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31
Liverpool FC, football, sport / policing twitter
« on: July 31, 2012, 03:33:48 PM »


I am bemused by the policing of twitter.

OK, I guess Rio had it coming, with his choc-ice thingie.  If he wants to play the race card (supporting his brother against john terry), then he too has to be held to account (when he messes up). 

Now I see that twitter has suspended the account of Independent journalist, Guy Adams.    His *crime* was to criticise the woeful American coverage (NBC coverage) of the opening cermony of the olympics.   Rather than show it live, they delayed coverage by 5 or 6 hours, to apparently be able to sell advertising at prime time (in the evening).
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/guy-adams-i-thought-the-internet-age-had-ended-this-kind-of-censorship-7988208.html
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/nbcfail-online-backlash-as-twitter-locks-out-independent-reporter-7987906.html
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/jul/30/twitter-suspends-guy-adams-account-nbc

Now, it turns out that twitter and NBC seemingly have a business relationship for these olympics.  So, now it all starts to add up.

And this morning, I see another nonsense surrounding twitter.

The British swimmer, never out of the media, Tom Daley, yesterday missed out on a medal. 

Shortly afterwards, on twitter's website, Daley retweeted a message from user Rileyy69 which said: "You let your dad down i hope you know that."

Daley's father Rob died last year from brain cancer.

Daley responded by tweeting: "After giving it my all...you get idiot's sending me this..."

The twitter guy (Rileyy69) went on to apologise, saying:  "I'm sorry mate i just wanted you to win cause its the olympics I'm just annoyed we didn't win I'm sorry tom accept my apology."      He later added: "please i don't want to be hated I'm just sorry you didn't win i was rooting for you pal to do britain all proud just so upset."

Dorset police have ARRESTED the twitter poster this morning.   

full story:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/news/9440261/Teenager-arrested-over-abusive-tweets-to-Tom-Daley.html


Now I am no fan of twitter (or facebook).   And I think those that use twitter need their head looked at (and to find a life).

BUT.....what the heck is this world coming to.  Free speech, my ar..se

Have the cops (and the courts) nothing better to do with their time? 

What next, thought police?   A ban on free-thinking. 

32
Liverpool FC, football, sport / euros 2012
« on: June 22, 2012, 04:08:37 PM »
unable to watch on my usual satellite package here (ironically called, Sky).  Sky is the biggest and has just about every live game in europe and south america, all season.  But oh no, to my horror, I find that some wee twerp provider has got the rights for euro 2012......and I am not paying any more dosh for football. 

been working too much anyways, to sit down and weatch full games.

but I did find a great website, that lets me watch live.......takes the feeds from the bbc, sky, and every major channel across europe.  Excellent.  i get to watch (on my laptop) what you folks see, martin keown, itv, chiles, keane, lineker, shearer, hansen, etc

anyroads, football is pretty mundane.  Exciting though because everyone is so whacked out, which evens things up a bit.  Players (to my eyes) look totally jaded.....at the end of a long hard season....11 months without a break.   It is especially noticable in second half of games.

england have often looked dire.  But with zero expectations for the first time ever, they cannot lose.  Hodgson, like captain mannering, is playing a rear-guard action.  Like Italy of old, our homeguard is keen to keep it tight, defence at all costs.  Mind you, they often do get cut open, like a tin of sardines.  But keeping it tight, and hitting on the break, is what has been happening.  All well and good, but when they meet a decent side, and/or one that scores first.....things will be very difficult. 

but the longer they hang in there, the better the team understanding and spirit is.....so who knows.  I;d love to see a top player like ashley cole get a winner's medal.  In international tournaments, I have always seen him run his guts out.  A world class player, in my books. Always has been.

sad to see tho the lack of top players coming through.  This has been the weakest england team I have seen......and once the older ones retire,  I see nobody to replace them.    This is the result of 20 plus years of Sky money.....which has brought in the world's top  players to the premiership, but at the cost of english/british talent.  We are now seeing the results.....a lost generation of talent.

ireland - a tournament too far for this era of players......given, dunne, duff, robbie keane, etc.  Just too old.  Unfair to ask them to compete against the likes of the Spanish and Italians. 




33
Liverpool FC, football, sport / Woy comes good
« on: April 30, 2012, 03:07:17 PM »
Looks like the FA have finally recognised the abilities of our ex-boss, Sir Woy.   :D

Nothing gets passed them. 

Germany, France and Italy will be quaking in their tactical boots, re the forthcoming Euro 2012 tournament.

We sacked Rafa and brought  Woy.....and England effectively forced out Capello, to then replace him with Woy.

Top pedigree managers replaced with mid-table mediocre.   Bizarre, absolutely bizarre. 

34


The Question: is Steven Gerrard good for Liverpool?
By Jonathan Wilson
The Guardian
April 10th, 2012

It seems almost heretical to say it, but could it be that Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard is not the solution but the problem?

When Steven Gerrard came off the bench against Newcastle United on 30 December and transformed a 1-1 draw into a 3-1 win, the assumption was that, with their talisman back after an ankle injury, Liverpool would kick on. That win took them to fifth and with Chelsea and Arsenal faltering, Newcastle seemingly beginning to feel the effects of their comparatively slender squad and Tottenham being Tottenham, a challenge for Champions League qualification, perhaps even third place, seemed probable.

Liverpool have won only two of their 13 league games since then. Going into Tuesday's game against Blackburn Rovers they lie eighth, level on points with Fulham and Norwich City, the two sides below them, and risk finishing outside the top eight for the first time since they returned to the top flight in 1962. They need 15 points from the six games that remain to avoid their worst points tally in a 20-team Premier League (in 2005, a failure that was mitigated by their European Cup win that year).

A Carling Cup and possible FA Cup, of course, provide some mitigation – and it is actually slightly depressing that league position apparently means so much more than trophies – but it is still reasonable to ask what on earth has gone wrong since the turn of the year. Take a cohesive team, add Gerrard, and the result has been a shambles.

It seems almost heretical to say it, but could it be that Gerrard is not the solution but the problem; that, fine player though he is, he has destroyed the balance of the side? When Gerrard has not started this season, Liverpool have won 48% of games played; when he has started, that drops to 9%.

In the 11 games Gerrard has started, Liverpool have scored an average of 1.00 goal per game while conceding 1.36; without him it is goals for 1.24, goals against 0.90. They have taken 1.67 points per game without him, just 0.73 with. Project that over a season: without Gerrard, Liverpool would get 63 points, which last season would have seen them finish fifth; with Gerrard, they would get 28, certain relegation form.

Those figures include six games in which Gerrard has come off the bench. In two of those, against Everton away in October and against Newcastle, he helped turn draws into wins. In the other four, the result has remained unchanged, although Manchester City did increase a 2-0 lead to 3-0.

It was apparent even under Rafael Benítez that Gerrard was at his best when he could be let off the leash, when the situation was so desperate that he could be released from responsibility and told simply to swash buckles and storm barns all over the pitch – as he did against Olympiakos in December 2004, against Milan in the 2005 European Cup final and against West Ham in the FA Cup final the following year. In that regard, he fitted perfectly the Roy of the Rovers template and, as Scott Murray argued in The Blizzard (a piece reproduced here), there has been no figure so pernicious in English football history as Roy Race.

    "While little schemers from Italy dreamt of becoming fantasistas, conducting their team-mates to victory from the centre of the park, while South American youths honed their skills and picked up a few street-smarts in the dusty favelas, hoping to put it all together in a gambeta," he wrote, "thanks to Roy Race, English children spent their formative years sat on their arses being taught a very strange lesson: it doesn't really matter what you do for 89 minutes because a superhero will turn up eventually, welt the ball into the net, and you can all go home with your cups and medals.

    "Such was the sermon preached from the Melchester pulpit. In the big games, Rovers were perfectly happy to wing it, knowing Racey would amble along to the rescue at some point. As a result, nobody would bother preparing for anything. More often than not, Melchester would yawn on to the pitch, and end up a goal or two down not long after kick-off. A Race-inspired comeback was nearly always on the cards."

Nobody ever mentions it but in terms of control, Liverpool's best performance in their 2004-05 run in the Champions League was the 0-0 draw at Juventus, where Gerrard was absent and Liverpool's midfield comprised Xabi Alonso, Igor Biscan and Antonio Núñez.

Gerrard's penchant for Hollywood passes and his tactical indiscipline are well-known, but the Opta statistics present a more nuanced picture. Shots on target and shots to goal are virtually unchanged with and without Gerrard while possession (55.22% to 56.50%) and pass completion (80.79% to 81.06%) improve marginally with him in the side.

Cross completion drops from 21.21% to 15.19% when Gerrard comes into the side, while the number of tackles won falls from 75.49% to 71.90%. That latter figure perhaps hints at what he does in terms of disrupting the shape of the midfield. That said, the injury to Lucas Leiva who, remarkably, has still made more tackles than anybody else in the Liverpool squad this season despite having been injured since November, partly accounts for that fall-off and has clearly been a significant factor in Liverpool's stumble.

But what is really telling is the impact Gerrard has on other players. All six of Charlie Adam's assists and both his goals have come when Gerrard has not started. Jordan Henderson's tackle success rate drops from 92.59% when Gerrard does not start to only 63.64% when he does. Jay Spearing wins 60.71% of duels when Gerrard does not start; only 54.76% when he does. When Gerrard is there, they have to adjust to different roles and, so far, that seems to have had a detrimental effect.

The phenomenon of a big player dwarfing those around him, particularly when, as in the case of Henderson and Adam, they are low on confidence, is well-known. The tendency, understandably, is to give the ball to the star, to try to feed him at every opportunity: Cesc Fábregas described it happening at Arsenal in Thierry Henry's last full season, while an overreliance on Samuel Eto'o has clearly hampered Cameroon. Gerrard offers an excuse, an easy way for his team-mates to dodge responsibility.

It is not that he is a bad player, far from it – and Lucas's absence is almost certainly a bigger reason for Liverpool's slide than Gerrard's return – but it could be that his impact is detrimental. That is the problem with building up individuals in football: no matter how gifted he is, it is never just about one man.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2012/apr/10/the-question-steven-gerrard-liverpool

35
Liverpool FC, football, sport / our new manager
« on: April 07, 2012, 11:05:57 PM »
okay, a thread on who might be our new manager.

Within Britain, my two are Benitez or O'Neill.



36
Liverpool FC, football, sport / Captain's Marvellous Anfield Tour
« on: April 04, 2012, 04:30:50 PM »
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDps3Yw5p_E&feature=related

I enjoyed this tour.  Gives a good perspective of where everything is located - away dressing room, home dressing room, ref's changing area, players' lounge, the place where TV interviews take place, etc.


37

Bari defender Andrea Masiello reacts after scoring the own-goal against Lecce.
He has admitted being offered at least €50,000 to lose the Serie A game.



Andrea Masiello confesses over match-fixing in Serie A

Bari defender tells investigators he was offered €50,000 to lose, as latest scandal threatens to throw Italian football into disarray

At the climax of his football team's fiercely contested clash against local rivals Lecce last year, defender Andrea Masiello committed what appeared to be a ghastly error, poking a cross into his own goal instead of hoofing it clear.

Masiello, 27, collapsed dejectedly on the grass after his own-goal sealed a 2-0 defeat for Bari, which was already facing relegation from Italy's Serie A.

But the player has now admitted to investigators that he was offered at least €50,000 (£41,600) to turn the ball into the net to ensure Bari lost and help secure Lecce's survival in Serie A.

Magistrates who arrested Masiello and placed eight of his former Bari team-mates under investigation are now studying the team's final games of last season. They suspect matches thrown by the side from Puglia, in southern Italy, may have determined which teams went down and which qualified for Europe.

The investigation is the latest twist in a rumbling match-fixing scandal which threatens to throw Italian football into disarray.

The Bari players, wrote judge Giovanni Abbattista, "were more or less 'on the market', and not in the footballing sense of the term". Treated as idols by fans, they were no more than mercenaries, he said.

Despite its reputation for attractive football, Bari could not compete with Serie A's big guns last year and players reportedly feared the club would not pay their wages as it slipped into the relegation zone.

Magistrates have suggested management at Bari and Lecce were privy to the fixing of their match, but Bari's sporting director, Guido Angelozzi, denied any role.

Investigators suspect players of being approached to throw other games by a mysterious Balkan group of gamblers known as The Gypsies, which is suspected of paying off players from a number of Italian sides.

Last June, the Italian government established a match-fixing taskforce as the former Atalanta captain and Italy midfielder Cristiano Doni was banned for three and a half years for match fixing in Serie B, the former Lazio and Italy player Giuseppe Signori was banned for five years and 15 other players were banned for between one and five years.

Masiello's arrest moves the scandal out of Serie B and places it firmly in Serie A. In an interview last month with Italy's La Repubblica, Macedonian Hristiyan Ilievski, the alleged head of The Gypsies, claimed he had approached Bari players when he heard the team was destined for relegation.

Masiello, he said, "seemed to have clear ideas about what he wanted and what he had to do".

Ilievski claimed that in Bari the local mafia was already involved in match fixing. Bari players have claimed they were under pressure from the heads of "ultra" groups of supporters to throw games at the end of the season to assist betting scams.

The Italian football federation, which is recovering from a previous match-influencing scandal which led to relegation for the top side, Juventus, called the arrests "sensational developments" and said it would take swift action against any players who were found guilty.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2012/apr/02/andrea-masiello-match-fixing-serie-a

38


Irish Independent
Sunday August 28 2011

Seven years after leaving for Italy, Graeme Souness walked back into our lives. He still had the 'tache and the tan but a lot of other things had changed. Souey had managed Rangers for five years and had made a major impact: big moves in the transfer market, lots of controversies and four Scottish championships.

I thought he was exactly the manager Liverpool needed. I was thrilled he was coming back. There was no one better to take over from Kenny. We all thought the same, especially the old pros who'd soldiered with him during his playing days. He was steeped in Liverpool. He knew how the club worked. He knew how we played the game. He had five years of high-level management under his belt. He was the ideal man. Sad to see Kenny go, but this was a new era and we were going to win things; I had no doubt about it.

That was April 1991. Fast forward to April 1993. Blackburn Rovers have turned us over 4-1 at Ewood Park. Souey went ballistic in the dressing room afterwards and he was well entitled to because we'd been absolutely stuffed -- and by a team, as it happened, that was managed by Kenny. But Souey had been feeling the pressure long before that game. We'd now won just four of the last 14. The losing streak included a 0-2 defeat to Bolton -- who back then were playing in the third tier of English football -- at Anfield in the Cup in January. That result had really turned up the heat on him and us. And now we'd been torn apart by Blackburn.

I'd played the four previous games having come back from an injury: we'd won three and drawn the other one. I was making a difference, and I had a decent game against Blackburn too in centre midfield. So when Souey started ranting about 'the older players' in the Ewood Park dressing room that day, I took exception. He didn't name us but he was referring to me, Nicol, Barnes and Rush. The rest of the team was David James, Mike Marsh, David Burrows, Steve Harkness, Ronny Rosenthal, Don Hutchison and Mark Walters. Souey's accusation was that we weren't doing enough to help them along. Not just this game but every game. He was giving out stink and his analysis of the situation boiled down to one problem -- the older players. He had a bee in his bonnet about us for some reason, and it didn't just start at Blackburn; he'd raised it as an issue several times in the months before that.

And here he was again banging on about it. I was fuming inside because, number one, there was no acknowledgement from him that he might be at fault too. And number two, it wasn't true: I knew from personal experience that some of the young lads wouldn't listen when you tried talking to them in training. And if you shouted at them in the heat of a match, one or two of them would turn round and tell you where to go. Eventually I had enough. I said to Souey, 'Look, it's not as simple as that. You try talking to them and they tell you to fork off.' That only made him worse. 'Who? Who tells you that? Who tells you that?' I just shrugged my shoulders. 'Tell me who they are and I'll back you up!' He was losing it now. 'Tell me who they are and I'll back you up!' And I said, 'Just like you're backing me up now?' He flipped after that, started screaming. 'You tell me!' And I wouldn't reply. 'You tell me!' And it just descended into a shouting match. I'm putting my tie on at this stage and I've my back turned to him, looking in the mirror, hoping he'll let it go. But he wouldn't let it go. He kept challenging me. So I snapped back at him. 'Ah, just fork off and leave me alone.' And he's still shouting, 'You tell me!' And every time he says it I say back, 'fork off, Souey.' 'You tell me!' 'fork off, Souey.' It just got silly in the end. You can imagine the silence around the room.

And I remember distinctly, when all this was going on, looking over and seeing Ronnie Moran and Roy Evans. And I'm a hundred per cent sure that the two of them were nodding their heads at me as if to say, 'Yeah, we know, you're right.' Souey was saying he'd back me up but I wasn't convinced about that!

It was the older lads I wanted to back me up against him. But none of them did. I was getting shot down completely and no one backed me up, which was a bit of a sad situation really. Maybe they didn't feel the way I felt about it, but I wasn't going to take the blame for all that was going on. There was a lot more going wrong than just the older players supposedly not helping the younger players. Five weeks later, we finished sixth in the league. In January 1994, nine months after that bust-up at Blackburn, Graeme resigned.

* * * * *

The first thing that should be said is that Souey got some things right, even though people -- and I was one of them -- thought they were wrong at the time. I can remember going into training one winter's morning and looking forward to my bacon-and-egg toastie in the canteen at Melwood because it was cold and I was hungry and a nice hot toastie would do the trick. But I was told it was off the menu. What!? You're joking. 'Sorry, love, we're not allowed any more. We can toast a slice of brown bread if you like?' Ah here. Come on now. Toasted brown bread? You might as well give me a slice of chipboard. A different diet was soon part of the new regime. The menu was changed. The days of your bacon, sausage and egg breakfast -- with toasted white bread -- were gone. Even if they wanted to, the dinner ladies would be wary of doing us a fry in case they'd get into trouble. And you weren't going to be getting your chicken and chips and beans for lunch either. It was fish and salads and boiled chicken and pasta. Get it into you and stop moaning about it. But of course we did plenty of moaning about it. Where is he going with his chicken and his pasta and his rabbit food? Didn't Souey himself win plenty of trophies on steak and chips and lager? Now it's feckin' pasta and Perrier water.

To be fair, he didn't impose a drinking ban. Maybe because it wouldn't have worked. He was more into emphasising the importance of good nutrition; eating the right food, taking the right supplements, drinking enough water. It was the Italian influence. He'd learned a lot about the football culture in Italy during his two years at Sampdoria.

He'd adopted the lifestyle of the professional footballer there and that included their diet, which was obviously a lot stricter than ours. Now he was introducing it to us and with our typical insular attitude in British football, we thought it was a load of cobblers. He brought in a lady dietician one day early on in his regime, to try and enlighten us. She sat us down in the players' lounge at Anfield and began by asking some questions. She wanted to emphasise the importance of restoring fluids and nutrition to the body after a hard 90-minute match. 'So, what do you do straight after a game?' And Nico said, 'Well, we usually go to the players' lounge and have a pint.' And I could see Souey out of the corner of my eye folding his arms, looking a little bit uneasy. 'That's OK,' she said, 'a pint after a game is fine. And what do you do then?' And Nico told her, 'Well, we have another one.' And a few of the lads were giggling now. 'And then another one.' And Souey was looking down at the floor now, getting more uncomfortable with this conversation. And then she said, 'Well, when do you eat after a game?' And Nico said, 'About half-two in the morning you'd have a Chinese.'

The lads were sniggering, she was trying to hide her shock and Souey was trying to hide his embarrassment. He had a lot of work to do with us on the refuelling front. But it was just that in England he was ahead of his time on this issue. That was 1991. I don't think many clubs were preaching the importance of a proper diet back then. Everyone takes it for granted now.

* * * * *

When managers moved on players it never upset me because in one way it was none of my business -- you just had to get on with it. We still had to play no matter who was bought or sold. But of course it was our business, more than anyone else's arguably, because we had to play with them and deal with the consequences if they weren't doing the job. So if the manager was selling somebody the one question you'd be asking yourself was, 'OK, is he getting someone better in?' Souey sold Beardsley for £1 million and brought in Dean Saunders for £2.9 million and Mark Walters for £1.25 million. That was a net outlay of £3 million. I liked Deano and Wally but between the two of them they couldn't do what Beardsley did. The answer to the question in this case was: 'No'.

Rob Jones arrived from Crewe in October 1991 and Rob was a player; he was the real deal and a terrific signing. Mickey Thomas arrived in December and was one of Souey's better signings too. To be fair to everyone, I think we'll just draw a discreet veil over the signing of poor old Istvan Kozma. It's probably best for all.

But you had a team now that wasn't stable and united. There was a lot of individual play. Different players were doing different things. They weren't fitting into a system. It wasn't just the defence; a lot of things weren't right. We had our moments, times when we clicked and looked pretty impressive. But the reality was we were a team that wasn't hard to beat. I'd played with a team that was one

of the hardest to beat there's ever been. And I played in a team that had so much flair it could go and win a game out of nowhere. Souey's team was neither one thing nor the other. Wally, for example, was one of those players who could produce a piece of magic in a game, but not often enough to help you win the league. And that's pretty much how the team performed as well. A lot of good moments but not consistent enough to win a league. And that's the standard we should be talking about at Liverpool.

You want to be looking at players who are good enough to win a league and we weren't bringing in players of that calibre. We didn't gel as a team and it never really happened for us that first season.

And I don't think we ever recovered. The clear-out had been too radical. He had changed too much too soon. There was no stability there. Souey was always scrambling after that to find the right combination. He was flailing around in the transfer market, buying and selling without much rhyme or reason, trying to find the winning formula.

In the summer of 1992 Houghton, Venison and Glenn Hysen were sold. In September, Saunders was sold to Villa. In came David James, Paul Stewart and Torben Piechnik. Things were going from bad to worse now. In the summer of 1993, Mike Marsh and David Burrows were swapped to West Ham for Julian Dicks. Nigel Clough and Neil Ruddock also arrived. Stewart, Dicks and Ruddock were bought because Souey wanted strong, hard men in his team. And that's fine -- Souey was a strong, hard man too. But he was a top-class ball player as well.

Time and again his decisions in the transfer market left us shaking our heads. Some of the lads he brought in, they looked good prospects, and even though they didn't work out you could understand why he bought them. Others, you didn't even need to see them playing before you knew they wouldn't be good enough. It seems to me that the more the pressure on him increased, the more his judgement deteriorated. Souey signed 15 players in two years. He tore up the tried-and-trusted way of doing it, which was to make one or two changes per season, building a new side patiently and carefully. The template had been there for decades, and no one knew it better than himself. But this was a manager who was going to do it his way: I'm getting my own players in and I'm going to succeed with these players.

* * * * *

Now, all of this would've been water under the bridge a long time ago if it weren't for comments that Souey made in a book which I cannot let go unchallenged. They concern the Liverpool veterans who were still there when he was in charge. We were all long finished playing by the time he made these comments; but he was still having a go at us and he was still making excuses for himself. 'While I was manager,' he says, 'Nicol, Whelan, Rush and Grobbelaar had testimonials, and Jan Molby and John Barnes were waiting their turn. It seemed to me that the passion for the club had disappeared and that was a massive shock for me.'

The implication is that we'd stopped caring about Liverpool Football Club. That we were just hanging around, punching in time, waiting for our testimonials; then we'd just take the money and run. I can't speak for the other lads but I can for myself. He's wrong. It's untrue. His comments are offensive.

And as recently as 2010 he was rehashing this stuff on Irish radio. I never kissed the badge on my shirt, and I never made big statements in public about what the club meant to me. I hope and I believe I showed it through my actions on the pitch. I loved playing for Liverpool and its supporters. The place was a second home for me. I was happy there, I felt I was family there. I never once thought about leaving. I never once made the slightest inquiry about a transfer. Even the most cynical pro in the world would have to feel something for a club where he'd spent virtually his entire career.

And if he'd had some of the best and worst times of his life at that club, he'd develop a bond with the place that goes far beyond the terms of his contract. I wasn't, I don't think, a cynical person; I spent 15 years at the club; I had some of the best and worst times of my life there. You couldn't but have an emotional bond with the place that went far beyond the terms of your contract. There was too much history there. Too much of my life had gone into the club to be able to stop caring about it, even if I wanted to.

Apart from questioning my 'passion' for the club, Souness was questioning my integrity as a professional too. If you're only hanging around waiting for your testimonial it means you're not really trying any more; you're not being honest; your commitment isn't genuine. As a kid, the one thing I wouldn't get away with was not trying; my Da wouldn't tolerate it for a second. He always said, 'If you give a hundred per cent no one can criticise your commitment.' It goes without saying that you wouldn't get away with it at Liverpool either. I got my share of criticism over the years but it was never for a lack of commitment. And now apparently, once I reached my testimonial age I dropped the habits of a lifetime and turned into a dishonest pro? It's bullshit. Graeme should never have said those things.

* * * * *

I don't bump into Graeme much these days; he doesn't live in Liverpool, we've pretty much gone our separate ways in life. I meet him from time to time in RTE, and we get on no problem. When we played together I didn't socialise in his circles because he was older than me. But we got on well. I liked him as a bloke and admired him no end as a player. The only time we came to dislike each other was when he was the manager, I was a player, and we just didn't see eye-to-eye on what was happening at the football club. And it looks like we still don't see eye-to-eye on it. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree and hopefully remain friends. Life's too short and none of us is getting any younger.

Occasionally you will hear him say, if he's being interviewed about that era, that he has his regrets. That he learned a lot more about management in the years after, and that he'd do things differently if he had his time back. And that's fair enough. I mean, wouldn't we all?

39
The former Real Madrid general manager Jorge Valdano claimed last week that Spain's big two are reaching a crossroads. Soon, he said, Barcelona and Real Madrid will find themselves in a situation in which they have little choice but to seek out new challenges elsewhere, leaving La Liga behind for a European league.

It is a subject that was in the background when the European Club Association met in Geneva on Tuesday but, as Valdano admitted, while Madrid and Barcelona would welcome such a move, rather more questionable is whether Europe's other big teams will have the same enthusiasm for leaving domestic competition behind.

"With every passing day there is a greater gap between the two greats and the rest of the league in Spain," Valdano said. "You look ahead and the sensation is that this situation will only get worse. There will come a time when this [situation] does not suit the big two either. In the future Madrid and Barcelona will have to look at teams that travel at the same speed as them and that will lead to a European league.

"There are two teams whose market is the whole world and the rest whose market is just their [regional] community. We are in a moment of transformation, which depends on what happens in Spain and in other leagues. The problem is that the Premier League works, Germany works: there is a lot of money there and a lot of passion for [domestic] football. They do not seem especially enthusiastic about leaving their leagues."

The fact that Valdano was asked about the future of La Liga illustrated the extent to which inequality is now definitively, if belatedly, on the agenda in Spain – reflected by an opening weekend which was met with dread as much as delight after Real Madrid defeated Real Zaragoza 6-0 and Barcelona beat Villarreal 5-0. The president of Sevilla, José María Del Nido, described the Spanish league as "rubbish – the greatest pile of junk in Europe".

In answering as he did, Valdano revealed an essential truth. He also revealed a sleight of hand, portraying Spain's big two as innocent victims of a league that simply cannot compete with them, rather than perpetrators of an inequality that threatens to destroy it. He also hinted at the threat that forever hovers in the background: the departure from La Liga of Madrid and Barcelona. It is a threat that, for now at least, suits no one but is used as a weapon on both sides of the divide.

There will come a time when the situation in La Liga does not suit the big two. But if so, Real Madrid have been complicit in that – either blind to the consequences of their actions or all too aware of them and thus deliberately destructive in their approach.

Last season Valencia, in third, finished 21 points behind second-placed Madrid – and that was an improvement on the previous year. Third place was closer to relegation than the title. Over the past two seasons, both Madrid and Barcelona have smashed previous records for points totals. It is not that one of them will win the league so much as the fact that it is hard to see them failing to win many games. A season in which both teams are not beaten once, in which the opposition does not even try, is not so far away.

Underpinning that dominance is the distribution of TV money. Deals are struck individually. Madrid and Barcelona each make €135m (£118m) a year on domestic rights alone. Valencia make €48m, Atlético €46m and Sevilla €31m. Racing Santander make €13m, less than a tenth of the top two.

Madrid and Barcelona have long resisted calls for more equality on the grounds that they generate the vast majority of the money in a country where 60% declare themselves as fans of one of the big two and where the media are divided down the middle, supporting Madrid or Barcelona and largely ignoring the rest. A new proposal is on the table under which a collective deal will be drawn up but the inequality will be enshrined, with Madrid and Barcelona getting 35% of the money to themselves.

One of the reasons that Sevilla and Villarreal have been so outspoken about the new plan is not so much that they see Madrid and Barcelona get further away but that they have been manoeuvred into fifth and sixth place rather than the third and fourth to which they aspired. Other clubs have given in as a way of simply securing survival. There is no sense of collective identity, no "league" to speak off – just a confederation of clubs in which the voice of two is heard louder and more often than anyone else.

What ground Madrid and Barcelona have ceded in terms of the percentage is made up in the prospective total in the new deal (which is yet to be ratified and may still meet resistance). That is a total – and this is the key – that allows Madrid and Barcelona to maintain a huge advantage over the rest of Europe, where their sights are now truly trained. One hundred and thirty-five million euros over the €69m Manchester United get is a huge advantage. It matters little that Valencia, say, can draw closer to you if you can still double their income and at the same time draw further away from teams in Milan and Manchester.

The big two insist that the difference domestically is only fair, reflected in the colossal difference in figures relating to merchandising and marketing. Almost half the Spanish league do not have shirt sponsors this season. Publicly the big two rarely speak out but in private they bring their huge muscle to bear on the rest with a simple, if effective argument: you only fill your grounds and get big TV audiences when you play us. According to El País, Madrid versus Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup took a 62% audience share in Spain; that same week Villarreal's Champions League qualifier was not among the 20 most watched programmes that day. The dominance in international interest is even greater yet.

So, when Villarreal's president, Fernando Roig, says: "I'd like to see Madrid and Barcelona have a league that consists only of the clásicos – that would be pretty boring," the response from Madrid and Barcelona is: and we'd like to see you try to have a league without us.

When Del Nido described the league as "rubbish", it did not take long for the Madrid defender Sergio Ramos to respond and, in doing so, to say it all. "If Del Nido doesn't like it, he can find himself another league," Ramos said. "We like the league the way it is."

source - today's Guardian

40
Liverpool FC, football, sport / Liverpool open academy in Delhi
« on: August 25, 2011, 12:45:58 PM »
Thursday, 25 August 2011

"We want to have footprints in every continent in the next three years," Steve Turner, the head of Liverpool FC International Football Academy, said after signing a contract to set up the academy in Delhi.

The club also plan similar ventures in China, South America and the US.

The former Liverpool midfielder Steve McMahon will be head coach of the Indian academy.

41
Liverpool FC, football, sport / Season 2011 - 2012
« on: August 13, 2011, 03:38:26 PM »
Adam should be taking our penalties.

Bizarre Suarez penalty, and even more bizarre how the ref didn't send the Sunderland lad off.

Very encouraging start from Liverpool.  Despite so many new faces, the team have gelled well.  There are so many positive performances today so far.  Downing looks good.  Adam looks good.  Carroll looks reasonably fit.  Suarez is a little dynamo that makes things spark. Agger looks fit.  Lots of positives.

But until we get a second goal, there is always a danger.  The game is a tad open at times....and we do give Sunderland too much space at times.  We need to get tighter.

But based on the first 36 minutes, we SHOULD hammer this lot.  This should be a three or four nil job.

42
Bayern blast price for Boateng Bayern Munich's chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has taken a swipe at Manchester City's hefty asking price for Jerome Boateng.

The 22-year-old has not been able to settle in at his new club since a reported £10.5million move from German giants Hamburger SV in 2010.

However, the German international may find it difficult to complete his dream move back to the Bundesliga because Roberto Mancini seems to be taking a stubborn stance on his £17million valuation.

That transfer hike has angered Rummenigge in particular who believed City were using "tactics" to get clubs to stump up extra cash unfairly to capture the versatile defender's services.

"They are using a tactic I've never seen. They don't respond, even if we try to contact them," he told The Sun.

"I think they are going to have 48 players under contract but, according to Financial Fair Play, they can have only 25.

"According to their last balance sheet, if I'm correct, they're down £127million.

"Maybe they still have a trick up their sleeves but I'm not sure they will be permitted to play in the Champions League."

43
Liverpool FC, football, sport / Boycott Murdoch
« on: July 05, 2011, 02:53:23 PM »
Sorry if this is in the wrong section.

but it is ultra important.

There has never been a better window of opportunity, to launch a nation-wide boycott of all of Murdoch's publications and tv channels.  And also a boycott of anyone who advertises with him, or does business with him.

Anyone who is a member of the other big Liverpool forums, e.g. YNWA, RAWK and TTWATR, might want to pass this sentiment on. 

44
Liverpool FC, football, sport / Man Utd are nuts
« on: June 11, 2011, 08:41:39 PM »
Man Utd are 600 million quid in debt - and yet are determined to keep on spending big in the transfer market.

I have heard reports suggest that they are paying ashley young some 130,000 pounds per week. 

this is pure madness.

the world is in depression, Man Utd are in dire debt, and yet they keep on spending. 

Bring in the clowns.



45
Liverpool FC, football, sport / FIFA, what a farce
« on: May 30, 2011, 06:57:08 PM »
The English FA, and other national associations, have to leave this ridiculous entity (FIFA).

FIFA is finished.  They are now incriminating each other - like rats turning on each other, as they leave a sinking ship.

Nobody can have any faith now in this organisation.

I see sponsors today - adidas and coca cola - are expressing dismay at what is going on.

And I see an Australian politician today is demanding that FIFA refund the near 50 million dollars that the Aussie bid for the 2022 World Cup cost.

I have no faith in the awards of the 2018 or 2022 world cups.  I think England should leave the FIFA umbrella, and along with other similar-minded nations, set up their own international tournament - to replace the 2014, 2018 and 2022 world cups.

If the English FA do not have the b*lls to do the right thing, then we should see footballers announce their international retirement (and refuse to take part in future FIFA sponsored world cups).





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