in the other camp. During the Arsenal game I tweeted that the first half was the best we’d played in 15 months. Two people instantly accused me of not backing the manager. Even praise is taken poorly in some quarters. This constant need to berate others even when we’re doing well. I’ll never understand it.

      We all want Liverpool to do well, don’t we? Well, I’d say so but there’s the call for some people actively wanting us to fail to show that they were always right about the manager. That’s probably true in some cases but it does nothing to build up that bastion of invincibility that Shankly spoke of. We each mistrust the views or agenda of the other now. There was only the first few months of Kenny’s return and the last few months of 2013-14 that made Anfield a laugh again before even that was cleaved in two before too long.

      So, is Anfield dead?  No. It never can be as we have this unerring quality of self-surprise. I didn’t see ‘that’ season coming as much as I didn’t see that Arsenal performance coming, but gone are the days when atmosphere is guaranteed. It purely relies on how the team are doing now and that’s a real shame. Away games are different. Always funnier, always with a stronger sense of camaraderie and always, always, always louder. These days at least.

      But something has to change. If we can’t be arsed how can the players be? Yes, they earn billions and all that but it helps if they love their work too. Getting out and playing in front of a mardy gang of bas**rds isn’t going to help. Everyone needs to step up. Everyone needs to do a bit more. Everyone needs to make the match day interactive.

      Oh, and as if I’ve ever owned a pair of K-Swiss.

      http://anfieldindex.com/16756/trouble-with-anfield-is-me.html
      what-a-hit-son
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      • @MrPrice1979
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #19: Nov 10, 2015 12:54:00 pm
      Brought a tear to my eye this.

      I take my Dad to Arrowe Park Hospital for his last operation early tomorrow from his battle with bowel  and liver cancer so this really touched me.

      By the way Ian, if you ever read this, you really have done him proud, believe me.

      God bless your family and may your old man never walk alone.


      We'll meet you by the wall after the match
      By IAN SALMON

      IF you’ll allow me something of an indulgence, I’d like to talk to you about what’s really important.

      I didn’t go to the Chelsea game. I haven’t seen the game, neither live nor on Match of the Day. I haven’t seen the goals, I haven’t seen any match reports, haven’t followed the obvious Twitter explosion (a nailed on penalty apparently?) and haven’t read any of the undoubtedly fine analysis on this site.

      I was supposed to be there. Main Stand, my Dad’s season ticket. My brothers, Keith and Kevin, were supposed to be on The Kop. They weren’t. We didn’t sell our tickets on, didn’t pass them to our mates; there were three empty seats at Anfield on Saturday.

      We spent Saturday and Friday and most of Sunday in Fazakerley Hospital with our Dad and a great deal of extended family and on Sunday, as our Keith put it: “on a sunny Sunday Liverpool afternoon, at two minutes past two, our Father and best mate passed away.”

      Robert Salmon –– Bob, Bobby to his brothers, sisters and workmates –– Dad, was born in 1935. 20th of Feb 1935. 79 years old, going to the match since the 50s. A season-ticket holder for nearly 60 years. He’d seen it all. He’d seen some rubbish in the early days, the second division days, but he’d seen the glory. He saw Shankly build a team, he saw Shankly build HIS team, the team we were given, the team we follow. He saw the birth of all we hold dear, he saw the empire start. He named me for two of the foundation stones of the empire, he named his first son for the men who built the glory.

      He holidayed in Butlins in Pwllheli in (1960 I think), impressed by the fact that Jimmy Melia and Bobby Campbell and Johnny Morrisey were holidaying there. The fact that he and his friends were also associating with a singer called Rory Storm was less notable. Rory’s drummer was even less noted. Lad called Ringo.

      He was there in ’65 at Wembley when we brought home that first FA Cup; that holy cup, the one that started everything, the one we’d wanted for so long. He was there when the lads still went the match in suits and overcoats. When they went to the match in overcoats in May.

      He was there at the semi final when there was a pitch invasion, when the last whistle brought a joyous pitch invasion with the knowledge that Wembley beckoned. All the time that our Father stood as a role model for us we knew that he’d kept the copy of the Echo that contained a photo that featured him as a member of the army that invaded the pitch. We loved him all the more for that. One of the many, many things that we loved him for.

      He did the homes, he did the aways. With his mates, with our Uncles; Lenny, Dave, Jimmy. With his mates. He did the hard miles in the years before motorways. Sunderland in winter without motorways? He did 74 to watch us ram Supermac’s words down his throat. He did the leagues, all those leagues, all those glorious leagues that we took as birthright, he saw them all. He saw such things, such wonders. He saw the glory which was Rome. He stayed sober for three days (he always claimed he did anyway) in order that he could see the city and enjoy the city. He ate nothing but ice cream for three days because he was a simple Liverpool lad; an Everton-born Liverpool lad who didn’t trust that fancy foreign food. When he found a menu which contained the word ‘spaghetti’ (which one would imagine would be plentiful in that particular city) he ordered it and was amazed at ‘this white stuff’ that arrived having fully expected it to be of the tinned Heinz variety. That’s what he told us, we believed him, you believe your Dad on these things.

      Bruges in 78 by boat. Back by boat. Nearly back to Bruges by boat. The ‘no-drinking’ concept firmly abandoned, he had decided to get back on the boat to (and I quote) ‘thank the captain for a nice ride.’

      He drank in the Park Hotel in Netherton after home games in the 70s and 80s. Drank with Roy Evans and Ronnie Moran and Ronnie Whelan and Ian Rush and that period of stardom and greatness (and if the dates are wrong or the players were others then it’s because the legend has become bigger in my mind ––Evo’s a definite though).

      Paris. Three European Cups. He was at three European Cup wins. Not bad that, is it? Not many teams can do that can they? And he’s one of so many that can claim that. His story, his footballing story, is the same as yours, or your Dad’s or your Granddad’s, it’s what we all share, it’s what unites every one of us. My Dad was one of us. Unique and wonderful and brilliant and one of us, one of this big thing that we all have in common. In love with the game, in love with the club.

      He was at Hillsborough. He was in the stand and he watched as the stretchers came past, powerless to do anything and waiting to see if the next one had either Keith or Kevin on it. He was lucky. We were lucky. Our family came home but he knew how close it could have been, knew how lucky we were. He didn’t talk about what he saw, we didn’t discuss the details very often. One of the guys that went there on the coach that my Dad went on was one of the 96. The coach waited, had to leave without him, had to come back not knowing. We don’t know who it was. When the phone call came through that evening that told him that it was the first time that I’d ever seen my Father cry.

      And he brought us up on this club that he loved, this game that he loved. The three of us. Keith and Kevin before me. I came to the game relatively late on but I got there. Late 70s, through the 80s, educated the right way. The Paddock first. For us. Back when it was a big gap between the main stand and the pitch. Then the Kop. But he was the Main Stand. As long as I can remember, the Main Stand. Where the grown ups sit. I’m older now than he was then but the Main Stand is where the grown ups sit. I’m not a grown up, I never will be. At heart I don’t think he was either. But he was Main Stand and we were Kop. And we’d go together and we’d split up when we got there and we’d agree one thing, always one thing (and this is where the tears start) “We’ll meet you at the wall after the match”.

      The wall. Facing the corner where the The Kop and The Main Stand meet. That’s where we’d meet them; my Dad, Lenny, my Granddad (his best mates, reunited with his best mates now), we’d meet them by the wall. Gone now. Gone for years, replaced by a fence but still it was “We’ll meet you by the wall”. The fence has gone now, it’s just ground waiting for the expansion but we were “meeting by the wall” up until about a month ago when Dad became too weak to go anymore.

      Walking had been an issue for a while but he’d done his damnedest to keep going. We hoped for more, hoped to get him to the game, hoped for the Madrid game, for possibly one last big European night, spoke to the club, asked if we could arrange to bring him in a wheelchair, get him to his seat, store the chair somewhere (they offered up a space under the Kop, they were as excellent as you’d want them to be) and get back to him at the end of the game.

      But he was too tired and the weather was foul and it was cold. It didn’t happen. Chelsea maybe? Maybe we could get him to the Chelsea game? He had oxygen at home, if we could get a portable version? If we could find a space where he could watch from the wheelchair?

      We didn’t get to ask the question. He was hospitalised a week before the Chelsea game and on the day before the match he started to go downhill.

      So we didn’t go the game. We didn’t see the coverage, we didn’t watch Match of the Day. We possibly never will because, whatever happened in the game, it doesn’t really matter.

      I found out a few years ago that my Dad’s ambition had been to be a sports journalist. I’ve somehow, luckily, in a pretty unlikely turn of events, managed to do some of what he wanted to do. I’m delighted by that fact. Delighted, proud and comforted. Something of him is here, always here, in my opinions, in the way I voice them, in the fact that I do it at all. In the fact that I go to the game.

      My Dad’s story is the same as yours, as your Dad’s as your Granddad’s as all of us. One of the many thousands of us whose name you never know but you might have passed by as you walk to your seat or in the street before the game. I’m lucky enough to be able to tell you it here because of everything he gave me. Because of the love and the passion and the allegiance and the faith in the team.

      I hope I’ve done him some justice here, I’ve not even covered the things that made him truly special; they’re unique and indescribable. His fight to stay with us over the last three days has been immense and inspirational. It allowed us all to say our goodbyes, to tell him how much he was loved. And God he was loved. By so many people. He was that most wonderful of things; a truly good man.

      As we were with him we played him You’ll Never Walk Alone. Twice on that last morning. A song to support him, to let him know that we were there, to let him know that he wasn’t alone. He knew. He wasn’t. He was never alone. The Palace game is going to be difficult, I may not be able to handle the minutes before kick off. It’s always an emotional song, obviously it’s always an emotional song, this time it’s going to be a million times more powerful. This time it’s for my Dad, for every time from now on, it’s for my Dad.

      We told him this. And we told him one other thing. One of the last things that we told him; to let him know that we know we’ll see him again, to let him know that he’ll see his friends again, those that went before him who he’d missed and whose lives had contained as much of the passion for this great thing that we all share as his had.

      We told him this:

      “We’ll meet you by the wall after the match.”

      And we will.

      Good night, Dad.

      YNWA.


      Bloody hell just read that piece again.

      Something in my eye...
      what-a-hit-son
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      • @MrPrice1979
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #20: Nov 29, 2015 09:04:13 pm
      PHILIPPE COUTINHO: THE MAN WHO ESCAPED PURGATORY
      MODERN FOOTBALL HAS CREATED A PURGATORY. A place where players are heralded as the next big thing – and who often fail to live up to the hype – are placed in. The lines between star and potential star are becoming increasingly blurred, meaning fans and clubs alike are impatient. They demand an instant impact and if you don’t deliver it’s a missed opportunity for the player, not the club. One player on the verge of escaping his personal limbo is Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho.

      Philippe Coutinho Correia, the third, and youngest, son of José Carlos, was born on June 12, 1992, in Rio de Janiero and raised in the district of Rocha. A collection of small industrial warehouses was his humble childhood home.

      It was in this area that the future Brazil international learnt his craft. The concrete football pitch close by was his canvas and his elder brothers his inspiration; he would go on to express himself in that concrete jungle.

      Futsal was his game of choice and it wasn’t long before Philippe was getting the better of his elder brothers, Cristiano and Leandro. It also wasn’t long before clubs started taking note and he was asked to attend a trial for Vasco da Gama. It’s hard to imagine it now – the Liverpool number 10 often makes himself at home in some of England’s biggest stadiums – but on his first day he wouldn’t leave his father’s side and cried due to extreme shyness.

      Recalling his futsal years, Coutinho said: “I played futsal from the age of six. Then when I was seven I went to Vasco da Gama, I was playing futsal until I was 11 before I moved to the big pitch. This is where I learned my skills. When you play futsal, it is more technical and much quicker. The place where you play is much smaller and the pace quicker so you need to be a highly technical player to succeed. It helps me adapt quicker.”

      The futsal videos of a young Coutinho – ‘Philippinho’ as he was called back then – can be found on YouTube, with the curly haired maestro still using the same tricks when he plays now as he did back then. He’s a contortionist with the ball at his feet and a joy to watch. The twinkle in his eye and the cheeky smile he flashes after scoring is something Liverpool fans have become accustomed to.

      Coming through the youth ranks at Vasco he often crossed paths with another Brazilian starlet, Neymar. At the time the talk was about which of these two talented youngsters would be the best. The were likened to Robinho and Diego, two players that had some years earlier come through the ranks at Santos. Coutinho’s Vasco defeated Neymar’s Santos in the under-17 Copa do Brasil in 2008 and his star was on rapid ascent.

      Unsurprisingly with a profound South American talent, a move to Europe was just around the corner. Many clubs showed an interest but it was Italian side Inter Milan who took the calculated risk and paid Vasco da Gama €4 million for the services of Brazil’s next big thing.

      After just a few training sessions with Inter, manager at the time Rafa Benítez declared Coutinho would be “the club’s future”. Many will be familiar with the Inter-Tottenham Hotspur 4-3 match, it’s forever associated with Gareth Bale announcing himself to the world, but it was Inter Milan’s number 29 who impressed the football purists. The diminutive Brazilian played a part in two of the four Inter goals while playing on the left of a 4-2-3-1. A bright start at Inter soon faded, however; a mixture of injuries and the sacking of Benítez meant Coutinho finished the season out of the team.

      After failing to establish himself in the first half of 2011-12, Inter allowed Coutinho to be loaned to Spanish side Espanyol, who at the time had future Southampton and Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino at the helm. The loan deal was the revival Coutinho’s stagnating career needed.

      A return of five goals in 16 appearances – and one of the goals of the season against Rayo Vallecano – led to Espanyol wanting to extend the loan but Inter were convinced of his quality once again and welcomed him back with open arms. Diego Milito, Inter’s leading marksman at the time, commented how “[Coutinho’s] time in Spain changed him for the better”. First team football will do that to a player. The first half of the next season he made 19 appearances for the side, just one shy of the total number he made in the entirety of 2010-11.

      In a bizarre twist he was sold to Liverpool in January 2013 for £8 million – many Nerazzurri fans questioning the wisdom of letting their best young talent leave on the cheap. The fee was too tempting, however, for the Inter Milan owners, who had grown tired of waiting to reap their rewards.

      Later, Inter Milan director Piero Ausilio noted his regret at letting Coutinho leave: “He was just 18 when he arrived at the club from Vasco. Then came [Rafa] Benítez and the expectations were very high. Rafa had used him on the flanks in a 4-2-3-1 formation but he was not playing much so we decided to sell him. I would like young players to grow and succeed here; when I see them play for other clubs, it makes me sad.”

      Inter’s loss was Liverpool’s gain. The mercurial mop-headed number 10 made himself at home in the Liverpool line-up, hitting it off instantly with Luis Suárez and Daniel Sturridge. Originally playing on the left of a 4-2-3-1 – like he had at Inter – his partnership with the latter blossomed in the absence of the former and he was instrumental in Liverpool’s emphatic end to the 2012-13 season.

      He was tormenting players and tying defenders in knots like a certain Cristiano Ronaldo was doing in his debut season at United, with the difference being the Liverpool player had an end product from day one. He’s a gifted player that turns heads and has warmed rival fans to his undoubted quality. He made Héctor Bellerín do an impression of a dog chasing its own tail when Liverpool travelled to the Emirates in August 2015.

      The following season was one of two halves for both club and player: inconsistent in the first half of the season and magical in the second. The nimble playmaker had his position tweaked; he was deployed as a left-sided central midfielder as part of a diamond and he evolved beyond measure – reaching heights many thought he wouldn’t after his stagnation at Inter.

      The Brazilian attacking midfielder was now doing the dirty work in midfield against the likes of Yaya Touré and Fernandinho. Crucially, however, he was still contributing offensively. You often hear of the water carrier doing the dirty work before giving the ball to players capable of making things happen; Coutinho was a water carrier-playmaker hybrid at times during that season. A new breed of Brazilian, he’s just as creative and dynamic without the ball as he is with it.

      He couldn’t sustain that form and as Liverpool struggled to cope with life after Luis Suárez, Coutinho blew hot and cold. The burden of expectation placed on the youngster’s shoulders saw some disappointed with what they witnessed, echoing his time in Milan. He no longer had Suárez or Sturridge to create for; instead he was supposed to be the creator and the finisher. A magician needs an assistant, otherwise the illusion is lost.

      Liverpool recognised this and last summer they signed Roberto Firmino, a player to share the burden with. Coutinho is no longer the sole player Liverpool look to for a moment of inspiration. Firmino’s presence has allowed Coutinho a little more freedom to express himself. It’s paying dividends for the Reds under new manager Jürgen Klopp. The two Brazilians have played a big part in Liverpool’s positive start under the German.

      While his club career is back on that upward trajectory, Brazil boss Dunga is bizarrely favouring Orlando City’s 33-year-old Kaká over the Liverpool star for the Seleção. Dunga has a peculiar way of picking players for the national side, despite his assurances that form is enough. “If a guy comes in and plays well, he will remain in the squad. They have to seize their opportunities.”

      This is more of a club-style policy – it’s your jersey to lose type mentality – not one you often associate with international football. National sides often pick the form players, and before the last international break Coutinho had scored three goals in two games, two of which came in Liverpool’s emphatic 3-1 victory against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. It must be difficult to accept for the Rio native.

      Hyped as the next Brazilian star alongside Neymar he missed out on a call up to the squad in his home World Cup. Shunned by Dunga for now, surely it’s only a matter of time before he’s given the opportunity to rekindle his friendship with Neymar on the pitch. Perhaps the incessant criticism Dunga receives for his team selections within Brazil is partly aimed at his continual overlooking of one of the Premier League’s best playmakers.

      It’s this kind of form, though, that could be bittersweet for the Reds. Liverpool want their players performing at optimal levels but as things stand Coutinho’s level is perhaps a notch or two above everyone else’s at Anfield. If the club can’t match his aspirations then he has every right to whisper ‘come and get me’ pleas to the biggest sides in Europe.

      If he’s performing at high levels on a regular basis he could be the next player after Luis Suárez and Raheem Sterling to earn a big-money move away from Anfield, and it’s not like he’d be short of suitors. He’s the apparent heir to the Andrés Iniesta mantle, and Barcelona stars past and present aren’t shy in letting him know.

      Neymar has been vocal in his support: “I think there are many players with great qualities that could be playing for Barcelona. He is one of them. He is a great player and his style suits Barcelona.”

      Coutinho’s idol Ronaldinho has also expressed his opinion on the subject: “I can’t speak for him and I can’t speak for Barcelona – but I know what Barcelona look for in a player and he has all those qualities.”

      It’s easy after one big move as a youngster to settle. The passion and drive that got them to Europe burns out when they eventually arrive and their talent goes to waste. Coutinho, to his eternal credit, isn’t like this though. He’s still the youngster who played futsal on the concrete pitch not far from his house. He’s still humble; during interviews when he’s complimented he always makes a point of saying he can improve. He takes to social media to reply to individual messages and thank fans for their support. Liverpool supporters love him, and he reciprocates when he can. He’s immersed himself into the Scouse culture, even adding ‘lad’ to the end of his tweets.

      It’s easy to forget he’s only 23 and is still learning his trade. The next few seasons are pivotal in his development as we finally see what type of player he will become – a number 8 or a number 10. Can his goals become more frequent or will he forever be a scorer of great goals but not a great goalscorer? Either way, the next two years are pivotal in the career of Philippe Coutinho.

      A regular Seleção birth and leading Liverpool to Premier League glory will be his aims: how well he plays will ultimately be the determining factor in both.

      By Sam McGuire. Follow @SamMcGuire90

      http://thesefootballtimes.co/2015/11/29/in-celebration-of-philippe-coutinho/
      srslfc
      • LFC Reds Subscriber
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      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #21: Nov 29, 2015 11:16:27 pm
      PHILIPPE COUTINHO: THE MAN WHO ESCAPED PURGATORY
      MODERN FOOTBALL HAS CREATED A PURGATORY. A place where players are heralded as the next big thing – and who often fail to live up to the hype – are placed in. The lines between star and potential star are becoming increasingly blurred, meaning fans and clubs alike are impatient. They demand an instant impact and if you don’t deliver it’s a missed opportunity for the player, not the club. One player on the verge of escaping his personal limbo is Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho.

      Philippe Coutinho Correia, the third, and youngest, son of José Carlos, was born on June 12, 1992, in Rio de Janiero and raised in the district of Rocha. A collection of small industrial warehouses was his humble childhood home.

      It was in this area that the future Brazil international learnt his craft. The concrete football pitch close by was his canvas and his elder brothers his inspiration; he would go on to express himself in that concrete jungle.

      Futsal was his game of choice and it wasn’t long before Philippe was getting the better of his elder brothers, Cristiano and Leandro. It also wasn’t long before clubs started taking note and he was asked to attend a trial for Vasco da Gama. It’s hard to imagine it now – the Liverpool number 10 often makes himself at home in some of England’s biggest stadiums – but on his first day he wouldn’t leave his father’s side and cried due to extreme shyness.

      Recalling his futsal years, Coutinho said: “I played futsal from the age of six. Then when I was seven I went to Vasco da Gama, I was playing futsal until I was 11 before I moved to the big pitch. This is where I learned my skills. When you play futsal, it is more technical and much quicker. The place where you play is much smaller and the pace quicker so you need to be a highly technical player to succeed. It helps me adapt quicker.”

      The futsal videos of a young Coutinho – ‘Philippinho’ as he was called back then – can be found on YouTube, with the curly haired maestro still using the same tricks when he plays now as he did back then. He’s a contortionist with the ball at his feet and a joy to watch. The twinkle in his eye and the cheeky smile he flashes after scoring is something Liverpool fans have become accustomed to.

      Coming through the youth ranks at Vasco he often crossed paths with another Brazilian starlet, Neymar. At the time the talk was about which of these two talented youngsters would be the best. The were likened to Robinho and Diego, two players that had some years earlier come through the ranks at Santos. Coutinho’s Vasco defeated Neymar’s Santos in the under-17 Copa do Brasil in 2008 and his star was on rapid ascent.

      Unsurprisingly with a profound South American talent, a move to Europe was just around the corner. Many clubs showed an interest but it was Italian side Inter Milan who took the calculated risk and paid Vasco da Gama €4 million for the services of Brazil’s next big thing.

      After just a few training sessions with Inter, manager at the time Rafa Benítez declared Coutinho would be “the club’s future”. Many will be familiar with the Inter-Tottenham Hotspur 4-3 match, it’s forever associated with Gareth Bale announcing himself to the world, but it was Inter Milan’s number 29 who impressed the football purists. The diminutive Brazilian played a part in two of the four Inter goals while playing on the left of a 4-2-3-1. A bright start at Inter soon faded, however; a mixture of injuries and the sacking of Benítez meant Coutinho finished the season out of the team.

      After failing to establish himself in the first half of 2011-12, Inter allowed Coutinho to be loaned to Spanish side Espanyol, who at the time had future Southampton and Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino at the helm. The loan deal was the revival Coutinho’s stagnating career needed.

      A return of five goals in 16 appearances – and one of the goals of the season against Rayo Vallecano – led to Espanyol wanting to extend the loan but Inter were convinced of his quality once again and welcomed him back with open arms. Diego Milito, Inter’s leading marksman at the time, commented how “[Coutinho’s] time in Spain changed him for the better”. First team football will do that to a player. The first half of the next season he made 19 appearances for the side, just one shy of the total number he made in the entirety of 2010-11.

      In a bizarre twist he was sold to Liverpool in January 2013 for £8 million – many Nerazzurri fans questioning the wisdom of letting their best young talent leave on the cheap. The fee was too tempting, however, for the Inter Milan owners, who had grown tired of waiting to reap their rewards.

      Later, Inter Milan director Piero Ausilio noted his regret at letting Coutinho leave: “He was just 18 when he arrived at the club from Vasco. Then came [Rafa] Benítez and the expectations were very high. Rafa had used him on the flanks in a 4-2-3-1 formation but he was not playing much so we decided to sell him. I would like young players to grow and succeed here; when I see them play for other clubs, it makes me sad.”

      Inter’s loss was Liverpool’s gain. The mercurial mop-headed number 10 made himself at home in the Liverpool line-up, hitting it off instantly with Luis Suárez and Daniel Sturridge. Originally playing on the left of a 4-2-3-1 – like he had at Inter – his partnership with the latter blossomed in the absence of the former and he was instrumental in Liverpool’s emphatic end to the 2012-13 season.

      He was tormenting players and tying defenders in knots like a certain Cristiano Ronaldo was doing in his debut season at United, with the difference being the Liverpool player had an end product from day one. He’s a gifted player that turns heads and has warmed rival fans to his undoubted quality. He made Héctor Bellerín do an impression of a dog chasing its own tail when Liverpool travelled to the Emirates in August 2015.

      The following season was one of two halves for both club and player: inconsistent in the first half of the season and magical in the second. The nimble playmaker had his position tweaked; he was deployed as a left-sided central midfielder as part of a diamond and he evolved beyond measure – reaching heights many thought he wouldn’t after his stagnation at Inter.

      The Brazilian attacking midfielder was now doing the dirty work in midfield against the likes of Yaya Touré and Fernandinho. Crucially, however, he was still contributing offensively. You often hear of the water carrier doing the dirty work before giving the ball to players capable of making things happen; Coutinho was a water carrier-playmaker hybrid at times during that season. A new breed of Brazilian, he’s just as creative and dynamic without the ball as he is with it.

      He couldn’t sustain that form and as Liverpool struggled to cope with life after Luis Suárez, Coutinho blew hot and cold. The burden of expectation placed on the youngster’s shoulders saw some disappointed with what they witnessed, echoing his time in Milan. He no longer had Suárez or Sturridge to create for; instead he was supposed to be the creator and the finisher. A magician needs an assistant, otherwise the illusion is lost.

      Liverpool recognised this and last summer they signed Roberto Firmino, a player to share the burden with. Coutinho is no longer the sole player Liverpool look to for a moment of inspiration. Firmino’s presence has allowed Coutinho a little more freedom to express himself. It’s paying dividends for the Reds under new manager Jürgen Klopp. The two Brazilians have played a big part in Liverpool’s positive start under the German.

      While his club career is back on that upward trajectory, Brazil boss Dunga is bizarrely favouring Orlando City’s 33-year-old Kaká over the Liverpool star for the Seleção. Dunga has a peculiar way of picking players for the national side, despite his assurances that form is enough. “If a guy comes in and plays well, he will remain in the squad. They have to seize their opportunities.”

      This is more of a club-style policy – it’s your jersey to lose type mentality – not one you often associate with international football. National sides often pick the form players, and before the last international break Coutinho had scored three goals in two games, two of which came in Liverpool’s emphatic 3-1 victory against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. It must be difficult to accept for the Rio native.

      Hyped as the next Brazilian star alongside Neymar he missed out on a call up to the squad in his home World Cup. Shunned by Dunga for now, surely it’s only a matter of time before he’s given the opportunity to rekindle his friendship with Neymar on the pitch. Perhaps the incessant criticism Dunga receives for his team selections within Brazil is partly aimed at his continual overlooking of one of the Premier League’s best playmakers.

      It’s this kind of form, though, that could be bittersweet for the Reds. Liverpool want their players performing at optimal levels but as things stand Coutinho’s level is perhaps a notch or two above everyone else’s at Anfield. If the club can’t match his aspirations then he has every right to whisper ‘come and get me’ pleas to the biggest sides in Europe.

      If he’s performing at high levels on a regular basis he could be the next player after Luis Suárez and Raheem Sterling to earn a big-money move away from Anfield, and it’s not like he’d be short of suitors. He’s the apparent heir to the Andrés Iniesta mantle, and Barcelona stars past and present aren’t shy in letting him know.

      Neymar has been vocal in his support: “I think there are many players with great qualities that could be playing for Barcelona. He is one of them. He is a great player and his style suits Barcelona.”

      Coutinho’s idol Ronaldinho has also expressed his opinion on the subject: “I can’t speak for him and I can’t speak for Barcelona – but I know what Barcelona look for in a player and he has all those qualities.”

      It’s easy after one big move as a youngster to settle. The passion and drive that got them to Europe burns out when they eventually arrive and their talent goes to waste. Coutinho, to his eternal credit, isn’t like this though. He’s still the youngster who played futsal on the concrete pitch not far from his house. He’s still humble; during interviews when he’s complimented he always makes a point of saying he can improve. He takes to social media to reply to individual messages and thank fans for their support. Liverpool supporters love him, and he reciprocates when he can. He’s immersed himself into the Scouse culture, even adding ‘lad’ to the end of his tweets.

      It’s easy to forget he’s only 23 and is still learning his trade. The next few seasons are pivotal in his development as we finally see what type of player he will become – a number 8 or a number 10. Can his goals become more frequent or will he forever be a scorer of great goals but not a great goalscorer? Either way, the next two years are pivotal in the career of Philippe Coutinho.

      A regular Seleção birth and leading Liverpool to Premier League glory will be his aims: how well he plays will ultimately be the determining factor in both.

      By Sam McGuire. Follow @SamMcGuire90

      http://thesefootballtimes.co/2015/11/29/in-celebration-of-philippe-coutinho/

      Great article and 'these football times' is well worth a follow on Twitter as there is some great writing on there about dome great football subjects.
      racerx34
      • LFC Reds Subscriber
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      • 31,884 posts | 2531 
      • THE SALT IN THE SOUP
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #22: Nov 30, 2015 10:06:54 am
      "Inter’s loss was Liverpool’s gain. The mercurial mop-headed number 10 made himself at home in the Liverpool line-up, hitting it off instantly with Luis Suárez and Daniel Sturridge. Originally playing on the left of a 4-2-3-1 – like he had at Inter – his partnership with the latter blossomed in the absence of the former and he was instrumental in Liverpool’s emphatic end to the 2012-13 season."

      That parts not entirely accurate though.
      It glosses over the fact that at the end of the 2012-13 season it was Sterling, not Coutinho, that was instrumental in the emphatic end of season run. His partnership with Sturridge blossomed, but as the SAS hit form Coutinho was benched.
      what-a-hit-son
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      • @MrPrice1979
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #23: Jan 11, 2016 12:13:26 pm
      By far my favourite TAW member.

      Needs to get on more as he's funny as f**k:

      LIVERPOOL: THE ROMANCE OF THE CUP?

      by Ben Johnson // 11 January 2016 // 0 comments
       
      THE FA Cup is great, isn’t it? Dead romantic. “The Romance of the Cup” is accepted as standard and is lashed about all over the place. By journalists, by commentators and by the boring arse in everyone’s work who doesn’t really follow footie but heard Jeremy Vine say it on Radio Two.

      It’s the world’s best cup competition, apparently, where teams called Bin Bag United and something mad like Flannelsbury Town get a chance to be giantkillers for a day.

      Post men, bin men, brickies and mechanics (you can’t play semi-pro if you aren’t one of these by the way, don’t ask me why — I don’t make the rules) get to pit their wits against some of the best players in the world.

      For the general public and everyone involved with sh*te footie teams or no-mark towns — the type you see plastered all over  England flags ‘on tour’ — it would be romantic if your team is dreadful and you get to go to Anfield or Old Trafford. But for us, or Manchester United, it is anything but.

      Get drawn against a team of dogs away and at the time of the draw you are happy: “Piece of piss, that…could have been far worse, that.”

      Then, as the game looms, that feeling morphs into a nervous horrible wait. You end up praying the Reds don’t get embarrassed and do enough to get through.

      Football - FA Cup - 3rd Round - Exeter City FC v Liverpool FCGet drawn at home against 95 per cent of the teams in the hat and it’s a pain in the arse as well. Auto-cup scheme, mad seating arrangements and watching the Reds while thinking they should be doing better no matter what the score is.

      There is no romance in any of it for us — there is only failure or boring victory and anyone who tells you any different needs jibbing.

      I’d go so far as to say I’d quite like to have a deal whereby if we aren’t going to win it, we get knocked out in the third round every year. Can we have that?

      Friday night’s match is a case in point.

      Ask Kloppo as to what his romance game is and I’m fairly sure he’d rather be having a three-courser in Formby with Mrs Klopp and a bit of a lovely smooch as opposed to driving for something like 1,600 miles on a coach to the middle of France with a gang of kids pissing about on Snapchat and playing Rudimental through their phones.

      The kids are bad enough, but also interrupting his fantasies about Mrs Klopp (who he hasn’t seen since Germany as we have played 87 matches since he joined) are the unerring stares from the weirdos sat to the side of him (the silent Belgian and the Bog) and the lycra-wearing Jose Enrique who has been trying to wrestle the driver since Keele services.

      Romance indeed.

      Talking of the Bog, I don’t know what the Hungarians do to ginger people but judging by the look on his face throughout the game and those deep empty eyes, horrific acts must be happening over there.

      My guess is that they are sent to the woods by men dressed as Dickensian rent collectors and made to dodge cannonballs disguised as footies fired at them from the darkness  and are only let out when they can show that they haven’t come close to a cannon footie for a year.

      The training has obviously stayed with him. Well in the Hungarian woodsmen, aye?

      That is the only possible explanation for the Exeter manager’s rig out. He must have heard about the Bog’s traumas and spent the day before the game at the Devon outlet village Ted Baker basing his clobber on the said Dickensians to try to garner some form of advantage.

      Nothing else could explain that hat, mates.

      The game itself was a bit of a waste of time all told. The young Reds might all be decent players but I’m not sure many of them will still be playing for us in three or four years.

      Football - FA Cup - 3rd Round - Exeter City FC v Liverpool FCWe had a lad with two first names playing centre mid. I spent the game being quietly impressed with him but that was because I thought he was 17. He’s 22 for Christ’s sake and I have never heard his name spoken before.

      Loads of other little lads ran round and tried their best without really impressing and the only first teamer on show, the silent Belgian, managed to flit about upfront and look like a massive outside bet in the big game of guess who cost 32 million nicker.

      Tiago Ilori, faster than Bolty apparently, who no-one has ever seen before, took up some good defensive positions. Given the fact he was playing next to the wrestling Geordie Shore-head, it can probably be classed as one of the great centre-half performances.

      The bit where he got caught about as far under the ball as is possible without falling over was a worry, mind.

      He wasn’t as good as the Twitter experts would tell you but he doesn’t look as bad as you would expect seeing as he couldn’t get a game for Villa this season.

      Funny that.

      Maybe he might be an alright player who has got loads of really good attributes and who we bought hoping he would develop physically a bit more and he is just going to be OK. You’d take that and maybe we all should.

      Football - FA Cup - 3rd Round - Exeter City FC v Liverpool FCThe oddity of this performance, given that the players probably didn’t know half of their team mates, was that the shape of the team appeared (on the telly) to be quite good.

      I’m not sure who is responsible for this given the limited time the manager had with some of the players but as a unit they looked really well drilled.

      Someone should be congratulated for this, so I’m going to congratulate Kloppo.

      It’s interesting that he wants to keep the closest lads to the first team at the club rather than sending them on loan. Maybe he fancies himself to improve them more by interacting with them on a daily basis rather than sending them out to somewhere where they love a good header, a pie and an early dart and where we have no control over what they are being taught.

      There is a balance here that must be sought given the weakness of the Under-21 league but I’d back Kloppo to know what he is doing more than me or you so, you know, crack on, Kloppo.

      It was also interesting that a completely different team could also suffer from the same limitations we have been experiencing when we have to try to break down a defensive opposition.

      Loads of the ball, a good shape, but a lack of individual threat led to frustration and a lack of ideas.

      Combine this with a few horrific defensive mistakes and it’s life imitating art (or life, or something).

      Football - FA Cup - 3rd Round - Exeter City FC v Liverpool FCInject some absolute star quality into this and we probably win the game easily. Someone who does something out of nothing. The best teams have these types of attacking players. Our only one is injured and might well be for the rest of his life. Let’s get some more, eh?

      That said, Sheyi Ojo looked alright.

      I’ve never seen him before but he seems like he has got something about him. Something in how he holds himself and his arrogance.

      He backs himself and this came across to the extent that he was my pick in the mystery 32 million nicker game.

      Is right, lad, come off the bench and bang the winner against the Mancs and we will all have a lovely disco.

      I can’t really remember how the game ended except that it ended and we have now got to play again. No-one can really be arsed with that.

      The only thing to look forward to now is their manager turning up at the ground dressed as a Death Eater with the national press in tow, boring the sh*te out of everyone about giant-killing and romantic football.

      There is no romance in the cup for us — just embarrassing death, or eventual glory. We should choose glory every time. Up the Reds.

      http://www.theanfieldwrap.com/2016/01/liverpool-the-romance-of-the-cup/
      Diego LFC
      • Forum Legend - Paisley
      • *****

      • 18,940 posts | 2507 
      • Sempre Liverpool
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #24: Jan 11, 2016 03:39:50 pm
      By far my favourite TAW member.

      Needs to get on more as he's funny as f**k:

      LIVERPOOL: THE ROMANCE OF THE CUP?

      by Ben Johnson // 11 January 2016 // 0 comments
       
      THE FA Cup is great, isn’t it? Dead romantic. “The Romance of the Cup” is accepted as standard and is lashed about all over the place. By journalists, by commentators and by the boring arse in everyone’s work who doesn’t really follow footie but heard Jeremy Vine say it on Radio Two.

      It’s the world’s best cup competition, apparently, where teams called Bin Bag United and something mad like Flannelsbury Town get a chance to be giantkillers for a day.

      Post men, bin men, brickies and mechanics (you can’t play semi-pro if you aren’t one of these by the way, don’t ask me why — I don’t make the rules) get to pit their wits against some of the best players in the world.

      For the general public and everyone involved with sh*te footie teams or no-mark towns — the type you see plastered all over  England flags ‘on tour’ — it would be romantic if your team is dreadful and you get to go to Anfield or Old Trafford. But for us, or Manchester United, it is anything but.

      Get drawn against a team of dogs away and at the time of the draw you are happy: “Piece of piss, that…could have been far worse, that.”

      Then, as the game looms, that feeling morphs into a nervous horrible wait. You end up praying the Reds don’t get embarrassed and do enough to get through.

      Football - FA Cup - 3rd Round - Exeter City FC v Liverpool FCGet drawn at home against 95 per cent of the teams in the hat and it’s a pain in the arse as well. Auto-cup scheme, mad seating arrangements and watching the Reds while thinking they should be doing better no matter what the score is.

      There is no romance in any of it for us — there is only failure or boring victory and anyone who tells you any different needs jibbing.

      I’d go so far as to say I’d quite like to have a deal whereby if we aren’t going to win it, we get knocked out in the third round every year. Can we have that?

      Friday night’s match is a case in point.

      Ask Kloppo as to what his romance game is and I’m fairly sure he’d rather be having a three-courser in Formby with Mrs Klopp and a bit of a lovely smooch as opposed to driving for something like 1,600 miles on a coach to the middle of France with a gang of kids pissing about on Snapchat and playing Rudimental through their phones.

      The kids are bad enough, but also interrupting his fantasies about Mrs Klopp (who he hasn’t seen since Germany as we have played 87 matches since he joined) are the unerring stares from the weirdos sat to the side of him (the silent Belgian and the Bog) and the lycra-wearing Jose Enrique who has been trying to wrestle the driver since Keele services.

      Romance indeed.

      Talking of the Bog, I don’t know what the Hungarians do to ginger people but judging by the look on his face throughout the game and those deep empty eyes, horrific acts must be happening over there.

      My guess is that they are sent to the woods by men dressed as Dickensian rent collectors and made to dodge cannonballs disguised as footies fired at them from the darkness  and are only let out when they can show that they haven’t come close to a cannon footie for a year.

      The training has obviously stayed with him. Well in the Hungarian woodsmen, aye?

      That is the only possible explanation for the Exeter manager’s rig out. He must have heard about the Bog’s traumas and spent the day before the game at the Devon outlet village Ted Baker basing his clobber on the said Dickensians to try to garner some form of advantage.

      Nothing else could explain that hat, mates.

      The game itself was a bit of a waste of time all told. The young Reds might all be decent players but I’m not sure many of them will still be playing for us in three or four years.

      Football - FA Cup - 3rd Round - Exeter City FC v Liverpool FCWe had a lad with two first names playing centre mid. I spent the game being quietly impressed with him but that was because I thought he was 17. He’s 22 for Christ’s sake and I have never heard his name spoken before.

      Loads of other little lads ran round and tried their best without really impressing and the only first teamer on show, the silent Belgian, managed to flit about upfront and look like a massive outside bet in the big game of guess who cost 32 million nicker.

      Tiago Ilori, faster than Bolty apparently, who no-one has ever seen before, took up some good defensive positions. Given the fact he was playing next to the wrestling Geordie Shore-head, it can probably be classed as one of the great centre-half performances.

      The bit where he got caught about as far under the ball as is possible without falling over was a worry, mind.

      He wasn’t as good as the Twitter experts would tell you but he doesn’t look as bad as you would expect seeing as he couldn’t get a game for Villa this season.

      Funny that.

      Maybe he might be an alright player who has got loads of really good attributes and who we bought hoping he would develop physically a bit more and he is just going to be OK. You’d take that and maybe we all should.

      Football - FA Cup - 3rd Round - Exeter City FC v Liverpool FCThe oddity of this performance, given that the players probably didn’t know half of their team mates, was that the shape of the team appeared (on the telly) to be quite good.

      I’m not sure who is responsible for this given the limited time the manager had with some of the players but as a unit they looked really well drilled.

      Someone should be congratulated for this, so I’m going to congratulate Kloppo.

      It’s interesting that he wants to keep the closest lads to the first team at the club rather than sending them on loan. Maybe he fancies himself to improve them more by interacting with them on a daily basis rather than sending them out to somewhere where they love a good header, a pie and an early dart and where we have no control over what they are being taught.

      There is a balance here that must be sought given the weakness of the Under-21 league but I’d back Kloppo to know what he is doing more than me or you so, you know, crack on, Kloppo.

      It was also interesting that a completely different team could also suffer from the same limitations we have been experiencing when we have to try to break down a defensive opposition.

      Loads of the ball, a good shape, but a lack of individual threat led to frustration and a lack of ideas.

      Combine this with a few horrific defensive mistakes and it’s life imitating art (or life, or something).

      Football - FA Cup - 3rd Round - Exeter City FC v Liverpool FCInject some absolute star quality into this and we probably win the game easily. Someone who does something out of nothing. The best teams have these types of attacking players. Our only one is injured and might well be for the rest of his life. Let’s get some more, eh?

      That said, Sheyi Ojo looked alright.

      I’ve never seen him before but he seems like he has got something about him. Something in how he holds himself and his arrogance.

      He backs himself and this came across to the extent that he was my pick in the mystery 32 million nicker game.

      Is right, lad, come off the bench and bang the winner against the Mancs and we will all have a lovely disco.

      I can’t really remember how the game ended except that it ended and we have now got to play again. No-one can really be arsed with that.

      The only thing to look forward to now is their manager turning up at the ground dressed as a Death Eater with the national press in tow, boring the sh*te out of everyone about giant-killing and romantic football.

      There is no romance in the cup for us — just embarrassing death, or eventual glory. We should choose glory every time. Up the Reds.

      http://www.theanfieldwrap.com/2016/01/liverpool-the-romance-of-the-cup/

      I always find funny the use of the expression "dead" something. Like "dead romantic" or "they talk dead funny but they play dead great" in the Anfield Rap. Is that an English thing or more of a specifically scouse saying?

      As for the rest of the text, I'm feeling too lazy right now. Will read later. :D
      MIRO
      • LFC Reds Subscriber
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      • 12,092 posts | 2612 
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #25: Jan 26, 2016 06:15:43 pm
      I didnt know where to put this ........... it made me well up.   :f_wah:

      Have him back in a heartbeat .


      (Have a read of this Michael Owen ... this is what loyalty and legend is about )




      Barcelona star Luis Suarez has revealed he misses the Liverpool fans and could one day return to England, but he would never consider playing for a Premier League club other than the Reds.

      Speaking to ESPN (h/t Sport), the Uruguay international praised the fans of his former club and left the door open for a possible reunion:

          You never know what will happen in the future in football, but if I returned to England it would only be to play for Liverpool and never for another team.

      I miss the fans.

      The atmosphere is incredible, it's incredible. Everyone who has played for Liverpool knows the most important thing is the fans.

      They know they are in my heart.




      Bloody article is titled potential Reds return FFS !

      http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2611149-liverpool-transfer-news-luis-suarez-comments-on-potential-reds-return?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=liverpool
      what-a-hit-son
      • LFC Reds Subscriber
      • ******
      • Started Topic
      • 14,550 posts | 3571 
      • @MrPrice1979
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #26: Nov 10, 2016 07:11:55 pm
      I have been banging on about how good an LFC writer Gareth Roberts is since before he was with the Anfield Wrap and will continue to do so. Also, the lad has really come into his own when presenting a lot of their podcasts now.

      Boss this:

      Liverpool – The Long Read: Jürgen Klopp Is Telling Stories – Just Like Bill Shankly Did

      by Gareth Roberts Twitter: @robbohuyton
       
      Bill Shankly, Liverpool manager

      IT exists to win trophies.

      A bastion of invincibility, the league its bread and butter.

      A holy trinity made up of the players, the manager and the supporters.

      Directors? They don’t come into it.

      We’re part of a family. People who can hold our heads up high and say, ‘We’re Liverpool’.

      Words and phrases engrained into your being. Repeated over and over. Handed down through the generations. Sown through the thousands of words spoken and written about Liverpool Football Club every year.

      They are words, phrases, ideas and ideals about the club we love that came from a man appointed as the ninth manager of Liverpool FC 57 years ago. And yet words that continue to resonate, a story we continue to tell.

      Bill Shankly’s words painted a picture, created an identity and set standards that were carried through the decades by those that worked with him. It is why the Liverpool bootroom is talked about to this day, it is why we talk of ‘The Liverpool Way’ and it is why the ‘This Is Anfield’ sign that Shankly insisted was put up remains a part of the ground.

      Too often in recent times, though, that story, the Liverpool story — the story of greatness and domination, of a relentless, driven, institution with commonsense and commitment at its core, felt like it should begin like those best read by a red-hot fire on a cold winter’s night:

      “Once upon a time, there was a football club…”

      Since Liverpool’s last league title — then the 10th won in 15 seasons — was sealed with an Anfield victory over Queens Park Rangers on April 28, 1990, there have been good times. Great times. Times that hundreds of thousands of supporters of other clubs the world over would jump at the chance to experience.

      For all the wider tales to tell about their respective reigns, Graeme Souness, Roy Evans, Gerard Houllier, Rafa Benitez and Kenny Dalglish in his second spell all brought silverware home to the club including, of course, the European Cup in 2005.

      Liverpool remain one of only 22 clubs to win that trophy since its inception in 1955.

      Yet none of those managers could spark sustainable dominance built on the solid foundation of a title. Over an over the question has been asked: is this a club keeping pace with all around it, on and off the field? We’ve wanted it and willed it but it hasn’t happened. Four second-placed finishes, the last in 2014, are the best Liverpool has achieved league-wise in 26 years.

      In that time the managerial baton has passed 10 times — from Dalglish to Souness (via a brief caretaker role for Ronnie Moran), from Souness to Evans, to the joint manager farce with Houllier, to Houllier in sole charge, to Benitez, to Roy Hodgson, to Dalglish to Rodgers to Klopp.

      Tellingly, every time Liverpool have come close to winning the league, they have fell away the following year: from second (1991) to sixth (1992); from second (2002) to fifth (2003); from second (2009) to seventh (2010) and from second (2014) to sixth (2015).

      Throw in owners that pushed the club towards a financial precipice, a talent drain, internal politics, failed takeovers and the stadium development v stadium move epic and it left the traditional story tattered and torn. Words that once meant so much were thrown back at us. “If you are first you are first. If you are second you are nothing.”

      Consistent underachievement left the club open to accusations of being yesterday’s big boys.

      Without a new chapter to celebrate, old ones have grown tired. Even now, the reality of no silverware in four years — and only two pieces of silverware in a decade — is a stark one.

      Change was needed and change was made. A bold statement was required and in recruiting Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool made one.

      Since his appointment in October 2015, Klopp has set about telling his own stories. It’s central to his approach.

      From the moment he first stepped out in front of the cameras for his first press conference, Klopp’s charisma, confidence and single-mindedness shone through.

      There was also a clear vision from day one — bullet points for the prose to be written, over and over, in future.

      “Doubters to believers” — check.

      “Full-throttle football” — check.

      And the baggage of the title-drought? The mistakes of the past? The pressure, the hunger, the mental scars?

      “It’s very important not to be weighed down by history,” Klopp said then. “Let’s not always compare with other times. This is a great club with good potential with players who are flexible.

      “Let’s try to start a new way. Now everything is diferent. Here is a German guy, for the first time. I want to listen. I go to Melwood and I look at what works and what doesn’t work. And then we start to play very emotional football.”

      Klopp continues to ask for his story to be judged on its own merits.

      Just this week he said: “It’s a really good moment and I know that everybody compares with the past, especially at Liverpool. Three years ago, 10, five, 25 years ago – but this team is new, we are new. Our story started a few months ago so you cannot compare us with anyone else.”

      “You cannot carry the history on our backs, we should feel free for creating something in the near future. If everybody wants to say ‘We wait now for 20-something years for silverware’ or whatever, we can say ‘Okay, we (have) tried, actually, only since a year’.”

      He’s right. And the reasons for his message are clear. He is managing minds and relieving the pressure.

      But everything — up to and including the dressing of Melwood and Anfield with quotes, pictures and memorabilia from past triumphs — means he will be more than aware of Liverpool’s history, as will the players who pull on the shirt. Their focus, however, will be firmly in the present. Klopp’s key messages for the squad are clear: togetherness, discipline and hard work. While much of the media focus will be short term — who is in the first 11 (and who isn’t) — it would come as no surprise if Klopp is emphasising the importance of the squad away from the microphones and lenses.

      Liverpool's Adam Lallana (20) celebrates with his team-mates and manager Jürgen Klopp after scoring his side's fifth goal during the Barclays Premier League match at Carrow Road, Norwich.

      “The socialism I believe in is everybody working for the same goal and everybody having a share in the rewards. That’s how I see football, that’s how I see life.”

      For supporters? The past chapters remain for us more than anyone. We aren’t passing through Liverpool. We can’t pick up another story of another club and become part of that. This is our club and our story. We’re rightly romantic about it. If we see parallels – signposts of behaviour that ape past methods that led to success — then it will become exciting and comparisons will be made. It’s human nature.

      When Bill Shankly arrived at Liverpool he found a club floundering in 10th position in Division Two and famously described Anfield as “the biggest toilet in Liverpool”.

      In 15 years as manager, club and ground were transformed. The Second Division was won. Three First Division titles, two FA Cups and the UEFA Cup followed.

      Some will say it’s too long ago to have a bearing. The claims that is a different game with different pressures will follow. Some simply want their own memories — their own tale to tell.

      Liverpool though should retain its identity. History and traditions are part of that. It marks us out from another club. It’s a fantastic tale that endures. One that elicits pride. And one that demonstrates the importance of stories in football.

      Without them, football becomes just what its detractors say it is: people kicking a ball about. Without stories, grounds are just concrete and steel surrounding a patch of grass.

      In the not so distant past, Liverpool’s boardroom was happy to push ahead with a departure from Anfield to share with Everton in a new ground on Stanley Park. One of the obstacles was they knew fans would oppose the move.

      The supporters’ story isn’t about business, maths or money. It’s the stories of what happened on that pitch, in that ground. To us. Inter Milan, St Etienne, Auxerre, Olympiakos, Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund… We all have our own stories. And we retell them over and over.

      “We hate Everton too…they’re sh*t!” Why would Liverpool share with Everton?

      Stories, big and small, are sewn into every aspect of the game. They are everywhere you look, in every thing you read.

      In Simon Hughes’ Ring Of Fire book, Jamie Carragher details some aspects of how Gerard Houllier mentally revved up his Liverpool team for games. He used a story:

      “Gerard Houllier used to tell us that we were going to war. That stayed with me and I loved it. I’d see teams walking out for cup finals at Wembley and the players would be waving at their wives and girlfriends. When we played ours at Cardiff, Houllier used to remind us, ‘No waving at family — you seem them later.’ He wanted us to play as if it was the last thing we’d do.

      “Players now, they’re hugging and kissing before a game. OK, some of them might be from the same country, so it’s understandable to a point. But for me, no: I was going to war with these people. You might think that is a strong analogy but I had to be like that. I was focused because I had to be like that.”

      Similarly, in Joey Barton’s book, No Nonsense, he discusses at length how he, and coaches he has worked with, tell stories to get performances. One example he uses was the 2014 Championship Play-Off Final between QPR and Derby County.

      Derby had dominated and when QPR’s Gary O’Neil was sent off on the hour Barton describes how the remaining 10 Rangers men shouted at each other to be positive and stay together with Danny Simpson yelling: “We can see this out.”

      Barton wrote: “Chris Martin, the Derby striker, runs past and sniggers, ‘No f**king chance.’ There’s our marginal gain, our critical one per cent, right there. I see Simmo morph into the inspirational figure who, two years later, would help Leicester City win the Premier League. I see Richard Dunne, the man with whom I have shared so much, good and bad, fill up. I see Bobby Zamora’s face harden. I look at Martin and think, ‘You have just fu**ed your team-mates over’.”

      Bobby Zamora scored a 90th-minute winner and it was QPR, not Derby, that were promoted to the Premier League.

      In that moment, Barton and his team-mates told themselves a story. Like Jamie Carragher, they made themselves angry, they motivated themselves, they found something that allowed them to reach another level.

      Shankly was a master at it. He famously told an inexperienced Kevin Keegan that he had seen Bobby Moore before the Liverpool striker faced the West Ham defender.

      “Son, I’ve just seen that Bobby Moore getting off the West Ham bus. What a wreck. He’s limping, he’s got bags under his eyes and he’s got dandruff. He must have been in one of those London clubs all night, son!”

      And after the game: “Aye, some player that Bobby Moore isn’t he?”

      Conflict is key to the Klopp story. He demands fight, he wants passion, he wants blood up, in the stands and on the pitch.

      He has talked about fight — “Momentum is not about having the best squad ready to play. Momentum is to be ready to fight.” — and he has talked about anger: “We need to be angry against Hull because they want our points. That makes me angry!”

      Aside from the obvious reason that the Reds top the league right now, one of the reasons everything seems right around the club is that Klopp’s story is so tightly aligned to the story Liverpool has written as its own. He might be a German from the Black Forest but his approach chimes with so much of the character of the city.

      The Liverpool loved is a team that battles, fights and never knows it is defeated. Think of the FA Cup final with West Ham, Istanbul, Dortmund in the Europa League. That’s Liverpool. As a city, and as a group of people, Liverpool and Liverpudlians have never been short of fight. The greatest teams in red that have bore the city’s name have displayed the same attribute.

      Klopp talks about emotional football and Liverpool is an emotional city. Football is consumed in a certain way that isn’t necessarily true of many other clubs. At it’s best, when the holy trinity is evident, it is a force to be reckoned with. It’s why Klopp’s focus is on supporters and atmosphere so often. He can do his bit and the players can do theirs. But when we do ours, too… Remember how it was against Manchester United in Europe? Against Dortmund? We can still do it. It’s still possible. It’s not dead. It’s just needs to be woken from its slumber more often.

      Speaking at an event at The Florrie earlier this year, John Barnes was asked how Liverpool could preserve its traditional identity. Couldn’t it involve people like Barnes himself? What about Steven Gerrard?

      Couldn’t the club seek to preserve the Liverpool story and keep retelling it from top to bottom and in a meaningful way? Create a legacy? Guard against the influence, present and future, of those that don’t understand what they should understand.

      Barnes said Klopp had to recreate the identity his way. Tell the story how he wants to tell it. The past Liverpool has gone, said Barnes. Klopp has to make a new one.

      The feel-good, the start to the season and the league table can skew considered thought but it feels like Klopp has done just that. Thirteen months isn’t a long time in the grand scheme. And, despite reaching two finals in that time, a trophy cabinet last added to in 2012 remains untroubled by new additions.

      Yet Liverpool has been dramatically transformed into a different beast. One that feels like it is progressing. That feels professional. That feels like it has a leader and is heading places.

      In Brendan Rodgers’ last game as Liverpool manager, the Reds drew 1-1 at Goodison Park. Liverpool were 10th in the league.

      The Reds lacked spark, on and off the field. Players that now are running through brick walls were going through the motions and were too easily beaten. The vibe was bad. It was a mentally weak squad. Easily beaten. Feared by no-one.

      In the stands, fans were shrugging their shoulders at best and screaming abuse at worst, with boos ringing out at full-time and the end of extra-time as the Reds toiled to tackle Carlisle United in the League Cup.

      Tickets then were easy to come by. There was no buzz. The transfer policy looked muddled, responsibilities muddied and the very fact Rodgers had remained to that point — with the uninspiring Sean O’Driscoll appointed as an assistant — screamed of indecision from the club hierarchy.

      Stoke 6 Liverpool 1 was the natural end of one story and the start of another. Yet — like the box set that never ends — everyone was forced to go through the motions a few more times before the inevitable happened.

      Soon Rodgers himself was publicly pointing fingers, not too subtlety referencing “the tools I have to work with”. The best stories get people on board. Motivate them. Make them feel a part of it. This wasn’t inspirational, it was self-serving. An increasingly paranoid Rodgers was alienating people, even those still sticking by him.

      Liverpool was a story alright, but this wasn’t the story of Liverpool.

      It was easy then to worry about what came next. Another Rodgers-style appointment — a young coach lacking top-level experience without the CV to back up his actions and words — could quickly have gone wrong. The fear was the label of mid-rankers would stick for good.


      Klopp now is secured long-term, having signed a six-year deal in the summer. The message is one of stability and security. Of establishing foundations that keep Liverpool in good stead for the long haul, not just a one-season title challenge flash in the pan.

      This Liverpool side is top of the Premier League, scoring goals for fun and attracting the plaudits for its play. The squad looks strong and with 13 goalscorers in 14 matches, the goal threat has magnificently multiplied. No more is Liverpool a one-man team.

      Opposition managers fear Liverpool. Klopp is revered. Signings have paid off and Michael Edwards’ promotion to Sporting Director has barely caused a ripple.

      Klopp is trusted and that means club decisions involving Klopp are trusted.

      Young players are getting a chance. Talent is evident at all levels and a clear pathway to the first team appears to be clearing. There is evidence of joined-up thinking and of Klopp embracing everything about the club rather than solely considering what is best for self-preservation. A new training ground, uniting Melwood and Kirkby, is being considered, and, meanwhile, things are being done differently.

      Liverpool’s youngsters can play football outside of the academy — for schools, for representative sides; with their mates. It sounds a small thing but for a youngster it could tip the balance when deciding on a club. And Liverpool could end up coaching a more rounded, more wordly-wise young footballer.

      There is a salary cap, but that could mean the youngsters that do ply their trade for Liverpool will do so because they want to play for the club. If they’re good enough they will get a chance. We’ll promote from within before we’ll buy, has been the message from Klopp and when it comes to offering youngsters at the club an opportunity the manager as so far been true to his word.

      Stories. Good stories. Positive messages. Something building.

      Can Klopp write the story we’re desperate for? Do you believe? If you don’t you’re a doubter. And wouldn’t you rather be a believer? Because that’s what Klopp wants you to be.

      The crowd can help the team. The crowd should stay until the end. It should make Anfield special every game. Because the players are. They’re working hard. They’re doing their bit. You can see it. It’s measured. There are stats. Not least the one that shows Liverpool in first place. But also Klopp told you.

      Stories.

      Stories ensure players and fans are in the right place mentally to achieve what needs to be achieved. Liverpool play without fear now. With belief. The back end of the Rodgers’ reign was dogged by fear and disillusionment. The atmosphere was poisonous and unhelpful.

      Klopp constantly feeds messages about fans playing a part. He made a point about fans leaving early. Every week seemingly he asks for a special atmosphere. He wants the players to engage. He engages. He’s developing his characters, honing the plot.

      Some will scoff at Shankly comparisons — not least because it’s so early in Klopp’s reign, because silverware is yet to arrive and because being romantic about football just isn’t the done thing.

      But there are parallels. A charismatic, respected man; bolshy and instantly able to command respect at all levels of the club. Respected by fans — a man who has united supporters. A man who plays the media like a fiddle and — so far — gets what he wants from the boardroom. And the players love him. Read the quotes, witness the hugs.

      Klopp is clear, focussed and forthright in what he wants to achieve. He talked about titles on his first day in the job. He also talked about making changes quickly. And he did.

      An increased intensity in the play was evident in Klopp’s first game at Tottenham Hotspur in October 2015. Since then, training methods have changed. Players have come and gone. There is a ruthless streak evident. See Jordon Ibe. See now Mamadou Sakho, who has no future at the club after crossing the manager one too many times.

      Think of all of that, then think of Shankly’s story.

      “He got rid of a lot of players early on and then he brought players in who were like-minded in their thinking about the game,” says Ronnie Moran of Shankly on the club website.

      “If he didn’t get what he wanted off them then they too would be away. He’d either leave them out of the team or get rid of them to other clubs.”

      Roger Hunt is quoted as saying: “When Bill Shankly came he changed a lot of the training methods we had and brought a lot of new ideas into the club. Also, he got the club to spend money on transfers, which they were a bit reluctant to do beforehand. We got new training kit and altogether he brought a new way of thinking to the club. He was like a breath of fresh air.”

      Klopp has quickly imposed his methods on Liverpool and 11 games into his first full season in charge, the table couldn’t look better.

      To write a story like that of Shankly’s must be regarded as near impossible and Klopp’s real big stories right now — his bestsellers if you like — exist elsewhere — at Mainz, at Dortmund.

      And yet at Liverpool, we’ve seen in flashes what could be over the page — the undressing of Manchester City at their ground, Dortmund at Anfield and now, this season, teams good, bad and indifferent being beaten with ease.

      Early this year, after extending his deal at Anfield, Klopp said: “I would like to celebrate something each season over the next six years. Not the small thing, really celebrate something — driving on the big bus through Liverpool. That would be nice.

      “I’ve said it before, but it is not important what people think when you come, it is important what they think when you leave. That is when you need to be judged.”

      Fifty-seven years from now will Liverpool fans write about Jürgen Klopp?

      It would have to be a story worth telling to span that time. What better than being the man to mastermind Liverpool’s first title since 1990? The man who finally proved that Liverpool do still exist to win trophies and it is the bread and butter to peform well in the league.

      Is Klopp the man to do it?

      A final word to Bill Shankly: “Well, I think if a manager is honest and he has this natural enthusiasm, I think whilst he can’t go on the field with the players he can convey it to the players, you understand? He’s with them and they’re with him — and they’ll be successful.

      http://www.theanfieldwrap.com/2016/11/liverpool-the-long-read-jurgen-klopp-is-telling-stories-just-like-bill-shankly-did/

      biki
      • Never negative about anything. Apart from LFC, Klopp, etc etc.
      • Forum John Barnes
      • ***

      • 419 posts | 47 
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #27: Nov 11, 2016 12:18:07 pm
      I have been banging on about how good an LFC writer Gareth Roberts is since before he was with the Anfield Wrap and will continue to do so. Also, the lad has really come into his own when presenting a lot of their podcasts now.


      [/news]

      Great read - I look forward to reading more from this guy. Thanks for posting
      what-a-hit-son
      • LFC Reds Subscriber
      • ******
      • Started Topic
      • 14,550 posts | 3571 
      • @MrPrice1979
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #28: Dec 07, 2016 01:11:02 pm
      Brilliant, this:

      Liverpool: Why Supporters And Pundits Are Celebrating The Wrong Things

      by Paul Cope

      YOU’RE all celebrating the wrong things.

      They were the words of my nephew’s academy side’s coach to all of the kids’ parents.

      You’re all celebrating the wrong things.

      I go to watch my nephew play as often as I can and, like with all football, there’s a propensity even at under-nine level to celebrate goals as though they are the be-all and end-all of the entire exercise. Which, of course, at the highest level, they are, especially if you’re a supporter.

      Goals pay the mortgage (though thankfully not at under-nine level, for now), goals get the headlines and goals change the way we interpret football matches. To the people who actually know most about football, the qualified coaches, however, goals are almost a bi-product of everything else they’re working on, at both ends of the pitch.

      My nephew’s coach told the parents that while they’re all busy celebrating one of the young lads heading in a goal from a corner, he and his coaching team are celebrating the way in which his team-mate closed space to cut off a passing angle which led to the corner, which they’d been working on in training all month. They’re celebrating an eight-year-old understanding that he needs to drop back into position to cover for his mate who’s gone on a run, which they worked on last month.
      The fixtures they play don’t yet use the offside rule but the coach insists that they press high, even though it leads to the other teams scoring goals for fun by goal hanging. He sacrifices goals now for greater knowledge and understanding further down the line. He focuses on the process and the development of his players, not just on the end result each week.

      It often amazes me how watching under-nine’s football can be just as fascinating as watching elite footballers plying their trade, even more so watching the supporters who are watching the respective games. I’ve said for years that most people who watch football don’t really understand what they’re watching, and the quote above demonstrates to me that this doesn’t just apply at the highest level.

      I mentioned in last week’s article how it’s intriguing that grown men will pay extortionate prices to watch something then sit there and moan about it every week, something they wouldn’t do in any other area of their lives, but that isn’t football’s only peculiarity. Football, sport in general and running the country are treated by us lay-people as the few areas in life in which most of us consider ourselves to be qualified to give forthright opinions on what we observe, without actually having any qualifications at all to do so. I’ve met some doctors in the past who’ve mentioned that Google has led to people doing a similar thing when rocking up to their local surgery having self-diagnosed from one medical website or another, but I think most of us are still mainly relying on the people who have been through medical school and rigorous training to tell us why our backs hurt or why we can’t feel our fingers.
      Not so with football, though. Stop someone randomly in the street, especially in a city like Liverpool, and ask them how they think they could improve their club’s first team of highly paid, highly trained, elite athletes and they’ll all give you an opinion. Most won’t even stop there. You’ll note that what you’re given isn’t so much an opinion qualified by caveats such as “I’m not really qualified to answer that question, mate” or “why are you asking me, I’m a plasterer”, more likely it will be a statement made with absolute certainty by Joe the butcher, baker or candlestick maker about how “buying that Virgil Van Dijk lad” from Southampton will definitely sort out our defensive problems, or getting rid of “that soft sh*te Moreno” will sort out the haircut issues we’ve currently got in the squad.

      When he saw Divock Origi pull up with cramp last season, my 70-year-old dad told me with absolute certainty that if he was the manager and any of his players pulled up with cramp he’d make them do a training session straight after the match and double training sessions all week afterwards to sort them out. If I recall correctly, he finished his mini-rant by muttering the word “pansy” under his breath, which I hope was aimed at Divock and not me.

      My dad is a retired insurance claims assessor and has been going to the match for about 50 years. He has no sports science or other similar training but, clearly, considers himself to know more about the fitness regimes of these elite athletes than the highly qualified fitness coaches at Liverpool (I should make it clear at this stage that, as far as I am aware, my dad is not Ray the Fitness EggTM).

      A few years earlier, after watching Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona team in its prime, one of my uncles used them as an example of how easy football is and how all of the other managers are over-complicating it. I protested, to little avail, that the way Barcelona played football at the time might have been simple but it only looked easy because the coaches and players were of the highest calibre and had worked tirelessly to master a way of playing that made it look effortless.

      In fairness to my dad and uncle, they’re just representative of most general football supporters and, I’d go as far to say, many ex-football players who now appear on our TVs. The extent to which most people don’t have a clue what they’re watching is highlighted on a daily basis by the many “expert” pundits we have the pleasure of paying to watch analyse the games for us. On Saturday, the great Thierry Henry (one of the best players I have ever had the pleasure of watching in the flesh) gave great insight into Gary Cahill’s own goal by saying words to the effect of “I’m not sure why he did it, but he should have kicked it somewhere other than in his own goal”. Thanks Thierry.

      I’ve been told in the past that ex-professionals know more about the game than the common man because they used to play, but I’ve never really bought that argument. It’s a bit like saying that you could run the Virgin empire like Richard Branson because you used to run one of his call centres and have read all of his books. Being one of the cogs in a machine controlled by a master of his trade does not necessarily lead to you understanding how the other cogs all fitted together or how you could put them together as successfully yourself. Of course, every now and then, one of the cogs is a highly intellectual cog and seeks to understand the mechanics of the machine while it’s cogging along (I wish I hadn’t started this cog analogy now, but we are where we are), ultimately becoming a cog-master himself or herself, but that appears to be fairly rare.

      The irony is that we’ll all happily criticise Thierry and the other pundits for spouting their nonsense every week, whilst gleefully spouting our own nonsense about what the problem actually was, with any given performance, and how it could be fixed.
      Before you head straight to the comments section below or to Twitter to vent your fury at the hypocrisy flowing from these pages into your eyes, I appreciate that it’s a bit rich of me to criticise anyone for spouting unqualified nonsense about football in an article written for a supporter-run football website, following my weekly appearances on podcasts doing the very same thing.
      In my defence, something I’ve always loved about The Anfield Wrap, even before I was a contributor, is that the opinions given are usually balanced and caveated with a large helping of “we don’t actually know” and “the manager knows more than we do”. Sean Rogers gives a weekly insight on TAW Player’s ‘The Tuesday Review’ from the perspective of someone who has actually done his coaching badges and managed teams which, in itself, puts him on a completely different level of understanding to the rest of the contributors and the vast majority of readers and listeners, and even he is happy to bow down to the superior knowledge of the manager and coaches we’re discussing each week.

      What led me to all of this was, amongst other things, the reaction to Ben Woodburn’s goal against Leeds last week followed by the Manchester City v Chelsea game on Saturday.

      Both of the above demonstrate the same thing, which is that for a large part most football fans, pundits and the media focus on, celebrate and mourn the wrong things.

      I was as delighted as everyone else to see Woodburn score that goal at The Kop end last Tuesday night. It’s the stuff dreams are made of and he showed a huge amount of composure and great technique with his finish. But what if he’d scuffed that shot like he did the one in the 72nd minute that went out for a throw-in? Would the newspapers the next day have raved about this youngster, who lads from these shores have been watching and talking about for years? Of course not. It was funny that in the very same game, another young local lad played the full game and was given man of the match, yet barely a word was spoken about him after his mate took all the headlines.

      The irony is that the coaches’ view of Woodburn, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ovie Ejaria won’t have changed because of one game, one goal or one man of the match award, because they’ve been watching them every day for years and know what they’re capable of. Many supporters, pundits and the media, though, only focus on goals and, at a push, assists to form their judgments. Youngest goal scorer in Liverpool’s history? We must have a player on our hands. Jürgen Klopp’s post-match interviews hinted that he would have been happy for Woodburn to have waited another 100 or so days before notching his first goal, just to keep some of the focus and headlines away from him for a little longer, avoiding him being “the new Michael Owen”.

      The City v Chelsea game suggests similar things. The narrative after that game was that Chelsea were too good for Manchester City. Pep Guardiola could barely hide his contempt for Geoff Shreeves during his post-match interview in which he had to point out to the Sky reporter that they had at least two clear chances to wrap the game up and missed. How can he account for Kevin de Bruyne missing an open goal? Does that miss, and Chelsea scoring on the break, mean that City didn’t play well, or is that just the narrative put on the game after the event by the media’s love of celebrating the wrong things? After all, if 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that there’s little room these days for balanced opinions and non-extreme views.

      The modern football fan, supported by Fanzone and Opta, has far more insight into the game than the older generation, simply because of the amount of data and footage available these days, but I think in some ways that just heightens the problem I’m talking about because, armed with those stats, the modern football supporter thinks he or she knows more than the back room team at the club as well as the manager.

      When Michael Edwards is referred to as a data analyst, I think most supporters think that means he follows OptaJoe on Twitter and jots down everyone’s key pass stats into an excel spreadsheet on his laptop. In reality, Edwards has a degree in business management and informatics (admittedly I have no idea if that is even a real degree) and has been working in data analysis for football clubs since 2003.

      The type of analytics work going on behind the scenes and how much more detailed it is than anything we consider as fans was highlighted in a story I read from Brendan Rodgers about Steven Gerrard a few weeks ago. Rodgers was talking about the number of times Gerrard was turning his head during a game, and how a dip in that number had led to a dip in other aspects of Gerrard’s game, something Steven knew in his gut but couldn’t put his finger on without the help of the analytics team.

      We discussed on a podcast last week about Roberto Firmino and how he must be an absolute pain in the arse to play against, but Opta doesn’t have a pain in the arse stat so it goes unnoticed by most people watching football. You can bet that Michael Edwards has a pain in the arse stat that he and his team can rely on, though.

      When thinking about how we all analyse games and pass judgment on footballers over the past few days, I’ve been thinking about how little we actually watch them in order to form our views. At most, we watch each player for 180 minutes each week (if there are two games). But the coaching staff watch the same players every day in training. Let’s say that they train for five hours every day, five days a week, that means that, at most, we are watching about 10.7 per cent of each player’s weekly work in order to make our judgment of them. If they play only once a week that drops to around 5.7 per cent and it’s obviously even less for the players we don’t see for 90 minutes at the weekend or midweek (the likes of Ragnar Klavan and Lucas Leiva, for example).
      Think about that for a second, then think about how we form conclusions on other players based on snippets that we see on TV. What percentage of the minutes he’s played this season do you think the supporter you stopped in the street earlier who told you to sign van Dijk from Southampton has watched him play? More often than not it will be 10 minutes on Match of the Day each weekend, during which 30 seconds was shown of van Dijk’s best bits.

      It’s difficult to think of anything else in life that we’d consider ourselves to be experts in by observing five per cent of the weekly goings on from the outside. “Brain surgery, you say? Not a problem, I’ve spent a couple of hours each week for the past 20 years watching through the window of the operating theatre and, to be honest, I think the surgeon you’ve got now is useless, anyway. Grab me a gown while I wash my hands.”

      Even Jürgen said in his pre-Bournemouth press conference that the academy coaches know the young players better than he does, and he’s one of the world’s most qualified and experienced elite level managers. Even he is saying that he can’t give an opinion on those players which is more qualified than the coaches who watch them every day. I often think top level managers must think it’s quite funny when they’re being criticised by journalists, pundits and supporters who have little or no qualifications or experience in football management.

      It always makes me think of the time Rafa Benitez turned down the opportunity to be a pundit at a summer tournament a few years ago because the TV company couldn’t guarantee him access to the players before each game. Rafa’s position was simple: how could he possibly analyse how any player had done in a game if he didn’t know what the player’s specific role given to him by his manager was? Most supporters, pundits and the media don’t let a little thing like that get in their way, though.
      Football, like life, is mainly a matter of perception and small margins.

      I started writing this article before Liverpool had an awful second 45 minutes against Bournemouth on Sunday afternoon, not expecting the result of that game to fall into what I was already writing about but, football being the way it is, it was almost inevitable that there would be some relevance to a piece of this nature. Klopp said in his post-match press conference that the press can write whatever they want about his team, whether it’s that they’re “blind, silly, not good enough, whatever”, but it won’t change what he thinks about the players. After all, he watches them every day and knows their strengths, weaknesses and character inside out. He watches them 100 per cent of the time, not just the five per cent or 10 per cent of the time that we’re all watching.

      As much as I obviously love and respect him, Jamie Carragher even found himself being caught up in the emotional response to the result on Sunday, saying that this Liverpool team crumbles too easily under pressure. He referenced that problem going right back to the Brendan Rodgers team. I mentioned on Twitter immediately after the game that I think Jamie’s response was really harsh, given that we’d gone 15 games unbeaten and had shown on a number of occasions during that run that we are a far more solid and resolute side than we’ve seen playing in red for a number of years. We’re not perfect, but nobody claimed that we are. To fall into the trap of giving a blanket criticism of this team’s defensive ability or character after the Bournemouth game only shows the other propensity of the football fan and pundit, to jump to easy conclusions about what’s wrong with a side at any given time.

      We’d conceded one goal in four games before Sunday, with a settled back five starting to look really solid, especially compared to our main rivals. What do we think Chelsea would look like if all of a sudden they lost David Luiz or Cahill from their newly established back three? Whilst we might need to find a better solution for the times when Joel Matip isn’t playing, this isn’t a time to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to judging our defensive abilities or the team’s character.

      It’s amazed me in the post-match reaction that all of a sudden people are forgetting that we started a tricky away game without three of our most influential players of the season (Matip, Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho), with a 21 year-old leading the line who’s only just working his way back to full match fitness and form, and without Daniel Sturridge to use as an option.
      Roberto Firmino, our other standout performer of the season, also came into the game having suffered from a knock himself, leading to possibly his worst performance of the season. Is it any wonder then, that we struggled to control the game as Bournemouth turned up the pressure and intensity in the second half? To use the Chelsea analogy, that’s like them starting a game without Luiz, Eden Hazard and Pedro, with Diego Costa carrying a knock and Michy Batshuayi not being available. How do you think that team would do?

      This is very easily forgotten when we’re all, including me, staring at our ‘keeper and wondering what he’s doing, or blaming Dejan Lovren and Lucas for being poor defensively. This is a team game, after all, and I have no doubts that Jürgen’s coaching staff will be looking at the intricate details of how the front six lost control of the game, how their positioning lost focus and their passing lost its accuracy. There will no doubt be discussions about the frequency of heads being turned in the middle of the pitch.

      Remember at 1-3 we were literally an inch away from making it 1-4 when James Milner’s corner was nearly carried into his own goal by Artur Boruc, and at 3-3 Divock Origi came within a foot of scoring the winner from a corner. If either of those things had gone the other way (by inches), the emotion and analysis following the game would have changed emphasis.
      Several journalists said of our result that we simply lack the resilience of Chelsea, despite us already having beaten Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge and having not collapsed after their goal. Oliver Kay said that Chelsea “rode their luck” against City but that they have an in-built resilience that we and City do not have. I’m not sure how De Bruyne missing from five yards has anything to do with Chelsea’s resilience, and the same journalists would be spouting a different set of nonsense if City had won 2-0 as they could so easily have done. In that scenario, Antonio Conte’s three at the back formation will have “cracked” or some other extreme reaction.

      Don’t get me wrong, I don’t put myself on a higher plane than most football supporters when discussing these things. I’ll still be getting carried away by goals scored in The Kop end by a new youngest ever goalscorer, ripping my top off when we score an undeserved last minute winner to take us top of the league, watching YouTube videos of the latest new signing we’ve been linked with and being disappointed when we throw away three points from a comfortable winning position. After all, that’s where most of the fun lies in this mad game that we dedicate so much of our lives to, and it would be remiss of us not to get caught up in the romance, the dreams, the excitement and the disappointment. That’s all part of the journey.

      But we’d also do well to remember that most of us don’t really have a clue what we’re talking about when it comes to elite level football and, if we do, we’d probably be best quitting our jobs and taking our coaching badges. I’ve heard that Premier League managers get paid quite a few quid, and there might well be a vacancy coming up across Stanley Park soon for another Liverpool supporting head coach to wind up our blue brethren. At the very least, you might end up with a cushy gig on Sky or BT Sport informing the rest of us where the elite managers have gone wrong.

      All of this reminds me of the best trick that Bill Shankly ever pulled, which was telling everyone that football is a simple game. What Shanks omitted from that famous quip is that the game may be simple but, as with many things in life, it’s far from easy.
      It’s time to hold your nerve, Reds, the process is still working and another 15-game unbeaten run awaits.

      https://www.theanfieldwrap.com/2016/12/liverpool-why-supporters-and-pundits-are-celebrating-the-wrong-things/
      Robby The Z
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      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #29: Dec 07, 2016 04:13:35 pm
      Excellent. Who does he write for?

      I wrote about elite youth soccer here in the States for 10 years and this idea of missing the point from games was a recurring one in player development circles. Even just obsession with winning and losing matches at U10 level is a problem (over here anyway).

      And as he notes, we can respond to first team happenings in all the wrong ways as well (and by "we" I mean, including me).

      Brilliant, this:

      Liverpool: Why Supporters And Pundits Are Celebrating The Wrong Things

      by Paul Cope

      YOU’RE all celebrating the wrong things.

      They were the words of my nephew’s academy side’s coach to all of the kids’ parents.

      You’re all celebrating the wrong things.

      I go to watch my nephew play as often as I can and, like with all football, there’s a propensity even at under-nine level to celebrate goals as though they are the be-all and end-all of the entire exercise. Which, of course, at the highest level, they are, especially if you’re a supporter.

      Goals pay the mortgage (though thankfully not at under-nine level, for now), goals get the headlines and goals change the way we interpret football matches. To the people who actually know most about football, the qualified coaches, however, goals are almost a bi-product of everything else they’re working on, at both ends of the pitch.

      My nephew’s coach told the parents that while they’re all busy celebrating one of the young lads heading in a goal from a corner, he and his coaching team are celebrating the way in which his team-mate closed space to cut off a passing angle which led to the corner, which they’d been working on in training all month. They’re celebrating an eight-year-old understanding that he needs to drop back into position to cover for his mate who’s gone on a run, which they worked on last month.
      The fixtures they play don’t yet use the offside rule but the coach insists that they press high, even though it leads to the other teams scoring goals for fun by goal hanging. He sacrifices goals now for greater knowledge and understanding further down the line. He focuses on the process and the development of his players, not just on the end result each week.

      It often amazes me how watching under-nine’s football can be just as fascinating as watching elite footballers plying their trade, even more so watching the supporters who are watching the respective games. I’ve said for years that most people who watch football don’t really understand what they’re watching, and the quote above demonstrates to me that this doesn’t just apply at the highest level.

      I mentioned in last week’s article how it’s intriguing that grown men will pay extortionate prices to watch something then sit there and moan about it every week, something they wouldn’t do in any other area of their lives, but that isn’t football’s only peculiarity. Football, sport in general and running the country are treated by us lay-people as the few areas in life in which most of us consider ourselves to be qualified to give forthright opinions on what we observe, without actually having any qualifications at all to do so. I’ve met some doctors in the past who’ve mentioned that Google has led to people doing a similar thing when rocking up to their local surgery having self-diagnosed from one medical website or another, but I think most of us are still mainly relying on the people who have been through medical school and rigorous training to tell us why our backs hurt or why we can’t feel our fingers.
      Not so with football, though. Stop someone randomly in the street, especially in a city like Liverpool, and ask them how they think they could improve their club’s first team of highly paid, highly trained, elite athletes and they’ll all give you an opinion. Most won’t even stop there. You’ll note that what you’re given isn’t so much an opinion qualified by caveats such as “I’m not really qualified to answer that question, mate” or “why are you asking me, I’m a plasterer”, more likely it will be a statement made with absolute certainty by Joe the butcher, baker or candlestick maker about how “buying that Virgil Van Dijk lad” from Southampton will definitely sort out our defensive problems, or getting rid of “that soft sh*te Moreno” will sort out the haircut issues we’ve currently got in the squad.

      When he saw Divock Origi pull up with cramp last season, my 70-year-old dad told me with absolute certainty that if he was the manager and any of his players pulled up with cramp he’d make them do a training session straight after the match and double training sessions all week afterwards to sort them out. If I recall correctly, he finished his mini-rant by muttering the word “pansy” under his breath, which I hope was aimed at Divock and not me.

      My dad is a retired insurance claims assessor and has been going to the match for about 50 years. He has no sports science or other similar training but, clearly, considers himself to know more about the fitness regimes of these elite athletes than the highly qualified fitness coaches at Liverpool (I should make it clear at this stage that, as far as I am aware, my dad is not Ray the Fitness EggTM).

      A few years earlier, after watching Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona team in its prime, one of my uncles used them as an example of how easy football is and how all of the other managers are over-complicating it. I protested, to little avail, that the way Barcelona played football at the time might have been simple but it only looked easy because the coaches and players were of the highest calibre and had worked tirelessly to master a way of playing that made it look effortless.

      In fairness to my dad and uncle, they’re just representative of most general football supporters and, I’d go as far to say, many ex-football players who now appear on our TVs. The extent to which most people don’t have a clue what they’re watching is highlighted on a daily basis by the many “expert” pundits we have the pleasure of paying to watch analyse the games for us. On Saturday, the great Thierry Henry (one of the best players I have ever had the pleasure of watching in the flesh) gave great insight into Gary Cahill’s own goal by saying words to the effect of “I’m not sure why he did it, but he should have kicked it somewhere other than in his own goal”. Thanks Thierry.

      I’ve been told in the past that ex-professionals know more about the game than the common man because they used to play, but I’ve never really bought that argument. It’s a bit like saying that you could run the Virgin empire like Richard Branson because you used to run one of his call centres and have read all of his books. Being one of the cogs in a machine controlled by a master of his trade does not necessarily lead to you understanding how the other cogs all fitted together or how you could put them together as successfully yourself. Of course, every now and then, one of the cogs is a highly intellectual cog and seeks to understand the mechanics of the machine while it’s cogging along (I wish I hadn’t started this cog analogy now, but we are where we are), ultimately becoming a cog-master himself or herself, but that appears to be fairly rare.

      The irony is that we’ll all happily criticise Thierry and the other pundits for spouting their nonsense every week, whilst gleefully spouting our own nonsense about what the problem actually was, with any given performance, and how it could be fixed.
      Before you head straight to the comments section below or to Twitter to vent your fury at the hypocrisy flowing from these pages into your eyes, I appreciate that it’s a bit rich of me to criticise anyone for spouting unqualified nonsense about football in an article written for a supporter-run football website, following my weekly appearances on podcasts doing the very same thing.
      In my defence, something I’ve always loved about The Anfield Wrap, even before I was a contributor, is that the opinions given are usually balanced and caveated with a large helping of “we don’t actually know” and “the manager knows more than we do”. Sean Rogers gives a weekly insight on TAW Player’s ‘The Tuesday Review’ from the perspective of someone who has actually done his coaching badges and managed teams which, in itself, puts him on a completely different level of understanding to the rest of the contributors and the vast majority of readers and listeners, and even he is happy to bow down to the superior knowledge of the manager and coaches we’re discussing each week.

      What led me to all of this was, amongst other things, the reaction to Ben Woodburn’s goal against Leeds last week followed by the Manchester City v Chelsea game on Saturday.

      Both of the above demonstrate the same thing, which is that for a large part most football fans, pundits and the media focus on, celebrate and mourn the wrong things.

      I was as delighted as everyone else to see Woodburn score that goal at The Kop end last Tuesday night. It’s the stuff dreams are made of and he showed a huge amount of composure and great technique with his finish. But what if he’d scuffed that shot like he did the one in the 72nd minute that went out for a throw-in? Would the newspapers the next day have raved about this youngster, who lads from these shores have been watching and talking about for years? Of course not. It was funny that in the very same game, another young local lad played the full game and was given man of the match, yet barely a word was spoken about him after his mate took all the headlines.

      The irony is that the coaches’ view of Woodburn, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ovie Ejaria won’t have changed because of one game, one goal or one man of the match award, because they’ve been watching them every day for years and know what they’re capable of. Many supporters, pundits and the media, though, only focus on goals and, at a push, assists to form their judgments. Youngest goal scorer in Liverpool’s history? We must have a player on our hands. Jürgen Klopp’s post-match interviews hinted that he would have been happy for Woodburn to have waited another 100 or so days before notching his first goal, just to keep some of the focus and headlines away from him for a little longer, avoiding him being “the new Michael Owen”.

      The City v Chelsea game suggests similar things. The narrative after that game was that Chelsea were too good for Manchester City. Pep Guardiola could barely hide his contempt for Geoff Shreeves during his post-match interview in which he had to point out to the Sky reporter that they had at least two clear chances to wrap the game up and missed. How can he account for Kevin de Bruyne missing an open goal? Does that miss, and Chelsea scoring on the break, mean that City didn’t play well, or is that just the narrative put on the game after the event by the media’s love of celebrating the wrong things? After all, if 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that there’s little room these days for balanced opinions and non-extreme views.

      The modern football fan, supported by Fanzone and Opta, has far more insight into the game than the older generation, simply because of the amount of data and footage available these days, but I think in some ways that just heightens the problem I’m talking about because, armed with those stats, the modern football supporter thinks he or she knows more than the back room team at the club as well as the manager.

      When Michael Edwards is referred to as a data analyst, I think most supporters think that means he follows OptaJoe on Twitter and jots down everyone’s key pass stats into an excel spreadsheet on his laptop. In reality, Edwards has a degree in business management and informatics (admittedly I have no idea if that is even a real degree) and has been working in data analysis for football clubs since 2003.

      The type of analytics work going on behind the scenes and how much more detailed it is than anything we consider as fans was highlighted in a story I read from Brendan Rodgers about Steven Gerrard a few weeks ago. Rodgers was talking about the number of times Gerrard was turning his head during a game, and how a dip in that number had led to a dip in other aspects of Gerrard’s game, something Steven knew in his gut but couldn’t put his finger on without the help of the analytics team.

      We discussed on a podcast last week about Roberto Firmino and how he must be an absolute pain in the arse to play against, but Opta doesn’t have a pain in the arse stat so it goes unnoticed by most people watching football. You can bet that Michael Edwards has a pain in the arse stat that he and his team can rely on, though.

      When thinking about how we all analyse games and pass judgment on footballers over the past few days, I’ve been thinking about how little we actually watch them in order to form our views. At most, we watch each player for 180 minutes each week (if there are two games). But the coaching staff watch the same players every day in training. Let’s say that they train for five hours every day, five days a week, that means that, at most, we are watching about 10.7 per cent of each player’s weekly work in order to make our judgment of them. If they play only once a week that drops to around 5.7 per cent and it’s obviously even less for the players we don’t see for 90 minutes at the weekend or midweek (the likes of Ragnar Klavan and Lucas Leiva, for example).
      Think about that for a second, then think about how we form conclusions on other players based on snippets that we see on TV. What percentage of the minutes he’s played this season do you think the supporter you stopped in the street earlier who told you to sign van Dijk from Southampton has watched him play? More often than not it will be 10 minutes on Match of the Day each weekend, during which 30 seconds was shown of van Dijk’s best bits.

      It’s difficult to think of anything else in life that we’d consider ourselves to be experts in by observing five per cent of the weekly goings on from the outside. “Brain surgery, you say? Not a problem, I’ve spent a couple of hours each week for the past 20 years watching through the window of the operating theatre and, to be honest, I think the surgeon you’ve got now is useless, anyway. Grab me a gown while I wash my hands.”

      Even Jürgen said in his pre-Bournemouth press conference that the academy coaches know the young players better than he does, and he’s one of the world’s most qualified and experienced elite level managers. Even he is saying that he can’t give an opinion on those players which is more qualified than the coaches who watch them every day. I often think top level managers must think it’s quite funny when they’re being criticised by journalists, pundits and supporters who have little or no qualifications or experience in football management.

      It always makes me think of the time Rafa Benitez turned down the opportunity to be a pundit at a summer tournament a few years ago because the TV company couldn’t guarantee him access to the players before each game. Rafa’s position was simple: how could he possibly analyse how any player had done in a game if he didn’t know what the player’s specific role given to him by his manager was? Most supporters, pundits and the media don’t let a little thing like that get in their way, though.
      Football, like life, is mainly a matter of perception and small margins.

      I started writing this article before Liverpool had an awful second 45 minutes against Bournemouth on Sunday afternoon, not expecting the result of that game to fall into what I was already writing about but, football being the way it is, it was almost inevitable that there would be some relevance to a piece of this nature. Klopp said in his post-match press conference that the press can write whatever they want about his team, whether it’s that they’re “blind, silly, not good enough, whatever”, but it won’t change what he thinks about the players. After all, he watches them every day and knows their strengths, weaknesses and character inside out. He watches them 100 per cent of the time, not just the five per cent or 10 per cent of the time that we’re all watching.

      As much as I obviously love and respect him, Jamie Carragher even found himself being caught up in the emotional response to the result on Sunday, saying that this Liverpool team crumbles too easily under pressure. He referenced that problem going right back to the Brendan Rodgers team. I mentioned on Twitter immediately after the game that I think Jamie’s response was really harsh, given that we’d gone 15 games unbeaten and had shown on a number of occasions during that run that we are a far more solid and resolute side than we’ve seen playing in red for a number of years. We’re not perfect, but nobody claimed that we are. To fall into the trap of giving a blanket criticism of this team’s defensive ability or character after the Bournemouth game only shows the other propensity of the football fan and pundit, to jump to easy conclusions about what’s wrong with a side at any given time.

      We’d conceded one goal in four games before Sunday, with a settled back five starting to look really solid, especially compared to our main rivals. What do we think Chelsea would look like if all of a sudden they lost David Luiz or Cahill from their newly established back three? Whilst we might need to find a better solution for the times when Joel Matip isn’t playing, this isn’t a time to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to judging our defensive abilities or the team’s character.

      It’s amazed me in the post-match reaction that all of a sudden people are forgetting that we started a tricky away game without three of our most influential players of the season (Matip, Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho), with a 21 year-old leading the line who’s only just working his way back to full match fitness and form, and without Daniel Sturridge to use as an option.
      Roberto Firmino, our other standout performer of the season, also came into the game having suffered from a knock himself, leading to possibly his worst performance of the season. Is it any wonder then, that we struggled to control the game as Bournemouth turned up the pressure and intensity in the second half? To use the Chelsea analogy, that’s like them starting a game without Luiz, Eden Hazard and Pedro, with Diego Costa carrying a knock and Michy Batshuayi not being available. How do you think that team would do?

      This is very easily forgotten when we’re all, including me, staring at our ‘keeper and wondering what he’s doing, or blaming Dejan Lovren and Lucas for being poor defensively. This is a team game, after all, and I have no doubts that Jürgen’s coaching staff will be looking at the intricate details of how the front six lost control of the game, how their positioning lost focus and their passing lost its accuracy. There will no doubt be discussions about the frequency of heads being turned in the middle of the pitch.

      Remember at 1-3 we were literally an inch away from making it 1-4 when James Milner’s corner was nearly carried into his own goal by Artur Boruc, and at 3-3 Divock Origi came within a foot of scoring the winner from a corner. If either of those things had gone the other way (by inches), the emotion and analysis following the game would have changed emphasis.
      Several journalists said of our result that we simply lack the resilience of Chelsea, despite us already having beaten Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge and having not collapsed after their goal. Oliver Kay said that Chelsea “rode their luck” against City but that they have an in-built resilience that we and City do not have. I’m not sure how De Bruyne missing from five yards has anything to do with Chelsea’s resilience, and the same journalists would be spouting a different set of nonsense if City had won 2-0 as they could so easily have done. In that scenario, Antonio Conte’s three at the back formation will have “cracked” or some other extreme reaction.

      Don’t get me wrong, I don’t put myself on a higher plane than most football supporters when discussing these things. I’ll still be getting carried away by goals scored in The Kop end by a new youngest ever goalscorer, ripping my top off when we score an undeserved last minute winner to take us top of the league, watching YouTube videos of the latest new signing we’ve been linked with and being disappointed when we throw away three points from a comfortable winning position. After all, that’s where most of the fun lies in this mad game that we dedicate so much of our lives to, and it would be remiss of us not to get caught up in the romance, the dreams, the excitement and the disappointment. That’s all part of the journey.

      But we’d also do well to remember that most of us don’t really have a clue what we’re talking about when it comes to elite level football and, if we do, we’d probably be best quitting our jobs and taking our coaching badges. I’ve heard that Premier League managers get paid quite a few quid, and there might well be a vacancy coming up across Stanley Park soon for another Liverpool supporting head coach to wind up our blue brethren. At the very least, you might end up with a cushy gig on Sky or BT Sport informing the rest of us where the elite managers have gone wrong.

      All of this reminds me of the best trick that Bill Shankly ever pulled, which was telling everyone that football is a simple game. What Shanks omitted from that famous quip is that the game may be simple but, as with many things in life, it’s far from easy.
      It’s time to hold your nerve, Reds, the process is still working and another 15-game unbeaten run awaits.

      https://www.theanfieldwrap.com/2016/12/liverpool-why-supporters-and-pundits-are-celebrating-the-wrong-things/
      what-a-hit-son
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      • @MrPrice1979
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #30: Dec 07, 2016 04:17:03 pm
      Excellent. Who does he write for?

      I wrote about elite youth soccer here in the States for 10 years and this idea of missing the point from games was a recurring one in player development circles. Even just obsession with winning and losing matches at U10 level is a problem (over here anyway).

      And as he notes, we can respond to first team happenings in all the wrong ways as well (and by "we" I mean, including me).


      He contributes to the Anfield Wrap mate.

      Also changed the way I cook eggs for ever.
      crouchinho
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      • TU TA LOUCO? FILHO DA PUTA!
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #31: Dec 11, 2016 01:33:10 pm
      Liverpool: Why Supporters And Pundits Are Celebrating The Wrong Things
      We discussed on a podcast last week about Roberto Firmino and how he must be an absolute pain in the arse to play against, but Opta doesn’t have a pain in the arse stat so it goes unnoticed by most people watching football. You can bet that Michael Edwards has a pain in the arse stat that he and his team can rely on, though.

      Literally LOL'd at this. The amount of times i've had a conversation and someone countered this argument with, "Yeah but he has no goals/assists" does my head in.

      It's a cancer in footballing discussions across Australia.

      EDIT: Just to add to this idea:

      Chelsea just scored against a team parking the bus with just their second shot on target in 76 minutes at home. They'll be credited with finding a way through a defensive team.

      We have been held by teams doing the same thing but created multiple chances but that'll be ignored. Our flaws will be highlighted over and over by the pundits and all of Chelsea's struggles will be conveniently forgotten.
      Robby The Z
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      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #32: Dec 15, 2016 04:33:12 pm
      Long but excellent article about Michael Owen, his development, his mentality and his relationship with LFC supporters over the years.

      http://thelab.bleacherreport.com/red-lightning/?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=programming-UK

      Frankly, Mr Shankly
      • Guest
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #33: Dec 15, 2016 04:54:57 pm
      Long but excellent article about Michael Owen, his development, his mentality and his relationship with LFC supporters over the years.

      http://thelab.bleacherreport.com/red-lightning/?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=programming-UK



      The thing that surprises me, even impresses me to an extent, about Owen was his ability to not feel the pressure. A good example was the Euro 2004 quarter final against Portugal when he was the first man to put his name forward for a successfully converted penalty (a match in which he scored early on as well). I think that ability to shun emotion meant that he was able to rise above the fervent big occasions better than anyone else on the pitch and he more often than not showed it with some mega contributions - 2001 FA Cup Final, any major England match they played (while his teammates crumbled under pressure). The downside to that is that I think pressure comes from emotion and emotion wasn't really something that Owen felt. Maybe that's why he never really "felt" it with the passion in the stands at Anfield hence his very unsentimental exit and his decision to join the Mancs later on. It's like he never understood what the big deal was but someone fully engaged with the emotional side of football would have thought otherwise. While that side of him undoubtedly helped him become the fantastic and crucial player he was, it ultimately proved to be the downfall of his career where that emotional detachment led to some career ruining transfers, Mancs very much included.

      Great player though.
      Robby The Z
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      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #34: Dec 16, 2016 03:15:02 pm
      The thing that surprises me, even impresses me to an extent, about Owen was his ability to not feel the pressure. A good example was the Euro 2004 quarter final against Portugal when he was the first man to put his name forward for a successfully converted penalty (a match in which he scored early on as well). I think that ability to shun emotion meant that he was able to rise above the fervent big occasions better than anyone else on the pitch and he more often than not showed it with some mega contributions - 2001 FA Cup Final, any major England match they played (while his teammates crumbled under pressure). The downside to that is that I think pressure comes from emotion and emotion wasn't really something that Owen felt. Maybe that's why he never really "felt" it with the passion in the stands at Anfield hence his very unsentimental exit and his decision to join the Mancs later on. It's like he never understood what the big deal was but someone fully engaged with the emotional side of football would have thought otherwise. While that side of him undoubtedly helped him become the fantastic and crucial player he was, it ultimately proved to be the downfall of his career where that emotional detachment led to some career ruining transfers, Mancs very much included.

      Great player though.

      Well stated, and so many personality traits have that "good-side, bad-side" aspect to them. My oldest son was blessed with exceptional athletic ability, but he just had no competitiveness about him. On long car rides I never had to worry about him getting into spats with his sisters, but on the playing field you could always tell he could take it or leave it, which would allow less gifted players to get one over on him. Thankfully he's more driven on a professional level. My youngest son on the other hand doesn't want to lose anything, ever. A great attribute on the playing field, but when he loses a family game of Monopoly...not so much. :-)

      Whenever I think of Owen on the playing field, "predator" is the first word that comes to mind. Seems like he always found the opening before he started suffering the injuries.
       
      what-a-hit-son
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      • @MrPrice1979
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #35: Jan 08, 2020 05:56:16 pm
      You're all welcome 😊

      'Jürgen surprises me everyday. His brain works differently to other people' - Exclusive interview with Klopp'a No 2 Pep Lijnders


      By James Pearce for The Athletic

      Pep Lijnders is in full flow.

      Liverpool’s articulate assistant manager is eulogising about the tempo and intensity of the training session he has just overseen at Melwood. These are the words of a coach with complete job satisfaction.

      “The passion and ambition of these players is from another planet,” Lijnders tells The Athletic.

      “Their self-confidence, their self-criticism, that is what makes us consistent. These boys have the ability to make even a simple rondo competitive.

      “People talk about going game to game — no, we commit session to session. Small things make big things happen. You have to focus on doing the small things right constantly.

      “The passion and ambition I see, especially on the rainy and windy days here, that for me is what separates us from the others.”

      Over the course of two hours in his company, Jürgen Klopp’s trusted lieutenant provides a fascinating insight into Liverpool’s stunning rise to the heights of European and world champions as well as runaway Premier League leaders.

      The Dutchman’s own personal journey has been no less spectacular. He opens up for the first time about the circumstances surrounding his short spell away from Merseyside in 2018 when he went to manage NEC Nijmegen in his homeland.

      Lijnders made player development his life’s work after seeing his own hopes of a professional career wrecked by a serious knee injury as a teenager.

      From coaching in the youth ranks at PSV Eindhoven and Porto, to being responsible for the entire training programme of a Liverpool team who are rewriting the Anfield record books with their dominance, it’s been some ride. Lijnders is still only 36 but his expertise is vast and he commands the respect of the dressing room. Owners Fenway Sports Group regard him as a pivotal cog in this winning machine.

      Like Klopp, he recently signed a contract extension to keep him at Liverpool until 2024. The pair enjoy a close bond.

      “There’s a super dynamic between us,” Lijnders says.

      “It’s much more than just assistant and manager. What I mean by that is that I believe you need 100 per cent trust in this job because we have to make so many decisions on a daily basis. I love working for him. He sees who I am, and respects that. We know what to expect from each other.

      “Jürgen is a true leader. He’s inspirational and motivational. He still surprises me every day with something he says. His brain works differently to a lot of other brains!

      “He sees through situations and processes. There is a saying that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. And I think everyone who works with Jürgen has the feeling he really cares about you and your development. There is no ego, he purely searches for the right thing to do.”

      Klopp’s famed man-management skills are undoubtedly one of his greatest assets. He has fostered a cherished unity and spirit in the squad which has propelled Liverpool towards glory. On a daily basis Lijnders witnesses the manager’s knack of finding the right words at the right times to get the best out of people.

      “When Jürgen speaks to the players, he speaks from the heart and it goes directly into the hearts of the players,” he says.

      “He has this remarkable capacity to touch people with the words he selects. That’s not easy, especially with this level of players. I find that intriguing, how it’s possible, the convincing way he has and that ability to touch people. You are dealing with a lot of egos in football but in our club it looks like there are no egos.

      “Jürgen has created an environment where everyone has bought into it. He solves problems before they arise. He has this capacity of making sure that certain things won’t happen because he speaks about them. The level of respect the players have for him is huge.

      “No written word, no spoken plea, can teach our team what they should be, nor all the books on the shelves, it’s what the coach is himself. Do you know what I mean? The character of the coach becomes the character of the team. You can see it throughout the club. That’s the power of Jürgen’s personality.”

      Klopp’s fiercely competitive edge extends to the paddle tennis court that he had installed at Melwood. Most days before training Lijnders and Klopp lock horns. If training is at 3pm then they will arrange to meet for an 11am showdown. They can be noisy affairs.

      “The staff hear the shouting — me probably more than him,” laughs Lijnders.

      “I don’t know how he does it but Jürgen is actually quite reserved on the court. He can control his emotions. We put our character into these games and there’s a lot of passion.

      “It’s usually a doubles sport but we play one v one. We like the fact we have to run more and fight more. He always says his players are mentality monsters, well he’s a mentality monster at paddle tennis! He never knows when he’s beaten. He’s won the past two games and that hurts a lot.

      “There have been many times when he’s won without deserving it but I’ve got to admit he’s deserved the past two wins.”

      Lijnders enjoys parity with fellow assistant boss Peter Krawietz, whose association with Klopp dates back to his role as chief scout at Mainz nearly two decades ago.

      Whereas Lijnders’ time is largely spent planning and delivering training sessions, Krawietz’s area of expertise is video analysis. They complement each other well.

      “It’s about constantly giving each other information and working together,” Lijnders says.

      “It’s always easier with a good leader but still, life is a team sport. We support Jürgen in our best way possible. We know that we have to use each other’s strengths to be able to accomplish great things.

      “Pete is one of the world’s best analysts and knows Jürgen’s way very well. He puts his mark in each game’s preparation. He supports me and Jürgen with information to include in our exercises and searches for weakness to exploit. The best football analysts simplify instead of complicate.

      “There’s a culture of preparation and perfection here but with a lot of freedom. It’s a complex job being manager of such a big club. You need people around you and under you to focus on specific things. Jürgen tries to collect good ones, ones he can trust, he’s very strong on that.”

      Klopp doesn’t tolerate yes-men. He wants his viewpoint to be challenged. How much input do Lijnders and Krawietz have on team selection?

      “Jürgen makes the decisions,” he says firmly. “In the end he’s the one who decides but we try to support him with all the information we have and with all the opinions we have. Everyone is encouraged to say exactly what they think. You might not always agree with each other but it’s about always thinking together. Six eyes see more than two eyes. Three brains with a common idea can come up with different things and different insights compared to just one.

      “The best meeting of the week is always the day before a game when Jürgen, Peter and I are in the office and we go through the video analysis and the plan for the game. Always in this meeting there’s a moment when we have full conviction in what we’re going to do. We speak about team selection and tactics. It’s a beautiful moment.”

      Lijnders grew up in the small village of Broekhuizen in the Dutch province of Limburg. He was a promising central midfielder on the books at lower league outfit SVEB.

      “I was a leader, someone who tried to control and guide the team,” he says. “Would I have made it as a pro? Maybe yes, maybe no, but I always thought I would.”

      That dream was dashed by a ruptured cruciate ligament at the age of 17 and he reassessed his goals. He went to study sports in the city of Sittard and channelled all his efforts into earning a coaching apprenticeship at PSV Eindhoven.

      “There was only one available and I fought so hard to get it,” he recalls.

      “I became a youth coach there. After I got injured and couldn’t play anymore, my uncle, who was the president of SVEB, asked me to take the sessions for their second team and become head of their academy. I was only 18 or 19 but I was coaching at both SVEB and PSV, it was a super time.

      “Everything I learned at PSV I tried to implement at SVEB. My dad worked as a creative designer at a printers and I designed two big flipovers (flip charts) with our playing formation on and 15 different principles. One flipover for when we had the ball, one for when the opposition had the ball.

      “It was implemented so that all teams from the youngest to the oldest age groups trained and played in this way. It was brilliant. I tried to create a common idea inside the club based on an authentic Dutch ‘total football’ way — trying to be dominant and structured with and without the ball.

      “I grew as a coach during my five years at PSV. People really took care of me and guided me. They really wanted me to do well. In my second year I got a small contract, in my third year I got a full-time contract and in my fourth year I went to the United States to give presentations and work together with a few clubs.

      “Then I felt I was ready to work outside of Holland. I was 24 and in my last season the PSV academy was named the best one in the country. That was the moment to go.”

      Porto came calling.

      Having been heavily influenced by the coaching techniques of the great Johan Cruyff and former Feyenoord boss Wiel Coerver during his formative years, Lijnders found new sources of inspiration in Portugal.

      Not least in the methodology of Vitor Frade, who helped to revolutionise coaching by combining all phases of the game rather than having specific physical, tactical or technical training. With his tactical periodisation, Frade sought to ensure that the tactical dimension was at the forefront of every session.

      “Vitor Frade took me to Porto,” says Lijnders.

      “I had my own ideas. I admired Coerver and his attacking philosophy. That if you want to play an attacking game, each player needs an all-round technique and a spirit of initiative. That in each position we needed attacking impulses.

      “Of course there was Cruyff who taught the false No 9 and the three-diamond-three. I had all these ideas but without great structure.

      “Vitor Frade helped me to structure my ideas into principles. That if you want to play like this then on a Wednesday it’s better to train like this. I was an individual coach but he made me look at the collective. I’ll always be grateful that I met him. For me, he’s in the category of Cruyff and Coerver. He’s very important for a new generation of Portuguese coaches who came through with his ideas.”

      The names of the gifted youngsters Lijnders helped to develop during his seven years at Porto roll off the tongue. The impressive list includes Joao Felix, Ruben Neves, Andre Gomes, Andre Silva, Diogo Dalot and Goncalo Paciencia.

      “To explain the culture of Porto in one sentence; you go into the complex and written in big letters are the words ‘we love the ones who hate to lose’,” says Lijnders.

      “Between 2006 and 2011 there was a project there to restructure the first team, the academy and the scouting. I became responsible for the academy restructure with Luis Castro, who is now the manager of Shakhtar Donetsk. He’s a good friend of mine. Vitor Matos, who is working here at Liverpool now, was a young coach in that project.

      “I coached each Porto team two times a week, even the first team after a while in small groups. I was also responsible for the department of individual development.

      “It’s completely different in southern Europe compared to Holland and England. Where we are thoughtful before we say something, in southern Europe it’s more emotional. I enjoyed working there a lot. We were successful with the academy and the first team. We were five-time champions and won the Europa League. It was special to be part of that.”

      Lijnders grabs the water bottles and mobile phones on the table in front of us and starts rearranging them. Briefly, he’s transported back to the pristine green fields of the Iberian Peninsula.

      “We would have eight flat goals on the training pitch where you can shoot from both ways. I’d have 100 balls and 30 to 40 kids,” he explains.

      “We called it ‘Zidane’ and ‘Maradona’. ‘Zidane’ was under the highest pressure, find solutions, shield the ball. ‘Maradona’ was about getting the ball, trying to outplay and shoot. It was about showing initiative, playing in the opposition half.

      “It was a great time with a lot of talent and the young boys inspired me. It makes me really proud to see them play now. To see Joao Felix now, wow, how he turns, combines, how he makes the game so unpredictable…”

      By the summer of 2014 Lijnders was looking for a new challenge. He was on the brink of leaving Porto for Ajax when a phone call from then Liverpool academy coach Michael Beale changed everything. He was offered the job of Under-16s coach.

      “Liverpool kidnapped me!” he laughs.

      “I was in Wales for my UEFA A Licence. Over that weekend I had to give a presentation and while I was there Michael and I met to talk. He’d heard a lot about me.

      “On the Monday I was supposed to go to Ajax to make the final negotiations with them. I had to call my wife and tell her there had been a change of plan.

      “Michael said: ‘You’re coming in the car to Liverpool with us.’ I went to the Hope Street Hotel and I was in the Quarter (a nearby restaurant), drinking espresso and the sun was shining. It was a beautiful day.

      “Why did I want to leave Porto? I wanted just one team to put into practice all I had learned over the years at PSV and Porto. When Liverpool said I could have the under-16s and under-15s, I thought ‘this is perfect’.”

      Lijnders had attracted interest from Manchester United the previous year but after Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement those discussions had gone cold. United’s loss proved to be Liverpool’s gain.

      His impact at the club’s Kirkby academy over the course of the 2014-15 season was immense. The squad of youngsters he inherited included Trent Alexander-Arnold and Rhian Brewster.

      Alexander-Arnold, now arguably the most complete right-back in world football, told The Athletic earlier this season about the importance of the role played by Lijnders in his rise through the ranks.

      “Trent developed as a guy incredibly that season,” Lijnders says.

      “He was my captain and our No 6 with only three players behind him in a three-diamond-three so he had to do everything well. You have leaders by talking, but Trent was a leader very naturally.

      “After sessions, Trent and I would stay out there for another 20 minutes doing some skills until the lights went out. Trent would always be like ‘again, again’.

      “That was one of my favourite years of coaching. I must have said 50 times, ‘Guys, I thought you couldn’t play better than yesterday but today you proved me wrong again’. We trained for two hours each day and every session ended with three teams of seven. Goal on, goal off. The better you played, the more you played. With the streetwise Liverpool boys that was the way to push them.

      “I really believe that if you want to play quick then it starts in the mind and you have to train like the game. I do it a lot now with the first team. One team attacks, one team defends. They have 40 seconds to score, if they can’t then they’re out. If they score then they play against the third team who are waiting. You split the pitch in two and we call it the ‘wave’ game. If the team defending win the ball then they have to break the halfway line.

      “That’s how we want to play. We’re not defending our goal, we defend the halfway line first. And if you lose the ball it has to be intense with maximum concentration.”

      Lijnders was invited to Melwood by then boss Brendan Rodgers on a number of occasions to talk about his counter-pressing methods. He blew Rodgers away with his tactical insights and in the summer of 2015 he was promoted to the Northern Irishman’s backroom staff as first-team development coach. He became the key link between the club’s two bases in Kirkby and Melwood and relished being responsible for the ‘Talent Group’ which brought the best young players together from across a number of age groups.

      However, just four months later, uncertainty reigned after results nosedived and Rodgers was sacked. Fears that his own job was in jeopardy were swiftly alleviated by Fenway Sports Group president Mike Gordon.

      “When Brendan got fired I was really upset. I saw it on the news and called him straight away,” Lijnders recalls.

      “Twenty minutes later Mike Gordon called me. In your lifetime there are moments that you will never forget and that’s one of them; why people will always be very important to you.

      “Mike explained everything to me. He said: ‘Pep, you’re here, you will be part of the set-up with the new coach but I need you to help me.’ They needed a week to get everything organised and he wanted me to take the training by myself. I tried to keep Melwood alive and keep everyone going.

      “During their talks, Jürgen said to Mike: ‘Listen, this is the staff I want to work with, plus I’ll need a goalkeeper coach and a sports science guy.’ But Mike told him ‘Pep has to stay, I promise you’ll like him.’

      “This is a funny story that Mike later told me. Jürgen called him two months later and said: ‘Mike, you were completely wrong, you told me I’d like Pep.’ Mike was like ‘Oh, OK…’ Then Jürgen said: ‘I don’t like Pep, I love him!’”

      There was another moment early on in Klopp’s reign when Lijnders realised that his work was being appreciated by the new man at the helm.

      “Jürgen came to me with a letter that someone from Germany had written to him,” he reveals.

      “It had a CV with it from a coach who was looking for a job at Liverpool. It was written in English and Jürgen came to me and said ‘Pep, what is this? I don’t understand it.’ So I started to read it out and said ‘Gaffer, this guy wants to be on the training pitch with you doing sessions.’

      “Jürgen said: ‘Ah, so basically he wants your job?’ I said: ‘Yes, you could look at it like that!’ He took the letter, ripped it up, threw it in the bin and walked off without saying anything. That was when I thought ‘things are going well here’. It’s difficult to put a moment like that into words.

      “When Jürgen got announced, I had a good feeling. I thought it would work well but you can never be 100 per cent sure. For the first few months it felt like I was always writing, probably a page of A4 every day, with all the messages he had been giving to the players.

      “You need to know exactly what the manager wants. To coach is easy but to know what to coach is much more difficult. Jürgen had a way of coaching and exercises which were close to my own. It was so nice to find someone so good.”

      Lijnders walked away from a job, a club and a city he loved when he accepted the opportunity to become manager of NEC Nijmegen in January 2018. His mission was to get them promoted back to the Eredivisie.

      It was a decision based on professional ambition but also personal anguish. His dad Leo was battling cancer.

      “He was really ill and I’m the oldest child. I had felt guilty for a long time that I wasn’t at home to take care of him,” Lijnders reveals.

      “If that hadn’t been the case then I wouldn’t have left in that January. I would have at least finished the season before making any decision. It was a difficult time. I felt like I was leaving a really big chapter of being abroad behind. I felt that I’d go back home for a long time.

      “I was so blessed at Liverpool but there was a big desire to become a leader of a team and be more responsible for the coaching process — not just delivering it but planning and preparing. I had a big desire to step out of my comfort zone and be the main man.”

      Lijnders’ stint at NEC lasted just five months. Having finished third and missed out on automatic promotion, they lost in the play-offs to Emmen. Going from being a coach to a manager proved to be a steep learning curve.

      “I knew it would take time,” he adds. “I went to a very traditional, historic club, one of the bigger ones in Holland, who weren’t in a good moment and had a lot of problems.

      “As the manager, you have much more communication with the team and in the beginning that worked really well. I think one of my strengths is explaining things.

      “The problem then as the main man was to guide and manage expectations of the people around you when things don’t go well. When you have a few bad results, you have to keep everyone in the same direction and convince them that the way you are setting up is still the right way.

      “A lot of times with development, first there’s a period of instability because you ask players to do things that they aren’t used to. I asked a lot, that’s my nature. As a manager, you really need to learn with time, you need to learn from the mistakes that you make, you need to learn from the situations you have to deal with.

      “In the back of my mind, I was always thinking: ‘How would Jürgen approach this?’ That half a year was really important for me. I wouldn’t be able to support Jürgen in the way I do if I hadn’t had that short time away. I respected him a lot already but I respected him even more having been in that job and seen what comes at you.”

      Lijnders parted company with NEC by mutual consent in the middle of May 2018 and a fortnight later he accepted Klopp’s invitation to attend the Champions League final against Real Madrid in Kiev.

      The perceived wisdom is that his return to Melwood was sealed during discussions in the Ukrainian capital. However, the truth is that Lijnders had long since agreed to re-join Klopp’s staff.

      Klopp needed a new assistant after Zeljko Buvac’s surprise exit in the April and it wasn’t a long shortlist he had drawn up.

      “Jürgen called me really early,” Lijnders reveals.

      “It wasn’t after the season, it was in the season. He told me he was searching for a new No 2. He explained that he wasn’t making a list, he said ‘I’m just asking you.’

      “I never expected it. I answered ‘yes’ straightaway but I told him ‘Gaffer, I’m still competing to be the champion and if we don’t win the league, we have the play-offs so I need to focus on getting them back to the highest level.’

      “I also told him I’d need to speak with my wife Danielle. Her family lived seven miles away, we were living in our house on the river and the kids were all going to school with their friends and nephews, all the family together.

      “I was standing in front of the river talking to Jürgen and I had to walk back towards the house. Danielle was sitting outside with my mum having a glass of wine.

      “I said: ‘OK, we really need to talk.’ My mum could see it in my eyes. Danielle and I went for a long walk by the river and discussed everything. For me, it was clear, but it was really important for me that she was behind it. I couldn’t do this alone. I need my family around me.

      “I gave everything to get NEC promoted but it wasn’t to be. But whatever had happened, I’d already decided that I was coming back to Liverpool. Nobody knew though, only me and Jürgen. I didn’t want to create any fuss before Kiev. There are two big things in my life. My Liverpool family and my own family. That’s it, nothing else.”

      The day he signed the contract to become Liverpool’s assistant manager was especially poignant.

      “My dad got the test results back to say that he was completely clean. He had been sick for two years. There was a lot of emotion. Thankfully, he’s still good now. He lives in my hometown but he comes over for some games. He never stops watching football. He knows a lot, well he thinks he does! He’s become a big Liverpool fan.”

      The role Lijnders came back to was very different from the one he left behind. More demanding but also more rewarding as he was tasked with filling the void created by Buvac’s departure.

      “In Holland they said I was going back to my old job but that wasn’t true,” he says.

      “I became the No 2. If that hadn’t been the job Jürgen offered me then I wouldn’t have come back. He gave me responsibility for the training process and that was very important to me.

      “Before, I didn’t decide if we played eight minutes or six minutes, whether we did this exercise or that exercise, I just delivered sessions. When I came back I was responsible.

      “My time away from Liverpool was good for self-reflection. I became much clearer how I wanted to work and what is decisive to become successful. I know exactly what I would do differently now. No more concessions, we do it like I want in training, nothing else, convincing each day, create happiness in the players, a clear week plan and we play everywhere we go in the same manner, full energy.”

      What does a normal day in the life of Pep Lijnders look like?

      He says: “My alarm is my youngest one. My two boys are three-and-a-half and five-and-a-half. When they come into our bed, sleeping is done!

      “Early in the morning, I usually call Vitor Manos (elite development coach), I’ll text Jürgen and then come into Melwood. I have a meeting with Jürgen in his office to talk about training. What are we going to do? Who is delivering what and how is it going to look? Do we want to have Sadio (Mane) on the left wing or as the striker? Things like that.

      “When the training is planned, I explain what the ideas behind it are to Andreas (Kornmayer, head of fitness and conditioning), Pete, Vitor, John (Achterberg, goalkeeping coach) and Jack (Robinson, assistant goalkeeping coach).

      “Then I go out and put everything on the pitch. Normally Jürgen has a meeting with the players either in the dressing room or outside to give some details about the sessions. We train always in the same intensity as the game, same concentration and tempo. This is the secret of training in my opinion.

      “Everything is designed around the training. The day basically starts when the training ends. I’ll watch the session back on the video and try to get as many opinions as possible from the people around me. Then the planning starts for the next session. We make decisions about how tomorrow will look. What do we want to do? What players will we have?

      “I have to speak with the medical department and try to plan the session in more detail and I’ll put it in the tactics planner and work everything out in terms of how it relates to our next opponent. Pete will also give input. Then the plan is clear for the next day and I’ll go home. In the evening when the kids have gone to bed I’ll watch footage of our opponents.”

      During Lijnders’ time as assistant manager, Liverpool have collected an extraordinary 155 points out of a possible 174. They have gone to the next level since winning the Champions League in Madrid last June and find themselves 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League as they close in on a first domestic title since 1990.

      “Winning something big puts more conviction, more trust into everything; subconsciously you feel stronger. There’s a real hunger to fight for more prizes,” he says.

      “But for me it’s about the journey and how the team developed. The trust I got from keeping things simple, never giving up on our way, believing in training and video meetings to improve, clear messages with a lot of conviction from Jürgen, Pete or myself, repeating that process over and over again.

      “Trusting the players to always look at our best games and think about what steps won us those games. Was it our full-backs being constantly ready to jump? Was it the centre-backs coming in front of offensive players rather than stepping back? Was it our midfielders being really together and always connected rather than just searching for it? It’s about doing it our way again, becoming better and searching for perfection. We know it doesn’t exist but you still have to search for it.

      “People say Liverpool developed so much here and there but I think our main strength is that we’re always together. By that I mean on the pitch, the distances, the organisation, the way we are. That’s the only way to be an aggressive, pressing team. If the distances and the organisation are not right then you have no chance.

      “That’s where we’ve made the biggest improvement. Wherever the game is on the pitch, we are there together. A compact team, an intense team, both on and off the ball. Jürgen talks about the principle that everyone is responsible for everything. It’s easy to say, it’s harder to put it into practice on the pitch for 95 minutes but that’s what these players have been doing a lot. If we recover well and have freshness in our game, we go into every game with a common idea of chasing them all over the pitch.

      “Each individual in our team has become a better player from working here. If you compare (Andy) Robertson, Trent and Sadio to when they came in, consistency-wise… I could go on. Jürgen has created a culture of preparation. Each department in the club feels this responsibility and is better connected. It’s clear what we want and the standards have gone up and up and up.”

      The style of the team has certainly evolved. Game-management has been a feature of this record-breaking season which has seen Liverpool drop just two points. They put themselves in winning positions and then play with real maturity and control.

      “That has to grow within a team, you can’t just put it there,” Lijnders says.

      “Even if we’re 3-0 up we want to be dominant. We still search for the 4-0 but the way we do that can be different from how we searched to make it 1-0 or 2-0. We can make more passes, we can switch the play more from one side to the other, we can create more doubt for the opponents with our positioning. But we are still searching for the 4-0.

      “When you become European champions, when you become more dominant on the ball, you don’t rely as much on defensive organisation and counter-attack which is a very attractive part of our game. We’ve become better on the ball as teams have set up differently against us. I’d say 75 per cent of teams in the Premier League, even the bigger teams, changed their system or approach to play against us this season – lines much closer together, dropping deeper.

      “Can we then expect to have attack, attack, attack? No, we can’t. We have to respect that and find a new way against them. It’s why our variety of creating and scoring is so important. It pushes us to evolve again. What I like about our game is that we have so many different weapons and that makes us unpredictable. It’s not about playing it from A to B to C to D. That’s not the game we want. Even our defensive principles aren’t like that. That makes us very difficult to read.

      “Teams can’t just drop deep against us and try to stop us playing through them because Trent and Robbo will get down the wings and then you’ve got the centre-backs bringing it forward and creating space. There’s a lot of freedom because we focus on principles rather than exact plays. We know that if all this is present then the mentality of Jürgen and the boys will put us above the other team. But all this has to be right (Lijnders bangs the desk).

      “You can have a lot of passion but if there’s no structure then you have no chance. You need organisation, tactical discipline and the right distances. That’s the base – that’s the father and mother of football and being a consistent team.”

      Lijnders’ stock has risen to the point that he’s been mentioned as a potential successor to Klopp one day. But such talk is far from his thoughts. He’s too busy savouring every second of the here and now.

      “It makes me proud but it’s not realistic because it’s not important at this moment in time,” he adds.

      “My only ambition is to support Jürgen and our project in the best way possible. Mike Gordon and Jürgen have been the most important people in my career. They gave me the chance and the belief to lead the process of training and methodology with the first team.

      “This is my life. I feel passionate about this club and I feel blessed to work with passionate colleagues. I feel that what we have here in this period we will never experience again in our lives.

      “So many things have come together with the owners, the manager, people behind the manager who in hard moments never give up, and a playing group who are so together and really want to play for Liverpool and for us as a staff. In the end I really hope that we get what the boys deserve.

      “I believe each football project is like the sun rising up and going down, and for our project it’s not even noon. That’s the reason why we committed for another four years.”

      Like the team he has helped to shape, Pep Lijnders is relentless.

      The Athletic
      Billy1
      • Forum Legend - Paisley
      • *****

      • 10,541 posts | 1895 
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #36: Jan 09, 2020 07:38:31 am
      Never ever lose the memories you have of going to the match at Anfield with your Dad-they can never be replaced.I still remember going to Anfield for the first time in 1947 with my Dad,he put me in the boys pen in Kemlyn Road and I was hooked on L.F.C for life.I remember him taking me to Blackburn for a cup tie and getting the train from Exchange Station.As a matter of interest does anyone else remember the boys pen when it was in Kemlyn Road before they moved it to the back of the Kop.
      billythered
      • LFC Reds Subscriber
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      • 6,664 posts | 2207 
      • From Doubters to Believers
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #37: Jan 09, 2020 12:13:34 pm
      You're all welcome 😊

      'Jürgen surprises me everyday. His brain works differently to other people' - Exclusive interview with Klopp'a No 2 Pep Lijnders


      By James Pearce for The Athletic

      Pep Lijnders is in full flow.

      Liverpool’s articulate assistant manager is eulogising about the tempo and intensity of the training session he has just overseen at Melwood. These are the words of a coach with complete job satisfaction.

      “The passion and ambition of these players is from another planet,” Lijnders tells The Athletic.

      “Their self-confidence, their self-criticism, that is what makes us consistent. These boys have the ability to make even a simple rondo competitive.

      “People talk about going game to game — no, we commit session to session. Small things make big things happen. You have to focus on doing the small things right constantly.

      “The passion and ambition I see, especially on the rainy and windy days here, that for me is what separates us from the others.”

      Over the course of two hours in his company, Jürgen Klopp’s trusted lieutenant provides a fascinating insight into Liverpool’s stunning rise to the heights of European and world champions as well as runaway Premier League leaders.

      The Dutchman’s own personal journey has been no less spectacular. He opens up for the first time about the circumstances surrounding his short spell away from Merseyside in 2018 when he went to manage NEC Nijmegen in his homeland.

      Lijnders made player development his life’s work after seeing his own hopes of a professional career wrecked by a serious knee injury as a teenager.

      From coaching in the youth ranks at PSV Eindhoven and Porto, to being responsible for the entire training programme of a Liverpool team who are rewriting the Anfield record books with their dominance, it’s been some ride. Lijnders is still only 36 but his expertise is vast and he commands the respect of the dressing room. Owners Fenway Sports Group regard him as a pivotal cog in this winning machine.

      Like Klopp, he recently signed a contract extension to keep him at Liverpool until 2024. The pair enjoy a close bond.

      “There’s a super dynamic between us,” Lijnders says.

      “It’s much more than just assistant and manager. What I mean by that is that I believe you need 100 per cent trust in this job because we have to make so many decisions on a daily basis. I love working for him. He sees who I am, and respects that. We know what to expect from each other.

      “Jürgen is a true leader. He’s inspirational and motivational. He still surprises me every day with something he says. His brain works differently to a lot of other brains!

      “He sees through situations and processes. There is a saying that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. And I think everyone who works with Jürgen has the feeling he really cares about you and your development. There is no ego, he purely searches for the right thing to do.”

      Klopp’s famed man-management skills are undoubtedly one of his greatest assets. He has fostered a cherished unity and spirit in the squad which has propelled Liverpool towards glory. On a daily basis Lijnders witnesses the manager’s knack of finding the right words at the right times to get the best out of people.

      “When Jürgen speaks to the players, he speaks from the heart and it goes directly into the hearts of the players,” he says.

      “He has this remarkable capacity to touch people with the words he selects. That’s not easy, especially with this level of players. I find that intriguing, how it’s possible, the convincing way he has and that ability to touch people. You are dealing with a lot of egos in football but in our club it looks like there are no egos.

      “Jürgen has created an environment where everyone has bought into it. He solves problems before they arise. He has this capacity of making sure that certain things won’t happen because he speaks about them. The level of respect the players have for him is huge.

      “No written word, no spoken plea, can teach our team what they should be, nor all the books on the shelves, it’s what the coach is himself. Do you know what I mean? The character of the coach becomes the character of the team. You can see it throughout the club. That’s the power of Jürgen’s personality.”

      Klopp’s fiercely competitive edge extends to the paddle tennis court that he had installed at Melwood. Most days before training Lijnders and Klopp lock horns. If training is at 3pm then they will arrange to meet for an 11am showdown. They can be noisy affairs.

      “The staff hear the shouting — me probably more than him,” laughs Lijnders.

      “I don’t know how he does it but Jürgen is actually quite reserved on the court. He can control his emotions. We put our character into these games and there’s a lot of passion.

      “It’s usually a doubles sport but we play one v one. We like the fact we have to run more and fight more. He always says his players are mentality monsters, well he’s a mentality monster at paddle tennis! He never knows when he’s beaten. He’s won the past two games and that hurts a lot.

      “There have been many times when he’s won without deserving it but I’ve got to admit he’s deserved the past two wins.”

      Lijnders enjoys parity with fellow assistant boss Peter Krawietz, whose association with Klopp dates back to his role as chief scout at Mainz nearly two decades ago.

      Whereas Lijnders’ time is largely spent planning and delivering training sessions, Krawietz’s area of expertise is video analysis. They complement each other well.

      “It’s about constantly giving each other information and working together,” Lijnders says.

      “It’s always easier with a good leader but still, life is a team sport. We support Jürgen in our best way possible. We know that we have to use each other’s strengths to be able to accomplish great things.

      “Pete is one of the world’s best analysts and knows Jürgen’s way very well. He puts his mark in each game’s preparation. He supports me and Jürgen with information to include in our exercises and searches for weakness to exploit. The best football analysts simplify instead of complicate.

      “There’s a culture of preparation and perfection here but with a lot of freedom. It’s a complex job being manager of such a big club. You need people around you and under you to focus on specific things. Jürgen tries to collect good ones, ones he can trust, he’s very strong on that.”

      Klopp doesn’t tolerate yes-men. He wants his viewpoint to be challenged. How much input do Lijnders and Krawietz have on team selection?

      “Jürgen makes the decisions,” he says firmly. “In the end he’s the one who decides but we try to support him with all the information we have and with all the opinions we have. Everyone is encouraged to say exactly what they think. You might not always agree with each other but it’s about always thinking together. Six eyes see more than two eyes. Three brains with a common idea can come up with different things and different insights compared to just one.

      “The best meeting of the week is always the day before a game when Jürgen, Peter and I are in the office and we go through the video analysis and the plan for the game. Always in this meeting there’s a moment when we have full conviction in what we’re going to do. We speak about team selection and tactics. It’s a beautiful moment.”

      Lijnders grew up in the small village of Broekhuizen in the Dutch province of Limburg. He was a promising central midfielder on the books at lower league outfit SVEB.

      “I was a leader, someone who tried to control and guide the team,” he says. “Would I have made it as a pro? Maybe yes, maybe no, but I always thought I would.”

      That dream was dashed by a ruptured cruciate ligament at the age of 17 and he reassessed his goals. He went to study sports in the city of Sittard and channelled all his efforts into earning a coaching apprenticeship at PSV Eindhoven.

      “There was only one available and I fought so hard to get it,” he recalls.

      “I became a youth coach there. After I got injured and couldn’t play anymore, my uncle, who was the president of SVEB, asked me to take the sessions for their second team and become head of their academy. I was only 18 or 19 but I was coaching at both SVEB and PSV, it was a super time.

      “Everything I learned at PSV I tried to implement at SVEB. My dad worked as a creative designer at a printers and I designed two big flipovers (flip charts) with our playing formation on and 15 different principles. One flipover for when we had the ball, one for when the opposition had the ball.

      “It was implemented so that all teams from the youngest to the oldest age groups trained and played in this way. It was brilliant. I tried to create a common idea inside the club based on an authentic Dutch ‘total football’ way — trying to be dominant and structured with and without the ball.

      “I grew as a coach during my five years at PSV. People really took care of me and guided me. They really wanted me to do well. In my second year I got a small contract, in my third year I got a full-time contract and in my fourth year I went to the United States to give presentations and work together with a few clubs.

      “Then I felt I was ready to work outside of Holland. I was 24 and in my last season the PSV academy was named the best one in the country. That was the moment to go.”

      Porto came calling.

      Having been heavily influenced by the coaching techniques of the great Johan Cruyff and former Feyenoord boss Wiel Coerver during his formative years, Lijnders found new sources of inspiration in Portugal.

      Not least in the methodology of Vitor Frade, who helped to revolutionise coaching by combining all phases of the game rather than having specific physical, tactical or technical training. With his tactical periodisation, Frade sought to ensure that the tactical dimension was at the forefront of every session.

      “Vitor Frade took me to Porto,” says Lijnders.

      “I had my own ideas. I admired Coerver and his attacking philosophy. That if you want to play an attacking game, each player needs an all-round technique and a spirit of initiative. That in each position we needed attacking impulses.

      “Of course there was Cruyff who taught the false No 9 and the three-diamond-three. I had all these ideas but without great structure.

      “Vitor Frade helped me to structure my ideas into principles. That if you want to play like this then on a Wednesday it’s better to train like this. I was an individual coach but he made me look at the collective. I’ll always be grateful that I met him. For me, he’s in the category of Cruyff and Coerver. He’s very important for a new generation of Portuguese coaches who came through with his ideas.”

      The names of the gifted youngsters Lijnders helped to develop during his seven years at Porto roll off the tongue. The impressive list includes Joao Felix, Ruben Neves, Andre Gomes, Andre Silva, Diogo Dalot and Goncalo Paciencia.

      “To explain the culture of Porto in one sentence; you go into the complex and written in big letters are the words ‘we love the ones who hate to lose’,” says Lijnders.

      “Between 2006 and 2011 there was a project there to restructure the first team, the academy and the scouting. I became responsible for the academy restructure with Luis Castro, who is now the manager of Shakhtar Donetsk. He’s a good friend of mine. Vitor Matos, who is working here at Liverpool now, was a young coach in that project.

      “I coached each Porto team two times a week, even the first team after a while in small groups. I was also responsible for the department of individual development.

      “It’s completely different in southern Europe compared to Holland and England. Where we are thoughtful before we say something, in southern Europe it’s more emotional. I enjoyed working there a lot. We were successful with the academy and the first team. We were five-time champions and won the Europa League. It was special to be part of that.”

      Lijnders grabs the water bottles and mobile phones on the table in front of us and starts rearranging them. Briefly, he’s transported back to the pristine green fields of the Iberian Peninsula.

      “We would have eight flat goals on the training pitch where you can shoot from both ways. I’d have 100 balls and 30 to 40 kids,” he explains.

      “We called it ‘Zidane’ and ‘Maradona’. ‘Zidane’ was under the highest pressure, find solutions, shield the ball. ‘Maradona’ was about getting the ball, trying to outplay and shoot. It was about showing initiative, playing in the opposition half.

      “It was a great time with a lot of talent and the young boys inspired me. It makes me really proud to see them play now. To see Joao Felix now, wow, how he turns, combines, how he makes the game so unpredictable…”

      By the summer of 2014 Lijnders was looking for a new challenge. He was on the brink of leaving Porto for Ajax when a phone call from then Liverpool academy coach Michael Beale changed everything. He was offered the job of Under-16s coach.

      “Liverpool kidnapped me!” he laughs.

      “I was in Wales for my UEFA A Licence. Over that weekend I had to give a presentation and while I was there Michael and I met to talk. He’d heard a lot about me.

      “On the Monday I was supposed to go to Ajax to make the final negotiations with them. I had to call my wife and tell her there had been a change of plan.

      “Michael said: ‘You’re coming in the car to Liverpool with us.’ I went to the Hope Street Hotel and I was in the Quarter (a nearby restaurant), drinking espresso and the sun was shining. It was a beautiful day.

      “Why did I want to leave Porto? I wanted just one team to put into practice all I had learned over the years at PSV and Porto. When Liverpool said I could have the under-16s and under-15s, I thought ‘this is perfect’.”

      Lijnders had attracted interest from Manchester United the previous year but after Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement those discussions had gone cold. United’s loss proved to be Liverpool’s gain.

      His impact at the club’s Kirkby academy over the course of the 2014-15 season was immense. The squad of youngsters he inherited included Trent Alexander-Arnold and Rhian Brewster.

      Alexander-Arnold, now arguably the most complete right-back in world football, told The Athletic earlier this season about the importance of the role played by Lijnders in his rise through the ranks.

      “Trent developed as a guy incredibly that season,” Lijnders says.

      “He was my captain and our No 6 with only three players behind him in a three-diamond-three so he had to do everything well. You have leaders by talking, but Trent was a leader very naturally.

      “After sessions, Trent and I would stay out there for another 20 minutes doing some skills until the lights went out. Trent would always be like ‘again, again’.

      “That was one of my favourite years of coaching. I must have said 50 times, ‘Guys, I thought you couldn’t play better than yesterday but today you proved me wrong again’. We trained for two hours each day and every session ended with three teams of seven. Goal on, goal off. The better you played, the more you played. With the streetwise Liverpool boys that was the way to push them.

      “I really believe that if you want to play quick then it starts in the mind and you have to train like the game. I do it a lot now with the first team. One team attacks, one team defends. They have 40 seconds to score, if they can’t then they’re out. If they score then they play against the third team who are waiting. You split the pitch in two and we call it the ‘wave’ game. If the team defending win the ball then they have to break the halfway line.

      “That’s how we want to play. We’re not defending our goal, we defend the halfway line first. And if you lose the ball it has to be intense with maximum concentration.”

      Lijnders was invited to Melwood by then boss Brendan Rodgers on a number of occasions to talk about his counter-pressing methods. He blew Rodgers away with his tactical insights and in the summer of 2015 he was promoted to the Northern Irishman’s backroom staff as first-team development coach. He became the key link between the club’s two bases in Kirkby and Melwood and relished being responsible for the ‘Talent Group’ which brought the best young players together from across a number of age groups.

      However, just four months later, uncertainty reigned after results nosedived and Rodgers was sacked. Fears that his own job was in jeopardy were swiftly alleviated by Fenway Sports Group president Mike Gordon.

      “When Brendan got fired I was really upset. I saw it on the news and called him straight away,” Lijnders recalls.

      “Twenty minutes later Mike Gordon called me. In your lifetime there are moments that you will never forget and that’s one of them; why people will always be very important to you.

      “Mike explained everything to me. He said: ‘Pep, you’re here, you will be part of the set-up with the new coach but I need you to help me.’ They needed a week to get everything organised and he wanted me to take the training by myself. I tried to keep Melwood alive and keep everyone going.

      “During their talks, Jürgen said to Mike: ‘Listen, this is the staff I want to work with, plus I’ll need a goalkeeper coach and a sports science guy.’ But Mike told him ‘Pep has to stay, I promise you’ll like him.’

      “This is a funny story that Mike later told me. Jürgen called him two months later and said: ‘Mike, you were completely wrong, you told me I’d like Pep.’ Mike was like ‘Oh, OK…’ Then Jürgen said: ‘I don’t like Pep, I love him!’”

      There was another moment early on in Klopp’s reign when Lijnders realised that his work was being appreciated by the new man at the helm.

      “Jürgen came to me with a letter that someone from Germany had written to him,” he reveals.

      “It had a CV with it from a coach who was looking for a job at Liverpool. It was written in English and Jürgen came to me and said ‘Pep, what is this? I don’t understand it.’ So I started to read it out and said ‘Gaffer, this guy wants to be on the training pitch with you doing sessions.’

      “Jürgen said: ‘Ah, so basically he wants your job?’ I said: ‘Yes, you could look at it like that!’ He took the letter, ripped it up, threw it in the bin and walked off without saying anything. That was when I thought ‘things are going well here’. It’s difficult to put a moment like that into words.

      “When Jürgen got announced, I had a good feeling. I thought it would work well but you can never be 100 per cent sure. For the first few months it felt like I was always writing, probably a page of A4 every day, with all the messages he had been giving to the players.

      “You need to know exactly what the manager wants. To coach is easy but to know what to coach is much more difficult. Jürgen had a way of coaching and exercises which were close to my own. It was so nice to find someone so good.”

      Lijnders walked away from a job, a club and a city he loved when he accepted the opportunity to become manager of NEC Nijmegen in January 2018. His mission was to get them promoted back to the Eredivisie.

      It was a decision based on professional ambition but also personal anguish. His dad Leo was battling cancer.

      “He was really ill and I’m the oldest child. I had felt guilty for a long time that I wasn’t at home to take care of him,” Lijnders reveals.

      “If that hadn’t been the case then I wouldn’t have left in that January. I would have at least finished the season before making any decision. It was a difficult time. I felt like I was leaving a really big chapter of being abroad behind. I felt that I’d go back home for a long time.

      “I was so blessed at Liverpool but there was a big desire to become a leader of a team and be more responsible for the coaching process — not just delivering it but planning and preparing. I had a big desire to step out of my comfort zone and be the main man.”

      Lijnders’ stint at NEC lasted just five months. Having finished third and missed out on automatic promotion, they lost in the play-offs to Emmen. Going from being a coach to a manager proved to be a steep learning curve.

      “I knew it would take time,” he adds. “I went to a very traditional, historic club, one of the bigger ones in Holland, who weren’t in a good moment and had a lot of problems.

      “As the manager, you have much more communication with the team and in the beginning that worked really well. I think one of my strengths is explaining things.

      “The problem then as the main man was to guide and manage expectations of the people around you when things don’t go well. When you have a few bad results, you have to keep everyone in the same direction and convince them that the way you are setting up is still the right way.

      “A lot of times with development, first there’s a period of instability because you ask players to do things that they aren’t used to. I asked a lot, that’s my nature. As a manager, you really need to learn with time, you need to learn from the mistakes that you make, you need to learn from the situations you have to deal with.

      “In the back of my mind, I was always thinking: ‘How would Jürgen approach this?’ That half a year was really important for me. I wouldn’t be able to support Jürgen in the way I do if I hadn’t had that short time away. I respected him a lot already but I respected him even more having been in that job and seen what comes at you.”

      Lijnders parted company with NEC by mutual consent in the middle of May 2018 and a fortnight later he accepted Klopp’s invitation to attend the Champions League final against Real Madrid in Kiev.

      The perceived wisdom is that his return to Melwood was sealed during discussions in the Ukrainian capital. However, the truth is that Lijnders had long since agreed to re-join Klopp’s staff.

      Klopp needed a new assistant after Zeljko Buvac’s surprise exit in the April and it wasn’t a long shortlist he had drawn up.

      “Jürgen called me really early,” Lijnders reveals.

      “It wasn’t after the season, it was in the season. He told me he was searching for a new No 2. He explained that he wasn’t making a list, he said ‘I’m just asking you.’

      “I never expected it. I answered ‘yes’ straightaway but I told him ‘Gaffer, I’m still competing to be the champion and if we don’t win the league, we have the play-offs so I need to focus on getting them back to the highest level.’

      “I also told him I’d need to speak with my wife Danielle. Her family lived seven miles away, we were living in our house on the river and the kids were all going to school with their friends and nephews, all the family together.

      “I was standing in front of the river talking to Jürgen and I had to walk back towards the house. Danielle was sitting outside with my mum having a glass of wine.

      “I said: ‘OK, we really need to talk.’ My mum could see it in my eyes. Danielle and I went for a long walk by the river and discussed everything. For me, it was clear, but it was really important for me that she was behind it. I couldn’t do this alone. I need my family around me.

      “I gave everything to get NEC promoted but it wasn’t to be. But whatever had happened, I’d already decided that I was coming back to Liverpool. Nobody knew though, only me and Jürgen. I didn’t want to create any fuss before Kiev. There are two big things in my life. My Liverpool family and my own family. That’s it, nothing else.”

      The day he signed the contract to become Liverpool’s assistant manager was especially poignant.

      “My dad got the test results back to say that he was completely clean. He had been sick for two years. There was a lot of emotion. Thankfully, he’s still good now. He lives in my hometown but he comes over for some games. He never stops watching football. He knows a lot, well he thinks he does! He’s become a big Liverpool fan.”

      The role Lijnders came back to was very different from the one he left behind. More demanding but also more rewarding as he was tasked with filling the void created by Buvac’s departure.

      “In Holland they said I was going back to my old job but that wasn’t true,” he says.

      “I became the No 2. If that hadn’t been the job Jürgen offered me then I wouldn’t have come back. He gave me responsibility for the training process and that was very important to me.

      “Before, I didn’t decide if we played eight minutes or six minutes, whether we did this exercise or that exercise, I just delivered sessions. When I came back I was responsible.

      “My time away from Liverpool was good for self-reflection. I became much clearer how I wanted to work and what is decisive to become successful. I know exactly what I would do differently now. No more concessions, we do it like I want in training, nothing else, convincing each day, create happiness in the players, a clear week plan and we play everywhere we go in the same manner, full energy.”

      What does a normal day in the life of Pep Lijnders look like?

      He says: “My alarm is my youngest one. My two boys are three-and-a-half and five-and-a-half. When they come into our bed, sleeping is done!

      “Early in the morning, I usually call Vitor Manos (elite development coach), I’ll text Jürgen and then come into Melwood. I have a meeting with Jürgen in his office to talk about training. What are we going to do? Who is delivering what and how is it going to look? Do we want to have Sadio (Mane) on the left wing or as the striker? Things like that.

      “When the training is planned, I explain what the ideas behind it are to Andreas (Kornmayer, head of fitness and conditioning), Pete, Vitor, John (Achterberg, goalkeeping coach) and Jack (Robinson, assistant goalkeeping coach).

      “Then I go out and put everything on the pitch. Normally Jürgen has a meeting with the players either in the dressing room or outside to give some details about the sessions. We train always in the same intensity as the game, same concentration and tempo. This is the secret of training in my opinion.

      “Everything is designed around the training. The day basically starts when the training ends. I’ll watch the session back on the video and try to get as many opinions as possible from the people around me. Then the planning starts for the next session. We make decisions about how tomorrow will look. What do we want to do? What players will we have?

      “I have to speak with the medical department and try to plan the session in more detail and I’ll put it in the tactics planner and work everything out in terms of how it relates to our next opponent. Pete will also give input. Then the plan is clear for the next day and I’ll go home. In the evening when the kids have gone to bed I’ll watch footage of our opponents.”

      During Lijnders’ time as assistant manager, Liverpool have collected an extraordinary 155 points out of a possible 174. They have gone to the next level since winning the Champions League in Madrid last June and find themselves 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League as they close in on a first domestic title since 1990.

      “Winning something big puts more conviction, more trust into everything; subconsciously you feel stronger. There’s a real hunger to fight for more prizes,” he says.

      “But for me it’s about the journey and how the team developed. The trust I got from keeping things simple, never giving up on our way, believing in training and video meetings to improve, clear messages with a lot of conviction from Jürgen, Pete or myself, repeating that process over and over again.

      “Trusting the players to always look at our best games and think about what steps won us those games. Was it our full-backs being constantly ready to jump? Was it the centre-backs coming in front of offensive players rather than stepping back? Was it our midfielders being really together and always connected rather than just searching for it? It’s about doing it our way again, becoming better and searching for perfection. We know it doesn’t exist but you still have to search for it.

      “People say Liverpool developed so much here and there but I think our main strength is that we’re always together. By that I mean on the pitch, the distances, the organisation, the way we are. That’s the only way to be an aggressive, pressing team. If the distances and the organisation are not right then you have no chance.

      “That’s where we’ve made the biggest improvement. Wherever the game is on the pitch, we are there together. A compact team, an intense team, both on and off the ball. Jürgen talks about the principle that everyone is responsible for everything. It’s easy to say, it’s harder to put it into practice on the pitch for 95 minutes but that’s what these players have been doing a lot. If we recover well and have freshness in our game, we go into every game with a common idea of chasing them all over the pitch.

      “Each individual in our team has become a better player from working here. If you compare (Andy) Robertson, Trent and Sadio to when they came in, consistency-wise… I could go on. Jürgen has created a culture of preparation. Each department in the club feels this responsibility and is better connected. It’s clear what we want and the standards have gone up and up and up.”

      The style of the team has certainly evolved. Game-management has been a feature of this record-breaking season which has seen Liverpool drop just two points. They put themselves in winning positions and then play with real maturity and control.

      “That has to grow within a team, you can’t just put it there,” Lijnders says.

      “Even if we’re 3-0 up we want to be dominant. We still search for the 4-0 but the way we do that can be different from how we searched to make it 1-0 or 2-0. We can make more passes, we can switch the play more from one side to the other, we can create more doubt for the opponents with our positioning. But we are still searching for the 4-0.

      “When you become European champions, when you become more dominant on the ball, you don’t rely as much on defensive organisation and counter-attack which is a very attractive part of our game. We’ve become better on the ball as teams have set up differently against us. I’d say 75 per cent of teams in the Premier League, even the bigger teams, changed their system or approach to play against us this season – lines much closer together, dropping deeper.

      “Can we then expect to have attack, attack, attack? No, we can’t. We have to respect that and find a new way against them. It’s why our variety of creating and scoring is so important. It pushes us to evolve again. What I like about our game is that we have so many different weapons and that makes us unpredictable. It’s not about playing it from A to B to C to D. That’s not the game we want. Even our defensive principles aren’t like that. That makes us very difficult to read.

      “Teams can’t just drop deep against us and try to stop us playing through them because Trent and Robbo will get down the wings and then you’ve got the centre-backs bringing it forward and creating space. There’s a lot of freedom because we focus on principles rather than exact plays. We know that if all this is present then the mentality of Jürgen and the boys will put us above the other team. But all this has to be right (Lijnders bangs the desk).

      “You can have a lot of passion but if there’s no structure then you have no chance. You need organisation, tactical discipline and the right distances. That’s the base – that’s the father and mother of football and being a consistent team.”

      Lijnders’ stock has risen to the point that he’s been mentioned as a potential successor to Klopp one day. But such talk is far from his thoughts. He’s too busy savouring every second of the here and now.

      “It makes me proud but it’s not realistic because it’s not important at this moment in time,” he adds.

      “My only ambition is to support Jürgen and our project in the best way possible. Mike Gordon and Jürgen have been the most important people in my career. They gave me the chance and the belief to lead the process of training and methodology with the first team.

      “This is my life. I feel passionate about this club and I feel blessed to work with passionate colleagues. I feel that what we have here in this period we will never experience again in our lives.

      “So many things have come together with the owners, the manager, people behind the manager who in hard moments never give up, and a playing group who are so together and really want to play for Liverpool and for us as a staff. In the end I really hope that we get what the boys deserve.

      “I believe each football project is like the sun rising up and going down, and for our project it’s not even noon. That’s the reason why we committed for another four years.”

      Like the team he has helped to shape, Pep Lijnders is relentless.

      The Athletic


      What a fantastic insight from our Pep, I love reading stuff like this, it really opens your eyes to the everyday goings on at Melwood, we have a fantastic future ahead of us, a very successful era that I doubt will ever be surpassed, everyone of us young and old need to acknowledge this moment in time, we are at the beginning of a era that could bring about a succession of Titles & Silverware, as a club we are hated throughout the land because of our historical success, within in the next decade we’ll be hated even more, and I f***in love it,

      In Jürgen & Pep, with Peter, John, Andreas, et al, we have the modern day equivalent of, Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan, Ronnie Moran, Rueben Bennett, & Tom Saunders,

      The bit I like the most....”I believe each football project is like the Sun rising and going down, for our project it’s not even noon yet”


      YNWA

      ConzS
      • LFC Reds Subscriber
      • ******
      • 2,738 posts | 525 
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #38: Jan 15, 2020 10:35:59 am
      You're all welcome 😊

      'Jürgen surprises me everyday. His brain works differently to other people' - Exclusive interview with Klopp'a No 2 Pep Lijnders


      By James Pearce for The Athletic

      Pep Lijnders is in full flow.

      Liverpool’s articulate assistant manager is eulogising about the tempo and intensity of the training session he has just overseen at Melwood. These are the words of a coach with complete job satisfaction.

      “The passion and ambition of these players is from another planet,” Lijnders tells The Athletic.

      “Their self-confidence, their self-criticism, that is what makes us consistent. These boys have the ability to make even a simple rondo competitive.

      “People talk about going game to game — no, we commit session to session. Small things make big things happen. You have to focus on doing the small things right constantly.

      “The passion and ambition I see, especially on the rainy and windy days here, that for me is what separates us from the others.”

      Over the course of two hours in his company, Jürgen Klopp’s trusted lieutenant provides a fascinating insight into Liverpool’s stunning rise to the heights of European and world champions as well as runaway Premier League leaders.

      The Dutchman’s own personal journey has been no less spectacular. He opens up for the first time about the circumstances surrounding his short spell away from Merseyside in 2018 when he went to manage NEC Nijmegen in his homeland.

      Lijnders made player development his life’s work after seeing his own hopes of a professional career wrecked by a serious knee injury as a teenager.

      From coaching in the youth ranks at PSV Eindhoven and Porto, to being responsible for the entire training programme of a Liverpool team who are rewriting the Anfield record books with their dominance, it’s been some ride. Lijnders is still only 36 but his expertise is vast and he commands the respect of the dressing room. Owners Fenway Sports Group regard him as a pivotal cog in this winning machine.

      Like Klopp, he recently signed a contract extension to keep him at Liverpool until 2024. The pair enjoy a close bond.

      “There’s a super dynamic between us,” Lijnders says.

      “It’s much more than just assistant and manager. What I mean by that is that I believe you need 100 per cent trust in this job because we have to make so many decisions on a daily basis. I love working for him. He sees who I am, and respects that. We know what to expect from each other.

      “Jürgen is a true leader. He’s inspirational and motivational. He still surprises me every day with something he says. His brain works differently to a lot of other brains!

      “He sees through situations and processes. There is a saying that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. And I think everyone who works with Jürgen has the feeling he really cares about you and your development. There is no ego, he purely searches for the right thing to do.”

      Klopp’s famed man-management skills are undoubtedly one of his greatest assets. He has fostered a cherished unity and spirit in the squad which has propelled Liverpool towards glory. On a daily basis Lijnders witnesses the manager’s knack of finding the right words at the right times to get the best out of people.

      “When Jürgen speaks to the players, he speaks from the heart and it goes directly into the hearts of the players,” he says.

      “He has this remarkable capacity to touch people with the words he selects. That’s not easy, especially with this level of players. I find that intriguing, how it’s possible, the convincing way he has and that ability to touch people. You are dealing with a lot of egos in football but in our club it looks like there are no egos.

      “Jürgen has created an environment where everyone has bought into it. He solves problems before they arise. He has this capacity of making sure that certain things won’t happen because he speaks about them. The level of respect the players have for him is huge.

      “No written word, no spoken plea, can teach our team what they should be, nor all the books on the shelves, it’s what the coach is himself. Do you know what I mean? The character of the coach becomes the character of the team. You can see it throughout the club. That’s the power of Jürgen’s personality.”

      Klopp’s fiercely competitive edge extends to the paddle tennis court that he had installed at Melwood. Most days before training Lijnders and Klopp lock horns. If training is at 3pm then they will arrange to meet for an 11am showdown. They can be noisy affairs.

      “The staff hear the shouting — me probably more than him,” laughs Lijnders.

      “I don’t know how he does it but Jürgen is actually quite reserved on the court. He can control his emotions. We put our character into these games and there’s a lot of passion.

      “It’s usually a doubles sport but we play one v one. We like the fact we have to run more and fight more. He always says his players are mentality monsters, well he’s a mentality monster at paddle tennis! He never knows when he’s beaten. He’s won the past two games and that hurts a lot.

      “There have been many times when he’s won without deserving it but I’ve got to admit he’s deserved the past two wins.”

      Lijnders enjoys parity with fellow assistant boss Peter Krawietz, whose association with Klopp dates back to his role as chief scout at Mainz nearly two decades ago.

      Whereas Lijnders’ time is largely spent planning and delivering training sessions, Krawietz’s area of expertise is video analysis. They complement each other well.

      “It’s about constantly giving each other information and working together,” Lijnders says.

      “It’s always easier with a good leader but still, life is a team sport. We support Jürgen in our best way possible. We know that we have to use each other’s strengths to be able to accomplish great things.

      “Pete is one of the world’s best analysts and knows Jürgen’s way very well. He puts his mark in each game’s preparation. He supports me and Jürgen with information to include in our exercises and searches for weakness to exploit. The best football analysts simplify instead of complicate.

      “There’s a culture of preparation and perfection here but with a lot of freedom. It’s a complex job being manager of such a big club. You need people around you and under you to focus on specific things. Jürgen tries to collect good ones, ones he can trust, he’s very strong on that.”

      Klopp doesn’t tolerate yes-men. He wants his viewpoint to be challenged. How much input do Lijnders and Krawietz have on team selection?

      “Jürgen makes the decisions,” he says firmly. “In the end he’s the one who decides but we try to support him with all the information we have and with all the opinions we have. Everyone is encouraged to say exactly what they think. You might not always agree with each other but it’s about always thinking together. Six eyes see more than two eyes. Three brains with a common idea can come up with different things and different insights compared to just one.

      “The best meeting of the week is always the day before a game when Jürgen, Peter and I are in the office and we go through the video analysis and the plan for the game. Always in this meeting there’s a moment when we have full conviction in what we’re going to do. We speak about team selection and tactics. It’s a beautiful moment.”

      Lijnders grew up in the small village of Broekhuizen in the Dutch province of Limburg. He was a promising central midfielder on the books at lower league outfit SVEB.

      “I was a leader, someone who tried to control and guide the team,” he says. “Would I have made it as a pro? Maybe yes, maybe no, but I always thought I would.”

      That dream was dashed by a ruptured cruciate ligament at the age of 17 and he reassessed his goals. He went to study sports in the city of Sittard and channelled all his efforts into earning a coaching apprenticeship at PSV Eindhoven.

      “There was only one available and I fought so hard to get it,” he recalls.

      “I became a youth coach there. After I got injured and couldn’t play anymore, my uncle, who was the president of SVEB, asked me to take the sessions for their second team and become head of their academy. I was only 18 or 19 but I was coaching at both SVEB and PSV, it was a super time.

      “Everything I learned at PSV I tried to implement at SVEB. My dad worked as a creative designer at a printers and I designed two big flipovers (flip charts) with our playing formation on and 15 different principles. One flipover for when we had the ball, one for when the opposition had the ball.

      “It was implemented so that all teams from the youngest to the oldest age groups trained and played in this way. It was brilliant. I tried to create a common idea inside the club based on an authentic Dutch ‘total football’ way — trying to be dominant and structured with and without the ball.

      “I grew as a coach during my five years at PSV. People really took care of me and guided me. They really wanted me to do well. In my second year I got a small contract, in my third year I got a full-time contract and in my fourth year I went to the United States to give presentations and work together with a few clubs.

      “Then I felt I was ready to work outside of Holland. I was 24 and in my last season the PSV academy was named the best one in the country. That was the moment to go.”

      Porto came calling.

      Having been heavily influenced by the coaching techniques of the great Johan Cruyff and former Feyenoord boss Wiel Coerver during his formative years, Lijnders found new sources of inspiration in Portugal.

      Not least in the methodology of Vitor Frade, who helped to revolutionise coaching by combining all phases of the game rather than having specific physical, tactical or technical training. With his tactical periodisation, Frade sought to ensure that the tactical dimension was at the forefront of every session.

      “Vitor Frade took me to Porto,” says Lijnders.

      “I had my own ideas. I admired Coerver and his attacking philosophy. That if you want to play an attacking game, each player needs an all-round technique and a spirit of initiative. That in each position we needed attacking impulses.

      “Of course there was Cruyff who taught the false No 9 and the three-diamond-three. I had all these ideas but without great structure.

      “Vitor Frade helped me to structure my ideas into principles. That if you want to play like this then on a Wednesday it’s better to train like this. I was an individual coach but he made me look at the collective. I’ll always be grateful that I met him. For me, he’s in the category of Cruyff and Coerver. He’s very important for a new generation of Portuguese coaches who came through with his ideas.”

      The names of the gifted youngsters Lijnders helped to develop during his seven years at Porto roll off the tongue. The impressive list includes Joao Felix, Ruben Neves, Andre Gomes, Andre Silva, Diogo Dalot and Goncalo Paciencia.

      “To explain the culture of Porto in one sentence; you go into the complex and written in big letters are the words ‘we love the ones who hate to lose’,” says Lijnders.

      “Between 2006 and 2011 there was a project there to restructure the first team, the academy and the scouting. I became responsible for the academy restructure with Luis Castro, who is now the manager of Shakhtar Donetsk. He’s a good friend of mine. Vitor Matos, who is working here at Liverpool now, was a young coach in that project.

      “I coached each Porto team two times a week, even the first team after a while in small groups. I was also responsible for the department of individual development.

      “It’s completely different in southern Europe compared to Holland and England. Where we are thoughtful before we say something, in southern Europe it’s more emotional. I enjoyed working there a lot. We were successful with the academy and the first team. We were five-time champions and won the Europa League. It was special to be part of that.”

      Lijnders grabs the water bottles and mobile phones on the table in front of us and starts rearranging them. Briefly, he’s transported back to the pristine green fields of the Iberian Peninsula.

      “We would have eight flat goals on the training pitch where you can shoot from both ways. I’d have 100 balls and 30 to 40 kids,” he explains.

      “We called it ‘Zidane’ and ‘Maradona’. ‘Zidane’ was under the highest pressure, find solutions, shield the ball. ‘Maradona’ was about getting the ball, trying to outplay and shoot. It was about showing initiative, playing in the opposition half.

      “It was a great time with a lot of talent and the young boys inspired me. It makes me really proud to see them play now. To see Joao Felix now, wow, how he turns, combines, how he makes the game so unpredictable…”

      By the summer of 2014 Lijnders was looking for a new challenge. He was on the brink of leaving Porto for Ajax when a phone call from then Liverpool academy coach Michael Beale changed everything. He was offered the job of Under-16s coach.

      “Liverpool kidnapped me!” he laughs.

      “I was in Wales for my UEFA A Licence. Over that weekend I had to give a presentation and while I was there Michael and I met to talk. He’d heard a lot about me.

      “On the Monday I was supposed to go to Ajax to make the final negotiations with them. I had to call my wife and tell her there had been a change of plan.

      “Michael said: ‘You’re coming in the car to Liverpool with us.’ I went to the Hope Street Hotel and I was in the Quarter (a nearby restaurant), drinking espresso and the sun was shining. It was a beautiful day.

      “Why did I want to leave Porto? I wanted just one team to put into practice all I had learned over the years at PSV and Porto. When Liverpool said I could have the under-16s and under-15s, I thought ‘this is perfect’.”

      Lijnders had attracted interest from Manchester United the previous year but after Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement those discussions had gone cold. United’s loss proved to be Liverpool’s gain.

      His impact at the club’s Kirkby academy over the course of the 2014-15 season was immense. The squad of youngsters he inherited included Trent Alexander-Arnold and Rhian Brewster.

      Alexander-Arnold, now arguably the most complete right-back in world football, told The Athletic earlier this season about the importance of the role played by Lijnders in his rise through the ranks.

      “Trent developed as a guy incredibly that season,” Lijnders says.

      “He was my captain and our No 6 with only three players behind him in a three-diamond-three so he had to do everything well. You have leaders by talking, but Trent was a leader very naturally.

      “After sessions, Trent and I would stay out there for another 20 minutes doing some skills until the lights went out. Trent would always be like ‘again, again’.

      “That was one of my favourite years of coaching. I must have said 50 times, ‘Guys, I thought you couldn’t play better than yesterday but today you proved me wrong again’. We trained for two hours each day and every session ended with three teams of seven. Goal on, goal off. The better you played, the more you played. With the streetwise Liverpool boys that was the way to push them.

      “I really believe that if you want to play quick then it starts in the mind and you have to train like the game. I do it a lot now with the first team. One team attacks, one team defends. They have 40 seconds to score, if they can’t then they’re out. If they score then they play against the third team who are waiting. You split the pitch in two and we call it the ‘wave’ game. If the team defending win the ball then they have to break the halfway line.

      “That’s how we want to play. We’re not defending our goal, we defend the halfway line first. And if you lose the ball it has to be intense with maximum concentration.”

      Lijnders was invited to Melwood by then boss Brendan Rodgers on a number of occasions to talk about his counter-pressing methods. He blew Rodgers away with his tactical insights and in the summer of 2015 he was promoted to the Northern Irishman’s backroom staff as first-team development coach. He became the key link between the club’s two bases in Kirkby and Melwood and relished being responsible for the ‘Talent Group’ which brought the best young players together from across a number of age groups.

      However, just four months later, uncertainty reigned after results nosedived and Rodgers was sacked. Fears that his own job was in jeopardy were swiftly alleviated by Fenway Sports Group president Mike Gordon.

      “When Brendan got fired I was really upset. I saw it on the news and called him straight away,” Lijnders recalls.

      “Twenty minutes later Mike Gordon called me. In your lifetime there are moments that you will never forget and that’s one of them; why people will always be very important to you.

      “Mike explained everything to me. He said: ‘Pep, you’re here, you will be part of the set-up with the new coach but I need you to help me.’ They needed a week to get everything organised and he wanted me to take the training by myself. I tried to keep Melwood alive and keep everyone going.

      “During their talks, Jürgen said to Mike: ‘Listen, this is the staff I want to work with, plus I’ll need a goalkeeper coach and a sports science guy.’ But Mike told him ‘Pep has to stay, I promise you’ll like him.’

      “This is a funny story that Mike later told me. Jürgen called him two months later and said: ‘Mike, you were completely wrong, you told me I’d like Pep.’ Mike was like ‘Oh, OK…’ Then Jürgen said: ‘I don’t like Pep, I love him!’”

      There was another moment early on in Klopp’s reign when Lijnders realised that his work was being appreciated by the new man at the helm.

      “Jürgen came to me with a letter that someone from Germany had written to him,” he reveals.

      “It had a CV with it from a coach who was looking for a job at Liverpool. It was written in English and Jürgen came to me and said ‘Pep, what is this? I don’t understand it.’ So I started to read it out and said ‘Gaffer, this guy wants to be on the training pitch with you doing sessions.’

      “Jürgen said: ‘Ah, so basically he wants your job?’ I said: ‘Yes, you could look at it like that!’ He took the letter, ripped it up, threw it in the bin and walked off without saying anything. That was when I thought ‘things are going well here’. It’s difficult to put a moment like that into words.

      “When Jürgen got announced, I had a good feeling. I thought it would work well but you can never be 100 per cent sure. For the first few months it felt like I was always writing, probably a page of A4 every day, with all the messages he had been giving to the players.

      “You need to know exactly what the manager wants. To coach is easy but to know what to coach is much more difficult. Jürgen had a way of coaching and exercises which were close to my own. It was so nice to find someone so good.”

      Lijnders walked away from a job, a club and a city he loved when he accepted the opportunity to become manager of NEC Nijmegen in January 2018. His mission was to get them promoted back to the Eredivisie.

      It was a decision based on professional ambition but also personal anguish. His dad Leo was battling cancer.

      “He was really ill and I’m the oldest child. I had felt guilty for a long time that I wasn’t at home to take care of him,” Lijnders reveals.

      “If that hadn’t been the case then I wouldn’t have left in that January. I would have at least finished the season before making any decision. It was a difficult time. I felt like I was leaving a really big chapter of being abroad behind. I felt that I’d go back home for a long time.

      “I was so blessed at Liverpool but there was a big desire to become a leader of a team and be more responsible for the coaching process — not just delivering it but planning and preparing. I had a big desire to step out of my comfort zone and be the main man.”

      Lijnders’ stint at NEC lasted just five months. Having finished third and missed out on automatic promotion, they lost in the play-offs to Emmen. Going from being a coach to a manager proved to be a steep learning curve.

      “I knew it would take time,” he adds. “I went to a very traditional, historic club, one of the bigger ones in Holland, who weren’t in a good moment and had a lot of problems.

      “As the manager, you have much more communication with the team and in the beginning that worked really well. I think one of my strengths is explaining things.

      “The problem then as the main man was to guide and manage expectations of the people around you when things don’t go well. When you have a few bad results, you have to keep everyone in the same direction and convince them that the way you are setting up is still the right way.

      “A lot of times with development, first there’s a period of instability because you ask players to do things that they aren’t used to. I asked a lot, that’s my nature. As a manager, you really need to learn with time, you need to learn from the mistakes that you make, you need to learn from the situations you have to deal with.

      “In the back of my mind, I was always thinking: ‘How would Jürgen approach this?’ That half a year was really important for me. I wouldn’t be able to support Jürgen in the way I do if I hadn’t had that short time away. I respected him a lot already but I respected him even more having been in that job and seen what comes at you.”

      Lijnders parted company with NEC by mutual consent in the middle of May 2018 and a fortnight later he accepted Klopp’s invitation to attend the Champions League final against Real Madrid in Kiev.

      The perceived wisdom is that his return to Melwood was sealed during discussions in the Ukrainian capital. However, the truth is that Lijnders had long since agreed to re-join Klopp’s staff.

      Klopp needed a new assistant after Zeljko Buvac’s surprise exit in the April and it wasn’t a long shortlist he had drawn up.

      “Jürgen called me really early,” Lijnders reveals.

      “It wasn’t after the season, it was in the season. He told me he was searching for a new No 2. He explained that he wasn’t making a list, he said ‘I’m just asking you.’

      “I never expected it. I answered ‘yes’ straightaway but I told him ‘Gaffer, I’m still competing to be the champion and if we don’t win the league, we have the play-offs so I need to focus on getting them back to the highest level.’

      “I also told him I’d need to speak with my wife Danielle. Her family lived seven miles away, we were living in our house on the river and the kids were all going to school with their friends and nephews, all the family together.

      “I was standing in front of the river talking to Jürgen and I had to walk back towards the house. Danielle was sitting outside with my mum having a glass of wine.

      “I said: ‘OK, we really need to talk.’ My mum could see it in my eyes. Danielle and I went for a long walk by the river and discussed everything. For me, it was clear, but it was really important for me that she was behind it. I couldn’t do this alone. I need my family around me.

      “I gave everything to get NEC promoted but it wasn’t to be. But whatever had happened, I’d already decided that I was coming back to Liverpool. Nobody knew though, only me and Jürgen. I didn’t want to create any fuss before Kiev. There are two big things in my life. My Liverpool family and my own family. That’s it, nothing else.”

      The day he signed the contract to become Liverpool’s assistant manager was especially poignant.

      “My dad got the test results back to say that he was completely clean. He had been sick for two years. There was a lot of emotion. Thankfully, he’s still good now. He lives in my hometown but he comes over for some games. He never stops watching football. He knows a lot, well he thinks he does! He’s become a big Liverpool fan.”

      The role Lijnders came back to was very different from the one he left behind. More demanding but also more rewarding as he was tasked with filling the void created by Buvac’s departure.

      “In Holland they said I was going back to my old job but that wasn’t true,” he says.

      “I became the No 2. If that hadn’t been the job Jürgen offered me then I wouldn’t have come back. He gave me responsibility for the training process and that was very important to me.

      “Before, I didn’t decide if we played eight minutes or six minutes, whether we did this exercise or that exercise, I just delivered sessions. When I came back I was responsible.

      “My time away from Liverpool was good for self-reflection. I became much clearer how I wanted to work and what is decisive to become successful. I know exactly what I would do differently now. No more concessions, we do it like I want in training, nothing else, convincing each day, create happiness in the players, a clear week plan and we play everywhere we go in the same manner, full energy.”

      What does a normal day in the life of Pep Lijnders look like?

      He says: “My alarm is my youngest one. My two boys are three-and-a-half and five-and-a-half. When they come into our bed, sleeping is done!

      “Early in the morning, I usually call Vitor Manos (elite development coach), I’ll text Jürgen and then come into Melwood. I have a meeting with Jürgen in his office to talk about training. What are we going to do? Who is delivering what and how is it going to look? Do we want to have Sadio (Mane) on the left wing or as the striker? Things like that.

      “When the training is planned, I explain what the ideas behind it are to Andreas (Kornmayer, head of fitness and conditioning), Pete, Vitor, John (Achterberg, goalkeeping coach) and Jack (Robinson, assistant goalkeeping coach).

      “Then I go out and put everything on the pitch. Normally Jürgen has a meeting with the players either in the dressing room or outside to give some details about the sessions. We train always in the same intensity as the game, same concentration and tempo. This is the secret of training in my opinion.

      “Everything is designed around the training. The day basically starts when the training ends. I’ll watch the session back on the video and try to get as many opinions as possible from the people around me. Then the planning starts for the next session. We make decisions about how tomorrow will look. What do we want to do? What players will we have?

      “I have to speak with the medical department and try to plan the session in more detail and I’ll put it in the tactics planner and work everything out in terms of how it relates to our next opponent. Pete will also give input. Then the plan is clear for the next day and I’ll go home. In the evening when the kids have gone to bed I’ll watch footage of our opponents.”

      During Lijnders’ time as assistant manager, Liverpool have collected an extraordinary 155 points out of a possible 174. They have gone to the next level since winning the Champions League in Madrid last June and find themselves 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League as they close in on a first domestic title since 1990.

      “Winning something big puts more conviction, more trust into everything; subconsciously you feel stronger. There’s a real hunger to fight for more prizes,” he says.

      “But for me it’s about the journey and how the team developed. The trust I got from keeping things simple, never giving up on our way, believing in training and video meetings to improve, clear messages with a lot of conviction from Jürgen, Pete or myself, repeating that process over and over again.

      “Trusting the players to always look at our best games and think about what steps won us those games. Was it our full-backs being constantly ready to jump? Was it the centre-backs coming in front of offensive players rather than stepping back? Was it our midfielders being really together and always connected rather than just searching for it? It’s about doing it our way again, becoming better and searching for perfection. We know it doesn’t exist but you still have to search for it.

      “People say Liverpool developed so much here and there but I think our main strength is that we’re always together. By that I mean on the pitch, the distances, the organisation, the way we are. That’s the only way to be an aggressive, pressing team. If the distances and the organisation are not right then you have no chance.

      “That’s where we’ve made the biggest improvement. Wherever the game is on the pitch, we are there together. A compact team, an intense team, both on and off the ball. Jürgen talks about the principle that everyone is responsible for everything. It’s easy to say, it’s harder to put it into practice on the pitch for 95 minutes but that’s what these players have been doing a lot. If we recover well and have freshness in our game, we go into every game with a common idea of chasing them all over the pitch.

      “Each individual in our team has become a better player from working here. If you compare (Andy) Robertson, Trent and Sadio to when they came in, consistency-wise… I could go on. Jürgen has created a culture of preparation. Each department in the club feels this responsibility and is better connected. It’s clear what we want and the standards have gone up and up and up.”

      The style of the team has certainly evolved. Game-management has been a feature of this record-breaking season which has seen Liverpool drop just two points. They put themselves in winning positions and then play with real maturity and control.

      “That has to grow within a team, you can’t just put it there,” Lijnders says.

      “Even if we’re 3-0 up we want to be dominant. We still search for the 4-0 but the way we do that can be different from how we searched to make it 1-0 or 2-0. We can make more passes, we can switch the play more from one side to the other, we can create more doubt for the opponents with our positioning. But we are still searching for the 4-0.

      “When you become European champions, when you become more dominant on the ball, you don’t rely as much on defensive organisation and counter-attack which is a very attractive part of our game. We’ve become better on the ball as teams have set up differently against us. I’d say 75 per cent of teams in the Premier League, even the bigger teams, changed their system or approach to play against us this season – lines much closer together, dropping deeper.

      “Can we then expect to have attack, attack, attack? No, we can’t. We have to respect that and find a new way against them. It’s why our variety of creating and scoring is so important. It pushes us to evolve again. What I like about our game is that we have so many different weapons and that makes us unpredictable. It’s not about playing it from A to B to C to D. That’s not the game we want. Even our defensive principles aren’t like that. That makes us very difficult to read.

      “Teams can’t just drop deep against us and try to stop us playing through them because Trent and Robbo will get down the wings and then you’ve got the centre-backs bringing it forward and creating space. There’s a lot of freedom because we focus on principles rather than exact plays. We know that if all this is present then the mentality of Jürgen and the boys will put us above the other team. But all this has to be right (Lijnders bangs the desk).

      “You can have a lot of passion but if there’s no structure then you have no chance. You need organisation, tactical discipline and the right distances. That’s the base – that’s the father and mother of football and being a consistent team.”

      Lijnders’ stock has risen to the point that he’s been mentioned as a potential successor to Klopp one day. But such talk is far from his thoughts. He’s too busy savouring every second of the here and now.

      “It makes me proud but it’s not realistic because it’s not important at this moment in time,” he adds.

      “My only ambition is to support Jürgen and our project in the best way possible. Mike Gordon and Jürgen have been the most important people in my career. They gave me the chance and the belief to lead the process of training and methodology with the first team.

      “This is my life. I feel passionate about this club and I feel blessed to work with passionate colleagues. I feel that what we have here in this period we will never experience again in our lives.

      “So many things have come together with the owners, the manager, people behind the manager who in hard moments never give up, and a playing group who are so together and really want to play for Liverpool and for us as a staff. In the end I really hope that we get what the boys deserve.

      “I believe each football project is like the sun rising up and going down, and for our project it’s not even noon. That’s the reason why we committed for another four years.”

      Like the team he has helped to shape, Pep Lijnders is relentless.

      The Athletic
      What a fantastic read. Took me some time that but found Pep’s insights very interesting. He seems to compliment Jürgen really well and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we have improved since he has come in - 155 points out of 174 since he came back as assistant manager.
      billythered
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      • From Doubters to Believers
      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #39: Jan 15, 2020 11:50:08 am
      What a fantastic read. Took me some time that but found Pep’s insights very interesting. He seems to compliment Jürgen really well and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we have improved since he has come in - 155 points out of 174 since he came back as assistant manager.




      Brilliant isn't it mate ?

      Love this kind of information, I'd be sending this to other forums such as Bluemoon, Redcafe etc, just to give them something to think about, and a reminder that their nemesis isn't going anywhere and WILL be around for a very long time...stopping you from adding titles & silverware....good luck ! !



      YNWA
      waltonl4
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      Re: Writing about Liverpool Football Club
      Reply #40: Jan 15, 2020 10:00:31 pm
      just been watching Ian Callaghan recall 77 one of the best moments of my life. There are so many similarities now 43 years on.
      Sir Bob no nonsense genius very similar to Jürgen he knows football and he knows how people tick. Full backs scoring and creating Phil Neal 43 years ago was a wing back before the term was even invented. Hardwork everyone pulling the same direction creates success it all seems s o simple doesn't it. People write about Liverpool as if they had reinvented the wheel when the secret has always been there since Shanks turned up in 1959 its just a mystery it took so long to realise it

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