Tag Archives: Liverpool

I LOVE the FA Cup (just a pity foreign managers are trying to destroy it)

I love the FA Cup.

For me it will always be the greatest cup competition on earth.

I grew up in the 90s (was born mid-80s) in a working class family in North-East London. We did not have the money for Sky TV. That meant the only football I got to watch was the FA Cup.

It was actually the FA Cup that made me fall in love with The Arsenal.

Watching the FA Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Tottenham in 1991 as a 6-year-old, I had decided to support whoever loses (I grew up in a family with little interest in football). 6-year-old me’s favourite colour was also red, so I was hoping Arsenal would lose so that I could support them.

I do not remember the game but Arsenal lost, and from that moment I became an Arsenal fan.

My next real memory of Arsenal was the 1993 FA Cup Final.

Back in those days the FA Cup Final was an all day event. The BBC would start off in the teams hotel for breakfast, live broadcast the coaches going into the stadium players on the pitch and so on.

I remember being in my kit, going out to the garden to kick a balloon pretending I played for Arsenal – no player in particular. At this point in my life the only connection I had with Arsenal was the kits I was bought. From memory I had never watched another game on TV since 1991, and did not know the players.

It finished 1-1. I do not remember watching the replay. It was past my bedtime.

The 1994 European Cup Winners Cup followed and that was it, I was hooked. But it all came from the FA Cup.

My love affair with the competition leads me to being extremely offended with the way managers, the media and the FA themselves treat the competition.

For as long as I can remember, people have questioned “the magic of the cup” and talked about its decline. But clubs, TV companies and the authorities are killing it themselves.

Tonight we play Bournemouth away. We will get some obnoxious pundit talking about the demise of the cup, whilst ignoring the fact that playing a game on a Monday night is part of the problem.

In recent years we have seen more games then ever be played on a Friday night, Saturday lunch time and Saturday afternoon.

3rd round FA Cup day used to be a day out. Sit in the pub with a huge accumulator watching the 3o’clock kick offs come in. With them now spread out over 4 days, it just is not the same.

The FA have removed the European place for the runners-up (if the winners had already qualified through the league). No longer will you get Millwall having a favourable run and going on a European tour.

A place in Europe was a well deserved prize for a lesser club if they had made it through to the final only to face and lose to one of the big boys.

The change happened from 2016, which denied Crystal Palace fans a European tour. Likewise Watford last year; thrashed in the final, no European football to help drown their sorrows.

For clubs like Palace and Watford, a cup run was their best chance of European football. Hull City, Stoke City, Cardiff City & Southampton have all qualified for Europe in recent years having finished runners-up in the cup. By removing the chance of getting into Europe as losing finalists, the FA enforce the view that survival in the Premier League is more important.

We then have the clubs themselves.

I have no issues with managers but out changed XIs in the cup. They have a squad of 25 players. It is there job to shuffle the pack and use them how they see fit. And with the top 6 especially, they have a wage bill of hundreds of millions and a squad filled with internationals.

What I can not stand is the (usual foreign) managers moaning about the cup.

We have Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola recently moaning about replays. About how England should scrap either the League Cup or FA Cup.

I am sorry, but these are foreign men who simply do not get English football. They want to come here, be paid millions, but then change the things that the fans love. If they do not want replays, if they do not want 2 domestic cups, maybe stick to managing in Spain?

Klopp yesterday talked about how in the replay against Shrewsbury Town he will be putting out the U23 team and Neil Critchley, the U23 manager will be taking charge.

Liverpool have a squad that is paid £264million. It contains over 20 players capped by their country.

Klopp put out a team that contained experience centre backs Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren; behind them was Adrian in goal. Fabinho, Takumi Minamino & Divock Origi were also in the team.

An experienced team, they were 2-0 up against Shrewsbury Town – 16th in League One. They drew 2-2. Mo Salah, Firminho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were all bought on to try and grab a winner.

Instead of deflecting and moaning about replays, Klopp should be calling out the performance of his own players who let a 2-0 lead slip.

Shrewsbury Town’s wage bill is just £3.5million. That is less than what most Liverpool players earn. The youngsters who started for the Scousers will also be on more money than any Shrewsbury Town player.

Liverpool might have already played 37 games this season; but Shrewsbury Town have played 36.

Whichever way you look at it, Klopp has no excuses over his side drawing against Shrewsbury. And his post-game comments shows that he just does not get the magic of the cup. It is no wonder that Liverpool have never made it past the 5th round under Klopp with his attitude.

And it is an awful attitude.

My problem with the likes of Klopp and Guardiola is these are not men who going to spend decades in the English game. Both will soon move on to their new paymasters. But whilst they are here, they are determined to wreck the greatest cup competition on earth. It just is not right.

If you can not respect the country you are living in, its customs, then maybe you should find another country.

Scrapping replays, letting the U23 manager take change, it is damaging in the long term.

The FA Cup is why I fell in love with football. It builds greater bonds for the children of Shrewsbury, Oxford and Exeter to their local club. Taking them out of the grasp of those super clubs that are hundreds of miles away.

A replay against Liverpool at Anfield will earn Shrewsbury Town in the region of £1million. It will mean a new training ground, or a new stand. It will transform the club. Transform the town.

But Klopp is sitting there in his ivory tower earning himself more money than Shrewsbury’s annual turnover, commenting about English football and English competitions. It shows he just does not understand.

Liverpool fans should call out Klopp. Make it clear that they do not agree with his stance. Likewise if Guardiola, Mikel Arteta or Jose Mourinho make disparaging comments, fans of Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea should make it clear that they disagree.

The FA Cup is the fans competition. From non-league to Premier League. If you do not understand its importance in English football, then you do not understand English football.

Yesterday we were informed that Yogis Warrior had sadly passed away. Stuart wrote A Cultured Left Foot. He was one of the best bloggers out there and inspired many others to “pick up a pen”. He wrote for years because he loved Arsenal. RIP, thoughts with his family.

Acquiescence of Liverpool’s impending success

Acquiescence. The reluctant acceptance of something without protest.

For some time now we have all come to the understanding that Liverpool are going to win the league for the first time in 30 years.

Many fans of a certain age have been dreading this day.

Having grown up in the 70s and 80s, Liverpool to them are what Manchester United are to someone who grew up in the 90s and 00s.

Liverpool were the all conquering side of the pre-pass back era. Owned and financed by the Moores family who were once one of the richest families in England. They were the Manchester City of their time.

With their success, glory hunters followed. They were probably the first club to begin tapping into a fan base from beyond their catchment area.

Children (often Asian) in London grew up as Liverpool fans. Like Manchester United’s Surrey contingent, they were the worst. Boastful. Giving it the big ‘un. Despite having never been to Anfield. Despite probably still having never been to Anfield.

They attracted the type of fans who has no interest in football, but declared they supported Liverpool. You would only hear from them when things were going well.

They quickly became the most hated fans across England. I guess success and hatred go hand in hand.

Fans who grew up in this area have dreaded the day Liverpool win the league again. They look at that lad in the office. Barely speaks about football. He has no real interest. But as Liverpool have improved, he has started speaking about football again.

Able to turn off when the bad times hit, celebrate and boast when success is close. They will never be a proper fan. Yet are more than happy lauding it over others in the office.

For a few months now, we have had to accept Liverpool will win the league. And with it all those rats who have been hiding under a rock will pop up once more. The only positive is that with Liverpool running away with the league, we have all been able to reluctantly accept and get used to the matter of fact that they will be champions once more.

The press will go OTT over it. They have always loved Liverpool. Probably fearful that any criticism will lead to boycotts. But at least all the celebrating will be over before the season has ended. It will never be an Anfield 89 situation.

But what we are all going to have to reluctantly being accepting is that Liverpool could firstly beat Arsenal’s 49 game unbeaten run, and could potentially match Arsenal by going the season unbeaten.

Back in 2004 Arsenal did something that had not been done in over a century. Gone unbeaten. Many predicted that it would take another century before it happened again.

Chelsea and Manchester City both got close. Both failed. Both showed money does not buy you history. But now Liverpool are on the horizon.

There 50th game will be away to Manchester City. Between now and then they do not have any major hurdles.

It is getting to the point where it would actually be more surprising if Liverpool failed to at least match Arsenal’s 49 game unbeaten run.

Once you accept that records are there to be broken, and that Liverpool are positioning themselves to break Arsenal’s record, you can then appreciate what Jurgen Klopp is doing.

Last season Liverpool won the last 9 games on the bounce as they finished 2nd in the league with 97 points. They lost just once.

They have continued that run this season with 21 wins in 22 games. No team has ever dominated English football the way Liverpool are.

There 39 game unbeaten run has seen them win 34 games, drawing 5.

Unlike Manchester City and Chelsea before them, they have also done it the right way.

A sensible transfer policy of buying low, selling high. Top coaching from Klopp. Togetherness.

This is not a rich Arab or Russian throwing money at the club. Bankrolling success. This is a side that has been built organically. The right way.

And it is perhaps that reason why I am not bitter over what Liverpool are doing.

Had Chelsea or Manchester City broken our unbeaten record, it would have felt like we had been cheated out of our record due to financial doping.

Teams that have spent billions of pounds in an attempt to re-write the record books. It would have been the equivalent of Ben Johnson breaking the 100m world record. You might have ran the fastest 100m of all time, but everyone would know you doped to get there.

Liverpool is something different. There is no financial doping. What they are achieving has to be respected. Like what Arsenal did in 2004 has to be respected.

And the quicker you accept what Liverpool is doing is incredible. The quicker you come to terms that they might go past Arsenal 49 game record, the easier it will be when they do it.

So do not be bitter. Accept what Liverpool are doing is incredible, and understand records are there to be broken.

Instead of getting twisted up over what they are doing, realise that they have done it the right way. Take inspiration from them. That if they can do it, why can’t Arsenal?

Liverpool’s success against the oil barrens and Russian Oligarchs should give all football fans hope once more.

This is not a one off like Leicester. This is a club that is here to stay. A club that has been run well for nearly a decade. All pulling as one to win the league. A club that has shown you do not need to be a rich mans play thing to win the league.

Liverpool will win the league this season. They will probably break Arsenal’s 49 game unbeaten run. They could go the entire season unbeaten. And that should give us all hope.

16 years and counting. There is hope.

Unai Emery’s rope -a-dope tactics nearly pay off

1974, Rumble in the Jungle, Ali v Foreman.

George Foreman was considered by many to be the favorite to win the fight due to his superior punching power.

Instead of coming out to fight fire with fire, Muhammad Ali went on the back foot, encouraging Foreman to come at him.

By lying against the ropes, much of the Foreman’s punch’s energy was absorbed by the ropes’ elasticity rather than Ali’s body.

Despite seemingly taking a pummelling, Ali won the fight when Foreman became tired from the beating he was delivering and rope-a-dope was born.

Against Liverpool, Unai Emery attempted to reenact one of the greatest fights of all time on the football field.

Liverpool are the European champions. They finished 2nd last year with a points tally that would have won the league in almost any other season. They lost just one game and finished the season with the two of the three league’s top scorers. They are better than Arsenal. They are stronger than Arsenal.

Emery knew that his Arsenal side could not match Liverpool man for man. Especially with Mesut Ozil, Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney all out. He had to come up with a tactic that would see Arsenal sacrifice going toe to toe with Liverpool and take advantage when the opportunity arose.

And it so nearly worked. Emery was let down by his players who, when the opportunity arose, failed to take advantage.

For the opening 10 minutes Liverpool were getting in behind Arsenal and peppering balls into the box. The Gunners were under the cosh.

Out of nowhere, Arsenal had the chance to take the lead!

Adrián came racing out of his area to clear a forward pass, he slide in and succeeded only in deflecting the ball into Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s path and the Arsenal striker went for the lob but it landed just wide.

8 minutes later Arsenal had another great chance.

A strong break by Dani Ceballos lead the charge up the pitch. On the edge of the box he found Nicolas Pépé, who could only shoot straight at Adrian. Clearest chance of the match.

Despite being under the cosh for the first 20 minutes, Arsenal should really had been leading but failing to take 2 great chances.

Emery’s tactics were becoming clear. Sit back, defend, absorb Liverpool’s attack and look to counter punch when the opportunity arises.

It was working, but then 4 minutes before half time Arsenal concedes from a corner.

Arsenal has been doing so well to hold out, so to concede from a corner would have frustrated all.

2 minutes into the second half, a moment of madness from David Luiz as he pulled Mo Salah’s shirt in the penalty area giving away a penalty.

In the space of 7 on-field minutes, Emery’s best laid plans had been ripped up as Arsenal found themselves 2-0 down.

You can not adopt rope-a-dope tactics if you are behind and the game eventually finished 3-1.

Emery got a lot of criticism from many fans after the game for being tactically naive. But he got his tactics spot on. What he could not count on was Aubameyang and Pepe not taking their chances; and David Luiz giving away a silly penalty straight after half time.

When the goals Arsenal conceded are reviewed, there is little Emery could have done about them.

The 1st was a from a corner where Matteo Guendouzi was fouled, the second a penalty, the 3rd a fabulous finish by Salah. The game was not littered with the defensive errors caused the demise of Arsenal’s recent trips to Anfield.

Sport will always be a game of what ifs.

What if one of Frazer’s booming punches knocked out Ali? he would have been criticised for his rope-a-dope tactics.

What if Aubameyang or Pepe scored their chances within the first 18 minutes? We might have been sitting here this morning talking about an Unai Emery masterclass.

The reality is Arsenal lost 3-1 and another defeat at Anfield.

Still 2nd in the league though.