A crazy season of football (and not even half way through)…

There have been some very strange, weird and wonderful patterns and moments during the Premier League football season so far.

The biggest change has been at Man United. Faltering after the retirement of possibly the most successful manager to ever manage a football team; the departure of Sir Alex has had a significant impact on the supposed reigning champions. His replacement, David Moyes was certainly my pick as maybe the best British manager in football and a consistently solid professional, finishing above LFC with far more limited resources.

Jose Mourinho back at Chelsea. Another big move and a sign of a shift in power over future seasons. He had achieved everything with Real Madrid and after Ferguson, possibly the next best manager around, now managing at one of the richest clubs in the world.

AVB has been sacked after 7 new players somehow failed to immediately gel as a unit and take the world by storm – no surprises there! A little harsh but after home defeats to West Ham 3-0, Man City 6-0 and lastly Liverpool 5-0, the writing was on the wall in large capital letters.

Arsenal back on top for most of the season, after loosing their opening game with a massive over-reaction by many fans. This had followed a poor ending to the previous season but was not a sign of things to come. The signing of Mezut Ozil from Real for £42 Million has transformed Arsenal from just potential, into real contenders for the title after so many years.

A very slow start by many of the big teams, but a very solid start by Liverpool. After what had been a long transition year the previous season, with some huge performances but also inconsistency, this season has been more consistent.

Suarez-mirror-sport

(image courtesy of: http://www.sportshaze.com/luis-suarez-im-staying)

The many troubles with Mr Suarez had dominated the press and his 10 match ban meant that Liverpool were without his services for the first 7 games of the new season. Some thought this could damage our season but it ended up having a significant benefit – Daniel Sturridge blossomed in attack and a series of 1-0 wins ensured the Reds have been near the top since the start, and since Suarez has returned, the whole team has been transformed.

Suarez has just signed a new 4.5 years deal (£200K a year and the club’s most expensive ever player) which comes during the middle of possibly the hottest streak the Premier League has ever seen. Heh as just become the first Premier League player to score 10 goals in a single month and has propelled LFC to the top of the table.

His 4 goals against Norwich were the best set of goals i’ve ever seen.

Prem table 21.12.13

So, as of 22nd December, LFC have 2.1 points per game over what is nearly half the season. If Arsenal fail to beat Chelsea tomorrow, which is certainly a realistic possibility, Liverpool will be top of the table at Christmas!

LFC are the second highest scoring team in the league with Suarez being the top scorer. Brendan Rodgers has done an amazing job so far. Every press conference he gives now is assured, eloquant and informed. Everything about LFC is confident right now – and that is without the injured Sturridge and Captain Gerrard! Alongside Stevie, Henderson is one of the most improved players in the league, with Coutinho at only age 21, now being a key part of the creative and attacking midfield.

Loving the season so far and can’t wait for the 2nd half. YNWA.

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The phantom Suarez handshake…

This whole situation just makes me feel sick. The issues between Suarez and Evra have just got way out of hand now. So much bad feeling and negative energy around the two clubs.

The latest news is the triple apology from Suarez, Kenny and Ayre. All hands to the public relations pumps.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2012/feb/12/luis-suarez-kenny-dalglish-ian-ayre

I have so many mixed feelings about the causes of the issue and how it’s all playing out. The whole thing started (contrary to popular belief) with Evra insulting Suarez’s sister is graphic terms, in Spanish. Evra started this conversation, in Spanish. Suarez then reacted by using the reference ‘negro’ several times. ‘Negro’ in Spanish means ‘black’. He was referring to him by his skin colour, that much is clear. One of the main reasons the official report took so long to bring together was the cultural background of the two players and the use of the word ‘negro’ in Uruguay.

I said in my previous post on this that whatever the cultural background or use of the word ‘black’, a player or person in this country must follow the social codes of this country, diverse as they are. Suarez must have known referring to someone as ‘negro’ or ‘black’ would not be acceptable.

But, I don’t believe he is a racist, and this is where the support from within the club has come from, not as a reaction to what he said, which I believe is not at issue – he said what he said. Also, his Grandad in Uruguay is black and he has many black friends but this doesn’t condone what he said.

But, blind support is not good enough – you have to have the courage to say something is wrong or has gone too far, or that you disagree with something. Supporting a football club can polarise views like nothing else and it can be very hard to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

The issue which the thousands of cameras and media people at Old Trafford picked up on is Suarez’s refusal to shake Evra’s hand. My feeling on this is that he really really should have shaken his hand. It’s obvious they really don’t like each other but there is far more at stake here than just their own personal feelings. The conduct of these big teams and big players has a huge impact on children and adults alike and the way these ‘professionals’ behave indirectly affects the behaviour of the population, in school playgrounds and workplaces around the country.

The other way to see it is you have to be true to yourself and not be dishonest in your conduct. This would include the choice of Suarez to not shake the hand of someone who he very much dislikes and who has taken many opportunities to heighten the sense of victimisation, such as by officially declaring that Suarez called him a n*gger 10 times.

Whatever the issue, I have to look at the much bigger picture and the consequences of the issue – these guys are role models for millions of children across the world. They have a responsibility to not incite anger, violence and tensions. Their actions have considerable impacts and this whole issue badly needs to be brought to a close before something really serious happens.

The official report was very interesting and the panel of language experts went to considerable lengths to set out the different interpretations from the point of view of the two sides. Their conclusions resulted in the 8-game ban and a large fine for Suarez.

‘But the faults are not all on one side. Evra is an easily roused character and his cavorting in celebration of Saturday’s victory was, as even Ferguson noted, foolishly provocative. Copies of Red Issue, one of the most prominent United fanzines, were confiscated on Saturday when they were found to contain Ku Klux Klan masks emblazoned with the words “Suárez is innocent”. And chants can be heard from the Old Trafford fans in celebration of the death of 96 Liverpool fans at Hillsborough 23 years ago. The poison and the stupidity flow both ways.’ – from an article by Richard Williams http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2012/feb/12/liverpool-apologies-luis-suarez-manchester-united

The match itself was disappointing with Liverpool lacking precision in possession and passing, with their final ball into the box being sloppy. I would rather just settle this issue for good and let everyone look forward to Liverpool’s first Wembley cup final since 1996, coming up on 26th of February. YNWA.

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Bolton – Man City – Man United…

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Bolton, Man City, and Man United. Very different teams with different league positions. The week started very badly, with a pathetic 3-1 loss to Bolton – one of the worst performances since Kenny took over again. His interviews provided some … Continue reading

Arsenal v Liverpool – what a game…!

A review of the last game for Liverpool, at the Emirates…

– loosing 3 key players during the game – Aurelio, Carragher and Carroll. That is now Gerrard, Johnson, Agger, Kelly, plus the 3 others, which is more than half our first team out injured. We now have two 18 years olds at full back!

– John Flannagan actually accidentally knocking out his and Liverpool’s own team captain (Carragher), who needed to be stretchered off the field with oxygen! He only came to in the dressing room. The 18 year old must have been really shaken up and he needed a word from Kenny Dalglish to steady him.

– holding our own against Arsenal, who are at this moment a better technical team and who are challenging for the title, even with all the injuries to key players.

– the emergence of Jay Spearing and Lucas as a strong central midfield.

– going behind to a 108th minute penalty and to then come back and not give up, being awarded a penalty in the 110th minute, to get a deserved draw from the game

– finally a little spat between Dalglish and Wenger to finish things off! Arsene must have felt sick after the last goal went in.

– ironically, it was the penalty for Liverpool that may have handed our long running rivals (Man United) the title. This would be their 19th league title against Liverpool’s 18.

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