What’s been happening in the world of football on Merseyside this week? Jennifer Jewell gives us the scoop . . .
Liverpool boss in firing line
Liverpool’s trip to Wembley last weekend didn’t quite go to script, as Aston Villa completely spoiled Steven Gerrard’s birthday plans – and deservedly so. Reds fans were relying on the FA Cup to save what will now be considered a poor season for the ambitious club. As always, someone has to be blamed for this and many are looking towards manager Brendan Rodgers. Some supporters are losing patience now; feeling that he has had enough time to prove himself, and they want a change. I even heard a few suggesting that the return of Rafa Benitez could solve their problems . . . Not everyone was in agreement with that, though!
Baines hits the spot
I was at Goodison Park last Saturday when Ross Barkley stepped up to take a penalty in the 10th minute. There were groans amongst the confused crowd as they realised he was taking the spot-kick and not Leighton Baines. Barkley predictably went on to miss. Evertonians have come to rely on the defender over the past couple of seasons to convert the majority of his penalties into goals. He’s gained their trust, so why the change this season? Everton have now had four different penalty takers in this campaign: Baines, Kevin Mirallas – who missed in the 0-0 draw with West Brom – Romelu Lukaku, and Barkley. Many observers are suggesting Baines is too nice for allowing others to have their chance. Whatever the reason, I’m sure he will be stepping up should Everton get another penalty in the last few games.
Hull to pay with Reds fans’ boycott
Liverpool fans are not pleased with Hull City. In fact, some are even boycotting Tuesday night’s game at the KC Stadium due to their increase in ticket prices, which supporters don’t feel are fair. Last season, Reds fans travelling to Hull were asked to pay £35; this season tickets have risen to £50 – a massive 31 per cent increase. Jay McKenna, chair of Liverpool supporters’ group, Spirit of Shankly, has called for the boycott. Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, he said: “To charge £50 for a football game is shocking. But to do this for a Tuesday night game, at two weeks’ notice, when other clubs have been charged significantly less this season, is, to us at least, everything that is wrong with football ticket pricing.” And McKenna is right: Everton fans were only asked to pay £35 for their game at Hull on New Year’s Day. Here’s hoping the planned boycott will bring fairer ticketing prices for all clubs!
Match made in heaven for Lukaku?
It was great to see Lukaku return to action during the second half of Everton’s 1-0 win over Burnley. Perfect timing, too, as they face a tough test against Manchester United on Sunday, when they will certainly need their star striker. But Rom is hoping he won’t be alone up top during the Goodison clash and that he can continue to develop his partnership with Arouna Kone, which the 21-year old has described as “heaven”. But his 31-year-old strike partner hasn’t quite won the fans over on Merseyside yet, having failed to score since joining the club in 2013. Sunday afternoon against United would be a good time to erase that statistic . . .
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