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It is 50 years this week since Bill Shankly first arrived at Anfield, when Liverpool were languishing in the second division, writes Martin Roberts.
The Scotsman soon turned them into a team feared across Europe, and set up a managerial system with enough momentum to carry on after his shock 1974 resignation and make the club the most successful in English footballing history.
For those of us who used to bump into Shankly as his neighbours, however, the anniversary is about far more than hero-worship or nostalgia brought on by cringing defeats prompted by beach balls.
Nor is it simply a yearning for a time when Shankly’s Red Army used to pound the opposition and amass silverware, season in, season out.
Monday update: You would think 14 games into the season we would have learnt who was likely to beat who in the Premier League. Sadly not. I did OK for a change but only Martyn Herman really covered himself in glory with two five pointers for Villa 1-1 Spurs and Manchester City collecting yet another draw against Hull City.
But I wouldn’t celebrate like Jimmy Bullard just yet, Martyn, you’re still third bottom.
After our (rather unsuccessful) attempts to convince you of Raymond Domenech’s appealing qualities, our thoughts turn to that much-maligned manager from Madrid, Rafa Benitez.
Liverpool went out of the Champions League on Tuesday night despite a 1-0 win over Debrecen, as Lyon failed to bite in Fiorentina.
Liverpool hopes of one more great Champions League escape were dashed on Tuesday night, as Fiorentina sealed their place alongside Olympique Lyon with a 1-0 win over the French side, leaving the English team’s 1-0 success against Debrecen irrelevant.
Liverpool, of course, only have themselves to blame for leaving their fate in the hands of a team that had already secured their own qualification.
Monday morning update 2: Mike Collett claims, with some justification it must be said, to have altered his predictions on Friday afternoon. I do indeed have an email from Mike asking me to change them, so I guess we’ll have to give him credit for getting Liverpool v Man City, the double pointer, bang on at 2-2. OK, Mike … but next time, one shot please.
I also decided to give Mitch a one-point bonus for his 5-0 prediction in the Spurs game (closer than anyone else), making him one of the week’s big winners with 18 points. Martyn Herman would have got 20, including a two-point bonus for being the only person to predict an Arsenal defeat, but I docked him two for trying to sneak in a 2-2 prediction on the Anfield game … after the final whistle.
Manchester United fans will doubtless be pleased by Wayne Rooney’s latest comments pouring cold, or at least lukewarm water on the idea that he might move to Barcelona, or anywhere else for that matter.
Good news for United it may be, but I’m not so sure it’s in England’s interests for so few of the country’s leading players to try their luck abroad.
Referee Peter Walton could face a suspension from the Premier League list if it is decided he made a mistake in Monday’s 2-2 draw between Liverpool and Birmingham.
Walton reckoned Liverpool striker David Ngog had been fouled by Lee Carsley and ignored the protests of his Birmingham team mates before Steven Gerrard converted the spotkick. Even Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez said afterwards he did not think it was a penalty.
TUESDAY UPDATE: Whatever you think about the penalty which gave Liverpool a 2-2 draw with Birmingham, it certainly made a difference to our prediction league.
Miles Evans got a full five points for correctly predicting that score while he was even more pleased that John Terry ignored some newspaper headlines and secured a 1-0 win for Chelsea over Manchester United.
It seems almost beyond dispute, though, that whenever the Spaniard is unavailable Liverpool look ill equipped to challenge for the title, a situation hardly helped by the sales of Xabi Alonso, Robbie Keane and Alvaro Arbeloa in the past year.
So it was an even worse week than usual. Ok, there were some surprise results but generally it was pitiful, some panelists only picked up one point and even most of our outside contributors struggled despite showing us up in recent weeks.
On behalf of all of us, I’d like to point out that the Premier League is more evenly balanced than it has been for a while (see Kevin’s blog) so we have a slight excuse….