HR season review 2015/6. Rodgers, Klopp, finals, weddings, let downs, justice
Posted by Hellrazor on June 5, 2016, 11:46:42 PM
In your own time, also
1. Check out alonsoisareds review http://www.redandwhitekop.com/forum/index.php?topic=327902.msg14692389#msg14692389
2. Thanks to hinesy for his assistance
3. Again as I say when I do these. I hope you enjoy
PRE SEASON 2015 SUMMER
The preparations for the season began as usual amid a lot of speculation as to what the future held for several Liverpool employees, namely manager Brendan Rodgers. The Northern Irish man had in 2014 brought Liverpool to within 2 points of winning the Premier league with a brilliant style of football, though much like several managers since 1990 he was unable to take the final step, the sale of Luis Suarez had destabilized the team and the purchase of 9 players couldn’t help fill the void, most of whom had flopped badly. Fabio Borini had returned from a loan spell at Sunderland to help fill the void while the club also signed Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert, between the 3 of them they mustered 8 goals, Suarez in his final season managed 31. Daniel Sturridge was still about albeit in the treatment room 90% of the time.
Rodgers survived the summer despite overseeing a fall from 2nd in 2014 to 6th in 2015, Liverpool were beaten to 4th by sides such as a very average and dull Manchester United side who near the end of the season could afford to lose three matches in a row without being punished. A limp display against Aston Villa saw Liverpool go out of the FA cup at the semi-final stage and what should have been a fitting send off for departing skipper Steven Gerrard ended with a desperate 3-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace and in the final match of the season, Liverpool were annihilated 6-1 at Stoke City.
Rodgers did deserve time to try turn things around, but although the board backed him he still went into the season with doubts knocking on the door, I was happy enough to back him as Liverpool manager but unfortunately I knew that one or two defeats and the shit would hit the fan. The club needed to change things and after a reshuffling in the coaching department the Reds got to work in the transfer market. Two signings broke the bank in Hoffenheim’s Brazilian attacking midfielder Roberto Firmino and Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke. James Milner arrived on a free from Manchester City; another freebie was the arrival of Bolton keeper Adam Bogdan, whilst Liverpool bought a 4th Southampton player in 12 months with 12m splashed out on right back Nathaniel Clyne. Striker Danny Ings signed from Burnley and two promising youngsters came in with Charlton defender Joe Gomez arriving alongside Belgian striker Divock Origi (the latter was signed in 2014 but loaned back to Lille but now he was all ours).
Out went Fabio Borini and Sebastien Coates to Sunderland for a total of 12m, Rickie Lambert joined West Brom for 3m, Iago Aspas stayed in Spain with Sevilla for 5m whilst Glen Johnson and Brad Jones left the club on free transfers. Javi Manquillo ended his 2 year loan early and went back to Atletico Madrid, Lazar Markovic and Mario Balotelli both left on loan but the two most telling departures were undoubtedly Steven Gerrard who joined LA Galaxy when his contract expired, and Raheem Sterling joined Manchester City. Gerrard had done his time, it was time to move on but he was for me the greatest player I’d seen in 25 years of following Liverpool. It wouldn’t have flattered him to win 4 or 5 league titles, 0 just wasn’t fair.
Sterling’s departure didn’t go down well due to his actions of seemingly coming across like a spoiled brat not to mention comments from his agent, having refused to sign a new deal, Sterling went off sick for a couple of days training in the summer that had more than a few people questioning the supposed illness. Liverpool accepted a 49m offer with Sterling’s former club QPR entitled to a percentage (roughly 9m).
Liverpool took a back seat in the summer, I spent most of it planning and celebrating my wedding, in the summer of 2015 I married my partner of 11 years and had the best day of my life followed by a brilliant honeymoon in Las Vegas and Mexico, I had to mention that somewhere ha-ha. AUGUST, , a new beginning? Until we get hammered!
Liverpool began the season as they ended the last with a trip to Stoke City, having been trounced 6-1 the previous season it was the perfect chance for revenge but in an overall boring match that seemed destined to end 0-0, Liverpool stole a late winner when impressive debutant Joe Gomez fed Philippe Coutinho who rifled a stunning drive past Stoke keeper Jack Butland for a late 1-0 win. It was the perfect riposte after last year’s pasting with Liverpool’s defence holding firm all game.
Liverpool would repeat that score a week later, but were made to work hard in their first home game of the season, with the Reds downing an impressive Bournemouth at Anfield. Bournemouth certainly caused a lot of problems and Liverpool certainly got a slice of luck as Christian Benteke scored the winning goal in the first half with a goal that clearly should have been disallowed for offside. Bournemouth and manager Eddie Howe certainly had a right to feel aggrieved, particularly as early on they had a goal disallowed through captain Tommy Elphick although there was more than a hint of a push on Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren.
Liverpool would make it 3 clean sheets on the spin when they recorded a scoreless draw the following week at Arsenal, the first half saw Liverpool dominate with the excellent Coutinho striking the woodwork twice while Christian Benteke brought the best out of new Arsenal keeper Petr Cech, although Benteke certainly should have done better with the goal practically at his mercy. The home side responded in the second half but a 0-0 draw was the end result with both keepers (Simon Mignolet and Petr Cech) widely praised for their performances.
Since Brendan Rodgers had taken over Liverpool’s defensive record had been more than suspect but three clean sheets spoke for itself. It appeared as if improvements had been made, new youngster Joe Gomez was praised for his Rob Jones (anyone over 30 remember him?) like introduction from nowhere seemingly. Dejan Lovren was starting to show why we paid 20m to sign him and Simon Mignolet was finally producing performances worthy of a Liverpool number 1 (or 22). However, just as people began to feel that improvements were being made, just as Lovren was starting to show promise (after a pretty disastrous 2014-5 to be fair) and just as doubts about Brendan Rodgers were lessening came West Ham at home.
West Ham had a team riddled with injury and suspension, they hadn’t won at Anfield since 1963, although new manager Slaven Bilic lead them to an impressive away win at Arsenal they had then followed this up with home defeats to Leicester and Bournemouth. If ever it seemed like Liverpool would get an easy 3 points then this was it, 10 points from 4 games would be nice going into the international break but the weekend turned out to be a disaster.
Things began to go wrong for me on Friday, just as I pulled into a car park to pick up my Dad a brake calliper seized on my car which was just barely out of warranty, I seriously just felt like I’d no luck at times. I had struggled for money for a long time, however I decided that I would try put money aside each week to save for holidays and such. I’d a boss honeymoon and I wanted another boss holiday, just as I was counting the €40 I’d put away this happened wiping me out 10 fold with the brake calliper repair costing me €400, it made you wonder why you bothered sometimes. Never worry we will just go and thrash West Ham right?
No just kick me when I’m fucking down why don’t you, Manuel Lanzini put the hammers in front after just 2 minutes and after a massive mistake from Dejan Lovren, West Ham’s Mark Noble made it 2-0. Liverpool’s day was as good as over when Phillippe Coutinho was dismissed for a second bookable offence. Mark Noble soon fell foul of the same making it 10vs10 but just to rub salt in the wounds, Diafra Sakho made it 3-0 late on capping off a miserable day.
All the doubts were back, was Brendan Rodgers the right man anymore? Why the hell was Lovren in ahead of Sakho, Lovren had played well for the first few games to be fair but now had just gone back to the bad old days, the calls to play the seemingly more talented Sakho became more and more deafening.SEPTEMBER, the writing is on the wall
After the international break Liverpool resumed with a Saturday evening kick off at Manchester United, since the departure of Alex Ferguson this fixture was in no way as intimidating. David Moyes had had a poor reign but new manager Louis Van Gaal had United back in the top 4 albeit with a dreary style of football, Liverpool really should have gone to Old Trafford and taken the game to United but they instead just sat back most of the game in a very negative approached. After a very boring opening 45 minutes United opened the scoring through Daley Blind when Liverpool’s defence went asleep at a set piece for about the 305th time since Brendan Rodgers took over. Ander Herrera made it 2-0 from the penalty spot after a silly foul by Joe Gomez and it was only then we started to play.
In truth it was a limp display against a team starting without a recognized forward, Danny Ings was probably the only player to come off the pitch without disgracing himself largely but that said he was still withdrawn with 15 minutes left. In the 84 minute the game suddenly sprung into life when out of nowhere Christian Benteke unleashed a spectacular overhead kick that beat David De Gea in the United goal all ends up. The whole ground was stunned into silence, where on earth had that come from? Our performance and the overall game quality didn’t deserve a goal of such brilliance and sadly it counted for nothing when new United signing Anthony Martial ran through a pathetic defence to make it 3-1 and that was all she wrote.
The doubts surrounding Rodgers intensified, players lacked belief and the rot had set in again. Liverpool opened their European campaign the following Thursday with a trip to French side Bordeaux in the Europa league, a fine opening goal from Adam Lallana was cancelled out late on by Jussie after Emre Can had failed to deal with a clearance, this began a run of matches where Liverpool just couldn’t see games out and repeatedly threw away the lead. The match here ended 1-1 and this became a running theme.
Rodgers reverted to two up top for Sunday’s visit of Norwich, this was because of the return of Daniel Sturridge, a very talented player no doubt but one whose injuries had frustrated us no end. Sturridge started but his new strike partner Christian Benteke didn’t emerge for the second half, so Liverpool’s injury woes continued, it was now that new man Danny Ings stepped up to the plate, he emerged from the bench to open the scoring but Liverpool never killed the game off and conceded a sloppy set piece goal from Russell Martin on the hour mark for another 1-1 draw.
The following Wednesday we opened the league cup campaign with the visit of Carlisle United, Ings again opened the scoring not long after Carlisle’s Derek Asamoah levelled with a goal subsequently enough to force extra time and penalties. New keeper Adam Bogdan finally broke Carlisle down with 3 fine penalty saves and Danny Ings fittingly scored the winning penalty to put Liverpool through but it was all far from convincing against a league two side.
It was another difficult week, a friend’s mother died who I was quite close too and just for good measure that effort to save money took another blow, having put €70 away (a considerable effort) the windscreen motor which runs your wipers decided to stop working, cost me twice what id pugged away. How’s your luck? It was that bad that a wedding I was going too on the Friday saw me just drink water all day, normally I’m never away from the bar but funds weren’t stretching that far, it also would have meant booking into a hotel. The next day Liverpool at least did something right, James Milner opened the scoring inside two minutes in a home tie with Aston Villa. In the second half Daniel Sturridge and Aston Villa’s Rude Gestede each scored twice enabling Liverpool to win 3-2.
Injuries were starting to flare up though, the two big money buys in Benteke and Firmino were both injured and Captain Jordan Henderson suffered a broken foot in training, it wasn’t to get any better. October opened with a Europa league tie against Swiss side Sion, things were looking good when Adam Lallana opened the scoring early on and not for the first time this season Liverpool blitzed the opposition with shot after shot after shot, only to waste chances and be punished. Ebenezer Assifuah equalized in the first half and the game ended 1-1, a chorus of groans and boos could be heard.
What followed was somewhat more of the same in the Mersey Derby at Goodison Park on the Sunday, an early bright start culminated in the in form Danny Ings heading Liverpool in front but a clumsy mistake by Emre Can allowed Everton’s Romelu Lukaku to make it 1-1 just before half time. The second half petered out somewhat and it ended honours even. Liverpool ended the day in 10th position and although they were unbeaten in 6 games there was little to convince anyone that this was going to be a successful season. Games just petered out, leads were thrown away, the defence (regardless of Sakho or Lovren) never convinced and the managers chopping and changing of players and formations told its own story. I commented to some friends prior to the Villa game:
“People say a manager doesn’t know his best 11 at times; I don’t think he knows his best formation.”
I was no longer convinced Rodgers was the right man, he had done his best, he had tried hard, too hard maybe but over the last year Liverpool had slid backwards and it was hard to see if he could turn things around, unfortunately for Rodgers the Liverpool board were of the same opinion and just hours after the Everton draw, Brendan Rodgers was relieved of his duties as Liverpool manager.
I felt sorry for him in all honesty, the 2013-4 team should have won the league, they played unreal attacking football and scored a staggering amount of goals, Rodgers did like the sound of his own voice in interviews no question, but to be fair he always spoke in a very dignified manner, he rarely blamed others like so many other managers. Jose Mourinho at Chelsea for instance seemed to blame anything from physios to his players to referees to his dinner and god knows what else. Rodgers always remained dignified and it was just sad things didn’t work out but regrettably there were too many reasons to list as to why a change had to be made.OCTOBER, Klopp rallies the troops, but the draws continue
One of the reasons was that there was an availability of managers that had excellent pedigrees, and before long one of them was appointed, the Rodgers era ended and this coincided with a very exciting appointment of Germany’s Jurgen Klopp. Klopp had taken a break from management over the summer after a relatively disappointing final campaign with Borussia Dortmund, that said for many a year he had punched above his own weight in Germany leading Dortmund to two league titles and to within a whisker of a European Cup. Klopp’s teams prided themselves on attacking football but also hard work and pressing (or put them under pressure to us Irish) with “gegenpressing” being the buzz word. Klopp himself was a very charismatic and eccentric person and it was a match made in heaven. There were times over the years with Liverpool someone came in, be it a player or manager and almost immediately the buzz you feel was something that just got you excited and you could almost feel it hoarse through the clubs veins, Jurgen Klopp’s appointment was just like that.
The Klopp era began with Liverpool visiting Spurs at White Hart Lane, we had won the previous 5 league encounters with Spurs but on this day the match finished scoreless, it was an even enough game, Divock Origi hit the bar early on but aside from that looked lost as he tried to fill the void left by the injured again Daniel Sturridge although Liverpool themselves had to thank Simon Mignolet who did his best to keep out Harry Kane as Liverpool left with a share of the points and a clean sheet. Sadly for Liverpool one of the reasons Origi also started was a cruciate injury for new man Danny Ings who was unfortunately ruled out for the season.
The Reds were in the midst of drawing a lot of games. The following Thursday saw us draw 1-1 at home to Rubin Kazan, the visitors went ahead early on through Marko Devic but shortly after they had captain Oleg Kuzmin sent off, Liverpool levelled through Emre Can. Christian Benteke hit the post late on as Liverpool left the field to a disappointing draw in Klopp’s first home game.
Sunday came and again seemed more of the same story, Liverpool found it difficult to break down Southampton at Anfield in the league, the Saints frustrated us although were well able to handle themselves against anyone. The Reds seemed to have got the win thanks to a towering header from Christian Benteke, it was one of them you just knew was in before the ball even entered the 6 yard box, Benteke had come on at half time for the disappointing Origi.
Liverpool couldn’t hold on to their lead though as with just 4 minutes left on the clock Sadio Mane bundled home a late equalizer and yet again the game ended in a draw with a 1-1 score line, Mane was subsequently sent off in injury time. It was Liverpool’s 8th draw in 9 games, although we hadn’t lost any it was about time we started to rack up some wins and the first win of the Jurgen Klopp era finally occurred when Liverpool defeated Bournemouth in a midweek league cup game at Anfield. It was the second time this season we had beaten them 1-0 at home. Good work by Roberto Firmino freed youngster Joao Carlos Teixiera whose cheeky back heel was cleared off the line into the path of Nathaniel Clyne and the full back scored his first goal for Liverpool to send us through to the quarter final of the league cup.Early promise under Klopp provides a winter warmer:
Liverpool were to end the month in style with a fine victory over Chelsea at Stamford bridge, although they trailed early on to a Ramires goal, the Reds fought back thanks to a brace from Philippe Coutinho and late on Benteke again came off the bench to score for a 3-1 win, Chelsea may have been league champions but were in absolute free fall with the club rooted in the bottom half of the table, manager Jose Mourinho wouldn’t last much longer.
The fine start under Klopp continued with a 1-0 win in Rubin Kazan in the Europa League courtesy of a goal from Jordon Ibe, but unfortunately things came crashing back down to earth when Liverpool again struggled against Crystal Palace who seemed to have a bit of a hex over us, although Coutinho scored again after Yannick Bolasie opened the scoring, Liverpool would go on to lose 2-1 when boyhood fan Scott Dann scored the winner, the match also saw Mamadou Sakho pick up a nasty knee injury that would keep him out of action until Christmas.
When Liverpool returned after the international break they made the journey to Manchester City on a cold Saturday evening, Klopp sprung a surprise by not including an out and out striker, Christian Benteke and the fit again injured again fit again Daniel Sturridge joined him but it wasn’t to matter, perhaps more perplexing was City’s decision to rest Nicolas Otamendi and start their version of the chuckle brothers at centre back in the hopeless Equilim Mangala and the ultra-slow 48 year old Martin Di Micheles, by half time the reds were almost out of sight. Mangala scored an own goal for the opener before Coutinho added a second and Roberto Firmino scored an absolutely fantastic third. The Brazilian duo were smoking hot, Firmino had rarely completed 90 minutes for us thus far and had shown
little or no reason why we paid so much for him but now we were just beginning to see why.
Just before half time City made a fight of it with Sergio Aguero scoring a fine goal to give them a slight chance, in truth Liverpool should have had the game put to bed, it may well have ended 8-1 had it not been for the saves made by Joe Hart who was left trying to fight off attack after attack with a nothing defence in front of him. In the end 4-1 would have to do, after Christian Benteke missed the first of 39 one on ones he would during the season we were awarded a corner, from which Martin Skrtel struck a thunderous volley to seal a tremendous 4-1 win. The result left us just 6 points off a champions league spot, and a further 2 behind surprise leaders Leicester, they would eventually fade away right? Right?
Meanwhile in the Europa league the Reds confirmed their passage to the knockout stage when they overcame Bordeaux at Anfield, in a bizarre incident, Simon Mignolet took over 20 seconds to kick the ball out of his hands at one stage, the referee correctly penalized Mignolet by awarding an indirect free kick which lead to the opening goal courtesy of Henri Saivet but by half time Liverpool were ahead courtesy of a James Milner penalty and a fine effort from Christian Benteke, the 2-1 win meant Liverpool needed only a draw to finish top of the group.
The following Sunday another penalty from Milner was enough to see off Swansea before the reds went goal crazy in the league cup at St Mary’s where Liverpool faced Southampton and were behind inside the first minute thanks to a Sadio Mane strike but from then on it was just blitzkrieg, Daniel Sturridge scored twice, reminding everyone he was still around having missed most of the season injured before Alberto Moreno’s drive made it 3-1 though the goal was later given to Divock Origi who got a touch on the ball as it made its way home. There was no doubt about Origi’s next goal as he smashed in a superb second to make it 4-1, sub Jordan Ibe added a 5th before Origi completed his hat trick after an inviting cross from Brad Smith who had returned to the club having not agreed a contract the previous summer. The fine 6-1 win would set Liverpool up for an easy peasy trip to Newcastle who were playing shit. That’s an easy 3 points, one mate of mine all week repeatedly predicted “double figures”. I knew it was going to be bad from then on despite just one defeat in 17.
Newcastle took the lead when Giorgio Wijnaldum’s shot deflected off Martin Skrtel and Wijnaldum added a second in injury time for a 2-0 defeat, Liverpool never got it together although at 1-0 Alberto Moreno appeared to have a legitimate goal chalked off for offside.
“You with your fucking double figures”
“yeah we lost cos I said that good one”
“I knew you'd come out with that, you’re not getting away with it, stupid fucking thing to say”
Yeah fuck it I will blame him ha-ha but it was a pretty disappointing result, Newcastle remained in the bottom 3 even after the win. The following Thursday a pretty non-descript scoreless draw in Sion saw Liverpool finish top of their group in the Europa league so that was at least one thing to look forward to in the new year. On the Sunday, Liverpool hosted West Brom but unfortunately after an initial honeymoon period under Jurgen Klopp things started to get inconsistent, Jordan Henderson gave us the lead but by half time West Brom were level when a mistake from Simon Mignolet allowed Craig Dawson to equalize and from another set piece the away side went in front through Jonas Olsson. The reds at least rescued a point when Divock Origi’s deflected effort made it 2-2 deep into injury time prompting Klopp to make a point of thanking the fans for their unwavering support afterwards.A heavy night at Newcastle and a horrendous hangover at Watford
There was undoubtedly nothing to cheer about a week later when Liverpool collapsed at Watford, I was hungover to bits watching this, the previous night I headed out with the wife and some friends and sample some lovely craft beers as you do. I usually googled the name of the beer to read up on it about taste etc., I failed to do so this time and began necking a lovely beer called “Christmas Yule Ale” from the White hag brewery, I didn’t remember leaving or getting home and woke up in the spare room with the curtains not even drawn. It turned out the beer was 7.2%!
Adam Bogdan made his first league start of the season and from the off disaster struck as my hangover was made worse as Bogdan spilled a corner and Nathan Ake bundled home for the hornets. Injuries were starting to pile up for us, Daniel Sturridge was out again for about the 900th time and before half time Liverpool trailed when Martin Skrtel was all at sea and Odion Ighalo made it 2-0, Skrtel was withdrawn shortly before half time injured and would be out for the foreseeable future. Late on Ighalo had a third in a match we just didn’t look up for with Troy Deeney even accusing Skrtel of crying off before half time. Fuck off Deeney.
Christmas was a little different, it was my first one married, we had a long distance relationship for many years and Christmas day usually just spent it apart and with families, it became the norm but now married we couldn’t be having that. Christmas was spent with her family early in the day in Northern Ireland and later on that evening we travelled to Dublin to my family, wasn’t a bad day by any stretch, Stephens day the next day was kicked off in style as Liverpool overcame the surprise package of the season in Leicester City. The Foxes remarkably spent Christmas top of the league helped by the goals of Jamie Vardy and the superb Riyad Mahrez, however neither player was effective on the day as Christian Benteke scored the game’s only goal. Benteke finished well after coming on as a first half sub when the promising Origi was taken off injured. Benteke however was widely ridiculed late on when Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel ran up field for a corner and the Foxes were caught on the break without their keeper in goal, Benteke with only a defender to beat (Wes Morgan) couldn’t finish it off much to the frustration of the home fans although a 1-0 win was nothing to be sniffed at.
It was a similar story a few days later as Liverpool travelled to Sunderland to close off 2015, the Reds won 1-0 at the Stadium of Light when Benteke scored just after half time although late on he was guilty of another guilt edged chance, despite scoring the winning goal, the Belgian’s confidence seemed to drain as a result of the missed opportunities, confidence was shaken in our support of the 32.5m man and it wasn’t unnoticed that with Ings, Sturridge and Origi all injured he was our only option, nevertheless the second 1-0 win in a row moved us to 7th after a sticky start to the month and the top 4 wasn’t a million miles away.2016 opens: No Money, Mo Problems, and some injuries to boot:
The first game of 2016 saw the year get off to a bad start, West Ham beat us 2-0 with old boy Andy Carroll scoring after Michael Antonio gave the hammers the lead earlier, we never looked like doing anything, personally I was struggling financially after Christmas, it’s hard for just about anyone but things got worse when I heard some crackling noise in my car. I dropped it off to a mechanic I had gotten to know, on New Year’s Eve my phoned buzzed, I thought:
“Aww that’s nice, who is wishing me a happy new year?”. Far from it:
“Clutch is on the way out, potentially your flywheel too”
From a google this could be a 4 figure sum, I didn’t speak for nearly an hour after getting that, I seriously thought I was going to vomit, we took a chance on the clutch and prayed that would do the trick, a small rattle later the car still holds together *touch wood*.
Back on the field, Liverpool travelled to Stoke for the league cup semi-final first leg, despite injuries picked up during the night to both Philippe Coutinho and the improving Dejan Lovren, we won the match 1-0 when sub Jordan Ibe scored the winner after good work from Joe Allen. The injuries mounted up leading to a hugely changed team for the trip to Exeter the following Friday in the Fa cup. Some reserves that featured earlier in the season started, there were some senior players there, some returned from complete wilderness (Jose Enrique and Tiago Ilori, the latter hadn’t played once for Aston Villa since a loan move).
In short the team was: Bogdan, Randall, Smith, Ilori, Enrique, Stewart, Brannagan, Kent, Teixiera, Benteke, Sinclair with Maguire, Ojo and Chirivella coming off the bench, the team was unrecognizable so perhaps 2-2 wasn’t the worst result. Jerome Sinclair and Brad Smith each scored their first goals for the club after we had twice fallen behind, the second of which featured Adam Bogdan letting in a goal direct from a corner.
5 days later we were playing Arsenal at home, I was dying with a cold and due to play 5 a side with work, I obviously didn’t want to play but they were stuck for numbers, we had problems for months with no shows and lack of numbers etc. so I said I would play but only if it meant we had even numbers, the game went ahead only for me to find out ONE MINUTE before kick-off that one lad had pulled out. By then it was too late to back out but I spent the next two days in bed nursing a heavy cold. I did get home in time to see a thrilling encounter, two superb strikes from Roberto Firmino gave us the lead in the first half but both times Arsenal pegged us back through first, Aaron Ramsey and second, Olivier Giroud who added a second after half time putting us 2-3 down. In the final minute though, Joe
Allen bundled home a deserved equalizer for a 3-3 draw which was the least we deserved.
The following Sunday we hosted Manchester United at Anfield, the game appeared to be petering out to a 0-0 draw, we had most of the play but without the cutting edge of Coutinho we couldn’t open United up and late on paid the price when Wayne Rooney scored after reacting first when Marouane Fellaini headed against the bar, roughly the 49th goal Liverpool conceded from a set piece this season. The result left us 7th, 8 points off 4th.
On the night of my birthday, Liverpool hosted Exeter in an FA cup replay, we had never lost on my birthday since I was born and that fine run was to continue, although we still played some reserves the line-up was a bit more experienced than the one in the first game. Joe Allen scored the opening goal 10 minutes in but we then had to wait until the final 15 minutes to wrap things up. Sheyi Ojo was one of several players who made his debut in the first game and he scored a lovely goal to make it 2-0. Ojo had recently returned from Wolves on loan with Jurgen Klopp electing to run the rule over some players closer to home rather than farm them out. Christian Benteke then provided a superb assist for Joao Carlos Teixiera who made it 3-0 in the 81st minute to finish things off. Winter marches on with Carrow Road Mayhem
Teixiera incidentally was also the name of a Brazilian forward Liverpool were said to be interested in signing from Shaktar Donetsk for a fee said to be in excess of 30m but despite the deal looking like it would be done we were eventually priced out, many felt that although we needed more goals it wasn’t the attack that was the biggest problem. The defence certainly proved that in the next game as Liverpool played Norwich. We took the lead through Firmino but early in the second half found ourselves 3-1 down, Norwich’s new signings Dieumerci Mbokani and Steven Naismith found the net before a Wes Hoolahan penalty made it 3-1 following a bizarre challenge from Alberto Moreno.
It appeared as if the game was up but almost immediately Jordan Henderson rifled us back into contention to make it 2-3, Henderson would soon go off injured, it was rumoured Henderson was playing through the pain barrier of a heel problem which seemingly couldn’t be fixed, not good at all. 8 minutes later Firmino added his second as Norwich showed they couldn’t defend either, which was proven in the 74th minute when James Milner latched on to a back pass (left about 40 yards short) to make it 4-3 to us. However, you could never hold out hope for our defence to hold steady, and sure enough in injury time Sebastien Bassong equalised for Norwich. One of the players who didn’t clear their lines was Steven Caulker, the QPR defender was signed on loan having struggled to get game time on another loan deal earlier in the season at Southampton, Caulker was signed clearly as a desperate measure with injuries piling up. However he at least played a part in a dramatic winner as he caused havoc in the penalty area and Adam Lallana smashed the ball home to seal an unbelievable 5-4 win that sent the whole bench into raptures, Jurgen Klopp even broke his glasses.
On the Tuesday we played the home leg of our semi-final against Stoke with a one goal head start, it was a pretty dull affair but ended up going to extra time and penalties when Stoke won 1-0 on the night although Marko Arnautovic’s goal had more than a hint of offside. So it was penalties for the second time this season, Peter Crouch saw his penalty saved by Mignolet but Emre Can’s miss meant it went all the way to sudden death, however Marc Muniesa missed for them with Joe Allen scoring the winning penalty sending us to Wembley for the league cup final against Man City. The month ended with a 0-0 draw at home to West Ham in the Fa cup, meaning another replay with the fixture list piling up. It was Liverpool’s 9th match of an injury hit January.February: ticket chaos and fixture pile up
The following Tuesday we travelled to league leaders Leicester, in truth our performance wasn’t bad but they ran out 2-0 winners, both goals came from Jamie Vardy, the first an absolutely thunderous volley, although maybe our defence and goalkeeper didn’t cover ourselves in glory it shouldn’t take anything away from a brilliant goal. Leicester’s remarkable season didn’t cease to amaze me but that was more than could be said for us.
On the Saturday we hosted Sunderland on a cold day at Anfield, as our proposed new main stand was gathering pace, word came out that some tickets would cost a whopping £77 when it opened, a mass protest saw Liverpool fans walk out of the ground on 77 minutes and the board quickly apologized and issued a fresh price structure. It was another miserable day of football, injuries again played a part, Dejan Lovren lasted only 12 minutes and Joe Allen was ill and didn’t feature in the second half. 8 minutes were left though when Liverpool were pegged back having gone 2-0 up, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana seemed to have made sure of the points but Adam Johnson pulled one back for Sunderland when Simon Mignolet spilled his free kick in the net and in injury time Jermaine Defoe equalised for them. It was a bad day at the office given this was a side battling relegation.
Things didn’t get any better when we again went to extra time that week against West Ham in an FA cup replay. Michael Antonio gave them the lead on half time but the returning Phillipe Coutinho levelled it up with a free kick he planted under the wall to make it 1-1. Liverpool did more than enough to win, Coutinho only back from injury was replaced by Daniel Sturridge, both showed promise while Kevin Stewart had a fine game in midfield however upfront Christian Benteke missed chance after chance. The game seemed destined for penalties until from a harshly awarded free kick, West Ham’s Angelo Ogbonna rose highest to head home in the 120th minute, it was a cruel blow for Liverpool and we were out of the FA cup.
As i am still recently married I remember throwing a comment to someone as Liverpool's form slipped over the last few months:
"The honeymoon period under Klopp is over, and its not just over, you are in the spare room, you aren't talking, and you can forget about dinner, or anything else for that matter" but things soon picked up on the pitch.
On valentine’s day Sunday we travelled to Birmingham to play Aston Villa, the most hopeless team in the league had so little fight an under 11s team probably would give them a game. Daniel Sturridge marked his first start in ages with a goal while former Villa man James Milner added a second from a free kick that was intended as a cross. We swatted them in the second half and it could have ended up any score, Emre Can drilled home a third, Divock Origi came off the bench to score inside a minute before Nathaniel Clyne added a 5th. Kolo Toure headed home another goal and the only surprise apart maybe from Toure scoring was how it didn’t end up more than 6 against what I can only describe as an utterly pathetic spineless team. At the time, I was actually in training for a marathon, not bad considering I’d never run more than 7 miles in one go, not bad considering I once weighed 19 stone, not bad considering I was now 17 stone from the wedding (from 15 12), not bad either than I ran 10 miles for the first time that day. It was a struggle to walk for the rest of the day, but that 10 mile run showed more guts than the entire Aston Villa team put together. “You tell them HR”.Final#1 and the return of European competition
The Europa league returned on the Thursday night with Liverpool playing out a dull 0-0 draw against an Augsburg team that few even heard about prior to the draw for the last 32, the second leg was settled by an early penalty from James Milner giving us a 1-0 aggregate win, some players were shaking off the months ring rust worth of injuries and this was just in time for Sunday’s league cup final against Manchester City. It was 4 years since we had won a final and fresh from another 10 mile run I sat down to cheer us on, the first half saw City go close when Sergio Aguero hit the post after a fingertip save from Mignolet. 4 minutes into the second half though Mignolet undid his good work by being beaten by a Fernando shot that he easily should have saved, the Belgian did keep us in the game with some fine stops but it all appeared to be in vain until with 9 minutes left Liverpool’s pressure finally paid off when Phillipe Coutinho drilled home an equaliser. City’s own keeper Willy Caballero (rotated in in favour of Joe Hart) denied us the win in extra time with a fine stop to deny Divock Origi, so the game went to penalties, our third shoot out this season.
Things started well when Fernando missed his spot kick and Emre Can put us in front, however we failed to convert 3 other spot kicks through Lucas, Coutinho and Lallana, City finished off their other 3 kicks through Navas, Aguero and Yaya Toure consigning us to defeat, although the much maligned Mignolet wasn’t a million miles away from saving at least 2. It was no consolation though an early chance for revenge would come the following Wednesday as March opened with a home league match against the same opposition.
Raheem Sterling was back at Anfield for the first time and got put in his place early on by Jon Flanagan, Sterling missed a sitter before half time (he had also missed several in the league cup final) and didn’t reappear for the second half, his season never recovered. Liverpool made easy work of City, Adam Lallana and former City player James Milner had us 2-0 up before the break and just before the hour mark the in form Firmino made it 3-0. We ended the week 8th with the gap to 4th place City now at 6 points.
The following Sunday, we travelled to Crystal Palace looking to end a run of 3 straight league defeats against the Londoners, when Joe Ledley put them in front early in the second things didn’t look good and when James Milner was sent off for a second bookable offence it appeared the game was up, although mysteriously we seemed to kick up a few gears. Palace had not won in the league since before Christmas and rather than kill the game off they sat back and tried to see it out. 18 minutes from time a fluffed clearance from their keeper Alex McCarthy, allowed Roberto Firmino to score and Liverpool pushed on for a win. Palace clearly had their confidence drained from a long winless run and couldn’t even beat a team with 10 men with a 1-0 lead, in injury time sub Christian Benteke was fouled and despite protests the penalty was given and Benteke kept his head to roll home the spot kick with the last kick of the game for a very sweet 2-1 win. There was some controversy over the penalty decision but there had been enough contact. The Europa campaign takes off with United put to the sword
It set us up nicely for a mouth-watering Europa league cup tie with Manchester United, we had never played them in Europe before and it may not have been the champions league but we definitely wanted to get one over them. 20 minutes in Daniel Sturridge opened the scoring after Nathaniel Clyne was fouled in the box, Liverpool struggled to kill the game off and 1-0 wasn’t an ideal lead if we could take that into the second leg, though in truth had it not been for the brilliant David De Gea in United’s goal then Liverpool would have been out of sight within an hour, De Gea though was finally beaten again when Firmino added a belated second and 2-0 was a nice lead to take to Old Trafford. It certainly was no guarantee United would stop us scoring there with Liverpool knowing full well an away goal would leave United needing 4 goals.
The away match on St Patrick's day pretty much summed up adult life, days off used to consist of hangovers, curers, take aways, fries and beer gardens and beeches if you were lucky, it now consisted of fixing a dish washer, cutting the grass, cleaning the house and washing and ironing, remember kids, growing up sucks. I barely had time to rattle in an 8 mile run and dinner before settling down to watch the second leg against Man United, they opened the scoring through an Anthony Martial penalty after a foul by Clyne who was having his worst game of the season but luckily for him the centre back partnership of Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho were able to snuff out most threats and just before half time a majestic goal from Phillipe Coutinho finished things off, no way back for United, the second half saw Liverpool again threaten to run up a cricket score but once more were denied time and again by the outstanding David De Gea, 3-1 on aggregate didn’t flatter us. Europa takes priority as spring opens with disaster at Southampton,
There was talk Liverpool would even push now for the top 4 but it’s the hope that kills you sometimes, as on Sunday Liverpool raced into a 2-0 lead at Southampton courtesy of Coutinho and Sturridge but a complete second half collapse awaited, the introduction of sub Martin Skrtel coupled with a failure to take chances and kill the game off resulted in us losing the match. Skrtel gave away a spot kick which was the start of the downfall, which was albeit temporarily halted, when Sadio Mane’s spot kick was saved by Simon Mignolet. Mane would atone for this by scoring 20 minutes into the second half, although the score remained 2-1 to us until 7 minutes from time we didn’t hold it out. Graziano Pelle made it 2-2 and just 3 minutes later another goal from Mane completed Southampton’s comeback, the performance of Martin Skrtel was criticized heavily although I personally felt Klopp had to take some heat for bringing him on in the first place even if Dejan Lovren had been booked and bang went pretty much any chance of a top 4 finish.
As April opened up I took myself off to London for a few days sightseeing, money was a bit tight but you are entitled to a break now and then, I returned home very late on Saturday doing my level best to avoid the score of the Liverpool-Spurs game, the game never recorded on my sky box but luckily highlights had just started on sky when I got home so I didn’t lose out, and my 3 night break away that I had enjoyed immensely wasn’t ruined. After an entertaining first half that ended scoreless we opened the scoring in the second half thanks to a wonderful goal from Coutinho but 12 minutes later Harry Kane equalized. Spurs were pushing hard to dethrone Leicester at the top but 1-1 was a fair score even if they went all out attack by the end and came close to sealing 3 valuable points, 1-1 wasn’t a bad result for them but you got the impression that the title was starting to slip away, a feeling we all know.
Jurgen Klopp then returned to Dortmund the following Thursday with Liverpool given a stern test against Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League quarter final, Divock Origi was given a start upfront in place of Sturridge, although Sturridge was starting to string some games together nobody was every really convinced he was 100% and the move made even more sense when Origi scored in the first half. The game finished 1-1 when Mats Hummels scored a close range header early in the second half, it left the tie on a knife edge ahead of the second leg with both teams going close to a win in the second half.Marathon runs... and comebacks
On the Sunday, as we played Stoke, I continued marathon training, I was now at the stage where you really had to ramp up some serious mileage but at least after Sunday I could scale it back as the marathon was less than a month away. I usually mapped out a run online and this day featured a 20 mile run, with a miscalculation by myself it was actually 21.5, half way into the run I felt ok but the second half of the run felt like it was constantly up hill, I drove that road every day but its only when you run it you realize how hilly it is. My time for it wasn’t far off what expected to do in the marathon meaning I ran 21.5 miles in the time I expected to run 26.2, as I had to make it out for a family dinner I barely had time to warm down (not that I had the energy too) and shower, had I had any ounce of fluid left in me there is no doubt I would have cried, had I not already raised money and got so many well wishes I would have jacked it in, when I turned up for the meal, the in laws actually thought I was seriously ill.
So I dragged my weary, dehydrated body to dinner and tried to keep updated with our game at Stoke which wasn’t shown on telly, Alberto Moreno put us in front with a fine strike against a Stoke team clearly not bothered now their season petered out although they did level it up mid-way through the first half through Bojan. We retook the lead 10 minutes later when Sturridge headed home after excellent work by the young Sheyi Ojo and Divock Origi then added two more in the second half for a fine win, Origi was keeping Christian Benteke out and no one was arguing, Origi was getting better and better game by game just in time for the seasons run in. It was a good day to be a Liverpool fan, the Aintree grand national took place in Liverpool that week (won by Rule the world) while Liverpool fan Danny Willett took golf’s US Masters at Augusta after a spectacular collapse from Jordan Spieth (though Willett certainly deserved credit for a flawless final day round of 67).
The following Thursday, Willett would undoubtedly have been among the millions of Liverpool fans delighted with the breath taking Europa league tie against Dortmund. We had seen these European nights here before and there is no place like Anfield for a European night, 45,000 at Anfield on a European night is stronger than 100,000 at any other ground, FACT! Well the Germans didn’t see it that way and came out swinging, Henrikh Mkhitarayn opened the scoring after 5 minutes before Pierre Emerick Aubameyang doubled their lead in the 9th minute, it was men against boys and it seemed like it could end up any score. My thoughts were this showed just how much work we had to do under Klopp to become a force again, although to be fair we did have some chances in the first half. It did seem like defeat was set in stone.
Fuck them, if you are going to win then we will go down swinging, 3 goals? Well let’s give it a go, Emre Can took initiative and was at the heart of a move that saw him burst through the Germans like a runaway express train and he laid it on for Divock Origi to score, 1 down 2 to go, maybe just maybe…..but just before the hour mark Hummels cut us open and his pin point pass allowed Reus to make it 3-1 on the night to the Germans and we again needed 3 goals, there was no guarantee either that Dortmund wouldn’t score again. Mid way through the second half a superb finish from Coutinho made it 2-3, my pride was rising, I still didn’t truly believe we could do it, but I remember texting a mate “I tell you what though, at least we are giving it a go, its one hell of a match”.
It wasn’t over, Liverpool laid siege to the goal, Joe Allen and Daniel Sturridge came on as subs, one gave us more power upfront, the other got a hold of things in midfield, time and again Liverpool fluffed corner after corner through James Milner, but strangely when under pressure Milner was delivering some troublesome crosses and the Germans weren’t comfortable. 12 minutes from time another fluffed corner (this time from Coutinho) fell invitingly for Mamadou Sakho to stoop and head home for 3-3, no surely we couldn’t?
Unfortunately for Liverpool just before the Sakho goal, Emre Can went over on his ankle and had to be replaced, with Jordan Henderson injured in the first leg, Liverpool’s midfield was down two big players. There were still over 10 minutes left, the Germans clearly were affected as the ground encouraged Liverpool’s comeback, Mats Hummels regarded by many as one of the finest centre halves in Europe was run ragged time and again by the brilliant Origi, the experienced Weidenfeller in goal couldn’t catch a cold and it wasn’t looking so impossible after all. Then it happened.
A clever run from Sturridge got things going from a free kick, James Milner criticized time and again for poor corners made his 905th burst down the right, the guy made mistakes but he would have died for Liverpool that night no question, and the stand in captain floated the ball so invitingly you could hear the ground building in excitement because this was a pin point perfect ball timed to perfection as Dejan Lovren powered home a header at the back post in front of the Kop, I cheered so loud I thought my head would explode, Lovren’s celebration caused pandemonium, so often the Champions league’s poorer relative, the Europa league had a defining moment and it was without doubt one great European night, 4-3 on the night, needing 3 goals in 24 minutes Liverpool had given themselves every chance of now winning the Europa league although when this was put to Klopp afterwards he hilariously quipped “don’t start this shit”.
The following Sunday Liverpool gave several players a well-earned rest but still had enough to see off Bournemouth at Dean court with goals coming from Firmino and Sturridge in a 2-1 win where the likes of Danny Ward, Connor Randall, Sheyi Ojo, Brad Smith and Kevin Stewart all got a run out. The 2-1 win kept Liverpool 8th although the top 4 by now appeared long gone. The home stretch, Everton put to the sword, but top 4 is long gone
On the Wednesday night Liverpool hosted Everton in the Merseyside Derby at Anfield, Everton with one eye on an FA cup semi-final coming up were all at sea and their league season had just got progressively worse as time went on, Liverpool started well and never took the foot off the gas, it wasn’t before time when Divock Origi headed home just before half time and prior to the interval there was still time for Mamadou Sakho to head home his second goal in three games for a comfortable and deserved 2-0 half time lead. Early in the second half Everton’s frustration got the better of them when a horrible and deliberately vicious tackle by Ramiro Funes Mori on Divock Origi effectively ended the Belgian’s season, Funes Mori was dismissed and appeared to even gloat about it by kissing his jersey and almost looked like he enjoyed it, scum of the highest order. Origi’s brilliant run of form ended and the game was stopped for several minutes.
The game as a contest was well over by now, Daniel Sturridge and a Phillippe Coutinho finished off the blues for an easy 4-0 win as Liverpool toyed with the 10 men, Simon Mignolet in the Liverpool goal in fact had so little to do the Liverpool echo newspaper refused to give him a rating, had Mignolet sat down by the post eating a pizza with a 6 pack of beer in the second half he still would have kept a clean sheet, I doubt he even needed a shower after the game he had so little to do.
Saturday saw former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez return to Anfield with Newcastle, the Spaniard was quite rightly still held in high regard by the Kop but sadly would arrive too late in the season to save them from relegation, this despite Newcastle not losing any of their last 6 games and taking 12 points to boot. Liverpool were rocked before kick off when news came through that Mamadou Sakho had failed a drugs test, the Frenchman had given a sample after Liverpool’s match with Man United a month earlier and a banned substance showed up which was the result of Sakho using slimming tablets. The club decided to leave Sakho out of the squad while the investigation continued, with Henderson, Origi and Can all injured, Liverpool had lost another in form player at a horrible time.
It didn’t seem to affect us much though when Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana gave us a half time 2-0 lead, Newcastle though didn’t give up and in the second half a mistake from Simon Mignolet allowed Papiss Cisse to pull a goal back before Jack Colback’s deflected strike made it 2-2 and that’s how it finished, Liverpool could kiss goodbye to any hope of finishing 4th after that and were now 7th in the table.Spanish armadas, Marathons and another European night of glory
The following Thursday our only route to the champions league was road blocked by Villarreal, unfortunately my ability to stream the game was severely hampered but the game appeared to heading for 0-0 until in the final minute Alberto Moreno (who had just missed a guilt edged chance) went walkabouts and left us stuck at the back the Spaniards took full advantage as Adrian Lopez rolled home the winner leaving us with it all to do in the second leg.
It was clear the following Sunday that the few regulars who were playing had one eye on the Villarreal game coming up, as Liverpool’s much changed team were downed 3-1 at Swansea, Andre Ayew and Jack Cork gave Swansea a 2-0 half time lead, sub Christian Benteke looked to have got us back in the game with his first goal from open play since Christmas but just 2 minutes later Ayew added a second and any hope of getting back in the game was over, even before Brad Smith was sent off for a second bookable offence.
By Thursday the marathon was over and done with, although my time was just over 5 hours I had done it, I had raised money for charity and my work was done, so now I could settle down for Villarreal at home. I think their manager Marcelino Garcia had earlier in the day said his team would not freeze in front of the Kop as so many had done in the past and his side would handle themselves well, I remember reading that thinking “somehow I don’t think so mate”.
Well that’s wrong of me; I don’t consider Garcia a mate
7 minutes in it was clear panic set in, the crowds lined the streets hours prior to kick off, flairs and songs everywhere, the kop a loud and beautiful sea of red and the Spaniards indeed cracked as Liverpool wasted no time pulling themselves level when Bruno Soriano helplessly scored an own goal. Daniel Sturridge then added a superb second and we were dreaming of the final, although the game was finely balanced we were on top though Alberto Moreno was fortunate not to give away a penalty for a blatant push, not long after we sealed our passage to the final when Adam Lallana finished well for a 3-0 win on the night and a 3-1 win on aggregate. Liverpool also received another boost when Emre Can returned on the night, bossed the game and came through unscathed. The final was our destination, Basel the venue, Sevilla the opposition, bring it.
The league season had taken a back seat and no one was really interested, we couldn’t finish in the top 4 anyway, Watford were another team just phoning it in at this stage, long safe from relegation the Hornets would still harshly dispense with their manager Quique Sanchez Flores by the season’s end although it seems there you get sacked if you put too much milk in your tea. Joe Allen and Roberto Firmino scored in a 2-0 win, Watford had their chances but the goals for Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo had dried up at this stage.
Our final home game of the season saw us play Chelsea at Anfield, initially the game started well for us but it was obvious players were holding back, one eye on the game the following week and Chelsea like ourselves had nothing to play for in the league at this stage, their title defence had ended with a whimper long before Christmas, too many players had off seasons, one of whom was Eden Hazard, but the Belgian showed what he was capable of with a fine opening goal here. As the game neared its end we got a deserved equalizer, sub Sheyi Ojo caused havoc when he came on and his cross had Chelsea keeper Asmir Begovic all at sea allowing Christian Benteke a simple goal. 1-1 in our final game as work got underway on our new main stand to get it ready for next season.
The league season ended with a 1-1 draw at West Brom, a much changed team, in light of the final a few days later, got a creditable point. Solomon Rondon gave the baggies the lead but a fine individual goal from Jordan Ibe levelled it up during the first half. Ibe’s winter form had largely deserted him at this stage and so the league ended with us finishing 8th, but the season was far from over.
I was very excited at the prospect of facing Sevilla on the Wednesday night in Basel in the Europa league final, it was about time we won something again and with it came not only the trophy, but a direct passage to the group stage of the Champions league and everything that goes with that. I seriously felt this could be the start of something; players will want to play for us in the Champions league with Klopp under the floodlights of a new main stand. FINAL #2: Spanish version of Swiss roll not so sweet for Reds in Basel
Klopp selected the team I hoped he would and we went into battle, although we made a nervy start we got into the game and appeared to be denied at least two blatant penalties, 10 minutes before half time, Daniel Sturridge scored a wonderful goal with the outside of his boot and we looked to be in business. I hoped we could get in another goal before half time, Sevilla were on the ropes and a second before half time would surely be too much. It appeared as if we did just that when Dejan Lovren headed home, but the goal was ruled out as Daniel Sturridge was offside.
Half time came and went, and we looked forward to the second half of a game we were now well in charge of, but unfortunately less than a minute into the second half a wayward header from Alberto Moreno didn’t clear the danger and Moreno was subsequently beaten all too easily and at the back post Kevin Gameiro punished us to the full making it 1-1, from then on we were all at sea, at this time Joe Allen would surely have been a good substitute to stabilise the midfield (particularly as Firmino and Coutinho never got into the game) but no subs were made and they punished us to the full. Coke gave them the lead in the 64th minute and we responded by bringing on the returning Divock Origi but he never really got going in his first game back from injury.
Origi was only on the pitch a minute when Coke added another and the game was up, the second half was a disaster, a complete capitulation and we never looked like clawing it back, the game ended 1-3 and we only had ourselves to blame, 2 cup final defeats and an 8th place finish and bitter disappointment. It was a huge missed opportunity to return to the Champions league. There were too many injuries and changes this season to get things settled, the 63 games took its toll, 37 of which were after Christmas. When a club changes a manager it takes time, there were signs of promise but ultimately the team simply wasn’t good enough and only had themselves to blame.disappointment, perspective and JUSTICE
The sky seemed the limit earlier in the season when Liverpool blitzed Man City and Southampton in a 4 game winning streak and then we went and lost at Newcastle and Watford. There were far too many times we threw away the lead in a match we didn’t win, the match against Sevilla I think was the 14th time Liverpool lead a match they failed to win. That is inexcusable, we can blame injuries, you can blame whoever you want but ultimately we weren’t good enough. There were still plenty of wonderful moments, the Southampton and Man City wins, the run to the league cup final against a stronger team that we took to penalties and couldn’t have done much more.
The epic run to the final of the Europa league where we destroyed Man United and who will ever forget the magical night against Dortmund?, or how we put Villarreal in their place and scared them to death in the semi-final and also the demolition derby against Everton. There is hope for the future, there were improvements seen through the season from the likes of Dejan Lovren, Emre Can, Adam Lallana and Divock Origi (and Joe Allen when he started) and when Coutinho and Firmino fire up there are few things more enjoyable. A lot of work will have to be done over the summer and already the likes of Loris Karius (keeper), Joel Matip (Centre back) and Marko Grujic (midfielder) are confirmed with surely more to follow. There is no doubt too the appointment of Jurgen Klopp was a brilliant one and one we will hopefully reap the benefit from in years to come.
The only thing that may come out of Basel is the lack of European football which may (and I use the word loosely) lead to a better push up the league, you never know, it did Leicester no harm, I certainly must give a shout to them, what an incredible story that was!
Finally the club may have won nothing, but the fans did, off the pitch after 27 long hard years the victims of the Hillsborough Disaster finally got their justice, the fans finally had their name cleared once and for all with a long awaited inquest confirming that the fans were unlawfully murdered and not accidentally killed, the full truth that we'd known all along was out there at last, the fans were never to blame. The police were utterly culpable and there may be more justice to come.
It took too long, and it was downright disgraceful what the families went through, nobody should go to a match and not come home.
If anyone that was there is reading this, I’m sorry you had to live through what you have, I can’t begin to imagine the last 27 years after what you went through that day. I can’t imagine what the families have gone through. You finally got Justice, you finally no longer have to defend yourself, your loved ones can finally rest in peace because you never gave up!
Your victory in the court rooms was more important than any victory on a football pitch.
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