Jurgen Klopp: 2 Years On

I’m not going to start out by throwing you a plate load of stats and comparisons to former managers today.  What I am going to do is try and explain why it’s important for Liverpool to keep moving forward with our manager at the helm.

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It was a fantastic day back in mid October 2015.  A man thought to be a messiah of sorts had arrived on Merseyside to help dig us out of a rut that had been carrying on for almost 18 months now.  I was there on the fateful Monday night when we threw away 2 valuable points against Crystal Palace and with it, any chance of winning the league.  I’d spent over four long months talking utter shit on a Cyrstal Palace fan forum to get in with the locals and secure a couple of tickets in the home end.  We all know that away tickets have become a closed shop in recent years (thanks to Bolton, Wigan and Blackburn fucking off) and you either have to know the right people or just strike it lucky on the day.  I honestly don’t think Liverpool recovered from that 3-3 result.  More so, the manager at the time failed to recover as well and was punted after almost a season and a half of post Suarez disappointments.

Then came Jurgen.  Now, we were on our way back.  The chosen one was with us, expectations were high and the supporters were behind the team as one once more.

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Outside White Hart Lane, we gathered earlier than normal, sorted our tickets and moved in to sing our bleeding hearts out.  There was a special atmosphere in the air.  Fast forward 90 minutes and we had escaped with a goalless draw against Spurs and probably could have taken all 3 but it wasn’t to be.  I vividly remember the players running themselves into the ground and being impressed by this new and adventurous style of play that was being implemented.  Fast forward four months and we were back at Wembley in a cup final.  The day didn’t end the way we had all hoped but things were looking up.  It’s one of the best days out at Wembley I have ever had and part of that was down to the manager.  Fast forward a further two months and I watched back home in awe as our manager inspired a memorable come from behind European classic that will live in the lives of those who attended for the rest of their living days.  In between there were a number of other astounding results.  At the end of that season, we were in another European final.  Once more, a shit result but we were moving forward.

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All the time through the second half of the season, I kept thinking back to that day at Spurs.  That’s where it started.  That’s where it continues to this day.

Last season, Klopp’s first full season in charge, he helped the club back into the dining halls of Europe’s elite.  Back in the big time.  Sure there were some moments where we were left flat.  Think the meek showing at home in the League Cup semi final when we should have battered an average Southampton and gone onto another Wembley adventure.  Or some of those tosh results to substandard clubs at home during the season.  Regardless, we finished in fourth and looked forward to the coming season playing against Europe’s royalty of the football kind.  In 18 months, we’d enjoyed some adventures and good times were ahead.

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Think once more, back to that day at White Hart Lane and remember how exciting it was that Liverpool had secured an elite manager who had come from Germany with impressive pedigree and a bright future ahead for us all.  Well, that future is still alive and kicking.  Listening to some of the fools on radio phone in shows or reading some of the utter shit coming from poorly educated mouths on social media forums shouldn’t deter you.  It’s from people who are never satisfied.  The same people who expect a treble every season and then shout to the rooftops when it fails to eventuate.

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Think of that day at White Hart Lane some two years ago.  Think of those amazing European nights so far.  Think of two cup finals and most of all, think of the great nights ahead in this seasons Champions League and another top four finish.  Most of all, be grateful that we have a manager who wants us to succeed and will move hell and high water to see it happen.  Calling for the managers head is nonsense.  It’s the sort of talk that should have you having a word with yourself.

Get behind your team, be patient and show some faith and trust in a man who will bring many more special days and nights.  You don’t yet know how good you have it……

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Spur Of The Moment?

Ever had that moment where you look at something and just think to yourself, “Fuck it! Why the hell not?”.  Well, that was me this morning when I entered the Bayside half marathon on the back of little to no training.  As they say, you only live once so why not enjoy yourself and just go for it?  The last time I decided to do something silly like this was two years ago when I ran the Brisbane half marathon after only returning from an overseas adventure a couple of weeks prior.  My portly tummy held up, as did my legs and my ever so tight hamstrings.  It’s amazing what you can achieve when you put your mind to something.  Oh, I ran that day in 1 hour and 57 minutes, a good 15 minutes quicker than I actually expected to finish it in.

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2015: Brisbane half marathon completed in 1 hour 57 minutes

I think i’ve had a couple of runs in the past few weeks.  Nothing more than 10 km’s but what’s a cheeky 21.1 km run on a beautiful Saturday afternoon by the water with a few thousand running buddies ey?  Lots of fun, that’s what I say!  Perhaps that’s the astute beauty of these events?  I’ve done 30 halves before so I know how easy it is to mentally conquer any fears and doubts that may arise.  That’s half the battle.  The other half is the conditioning or lack of.  The only thing I can do is just put my head down, bum up and crack on.

The lesson from this is that you really can do and achieve anything your heart desires.  You just have to hold the self belief, confidence and have a mind that is easily motivated to get things done.  If any of you should happen to fancy a trot by the water this weekend, drop me a line and let’s achieve something fun together!

My Year In Cinema PART: 2

Well, it’s been a few months since I last wrote about the films I have seen at the cinema in 2017.  For those of you who don’t yet know, I am clocking my way towards 100 films at the cinema in 2017.  Why you ask?  Because I can!  And, I love film.  Always have and no doubt, I always will.  It provides the perfect escape into foreign worlds and adventures.  Not to mention, it’s a beautiful way for one to relax and unwind.  Seriously kids, what’s not to love about going to the cinema?

I’ve really pushed my way outside the comfort zone this year.  Normally, film goers flock to the big budget Hollywood blockbusters and the foreign/art house films are left to the weirdo’s and odd balls like me.  This year however, I have seen a decent smattering of Hollywood big budgets flicks and been pleasantly surprised by the quality (The House) and naturally, been left deflated by some absolute Hollywood tosh (Rough Night) and thankfully, missed some dreadful releases (Snatched and King Arthur) whilst still getting my fix of some truly brilliant flicks (The Big Sick and Bag of Marbles).  Tonight I am due to hit film number 60 for the year.  slowly but surely.  Anyway, let’s take a look back at some more of the films I have paid my hard earner to witness in 2017.

DUNKIRK:

Any new Christopher Nolan film deserves your full attention.  Don’t think about it.  Just see it because you know it’s going to be good.  Dunkirk was no exception.  Actually, it was that good that I saw it twice in the space of three days.  The aerial scenes fought off the coast line were something else all together.  Dunkirk is the story of a miraculous evacuation of some 400,000 troops of the beaches of Dunkirk.  It came down to local British fisherman to pull of a high portion of the rescue mission which you could not imagine yet it’s how it all happened.  An all star cast which was led by a masterful acting class from One Direction singer, Harry Styles.  The lads got talent as an actor and I will look forward to seeing more of him on the silver screen in years to come.

THE PROMISE:

Have you heard of the 1.5 MILLION Armenian refugees slaughtered before and during the first world war?  I thought not.  Whilst we are constantly reminded of the plight of the Jews from 1936 onwards, The Promise tells the story of an American journalist who accidentally uncovers a massacre of human life on a grand scale.  It all unfolds towards the end of the Ottoman empire in 1915.  Christian Bale gives perhaps the performance of his career as Chris Myers and is back up superbly by fine supporting roles led by Oscar Issac and Charlotte Le Bon.

PARIS CAN WAIT:

Truth be told, I love a good rom com and Paris Can Wait, whilst being a tad predictable in patches does a rather cute job at adding new life to an always struggling genre.  We follow a love triangle that really doesn’t go anywhere yet goes everywhere in the same breath as Anne (Dianne Lane) sets off on a journey to Paris from the south of France with her husbands’s confidant, Jacques (Amaud Viard).  The problems arise when Anne’s husband, Michael (Alec Baldwin) constantly put his marriage to Anne on the back burner whilst he chases the Hollywood dollars through European film sets.  It doesn’t take too many brain cells to follow what happens next but a few twists and turns leave you all warm and fuzzy by the end.

ATOMIC BLONDE:

I never really imagined Charleeze Theron to excel in a role as bold and adventurous as Lorraine Broughton but fuck me sideways, the girl does good in one of the best films of 2017!  Once again, a stellar support cast including James McAvoy, Eddie Marsan and John Goodman follow the story of an MI5 agent (Theron) as she battles her way past the secrets and lies of East Germany in 1989, just before the fall of the wall.  Atomic Blonde is a colorful landscape of the time which opens the lid of crime and corruption through a seedy underworld where you just can’t trust anyone who crosses your path.  If you are looking for something sexy and sophisticated then may I suggest you get your hands on a copy of Atomic Blonde to enjoy.  The only real let down was a deflated lesbian sex scene between Theron and support actress, Sofia Boutella.  Why not go for a male on male sub plot for a change?  Kinky sex antics aside, you simply won’t want to miss this stellar production from director, David Leitch.

AMERICAN MADE:

Where do you start with Tom Cruise?  Pretty much any role the guy takes on, he excels at like nobody else can.  He may be a twat off the set but he always brings his best form to the big screen and American Made is simply no exception.  American Made allows us to follow the deceit and corruption by the US government through the 1970s and 80s as Barry Seal (Cruise) is picked up to fly planes in and out of South America transporting a absolute shed load of snow white (cocaine for those of not up to speed on slang) and other substances into the United States.  If you hadn’t already guessed, Bill Clinton (then Governor of Arkansas), Ronald Reagan and George Bush Snr collaborate to ensure they get their slice of the pie.  American Made is a fabulous look into a world where you trust absolutely nobody, including your government.

I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO:

The story of the negro in America is the story of America.  It is not a pretty story!

Whenever I hear a white man tell what a hard life he has had, I always like to remind of things like, well, you know, the slave trade and segregation throughout American history.  I am Not Your Negro follows the story of James Baldwin who, in 1979 wrote to his then publisher informing him of his intentions to start writing about the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Medgar Evans and Malcolm X.  The book is never published.  In fact, only 30 pages were written so we are given a snap shot of the civil rights movement that was led some powerful and provocative characters of the times.  A chilling and powerful narration by Samuel L Jackson provides the backdrop to a truly terrifying story that was in fact, a harsh reality for millions of African American men, woman and children.  A nation of hate that still exists today in some quarters.

The film is screening in limited release but is one you need to see.  At time, the archival footage is incredibly difficult and upsetting to watch but that’s the whole point of the film.  A not so subtle reminder of just how horrible human beings can be and still are.

 

 

When In Sweden….

A couple of ago now, I decided to take advantage of dirt cheap airfares and spend a few days in Gothenburg and Malmo, Sweden.  I flew into Copenhagen with Ryanair from Manchester and had an amazing few days that included football matches (of course), good food, boss record stores and some rather tasty museum experiences.  One such experience, The Rohsska Museum blew my mind!

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Opened in 1914 and located in the Bohemia side of town, The Rohsska (Swedish Design Museum) was like entering the future but back in the 1960s and 70s.  So where did it all go wrong I thought to myself as I wandered to high ceiling structures that housed these beautiful designs. There are well over 50,000 items on show at any one time and it covers such a broad and diverse history of Swedish design and innovation.  Despite all the beautiful items on display, I felt a sense of sadness because it rammed home the fact that we have become a little stale with our progression and innovation which has been over run by simplicity, made in China and profit.  Yep, somewhere along the lines, we gave up and said “Fuck the style and substance!  Let’s just make heaps of cheap shit that will make us filthy rich yet derive any sense of creativity from our minds moving forward!”  Harsh?  Perhaps?  Honest and truthful?  Most likely.

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On the plus side, you can immerse yourself within The Rohsska and capture a sense of beauty that has seldom been seen outside of Europe since.  “What about IKEA?” I hear you protest.  Yes, yes, IKEA can be cool but it still lacks that cutting edge which the confines of The Rohsska hold.  You truly have to walk to floors of this building to grasp just how sublime the place is.  As an added bonus, it was December when I visited so the cold grey skies obviously turned away the large crowds that normally fill the halls, giving one a sense of personal freedom to explore at will and not be interrupted.  Another plus side to the lack of crowds is that you can take some most lovely photos without having anyone in the way.  Much different to say, The Rodin Gallery in Paris when you are trying to capture “The Thinker” on your camera.  Yeah, we’ve all felt that frustration haven’t we?

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If you are planning a visit to The Rhosska any time soon, think twice.  The museum is closed through to June 2018 for renovations but the completed promise is a whole range of new displays and showings.  When I was there, they held a fabulous section devoted to German electronic pioneers, Kraftwerk.  This is where I could lead you astray as to why Kraftwerk are one of the most diverse and original bands to emerge in the past 50 years but I suspect my enforced history lesson may simply bore you to tears so, for now, I shall hold back.  Just in closing though, go and listen to the 1976 masterpiece, “Trans Europe Express” and tell me your mind hasn’t been blown apart by its brilliance!  Go on. I challenge you to tell me otherwise.

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So now, where was I?  Oh yeah, The Rhosska.  The entry fee is relatively cheap.  Around 8 Euro’s from memory and like all attractions in Sweden, the location is easy enough to find due to the fantastic sign posting around the city.  There is very little to no chance of ever getting lost in Gothenburg due to some rather smart and sophisticated town planning.   Booking flights in advance, you can get to Gothenburg for around 10 Euro’s from most major English hubs.  The hostels are warm, welcoming and clean but most of all, dead cheap and all located in the city center.  And like all major European cities, Gothenburg has a city pass which permits you entry into a number of attractions which provides substantial value, particularly for a budget traveler like myself.  So what are you waiting for?

What’s In Your Backpack?

Some 8 years ago now, I had the fortune of seeing a film which hit an incredibly raw nerve with me.  Up In The Air smashed a home run with my train of thought on how we live in the western world and how I wanted to live on a personal level.  There was a particular scene played out by Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) where he asks the simple question, “what’s in your back pack?”.

Now, I shan’t bore you with the finer details because the video included here is quite self explanatory.  If anything, it confirmed my fears that we are carrying too much in our lives.  Possessions, things, people, bad relationships.  Is it making us happy?  Do those three sports cars you own really make you happy?  That huge mortgage that you struggle to afford just so you can give the perception of success to your peers and loved ones?  It’s all a lie!  You don’t need any of this shit in your life!

What you do need in in your life is freedom.  So empty out that backpack and start living! Stop trying to make other people happy and start making yourself happy!

 

When You Meet That Special Someone….

Around 13 years ago now, I discovered the sultry sounds of Sarah Blasko, a young Sydney sider who, once a choir girl, finally made it as a solo performer on her own right.  From that moment on, I was hooked and have since her every album upon release and seen her many times.  Sarah Blasko is one of the rare artists who has released a series of flawless LPs that grow with every passing year.

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On April 11 2013, I was riding the tube from my Kensington hostel to Barbican in London for a small gig Sarah was giving to a few hundred lucky and humble admirers.  On the short walk from the tube to venue, I got chatting to a lovely lady who, as it turns out, was working for Sarah’s UK label.  Stranger things yeah?  Once inside the venue and at the bar (where else do record label people gather before a gig), I was introduced to a few other people from the label and we exchanged some chat about different bands and Sarah’s growing reputation in Europe.  One guy who stood out was Adrian.  He lived in Brighton, loved Brighton Hove & Albion and more importantly, was a really genuine and lovely guy.

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After a few moments, Andrew’s eyes lit up with a cheeky grin and he summoned me with his eyes to turn around to look behind me.  Low and behold, there was Sarah Fucking Blasko standing at the bar waiting to be served!  Literally a few yards from me.  Without hesitation (or was it the Dutch courage from a couple of drinks?), I saddled up next to Sarah and struck up a conversation for a few minutes.  Had I died and gone to heaven?  Perhaps?  Anyway, there was no chance I was going to waste this opportunity to to ask some questions that had gathered in my mind.

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We spoke for a few minutes and discussed covering a Bowie song (yeah, I know but I had to do it) and some small talk about recording techniques.  I often wonder if she thought of me when she recorded “Life On Mars?” for Triple J’s “Like a Version” sessions in 2016?  Probably not but we can all dream can’t we?  Following our chat, I grabbed a quick photo with her and then returned to my new found friends.  Meeting new people is always fun when you travel.  Makes the adventure more interesting.

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So where do you go after meeting a performer you have admired for many years?  Straight into the concert hall actually.  Well, she was playing a gig after all!  Oh, and yes, the gig was boss!  I took plenty of photos and the London crowd took a shine to her instantly and everyone left gleaming from a unique and intrepid performance from one of Australia’s shining lights in the entertainment industry.  If I am being honest, it astounds me why people watch The Voice and other glorified kareoke shows when they can explore the likes of Sarah Blasko, Claire Bowditch, Holly Throsby, Kate Miller Heidke and Katy Steel who are all briiliant singers, musicians and performers who excel at writing their own material and are gifted on many levels.  Anyway, that battle can be saved for another day because I met Sarah Blasko in London on a night when I would have been happy just to watch her perform.

Seven Wonders of The Football World!

In the past 17 years of travelling to all corners of planet earth, I’ve been most fortunate to visit some beautiful cities around Europe and, being Europe, there are also some fabulous football matches on to enjoy.  Now, Anfield will always be my home away from home but there is actually one ground I visited in May 2013 that sits in my seven wonders of the football world.  Camp Nou!

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Holding just a tick under 100,000 spectators, Camp Nou is home to FC Barcelona.  The city itself is somewhere  I have been a few times now but I decided it’s time to go again (hell, I was only there in May this year) so I have sorted myself for the Champions League tie against Olympiacos in the second half of October.  The last time I went, Barca were tonked 3-0 by Bayern Munich in a champions league semi final. Ouch!

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The stadium tour and museum is a most spectacular experience.  I went along the day before the CL semi final and was blown away by just how comprehensive the Camp Nou is.  You are allowed to take the journey at your own pace (I sat in the stand losing my breath for half an hour at the magnificence of it all) which allows you to see and experience so much more.  There is a lot to explore and learn in the museum as well! Camp Nou is also celebrating her 60th birthday in just under two weeks.  When opened in 1957, it came at a cost of 1.73 MILLION Euro’s which was a shit load of money when you think about it for money in 1957! Construction actually began 3 years earlier.

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During the 1982 World Cup in Spain, Camp Nou actually held over 121,000 people!  Imagine the atmosphere with that many people watching?  Even today, with a reduced capacity Camp Nou is Europe’s largest football venue.  If you have never been before, can I strongly suggest that you get yourself along, even if you only do a self guided stadium and museum tour, it’s an experience to behold and exactly why Camp Nou is one of the 7 wonders of the football world!

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So what on earth are you waiting for?  With flights departing Liverpool, Manchester and London for as little as $25 AU, Barcelona is not just worth it for the Camp Nou, the city has so much more to offer! But that my friends, if for another day and another blog entry.  What I can say is this.  Life is about experience so get yourself out there are start experiencing what life has to offer!