31 January 2011

Vespa: Through the John S Lens

Monday and all I could think about is Liverpool's latest transfer saga. I thought it would come to an end by mid-morning when Dalglish was due to speak at his pre-match press conference but, other than confirming Paul Konchesky's and Daniel Ayala's loan moves to Forest and Derby respectively, Liverpool's manager remained silent about the elephant in the room. News of a rejected offer for Newcastle's Andy Caroll didn't help either. I continued the day's routine (and probably most of tonight as well) by clicking the refresh button on my web browser...

To keep my mind away from the insanity (yes, some fans have gone absolutely mental about the whole thing), I turned to my old trusty Green Vespa to provide me with some relief.

It was on one of my regular trips to the NAC that I noticed the absence of any decent motorcycle (or scooter) parking in the whole complex. That got me thinking about the number of proper public motorcyle parking spaces that I've come across. In Dublin, I quickly came up with one (a few spaces that's normally full on the side of the GPO on O'Connell Street) and after that, there was no more in the whole of Dublin that I know of. Yes, there are a good few bicycle ones around town but other than the GPO one, there were no other specifically designated motorcycle parking spaces in Dublin. A bit unfair considering that motorcyclists actually pay taxes to use public roads while cyclists don't.

So, that morning at the NAC I decided to take matters in my own hands. I would emulate the car-driving pricks that would take-up two parking spaces with their awkwardly parked cars (why is it almost always the tiniest of cars?) and park my Green Vespa in a car park space. Yeah, take that unfair public parking system! The Green Vespa strikes again...

Oh, it was for that particular reason and the fact that the whole parking area was actually empty when I rode in that Sunday morning. Rebel with a clause. Haha. Also, it helped that there was a nice grassy knoll behind the chosen parking spot which provided me with a good backdrop to make a picture. Unfortunately, by the time I came out of the centre, the car park was full and the previously empty spaces around my Vespa were filled with all types of four-wheel vehicles. Rather than go home empty-handed, I snapped the above pic anyway and with aching muscles, slowly made my way home.

Now, back to that refresh button...

Update: It's now official - Liverpool site as of 8 pm on Monday night.

29 January 2011

Torres, Suarez and Transfer Requests

Friday was a weird day. It started off with news that Chelsea had put in an offer in the region of £30m-£40m for Fernando Torres which was duly rejected by Liverpool. The day continued with all sorts of speculation about where Torres wants, needs or should be. There was nothing new with all this except that this time, it was that bit more frustrating. There just doesn't seem to be more than a few days of quiet time when you're a Liverpool supporter, is there?

Then, as it was approaching the end of the working day, up pops an official statement on the Liverpool site: Reds Agree Suarez Deal. Brilliant. That should sort out the support striker problem as well as keep the current main one happy. For the moment, at least. And, it did seem like it was only a brief few moments when the site released another statement. There was no need to read the whole thing. All that mattered was the name and the phrase accompanying it: Torres and transfer request. The fact that the request was immediately rejected didn't matter, a request had been made by Liverpool's very own Number 9 and that was all that mattered.

The whole thing just didn't sit well especially when things were only starting to look better at the club. It just wasn't a Torres thing to do anyway. Or, maybe it is. What is going on here? My kids know the Torres song by heart and sing it as well as any nursery rhyme or non-rhyming Barney the Dinosaur song. What will they sing if he goes? Dammit...

C'est la vie, I suppose and as in life, what goes around eventually comes around.

Apparently, most if not all of the details will be revealed on Monday when a press conference has already been pre-scheduled ahead of the match against Stoke. Here's hoping it's nothing but good news.

27 January 2011


Yup, This is Anfield. Didn't think I'd make it here again (especially after the originally scheduled fixture was re-scheduled because of the snow in December) but hey, here I am.

This was the view from the Kop (where I was!) right before kick-off during the Liverpool v. Fulham game yesterday night. And, here's our match tickets to further prove it...

There were three of us but only two tickets for the Kop and one ticket for the Main Stand. Sam "Meireles" Zamen was such a gent (it must've been the pleading look on my face) and relinquished any claim on the Kop tickets to allow E and I a chance to sit on the Kop. Thanks again Sam and as a token of my appreciation, I even took a picture of him on the Main Stand, waving for our attention about half an hour before kick-off.

Well, he said he was there somewhere. I think he's the dude at the top of the "a" in the Adidas. E, on the other hand, could be seen more clearly in this picture of the Kop taken a few moments earlier.

Oh, and here's a picture of the Centenary Stand (the one most TV cameras face), just to complete the set...

Kick-off came along soon enough and from then on, my full attention was on the pitch. It wasn't a classic by any standard but after having the opportunity to stand and sing amongst the Mighty Kopites, a win and some flashes of brilliance from the Redmen (Torres' deemed offside goal a couple of minutes into the game was one of them) were more than enough to make it all worth it for me.

Now all I need to do is nurse a throbbing headache and a horribly hoarse throat. A bit more sleep should do the trick...

25 January 2011

Spare Wheel Sunday

To those of you unfamiliar with the ways of scootering, don’t be too alarmed about the Vespa PX lying on the ground in the picture above (oh, I’m just fine by the way). That’s just me getting the rear wheel off so that I can replace the damaged tube on it with a new one. Low-tech it might be but it works especially when it’s just me working on the thing.

I woke up bright and early that morning (by Sunday morning standards anyway) to focus on getting my spare tyre fixed. The tubeless rim that was previously on the rear was being sorted out by Modern and Classic Scooters. That would take them a few days considering I only dropped it in to them on Saturday. But, not wanting to spend another week using the bus service (however excellent they might be of late), I decided to do some work on the spare tyre myself. Besides, I needed a spare at some stage and a flat spare was obviously not much use to me.

So, I bought myself a tube and started working on it diligently. The plan was to take pictures along the way and post a guide of how to do this here but, I realised that this wasn’t possible unless I wiped my hands clean of grease and grime every few minutes - a must when my only decent picture-taking device is my touchscreen mobile phone. So, as a Plan B, this is a good guide on how to disassemble your scooter’s old (split rim) wheel and on the same site there’s a step-by-step guide to re-assembling it.

I know that there are at least a dozen or so differing views on how to do this but the one above works for me so, I’ve used it as a guide for the handful of times I’ve had to fix my Vespa’s wheels. On the other hand, as with most things, I wouldn’t attempt doing it alone for the first time (I had my brother-in-law who knew more than I did about scooters around) but if you’re stuck, it’s definitely a good starting point. Just remember to read every line of the guide carefully.

Anyway, watch out for the next post. If all goes well, that one should be from Liverpool...

23 January 2011

The Meireles Show at the Molineux

Maybe I was clutching at straws but knowing that Mick McCarthy played most of his first team in Wolves' FA Cup encounter against Doncaster seemed to me like good news. My logic was simple: having a whole week's rest ahead of the game, Liverpool would have an advantage over their opponents. A slight advantage but an advantage nevertheless. Of course, there was the little fact that Wolves actually thumped Doncaster in those few days an were obviously on a high. Yes, one might say that was only Doncaster, but so was Northampton, only Northampton at one stage.

To summarise it in two words, cautiously confident. That was the attitude going into the game and within a couple of minutes, it was clear that Liverpool had thrown away the "cautiously" in its approach and had a right go at Wolves with some very neat passing around the pitch. The ball was kept on the floor while the players moved around, constantly on the look out for space. It wasn't Barcelona-type movement (not yet anyway!) but it was certainly pass and move with tonnes of pressure from the front. Liverpool's players who you could say, were the more technical of the players on the pitch, enjoyed the possession and grew in confidence with every completed pass especially Fernando Torres who took full advantage of it and did what he does best, score goals.

After the break, Liverpool continued in the same vein and the quality of their play was rewarded with a sweetly struck goal by Raul Meireles. Of course, having a two-goal margin, Liverpool naturally slipped into the comfort zone and allowed Wolves to have a go at them. Former Liverpool winger, Adam Hammill was introduced with 20 minutes remaining and provided Wolves with some much needed supply for their front two causing some nervous moments at the back. Dalglish though, made his own substitution at the same time and replaced the tiring Christian Poulsen with Jonjo Shelvey who provided Liverpool with a fresh pair of legs as well as some much needed urgency in the centre. The substitution almost provided Liverpool with an instantaneous result but the young Shelvey didn't have enough time and space to compose himself to score Liverpool's third that afternoon.

That honour went to Torres who was handed the opportunity on a plate after some good work by Dirk Kuyt who had drifted into the 18-yard box from his position on the right. Three goals, three points and most importantly, the club's first clean sheet in the League after about six games. A confidence-boosting win that will hopefully, get Liverpool on a winning run especially, with two home games coming up.

Hopefully, I'd be attending the first of those two games...

21 January 2011

Vespa PX: Through the Kaimal Mark II

Just a random snap that I took while waiting to get my change after paying for the petrol. The picture was taken a few weeks before the difficulties encountered earlier this week so no, the Vespa's not back and running just yet.

I've to get myself a new tube for the designated spare tyre and hopefully, the replacement tyre (for the tubeless rim) that I ordered from the Scooter Center would arrive later today or early next week. Then it's off to Modern and Classic Scooters to get the tyre fitted to the rim but before that, I'd want the guys there to have a closer look at the damaged tyre to figure out what actually happened to it. Hopefully, it wasn't anything too serious but more importantly, I need to assure myself that it won't happen again.

19 January 2011

Blow Out on Blue Monday

I write this while waiting for my wife to come to my rescue after a puncture in my rear tyre nearly caused me to take a swim in the River Liffey - scooter, rider and all. Thankfully, traffic on the Quays that evening was quite a distance behind me when it happened and with what little skill I had, I managed to slow the Vespa down just enough for me to control it towards the footpath by the river. Phewww...

Exhibit A: Looks like a normal flat

I shouldn't have needed to wait as long as I waited but in all my wisdom, I took the tool kit that was sitting pretty in my Vespa's glovebox and stashed it in the boot of my wife's car. Why? I don't know but I guess I'm one of those people who just loves learning things the hard way.

Exhibit B: That doesn't look normal at all. I could do with a new rear shock too.

Anyway, after about an hour or so of enjoying the night time scenery, I eventually got the tools I needed from my wife via a helpful old friend who lives closeby. Another hour passed by and having removed the damaged wheel, I replaced it with the spare wheel. A handy feature of the older Vespa, not seen on most other scooters. Handy of course if the spare itself wasn't utterly useless!

Yes, to my horror, the spare tyre was no where close to being useable. There was something wrong with the valve on the tube. The valve on the tube just wouldn't keep the air in the tyre. I must've looked miserable and been in such a sorry state at that stage that even a fire engine stopped in the middle of the road as it was passing by to see whether I was OK. I clearly wasn't but it was a nice gesture from the two firemen anyway.

Having ran out of options, I gave up and did the sensible thing. The recovery van got the scooter and I home at around 11 that night, almost 5 hours after I had left work that depressing Monday evening.

17 January 2011

First Point Under Kenny

And, may there be a hell lot more to come. At half-time, I was delighted that Liverpool were one up and managed to squeeze in some much needed lunch. Then, the second half came along and Everton almost floored the Reds by handing them a quick one-two combo.

But, on Sunday afternoon Anfield was Anfield again especially after such an amazing rendition of YNWA by the Kop at the start, none of the players had an excuse not to remain standing and fight for another goal or two.

At the end of the day, it wasn't the best result but a point is a point and this one was certainly a hard-earned one. Hopefully, this morale-boosting result (I wanted to say win as it certainly felt like one) and an added full week under Dalgslih's coaching team would do the team a lot of good for our next match, away at the Molineux this coming weekend.

It's bound to be a tough one by this season's standards...

15 January 2011

Winter Riding Gear: Skin Tight Layers Won't Make You Look Like Batman But...

I’ve never given thought to wearing base layers under all my riding gear. I just didn’t see the point. If it started to get cold, I’d snap the quilted lining onto my jacket. If it got colder, I’d add a jumper or a fleece sweater to my riding ensemble. A simple low tech and more importantly, low cost solution.

This of course, was fine until my jacket began to inexplicably shrink over the past year or so. OK, I’d put on a bit of weight, some might even consider it winter fat. But, whatever the reason, I was beginning to lose that extra bit of space that I used to have and wearing my jacket with a jumper was getting a bit uncomfortable. So, it was during these snug and tight-fitting times that I got re-acquainted with base layers via the Christmas sales.

Wanting to avoid succumbing to the evils of the sales, I was reluctant to get myself anything but my wife managed to convince me that the Canterbury Base Layer Tee is exactly what I needed. She argued that even if I didn’t want it for riding on my scooter, I’d surely need it when the snow eventually comes along again. Those cold, long waits at bus stops would certainly be more comfortable.

Having been bombarded with such a sales pitch (my wife must’ve earned some commission from Champion Sports), I caved in and bought the thing.

At home, not wanting to be laughed at by my own wife and kids, I tried on the base layer in the privacy of my bedroom. I didn’t actually look like Bryan Habana but, I was still pleasantly surprised by the look and feel of the thing. Now I know why Spanx is so popular with the ladies. I ran downstairs to join the family.

Look, look here. Does Daddy look like Batman...?

I said to my 4 year old son while flexing my mostly non-visible muscles in front of him, for added effect. He took an uninterested peek and continued munching on his Coco Rocks. Obviously, I had put the kid in a terrible position. It must’ve been such a dilemma for him. Does he tell the truth and hurt his father’s feelings or should he actually tell a lie which he knows he shouldn’t. Without looking away from his bowl of cereal he went with the former.

No! You don’t look like Batman. You’ve got a tummy and Batman doesn’t have a tummy.

Kids these days. I blame Christian Bale and his ninja-esque, new age Batman. The bar was lower when Adam West was Batman. Fathers could still convince their sons that they were the Caped Crusader himself those days. Damn you Christian Bale.

Anyway, setback with son aside, I was still pleased with my purchase. I’ve managed to feel comfortable on even the coldest days while gaining a bit of freedom with less bulk on my upper body (having no need to wear a jumper or fleece to keep warm).

So, if you’re in the market for a base layer to keep yourself warm on those cold winter days, this should do the job. If you’re looking to impersonate Batman, a costume shop near you might be a better bet.

13 January 2011

Beaten at Bloomfield Road

There’s no use in denying it. Last night, I was saddened by Liverpool’s lost at Bloomfield Road. I know I’m clutching at straws with this but that’s actually a good thing. Not the losing bit which meant that the ship called Liverpool has now steadied – near the bottom of the ocean floor!

No, not that bit. I meant the saddened bit which is good only because I haven’t felt that way since the start of the season, every time a bad result comes Liverpool’s way. It actually means that I had hoped for something better. A 1-1 draw would be a good start although to be honest, before the game itself, I would have deemed that scoreline to be the bare minimum I would have personally accepted.

Well, we got the “1” alright via a rejuvenated Fernando Torres but then, except for sporadic glimpses of acceptable football, everything else went horribly wrong. Torres looked more like his former self again with good touches around the 18-yard box and a couple of shots on goal that would have only come after such a confidence-boosting goal. But, without any decent service from the midfield and the wings, there was nothing more he could have done.

The same could be said about Reina. At one stage, he must’ve made a total of six saves in the same amount of seconds but even that wasn’t enough. Both teams’ defences lacked any form of decent protection from its midfield but Liverpool’s was made even worse by Poulsen’s glaring lack of pace. It’s obvious Poulsen wouldn’t be a candidate for Sky’s Player Cam but if one were to focus their attention on him for the whole of his 85-minute appearance, all you would have seen was a player that appeared to have spent the whole match chasing opposing players, trying to stop them by desperately holding on to their sleeves.

Both Meireles and Jovanovic had a couple of tricks up their own sleeves but if both players hadn’t felt that they’ve received a proper welcome to the Premier League’s brand of “blood and thunder” football, the Tangerines made sure of that last night. The two of them and worryingly, Dirk Kuyt (age catching-up on him?) just couldn’t cope with Blackpool’s pressing and harrying. It didn’t come as a surprise when Dalglish substituted the Dutchman on 76 minutes for the young (and eager to impress) Jonjo Shelvey.

The substitution seemed nothing more than a reactive move to counter Ian Holloway’s own impact substitution 10 minutes earlier. Playing at leftback for the night, up to that stage Glen Johnson looked relatively comfortable in his unfamiliar role and contributed greatly to Liverpool’s attacking moves. Holloway obviously had other ideas and pinned Johnson back by introducing Matt Phillips who proved too much for the England international. Blackpool’s second and winning goal came soon after.

Next up: Everton’s visit to Anfield. Nice.


11 January 2011

Adidas and Vespa: A Match Made in Heaven. Sometimes

I was out looking for some clothing bargains on Sunday when I came across this...

I'm no fashionista but what has happened with Vespa's quality control department (or whoever it is that's responsible for these things)? I've seen a couple of the Adidas Vespa range and they're mostly boring and lazy designs with a few excellent ones in between.  This one in particular, does not qualify as a gem in my books.

OK, it's not actually a scooter but it still has the Vespa name on it. I know that there's a global credit crunch going on but surely, Piaggio wouldn't have to stoop this low to earn a couple of Euro?

Or maybe, this item of clothing is actually considered cool these days and it is yours truly who is stuck in some alternate fashion-less reality? 

09 January 2011

Why It's Got To Be Kenny

As far as I and most other realistic Liverpool fans were concerned, today's FA Cup 3rd Round tie was never about repeating the 4-1 thumping we gave United at Old Trafford not too long ago. Neither was it going to be a gloriously triumphant, fairy tale-type return for the King (having just flown in from the Middle East only a few hours earlier). To me, it was more of a salvage operation. And, by salvage operation standards, if not for two dodgy refereeing decisions, it could have been one hell of a salvage operation.

Nevertheless,even though the game was lost and Liverpool were out of another major tournament this season, I found myself smiling. This wasn't the sarcastic-type smile that began to strangely appear every time Liverpool lost games in the past few months. This smile was genuine and it wasn't just me either. A couple of other Liverpool supporters that I know had the same feeling and it showed as well. On top of the smile, a type of joyful glow emanated from Liverpool supporters. A glow you'd get only after a hard fought win or thrashing of a bitter rival, only this time, it came after a defeat.

So, what was there to be so happy about?

It's hard to to put a finger on it but to put it simply, it is Kenny Dalglish's appointment that has made Liverpool supporters the world over so glad. It just felt right in the first place and today's performance (though not the result, of course) appeared to justify the gut feeling the majority of Reds had. That's why we were happy. We had come through the end of the dark, claustrophobic tunnel and although there was no blinding flash of light just yet, the few rays of light that we saw were enough to light the way.

Sections of the support and certain quarters of the media have pointed out a few negatives of Dalglish's appointment but the positives I believe are just too overwhelming.

1. Availability
Yes, there are others out there that, for various reasons, would have been ever so willing to take up the position at Liverpool but no other person knows the club so well and would have problems fitting in anyway. So, that would've ruled out the most available of managers like O'Neill, Rijkaard, Allardyce and Rangnick but what of Benitez? Well, as much as I would have liked Benitez to make a return, I just can't see it happening in the near-future. For reasons (if not glaringly obvious already), see points #2 and #3 below.

2. LMA and Media Appeasement
Any British manager would have been cast out like a pariah by the LMA cartel if he even dared to go for the job vacated by Hodgson's departure. The LMA, having just stated their preference on the matter would have seen it as a sign of disrespect to the body and would obviously not look upon it too kindly.

That leaves Liverpool with the only option of going for foreign managers. Not a good idea seeing that a large majority of the British media have already been sharpening their knives after the club rid itself of the media's darling, its former manager. The stick the media would have given to the foreign manager would make it unfair on him and as much as Liverpool supporters are fond of a me-against-the-world fight, it just wouldn't be a battle that we should be fighting. Not now anyway. Especially since Dalglish is around.

3. Unity: Fans and Player Power
Name me one manager in the world that in a single stroke could unite all the various factions of the fans and the players of Liverpool? Yes, player power has been a growing cancer in Liverpool for the past 18 months but I'd doubt there would be a single player in the club that would be brave stupid enough to go up against Dalglish. Even if the sly and back-stabbing route was taken, the few that would go down this route would find it hard to get any type of support. With Dalglish, there would be no choice but to learn and listen.

4. Tactical Know-How
Yes, having been out of management for so long, tactical knowledge would probably not be one of Dalglish's strengths. But, you don't need to be a tactical genius like Arrigo Sacchi to realise that the team you picked isn't performing and a Plan B is needed. The impact substitutes (Babel , N'Gog and Shelvey) and minor tweaks to the formation that were made against United today were so refreshing that you could have easily confused it for some of new footballing innovation introduced by Dalglish. Oh, and to see the team finally playing some football was nice as well.

5. It's About The Money Too
Fenway Sports Group (FSG) could be guilty of shamelessly choosing the populist option. But, who could blame them? Attendances at matches were at an all-time low and there were even calls to boycott official merchandise which would have been very damaging to the club's finances. By appointing Dalglish, they not only solved both problems, FSG have probably increased merchandise sales as well as judging by the news reports there's a good few people out there walking out of shops with "Dalglish 7" jerseys.

In short, it's not the best possible forward-looking solution but what Dalglish's appointment does is that it buys the club some time to sort itself out so that it can make the best decision when the summer comes along.

07 January 2011

Vespa PX: Pencil Sketch

Friday morning. The beginning of the end so, there was plenty to look forward to especially since there were news reports that morning saying that Liverpool Football Club was holding a press conference at lunch time. Could it be? THE announcement thousands of Liverpool supporters around the world were waiting for. Could it be? Could it?

After clicking on the refresh button on my browser a couple of times that morning in the hope of some more news, I realised that this much anticipated press conference was actually a normal pre-match conference for this Sunday's visit to Old Trafford. Sigh. But then, a ray of light. About half an hour before noon, the club announced that the press conference was cancelled. Cancelled? Eh? Why would a normal pre-match conference be cancelled? Hmmm...

Anyway, as that practically meant that no real decision would be made until after Sunday's game, I turned to my Vespa to put my mind off the horrible state of things in the world of football. Messing around with some apps on my phone, I came up with this...

OK, not actually a work of art but I'm just starting to get my head around all this weird and wonderful techno mumbo-jumbo. Who knows, I might even have a go at some video next. Watch this space.

05 January 2011

In Search of Another "Famous Victory"

Having just resigned from his job at Hoffenheim, Ralf Rangnick must have foreseen that he would have no problems in getting back into action as there was a job to be had in the Northwest of England. Then again, the so-called Professor didn't need to be a genius or a Gypsy tarrot card reader to figure that one out by himself.

Out of Liverpool's ten away league fixtures to date, the club have only won once under the guidance (if one could call it that) of Roy Hodgson. No wonder he referred to the club's win at the Reebok as a "famous victory". Maybe even Hodgson himself knew then that away wins would be hard to come by as long as he was in charge.

So, what else could we expect out of tonight's visit to Ewood Park?

At this stage, if the man was even half the gent that his media friends portray him to be, it was about time he took a piece of paper, find the nearest fax machine, punch in the number for Boston and emulate Rangnick by tendering his own resignation.

03 January 2011

The Replacement Managers

Now that it's clear that Roy Hodgson's job at Anfield is on a knife-edge, I'd like to look at the positives. The potentially golden sky at the end of this severe shit-storm. While Dalglish's name pops up in the stands as a potential replacement every other match or so, it's quite obvious to everyone that Dalglish won't be the permanent, long-term replacement that the club need to bring it forward. A caretaker role is more likely but whether Dalglish would agree to something like that in the first place, remains to be seen.

So, who are the worthy candidates? In no particular order:

1. Didier Deschamps (42)
The captain of France's World Cup triumph in 1998 has also had an equally impressive managerial career. He was head coach at Monaco when the club made its first Champions League final appearance in 2004. A few years later, Deschamps returned to a troubled Juventus in Serie B and led them back to Serie A on the first attempt. Was back in France by May 2009 and managed Marseilles to its first Ligue 1 title in 18 years. Was also in the shortlist of candidates to replace Rafa Benitez earlier this season but declined because of present commitments with Marseilles (and probably the fact that Hicks and Gillett were still around at that stage).

The Good: See all of the above especially Marseilles' long wait for the title. Similarities?
The Bad: Seemed to have lost all his managerial jobs because of clashes with management. It would be interesting to look into these further before deciding on anything.

2. Michael Laudrup (46)
Danish legend and arguably one of the best playmakers to play the game. Would be a popular appointment with Liverpool's strong fanbase in the Nordics. Laudrup appears to prefer the 4-2-3-1 formation which would make the transition for Liverpool's current crop of players easier as the personnel available have been accustomed to this formation under the former manager. Should also be able to connect more easily with the clubs bigger players due to his own experience as a player.

The Good: An impressive footballing pedigree
The Bad: Unproven at the bigger club level

3. Andre Villas Boas (33)
The youngest and therefore, the most inexperienced of the candidates here. The former member of Jose Mourinho's backroom at Porto, Chelsea and Inter decided to go it alone when he agreed to take the role of manager of Portuguese side Académica. Boas turned things around at the club (the club did not have a single win to its name that season, at the time of his appointment) and brought the club to a respectable mid-table finish. He must've impressed the bosses at Porto so much that he was appointed manager at the club the following season where he went on to beat the club's previous unbeaten run record. A record held by a one, Jose Mourinho during his time there. Porto are currently eight points clear at the top of Liga ZON Sagres and remain unbeaten as they enter the knock-out stages of the Champions League.

The Good: A very young manager with bags of potential based on his short history. Seen by many as a Mourinho Ver 2.0 but I'd rather have Boas Ver 1.0 if we were to get him.
The Bad: A very young manager who might not be able to deal with the harsh environment at Anfield. Success in Europe this season or even getting close to that of Mourinho's during his time in Porto might change a few more minds.

4. Jürgen Klopp (43)
As opposed to both Deschamps and Laudrup, Klopp had a relatively subdued career as a professional footballer but as a manager, Klopp has been as impressive as Boas. Klopp took the job at Borussia Dortmund last season and transformed it from relegation-battle scrappers to challenging at the top end of the Bundesliga, barely missing out on a Champions League spot. But, if that was impressive, Klopp took Dortmund up another notch this season where the club currently tops the Bundesliga, ten points clear of its nearest rival. And, if the results over the past season aren't convincing enough, Klopp's brand of attacking, free-flowing football has also endeared him to many of the footballing faithful around the world. If a cure is needed from the dire route-one football of the current regime then the German candidate might have a few answers.

The Good: Attack, Attack, Attack! appears to be Klopp's motto in football. It would be interesting to see whether the man has a Plan B. There will certainly be a good few chances to prove this in Europe this season.
The Bad: As with Boas, Klopp hasn't been around long enough.

5. Owen Coyle (44)
The British answer to all the continental options above (plus five candidates sounds better than four). The Scottish-born, former Republic of Ireland international has impressed many this season by taking a Bolton side that was still suffering from Sam Allardyce's touch to an attractive footballing side using pretty much the same personnel as left behind by the previous manager as well as getting results. Bolton currently are in seventh spot in the Premiership, two spots above Liverpool.

The Good: His appointment would certainly keep the more xenophobic members of the British media at bay but if that was the only reason to offer him the job, we all know how badly that turned out the last time the club went down that route.
The Bad: Same as Michael Laudrup although getting a few big club scalps this season or a good Cup run would help argue his case.

Any other suggestions?

Didier Deschamps pic by Pepito
Michael Laudrup pic by Alex Politov
Jurgen Klopp pic by Sir James

01 January 2011

Freedom is...

...twisting the throttle on my Vespa as far as it can go and watch as the scooter eats up the road in front of me with the wind in my face. It was just brilliant to be back on the Vespa earlier today. A fine start to a new day and a New Year.

Having not started the Vespa for over a month except for that one time in December, I was slightly worried that the scooter wouldn't actually start. My worries were blown away as the Vespa coughed out a small cloud of carbon through the Sito Plus and the little two-stroke engine came to life.

As an added piece of joy to usher in the New Year, there was (finally) a good result at Anfield today. Unlike our previous win against Bolton, I wouldn't actually classify it as a "famous victory" but three points are exactly that, three points and, if it gets us clear of the relegation zone, all the better. Of course, credit should go to Dalglish for the comments he made in the press before the match and Joe Cole for scoring a last-minute (and possibly offside) goal.

Oh, and seriously, how far have we fallen? I'm actually writing about my relief that we've stayed clear of the drop zone rather than complaining about us not putting up a real challenge for the title... 

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