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  1. by Dave Usher for ESPN It was surprising to see Raheem Sterling talking in great detail about his contract issue just a few days before one of Liverpool's most important games of the season when he previously said he wanted to concentrate on football. He really has done himself no favours with this. Simply telling people "it's not about the money" is not going to make them believe it's not about the money. It just makes you look ridiculous. He has certainly heaped even more unnecessary pressure on to himself. Every missed opportunity or poor piece of play was already being met with withering cynicism from Liverpool fans. They would moan, "You want £150,000 a week and you can't even use your left foot?" or "If you want that kind of money, how about stepping up to take a penalty instead of letting Lovren do it?" That will only get worse after this interview. He's also opened himself up to nationwide scrutiny as well. All eyes will be on his every move between now and the summer, and if he thinks the speculation and criticism will go away because he's put "his side of the story" out there, he's mistaken. That interview has merely poured more fuel on an already roaring fire. His advisers have an awful lot to answer for. "It's not about the money," he said. Well, of course he did; they always say that, don't they? Especially when it is indeed about the money. The best place for Sterling right now is Anfield. He plays every week, has a manager who understands him (even to the extent of sending him to Jamaica for a week while his teammates are throwing snowballs at each other back at a frozen Melwood), and there's no reason yet to believe the club cannot compete for trophies. Read the rest of the article here. Click here to view the article
  2. by Dave Usher for ESPN It was surprising to see Raheem Sterling talking in great detail about his contract issue just a few days before one of Liverpool's most important games of the season when he previously said he wanted to concentrate on football. He really has done himself no favours with this. Simply telling people "it's not about the money" is not going to make them believe it's not about the money. It just makes you look ridiculous. He has certainly heaped even more unnecessary pressure on to himself. Every missed opportunity or poor piece of play was already being met with withering cynicism from Liverpool fans. They would moan, "You want £150,000 a week and you can't even use your left foot?" or "If you want that kind of money, how about stepping up to take a penalty instead of letting Lovren do it?" That will only get worse after this interview. He's also opened himself up to nationwide scrutiny as well. All eyes will be on his every move between now and the summer, and if he thinks the speculation and criticism will go away because he's put "his side of the story" out there, he's mistaken. That interview has merely poured more fuel on an already roaring fire. His advisers have an awful lot to answer for. "It's not about the money," he said. Well, of course he did; they always say that, don't they? Especially when it is indeed about the money. The best place for Sterling right now is Anfield. He plays every week, has a manager who understands him (even to the extent of sending him to Jamaica for a week while his teammates are throwing snowballs at each other back at a frozen Melwood), and there's no reason yet to believe the club cannot compete for trophies. Read the rest of the article here.
  3. TLW

    I don't like change

    At the moment the season ticket option isn't working after the crash last night. Need to make a configuration change but will hopefully have it fixed later tonight.
  4. It's fair to say that didn't exactly go according to plan. When you include so many first choice players for a cup tie against lower league opposition, the last thing you want is three injuries and key players having to play for 120 minutes. We got through, yet it's almost unforgivable how difficult we made it for ourselves with a shocking, Billy Big Bollocks 2nd half attitude. My emotions are all over the place with this one. Happy to be through, gutted about Kolo, seriously pissed off with the arrogant, complacent 2nd half attitude that caused the unnecessary situation we found ourselves in, but also pleased with the character shown to dig in and come up with the goods when things went really pear shaped. At 2-2 and down to ten men, there was a very realistic chance we could lose this game, but the performance from that point on was excellent it has to be said and the players showed balls to get the job done. Read the full report here.
  5. Your host 'Numbers' is joined by TLW Editor Dave Usher and long time fanzine writer Paul Natton in a feature length episode of the show to discuss the recent transfer activity (or lack of), the Suarez saga and to preview the opening day clash against Stoke City. Listen now either on the embedded player below, or by visiting our podcast page here. You can also subscribe through itunes and have any new podcast automatically delivered to your computer. Clicking the link above will download the latest episode straight into your iTunes, and will subscribe you to any future episodes. Those of you wanting to listen on your phone, try this link as it should work on most smartphones. To listen in this window, simply click the play button in the box below. To listen in a new tab, click here.
  6. Well that wasn’t a good way to end pre-season, was it? Up until this Brendan Rodgers Liverpool had enjoyed a pretty smooth pre-season, on the pitch at least. Wins against teams such Olympiacos, Melbourne Victory and Valarenga had led to some optimism amongst the Reds fanbase but this game was completely different. It was similar in some respects to the other games but an early goal by Amido Balde made sure the manager didn’t get the perfect pre season he would have wanted. The Reds started off the brighter side but it was all undone after 12 minutes. Stewart Downing collided with Glen Johnson and Amido Balde skipped past Andre Wisdom and fired at Simon Mignolet but the Belgian could only get a touch on it and it looped into the back of the net. Read the full report here.
  7. When Luis Suarez first began shooting his mouth off about fancying a move away from Anfield, I was disappointed but not angry with him. If Real Madrid were in for him, how could he be expected to turn them down? For most Iberian and South American footballers, the ultimate dream is to one day play for Real Madrid or Barcelona, so if that opportunity presented itself to Suarez he was always going to take it. That would have been the case regardless of the troubles he's had in his time in England, or indeed irrespective of Liverpool's league position. We lost Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano to Madrid and Barca, whilst Arsenal and even Manchester United have also seen key players lured away to the Spanish giants. Generally, Real and Barca get who they want, and there are probably only a handful of footballers around that given the opportunity would not swap their present club for a switch to the Bernebeu. If Cristiano Ronaldo was lured away from the English Champions and self proclaimed 'world's biggest club' to join Real, then what chance did Liverpool have of persuading Suarez to stay here if Madrid came calling? The hope was that Madrid may have other priorities and that no other European giant came a knocking, meaning Suarez would be here for another year, if only by default. I assumed (wrongly as it turns out) that if Madrid, Bayern, Barca, Juve etc didn't make a move for him, he'd come back here and everything would be rosy for another year. Not an unreasonable assumption given that everything he had ever said and done up to that point suggested he was happy at Liverpool. He had signed a contract extension last August despite the team having just finished 8th the season before. He knew Champions League football wasn't on the immediate horizon yet he still signed an extension and collected a hefty - and well deserved - pay rise for doing so, and until very recently nobody at the club seemed concerned that the lack of Champions League football was going to result in Suarez pushing for a move as he had not led anyone to believe that was the case. In fact, the prospect of him leaving the club at all only reared it's ugly head following the 10 game suspension and subsequent media frenzy that resulted from it. A situation that whilst overblown, was one created entirely of his own making let us not forget. It was only then that Suarez began to question his future, and he himself said repeatedly that this was more to do with life in England becoming increasingly difficult as opposed to any issue with the club and it's lack of success. So with all this in mind, my belief until this week was that Luis didn't specifically want 'out' of Liverpool, he just wanted 'in' at Real Madrid, and if the Madrid deal didn’t come off he'd remain at Anfield and give his all, just as he's always done. I mean, why wouldn't he? We've regularly heard how his family love life on Merseyside and that he's settled and happy in the area. His team-mates all speak of how much he loves the club and how committed to the cause he is. We've even had the "I always used to play as Liverpool on Fifa when I was younger" spiel from him and he's often spoken proudly of how his daughter knows all the words to 'You'll Never Walk Alone'. He's one of us, is Luis, he wouldn't do what nasty old Fernando Torres did, that's for sure. And just like a fool I bought into it all. Against my better judgement, I believed him. I believed him right up until Liverpool rejected Arsenal's inflammatory £40,000,001 bid for him and the reports began to emerge that he wasn't happy about it and wanted to talk to the Gunners. What? Why? What does he need to talk to Arsenal about? Maybe he might want to ask them when was the last time that they actually won something? Or maybe he needs to clarify whether London is actually in England, as after all, he can't stay in England because of the nasty press and those pesky paparazzi who won't leave his wife and daughter alone whenever he leaves the house. So he claimed anyway. Call me naive, but this week's developments have caught me completely off guard as I never thought for one second he'd even consider joining another English club. I'm sure it's taken some of his team-mates by surprise too. He'd stated that his reason for needing to get away from Liverpool was solely the treatment he'd received at the hands of the English press. Now, apparently, it's about wanting to play in the Champions League. Yet he never mentioned the Champions League in any of those interviews, he only spoke of needing to leave Anfield because of the harsh press treatment he's endured in England. And once again, let me repeat, he signed a contract extension even though we'd just finished 8th and in all likelihood there would be no Champions League football in the club's immediate future. I can’t get my head around it to be honest. Is he really considering joining Arsenal, or is this a ploy by his agent to smoke out Real Madrid or another club he has his eye on? If he wants to play in the Champions League, going to Arsenal is a risky move as they've only been qualifying by the skin of their teeth recently and appear to be by far the most vulnerable of the current top four. Hypothetically speaking, Suarez could go there and get knocked out in the group stages as well as finishing 5th in the Premier League, meaning no Champions League football the following season. Of course he could go there and win both trophies, but I know which scenario seems most likely, and it isn't the latter. It's clearly not about money, as the Reds would easily match whatever Arsenal offered if it meant keeping the player. It can't be about trophies either, as despite Liverpool's recent woes we've still managed to win two trophies since Arsenal last lifted silverware. So what does that leave? The Champions League it seems, but is Suarez really prepared to dump on Liverpool from such a great height, to betray the fans that idolise him and have supported him so loyally, just to play a handful of Champions League group games and maybe one or two knockout rounds if the draw is kind? I'm not convinced he is, my gut feeling is that his agent is stringing Arsenal along in the hope of forcing the hand of other interested parties. Of course I could be wrong and maybe he really is that stupid and is up for joining Arsenal, but it matters not either way as to even be seen as entertaining the idea of leaving Anfield for the Emirates is a slap to the face of each and every Red that has stood by him throughout his numerous troubles. I understand him wanting to move on, I really do. As much as it pains me to say it, as one of the top five players in world football he shouldn't be playing for a team that can't even make the top four (or indeed six) in their domestic league. He should be playing for one of the best teams in Europe, competing for the top prizes and presently that isn't Liverpool. It's not Arsenal either though, is it? Suarez can do better than Wenger's men if he leaves Anfield, but more importantly he shouldn't even be thinking about joining another English club after the incredible support he's had from Liverpool fans through his various disciplinary issues. He tells everyone how much he appreciates that support and how much he loves Liverpool, but he sure has got a funny way of showing it hasn't he? Arsenal are the team that Liverpool have trained their sights on for this season, so why would we allow our best player to join the one top four team that we feel we have a realistic chance of catching? Selling to Arsenal - regardless of the fee - simply should not even be an option for LFC. In the long term it would be more prudent to sell abroad for £30m than to do business with Arsenal for even double that amount when you factor in the potential revenues that regular Champions League qualification brings. LFC simply have to get back into those top four positions and given how far ahead both Manchester clubs and Chelsea presently are, that means the best chance of doing that is to overhaul Arsenal. Selling Suarez to the Gunners would immediately make them much stronger and Liverpool much weaker for this coming season, therefore making Brendan Rodgers' job of gatecrashing the top four considerably more difficult. Not just for this season, but for years to come, and the financial implications of that dwarf any potential difference in transfer fee between selling abroad or to Arsenal. This whole situation is relatively uncharted territory for us as it's extremely rare that players choose to leave Anfield to join another English club, and frankly the idea of this happening with Suarez hurts. Torres is the only example I can think of, and it's not a pleasant experience seeing a former idol running around in the colours of a rival club. Suarez hasn't made that kind of leap yet, but he appears to be on the brink of doing so. However this plays out now, the one thing I'll take from it is that Luis Suarez is not the man I thought he was. That probably says more about me than him though, as I really should know better than to put any kind of stock in the character of a modern day footballer. Dave
  8. Everyone who pre-ordered should have received their book by tomorrow as they were sent out on Friday. If they haven't arrived by Tuesday, let me know.
  9. I've just completed my new book, "Like I Say" and I'm taking pre-orders on it now. It will be back from the printers in early July (possibly sooner) and the digital alternative will be ready in a few days. I'll whack the Kindle version up on Amazon in a few weeks, but I would rather sell what I can myself first. It's a similar format to my last one, 'The King's Last Stand', in that it's a review of the entire season. Like last time, all the match reports and Premier League Round Ups from the throughout the year are included, and there's chapters on Suarez / Ivanovic, the 'Being: Liverpool' documentary and Carragher's retirement amongst other things. Anyway, you can read more about it here. To pre-order it online, click here. First person to make a crack about 'Where's my book" gets banned. Dave
  10. It's been a busy summer already with a couple of signings completed and others close to being finalised. Your host 'Numbers' is joined once again by Dave Usher and Stu Montagu to discuss potential ins and outs, where the squad needs strengthening and of course, the Luis Suarez situation. Listen now either on the embedded player below, or by visiting our podcast page here. You can also subscribe through itunes and have any new podcast automatically delivered to your computer. Clicking the link above will download the latest episode straight into your iTunes, and will subscribe you to any future episodes. Those of you wanting to listen on your phone, try this link as it should work on most smartphones. To listen in this window, simply click the play button in the box below. To listen in a new tab, click here.
  11. Just received this email.... EAD Solicitors currently act on behalf of two of the families who lost loved ones at the Hillsborough Stadium tragedy. We are looking for witnesses who were at the game on that fateful day. Two of our own senior staff were present at Hillsborough on that day and so are themselves survivors. We are only too aware of the sensitivity and the trauma of discussing one’s experiences of that day. We would like the survivors to provide information about events that occurred that day, no matter how big or small you may think it is, your information could be the missing piece we are looking for. Information from people giving statements is to be shared amongst the various firms acting on behalf of the families and survivors in order that no piece of information is left out. This gives everyone the best chance of making their words count. EAD Solicitors are imploring anyone who is able to provide evidence about what happened that day or about the events that unfolded afterwards to come forward. Please see EAD Solicitors Liverpool, Liverpool Solicitors - Hillsborough or call 0151 735 1000 for more details. Please share, to get to friends and family who may have been there. Thank you for your help. JFT96 EAD Solicitors Liverpool, Liverpool Solicitors - Hillsborough
  12. As the season draws to a close there has been, and surely will be for some time yet, plenty of discussion about which of the international superstars of the Premier League has sparkled brightest this season. That’s fine and dandy but far away from the fanfares and front-pages there is another tier of players that have had seasons well worth acknowledgement from those outside their respective changing rooms or home sections. Here, with no piece of statistical irrelevance left uninvestigated, TLW presents to you the definitive selection of lesser heralded but really quite effective players from this season’s Premier League: Brad Guzan As a glow of satisfaction washes over those associated with Aston Villa it would be easy to forget just how dire the situation was looking for them before spring reared its tardy head over the horizon. Goals from Benteke and a late injection of form from Agbonlahor may be what sticks in the memory as this campaign is put to one side but Guzan’s efforts may well have been just as vital. During a trying season where they were often on the ropes he managed to get them through to the bell on a number of occasions. One singular moment of individual brilliance in tipping a Chris Samba header stands out in a season in which Villa fans have named him their player of the season. Cesar Azpilicueta The former Marseille man has attracted very little in the way of hype but since the arrival of Benitez he has been a crucial part of Chelsea’s fight to finish third. Chelsea tend to attack down the right more often than the left and the sight of the adventurous Spaniard joining up with Hazard, Mata or Oscar as they drift wide is a common one. Offering good quality crosses to the forwards and with only three players contributing more assists or passes per game for them in the league, he has made a telling contribution to the efforts this season. Jose Enrique There may have been peaks and troughs to the performances of Jose Enrique this season but for a player many thought was on his way out the door it has been a redemptive season of mostly positive contributions. His pace and upper body strength mean that it’s rare for wingers to get the best of him and solid defensive performances are now the norm. He may not be the perfect full-back for Rodgers but the occasional superb through ball and charge forward have brought goals, assists and have provided the new Liverpool manager with a solid performer throughout most of the campaign. Scoring the best goal of the season is also nothing to be sniffed at. Phil Jagielka One of the major reasons why Everton have, once again, punched above their wage budget and a player that typifies the way Moyes wants to play his football. Not only is he aggressive and committed but he also allies that with an under-rated ability on the ball. The only outfield player to have completed more successful long passes than him in the Premier League this season is Steven Gerrard. It will be no surprise at all if his efforts are rewarded with a move away from Goodison this season to a club with loftier ambitions. Gareth McAuley West Brom may well have turned the engine off around the turn of the year, and have been coasting ever since, but they will still be delighted with an 8th place finish, a lot of which is down to a good defensive unit. Now aside from some impressive heading from attacking set-pieces McCauley hasn’t really caught the eye but I can only imagine the amount of unseen work that he’s put in this season; I mean, he plays alongside that calamitous nihilist, Jonas Olsson! When he’s not threatening to cut off people’s Johnson’s and throwing marmots in baths Olsson generally occupies himself with kicking chunks out of forwards and getting himself in bad positions. For working with that and keeping West Brom’s record as impressive as it has been McCauley is definitely deserving of a place in this side. Morgan Schneiderlin As you’d expect from a Frenchman with one of the most German names imaginable, there is a little more to Morgan Schneiderlin than meets the eye. Southampton’s swashbuckling attacking football has impressed many neutrals this season but whilst his team-mates have grabbed the headlines their defensive midfielder has gone about his work effectively to allow them to play. No player has more interceptions in the league and only Lucas Leiva has managed to nudge past him for the amount of tackles he gets through in a match. Throw five goals into the mix and we one of a growing bunch of players proving that the steps from League One to the top tier may not be all that great after all. Jonathan De Guzman The way in which Michael Laudrup has taken last year’s surprise success from Swansea and built on it has been as unexpected as it has been pleasing. Massive credit has been given to signing of the season, Michu, for his input into this League cup winning campaign but, on the quiet, the arrival of his Canadian born-Dutch declared colleague has also added great value to the Swans. Having worked with him previously at Mallorca Laudrup won’t have been surprised with his quality delivery from set-pieces, calm and sensible use of the ball and eye for a goal. With eight goals from midfield, three of which came in their League Cup run, it’s a sure thing that his team-mates will be delighted with his contribution this season. Well, apart from Nathan Dyer maybe? Robert Snodgrass One of an ever-increasing contingent of former Leeds Utd players at Norwich (one can only presume the East Anglia tourist board has a big advertising presence in Yorkshire) Snodgrass has been arguably the best thing about the Canaries this season. The Scotsman is not only a major factor behind the danger that they pose from crosses from the flanks, set-pieces in wide areas and corners but has also shown he has the ability to go past a defender with good footwork. Add into the mix his nose for goals in open play and from dead-ball situations and his value to his team is easy to understand. Don’t let his strangely half-asleep face fool you; this lad can be a lively one. Steven Pienaar There are people living off the land in the furthest reaches of Tibet that have never even heard of football that are still aware that everything at Goodison Park comes down the left hand side. This is not a revelation. That said, in a season where The Toffees have once again had consistency and workrate allied with that little touch of class at the heart of their success, Pienaar has typified their output. Not even Baines has managed as many assists as the South African and it is this almost symbiotic pairing that have also been the major source of their chance creating passes. Their effectiveness is taken for granted now: it is today as it was yesterday and it will be tomorrow. It still deserves a nod to its class though, so it gets one here. Arouna Kone In one of the strangest seasons imaginable for the residents of the DW Stadium it would be hard not to sympathise with the likes of Kone, Maloney and McCarthy if they felt those situated behind them had let them down somewhat. In a season in which Wigan have conceded more goals than any other side their Ivorian number nine (who disgracefully insists on wearing number two) has done more than most to ensure they kept punching above their weight. Bringing a focal point to the intricate short passing and also being a target for longer vertical passes and crosses he performs a role that ensures it’s difficult for the opposition settle into defending one style of attack. His 9 goals this term went a long way to helping them live to fight another premier league day but, alas, defensive calamity ensured Wigan took another path. Andy Carroll Nobody of sound mind and sound stomach would want to imagine a Sam Alladyce wet dream but here, made real with flesh and bones, stands that very thing. Despite some injury setbacks the combination of Carroll’s abilities and Allardyce’s style of football has been as perfect a match as anyone could expect. Everybody knew that West Ham were going to be sending out a claret and blue war elephant that would stampede through enemy ranks causing chaos and panic but this season has also seen glimpses of a little more refinement. Pirouettes in the area, sweet volleys with his weaker foot and getting involved with direct free-kicks have all been added extras at Upton Park recently. He may never have been a £35m player but he’s been invaluable to West ham. Stu Montagu @SimianJustice
  13. LIVERPOOL 1 QPR 0 Report by Dave Usher at Anfield Scorer(s) – Phillipe CoutinhoHalf Time - 1-0 Venue - Anfield Date - Sun 19 May 2013 Star Man – Jamie Carragher So that's that then. 737 games, 17 seasons as a first team player and countless clean sheets. Somewhat fitting then that he finished by helping the side pitch another shut out, it's just a pity that he couldn't end his Anfield career the way he started it all those years ago - with a goal at the Kop end. He came mighty close though didn't he? We were within a couple of inches of one of the greatest moments our historic stadium has ever witnessed. If that 30 yard rocket had found the net instead of the post, Carragher would have just walked off the field there and then. What a way to go that would have been, I actually feel more than a little bit cheated that the goalpost robbed us of what would have been such an incredible moment. Much like this entire season, it was a case of so near yet so far. We've been tantalisingly close to being good, but there's still work to be done and that work has become much harder now that we have to replace the irreplaceable. If our scouts are worthy of their lofty reputations then they should be able to replace Jamie Carragher the centre back, but you simply can't replace Jamie Carragher the man, the leader, the legend. That's just one of a number of problems they need to help Brendan Rodgers solve this summer. We played some terrific football again in this game, yet in the end we were a little bit uncomfortable having somehow only managed to score one goal against a truly awful and completely disinterested QPR side. Actually that's a little unfair, I thought their defenders put a real shift in and produced some great last ditch clearances to keep them in the game, but the lack of quality (and interest) ahead of them meant they were somewhat overworked. Rob Green in their goal made a string of saves (none of them too taxing in fairness), whilst we were also perhaps the final Premier League victims of the absence of goal-line technology, as Coutinho was denied an early goal due to the officials not seeing that his header had clearly crossed the line. From next season, that won't be happening, or at least it shouldn't. Thankfully it didn't cost us and nor did it happen in a game of any real meaning. This game was just about getting Carra a win to send him into a well earned retirement, and whilst a win and a clean sheet is a more than satisfactory outcome as far as the man himself is concerned, this really should have been a much more convincing scoreline than 1-0. I was delighted to see Rodgers hand a debut to Jordan Ibe. On a day that was all about paying tribute to an elder statesman playing his final game, seeing a precocious 17 year old handed an opportunity to show what he can do added a nice sense of balance to the occasion. One was at the end of his journey, the other at the beginning. Both acquitted themselves excellently on the day, and if Ibe goes on to do even half of what Carragher has done then I'm sure he too will retire a very happy man. Highly unlikely he'll do it as a Liverpool player though, very few have done that. Further hope for the future was provided in the form of the impish Coutinho, who was terrific again and will hopefully keep us on the edge of our seats for many years to come. He's a special talent, and he's far exceeded everybody's expectations in the short space of time he's been here. I think that's fair to say, I can't imagine even his biggest fan expected him to be THIS good. In terms of both goals and assists, he's made a big, big impact. I generally feel that when you get a player in January, you're playing with house money until May. By that I mean you're giving them a few months to bed in and give themselves a head start in terms of the following season. When other clubs are bedding in new signings, if you've got someone who's had a few months to get used to it you're laughing. Like Suarez before him, this is Coutinho's bedding in period, the time when he learns to adjust to English football to get himself ready for a full season next year. Like I say, we've been playing with house money the last few months, and we've been winning as if this is how he plays when he's adapting to the Premier League, what's he going to be like when he's fully adjusted? He made a great start to this game, he was involved in absolutely everything and could have had a hat-trick before half time. As a team we made a really bright opening to the game, with Johnson operating almost as a right winger at times as we took it to QPR from the first whistle. Coutinho's first chance came when nice play between Henderson and Johnson set him up, only for Onuoha to make a great block to divert the ball behind. From that corner the little Brazilian was left unmarked at the back post and headed goalwards. It was well over the line when the defender hacked it clear, and Martin Atkinson really should have seen that as he wasn't badly placed. Coutinho was dazzling us though, and he almost thread the needle with a trademark through ball to Sturridge that was an inch too far in front of the striker. No matter, Ibe retrieved the ball, Coutinho went and collected it from before skipping past a defender and seeing his shot deflected just wide of the post. He wouldn't be denied for long though, drilling in a powerful low shot from 30 yards that skipped off the turf on it's way into the bottom corner of Rob Green's net. Nice play by Jordan Ibe to get the ball to him as well, that'll go down as his first career assist. It won't be his last, that kid can play a bit as well. At this stage you'd have got long odds indeed on there being no more goals scored, we were running all over QPR and they looked as though they would be swept away by wave after wave of Red attacks. Even Carragher was threatening their goal, first with an attempted 'hand of God' that would have earned him a booking on any other day, whilst he then had a shot blocked by a hand/arm of a defender from a well worked free kick, but Atkinson - probably rightly - was having none of the vociferous penalty appeals. For all the pressure we were exerting the second goal didn't come and I felt like we lost some momentum in the 15 minutes or so leading up to half time. We allowed the tempo to drop and it began to look like what it was, an end of season between two sides with little to play for other than pride. After the break we stepped it up again, Enrique stung the palms of Green with a shot from distance, Ibe curled a shot about a foot wide and Downing hit a shot inches past the post after a direct, surging run past two defenders. Then came THAT moment. QPR cleared a corner, Lucas headed it back to Carragher who found himself in space 35 yards out. "SHOOT!!!!" yelled 40,000 Reds. And shoot he did, probably the sweetest hit he's produced in 17 years. If that had gone in the roof would have come off the place. It almost did anyway, it was an incredible moment. I honestly don't know what I'd have done if it had gone in. This was a good spell for us and we went close again immediately after when Ibe and Coutinho exchanged passes and the Brazilian raced into the box and tried to pick out Sturridge. Traore got back to make a fantastic clearance to deny Sturridge a certain goal, and the incoming Henderson couldn't adjust his body shape quickly enough to volley in the rebound. Ibe was replaced shortly after, but the youngster had made a good impression on the crowd with a lively display full of promise. For all his attacking ability, his best moment of the game came in a defensive capacity when he chased down Granero as the Spaniard led a dangerous counter attack following a Liverpool corner. It was a great piece of play that, no-one else was going to make up that ground but the jet heeled Ibe just ate up the turf and blew by Granero before he even knew what was going on. That earned him a standing ovation, which was repeated when he made way for Borini. Enrique spent most of the second half camped in the QPR half and it needed a fine save from Green to keep out his thunderous drive after Borini had laid the ball back to him. Johnson had a deflected shot saved by Green, and Sturridge then wriggled free in the box and drilled the ball across the goal-line looking for Coutinho who would have had a tap in, but again you have to give credit to the QPR defender who got enough of a touch on it to divert the danger. I almost forgot about a terrific little piece of action that happened when Carra ended up in a sprint with Remy and had to run half the length of the field to try and retrieve the ball without conceding a corner. He did it, holding off the Frenchman and getting the ball back to Pepe, but he was completely goosed for a minute or two afterwards. We won a corner almost immediately, and he wanted no part of going forward for it but was railroaded into it by his team-mates, who were all desperate for him to score. It was funny though, as rather than make a run into the box to try and attack the ball, he just stood on the edge of the box, doubled over trying to get his breath back! I can't remember at what stage of the game that happened, the second half was a bit of a blur to be honest and this wasn't shown in the highlights I've watched. It could have been at the beginning, middle or end of the half for all I know. It was funny though. Suso replaced Coutinho with 15 minutes left and got a rare outing in what many of us believe is his best position, the number 10 role. He settled into the game very quickly and had a shot saved by Green when he maybe could have done a little better. He also produced some wonderful footwork in a tight space to almost create a goal for Downing, and whilst Coutinho is clearly in a class of his own, in Suso, Sterling and Ibe we've got some very talented youngsters capable of filling the 'three' positions when we play 4231. With five minutes left Rodgers called time on Carra's magnificent career when he brought him off to a rapturous and emotional reception from all four corners of the ground. Even the QPR fans stood to applaud him. Clearly it was a pre-planned substitution, but I've got to be honest I wasn't too happy about it as we were only 1-0 up at the time! Carra's departure co-incided with QPR suddenly having a little bit of a spell. I don't want to overstate it as it's not like Reina was overworked, but they did force a corner or two and suddenly we looked a lot less secure than we had been. That's the big worry, we've looked far better all season when Carragher has been in there. It's the leadership and talking aspect, it's a huge part of a successful defence and Carra is the only one we have who naturally has that. Rodgers apparently spoke to Skrtel about it earlier in the season, apparently he asked him to be more of an organiser and a vocal presence, but Skrtel pointed out that he has never done that and it's not who he is. To be fair you can't force that kind of responsibility on someone, they either have those leadership qualities or they don't, and Skrtel doesn't. It's not a criticism, it's just a fact. There are far more players like Skrtel than Carragher in this regard, being able to organise those around and provide leadership is something of a dying art. We need to fill that void that has now been left with Carragher's retirement, and if there's anything to the rumours about Reina being off then we're in even more trouble as Pepe is another talker and dressing room leader. There was nothing in any of his actions after the game that suggested he knows he's leaving, it was certainly not like it was with Alonso for example. The same with Suarez for that matter, he looked happy enough as he walked around the pitch at full time and he seemed pretty relaxed at Carra's party that night. I might be clutching at straws, but the fact he showed up to Carra's party has to be a good sign, doesn't it? I'm probably reading too much into it, I'm just desperate for him to stay as I love the guy. Imagine losing Carra AND Suarez in the same summer? Actually don't, it's too depressing. You never know what can happen though and this is going to be a really big summer for us, not just in terms of who we bring in, but whether we can keep the players we want to keep. That's for another day though, this day was all about Jamie Carragher, and aside from that shot not being a couple more inches to the right, the day couldn't have really gone any better for him. He's handled the whole thing brilliantly from the moment he decided he was calling it quits, he said there'd be no tears as he doesn't get emotional, he even scoffed at Big Sami's tears at his farewell game and said there'd certainly be no repeat of that, and he was true to his word. A short and sweet speech, a well deserved lap of honour with his two lovely kids in tow, and then he was off down the tunnel for the last time. Star man? I think you already know the answer to that one as it was going to take something pretty incredible for me to give it to anyone else on this day. I'll end by simply quoting the front cover of the latest issue of the fanzine. 26 years, 737 games, 1 European Cup, 1 UEFA Cup, 2 FA Cups, 3 League Cups….. Ta La. Team: Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Carragher (Coates), Enrique; Lucas, Henderson; Downing, Coutinho (Suso), Ibe (Borini); Sturridge:
  14. Champions League winner Jamie Carragher sat down with TLW in the summer of 2005 to talk about a wide range of issues from Istanbul, Mourinho, Dudek's wobbly legs, cramp, Everton tattoo rumours and much more. Previously this interview has only been printed in the Champions League Winners Special Issue of the fanzine, but with Carra bringing the curtain down on his glittering career this weekend, we're publishing the interview online for the first time so everybody can read what he had to say. Enjoy! TLW: First of all, how does it feel to be a European Champion? JC: Oh brilliant. We were all saying at the time that we didn’t know when it would sink in, but I’ve been away for a few weeks and you get that many people coming up to you shaking your hand and congratulating you, so I think it’s sunk in now. I saw a lot of footballers while I was away and they were all coming up saying congratulations and that. It’s something I never thought would happen to me, and it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I’ve got it on video and I’ve watched it three times. I’ll probably watch it again before we go back to training. TLW: What players congratulated you on holiday then? JC: Well I’ve just got back from Dubai, and I saw Defoe, Robbie Keane, Carrick, Keiron Dyer, Alan Thompson.... I was in Portugal the week before and Dickov was there, as well as Ian Pearce, and Roy Carroll. TLW: What was going through your mind in that first half though? JC: When it was 1-0 we actually recovered quite well. We knocked it around well for the next five or ten minutes, so I was feeling alright then. Obviously you’re sick you’ve conceded but I thought we were doing ok. Then they just kept picking us off on the break and Kaka was causing us a lot of problems. At half time I was just hoping it wouldn’t be five or six. I didn’t see any way back and I just didn’t want any embarrassment for the club. TLW: The second goal was a brilliant counter attack, but it should have been a pen to us for handball. Did you feel a bit cheated over that? JC: Yeah the one with Luis. It was a Spanish referee, and when I heard that before the game I thought we might get a few favours, but he seemed to go the other way! It was a definite penalty, all this about did he mean to handball it.... handball is handball, it should have been a penalty. But that’s just something that will be remembered as part of the game, and probably made our achievement even better. TLW: What did Rafa say at half time? JC: Everyone always asks me that, but what can you say when you’re 3-0 down? There’s not a lot you can say really. I think the big thing that happened was he had brought Djimi Traore off. Djimi had his boots off and was just about to get in the shower, when the physio said Finnan was injured. Finnan could have carried on because he’d had that injury before the game, but just out of the blue the manager said “No, we’re changing. I’d have to take him (Finnan) off in twenty minutes anyway.” So he brought Finnan off, Traore stayed on and we went to a 3-5-2. So the physio probably played a bigger part than the manager! If Finann had stayed on we were going to carry on with 4-4-2, with Riise left back and Garcia left midfield and Cisse coming on up front. TLW: There were stories that the Milan players were celebrating on the way to the dressing room at half time. Did you hear any of that? JC: No I never heard anything. I think the press jump on things and make a big deal out of them. I don’t know if Djimi heard something, if he said he did then I’m sure he’s not lying, but I certainly didn’t hear it. We’re talking about a top professional team, people like Maldini who I’ve got a lot of respect for. I can’t see them doing that. Although I heard Gattuso was meant to be doing something when he came back out, gesturing to their fans or something? TLW: The introduction of Hamann seemed to make a massive difference, as Kaka had been very influential in the first half. Were you surprised he didn’t start the game? JC: It was a big surprise to everyone. I don’t think it was to do with who the manager brought in, I know a lot of people have mentioned about Harry Kewell starting, but I think it was more to do with us playing 4-4-2 instead of 4-5-1 which we had been playing. We’d played that way all the way through with Stevie in an advanced role. So you just expect that manager is going to play that way for the final. That’s the managers decision though, and I think the reason he did it was because when its two legs you can be a bit more defensive in one game, and that’s what we did away from home. Against Milan I think he felt we had to go out and win the game, we can’t sit back we have to be a bit bolder. It’s something that Gerard Houllier was criticised for, but the manager has maybe gone the other way and people were criticising him for it. But it turned out well in the end. TLW: The 2nd half has to be the greatest 45 minutes in the history of the club. Could you believe what was happening in front of you? JC: When the third one went in I thought we’d win it in normal time. Riise then had a shot which the keeper saved, but then I think they obviously realised the situation and they came back stronger. I didn’t even celebrate the first two goals because we were still getting beat. When the third one went in though I did! TLW: You had a good view of the penalty incident didn’t you? JC: I saw Stevie running through and I knew something was going to happen. He was either going to get clipped or he was going to score. I was trying to get the wrong player sent off! I thought it was Nesta who clipped him and I was going to the referee to tell him to send him off. It was only when I watched the video I realised it was Gattuso who brought him down! TLW: There were a lot of tired legs in extra time, and even you went down with cramp. It’s often said that cramp is more painful than a broken leg. Do you agree with that? JC: Yeah. The broken leg was very painful at the time, but it eases off. The cramp is really bad though. You just don’t know what you can do to get rid of it. Every movement you make just seems to aggravate it. It’s hard to explain to people who’ve never had cramp exactly what its like. I got it in the Carling Cup final as well, and its such a relief when it goes. This time I got it in my groin and I was thinking “I’m getting married in a couple of weeks and I’ve got cramp in my groin!” I was a bit worried about it but it eased off eventually. TLW: What do you remember of Jerzy’s double save? JC: Well it was a great ball in. He saved the first one, but I was just waiting for the ball to hit the net. If it had we’d still have gotten credit for what we’d done, getting to the final and coming back from three down, but at the end of the day we’d have lost. It was one of them where you just can’t believe it. I just can’t believe how it stayed out. Credit to Jerzy, but it was a bad miss from Shevchenko. TLW: Was that the moment when you thought we’d won it? JC: Yeah I thought then we had a great chance, but having said that when the penalties kicked off and I saw the size of their goalie compared to Jerzy... fuckin ell... he was some size him wasn’t he? TLW: Why weren’t you one of the five takers? JC: I don’t know. The manager said to me “Do you want to take one?” and I went ‘yeah’. He was just going round asking people so I thought I must be taking one. I was one of the first people to say ‘yes’ but then he just said “this is the order we’re going in” and I wasn’t one of them. I don’t think he’s got much confidence in me, I’ll have to show him the videos from the League Cup! TLW: When you grabbed Jerzy and told him to do what Grobbelaar did, did you believe him when he said he knew all about it? JC: I was really worried that Jerzy’s too nice. He’s a really nice fella, and I just thought he’d be stood in the goal being dead polite and nice. He’s a top man, dead professional and all that, but whatever you wanna call it, gamesmanship, cheating or whatever.... fuck it.... he’s got a European Cup winners medal now. I told him to do anything to put them off. He hadn’t been booked, so kick the ball away and get booked, just do anything to gain an advantage. He is such a really nice fella that I was worried that he’d just be too nice in the goal. I just wanted him to try and do as much as he could to put them off, and he did. TLW: When he made that winning save, all the players who were lined up on the halfway line sprinted to him. You beat them all by about ten yards, even Cisse. Does that make you the fastest man at the club now? JC: *laughs* I’ve seen the picture where we’re all taking off from the halfway line and I’ve got a bit of a start on them! I can’t believe the reaction of some of the players. I knew he’d saved it and they’re all just still stood watching! TLW: When Lennart Johanssen mistakenly went to give you the trophy, you pointed at Stevie and told him to give it to him. Did you not just think ‘fuck it I’m just gonna lift it”? JC: Yeah I know! Obviously all the players would love to have lifted it, but with me being close to Stevie I know what it means to him being a local lad, and it’s great for him. I know under Houllier we had different captains and people lifting it together and all that, but I know Stevie would never get involved in that type of thing. I think it’s right that just the captain lifts it though. But on the actual moment he lifts it... have you seen the video of it? TLW: Yeah you were somewhere away on the left.... JC: Well as he lifts it and everyone moves to the middle I got cramp again and was holding onto the barrier at the side. You can see it on the telly, it must have been that sprint to Jerzy that did it! TLW: I read somewhere that you blacked out for a short time on the pitch, what happened there? JC: No, that was bullshit. I fell on the floor, you know how when you’re just overcome with emotion? I fell on the floor for a couple of seconds but that was it. Just the papers talking shite again. TLW: You played in the UEFA Cup final against Alaves, which was one of the greatest European finals ever, but this one topped even that. Not bad for a team described by some as boring and defensive? JC: Yeah, well both campaigns we probably got to the final because of our defensive strength. In the UEFA Cup we got to the final after keeping clean sheets in Roma and Barcelona, just like this time we kept clean sheets in Turin and at Chelsea. I think everyone just expected the final to be the same. I was talking with Stevie before the final and we agreed that the first goal would probably win it. So to lose a goal in under a minute, then lose two more but then end up coming back to win it shows what a great achievement it was. I think the Champions League needed a final like that, as a lot of the games are pretty boring and dead, so I think we’ve given a bit of life to the Champions League. It’s just great that we’ve been in two of the greatest European finals of all time. TLW: What did you do when you got back to the hotel? JC: We had a party upstairs, but I couldn’t enjoy it because I was getting so many people in. I must have got about 40 people in there! My dad and all that were in the hotel, but my brothers and them were outside so I was having to get them in. After that every ten minutes I was going back down trying to get people in, making up lies and saying they were my brother or uncles. Some fella actually got in the party saying he was my brother. Someone said “is he your brother” and when I said ‘no’ they threw him out! TLW: Were you aware of how many banners there were with your name on? Did you see them in the stadium? JC: No, they were a bit far away with the running track and that. We could see there were loads of them, but it was hard to see what they said. I’ve seen some of them in the club magazine, and it is great when you see things like that. The best one was the “For those watching in blue this is what a European Cup looks like” TLW: Then of course there was the open top bus tour of the city. Were you surprised at how many people turned out? JC: Me and Stevie and a few of the other lads were obviously involved in the treble one, but a lot of the lads couldn’t believe what it was like when we got off the plane. I said to them “You’ve seen nothing yet” as I was expecting it to be like the treble one. But it surpassed that easily. The coach just couldn’t move. At least in the treble one there were times when we could pick up a bit of speed but this time we were just crawling, that’s why it took so long and it ruined our night out! TLW: Proof of who the real people’s club is? JC: Yeah, I said that too. I got interviewed on the coach for the radio, and I said “Who’s the people’s club now?” That was something the Evertonians jumped on but its nonsense, both clubs have got a lot of support. We fill our ground every week and take thousands to Europe. We’re the People’s Club of the whole country! Look at the difference between the atmosphere in the game at Chelsea and the return at Anfield. People talk about the likes of Newcastle and Man City but when you see what our supporters did this season, and how they were in Turkey and the amount of people we took over there... we’re the People’s Club no doubt about it. TLW: On the subject of Everton, are you aware of the daft rumours doing the rounds that you wear long sleeves because you’ve got an Everton tattoo? JC: I know, but look. . . *rolls both sleeves up to reveal no tattoos at all*. . you can take a picture if you like! Someone even told me that it was a quiz question in a pub! I really don’t know where it came from. I nearly always wear long sleeves, but I have worn short sleeves a few times. I get in the shower with the lads every day, so I’m sure it would have got out if it was true. There’s that many rumours in Liverpool though, you know what its like. TLW: I’m sure you also know about the rumour from last summer that you punched Gerrard when you were both with England. It was even printed a couple of papers. Obviously its not true, but have you spoken about it with him? JC: Yeah, we actually went to the club to try and make a few quid from it, because they shouldn’t write something like that when its total bollocks. Nothing ever come of it though. Obviously when I was away with England I was aware of what was going on, because I’ve got the same agent as Stevie. So I was aware that Chelsea were interested and that, but that’s up to himself. Obviously I’ve got my opinion and I’d love him to stay, I think he should stay and I think he will stay. It’s better winning a Champions League with Liverpool than three or four with Chelsea or whoever else. If he’d have left last summer he wouldn’t have a Champions League medal would he? TLW: You have never been linked with any other club though. JC: I know, none of the papers have ever linked me with anybody. I think it’s because they all know I’d never leave. TLW: Looking back at the road to the final, what did the players think in Germany when they found out Rafa had been down the boozer with the fans whilst you were all cooped up in the hotel? JC: I just wish I’d have gone with him coz at least he got to see the game! We couldn’t get any game in the hotel. I think Milan were playing Man United and Chelsea were playing Barcelona. We were all getting text messages from our mates and we could hear people screaming in the corridoors when Crespo scored for Milan, so we knew United were out. Then there was the Barcelona comeback, so we thought Chelsea were going out too but then John Terry scored late on so we were all sick. I think the manager just went out to see the game, but obviously the fans love that because you don’t want a manager who’s too aloof, you want him to be one of the lads. TLW: Obviously the games with Juve and Chelsea stand out. What was it like playing in those atmospheres? JC: Oh it was unbelievable, especially the end of the Chelsea game. The supporters were all throwing the scarves round, it was just like they do abroad. You see it in South America with Boca juniors and that, and it was unbelievable. The Juventus game as well with the noise in the first half when we were scoring them goals, it was amazing. I know we’re talking about moving to a new stadium and that, but I think we’ve also got to keep in mind that we don’t want to lose that something special that we’ve got. It definitely puts fear into teams on European nights. TLW: Exactly how much of an effect do you think it had on the opposition? JC: A massive effect, no doubt about it. It has an effect on them, and it has an effect on us. I think with new stadiums the fans have to be so far away from the pitch, and there’s no doubt that we’d definitely lose some of the atmosphere. You look at some of the teams who play in fancy new grounds, the likes of Southampton who have just gone down. Derby were a decent team when they had the Baseball Ground, which was a tough place to go. Portsmouth now is a real tough place to go, but imagine if they get a new ground with a nice new pitch, it’d be totally different. It’s not up to me to dictate what the club should do but for me we shouldn’t lose what we’ve got. I’d prefer to stay. When it was first mentioned I liked the idea of a fancy new stadium, but the more I’ve thought about it.... I like the way the fans are so close to the pitch at Anfield. I follow European football closely, and whenever players are asked what their favourite English stadium is they always say Anfield. Obviously the Main Stand needs doing, and maybe that’s the answer? Everything would have been done in the last decade or so. TLW: Of course it helps now that you don’t get any stick from those fans close to the pitch anymore! No wonder you were in favour of a new ground a few years ago! JC: I know yeah *laughs*...the cheeky bastards! TLW: Were all the lads furious about what happened to Xabi in the 1st leg? JC: I was more furious with him because I told him not to go so far forward and let Gudjohnsen run at us! It wasn’t really even a foul, it was nothing. But when you come from behind like that. . . it was a bit like the Stevie penalty in the final. You know there’s gonna be a tangle of legs, but to miss him for the second leg..... I mean he’s as good as any, he’d walk into the Chelsea team for me. With his passing ability, especially at home, he was going to be a big loss. Fortunately we got through. I saw all the stuff in the press about what Gudjohnsen was meant to have said to Xabi, but I’ve always found him a decent fella when I’ve spoke to him. I don’t know how true it was, but if he has said that then its out of order and it’s probably came back to haunt him in the last minute at Anfield. TLW: Were you worried about picking up a yellow card in the 2nd leg, or did you put it completely out of your mind. JC: You say to people before the game that you will just put it out of your mind, but really I couldn’t stop thinking about it. If you get the yellow card you’ve just got to keep going for the team of course, but you don’t want to get booked for something stupid. It was always in my mind not to dive in and do anything stupid. I don’t normally get booked that often to be honest so it’s not something I was THAT worried about. TLW: Do you think the Chelsea game was your best ever performance? JC: Oh yeah definitely. With the magnitude of the game and with it being a European Cup semi final, to keep a clean sheet against them was a great achievement. They threw Huth up front, and you know the size of him. There was Drogba as well and they brought Robben on too, so for us to keep them out.... we did great. TLW: What did Mourinho say to you after the game? JC: I dunno, did he stop and speak to me? TLW: Well there was a photo of him walking towards you, so I presume he did. JC: I think he just came over and shook my hand, but he does that all the time trying to make out what a nice fella he is by coming on the pitch at the end. Then he goes off and says stupid things to the press after the game like: ‘the best team lost’. TLW: What did you make of those comments? JC: They had a couple of chances at Stamford Bridge and maybe a couple at Anfield. Over the two games we had more chances and deserved to win. It’s definitely sour grapes from him and I think he should have showed more respect for our manager. TLW: You had a bit of a disagreement with him in Cardiff. What that was about? JC: He had a go at Garcia for diving, yet he’d just come from fuckin Porto who had people like Deco who were never off the floor!! I’ve watched the Carling Cup final again, and Joe Cole does a couple of dives that nearly got Sami a booking. One of them might even have been the free kick that led to Stevie’s own goal, I’m not too sure. John Terry dived trying to get a penalty in the final as well, and then you look at Carvalho dragging the keeper out the way for Terry’s goal against Barcelona, and loads of other things. Yet here he is complaining about Garcia. So I told him to ‘fuck off’ and he started having a go. At the end of the game he came up to me and said “You know why I did that don’t you?” basically trying to say that he was trying to influence the referee. But you know, whatever. . . TLW: Was that the most painful defeat of your career? JC: Yeah, because it was them. I don’t think they are anyone’s favourites here are they, and we were that close to winning and it was such a freak goal. TLW: How do you explain a team that can win the champions league, finishing 5th, below Everton? JC: I don’t know. But then a better Liverpool team than us did that in ‘81 as well. I’m not criticising anyone but I just think we’ve got to show more fight in the Premier league away from home. TLW: I don’t think there is anyone who would disagree that you were the clubs player of the season, but not counting yourself, who would you give it to? JC: I thought Finnan played well. Early in the season it looked like he was going, I spoke to him and there was a chance he was going to move. He started the season at right midfield and played a few games there, although that wasn’t his position. Then he got a chance with Josemi getting an injury and he come in and was superb. There was a bit of a question mark after his first season but to be fair he had a lot of injuries and didn’t get a good run of games to show what he could do. This season though he was superb. TLW: Players like Traore and Biscan really made an impression this season, and Igor managed to restore his battered reputation in his last season. JC: Yeah after the La Coruna game I spoke to Stevie and said “you might not get back in.” If Stevie had put in a performance like that everyone would have been raving about it. He put in a great performance, and made a great run for the goal. He also put a great pass through for Garcia against Leverkusen, and he played well against Juventus as well. I think it was unfortunate that he’d been here a long time but never really got himself settled. He was played out of position under the last manager, and I don’t think that helped him too much. But he’s shown that on the day he has got that ability it was a case of trying to get it out of him a bit more. TLW: As you know, Igor is a bit of a cult hero in TLW. Do you have any funny Igor stories you can share with us? JC: The funniest Igor story I’ve got is that I’ve never had a proper conversation with the lad in five years! Seriously, I’ve never had a conversation with Igor. Not that he’s a bad lad, he’s just very hard to get to know. He just comes in trains and goes home, he doesn’t seem to speak to anyone really. We know he’s a bit of a nutter in his car, and he was always laughing his head off on the phone when we were on the bus. It must be his mates who he’s having a laugh and joke with, because he never did that with us. But he was always screaming on the bus laughing into his phone. We all used to sit there laughing our heads off because we’d never heard him laugh before. TLW: Vladi has left now as well, but he went out with a bang with his goal and penalty in Turkey. You must have been pleased for him as he’s a popular fella isn’t he? JC: Everyone is delighted for him, he was always laughing and joking on the training ground and he was always on the bus with his porno mags. They love it them Czechs, the two of them are dirty bastards! But he’s a great lad and everyone is made up for him. I read an interview with him before the final where he said he didn’t think the fans had really took to him, and to be honest when I read it I felt sorry for him because he’s such a nice lad and to come out and say that about yourself shows his modesty. He was worried about actually being involved in the final, because he didn’t make the squad for the Villa game. But his last kick for Liverpool was a goal, which is a great way to go out. If he ever comes back to Melwood he’ll be welcomed back with open arms, as he really is one of the nicest fellas we’ve had at the club. TLW: Didi is staying though, I guess you’re happy about that? JC: Yeah, along with Stevie he’s probably my best mate at the club, he’s a great lad. I always think of some of the foreign lads as being a bit dopey when you talk to them, you know. Not that they’re thick or anything, but being foreign they’re not on the same wavelength, especially with the humour and that. But I’ve never met a fella so clued up as Didi. He doesn’t just know English, he knows the slang as well. We can talk to eachother in our little scouse language and no-one else knows what we’re talking about! It’s brilliant how clued up he is, and I think people in town know he likes a pint and is a bit of a lad. But he always brings his ‘A game’ to the big matches. TLW: Is it true that he turned down Everton this summer? JC: Yeah he said he’d never go there because it would ruin everything he’d done at Liverpool, and I think that’s right. He’s had such a good career at Liverpool that he wouldn’t want to tarnish that. TLW: If Baros leaves, would you like the number 5 shirt? JC: No, no. There’s too many banners with 23 Carra Gold on them, so I’ll be sticking with 23. TLW: You and the rest of the lads must be sick of answering questions about Steven Gerrard, so I’m not going to ask any….. except are you sick of answering questions about Steven Gerrard? JC: Yeah, of course and I’ve told him too. After the Juventus game all we were getting asked about was Steven Gerrard. We’d just beaten one of the best teams in the world and all we’re getting asked about is him. That’s not his fault though, that’s the London press for you. TLW: You’ve become a bit of a media darling recently, it seems everyone is saying nice things about you. Does that seem weird? JC: Yeah it does. I think it’s probably to do with me and Stevie being the only two English players here. Michael’s gone, and he always had a bit of limelight. Obviously I think my performances have had something to do with it, but when we’re playing in Europe and we come out to do the press afterwards, there’s only me and Stevie who are English so I think the London press probably only know us. They only watch us a few times a season and probably don’t even know who some of the other lads are! Maybe with me speaking to them it’s doing them a favour so they write nicer things about how I’m playing. It has been nice, of course it has but I think it’s basically a combination of my performances and Michael leaving which has put the attention onto others. TLW: You even made the top three of the sports writers awards. Does that prove that the writers know more about the game than the players do? JC: Yeah it probably does! Mind you, I think Lampard and Terry got about 95% of the votes. It was probably only Joycey (Paul Joyce from the Express) and Bascombe (the Echo) who voted for me, but it was enough to get me third place! TLW: Alan Hansen said recently that you are ten times the defender he ever was. That’s perhaps the biggest compliment a Liverpool defender could receive. JC: Obviously I was delighted to hear comments like that from a fella like him. I think the key word though was ‘defender’, he didn’t say ‘player’!! He was a great footballer, probably the best centre back that Liverpool have ever had. I think what he meant by defender was that I’m a bit more aggressive than him, and put more tackles in than him. Obviously I’m delighted to have someone like Alan Hansen saying that, but I’m nowhere near as good as what he was. TLW: What did you make of UEFA’s decision. Should the FA have just sent Everton into the UEFA Cup? JC: It would have certainly made it sweeter wouldn’t it! Imagine that, if we’d knocked them out! I bet they were all delighted at half time, so imagine how delighted they would have been if they thought they were going to go into the Champions League, only for it to turn around in the second half. It would have been great, but we could still get them in the third round of the qualifiers. It’s probably what UEFA want so they can get back to just four English teams. If it happens it happens, and to be honest I wouldn't mind because I think it'd be something to look back on and remember. It'd be two great games and great occasions, but there'd probably be a bit of trouble like! TLW: There’s been talk of the club pulling out of the world club championships. What’s your view on that? JC: I’d love to play in it. As soon as we won the final I was thinking about it for the next couple of days. No Liverpool team have ever won it, and to play against South American opposition like Boca Juniors or someone like that might never come round again in your career. It’d be good to see what they’re like, with their different tactics and style of playing. It’d be a good challenge. It’s a great accolade to win the World Club Championship, but if its not right for the club to do it and there’s too many games then we have to do what’s right, as the Premier League and the Champions League are more important. It’s certainly something I’d love to have on the CV if we could win it though. TLW: You’ve got a pretty sizeable medal collection now. Just one more to go for the full set. And yet you were asked by a reporter last season if you’d consider joining a ‘bigger’ club. JC: Yeah, people talk about Chelsea and that but they’ve only won one Premier League title and the Carling Cup. Lampard and Terry are great players, but that’s all they’ve won. Look at what we’ve won in the last four years. There’s only the one left to win now, although I’d like to win some of the others again. We get criticised for not being successful, mainly because of how successful this club has been, but we shouldn’t forget that since the turn of the Millennium we’ve won three European trophies. Look at the great Arsenal teams, they’ve never won a European trophy, yet we’ve won the Super Cup, UEFA Cup and Champions League, and we could win the Super Cup again. TLW: Have you spoken to Robbie Fowler since the final, and if so is he planning on giving it the five finger salute at Old Trafford next year? JC: Yeah I’ve spoken to him a couple of times. He went over to the final with Macca, that shows what a great lad he is going over to watch the game with the supporters. I’ve seen him since and we’ve been out for a couple of drinks. He’ll be changing it to five next season and giving them a bit of stick, and the season after hopefully he’ll be able to give them six! TLW: What do you think of the ‘Team of Carraghers’ song? JC: I heard it for the first time in Leverkusen. Obviously it’s nice to get things like that, with the supporters making up songs about you. I went for a few drinks after we won the Champions League and in a few pubs they were singing that, so yeah it’s really nice to have the fans making up songs like that. TLW: What's your favourite other song/chant? JC: We’ve got a mate, Tony Hall, who knows them all word for word. And Bobby Wilcox as well, they always sing a ‘Liverbird Upon My Chest’ when we go out for a few drinks, and I think that’s my favourite. And ‘Ring of Fire’ of course! (Carra senior nods in agreement) TLW: Finally, the last time you did an interview with us, we spoke about how you were sometimes the first one to get it in the neck from some sections of the crowd when things weren’t going well. Now you’re the most popular player at the club. Have you noticed any change in how you’re perceived? JC: Yeah, I think my performances have probably helped, but I always thought I was doing a good job before. I think maybe there were more star names there before, people like Michael and Robbie, who the crowd would look to. I suppose my performances have gone to a new level this season which has probably helped, and me and Stevie are the only two local lads. And also, there’s no getting away from the fact that the Chelsea stuff with Stevie has probably took a little bit of attention away from him.  Some of Stevie’s biggest fans have probably become mine because I said I’d never leave and obviously that type of stuff helps with the supporters. But it’s always been the way that the local lad often gets the most stick. I was an Everton fan as a kid and the first person to get the stick was John Ebbrell, even though he did exactly the same job as Barry Horne and Joe Parkinson. It was the same with Nicky Butt at Manchester United. It’s just always been like that, Sammy Lee got a little bit of stick when he was a player didn’t he. I think its just the easy option for the fans, as they’re not gonna get on the back of someone who cost a lot of money. Although you could argue Harry Kewell maybe. TLW: One last thing, you’re getting married in a couple of weeks. Are you planning on asking Cisse if you can borrow his red suit? JC: *laughs* No no no. He loves all that type of gear, but no. I’ll wear red undies but I won’t be wearing a red suit. * This interview was taken from the "European Champions Special Issue" of the fanzine, printed in the summer of 2005. A limited number of copies of this special issue are available in our webshop, click here for more details.
  15. Fulham 1 LIVERPOOL 3 Report by Dave Usher Scorer(s) – Daniel Sturridge (3)Half Time - 1-1 Venue - Craven Cottage Date - Sun 12 May 2013 Star Man – Daniel Sturridge I can't help but wonder where we'd be if we'd had Coutinho and Sturridge here all season. I look at how they destroyed Newcastle and now Fulham, and then think back to some of the daft points we dropped in games earlier in the season, either through not creating enough or not being able to finish. We certainly wouldn't be below Everton and who knows, maybe going into the final game we'd be right there with Arsenal and Spurs battling it out for that final Champions League spot. It's all immaterial, as they weren't here in August and there's no way of knowing how many extra points they'd have helped us win, but if they continue to play like this then next season there's no excuse for not mounting a sustained run at the top four, on the assumption that Suarez is still here of course. We look much more potent away from home than we do at Anfield, and Coutinho and Sturridge are a big part of that. The pace and threat in behind of Sturridge combined with the vision and passing ability of Coutinho is perfect for exploiting gaps left by teams who have to come out and attack on their own turf. In our last three away games, Newcastle were hit for six, Reading should have been and Fulham easily could have been too, as we carved them open time and again in an impressive second half. We actually made harder work of this than necessary, it should never have taken as long as it did to get the third goal and really Fulham could have had no complaints had we matched the six goals we got at St James' a fortnight ago. A combination of profligate finishing, Mark Schwarzer and the woodwork combined to keep Fulham in this one until Coutinho played Sturridge in for the goal that eventually settled it late on. We should have been out of sight long before then in truth. With Gerrard and Agger ruled out, Rodgers took the opportunity to experiment with his line up, opting to start with a 3-5-2 formation with Wisdom and Coates coming in to partner Carragher, with Downing getting the nod over Enrique at left wing back. The manager explained afterwards that he just wanted to have a look at it and the idea was always to revert back to the tried and trusted at half time. It wasn't terrible, I thought we were marginally the better side in the first half, but there was a huge difference when we went back to our regular system after the break. I like that he was willing to be flexible and try something a bit different though. The positives of the 352 system were that the wing backs got forward well and we looked solid (if a little lacking in creativity) in the middle of the park due to the extra midfielder in there. The negatives would be a lack of chances created and the shocking goal we conceded to Berbatov. How can you have three centre halves and allow the opposition's only striker that much space in the six yard box? It just shouldn't happen, but that's probably a direct result of the system. I'm sure I remember hearing Alan Hansen or someone talking about how when you play three at the back, defenders often get a bit too complacent and assume one of the other centre backs will be picking people up. This was a perfect illustration of that, if we'd been playing with two centre halves I'm fairly certain Berbatov wouldn't have had a free header. He may still have scored as he's very strong in the air, but he'd have had to outjump a defender to do it. Instead we were all over the place and Berbatov got in between Carragher and Johnson far too easily. To the credit of the players they were able to overcome that setback and go on to win the game, which is a rarity for us as comebacks have been few and far between. Often we've seen games where we concede first and then just can't turn the ship around, but fortunately we got back on level terms quickly and were then able to take control in the second half. Our equaliser was pure quality. Wisdom cleared a long hopeful ball down the line and Sturridge set off after it, getting there ahead of Hughes before turning him inside out and then blasting a shot past Schwarzer into the roof of the net. I've got to confess that a couple of minutes before he scored I was thinking to myself how frustrating he is. We've seen glimpses of how good Sturridge can be, so when he's not doing it all the time it can be a bit infuriating. Until he scored, this was shaping up a little bit like that, but from the moment he got that goal he was phenomenal and just destroyed Fulham. The introduction at half time of Enrique for Wisdom and the change in formation made us much more potent going forward and we created chance after chance. As well as we played in the second half though, things could have been very different had Mark Halsey viewed certain incidents differently. For example, on another day, Glen Johnson could have been sent off for a dangerous tackle. I'm not saying he should have been, but he definitely could have. Put it this way, I've seen lesser offences result in a red card, and worse ones not even get a yellow, so it could have gone either way. As could the Lucas 'handball' in the box. His arm was well away from his body and the ball hit him on the hand. Like the Johnson incident, I've seen more blatant ones not penalised and less obvious ones result in a penalty. We certainly got lucky with that one I'd say, especially as we went up the other end and scored almost straight away, as Sturridge collected a deflected shot by Coutinho and rolled the ball into the bottom corner. There was also an incident involving Coates and Kacaniklic that had Fulham claiming a professional foul and screaming for a red card for the Uruguayan. To me there was nothing in that at all, the Fulham winger just collided with Coates and I'd have been livid if we'd been penalised for that. Coming off the back of the other two calls they didn't get, Fulham fans were understandably pissed off about it, but I don't think they had much cause to be aggrieved on that particular incident. We had great chances to kill the game off, Sturridge was denied by Schwarzer after robbing the careless Hangeland, and the keeper foiled him again when he ran clear down the right, advanced into the box and tried to curl the ball into the far corner rather than square it to Shelvey or Coutinho who were both well placed. A lot of fans are on Sturridge's case for not passing, and even Rodgers said afterwards he should have squared it. In hindsight, yes he should have, but only because he didn't score. If he buries it - as he should have - no-one is saying that. Suarez wouldn't have passed either, any goalscorer worth his salt is going to back himself to score in that position, on his stronger foot and high in confidence having already scored two. Shelvey himself wasted a great chance when he was picked out brilliantly with a right foot cross by Downing. Jonjo brought it down on his chest, then lost his footing and scuffed the shot. He missed a good chance in the first half too when he let the ball get stuck under his feet as it opened up for him on the edge of the box, but overall he did ok I thought. It could go either way with Shelvey, at times he's looked a real player, other times he's just not looked up to it. There's something there though, he's class for England u21s and when he steps down into our u21 side he's head and shoulders above the rest. We could live to regret it if we sold him, and ideally we'll send him to a West Brom, Norwich, Swansea etc for a year to see how he develops by playing every week. He was eventually replaced by Borini who almost scored immediately, collecting a pass from Coutinho on the left and cutting inside before hitting a shot against the inside of the post. Really unlucky, it would have been a great goal. He had another chance shortly after when an outrageous piece of skill by Sturridge set him up, but he went across goal and Schwarzer was able to save. There was a big space at the near post and Borini should have put it there, as should Sturridge on more than one occasion for that matter. Downing then saw an attempted cross deflected onto the post after being set up by Sturridge. Despite all the pressure and chances, at 2-1 it was still up in the air and Fulham had opportunities to equalise. Reina made a good diving save to deny Berbatov after Henderson's awful pass had given possession to the languid Bulgarian, and from the resulting corner Pepe was called into action again to make a fine stop from Hughes' header. Those were rare moments of danger to be fair, but with each chance we squandered I was becoming more and convinced we'd end up throwing it away. Thankfully we wrapped it up in fine style late on as Sturridge completed a well deserved hat-trick. What a goal it was too, Coutinho picked the ball up just outside his own box and had Riise all over the place as he jinked one way and then another, before nonchalently flicking a pass with the outside of his boot over the head of Hughes and perfectly into the stride of Sturridge who lobbed the ball over the onrushing Schwarzer and into the empty net. When you look at some of things we've seen from Sturridge and Coutinho, not to mention the sustained brilliance of Suarez, there's certainly hope for next season. Everton's win at home to West Ham meant that this result was immaterial in terms of the league table, but we have our own personal pride to play for and it's encouraging to see that our players haven't mailed it in as some other Premier League sides have done (West Brom letting in four to hapless Norwich being a good example). It's important that we finish the season strongly and another win next week would give us 61 points, which would be an improvement of nine points on last season. We've scored 70 league goals with a home game against bottom club QPR still to play. Surely that has to be encouraging even to the most sceptical of Rodgers' critics? At the very least it's something to build on next season, especially considering Sturridge and Coutinho didn't arrive until half the season had gone. Away from home especially we've looked very dangerous, and we haven't scored this many on our travels since 1989 apparently. The biggest problem as I see it is that the goals have come in bunches. When we score early and get off to a good start, we're a real handful for anyone. If after an hour we haven't scored, generally you can assume we're not going to. We've scored nine in our last two away games, yet if we'd managed just one in our last home game (or against West Ham a few weeks back) we'd still have a shot at finishing above the Blues. A bigger squad with more quality on the bench will help in that area, and hopefully we can get more signings in the Sturridge/Coutinho mould. The star man was obviously Sturridge, he was so good he even managed to get Carragher to join in with his goal celebration dance. I never thought I'd see the day, but clearly Carra is just letting his hair down a little now and enjoying himself in his last couple of games. I'm half expecting him to stroll out next week wearing white boots. Team: Reina; Wisdom (Enrique), Coates, Carragher; Johnson, Lucas, Henderson, Shelvey (Borini); Coutinho (Coady), Sturridge: