Ex-Liverpool defender Daniel Agger retires at 31

Former Liverpool centre-back Daniel Agger takes to Twitter to confirm he is calling time on his playing career.

agger-retires-2

Sad news from Daniel Agger as the ex-Reds defender today announced his retirement from football at just 31 years of age.

Agger’s career has been plagued with injury setbacks and although the Dane admitted it was “sad” to accept his playing days were over he said he was “proud” of the career he had.

Daniel used Twitter to confirm the news: “Thank you for your support,” he tweeted. “A great experience,” he added, in a tweet that also included a photo of a selection of his shirts, including a Liverpool one.

“It’s sad, but it is the right decision to stop. I’m proud of my career,” he wrote.

 

The centre-back was signed for Liverpool by Rafa Benitez in 2006 from boyhood club Brondby and left Anfield eight years later having established himself as a favourite for many fans, especially when he responded to transfer rumours linking him with a move away from Anfield one summer by getting “YNWA” tattooed on his knuckles.

Those injuries restricted his appearances in a Liverpool shirt but he still managed to turn out 232 times in his eight years and won a League Cup Winners’ medal in 2012 under Kenny Dalglish.

Perhaps one of the lowest points of his time at Anfield was when current England manager Roy Hodgson was boss for an ill-fated six-months. Responding to stories in the Danish media Hodgson said of Agger:

“I don’t give them mass media training. I would give mass media training to young players, but people like Agger who is knocking on 30 years of age… I wouldn’t want to pull him aside and say, ‘be careful what you say,’ because he understands those things.” Agger was actually 25 at the time.

“You’re going to get caught out,” Roy added, “But to be quoted, as he was on Sky, he doesn’t like our long ball approach, I think that’s not only tough on the boy that he’s been caught out but to be made to look a complete fool, because I think probably the one thing, at the moment, nobody in this room for one minute suggest, was that Liverpool are a long ball team.

“In fact there might be people who would suggest we should play a bit longer because we win the passing statistics every match but even our goalkeeper rarely kicks the ball beyond the halfway line so I think they’ve made him look a bit of a fool with that.”

In the same interview Hodgson also explained why Agger wasn’t playing – it was because Roy’s new signing had taken his place. “To play regularly you’ve got to be fit [which Agger was at the time]. I think most of last year he wasn’t fit.”

That was before Hodgson arrived, so why wasn’t he playing under the former Fulham boss? “He was fit at the start of this year but he had to play at left back until we signed Konchesky. Now of course Carragher and Skrtel have been playing in the centre of defence and doing well and he’s got to get into the team in the place of one of those.”

Agger’s appearances were few and far between and a few months later Hodgson was sacked, much to the delight of the vast majority of Liverpool supporters, and Agger was quoted later on how things were under Roy.

“Look at the team – we played awful, we were s**t,”  he said.

“When you look now every single player is better. Confidence can win you games and Kenny [Dalglish] and Steve [Clarke, his assistant] have put the confidence back in the players and we have shown that definitely in the last four games.”

Better still, the football was now of a style Agger – and most fans – would prefer to see from the Reds: “Kenny likes to play positive football, going forward, and keeping the ball on the ground and he is good among the players. The training sessions have been really good and everything starts at the training ground. If you get that right you have a big advantage in the games.”

Of course those good times under Kenny didn’t last as FSG sacked him just after that League Cup winning season. In his place came Brendan Rodgers and soon, as it had been under Roy, Agger found himself making limited appearances. In 2014 he moved back to Brondby, a year after rejecting reported advances from Barcelona to stay at Anfield.

daniel-agger-retires

He told Danish TV what had led to him making that big decision to leave Anfield, pointing to his relationship with Rodgers. “There was much [distance] between us, and for me it was just enough,” he said.

“I felt that he didn’t appreciate the things I could do or contributed. When I feel that, then it’s time to move on.

“When you are a part of the starting eleven for several games in a row and the team have performed well, and you feel that you have played well, then you are left out of the team and don’t feel appreciated, it starts to get pray on your mind and you wonder.
“Then, at the same time, you see the statistics from your game – which are so important all around the world of football – and you don’t understand why you weren’t used more often.”

The defender did have some praise for Rodgers, but suggested he felt let down by a lack of openness from his former manager: “He’s an extremely, extremely competent coach. The things that went wrong between us is that I say things the way they are and I expect others to treat me the same way. Maybe it is wrong to always expect this.”

Agger, who also won 71 caps for Denmark, was recently linked with a reunion with the man who brought him to Anfield, Benitez, who is now Newcastle boss, but today’s news confirms that won’t be happening.

The willingness Agger showed to put his body on the line for Liverpool – despite all those injuries – showed an attitude that many Reds players have lacked in recent times. An excellent defender, his abilities going forward and his desire to turn defence into attack are qualities Jurgen Klopp needs to look for as he rebuilds his Liverpool side.

At £6m Agger, despite the injuries, turned out to be something of a bargain.

He’ll be missed from the game but left us with plenty happy memories. Good luck in whatever comes next for you Daniel.

New feature length documentary tells LFC’s 1986 double winning story

Documentary tells the story of an amazing season for Liverpool as Kenny Dalglish stepped up from player to player-manager – 30 years on.

league-cup-double-1

30 years after Liverpool’s historic League and FA Cup double in Kenny Dalglish’s first season as player manager, a new feature-length documentary has been produced and will air exclusively on the club’s LFCTV GO service.

With a running time close to 90 minutes, the programme features in-depth interviews with the men who played such an important role in that special season, including Kenny of course, his captain Alan Hansen and many more including Jan Molby, Jim Beglin, Ronnie Whelan and Craig Johnston.

The season began after the darkness of what happened in Heysel on May 29th 1985, 39 supporters dying after crowd violence before Liverpool’s European Cup final with Juventus. Liverpool, along with all other English clubs, were now banned from Europe.

Joe Fagan, who had taken the reigns from Bob Paisley, himself taking over from Bill Shankly, had retired and for once Liverpool had broken with tradition by not handing the job onto another member of the famous ‘Boot Room’. Sort of.

As Kenny explains in the documentary, he had the continued support of the Boot Room with the likes of Tom Saunders, Ronnie Moran and Roy Evans a part of his backroom staff, just as they had been for his predecessors. He also had one of those illustrious predecessors on hand as an advisor – a certain Mr Paisley.

“I had fantastic knowledge, help, support,” Kenny says.

“Tom Saunders was there, Ronnie and Roy stayed, old Bob came in to help me.

“If you’re given a managerial job and you’ve got arguably the most successful manager in football history beside you, who’s totally humble, supportive, appreciative and a fantastic help, then you’ve given yourself a bit of a chance.”

kenny-double-docu-1

The documentary is narrated by ITV Sport’s Clive Tyldesley, at the time a familiar voice to any Liverpool fan who had to get their LFC fix through the radio, in his case the local commercial station Radio City. For many a young Reds fan he was the voice that described the scenes over what sounded like a telephone line from distant places across Europe as the Reds marched through the continent picking up their first four European Cups. As this documentary explains, those days were now gone and would be for quite some time to come.

Entitled ‘Double Winners ’86 – On The March With Kenny’s Army’, the show is to be released exclusively to LFCTV GO subscribers today, Tuesday 31st May, reliving what still remains one of Liverpool FC’s greatest ever achievements.

The dramatic story of the Reds “forgotten season” is told with the help of extensive archive footage, some of which has rarely been seen due to the 1985 television dispute that kept all Football League and FA Cup matches from television screens until the start of January 1986.

“It was a fairy-tale season for us,” said Dalglish. “It’s unbelievable to consider the amount of success that the football club had enjoyed but they had never won the double.

“It was a fantastic achievement. It doesn’t get any better.”

The documentary will be available to view for current LFCTV GO subscribers from 31st May 2016 at 2pm BST.

Fans can access exclusive official LFC content on LFCTV GO, whether that’s the latest interview from a first team player, the manager or behind-the-scenes access to the Club’s backroom activities, plus full match replays and exclusive live coverage of U21, U18 and Ladies matches through. For details and to subscribe to LFCTV GO, visit: www.liverpoolfc.com/watch.

LFC back to winning ways

Liverpool 2 Wolves 1

Premier League. 24 September, 2011. Anfield

FOOTBALL loves its clichés and there were plenty that could be brought out for this one so little point holding back. The “one man team” tag will probably be used – Luis Suarez again standing out. But he went off near the end for the player usually referred to in that tag, a certain Steven Gerrard, meaning we have to wait a little longer to see the new “two man team” in action again at Anfield.

Suarez hasn’t quite been as good as we’ve grown used to in his last couple of games, and that still isn’t exactly bad, but in this one Luis Suarez was back to being Luis Suarez.

Is Steven Gerrard the Steven Gerrard of old? His arrival came with 8 minutes left and, added to the 15 he got on Wednesday in the Carling Cup, it’s still far too early to say if that injury has changed his game. Even so, there’s little doubt some will try to say it has – but Gerrard can answer that on the pitch when his match fitness is back.

Another needing to answer the critics on the pitch was Andy Carroll. The Geordie forward got his starting place back from Craig Bellamy who did nothing wrong on Wednesday but will have known that Carroll was going to be recalled for this one. And Carroll answered those critics – without a goal but with a classy performance that included strong signs of a growing partnership with Suarez, one that might just turn into the kind of telepathic frontline understanding so important to Liverpool’s success down the years.

It was a ‘game of two halves’ – Wolves were poor first half but like a different team in the second and substitute Steven Fletcher took four minutes of that second period to get one back and in turn set the scene for a nervy second half.

Liverpool played well in the first half, Wolves played well in the second half, Liverpool got the points. The points above all else will be what pleases Kenny, who said afterwards: “There’s various attributes you need if you want to move forward and one of them is to compete properly and we certainly did that. You’ve got to give them credit. We had a few headers and blocks to make.”

Luck had deserted Liverpool in their last two league games, both defeats from contrasting Reds performances, but maybe the luck came back, said Kenny: “We maybe had a bit of fortune with the first goal. I think it went off Johnson and went in. But we deserve a bit of luck. I don’t think we’ve had too much recently.”

Was that the best he’d seen his front two play together? “Certainly this week, I think,” he joked. “Luis Suarez has been outstanding since he came to the club, not just on the pitch but off it as well. We’re very fortunate to have him. And on Carroll’s performance everything was “good about him – except the goal. I don’t think you’d get much more out of the big fella today. We were delighted with him, and delighted for him.”

That first goal came after a powerful Adam shot, looking like it was going to go wide, was headed into his own net by Roger Johnson. As Adam celebrated with teammates Johnson remonstrated with the referee, claiming Carroll had pushed him in the build-up. His manager agreed with him: “The cross came into the box, Carroll barged into him and Johnson’s still getting up and trying to get in position and it ends up an OG,” said McCarthy, annoyed. “I was annoyed with that. I still think it was a foul.”

The Suarez goal was one for the scrapbook, Enrique’s pass set him on his way and Cristophe Berra will probably have nightmares about the way Luis left him looking like he was trying to dance alone, before falling over as the ball hit the back of the net at the kind of acute angle Luis just seems to love using. With seven minutes left in the half Liverpool were on top and went into the dressing room with perhaps a little too much of that feeling of ‘job done’.

Liverpool certainly started the second half as if they had taken the foot off the gas and Wolves started it like a team who guessed that might just be the case, two substitutions (Fletcher and Doherty) making a difference that saw them get one back four minutes into the half. Fletcher got the goal after a Stephen Hunt cross, Liverpool’s defence looking as lost as Pepe Reina’s hopes of a Golden Gloves award this season. Liverpool fans sensed a nervy second half was in store. They weren’t wrong, Wolves kept getting the ball into Liverpool’s area and at times the Reds were hanging on.

Not that Liverpool spent the second half without creating chances; Wolves’ keeper Hennessey blocking a Suarez effort from close range and foiling Downing’s hopes of getting Liverpool back in the comfort zone, not to mention Carroll heading against the post.

In a couple of years time Jordan Henderson may well be seen as one of the best buys of the second Dalglish era, for now there’s little chance of that because his price-tag gets in the way of any genuinely objective thinking about his abilities. Had he been a product of Liverpool’s own academy, maybe out on loan for experience at Sunderland last season before getting into the Reds’ first team side this season it seems doubtful the criticism would sound the same as it does now, with the word “million” thrown into most critiques of him. Towards the end of the game Dalglish swapped him for Dirk Kuyt, another player who struggled for recognition early in his Liverpool career from those people who always know better.

The people who always know better were also unhappy when Suarez made way for Gerrard. The joy that Gerrard was finally going to play in a league game at Anfield was tempered by the sight of Luis’ number being held up. Dalglish could see that it might be easier to hang onto the 2-1 than to take the risks inherent in going for 3-1. Whether or not Wolves at home is the sort of game Liverpool should be winning without trying isn’t relevant – Liverpool are still a long way away from being able to be that arrogant, not that arrogance is something Liverpool really want to be described as.

Suarez was frustrated – he kicked a water bottle – at going off, something that suggests he’s a winner, not a whiner, but no doubt the pencils are already being sharpened, hatchet sharp, as alternative interpretations are sought.

One standout moment from Gerrard’s return was a volley that didn’t quite dip soon enough and wasn’t quite on target, a reminder of what he can do when he’s fully fit, which he’s not far away from being. Liverpool are not far away from being what Liverpool fans want them to be either, but for now patience is important, as is trust, belief and loyalty.

LIVERPOOL: Reina, Kelly, Carragher, Skrtel, Enrique, Henderson(Kuyt 72), Lucas, Adam, Downing, Carroll, Suarez (Gerrard 82)
Goals: Roger Johnson (og) 11, Luis Suárez 38

WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS: Hennessey, Stearman (Doherty 46), Johnson, Berra, Ward, Henry, Hunt (Guedioura 82), Edwards(Fletcher 46), O’Hara, Jarvis, Doyle
Goals: Steven Fletcher 49

REFEREE: Kevin Friend

ATTENDANCE: 44,922

Concentrate on the good bits, says Kenny

With yet another international break out of the way it was time for Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish to speak to the media about a proper game of football, this Saturday’s visit to Stoke in the Premier League. Since Kenny last spoke at a pre-game press conference he’d signed some more players and so it was understandable that some of the questions would be about the new faces.

Sebastian Coates, Uruguay, Coca-Cola

Coates in his Coke-sponsored Uruguay training gear

Perhaps some international breaks aren’t too bad – Sebastian Coates wasn’t bought purely on the strength of his Copa America performances but those games gave Liverpool more opportunities to confirm their feelings about the 20-year-old defender. Kenny said: “Sebastian came to prominence in the Copa America when he won it with Uruguay and was voted Young Player of the Tournament. And that’s not a bad accolade when you consider Sanchez went for £40million to Barcelona.

Although he’s available to play on Saturday Dalglish wasn’t giving anything away about whether he would be making his debut: “We’re happy to have him in. We just need to give him time to settle down and we look forward to it.”

Also new at the club, kind of, is Craig Bellamy. Bellamy played one season at Anfield under Rafa Benítez and having supported the club as a child was delighted to sign for a second time on deadline day: “He’s really enthusiastic at being back,” said Kenny, “and made a lot of sacrifices to return, financially and otherwise, because of what the club means to him. We’re delighted to have people with that attitude here.”
Read more