Monday, 14 December 2009

Liverpool Demise

Liverpool's defeat to Arsenal on Sunday showed a number of failings that have been building up for sometime at Anfield and now is surely the time for Rafa to go.

While they played well in the first half against Arsenal, they actually didn't create a great deal of chances and their 'good' play revolved around stopping Arsenal perform. Once Wenger had worked out what to do - give his players a bollocking at half time basically - Liverpool were made to look ordinary. And that's the word for Liverpool, ordinary. They have been for a few seasons.

Fans may tell you about that 4-1 win at Old Trafford last season, but it counted for nothing in the end, and the bore draws at Anfield in the months before were far more significant.

Alan Hansen tipped Liverpool for the title at the start of the year - a fact he seems to have forgotten now - and describes the situation now as "not nearly as good" as it should be. That's an understatement. For Liverpool to be scrambling around with Spurs and Aston Villa is not good enough, unless they're happy to be mediocre. That appears to be what many fans have accepted - because a top four finish is now an achievement.

So what's Rafa doing wrong? He started the season with everyone knowing that an injury to either Torres or Gerrard seriously depletes his side. No other top half contender is affected in such a way. United have lost Ronaldo - and are still competing. They've also had no Ferdinand, Vidic and other key players at times this season. Chelsea could lose Drogba and Lampard, but they wouldn't be as badly affected. Arsenal had Fabregas missing and have lost Van Persie, still to some extent competitive.

Of all the players benitez signed in the 2004-05 season, none are at Anfield anymore. In the 5 buying seasons since these are his arguably good purchases.

REINA - 6 Mill
CROUCH - 7 mill (then sold for 9 after 2 seasons)
AGGER - 5.8
BELLAMY - 6 Mill (then sold for 7.5 a season later)
KUYT - 9 mill
MASCHERANO - 19 mill
TORRES - 27 mill

I struggle to find many others. It's about a 15% success rate.

Compare that same period for Chelsea and Manchester Utd you will see a better quality of players - producing a strong squad.

I think Liverpool are the biggest victims of the Champions League bubble. Benitez has turned success in that tournament into a bigger priority than the league. Now he's out of the race in both what can he do. Better to bring in someone now and give them six months to work out what's wrong.

Liverpool fans have been patient - and that's to their credit - but it's time for change.

Okay you ask - who to replace him?

Mourinho's the obvious candidate and he'll be looking for a move to the Premier League in the summer. Steve Coppell anyone? Would he do any worse than Benitez? Walter Smith? Roy Hodgson? You might laugh, but I can't see any of those doing any worse. None of those I mention would have effectively one striker in their squad and buy a right back for 17 million that can't defend!

So when Reading knock Liverpool out of the FA Cup on Jan 2nd, it's goodbye Rafa!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009


So it's the end of the Noughties and the music from the past decade has been pretty good. We've had Arctic Monkeys prove that rock can still be exciting, and in Alex Turner, we have uncovered a lyrical genius. Coldplay dominated the decade from the rock point of view, with three excellent albums, but the quality of their last release questions whether they can last into the next decade.

Male singer songwriters flew high during the mid decade, with James Blunt the most successful, and we've had quality stars from the States like Jason Mraz finally make it in the UK. But latterly it's been females dominating as record bosses search for a replacement Amy Winehouse. So far they've failed, as no one has matched the excellent Back to Black album.

From a pop point of view, it took Take That to reform to give mainstream pop a good kick up the arse, with Robbie Williams ending up the decade needing the band more than they need him - and that was never going to be predicted in 2000!

Anyway here is my pick of some of the songs of the decade. Please add your own with a line about why.

ELBOW - ONE DAY LIKE THIS: Reward for years of hard work finally came the way of this lot and this song shows why. It's a dream of a song - timeless with its sentiment, mood and music.

JAMES BLUNT - YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL: I sat my wife down and player her this song three months before it was released and said it'd be huge. You might not want to hear it again, but for a time in 2005/06 you had no choice.

MUSE - HYSTERIA: Here was the evidence that this band were going to be big. Just like Elbow, they worked hard and it paid off. Now selling out Wembley Stadium, to be the best live band in the country.

KEANE - BEDSHAPED: Emotive final track on their debut album. They could have been together with Coldplay, but in the end it's great for us they stayed apart.

COLDPLAY - YELLOW: The breakthrough track and a truly classic pop/rock song.

KILLERS - SOMEBODY TOLD ME: Did this start the Eighties revolution? Well you can;t hold it against it if it did. At exactly 1 minute 19 is the best example of keyboard use this decade!

ARCTIC MONKEYS - I BET YOU LOOK GOOD ON THE DANCEFLOOR: It's where it all started and although there are a dozen tracks you could pick, you have to go with the song that enthralled, excited and energised young fans in a way that hadn't happened since Cigarettes and Alcohol.

KANYE WEST - HEARTLESS: The master of pop hip-hop and his finest moment. Just stop using that auto-tune now.

THE EAGLES - LONG ROAD OUT OF EDEN: 10 minutes long and as epic as Hotel California, this was one of the better comebacks from the comeback decade.

MANIC STREET PREACHERS: AUTUMNSONG: The Manics bit the bullet and went commercial for the Tigers album and here embrace Queen. Who'd have thought it?

AMY WINEHOUSE - BACK TO BLACK: Who knows if she'll ever be this good again?

DIXIE CHICKS - NOT READY TO MAKE NICE: A big f off to Bush and his devotees, this is lyrically and musically superb. A great album too with the help of the under-rated Dan Wilson (Semisonic)

BEN FOLDS - LANDED: He went solo and he kept on producing quality, until a slight swerve ball in 2008! This is pounding classic piano pop.

JUSTIN CURRIE: NO, SURRENDER: This one's for all those who know me. he had to be in the list and this underlines he genius status. Glasgow's finest. Just make more records you lazy sod!

DAMIEN RICE- THE BLOWER'S DAUGHTER: What a discovery this man was, with a truly stunning debut of which this was just one of the highlights.

Okay that's 15 - and I have now disappeared up my own arse and said the word classic too many times.

Any thoughts?