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.

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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.”

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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.

Liverpool to play four friendlies across the north of England

Liverpool confirmed earlier this week that they will be playing in a big friendly game against Barcelona in August at Wembley and today added four more dates to the pre-season calendar for games that are certainly not going to be quite as high profile.

 

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With construction work continuing on the rebuilt Main Stand there is no chance of the club playing any home friendlies this summer.

The four UK matches are to be held across the north of England, starting very locally across the water at Tranmere Rovers on 8th July. Five days later they head north to the seaside town of Fleetwood before a game around twenty miles from Anfield against former Premier League side Wigan Athletic who have just secured promotion to the Championship after a season in League One.

The final game announced today takes place in Yorkshire, the Reds playing Huddersfield Town on July 20th.

The full fixture list is:

 

  • Tranmere Rovers v LFC, Friday 8 July, Kick-off 7pm BST
  • Fleetwood Town v LFC, Wednesday 13 July, Kick-off 7pm BST
  • Wigan Athletic v LFC, Sunday 17 July, Kick-off 4pm BST
  • Huddersfield Town v LFC, Wednesday 20 July, Kick-off 7.45pm BST

The club will then continue their pre-season preparations Stateside with two International Champions Cup games on the West Coast of the US against Chelsea (July 28th) and AC Milan (July 31st), before rounding it all off with that game against Barcelona in London on August 6th.

The new Premier League season begins a week later.

The club say that tickets for the pre-season friendlies in the UK will soon be on sale and asks fans to keep checking www.liverpoolfc.com/tickets/tickets-availability for latest news.

 

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Top Five Liverpool Kits

By Andrew Moody
May 9th 2016

With the Jurgen Klopp era now starting to take effect at Anfield, Liverpool’s new kit for the 2016/17 campaign by American manufacturer New Balance was leaked ahead of the intended launch on the 9th of May. The reveal of the new Liverpool shirt is always much anticipated amongst the Kop and the forthcoming season’s release is no exception, adding to an impressive portfolio of classic designs in years gone by.

Following this announcement, I have decided to take a nostalgic look at both past and present football kits that have become etched in the hearts of many Liverpool supporters, either through their classic appearance or because of an affinity that has been attached following one of the club’s many memorable achievements in its illustrious history. Here are my top five.

1. 2004/05

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One word. Istanbul. The kit that sparked the greatest comeback in European Cup history. From its simplistic and smart design to the famous red Liver Bird that has been incorporated into the crest, this shirt more than any symbolises the prestige and will to win attached with this great football club.

2. 1983/1984

From a visual perspective, the white stripes balance off against the scarlet red perfectly. This kit would not look out of place in the modern game and the subtle dashes of red around the v-neck collar and sleeve hems add a touch of panache to what is considered the greatest team to embellish the hallowed turf of Anfield. Pure class.

3. 1965/66

Without doubt, this iconic old-school strip, typically worn with long-sleeves remains a pivotal part of Bill Shankly’s legacy. It was in 1964 that their dynamic leader made the decision for Liverpool to switch to an all red kit which has now become synonymous with the club. Shankly believed that the introduction of the all crimson apparel had a huge psychological affect on everyone connected with the club. “You know something… tonight I went out onto Anfield and for the first time there was a glow like a fire was burning,” claimed Shankly.

4. 1988/1989

This sweet offering was the first Liverpool shirt to be sponsored by domestic applier manufacturer Candy and always divides opinions amongst the Anfield faithful. The traditional three stripes of Adidas adorn the shoulder and complement the stylish white collar. Cult-heros such as Ian Rush and Peter Beardsley have graced this particular number on their back – surely that is enough to silence the doubters?

5. 1997/98

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Liverpool stuck with this shirt for two seasons with its classic collar look embodying Roy Evans’ fearless side who were arguably one of the Premier League’s most exciting and aesthetically pleasing team of the 1990s. This kit signified the emergence of a young Michael Owen who went on to form a compelling strike partnership with Anfield hero Robbie Fowler. However despite this trophy-less period, the Carlsberg era would experience glory on the biggest stage further down the line.

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How does Liverpool’s new kit stand up to these timeless pieces of attire with its definitive yellow lettering and flashes of gold across the neck and sleeve lines? If you haven’t seen it yet then there are photos of it at the UKSoccershop blog. I suspect the minimalistic; one button style will cause a difference of opinion amongst supporters, especially as it bears a strong resemblance to the home kit donned by arch-rivals Manchester United last season. Where does the 2016/16 design rank in your favourite Liverpool kits of all-time?

 

Can Daniel Sturridge be Liverpool’s Main Man?

Online Soccer Betting enthusiasts believe that Liverpool’s chances of success probably rest on the shoulders of Daniel Sturridge. With Divock Origi sidelined, Sturridge might be the hand that pushes Jurgen Klopp’s side through to Europa League victory.

The Liverpool striker’s confidence was most likely boosted by the two goals he scored a mere seven minutes after coming off the bench during the game with a clearly hapless Everton.

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Running swiftly between defenders before neatly putting the ball into the net, Sturridge’s fiftieth goal in sixty-nine starts for the Reds bodes well for his future with Liverpool; though, whether he can shrug off the words of Sportsmail’s Jamie Carragher remains to be seen.

Following Liverpool’s 4-0 win, Carragher’s salient comments, while appreciating his skill, encouraged Sturridge to question why he wasn’t in the first team. Could the fact that he isn’t playing stumble the soccer star’s belief in his abilities, especially considering the fact that Klopp has overlooked Sturridge ahead of three crucial games in three weeks, this including the game against Borussia Dortmund.

Divock Origi might have struggled under Brendan Rodgers but Klopp’s tutelage has allowed the young player to flourish and this has been to Sturridge’s detriment.

The England International probably didn’t think he would be spending so much time on the bench. With Origi out of the picture, sidelined after Ramiro Funes Mori’s horrendous tackle, Sturridge finally has the opportunity he has been starving for to finally shine.

Take into account Christian Benteke’s absence and there is nothing stopping Sturridge from finally stretching his legs. If Sturridge is half the player people believe him to be, then he will take Carragher’s words to heart and seize this opportunity ahead of the European Championship in France.

Once heralded as England’s top player, Sturridge cannot afford to not show up during matches, especially considering Klopp’s determination to maintain his rather stubborn stance regarding the striker.

The manager was quick to temper the hopes of Sturridge fans, assuring them that he had no intention of throwing Sturridge onto the pitch every single week, not with the fragility he seems to perceive in the player.

Admitting that Sturridge is indeed in great shape, Klopp doesn’t seem to believe in Sturridge’s ability play from the first to the last minute in every game, insisting on several occasions that he would do what he thought best for each game, which clearly means using Sturridge in the smallest doses possible.

One cannot deny the fact that Sturridge is clearly facing trying times. He is obviously desperate to make his mark at Liverpool, but whether he can wiggle free of Klopp’s doubts remains to be seen.

Sturridge has been keen to emphasize his minutes-per-goal ratio. Scoring every 101 minutes he plays this season (which is thirty minutes less than Origi, Benteke, and the rest), Sturridge believes Klopp should make more frequent use of his skills.

Klopp doesn’t have nearly as many options as he seems to believe. Liverpool is no longer pushing the Brazilian Roberto Firmino forward, and for good reason. Considering all the complaints he has raised about players that simply do not fit Liverpool’s invigorating style until Danny Ings returns, Klopp might have no other choice but to rely on Sturridge to give Liverpool the firepower it needs to finish in the top six, possibly even winning the Europa trophy in the process.

Is FSG’s ticket U-turn as good as it first sounded?

Liverpool’s owners responded to protests and outrage at their plans to introduce a £77 ticket by announcing a climb down – but, asks Jim Boardman, is their announcement as big a victory as it first seemed?

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When news broke last night that Fenway Sports Group had announced they had dropped the £77 ticket idea and would be freezing prices everyone got understandably excited. Victory was ours, we thought – they listened, they learned, we won. But did we?

The removal of categorisation from the 2016-17 price list means that all league games will be priced the same as each other. It will cost as much to hear Manchester United fans singing songs about Steven Gerrard and libraries as it will to hear Stoke City fans singing them.

Having a most expensive ticket of £59 is, of course, still a ridiculous amount of money to pay but far more palatable than £77. The trouble is, there will be £59 tickets at all 19 games next season, instead of six. There will also, based in trying to decipher what information the club have released, be more £59 tickets per game, at least in the Main Stand, than there are now.

There is a lot of information to try and unravel and in time no doubt it will be all unravelled, but for now the club aren’t in too much of a hurry to talk numbers. Not the negative sounding ones anyway.

FSG are better than Hicks and Gillett, as Ian Ayre alluded to last week in his desperate attempts to get everyone onside over the £77 ticket. It’s probably the most annoying number he’s come out with since that poor and inappropriate ‘69’ joke of his was aired in ‘Being Liverpool’ a few years back. But FSG are still a US hedge fund who bought Liverpool as an investment they thought they could grow.

John Henry and his colleagues took a gamble in buying Liverpool but must have had a very good idea of just how safe a bet it was going to be. Any gamble, whether like the ones on this website or business deals involving hundreds of millions of pounds comes with a certain amount of risk and hedge funds are perhaps seen as some of the biggest risk takers in the financial world. They took a risk in swapping Kenny Dalglish for Brendan Rodgers, in swapping the idea of a brand new stadium which would have gone a long way towards alleviating ticket demand problems for an extension to the main stand that will barely make a noticeable difference, in promoting Ian Ayre twice when most observers were expecting them to bring in an experienced football executive.

There are worse owners, but there are also better. They should not be above criticism but criticism does not mean “FSG out”.

The sooner we can all get that straight with each other the better.

Their open letter last night, their ‘message to fans’, sounded brilliant on the face of it, but was it?

I dug into it a bit more for The Mirror and all in all it was nowhere near as good as the heavy spin in their message made it out to be.

Read the full Mirror article here: Why Liverpool’s £77 ticket climbdown is not quite the victory for fans it first appeared to be

 

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Liverpool must see Teixeira deal through – Reds transfer failures must stop

It looked like it was going to be a very quiet January for Liverpool – until the news broke that a bid had been made for Shakhtar Donetsk’s Brazilian forward Alex Teixeira. But will the deal go through? It’s vital that it does, argues Jim Boardman

According to reports Ian Ayre is in Florida, at Shakhtar Donetsk’s winter training camp, trying to force a deal through for their 26-year-old attacking player Alex Teixeira. With the January window down to its final ten days and Liverpool showing no signs of adding any significant names to the squad for this season the story took fans somewhat by surprise.

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There is no doubt at all that Liverpool need more firepower with their only fit recognised frontman, Christian Benteke, looking nothing like the £32.5m striker Brendan Rodgers tried to make him last summer.

Daniel Sturridge is best forgotten about – for the time being if not longer – given his continuing struggles with various injuries and apart from those two Jürgen Klopp wasn’t exactly handed a lot to work with from a goalscoring point of view. Danny Ings, who was signed after running down his Burnley contract, looked promising before suffering an injury that sees him out for the rest of the season. Mario Balotelli was loaned out for the season, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini were sold at the start of it.

Klopp, despite his kind words about Christian Benteke, clearly doesn’t see him as the solution to Liverpool’s problem despite him being top scorer on seven goals and has tended to instead use £29m Roberto Firmino as a striker of sorts for many of the games. Firmino, however, has only scored three goals all season.

Aside from their striker woes Liverpool have been hit by a long-term drought from players elsewhere on the field. Gone are the days, it seems, when the Liverpool midfield would chip in with a fair proportion of the Reds’ tally, something that stood out during that amazing spell in 2014 when Liverpool flirted with the title but relied a little too heavily on the goals of just two players, Sturridge and the about-to-be-sold Luis Suarez. By not replacing the one who left and not providing cover for the one who stayed but kept getting injuries it was little surprise Liverpool saw the goals dry up.

Liverpool absolutely have to start finding goals from players other than whoever is up front.

Adam Lallana is yet to score in his 18 league games so far this season, which is the same tally from the same number of appearances as Jordon Ibe, who at least has age on his side. Jordan Henderson has been injured but one goal in nine games is hardly helping the cause, whilst James Milner has managed two from 17 – and one of those was from the spot.

Even Philippe Coutinho, now also on Liverpool’s long injury list, has only hit five from his 17 league games, a low total considering what he has shown he is capable of. Winger Lazar Marcovic, signed for £20m a year before, has spent this season out on loan, presumably having failed to show any signs of coming good as far as the previous manager was concerned. Without decent wingers putting in decent crosses it’s difficult to see Christian Benteke doing much of what he’s best at.

So which gap will Alex Teixeira fill if the deal goes through – will he be used as a striker, a No.10, a wide player? He is described as an attacking midfielder who can play across the full width of the field and even as the main striker, although it’s as a No.10 or wide player he gets most of his games.  We’ll have to wait and see how Klopp plans to use him – but first we have to wait and see if Ian Ayre can get this one across the line and his track record isn’t great with Ukrainian clubs.

Two years ago the Reds CEO flew out to try and secure the services of winger Yevhen Konoplyanka from Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk but the deal fell through amidst claims from the Ukrainian club that Liverpool were unable to deliver the funds before the window closed. Brendan Rodgers denied those claims, defending his CEO and members of the transfer committee.

“The only thing I will say is the football club done everything possible to get the player in,” Rodgers said at the time. “In every aspect.

“Finance, we had the doctor out there, the chief scout, everyone.

“Categorically, Ian Ayre did a brilliant job negotiating. The money wasn’t the problem”

Whatever the problem was, it left Liverpool without a player that might just have given them that extra push towards an unexpected league title and with the deal falling through right at the end of the window it wasn’t possible to find an alternative. It also wasn’t the first time Ayre had come back empty handed from talks with a Ukrainian club.

In summer 2013 the selling club was, as it is now, Shakhtar Donetsk and this time the target was Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Liverpool spent what seemed like an age trying to get the deal done, only for him to move to Germany instead, where he linked up with current LFC boss Klopp at Borussia Dortmund.

To get this deal done now would be a massive boost to morale amongst fans who are confident their manager has what it takes to get Liverpool facing the right way and moving forward again but are concerned about the tools he is expected to do it with. With the closure of the window moving ever closer Liverpool’s business amounted to signing a Championship defender on an emergency loan, a young midfielder on a deal that sees him go straight back on loan to the selling club and a contract extension for a goalkeeper most fans lost faith with a long time ago.

Chances are the goalkeeper has got his extension to protect his sell-on value should the Reds eventually sign the top-class commanding keeper any club with title ambitions need and the loan signing of Steven Caulker gives Liverpool cover at a time of injury crisis without the need to waste money on a player who might not quite be the right fit for the manager. Marko Grujic is one for the future, as his transfer fee suggests.

The reports say Liverpool’s opening bid was for around €32m (£24.7m) with some reports suggesting that the deal would also include add-ons that would make it worth nearer £29m. This is similar to the reported terms of the deal done to bring Firmino to the club, the suggestion being he cost an initial £22m rising to £29m.

Reports also suggest Donetsk value their asset, one they’ve had since he was 19, at far more than anything Liverpool are offering and, given they are owned by the richest man in Ukraine, oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, Ian Ayre might just have to rethink his strategy.

Teixeira’s stats are pretty mouthwatering, he’s scored 67 times in 146 games for Shakhtar, including an astounding 26 goals from 25 games this season.  If you think that sounds impressive, his league record for this campaign is 22 goals in just 15 games.

Teixeira wouldn’t be able to join Liverpool’s assault on the Europa League if he signed – Shakhtar are didn’t qualify from their Champions League group and as a result have dropped into the Europa League making him ineligible to play for any other club in either of UEFA’s competitions.

It doesn’t matter. With those goal stats, Liverpool could still make very good use of him in the other three competitions they are involved in and, assuming this is a player Klopp wants at the club, the club must to do all it can to ensure the deal goes through. There have been far too many failures in Liverpool’s transfer dealings in recent years.

Expect more anger – disappointment has long since passed

West Ham completed a double over Liverpool with a 2-0 win in the first game of the New Year to add to their 3-0 win over the Reds at Anfield earlier in the season. It was another miserable day for Liverpool and afterwards manager Jürgen Klopp, like most Liverpool fans, was seething.

“Not enough, not enough in the decisive moments,” the Reds boss told the TV cameras.

“We had the ball, we had possession, we had not enough finishes. We had a few finishes, we had a bit of bad luck in a few situations, but that’s not what I want to see to be honest.”

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Klopp is not one to hide behind bad luck or questionable refereeing decisions – “that’s football” he usually says – because once an incident has taken place it’s over and it’s time to respond, to react in the right way.

It’s a refreshing approach after seeing so many Liverpool sides in recent years drop their heads and as good as give up in the wake of a bit of misfortune. Sadly, Klopp didn’t see that new kind of approach from his players today, particularly for the first goal.

“In the decisive moments we have to be there,” Klopp said. “We are responsible for the result and everything that happened today.

“In a game like this where you see you can be better you have to be better – and you have to win, not to lose 2-0 because of two moments.”

Alberto Moreno was fouled as he neared the West Ham byline 20 seconds or so before the opening goal. As the Reds full-back rolled around in apparent agony the referee waved play on and West Ham did play on. Liverpool stopped. West Ham scored.

Replays showed it was a foul, but the whistle hadn’t gone and the Liverpool players seemed more concerned with why it hadn’t been blown than what was happening around them.

Klopp said: “For the first goal, foul or no foul on Alberto, I saw in the eyes of my players they thought it was a foul too but if no whistle we have to defend and we didn’t defend the cross – 1-0.

“Second goal we played five against one I think, on the right wing, and don’t win the ball?

“That’s not pressing, that’s something.” Depressing? Frustrating? Stupid?

“We got the cross, again Andy Carroll made this time the goal – 2-0.

“And then we start again playing football.”

Too little too late.

It’s not the first time Klopp has seen the response from his side come too late to change the game and with his current squad, a weak squad full of weak players and weakened by injuries, he’ll probably see it a lot more.

The squad Klopp inherited, despite the amounts overpaid for some of the players, does not compare well at all to any of the other sides with top four pretensions.

Liverpool paid £35m for a player who remains their record signing, Andy Carroll. Brendan Rodgers sold him to his current club, West Ham, for under half that amount having made his mind up he wanted him gone before he had even had one training session with him. Carroll was probably sold for a price nearer his true worth but where does that leave Christian Benteke?

Rodgers paid £32.5m – close to the amount Liverpool paid for Carroll – to bring the Belgian forward to the club and so far this season it is difficult to see how he improves on Andy Carroll or what he offers that Carroll doesn’t. As it stands it would be best for both the player and the club if they parted company, even though that will almost certainly mean a huge financial loss for Liverpool.

Benteke did score both the winners in Liverpool’s last two wins and there is time, of course, for him to get better, to improve his all round game and his contribution for the whole of the 90 minutes, but the slow progress he is making suggests the time he has won’t be enough.

Benteke wasn’t the only Reds player worthy of criticism today but few of those on the pitch should be first choice at a club like Liverpool anyway. Klopp needs new blood.

In the meantime he will keep working with what he has in the hope he can squeeze enough out of them to get through the season, but today they did far more than disappoint him.

“It’s no day for being disappointed,” he said, “It’s a day for being angry – with ourselves.”

There were times when Liverpool could have got back into it but with just two shots on target all game the West Ham keeper will struggle to think of an easier game he’s had.

The Reds had 65% possession but no clue what to do with it. It is another percentage, however, that Klopp was perhaps most cross about – he was angry because his side didn’t put 100% into it.

“In each moment in this game we could have come back but we didn’t. We were always a little bit,” he said.

“Who wants to see 90 percent? You cannot win a football game with 90 percent, even 95, nobody wants to see this. You have to do everything.

“We lost the decisive moments twice. That can happen, I don’t like it, but it can happen. But then you have to use your chance more, with more will than we did today.

Liverpool had a penalty appeal turned down but, like the foul on Moreno, right or wrong, it won’t be something Klopp dwells on: “Maybe, I don’t know if was a penalty I didn’t see well enough in the situation with handball and things like this, but, again: 2-0.

“That’s what we saw, it’s deserved,” he said.

A string of players were missing for Liverpool which limited the ability of Klopp to try something different or freshen things up. But even when those players are fit, few of them are exactly of the standard that Liverpool should be relying on if they are serious about regular Champions League football and title challenges. Liverpool, of course, is a club that should be serious about both – very serious.

The transfer window is now open and at a club that has signed some of its best players in January – Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho – Klopp will expect the board to do what needs to be done to deliver some targets. This season may well be write-off given the fact the club chose to start it with a manager who had long since peaked but that’s no reason to wait until the summer.

There’s money in the bank – or should be – and an obvious need to do something useful with it. If Ian Ayre and his colleagues fail to do so they can expect Klopp’s anger – and that of the fans – to turn to them.

As Klopp says – who wants to see 90 percent?

The time for being disappointed has long since passed.

2015-16 fixtures: LFC start away to Stoke

It’s the time of year when tennis and cricket invade the back pages – when they can muscle football transfer rumours out of the way – but for one day only football has another weapon to assert itself as the sport more people care about: the release of the Barclays Premier League fixtures. So, how does Liverpool’s new season look?

Depending on how full or empty your half glass of water is Liverpool have got possibly the best – or worst – start to the 2015-16 season they could ask for. Brendan Rodgers has to take his Reds side straight back to the scene of last season’s final-day despair – Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium. In fact Liverpool’s first seven away games are about as tough as it’s possible for them to be.

It was on that very Britannia pitch that Steven Gerrard played his last game for Liverpool as the Reds went down to a pretty unforgivable 6-1 defeat against a Mark Hughes side that basically seemed to care a lot more than the visitors. Gerrard got Liverpool’s goal in one of the most embarrassing defeats Liverpool have suffered in decades.

But that was last season. The club have – according to reports, not according to anything helpful like an official statement – made some changes to the coaching staff with Rodgers losing both his No.2 Colin Pascoe and No.3 Mike Marsh. Rodgers stays, three free agents have been brought in and Liverpool are looking at spending a little bit of money on a couple of defenders. More transfer rumours will follow, of course, but today is more about fixtures.

When the fixtures are first released all the weekend games are down as 3pm Saturday kick-offs, but in the coming days the UK TV companies will be working out which games they want to show live as part of their expensive coverage of the League and many will be switched. For Liverpool there is another reason many games will be moved – the return of Europa League football on a Thursday night.

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Liverpool had asked if their first game, set for the weekend of August 8th, could be an away one to help them with the works still under way on the Main Stand refurbishment. The request has been met but, with Premier League ‘rules’ stating clubs can’t play both their first two games away or at home, it’s only bought the club a week. Liverpool’s first home game is a week later against newly-promoted Bournemouth.

Just a matter of weeks since the dismal end to that dismal last season fans can now start putting it all behind them and find that optimism that the sunshine always seems to bring. Could this be Liverpool’s year? We’ll see.

In the meantime, to help kick that optimism off, it’s time to ask those traditional mid-summer questions: When are the derbies, when do we play Manchester United, where are we over Christmas?

The derbies see Everton at home first, with the Goodison match played on October 3rd. The return fixture is planned for February 27.

Liverpool will be away first against Manchester United, heading to Old Trafford on September 12th, with the Anfield clash being played a week after the FA Cup 3rd Round on January 16th.

Sandwiched in between the FA Cup 3rd Round and the visit of Manchester United is another home game – against Arsenal. The Emirates game will be Liverpool’s third of the season, on August 22nd.

The festive period sees Liverpool at home to Leicester City on Boxing day, followed by a trip to the North East on December 28th to play Sunderland. The players get an extra day to recover from New Year’s Eve before playing West Ham, away, on January 2nd.

Liverpool have to play five sides who finished above them last season, of course, including champions Chelsea who they play on the 31st of October (Halloween) and March 12th. Manchester City – who seem favourites to sign Raheem Sterling from Liverpool – host Liverpool on November 21st and visit Anfield on March 1st.

The Reds in fact play away against all five of the sides who finished above them last season within their first seven away games, the other two trips being that clash with Stoke and the derby at Goodison. How many shopping days to Christmas again?

Jamie Carragher jokingly wondered if there had been any hand in the fixture list from Gary Neville, his Sky Sports colleague and one time nemesis.

The final game of the season is, like last season, another away trip for Liverpool, this time to West Brom on May 15th. Here’s hoping the Reds can pick the league title up in time to parade the trophy around Anfield a week before, for the last home game of the season on May 7th against new boys Watford.

Fixture list in full (official site) >>

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Images: Wikipedia / Ellisons Travel

Puzzled Liverpool lack fight yet captain told to stay at home

LIVERPOOL captain Steven Gerrard made his 500th appearance for the Reds on Saturday – but he was told he wasn’t needed for Tuesday night’s trip to Hull – not even as part of the travelling party to give some encouragement to his squad mates in the dressing room. He wasn’t wanted.

He clearly isn’t the force he once was on the field but as a player who lives and breathes Liverpool – or did – he really should have been there if Liverpool really were looking to capitalise on the favour Everton did by beating Manchester United. He wasn’t there and he’ll be puzzled as to why.

The Reds’ defeat to Steve Bruce’s side was the latest in a season of disappointments for Liverpool and the captain will have felt those disappointments as keenly as any supporter, including those who normally travel all over the country to see the Reds but stayed away on Tuesday in protest at the spiralling cost of match tickets.

Gerrard’s Liverpool career comes to an end this season as he moves to pastures new for MLS side LA Galaxy, a decision he made after Liverpool apparently stalled on offering him a new deal, letting it approach its last six months. When he eventually did announce this would be his last season as a Liverpool player he said it was to avoid a situation where he spent more time on the bench than on the pitch. He wanted to be involved as a player as much as possible before he finally retires. He said he didn’t want to go into coaching yet, but it’s understood that’s an option that was never offered to him.
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Liverpool FC player awards night to be opened up to fans

LIVERPOOL FC have revealed today that they will be opening up this year’s Players’ Awards night for attendance by supporters. Last year’s event, the first one ever, was limited to invitees and a certain number of VIP tables sold for charity – this year will see general admission tickets made available.

Liverpool FC 2014 Players' Awards Dinner

The ceremony sees the club award representatives from its first team, Academy and Ladies sides, along with some awards dished out to fans and former players, and takes place at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on Tuesday May 19th.
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