2011 was a better year for the Red half of Merseyside, a huge improvement from a disappointing year that was 2010. The Hicks & Gillett regime had fallen, the King of Anfield had taken over from the hugely unpopular Roy Hodgson, and Liverpool battled all the way back from dangling over the relegation zone to finish sixth in the standings – just missing out on a Europa League spot to Tottenham.
The other highlight was the Fernando Torres drama as the Spanish forward has turned his back on the Kop faithful, and demanded a move to Chelsea that eventually materialised when Roman Abramovich parted with £50 million of his wealth. A big English lad named Andy Carroll walked in as his replacement. But, not before Liverpool paid £35 million upfront to Newcastle for his services.
The coming of age of Lucas Leiva was the next big thing to have happened this year. The Brazilian found new fans with his outstanding performances for the Reds at a time when everything was seemingly falling apart for them. This year also happened to be the one when supporters didn’t get to see much of their talismanic captain Steven Gerrard because of a lengthy injury lay-off. But one person that the Kop couldn’t have enough of was Luis Suarez. The former Ajax man dribbled his way to hero status with some memorable performances, especially in the derby victory over Man United at Anfield.
In came new signings at the beginning of a fresh season – expensive investments in Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing, relatively cheap buys Charlie Adam, Sebastian Coates and José Enrique plus the return of Uncle Bellamy for free. The season kicked off brightly as Suarez opened the scoring for the Reds but had to eventually settle for a draw against Sunderland. But, little did any of these supporters know that draws were to become regular instances.
So as a New Year beckons, the fortress that it once was – Anfield has become the favourite ground for goal keepers in the Premier League as every Tom, Dick and Harry has hit the form of his life once he steps out through that historic tunnel. More annoying is the shots to goal ratio of the Liverpool attack. Not only did they manage to miss most of their attempts but also had an incredible 16 shots on target that either hit the cross-bar or hit the inside of the post but never went in.
Liverpool were also frustrated off the pitch with Suarez’s racist remark at Evra and is still a hot topic of discussion. But in this melee, there is still one thing that they can boast off – the stingiest defence in all of Premier League. So the Agger – Skrtel partnership has not only clicked but also managed to keep out Jamie Carragher.
At this point I think it is safe to say that all of Liverpool’s summer purchases haven’t quite set the stadium alight with their performances. Perhaps, Enrique and Bellamy deserve a lenient criticism, but the others have totally let down the people that paid the money to get them to Melwood. And with Lucas Leiva injured and out for the rest of the season, Liverpool’s midfield once again looks vulnerable though supporters can take heart from the fact that Steven Gerrard did come off the bench in recent games.
Maxi Rodriguez not getting enough playing time under Dalglish has led to the popular misconception that it is the manager’s ego and/or the love for English footballers that is keeping the Argentinian resigned to the bench. What people should understand is that playing Maxi/Bellamy or even Dirk Kuyt for that matter may look good in prospect but if you are to build a team for the future then it is a simple fact that these 30+ veterans play a minimal role in the team’s development. Remember, we won’t get anywhere with a team sheet resembling that of Levanté in La Liga.
This all leads us to one question – what about Andy Carroll? Well, what about him? That seems to be the unanswered question for the media as well. So when a scribe put it forward for Dalglish to answer, he said that it was all a waste of time on the side of media to ponder over Carroll. I’m sorry but if ever there was a poll on who played worse in 2011 – Fernando Torres or Andy Carroll, I’m sure that it’ll be a neck-and-neck race. And that is exactly why Dalglish has got to give a proper answer as to what is holding back the free scoring striker that he was when at Newcastle.
Liverpool FC, just like you and me, would hope for a few things to work out in their favour in the New Year. As Dalglish has repeatedly stressed in various post-match press conferences, Liverpool haven’t really had the luck factor on their side which is exactly what he would hope to have more of when his side faces Manchester City at Etihad Stadium in their first match of 2012.
January will be an important phase for the club as they will look to invest more for the future. Some really big signings may just do the trick for the club and help turn their fortunes around. But let us not dwell ourselves into that. At this point, it is more important to discuss about what 2012 may hold for the fans rather than the club. If you had been through news that happened this past week, you are certain to have come across some materials that said something about Fernando Torres ripping Liverpool administration in the Spanish press.
While most of you would have been busy slagging off Torres for whatever he said, had you folks managed to read between the lines you would have realised that the most important part of the whole talk was, when he mentioned he had no time left for a project that was going to take years. Basically, El Nino was impatient to enjoy the fruits of labour. He wished for immediate success, a move as we all now know has backfired heavily. But in giving that interview, the former Kop hero gives the Anfield faithful some hope. Not that he wants to come back, but that success is not far away.
Statement of intent for 2012 –
“Fergie, your time is up; our time is now!”