Liverpool ‘Who are You?’: Tony’s advice to SAFC – ‘just hit it into the box’

Jake wants answers ...
Jake wants answers …

John McCormick writes:

First Tony Fay gave his views on LFC, now I’m aiming for a double. This time it’s Tony Pimblett, who has a season ticket at Anfield, some advice for Gus and a special Spanish friend:

JMc: How long have you been supporting Liverpool?

I can’t be too precise about this, my dad wasn’t really interested in football, like most boys I was – so didn’t have the parental influence. His mate, who was an Everton season ticket holder took me to see Everton v Liverpool at Goodison, this was my first game. Writing these thoughts has made me look it up, I can remember it was a 0-0 draw, and the only other thought I can remember as we emerged into the Bullens Road Lower stand was how green the pitch was ! (There wasn’t a lot of football on TV and it was black and white !).

I think that was 1968.

The next match I can remember is with the same friend of my Dad’s the 1971 FA Cup semi final at Old Trafford. Liverpool won 2-1 but all I can remember is the white picket fence in front of what I now know to be the Stretford end.

We went round to the same friend for the FA cup final v Arsenal (he had colour TV). Liverpool lost and I think it was at the moment when Charlie George lay down on the ground that my allegiance was confirmed. I was devastated.

I’ve had a season ticket since 1979.

What have been your highs in that time?

1986 FA Cup Final, just a great day out , Everton were well on top then Brucie made that save and the game changed. When Rush put the third one in and turned away to the crowd, you can see me in all the pictures. For some reason I had gone in a Miami Dolphins shirt, stood out a bit among the red.

1978 European Cup final, I was bang in line when Kenny chipped it in (managed to get a ticket the day before.) Must have been at least 80,000 Liverpool fans in Wembley that night.

Didn’t go to Istanbul, but for one when I wasn’t there it would have to be that.

And footballing lows?

Obviously Hillsborough and Hysel, I was at Hillsborough but not Hysel. Restricting it to football matches I’d have to say (in no particular order)

Getting knocked out of the European Cup by Notts Forest. We’d just won it back to back yet these games were typical of ours against Forest. We’d batter them for 90 mins and end up getting beaten by one or two scruffy goals.

Probably repeated failure in the Premier League, a few times we’ve almost got there but for whatever reason (often bad buys) failed to progress.

Every time Mourinho goes on about the ‘ghost goal’. If he hadn’t given the goal it’s a penalty and Cech should be sent off. (CL SF v Chelsea 2005). You got beat, accept it and move on Jose.

Coming towards the end of Kenny’s second reign our football was turgid to say the least, my mate who is as committed as they come was playing angry birds on his phone at the match because it was more interesting.

Last season must have been a bit of a bummer. What do you think caused that end of season meltdown?

I honestly don’t think of it as a bummer, last season was great, we played football that was a joy to watch then had it in the palm of our hands and let it slip. I also don’t think of it as a meltdown, Chelsea wasted time from the off and we played into their hands, but we played the same way as we’d played in all those other games, they were just more street wise.

As for the Palace game I don’t believe there is a single Liverpool supporter who at 3-0 didn’t want to try and win 6 or 7-0.

Ultimately though we didn’t win the league because we can’t defend. If Carragher had delayed his retirement by one year we would have won it, not because he would have been any better as an individual but he would have been the defensive leader.

We’d have taken second place at the start, although not with 3 games left, the atmosphere in the ground was amazing.

An avoided FA Cup banana skin followed by a home game against Bolton’s not so bad, so a repeat of the 2001 treble’s still on. What are your chances, do you think?  And taking the Europa League on its own, do you see it as a curse or a chance for Champions League football next season?

Tony reckons there's no chance of a repeat this season
Tony reckons there’s no chance of a repeat this season

The Europa League is an opportunity for CL football and yet it’s not a competition that you get excited about, which is a shame. Once upon a time the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup were right up there. Although I say we’ll finish fourth in the League this may be our best chance of qualifying.  No chance of the treble – I would happily settle for one; until we can defend we can’t think beyond that. We could so easily have come unstuck against Wimbledon last night, if I were Gus Poyet I’d have Fletcher and Wickham up front and just keep hitting balls into the box at every opportunity.

It looks like Rodgers has steadied the ship after a wobbly few weeks but your title dreams appear to be over for the season. What’s your opinion of Rodgers?

I’m happy with the way the team has progressed under him, just wish we could defend better.

Any discussion of Liverpool must include Shankly and Paisley, and maybe even Kenny Dalglish. You might be too young for the full Shankly era but which of them do you think was the better manager?

Has to be Paisley for results and the way we dominated Europe, but Shankly rebuilt the club. If I could choose a manager from the past to be the next Liverpool manager it would have to be Shankly.

Different media sources give different impressions of the reason Gerrard’s leaving but the root seems to be that Rodgers is limiting his playing time. What do you think is going on?

I’m definitely in the minority on my views on the Gerrard situation.  All the people I know seem to think the club have handled it badly, that he should have been offered the contract earlier, been persuaded to stay, are gutted that he’s leaving.

The Echo lost no time in putting out a souvenir
The Echo lost no time in putting out a souvenir

I think he could continue to play in the Premier League, and would continue to be Liverpool’s best player, I would prefer he stayed.  However I don’t want to see him fade away and become a shadow of what he once was and there are signs that he is slowing down a bit.  Putting myself in his shoes I think he is doing absolutely the right thing, all he has known so far is Liverpool, he has the chance for him and his family to experience a new lifestyle in another part of the world, to learn new things and if it were me I would grab it.


I think he’ll be back in a role at Liverpool in the future, and until he actually leaves you never know……

What do you think of the club’s attempts to replace Suarez?  Have they wasted a lot of the money they got for him?

Player by player….

Balotelli: Yes, wasted money
Lovren: Yes, overpriced there must have been other options
Can: No – I think he’ll be good and fits the ‘moneyball’
Origi: Who knows
Llallana: No
Moreno: No
Manquilo: Loan but if he had been bought TBC
Lambert: Possibly, but he does offer an option.
Markovic: I work with a Benfica season ticket holder who rates him highly, so lets wait and see, there have been some decent signs lately.

For me they attempted to do what needed to be done, address defensive issues and bring in some quality and quantity.

Word on the street is that BR was told it’s Balotelli or no-one as a striking option. I think it was a gamble, worth having a go, but you’d get rid if you could. Watch him score at the weekend !

Who are the best players you’ve seen – or wish you’d seen – in Liverpool colours, and are there any who shouldn’t have been allowed to wear them?

Dalglish and Gerrard, don’t think anyone would argue. Ray Clemence would be high up there as would Ronnie Whelan.

Clemence’s abilities were obvious, but Ronnie Whelan would almost be invisible in some games yet he held the team together doing the bits and pieces, a bit like Michael Carrick does for some other team today.

As to the ones who should never have been allowed to wear them, I think any football fan will tolerate a player not playing well provided his attitude is right, so although there have been many poor signings, maybe even some laughable (Sean Dundee), the one that sticks out like a sore thumb for me is El Hadj Diouf. His demeanour, attitude, everything about him would make me award him the title of “worst signing I can think of.”

Recent moves between Sunderland and Liverpool include Jordan Henderson and Simon Mignolet. One seems to have settled in well, the other is struggling. What do you think of them?

I spend a fair bit of time in the North East so when we signed Mignolet I was told ‘decent shot stopper’ ‘bit questionable on crosses’.

I think that says it all, but I do think he is the best option we currently have. Was it worth getting rid of Reina? Who knows but Mingolet’s still young and could become a top keeper.

For Jordan Henderson I was told ‘will run all day, but limited‘.

The report on Mignolet was fairly accurate, but Henderson has developed enormously – we really thought we’d bought a dud, but Kenny saw something. You need players who have his desire, ideally all of them should have but they don’t.

Liverpool Echo, Jan 3rd. Do LFC have a ready replacement for Gerrard?
Liverpool Echo, Jan 3rd. Do LFC have a ready replacement for Gerrard?

Fabio Borini made himself a hero on Wearside. I can’t see it happening down here. Would he be better moving on? 

Yes – again he tries hard, looks like he may be ahead of Mario in the pecking order now, but I don’t think he’ll progress at Liverpool. Best for all that he moves on.

We now have Sebastian Coates on loan. He’s played in a winning derby and acquitted himself well but the jury’s still out. Have you seen him play? Can you offer an opinion on what we can expect from him for the rest of the season?

I’ve seen him play but not often. He was out injured all last season. We thought he was bought as ‘Suarez’s mate’, when I have seen him he’s looked as though he lacks confidence, I think he’s an accident waiting to happen, bit like Sakho, Skrtel, Kolo, probably everyone will say the same about their centrebacks.

The previous LFC  “who are you” guest spent some time on Alan Kennedy and he also mentioned Barry Venison and Dave Hodgson.  Do any other former Sunderland/Liverpool players spring to mind? I must admit, I’m finding it hard to think of any myself, apart from Cisse.

I have to mention Barry Venison. He was something of a cult hero to me and my mates that I go to the match with, the haircut, the clothes (I’m sure I can see him in a fur coat.) For some reason we called him ‘Barry the Boot’ probably due to a tendency to launch it!

I’d throw Phil Babb in, we bought him after a good world cup for Ireland, unlike the aforementioned centre backs you didn’t have to wait long for the accident. I think he played for you in a disaster season. [according to Statcat he played 60 games for us during 2002-2004, and scored one o.g. We were relegated in 2003 with 19 points. JMc]

The best thing about Phil was the song (Babb, babb, babb etc) to the tune of match of the day !

What do you think of the plans for a redeveloped Anfield stadium and surroundings?
Would it have been better to move to a decent new ground, given there will be some parts of Anfield untouched?

I think they’ve got it right, Anfield needs to generate revenue 300 days a year, not just match days. The capacity seems about right too.

If it were to be a brand new stadium I think you’d really need to look at sharing it with Everton for it to make financial sense, but I think there would be so many issues it would never happen, so redeveloping Anfield seems right to me. They’ll also remove the pillars in the main stand and assuming I keep the same seat I’ll be 2 rows in front of the boxes.

Colin Randall, aka M Salut, has strong views on diving. It’s the grappling and holding in the box at set pieces that gets my goat. Is it time to give up bothering about cheating and just write it into the coaching manuals?

Absolutely not, just give penalties or free kicks for any of it, it’ll stop. Same for diving do it retrospectively, give them a 3 game ban, if they do it again a 4 game ban, then 5. While I’m on it book any player who waves an imaginary card.

What will be this season’s top four?

City, Chelsea (hopefully in that order) United, Liverpool (hopefully not in that order) ever the optimist.

If not mentioned, where will our clubs finish?

Sunderland will be ok – 13th

Any thoughts on one step the football authorities should take to improve the ordinary supporters’ matchday experience?

The price of a ticket seems ridiculous, yet they sell, I just wish we could ban 5.30 kick offs on a Saturday, I accept TV calls the tune, but why to this extent

 Time for your own back: your thoughts on Sunderland – the club, the fans, the city, the region.

I would bet most fans of my age have a soft spot for Sunderland due to the 1973 Cup Final, Bob Stokoe, Jim Montgomery, “Porterfield 1-0 “. As I’ve said I’ve spent a fair bit of time in the North East the banter reminds me a lot of our banter with Evertonians.

I don’t really go to away games any more, used to like Roker Park it reminded me of a red & white Goodison (wouldn’t that be a laugh) . When we do Red Nose day at our golf club we have to provide Blue Noses because most of them won’t wear red.

Will you be at our game, and what will be the score

No I won’t be there but will be watching, we can’t defend we need to win, maybe this will suit us more than the recent home game so I’ll say 2-2

And a bit about you to finish, a photo would be good:   

I’ll just throw in a picture of me with one of my Spanish friends, in Durham


Interview: John McCormick

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