Parry victim of numbers game

George Gillett and Tom Hicks are set to be seen in public together for the first time this year at Wednesday night’s Champions League clash at Arsenal. And Rick Parry won’t be there to referee it.

The Liverpool co-owners have fallen out and are looking to get each other out of the club. Although Tom Hicks’ sons have been to a number of Liverpool games of late, Hicks himself hasn’t been to one this year. Neither George Gillett nor son Foster have been to any either.

But on Thursday night Gillett announced he was ending his spell away from the game, speaking to a Canadian radio show: “Foster and I are going to be going over to the Arsenal game next week and we’ve just decided this is an extraordinary time and we’re going to enjoy it and we’re going to be there and by God we’re going to try and be a positive influence on this process.”

The Hicks family had planned to be at the game long before Gillett’s announcement, but are now believed to have snapped up 16 of the available 20 tickets for the director’s box on Wednesday. When Gillett asked for four it meant there were none left for David Moores or Rick Parry. Continue reading Parry victim of numbers game

What was Gillett playing at? Or playing for?

George Gillett’s decision to accuse Liverpool fans of issuing death threats against him, his wife, his son and his daughter-in-law, ones he took so seriously that he decided to back out of a potential sale of his half of Liverpool FC, couldn’t have come at a worse time.

The claims were made on Canadian radio on Thursday night, when Gillett was interviewed on The Fan 590, a sports channel based in Toronto. The show was Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown, with both Bob and Stephen Brunt speaking to Gillett.

It’s pretty clear that Gillett had planned this interview, planned what he would say, and it says a lot about him that he chose to use Canadian radio to speak for the first time about his part in acts that have put Liverpool’s future potentially in doubt.

One point he wanted fans to believe as he worked towards his claims of those death threats was that he hasn’t had any abuse directed purely at him. He claimed he received up to 2000 emails a week, only 100 of which would contain abuse to both owners. The rest, another 1900 per week, were completely aimed at his partner Tom Hicks. It seems far-fetched to say the least. Not far-fetched that he would get emails demanding both owners leave the club, not far-fetched that he would get another chunk of emails complaining to him purely about Tom Hicks, but extremely far-fetched that he would not get one single email containing abuse aimed purely at him.

Also far-fetched is that he has had emails as recently as Thursday from fans (plural) from “important blog sites” (plural) inviting him to the “famous pubs” to “see how they sing their songs or get ready to sing the songs. And there’s none of the hostility or animosity that is felt or seems to have been directed at others in the ownership group.” Continue reading What was Gillett playing at? Or playing for?

Reds fans let Bob’s memorial takeover their attention

Put to one side for a moment the nonsense regarding the Liverpool FC takeover and all the claims about how many hundreds of millions of pounds the club will be bought or sold for and how many tens of millions of pounds in profit that will be made.

George Gillett seems to have enjoyed making damaging accusations against Liverpool supporters (without any signs of proof) on the eve of the derby clash with Everton, Tom Hicks has decided wisely not to bite over the accusations made against him with no public response so far and Dubai International Capital are no doubt pulling up a chair waiting for the Hicks-Gillett battle to commence.

It’s all a far cry from the days of board members we didn’t even know the first names of because they were only ever listed by initials, surname and some more initials afterwards.

One director of Liverpool in days of old had that role after serving the club for years in various capacities. He was director when Kenny Dalglish was manager, but was manager when Kenny Dalglish was a player. Bob Paisley turned Bill Shankly’s foundations into the grandest structure in all of football, making sure Liverpool FC were the most successful club in English history.

Bob Paisley won us our first ever European Cup, the first of the five that eventually meant we got to keep one forever. He won the second and third too. All by himself he won more European Cups than Manchester United have won in their entire history.

If it wasn’t for Bob there’s every chance there’d be no interest at Anfield from anyone like Hicks, Gillett or DIC. But it’s because of Bob that we’re all so determined to do what’s right by the club and fight for it back again. Whoever wins the war of the rich people has only won a minor skirmish, because after that they’ve got to win over the people who are determined Bob’s memory and achievements will not only never be forgotten but will be built on and added to yet further.

bobpaisleyandfriends1b.jpgOne way of ensuring Bob’s memory goes on comes in the form of the efforts to place a permanent memorial to him at Hetton-le-Hole, his birthplace. You can find more out about it here. A lot of money has been raised already but there’s still some way to go.

Tomorrow night in The Sandon is a special fundraiser for the appeal. Some tickets are left and can be bought on the door at just £10 each.

If you can, please get down and not only do a good cause some more good, have a great time too!

You might fancy a crack at winning one or two of these prizes too: Continue reading Reds fans let Bob’s memorial takeover their attention

Nothing changes in Reds ownership battles

An interesting article appeared this morning in the Independent relating to Dubai International Capital’s interest in taking over at Anfield. It was the first one in a while, after what had been a never-ending flurry of stories that hit their peak when Tom Hicks announced all talks were off after a meeting in Dubai two weeks ago. The reply to that was a claim in the Liverpool Echo that talks had been called off because Hicks had refused to consider the idea of a fan representative being given a vote on the board. The claim had come without any quotes, but with a strong suggestion that it had been made via the DIC camp, and saw Hicks issue a strong denial about the truth of it.

Then it went quiet.

Behind the scenes little was being said. DIC seemed to suggest privately that they were confident they had the legal footing to launch a challenge to Hicks’ veto. Yet people inside the club suggested that not only had Gillett not accepted the offer which Hicks was supposedly vetoing, no offer had even been made. And Hicks had not changed his stance that he was close to finding minority investors to join him at Anfield, taking a majority share himself. DIC didn’t ever confirm officially that they had insisted on a fan being given a voting seat on the board, but the SoS (Spirit of Shankly) supporter’s union stated they hadn’t been approached on the matter; it seems it was never any more than an attempt to use the emotions of the supporters yet again as a means of attacking Hicks and drumming up more support for DIC. Except most fans saw through it, and perhaps it did DIC more harm than good, more fans opening their eyes to the way they’ve been used in recent months.

Liverpool’s seven-game run came to an end on Sunday, in controversial circumstances in terms of how the referee handled the game, but also showing how much more Liverpool’s owners need to invest in the squad. Perhaps that was seen as an ideal opportunity for DIC to remind Liverpool fans they were still in the background, they were still interested, and in what has at times been like an election campaign once again hinting “vote for us and we’ll buy you more players”. Continue reading Nothing changes in Reds ownership battles

Result: Man United 3 Liverpool 0

Barclays Premier League – March 23rd 2008 – Result

Man United 3 Liverpool 0

At the risk of sounding like an Evertonian bleating about decisions from 20 years or more ago, any Liverpool fan must be wondering how might this game have turned out had referee Steve Bennett had more about him than the arrogant ego-driven approach to the first half. No doubt the refereeing community will close ranks around their own, but secretly they must be cringing at the latest incident of a referee single-handedly changing the outcome of a game through awful decisions.

Manchester United hadn’t played particularly well in the first half, but they’d put a performance in that requires some fight from the opposition. Liverpool looked uninterested, Reina playing the first half as though he’d spent the bank holiday weekend with Charles Itandje. Jamie Carragher was out of sorts; Steven Gerrard was out of the game completely, both as player and as captain. It was no surprise when Wes Brown scored, but his goal didn’t seem to stir any fight in a Liverpool side who were unchanged from their last game, the win over Reading eight days ago at Anfield. United had made eight changes for the game, Liverpool none, although this will be largely glossed over by those who criticise Rafa relentlessly for his rotation. Continue reading Result: Man United 3 Liverpool 0

Half-time: Man U 1 Liverpool 0

steve-bennett.jpgHalf-time and as well as being a goal down Liverpool find themselves down to ten men against United’s twelve. It’s an age-old complaint from football supporters, but this referee is one of the worst in the game.

Liverpool have hardly been at the races in the game, Reina in particular has looked out of sorts and has to accept some of the blame for Wes Brown’s opener. United looked most likely to score first, United’s Van der Sar a spectator for the first half. What he could see from his goal were errors from Reina including throwing the ball to an opponent 25 yards out, and almost knocking the ball into his own net when a Giggs cross seemed to confuse him. He did seem to have the sun in his eyes for this first half, but that’s hardly an excuse for what has been one of his worst games in a Liverpool shirt.

The game started in a typical North West derby fashion, if anything a little less high-speed than normal. Wayne Rooney had a case for a penalty when another off-colour player – Jamie Carragher – lunged for the ball in the box and although contact with Rooney was minimal, contact with the ball was non-existent. Rooney stayed on his feet and his shot was blocked by Reina, but given Bennett’s performance from then on it’s a shock he didn’t give the Manchester side the penalty anyway.

On 11 minutes Bennett made it clear, it seemed, he wasn’t going to give any room for error. Mascherano went to ground in an attempt to win the ball from Paul Scholes, and his booking was harsh. In itself it certainly wasn’t the worst tackle of the game so far, possibly Mascherano’s first foul, and in games like this suggested the referee’s book was going to be full by the end of the game.

Yet that idea seemed unlikely given the way Bennett treated the rest of the half. Foul after foul was committed by Manchester United, foul after foul that went unpunished. For some bizarre and frankly inexplicable or justifiable reason Bennett instead chose to pull Anderson and Vidic to one side for a talking to rather than book them for fouls that were as bad as Mascherano’s had been earlier.

The obvious imbalance in approach to the two sides was riling Mascherano, who complained to Bennett more than once. Not in a violent or aggressive way, but with a smile on his face asking why this was happening. Bennett, ever the centre of attention in games he referees, had no intention of explaining. His arrogance is exactly why referees get such a bad name.

As the half went on and United had got a goal that was always coming, Liverpool needed a half-time team talk urging them to make more of an effort and show their true abilities. Perhaps a change would be in order, if not on half-time itself then in the first fifteen minutes of the second half.

All of that went out of the window when the referee proved his arrogance and his ego were going to be the subject of headlines tomorrow. As the half came to a close Fernando Torres was once again fouled. The referee gave the foul, but yet again allowed the United player to get away without a booking. Torres was booked for asking why the fouls were allowed to continue unpunished. It was no surprise to see Mascherano come towards the referee to ask once again – if he was booked for a minor challenge on 11 minutes, clearly impeding his impact on the game, why were United players getting away with so much? He was sent off for asking, the referee deciding this was dissent and giving him a second yellow.

Whether Liverpool would have come out for the second half with the necessary fight added to their approach in order to get something from the game or not is irrelevant now. Bennett was never popular with United after sending off Ronaldo twice in the past, but his performances in Liverpool matches have never been lacking in controversy. Clearly unable to rise above the mind-games tried by Ferguson in the press this week, this referee ought to be suspended until he learns to put his ego and his arrogance to one side. He’s not biased to one side over another – just feels his name should be in the body of all match reports rather than mentioned at the bottom.

Continue reading Half-time: Man U 1 Liverpool 0

Teams: Man United v LFC

No changes from Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez today for the trip to Old Trafford. Eight changes from Alex Ferguson, which should (but won’t) finally end the never-ending focus on Rafa’s rotation policy.

For Liverpool the back four has Aurelio and Arbeloa at full-back, Carragher and Skrtel in the middle. Many expected Carra to be at right-back for a more defensive outlook to the game, but Rafa is happy to stick with the team that won last-time out.

It’s the same formation that has been used in the recent winning run, Mascherano and Alonso partners in central-midfield with Steven Gerrard part of the row of three that support top-scorer Fernando Torres. The other two are Dutch pair Ryan Babel and Dirk Kuyt.

For United Wayne Rooney plays, the Scouser who seems happy listening to songs from the Stretford End declaring how much they hate Scousers, even when Liverpool aren’t playing. Ronaldo is United’s top scorer and also starts, one of just three who played in United’s last league game.

Liverpool’s need for three points comes from their aim of getting a top-four finish, Everton’s draw yesterday means that defeat today for Liverpool gives their most-local rivals a chance of leapfrogging them in next week’s derby. For United it’s the title they are aiming for, and the other top-four sides play each other later in the day.

Referee Steve Bennett can’t have failed to have missed the worried noises coming from Alex Ferguson over the course of the week,  whether he’s got the ability to referee the game openly remains to be seen. Mind games are almost over now though, and it’s time for the players to show what they’re capable of.

Manchester United: 1 Van der Sar, 6 Brown, 5 Ferdinand, 15 Vidic, 3 Evra, 7 Ronaldo, 18 Scholes, 16 Carrick, 8 Anderson, 11 Giggs, 10 Rooney
Subs: 29 Kuszczak, 4 Hargreaves, 17 Nani, 22 O’Shea, 32 Tevez

Liverpool: 25 Reina, 17 Arbeloa, 23 Carragher, 37 Skrtel, 12 Aurelio, 20 Mascherano, 14 Alonso, 18 Kuyt, 8 Gerrard, 19 Babel, 9 Torres
Subs: 30 Itandje, 4 Hyypia, 6 Riise, 11 Benayoun, 15 Crouch

steve-bennett.jpgReferee: Steve Bennett

Kick-off: 1.30pm GMT

Confident at last, Reds ready for battle

Liverpool play Manchester United on Sunday once again hoping to dent their old rivals’ title hopes rather than boosting their own, and also looking to get three points to help hold onto fourth place.

If the confidence they’re showing off-the-field in interviews translates to confidence on the field then it will be a tough match for the current league-leaders. Over-confidence can be a worry and even an incentive to opponents, but it’s better than the completely shattered confidence on display by Liverpool at the mid-point of the season. That lack of confidence arguably ended any faint hopes Liverpool had of challenging for the league this season.

There’s little doubt that off-field problems have played a major part in the issues on the field. There was the Reading match in December, thrown away with Rafa forced to think of the Champions League fixture that he had to win or be unreasonably sacked a few days later. A week later and the owners who’d been plotting behind Rafa’s back to sack him watched as Liverpool were unable to break down a Manchester United side who’d once again arrived at Anfield hoping – and managing – to snatch a goal against the run of their ultra-defensive play. Rafa had been waiting for a well-publicised meeting with the owners in the build-up to that game, but rather than put him out of his misery and clear the air ahead of the game they waited until the late evening afterwards.

There are of course no guarantees that either game would have been won if the owners hadn’t been interfering in that way, but they were the first league defeats of the season, two of only three in total in the league this season. Still in December and Liverpool struggled to beat Derby on Boxing Day before going on a run of four draws and a defeat (their only other league defeat) against teams they were expected to beat, dropping eleven points from the fifteen on offer. Just before Christmas George Gillett spoke in public about Liverpool FC and didn’t speak again until March. There were reports of refinancing difficulties, which coincided with claims Gillett and his partner Tom Hicks had fallen out, and in the middle of this run came the Klinsmann revelations. Continue reading Confident at last, Reds ready for battle

Bob Paisley Memorial latest

A message from Ian Graves from the Bob Paisley Memorial Appeal. They’re making great progress in getting the permanent tribute to Bob in his birthplace of Hetton-le-Hole, but still need help in taking it those extra steps.

Hello again everyone, here’s the latest on the campaign.

First, we have a bit of GREAT news. The granite has been ordered and will be with us in plenty of time for the summer. This is really good news as it keeps us on track for a summer unveiling. We reckon that the granite has the longest lead time of all the materials we need so ordering quickly was a must. It also shows that the money donated so far is being put to the use it is meant for – the memorial for Bob.

The next step is to liaise with the construction companies we are talking to in the North East and we aim to do that very soon.

We are spending the money on the memorial as it comes in but we are still a way off the sum that we’ll need to complete our task so PLEASE, if you’re thinking of donating then please do so. Every penny that comes in is helping to build this memorial for Bob and we are negotiating with all the relevant people in the North East to keep cost down. We have revised our target figure down to about 5 to 10 thousand pounds as we negotiate. For example some of the first quotes we got for the granite where around the £3,000 mark and we managed to get that for £1000 while not losing the quality we’re looking for. Continue reading Bob Paisley Memorial latest

Shanks’ family fully behind Reds’ supporters’ union

The meeting of Spirit of Shankly, the Liverpool FC supporters’ union, held at the Olympia yesterday began with a statement from Bill Shankly’s granddaughter Karen Gill.

Here’s the statement, which was read out at the meeting by Nicky Allt.


First I would like to thank each and every one of you for honouring my grandfather’s name by calling this Union ‘The Spirit Of Shankly.’

sos-spirit-of-shankly-karen-gill.jpgFor me though it’s more than just honouring his name. In these times of corporate gluttony I am truly heartened to discover that there are still so many people who embody my granddad’s spirit. It’s an Olympic spirit: passionate pure and true. It’s a dream of greatness and glory which comes from dedication, hard work and integrity. In this dream, money is only a means to an end, it’s not the end itself.

My granddad had a dream for Liverpool Football Club and you are all helping to keep that dream alive. It’s the people with dreams who achieve things in the end because they have a vision which drives them on.

We know Bill Shankly “made the people happy”, but I know that you would have all made him happy were he alive to see this legendary support today.

I speak on behalf of the Shankly family when I say that we are wholeheartedly behind The Sprit Of Shankly.

Karen Gill March 2008

It’s a wonderful and inspiring statement, and was deservedly met with a massive round of applause. The decision was taken after a unanimous vote to approach Karen with respect to her becoming the union’s patron.