A kip, then we take on the world. Kenny’s back.

As Liverpool supporters around the world were celebrating the news that The King was coming back to manage their club, the man himself was flying back from the Middle East in readiness to take that job on.

Kenny Dalglish - BackWith Liverpool just four points above relegation it was clear to anyone with their eyes open that Roy Hodgson had failed in his task.

The owners had been hoping that Hodgson would have it in him to keep the club ticking over until they found his permanent replacement, but as results continued to be a long way from good enough his comments were making it increasingly difficult to keep him in his post.

They clearly needed a caretaker to step in and run the team until they had a permanent replacement available. There really wasn’t a better candidate than Kenny Dalglish and he was appointed from a distance, on his holiday, but there was only ever going to be one answer from the man who lives for this football club.

As he landed at Manchester airport tonight he was mobbed by reporters and photographers, including the Sky Sports News cameras.

Sky asked him if he had a message for the supporters: “Just it’s a great honour to be asked to come back,” he said, with cameras flashing away noisily enough to almost drown out his words.
Continue reading A kip, then we take on the world. Kenny’s back.

FA Cup result: Liverpool 1 Barnsley 2

FA Cup fifth round – February 16th 2008 – Result.

Liverpool 1 Barnsley 2.

There’s no getting around it. Losing in the FA Cup hurts. It always does.

Liverpool FC have existed since 1892, so that’s 116 years this year. As a result they’ve attempted to win the FA Cup a fair few times in their history. And even though they’re joint fourth in the all-time list of winners, they’ve only actually succeeded seven times. That’s a lot of disappointment over a large number of years. Continue reading FA Cup result: Liverpool 1 Barnsley 2

Torres will be rested, but Rafa has defence dilemmas.

Liverpool’s preparations for tomorrow’s FA Cup game against Barnsley have been made with one eye on the midweek clash with Inter Milan in the Champions League. Reds boss Rafa Benítez has been criticised in the past for prioritising the Champions League ahead of the Premier League, but there’s no such problem at least for this leg. The challenge of facing the Championship side still requires the team to respect their opponents and avoid an attitude of going into the game thinking it’s already won, but it should be possible to pick a strong team whilst still resting key players.

One of those to be rested is likely to be Fernando Torres. The Spanish striker was forced to leave the field early on international duty last week, after suffering a hamstring injury. This kept him out of the Chelsea game on Sunday, but his progress has been impressive this week and perhaps had this been a league match he would have been risked.

Another player who missed that game through injury was Sami Hyypia. He’d got what is described as a minor hip injury, but has been training this week and could play tomorrow. This is all the more likely given Rafa’s alternatives as partner to Jamie Carragher. New signing Martin Skrtel put a nightmare first start behind him in the fourth round with impressive performances in his next two games for the club, but now looks like missing the chance to start for the third game in a row. It’s not the wrist injury which saw him require treatment during that Chelsea game, but a calf problem sustained in training. The other centre-half Daniel Agger is still not quite ready to return to action, but special boots are bringing him closer to that day and manager Rafa Benítez feels it will be sooner rather than later. Continue reading Torres will be rested, but Rafa has defence dilemmas.

FA Cup draw: Reds home to Barnsley

The draw for the last sixteen of the FA Cup has been made and Liverpool will host Barnsley from the Championship.

Liverpool’s route to the fifth round hadn’t exactly been smooth, a replay required against Luton and going behind twice against Havant, to the backdrop of off-field uncertainty over whether the owners were going to be able to get a new finance package in place, not to mention admissions from the most talkative owner that he’d been looking to replace manager Rafa Benitez with Jurgen Klinsman.

This was the first time since 1957 that the fifth-round draw had been made without ties still to be resolved from the fourth round. Continue reading FA Cup draw: Reds home to Barnsley

FA Cup: Liverpool 5 Havant 2

FA Cup fourth round – January 26th 2008 – Result

Liverpool 5 Havant and Waterlooville 2

From the beginning of this supposed David v Goliath tie got the non-league team didn’t look at all troubled or overwhelmed by the occasion, although that might have changed after just three minutes when Yossi Benayoun headed Liverpool’s first chance wide.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez had picked a side that were more than capable of making easy meat of a side five divisions below them, but in those opening minutes it would have been hard to tell which side was the big name. In fact that was much the case for the vast majority of the first half; Liverpool were poor, Havant and Waterlooville were excellent. Continue reading FA Cup: Liverpool 5 Havant 2

Teams: Liverpool v Havant and Waterlooville

Back to the stuff on the pitch today for Liverpool with the visit of non-league side Havant and Waterloo in the fourth round of the FA Cup. And despite there being a gap of five divisions between the two sides, Rafa Benitez is not really taking any chances.

Charles Itandje is in goal, with David Martin on the bench, as Rafa keeps to his promise to the pair that they would be the two in the matchday squad for domestic cup ties, at least in the early stages.

In front of Itandje new signing Martin Skrtel is making his full debut for the club, where he will partner the ever dependable veteran Sami Hyypia. Skrtel’s arrival probably means Sami’s days at the club are numbered, but the Finnish international will do all he can to help Skrtel settle in. Sami is captain for the day. Steven Finnan and John Arne Riise are the full-backs, and with Riise strongly rumoured to be on his way out of Anfield the Norwegian international will be hoping to put in a good performance and no repeat of his third round own goal. Jamie Carragher is on the bench.

In midfield Javier Mascherano will be looking after youngster Lucas who continues his progress towards becoming a regular starter for the club.

Quite how the rest of the midfield lines up remains to be seen, because Rafa likes to experiment and we may see a 4-5-1 rather than 4-4-2. Peter Crouch will certainly be up-front, but whether he’ll partner Ryan Babel or stay up there alone remains to be seen. If Babel is partnering him then one of Yossi Benayoun or Jermaine Pennant will play on the opposite side of the pitch to where they normally play. There’s of course also the possibility that Yossi will play more centrally, just behind Crouch.

Dirk Kuyt is one of two forwards on the bench. If somehow things start not to go too well then expect Fernando Torres brought on, but if it goes as it should then expect Dirk Kuyt to come on with the aim of building up some confidence.

Also on the bench is Steven Gerrard, just in case his influence is needed to turn the game.

Liverpool: Itandje, Finnan, Riise, Hyypia, Skrtel, Mascherano, Lucas, Benayoun, Pennant, Crouch, Babel.
Subs: Martin, Carragher, Kuyt, Gerrard, Torres.

Havant and Waterlooville: Scriven, Smith, Jordan, Sharp, Warner, Harkin, Wilkinson, Collins, Potter, Pacquette, Baptiste
Subs: Slabber, Oatway, Taggart, Gregory, Taylor

Referee: Phil Dowd

Kick-off: 3:00pm

Liverpool 5 Luton Town 0

FA Cup 3rd Round Replay – January 15th 2008 – Result

Liverpool 5-0 Luton

Liverpool made their expected way into the fourth round of the cup at the second attempt with what was a convincing win in the end.

Luton never looked like scoring, managing only two goal attempts all night, neither of which were on target. Their tactics were to defend and hope for a chance against the run of play, and they managed the defending well for almost the whole of the first half. It was a makeshift defence, but they were throwing their bodies into blocking shots in a style that Jamie Carragher would have been proud of.

Carra was captain for the night, making his 500th appearance, and entered the field to a guard of honour from both teams. Rafa Benitez was in that guard of honour, and as the supporters sang his name he seemed to gesture to them that they should be singing for Carra, not him. Carra ran on with his young son James, who was wearing a Torres number nine shirt.

Torres himself didn’t manage to get on the scoresheet, but the other player Liverpool rely on for goals did – three times. He wasn’t captain tonight, but Steven Gerrard at least managed to grab Liverpool some headlines for the right reasons with his hat-trick. Ryan Babel had opened the scoring just before the half-time whistle was blown, during time added on, after finally finding some space behind Luton’s defence. Sami Hyypia scored the other, in a game he probably thought he’d finally get a rest for, until Daniel Agger’s metatarsal injury setback.

Next up for the Reds in this competition is a home tie against the winners of tomorrow night’s replay between Swansea and non-league Havant and Waterlooville. The Reds’ next game is in the league, on Monday night against Aston Villa. Rafa said that one of the reasons he chose a strong side was because the next game is far enough off – six days – for the players to recover.

Dubai SOS - Yanks out. Liverpool FC BannerRafa’s name was chanted repeatedly throughout the night, alongside chants proclaiming he was going nowhere, suggestions where the owners might want to stick their Klinsmann, and further chants that the club is in the wrong hands. It clearly is in the wrong hands, as Tom Hicks has shown in recent months. Rafa was asked by Sky Sports afterwards about the situation with the owners following on from Hicks’ revelations yesterday, but under orders not to talk about the owners’ plans or policies he had to deflect the question. First he said: “We weren’t really thinking about it because we know it’s important to progress in the FA Cup.” Then he said: “I was not thinking too much about this, I was thinking about the game.” And again: “I’m really happy because we won 5-0 and progressed in the competition.” Continue reading Liverpool 5 Luton Town 0

FA Cup 4th Round Draw – Swansea or Havant and Waterlooville

If Liverpool can overcome Luton Town in the 3rd round replay next week they’ll be playing at home to either Swansea or Havant and Waterlooville in the next round.

Havant and Waterlooville are a non-league side, playing in the Southern Conference at West Leigh Park in Hampshire, a ground with a capacity little over 5000.

Swansea are in the same division as the team that held Liverpool to a draw yesterday, Luton Town, and were held to a 1-1 draw themselves in their game at home to Havant at the weekend.

The Liverpool-Luton  replay is scheduled for Tuesday January 15th, with the Havant-Swansea replay taking place 24 hours later. The fourth-round ties are to take place on the weekend of January 25th and 26th.

Continue reading FA Cup 4th Round Draw – Swansea or Havant and Waterlooville

FA Cup Result: Luton 1 Liverpool 1

FA Cup Third Round – January 6th 2007 – Result

Luton 1 – Liverpool 1

An awful performance from the majority of the Liverpool team today, opposed by a Luton side playing out of their skins, saw this FA Cup tie end in a draw. Morale at Anfield is at a low ebb these days given the uncertainty created by the owners, yet somehow Luton – facing uncertainty themselves – were able to raise their game to earn a lucrative replay at Anfield.

When Peter Crouch scored the opener 16 minutes from the end any neutrals watching would have felt extremely sorry for Luton, who had worked hard to keep Liverpool out and in had fact managed to control the game for the most part. John Arne Riise soon made them feel better, having problems dealing with a cross and knocking the ball onto his arm and into the net for an own goal.

Rafa’s critics will have enjoyed today’s game, but really there was no reason why that team should have struggled like it did. He’d picked his strongest available back four, but as a team the players seemed almost uninterested, with perhaps a couple of exceptions. It comes as no surprise: the mood inside the club is at a very low ebb thanks to the new owner’s terrible handling of the club since they arrived. New plans for the now downgraded new stadium will be in soon, after which they can try again to get a loan to build it and pay themselves back the money they used to buy the club in the first place. In fact that seems to be the point where they will make a decision on whether to stick around at the club or sell to another bidder, likely to be DIC. The sooner the staff, players and supporters know what’s really going to happen the better. Continue reading FA Cup Result: Luton 1 Liverpool 1

Team: Luton v Reds, FA Cup

Sami Hyypia’s return from injury sees Jack Hobbs miss out on a chance to start today’s game against Luton at Kenilworth Road. Hobbs is on the bench as Sami partners Jamie Carragher, with Steve Finnan and John Arne Riise playing the full back roles in the absence of the injured Fabio Aurelio and Alvaro Arbeloa.

Torres has been left out of the 16 against the League One side, instead Rafa starts with Crouch and Kuyt up front who are both desperate to prove that Rafa shouldn’t have to rely on Torres for all the goals. Lucas gets a start alongside Xabi Alonson in the centre of midfield; Mascherano is on the bench with Gerrard absent through injury. The wide positions are taken by Yossi Benayoun and Marcus Babel.

Pepe Reina is rested too as is the custom in cup games for Rafa – and many other top-flight managers. In comes Charles Itandje, with David Martin on the bench as cover.

Striker Andriy Voronin and winger Nabil El Zhar make up the places on the bench.

Former Red Don Hutchison is on the bench for Luton, who are still remembered most by Liverpool fans for plastic pitches, banning away fans from their own ground and also for their team not turning up for an FA Cup replay due to snow in Luton, even though their fans had no problems turning up. They caused an upset that year, and Liverpool need to be wary of there being another one this time round. Continue reading Team: Luton v Reds, FA Cup