my liverpool by derek martin

I was simply trying to convince him to start a blog. He told me to first read his Liverpool season summary. I told him not only will I read it, but will post here if I like it. Boys and girls a fellow LFC lover making his blogging debut, closing off the 2010/2011 season in the life of the Reds.

After a pretty dismal end to the 2009/2010 season, hopes were high for the next season, I mean a new coach and all – Roy Hodgson – we were at least expecting a bright start, which we did receive in qualifying for the Europa League by beating Trabzanspor, however we exited the competition nearly as quickly as we entered it. It was very disappointing indeed.

After a very disappointing start to the league, Hodgson losing his mind, Injuries to key players, no depth as well as owner politics our season was really heading only one way, to the bottom of the log, and that is exactly where we were sitting- the first time I have ever seen Liverpool in the relegation zone –ever!
My mind set for the season changed from qualifying for the UEFA Champions league to staying in the Premier League, big mind set change to adopt. After watching Liverpool struggle game in and game out, lots of losses, a few draws and an odd win I was feeling really demotivated, then the changes started rolling in.
Firstly Torres left us and to be honest, I think it was the best thing that happened to the team the whole season – besides King Kenny of course – and due to the Torres movement the average goals increased from 1.6 goals a game to 2.5 goals a game- some say Torres was the broken leg in the team as his negative attitude affected the squad attitude.

With the dismissal of Torres we saw the departure of the not so many points scoring Coach Hodgson, not really a surprise based on his track record (7 wins, 4 draws & 9 Losses) and after plummeting Liverpool to a 57 year low the only way for him was the way out.

No Coach, mid table and hoping for the best we continued to push on based on the rumour that Kenny Dalglish will be coming to be our temporary coach for the remainder of the season, and yes, it became official that King Kenny will coach us- this was the emotional, positive mind switch that Liverpool Football Club needed, a great Legend to turn us around, and man did he do that.

With not much else to do but pick up pieces King Kenny started looking into the base of players on hand as well as a new buy, our super striker Suarez- even scoring a gaol on debut- equalling Torres season tally.
King Kenny looked into the depth of our squad as choices were limited and brought back players such as Maxi (Scoring two hat- ricks in 3 games) as well as some of our younger players, Robinson and Flanagan, with an average age of only 17 and a half years old. All in all a good end of the season managing to push us up to 6th position when everybody thought we were done and dusted.

King Kenny turning the Liverpool season around by great squad rotation as well as the introduction of our youth and they played well. This resulted in King Kenny scoring 30 points (9 wins, 3 draws and 3 losses) in the second half of the season, the most by any coach ever in the premier league, great start!
Yes it must be admitted that Liverpool still has got a lot of work to do, we do not expect to win the league next season but we would like to challenge and at the least qualify for the UEFA Champions League again. The owners have given us a decent budget to work with and with the combination of experience and youth I am expecting a great 2011/2012 season!

Highlights of the Season:
• Qualifying for the Europa League Cup – even though it was short lived.
• Beating Chelsea 1-0 at their own home ground
• Signing Kenny Dalglish as our coach.
• Smashing Manchester United 3-1
• Dirk Kuyt scoring an amazing hat-trick in that game.
• Having a winning streak and seeing 13 goals scored in 3 games.
• Signing of Suarez.
• Exit of Fernando Torres & Roy Hodgson

Season Let Downs:

• Exiting the Europa League Cup due to a 0-0 draw with Braga.
• Steven Gerrard injury which cost him most of the season.
• Losing to Spurs costing us 5th place- even though we were lucky to be there!

Player of the Season in my opinion:

Pepe Reina- always a great team ambassador, always on form and defiantly saved Liverpool from many more losses with his amazing saves.

Worst Players of the Season in my opinion:
Fernando Torres- suffering from a really poor World Cup in South Africa, he stayed in that dip and certainly cost Liverpool a few points due to his lack of ball control and finishing.
Glen Johnson- even though his season was injury ridden, when he did play he played really poorly, since King Kenny has arrived he has improved, defiantly need to watch this space next season.

Most Consistent Players of the season in my opinion:

Martin Skytrel – after playing with a concussion in the first match against Arsenal, he proved tough to deal with in the defence and played nearly every game of the season, he is fit and strong and will shine again and again.
Dirk Kuyt- do I need to say more, the name says everything, a great Liverpool ambassador as well as a fantastic player. His work horse approach to the game always results in assists and goals- including that amazing hat-trick against Manchester United.
Lucas Leiva – His consistency and self –improvement this season gave him the Standard Chartered Player of the season, and it was well deserved, he had a great season and is defiantly going to play a big role in Liverpool’s campaign next season.

Players to watch next season:

Raul Merieles – Just started finding form, has fully accepted the Liverpool Family Spirit and has scored important goals in important matched.
Maxi Rodriguez – I mean he has scored two hat-tricks in three games and we cannot ignore this.
Louis Suarez- I think the flood gates might be opening for him soon and yes, goals will be flowing.
Andy Carroll- If he finds form, the Suarez and Carroll party will start, the short and tall combination could prove deadly and make our next season great!

To some this season up in one word I would have to say Grateful, we are grateful to achieve what we have achieved and are hopeful for next season, let’s hope King Kenny uses our transfer budget effectively and gets the great name of Liverpool back on the map again.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Derek Martin is a Marketing and Electronic Distribution Analyst for the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) Portfolio Extrabold

Follow him on Twitter: @derekm11


only two months

Its the end of the football season and while rugby has had my attention in the past few weeks, in particular the last hurdle of Lady Rugga I have enlisted Samantha Robinson to sum up the 2010/2011 season for in(TRACK)suit.

As the 2010/2011 football seasons comes to an end I get the same feeling I had on the 13th of July 2010 when the World Cup ended. The only reason I haven’t cried is because it is only two months (two months of boring weekends may I add) and then it is back. I guess this is a good time to reflect on the season that was – the good, the bad and the sometimes ugly!

I could think of no better way to do this than involve those who make my football weekends that much more interesting – my friends on Twitter who are never too busy for a good old banter or chat. Thanks for all your comments and I look forward to next season where we can start afresh.
Let’s see what everyone had to say:

I guess it is only fair to start with the English Champions Manchester United – by far my least favourite team in the EPL although I cannot dispute that they had an amazing season. The biggest Man United supporters I know are @sangxa and 17 year old Sri-Lankan known as @236meli.

After the game on Saturday when his team lost to Barcelona @sangxa sent me this: “Losing to Barcelona was hard to take, but as a football fan I know that on the night we were beaten by the better team. Overall I am happy with the season, an FA Cup Semi-Final and winning our 19th League title is what makes me a proud supporter.

I was pleasantly surprised when, out for a work dinner, I discovered one of the girls at a fellow agency is also a HUGE football fan and equally surprised when I heard what a big United Supporter she is. @marislee I look forward to going through a whole season with you and having something more to talk about than nappies and tissues.

the 19th title

Next up is my team – the Blues, Chelsea! Well what a season we had – we started off with a bang and it looked like no one could stop us but then it started going downhill. The biggest news of the season was the move of Fernado Torres from LFC to Chelsea. I won’t lie I was over the moon – I thought he would be brilliant for us. I thought that the change would lift his spirits and his game and at the same time help Chelsea get back on track. But I was wrong. I watched one game after the next where he just could not score and I moved beyond feeling sorry for him to actually not liking him (nearly hating him).

the let down

Finally he scored, after 14 games and 734 minutes, against West Ham United. But that is where it ended and he was not able to get another one in the back of the net for the rest of the season. Although we finished second for the season – there is a lot that just didn’t happen.

I must agree with @tyronlSA that the highlights and low lights for any Chelsea fan were our games against Manchester United. A big highlight was the 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge. That was the game of the season for me – I have not seen such a display of football for a long time. But they also broke our hearts in what was called the title decider where they beat us 2 -1 at Old Trafford. When Hernadez scored his goal in the first minute I knew it was over. With Ancelotti fired and rumours of Pep Guardialo and Kaka joining the Blues, I wait in anticipation for the 2011/2012 season to kick off.

Although Liverpool has been breaking their supporter’s hearts of late (and we know how passionate the LFC supporters are – ask my good friends @derekm11, @KateNokwe and @kojobaffoe ) they can be happy with the way their season ended. Although next season will the first time in 11 years that they are not Europe I believe they ended off their season better than they started. @derekm11 says that at the beginning of this season his mindset changed from expecting the team to qualify for Champions League to hoping they would stay in the EPL.

the turnaround

@kojobaffoe said that at a stage watching games felt like going to the doctor’s offices – necessary but painful. Although they lost their last two games, the fact that LFC can still beat United 3 -1 and win with scores like 5 – 0 against Birmingham, 3 – 0 against Newcastle and 5 – 2 against Fulham show what King Kenny is capable of with his team. Of course the big news for the club was selling Torres to Chelsea. Although at the time the fans were angry about it (and most of them still have bitter feelings about what Torres had to say) they are over it and enjoy what the two new comers – Andy Carrol and Luis Suarez have brought to the LFC game. I believe that LFC is a team to watch next season – they don’t have to worry about Europe and concentrate on the other important titles and improving their game. Do you think it can be 19 – 19? I think it will be close.

Who do you think had the worst season? I definitely think Arsenal. My memory of watching the Arsenal games this season were that of watching my husband and Granddad cringe with embarrassment as well as Arsene Wenger throwing water bottles around. The season was one of ups and downs and who knows this better than @Tyronbarnard who tells us of his highlights and low lights: Arsenal was within one point of MFC at the end of February and looked like they would be worthy competitors for the EPL trophy but they finished 4th for the season. Beating Barcelona, at home, in the Champions league only to lose 4-3 on aggregate and being knocked out of the cup. Getting to the final of the Carling Cup against Birmingham City but losing in the 89th minute. And who can forget the 4-4 draw with Newcastle after having a 4 – 0 lead. It will be a summer of change for the Gunners, but what happens next year is anyone’s guess.

what wasn’t

Normally teams like Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspurs would not feature in a blog like this. But they have proven to be worthy competitors to what use to be known as the “Top 4”. Unfortunately I don’t know any Spurs supporters so no comment here but hopefully we can get to know a few in the next season. But I do know one very happy Man City supporter – @lil_vale ! The highlight for him is first knocking Man United out of the FA Cup and then going on to win the FA Cup at Wembley. And for the first time Man City will take part in the Champions League. But as any good supporter @lil_vale can see his team’s faults – “hopefully Carlos Tevez sorts himself out or just goes home and I still think we don’t finish off the smaller team enough and if we did we could have been more than just FA Cup winners this year. “

The one form of this wonderful sport that I have not really followed is the South African version. Since the World Cup I have been extremely proud of our country including our football players but I must admit that I still have not followed the PSL or the other cups and tournaments that happen right in our backyard. I do know that the game must be good if the winner of the PSL is decided in the last game of the season and is between four teams though. Well done to Orlando Pirates on winning the treble – the first team to do this in SA!! I have now recruited a new friend @khencie to teach me the ins and outs of the SA version of the game. I have already received a rundown of who is who in the PSL so I will go into the next season with my background knowledge on the up. Best believe @khencie I will be asking you loads of questions as we go along. Plus I am also relying on @kyleorton4 to organise me some tickets to watch the game. (By the way follow him because he will be one of the hot players at Bidvest Wits in the next year or two and I could be featuring his game in a blog).

So that is the season in a, very long, nutshell! I am sure we will be chatting as we watch to see who is going where with transfers. And I will check you all again on the 7th of August to watch Manchester United take on Manchester City in the FA Community Shield – the start of yet another exciting football season.

Samantha Robinson is an Public Relations Account Director at Sabio Communications.
Follow her on Twitter : @samrobinson25

long live another day

By now you should have seen and heard the chirps over the past weekend’s football affairs. And if you are a Manchester United or Chelsea supporter, you most probably been on the receiving end. My two favourites being:

“His armband said he was red, Romans money turned his head, he thinks he’ll have a better life, until John Terry meets his wife

“If you see an Arsenal supporter walking a dog, get them to call 0800 4-0 4-1 4-2 4-3 4-4 for advice on how to hold a lead”

These (of course) cultivated by the scrutiny that is soccer. An unforgiving tale of all that is the game. No one knows this better than a Reds supporter… Or so everyone thought. Let’s face it; Chelsea did not give the men in Red half a chance, as did their supporters reciprocation.

Who can forget the we-took-Torres-right-under-your-noses slurs? The Manchester giants suffering their first season defeat to the ‘Davids’ at the bottom of the log is something never envisioned.

And I guess one has to be an Arse to comprehend as well as perhaps explain …some things. However, a great outcome for Dalglish’s outfit who bared it all and handed Ancelloti’s men their seventh drub (well imagine that).

It’s been said that “Football is not what you deserve, but what you do” What you make of the chances created. The rare, and yet so golden opportunities that procure a great touch lethal to opposition.

No statement has ever been more unerring as far as Davide Somma is concerned. Wednesday night brought South African fans together. Replicas, once again dusted off and out of the cupboards to support ‘The Boys’.

Bars, households, and of course twitter buzzed – how did we watch any game before the twitter phenomenal – as international friendlies around the world befell.

Bafana Bafana welcomed Kenya to the South African shore. Somma’s second appearance for his country should be somewhat memorable, but for the fan club the memories are not what they anticipated, especially considering how it all began. An ordered hat-trick to say the least.

His minute and eight seconds goal gave an impression of his determination to (possibly) be Pitso’s number one forward. One may argue that, it may not be off the cards just yet, but the Leeds United’s striker currently lacks the command that is identity to Katlego Mphela.

It cannot be denied he’s pacy, strong with agility on his feet, and always in the box at the right time, exactly what is required while ‘Killer’ Mphela fights his I-want-to-go-overseas demons, but one has to wonder if his current footwork will be good enough to break The Pharaohs’ backline, when they meet in March.

It doesn’t take the final score to indicate that SA was a much stronger side and though(the score) will certainly boost the 47th ranked side confidence (to a certain extent) and inevitably give it a good standing with FIFA Rankings, however, we cannot dispute the fact that Egypt will not be running with jitters due to that performance.

As we move onto another great sporting weekend, whatever it holds, one thing is for certain only a few will elude the on-coming chirps. Let the count-down begin.

smile in mourning

During the 2010 World Cup a number of things shifted in SA as well as me.

Obviously I backed the boys in Green and Gold along with, the eventual winners, Spain. But my other two teams were the Yanks and (dare I say it) Uruguay! I was quite distraught when I found two of my teams in the same group.

My dream, for the first round at least, was that SA and Uruguay made it through but as I was often reminded they had the French to concede with. But as it always does Karma came back to bite the French in the backside and they couldn’t pull off a single convincing win (I am sure Ireland could have done better).

Now as a confessed Uruguay fan you can imagine the condemning comments I received after the Suarez hand ball incident against Ba-Ghana Ba-Ghana (how I hated that name!).

After the game I posted something along the lines of “Gyan will (forever) be remembered as the man who single-handedly cost Africa a World Cup.” Many responded “Don’t you mean Suarez?” more than once. This made me realize that most of us had fantasies of Ghana actually claiming the title and Suarez broke the hearts of the entire continent…right.

This brings to the question; will LFC’s newest recruit break hearts even further? I’ve already ‘welcomed’ the obscene remark that we have just become the most hated club in Ghana.

Let’s admit it has been a roller-coaster ride (if ever there was an understatement) in the life of all that is Liverpool Football Club. Arguably the greatest club in England (you know what I mean), with a breathtaking history than any bed time story from Nelson Mandela.

The Reds have seen and been through it all especially these past two seasons – from the prospect of new owners, Woy, not making the Champions League, fighting off relegation, fighting to stay in the top half of the table and more recently the loss of our Golden Boy – El Nino – to Chelsea.

We didn’t have much time to comprehend, let alone mourn this loss – the rumours started and were confirmed within a week. As expected the supporters didn’t take kindly to the news of his departure and a person understand this debacle only too well would be Melissa Reddy hence the tweet:

“Dear footballers, you have every right to want to win trophies, further your careers and make more money. Just please respect supporters.”

I can only hope that, the heart breaker keeps our hearts in one piece and along with Andy Carrol starts scoring some goals. And I must admit that if his hand ruptures the hearts of some Chelsea, Arsenal and United fans I won’t complain.

It is ironic that the two teams who were most affected by this last transfer period are playing on Sunday. Whether it’s seeing Torres comes on the field in a blue shirt, which will be worse than seeing an ex with a super model a week after a break-up or the possibility of a winning goal from the boot (or hand) of Suarez it is going to be an interesting clash between these giants of the EPL.

You’ll Never Walk Alone