Archive for the ‘Manager Talk’ Category

Moving On?

Posted: May 20, 2012 by mcdonaldtaf in Business, Finance, Liverpool FC, Manager Talk
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In a bizarre twist of events our club finds itself on, what appears, a sound financial footing yet still tearing itself to pieces. Maybe that’s too strong a term, for what could well be the over exuberant and noisy minority? Although, it still appears there is this clique bitching about that clique, while frustration continues to surface. Maybe frustration will remain until performances match the very high expectations we demand (and the word is demand) from our club. Are we really only able to stand together when we are riding high or on the precipice of destruction?

The negative reaction to FSG’s swift culling of senior figures at the club seems to have come too early. Perhaps proving that the scars left by the club’s previous Amercian owners remain. Itching and irritating from time to time, making us sensitive and likely to react at the first signs of more pain. In fact, while I don’t agree with some decisions, I’d go as far to say that it’s refreshing to see such definite action delivered with respect. Who wouldn’t be up in arms had it transpired that FSG had talked to other managers over the past few months? They said that decisions would be made at the end of the season and that is what has happened. Their need to maintain the respect those senior individuals deserved (befitting of the Liverpool way of old) means that a delay will be incurred. This should be applauded rather than the frantic search for a panic button.

The key decision was clearly whether or not Dalglish should have survived to manage the club next season. Personally I think he’d done enough to warrant another season at the helm – but I don’t have millions (or tens of millions) of pounds resting on the finishing position of the club. There had been signs of the potential, which was simmering away, being delivered. But for every boiling point we mustered (usually against the bigger clubs) the old habit of going tepid against smaller sides continued to plague us.

So we have a fresh start from next season and maybe that’s what we really need after the past few seasons. Finally, in many different ways, a line can finally be drawn and we can turn a new page. Even the new retro warrior kit has a real ‘fresh’ feel to it (despite some mis-handling at launch). It can sometimes be the small changes which makethe difference, particularly when a cultural and/or structural change is required. Culture is a strange animal to manage in any organisation, never mind one where the culture is of such importance to all those connected to the club.

This fresh start is I assume one of the hurdles in seeing the return of Rafa Benitez to Anfield. The majority of the kop would back such a move from FSG, I feel. Elsewhere in the ground I’m sure an increasing number would still be holding their lack of faith in Benitez as a reason to express their dis-satisfaction. This would be despite Benitez’s success prior to and during his stay at Anfield.

In many ways I think what Benitez brings should fit FSG down to the ground. Despite the ludicrous levels of mis-information,which even persists today, he had a successful transfer record at Anfield. Not only in the way he took us so close to the title with financial restraints (compared to others) but also in the value he created from players he signed in terms of both performance while they played and cold hard cash once they left. Unless there is Man City type money locked in the Anfield safe we’re not being told about, then this type of value can play a pivotal role in club success.

Benitez’s ability to take players and improve them on a (generally) consistent basis is too often overlooked. Instead his detractors will point to players like Ryan Babel who never quite made the grade. Especially when other managers never got it wrong  – Veron anyone? There is no point pulling out all the figures again. If you’re not convinced that Benitez’s signings made a profit overall for the club then you’ll never be convinced – black and white clearly not being black and white enough for you.

You can probably tell who I’d go for. That said I do accept that such a move could be seen as a backwards step; when the club is desperately trying to gain momentum moving forwards on all fronts. To some Benitez also became a divisive figure towards the end of his tenure; although his working conditions left him with an unfair and inhospitable environment within which to operate – and thus unfair to judge him on. To be fair I think he often got caught in the middle of things and became a focal point because of his love for the club. Is this a bad thing?

I suspect that Rafa won’t get another try, this time round. Indeed his next opportunity may only arrive at Anfield once he’s found success elsewhere. At which point I’m sure some will be banging on FSG’s email inbox asking why they didn’t take him when they had the chance.

Because, as in life, FSG (unless we have immediate success) will be damned whichever way they go. We’ve become very good at showing our dis-pleasure – perhaps a little too good? We can share views and opinions immediately and we can also shape opinions through the explosion of social media.

Personally I think it’s time to just let things crinkle out for a while and give FSG some breathing space to make decisions. We have after all only just finished the season.

I’ve seen that some individuals have been singled out for having direct contact with the club. I’m a little bemused as to why. I find it refreshing that views are being sought from outside the confines of the board room. Views which shouldn’t just be restricted to those delivered from the supporters committee – as good an idea as the committee is. I can only assume there is some dis-satisfaction with who is and (perhaps more importantly) isn’t being contacted. If I owned the club I’d want views from far and wide, but we all know I could never take on board views from everybody. I hope those who were singled out do not withdraw from any involvement (as minor as it may be) with the club. Then the majority lose out, for the sake of the few.

From a management perspective I see nothing to be worried about at this juncture. If we’re two weeks from the start of next season with key people missing then we can start to bang the drums. Let’s face it if the club announced all new appointments today we’d start shouting about them rushing things. Once, not so long ago, there was a time for action. That time has gone and hopefully will not return. Now there is a time for a more dignified unison from the club’s supporters. That time should start… now!

Coming soon… full review of 2011 LFC accounts (subscribe on the left to be notified once published) 


In 1959 Bill Shankly took on a task of behemoth proportions. One which was completed expediently and achieved so much more than simply seeing Liverpool Football Club returned to the top of the football pyramid. While many would see Livepool’s 6th title win in the 1963/64 season as a crowning achievement in itself, it was only the start. Shankly was laying the foundations for decades to come. Foundations which would be built upon by subsequent managers. Turning the club, as well as Anfield, into a fortress – a bastion of invincibility.


We can only assume the risks of keeping Fernando Torres outweighed the benefits. In today’s modern football it is after all the players who usually hold all the cards. Had Torres’ performances deteriorated further, beyond the lacklustre, then it is possible any momentum gained recently could have stalled. Personally, I always felt we should have negotiated a deal which would have seen him leave in the summer; with the fee agreed in advance. Not being privy to all of the facts though it’s hard to make any judgement, which I accept.


I never wanted this site to be about constantly defending the stakeholders of our club against media goons. I quite often sit there thinking ‘leave that bait alone’; but in the end I always cave.

Today’s words of wisdom are from David Maddock (again) here. (more…)

Cometh the hour…

Posted: January 9, 2011 by mcdonaldtaf in Manager Talk, Team Talk
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I could go and find the specific date, but if I’m honest I don’t remember it. I don’t remember the date. I do remember the day. I remember where I stood, who I was with and who told me that Kenny Dalglish had stepped down as manager of Liverpool Football Club. Rushing inside to a friend’s house, even before the days when 24 hour news coverage had taken over our TV’s, it was everywhere. There I stood – 14 years old, in the house of a family of Manchester United supporters feeling lost.


Deeper Running Problems?

Posted: January 5, 2011 by mcdonaldtaf in Liverpool FC, Manager Talk, Team Talk
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One of the supposed benefits of Roy Hodgson’s arrival was his ability to get closer to players and re-invigorate their on the pitch performances. Despite what he has eluded to, or (some of) Fleet Street will spout, we do have  a squad of players and certainly a first XI which should be competing for fourth place – as a minimum.

Carragher, Gerrard and Torres

Data utilising TPI from Pay as you Play (Tomkins et al, 2010, GPRF Publishing) has shown that we still retain the fifth highest squad value (without taking account of free transfers such as Gerrard, Cole and Carragher). We’ve also utilised that squad to provide for the fourth most expensive team put out this season to date, on average. So the players have been at Roy’s disposal, which begs the question – what exactly is going wrong – to the extent that we are losing to minnows? (more…)

That fine purveyor of wind up Patrick Barclay was ‘at it’ again after the Wolves game. His tweet of “‘Hodgson for England’ is the new Kop wit. They might equally have tried a twist on the Brighton replay classic…” was followed by “”Stevie Gerrard, Stevie Gerrard, what a difference you have made, what a difference…”” There’s no doubting who Paddy thinks should shoulder the blame. Although it is fair to point out that he did acknowledge things hadn’t progressed as he expected under Hodgson and that Rafa was a good manager – SHOCK! There were little glimmers of sense until “But naturally I hope Roy survives. Good man, good manager. Gather he’s said sorry to fans. Tis the season for apologies, apparently.”


Disconnected, The True Cost of Roy Hodgson

Posted: December 24, 2010 by mcdonaldtaf in Liverpool FC, Manager Talk

Disconnected. That’s how I feel. Disconnected from our club.

Even during the Hicks and Gillett era I didn’t feel disconnected. Frustrated and angry a lot of the time. But the fight against the pillaging and looting duo brought unity among large sections of the fan base, I felt I was part of something special. Maybe I’m being melodramatic, I know I am still part of something special; but maybe just a little more distant than usual.

I, like many others, pledged my support to Roy in the early days. Not that I believed he was the right man for Liverpool FC, but any manager of our club deserves support. So I put up with the early dour performances and some of the shocking results. I simply cringed, but remained quiet, at some of his press conferences. But then something has changed. As Roy jumped from telling us our squad was too big, no wait… too small; or that the squad didn’t have enough quality to plenty of it, but the players were at fault. I realised something – I feel disconnected. (more…)


1. The liturgical period preceding Christmas,  beginning in Western churches on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and in Eastern churches in mid-November.
2. The coming or arrival, especially of something extremely important.


Such a fitting word for Liverpool fans isn’t it? Advent. We are currently in the 21st Christmas advent since our club last won the league title.  So for many of us it feels like we are in a continuing period of advent all year round, with no end in sight. Indeed some would question whether we have ever been further away from the league title, having come so close in the 2008/9 season. Others will try and point out that the core of that 2008/9 season squad is in tact; a new manager is all it will take they’ll tell you.

Maybe they’re right. To my mind though football has become more competitive, technical and complicated – against a backdrop of forever increasing transfer budgets for some managers. Can you buy guaranteed success? No. Are some teams at a clear advantage with their squad depths and deep pockets? Yes – no doubt. In time things will no doubt equalise themselves out. Albeit I think the tiers of teams will remain, and those tiers will be largely determined by either the financial prowess or power of the clubs in each tier.

Personally I have been through quite a journey over the short life of my blogging. I came to the blogging community in October last year as someone who promoted the idea that business had to play a key component in football, for the good of the sport. After a year of writing, researching and contemplating I have done a complete U-turn. I’m a realist and accept that to remain competitive we are now in a situation where business has to play a key role. That does not alter the fact though that business has also taken something from the game. It has come close to destroying some clubs and damaging those communities. Is it sport anymore?


A better performance against a flat Aston Villa, following an improved performance against Spurs, seems to possibly be turning the huge wave of criticism against Roy Hodgson. It is after all the performance which I personally have moaned about, more so than the results. I’m not sure if Roy is adapting or his players are; but something is beginning to gel. Liverpool look a much more cohesive unit both in attack and defence. There are still moments when I believe we sit too deep and invite pressure. Although on the whole it is pleasing to see us pressing higher up the pitch in a more up-tempo manner.