15 Aug 2009

Liverpool FC season preview: My interview with ESPN

I was recently answered some questions for ESPNstar about my hopes for the upcoming season. Here is the full text of the interview.

ESPN Interview >>>>>

Jaimie Kanwar talks to Eugene YS Han about Liverpool's hopes ahead of the new Barclays Premier League season.

What is the best or worst your club can achieve this coming season?

The best Liverpool can achieve this season is actually winning the title! Last season proved that the squad is more than capable of matching Manchester United, and if key players stay fit and the team can stop drawing so many games, the title is definitely a possibility. The worst the club can do is regress in the league; the platform for premiership success was solidified last season and the stage is now set for the team to finally realise its potential.

Who is your key player?

A fully Fernando Torres is arguably the most effective striker in world football. He is invaluable to Liverpool, not only for his goals but also for his tireless defending from the front, a quality he shares with another superb Liverpool striker of the past, Ian Rush.

Who is the unsung hero in your team?

Jose Reina. He is easily the best goalkeeper in the Premiership and one of the best in Europe but he never seems to get the credit he deserves. The likes of Edwin Van Der Sar and Peter Cech seem to get all the press but Reina is far more consistent.

Who is a waste of space?

I wouldn't describe any Liverpool players as a ‘waste of space', but Philip Degen needs to start paying back the salary he's already banked for sitting on the sidelines over the last year, and Ryan Babel really needs to step up this season and make a consistent contribution to the team.

Describe your best moment of last season:

The annihilation of Manchester United at Old Trafford has to be the highlight of last season.

Is your manager the right person for the job?

I think the majority of Liverpool fans believe that Rafael Benitez is the right man for the job. He undoubtedly deserves credit for guiding Liverpool to within four points of the title last season and his management ability is there for all to see.

Having said that, my personal view is that Benitez is not the man to bring the title back to Anfield. Last season represented the best chance in 19 years for Liverpool to win the title - United started badly; Chelsea were bedding-in a new manager and then suffered the upheaval of a mid-season managerial change, and Arsenal were never serious title challengers.

Despite racing into a seven- point lead a one stage, Benitez still decided to start a needless public spat with Sir Alex Ferguson, which in my view, diluted the team's focus and derailed Liverpool's title challenge. Additionally, for the second season in a row, Benitez has not significantly improved the squad, something that is essential if Liverpool are to consistently challenge for the title.

Which area do you think your team needs strengthening?

The creative side of the team has needed strengthening ever since Benitez arrived, and five years later, genuine flair is still missing in the squad. 24 league draws in two seasons is testament to the fact that Liverpool need more players who can consistently unlock defences.

Young player to look out for?

The much-maligned Lucas Leiva. With Xabi Alonso gone and Alberto Aquilani injured for at least two more months, Lucas will probably get a chance to play in his favoured position, and I am sure he will do well and prove his doubters wrong.

Where will your club finish this season?

If I'm honest, I think Liverpool will finish either second or third. Even with the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United are still a considerable force with vast experience of winning the league.

Unfortunately, I just don't believe the Liverpool squad is strong enough to overhaul United over the course of a season. Having said that, no team has won the Premiership 4 times in a row, so statistically speaking, it could be Liverpool's year!

How long have you supported Liverpool?

I have been a Liverpool supporter for 25 years now.

Name your all-time favourite player at the club?

John Barnes is my favourite ever Liverpool player and is - in my view - the most exciting, skilful player ever to grace Anfield. As part of the Liverpool dream team of 1987-1991, Barnsey's' skill and creativity were simply out of this world. And even when he moved into a central midfield role in the Roy Evans era, he was still wonderful to watch. Liverpool have never properly replaced Barnes, and they probably never will.

Which three teams will be relegated this season?

Wolves, Burnley, and with any luck, Everton!


  1. I see those anti-rafa stances finally start to payoff jaime......congratulations

  2. God alone knows why anyone at ESPN would ask Mr JK for his opinion--unless they wanted someone who they knew would be likely to carp and criticize. JK's face seems to look forwards and backwards at the same time. Rafa (on the one hand) deserves credit for nearly winning the PL last season and his management skills are there for all to see--but (on the other) he's the wrong manager to bring the title to Anfield! *DONT_KNOW*  Actually, I am sick of this being talked about as if there is someone out there who is SURE to bring the PL home. NOBODY is guaranteed to bring the title to Anfield. The best we can hope for is a manager who is there and thereabouts at the end of most seasons and then, given the law of averages, he should just about nick it once or twice. Rafa has achieved this and now just needs the breaks to go his way.

  3. That cliche is becoming a little old now, don't you think?  It's such a simplistic view anyway - just because someone criticises the manager they're anti-Rafa?  Anyway, I've written lots of positive stuff about him on this site, so it's not even accurate 8-)

  4. It's perfectly possible to be a good manager and not be able to win the league...or do you somehow dispute this?

  5. What I dispute is that there is ANY manager out there who is CERTAIN to win the PL. In the past, you have promoted Martin O'Neil as manager. Do you think he would be CERTAIN to win the PL if he was at Liverpool? I don't think so. These days, when money talks and there are so many cats out there who want the cream, no one can guarantee success. As we all know, once Bill Shankly went 7 years without winning anything. Would he have survived in today's climate? No. Do I think Liverpool did right to stand by him? Yes. Was he capable of winning the league? Yes.

    Bottom line is you say Rafa is a good manager, but not the one to bring the PL to Anfield. What does that mean? I say you cannot know of ANYONE who is, in fact, certain to bring the PL to Liverpool. Logically, the structure of your argument states that Rafa is a good manager but not the man to win the PL for Liverpool. Therefore, there is another man out there who is a better manager than Rafa who IS the man to bring the PL to Liverpool. I say this hypothetical manager doesn't exist. The best the team can hope for is a manager who consistently finishes there and therabouts every season; then, probably, at some point along the way, Liverpool will nick it. Constrained as the team is at present with lack of finance, this is the best to currently hope for...If you have enough money in today's climate, I think it's possible to simply buy the PL...but that's another story.