Stevie G is LFC's new number 13
Reds skipper Steven Gerrard moved up a
place to number 13 in the club's all-time table for number
of games played in all competitions having turned out at
Fiorentina on Tuesday.
This was his 493rd game for Liverpool, although this is 94
behind Jamie Carragher, our most experienced current player
who is ranked ninth.
The 29-year old Huyton-born lad signed on as a pro in 1997,
and is currently contracted with the club until 2013. He has
so far bagged an impressive 123 goals in his 493
appearances, and he is just five strikes short of moving up
into our top ten goalscorers of all time.
His 493 games to date are made up of 340 in the Premiership,
103 in Europe, 26 FA Cup, twenty in the League Cup and two
each in the FA Charity/Community Shield and FIFA Club World
Gerrard's 493rd game drew him level with Irish midfielder
Ronnie Whelan. He signed from Home Farm for £35,000 in
September 1979, netting 73 times in his fifteen years with
the reds and winning six League titles, one European Cup,
two FA Cups, three League Cups and three FA Charity Shields.
It will take a further 56 games before Stevie can break into
the club's all-time Top 10 appearance holders, and he would
then still be more than 300 games behind Ian Callaghan, who
is likely to forever remain the Liverpool player who tops
the appearance charts.
Next in his sights is Kenny Dalglish, whom he is likely to
match later this season as he is only 22 games ahead of
Gerrard at present, on 515.
more from star pair
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has revealed
his disappointment over the Champions League displays of
Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.
The partnership had been given the big build-up ahead of
Tuesday's 2-0 defeat at Fiorentina in Group E.
But both were well marshalled by an organised Fiorentina
side, in which defenders Alessandro Gamberini and Dario
Dainelli had outstanding games, along with former Juventus
midfielder Cristiano Zanetti.
Benitez admitted: "Fiorentina did a good job (against
Gerrard and Torres).
"It was disappointing to see them both kept out of the game
as they were. The Fiorentina defenders handled them very
well, they worked really hard against them.
"But it is not just about two players, nobody in the team
was producing anything.
"Sometimes when defenders are too worried about Gerrard and
Torres, it gives the rest of our team the chance to make use
of the space.
"They can take that responsibility, but for long periods
that did not happen.
"But this is not the end of things in Europe for us, and we
must re-group and show the right mentality for our next
match against Chelsea on Sunday."
Benitez was clearly stunned and angered by his side's poor
display in Florence, and said: "What happened, particularly
in the first half, is very hard to explain.
"We were expecting a difficult game, we knew Fiorentina
would work hard and really press us when we were in
possession, but we gave the ball away and we were not in the
"But it was the same players, the same tactics on the pitch
after the interval and they were much better.
"It is not right to blame the midfielders (Lucas and Fabio
Aurelio). We were not right all over the pitch.
"The problems were too many. The strikers, the wingers, the
centre-backs, they were all to blame. Fiorentina were on top
of us everywhere.
"The second half was different with the same players. I was
very surprised by what I saw in the first half. We try to be
organised, to be compact as a team.
"But it was too easy for them to get forward, to work
'between the lines' and to cause us problems. We were always
arriving late for things.
"The players were frustrated with some decisions, but that
was not the cause. We were not good enough and they let
their frustrations show.
"The next two games in the group against Lyon are very
important. We only have four games left in this group so we
need two wins for sure. We must keep going until the end, we
have to be ready for the next matches."
Gerrard: We got
what we deserved
Steven Gerrard has revealed his dismay
after Liverpool's Champions League horror show in Florence
which has thrown their quest to reach the knock-out stages
Liverpool were soundly beaten 2-0 by Fiorentina in the
Stadio Artemio Franchi, and now face tricky back-to-back
clashes with Group E leaders Lyon, who have won each of
their two matches so far.
Captain Gerrard accepted the criticism of Liverpool's abject
performance, saying: "We just didn't turn up."
But he also remained optimistic, claiming: "We will be fine
if we win our home games."
However, he knows that Liverpool are now under intense
pressure of their own making.
Liverpool's display in Italy was made particularly
surprising given that it came after six successive victories
for the Anfield men and much praise for the deluge of goals
so far this campaign.
While Liverpool prepare to face French giants Lyon - at home
on October 20 and away on November 4 - Fiorentina can expect
to be winning their own back-to-back ties with Debrecen on
The Hungarian champions are already proving the whipping
boys of the group, without a point or goal following two
They lost 4-0 at home to Lyon last night, and Fiorentina
will be expected to win both their matches against a club in
their first Champions League group campaign.
That would give Fiorentina nine points, and leave Liverpool
with it all to do against Lyon.
Gerrard said: "We were disappointed to lose in Florence, we
were second best all over the pitch and deserved to go in at
the break losing.
"The reaction was better in the second half and we created
some chances, but we just could not get into the game.
"We did not do what we usually do away from home in Europe,
there was no real tempo in our game.
"We normal play at a high tempo and pass the ball really
well, and play well on the counter-attack.
"But all over the pitch, front to back, we just did not turn
up, particularly in that first half.
"But I believe this group is still wide open, there's plenty
of football to be played and we are now in the same position
as Fiorentina with a win and a defeat, and they still have
to face us at Anfield.
"If we win our next home game, and that's against the group
leaders Lyon, things will be different. If we win our home
games now that should still be enough, we'll be fine.
"But we need to get this defeat out of our system quickly,
because we have a massive game now at Chelsea on Sunday.
"What we need is to produce a reaction from this defeat at
Stamford Bridge, that has to be the aim now."
Liverpool were shattered by a first-half double from teenage
striker Stevan Jovetic, the Montenegro international.
Gerrard admitted: "We knew a bit about them so we had an
idea what to expect, and their young striker did well.
"We will have to keep an eye on him at Anfield, that's for
Fiorentina bring Liverpool FC
back down to earth
Comment by Tommy Smith - Liverpool Echo
So it’s back down to earth with a very big
bump for Liverpool. We were well beaten by Fiorentina and
can have no complaints. They were better than us in every
department in that first half.
We struggled to put any sort of possession together or mount
a meaningful attack, while Forentina looked hungrier and
sharper in the tackle and with their movement. It was hugely
For me, we lost the battle in central midfield from first
whistle. By the time we regained some control, they were 2-0
up, and doing what all Italian sides do when in front.
Perhaps there was an element of complacency in the air after
the big win over Hull. But we looked nothing like ourselves
in that first 45 minutes, whatever the reason for it.
I don’t wish to single out individuals on a night when
nobody had a really good game. But with Lucas and Aurelio
paired together in midfield, we just did not look solid
It was also a night for me when we really missed Xabi
Alonso’s experience at European level. Add in Javier
Mascherano’s injury, which deprived us of a real tigerish
midifielder with top international experience, and we looked
vulnerable down the middle.
Thankfully this defeat isn’t fatal but we’ll have to buck
our ideas up. The sooner we can get not only Mascherano back
in, but also £20m new boy Alberto Aquilani too, the better
If there are any silver linings to a night of disappointment
then it is that nobody should be taking anything for granted
against Chelsea on Sunday.
It’s a massive game at Stamford Bridge and one we can win.
So if this serves as a bit of a jolt, then maybe it’s ok.
But we cannot afford a repeat of the lethargy on show in the
first half in Italy last night.
We can bounce
back at Chelsea
By Paul Hassall in Florence - LFC Official Website
Fabio Aurelio is confident Liverpool can
bounce back from their Fiorentina defeat when they take on
Chelsea in a top of the table clash on Sunday.
The Brazilian defender admits the 2-0 loss in Florence was
difficult to take but feels they cannot dwell on the past
and is eager to make amends at Stamford Bridge.
"We would have hoped for a better result here, but we can't
think about that now and must think about the future," he
"We have an important game in the Barclays Premier League
against Chelsea on Sunday and we must try to make things
"Football is like this. You cannot think in the past, you
must always look to the future. Hopefully it will be a
different game and we can go there and get a result."
A poor first-half in the Stadio Artemio Franchi proved to be
Liverpool's undoing as Stevan Jovetic's brace earned the
points for La Viola.
The Reds improved after the break and, although they went
close to reducing the arrears, Aurelio admits the players
are frustrated by the result.
"I think it was a game of two halves," he said.
"In the first-half, Fiorentina started really well and we
struggled to play and keep the ball. It meant we were under
pressure and made mistakes.
"In the second-half we started differently. Maybe they
weren't as strong as they had been and it allowed us to
manage the game better.
"We were able to create chances but unfortunately we didn't
take them and couldn't put the pressure on.
"We are very disappointed with the result."
Liverpool FC must remember
and rectify failings in Florence
Comment by Ian Doyle - Liverpool Daily Post
Florence is considered the home of the
Italian Renaissance. Now Rafael Benitez will hope it does
not prove the end of Liverpool’s recent revival.
The man dubbed the ‘Montenegrin Messi’ condemned the
Spaniard’s side to a first Champions League group defeat in
almost two years and exposed the frailties that threaten
their hopes of silverware this campaign.
Stevan Jovetic struck twice inside 11 first-half minutes as
a run of six straight victories for Liverpool ended with a
dismal 2-0 loss to Fiorentina.
Jovetic, a 19-year-old Montenegro international, has already
been courted by Real Madrid and Manchester United during his
brief career. No wonder.
But there was no defence for this Liverpool performance. And
that will be the problem Benitez must hope to address before
Sunday’s crunch Premier League trip to Chelsea.
The soft centre that has worryingly hampered Liverpool’s
efforts this season melted away completely during a torrid
first half that must rank among their worst in the
competition under Benitez.
Martin Skrtel in particular endured a miserable evening. But
the Slovak wasn’t alone, both full-backs ineffective, the
midfield powder-puff and the attack lacklustre until it was
far too late.
Of course, there will be no panic at Anfield. With four
games to go in Group E, Benitez’s side have plenty of scope
to make amends for this setback and the strength of their
second-half comeback will provide at least some
The warning signs had been there with the struggle to
overcome Debrecen a fortnight ago. And with Lyon thrashing
the Hungarian outsiders last night, Liverpool find
themselves outside the two qualification berths for the
Having previously netted 24 goals in nine games this season,
Liverpool couldn’t muster one. It ended a run of scoring in
21 consecutive games in the Champions League proper, leaving
them one short of the record held by Bayern Munich.
The last time Liverpool lost a group game was when they went
down 2-1 at Besiktas in October 2007, and last night was
every bit as deflating.
Adrian Mutu, Fiorentina’s former Chelsea striker, had
claimed before the game that beating Liverpool these days
was no great achievement. With Benitez’s side slipping to a
third defeat in 10 games this season, it’s hard to argue
with the Romanian – Liverpool only lost five times in the
whole of the previous campaign.
They should have known what to expect. Fiorentina had
previously never lost at home nor conceded a goal to an
English club, having beaten Manchester United and Everton
and drawing with Arsenal.
But they had underwhelmed in their appearance in last
season’s Champions League, with their last home win in the
group stages coming back in March 2000 when they defeated
While the Fiorentina supporters gave their Liverpool
counterparts a warm welcome – they sang “I love Liverpool ”
and unfurled a banner declaring “Welcome Reds, your story to
us is a legend” – the visiting players were given no such
Benitez made one change from the team that thumped Hull City
on Saturday, but it would not have been one Fiorentina were
With Javier Mascherano hamstrung, the Argentine’s expected
central midfield berth alongside Lucas Leiva was filled by
the recalled Fabio Aurelio.
It didn’t work, the Brazilian duo too easily bypassed during
a miserable opening 45 minutes, Liverpool barely able to get
out of their own half with Fiorentina harrying them out of
possession before launching a series of devastating
Even before his goals, Jovetic was the main danger to the
visitors, Martin Skrtel blocking a goalbound shot by the
teenager who shortly afterwards dragged a 25-yard effort
In between, although Marco Marchionni was offside when
striking an acrobatic overhead kick narrowly over Pepe
Reina’s crossbar, it underlined the pressure being imposed
on the Liverpool defence.
Marchionni should then have done better when blazing an
angled volley too high after capitalising on a loose header
from Skrtel, before the flimsy visiting resistance finally
ended on 28 minutes.
Lucas was second best in a tackle and the ball broke to
Cristiano Zanetti, who immediately slipped Jovetic through
on goal. Although Mutu, sniffing around the penalty area,
was in an offside position, Jovetic was played onside by
Emiliano Insua, and promptly finished beyond Reina. The
Liverpool goalkeeper made a fine save shortly afterwards to
keep out a vicious Juan Vargas drive after the left winger
was fed by Riccardo Montolivo, and Skrtel had to make a
sliding block to deny Jovetic.
But the centre-back was at fault again on eight minutes
before the break when Fiorentina and Jovetic doubled their
Skrtel’s poor header was pounced on by Vargas, and from the
resultant shot Jovetic was allowed to sneak in and prod
expertly past a helpless Reina.
Liverpool needed to respond quickly after the interval and
missed a gilt-edged chance to equalise barely 90 seconds in
to the second half.
A probing run by Benayoun won a corner, and from Aurelio’s
fine left-wing delivery Lucas contrived to send a free
header over from six yards.
Dirk Kuyt stung the palms of Fiorentina goalkeeper Sebastien
Frey at his near post and the Dutchman was guilty of taking
one touch too many touches shortly afterwards after
fashioning a shooting opportunity, and Fernando Torres saw a
header deflected wide.
Massimo Gobbi then had to be alert to prevent Gerrard
converting from close range as Liverpool began to push
Fiorentina further and further back.
Indeed, a tackle on Torres from Alessandro Gamberini was met
with cheers from the home crowd almost as loud as those for
But the Fiorentina man was fortunate to escape conceding a
penalty when challenging the same player shortly afterwards.
Torres then volleyed over a Skrtel right-wing cross, captain
Gerrard curled a long-range effort over and looped a header
narrowly over after good work by substitute Ryan Babel.
A night to forget? No.
After all, Liverpool’s season rests on remembering the
shortcomings of that first half.
By Harry Harris - ESPN Soccernet
Fernando Torres' baby faced smile was
replaced with a scowl as Liverpool failed to score for the
first time in two and half years in the Champions League.
Rafa Benitez looked suitably furious with the performance
against Fiorentina as a Reds team that has looked so full of
goals came to a grinding halt. Sorry to say this. But I did
see it coming. Nevertheless, it's time for a deeper
analytical assessment of Liverpool as their season is
already reaching a critical point.
Despite Torres' failure to score, following his impressive
hat-trick against Hull, the Spaniard remains the best
centre-forward in Europe at the moment, but Liverpool's
problem is that they might not be able to cope without him.
The same might apply to Chelsea with regards to Didier
Drogba, but the west London club do have Nicholas Anelka, by
no means as powerful as the Ivory Coast colossus, but still
a proven goalscorer at the highest level with some of the
best clubs in Europe, from Arsenal to Real Madrid.
Manchester City have an array of goalscoring alternatives
and have hardly missed the suspended Emmanuel Adebayor.
Manchester United have a couple of options, even having lost
Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, but the fear for
Liverpool is a long term absence for their No.9.
The Champions League shocker in Tuscany can be taken in
isolation, but looking at the broader picture, it
highlighted the glaring deficiencies that have been glossed
over by a run of six successive wins in all competitions,
including the Carling Cup.
Personally, I am one of Liverpool's greatest admirers. That
has been the case for decades, for a variety of personal
reasons. I have written Steve McMahon's autobiography and
have a deep affection for the club having had the misfortune
to be present at Hillsborough.
So, don't get me wrong. It gives me no pleasure to look at
the team's deficiencies in much greater detail. And those
shortcomings were there long before their unexpected demise
against a sprightly Fiorentina.
I have seen this coming for a little while, though. Two
defeats in the Premier League at the start of the season was
too obvious to ignore.
Liverpool have been averaging three goals in English
football. But the Champions League merely underlines the
fact that, in the Premier League, teams are attacking more
against relatively average defences, certainly defences
inferior to their European counterparts.
Regrettably, Liverpool count among the Premier League clubs
with inferior defences, judged of course, purely on the
highest possible level, against teams with designs on
winning the Champions League and indeed the Premier League.
Glen Johnson is a formidable athlete, a wonderful attacking
full-back with a tremendous long range shot, but like Ashley
Cole in his early Arsenal days, he has a lot to learn about
Full-backs are vital for defensive strategy and with Johnson
so attack-minded he offers Liverpool's opponents an area to
exploit. Jamie Carragher is still one of my favourite club
defenders, so influential and infectious in his desire to
win for Liverpool. But time can catch up on players when
they hit 30, especially in such vital areas of the pitch.
However, the main problem is the one to which I attempted to
address right from the start. If Torres continues to score,
then that can paper over a multitude of cracks. But no team
can rely on one player. Liverpool need a second goalscorer
of quality. Benitez knews this when he tried and failed with
a gamble on Robbie Keane.
With such a limited transfer budget, the American owners
know the club need an influx of new investment, and that
might be Liverpool's long term salvation.
For now Liverpool's season hinges on their confrontation
with Lyon in the Champions League and at Stamford Bridge on
Sunday. Benitez and his players will need their extra day in
the Florence sunshine to get their heads around the problems
that lie ahead.
Benitez blasts below-par Reds
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez blasted his
side's performance following the 2-0 defeat at Fiorentina in
the UEFA Champions League.
The Reds were soundly beaten at Artemio Franchi as teenager
Stevan Jovetic scored both goals in the first half of the
Group E encounter.
Benitez's team, who won the competition in 2005, improved
after half-time, with Lucas Leiva wasting a glorious headed
opportunity, but there was no way back.
The former Valencia boss confessed that his team were
second-best in every area of the pitch in Florence.
Benitez told Sky Sports: "We were giving the ball away, they
were regaining and playing counter-attacks.
"We were not winning any second ball or challenges.
"In the second half we had chances at the start. You can see
the difference in football if you take your chances, like
they did in the first half.
He added: "We were disappointed, everyone was disappointed.
You cannot play at this level because it is the Champions
League and you know the other team is good.
Benitez did not want to blame the defeat on the absence of
injured midfielder Javier Mascherano.
The Spaniard said: "We had too many problems, not just one
player. We were not the best in any part of the pitch.
"If we had scored in the first minute, it would have been
completely different with the way we were playing. Again, in
football, if you want to win, you have to score.
He added: "I was really disappointed because we were talking
a few days before.
"We knew that they were a good team and were organised and
played good counter-attacks.
"We were giving the ball away all the time and giving them
good chances to go behind our defenders."
Defender Jamie Carragher admitted the Reds were well beaten
by Fiorentina, but is confident of bouncing back.
He said: "We didn't perform well enough, we know that. We
were slightly better second half, but still not good
Carragher added: "Nothing went to plan. It was a massive
game for them, and a massive game for us, but they seemed to
be more ready for it from the start, for whatever reason.
"It is something we have got to sort out but fortunately in
the Champions League we have still got four games to put
Liverpool pay heavy price
for bad start against Fiorentina
By Tony Barrett - The Times
“Welcome Reds — your story for us is a
legend”, read the banner unfurled by the Fiorentina Ultras
housed in the Curva Fiesole at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
If that message was one of respect for Liverpool’s past
European triumphs, the one delivered by their victorious
team was designed to damage the English club’s hopes of
adding to their considerable achievements.
Two first-half goals by the impressive Stevan Jovetic, the
Fiorentina forward, were enough to condemn Liverpool to
their first loss in the group stage of the Champions League
since Besiktas defeated them in Turkey two years ago, and
for Rafael Benítez, their manager, the setback was born of a
collective failure in mentality during a torrid opening 45
minutes that he was at a loss to explain.
“Never have I seen the team struggle as badly as they did in
the first half,” Benítez said. “It was a poor performance.
We had too many problems and too many mistakes, and we had
to change everything. In the second half we were much
better. In the first half, they were on top of us all the
time and we were not doing the things that we had been
talking about before the game. We were bad in everything.
“Fiorentina did a good job. They were pressing all around
the pitch and we were too nervous, making mistakes, and if
you make mistakes you will pay for them. The mentality was
not good enough in the first half.”
A positive psychological approach was not the only thing
Liverpool lacked during the opening period. Also added to
the list of their failings should be an uncharacteristic
lack of desire, a surprising inability to win possession in
positions of importance and a disappointing helplessness
when faced with the kind of adversity they have faced, and
overcome, on countless occasions during Benítez’s reign.
The manager himself has had better nights. Forced into a
tactical reshuffle by the enforced absence of Javier
Mascherano — a player who is made for tough assignments away
from home in Europe — Benítez responded by pairing Fábio
Aurélio and Lucas Leiva, an all-Brazilian central midfield
combination that was found wanting during that desperate
first half when Fiorentina out-thought and outfought an
anaemic Liverpool on far too many occasions.
Benítez, though, rejected suggestions that his decision to
field Aurélio at the heart of his team lay behind their
defeat. “I don’t think it was a gamble,” the Liverpool
manager said. “In the second half, we improved and this
means that the mentality was not good enough in the first.”
The case for the prosecution would present an altogether
different case, however, and Exhibit A would be the ease
with which Fiorentina bypassed Liverpool’s midfield in the
build-up to their first goal. Tackles were made by Lucas and
Aurélio, but neither managed to win the ball, and a failure
to press successfully left their defence exposed. When
Cristiano Zanetti released Jovetic through on goal, the
player known as the “Montenegrin Messi” lived up to his
nickname by producing a finish of no little assurance.
Jovetic had been played onside by Emiliano Insúa, the only
member of Liverpool’s back four who failed to advance
sufficiently as the home side launched their incursion. That
Adrian Mutu, the former Chelsea player, was in an offside
position but deemed not to be interfering with play at least
gave Benítez the kind of convenient cause for complaint that
losing managers tend to cling to when reality dictates that
blame should be administered internally.
“Clearly, this new offside rule is changing everything,”
Benítez said. “The best rule in football is the offside
rule, but if you don’t know if a player involved is
interfering, it is difficult.”
There were no such grievances to explain away Jovetic’s and
Fiorentina’s second goal, however, as Liverpool were unable
to recover from a weak defensive header by Martin Skrtel and
Cesare Prandelli’s side took advantage. If that was the
obvious low point of the Slovakian defender’s night, it
typified his latest poor individual performance, which
deteriorated to such an extent that on one occasion during
the second half he threw his arms up in despair, a gesture
that was taken as a sign of surrender by the vociferous home
Benítez insisted that Jovetic’s display had not taken him by
surprise, maintaining that the scouting reports compiled on
the Fiorentina squad in the build-up to last night’s game
had highlighted the teenager and his ability in front of
goal. But having been forewarned, Liverpool were not
forearmed and their inability to cope with the threat of the
19-year-old gave them a mountain that they were unable to
climb despite a muchimproved showing in the second half.
Only time will tell if Liverpool’s third defeat of the
season — they suffered only five in the whole of 2008-09 —
has dealt a telling blow to their hopes of making it through
to the lucrative knockout stages of the Champions League,
with Benítez adamant that the challenge now is the same as
it was before, simply to win their next game in Europe.
But the more immediate concern for the Anfield side is how
they respond to their latest setback. A meeting with Chelsea
at Stamford Bridge awaits, and they go to the home of one of
their title rivals in the knowledge that another domestic
reversal could do untold damage to their challenge for the
Barclays Premier League.
“This time it will be totally different,” Benítez said.
“Hopefully, we will see a different Liverpool, the one that
we saw in the second half tonight.”
A recovery of sorts in that second 45 minutes may have
restored a modicum of pride, but nothing more than that. All
that was left was for Prandelli to savour a victory over the
manager he describes as his role model, and for the
Fiorentina players to celebrate the kind of win that makes
the rest of Europe sit up and take note.