Oh Captain, My Captain

tumblr_nogj90ACFc1tjid03o1_540This has got to be one of the hardest goodbyes in football. That 3-1 loss to Crystal Palace is Steven Gerrard’s last match at Anfield, after some 17 years and 10 trophies amassed. He is the heart and soul of Liverpool, and his departure will leave a gaping hole in central midfield. Thanks for the memories, Stevie. You are my hero.

About Last Sunday…

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Fernando Torres captioned this photo as “Liverpool family”. I can’t even muster any eloquence to describe what the All-Star Charity Match (a.k.a. everyone’s chance to say goodbye) means to the fans. This club is making me weepy again (apart from the huge blows against Arsenal and that club made of manure).

Start the year with a tear

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This has been the toughest decision of my life and one which both me and my family have agonised over for a good deal of time.I am making the announcement now so that the manager and the team are not distracted by stories or speculation about my future.

Liverpool Football Club has been such a huge part of all our lives for so long and saying goodbye is going to be difficult, but I feel it’s something that’s in the best interests of all involved, including my family and the club itself.

I’m going to carry on playing and although I can’t confirm at this stage where that will be, I can say it will be somewhere that means I won’t be playing for a competing club and will not therefore be lining up against Liverpool – that is something I could never contemplate.

My decision is completely based on my wish to experience something different in my career and life and I also want to make sure that I have no regrets when my playing career is eventually over.

I can’t thank Brendan, the owners and everyone at the club enough for how they’ve handled this and I am leaving on great terms. Also, I would like to thank my teammates and all the staff for their help and continued support.

It is a very special place to be part of. It is my sincere hope and wish that one day I can return to serve Liverpool again, in whatever capacity best helps the club.

One point that is important to make is that from now until the last kick of the last game of the season, I will be as fully committed to the team as I ever have been and giving everything I have to help Liverpool win games.

My final message is for the people who make Liverpool Football Club the greatest in the world – the supporters.

It has been a privilege to represent you, as a player and as captain. I have cherished every second of it and it is my sincere wish to finish this season and my Liverpool career on a high.”

– Steven Gerrard

It is an end of an era, indeed. Steven Gerrard *is* Liverpool.

Well, this hurts.

Up 3-0 and we let it slip only for Crystal Palace to end the match at 3-3. It hurts. It goddamn hurts.

Said it before, and I’ll say it again. We slip, we stumble. We get back up. We go again. We are Liverpool.

Immensely proud to have Steven Gerrard as our Captain. What a great player, and an even greater man.

 

Stevie G and Suarez

Quite an awesome football week!

This week is one for the books when it comes to football, simply because there’s just too many of the awesome to report on.

One. Steven Gerrard reached 100 caps for England. Here he is with 100 school kids, posing for photos. Too adorable.

Two. Zlatan Ibrahimovic didn’t just score a world-class goal. It was out of this world. Proof:

Three. Spain thrashed Panama, and we have Sergio Ramos contributing to the goalscoring thanks to this awesome free kick. Just a few more attempts, and mi hombre is on his way of becoming a free kick specialist!

Four. The Azkals won over the Lions! Quite an inspired second half from the boys—and boy, oh boy, Ed Sacapaño was just one huge wall against Singapore! My thoughts on it here. (P.S. No more drama and politicking please in the NT—time to have a win-at-all-cost mentality!)

Five. Liverpool beat Wigan at Anfield 3-0, thanks to a Luis Suarez brace and a Jose Enrique goal. Gotta love the Suarez-Sterling partnership, and Jose Enrique finally at his best. Now this is the Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers that I’ve been waiting to see! (Also, Everton, Chelsea, and Manchester United lost this weekend—what joy!)

Six. Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao (I do like this Basque team though), 5-1, anchored by inspired performances from Karim Benzema and Mesut Özil.

Of tactical woes, goal-line technology, and heartbreak

Liverpool lost to Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup final, and yes, I am heartbroken.

Did we deserve to lose? We had a terrible first half, marked by slow movement, sloppy passing, a weak left flank (I know Stewart Downing has generally been inconsistent, but Jose Enrique, madre mía, what decline!), and our lone striker not getting anywhere near the goal.

Liverpool fared better in the second half though, and Andy Carroll was a game-changer, scoring that beauty of a goal at the 64th minute. Carroll had another header that we all thought would be the equalizer, but alas, it was not counted by the referees. You can view it on replay over and over and over again, and it will tell you that the ball went past the line!

Still, we had our chances, especially in the last 20 minutes of the game. I felt the fire and the fight in the team. Unfortunately, attempts from Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson just flew over the net.

A heartbreak indeed. Trust me, it is not a good feeling to have your heart broken past two in the morning.

No domestic cup double for Liverpool this year. My biggest fear? The cloud that’s hanging over the club in recent months. I suppose we’ll get the answers as to who’s in and who’s out pretty soon.

In the meantime, this is what broke my heart. Seeing Steven Gerrard in tears.

Midweek Football Hat-Trick!

Amidst a rather insane week at work (I promise to find time to write properly soon), I scored a midweek football hat-trick, recording three straight wins for teams I root for.

First up, the Azkals. The boys in blue (white? I’m not even sure what our colors are anymore, let alone the kit makers) beat Tajikistan 2-1. I wasn’t able to catch the game live (yes, work has been insane), but I was getting SMS updates. Tajikistan scored the opening goal at the stroke of halftime, while our boys lived up to the Azkals moniker by fighting their way back, with Phil Younghusband scoring at the 54th minute and Angel Guirado Aldeguer cinching the winner at the 80th minute.

The boys are through to the semifinals of the AFC Challenge Cup, and that’s quite a milestone for this team. Onward and upward, Pilipinas!

Second, the Merseyside Derby was not televised owing to a late schedule in England, hence it was about 4 a.m. Manila time. The most important point to note is that Liverpool won, owing to a Steven Gerrard hat-trick. Now that is just a great way to bounce back after two consecutive losses post-Carling Cup victory.

While I didn’t catch it live, I was able to get a copy of the match, and yes, I had tears in my eyes watching Stevie’s goals. Superb work rate from the boys, and even Luis Suarez was unselfish for the third goal. Now that’s how you win.

Photos of course, are in order.

 

Lastly, Real Madrid are through to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League, beating CSKA Moscow on the return leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, 4-1 (5-2 on aggregate). Madrid’s goals came from all three forwards, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain, and Karim Benzema. Kaka and Mesut Ozil were also stellar in this match.

Gotta leave you all with some nice Portuguese backs.

 

My two captains, an update.

Liverpool won over Manchester City 1-0 in the first leg of the Carling Cup semifinals, thanks to a penalty smoothly taken by Steven Gerrard at the 11th minute. The Reds never looked back since.

My other captain, Iker Casillas has finally transferred to Adidas after 11 years with Reebok. Hooray! No more ugly zigzag-soled shoes!

And yep, this was the best transfer news to come out of the La Liga and/or EPL. Much can be said when the most interesting bit of the day is the UFL lineups.

ETA: I just realized that in both photos, my eyes darted to the crotch areas. 😉

Welcome Back, Captain Fantastic!

Of course, only Liverpool would end up with a crummy draw against Blackburn Rovers. It’s the story of our season—the opposing team’s goalkeeper always has a monster game at Anfield. And Bunn surely did.

The gripes started with a Charlie Adam OG on the dying minutes of the first half. Thankfully, the Reds managed to get a point in thanks to a Maxi header in the second half. Now, if only all our other headers did not go over the bar, then we probably could have managed another point.

It wasn’t the best of Boxing Day matches, but definitely, the highlight has got to be Steven Gerrard coming in as a substitute in the second half. And immediately right after he comes on, Captain Fantastic manages to make a dangerous free kick. That he’s back also proves to highlight some much-needed quality passing in this match (the Reds seem to just be passing onto open space and praying that a teammate will get to the ball first—I’m looking at you, Stewart Downing).

And as for Andy Carroll, I still think he overdid the Christmas Day drinking.