Inconsistency’s still the name of the game

Posted by Attack of the Kop On Saturday, 23 March 2013 25 comments

If you were to sum up Brendan Rodgers’ first season so far at Liverpool, inconsistent would be at the fore of everyone’s lips.

However cliché it sounds, the campaign’s been a case of two steps forward and then one step back. As renewed hope is brought back with a string of impressive results, the reality quickly looms that this Liverpool team’s fortunes indeed won’t change overnight.  

Coming off the back of three recent impressive victories against Swansea, Wigan and Tottenham, whispers of a return to Champions League football was the talk that surrounded the team from sports betting sites. Alas, the 3-1 loss to relegation threatened Southampton was in order to follow the season’s frustrating pattern and set off the pessimists.

But, there was a statistic that was overlooked. The nail-biting 3-2 turnaround against Spurs was the first time since May 2011 Liverpool recorded three consecutive league wins.

The performance against Southampton was inexcusable, however, the inconsistency is somewhat justifiable and is to be unfortunately expected.

High expectations are getting in the way of remembering that this still is Brendan Rodgers’ first season. The 40-year-old hadn’t been at a club with the same distinction as Liverpool since taking over from Kenny Dalglish last summer.

He’s come out and admitted he’s made mistakes in his tenure; the Northern Irishman’s learning everyday.

In fact, it was far from an overnight turn around for Ferguson at United. Fans grew frustrated and he was close to being relieved of his managerial duties early in his career.

Rodgers inherited an indifferent squad. It was far from complete, though it registered a core of very good players, there were also overvalued and overpaid players.

He set out to replace the departing Craig Bellamy, Maxi Rodriguez, Charlie Adam and Dirk Kuyt with relatively young players.

It’s resulted in Liverpool boasting the youngest squad in the Premier League this season. The likes of Joe Allen, Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling, Jonjo Shelvey, Suso and Andre Wisdom have all contributed to an average of just 25.3 years.

With inexperience comes inconsistency. However, the long-term results with the talent littered in the squad will be rewarding. At just 20, Coutinho has bagged 2 goals and 2 assists in his four starts since joining from Inter Milan - He’ll only get better with time.

On the flip side you have Joe Allen. After a storming start to his Liverpool career, the £15 million midfielder scooped the Player of the Month award for August. But since then his performances have tailed off, looking a fraction of the player we saw early in the season.

Come next season, Rodgers needs to strike a balance. With veteran Jamie Carragher retiring, a search should’ve already begun for his successor. Plus, there aren’t too many senior figures in the squad already, a concern Steven Gerrard has already spoken out about – It’s a problem that needs to be addressed or we could be facing another stop start season.

How have the management tried to tackle the inconsistency this season I hear you all ask at once?

To start, Liverpool have appointed top-rated sports psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters mid-way through the campaign. He’s worked with great effect alongside the British Cycling team for the last decade, and is distinguished by Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton as the catalyst for their Olympic achievements.

Fabio Borini has already revealed how he’s previously sought help from mental coach Roberto Civitarese while at Chelsea and again when he suffered a broken foot earlier in the season.

"I think it is a thing that, in modern football, can be really helpful.

"I really appreciate talking to psychologists and I will talk to them again.”

The mental health of players is often played down in the footballing world, but it shouldn’t go unnoticed by clubs, especially Liverpool as we have, and have had, a fair share of underperforming players shot of confidence.

Coupled with that, manager Brendan Rodgers has brought out an incentive scheme for the players. The 3 wins in a row against Queens Park Rangers, Sunderland and Mansfield Town were rewarded with lunch at a local Italian restaurant on the manager. 

It shows strives are being made to implement a level of consistency through incentives for players however unorthodox the methods.

A winning mentality is difficult to implement and it sure won’t happen in a manager’s first season. But once it’s in full flow, it’s highly rewarding. The scrappy encounters turn your way. You win games that perhaps you didn’t deserve to.

Just ask Manchester United.

Sikander Najib

Your favourite Carra memories

Posted by Attack of the Kop On Thursday, 7 February 2013 28 comments

On our Twitter page we asked you your favourite Jamie Carragher moments with the news of the stalwart hanging up his boots at the end of the season.

Over to you.

Thanks for the memories, Jamie.

Jamie Carragher announces his retirement

Posted by Attack of the Kop On 20 comments

After 17 years of blood, sweat and tears for Liverpool Football Club Jamie Carragher has announced his retirement from football at the end of this current campaign.

The tough tackling, no nonsense defender has currently amassed more than 700 appearances for the Reds after graduating from the prestigious academy in 1996.

After the decision, Carragher had this to say to the official website, "This will be my last season at Liverpool and my last as a professional footballer.
"I'm making this announcement now because I don't want the manager or the club to be answering questions on my future when I've already decided what I am going to do.
Jamie Carragher has had a glittering career, winning the treble in 2001 with Gerard Houllier and then lifting the Champion’s League trophy in 2005. Then, a year later he helped Liverpool to the FA Cup against West Ham, his second in total.
But, the 35-year-old reiterated he’s "fully committed between now and the end of the season to doing the very best for Liverpool Football Club, as I've done my entire career since joining aged just nine-years-old.
"It has been a privilege and an honour to represent this great club for as long as I have and I am immensely proud to have done so and thankful for all the support I have had. There are many memories I want to share and people to thank, but now is not the time for that.
"I won't be making any further comment on this decision until the end of the season; all our focus and concentration should be on achieving the best possible finish in the league this season and trying to win the last remaining trophy we are competing in."
Here’s to Jamie Carragher, a modern day football great and forever a Liverpool Legend.

International Roundup – Gerrard’s England beat Brazil

Posted by Attack of the Kop On Wednesday, 6 February 2013 18 comments

Steven Gerrard’s England, featuring Liverpool right back Glen Johnson, won 2-1 against Brazil at Wembley. Wayne Rooney opened the scoring for the Three Lions before Fred pulled a goal back for the visitors. But Frank Lampard put the hosts in front on the hour mark with a curled effort from outside the box to give England their first win over Brazil in 23 years.

Elsewhere for Liverpool’s international stars, Uruguay lost 3-1 to Spain in Doha in a pulsating game. Luis Suarez featured for the full 90 minutes, while coach Oscar Tabarez left Sebastian Coates on the bench.

Fresh after winning Slovakian player of the year, it was heartbreak for Martin Skrtel as Dries Mertens netted late on to earn Belgium a 2-1 victory.

It wasn’t a night to remember for Skrtel’s defensive partner Daniel Agger, who featured for 90 minutes as Denmark were left shocked by a 3-0 loss to Macedonia.

Joe Allen featured for Wales in their 2-1 triumph against Austria at the Liberty Stadium. The Welshman notched an assist when Gareth Bale steered in after being sent through by Allen.

In Under-21 action, striker Fabio Borini netted from close range late on as Italy defeated Germany.

On Tuesday night, four Liverpool players starred in England’s 4-0 win over Sweden. Andre Wisdom, Jack Robinson, Jonjo Shelvey and Jordan Henderson all impressed at Walsall’s Banks’ Stadium.

Jonjo Shelvey’s side-footed effort doubled England’s lead in the 30th minute, while Liverpool target and former youth winger Tom Ince grabbed a brace.

Sikander Najib

Coutinho capture confirmed - (VIDEO)

Posted by Attack of the Kop On Wednesday, 30 January 2013 22 comments

Liverpool football club have confirmed the signing of Philippe Coutinho from Inter Milan, fending off interest from Premier League rivals Southampton and Tottenham.

20-year-old Coutinho started his career in the youth system of Brazilian outfit Vasco da Gama. He rapidly became one of the most sought after youngsters in world football and Inter Milan eventually signed him for €4 million at just 16. The Italian side loaned him back to Vasco until his 18th birthday.

At Inter he saw his opportunities limited with stiff competition, featuring just 15 times in his debut season. In January of 2012 Coutinho joined Spanish side Espanyol until the end of the season. It proved to be fruitful for the attacked as he amassed 5 goals in 16 appearances.

Philippe Coutinho is a versatile attacker who can play across the front three and is known for his trickery, acceleration and technical ability.

Sikander Najib

VIDEO: Scouting - Philippe Coutinho vs FK Partizan | HD

Posted by Attack of the Kop On Thursday, 24 January 2013 14 comments
Watch below as Liverpool transfer target Philippe Coutinho showcased his abilities against FK Partizan in the Europa League. The 20-year-old Brazilian displayed his passing prowess and technical ability in Inter Milan's 1-0 victory over the Serbian opposition.


VIDEO: Sturridge - Suarez | The Partnership vs Norwich 19/1/12 | HD

Posted by Attack of the Kop On Monday, 21 January 2013 13 comments
Liverpool's fixture against Norwich on the 19th January saw Luis Suarez start alongside Daniel Sturridge for the first time. There was a lot of pre-match debate as to how the front line would set up, would manager Brendan Rodgers sacrifice top-scorer Suarez out on the wing to accomodate the central £12 million signing Sturridge? Watch the best of the action involving the two forwards from Saturday's 5-0 demolition of Norwich.


VIDEO: Daniel Sturridge - Clique | HD by GIAR

Posted by Attack of the Kop On Sunday, 20 January 2013 16 comments
Watch Steven Halliwell's compilation of Liverpool's new signing Daniel Sturridge. The striker has already amassed 3 goals in just 3 appearances since signing from Chelsea at the start of the January transfer window.