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Same Players, Different Team……

Remember the date, 22nd January 2011, the day all Liverpool fans thought would never come again not alone this season, but always lived in hope of seeing again that our beloved club was not only winning away from home but playing football again, the Liverpool way.  I’m sure that although it was great to see a 0-3 scoreline away from home most fans (including me) would admit the most pleasing aspect of the match against Wolves was indeed the performance as a whole. It wasn’t perfect and I am not ignoring the fact that we are a team that is still miles away from the levels seen  2 seasons ago but in comparison to what we have seen so far this campaign it is a massive improvement (and that is not an exaggeration).   So why the huge improvement? An obvious question gives an obvious answer, Kenny Dalglish. If Roy Hodgson was going to be replaced during the season then the one person  the majority (if not all) of Liverpool fans would have wanted was ‘king’ Kenny Dalglish. As a fan who used to watch The King play andalso watched his Liverpool teams play I for one think his appointment as manager for the second time is a stroke of genius by the new Liverpool owners. They have clearly listened to the fans and quickly understood how the club should be run and the importance of having a manager that understands the roots of Liverpool FC. There is no better person in my opinion than The King. What he has achieved in a matter of two weeks has certainly surprised the ‘experts’ in the media who were very quick to point towards the fact he had been ‘out of the game’ for far too long. What they failed to report was that Kenny Dalglish had been around the club for the last few years as an ambassador, he was also a regular fixture in the Liverpool crowd for home games and of course still heavily involved within the club generally. I am not sure that is the correct definition of ‘being out of the game’. However the improvement since his appointment has been clear to see. The team are now showing more passion, commitment and self belief which has been significantly lacking all season, the work rate of every player has improved 100% and that includes Christian Poulson! The 4 games played under ‘The King’ have all showed this with the best being the recent game at Wolves. Simple things such as players playing in their correct positions (apart from Glen Johnson who has had to play at Left Back) has made a huge difference. We only need to look at Raul Meireles for example - bought as an attcking midfielder but deployed on the right of midfield for the majority of the season, has now been given the chance to play behind Torres which has also allowed him to roam and as a result able to get more involved and deliver that much missed creativity.     His man management skills have also made a significant impact – we only have to look at Torres for this example. Here is a world class striker that this season has looked frustrated, unhappy and unable to control a football. Within the last 2 weeks we have seen hunger, desire and glimpses of his undoubted quality that have previously terrorised defences. Yes the player should be giving his all week in week out but when a player is out of form and quite obvioulsy down then they need to be told how good they are, given a hug and that it will all come good in the end. The evidence of this is for all to see and the team are now benefiting with 3 goals in 2 games. The most obvious reason in my opinion for the improvement is the tactics that are now being employed. For most of the season and especially away from home, the team has been set up not to lose with a five man midfield protecting the defence and Torres left alone up front to chase down the scraps he may be fed. Now we see  a system being adapted which looks like 4-1-3-1-1 with the the 4 players in midfield interchanging when the team is attacking. What we saw on Saturday was the midfeld players getting beyond the striker and threatening inside the opponents penalty area which obvioulsy meant a bigger threat in front of goal. The system has also allowed the team to play to individual players strengths  including Torres and as a result we are starting to see the qualities of the players we have.  Pepe Reina is another example,  he is being allowed to pass the ball out of his area instead of ‘hoofing it’ like he was instructed to previously and as a result is now creating more attacking opportunities for the team.  As I have said previously we are not at the levels seen under Rafa Benitez quite yet but in the short space of time Kenny has been in charge we have seen the potential of whats to come in future games.  We are still shaky in defence but I believe this will improve and we are still in need of additional quality players to join the squad but with the appointment of Kenny and that of Steve Clarke, which is also a shrewd move by the owners, I believe such improvement will continue to happen in the coming weeks. We have been told previously by football experts and the media that we don’t have good enough players to compete at a high level, and that the reason Roy Hodgson had such a poor record was because of this, but in the short time Kenny has been in charge and his ideas being adopted by the players, it appears that this may indeed not be the case.  What we all know is, yes we do have the same players, but are now a completely different team………  Y.N.W.A

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My Interview for a Spurs Blog……

Posted by Spencer | Posted in Liverpool FC | Posted on 26-11-2010


I was recently asked if I would be interviewed for a Spurs blog for the upcoming game on Sunday – for those of you interested he is what I said……. Full blogging will return when I am back from Florida…… :)

Thanks to Dom at What a Fantastic Run (www.whatafantasticrun.com) for the questions….

WFR: Welcome to What a Fantastic Run, Could you introduce yourself to our readers? (name, age, occupation and all the other interesting stuff)
My name is Spencer Gower I am 38 years young and am a Chartered Surveyor. I am married to Alex and have an 8 month old son William and a 13 year old son Raihan from a previous marriage. I am currently on holiday in Florida :)

WFR: How did you land up supporting Liverpool?
I have been supporting Liverpool for 33 years and ended up supporting them due to my uncle who unfortunately died in his early 20′s. He was a mad Liverpool fan who persuaded me to support the reds whilst my mother was trying to get me to support her team Manchester United. I definitely made the right choice!!!

WFR: Well, where do we start with Liverpool this year? Who in your eyes  is at fault for your poor start to the season?
Hmmm – where do we start….. I have blogged about the issues this season (www.spencergower.co.uk) and the main reason in my opinion is Roy Hodgson. Yes the ownership situation was a factor but I believe that those issues shouldn’t have affected the players who are on huge salaries and are paid to do a job regardless of who the owners are. If the players were not getting paid then yes this would have been a major issue. The fact is that situation was never even close.
Roy Hodgson is a nice guy who has done reasonably well in his career but right from the start I wasn’t convinced by his appointment (‘mixed feelings’ on my blog). It has become clear over recent weeks that he is trying to imprint his ‘Fulham’ style on Liverpool and what he needs to understand is that we are not Fulham we are Liverpool FC. He doesn’t have a plan B when things go wrong. Tactically he is very poor.  The thing that has concerned me most Liverpool fans this season is the performances as a whole. We have been poor, very poor in fact and that is me being kind as a Liverpool fan. Our football has been similar to what Fulham played last season with the midfield being bypassed in exchange for hoofing from the back hoping that Torres will get on the end of it. Until Hodgson realises that he is dealing with much better players than he has ever been used too and that they like to play football in a certain way then our performances will continue to be mediocre. Can I put it like this – if Rafa was still in charge then do you think he would still be in charge now or would the media be as kind as they are being to Roy? So in conclusion and in my opinion Roy and his tactics are mostly to blame for the poor start to the season.

WFR: There has been a lot of talk and accusations about Torres. Is it that he doesn’t want to be there or is he just out of form?
The talk as you have put it has all been media talk – Its only a few months since the media were hyping him up and saying he was going to sign for Chelsea or Man City but ever since he came out at the start of the season and committed himself to Liverpool the media have changed towards him. Yes he has been out of form but the media have forgotten that he had an operation before the world cup and shouldn’t have gone really. He also hasn’t had a summer break for the past 3 years because Spain have been in various tournaments. He has also suffered this season from the type of football we have been playing and Roy using him as a lone striker and hoofing into the channels. Torres is a player that needs service to feet or in front of him. I would be very frustrated if I was him too. I think you have seen in the last 3-4 games he is starting to get himself back to full fitness and his goals against Chelsea prove he is still world class.

WFR: I think Spurs fans owe Liverpool a huge thank you for pipping us  to Joe Cole – I am sure if he had signed for us we would not of bought Van Der Vaart. How has he been getting on?
Joe Cole was viewed and still is viewed as an exciting signing for Liverpool – he was unfortunate in getting sent off in the first game of the season against Arsenal and then picking up an injury and he has also tried to hard to impress which has also hampered his game. Roy has also used him in the wrong position in my opinion – he didn’t like being used on the left at Chelsea and Roy said he would use in in the ‘hole’ behind Torres which is his best position. But he has played the majority of the games on the left and the way we have played he hasn’t been able to get on the ball too often. I still think he will come good for us. Remember Harry took a pop at Joe because he signed for us and not Spurs……

WFR: This next question consists of just two words. Feel free to expand  as much as you like……Robbie Keane?
Robbie Keane…… I thought at the time he was a good signing and would have worked well with Torres. I also think his signing was an ‘owners’ signing and therefore became political and that’s why Rafa didn’t use him as much as he would have done before selling him back to Spurs in the January window. Its a shame because I think he would have been good for Liverpool used in the right way. The one thing that makes me laugh however is that Rafa got slated by the media and ex players for not playing Robbie but Harry, who has done the same and even loaned him out, doesn’t get a mention.

WFR: We are nearing the crucial Christmas period, what are your expectations for Liverpool this season?
I wrote a blog at the beginning of the season ‘Only time will tell’ which highlighted my expectations for the season. I am a passionate fan but also a realistic one and I try to air balanced views. My expectations this season were low in comparison to previous seasons and I was hoping that we could try and sneak a top 4 place but also know this would be much harder because of Spurs and Man City now in the frame. A good UEFA and FA Cup run would be the best I would expect this season unfortunately…..

WFR: What are your general thoughts on Tottenham?
I think Spurs have improved dramatically under Harry but in honest they should have given the money he has spent over the last few seasons. They play some really good football and the signing of Van Der Varrt will prove to be the best signing of all. I like Bale since he has moved into a midfield position and this is where I would like to see Glen Johnson play for us too as I believe he would be more effective going forward. I still think Harry needs to come to terms with playing CL midweek then PL on the Saturday as teams will always struggle after a CL game which has been the case this season. This is where the benefit of having a large squad comes into play.

WFR: If you could pick a player from Tottenham’s past or present team  to play for Liverpool who would it be?
From the past it would have to be Glen Hoddle – absolute quality and would have fitted into the Liverpool team in that era perfectly. Today would be Van Der Varrt as he is the type of player Liverpool are missing and in truth have missed since Alonso left a couple of seasons back.

WFR: And finally, give us a score prediction….
Hahaha – my heart says we sneak a 2-1 win but my head says a 2-1 win to Spurs…… From my point of view it will be a difficult game for Liverpool and unless we improved dramatically away from home then realistically I can only see one outcome and that is a spurs win – and I hate admitting that!!

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