The Season Begins on Sunday

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Of course, the season actually began on August 15th with our first Premier League match at home to Arsenal, and we’re already three games into it. Or did it really begin back on July 29th with our first-leg Europa League qualifier away to Macedonian side FK Rabotnicki? Either way, the action already completed might be considered as just a few opening scenes while the stage is still being set for the main acts of the season to come.

One of the reasons that I say the season is really beginning now, instead of weeks ago, is simply that we weren’t really into the Europa League until we had successfully completed the qualifying rounds. Also, we had the handicap of not having all of our World Cup players available until just before the start of the Premier League season, which meant that we had to make do with a mostly reserve team side for the first few competitive matches.

Another reason for the thought that the season hadn’t yet begun was that we were still in the process of finding new players before the transfer window closed at the end of August. We already had one new player on the way before the end of last season – Milan Jovanovich who was recruited on a free transfer by Rafa Benitez. It was now up to new manager Roy Hodgson to assess the squad and determine who he would want to stay and who would he be willing to part with.

Roy is no slouch when it comes to assessing players, and when you look back at his record in Sweden, Finland, Denmark and with the Swiss national side among others, a pattern emerges that shows he manages to get the best out of the players he has rather than spending big in the transfer market. Of course we also know how he managed to get Fulham to the Europa League final last season, which illustrates his ability to use his players wisely against supposedly superior opposition. One of the first comments that I made when he was announced as our new manager was that I wondered if he already had his eye on a number of lower priced but highly capable players that he was thinking of bringing to Fulham, which he would now be hoping to bring to Liverpool. That may turn out to be a necessary talent for a new Liverpool manager, with full knowledge that there would be limited funds available for transfers into the club.

The first major signing for Roy was Joe Cole on a free transfer. That signing caused a few ruffled feathers among some pundits, especially when Joe made all the right comments about wanting to come to the best and biggest club in the world. We already knew that, but it was a shock to many that he chose us over several other clubs that would have been thrilled to have him in their squads. Christian Poulsen was recruited from Juventus, which is really no great surprise as Roy knew him well from their time at Copenhagen. Meanwhile, Fabio Aurelio was still training with the squad even though he had been released at the end of last season, and when Roy found out that he had not yet found a new club he offered him a contract to stay. That was a good move, as it’s not only another free signing, but also obviously brings in a proven left-sided player with plenty of experience with Liverpool. Roy also looked toward the future and signed a few promising young players, such as 18 year old defender Danny Wilson from Rangers, and 18 year old midfielder Jonjo Shelvey from Charlton Athletic.

A few players were effectively told they could leave the club, but with no immediate takers they were instead sent out on loan. Aquilani returned to Italy with Juventus, Degen went off to Germany, Insua to Turkey, and El Zhar to Greece. If any of those players now prove themselves capable of playing well and not getting injured, we have the option of bringing them back at the end of the season. Alternatively, they may be sold on to other clubs, allowing money to be available for bringing in other players.

As the transfer deadline approached, there were more rumours than could possibly be followed with any measure of intelligence. One of the more reliable was that we were looking very closely at a couple of players at PSV Eindhoven – Swedish striker (or sometimes midfielder) Ola Toivonen, and Mexican left-back Carlos Salcido. Both of these players were initially of great interest, to the extent that Kenny Dalglish was sent over to Holland to watch them both in action. A week or so later, it was rumoured that Salcido was on his way to Fulham rather than Liverpool, and Roy then made the statement that even though we wanted to sign a striker, he had no interest in Toivonen. He explained his reasoning simply that we have enough players already capable of playing a role that Toivonen plays, i.e. as a supporting striker, and that what we really need is a lone striker, i.e. a player more of the Torres style.

As for the need for a left-back (with Insua out on loan, and injury prone Aurelio the only other experienced player available), it was clear that we were still looking for a new player to fill that role. Paul Konchesky’s name came up, to the surprise of many, but it was soon clear that the wheels were already in motion for this deal to be made. The best person to make that decision was Roy himself, and in spite of a lot of criticism similar to “If this is the best we can do then we’re really in trouble”, it must be said that nobody can make the judgement as to who is the better player besides a manager who has worked with him for the past 3 years. Roy knows exactly what he’s getting with Konchesky, and given the chance to sign Salcido from PSV he chose instead to bring Konchesky to Anfield and let Salcido go to Fulham. Surely Roy can see something that most of the rest of us don’t, and has a plan in place for how he’ll get Konchesky to fit into the back line with the others. Let’s not forget also that Paul Konchesky has plenty of Premier League experience, and is also one more English player to make up the numbers required under the new UEFA rules. The only negative that I can see in the deal is the loss of Lauri Dalle Valle, who was a promising young player who may have turned out to be that second striker that we need. But that would be a long way off in the future, and we have to be more concerned with the present needs for now.

The biggest name to be brought in at the last minute before the closing of the transfer window was 27 year old Portuguese international Raul Meireles from FC Porto. He comes with a wealth of experience at the highest level (150 or so appearances for his club, and 39 international caps) and is a proven winner with four consecutive Portuguese League Champions medals, and three Portuguese Cup winners’ medals during his ten years with Porto. He was previously linked with a move to Chelsea, but instead signed for Liverpool. He hasn’t played for us yet, and I’m really looking forward to seeing him in action soon. One more player to mention is goalkeeper Brad Jones, who was on Middlesbrough’s books since 2001 but was out on loan with various clubs for several seasons before becoming established as their first choice a couple of seasons ago. He’s Australian by birth and has represented their national team, but qualifies as “home grown” under the new Premier League rules.

The full squad is now in place, and we have a mix of talent, with a good cross-section of youth versus experience, and I personally would say that we have a better side now than we had last year. A few players will have to prove themselves this season, and that includes Lucas Leiva, David N’Gog, and Ryan Babel. They certainly have their critics, but we should remember that they are still relatively young and still learning, and I’d be happy to see those critics eat their words before the season is over. We also have a few younger players with the chance to break through into the first team as regulars. Martin Kelly has looked good as a full-back on either side whenever he’s had the chance, and could be used often as a substitute as well as in cup matches. He’s only 20, so he can look forward to a bright future if he plays well when called upon. Danny Pacheco and Danny Ayala are both in a similar position, with good showings in the reserves and a few appearances with the first team already. We also have a few starlets from the 2007 FA Youth Cup winning side ready to show what they can do, such as Stephen Darby, Jay Spearing, and Nathan Eccleston. Similarly for these players, they have to be ready to prove themselves capable when presented with the opportunity. It would be great to see some of them coming through and challenging for first team places, which if nothing else would keep the regulars on their toes knowing that there’s someone waiting for the chance to take their place.

It’s only the middle of September, but it seems like months since the season got under way with that first Europa League qualifier. In fact it really is months ago since Roy’s first competitive match in charge, away in Skopje against FK Rabotnicki back in July. That first Europa League two-leg qualifier was followed by another round of qualifying, this time against Turkish side Trabzonspor, which then allowed us to enter the group stage which begins this coming week (Thursday, September 19th) at home to Steaua Bucharest. After that, we have plenty more European matches to look forward to, with further matches against Napoli, and Utrecht. Hopefully we’ll succeed in the group and then go on to the knock-out rounds in February, with the real possibility of another European Final next May – in Dublin.

There’s no rest for the wicked, so the saying goes, and there’s also no rest for clubs that want success. That includes us of course, and so we hope that the upcoming first match in our quest for an eighth League Cup will begin successfully with a win at home to Northampton Town on September 22nd.

In between those two Europa League and Carling Cup matches, there’s also the small matter of a trip to Old Trafford, which is never easy but then never too dull either. As I said just a while ago, there’s no peace and no rest for us for a while yet to come. In fact, we have to hope that we won’t be resting too much until we end the season in May next year. Our aim for this season has to be to get back into the top four. Winning the league in Roy’s first season is a dream that is most likely out of reach, but it shouldn’t be abandoned for lack of trying. We don’t give up easily; in fact we just don’t give up. That wouldn’t be part of The Liverpool Way, and wouldn’t be acceptable to Roy, the players, or any of us. Besides a top-four finish, it would be nice to win a trophy of some sort this season. It’s been a few years since we won one (FA Cup in 2006), and Roy has a tough act to follow with several managers before him winning trophies in their first year in charge (Fagan 1984, Dalglish 1986, Souness 1992, Evans 1995, Benitez 2005).

Whatever happens, it’s sure to be an interesting season. We know it’s going to be a tough slog at times, and we can expect many ups and downs along the way. But, at the end of it all, we want to be able to hold our heads up proudly and say, “We are Liverpool FC, and We’re Back!”

Keith Perkins

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Russ’s World Cup Adventures

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LFC Vancouver members Russ & Louise attended some games at the World Cup this summer in South Africa.

Here are some photos of Russ outside and inside the stadium at Soccer City Johannesburg before the Holland v Denmark game.  Russ brought an LFC shirt to trade with some local policemen who were apparantly LFC fans.

Thanks for sharing the photos Russ.

 

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BREAKING NEWS!!!

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Liverpool FC have moved quickly to replace Javier Mascherano by agreeing a £10.7m package with Porto tonight for the Portugal international Raul Meireles.

Meireles, one of Portugal’s more impressive players in the World Cup, is understood to have agreed personal terms and, if everything goes according to plan, the deal will be completed over the weekend, dependent on the 27-year-old passing a medical examination.

Source: Guardian.co.uk

Steven Gerrard – 10 of the Best

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Gerrard_FA_Cup_2With Steven Gerrard recently celebrating a double whammy of one hundred Liverpool goals and ten years since his debut, I wanted to pay my own personal tribute. I can think of no better way of doing this than to talk about and remember my favourite goals by Liverpool’s captain fantastic. There are obviously many fabulous goals to choose from and although some of my choices were obvious for this list, others I had to think about. There were goals I left out that other people may have in their own top ten but that is the beauty of personal opinion. I will explain the reasons why I have chosen each goal and tell a few personal anecdotes surrounding some of the goals. My choices for this top ten are a mixture of spectacular strikes and goals that had massive importance at the time. Whatever you think of my picks, and the order in which I have rated them, I think you will agree that every one of them was a superb goal. It was difficult to pick just ten goals from his collection because as we all know Stevie doesn’t tend to score many tap ins. There are a few truly incredible goals I did not include in my top ten but still feel they are worthy of an honourable mention. These goals would be; his first Liverpool goal in December 1999, from a slalom run against Sheffield Wednesday. Another classic is the last minute free kick at Aston Villa on the opening day of the 2007/08 season. The diagonal blockbuster at Goodison Park in 2001, and his one hundredth goal, which was a carbon copy of so many of Gerrard’s goals, a long range blast into the top corner from an indirect free kick. I could actually go on for hours listing his great goals, but for now I will just concentrate on my own personal favourite top ten.

10. vs Inter Milan – March 2008

For my first choice in this list I have chosen Gerrard’s goal in the Champions League game, which came just a few minutes after Dirk Kuyt had given Liverpool the lead in front of the Kop. Not only was it an incredible piece of skill, how he knew to take the shot I don’t know, but it gave Liverpool a precious two goal lead to take into the second leg at the San Siro. He drove a low accurate shot from twenty yards and the ball crept into the bottom right hand corner of the goal. This was Stevie’s fiftieth goal at Anfield and it also earned him the achievement of being the first Liverpool player to score in five successive European games in the same season.

This was the only Liverpool Champions League game I missed watching live during the 2007/08 campaign. It is for that reason that I remember it best due to the stomach cramps I felt all day at work through nerves. I somehow managed to avoid the score all afternoon and early evening and by the time I arrived at the pub for the replay I was on the verge of exploding. Unfortunately an innocent drinker at the pub approached me as I took my seat and said “great win today”. The tension of the previous few hours was then regretfully taken out on this fella as I screamed “I’m gonna’ kill you!” Fortunately for everyone I soon calmed down and settled down to watch the game.

9. vs Middlesborough – August 2008

This was the winning goal right at the end of Liverpool’s first home game of the current season. Things weren’t going to plan and Liverpool were 1-0 down thanks to a goal from Mido. With five minutes to go Jamie Carragher scored with a deflected shot to set up the kind of dramatic finish that has been a regular occurrence this season. Deep into injury time Xabi Alonso played a ball into the area that wasn’t cleared properly. The ball was loose at the edge of the box and up popped Stevie to hit a rocket shot and bury the ball into the top corner of the goal. It was a hit that brought back memories of his goal against Olympiakos in 2004 and gave the Reds a valuable three points and a maximum return from the first two games of the season.

8. vs Deportivo Alaves – UEFA Cup Final, May 2001

The magical cup treble of 2000/01 was completed in Dortmund as Liverpool defeated Alaves 5-4 in the greatest UEFA Cup Final ever. Marcus Babbel opened the scoring for the Reds and then Gerrard put us two up. He latched on to a superb through ball from Michael Owen and blasted a low shot along the ground and into the net. This was a great way to finish a fantastic season for the club and for Steven personally as he was named the Young Player of the Year. This was also to be the start of Stevie going on to score in every club cup final for Liverpool.

7. vs Arsenal – April 2008

While not being Stevie’s most spectacular goal, it is definitely one of the most important. This one came in the second leg of the Champions league quarter final against Arsenal at Anfield. The tie was deadlocked at 1-1 after the first leg and this game proved to be one of the best in recent history. Arsenal took the lead to cancel out Liverpool’s away goal before Hyypia and Torres put The Reds into the lead. With less than ten minutes remaining Adebayor scored to put Arsenal ahead on away goals.

Our heads all went down at the pub at this moment and it looked like we were going to get knocked out of Europe. Unbelievably straight from the kick off, Ryan Babel was brought down in the area and Liverpool had a penalty. Up stepped Gerrard to take possibly the most important penalty of his career so far. You could cut the atmosphere with a knife at Anfield and around the world for those of us watching on television. Stevie was probably the calmest man in the ground at that moment as he stepped up and buried the ball in the back of the net to put the Reds into another Champions League semi final against Chelsea.

6. vs Southampton – January 2001

I chose this next goal simply for being visually spectacular and thoroughly memorable. It has become a staple clip in video compilations of spectacular Liverpool goals. It came on a cold new year’s day as Liverpool defeated Southampton 2-1 at Anfield. Gerrard scored Liverpool’s opener with one of his most spectacular long range strikes. He picked the ball up in midfield and advanced towards the Kop goal before firing an unerring shot from thirty five yards. The ball flew flew through the air and arrowed into the back of the net off the crossbar.

5. vs Manchester United – March 2001

This was another one for the large collection of Stevie’s spectacular goals. What makes this particular long range effort even more special was that it came in a victory over Man Utd. He latched onto a cushioned pass from Robbie Fowler before unleashing a powerful shot that flew past Barthez and into the top corner of the net. It was so amazing to see the net bulge and then see Stevie race across the pitch before sliding into the touchline in jubilation. He had been developing a reputation as one of the best young talents in the country and this goal was probably the moment that turned him into a superstar at Anfield.

4. vs AC Milan – Champions League Final, May 2005

What can I say about this goal that hasn’t been said a thousand times? As we all know it was the start of the amazing fightback that led to winning a fifth European Cup. It simply had to be Steven Gerrard who got the first goal and the way he waved his arms at the supporters got us all believing that the seemingly impossible could actually be achieved. In this one moment our captain gave us hope and brought us from the depths of despair. That alone makes this such a priceless goal. As for the goal itself, a brilliant header, guided into the side of the net with incredible technique and accuracy. A fabulous goal on a fabulous evening for Liverpool FC.

3. vs Middlesborough – April 2005

I think that this is without doubt his most spectacular goal so far. The reason I have chosen it ahead of the goal in Istanbul is because it has personal significance. It was the last league goal I saw in person before moving to Vancouver, Canada just a few days later after the Champions League semi final victory over Chelsea. I still have the celebrations from this goal saved on my mobile phone and I use it as one of my ring tones so that I can remember it every day.

Stevie received John Arne Riise’s crossfield ball just inside the Middlesbrough half. It bounced up, he chested it down and then from maybe thirty five yards he fired a brilliant dipping, swerving half-volley into the top corner of the Kop goal to make the score 1-1. It was an incredible shot and one of the finest long range goals I‘ve ever seen from any player before or since.

2. vs Olympiakos – December 2004

For my next choice I had to go with his cracker against Olympiakos in the final group game of the 2004/05 Champions League campaign. I chose this goal because without it there would have been no Istanbul and possibly no more Steven Gerrard as a Liverpool player at the end of that season. I was waiting for my flight back to Liverpool, having spent the previous two years globe trotting around Australasia and Thailand. I was sitting in the airport bar nursing the one drink I could afford and a plate of fries a generous fellow passenger had bought me. I was in my Liverpool shirt surrounded by American businessmen just watching ESPN with no sound. I couldn’t believe my luck when the Liverpool VS Olympiakos game came on the T.V, as I had arrived at the airport several hours early for my flight due to lack of funds. I asked for the volume to be turned up and sat back to watch an incredible match. 

I remember my loud, boisterous enthusiasm throughout the game began to attract the attention of the American businessmen who began to watch it with me. Just like all Reds fans around the world my chest was full of butterflies when the clock was ticking down and the score stood at 2–1, which wasn’t enough to qualify for the knockout stages. 

When Gerrard’s belter flew in, it was one of the most exciting moments of my life. I jumped out of my seat and ran around the bar like a lunatic before exchanging high fives with the American’s. They ended up buying me drinks afterwards because they’d been so entertained by my antics during the game.
I’m not the biggest fan of Andy Gray’s commentary but his scream of; “You beauty, what a hit son”, will go down as one of the best ever for any Liverpool goal. Unfortunately Gray kind of ruined the moment a few days later when he apologised for his comment in his Everton column in the Liverpool Echo. 

1. vs West Ham United – F.A. Cup Final, May 2006

The first F.A. Cup Final at the Millenium Stadium, Cardiff, is known as the ‘Owen Final’ and the last one is known as the ‘Gerrard Final.’ Stevie scored two fantastic goals in what is probably the best ever F.A. Cup Final. His first was to level the game at 2-2. He latched onto a knock down from Crouch to volley an unstoppable thunderbolt into the top corner. But the best was still to come. 

With the ninetieth minute rapidly approaching, West Ham kicked the ball out of play when Cisse went down injured. We immediately passed the ball back to the West Ham keeper, Hislop, who proceeded to give us the ball straight back. The ball suddenly fell to Gerrard about thirty yards from goal. Just minutes earlier Stevie had been lying on his back with cramp getting stretched by Riise. It was now do or die as he went for goal with a first time shot which would surely be the last chance of the game. At the time it was almost like watching in slow motion as the ball flew into the bottom corner of the goal. It was like one of those cliché’d sporting moments with the winning goal/basket/touchdown/home run in the last minute filmed in slow motion. I still can’t believe that it went in. It was an amazing goal and I truly believe that Steven Gerrard is the only player that could have done it.
Despite suffering cramp Gerrard was able to go on and score in the penalty shoot out and help us win the trophy. His second goal in open play that day surely must be ranked as the greatest goal ever in an F.A. Cup Final.

LFC Vancouver New Website

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Welcome to our brand new website. With Liverpool FC beginning it’s new era this season it’s the perfect time for LFC Vancouver to relaunch ourselves on the internet. I think you will enjoy our new site with all the great new features which include:

  • 2 dedicated areas to all things Liverpool newsite
  •      (1) The Editor (opinions on LFC from the past to present)
  •      (2) Newsletter (Weekly news relating to the supporters club)
  • RSS feed driven LFC news area
  • Integrated search engine
  • Archived areas (Soon to be updated with news pieces from the old site)
  • Newsletter Subscription area
  • Fully functional Photo gallery area
  • Integrated online contact form
  • And more …

Big thanks goes out to Robert Tubridy for all of his hard work and dedication for putting this new site together for us.

YNWA

LFC Vancouver