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Stoke City News 15 Jul 2020
Tactics - Part 1 - 4-4-2





I thought I would start off this first episode in a new series on tactics discussing the formation that the legendary tactical genius Mike Bassett used, the 4-4-2. It has become associated with inflexible British-style longball football, but it does not have to be used that way. It can be a very flexible system in the right hands. Managers as diverse as Arrigo Sacchi, Arsene Wenger, Eddie Howe and Sean Dyche have relied upon a variant of it at times in their career.



Sean Dyche, for example, uses a very simple and basic variant of 4-4-2. In fact it is very close to the British longball style of football that has given the formation a bad name in the past. His team sits deep and defends with two banks of four and looks to hits the target men with an early ball, hopefully something they can control and then lay off to midfielders arriving in support, but often it is just aerial balls for them to contest and hope to pick up bits and pieces.



Dyche wants his wide men to hit the byline and cross the ball to create chances and works especially hard on setpiece situations to create goalscoring opportunities. It does have weaknesses, not just in being lacking aesthetically. It can get overrun in midfield, which means he accepts that the opposition will have most of the possession.



However, what do you do if you do not want to accept that your midfield will be overrun and want to be the team who controls possession as much as possible? You could try the variation employed by Arsene Wenger in his early days at Arsenal, which was very much a 4-4-2 when on the ball but off it, then it was different, almost a 4-3-3.



The left winger, usually Marc Overmars in my recollection, would hold his position further forward, to provide an out ball. One striker would withdraw deep to find space between the opponent's defence and midfield, while the other would stay on the shoulder of the last defender to stop them pushing up too high. The key to the system was the way the other three midfielders worked.



It was utilised to take advantage of Ray Parlour's workrate and ability to get wide and deliver when Arsenal had possession. When they lost it Parlour would move more central, moving inside to create a central three with Vieira and himself either side of Petit. With both Vieira and Parlour having good mobility and work ethic, they were able to cover the full-backs and avoid being outnumbered in midfield.



It was heavily reliant on Parlour's workrate, his willingness to track back and get forward, like a modern day full-back. It was mainly because he had Parlour available to him that Wenger chose to play this way. Without him it would not have been as effective. With the emergence of the modern-day flying wing-back, there would be no need for him to cover the wide areas on the ball, as the full-back would provide the width.



An early variation of the system was to withdraw one forward when your team lost the ball, which was the way Liverpool operated when Bob Paisley first took charge, amongst a number of systems. For all people think that in those days British teams used to be inflexible 4-4-2 only, Paisley would use a mix of formations in order to attain his success, from 4-4-2 to what is seen as a modern-day formation, the 4-3-3, and everything in between.



The arrival of Kenny Dalglish allowed the team to swap easily between 4-4-2, 4-4-1-1 and 4-5-1, as Dalglish could easily drop off and play the deep-lying striker role or even into midfield if it was being overrun. While pretty much everyone else was playing a big man/little man duo up front in England, Liverpool changed it.



There was no quick launch forwards for the big man to knock down to his partner. It was played through the midfield and to Dalglish to create something for a penalty box predator. Due to its success, deep-lying forwards soon became very much in vogue. It worked well going forward, the predator would make forward runs, they would force the defence to drop off and that would leave space between the midfield and defence for the deep lying forward to operate in.



It is understandable why it is still used even today. As you can see from those few examples above, the 4-4-2 can be very flexible and adaptable. The set up provides good width and balance, as well as being probably the most suitable formation for a deep-lying defend at all costs team. The two banks of four create a very solid and compact protection for the goalkeeper, it is easy for players to understand and extremely difficult to break down.



Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid are the prime example of a deep-lying defensive system utilising the 4-4-2 to great effect. They keep their defence within the width of the penalty box as much as possible, giving up the wide areas of the pitch in order to protect the centre. They are comfortable in their ability to deal with anything which gets played into the box and so they are happy to allow opponents time and space on the wings to deliver crosses.



If they are really struggling, then one or even both forwards can drop deeper to help out, but that then leaves the team lacking an out ball, so they try not to do that. The problem with that system is that it is more about not losing, rather than winning. It is easier to play not to lose, but, in this era of 3 points for a win, it often leads to 2 points being dropped. That makes it difficult to win leagues and lends itself to cups and midtable football, rather than league winners.



The main reason it has gone out of fashion in the modern era is because of the emphasis on possession, with a 4-3-3/4-5-1 being able to outnumber a 4-4-2 centrally, it is much more suited to keeping hold of the ball. While a 4-4-2 can be tweaked to counter it, if your intent is to keep possession, it is much easier to just start with the extra man in there as a basic set up. It can still be a very useful formation and it is likely that it will never truly vanish due to the balance it provides across the pitch when defending.

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Stoke City News 12 Jul 2020
Quick Liverpool Review: Since Lockdown



12 Jul 2020 08:48:39

Morning eds1

Any chance of review of the games from when we started back. Not to detailed just a summary of good points and bad. Players good and bad.?

Thanks mate. Longthing76





Versus Everton:



Both sides looked really rusty and just like they had not played for a while. Which neither had. Neither team were anywhere near their best and a nil nil draw was probably about as much as they deserved. Hard to criticise anyone on either team as it was just the first game back. It was just really about getting it out of the way with picking up too many injuries or losing. It was a step closer to the title after 4 months of painful waiting.





Versus Crystal Palace



The disappointing performance against Everton needed a response and the team gave one with an emphatic demolition of the Londoners. Once Liverpool took the lead, the Eagles rolled over and never looked like they had any fight in them at all. Losing Zaha early on probably didn't help them, though he very rarely shows anything much against the Reds anyway, so it is difficult to know how much of an effect his loss had. The way Liverpool played, it is doubtful he would have done any more than left them more open to attack.





Versus Manchester City



After a promising start the difference in importance of the fixture to the two teams showed. Liverpool had the title wrapped up and little to play for, just pride. City have been embarrassed by the way Liverpool have strode away from them in the title race and needed to prove a point. I am not sure they proved anything, but it did give the media some reason to return to their salivation over how Pep is the greatest of all time and his success is not at all related to having been handed the best teams in their leagues and then lots of money to throw at it. City did get a deserved win, they were the better team on the day, but it meant about as much as a League Cup match does these days.





Versus Aston Villa



This showed that, despite the City game in real terms meaning nothing, the defeat hurt the players and they reacted in the right way. It was very much the archetypal Liverpool performance from this season, a gradual turning up of the pressure as the game went on until the opposition get ground down into defeat. It is very reminiscent of the 1980s. Liverpool would wear the other team out over the game, opening up gaps as defenders and midfielders tire and lose concentration. This was despite Villa fighting for their lives, they were just outclassed.





Versus Brighton & Hove Albion



This was a game that was won in the first ten minutes, as Liverpool capitalised on a sleepy, error-strewn start from Brighton to take a 2-0 lead. After that it was a case of just continuing on from the previous game, but then Brighton started to take advantage of space down the Liverpool left and exposing the inexperience of Williams playing out of position at left-back. Getting a goal back just before half-time could have presented Liverpool with a real problem for the second half but some astute substitutions at half-time turned the game back Liverpool's way and control of the midfield was re-established.





Versus Burnley



A disappointing draw to lose the 100% home record, all the more disappointing as the team's Achilles' heel reared its ugly head as Liverpool were extremely wasteful in front of goal. Too many misses or shots placed easily within the Burnley keeper's reach, when the game should really have been out of sight. You have to give the Clarets their due though, they keep going and give their all for their manager with a never say die attitude. Yes they are extremely physical, but they lack the financial means to buy the kind of quality other teams around them have, so they get stuck in to even the playing field. They, and Sheffield United for that matter, are showing that a good team is much more important than good individuals.#





The Good:



Alisson Becker - the defence have faith in him and he can often spend 80min just spectating only to have to pull out a stop from nowhere. That is never easy. He is the bedrock that the defence is built on.



Virgil van Dijk - he is the leader at the back, even when not at his imperious best, he is still talking, cajoling and instructing his teammates through the game. When he is at his best he makes top class strikers look like non-league amateurs who are completely out of their depth.



Andrew Robertson - he offers far more than just balance down the left, though that is very important. His drive and willingness to go head to head with anyone and to show no care for reputations is a key factor in Liverpool's recent successes.



Fabinho - since the restart he has rediscovered his form and has looked Liverpool's best player overall. Some of his passes are Xabi Alonso/Jan Molby-like and he has scored a scorcher too. At just 26, he should have four or five peak years to come.



Jordan Henderson - after their careers have finished, there are certain players that become remembered by fans of their team as 'captain fantastic', I think Henderson has earnt the right to be one of them now. It is not just what he provides as a player himself, but the way he drives everyone around him on to be better and to keep on going. He has, by hard work and no little talent, turned his reputation around after being the subject of ridicule early on. A few more goals would not go amiss though!



Curtis Jones - a bit early to judge him just yet, but he has been extremely impressive when he has had chances and it looks like he will have a big part to play in Liverpool's future.



Sadio Mane - Mane is just immense. It is not just his brilliant movement and his exceptional skill on the ball but also his workrate and the protection he provides to the defence that makes Mane the best in the world in his position right now.



Mohamed Salah - the Egyptian King provides so much for the team, as well as an immense amount of goals. He creates chances for others, either with passes or by dragging two or three players over to shut him down constantly. It is difficult to understand why he draws so much criticism from a section of the Liverpool support. Liverpool are incredibly lucky to have him and Mane, two world class forwards, in one team.



Georginio Wijnaldum - rarely draws the plaudits but has been a reliable performer since joining. He has come back from the lockdown seemingly refreshed and full of running.



Jurgen Klopp - before the lockdown he led the club to an enormous lead. Throughout the lockdown he said all the right things and now that football is back he got the title won early. Liverpool has always been a club where the manager is held in higher regard than most and Klopp has put himself in the top echelon of the great managers the club has had. He understands the ethos of the club and has fully bought into it. He is arguably the best manager in the world right now.





The Bad:



Injuries - every club has struggled with niggles since the restart as players struggle to regain fitness, so it is not just Liverpool but it is frustrating to see teams having to put out makeshift sides.



Inconsistency - again this is a general problem throughout the Premier League as the games come thick and fast after such a long lay-off, teams are struggling to get into any kind of form. Injuries and the lack of fitness after the break has made it difficult for anyone to put out a consistent team selection, which is then reflected in performances. Liverpool have the added problem of having nothing to play for, adding motivational issues on top of it all.



Cutting Edge - Liverpool are creating huge amounts of chances, and have been all season, but there has been a real lack of clinical finishing. During the normal season it nearly cost the Reds against Leicester. Since the restart it has cost badly against Man City, when a number of early chances went begging before City got off the mark, and now Burnley have taken advantage to pick up a point when Liverpool should have been out of sight.





The Ugly:



Idiot Fans - we all wanted to celebrate the league title, but just why did they have to embarrass the club and fellow fans with the way they went about it on the night? There have been victory parades in a number of places around the world that have shown it can be celebrated responsibly and without causing any problems, so why let the club down in Liverpool city centre itself? They let us all down with their actions.



Firmino's Hair - it hasn't worked Bobby! I love the enthusiasm but the red curls are just not the right red. Still, it could be worse, he could have ended up looking like Djibril Cisse reincarnated like Origi.



Firmino's Finishing - I absolutely love Firmino as a player, he is absolutely central to the way Liverpool play and a big part of the creativity that means the team get so many chances. He must have run over a black cat on the way to Anfield every single game, as he has not been able to score and has had absolutely no luck to help him with that.



Tissue Paper Trio - all three have contributed when on the pitch, but Lovren, Matip and Shaqiri are injured far too much. Klopp is unable to trust any of them because the moment they get a run of games they are out injured once more. Or, in Shaq's case, the moment he gets near a grass pitch he pulls a hamstring.



Lallana Leaving - it is such a shame the way the season has worked out and meant Lallana is leaving in such a way. He played a, albeit minor supporting, but still a role in the title win, in particular with his goal against Man Utd. It would have been nice if he had been able to get a proper sending off with a final game as a champion.





And The Mildly Disappointing:



Naby Keita - he has finally managed to stay fit for a run of games but each time he plays you are left with what could have been, rather than what he did do. The first ten minutes against Brighton, when he worked hard as anyone and pressed Liverpool into a lead should have been ten minutes that launched his Liverpool career at last. Instead he has gone back to showing flashes of his fantastic talent, mixed in between long periods of anonymity on the pitch. He certainly never hides from getting on the ball, but he does hide from the work needed to win it back for periods of the game. Far too often his efforts are lacklustre and weak and he is easily brushed aside when he makes a challenge, yet there are moments when he shows power. It is so frustrating to see the ability that he possesses but he is not making anything like the most of it. He has had the chance to make himself first choice and just failed to even come close to looking like he could be a go to starter in the big games ahead of the likes of Henderson, Wijnaldum and Milner.

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Stoke City News 27 Jun 2020
Liverpool v Crystal Palace A Liverpool Perspective





Was that possibly Liverpool's best performance of the season? It is hard to pick fault with anything that happened from a Reds' perspective or to find anything to say about the game itself. Certainly it is going to be a real struggle to find anything to criticise! It was overwhelming dominance from start to finish, so no surprise Palace were unable to even get a kick inside the LFC box. They never threatened at all.



It was not like Palace just rolled over and let Liverpool win either, they defended hard, it was just that every time they got the ball they were quickly swarmed and lost it before they could get anywhere. That was the famous 'gegenpress', keeping the opponent compressed into their own half and allowing them no chance to even get a breather by holding onto possession.



A deep-lying defensive system like Palace employ is simply unable to cope with a high press attack which works well. It can handle the high press when it is not at its best. This season no one has managed to find a system which could handle Liverpool when they play well, most have been put to the sword even when the Reds are not playing well, so it is no shame for Hodgson's men to lose.







Crystal Palace



Roy Hodgson - he would not have enjoyed his return to Anfield, despite Klopp's nice words before kick-off explaining how he had been told to study footage of Hodgson's time with Switzerland to learn about the game when he was doing his coaching badges. I can only imagine how much face rubbing went on in this match as Roy must have been in absolute despair at seeing his team dismantled so easily. He had no answer but at least he will have some footage to study to learn about how to play the game with a bit of attacking flair.





Hennessey - absolutely no chance with the goals and really did nothing particularly wrong. It was a night to forget for the Welshman, though he has no real blame attached to him, it was clear the defence were not as confident and organised with him behind them, rather than first choice keeper Guaita.





Ward - given an absolute roasting by Mane last night and got little to no protection from Townsend, who had his own hands full with Robertson. Ward was outclassed, even though the system played protects full-backs from exposure.





Cahill - lacks any understanding with Sakho, but also looked his age and really struggled with the movement around him. If ever a night is going to give you thoughts of retirement, that was it.





Sakho - the French centre back has not played since New Year's Day, when he went off injured at half-time, but he looked like a player that had not played for years. His big weakness is his tendency to get carried away and over play, that was on full show time and time again. Added to that, his positioning was all over the place, his touch was off and he looked off the pace of the game. A really poor performance.





van Aanholt - always struggled defensively, but last night was a bad night for him. Despite his pace he still got caught out by Salah's runs, particularly on the Egyptian's goal.





McCarthy - moaned to the ref well, but that seemed about all he had to offer to the Palace cause.





Kouyate - played a large part in keeping the score down to just 4 as he cut out a fair number of balls through and tackled back really well. Did nothing on the ball, but off the ball he was without doubt Palace's best player on the night.





McArthur - worked hard but failed to have any effect on the game at all.





Townsend - utterly anonymous. Failed to help out Ward at all and got torn apart by Robertson constantly.





Zaha - an injury picked up in the warm up ended his game before it really could get started. When he went off so did Palace's hopes of picking up something from the game.





Ayew - had a torrid night with almost no service and struggled to impact on the game at all.





Meyer - the German was the chosen replacement for Zaha on 15 minutes but he failed miserably to get involved. He has looked nothing like the player he was supposed to be before signing for Palace. It had been thought of as a coup at the time, now it looks like a huge mistake.





Milivojevic - replaced Kouyate in the 66th minute as Hodgson looked to bolt the stable door. Struggled to get into the game at all.





Reidewald - came on at the same time as Milivojevic but in place of McArthur. Offered even less than the Scot had done.





Keutcha - the youngster was brought on in the 84th minute and chased around but could not get hold of the ball.







Liverpool



Klopp - a masterclass in management from Jurgen. He is truly cementing his place in the pantheon of Liverpool legends this season. Everytime it seems like the team is in trouble and performances are dipping, Jurgen steps in and motivates the players into producing something special. This was reminiscent of the extraodinary battering that was handed out to Leicester after the team came back from Qatar and were supposedly too jetlagged to cope with a Foxes team that were flying high at the time. This was a huge dismantling of a Palace team that had been in excellent form and a fantastic performances.





Alisson - the person who most suffered from having no crowd there as there was no one for him to chat to once he had finished his sudoku and realised cross-stitch is impossible while wearing the gloves. It did give him a lot of time to google celebration memes to send to Ederson today...





Alexander-Arnold - he was brilliant this season and once more he showed that he is more than just hype and overexcitement because he is 'the Scouser in the team'. Trent is the real deal and has a fantastic delivery. What a free kick! Once more Trent delivered when it matters and you cannot ask any more of a young player than that.





Gomez - Gomez has grown as a player this season, before the lockdown he was outperforming even the imperious van Dijk, which takes a lot of doing. In this match he was once again outstanding and really looks to be the perfect partner for van Dijk. His recovery pace frees up Alexander-Arnold to take more chances in attack and his defensive ability makes the risk pay off.





van Dijk - the kind of game he was born for. On days like that van Dijk is utterly dominant, he seems to grow and frighten opposing forwards into submission before the game even kicks off. Then they try and play in areas away from him, only to find Gomez gives them nothing either. It kills their game dead, as they just lose hope of getting anything from it. Added to that, van Dijk offers so much on the ball that he is more than just shutting the opposition out, he is creating chances too.





Robertson - Liverpool really missed his drive and workrate (and left foot) against Everton. It is not just the balance he gives the side, it is his determination and his willingness to take on anyone head on without care for reputation. Against Palace he was excellent, dominating the flank and taking the game to them.





Fabinho - probably his best game in a Liverpool shirt, he was sensational and his goal was the cherry on top of the icing on the cake. He completely shut down the Palace team and kept their midfield out of the game.





Henderson - he was here, there and everywhere leading from the front like a true captain should. This season has cemented his legacy as one of the better captains Liverpool have had, despite how difficult a start he has had. I doubt anyone has ever had such a difficult task as Henderson did to inherit the armband from one of the club's own in Gerrard, who was beloved by the fans. With so much crap from the media aimed in his direction, he has shown his mettle by just taking it all in his stride (even if he can't run properly hey Fergie?) and leading the team to trophy after trophy. If only he could get the goals his play deserves!





Wijnaldum - had an excellent game, helping to maintain dominance of the ball and breaking into the box, but he really should have scored at least once. Though that would probably have been harsh on Palace to concede 5, as that becomes embarrassing then and they did not deserve to be embarrassed. Gini was much more involved in driving the play forward and had a very good game. Then shifted to left-back for the final few minutes and did a good job there for the team.





Salah - it is hard to believe that there are people who feel we should be looking to sell him and that he does not offer enough to the team. Salah is so important to the way Liverpool play, most of the time he is double-covered creating space elsewhere for the team and when that double-cover is not available he usually scores. And what an excellent goal he scored, but it was bettered by his first-time pass with his wrong foot for Mane's goal. It is just a shame he messed up a chance to play Minamino in, probably caught in two minds about whether to shoot or pass and ended up doing neither.





Mane - growing in stature as a player each season to such an extent that it is difficult to argue against him being the best in his position in world football. Once more he caused havoc and was excellent. Palace simply could not handle him.





Firmino - showed some lovely footwork and worked hard to ensure the team won back possession high. He really does need to get a goal at Anfield this season though. Everything else he does is world class, but his finishing is just not there at the moment. The rest of his game makes up for it.





Oxlade-Chamberlain - came on in the 64th minute for Henderson and gave a fresh impetus to the play with his movement. Everytime he plays in central midfield he impresses more and more. Against Palace he just kept the pressure on and never let them have any respite at all.





Williams - replaced Alexander-Arnold in the 74th minute and there was no noticeable drop in performance having him there rather than Trent. In just about any other team in the league he would probably be first choice with his quality and lovely quick feet.





Minamino - came on along with Williams but to replace Firmino and slotted in up front in place of the Brazilian. Looked much more comfortable in the centre and offered a lot more than against Everton, but is still clearly not at the same level as Firmino, though he has similar luck in front of goal!





Elliott - was brought on in the 84th minute in place of Robertson, as Klopp reshuffled. Elliott played on the left, something I had not see him do before and he never got a chance to really get into the game and have an effect.





Keita - arrived at the same time as Elliott, but took Mane's place. Like Elliott, he had little time to get properly involved.

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Stoke City News 25 Jun 2020
Top 10 Strikers







10. Erling Haaland - Borussia Dortmund



The youngster has had a meteoric rise which is showing no signs of stopping any time soon. He has all the attributes needed to reach number 1 in time, if he can continue to improve his game. With his physique and speed, Haaland has the potential to play in any league in the world.







9. Karim Benzema - Real Madrid



It is very easy to dismiss Benzema and overlook him. His demeanour is often sullen, he gets involved in issues he should avoid and is one of those characters who are very easy to dislike. However, as a forward he is exceptional, more as a creative force than a top class finisher. That is his downfall, Benzema simply does not score enough goals, but he creates so many chances for his team-mates that it more than makes up for that.







8. Raul Jimenez - Wolverhampton Wanderers



The margins were incredibly tight between the next few players, outside the top 3. However I am choosing Jimenez in eighth, just. His weakness is simply that he does not score enough goals, though his scoring record is certainly not a bad one, just like Benzema, and has been much better this season. Also like Benzema, his work as a conduit for the team's play is exceptional. Though he is more of a target man, he still possesses genuine creative ability.







7. Timo Werner - Red Bull Leipzig



Pace, movement, workrate, skill, Werner has it all. Whether he will be as good in the Premier League as he has been in the Bundesliga is a different matter. On the face of it though he looks like an excellent buy for Chelsea and should be a real difference maker for them next season, when it finally gets under way.







6. Lautaro Martinez - Inter Milan



This lad would be much higher up the list but he has not stood out for long enough to rise higher. It is little surprise that Barcelona are desperate to sign this lad, he stands out as one of the best young talents in world football. You would have to expect him to hit a bump in the road at some point soon and how he deals with it will decide whether he continues to rise or not.







4= Roberto Firmino - Liverpool



Another of those strikers that does not score enough goals, but do so much more for the team in a creative sense that it makes up for the lack of goals. Added to that Firmino also works so hard off the ball defensively it makes him the first line of defence too. Some of his touches and skills are sublime, the no look passes and goals are not his only qualities, he can effortlessly take the ball under control and past a player in one movement. It is done so well that it goes unnoticed most of the time now.





4= Harry Kane - Tottenham Hotspur



Until Salah provided him with genuine competition for the golden boot each season, he was improving massively and looking certain to make it to number 1. Kane's last couple of seasons did see some slight regression as he shot too much and obsessed over trying to score rather than doing what was best for the team. However this season had shown signs of him getting back to what he does best, as his creativity is a big part of his skillset. Now it is just the glass ankles that see him miss large periods of time every season that are a worry.







3. Kylian Mbappe - Paris Saint-Germain



The incredible speed and skill Mbappe possesses often overshadow just how good he is overall. It is so easy to forget that he is not just incredibly quick, but also a top class young player, though he needs to move to a more competitive league to really push for the top spot. With so many easy games a season, it is difficult to truly assess how good he is.







2. Robert Lewandowski - Bayern Munich



Possibly the complete striker, good in the air, great movement and his finishing is sublime. It is an incredibly close call to whether he is first or second. In fact I have swapped them a few times but the Pole has just been edged out. Just.







1. Sergio Aguero - Manchester City



Kun has always been a great striker, but working with Guardiola has added workrate and pressing to his game and it has turned him into something special. Incredible acceleration aids him in finding space to shoot, plus he has a lovely low centre of gravity which enables him to twist and turn at pace and the strength to keep his balance under pressure. Aguero has genuine power in his shot with either foot but his key asset is his intelligent runs.

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Stoke City News 18 Jun 2020
Gordon Banks 'Banks of England'





To read the player profile on Gordon Banks click here.



To read the manager profile on Gordon Banks click here.



Gordon was born on the 30th December 1937 in Abbeydale, Sheffield, the youngest of four brothers to a steelworker dad. They lived in the working-class area of Tinsley until moving to the village of Catcliffe, where his dad set up a betting shop, which was illegal in those days. That led to the loss of his disabled brother, who was mugged for the shop's daily takings and died of his injuries a few weeks later.



At school Banks became a goalkeeper due to playing 5-a-sides. The kids would all take it in turns, and he found he enjoyed it, so Gordon ended up being the keeper on a more and more regular basis. He went on to represent Sheffield Schoolboys but he was never a good pupil, Banks himself admits he never liked school and he left aged 15 to become a bagger for the local coal merchant. Banks would be in a lorry waiting as trains came into the sidings full of coal. They would get into the wagon, shovel coal into bags on the wagon and then stack the bags on the lorry. Then they would deliver the sacks to houses in the area.



Gordon was still just 15 when his brother David got him a job on a building site as an apprentice bricklayer. There he would carry hods, mix cement and dig ditches. On a Saturday morning he would do overtime then run home, wash and get changed before catching the bus or tram into town to watch whichever of the two Sheffield teams was playing at home that day. One Saturday Banks missed the bus and so he instead went to watch local team Millspaugh play on the 'rec'.



He was leaning on the fence when their coach spotted him in the crowd and asked Gordon if he would play as their keeper had not turned up for the game. The coach had seen him play for Sheffield Schoolboys and recognised him, no doubt with a huge sigh of relief. Banks rushed home to get his boots and played well enough to be asked to play for them regularly. Yorkshire League side Rawmarch Welfare spotted him playing and snapped him up but after two games, in which Rawmarch lost 12-2 and 3-1, they dropped him and he returned to Millspaugh.



Chesterfield scouted him and offered him a six game trial with their youth team in March 1953, which he accepted. After his trial he signed a £3 a week part-time deal with Chesterfield and would continue to work on the building sites, training on a Tuesday and Thursday night. National Service intervened and he spent a year posted in Germany with the Royal Signals, winning the Rhine Cup with his regimental team and winning the heart of his wife Ursula while there too.



Returning to England he was part of the Chesterfield youth team that made it through to the 1956 FA Youth Cup final, where they lost 4-3 on aggregate to the Busby Babes. Chesterfield's reserves were placed into the Central League due to the influence of a powerful club director, but they found themselves out of their depth, even with Banks in goal. They finished last with just 3 wins and Banks conceded 122 goals!



Despite Gordon's lack of success in the reserves, in November 1958 he was given his first team debut against Colchester United at Saltergate. The score finished 2-2 but Banks held on to his place for the rest of the season, missing just 2 matches and all were due to injury. With no specialist goalkeeping coaches in English football at the time, Gordon Banks had to teach himself how to keep the ball out of the net. With just 26 total appearances under his belt, Leicester City manager Matt Gillies had seen enough to pay £7,000 for his services in July 1959 and he was given a salary increase to £15 per week.



The Foxes had five other goalkeepers competing for the number 1 shirt already, including Scottish international Johnny Anderson. Dave MacLaren had the shirt, but Banks began the 1959-60 season as the reserves keeper, ahead of Anderson. After just four games in the reserves, MacLaren picked up an injury and Banks made his first team debut for Leicester on 9th September at Filbert Street against Blackpool in a 1-1 draw. He also played 3 days later in a 2-0 defeat to Newcastle at St James' Park but then MacLaren returned to fitness and Banks returned to the reserves.



Over the course of the next five matches the first team conceded 14 and so Banks was recalled to the first team. His return did not pay immediate dividends, Leicester still leaked goals, including 6 at Goodison Park, but Banks worked hard on his weaknesses in training. This was before specialist goalkeeping coaches and so Banks would create his own practice session to work on things, such as coming for crosses. He did well enough that both Anderson and MacLaren were allowed to move on at the end of the season, leaving Banks as undisputed number 1.



The following season was much better for Leicester, as they came 6th in the league and reached an FA Cup final, with Banks conceding just 5 goals in their 9 games en route to Wembley. The semi-final went to two replays against Sheffield United, with Banks keeping a clean sheet in all three games to see the Foxes into the final. There they met a Tottenham team that beat them 2-0 and then Spurs clinched the double with the league title. That meant Leicester were in European competition, as Spurs were in the European Cup, and had a run in the European Cup Winners' Cup to look forward to for the 1961-62 season.



Banks had impressed enough to put himself into the England reckoning now, which caused a few problems for the goalkeeper when an England v Portugal game clashed with Leicester's game against Atletico Madrid. He resolved the dilemma over which to choose by not choosing between them. Banks instead left London as soon as the England game had finished (he was not in the team) and raced up to Leicester to arrive 30 minutes before kick off. It was not enough to see Leicester through as the game finished 1-1 and they went on to lose the return leg 2-0 despite Banks's penalty save. The run in Europe seemingly affected their league form as they finished the season just 14th in Division One.



Banks opened the 1962-63 season with a broken nose in a 2-1 defeat at Craven Cottage on opening day, but it was not a taster for how the season would go. Leicester were chasing the double and were sat top of the Division 1 table in April and were in the FA Cup semi-finals, where they would face Liverpool. In the semi at Hillsborough, Liverpool bombarded his goal, with the game finishing 34 shots to 1 in their favour, but Banks still managed to keep a clean sheet and see the Foxes into the final with a 1-0 win. After his retirement Banks referred to it as his finest performance at club level.



At international level Alf Ramsey started looking to the 1966 World Cup and dropped Ron Springett for him on 6th April 1963 against Scotland at Wembley. England lost 2-1 but Banks held on to his place. The end of the season did not go so well though as Banks broke a finger at the Hawthorns in a 2-1 defeat by West Brom and missed the last 3 league games as Leicester slumped without him, losing them all and dropping to 4th. Banks did return to play in the FA Cup final, but the entire team played poorly in a 3-1 defeat to Manchester United.



The next season saw Leicester in inconsistent form in the league, finishing just 11th, but they reached another cup final, this time the League Cup variant. In those days it was a home and away affair and Stoke were the opponents. The first leg at an extremely muddy Victoria Ground was a 1-1 draw after Banks spilt a Bill Asprey shot, which Keith Bebbington slotting home the loose ball. Back at Filbert Street, Leicester won 3-2 to lift the cup 4-3 on aggregate.



By the end of the season Banks had firmly established himself as England's number 1 and played two of the 3 matches during the summer's "Little World Cup" in Brazil. At this time Leicester paid full internationals, such as Banks and Frank McLintock, £40 a week and that saw McLintock request a transfer due to his low pay. Rival clubs were paying their fringe players that much and they eventually, in December, upped Banks' wage to £60 a week. It was not the best season for Banks personally as Blackpool keeper Tony Waiters managed to push in, picking up 5 caps, but he lost his place back to Banks after conceding five goals against Brazil. Waiters' chance came about after Banks was one of a party of England players who went on an unsanctioned night out before a friendly in Lisbon. The players all returned to their hotel rooms to find their passports waiting for them on their pillows!



In the league the Foxes struggled, finishing 18th, but managed to reach the League Cup final again, this time losing to Chelsea. After the season, England's summer tour saw Banks and the defence build an understanding and conceded just 2 goals in 4 games. Returning to club duty, he broke his wrist in pre-season, which saw him miss the first 9 games of the season, however Leicester's form improved and they managed to reach 7th before Banks headed off on England duty once more.



England played 7 friendlies in the build up to the 1966 World Cup, included in that was a 4-3 win over Scotland in the British Home Championship in front of over 130,000 at Hampden Park and they headed into the tournament in fine form. The tournament began with Banks pretty much a spectator in the first game against Uruguay as they were so defensive. Against Mexico he again had an easy day before another win, and a third clean sheet in row saw England through to the last 8 without conceding a single goal. Argentina were next up, though it lacked the rivalry of future games, and another clean sheet helped England into the semi-finals.



The teams were lining up in the tunnel before the match when trainer Harold Shepherdson realised he had forgotten to buy Banks' chewing gum. As Banks explains: "I didn't use gloves in those days, only when it was wet. Woollen ones like the ones you may buy to wear in winter now with your overcoat. But I learned from Bert Trautmann to get a couple of pieces of chewing gum and start chewing. He told me to wait until just before the icing on the gum cracked and then spit on my hands and smooth it over. Then when the opposition came over the halfway line you just had to lick your palms and they would immediately get sticky and help you hold the ball when it came." In a panic Shepherdson ran to a nearby newsagents to buy some chewing gum and just made it back in time for kick off.



Perhaps that contributed as Banks conceded his first goal in 721 minutes of regular play, but England managed to beat Portugal, with the great Eusebio up front at his peak, 2-1. As some of you might have heard, England went on to beat West Germany in the final to become World Champions for the first (and so far only) time. The German players were all given £10,000 each and a VW car for reaching the final, England gave its players £1,000 each and a raincoat.



Banks returned to the Foxes fresh from a World Cup win only to find himself dropped towards the end of the season, being told by manager Matt Gillies that "we think your best days are behind you, and you should move on". Leicester team mate Richie Norman told him that Gillies had been pressured into it by the board after Peter Shilton, who replaced Banks in the team, had threatened to leave if he was not playing. Shockingly Leicester transfer listed Gordon Banks with a price of £50,000.



As soon as Liverpool manager Bill Shankly got the news that Banks was available he jumped in his car and drove straight to Leicester. He met Leicester's directors and agreed a fee, then he spoke to Banks and agreed personal terms before racing back to Liverpool to speak to the LFC board. The Liverpool board refused point blank to sanction paying that much for a keeper. West Ham manager Ron Greenwood was the next to show interest but he had already agreed a deal with Kilmarnock for the signing of Bobby Ferguson for £65,000 and would not go back on his word. So it was left to Stoke City to step in and pay the £50,000 to buy him in April 1967.



Just one year after becoming a World Cup winner Gordon Banks was being forced to make a move from Leicester and the England goalkeeper asked for the standard 'loyalty' payment from the Foxes. Gillies told him: "We've decided not to pay you a penny. There's to be no compensation payment and that's final." Shocked, as this was a time when players were not being given huge money and could not just afford to go and buy a new house every time they moved club, Banks refused to move to Stoke. In the end Stoke's manager Tony Waddington told Banks that he had manage to negotiate a £2,000 payment from Leicester for him. It was not until years later that Banks found out Stoke had paid him the money.



At the Potters he replaced John Farmer as number 1 and played the last four games of the 1966/67 season, making his home debut in a 3-1 win over previous club Leicester. Though he has never publicly stated it, I am sure he would have taken a great deal of satisfaction from that result! Banks continued to hold down his place as England's first choice man between the sticks, representing them in Euro 68 in the days when there were just 4 teams in the tournament - Italy (hosts), Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and England. Despite the safe hands of Banks, England lost their first game 1-0 to Yugoslavia before beating the Soviets in a third place play off.



He still had time to head off to the USA for the summer and play for Cleveland Stokers of the United Soccer Association on loan. Banks found the time to play seven of the Ohio club's 12 matches of the season before a return to England. Despite Leicester selling him as over the hill, Banks was playing more games than ever and continued to hold down the number 1 jersey for an England team that was believed to be even better than the one that won the World Cup a few years' previously. They headed off to the heat and altitude of Mexico '70 as one of the big favourites.



The England team went over to South America early to acclimatise but Banks struggled with the heat and the altitude, as did many others. Despite that, England opened the tournament with a 1-0 win over Romania to set up a clash with the other favourites Brazil in the second game of the group stage. The game most felt should have been the final, between the two best games in the tournament came along the day after Gordon had been honoured with an OBE. In this game he produced the one moment he will always be known for and one that made the OBE seem like it undervalued his contribution.



In Pele's words: "Banks appeared in my sight like a kind of blue phantom. He came from nowhere, and he did something I didn't feel was possible. He pushed my header, somehow, up and over. And I couldn't believe what I saw. Even now when I watch it, I can't believe it. I can't believe how he moved so far, so fast." As the ball flew off Pele's head, he even shouted "Gol!" Pele was that sure he had placed his header so far from the keeper that no one is going to save it. As the ball headed to his right, Gordon Banks flew across and somehow miraculously managed to tip it over the bar, scooping it right up.



"They won't remember me for winning the World Cup, it'll be for that save. That's how big a thing it is. People just want to talk about that save." - Banks



At the time Banks ended up in the back of the net and only Pele's reaction told him that he had managed to save it. "I thought that was a goal," an incredulous Pele told him. "You and me both," replied Gordon. Then Booby Moore arrived to ruffle his hair and told him: "You're getting old, Banksy, you used to hold onto them." Despite that incredible save (and that tackle by Moore) Brazil still beat England 1-0 but they then beat Czechoslovakia to reach the quarter finals, where they would once again face West Germany.



Before this game it was not an award he picked up but a stomach bug of some kind, which went from merely an upset stomach to turn into violent stomach cramps and aching limbs. Banks spent the day before sweating, shivering and vomiting. On the day of the game he did feel better and managed to pass a fitness test before suffering a relapse, which led to him being replaced by Peter Bonetti. Gordon was sat in the team hotel watching the game, which was shown with a significant time delay. The time delay was such that England were winning 2-0 on his TV screen when Bobby Moore came back from the game to tell him that England lost 3-2 after extra time. The loss of Banks was key, as Bonetti struggled and that, along with the so-called 'Bogota Bracelet' incident led to the spread of conspiracy theories that England had been 'nobbled' to stop them winning it again.



While in the region Banks had picked himself up some of the new, oversized goalkeeping gloves with a dimpled rubber surface, which South American keepers favoured. Most Brits mistrusted foreign goalkeepers, but Gordon Banks was someone who was looking to learn from everyone. He returned to England and Stoke began to start being competitive for honours, reaching the semi-final of the FA Cup in the 1970-71 season. They lost to Arsenal after a replay.



There was a controversial moment during the season, something that many forget involved him. In May 1971 Banks was playing in goal for England against Northern Ireland at Windsor Park with the score 0-0. The ball was in Banks' hands and he balanced it on one hand as he prepared to kick down field when George Best nipped in and headed the ball out of his hand and put it into the empty net. Banks protests quickly saw the referee disallow the goal, but it has stayed in people's memories as a moment of Best magic.



The following season Stoke won the only major honour in their history, as Banks led them to pick up a League Cup. They also once again reached the FA Cup semi-final to face Arsenal once more. It went to a replay again and Banks later admitted he felt cheated of a chance to play in an FA Cup final after the Gooners won 2-1 thanks to a hotly disputed penalty and a goal that TV replays showed was clearly offside. His performances were so integral to Stoke's success that he won the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year award. He was the first keeper to win it since Bert Trautmann in 1956.



It was a quiet summer for Banks as England had failed to qualify for the European Championships that summer due to a 3-1 loss to West Germany in qualifying. He was still undisputed number 1 for England and Stoke City on 22nd October 1972 when he was driving home after a physio session on an injured shoulder. Banks admitted he was driving too fast and not being careful enough, deciding to overtake on a sharp bend and hit an oncoming van. His car ended up in a ditch. He was rushed to North Staffordshire Hospital for emergency treatment where he received 200 stitches on his face and another 100 micro-stitches inside the socket of his right eye. Unfortunately the treatment was unable to save the sight in his right eye.



The following summer he officially retired from professional football with 73 England caps, 35 of them clean sheets, and just 9 losses in an England shirt. Banks' final performance was fitting as he was part of an England team that beat the 'Auld Enemy' Scotland 1-0 at Hampden Park. He had been chosen as FIFA Goalkeeper of the Year six time, 5 years in a row, the final year being as recently as 1971. Gordon chose to retire as he was afraid that losing an eye would completely destroy his depth perception and ability to compete at the top level.



Retirement never suited him at all and he made one appearance for a semi-professional side, Scarborough FC, in the Anglo-Italian Tournament as a guest. Alan A'Court also guested in a 0-0 draw against Monza. Banks was convinced to join the North American Soccer League as a named superstar in April 1977 with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. They won the league with the best defensive record in 1977, conceding just 29 in 26 games, but he never really enjoyed the showmanship of the league saying: "I felt like a circus act... Roll up, roll up, to see the greatest one-eyed goalkeeper in the world."



It was very different from what he was used to in the no-nonsense world of the English league, for instance there was one occasion when Banks found himself being driven to the pitch in a hearse. Then he helped to carry a coffin to the centre circle whereupon the team's manager jumped out, dressed as Dracula, as the PA system announced to the fans that, "Lauderdale Strikers are coming back from the dead!" They had lost just two games in a row before this one.



His performances were enough to win him the NASL Goalkeeper of the Year award, which was unsurprising according to the team's back up keeper, Van Taylor: "He had such a high work ethic. He was the first to training, last to leave. He worked hard. There was a time in the pre-season where we would run on the beach from one pier to the other and he would be at the front of that pack every time. He took pride in his professionalism. He was so impeccable on angles and positioning. Where maybe I was flopping and making it look like good saves, he would just collect balls. He made things look so easy. When training was over he would say: 'Let's just keep a bag of balls'. I learned how to deliver a pretty good cross!"



During the season St Patrick's Athletic manager Barry Bridges was without a goalkeeper for the Dublin derby with Shamrock Rovers. Bridges made an approach to sign Gordon for just that one game and was waiting to hear back from the legendary keeper. Bridges told the groundsman, Harry Boland, that he was expecting a phone call then took the players out to training. Bridges and the players are out on the pitch training, Harry is down in the dressing room making tea for the players to drink after training when he heard the phone ring upstairs. Rushing upstairs, Harry reaches the phone just in time for it to stop ringing. Back down the stairs, grumbling under his breath, Harry makes it as far as the dressing room before the phone begins to ring once more. Once more he makes his way all the way up the stairs to get to the phone before it stops ringing. By this point he is convinced it is lads in the Black Lion pub, who often used to play this prank on him, so the third time it rings he is ready and waiting by the phone and picks it up. A voice on the other end says: "I'm Gordon Banks, I'm looking to speak to Barry Bridges", only to receive a tirade of expletives before the phone is slammed down on him. Bridges returns from training and asks, "any phone calls?" "Well there was one," replies Boland, "but it was the lads up in the Black Lion messing saying it was Gordon Banks on the phone."



Luckily Barry Bridges was able to rescue the deal and it saw the stadium packed long before kick-off with a large crowd of small boys and small girls chanting, "Gordon Banks, Gordon Banks". However it was not until about 5 minutes from the end that he was seriously tested when a volley from Eamon Dunphy headed for the top right-hand corner of the net. Banks flew across to pull off a stunning save and earn himself a rapturous ovation after the game as St Pat's ran out 1-0 winners. Even at 40 with just one working eye, Banks still had it.



In December he joined Port Vale as a coach under Dennis Butler, coaching was clearly something he was keen to make a future in according to Van Taylor: "I was cleaning out my attic the other day and I found some old Delta Air Lines napkins - when we were on the flight, Gordon and I would do Xs and Os, tactics, and he had signed it. We would just talk about the game, as players would, and get a napkin. As it turned out I ended up having a coaching career for 30 years. When I saw that I thought, 'there was one of my first coaching mentors.' It was kind of neat."



Banks continued to play for the Strikers, combining it with the coaching role at Vale, managing 11 appearances in the NASL over the course of 1978. Vale were not doing too well under Butler and he was replaced by Alan Bloor, who then demoted Banks to coach the reserves in October. The great man, without a doubt England's greatest ever goalkeeper, resigned soon after as he felt the players were not listening to him or taking notice of his advice. He then applied for jobs as manager of Lincoln City and Rotherham United, but both turned Banks down.



Eventually non-league part-timers Telford United game him a chance for the 1979-80 season. There Banks did everything, from appearances at supermarkets to hand out tickets to coaching the team. They finished 13th that season, not as good as was hoped for but he started the following season with optimism. In November he took time off to undergo surgery, leaving Jackie Mudie in temporary charge while he recovered. Telford lost to a lower league team in the FA Trophy while he was away and Banks was promptly sacked on his return and offered a job as a raffle ticket seller instead. Banks accepted it, thinking it would mean the club had to pay up what he was owed, but he was mistaken and ended up having to settle for 50% and said of his treatment: "It broke my heart.... I did not want to stay in the game."



The game had changed a lot during his lifetime: "In my early days, a goal against us was shrugged off. Nobody liked conceding a goal, but once the ball had gone into the net it was accepted as 'one of those things' and everybody in the team would concentrate on trying to get the goal back. But once the maximum wage had been lifted and win bonuses became all-important, it was suddenly considered a crime to concede a goal."



Despite that, Banks did stay within the game to a degree, as he was appointed to the three-man Pools panel. After Stanley Matthews death in 2000, Stoke appointed him as their president. He also finally got his testimonial game from Leicester, belatedly, in 1995 after he lost a lot of money in a Leicester-based hospitality company. Banks never earnt the wealth his talents deserved and ended up selling his World Cup winner's medal and his international cap from the final for around £150,000 in total so that he could help his three children buy their first houses.



Recognition of his achievements came late as the IFFHS chose him as number 2 goalkeeper of the 20th Century behind Lev Yashin. He was an inaugural inductee to the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002, Keele University awarded him an honorary doctorate and a statue of him holding up the Jules Rimet Trophy was unveiled outside Stoke's Britannia Stadium by Pele, who described Banks as a "goalkeeper with magic" as he did so. All of that he got to see before he passed away in his sleep on 12th February 2019 as, without question, the best English goalkeeper of all time.





Suggested by c_matthews94



For the previous Legend of the Game article on Jimmy Johnstone click HERE

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Stoke City News 30 May 2020
By The Numbers - Part 1: Liverpool





4 FA Youth Cup wins, the first coming in 1996 with a team featuring Michael Owen and Jamie Carragher. The last in 2019 on penalties over Manchester City.





1892 The year of the club's birth, after Everton had a dispute with Anfield landlord John Houlding and went off to play across Stanley Park. Houlding set up Liverpool to play at the now empty Anfield.





41 The club's oldest ever player was Ted Doig, who was 41 years and 165 days old when facing Newcastle United in 1908.





41 It was also the number of goals Roger Hunt scored in the 1961-62 season.





18 He was known as 'Supersub' for a reason. David Fairclough notched up 18 goals for Liverpool as a substitute.





38 At the age of 38 years and 55 days the great Billy Liddell became the oldest player to score for Liverpool. Liddell was so important in his time that the club were nicknamed Liddellpool while he played for them.





35 The club's first transfer record was the £35 paid for Scottish left back William "Billy" Dunlop from Paisley Abercorn.





1959 A crucial year in the history of the Reds as Bill Shankly was appointed to replace Phil Taylor as manager. Shankly had previously been turned down for the role as he had wanted too much control for the Liverpool board's liking. It was an appointment that changed history.





114 Liverpool's most capped player is Steven Gerrard with his 114 England caps.





16 The youngest ever players was Jerome Sinclair who was just 16 years and 6 days old when he faced West Bromwich Albion in 2012.





17 Gordon Hodgson managed to notch up 17 hat-tricks while playing for LFC.





42 Taking penalties was just about the only time Jan Molby seemed to move out from the centre circle and he scored 42 of those during his Liverpool career.





1 Lancashire League titles before joining the Football League.





6 European Cups, the most of any British team.





18 Reserve Division One Championships. At one time the reserves actually meant more than just a way to get first team players fit.





1964 The arrival of the all-red kit appeared in November of this year. Shanks felt it made the team look more intimidating.





15 Charity/Community Shields, though 5 of them were shared with their opponent on the day.





5 In the 1961-62 season Roger Hunt scored this many hat-tricks for the Reds.





417 Phil Neal managed to set a record for most consecutive appearances between October 1976 and September 1983.





20 Mr Consistency Phil Neal also managed to win 20 trophies in his time with Liverpool.





346 The most first team goals is a record held by Ian Rush. 39 of them in the FA Cup and 48 in the League Cup are also club records.





75,000,000 The club's record transfer fee which was spent on Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk.





1974 The end of an era as Bill Shankly handed over the reins as Liverpool manager to Bob Paisley.





245 Roger Hunt has more league goals than any other Liverpool player.





1 FIFA Club World Cup, taking until 2019 to lift it, despite taking part a number of times as defending European champions in the past.





21 The club's longest serving player was Elisha Scott, the goalkeeper serving the club for 21 years and 52 days between 1913 and 1934.





4 The number of different managers who won the European Cup with Liverpool. Bob Paisley, three times, Joe Fagan, Rafael Benitez and Jurgen Klopp.





1901 The year of Liverpool's first league title.





18 Or should that be 19? The number of league titles won by Liverpool.





7 FA Cups have ended up going up to Merseyside.





41 Steven Gerrard was the man to look to in Europe, as his club record total of 41 European goals shows.





17 Liverpool's youngest ever goalscorer was Ben Woodburn aged 17 years and 45 days when he scored the second goal in a win over Leeds United in 2016.





1977 The year of Liverpool's first European Cup win.





78 Ian Rush's 78 League Cup appearances are a club record.





8 League Cups, 4 of them in a row in the early 1980s.





3 UEFA Cups under three different managers, Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley and Gerard Houllier.





1977 It was a big year for Anfield as the King arrived to take his place on the throne. Kenny Dalglish cost what now seems the paltry fee of £440,000 from Celtic and went on to become a legend on and off the pitch for the Reds. Initially he was wanted as Kevin Keegan's partner, but Keegan's desire to move on saw the Scot end up replacing him on the pitch and in the hearts of Liverpool fans.





857 Ian Callaghan holds the record for the most first team appearances with 857 in total. He also holds records for most league appearances, with 640, and most FA Cup appearances with 79.





2015 October of this year saw Liverpool take a huge step forward as Brendan Rodgers was sacked on the 4th and Jurgen Klopp brought in to replace him on the 8th.





4 UEFA Super Cup wins, 3 after European Cups and 1 after a UEFA Cup victory.





150 With the increase in European games, Jamie Carragher was able to create a new record for appearances in Europe.





4 Division Two titles. The Reds were not always a top flight team and won the second tier of the English Leagues 4 times.





20 Jurgen Klopp is Liverpool's twentieth manager in their history.

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22 Jul 2017 23:28:46
Possible Stoke may not try for Indi now they have Bouma. He will be cheaper at Xmas and Free next summer.
Still think they may go for Sturridge and even Wilshere. Perhaps still somebody we have never considered.

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18 May 2017 22:38:42
I was curious as to whether there's anyone trying to sign Butland?

You hear a lot of talk about who wants Pickford, but Butland looks like a much better keeper from what I have seen of him (certainly before he was injured).

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16 Jun 2017 12:39:00
My guess would be that now Pickford has gone for £30m Stoke can ask silly money for Butland so will price him out of a transfer.

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03 Feb 2017 13:19:27
Not the most active board but i'll ask here because Ed002 will tell me off otherwise.

What does everyone think of Berahino's move to Stoke? Good for the club/player/both/neither?

Love to hear your opinions everyone.

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16 May 2017 04:53:59
Hasn't worked out so far for anyone other than the Baggies.

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16 Jun 2017 12:40:43
2017/18 season will be crucial for Berahino. He'll have a full pre-season under him so no more excuses. He'll need to hit the start of the season at full sprint.

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01 Aug 2016 14:31:05
ITK Stoke City in advanced talks with move to bring beleaguered Manchester City forward Wilfried Bony to the Bet365 Stadium.

More to follow.

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12 Jul 2016 18:35:31
Peter Crouch rumoured to be interesting The magpies.

Would be more interesting if he signed for the Brewers.

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27 Jan 2016 15:26:07
Still gutted after exit last night but must move on.
CP taking Adebayor who has not played for 10 months. Fernando Torres contract runs out in June. Could be better bet at about same age?
Porto want £38 m for Imbula! That's dead then.


Still hoping we could get Sandro Ramirez from Barca.
How about buying NZonzi back .?

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22 Jan 2016 17:27:00
Stoke rumoured to be thinking of paying £19m for UMBULA from Porto Why oh why?

Porto paid 25m Euros for him 12 months ago. Has not done well, got sent off for a really vicious foul recently. His t/ f value is £11.4.m Porto want to get ride of him and did not expect to make a profit. How come he is suddenly worth £19m. Does not make sense. Anyone know different?

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19 Jan 2016 18:52:39
Further news from Barcelona re Sandro. They are prepared to let him go and have a bid from Real Betis but don't want him to go to someone in same league. Valued at around £3.5 they woudprobably take £2mfrom PL team.

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14 Jan 2016 17:30:11
Couple of very recent rumours without much referred to in press.

Suggested Peter Crouch may return to QPR ( about only club he would move to below Premiership ) Stoke COULD be trying to do deal involving Charlie Austin.

From Spain there is suggestion Stoke may try to get Sandro Ramirez from Barca. Quite cheap and has not lived up to expectations ( bit like Bojan? )

Expected 2 out of three ( Ireland, Odemwingie, Sidwell ) could depart. Stoke currently have one gap in their 25 but therefore only if replacements were brought in would any of the above be allowed to leave.

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13 Nov 2015 16:51:47
New York RBs Matt Miazga has attracted scouts from a number of sides, including Swansea City, RB Leipzig and Stoke, but nobody has made an approach to the MLS about him.

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19 Aug 2015 14:20:43
Norwich are keen on a loan deal for Oussama Assaidi currently plying his trade in Dubai .Stoke winger Peter Odemwingie is seen as a potential back up loan deal

Chelsea are set to have a busy week, with them close to sealing a £21 Million move for Barcelona Forward Pedro and bidding £30 Million + Victor Moses for John Stones . They are also keen to add midfielder Godfred Donsah and fullback Alex Telles to their ranks

Tottenham are keen in adding a defensive midfielder to their ranks are set to bid £16 Million for Borussia Dortmund's Sven Bender
Bristol City are close to sealing an £8.5 Million move for Andre Gray with personal terms being agreed

Aston Villa are keen to try and remove a lot of deadwood from the current squad with Senderos, N'Zogbia and Richardson all set to be transfer listed. Aston Villa are also looking to do a possible deal with free agent Dimitar Berbatov after the breakdown of a deal for Adebayor

Stoke City are front-runners in a potential £15 Million Deal for Dynamo Kiev winger Andriy Yarmolenko with rivals Everton now keen on a £14 Million deal for Crystal Palace winger Yannick Bolasie and Chelsea's Victor Moses 

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24 Aug 2015 22:23:38
Suppose if you throw enough names in the pot you are bound to get one right eventually.

{Ed003's Note - that's not very nice lol.}

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19 Aug 2015 14:19:20
Stoke City are in pole Position for Jonny Evans with WBA and Everton favouring other defensive players. Stoke are set to bid £7 Million for the Manchester United defender and are set to release defender Dionatan Teixeira. Stoke are also interested in Barcelona Midfielder Alex Song

Manchester united are set to bid £50 Million for Bayern Munich forward Thomas Muller being set to lose out on Barcelona forward Pedro to rivals Chelsea

Southampton are set to bid £8 Million for Celtic Defender Virgil Van Dijk

Manchester City are also set to sign Valencia defender Otamendi and may look to Real Madrid attacker Isco if a deal for Wolfsburg attacker De Bruyne is not possible

Bournemouth are looking at potential deals for Sunderland poacher Jermain Defoe and Stoke City Midfielder Steve Sidwell

QPR face a tough battle to keep Charlie Austin with Newcastle, Stoke and West ham all interested in the £15 Million forward. Dwight Gayle and Peter Crouch are seen as possible replacements 

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27 Aug 2015 08:59:58
I can't see Stoke releasing Dionatan,he's only 23 and with a few loan moves he could realise whatever potential Stoke saw in him.

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19 Aug 2015 14:18:00
Tottenham are set to offer £18 Million + Fazio for West Brom striker Saido Berahino with Albion rejecting spurs initial approach

West Ham are set to have a loan bid for surplus Manchester United Goal Anders Lindegaard rejected with United wanting a permanent transfer away . They have also dropped interest in Midfielder Tom Huddlestone with their interests switched to other targets including a loan deal for Spurs forward Adebayor

Everton are keen to add £5 Million River Plate defender Ramiro Mori and £8 Million Rated Napoli defender Mohamed Coulibaly. Both are set to be added as possible replacements for Chelsea bound John Stones. Chelsea's latest offer is £30 Million + Victor Moses on a permanent deal

QPR and Sunderland are set to battle for Stoke City defender Phil Bardsley who is unwanted at the Britannia Stadium

Swansea forward Michu is wanted by Scottish Champions Celtic, with Swansea looking to release the forward on a free transfer and the striker keen to join

West Brom are close to wrapping up a £5.5 Million deal for Nottingham Forest Winger Michael Antonio and are keen on a £3 Million deal for Stoke City forward Jonathon Walters 

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18 Aug 2015 15:08:47
QPR, Bournmouth and Hull are interested in signing Steven Sidwell

Tottenham are set to offer WBA £15 Million + Fazio for a striker Saido Berahino with West Brom rejecting an offer with Aaron Lennon

Sunderland are facing tough competition for Liverpool forward Fabio Borini from Inter Milan

Stoke and Everton are looking at a potential loan deal with Leroy Fer

QPR are looking at £2 million deal for Forward Peter Crouch 

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17 Aug 2015 13:48:51
Manchester United are looking to cash in on £8 Million rated defender Jonny Evans with West Brom, Stoke City and Everton Interested

Sunderland are looking to resign Fabio Borini on a season long loan with view to buy from Liverpool

Bournemouth are interested in signing Stoke City midfielder Steven Sidwell

West ham and Newcastle are favourites to sign QPR forward Charlie Austin who is also attracting interest from Tottenham and Stoke City . QPR are looking for £15 Million for the Striker.

QPR are looking to sign Brentford striker Andre Gray for £8 Million and Stoke striker Peter Crouch for £2 as a replacement for Charlie Austin 

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17 Aug 2015 13:45:35
West Ham are looking to conclude a £5 Million Deal for Hull Midfielder Tom Huddlestone

Everton and Stoke are set to Battle it out for wantaway Barcelona Midfielder Alex Song . Barcelona want £5 Million for the midfielder who was previously on loan at West Ham

Spurs are set to offer West Brom £7 Million + Fazio and Lennon for Striker Saido Berahino

Sunderland are looking to desperately re-assure their defence and are looking to resign former full back Phil Bardlsey from Stoke City

Manchester United face a strong battle from Chelsea for Barcelona Winger Pedro who has a £21 Million Release clause

Stoke are in Poll Position for Dynamo Kiev Winger Andriy Yarmolenko . Everton are also interested however Stoke are the only team to have bid £12 Million with Kiev looking closer to £15 Million

Southampton are still looking to wrap up a £8M deal for Celtic defender Virgil Van Dijk 

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29 Jul 2015 12:39:23
Hi Eds, are Stoke looking to replace N'Zonzi with anyone? The squad is starting to look good, however I think if we do not replace him, we might struggle in the middle.

Beastie

{Ed001's Note - they are looking to replace him as Hughes did hold talks over signing Song while shopping at the Barca shop, but he is not going to be fit for a while. There was interest in a West Ham midfielder, whose name escapes me now, but they were not interested in selling him. I don't know who else is being looked at for the role now though sorry.}

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04 Aug 2015 06:41:45
Van Ginkel is Nzonzi's replacement.

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04 Aug 2015 12:08:13
Adama Traore due to visit Stoke today. Barca list him as midfielder . Would we expect him to be Nzonzi long term replacement? Or is he a winger, as the media call him? Could hardly be called a marquee signing. Hughes has been on his case for over a year and we know he rarely gives up.

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13 Jul 2015 22:32:16
Is this loan deal happening with sergi Roberto and moha el ouriachi the 19 year old from barca is this likely to happen?

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14 Jul 2015 11:41:54
Moha is already at the club.
Sergi Roberto is probably just paper talk, adding 2+2 together (Bojan and Munesia friendship) and getting 5.

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10 Jul 2015 23:14:55
So. Feels a little like a pulis transfer deadline day today. Nzonzi goes to seville and begovic to chelsea. Softened slightly by the arrival of van ginkel and given for no fees yet again, great job on the finances.

Reports saying badu is now agreed and waiting, glen johnson should be agreed next week sometime at a cost of around 4million. Again outstanding imo.

Aaaand low and behold shaqiri doesn't want to come and reports suggest its going cold.

So what would it mean for the team, van ginkel has hardly kicked a ball so its a doubt over his fitness but I believe chelsea hold him in high regard and was only offered to us as a way of pipping man utd. Badu adds energy, needed after nzonzi's long overdue departure(3 transfer requests later) but its johnsons signing that interests me, with cameron and bardsley still at the club this has to mean cameron will be moved into midfield this year

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12 Jul 2015 12:55:31
Van Ginkel finished last season strongly and quickly became a starting XI player for Milan.

Looks like Badu rumour was all agent and paper talk again. smoke and mirrors.

Hughes has said he's still got plenty of irons in the fire though. Joselu signing came out of no where, looks like we'll have to wait and see.

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