A guide to Braga

After Dirk Kuyt got a late winner in the last round at Anfield, Liverpool now face FC Braga of Portugal in the Europa League and Reds weren’t exactly given much notice to go and book their flights, as the game is on March 10th.

If you are heading over to Braga, and are looking to make your own way there, then you won’t find a direct flight unless you are flying from London to Porto, otherwise you’ll have to find a connecting flight in the likes of Madrid or Geneva if flying from Liverpool.

Reds from London will find this trip the easiest, as there are direct flights from Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted to Porto.
Continue reading A guide to Braga

Europa Cup – Sparta Prague guide

As a diversion from the talk of Roy Hodgson’s imminent departure – at least we hope it’s imminent – we’ve got something that we can try and look forward to.

Roy may get sacked, he may resign (although that seems unlikely) or he may go by the usual compromise of “mutual consent”. Deservedly so with the club now just four points about relegation – but he has managed to do what was needed to negotiate the first half of the Europa League season, meaning that there is still hope of some silverware to end the season with. It also represents the club’s best chance of qualifying for Europe next season.

The Reds are back in action in the competition next month, and although we’ve no way of knowing who’ll be picking the side at least those who are going to the match can plan how best to get there – and what to do either side of the game.

With thanks to Tony at Travelsupermarket.com, here’s our guide to Sparta Prague.

After Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool team finished top of group K in the Europa League, they were drawn against Sparta Prague in the second round, playing them away first on February 17th.

Rather than spending hours looking for cheap flights to Prague and back, below is a list of the flights still available:
Continue reading Europa Cup – Sparta Prague guide

Liverpool FC managers: Stat Attack

Ivan Potapov, of Russian Liverpool FC fansite LiverBird.ru has produced an in-depth comparison of the performances of Liverpool managers past and present.

As I wrote before for Russian-speaking supporters, I had been very sceptical to Roy Hodgson since I heard he would be appointed as a manager of Liverpool FC for the first time. It seemed really obvious for me he wasn’t good enough to be a manager for the club like ours, and his experience meant nothing because he was a flop with two big names he tried to manage.

Unfortunately for us my expectations were finally met when he began to work with Liverpool FC. It’s just half a year passed but we reached some lows we didn’t reach for some fifty years. Graeme Souness, probably the worst manager we had since Don Welsh, did much better in some areas than Roy did. But some people try to defend Hodgson even now when some stats for the fifty years were brought to light by one of the Daily Post journos.

They say it’s not fair to compare Roy with others because: 1. he’s been there just for half a year; 2. his work is in progress; he managed Liverpool for 30 games not hundreds of them as other managers did. Okay then, it’s time for me to suggest my little statistical overview started from December 1959. I tried to compare our managers and hoped I could find out how each of them started here at Liverpool FC. Each “period” covers just first 19 league games (or first 30 games in all competitions) for every manager. It’s fair to Hodgson, isn’t it?

My overview has its weaknesses (what doesn’t?) but I’ve tried to reduce them. For those managers who began their work in mid-season I decided to use not only a beginning of their careers but the beginning of their full season at the club as well. And for Bill Shankly, who began his work when our club languished in the second tier of English football and won the old Second Division with us in 1962, the first 30(19) games of his third full season at the club were added. For some observers who blamed Benitez for everything he did I added the beginning of 2009/2010 season, our worst as we thought at the time.

I marked extreme values with colors – green for the best and red for the worst.

First 19 league games

Coach Matches W D L + %
Roy Hodgson 19 7 4 8 23 24 36,84%
Rafael Benitez 19 9 4 6 33 20 47,36%
Rafael Benitez* 19 9 3 7 36 25 47,36%
Gerard Houllier** 19 10 4 5 28 16 52,63%
Gerard Houllier*** 19 8 4 7 38 27 42,1%
Evans/Houllier + Houllier**** 19 8 4 7 32 23 42,1%
Roy Evans***** 19 9 6 4 34 18 47,36%
Roy Evans****** 19 8 2 9 26 24 42,1%
Graeme Souness^ 19 8 8 3 22 15 42,1%
Graeme Souness^^ 19 8 6 5 26 18 42,1%
Kenny Dalglish 19 12 5 2 42 18 63,15%
Joe Fagan 19 12 4 3 33 14 63,15%
Bob Paisley 19 10 4 5 25 14 52,63%
Bill Shankly^^^ 19 7 4 8 31 27 36,84%
Bill Shankly^^^^ 19 11 4 4 39 25 57,89%
Bill Shankly^^^^^ 19 10 4 5 42 29 52,63%

First 30 games in all competitions

Coach Matches W D L + %
Roy Hodgson 30 13 9 8 40 30 43,33%
Rafael Benitez 30 15 6 9 47 25 50%
Rafael Benitez* 30 13 5 12 36 25 43,33%
Gerard Houllier** 30 17 5 8 50 27 56,66%
Gerard Houllier*** 30 12 5 13 54 41 40%
Evans/Houllier + Houllier**** 30 13 7 10 54 35 43,33%
Roy Evans***** 30 18 7 5 56 23 60%
Roy Evans****** 30 15 4 11 50 36 50%
Graeme Souness^ 30 14 10 6 48 27 46,66%
Graeme Souness^^ 30 14 9 7 50 30 46,66%
Kenny Dalglish 30 19 7 4 65 27 63,33%
Joe Fagan 30 18 8 4 53 19 60%
Bob Paisley 30 15 9 6 49 20 50%
Bill Shankly^^^ 30 15 6 9 56 37 50%
Bill Shankly^^^^ 30 15 7 8 62 44 50%
Bill Shankly^^^^^ 30 16 6 8 60 41 53,33%
  • Roy Hodgson (July 1st 2010 – Jan 1st 2011): 19 Premier League, 6 Europa League, 4 Europa League qual., 1 League Cup.
  • Rafael Benitez (July 1st – Dec 26th 2004): 19 Premier League, 6 Champions League, 2 Champions League qual., 3 League Cup.
  • Rafael Benitez (July 1st – Jan 13th 2010): 20 PL, 6 CL, 2 FAC, 2 LC.
  • Gerard Houllier (July 1st 1999 – Feb 13th 2000): 25 PL, 2 FAC, 3 LC.
  • Gerard Houllier (Nov 12th 1998 – May 16th 1999): 26 PL, 2 FAC, 2 UEFA.
  • Evans/Houllier + Gerard Houllier (July 1st 1998 – Jan 9th 1999): 21 PL, 6 UEFA, 1 FAC, 2 LC.
  • Roy Evans (July 1st 1994 – Jan 14th 1995): 24 PL, 1 FAC, 5 LC.
  • Roy Evans (Jan 31 1994 – Oct 29 1994): 27 PL, 3 LC.
  • Graeme Souness (Jul 1 1991 – Dec 18 1991): 19 1D, 6 UEFA, 5 LC.
  • Graeme Souness (Apr 16th 1991 – Nov 30 1991): 21 1D, 5 UEFA, 4 LC.
  • Kenny Dalglish (July 1 1985 – Dec 26 1985): 23 1D, 4 LC, 3 Screensport Super Cup.
  • Joe Fagan (July 1 1983 – Dec 22 1983): 18 1D, 4 EC, 7 LC, Charity Shield.
  • Bob Paisley (July 1st 1974- Dec 14 1974): 21 1D, 4 EC, 4 LC, Charity Shield.
  • Bill Shankly (July 1 1962 – Mar 5 1963): 27 1D, 3 FAC.
  • Bill Shankly (July 1 1960 – Jan 21 1961): 26 2D, 3 LC, 1 FAC.
  • Bill Shankly (Dec 1 1959 – Sep 3 1960): 28 2D, 2 FAC.

Obviously Hodgson’s statistics could be catastrophic but he was “saved” by the Europa League. Liverpool were drawn against Macedonian and Turkish minnows in the preliminary rounds, so we cruised past them.

But in league games the statistics look awful. Half a season passed with him winning less games than any Liverpool manager in his first season according to the table above. He almost reached an all time low with the number of goals we scored (23 against 22 for Souness) and lost almost as many games as Evans did in his first 19 matches (but Evans was appointed in mid season). And Hodgson is the only Liverpool manager with a negative goal difference after 19 league games; Souness did better than him!

Some of Hodgson’s defenders cry for time. “Give him some time and he will turn us into a real force,” they yell. But I cannot agree. He has great players in his squad, not Zamoras or Hangemanns, but they’re really good footballers and he had time he needed to fix his own mistakes but he didn’t. There was a period in Liverpool history when we changed the manager who worked even less than Hodgson. I don’t mean Ronnie Moran or Phil Thompson who were asked to fill the gap when Dalglish resigned and later Souness and Houllier couldn’t manage because of their health.

We had joint managers, Evans and Houllier, and the idea didn’t look good from the start. They couldn’t work together and eventually Evans resigned in November 1998. I decided to compare statistics for Evans/Houllier’s 18 games (12 in PL) with the same stat for Hodgson. And the first 18(12) games of the 2009/2010 season were added because it was a “catastrophe”, wasn’t it?

Roy Hodgson vs Evans/Houllier (in all competitions)

Coach Matches W D L + %
Roy Hodgson 18 8 6 4 23 18 44,44%
Evans/Houllier 18 7 6 5 33 20 38,88%
Rafael Benitez 18 8 2 8 32 25 44,44%

Roy Hodgson vs Evans/Houllier (league)

Coach Matches W D L + %
Roy Hodgson 12 4 4 4 13 15 33,33%
Evans/Houllier 12 4 4 4 19 14 33,33%
Rafael Benitez 12 6 1 5 27 18 50%
  • Evans/Houllier (July 1 1998 – Nov 12 1998): 12 PL, 2 LC, 4 UEFA.
  • Roy Hodgson (July 1 2010 – Oct 31 2010): 10 PL, 3 EL, 1 LC, 4 EL qual. Liverpool played their 12th league game under Hodgson on November 11 2010.
  • Rafael Benitez (July 1 2009 – Nov 9 2009): 12 PL, 2 LC, 4 CL.

Houllier and Evans failed in 1998, Benitez failed in 2009, but what about Hodgson? What about goals scored? What about goal difference? Did Liverpool play under him better than under Benitez just a year ago? Benitez won 50% of his league games but Hodgson won just a third of them.

You can do whatever you want with statistics. It’s just about numbers. But I can give you an answer to the main question we ask ourselves every morning and noon: Is Roy Hodgson the right man for the job? The answer is obvious.


*1 2 Statistics for Rafael Benitez at the beginning of the 2009/2010 season, the worst for the Spaniard at Liverpool FC
**1 2 Gerard Houllier statistics at the beginning of his first full season at the club (1999/2000)
***1 2 Gerard Houllier statistics from the point when he became the sole manager of the club (Nov 12 1998)
****1 2 Statistics for the beginning of the season 1998/1999, which we started with the Evans/Houllier duo as our managers. To match the number of matches I added some games of the season after Evans’ resignation.
*****1 2 Statistics for Roy Evans, since his first full season at the club (1994/1995) began.
******1 2 Statistics for Roy Evans from the moment when he became a manager (Jan 31 1994).
^1 2 Statistics for Graeme Souness from the beginning of his first full season (1991/1992).
^^1 2 Statistics for Graeme Souness from the point when he became manager (Apr 16 1991).
^^^1 2 Statistics for Bill Shankly at the beginning of his first season in the First Division (1962/1963).
^^^^1 2 Statistics for Bill Shankly at the beginning of his first full season (1960/1961)
^^^^^1 2 Statistics for Bill Shankly from the point when he became manager (Dec 1 1959).

Ivan Potapov, LiverBird.ru.

Follow Ivan on Twitter: @ingumsky.

Tottenham v Liverpool – preview

The Reds travel to White Hart Lane this Sunday as manager Roy Hodgson pits his wits against Harry Redknapp and Tottenham Hotspur.

When Fabio Capello’s job as England manager looked under threat over the summer both of these managers were linked with taking the job off his hands. No doubt there is much relief amongst Spurs fans that Capello stayed in his post and they didn’t lose their boss. Liverpool fans (by and large uninterested in England’s fortunes) would gladly hand their boss over to the FA (or any other side) right now.

The mood in the two camps, certainly as far as supporters are concerned, couldn’t be much different – but that could all change on Sunday. How will the game go, who’s going to be in amongst the goals? Will there be any goals?
Continue reading Tottenham v Liverpool – preview

Liverpool FC – Ownership Poll

Liverpool fans are not exactly having a good time of it right now, with results not going the way we’d like and the future ownership of the club remaining unclear. The following poll has just two choices for you to vote on and there isn’t a “none of the above” option. But please vote anyway.

With the Broughton/BarCap sale process failing and c£300m RBS debt almost due, LFC and its fans are faced with two distinct possibilities. What’s your preference?

1) Hicks and Gillett retain control via refinance or RBS extension

2) RBS take temporary control of the club on the proviso the club is passed on, as soon as practicable, to a responsible owner (this carries with it the possibility of LFC being placed into administration and a 9pt penalty being imposed by the Premier League).
Continue reading Liverpool FC – Ownership Poll

FC Utrecht v Liverpool – Travel Information

FC Utrecht v Liverpool – Travel Information

One of Liverpool’s opponents in the Europa League group stage is FC Utrecht of Holland on September 30, and fortunately it’s not as hard to get to as Trabzon, so we have compiled the following on how to get there; including train times to and from Utrecht.

Flying from Liverpool to Amsterdam seems the easiest option; however EasyJet have gotten wind of everyone looking to book cheap flights on the dates around the game and bumped up their prices accordingly, so flying from Manchester with KLM is the cheapest option.

Utrecht is only 30 minutes by train from both Amsterdam Central and Amsterdam Schipol, so getting there shouldn’t be a problem.

For those flying from London, there are a couple of flights from Luton, Gatwick and Stanstead listed below.

Continue reading FC Utrecht v Liverpool – Travel Information

Reds still held to ransom by outrageous asking price

When Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks reportedly put a figure as high as £800m on the club shortly after he and George Gillett had put it up for sale it shattered any illusion that the owners had finally admitted it was time to move on.

Gillett Hicks RBSLater figures suggested demands as ‘low’ as £500m – but were still some way short of what was on offer from the only known bidder for the club.

Although Huang had initially suggested his offer would be no higher than £325m his eventual offer is believed to have been £400m. Despite being more than double the price paid by the current owners in 2007 it would still leave them without any profit to speak of. Annual profits have all been eaten up to cover the high costs of the club’s RBS debt.  The last official figure on that debt is £237m; by the time the next attempt to refinance is due, in October, it will be nearer £300m.

On top of the debt to the bank is the debt to the owners. Rather than putting any money in as equity they put their money in as intercompany loans that they slap an annual interest rate of 10% onto. This figure stood at around £130m the last time it was officially revealed.

Hicks is said to expect potential revenues from a stadium yet to be built added onto the asking price. He can’t take the risk on the project himself yet expects a premium to allow others to do so. Most observers are astounded at these demands.

£400m is seen as paying well above the club’s true worth.
Continue reading Reds still held to ransom by outrageous asking price

And then there were none.

A statement from Kenny Huang and QSL on last night announced that he had formally withdrawn from the process to sell Liverpool Football Club to new owners. Huang said: “I am now considering my future options and will be making no further comment at this time.”

No reason was given in the statement for the decision, but it is believed he had grown frustrated by the apparent slow pace of a process in which he firmly believed he was the only viable bidder.

Broughton pictured with other biddersNow there are doubts about how genuine Martin Broughton was when he said that the club would be sold to the best bidder. It suggested that, contrary to his claims, the current owners were not only able to block the sale of the club but were actively doing so.

It also suggested that Martin Broughton was not taking the bid seriously and in turn created doubts that he was even taking the sales process seriously.

Broughton once said: “I have always taken the view that if you’re not at the table you’re likely to be on the menu.” He now finds himself sitting alone at the table; there’s nothing palatable on the menu. And he has nobody else to blame.
Continue reading And then there were none.

Trabzonspor v Liverpool travel information

Liverpool face Trabzonspor in the Europa League Qualifier 2nd leg on August 26th, and one question on the lips of most fans that go to the away games is “how do I get there?” The short answer is: with great difficulty.

Everyone knows Trabzonspor are based in Turkey, but the town of Trabzon is one of the most difficult places to get to without spending an arm and a leg.
Continue reading Trabzonspor v Liverpool travel information

The Times: Kenny Huang leading serious bid for Liverpool FC

The absolutely serious party looking to take control of Liverpool Football club was tonight named as Kenny Huang, backed by one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the Far East, and determined to get hold of the club before the transfer window close at the end of the month.

A report in The Times says Huang  is negotiating with RBS, to whom Liverpool FC and its owners owe £237m, and says that even “last week no viable bidder had come forward and [Liverpool Chairman Martin] Broughton has not moved the process on.”

Anfield Road revealed last night that a serious bidder was looking to move in immediately to take over at the club but their attempt was being hampered by apparent stalling tactics from George Gillett. Anfield Road also pointed out that pressure from supporters, SOS and ultimately Broughton might be required to force RBS into action to prevent Gillett from further delaying completion of the only serious bid for the club.

Huang will not be relying on his own wealth for the deal and for the backing of the club in what it needs to get back on track, but he is determined to prevent the current management from allowing the club to go any further off course as he tries to close the deal. The Times report that he has already approached key figures at Anfield to try and prevent an exodus of players. Fernando Torres is named as a player requested not to make a decision on his future ahead of this potential takeover.

The report also says that RBS have grown increasingly impatient at the lack of bidders in the wake of Tom Hicks’ reportedly putting an £800m price tag on the club. Analysts find this figure an astounding over-valuation, a figure of £325m considered a more appropriate valuation for a club that still doesn’t have one cubic centimetre of concrete in place for the new stadium that was such a key part of the Hick and Gillett business plan.

Huang’s bid would lead to a new stadium being built “as quickly as possible” and from RBS’s point of view would guarantee repayment of “the vast majority” of the money lent to the club and its owners.

Liverpool have spent the summer making do with free transfers in most cases with the £2m signing of Danny Wilson the highest fee paid out this transfer window. The club’s financial year ended yesterday with the club making a phenomenal profit on transfer fees. The proposed new ownes would bring significant transfer funds to Roy Hodgson, available to be spent this summer, further emphasising the need to avoid any further stalling from the current owners and the bank. Martin Broughton needs to take charge of the situation as a matter of urgency.