Archive for the ‘Liverpool’ Category
Why Liverpool must make the sacrifice of punishing ‘Cannibal’ Luis Suarez with a minimum of a 10 match ban
Talk of banning Luis Suarez for life or making criminal charges against him for biting Branislav Ivanovic in Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea is the over-reaction of a witch-hunt being whipped by by a media frenzy. There are many things that happen on a football pitch that are just as dangerous or outrageous that are not dealt with in such a brutal manner. But the Merseyside club must take the lead and hit the Uruguayan hard with a punishment that has real teeth.
It does not matter how much it hurts Liverpool. But to protect the good name of one of the world’s most famous football clubs, the owners and the management must send out a message that spells out how much shame serial offender Suarez has inflicted on the Merseysiders and the beautiful game.
Unless Liverpool come out and categorically reprimand Suarez and serve him with a minimum of a 10-match ban there is no doubt in my mind that the club’s reputation and image will be tarnished beyond repair. The timing of this latest moment of madness by a player who was being considered for the honour of footballer of the year is beyond embarrassment.
This is the week of the preliminary legal hearing which will set out parameters for new inquests for the 96 Liverpool fans who died at Hillsborough. It is another big step on the 24-year road to justice led among others by Anne Williams, who refused to accept the establishment lies about the death of her son, Kevin, and whose own death, four days ago, was remembered with a minute’s applause before the match at Anfield.
Suarez is probably too stupid to recognise the damage he has inflicted. The reality is that he probably needs professional help from a shrink because he has not learned from his previous outrages which include a similar biting incident at his previous club Ajax. That offence three years ago earned him a seven-match ban and he never played for the Dutch club again.
It will be hard for Brendan Rodgers to give up on the outstanding player in his squad. And I believe there is still a future for Suarez at Anfield. But for the good of the game and Liverpool Football Club, how this matter is dealt with in the next 24 hours by the club itself will be crucial on so many levels. Speaking on Sky Sports former manager Graeme Souness spelt it out for the decision makers when he said: “It is about safeguarding the good name of the football club.”
United by respect – but you will never take rivalry and passion out of clash between two most successful clubs in British football
It was only right and proper that Liverpool and Manchester United should honour the 96 who died at Hillsborough with a dignified and genuine tribute. It was comforting to see supporters of both clubs pay their respects before the first match at Anfield since the findings of an independent panel investigating the disaster at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest cleared fans of blame.
Bitter rivalries were forgotten as United legend Sir Bobby Charlton presented flowers to former Liverpool striker Ian Rush and opposing captains Steven Gerrard and Ryan Giggs released 96 red balloons in memory of those who died. Previous feuds were rightly buried in the past as Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez warmly shook hands in the pre-match ritual that has all too often overshadowed matches on other occasions.
There is always a small minority who are too stupid to understand that great rivals can share respect and mutual admiration. But this time the majority who represent all true football fans were heard loud and clear and this was the image and the message that we wanted to be beamed around the world.
Respect does not take away the burning desire to beat your rivals. The intensity of this fixture between the two greatest clubs in British football will never die. And this match was no exception. It was unfortunate for Liverpool that they were reduced to 10 men when Jonjo Shelvey was sent off for a first-half foul on United defender Jonny Evans. When the dust settles and the reality sets in, Liverpool’s guilty man will surely be embarrassed by the snarling abuse he directed at Sir Alex Ferguson as he made the walk of shame down the Anfield tunnel.
But there were moments to cherish. Man-of-the-match Steven Gerrard gave Liverpool’s 10-men the lead with a quality strike at the start of the second half and Rafael Da Silva’s beautiful equaliser was a flash of Brazilian magic. When the decisive penalty from Robin van Persie sealed the points for United, there was no hiding the joy of the traveling fans or their heroes.
The intensity of the battle only goes to underline the fact that this is still the biggest rivalry in British football – and long may that continue.
The truth – it’s 23 years too late! But let’s finally give the victims of Hillsborough the respect and justice they deserve!
How the outrageous lies that were encouraged by Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government in the wake of the Hillsborough tragedy of 1989 have been covered up for so long is one of the biggest scandals of our lifetime.
Thank God that the Truth has finally come out. Now the demands for Justice will follow and it is time for the brave families who have campaigned for 23 years to be given the respect they deserve.
As Hillsborough Family Support Group campaigner Trevor Hicks, whose two daughters were among the 96 killed before the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, has said: “It was a contrived, manipulated and vengeful and spiteful attempt to divert the blame.”
It is almost beyond belief that South Yorkshire Police and the Ambulance Service were allowed to cover up their gross negligence, in the full knowledge of the Tory government.
Many of us have never ever doubted that the establishment wronged the victims. But the scale of the scandal is breathtaking.
The Hillsborough Independent Panel found that South Yorkshire Police and the emergency services made “strenuous attempts” to deflect the blame for the crush onto victims. And the report found 116 police statements were “amended to remove or alter comments unfavourable to South Yorkshire Police”.
For the Sun newsapaper to fuel the cover up with their outrageous claims that the victims were an unlawful bunch of drunks responsible for their own deaths is probably the biggest insult ever by any media organisation in history. It is no surprise that copies of Rupert Murdoch’s shameless rag are still being burnt on the streets of Merseyside.
Only now the truth is out has the newspaper’s editor Kelvin McKenzie finally had the decency to say sorry. But it is too late. It is too late for the families who have spent most of their adult lives campaigning for justice. The damage has been done and the new revelations that 41 of the dead could have lived if the tragedy had been dealt with correctly only makes the pain worse.
The day of reckoning has arrived for the guilty men and women who tried to blame the victims for the tragedy, and then successfully covered up their failings with the tacit support of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
May the 96 who died at Hillsborough finally Rest In Peace.
Luis Suarez deserves Fergie’s criticism for refusing to shake Patrice Evra’s hand and continuing to fuel his image of being a racist
Luis Suarez did nothing but bring shame on himself and Liverpool Football Club with his petulant display in the Merseysiders’ 2-1 defeat against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Not content with brushing away Patrice Evra’s attempt to shake his hand in the pre-match formalities, the Uruguayan spat venom throughout his first start since his eight-match ban for racially abusing the United skipper in the reverse fixture last October.
The hostility boiled over at half-time when Police and stewards had to shepherd the players into their dressing rooms at halftime. Evra, who kept his dignity throughout the crunch Premier League showdown, could not hide his pleasure at the final whistle when he jumped for joy in front of the Stretford End and celebrated United’s win that takes them top of the League.
Suarez, whose late consolation goal was Liverpool’s only reply to a glorious double from Wayne Rooney, at least had the good sense not to react as his team-mates ridiculously did when Evra’s post-match celebrations continued in front of him as he headed for the tunnel.
But it is hard to disagree with Sir Alex Ferguson’s assessment when he launched a scathing assessment of Suarez for his refusal to shake hands with Evra.
Insisting the Uruguayan should never play for Liverpool again, Fergie told Sky Sports: “I couldn’t believe, I just could not believe it. Patrice told me this morning, ‘I’m going to shake his hand, I’ve nothing to be ashamed of.’ But then Suarez refuses. He’s a disgrace to Liverpool Football Club.
“Some players should not be allowed to play for Liverpool again, the history that club’s got, and he does that. In a situation like today he could have caused a riot.”
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Craig Bellamy’s fairytale triumph over Manchester City is a delicious irony that embarrasses the world’s richest club
Love him or hate him, and Craig Bellamy has come a long way since he famously rubbished Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer, you have to respect the brilliance of the proud Welshman.
Shipped out on loan to his beloved Cardiff when Manchester City inexplicably dumped him a couple of years ago, it is poetic that Bellamy – arguably the best player in Roberto Mancini’s team at the time – rubbed his former club’s noses in it by knocking them out of the Carling Cup.
Bellers was outstanding in an epic semi-final with a match winning display and the goal that sealed Liverpool’s dramatic 3-2 aggregate win at Anfield. But the fact that City allowed him to join the Merseysiders on a free transfer makes you question whether or not the Arab funded Mancunians have more money than sense.
The truth is City have made a habit of falling out with their best players. Despite all the spin that turned their fans against former skipper Carlos Tevez, does anyone really believe that the Blues are a better team without the hard-to-handle Argentinian?
There is no doubt City have assembled a formidable side. But there is still a sense that Mancini’s men lack the mental strength they need to emulate Manchester’s champions over at Old Trafford. And there is a suspicion that their Italian boss is too quick to fall out with strong personalities.
It will be interesting to see if Mancini can go the distance with Mario Balotelli, or will the head-stamping bad boy go the same way as Tevez and Bellamy?
In Bellamy’s case there is no logic whatsoever to the way Mancini discarded him after an outstanding season back in 2010 – and for City to eventually send him packing on a free transfer is just crazy.
There is no doubt City’s loss has been Liverpool’s gain and for Bellamy now to be looking forward to a Wembley final against his hometown club Cardiff in the final is a fairytale outcome that is richly deserved.
It does not matter which football club you support. The Football Association should be applauded for making an example of Luis Suarez in their decisive action to kick racism out of football.
Many people will be surprised at the severity of an eight match ban and a £40,000 fine. But the FA have got it absolutely right after Suarez was found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra.
Suarez denied using a Spanish word for negro in a verbal attack on Evra during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United that ended 1-1 two months ago. And the Uruguay striker who has 14 days to appeal against the decision tweeted: “Today is a very difficult and painful day for me and my family. Thanks for all the support.”
But the reality is that the six-day hearing, which concluded on Tuesday, concluded that Suarez was guilty of using “insulting words” and it is only right that a severe sentence was dished out.
For the Merseysiders to blindly stand by their man after the verdict and immediately attack the FA with a provocative 2-page statement is out of order. And I strongly urge Liverpool to accept the punishment and apologise for bringing the game into disrepute for failing to condemn their player’s racist abuse of the Frenchman.
It is time that racism was kicked out of football once and for all and it is to their great credit that the English FA has boldly gone where the game’s governing body FIFA has criminally failed to go in the past and taken decisive action to tackle this insidious problem.
How sad to read the Liverpool reaction that states: “We find it extraordinary that Luis can be found guilty on the word of Patrice Evra alone.
“No one else on the field of play – including Evra’s own Manchester United team-mates and all the match officials – heard the alleged conversation between the two players in a crowded Kop goalmouth.”
Refusing to accept that the FA gave their player a fair hearing despite taking six days to consider all the evidence, Liverpool added: “It appears to us that the FA were determined to bring charges against Luis Suarez, even before interviewing him at the beginning of November. Nothing we have heard in the course of the hearing has changed our view that Luis Suarez is innocent of the charges brought against him and we will provide Luis with whatever support he now needs to clear his name.”
The bottom line is that Suarez has been found guilty. That does not mean he should be kicked out of the club. There is no reason why he can not be educated that racist abuse is unacceptable in the modern world. If only he would apologise, accept his punishment and make a commitment not to re-offend we can all move on.
MANCHESTER IS THE NEW MILAN: A CITY UNITED AS THE CENTRE OF THE FOOTBALLING UNIVERSE. CAN LIVERPOOL STRIKE BACK?
Welcome to the dawning of a new era with the City of Manchester now well and truly the centre of the footballing universe. And mark my words this is great news for United because there is nothing like a new challenge to keep you on your toes.
In case you needed a reminder the United are still the top dog, it was sweet irony that once again United eclipsed City on the day Roberto Mancini’s men claimed their first trophy in 35 years.
As City beat Stoke 1-0 at Wembley to win the FA Cup thanks to Yaya Toure’s late strike, United fans were already back in Manchester celebrating another Premier League triumph and a record-breaking 19th League title courtesy of their 1-1 draw at Blackburn secured by Wayne Rooney’s penalty.
But this was a day for Manchester to be United in celebration. Not just because the City can proudly boast the unique feat of winning two trophies on the same day. It is great for Manchester to be the undisputed Mecca of fooball. Even Milan can no longer match the glamour of England’s hotbed of football. And the odds are that the new intensity is here to stay.
I remember the end of the 60s when United and City last dominated football in this country. It was great for both clubs. And this time that great rivalry can last much longer than it did back in the days of Best, Law, Charlton and Lee, Bell, Summerbee.
With Liverpool getting their act together under the legendary Kenny Dalglish, what are the odds on the North-West giants occupying the top three positions in the Premier League next season and eclipsing the fading stars of Chelsea and Arsenal.
My bet is that Sir Alex Ferguson’s record-breakers will face a rejuvenated challenge from Liverpool next season as the Merseysiders seek to match United’s 19th League title. When Chelsea frivolously handed the Pool £50million for Fernando Torres Dalglish invested the money wisely and now has a good mix of established stars and exciting upcoming youngsters.
But the real fascination will be how much ground can neighbours City make up on Fergie’s champions after ending their 35 year wait for a trophy to add to their qualification for the Champions League.
There is no doubt City must spend another vast fortune if they want to rival the Reds at the top table. But that will be harder said than done despite their untold riches and their Champions League status.
The reason is the introduction of UEFA’s new Financial Fair Play rules.
Michel Platini has warned that the likes of big-spending Manchester City and Chelsea, and some of Europe’s biggest clubs, will have to ‘face the music’ if they do not comply with the new FFP regulations.
UEFA’s latest figures show that financial problems affecting European clubs are getting worse, with spending on player wages up almost 10 per cent – and increasing at a faster rate than income.
Under their new rules, clubs will face possible bans from European competition from the 2014/15 season if they spend more than they earn in the three years before.
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WAYNE ROONEY BACK TO HIS BEST AND THIS MAN UNITED TEAM CAN STILL DELIVER SIR ALEX FERGUSON HIS CROWNING GLORY
Sir Alex Ferguson’s biggest regret in football is that his Manchester United side have not dominated Europe the way they have conquered the Premier League – but the way his improving side totally outclassed Schalke to all but book a place in the Champions League Final at Wembley on May 28 surely gave him one of his most satisfying nights.
The genious of Fergie is the way he knows how to bring his side to their peak at the business end of the season. And make no mistake this United side is good enough to rank alongside any of the great sides the master has produced in his 25 years at Old Trafford.
The media have spent all season trying to write off Wayne Rooney following England’s disastrous World Cup in South Africa when United’s marquee player was a pale shadow of his former self. But Rooney is back to his glorious best and adds the priceless touch of a master craftsman to a side bristling with quality in every position.
As Fergie declared after United’s 2-0 demolition of Schalke in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final in Germany “every player was excellent” and the side is “peaking just at the right time”
This was a vintage display by United and whether Read Madrid or Barcelona are destined to be their Wembley opponents, there is no question that there is nothing to fear for a Manchester side hellbent on becoming the club’s fourth champions of Europe.
In the most one-sided Champions League semi-final you will ever see, how the Germans kept United at bay until the 67th minute was a miracle largely down to the incredible performance of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. But once Rooney unlocked Schalke’s resistence with a delicious Zidane-like set-up that allowed Ryan Giggs to open the scoring and become the oldest player ever to score in this competition, it was only a question of how big the final margin.
Rooney made his mark with the second served up by his outstanding strike partner Javier Hernandez and the Germans – who remember demolished champions Inter Milan 7-3 on aggregate in the previous round – were dead and buried. It was a sign of United’s total domination that Giggs confirmed the team’s disappointment that the margin of victory was not far greater than 2-0. It is never over until the fat lady sings of course, but if United were to fail to complete the job next week at Old Trafford this would be a turnaround to top any in the latter stages of this elite competition.
For most United fans the big question now is how to get a ticket for the final and what could be Fergie’s crowning glory.
For Sir Alex to triumph at Wembley – scene of United’s historic and emotional first European Cup triumph in 1968, a decade after the tragedy of the Munich air crash – would be yet another incredible high for the 69-year-old Glaswegian. And if he can deliver the Champions League after collecting a record 19th title as champions of England that would be priceless.
The only ray of frustration is that Fergie has been denied the chance to repeat his Treble success of 1999. And the reality is that United would surely still be on for a triple crown if Rooney had not been banned from playing in the FA Cup semi-final defeat by neighbours City.
There is still a lot of hard work to do. And United could still finish the season empty handed. But there is a feeling in the air that this is going to be a special season to rank alongside any in the history of the club.
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FOOTBALL FANS and the media are so fickle it is hard to take them seriously when they instantly call for the manager’s head whenever things don’t go according to plan. And this time it is Arsene Wenger who is the target for the baying mob.
When Arsenal allowed two points to slip away for the second time in four days and let North London rivals Tottenham fight back from two goals down to earn a 3-3 draw, it was inevitable that radio phone-ins would be swamped with disgruntled Gunners fans calling time on the greatest manager in their history.
A few days ago the media was telling us that Carlo Ancelotti is a dead man walking at Stamford Bridge following the Blues Champions League exit at the hands of title rivals Manchester United.
But with five matches remaining, the race for the Premier League is still very much alive – despite United holding a six point advantage over their two London rivals. Wenger and Ancelotti still have the chance to finish up with a piece of silverware if United slip up – and that makes it even more ridiculous that the media and the fans are already writing off the London bosses.
It remains odds on that the title will go to Old Trafford. And yet there is still everything to play for because there is mounting pressure on Sir Alex Ferguson’s men who have yet to face both Arsenal and Chelsea either side of their decisive Champions League semi-final second leg against Schalke.
Certainly there is no margin for error when United face Everton at home on Saturday lunchtime, ahead of Chelsea’s game against West Ham and Arsenal’s Monday night trip to Bolton.
Thirty years ago Ipswich Town were heading for a Treble when Sir Bobby Robson’s men were derailed in the FA Cup by Manchester City. On that occasion Aston Villa came strong on the rails to take the Championship – and Robson’s team had to settle for the UEFA Cup.
Fergie knows he still has a big job on his hands to go one better than his old friend. And it is no surprise Manchester United’s manager is still fuming over the referee’s failure to award a pivotal penalty at the end of Tuesday night’s goal-less draw at Newcastle.
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Jose Mourinho’s declaration that he will return to manage in the Premier League one day guarantees the self-appointed “special one” will be linked with every top job until he is “back home”.
The big question is ‘Where will Mourinho end up?’ The truth is you can make a compelling case for the current Real Madrid boss to take the helm at any of the EPL’s Big Six. But my belief is that the Portuguese maestro will wait for the top job, and the chance to succeed his good friend Sir Alex Ferguson – for the next couple of years at least.
There is no guarantee Mourinho will even get the job. There is a question mark over whether or not he can deliver the swashbuckling football United fans and their history demand. There is no sign of Sir Alex being ready to step aside as he closes in on the possibility of his greatest ever season in his 70th year.
Yet there is an aura and intoxicating self-belief about Mourinho that makes him absolutely perfect for United. And the very doubt about whether or not he could deliver at the world’s biggest and most famous club is precisely why the man at Madrid has his eyes on Old Trafford.
I’m not convinced Mourinho will get the chance to prove himself any time soon. Fergie has the hunger and desire to go on indefinitely. And how can anyone follow the most successful football manager in the history of the game? But I can’t think of anyone better equipped to take on the hardest job in football.
When Roman Abramovich forced Mourinho out of Chelsea, he made one of the biggest mistakes of his life. And despite his affection for his time at Stamford Bridge, the devil in Mourinho would give him immense satisfaction to come back to the Premier League and rub the Russian’s nose in the billionaire’s miserable failure to understand that some things money just can’t buy.
With Carlo Ancelotti joining the long list of Chelsea managers failing to win the Champions League, the Italian is vulnerable despite winning the Double last year, because this season will end trophy-less. As I predicted on transfer deadline day – if Chelsea fail to finish in the top four – Ancelotti will pay the price for the crazy 50 million pound signing of Fernando Torres. He may already be a dead man walking.
Either way do not expect Mourinho to rush back to Chelsea. He has already strongly rejected suggestions he will replace Roberto Mancini at Eastlands, whether or not Manchester City fail to end their 35 year wait for a trophy and miss out on a Champions League place.
Tottenham will undoubtedly make another move for Mourinho – who has previously turned them down on at least one occasion – when Harry Redknapp becomes the next England manager.
He will also be top of the list at Liverpooland Arsenal, should Kenny Dalglish step down or Arsene Wenger finally run out of time. Arsenal’s last trophy was the 2005 FA Cup and Liverpool have never won the Premier League.
Unless Fergie delivers another Treble next month and decides to bow out in style – and even then I think he will want to carry on – I expect Mourinho to bide his time and remain in Madrid for another season at least.
In the meantime, what are the odds now on my prophecy coming true and Fergie having to conquer Mourinho’s Madrid at Wembley to win the Champions League?
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