A good way to end the year. Goodbye 2012, Liverpool FC will not miss you at all. Onwards and upwards in 2013!
Hey Clive. Seriously we have some of the coolest celebrity fans: Samuel L Jackson, Daniel Craig, Clive Owen…
And the Luis Suarez show wishes you all a Happy New Year. See you in 2013 team!
No recap for today’s game. Let’s just enjoy our little Christmas miracle.
Starting line-up: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique, Lucas (Carragher 83’), Gerrard, Shelvey (Allen 74’), Downing, Suarez, Suso (Sterling 71’).
Goals by: Skrtel, Gerrard, Downing & Suarez.
MOTM: Stevie G followed closely by Stewart Downing (did this performance just raise his transfer fee?).
Be honest, how many of you had given up at half-time? Personally I just kept saying “I’ll take a scrappy 3-2 win, I’ll take it if it means we come away from this somehow with a win and I don’t care how we get the goals.”
Starting line-up: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique (Cole 27’), Lucas (Henderson 71’), Allen (Coates 86’), Gerrard, Sterling, Downing, Shelvey.
We started off the game brilliantly and we capitalised on this great start with a fantastic goal by Glen Johnson (a real golazo).
We should’ve been 2 or 3 up if Raheem Sterling hadn’t left his shooting boots at home. Then for some reason we just completely faded (I’m going to put this down to Diame gaining control of the midfield for West Ham) and the game completely swung in West Ham’s favour after Jose Enrique picked up an injury, the referee lost his mind and awarded West Ham a penalty (the ref then proceeded to ignore our penalty right at the end of the game, stupid git) and Gerrard scored an OG.
I was pretty down at half-time but I just kept thinking, we need to keep going and who knows, maybe luck will finally swing our way. And guess what? It did! Diame picked up an injury which gave us control back in the midfield. Jordan Henderson (who really had a great game once he came on) found Joe Cole (honestly, he didn’t do a whole lot before this goal) who slotted the ball in for our equaliser.
Maybe he’s putting himself up for the shop window? Who knows but I was delighted and the team gained momentum from then on.
Then last but not least, our ‘false 9’ stepped up to the plate with a striker’s goal. Sterling provided him with a great ball before Jonjo Shelvey barged past a defender to grab the winner for us.
What a win! And with 2 more Anfield games coming up against opposition we can beat (Villa and Fulham) who the hell knows? We could really push for a Champions League spot in the second half of the season.
MOTM: Glen Johnson. His rocket-of-a-goal has been coming for some time now and today he finally got it (btw, 3 former Hammers got the goals for us today). Special mention to Jordan Henderson who is getting better and better with each game. Still not a regular starter for me but his performances have been much improved this season. 4 points off 4th!!!!!
“I’m doing a mathematics degree,” he says. “I was good at maths at school but I didn’t really think of anything else but football.”
As he talks he rubs his left wrist. Above it is a tattoo. “Tell me I can’t and I will show you I can,” it reads.
“It was a spur of the moment thing,” he said, shrugging, of the tattoo. “My teachers at school used to say ‘you ain’t going to do anything, you ain’t going to achieve anything’. So I was thinking ‘I’ll show you’.
“Now the last thing they’d be expecting me to do is a maths degree but then until they saw me become a footballer they thought I couldn’t do that either.
“I’m a firm believer that anyone can do anything if they put their minds to it. If you get the opportunity take it – more importantly you have to want to take it.”
Johnson is now slightly embarrassed at the angry tone of the tattoo because he’s far from angry. Another tattoo – “everything happens for a reason” – means more to him.
“I always try and be positive and challenge myself to the limit.”
The Liverpool and England defender is halfway through the second year of his Open University degree, having passed his first year.
“I love the planning and problem solving, equations, working out, for example, how much fuel a plane needs,” Johnson, whose other passions include Formula One and MotoGP — he might one day get involved in the sports — says.
“They have tutorials at the weekend. But, of course, I’m busy at the weekends.”
Johnson does a nice line in humour. At times both self-deprecating and forthright, he is an engaging interviewee and readily offers up his thoughts on what it is like to be a Premier League defender and the criticism he has had, his friendship with Luis Suárez, the social network site Twitter, Chelsea – where he became the first signing of the Roman Abramovich era – Brendan Rodgers and Jose Mourinho.
It helps that Johnson, now 28, is in the form of his life. Suárez has grabbed the goals and the headlines but inside Anfield the consensus is that, so far, Johnson is probably the player of the season.
Now into his fourth campaign at the club, life at Liverpool is good. There is, Johnson says, a real sense of “direction”, of “foundations being put in place to get back to the top” under Rodgers even if he is, astonishingly, the fourth manager he has worked under in just over three years.
Johnson has great belief in him — helped by the fact the two were “friends” from their time at Chelsea together where Rodgers was reserve team coach.
“Coley [Joe Cole] knew him as well and I remember him saying that Brendan would be a Premier League manager one day,” Johnson says. “And I could definitely see that.”
Nevertheless, Liverpool lie in the bottom half in the Premier League table, a position Johnson can barely believe.
“If you got points for performances then we’d probably be top of the league. With a killer instinct we’d have 12, 15 more points.”
Suárez provides some of that killer instinct. Johnson is close to the Uruguayan and fiercely defended him in the Patrice Evra race row. And does so now as he discusses the power of Twitter, which he is on — so that he can “get my point across”.
“All I put on there was that I work with him every day and he’s one of the best lads I get on with that this club and there’s no way he’s a racist,” Johnson says.
“I can speak a bit of Spanish and there are cultural differences. I supported him on Twitter and I’ve supported him every time I’ve spoken about it. It wasn’t good for Luis, his family or, of course, for Patrice Evra. So it’s good it’s over now.”
Although he has not been through anything like the scrutiny Suárez and Evra faced there have been some, frankly, weird as well as irritating, bogus headlines – ‘stolen’ B&Q toilet seats and allegedly lost passports – and also a welter of criticism over the year.
“You have to be mentally strong in most walks of life but football is so opinionated. You can be sitting in the pub and there are 10 people — some will hate you, some will think you are the best in the world. A lot of people want to kill you, want you to fail. It’s the way it is. You have to be thick-skinned.
“You have to agree that the way stories are — a bad story is better than a good story, isn’t it? If someone’s naughty it’s more of a talking point. On the front and back pages you don’t tend to get ‘good’ stories. It’s criticising a manager for taking someone off or saying he’s under pressure of losing his job.”
Johnson is now one of the “senior pros” at Liverpool, something he can, frankly, scarcely believe.
“I’ve got Raheem [Sterling, still just 17] to thank for making me feel old! We were messing about today, playing ‘toros’, piggy in the middle and the two youngest go in the middle.
“It wasn’t that long ago that it was always me but looking around — I was the oldest in that group. That was the first time that had happened. Time goes so fast.”
Indeed Johnson’s mind flicks back to when he was 17, 18 and making his breakthrough at West Ham United – who Liverpool face away on Sunday – only to be sold, after just a handful of appearances, for £6 million to Chelsea.
Abramovich’s Chelsea. And in July 2003 18-year-old right-back Glen Johnson was the Russian billionaire’s first signing.
“No one had a clue,” Johnson says of the subsequent spending spree. “I was going to Chelsea but I didn’t know what would follow.”
He had not wanted to leave West Ham – “it never entered my head” – but only for one specific reason.
“It wasn’t because I didn’t want to go to Chelsea, but I’d worked for eight years, since I was 10, with the one goal. To get in that West Ham first-team and then to leave after just 15 games was a bit, well, premature.”
However, Claudio Ranieri, the then Chelsea manager, loved him.
“Roman came in and wanted to win straight away,” Johnson says. Instead Chelsea finished second — second in the league and in the semi-finals of the Champions League and Ranieri was out, Mourinho in.
“It was harsh but what Mourinho brought to Chelsea was priceless,” Johnson says. “Although it was harsh, Roman produced.”
But Johnson suffered. “When I first went to Chelsea I was playing, it couldn’t be any better and Claudio believed in me. I was learning the game, I was a baby.
“Then Claudio left and Jose brought his players in, which is fair enough, but from there I didn’t really get a fair opportunity. I knew deep down I was good enough to be given a chance but I was never really given that chance. I’d come in and play well – and knew I wouldn’t play the next game.”
He recalls finally getting a small run of matches, performing and then being discarded before a big Champions League tie.
“I just thought ‘what can I do? I’m running into a brick wall every day’. Eventually I just said ‘enough’s enough, I have to go’.
Maybe others might not have said that and sat their contracts out just to say they are at Chelsea. No disrespect to Paulo Ferreira, who’s a lovely guy, but he’s sat there for about six years and played about 10 games and I couldn’t do that.”
Johnson went to Portsmouth, first on loan, then permanently for £4 million and got his career back on track – to such an extent that when it came time for him to leave, Chelsea were one of the bidders.
“I could have gone back. When I left Chelsea I said to myself ‘I’m going to make them want me’. I told myself that just to give myself a bit of motivation. So for them to then offer Portsmouth six times more than what they sold me for two years before was very satisfying.”
He joined Liverpool, for £18 million, in June 2009. Now Johnson’s never been happier.
“I live in a quiet little town, we have some good neighbours and when I’m away from football I don’t talk about football. I will even forget that games are on. I come in and the lads say ‘did you see that game last night?’ and they find it funny that I didn’t.”
Instead, there is his family, friends – and his studies. Not that he’s lost his passion for the game. Far from it.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love football, I love playing the game, I love playing for Liverpool but sometimes it’s good to switch off and be a normal bloke.”
I was expecting us to lose so I’m happy with draw and a little disappointed because with a little luck we would’ve won the game.
MOTM: Pepe, easily. Also are there still people out there who think Stewart Downing should stay on as a Liverpool player?