Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Cup Special: Cherry Chimes talks to Anfield Online

Rival Lines
Capital One Cup Quarter Final
AFCB v Liverpool
Blogger Interview: Anfield Online

Cherry Chimes had the pleasure this week of having a quick chat with John Dowling who runs the popular Anfield Online website for Liverpool supporters. It has not been an easy time for the Reds as they go into this quarter final, but the magnitude of the match for Liverpool has probably escalated to quite a high level now even though such a game would usually seen as a regular fixture for the Anfield faithful who have won this competition a record eight times. That should kind of give AFCB fans a bit of a reality check having just reached the quarter final for the first time, but let's see if John think Liverpool fans should be confident of reaching the semi-finals this time around.  

CC: Bournemouth play brave passing football as Brendan Rogers has commented on, ie we won't kick lumps out of your players, so are the Cherries an ideal team for Liverpool to play mid-week considering the League fixtures you have on either side of this Capital One tie?

AO: Liverpool are struggling this season against every type of football. More direct sides have had plenty of joy mainly based on weaknesses at set-pieces and errors from Simon Mignolet. He has been dropped now in favour of our reserve keeper. Teams who play passing football are equally likely to build on errors from our defenders on the ground. Chief culprit in these situations being Dejan Lovren a defender who had a good first half in the first game of the season and has been generally hapless since.

CC: Any ideas on who you think might be in the starting line up for Liverpool against AFC Bournemouth?

AO: Jones is a definite starter currently. The Liverpool manager appears to be choosing favourites on a day to day basis at present. The side chosen away at Real Madrid looked more like a League Cup line up so it is increasingly difficult to choose a team. Rickie Lambert has sat out the last two so could make a return. Balotelli also returned for 45 minutes against Man Utd.

CC: The Middlesbrough match was quite something with 27 penalties I think to decide the tie, but did you feel Liverpool should have finished off the Championship side earlier that night considering how dominant they were in possession?

AO: The Middlesbrough game was a long night at Anfield. The reds showed promise early on - youngster Jordan Rossiter grabbing a debut goal in the 10th minute (before disappearing off the face of the earth from the first team). Our manager is a big believer in possession being an important factor in winning a game - but that game was typical of our inability to keep clean sheets. Boro showed tremendous fight but the game should never have gone to penalties - we just switched off in the final minute of extra time.

CC: You also had a late goal surge against Swansea to go through to the last eight so do you feel the League Cup has been one of the few areas where the team has been able to get a confidence boost this season?

AO: Swansea did have a man sent off just before Liverpool scored that final winning goal so that may have been a help. I don’t think many Liverpool fans think all our problems disappear in the League Cup. With 8 league cup titles it’s clearly been a special competition for the reds. Good fortune and weaker opposition/rested players on opposing sides facing us (at Anfield too) is probably the major factor for our wins so far.

CC: How good are Liverpool's back up strikers - Borini and Markovic?

AO: We haven’t seen a lot of Borini this season. He was Brendan Rodgers’ first signing at Liverpool but was being forced out of the club in August. He hasn’t even been involved on the bench in recent weeks as the club try to force him out in January. Markovic has shown flashes of pace and skill, but his sending off in the Champions League was a sign of his disciplinary problems. Again - he hasn’t been trusted much by Rodgers so far - although he did play away against Real Madrid - arguably Liverpool’s best performance in the 6 games of the group. Many Liverpool fans would like to see more of Markovic and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t start against Bournemouth.

CC: I was impressed by Emre Can when I saw him earlier this season in the Champions League, is he close to getting more starts?

AO: I was impressed too. He played against Real Madrid and Chelsea in the same week and performed well both times - scoring the opening goal against Chelsea. Since then however he too seems to have disappeared off the radar. He looks strong and he has already shown his eye for goal but in Liverpool’s league games he is behind the less creative Joe Allen in the pecking order. I’d like to see him start on Wednesday.

CC: Do you think the addition of so many Southampton players over the summer was a mistake?

AO: Huge mistake. Much was made of Lallana and Lambert’s link up play last season - but at Liverpool they’ve usually been played without the other. Lallana has been the most promising of the trio but has been in and out of the side more than most players. Lovren in defence has been an unmitigated disaster - it’s been some years since I’ve seen a defender at Liverpool making such simple positional mistakes. Lambert was being used for 10 minutes at the end of every games and then suddenly played 5 times in a fortnight. He has managed to score a couple however.

You pay a premium for buying players from within your own league and Southampton have taken our owners to the cleaners.

CC: What do you think of Eddie Howe as a manager?

AO: Certainly at Liverpool there is always a special connection with long serving players and staff going on to become manager. I also believe that a manager who has played in a defensive role has a lot more to offer as a manager - having spent most of their career seeing how play builds up in front of them.

As a young manager he has a pretty impressive record already and I’d imagine he would become an even hotter property if you secure your 2nd promotion in 3 years. The advantage to Bournemouth may be his young age, which may deter other sides attempting to lure him for another few years. It will be interesting to see if he can adapt quickly enough if you are promoted in May.

CC: Bournemouth played Liverpool in the FA Cup last season and lost 0-2, but can you see this match being tighter?

AO: I can see it being significantly tighter. The thought of us keeping a clean sheet and scoring two goals, at present, looks unlikely. Both at Anfield and away. Coupled this with the fact Bournemouth are a side averaging more than 2 goals a game and it’s fair to say not many Liverpool fans are looking forward to this one.

CC: Thank you John for your very intelligent answers. AFCB fans will be relishing some of your words, although AFCB fans know that Liverpool players have lots of pedigree and will be no easy opposition for whatever team Eddie Howe plays. I am hoping that some of Liverpool's big names feature but it is also perhaps a chance for players like Emre Can and Lazar Markovic that they have a real future at Liverpool. As for Brendan Rodgers I wonder how he will be feeling when he shakes Eddie Howe's hand on Wednesday night? They are great appreciators of each other's game, but Brendan probably has more riding on this game than Eddie Howe. If AFCB's players can play without fear or pressure though, I predict that we'll be in for one of the games of the season. Make sure you take a look at Anfield Online where you can get more of John's wise words about the current plight of Liverpool and their trip to Turkish club Besiktas in the Europa League.

Finally, it was brilliant news yesterday to hear it confirmed that AFCB had passed the Financial Fair Play regulations for the 2013-14 season, even though it will be difficult news for fans of Forest, Blackburn and Leeds to have received having failed the test.

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