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Mr. A. Rothnie "arothnie" (Formby, Merseyside)

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Liverpool Fc: End Of Season Review 2004/2005 [DVD]
Liverpool Fc: End Of Season Review 2004/2005 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jon Champion
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.74

5.0 out of 5 stars The early years of the Rafalution were the best, 13 Nov. 2012
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At the end of 2003-2004 Gerard Houllier was sacked. Despite finishing fourth - which was easier then - Houllier's managerial ability was clearly on the wane as he made numerous poor transfer dealings, tactical blunders and failed to get the best out of the squad. Rafa Benitez - fresh from securing two La Liga titles and a UEFA cup in the previous three seasons at Valencia - arrived at Anfield. Although his first season in the Anfield hot seat was inconsistent fortunately the cream of the performances were saved for the best club competition in world football as Liverpool secured an unprecedented European Cup triumph. It was the first time Liverpool had won it in its Champions League format and the trophy was retained permanently as it was won an English record fifth time (as of 2012)!

The DVD is well worth buying as it provides a comprehensive memory of a happier and more successful time for Liverpool given 2009-2012's decline to mid-table. Although results in the domestic campaign were inconsistent with it being a particularly gruelling effort away from Anfield, the first thing you notice is that compared to Houllier's final two seasons the football is much more attractive. Rafa and his assistant manager Pako Ayesteran to some extent transferred the skilful, flowing football from their Valencia side to Liverpool. The previous playmaker Danny Murphy was sold and replaced with the superior Xabi Alonso who would orchestrate and dictate tempo of the team's passing with his classy touch and telepathic range. On the highlights shown on the DVD you can witness his amazing long range and short range passes that would either indirectly or directly create a goal. As captain Steven Gerrard states on the DVD, clearly Liverpool's increasingly erratic form in the second half of the premier league season can be attributed to his absence during January to early March after being injured on New Years' Day. Without his ability to dominate and retain possession Liverpool failed to secure the three extra points required to reach fourth.

However, clearly there were other factors involved in the team's league failings. The team were not compact enough in their defensive duties and Josemi, Mauricio Pellegrino and Djimi Traore were the error-prone weak links. Josemi and Pellegrino were two of Rafa's less successful La Liga imports as they were too slow and clumsy for the premier division. Traore on the other hand had a history of defensive gaffes but you can totally forgive him due to his superb defending in the European campaign that helped secure the Champions League. Anyway goalkeepers Jerzy Dudek and Chris Kirkland were similarly culpable in the team conceding too many goals. Similarly to Traore, you can make great allowances for Dudek's blunders in the league as his brilliant shot stopping and penalty saving heroics were a major factor in the European Cup win.

The other problem in Liverpool's domestic performance was at the attacking end. On the eve of the beginning of the Premier League season Michael Owen departed for Real Madrid and he was not adequately replaced. Apart from Milan Baros' form in the first half of the season, all the club's strikers failed to hit the net often enough. Milan Baros and Djibril Cisse's both missing a close range chance at the same time at home to AK Graz exemplifies that they were both not genuine natural goal scorers. Milan Baros was top scorer with a paltry nine league goals which was simply not enough for a forward at a top club. However, it is a shame that he failed to continue his excellent goal scoring form of the first half of the season and if he had he would probably have been at the club longer. His deft and energetic dribbling was often a threat to the opposition (e.g. Bayer Leverkusen away). Cisse spent most of 2004-2005 on the sidelines with a dreadful broken leg but when he played although blessed with lightning pace, he was similarly guilty of profligate finishing and a cumbersome touch. On the other hand, he showed great resolve to return early towards the end of the season in fine style converting his spot kick in Istanbul. But still if Liverpool in 2004-05 had a poacher type of striker like Robbie Fowler or Owen who could have scored twenty goals a season then maybe the club would have found the extra three points to finish above Everton? Also as previously stated, defensive shortcomings were another particular problem.

Nevertheless, clearly in a season in which Liverpool played and won their most important game in twenty one years there are plenty of positives. In some of the performances domestically and in the whole Champions League run Liverpool were fantastic. Jamie Carragher was converted permanently from a full back to a centre back role performing sensationally in virtually all the games of the season. His steely determination and precisely timed interceptions, blocks and tackles ensured that he became one of Liverpool's best defenders of all time. Sami Hyypia continued to be a Liverpool legend scoring a vital first goal at home to Juventus in the Champions League quarter final while Steve Finnan became Liverpool's best right back of the 2000s with his steady defending and delivery from wide areas.

In fact in the Champions League run, all of Liverpool's squad made a crucial contribution. Midfield was a particularly strong era for Liverpool in 2004-05. Luis Garcia was another of Rafa's La Liga signings and had an uncanny ability to score vital goals in Europe including the pivotal "ghost" goal in the second half of the Champions League final to Chelsea! John Arne Riise was back to his best scoring and a creating a number of flamboyant goals. Dietmar Hamann showed why he was one of the greatest shielding midfielders of all time, changing the Champions League final by stopping the threat of Kaka after he was introduced at half-time. Even players who were not guaranteed first team starters made telling contributions to the Champions League success. Back-up strikers Neil Mellor and Florent Sinama Ponogolle transformed the final group game versus Olympiakos by scoring a goal each and assisting two of the three goals. While Harry Kewell's injury problems were disappointing even he played a role in the Champions League success by setting up Sinama-Pongolle's first against Olympiakos with following a fine dribble and precise low cross - if Liverpool had failed that night back in 2004 to win by two goals they would never have even made the knockout stages of the tournament never mind the final. Anthony Le Tallec also made a rare but vital contribution in the quarter final at home to Juventus setting up Luis Garcia's stunning volley. The inconsistent Vladimir Smicer in his emotional final appearance for the club scored the second goal against AC Milan and converted in the penalty shootout with his last ever kick for the club. Kopites will recall him kissing the badge after his successful spot kick and he will always be remembered as a legend. Meanwhile, Igor Biscan became a cult Liverpool hero with his Gerrard-esque performances in the Champions League setting up some of the goals in the run to the final.

Clearly, the main man for Liverpool in the Champions League win and best moments of 2004-05 was Steven Gerrard. He had become from 2004 onwards a complete midfielder who could dynamically drive virtually every game from attacking midfield. Granted he made a mistake by scoring an own goal in the other main low point of the season in which adversaries Chelsea beat Liverpool in the Carling Cup final but again it almost did not matter at all as he performed so exceptionally well in all the other games of the season. The moment in which he scored that breath taking third goal versus Olympiakos which was enough to get the club out of the group stage and into the Champions League knockout rounds will always be regarded as iconic. Gerrard was such a constant in all of Liverpool's best moment of 2004-05 that it is impossible to list all of them. His ability to inspire the whole team, assist goals with his intuitive range of passing and convert chances with his devastating shot were all vital in Liverpool's 2004-05 success as was his ability to break up opposition attacks with his combative tackling.

Although the treble season (2000-2001) was the most successful overall season in my fifteen years supporting the club, I prefer this season as this holds the greatest individual triumph - the club's fifth European Cup for keeps. The final still to this day remains the most dramatic and scintillating match of all time. It is a shame that chiefly due to both defensive frailties and the lack of a natural goal scorer to replace Michael Owen that the club were beaten to fourth position humiliatingly by arch-rivals Everton. It was also a tiny bit disappointing that the club failed to make it a double trophy win as the Carling Cup was snatched at the death by Chelsea due to a mistake by the otherwise immense Steven Gerrard. However, in winning the Champions League ultimately Liverpool outshone and stole a march on all their rivals where it mattered most. True, the DVD shows how Liverpool needed a helping of fortune on the way (e.g. how did Eidur Gudjohnsen miss that chance?), but the team made its own luck with its passion and determination to fight against all odds. In the next few years until 2009 Rafa Benitez's Liverpool enhanced their league performances significantly as the manager understood better the pace and physicality of the English game. However, the fact that the Premiership was never secured always will mean that this first stage of the Rafalution was undoubtedly Rafa at the peak of his tactical nous and judgement.


Red Dwarf : Complete BBC Series 8 [2003] [DVD] [1988]
Red Dwarf : Complete BBC Series 8 [2003] [DVD] [1988]
Dvd ~ Craig Charles
Price: £6.98

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A semi return to form for the final BBC series, 17 Oct. 2012
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Whereas the emphasis was more on drama in series VII, the focus here is much more on comedy. Sole writer Doug Naylor had been involved in the remastering of the first three series and it is evident in this series how the show was to an extent returned to its situation comedy roots though aspects of the heavy science fiction remained. The show returned to being filmed in front of a studio audience though some higher budgetary remained with the sophisticated sets and computer generated imagery (CGI). Although I prefer the charming models of the first six series, unlike other reviewers I feel that the CGI is okay. It's not amazing, but it is good and better than series VII's shoddy CGI. Other signs of the shift towards pure situation comedy is through the return of Rimmer, resurrected by the nanobots and bearing all his earlier pre-radiation leak pomposity, deviousness and cowardice. This leads to the return of the Rimmer-Lister relationship dynamic and the return of the bunk room scenes (not seen since series III or IV) is very welcome as they lead to all manner of entertaining dialogue and one-liners. Another thing that has improved greatly from VII (IMHO the weakest series, though good) is the dialogue is back to its best with the constant flow of hilarious gags.

The opening bunkroom scene is a sensational start to the series. Series VIII IMHO has four great episodes which are as funny and entertaining as the first six series. The opening two stories are an enjoyable comedy romp with aspects of the more prominent sci-fi of series III to VI (e.g. the use of the positive viruses from series V and the artificial reality suite). Highlights of the humour include Starbug's encounter with a rat, Holly's subsequent observation and Kryten's farcical psychiatric evaluation. Another source of humour is through the return of Norman Lovett as Holly. Although Hattie Hayridge was really good, the original Holly is the best and in this series his one-liners and dialogue are either as funny as series I and II or almost as excellent. In the second part the most entertaining parts of the story is Rimmer's use of the sexual magnetism virus and its effects on his ability to attract the female crew.

However, while the third part of "Back in the Red" is good it is not as great as the previous two parts. Again aspects of the stronger science fiction are utilised with the main characters all being linked up to artificial reality where their actions can be judged to see whether what they are saying about the nanobots resurrecting the crew and recreating the ship is true. However, with the two artificial realities and the two escape attempts it becomes somewhat repetitive. It is a fifth good episode just not as great as the best four - "Back in the Red Part One," "Back in the Red Part Two," "Cassandra" and "Krytie TV."

The middle two episodes are back to thirty minute length and two blinders. With the main cast in the ship's brig on floor thirteen Lister signs them all up for the Canaries suicide missions and this allows them to leave the ship for a series V style episode involving a Geraldine McEwan-played computer, called Cassandra, that can accurately predict the future. It is a strong story because the science fiction is so convincing and is melded very successfully with the comedy. A couple of the series I and II ideas are referenced with the Lister's mention of "Future Echoes" and Rimmer's hilarious "oh-Listy" remarks about signing up for the Canaries when he unwittingly thinks that they are merely a prison choir and not a convict army placed on suicide missions! The twists in plot and the shifts in the viewer's expectation also contribute to making it like a vintage series V episode.

Next episode, "Krytie TV" is the best of the series. Some Red Dwarf fans feel that bringing back the entire crew was a mistake as it defeated the great success of the show's initial premise - last human in space. But I feel it was a fairly wise idea as every show has to evolve in order to avoid repetition and it created new opportunities for comedy. This is one of the episodes where the comedy of the Dwarfers' prison life is exploited to the full as Kryten is reprogrammed to become a seedy television entrepreneur. The highlight of the comedy for me has to be the "Beadle's About" and "Crystal Maze" pastiche for the scene in which Lister sabotages prison warden Ackerman's room with all sorts of Rimmer's hideously uncool possessions. But it is all funny especially the dialogue between Rimmer, Lister and Kryten anticipating Kochanski's upcoming date with her ex-boyfriend Tim. But what makes it such a great episode is it is simply a good story. The end of episode five is the turning point where series VIII goes downhill and you can see why some of the fans think it is along with series VII another weak series by series I to VI's exceptional standards.

Apart from individual scenes the final three episodes are average. Whereas the previous episodes' stories worked as a cohesive whole, the final three episodes, especially the "Pete" two parter, feels more like a sketch show. There are funny individual scenes and the dialogue remains impeccable but the stories do not flow as a whole. The science fiction of the time wand cannot even save the actual plot which is too lightweight and simplistic.

I am pleased that this year's tenth series will have six episodes rather than eight because you can really see how over eight episodes the other co-creator Rob Grant is missed to provide the other three great scripts. It was nonsensical for the episode number to be increased to eight for the final two series with one of the two writers and co-creators departing. Final BBC episode "Only the Good," is half okay because the individual scenes and their dialogue are humorous but the overall story again is shown to be lacking. The Mirror universe sci-fi concept has been done plenty of times before and better such as in series II's "Parallel Universe" and series VII's "Ouroboros." Thank goodness it is not the final ever episode of Red Dwarf. Overall although the plot fails to inspire, you cannot help but laugh at the scenes in which Ackerman finds Lister and Rimmer drunk. Also you cannot fail to be moved by Rimmer's second death. Although the series is a comedy, it feels a suitably tragic and emotional way to bring the curtain down on the show for a decade. There are certainly some good ideas in this final BBC episode but the plot was underdeveloped and not innovative enough. If the series could have been six episodes then maybe the "Pete" episodes could have been dropped and more time spent on writing "Only the Good."

Series VIII of Red Dwarf is certainly a return to form to an extent but the weak plots of the final three episodes are crying out for Rob Grant's influence and ideas. But still it was an achievement for sole writer Doug Naylor (with the assistance of Paul Alexander) to get the dialogue back to the standards of the earlier series. If the final three episodes had more affecting stories then maybe this would be one of the essential series of Red Dwarf. However, it is a worthwhile purchase for Dwarf fans as it is the final BBC series, is an improvement on series VII and whets the appetite for this year's series X. Although I feel series VIII was a half-successful evolution of the show I hope that series X will return it to its series III to VI peak years and in some ways strip it back to basics.


Liverpool FC Season Review 2011-12 [DVD]
Liverpool FC Season Review 2011-12 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jon Champion
Price: £6.95

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cup side but 5 stars for the first Liverpool trophy in over half a decade..., 13 July 2012
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Although the 2011-12 league campaign was the weakest for Liverpool in my fifteen years of supporting them, it was not an entirely terrible season due to the strong showings in the cup competitions. European football qualification was not achieved in 2010-11 so this put a greater emphasis on the two domestic cups as we reached two finals, winning one and narrowly losing another to the imminent European Champions. Maybe really my rating for this should be lower due to the appalling league campaign. But to win a trophy for the first time in almost 6 years and have a memorable day at Wembley makes it worthwhile especially as there is a second disc of the entire Carling Cup final in addition to the season review DVD. It was a mesmerising spectacle as Liverpool won it the hard way again with only Skrtel, Kuyt and Downing playing to their full ability. Although Liverpool dominated possession and Cardiff defended resolutely, ultimately the Reds lacked penetration in the final third. The team was fortunate to win the trophy as Kenny Miller missed a simple chance for Cardiff at the end of the 90 minutes but it is an exciting watch for Reds fans and marked the glorious high point of the season.

On the other hand, the amazing feature of the terrible league campaign is that if the players' ability to finish had been more consistent and composed then they would have had a much more successful season. The "pass and move" brand of football instilled by Kenny Dalglish into the players since his return to the dugout at Anfield in January 2011 led to some effective attacking play which yielded numerous chances. Only a few of the team's overall performances were completely insipid though Bolton away and Fulham at home (both league) were undoubtedly demoralising days. However, clearly overall league performances were poor due to the lack of a clinical finish to the plethora of chances created in most games. It is like if a striker of any team missed a number of chances in a game that cost their team a result you would say their performance was poor. In the same way, because Liverpool failed to convert enough of their chances in league games their overall performances were indeed poor because finishing is a skill and integral to a result.

Although it is argued on the DVD by club captain Steven Gerrard that Liverpool were unlucky with their chances in 2011-12, I feel that while this is true this only tells one side of the story. As a season review, it is comprehensive because it shows what could have been if the players had converted more of their scoring opportunities (i.e. top 3 or 4 in the league). Watching the shooting attempts and headers particularly in our appalling run of home games in the league reveals the lack of an effective finish. It is true that opposing goalkeepers were fantastic in terms of saving ability in several games and it was unfortunate that countless efforts rebounded off the woodwork. However, watching closely shows how in league games the players failed to direct shots into the areas of the net (the corners and either side of the goalkeeper) where shots would be far enough from the goalkeeper to be unsaveable but not far enough that they would strike the posts/bar or miss completely. Simply, the number of times that the woodwork was struck or the opposing goalkeeper made a world class save was not just misfortune; it was also the result of inefficient chance conversion.

As you can expect in a season where numerous chances were wasted, Liverpool's strikers all had below-par seasons to varying degrees. Andy Carroll was clearly not a 35 million pound striker until the end of the season when he finally came good scoring a towering backwards header against Everton in the FA Cup semi-final which set up a final meeting with Chelsea. In the final, he came on as a substitute and got Liverpool back in the game at 2-1 by outmuscling Terry and jinking twice past the Chelsea backline to finish powerfully into the top corner. However, while he was unlucky with his headed chance to equalise, with Petr Cech making an astonishing save to prevent the ball from completely crossing the line, really from that distance and with a free header he should be scoring and this was an example of his wasteful finishing that cost Liverpool countless points in the league campaign. Dirk Kuyt was fantastic in some of the cup games, scoring a powerful and precise goal in the pulsating extra time of the Carling Cup final and scoring the dramatic winner at home to Manchester United in the FA Cup 4th round. Similarly to Carroll, however, on the DVD you will see how Kuyt missed far too many simple chances in the league.

Even top scorer Luis Suarez, while as enigmatically talented an attacker as ever, was responsible for too many missed chances. His speedy and agile dribbling led to some chances either scored by himself finishing off the run with aplomb (e.g. Wolves at home in the league) or by laying it on for another player (e.g. the 2nd and 3rd goals of Steven Gerrard's hat trick at home to Everton in the league). His most flamboyant goals came in the away trip to Stoke City in the Carling Cup run and the league match away at Norwich in which he scored the most stunning hat trick I have ever witnessed. While his sensational double away to Stoke took us through a difficult tie into the quarter finals of the league cup, he also scored a fine equaliser when through on goal against Everton in the FA Cup semi-final which contributed along with Carroll's winner to Liverpool making it into the second cup final of this erratic season.

Bellamy was the only striker with a decent conversion rate and unfortunately his season was interrupted by a recurrent knee injury. However, when fit I feel Bellamy was the best signing of summer 2011 as Jose Enrique's form deteriorated in the 2nd half of the season. Additionally, Bellamy was signed on a free and contributed countless goals and assists due to his graft, pace and skill including the decisive finish that put Liverpool ahead on aggregate in the Carling Cup semi-final versus Manchester City. It was arguably the most important goal scored of the season as without it Liverpool would not have made it past the English Champions and into the Carling Cup final.

Liverpool's midfielders were similarly culpable of snatching at chances. Although Roy Hodgson's only successful transfer - cultured playmaker Raul Meireles - was pushed out to an extent by the British summer 2011 signings ultimately he chose not to fight for his place and instead defected to rivals Chelsea on transfer deadline day. This proved to be a blow as was Steven Gerrard's injury hit season. When he was fit and available his performances suffered from some inconsistency. At home to Everton in the league he was at his inspirational best scoring a hat trick including a deft lob for the first goal. He also kept his composure to convert two penalties in the two legs against Manchester City in the Carling Cup semi-final. However, in the two cup finals he was not the same talismanic player that he was in the FA Cup final in 2006 and Istanbul 2005. He lacked involvement and chances that he would have scored a few years ago were blazed over the bar. Gerrard remains a brilliant player but perhaps next season Liverpool need to sign a new attacking midfielder to replace him when injured and compete with him when off form.

Another problem that Liverpool experienced in midfield was a season ending injury to Lucas Leiva in November 2011. Lucas over the previous campaign had become a warrior-like defensive midfielder with an eye for a key pass. Jay Spearing was an inadequate replacement, at fault for Ramires' opening goal for Chelsea in the FA Cup final as he poorly failed to intercept a pass. Simply, without Lucas there was no effective shield around Liverpool's backline. This was a sizeable factor in Dalglish's sacking as in the second half of the season when Lucas was unavailable the goalless draws and slender wins of earlier in the season became a number of demoralising defeats as slightly more goals were conceded combined with the many missed chances. These losses were humiliating due to being against smaller clubs such as Wigan and often at home in front of Liverpool's loyal support. They were also so many that Liverpool were in the form of a relegation side in the second half of the season.

However, the main problem in Liverpool's midfield was that Comolli and Dalglish's summer 2011 British signings were not astute or value for money and failed to convert enough chances on goal. Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing failed to replicate their free scoring form at Liverpool from previous clubs Blackpool and Aston Villa, respectively. Jordan Henderson similarly scored a paltry two goals while all three were prone to lacking influence in a number of the games. In the Carling Cup final Adam and Henderson appear out of their depth. There was also some mismanagement by Dalglish in Liverpool's midfield as Jordan Henderson would mostly be selected ahead of Maxi Rodriguez and Craig Bellamy (when fit) for a place on the right side of Liverpool's midfield. Maxi and Bellamy were both a more natural fit for the wide roles and were the form players so their lack of inclusion in the starting line-up was baffling. In addition to Bellamy, Maxi also carried a greater goal scoring threat than Henderson. Maxi's predatory instincts provided an important opener against Chelsea in the Carling Cup quarter final with his instinctive close range finish from Bellamy's perfectly weighted cross.

At the other end of the pitch, Liverpool in 2011-12 were largely tight and solid achieving the third best defensive record in the Premier League so it was clearly the abundance of missed chances that were to blame for the team failing to qualify for the Champions League. Martin Skrtel was player of the season becoming a more aggressive and combative defender capable of scoring vital goals. His powerful close range equaliser against Cardiff in the Carling Cup final was vital especially as Suarez earlier header after the corner had struck the post and he was arguably man of the match. Centre back partner Daniel Agger had another consistent campaign scoring the first goal in the FA Cup 4th round tie at home to Manchester United with a perfectly weighted header after a De Gea goalkeeping error. Although Jose Enrique's performances declined in the second half of the season, he was Liverpool's best signing of summer 2011 initially with his charges down the left flank and pin point crossing accuracy. However, he was at fault for Cardiff's opener in the Carling Cup final as he failed to mark Joe Mason away from the goal while Ramires easily outpaced him for the Chelsea opener in FA Cup final. Glen Johnson showed why he is England's first choice right back with his largely immaculate defending and athletic running down the right flank. The highlight of his season came in the away league game to Chelsea in which he scored a scintillating winner after a mazy dribble.

Despite this defensive robustness, there were some goals conceded that cost the team the FA Cup and points in the Premier League. Anfield legend Jamie Carragher had a bad season losing his first team place to Skrtel and Agger. His lack of pace was exposed against Stoke away in the league when he conceded a penalty while he was indecisive along with Agger for Everton's opener in the FA Cup semi-final tie. Although Carragher still has something to offer as an experienced squad player next season maybe it is time for Sebastian Coates to become back-up centre back. Coates was a stand-out performer against Chelsea in the Carling Cup quarter final and scored a breath taking scissor kick away to Fulham in the league. Meanwhile, Pepe Reina had an uncharacteristically shoddy campaign making a number of mistakes in the league games that cost the team results. In the Carling Cup final he failed to dominate his 6-yard box for Cardiff's equaliser in extra time and if Liverpool had not managed to win the game on the lottery of penalties that followed then he would have had to accept some of the responsibility. However, his most costly mistake came in the FA Cup final when he allowed Ramires to score the first Chelsea goal at his near post though even the peerless Skrtel could have done better with his defending for the second. But still, Reina's mistake for the first goal meant that Liverpool had a two goal deficit and Carroll's brilliant strike was not enough to equalise.

Although Kenny Dalglish possibly deserved more time to see if he could make Liverpool more competitive in the league in 2012-13, the team was in relegation form after Christmas. Clearly this was the reason why Liverpool's owners felt it was unsafe to continue with him in the managerial role. Although the team's creativity was high and defending resolute, ultimately it is a results business and the team missed countless chances that cost them a place in the prestigious Champions League. To miss out on European football's premier competition yet again was not only a massive disappointment but was a commercial disaster as it is much more financially rewarding than the Europa League after the millions spent on Comolli and Dalglish's 2011 signings. Nevertheless maybe Dalglish deserved more time as he guided the club to two finals in one season narrowly missing out on a domestic cup double. Additionally, in 2012-13 the new management the team will have to maintain the team's defensive organisation despite the departure of influential first team coach Steve Clarke who has become West Brom manager. Liverpool's chance conversion was significantly higher in cup games in 2011-12 so clearly there must be a more consistent and focused approach to league matches next year. Hopefully the Brendan Rodgers' first signing, Fabio Borini, can be the prolific, poacher-type striker who will encourage the other players to recover their goal scoring potency and find the back of the net more regularly. Although Liverpool's 2011-12 league campaign was dismal, the team will have an improved season in 2012-13 if Rodgers can build upon the foundations laid by Dalglish and provide the inspiration to ensure that the team is more ruthless in finishing their goal scoring chances.


Liverpool FC Season Review 09/10 [DVD]
Liverpool FC Season Review 09/10 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jon Champion

4.0 out of 5 stars The start of a bad period of results for LFC but nevertheless some highlights, 20 Jun. 2012
This final season of Rafa Benitez's management at Liverpool marked the beginning of the club's decline in terms of constantly challenging for and achieving a top four Premiership finish. I hope Liverpool's new manager (Brendan Rodgers) can at least achieve a position in the Champions League places and the deterioration will end but this marked the beginning of a period of mid-table finishes.

But anyway, two things in the previous 08-09 campaign marked the beginning of the end for Rafa Benitez. Firstly he publically tried to sell Xabi Alonso in order to purchase Gareth Barry. Not only is Barry inferior but he alienated the cultured playmaker Alonso in the process. Alonso handed in a transfer request before the start of 09-10 and is now winning titles at Real Madrid. Another howler from Benitez was his infamous "Rafa rant" about Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson. It showed that he could not handle the pressure of the 08-09 title challenge mid-way through and handed the initiative to our fierce north-west rivals.

The season review states how it was always going to be hard for the team to follow the previous season's highs in 09-10. But Liverpool should have at least qualified for the prestigious and much more financially rewarding Champions League than ending up in mid-table. The departure of Alonso simply highlighted and exposed other weaknesses in Rafa's set up. Without Alonso orchestrating the team's passing, the movement of the team and their capacity to attack was blunted. But this only showed how too many players in Rafa's squad were not wise purchases. Signings from the 2009 close season as well as the previous couple of summers were poor. Alberto Aquilani was bought as a replacement for Alonso but he would not be fit until the end of October and anyway it was an inappropriate replacement. Aquilani was not someone who would fit the playmaker role alongside a defensive midfielder and was (and remains to this day) an attacking midfielder playing behind the strikers. So if Alonso's replacement was incorrect that was always going to be a bad start.

But anyway, when Xabi Alonso's form had dipped in the 06-07 and 07-08 seasons and he was less influential, Liverpool still had satisfactory seasons. So the loss of Alonso should not have been as catastrophic for the team to lack movement and creativity. The only other midfielders with creative flair were Steven Gerrard and Yossi Benayoun. Benayoun's season was reduced due to muscle injuries while Gerrard had a relatively below-par campaign. Threat from wide areas was hampered due to the inconsistency of Albert Riera and Ryan Babel.

But the most glaring weakness in midfield was due to Rafa's continual pairing of two defensive midfielders in the form of Javier Mascherano and Lucas Leiva in the engine room of midfield in a 4-2-3-1 formation. It was as bad a tactical mistake as Gerard Houllier's selection of Igor Biscan to partner Sami Hyypia in central defence in his later seasons in which, like Rafa, he was past his managerial peak. In retrospect, a change of formation from the previous two seasons' 4-2-3-1 formation should have been made for 09-10 as it was simply not appropriate due to the loss of Alonso and no replacement.

When Liverpool did get chances their problem was that due to the debt of the club due to then owners Gillett and Hicks dodgy regime there was not enough money to replace Robbie Keane as a partner or back up choice for Fernando Torres. At the same time, the transfer budget that was available was blown by Rafa on the costly Glen Johnson who replaced Alvaro Arbeloa who was decent enough. While Torres' debut season at Anfield was fantastic, I feel that in 08-09 his injury problems were a sizeable factor in Liverpool failing to land the Premiership. In this following 09-10 campaign he continued to be afflicted by various injuries and when he was unavailable only David Ngog and Andriy Voronin were available as back up. David Ngog had occasional bright moments such as his goal at home to arch rivals Manchester United but he was merely an apprentice to Torres and his miss which cost Liverpool a win away to Blackburn shows this. Andriy Voronin was simply a bad summer 2007 signing and despite being largely poor in that campaign returned to Liverpool after a loan spell in Germany. He exemplified the lack of quality back up in the squad with his poor passing, touches and lack of a clinical finish. His missed chance away to Lyon in the Champions League highlights his shortcomings as that goal would have led to Liverpool winning that game and would have contributed to them making it into the Champions League knockout rounds.

However, despite this lack of attacking power another area of the squad that Rafa had badly invested in was the defence. On this DVD you will see how so many of the goals conceded by Liverpool are due to Insua's shortcomings in defence. While offensively he was decent, the opposing winger would bypass him easily due to his lack of pace, marking ability and positional sense. He was a defensive Rafa signing from a couple of years before as was Phillip Degen who was similarly weak cover at right back for Glen Johnson. A number of other goals were conceded due to other players making individual errors. Even stalwart Jamie Carragher and the talismanic Steven Gerrard were at fault. But the chief problem in this defensive malaise in 09-10 was due to Rafa's management. The team's inability to defend set pieces led to numerous goals conceded at vital moments and cost the team a number of points. The team lacked concentration in the latter stages of games and important goals for the opposing teams were conceded due to this which shows a lack of motivation and mismanagement on Rafa's part.

There were some positives from this traumatic final season in charge for Rafa, however. Pepe Reina was player of the season and his extraordinary diving ability, electric reflexes and dominance of his box are shown on this DVD such as in the away league game versus Everton where he defied the Blues with a blinding double save. His sensational stops either reduced the margin of Liverpool's humiliating defeats or allowed the team to gain some pride from a bad season with some victories and draws.

Glen Johnson impressed in several games in 09-10 particularly in an attacking sense due to his ability to create opportunities on the right flank with his pace, mazy dribbling and accurate delivery. He also contributed to the score sheet on a few occasions with his spectacular volley at home to Stoke City and powerful long range strikes away to Bolton and at home to Sunderland (all league). Daniel Agger scored a deft close range volley in the post-Christmas Europa League quarter final first leg away to Benfica and was defensively one of the few players in the backline to be robust when available. When available, Yossi Benayoun continued his impressive form from the previous season by using his agile dribbling, telepathic vision and deft finishing to create and convert chances. Highlights of his season included a stunning hat trick at home to Burnley in the league and a perfectly weighted assist for Fernando Torres at home to Manchester United in the league.

Despite the decline in overall team performances, Javier Mascherano emerged from the season with some credit due to his consistent, tough tackling defensive midfield performances. He even scored a sensational long range finish in the Europa league last 32 away 2nd leg versus Romanians Unirea. Meanwhile Lucas began to improve as a Liverpool player, providing the team with solid defensive work and even some occasional creativity though he was no Alonso. In his best moments, he made some intelligent through passes and showed determined forward running. Examples of his gradually improving form for Liverpool were his precise assist for Ngog at home in the league to defeat arch rivals Manchester United and skilful goal at home to Benfica in the Europa League quarter final second leg. It was the beginning of Lucas establishing himself as a key performer for the seasons to follow.

Although Steven Gerrard's performances were not at his talismanic best he still had some great moments in 09-10. His perfect shot into the top corner of the Bolton net away in the league recalled the previous season's scintillating late wins while his precise dink at home in league to Blackburn capped a remarkable team move. His devastating long range strikes towards the end of the season in the league games away at Birmingham and Burnley were quintessential Steven Gerrard. Meanwhile his radar-like vision and delivery allowed him to assist several goals from corners, free kicks and open play. The pinnacle of Dirk Kuyt's decent campaign came in the two derby victories versus Everton in which he scored a pair of opportunistic poacher's goals. Like his previous seasons, his unerring work ethic led to numerous chances created and finished. As previously stated, Torres had an interrupted campaign due to injury and this was another reason for Liverpool's mediocrity in 09-10. However, when he was fit he was usually a reliable source of goals although it would take him a few weeks upon return each time to reach his optimal condition and form. His hat trick at home to Hull in the league was a tour-de-force of finishing while his goal at home to Manchester United in the league showed his searing pace, adept touch and dribbling.

Liverpool's pattern of form in the league was in reverse to the 08-09 season. Home form exceeded away form this time but the away form was so abysmal that it cost Liverpool a place in the top four of the premiership. Their final position was a lowly and languishing seventh though there were some highlights of the league campaign in terms of results. In a largely successful September, Burnley and Hull were thrashed 4-0 and 6-1 respectively - in these games the fluid attacking football of the previous season was recalled. Manchester United were controlled, outplayed and defeated at Anfield in the league and the tactics deployed undoubtedly should have been used for the entire campaign. Other notable results occurred later in the season - in March, Alberto Aquilani starred in a 4-1 defeat of Portsmouth while a rare dominant display away from home against Burnley resulted in a 4-0 victory.

The two derby victories over Everton also provided some relief in a season in which the Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup runs were laughable. Exiting at the end of the group stage of the Champions League, Liverpool ended up in the Europa League due to conceding silly last minute goals. This was further evidence of their decline under Rafa in 09-10 as previously they had been a powerhouse in the European football's top tier competition, winning it in 2005 and reaching the final in 2007. However, but for an unfairly disallowed goal away to Atletico Madrid in the Europa League semi-final first leg, Liverpool would have been in a European final. True it was scant consolation for an often traumatic campaign (even the DVD menu music sounds troubled and unhappy) but a final appearance and an opportunity to finish the season with silverware would have been something. Nevertheless, the difference between Rafa's first season in which he won the Champions League and his final season in which he almost led us to the final of Europe's secondary competition is dramatic and showed why with all the money spent and his mismanagement his time at Liverpool was coming to an end and this is why I feel it was right for the club not to reappoint him in this summer 2012. He will be remembered as a good Liverpool manager and I will always be forever grateful for the European Cup success which was a great time for the club. But almost exactly, like his predecessor Gerard Houllier, in his later seasons the club went backwards due to a plethora of his own mistakes and his time at Liverpool FC had run its course.


Red Dwarf : Complete BBC Series 7 [2005] [DVD]
Red Dwarf : Complete BBC Series 7 [2005] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Chris Barrie
Price: £7.00

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 stars just: it (largely) goes downhill after Rimmer leaves, 15 Mar. 2012
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The separation of Rob Grant and Doug Naylor's writing partnership along with Chris Barrie temporary departure are clearly and obviously the main factors in this inconsistent though just about good enough to be worthwhile seventh series of Red Dwarf. For too much of the time it fails to match the imperious standards set by the first six series. Rob Grant's departure was a mega loss and you cannot help but feel that though Doug Naylor's writing is good (great at times) the earlier six series greatness is diluted by half. In the first six every bit of dialogue and characterisation was superbly funny. The dialogue in this series is good but nowhere near as scintillating in comedy as the first six series. The one liners are not as entertaining. Another issue is that the CGI imaging rather than use of models looks rather dated now even up-scaled on a Blu-ray player. This higher budget production value simply does not suit Red Dwarf as does the absence of an audience on set.

The scripts also suffer. The first two - "Tikka to Ride" and "Stoke Me a Clipper" - are a superb start but notice these are the stories that include Chris Barrie's Rimmer as part of the crew. "Tikka to Ride" continues where series six left off - it's dark but funny and sophisticated in its science fiction and is easily one of the best ever Red Dwarf episodes. Though even that suffers some inconsistency as suddenly the time drive can move people around. Also President Kennedy's future self assassinates his earlier self as the gunman behind the grassy knoll - so surely with what happened to the time paradox involving the Dwarfers between series six and series seven his future self should not have been able to assassinate his earlier self as his younger self would not get to be his older disgraced self. But this episode is still great as Red Dwarf has always been littered with inconsistencies even in the days of both Grant and Naylor writing. "Stoke Me a Clipper" brings back Ace Rimmer and sees Rimmer incredibly become the superhero. The artificial medieval reality scenes are entertaining as they are packed with action. Ace Rimmer's death and Rimmer's departure to become the next Ace Rimmer is well handled and well written. Paul Alexander - while not as incredible as the departed Grant though you cannot really compare - with Doug Naylor co-writing provides this great story to write Rimmer out.

However, after this sensational two episode start including Rimmer as part of the main crew it's largely downhill all the way. "Ouroboros" is in my opinion the joint weakest script along with "Beyond a Joke." I remember when I was a teenager in 1997 I thought this was a good story and was very impressed with it and thought it was one of the best but now I can see its flaws. Again and firstly the humour/dialogue is not as entertaining. Secondly, the science fiction in Red Dwarf has always been brilliant in the first six series though unbelievable to varying extents. But this takes unrealism too far - it is simply not possible to father yourself as Lister does at the end with his ex-girlfriend Kochanski as his own mother. It makes no sense at all so fails to be a convincing story.

"Duct Soup" is okay but is a poor man's version of series three's "Marooned." Some of the dialogue is funny like the reasons for Lister's claustrophobia but it does not match up to the best episodes of Red Dwarf. Also in this and the following episodes another reason for the decline of the series to merely an acceptable level is the addition of Kochanski to the crew. Chloe Annette is okay but she is not really good as Kochanski and the relationship between her and the rest of the crew comes across as annoying. As a female invading the male space, she looks down on them and while they are "space bums" this makes her look pompous and superior and as a Red Dwarf fan I find this as the source of comedy irritating. The bottom line is she fails to adequately replace Chris Barrie's Rimmer though this was always going to be improbable anyway. Chloe Annette is okay as Kochanski but her characterisation by the writers is poor. Her addition to the crew brings out the worst in Kryten as his neuroses over whether she will take Lister away from him are not comic, just downright irritating.

"Blue" is a half great script and notice that this is the last episode to feature Rimmer until series eight. The flashback scenes of Lister's memories of Rimmer are very funny while the crew's games night scene for once shows Kochanski to be funny as she is unimpressed with Lister and the Cat's puerile male entertainments. The feeling is mutual as Lister and the Cat are likewise unimpressed by Kochanski and her hologrammatic superior Lister from the other dimension and their intellectual games. Yawn. The Rimmer "munchkin" song is just great as it is so over-the-top. What prevents the episode from being a completely brilliant script is as a story it does not flow quite right and feels more like a series of scenes.

The previously mentioned "Beyond a Joke" is the joint worst script with "Ouroboros." It is okay but the "Pride and Prejudice" world scenes while a bit funny seem incongruous with the Red Dwarf universe. The story of the two brother androids (same motherboard) is intriguing but the rogue simulants and gelfs have all been seen before in more superior stories.

However, the final two episodes of series seven - especially the penultimate - are a return to form. "Epideme" is easily one of three episodes which are as good as the earlier Grant-Naylor helmed series. Paul Alexander is responsible along with Doug Naylor for this script and again produces a stunner. The talking virus' characterisation is excellent and is a source of all manners of jokes and humour. The science fiction of how to cure the virus is impressive storytelling while the scene on board the Leviathan in the ice glacier is like a return to the strong settings of the first six series. On this occasion Kochanski's characterisation is better handled and this unsurprisingly occurs when Kryten and she actually combine. Her saving of Lister is heroic. The comedy is equal to the strong science fiction story. The scene in which Lister is "tongue hockeyed to death" is easily one of the funniest of this series though disgusting.

Series seven finale "Nanarchy" is almost as good as the previous episode though not quite classic Dwarf as the story of where their mother ship - the Red Dwarf - disappeared and who took it comes full circle. Again Paul Alexander, along with James Hendrie, is a co-writer and the plot is well connected to the end of series five. It must be a good episode as after all Norman Lovett's Holly returns and immediately the one-liners and dialogue are as funny and impressive as series one, like he had never been away! The scenes with Lister's rebuilt arm are funny while the anticipation for series eight is built as Starbug enters the Red Dwarf hanger only to be much too small. What prevents it from being a classic episode is that it is used to tie up the loose ends of the back story of why they are stranded on Starbug and could not find their mother ship.

Series seven is just about good enough though the departure of Rob Grant has clearly taken away half the greatness of the show. In addition to the loss of co-creator and writer Grant, the departure of Chris Barrie as Rimmer is clearly the point at which the series, for the most part, deteriorates. However, three episodes that rank amongst the best in the Red Dwarf cannon and some other good and okay ones make this sufficiently worthwhile. As long as you lower your expectations and accept that due to all these mitigating factors it will not be as good as first six series it is a fairly good watch.


Red Dwarf: Series 2 [DVD] [1988]
Red Dwarf: Series 2 [DVD] [1988]
Dvd ~ Doug Naylor
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £5.44

5.0 out of 5 stars The Dwarfers' first great series, 13 Feb. 2012
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The first series was a decent start and this successor is even better. In my opinion it is the first great series of Red Dwarf. Simply the sci-fi concepts are more prominent and powerful. It is still low budget though slightly higher given that the crew travels to locations outside the ship for the first time and the sets are slightly richer. The sets remain the "ocean"/"military" grey of the first series. Though I prefer the later sets, these ones have a charm to them and are more decorated with ship artefacts to compensate for the lack of overall change. The characterisation remains infallible. The Rimmer/Lister sparring is still tremendous and combined with the other enigmatic characters such as the Cat and senile computer, Holly it all melds together beautifully and allows tremendous stories.

"Kryten" the first episode is a sensational start. I agree with Grant and Naylor's disappointment over the first series' stories (noted in the DVD's accompanying booklet) as these six episodes are light years ahead. This episode features a mechanoid for the first time. The scene with Lister trying to preparing his clothes before courting the female crew of the crashed Nova 5 (or so he thinks) is some of the funniest TV I have ever seen and has withstood time. This likewise applies to the scenes in which the Dwarfers are introduced to the crew of the Nova 5 (Lister: "I think the blonde one's giving you the eye") and Kryten's rebelling. Though it was not the last of David Ross' appearances in the show it was his last for Kryten. Though Robert Llewellyn's Kryten is more iconic he puts in a really good performance and makes it his own for this series.

"Better Than Life" is admittedly low budget (the tropical beach was one on the shores of sunny Rhyl) but its story is engrossing. It tackles a big sci-fi theme in the form of virtual video games and its plot is so good that this has similarly resisted time. It is also moving when you see Rimmer and Lister's reactions to Rimmer's father's death and this ability for the plot to have the emotional complexity and depth that it has is key in making writers Grant and Naylor such good storytellers. But the main thing is comedy though and this episode is packed with humour. The Groovy Channel 27 newsreaders atheist declaration about the bible ("all characters are fictitious") is a highlight as well as Rimmer's elation about receiving Napoleon Bonaparte's autograph.

Third episode, "Thanks for the Memory" is probably the weakest but even this is a great. It is more character based and more complex in plot in that it is told backwards. But this complexity is still easily understandable for the viewer and is a successful and exciting way of telling the story. This is a great improvement of the already solid plots of series one.

"Stasis Leak" features a typical but enthralling sci-fi device - time travel. It is the first episode in the Red Dwarf cannon to feature time travel as Rimmer and Lister both attempt to change events before the radiation disaster. Both Rimmer and Lister vie to save either himself (in Rimmer's case) or Kochanski by persuading them to go into the spare status booth before the radiation leak. The use of time travel is exciting and it includes a future Lister marrying Kochanski which still has not been resolved to this day eight series on. The humour still brilliantly permeates the big science fiction of this episode. Highlights include the incompetence of Holly when he tries to explain a stasis leak and Rimmer's "psychotic" experience (it is really him from the future talking to him with his sole head emerging from the table). I am also a particular fan of Lister's lament when he discovers Kochanski is already married ("it's always wine").

Next episode, "Queeg," is one of the best of a great series with Holly being at the crux of the story. The comedy of him fooling the crew into thinking that the brutal Queeg is really a backup computer that has taken over is superb. I particularly appreciate the scenes including Lister's meal consisting of one garden pea on toast and the end where Holly reappears after deceiving the crew into thinking that he has been erased and they are now permanently subject to Queeg's harsh treatment ("We're talking April, May, June, July and August fool).

Finale "Parallel Universe," along with the time travel of the fourth episode tackles the biggest science fiction concept of the show so far. The comedy this creates is unprecedented (e.g. The Cat's opposite is not female and is in fact a dog). The layers of the characters are revealed even more powerfully as we see the female Rimmer's attitude towards courting the male Rimmer. Finally, the story initiated in series one's best episode "Future Echoes" is resolved after Lister becomes pregnant by his female opposite as the laws of the parallel universe apply. This is a great finish to one of the five best series of the show and there is a real party atmosphere with the hilarious "Tongue Tied" song performance. The first appearance of Hattie Hayridge's equally great as Norman Lovett's Holly is also welcome.

The episodes of series two simply epitomise its first great melding of science fiction with comedy. This is indeed the point at which the show was transformed from decent into completely amazing for this and the following four series. The final episode marked an end of the era. In successive series the sets had more class and production values became increasingly higher with more special effects. But the main thing was the science fiction of the stories became heavier but still accessible and packed with insanely funny humour and characterisation. The first series was the platform but this in some ways was the benchmark for the future.


Liverpool Fc: Are You Watching, Manchester? [VHS]
Liverpool Fc: Are You Watching, Manchester? [VHS]
VHS

4.0 out of 5 stars The defensive strength and combativeness of the treble side, 24 Jan. 2012
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In light of recent seasons including the one this year (11-12) so far, watching this now is nostalgic for the time in the 00s when although Liverpool FC failed to win the title they at least finished consistently in the Champions League qualification positions. Perhaps you could argue that this is really only for the Reds connoisseur because it does not feature any cup finals. However, it is worth buying if you are a Liverpool Red for memories of that treble season when Houllier transformed the side from the "Spice Boys" of the 90s to a different breed.

This VHS features the two league games versus Manchester United. In both games, the basis of the victory is through organised, gritty defending and combative, fast counter-attacking. This season - 00-01 - is probably the season in which Liverpool had their strongest squad of the past twenty or so years. Manager Gerard Houllier's wise signings combined with the cream of the 90s players and youth ensured that Liverpool were finally competitive again.

In both the games it is the defence that is crucial. If Liverpool were without the imperious backbone of Carragher, Hyypia, Henchoz and Babbel the victories probably would not have been secured. Though, the contribution of the organised midfield - particularly midfield linchpin Didi Hamann at Anfield - was also key in repelling virtually all the United attacks. Jamie Carragher was man of the match at Old Trafford with his tenacious tackles and perceptive reading of the game. The number of times in both games Sami Hyypia and Stephane Henchoz (one of the most telepathic central defensive partnerships in Liverpool history) clear the danger with their aerial dominance, anticipation and timely tackles is phenomenal. Markus Babbel was likewise a defensive rock and in both games posed a threat in attack. His ability to charge down the right flank and deliver service into the box or break into the box and shoot was a feature of Liverpool attacks in the treble season. It's a shame that in subsequent campaigns his appearances reduced and his form deteriorated due to illness at the start of the 01-02 campaign.

When the back four was rarely penetrated, Sander Westerveld showed that he was a keeper who could make sensational saves and interceptions. Though he was largely brilliant you could see once or twice his vulnerability to handling errors which would cost him his place in the team at the start of the following season.

In midfield, the promising Steven Gerrard and Danny Murphy are goal scoring heroes. Although apart from his accurate free kick in the away game, Danny Murphy was a disappointment (he would lose possession, be on the periphery and got sent off at Anfield). Steven Gerrard, on the other hand, in both games - especially at Anfield - displays his determination, Liverpool spirit and all-round finesse to win possession, create attacks with his vision and provide a goal threat from outside the box. At Anfield, he breaks the deadlock with a devastating, trademark pile driver from long-distance. It is a joy to watch. Didi Hamann's impenetrable shielding of the back four and ability to keep the passing ticking like a metronome is also key. Barmby and Biscan worked hard at Old Trafford to play a role in the victory. While at Anfield, Berger was likewise tireless though obviously he displayed rustiness due to his previous injury - he could have been sent off for numerous bad challenges and missed a glorious chance to increase the scale of victory.

Up front, Liverpool's strikers of ten or so years ago are much more prolific and dangerous than the ones nowadays (so far) this 11-12 season. Though of course Owen has an off day at Old Trafford - if his touch and shot had been better he could have scored a couple of goals and Liverpool would have won by a bigger margin at Old Trafford. Although Heskey also fails to get on the score sheet, he shows enough pace, power and determined running to both attack the United backline and create chances and hold the ball up. Though, he also missed a chance at Anfield to make victory even sweeter. The best striker in these two games is Robbie Fowler who scored the second goal at Anfield with an outstanding piece of control and devastating volley. His ability to create is seen when he deftly lays it on to Gerrard to assist the opener. Though his goals were less in abundance than his mid-90s years at Liverpool he still offered an option to the Liverpool side as the squad's most unerring finisher.

Although perhaps this is for Reds fans who want every single VHS/DVD release as it does not feature cup finals, it is worth buying for two satisfying victories over Liverpool's biggest rivals. In the first game at Old Trafford, you can see a vintage "smash and grab" victory of the Gerard Houllier era based upon two banks of four defending, swift counter-attacking and efficient taking of chances. In the second game at Anfield, you will see a game likewise based upon compact defending and counter-attacking but also Liverpool showing more menace and bite in attack. Although it is hardly "pass and move," Liverpool provides a constant threat on the break. Of course the VHS is also worth buying for David Beckham showing how he is somewhat overrated in both games and a United player being sent off at Old Trafford.


Doctor Who - The Complete BBC Series 2 Box Set [DVD]
Doctor Who - The Complete BBC Series 2 Box Set [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Tennant
Offered by movielovers786
Price: £20.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maybe not as consistently great as the Ecclestone series but very good with some exceptional episodes..., 22 Nov. 2011
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Some people may be surprised by my feeling that I find the first series more consistently enthralling than this one but that is honestly how I feel. My stance is that the post-Ecclestone series until this day have been very good, with five or six episodes that are equally as captivating as the first series run. However, overall I feel the Christopher Ecclestone series remains the greatest, with the strongest coherence and tension. Although this year's sixth series comes close, as Steven Moffat has reinvented it and given it a new energy and direction. But crucially each episode in the Ecclestone series, apart from maybe "The Long Game" which is the only one that underwhelms a tiny bit and is really only a lead into the finale, is exceptional, compelling and addictive. Although series two and the other post-Ecclestone series have been very fine, I feel that the other episodes apart from the five or six strongest have had intriguing plots, the fear factor and suspense but have failed to have the same resonance as they did in the first series.

For me the strongest episodes include the first new Who Christmas special - "the Christmas Invasion." Clearly lead writer Russell T Davies had this written and prepared for some time so they could quickly start filming the next series once the Ecclestone one had become so popular that another series could be commissioned. It possesses the emotional intensity of the first series. The excitement of the action in this episode is superb and it has a very tight script. Penelope Wilton reprises her role as now prime minister and the scenes with the political team - the bureaucracy - are as impressive as the action. For a television programme from 2005, visually it has only slightly deteriorated in effect. The sound on a good blu-ray player home cinema is breathtaking as it is in all the episodes. David Tennant's debut as the doctor in this episode is superb though he spends most of his time recovering from his regeneration. Although Christopher Ecclestone remains my favourite doctor, Tennant is a convincing doctor and fills the role admirably with a slapstick wit and capability for all kinds of emotions.

The first episode of the proper run carries on where series one left off with the return of the devious and dastardly Lady Cassandra. If anything, this is an even stronger episode than the Lady Cassandra equivalent from series one, with all kinds of different plot devices and formidable acting. The ending is sad and has a universal human theme. I feel that after this episode, Doctor Who, although remaining very good, becomes somewhat inferior to the first series because the drama outweighs the science fiction in a number of the succeeding episodes.

"Tooth and Claw" and "School Reunion" are the first of these episodes. I mean, they are fairly good, but the lack of science fiction misses the point slightly of Doctor Who. Though of course the first series had a strong drama element to its composition, it always relied on science fiction action. "Tooth and Claw's" positives include the fear factor of the monster and the surround sound of this episode still to this day remains immense. The plot is well structured and visually it remains powerful (especially rescaled on a blu-ray player), although the visuals are slightly diminished due to the lesser filming (i.e. no HD) possibilities of programmes from five years ago. "School Reunion" sees the return of the sadly late Liz Sladen's Sarah Jane Smith and she performs with dynamism in her return to the Doctor Who scene and her performance shows that even in the days of new Who she could still fit in seamlessly. Both these episodes have interesting plots but I feel they could have been stronger if the sci-fi element had been a fair bit more underpinning and greater.

"The Girl in the Fire Place" though is a return to peak form and I feel the second best episode that Steven Moffat concocted for the Russell T Davies era of Doctor Who behind series four's library two parter (a contentious opinion of mine though I do think series three's "Blink" is a very strong episode, it's just I prefer those episodes). The emotional depth of seeing the child Madame de Pompadour grow up so fast into her adult years due to the connection to different periods of her life and the time discrepancy between the tardis crew's existence on the spaceship is powerful. It is a highly captivating story with some of the most impressive monsters of new Who (the clockwork ones) and its atmosphere draws you in again and again. I feel this exemplifies what this series of Doctor Who should have had more of - the drama is more permeated by sci-fi (the Red Dwarf-style spaceship which connects the story in aristocratic, eighteenth century France) and this makes it have equal quality to the first series' episodes.

The first cyberman stories of new Who contain sufficient vivacity, scariness and emotional power (the scenes with the companions' parallel families and the deranged Cyberman creator Lumic) to ensure that they are both pretty decent episodes. However, this two parter although pretty absorbing is just a lead up to the phenomenal series finale.

The "Impossible Planet"/"Satan Pit" episodes are good with the first appearance of the erratic and enigmatic "Ood," however I feel that although the visuals look fairly good rescaled on blu-ray, they are a bit dated and I prefer 2009's "Waters of Mars" which is not only visually stunning, but has an even more emotionally powerful plot. Again a contentious opinion of mine perhaps as some people feel this two parter is some of the second series' strongest material, but in my view these episodes are good, just perhaps not exceptional.

"Love and Monsters," the episode featuring Peter Kay divides opinion, but I feel it is one of the episodes to rival series one. Though I can see why it divides opinion as it is unconventional. However, it is sinister and comic at the same time and Peter Kay's performance as the Abzorbaloff (different type of monster to but similar to rivals the Slitheen) is amusing but also has enough viciousness to make it convincing. Despite the carnage in the episode it simultaneously has a light hearted tone to make it a different kind of episode of Doctor Who and a welcome one.

Another thing that makes this series somewhat inferior to the first is there are two episodes which are simply average. Mark Gatiss' "Idiot's Lantern" story simply fails to meet the viewer's expectation levels after series one's magnificent "Unquiet Dead" episode as it does not generate the same atmosphere or tension. Additionally, the plot resolves too quickly. "Fear Her" has intriguing scenes with the child/doctor/Rose relating to each other and a fine performance from Rose in her penultimate appearance before the two parter finale but it is low budget and this means that overall it is fairly passable.

However, the series finale two parter "Army of Ghosts" and "Doomsday" is a return to top form. Although my favourite series is the first, this is my favourite series finale of new Who right to this day. The departure of the doctor's most loyal companion is beautifully and delicately handled but this is combined with the most resounding action of the series with the duelling of both cybermen and daleks! The most sci-fi of all the episodes really allows David Tennant's acting to shine. The "Torchwood" theme beautifully connects the whole of series two. However, I feel the gradually evolving "Bad Wolf" motif in series one was stronger and more coherent than the "Torchwood" one in this series. Nevertheless the on-going "Torchwood" theme is a good alternative as it provides contrast in that it is more apparent. This is a strong series with a combination of six extraordinary episodes and some pretty decent ones. Although there are a couple of duds, it was a vital, affecting and successful second series of Doctor Who, which ensured its future for successive thrilling series and allowed that the story did indeed "never end."


Liverpool - Back To The Future - Houllier's Way - The Official 1998-99 Season Review [VHS] [1999]
Liverpool - Back To The Future - Houllier's Way - The Official 1998-99 Season Review [VHS] [1999]
VHS

4.0 out of 5 stars Positive perspective of a "transitional" season, 2 July 2011
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After the fabulous spectacle of 1998 World Cup and a satisfactory but underachieving third place finish in the previous league season, it was time for a managerial change at Liverpool FC. Roy Evans - who had steadied the club in the previous few years - was complemented by Gerard Houllier in a joint management role. It was fated from the beginning as previous management partnerships across football had always runaground. Two managers trying to communicate their ideas to the playing staff was always destined to lead to conflict and disharmony. After a mainly dismal autumn run, Roy Evans long association with Liverpool FC ended as he resigned, leaving Gerard Houllier facing his debut season in English football.

There was a honeymoon period for the joint managers, however, as Liverpool started the first four matches in potent form. The highlights of this period included a strong performance in a 0-0 draw against Premiership champions Arsenal and a sensational hat trick away at Newcastle from top player Michael Owen. The most iconic of the three goals was a terrific dribble - somewhat reminsicent of the lightning run for England against Argentina when he scored - in which he beat three Newcastle players for fun before finishing with aplomb.

After this solid start however, results rapidly deteriorated. Although there were some bright moments, the overall picture was one of inconsistency. This VHS, only tells one side of the story to the unsuccessful 1998-1999 season as the opposition's goals are not included. This is where the video fails in its purpose because the function of a season review is to provide the entire story of the season which it is meant to cover.

However, there is a positive to this in that as this was often a troubled season (even the music sounds tense) the viewer only sees the best moments of the season and these highlights are well covered. At home to the emerging Chelsea in October, Jamie Redknapp equalised with a precise free kick. Redknapp had his most effective season for Liverpool and was both an architect of and finisher of goals. In Houllier's second match in sole charge, Robbie Fowler scored three of his fourteen league goals (the last time he ever achieved double figures for Liverpool in the league) in a scintillating 4-2 victory at Villa Park. These included a clinical header from a Redknapp cross and a powerful drive from outside the box. Even though he was past the peak of his Liverpool career, he displayed sufficient talent to remain one of Liverpool's key players.

Summer signing Vegard Heggem was another key performer, using his deft dribbling ability and searing pace to good effect on the right flank. His mazy run and perfect finish in a 3-1 away win at bogey side Middlesbrough was another highlight of the season as was his devastating volley at home to the same team. Another highlight came in the final match of 1998 in which Liverpool secured a dramatic 2nd half comeback against Newcastle with Michael Owen and Karlheinz Riedle amongst the goals after successive waves of attacks. Another creditable draw against Arsenal away in January preceded a terrific 7-1 victory at home to Southampton including rare goals from Jamie Carragher and Dominic Matteo. The rest of the top highlights of 98-99 season came towards the end. In a 3-2 home win against fierce rivals Everton, Robbie Fowler converted two efficient finishes (one from a penalty) while Patrik Berger scored one his plethora of fabulous long range piledrivers. Berger was likewise one of the few stars of the season contributing strikes and assists with his adroit left wing play.

Although it is possible to detect that Steve McManaman was concentrating on his upcoming new career with Real Madrid, he still had a reasonably strong season and against Tottenham at home in yet another comeback from the Reds he scored the winning goal and last for the club with a magnificent volley. One of the momentous moments of the season came in a 2-2 draw against arch-rivals Manchester United in likewise another comeback. After good build up play from Patrik Berger, Oyvind Leonhardsen was brought down by Jesper Blomquist and Redknapp scored an impressive penalty. The incredible equaliser came through an intuitive through ball from Steve McManaman - an unselfish Karlheinz Riedle passed the ball to Paul Ince who finished with passion into the net. It remains a fine result, but perhaps in retrospect its significance is somewhat tarnished given that Manchester United then went on to secure the treble.

In the fallow periods of the season (only represented in spoken summaries by Ray Stubbs), there was a lack of teamwork and collective spirit but mainly a defensive malaise which took some new signings and dedicated training in the following summer to resolve. The fact that a number of the losses/draws occurred through failed or equalising comebacks shows how if Liverpool's defending had been more gritty then they would surely have achieved much more in the season. So many times, against the lesser teams, Liverpool failed to find the inspiration to win and this lack of commitment was crucial in leading to a bad season. The nadir came when the otherwise superlative Michael Owen failed to convert a penalty when the team succumbed to a depressing 1-0 loss at Wimbledon.

This VHS is essential if you are a Reds connoisseur and want to see the biggest successes of the 1998-1999 season. If you are not, although very good, it is only essential to complete your collection as it only tells one side of the story. Although it was a tough season, all the highlights (apart from the competitions other than the league - another criticism) are here. After this "transitional" debut season under Gerard Houllier, he now had the understanding and experience to sign the right players and adopt the right methods to take Liverpool forward.


Liverpool End of Season Review 2010/11 [DVD]
Liverpool End of Season Review 2010/11 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Guy Havord

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Return of the King, 19 Jun. 2011
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In 2010, Liverpool FC's downward spiral under the former owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks reached its nadir. In the close season, expenditure on new players equalled sales. The uninfluential Joe Cole was bought on a free while the mediocre pair of Poulsen and Konchesky were likewise signed. Key figures in the more successful recent seasons departed in the form of Yossi Benayoun and Javier Mascherano, whose heads were turned by Chelsea and Barcelona respectively.

The most significant change came in the management. Rafa Benitez - who had been an effective Liverpool manager until his final traumatic 09/10 season in charge - was sacked. Roy Hodgson was appointed and the first half of this season shows that he was not a successful enough manager for Liverpool. The start of the season under Hodgson appeared bright with the European advancement into the Europa League group stages and a spirited 1-1 opening game draw against Arsenal. However, it proved deceptive as Rabotnicki in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League were an average side. In the Arsenal home league opener, Joe Cole showed a lack of discpline (though perhaps his challenge did not deserve a straight red) and the side's lack of concentration at the end of games from the previous season was exposed again with the late equaliser.

After a few good results in this period, form rapidly deteriorated. Hodgson failed to inspire the most out of his squad - the team was vulnerable to crosses from wide areas and set pieces. Konchesky, one of the worst LFC defenders of the modern era, was turned inside out on so many occasions. Skrtel was at fault on mutliple occasions while even England first choice right back Glen Johnson made a successions of defensive blunders. At the other end under Hodgson, the overly negative tactics and training led to a dour brand of football, particularly in away games. The lowlights of Hodgson's tenure came in the inexcusable defeat at home to Northampton Town in the league cup and the despairing defeat to Blackburn Rovers away in the league in January. The form of Fernando Torres was another catastrophe of Roy Hodgson's reign - he had some great moments (his two sensational goals against Chelsea at home) but they were too far between. Joe Cole's effective moments were likewise the same and he lacked fitness and influence. Poulsen's best days were behind him when he signed so he failed to reach his former top level at Anfield.

Positives of Hodgson's time in charge of Liverpool were in small amounts but there were some. He is a good manager but his style and mentality is more suited to a small mid-table club. Under him, there were some powerful home wins against Aston Villa, West Ham and Chelsea. He also had a decent semi-campaign in Europe with the Napoli game and Steven Gerrard's tremendous hat trick a positive. Ngog had a fine run of form with a group of strikes at the beginning of the season while Meireles assisted a number of goals with his perceptive vision and dangerous set pieces.

However, by the early January and after the depressing Blackburn Rovers result new owners Fenway Sports Group had seen enough and finally after twenty long years the club's last legendary manager returned. This proved to be a wise decision by the supportive new American owners who saved the club from administration by securing the purchase of the club from the greedy hands of Gillett and Hicks to them in October. Hodgson's dismissal was inevitable after certain results (as explained in an interview with Director of Football Damien Comolli) that the situaton could not be resolved with the current manger.

The transformation under "King Kenny" was spectacular. After a few games where defensive catastrophes e.g. Blackpool away still materialised, the team managed to find some form finally in the 2-2 draw against Everton at home. Likewise against Wolves away the team played their most successful and attractive football since they almost secured the league title in 2009. They exerted continuous pressure through Dalglish's exciting "pass and move" brand of football. With some assistance from incoming coach Steve Clarke, Liverpool finally looked like a capable team again.

This was despite the departure of Fernando Torres. He was a servant to Liverpool for three and a half seasons, was our top attacker and scored numerous goals. But the manner of his exit left a sour taste with him leaving mid way through a campaign and to rivals Chelsea. However, it's obvious that Liverpool got the better deal with Torres's patchy form in fact deteriorating further at Chelsea and with only his first season at Liverpool in 2007-2008 being completely great. Fifty million for a player past his best and injury prone was good business and the purchases of Luis Suarez and Andy Caroll softened the blow.

Luis Suarez went on to become the key player in the revival under Dalglish. His determined running and finesse led to countless chances created, assists and deft goals. His assist against Manchester United at home for Kuyt's first goal was the finest assist I have seen in years of watching football. However, in reality it was through Dalgish's exceptional motivation skills that virtually the entire squad reached their potential. Lucas was a defensive warrior and started playing fine forward passes that instigated attacks. Meireles built on his earlier form under Hodgson, by playing a starring role in a "behind the striker" role while Carroll was injured. He scored a number of fabulous volleyed goals, the best being his sensational long range against Wolves. Dirk Kuyt's tremendous graft led to a multitude of key goals and assists. In fact in the sweetest game of the season, the 3-1 home win against Manchester United, he scored a hat trick and finally under Dalglish had resurrected the poaching ability seen at his former club, Feyenoord. Maxi eventually realised his true potential by scoring two stunning hat tricks in the scintillating games at home to Birmingham and away to Fulham.

Another impressive feature of Dalglish's management was his willingness to give young players a chance. The industrious Jay Spearing filled in admirably in the absence of Gerrard while young defenders Martin Kelly, John Flanagan and Jack Robinson were fabulous starlets. At the same time Jamie Carragher produced his best form in a couple of years while Martin Skrtel and Glen Johnson also stepped up. Pepe Reina remained imperious.

The highlights of Dalglish's return also included the organised wing back tactic and performance away to Chelsea in February and an excellent 3-0 home win to Manchester City. The only disappointments of Dalglish's return were the results against West Ham and West Brom away where defensive issues appeared again and in the insipid final two losses in games against Tottenham and Aston Villa that cost the team fifth place. But these were only slight tarnishments as after all every team even in good form will lose an occasional game. In fact, the final two losses may be useful in that Liverpool will not face the grueling Europa League schedule next season. Perhaps another issue for next season will be keeping Steven Gerrard fit (when he was in full fitness he made a fabulous contribution) and likewise Andy Carroll. The team will also have to learn to play in harmony with Andy Carroll's strengths as much as he must play on the same wavelength as the team (he missed an easy headed chance against Tottenham).

The only issue that stops this DVD from being a completely thrilling view was the unsuccessful first half of the season - if Dalglish had been in charge from the outset of the season and Liverpool had secured more points earlier on then they would have been back in the top four. Though Gillett and Hicks poor ownership, at the time, would not have provided Dalglish with the environment to flourish. But anyway, this is a quality DVD and vital as hopefully it will mark the beginning of the return of Liverpool to challenging and achieving the top honours in the game under legend "King Kenny."
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