Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Luis Suarez - Icon

In August 2011, I posted this about Luis Suarez. Look at Suarez today and the defensive leaks are still there:

Luis Suarez will become Liverpool's greatest ever striker if he fires them to the title, says Steve McManaman
Uruguay star can surpass legendary names such as Robbie Fowler, Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush if he scores the goals that ends their 24-year wait for the English title
PUBLISHED 26 MARCH 2014 12:46 PM

Luis Suarez will become Liverpool’s greatest ever striker if he fires them to the Premier League title, according to Anfield icon Steve McManaman.

Suarez’s hat-trick in Saturday’s 6-3 win at Cardiff City took his tally to 28 goals in 25 league games this season, equalling Robbie Fowler’s Premier League-era record for the club with eight matches remaining.

And McManaman claimed the Uruguay star can surpass legendary names such as Fowler, Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush and Roger Hunt in the pantheon of Liverpool greats if he scores the goals that ends their 24-year wait for the English title.

Liverpool go into Wednesday night’s home game with Sunderland four points behind leaders Chelsea with a game in hand and the form of Suarez will be crucial to their hopes of closing that gap.

He is also only six goals shy of Andy Cole and Alan Shearer’s record of 34 for a Premier League season, despite missing the opening five games of the campaign through suspension.

Speaking ahead of the Laureus World Sports Awards in Kuala Lumpur, McManaman said: “Suarez? Better than the ‘Growler’ [Fowler]. He’s going to break his record.

“He missed the first five games of the season and that suggests he will go down in Liverpool history.

“If he takes them to the league title, everybody will say he is the greatest centre-forward ever.

“Liverpool have been blessed with some centre-forwards haven’t they?

“You quickly forget because we live in the present, but the fact you are even talking about Suarez – after just a couple of years at the club – in the same breath as Robbie or Rushie or Kenny and whoever else shows how much he has learnt at Liverpool and how much he has improved.

“He had a great year last year and he has gone and bettered it despite playing fewer games."

Suarez tried to force through a move to Arsenal last summer but was ultimately convinced to stay and sign a new contract.

His form could spark renewed interest from some of Europe’s biggest clubs but McManaman said: “I think he will stay anyway as he has just signed a new contract.

“Listen, it is important for superstars to play in the Champions League every week, that is the over-riding factor. You want to test yourself against the best players.

“Liverpool are on the right track. If they suddenly finished sixth there would be question marks but if they win the league or qualify for the Champions League, I don’t think there will be any assumption about whether he stays or goes.

“I think he will stay and it will be up to Liverpool to decide if they want to sell him rather than the other way round.”


MH370. Watching things pan out since the plane went missing on 8th March, one thing stands out; prayer. Every Tom, Dick and Harry seems to be praying. Started with praying for the safety of crew/passengers lah (the pilot and co-pilot were excluded for a while), for their families lah, then for the souls of the crew/passengers lah, now for the safety of the Search & Rescue guys lah, and maybe later for the journalists lah, blah, blah, blah. There is so much outpouring of compassion and commiseration it seems almost unreal; even got some atheists praying.

Mind you, Tom, Dick and Harry on a normal day will not spare a thought even for worse on-going human tragedies globally of which the list is long and well known. Now, because of social media and a sensational occurrence involving a couple of hundred victims, Tom, Dick and Harry are falling over themselves to publicly show how much each cares. I wonder if most are motivated more by personal gratification or for grandstanding rather than genuine caring. I wonder if we put a price to the show in say, Facebook by imposing just RM20 per MH370 prayer message, we would get the kind of numbers?

For one who knows what it is like to grieve, my comment is made not in schadenfreude for MH370 victims and their families but for the stench of hypocrisy that pervades.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Manchester United 0 Liverpool 3. How Did Liverpool Do It?

A defining game, an emphatic win. How was it achieved? This article in the Liverpool Echo is enlightening:

The ECHO takes a look at how the tactics of the boss helped the Reds at Old Trafford

Manchester United FC v Liverpool FC in the Barclays Premier League at Old Trafford. Brendan Rodgers on the touchline. Pic Andrew Teebay.

This season has raised a number of questions for Liverpool, but most pertinent of all is this: how?

It is a question that can sometimes be forgotten, neglected even.

As Luis Suarez slaloms through another set of limbs, or as Daniel Sturridge glances over his shoulder and takes aim, or as Jordan Henderson runs and runs some more, the question of how? is hardly asked. Instead, there is just an embrace that it simply is happening.

But it is something that should be asked. The Reds have gone from seventh to genuine title contenders in a season, scoring three or more goals in 16 league matches – including five against Tottenham and Arsenal, four against Everton, and three against Manchester United.

It is those three goals against United which has catapulted Liverpool into the title race, and into public consciousness. Brendan Rodgers has spoken of conversations throughout the season; right now, his side are the hottest topic in Europe and have tongues wagging, moving just four points adrift of Chelsea with a game in hand.

But how did it happen? Specifically, how did Rodgers take his side to Old Trafford and produce one of the most comprehensive beatings to United in recent memory?

To simply point at Suarez, Sturridge and Steven Gerrard would be unfair; so, too, would wryly suggesting David Moyes' presence in the home dugout was the sole contributing factor.

If the United result is one to announce the Reds as a genuine runner in this title race, then it should also herald Rodgers as one of the league's finest tacticians.

It is something he, arguably, doesn't receive enough praise for. But this was another big game won with his indelible imprint upon it.

Against Everton, his deployment of Suarez, Sturridge and Raheem Sterling across the front three left John Stones in a spin; against Arsenal, his use of Philippe Coutinho as a third midfielder opened up what had been – until then – a solid back-line.

Manchester United FC v Liverpool FC in the Barclays Premier League at Old Trafford Pictures: Andrew TeebayView gallery

Rodgers went with a diamond against United - similar to the one at Southampton, with Sterling taking the place of Coutinho at the tip of it.

This was crucial to combating Marouane Fellaini; the speed and surprising strength of Sterling flummoxed the Belgian throughout. While Coutinho may have been enveloped by the former Everton man, Sterling had the pace to drive past him, and once he was past him, Fellaini had no chance to catching him.

Sterling made three dribbles, although he was also dispossessed three times, while he attempted 30 passes with an 87% accuracy – good figures, particularly given he wasn't playing in his natural position.

The impact on Fellaini was also noticeable too. He successfully tackled Sterling just once, while Sterling went past him three times; he was also dispossessed three times, and was forced to play much deeper, the fear of Sterling on the counter attack pinning him back.

Indeed, Rodgers entire midfield shape was key to the victory. Joe Allen and Henderson were used slightly advanced of Gerrard and pressed their United counterparts.

United's penchant for crossing balls from wide areas has been well documented, but the presence of Allen and Henderson ensured their wide players – Adnan Januzaj and Juan Mata – had no time on the ball.

When either wide man received the ball, Henderson or Allen would do one of two things – look to retrieve it themselves, or cover for full-backs Jon Flanagan and Glen Johnson, who would press immediately.

Mata and Januzaj managed only two successful dribbles combined, while six failed. They also attempted just two crosses (United had 20 overall), neither finding the mark. Credit should go to Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel, who led the defence wonderfully, and made it compact; no wonder Januzaj and Mata thought twice about sending the ball into a cluster of white shirts.

With Moyes opting for a two-man midfield with Mata and Januzaj out wide, it also meant Liverpool dominated the centre. Mata and Januzaj were forced to come inside and help Fellaini and Michael Carrick. As a result, their threat from out wide was non-existent, with Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie both toiling, isolated, higher up the pitch. Eventually, Rooney was shifted wide by Moyes as a desperate last throw of a loaded dice.

Allen and Henderson made 17 tackles between them, winning nine of them, and managed two interceptions; the duo were also good in possession - Allen in particular, with 90% success rate - while Henderson had more touches (86) than any other Liverpool player.

Their endeavour and workmanlike approach epitomised the entire team, and permeated through it. There was uncertainty how Moyes would approach this game, whether it would be similar to his tactics frequently used in Merseyside derbies of old, or instead look to roll back the years to Sir Alex Ferguson's gung-ho, all-out attack.

Liverpool made all of that redundant, snapping at heels from the opening whistle; Flanagan, in particular, buzzing around the pedestrian home side. He would end with nine tackles, three tackles and seven clearances.

Manchester United FC v Liverpool FC in the Barclays Premier League at Old Trafford. Jon Flanagan challenges Marouane Fellaini. Pic Andrew Teebay. 

Make no mistake, teams do not go to Old Trafford and win 3-0 without individual brilliance. Gerrard, in particular, was phenomenal; penalties aside, he produced one of the finest midfield performances of a generation, building the platform for Allen, Henderson and Sterling ahead.

Suarez and Sturridge were pests throughout, too; at one point in the second half, with United edging on top, the pair exchanged passes from 25 yards – Suarez with the outside of his knitted boot, Sturridge with his leather instep. It showed how capable they were of getting a third; it panicked United into not pushing high up the pitch again.

But that individuality counts for nothing without intelligence to supplement it. The Mona Lisa would simply be the wife of Francesco del Giocondo if not for paintbrushes, after all.

Rodgers is adorning his own canvas with colours bright and beautiful. For all the talk of Suarez, Sturridge, Gerrard and others – and how the talk is deserved – it is time to recognise that the excellence on the pitch is being matched in the dugout. The two go hand-in-hand.

And so, for one moment, focus on the how. How have Liverpool managed to get themselves into this position, and how did they win 3-0 at Old Trafford? The answer is not limited to this alone, but needs to be said regardless: Brendan Rodgers.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

MH370 - Be Careful What You Pray For

Now the world can see EVERYTHING in Malaysia is about politics or will be politicized. However, in this case from an article in the Daily Mail, the truth is beginning to look stranger than fiction...