Tag: Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard: 186 Magical Moments

One-club men do not exist. Not in the money-laden footballing culture that we live in today. This make Steven Gerrard’s accomplishments at Liverpool even more impressive. He consistently turned down moves to other clubs because he truly loved and truly believed in what he was a part of. Even more impressive is that Gerrard found the net 186 times. His role in the team changed drastically over the years, from a young-energy filled box to box goal-scoring machine, to a deep-lying playmaker that could ping the ball wherever he wanted. The transition was impressive as were his exploits at the club. Take some time and appreciate the 186 goals below:

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Nimble Akinfenwa Almost Saves AFC Wimbledon’s FA Cup Life

wimbledon-lfc-fa-cup
I know Sterling did not play but the difference in footballing bodies is never more apparent than here!

Let me paint a picture for you: “You walk in the door after a slight trot from the car because you didn’t want to miss the opening kick. Your phone is ringing like crazy because your boss is wondering where you are but that doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that you made it home in time to catch the start of the FA Cup tie you’ve been waiting weeks for.

You’ve been waiting so anxiously because Liverpool has made it quite clear that the only hope of a trophy this season is by making a run in this tournament. So life stops as the game begins. Captain Gerrard is in the mix as a strong Liverpool side is put out to take care of business away from home. The typical mishaps occur and you cringe as Skrtel and Sakho make a meal of things at the back. You smirk at the elegance of a more advanced Steven Gerrard brings to the game but you curl into the fetal position every time the ball comes near Ricky Lambert. Still, you watch on and just as the miraculous do, Gerrard wins a brave header and puts the Reds up early.

But then, as Liverpool have done this year, the foot comes off the gas a bit and Wimbledon find themselves capable of crossing the midfield line. Akinfenwa, the monstrous forward, pressures and fouls and bodies everyone. Eventually, your recently demoted Mignolet is bodied off a skyward ball and the first to react to the dropping diamond is none other than the strongest footballer in the world, Akinfenwa. You expect this it is not ultra cringe worthy but still you have trouble smiling for a while. You almost consider answering your phone and going back to work but you don’t. You tough it out.

Chances are traded both ways and it almost looks as if AFC Wimbledon might upset the mighty Reds. By now, your watching through your index and middle fingers and your dog is looking at you like you are an incredibly pathetic version of your normal self. This is true but warranted.

Finally and I mean finally, a free kick is given in a spot that any right-footed spot-kick mastermind would savor like the last piece of bacon on Christmas morning. You hope Gerrard takes it. You know he is leaving your club forever but you want more for him. So he steps up and again, as legends do, he places a shot that ripples the back of the net and sends Liverpool on its way to Bolton. You stand up and remove the pillow that you’ve been latched to since that equalizer and throw in the wash since you’ve sweated all over it. You finally take a moment and smile at what greatness you saw from the Liverpool legend. You pet your dog, you turn off the tv and you grab a pint. This is Liverpool and this is what I love. Better call the boss and make sure I can come to work tomorrow.”

This is the magic of the strongest man in the soccer world:

Not easy to deal with that but congratulations to Liverpool on finding a way through!

NY Red Bulls: Best Fit for Gerrard

As most of the football universe has announced already it looks like Steven Gerrard, one of the greatest English footballers ever, will transition to the MLS to finish out his career.  Where he ends up is still in question, and something that probably will not be finalized until he finishes out his final season at Liverpool FC.  I want to tell you why he shouldn’t go to the LA Galaxy and why the NY Red Bulls are the best fit.

The short answer: Mike Petke.

Credit mlssoccer.com

Ignore the awful hair choices of the late 90s. Over the last two seasons as NYRB Manager, Petke has transformed the Red Bulls into a possession oriented squad with an emphasis on strong defense and lightning fast offense.  The team loses Thierry Henry to retirement, but adding Gerrard would allow the team to stabilize its midfield and continue the transformation Petke started in 2013.  Petke emphasizes a pretty standard 4-4-2, often with a holding central midfielder, which the aging Gerrard would slide into perfectly.  Given his experience, Gerrard would have no problem patrolling the center of the pitch in the MLS for years to come, with Tim Cahill behind him captaining the defense and sending through balls to fellow Englishman Bradley Wright-Phillips until opponents’ defenses caved.

Compared to what seems to be the only other option, the LA Galaxy, Gerrard would fit into the Petke system better than the Bruce Arena way of life.  Arena has struggled with more defensive type setups over his recent years in the MLS, formations that would accent an aging central midfield superstar, forcing a Steven Gerrard type to be a goal producer rather than a captain and facilitator.  He would be judged by statistics, rather than pure football performance.  The Galaxy have been successful when they’re blatantly outscoring opponents under Arena, not by merely outperforming their opponent on the pitch.  In Los Angeles, Landon Donovan was the LA Galaxy, which resulted in other Designated Players coming into the MLS and playing second fiddle (i.e. Beckham, Keane, Omar Gonzalez…maybe that one’s a stretch).

Maybe, just maybe Robbie Keane and Steven Gerrard are BFFs and this is all about them playing the rest of their careers together and laughing at all the money they’ll be making to hang out in California for the next 5 years…

Credit: Dailymail.co.uk
Credit: Talksport
Credit: theGuardian

Seriously there are a lot of these pictures on the internet, forget everything I said, this bromance is just what the MLS needs.  It might even help all the Liverpool fans cope with what is the 2014-2015 BPL season. 😉

“Captain God” is MLS and LA Galaxy Bound

You figure a legend like Steven Gerrard would only come to USA if he was headed to one of the big markets in the MLS. Both LA Galaxy and the NY Redbulls have recently freed up a Designated Player spot. NY Redbulls are an interesting one just because Frank Lampard is supposed to come back to NYCFC (we’ll see when) and join David Villa in starting a rivalry with NYRB. Something in my brain is blinking saying, “Why wouldn’t one midfield legend want to compete with another in such close proximity that a simple half hour drive or train ride could have them grabbing a cup of tea together in a downtown cafe?” LA Galaxy have the “Donovan” spot available. This one that needs to be completed with someone of equal or greater soccer cultural relevance. This could be easily filled with the services of the Red’s legend. And so we continue, Orlando City still has a DP spot that could (should…cough….definitely be) be used for him. But we all know that will not happen. As big as the opportunity for a Floridian soccer market stranglehold that Orland City has, I don’t see it overtaking the lures of New York or Los Angeles. But, Steven Gerrard is a different type of player with loyalty and commitment not often seen during the past generation and one that will continue to dissolve into obscurity. According to this report from the MLS: Galaxy to Sign Gerrard, Gerrard is already on his way to LA. It will be strange to watch him in anything but a Liverpool kit but I am looking forward to him in the MLS, with whichever club finally captures his signature.
Liverpool v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League

Steven Gerrard Will Be Greatly Missed- The End Of An Era

Steven Gerrard was one of the best footballers to grace the English Premier League. He was probably not the best, and some might argue he was overrated (those people are stupid), but he has been the face of Liverpool for the past decade which has to mean something. Each fan will have his own unique way of remembering Stevie G; even fans of teams who lined up against him. Although he was the scourge of teams like Manchester United, it was hard to hate him. Most fans would admit that even if they didn’t like him there was a begrudging respect for him. He accomplished so much in a Liverpool shirt and without him the team probably would have had a lost less silverware. Unfortunately, there were a lot of things Steven Gerrard failed to accomplish that a player of his caliber will surely regret.

His lack of international success and his failure to win the English Premier League will lay heavy on him. Although he won’t continue to beat himself up for it, the infamous “slip” against Chelsea prevented the last chance he had to win the EPL. However, Gerrard does not deserve to be remembered that way or to be remembered as a bench player who’s presence on the starting 11 hurt the team. This man was so much more than that for Liverpool and he deserves to go out long before he becomes an aging icon kept on the team for sentimental reasons. One day hopefully he returns to Liverpool as a coach and finally gets that elusive English Premier League title. Until then we anxiously await which team he will sign with so we can continue to root for the man who gave football fans so many magical moments.

When we find ourselves in times of trouble, Stevie G runs past me,
Playing the game with wisdom, Stevie G,
And in my home, the Spion Kop, We watch him jog, right in front of me,
Spreading balls with wisdom, Stevie G,
Let it be, let it be, let it be,
Stevie G, The local lad turned hero, Stevie G
And when the jubilant Kopite people, All living in The Park agree,
That we all know the answer, Stevie G,
And although we may all be fooled, There is still a chance that we will see,
The footballing phenomenon, Stevie G,
Let it be, let it be, let it be,
Stevie G, Spreading balls with wisdom, Stevie G
And when the night is cloudy, There is still a man that we all see,
A young, committed Kopite, Stevie G,
Playing to the sound of music, Stevie G runs past me,
Playing the game with wisdom, Stevie G,
Let it be, let it be, let it be, Stevie G,
For we all know the answer, his name is Stevie G 

Will Liverpool Ever Gel Or Are They Doomed to Follow In Tottenham’s Footsteps?

Something is very wrong with Liverpool. Although it has become cliche to ring the alarm bells during the first few games of a team’s season, especially when a team has so much promise and a long season ahead of them, these alarm bells are warranted. And at this point the alarm bells have become cacophonous. This team is not working.  Plenty of analysts have been clamoring for Liverpool’s critics to ease up on their concerns because the team needs time to “gel.” They claim that the new and old players need time to learn how to play with each other and once they do they will become the team we expected to see after last seasons excitement. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly apparent that this point of view is overly optimistic. While many people enjoy a person who can see the glass as half full they never stop to question what the glass if half full with. In Liverpool’s case it is a glass filled with a warm stale beer that had been sitting on the table for over a day. After the past three games in the last week this Liverpool team looks like they may be much worse than analysts and fans feared. Tottenham began last season in a similar manner with several new players looking to “gel” with their new teammates and suffering some disappointing losses as they looked to do so. The problem was that the season came and went but Tottenham never did fully gel as a team. They looked as disjointed at the end of the season as they did in the beginning of the season. Fans kept waiting for the team to improve and the improvement never came. Tottenham was then forced to revaluate their team this summer which lead them to sell several of the players that were never able to gel with their teammates. It was, in essence, a lost season. Legitimate concerns are growing  that Liverpool is facing the same fate.

Is Suarez’s absence the main problem? For starters, yes, his absence has definitely hurt Liverpool’s playing style. Last season Liverpool was frequently faced with opponents who would pack the box and force Liverpool to beat them. A man with individual brilliance was necessary to break these teams down and Luis Suarez provided this. His slipperiness and creativity were essential to breaking down the obstinate defenses that Liverpool was forced to attack against. A seemingly innocuous buildup could become a goal when Luis Suarez was in the game. He distracted defenders, created space, and freed up his teammates to have more time on the ball. Without him in this side teams have a lot less to deal with and as a result, are much harder to break down. It also does not help the Daniel Sturridge has been once again hit by the injury bug, forcing Mario Balotelli into a starring role when he was originally brought in to compliment Sturridge. However, the loss of one player does not excuse the woeful start to Liverpools’ Premiership campaign. Last season Luis Suarez was a big part of their team but it must be stated that this is also a team that scored over 100 goals last season and they showed that they have skill at other positions besides just forward. The loss of Suarez was a setback but it is not the main reason for Liverpool’s decline.

Injuries, the loss of Luis Suarez, and new players still needing time to gel with each other are just a fraction of what is wrong with Liverpool. A significant fraction, but still only a fraction. Defensively the Reds have been repeatedly exposed despite Brendan Rodgers bringing in new players specifically brought in to fix last years leaky defense. It was last years leaky defense that proved to be the achilles heel of Liverpool that would eventually lead to them losing out on the title to Manchester City. For the most part they were able to cover up their defensive frailty with goals but this season Liverpool, with the exception of their game at White Hart Lane, have been unable to score the goals necessary to offset their poor defensive performances. Profligacy in front of goal, mixed with a swiss cheese defense, has proven hard for Liverpool to overcome so far this season.

Losing Luis Suarez definitely hurts an offense but there is no excuse to become as profligate as they are considering the talent within the squad both from last season and the talent added over the summer. It is not that the players are incapable of matching last season’s success, instead it is as though the players have regressed. Last season Coutinho was a master at zipping in pin-point accurate passes that could lead to devastating breaks and goal scoring opportunities. Steven Gerrard used his newfound role last season to spray ambitious passes that could spur lightning quick counterattacks. The team as a whole was capable of replicating Barcelona styles at times to work their way out of tight spaces using brilliant passing triangles, movement, and vision. This season though Liverpool has yet to find that ability. There are brief times during games this season where they have looked their old selves but most of the time they look slightly off. Due to the style of play they have chosen, being slightly off can have tumultuous consequences. Whereas last season Coutinho could fit a pass through a pinhole, now his passes have been missing their mark and have gotten intercepted. Steven Gerrard has been man-marked out of many the games he has played so far and many of the other Liverpool players have looked uncomfortable on the ball. Almost as if they have lost their confidence. It was their soaring confidence that led to last seasons 11 game unbeaten streak and it is confidence that is needed by the players so that they remain calm on the ball and complete the perfect passes needed for Liverpool’s style to work. If Liverpool continues to play like they have been then their problems will further intensify and their confidence will continue to erode. Their problems need to be fixed and fixed fast or this season will get even worse.

Teams have rebounded from rough starts before. It is a long season and their are always bumps on the road. The concerns surrounding Liverpool are real but thoughts of this season being a failure are still conjecture. Daniel Sturridge’s return and a possibly blossoming partnership with Mario Balotelli could produce great things for Liverpool and lift then out of the Premier League basement. It is also possible that players such as Coutinho find their form and help lift the team back to the pedestal it was believed they would occupy this season. Only time will tell. Brendan Rodgers has a lot of work ahead of him though if he is to insure that fans look back on the end month of September as the wake-up call they sorely needed rather than the beginning of a long and fruitless season.

The Best English Import Since the Beatles and Dr.Who

(This Picture isn’t entirely relevant but God is she gorgeous)

        I can still remember those dark days of my early years. Till this day they haunt my dreams like the monster under my bed who escaped discovery every time my parents went to check. During those medieval times I would risk the life of my laptop in the foolish hope of watching soccer. Down I would go into the dark netherworld of the internet in the search for a quality stream of an English Premier League game, eschewing caution while I navigated through questionable pop-up ads just to watch the game I loved. My desperation was so palpable that I would sometimes watch a VHS of the English Premier League’s greatest goals just to get a taste of the quality of soccer played across the pond.

Before the wide availability of English soccer on TV, Steven Gerrard’s name was just an idea. I would hear stories of his soccer prowess but to me they seemed almost like tall tales, legends that had grown larger as they made their way from Liverpool, England to Oceanport, New Jersey. I can still remember my feelings of constant anger. Anger that us soccer fans were dismissed by major sports networks and anger that MLS could not provide the same level of excitement as the English Premier League. Why did I have to sit there and watch Clint Mathis wander around the Meadowlands like an apathetic cat while people in England got to watch Gerrard gallivant around Anfield like knights of yore? It was not fair.

Thankfully, as soccer grew in this country, so did the soccer coverage. By high school I could watch a good percentage of English Premier League games on my TV and even get Champions League coverage; if my parents were nice enough to buy the sports tier with Fox Soccer Channel on it. However, my insatiable thirst for top-level soccer was still unquenched The increasing number of games only served to highlight how many games were not on TV. There were weekends where I would miss big English Premier League games that were inexplicably not on television. Hope was the only thing driving me those days, and I was beginning to run on fumes.

When NBC acquired the rights to the English Premier League I was wary. For so long all I had known was the Fox Soccer Channel. They were by no means perfect but I knew what they were capable of. NBC Sports was an enigma, what if they provided even less coverage of the English Premier League? The dread of an unknown evil clouded my judgement. It began to make me question whether we were doomed to having to watch more choppy streams from some server in an island in the middle of the Baltic Sea. The subsequent rumors of the collapse of the Fox Soccer Channel brought upon more terror. What would soccer become in this country with the last bastion of American televised soccer being dismantled like a young child cleaning up his Legos. I feared the worst.

But alas NBC has quelled my fears. Fast on the heels of its fantastic MLS coverage, NBC has shown with its proposed EPL coverage that it will cater to the soccer fans of this country. Every game will be available on some medium along with various soccer shows to support its live game coverage. The English Premier League will no longer be a niche sport shown during off-hours on ESPN or the hard to find FSC. NBC is bringing the EPL to the forefront of its network and the brilliance of that move will not go unrewarded. The only caveat is that some will suspect it will decrease interest in MLS. However, have no fear my friends, for more soccer in this country will only help the growth of the sport and MLS in America.
So rejoice my fellow soccer fans! Crawl out from under the crushing weight of American soccer obscurity and breathe in the fresh air of acceptance. Our prayers have been answered, people want to sell to our soccer-obsessed demographic.
(See program coverage details below)

Details of the 2013-2014 NBC Sports Group Premier League programming include:

  • All 380 matches presented live on television with studio pre- and post-game coverage;
  • All 380 matches streamed live via NBC Sports Live Extra;
  • Games not aired on a designated NBCUniversal channel will be made available to distributors viaPremier League Extra Time, a package of overflow television channels available at no extra cost for each of their customers who receives NBC Sports Network;
  • Championship Sunday – May 11, 2014, when all 10 Premier League matches will be available live on a different NBCUniversal channel;
  • 76 Spanish-language telecasts, 10 on Telemundo, 66 on Mun2;
  • More than 600 hours of Premier League original programming.
  • NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA: Every Barclays Premier League match will be streamed live via NBC Sports Live Extra, the NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktop, mobile and tablets and, in most cases, on the digital platforms of participating cable, satellite, telco and other video subscription services. The vast majority of Barclays Premier League matches will be streamed via “TV Everywhere,” available on an authenticated basis to subscribers of these services.

NBC SPORTS GROUP’S 2013-14 PREMIER LEAGUE PROGRAMMING PLANS