Thoughts on Kenny, Squad Strength, FSG and More

Thoughts on Kenny, Squad Strength, FSG and More
January 28, 2011 Paul Tomkins

I recently gave an in-depth interview on a range of football-related subjects to the excellent Back Page Football website, but before it appears on there, I will share it with subscribers to The Tomkins Times.

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What triggered you to open up a blog, and at that – one that was partly paid-subscription only?

A series of events, really. Due to health reasons I had to give up my career as a designer in the late ‘90s. That led to many years writing for independent LFC sites as a hobby, as something I could still do from home, for fun. In late 2004 I decided to write a book on the Reds’ season. That ended with Istanbul, and as the book did relatively well I wrote several more.

Unfortunately, as any author will tell you, there’s not much money to be made from writing books, unless you’re a big literary name or celebrity shifting a lot of units. Most authors of specialist books have ‘day’ jobs (journalist, academic, etc), and I wasn’t in that position. The trouble I was having was that bad results would affect sales, and the poor start to the 2009/10 season meant that at the time I was effectively earning less than minimum wage and unable to pay my rent.

So the idea of a subscription blog made sense. One of my readers, Anu Gupta of Digital Query, suggested the idea, and at first I was sceptical. He offered to build the site, and only ask for payment if it took off. I’ve had all sorts of offers from people in the past for things that sound too good to be true, and always were! But as good as his word, a week later, a WordPress site with a pay-wall was ready.

I thought that if I could get 200 subscribers I could at least pay my rent, and know that, even if a few subscribers came and went, there’d be a fairly steady and guaranteed income. I had a fairly large mailing list, and within 48 hours had passed that target, and to my amazement it’s been growing steadily ever since.

Overall, how has the experience of writing books and columns about the club you love been?

Mixed! You’re more emotionally invested, and for reasons I still can’t fully fathom, I appear to be the Marmite of football writers: lots of very loyal readers, and lots of ‘haterz’ as Ryan Babel might say!

But for all the pitfalls, it’s been an incredible experience overall. To be invited to spend four hours chatting about football with Rafa – including a tour of Melwood – and taken out to lunch by John W Henry because he’d read my books when purchasing the club, were events I never could have imagined happening, given that I am an independent writer. I never studied journalism or set out to be in this business, so it can still be a little weird.

You’ve written for a number of different sources down through the years, do you enjoy the freedom that comes with your own website or do you set your own deadlines and requirements?

Very much so. I like to get my view across without anyone else changing my meaning with the deletion of a key paragraph or by adding a misleading headline.

I also like to go into detail with my thinking, and while some people think this means I waffle on, I think my readers appreciate something that attempts to have a bit of depth to it. There are some excellent short-article writers out there, but that’s not my forte. If people don’t have the attention span, then they don’t have to read it – but it does make me laugh when the pieces get pasted onto other forums, and people get offended that it’s more than 400 words. “I’m not reading that!” – well, don’t. No-one’s forcing you to.

I enjoyed my time writing for the official Liverpool site, although it wasn’t without its limitations. I always wrote what I believed, but it could end up being couched in wishy washy language – a kind of self-censoring, to tone things down – which I fully accepted given the medium.

I really like the people who work for the site, but between 2008 to 2010 the club and its owners made it a task I wasn’t entirely comfortable with. With those people gone it’s now a better site again, although I think I made the right decision in stepping down when I did – Gillett, Hicks, Purslow and Hodgson did not make for a club I recognised and related to – and although it’s changed for the better, I’m happy focusing on my own site now.

The site seems to have built a very strong community since its establishment, is this a fundamental part of The Tomkins Times?

I really didn’t foresee that. My original blog didn’t have many posts on, because it would be attacked by spammers and trolls, but once behind the pay-wall people felt a lot more comfortable making their views known, aware that they were not going to get abused. Everyone thinks it’s a great community, but of course, that doesn’t mean all outsiders would think the same. It’s a good mix of locals and match goers with those from further afield.

A couple of other Liverpool fans also write for TTT, contributing on a wide range of LFC aspects. How do you find the quality of Liverpool FC writing across the internet?

I think there’s some excellent stuff out there, but to be fair, I don’t know how it compares with other clubs because I don’t spend too much time looking.

As for my site, it’s a growing list of quality contributors. I chose the name of the site to help people find it if Googling my name, and as a pastiche of the Huffington Post. Now it perhaps makes me seem egomaniacal! At the outset I didn’t expect to have other people writing for it, but I’m blessed that some talented individuals are happy to contribute, particularly as it gives a wide spread in terms of areas of expertise and perspective.

Football blogging has become very mainstream, you can find a site on nearly every topic on football – how do you view the different realms of football writing which we can access so effortlessly?

To be honest, it’s hard to keep up – there’s so many good blogs out there. I get asked a lot by people to read theirs and I just don’t have time – it’s hard enough for me to keep up with the ones I want to read,  of which there are quite a few, as well as the quality newspaper articles.

You, like many other football writers, have latched onto Twitter as a way of communicating. How do you look upon this new generation where fans, players and players can interact instantaneously?

Ah, Twitter. So essential, and yet at times also absolutely bonkers. It has brought me into contact with so many excellent football writers and knowledgeable fans, but also with so many lunatics! At times everyone is shouting their opinions at you, but if you follow the right people, and are lucky enough to get some sensible people messaging you with interesting information, you can be very enlightened about what’s going on in the game.

You’re very vocal of your opinions on Twitter, but the response is occasionally mixed or negative. Why do you think is this?

I do understand a lot of the criticism, but at times it can be baffling. I don’t think I’ve ever been controversial, but of course, if you are extremely ignorant, then rational argument can be offensive to you. Some might say I was very outspoken about Roy Hodgson, but in that case I was simply reflecting what 95% the Liverpool fans were thinking: whatever his merits as a manager, he was not right for our club.

No-one in football can be 100% right when thinking about how things will pan out, but I think I have a better than average record of getting things right. I lost faith in Gérard Houllier in 2002, before a lot of people saw the crash coming. I foresaw Liverpool winning the Champions League before the quarter-final was played, and fairly accurately predicted the manner of progression to the final. I was fairly certain that Roy Hodgson would be a disaster. And in his first five seasons, whenever Rafa Benítez hit a tricky spot, I was right in saying that we’d come through it, to the point where we were in contention for silverware right up until the May of each of those seasons. I was wrong in thinking he’d come through things in what proved to be his final season, and some of his signings that I thought could be inspired flopped, but I don’t think anyone put in more work than me in that period in trying to accurately assess the job he was doing.

I work as hard as possible to base my thinking on a mix of ‘evidence’ and an understanding of the game that comes from being a football nut from a young age, including spells as a semi-pro and several years as a season ticket holder at Anfield, to a love of numbers and patterns in life.

But I’ve had the abuse for years, well before Twitter. People want to chop you down if they think you’re too big – tall poppy syndrome. So there’s that, and other forms of jealousy. There’s also the fact that often when people don’t understand something they feel inferior, and lash out at those trying to do something a bit more involved. There’s also the fact that, at times, I might be talking absolute crap. It happens.

Recently you published a non-Liverpool book, providing in depth transfer figures from each club since the Premier League began. What was the inspiration behind PAYP, and in particular, the CTTP?

In order to assess how Liverpool were performing, I increasingly found myself analysing where the club fit into the current financial landscape, and what could be realistically expected of them; in other words, finding benchmarks to compare with that weren’t the nonsensical “but we’re Liverpool, we should be winning the league!”. As that research expanded, it then made sense to write about all clubs during the Premier League era.

The Current Transfer Purchase Price came about after I’d devised a similar system for “Dynasty: 50 Years of Shankly’s Liverpool”, in order to make comparisons on prices paid across the decades. I used a percentage of the record of the day, be it 1960 or 2009, but accountant and published statistician Graeme Riley suggested that we collate all transfers from any given season and take an average, in the way that the Retail Price Index is calculated, and then compare year on year. That way we could ascertain football inflation, which obviously has its own factors above and beyond standard inflation. To keep things manageable we focused on the Premier League years only. From this we could say what a player purchased in 1992 – or even entire teams – would have cost in ‘2010 money’. So we could accurately compare performance across the seasons in relation to each club’s expenditure.

This opened up avenues for all kinds of analysis, and some interesting trends were found in the data. We asked some high-profile writers who follow certain clubs to comment on ‘their’ club’s figures, and we could see how much, on average, it cost to achieve certain levels of success. Managers were also ranked in terms of how they performed in relation to the cost of the team.

Are there any more books in the pipeline, and would you hesitate to organise another collaborative project a la PAYP?

It’s the work I’m most proud of, but it took a lot of effort. I hadn’t planned on doing another book, but this time it was purely a case of the idea being too good to ignore, rather than the need to try and eke out a living. It had some fantastic reviews, and I hope to keep the project alive – there’s new analysis at www.transferpriceindex.com and we’ll be producing the 2011 index in March – but I have no plans to produce another book on this or any other subject.

And finally, some questions on Liverpool. How do you think Liverpool Football Club will change as a whole under new ownership?

I think you only need look at the reputation of Tom Hicks and George Gillett in America in comparison with that of John Henry and FSG to know that the new owners are in a different class, as people and as sports businessmen.

As they came in when the season was already underway and with Liverpool heading in the wrong direction, they’ve had their hands tied to a degree, but I think in time they’ll prove their worth. I know they didn’t want to get into what are seen as bad football habits and set the wrong tone – sacking managers too quickly, overspending on players – but sometimes they can be the right things to do, if the manager is clearly the wrong man, and if the player can add value greater than the sum of his fee and wages to the team. In other words, if a club buys a £5m player for £10m in January, yet he saves his team from relegation, then he suddenly looks a bargain.

The return of King Kenny has been a delightful sight for fans the world over. Do you think he can revive the times of old and extend his short-term contract?

I do, although I don’t see Liverpool ever dominating again in the ways or yore.

Equally, there are some exciting managers out there, including the much-coveted Andre Villas-Boas, who FSG might decide are better choices – I honestly don’t know.

What I do know is that, so far, Kenny has employed a mix of modern tactics with traditional Liverpool passing values, and spoken like the leader of such a club should. Also, it’s hard to think of anyone any Liverpool player could have more respect for. On top of that, at a time when the crowd were getting restless, it’s hard to see them turn on Kenny.

Perhaps Kenny wouldn’t be the ideal man for a club like Fulham, whose fans would focus on the negatives, but equally, Hodgson was never the right man for Liverpool. Sometimes it’s about the fit, the chemistry. At Liverpool, Kenny could once again prove that he’s perfect for the job. In an age where the word is horribly overused, he’s a legend.

Finally, we would be interested to hear your opinions on the the much debated Liverpool squad. Is it really as bad as people suggest, or does it just need some additions and the right man behind it?

Performances instantly picked up after Hodgson left, and results have, too. Liverpool were on course for 48 points under Hodgson, and a negative goal difference. Extrapolated, Liverpool would get 67 points over 38 games based on Kenny’s record of two wins, a draw and a defeat in his four league games, and a +29 goal difference. But of course, we were already 20 games in when that started, so we’ll do well to get 60 points in 2010/11.

While the sample sizes are small, it does show an instant and fairly radical improvement with the same set of players. But of course the squad needs strengthening, as a profit has been made in the past five transfer windows. Rafa’s signings after 2008 weren’t as good as before then, although Aquilani showed enough last season to suggest he could follow Modric and Nasri as an overseas ball-player who took a while to find his feet in England, but who, by using his brain, could find time and space in the hurly-burly of an Premier League midfield.

To make matters worse, Hodgson and Purslow conspired to loan him out, along with Insua, and paid to bring in inferior replacements, with only Meireles of the six players signed by Hodgson likely to last beyond a year or two at the club. While Hodgson had limited funds, he did not buy or sell well, and only weakened the squad, bringing in mediocre players who were, on average, 30 years of age.

But a lot of good young players were brought to the club by Benítez, and the youth academy has some really outstanding talent – world-class for their age group, without doubt – ready to emerge. So long-term I think the club is going to go from strength to strength, and the squad will naturally improve when they mature, before key players get too old.

With a strong core to the first team, a couple of astute signings could take the Reds back into the top four next season, but it might take a couple more years to be back at the level we were as recently as 2008/09.

Thanks for chatting with us Paul, best wishes to TTT, and your future book writing.

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Comments (30)

  1. Author

    Wanted to share this with you guys first, before it appears on Back Page Football – a good site to check out, one of the better general football blogs around.

  2. GavAndrews 12 years ago

    Hi Paul,

    Good article but I fear it will get swallowed in Torres chat…

  3. ee4as 12 years ago

    Cheers Paul!

    As one of the Liverpool supporters from far afield, just wanted to say this is a community I am proud to be a part of.

    • LFC123 12 years ago

      I second that (well, if you consider Ireland to be “far afield”, it is only across the pond :))

      The fact that we don’t have to put up with spammers and trolls(as Paul calls them) and the fact that there is good debate, insightful analysis etc are just some reasons why this site is worth it’s weight in gold

      YNWA

    • Gareth 12 years ago

      ….ditto!

  4. Akifw 12 years ago

    Class Paul!

  5. philsavory 12 years ago

    Yeah its great to see how successful this site has been. I started reading your work on lfc.tv and followed you since!

    Now about this Torres fella….

  6. chrisjdillon 12 years ago

    “I foresaw Liverpool winning the Champions League before the quarter-final was played, and fairly accurately predicted the manner of progression to the final.”

    Have you got a link to this please, Paul?

    • Neu75 12 years ago

      Yes, I’d like to see that. Not that I don’t believe you or anything, just to see what you said and compare how it eventually played out…

    • David Lewis 12 years ago

      http://www.redandwhitekop.com/article.php?id=877151

      Why Liverpool Will Win The Champions League

      Posted by Paul Tomkins on March 11, 2005, 11:17:28 AM

      And then there were eight. Finally, and with some sense of disbelief, talk is starting to turn to Liverpool actually winning the Champions League –– no one necessarily expecting it, but offering a case of why not?

      Why not indeed? I certainly don’t think there’s less talent at Liverpool than there was at Porto last season. I don’t think the club has an inferior manager, either. A bit of long-overdue luck, and who knows?

      “The best teams don’t always win the Champions League,” Jamie Carragher said following with win against Bayer Leverkusen, with more than a degree of truth –– and we are certainly not the best team in Europe right now. Not even close.

      However, it is equally true that to win it more than once, and in quick succession (four times in eight seasons, as an example –– and a completely random one, of course), is definitive proof you’re the best. You can get lucky once, perhaps –– favourable draw, fortunate decisions, no injuries (and Alex Ferguson noted how fortunate United were on that score in 1999 –– not one major casualty).

      But the most accurate marker of greatness is consistency. Because even the flukiest team on earth cannot ride their luck indefinitely. Going back and doing it again, and again, and again, is what counts. ‘One-offs’ are great, but to become legendary takes more. Why do you think Ferguson couldn’t retire a couple of years back, as previously planned? Because he knew that whatever people’s opinions on who was the greatest, the record books show: Bob Paisley, European Cup Winner three times in nine years; Alex Ferguson, winner just once in twenty.

      At this stage of the team’s development under Benitez, doing so just once after a 21-year wait would be truly astonishing. It seems almost surreal to be contemplating it. (And I’m still not sure I’m actually contemplating it, or just contemplating the act of contemplating it).

      When Liverpool reached the Quarter Finals in 2002, it was directly following the Treble, and with the side challenging Arsenal for that season’s Premiership title. The club was riding the crest of a wave, and it came as no great surprise to get that far. The surprise was that it ended how it did.

      The mood of the fans leaving the Bay Arena two night’s ago could not have been more in contrast with three years earlier. Again Bayer scored a late goal, but this time it was utterly meaningless. Rafa, fresh from getting the ales in, even had time to make a nod towards the defeat three years ago, by mirroring Houllier’s removal of Didi Hamann –– arguably the most famous removal of a player in the club’s history (its recent history, at least). This time it was with the job done, to save the German from picking up a suspension.

      Many of the broadsheets opted for the angle that on Wednesday night Liverpool met an incredibly poor German side, shorn of several key players. (Interestingly, many ignored the fact that Liverpool had a far longer list of absentees, with far more quality in their ranks of wounded and ineligible). Bayer were a side who had already beaten Bayern Munich 4-1 at home in the Bundesliga, and scored three goals in demolishing each of Real Madrid, Roma and Dynamo Kiev on their way to topping the ‘Group of Death’.

      Suddenly they were whipping boys, simply because we whipped them.

      Benitez has led his threadbare collection of fit players to a stage in the competition where, after next week’s delayed game between Inter and Porto, only seven other teams will remain. While no one will retain any credibility by suggesting the Reds are now a better side than Manchester United, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Barcelona and all the other top sides to have fallen before the Quarter Finals, the fact remains that they are all out, and the Reds are in the draw on Friday week. We may have had a slightly easier draw, but there was nothing lucky about the way the team performed over the two legs. Leverkusen’s home record has been remarkable. There had to be a reason for that.

      To put the win against Leverkusen into perspective, an entire team of players –– goalkeeper, defenders, midfielders and strikers –– were missing and, given there were no suspensions, it was either through injury or ineligibility.

      Look at the list: Kirkland, Josemi, Pellegrino, Traore, Alonso, Kewell, Sinama-Pongolle, Mellor, Cissé and Morientes. (Okay, so it’s a ten-man team). How many of those would have been in the 18-man squad –– the starting XI and seven subs allowed in Europe –– if they had been available to Rafa? Almost certainly all, with the possible exception of Mellor. Of the 18 Rafa did select, only half would have been certainties: Dudek, Carragher, Finnan, Hyypia, Riise, Gerrard, Hamann, Baros and Luis Garcia. So we were literally at half-strength.

      Given the impressive Biscan (again enjoying a match in Europe) and Warnock (his best game for the club) would not be guaranteed a place in a European 18 if everyone was fit and eligible –– not to mention Smicer, Carson, Le Tallec, Mellor, and Nunez –– it goes to show that there is still a lot of quality and depth to the Liverpool squad (even if the side could use a couple more ‘outstanding’ first team players, and some of the squad players are playing for their futures). It also highlights how Benitez has never had the chance to select from anything remotely approaching his full squad. He won’t yet know what his best side is, as he’s not had the chance to select it.

      So while we’re clearly still lacking the kind of consistency top clubs need, the performance in Germany showcased the quality the team can produce. Consistency will take time, not to mention the manager being able to pick his best players –– or at least able to hit upon a fairly settled side. But it’s great to know that our highs can be so high –– as some teams just can’t play the kind of football we displayed against Leverkusen. And it was no accident, either –– while we’ve been poor too often for anyone’s liking, there have also been plenty of scintillating displays. The highs have been stellar.

      Fighting on three fronts with only half a squad has taken its toll on our league performances. But it will stand the club in good stead, as fringe players have emerged from the shadows. Where Benitez hasn’t had the luxury of learning what his best team is, he has had the chance to find out how good his reserves are.

      Much has been made of the financial rewards of qualifying for next season’s Champions League, but in exceeding expectations this season the club will have earned more than it planned for –– so missing out wouldn’t be quite as disastrous in those terms. (Better to have one successful season than two poor-to-average ones –– after all, finishing 3rd and 4th can still mean Uefa Cup football if you lose the two-leg qualifying tie in August. You’ll make pittance).

      Having said that, qualification remains a massive priority as a) the current players want to be there, b) it helps attract new players, and c) the club wants to be challenging for the top trophies. But even if qualification proves a bridge too far for a squad shorn of half of its senior pros, reaching the last eight helps repair some of the damage to the club’s reputation over recent seasons, and helps put money in the coffers –– never a pleasant thing to concentrate on, but even the old school of fans know that it’s better to have money than to lack it.

      Pressure

      The role of underdogs could be one that suits us. Last year’s Champions League is a case in point. There was Porto, and there was Monaco. (And two months later, there was Greece at Euro 2004). But the example I am thinking of relates to London.

      A strange thing happened when Arsenal met Chelsea. The west London club had bought their way to their best domestic season for 50 years, but Arsenal were having a remarkable year, and everyone felt that, for all their domestic domination, the impressive team Wenger had assembled had to win the European Cup for any of it to mean anything significant. Victory –– moral victory –– belonged to Arsenal before the game kicked off, as everyone knew they were the better team. Justice needed to be done.

      It wasn’t that people felt that they would beat Chelsea –– although the bookmakers’ odds were incredible –– but that they deserved it, on the grounds of being (as they were then seen) the Greatest Side in the World, Ever™. Also, that team will have had a sense of ‘it’s now or never’ –– they must have known themselves that they could never play as well again. The hype, and the need to prove they were as good as they then appeared to be, swallowed them whole in the second leg.

      Arsenal became too desperate for that success, inasmuch as they took all the pressure onboard and allowed it to suffocate them. It is like this: you are going for a job interview, for a once-in-a-lifetime position you simply must get –– in fact, your professional reputation rests on it. Fail, and questions will be asked, no matter that everyone knows you are the best candidate for the job. Nervous as you sit and shuffle in the waiting room (in the case of a football match, the tunnel), with palms sweating, heart palpitating, and the colour draining from your face, you look across and see your rival for the job with a big smile on his or her face –– the picture of insouciance as they start to whistle a happy tune. He or she doesn’t need the job, and is not expected to get it. And as a result, they will be able to give the best account of themselves. You know then that you’re in trouble.

      It happened to Liverpool in 1988. In that case it was the FA Cup final, to complete the double for the second time in three seasons. So stunning had been the team’s season up to that point –– the football breathtaking, with the attacking play taken to a new level by the arrival of Barnes, Beardsley, Houghton and Aldridge –– that it would be the only fitting conclusion.

      Liverpool became such overwhelming favourites –– unbeatable, people suggested –– that Wimbledon, who were then a top-six side, were suddenly regarded by all and sundry as the non-league team they had been in the 1970s. Wimbledon won a large part of that match in the tunnel, before the game. You can call it mind games (the current vogue term), but it’s just a simple psyching-out of your opponents. They showed they were ‘up for it’, and not overawed. And in doing so, they heaped more pressure on the superior team.

      Return to the 2003/04 Champions League Quarter Final. Chelsea were allowed to treat the occasion as though they were a non-league side there for a nice day out. Yes, they’d paid £200m to get there, but somehow –– and I still don’t fully understand quite how they were allowed to get away with it (although part of it was down to the incredible hoodoo Arsenal had over them) –– they could ignore that immense expenditure, and pretend they’d exceeded all their hopes and ambitions already. What were in fact two fairly evenly-matched sides, while acknowledging Arsenal’s slight superiority, suddenly became David vs Goliath. Once the stakes get so implausibly high for one side, while remaining relatively low for the other, there’s trouble for the favourite. They are on a hiding to nothing.

      Pressure and expectation affect everything in football. Having won the tie, Chelsea were then favourites to beat Monaco, and as such, were soundly beaten. Pressure can cripple and petrify. I’d suggest that football is down to talent, unity, mentality and fitness. Mentality can often be the most crucial.

      The very best players can often deal with pressure, rise above it. But it only takes a few to succumb, and there’s trouble. And it’s not something that necessarily gets better with age and experience. In his final years as a Liverpool player, Alan Hansen had become not only the team captain but, with Dalglish and Souness no longer in the side, its senior pro. Suddenly there was an extra burden of responsibility, and he felt violently sick before each match, to the point where he hated playing. This was a legend who had played in four European Cup finals, but suddenly a league game at Plough Lane, or The Dell, was making his stomach do cartwheels. That is pressure –– and the kind of pressure a player’s mind brings to bear on itself. Not just external pressure, but internal pressure. We’ve seen it with Steven Gerrard in recent weeks.

      If we were to face Chelsea in the next round, I would be almost certain of victory –– as strange as that might seem. Because no one would give us a cat in hell’s chance. Just as last season Chelsea had lost to Arsenal twice in the league, and also in a domestic cup, we’ve been beaten three times by Mourinho’s men already.

      But they will the ones who will be desperate to get through. They will have the expressionless face of a Russian billionaire staring down at them, and maybe the players will read too much into his neutral demeanour and his posse of stony-faced henchmen, and start worrying about those suspicious, capacious vats of cement, and some new supporting columns planned for the Hammersmith flyover.

      Sometimes it’s easier to ‘try hard’ when you feel uninhibited, and don’t care too much. Sometimes the pressure of having to try too hard results in the feeling of running though the aforementioned concrete, when it’s half-set –– and you look like you’re not trying at all. Numb with fear of failure, the game passes you by.

      There was a lot of pressure on Liverpool in the recent Carling Cup final in Cardiff, as it was seen as the club’s best chance of silverware, and something to rescue a season that was in danger of being railroaded by Everton. Chelsea had bigger fish to fry, and could point to a comfortable lead at the top of the table –– why should they be worried about winning the Carling Cup when the bookies had already stopped taking bets on them being English champions? Surely that ‘worthless’ trophy was the preserve of modern Liverpool? They were still under pressure, to get that first trophy, but on that occasion so were Liverpool. A Champions League encounter would be different. It would be about Chelsea justifying that massive expenditure. For once, for the Liverpool players it would be about enjoying the occasion, and seeing how far the ride takes them.

      Sideshow

      An interesting sideshow has been the fact that Liverpool could win the Champions League and, if the club finishes fifth in the league, fail to qualify as holders. Unbelievable, but true.

      It would require FA intervention to request Liverpool’s inclusion over Everton. It would be a brave (or criminally insane) organization that omitted a team who were Champions of Europe (and therefore, in winning a fifth title, entering a very select group of the continent’s elite) in order to include Everton, who will have achieved nothing remotely ‘Champion’-like.

      But of course, such dreams remain highly improbable –– and there is still more likelihood of pipping our stuttering neighbours once the pressure starts to heat up, and once we’ve played both our game in hand –– Blackburn at Anfield –– and the home leg of this season’s Merseryside derby. Once those two home games are played, there will still be as many home games left as those away (four of each). We’ve been in this position before and succeeded. They will start to feel the pressure as soon as they start to believe they have it in the bag, and it’s theirs for the losing. Up until now they’ve had nothing to lose. But once they start dreaming of next season –– and they will –– they may well come unstuck, if they haven’t already started to. But I would gladly settle for fifth place if it meant an unforgettable night in Istanbul in May.

      Why will Liverpool win the Champions League? Why not…

      © Paul Tomkins 2005

      • Ash_P 12 years ago

        Fucking brilliant Paul! This is the first time I read this piece.

        You were dead on in all your predictions there, us beating Roman’s Chelsea, winning our fifth EC, and ending up fifth in the league.

        When are we gonna win number 19, Mr Paul “Nostradamus” Tomkins? 😆

  7. IzzyBizzy 12 years ago

    Good read Paul,

    I love this site for the simple reason of the quality of the posts and the posters. RAWK and other websites have many good and intelligent posts and posters but the amount of crap you have to wade through to read them is crazy.

    The amount of time I save by being able to just log onto this site and have the facts in front of me must run into 100s of hours since I signed up. As my job pays for the more time I work this site pays for itself (and bit more).

  8. Lee Mooney 12 years ago

    Good stuff Paul – nice to see the visibility and reputation of TTT is growing.

  9. Neu75 12 years ago

    Love the Kenny picture. I fail to see any greater sight in football than Kenny celebrating a goal…

  10. LFC_67 12 years ago

    Very interesting Paul,

    I also started reading your work on lfc.tv and I have always loved reading it becauce of it’s quality and debt.
    As another one of the Liverpool supporters from far afield it’s a joy to read such informative and well documented articels about our beloved football club.

    All the best to You and all the followers of this site. YNWA!
    Rolfen 🙂

  11. richUK 12 years ago

    Very happy to see the para, re: Aqua man and the way he was disposed of – brought a smile to my face.

  12. PaulSabda 12 years ago

    Gone are the days when I have to visit lfc.tv on daily basis just to check whether you wrote a new article. Now, simply come to this place, not only your articles but tons of insightful comments from posters and a great community, a safe haven really…

    Another fan from far afield
    YNWA

  13. JayDee 12 years ago

    I see Luis Suarez is on board !!!!!!

    • chrisjdillon 12 years ago

      As in coming to Liverpool or actually on this board? What’s his username?

  14. fourcandles 12 years ago

    Guardian says Suarez for 23m quid.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2011/jan/28/liverpool-luis-suarez-ajax-agree-fee

    If this is true, I meet this news with more than a little hesitation. I can’t say I’m terribly happy, like most seem to be. Perhaps we should allow for redemption, and I hope those acts are truly in his past. But I have my doubts.

  15. fudge 12 years ago

    I’m over the moon with that deal…..Can someone tell me where Suarez will play, will we go with 2 up front or will he be behind torres???

    • chrisjdillon 12 years ago

      I guess he’d play off Torres? Wondering if he’d suit playing right or left of Torres in a 4-3-3 with Kuyt on the other flank?

      • fudge 12 years ago

        Thats what i was thinking, Torres hasn’t really worked well playing with someone up front

      • macattack 12 years ago

        Or will Torres be playing off Drogba ? Lactching on to balls threaded through by Lampard; being cheered by the `free flag` brigade ?

        Sorry, but Torres reported sentiments i.e. about Chelsea, do seem to be more than rumours.

        Am pretty damn sure that Torres has spoken with some people from Chelsea recently; Chelsea knew that LFC would not want to sell; so they must have been confident that Torres had an inclination to leave.

        Less a hostile bid would have been pointless and risk Chelsea appearing to be a hopeless flounderer in the transfer market.

        `Tapping up` is the Chelsea way; and befitting how Russian gangsters, who plunder state resources, go about their business.

        Quite certain that Ambramovic could get hold of Torres` phone number in the first instance at least.

        Ah well, El Nino…it was good for a while…but we did have to put up with your whingeing; your injury prone liability; and your shocking negative body language…and now this….what if Chelsea dont qualify for the Champions League heh ?

        I wish and I hope. Been here before with Michael `I want to win things`, Owen; who did fook off just before we won the Champions League. Result !

  16. Alanb55 12 years ago

    Macattack, it may turn out that way, but until something is confirmed let’s be a little more positive , you write as if it’s almost a done deal, and that Torres has already gone, that he’s taken the first chance this window to jump ship, after he didn’t do so in any the other windows since he has been with us !

    What or where are the actual , confirmed statements about Torres ?

    Until something is said factually , then I am not interested, I have had enough negativity this last few years without wanting to go searching for more at the very first drop of a rumour!

    It would certainly seem a strange time , just as he looks to be enjoying himself und Kenny, just as we have signed, or are inthe process of signing someone being represented by the same agent , a quality player, and one who says he wants to play in the same team as Torres….

    The team is working it’s way up the league, while Chelsea are stagnating, and arguably need a bigger reworking than LFC do ( or will do in the summer….with less possibility of undertaking it as easily as LFC can ).

    All very strange, and pretty senseless, given that Torres committed to LFC. Only a month or two ago, when things looked a lot gloomier, and we looked as if we could possibly even go down …

    Please link to a real statement by the club, the player, or his agent ….something that unequivocally shows that Torres has asked to go to Chelsea!

    • macattack 12 years ago

      Alan…its almost ten o clock on Saturday morning…did you now get your confirmation on Torres` position ?….

      • Alanb55 12 years ago

        Unfortunately yes ……and I am sorry if I came across as irritated and angry ….but that’s what I was !

        As much as it unsettled, upset, annoyed, depressed and irritated me , it’s wrong to shoot the messenger ( unless he’s talking crap :):))…….. But I hope you aren’t being smug, or I told you so about it ?

        I take it that you are not being in any way smug …..and will reiterate the plea I made last night For a bit more clarity sometimes when passing on information ( even without naming names it should be easy enough to do that ).

        I would still like to understand how you were so convinced before any of this came out ….

        As I commentated on another post, I don’t know who you know, or how much credence you give to things you hear from whoever ….After all there are a lot of posts on Twitter that are simply chaff..one or two are spot on …who knows for sure which fall into what category ?

        I’m not asking to know exactly who or why , but just some sort of hint that something posted has more legs than the simple statement sometimes shows.

        The way I read your initial posts , they just looked to me like ultra negativity from nowhere…..and in my take didn’t make much sense ( it still doesn’t , even though it’s real …..I still don’t understand where its all come from ….though why I even should is maybe another matter )….

        This has obviously turned out to be a wrong reading on my behalf …But as I say, not knowing you , who you know, or how reliable what you hear is , or should be taken , for instance i have no way of knowing from what you wrote if you are just passing on something from Twitter , from Kenny’s milkman, or from a microphone planted in the Anfield board room …..

        All I ask is some sort of clue as to how to read a post sometimes ….Especially if it makes as little logical sense ( seemingly) as this stuff has turned out to ….

        Does any of that make sense ?

  17. oldmatebri 12 years ago

    They’ll both be here. Got to cos their names rhyme. Suarez to Torres and it’s a goal!!!

  18. fourcandles 12 years ago

    Speaking of squad strength …

    Jovanovic rejects move to Wolfsburg (who offered £6m for him): http://www.kopsource.com/2011/01/jovanovic-rejects-wolfsburg-move/

    Konchesky loan falls through:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/transfers/konchesky-loan-is-ruled-out-despite-warnock-deal-2197674.html

    CURSES!

  19. alvinong15 12 years ago

    Thanks for all the great reads Paul! Cheers… YNWA

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