Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Bury My Heart At Wounded Pride

     You, like me, are, no doubt, very bored of the media and bloggers delight in tweeting, discussing, writing and pictorially dissecting the events of THAT day and THAT handshake. However, for me, that day struck something inside that I've since come to dislike intensely. Blind loyalty, pride, ignorance, inherent prejudice. I'm not talking about racism, I never agreed with anything that Luis Suarez may or may not have said. The prejudice I felt was against anyone who wasn't a Liverpool fan.

     I've had to delete and block many tweeters whom I followed religiously, simply because I disagreed with their slant on the events, their perception of the handshake, of the report, of my club. I was unsure why I felt like this, what was this powerful new feeling? Was it disbelief at how the world had turned on my club, my hero Suarez? Was it stubbornness, never allowing myself to think that he could be a racist?

     Very early on, I tweeted that, if found guilty, I would welcome a hefty ban and an apt financial punishment. I would have also expected a full, frank and honest public apology to Patrice Evra, Manchester United and Liverpool, the club and fans. When found guilty I immediately tweeted my disgust and laid out my demands for his repentance. I was woefully unprepared for the backlash from my own fans. I was called out for being a coward, a disloyal [insert expletive] and an idiot. I am none of those things. I am a sensitive man, one who dislikes the abuse of others, who dislikes his heroes becoming human.

     Amidst the travesty of the events, there began grassroots revolutionising. Suarez was fast becoming a cause celebré amongst the Anfield faithful. Pilloried by the press, immortalised into martyrdom by the fans. I became swept along on the fervour, the report was published amidst a storm of criticism from a small minority in the press and virtually all of LFC fans. It was hard to get away from the fact that there are enormously glaring inconsistencies in the report. It reads like an attempt to force the square peg of racism into the circle of fumbling idiocy. For me, there is a huge difference in the attempt of Suarez to make a conciliatory remark to resolve a tense situation and the maniacal, spittle frothing racist remarks of an inherent bigot. I do believe that Suarez meant the word to have friendly connotations, however the context he allowed himself to say it in is the pincher.

     Suarez's reputation isn't a sweetheart story, he came from Ajax after serving a lengthy ban for biting the shoulder of Bakkal after he had stamped on Suarez's foot. The press had been hammering him about his diving and his ease of going to ground. Evra had just been fouled by Suarez and was legitimately asking for a reason, whether Evra goaded him or not at this point is utterly irrelevant. What was uttered by Suarez, whether in a conciliatory manner or not, was based purely on something that Evra has no control over. The connotations of the racist remark outweigh anything that can be said to anyone. It truly is heinous and selfish to expect anyone to absorb that and remain unmoved. Regardless of Suarez's intent when using that word, he should have taken responsibility for using it. Instead, there was a creation of a moral vacuum between player, club and victim.

     When anybody receives a racist word, it is up to that person to perceive or interpret the context, the connotation, the denotation and the intent of it. Evra chose to take it as a way that is befitting of his right, his universal right to never be judged on the basis of his skin colour, exactly the same right that Suarez enjoys. The mere fact that Suarez admitted to using the word compounded the decision that was to be made by the independent panel. Objectivity or subjectivity, IE, do they judge Suarez based on utterance of the word or what he meant by the word. Reading the rules, (E3(1) and E3(2), you have to agree with the panel in their assessment to use objectivity, as in they judged him on using the word and when he admitted to it, it was pretty much over for Luis.

     I could point out all the inconsistencies in the report, but I'm not going to. Why? Because to do so would be pedantic. I know he isn't a racist, you know he isn't a racist, Liverpool Football Club know he isn't a racist, furthermore Patrice Evra has stated he isn't a racist. So we have established that Luis is not a racist. Well, what was with the remark? A stupid, silly, heat of the moment mistake. Something which should have never seen the light of day, did. Luis and Patrice knew that it shouldn't have been said and they were both failed by what happened over the ensuing months.

     With a salivating, xenophobic press, who only less than a year earlier lambasted Evra and the French World Cup squad for their staged walkout in South Africa, turned on another foreigner. I don't believe there is anything truly sinister in the way the media witch hunted Suarez, they have a business to run and they will use any means necessary to keep a story shifting the copies. However, I do believe that the media were responsible for making the incident far more global than it need have been.

      The first point I want to make about the media is that it was all handed to them on a plate. With a swift public apology on the official LFC website, most of what happened could have been downplayed and kept to a minimum. The utterly bizarre statement that LFC released on their site was appallingly written, lacking in tact and was saturated in self pity. Did LFC really believe that the media would swallow that statement whole? Within minutes of its release I had to leave twitter as it became unbearably territorial and hostile. LFC had given the fans a legitimate reason to hate Evra and Manchester United.

     The second point being that, rather than running an anti-Liverpool agenda, which is incredibly arrogant, the press just love a good old fashioned bad guy. Love him or hate him, he is a talented footballer who will have a superb career at Liverpool, yet he is a divisive and controversial figure who regularly polarises opinion based on his performances. Did he dive, did he play act, was he fouled, was the referee just judging him on what the papers say. The more the fans scream outrage, the more the papers will flex their muscles. Like I said, it isn't sinister, it's brazen business. Give the public what it wants, salaciousness. Sensationalism is a dirty word, yet it's filthy rich.

     Suarez and Evra were used by the media to expose everything it hated about the modern game. It needed no nudging, it ran every angle it could. Who can blame them? They most certainly aren't any body's friends. they will turn on anyone if it will shift more papers.

     A lot of the blame lies with LFC, my god it pains me to write that. However the sparsity of remorse that has been shown throughout this whole debacle is quite cringe worthy. Where is the apology? Where was the handshake? Where is the RESPECT? Dalglish went missing for about three months, in post/pre match interviews he seemed to actively avoid the questions, there were ideal opportunities for the club to say something diffusive, something conciliatory, regardless of how they felt personally, they are all paid professionals. Players, manager, managing director, chairman, they all failed one another and the club. The silence across the Atlantic was deafening, the silence from the manager was deafening, meanwhile the catcalls were deafening. Why didn't someone stand up and take responsibility for what was happening?

     Did LFC not think to guide Suarez through this process? Wasn't there a press officer or PR employee given over to foresee the case? Where was the polished statement, or the newspaper article of remonstration? Where was the pitiful face of Suarez asking for the fans respect back? Quite a few LFC fans reading this will no doubt be fuming at my treatment of Suarez right now. Yet, you should all realise that this is a football match, this is a man who is paid a lot of money to represent his country, his club and his adopted city. When he uttered that word, in friendliness or in hate, he chose to disregard everything that we all hold dear. A society that believes that nothing can stand in your way, especially the colour of your skin. We, in Merseyside, believe in nothing more than our modest attitude, a humble society that receives you based on how you receive us, never based on how you look or which country you are from or your race.

     The many failings of LFC have been exhausted by me now. I see a way forward now, Suarez has to lick his wounds, along with LFC, and come out fighting on the pitch. There has to be a concerted effort to stop the rot that this incident has encouraged within, not just the regional game but the national and international. Articles lose their cultural nuances when travelling and Suarez will be known amongst the world's English football fans as a racist. He must put his story out there and make amends, get across to the world that he is remorseful, he will build bridges, he will make a concerted effort to Kick It Out. Many will see this as a charm offensive, it may well be, but there is a bigger picture than the face saving of LFC. Football, the game whom most young boys and girls grow up watching, became a seething hotbed of racial tension, especially with the case of Terry and Ferdinand. We can ill afford to put the subject of racism back on the table in a light to be excusing it.

     With the arrest of the 'fan' making monkey chants and gestures at Anfield during the FA Cup third round tie, we have shown children that it is not acceptable. With the ban and fine for Suarez, we showed the world that it isn't acceptable to use language like that in a culture that takes no messing around when it comes to racism. However, we have also shown the world that it's ok to kick our toys out of the pram if we think we are innocent, instead of maintaining dignity and a sense of respectability, we will spurn the hand of a victim in reconciliation and instead bring international condemnation and outrage upon the institution that we always insist, is bigger than any one man.

     Listening to the Anfield Wrap it was pretty evident that I had gotten many of my opinions and gut feelings about this incident and subsequent events utterly wrong. I listened intently to Earl and Daniel, guests on the podcast, as they talked about their qualifications on the issue of racism and South American cultural nuances, respectively. Earl coaches a young team of footballers from a racially diverse background, including African and Latin players. He is also used to mediate any issues of racist abuse within the Liverpool County FA's jurisdiction. He had a variety of opinions and solutions to the incident, good solid ideas on how the post match affair should have been handled. It was a revelation hearing him, a LFC fan, talking sense on the topic, holding the club, the player and the press accountable in measures that befitted their responsibility to the game. Daniel is married to a Brazilian and has first hand experience of the kinds of situations in which the type of word that Suarez used is normally brought up. He swung my opinion by clarifying my suspicion that all along it was a truth that he had used the word and that it can be taken both ways, however it is more likely to be taken in offence if the people barely know each other.

     There have been some excellent pieces written on the educational side of the racism debate. John Barnes talked extensively on talksport and wrote a piece that appeared in The Times, it was eloquent and superior in its ability to clarify the position that all people should take. Gabrielle Marcotti has written a piece in Blizzard which tackles racism. Are these pieces extraordinary? Do you need to go and download the Anfield Wrap, er yes you do, but not for the reason of listening to Earl and Daniel. We should all be thinking like that anyway, John Barnes, Earl, Daniel or Marcotti do not posses a secret book of knowledge on the essence of racism, what they posses is an ability to be able to tap into their humanity and use that to guide them through any maelstrom like THAT day at Anfield.

     So what now for me and my love affair with LFC? I'll continue to blog about the youth of Anfield and will continue with Loan Sharks. Yet there is something missing now, the pedestal that I held my club up on has grown so much smaller than it used to be. I'm a working class lad who believes in the socialist foundation that the club was built on, I know it's moved on from there, yet I identify with the club, now I question my identity. The title of the piece is a play on the book written about the massacre at Little Big Horn where Colonel Custer betrayed the Native Americans and ran them all down. There is something within that narrative that I identify with, not the killing or the physically endangerment, but the morality that I posses has been ridden roughshod over. In not shaking Evra's hand, and it is Luis' right to not do so, he betrayed the club and made the situation bigger and more global than it ever need have been. I can imagine Shankly saying, "It's not your hand that you should have used to shake Evra's, it's Liverpool Football Clubs hand." That moment when I watched it back on Match of The Day, I buried my heart at the gates of Anfield. I buried my wounded pride.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Loan Sharks Issue 7

     Jonjo Shelvey enjoyed another arresting performance in the orange of Blackpool, drawing 2-2 away at Middlesborough. Shelvey scored his 5th goal in four games in the 78th minute to earn Blackpool the point. They have risen to 7th on 26 points. Shelvey is shining in that midfield role and should be impressing Dalglish.

    Joe Cole played 65 minutes in Lille's goalless draw away at Toulouse. He was eventually replaced with Eden Hazard, probably with the Champions League game ahead. Lille remain 3rd on 25 points, ahead of Rennes on goal difference. They play midtable Brestois on Saturday.
     Tuesday's match away at CSKA was Cole's second match of a three match week. The 2-0 win sees Lille stay 3rd of group B, if CSKA fail to beat Inter then Lille only need a draw to progress to the knockout stages. Cole played 87 minutes and was replaced by Dimitri payet. Cole had a shot saved by Gabulov after a great turn, Eden hazard put him through on goal and it was his rebounded shot that fell into the path of Sow for him to score the second goal of the night.

    AC Milan drew away at Fiorentina. Aquilani had a decent game with a few chances to score. Milan stay 3rd on 21 points, just 1 point behind leaders Juventus who have a game in hand.

    Stephen Darby sat out the Rochdale win over Preston that lifted them out of the relegation zone to 19th. Nathan Ecclestone came on in the 89th minute. Ecclestone has now returned to Liverpool were he scored two goals in the reserve match against Sunderland.

     David Amoo continued his first team run at Bury with 81 minutes against Walsall. The win has allowed Bury to climb even further into the middle top of the table.

     Gulacsi was once again first team goalkeeping choice for new Tigers boss, Nick Barmby. The 2-0 win against Derby lifts Hull into the promotion playoff positions, with only 4 points seperating them and second place.

     Dani Pacheco was an unused substitute in the goalless draw away at Osasuna. Rayo Vallecano are now 10th on 16 points only 3 points behind 6th place Sevilla.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Loan Sharks Issue 6

Loan Sharks Issue 6

Leeds 0-5 Blackpool
     Jonjo Shelvey hit a hat-trick in a goal fest for the seasiders. Shelvey converted from the spot as a spilt ball by Rachubka was handled in the box. Shelvey had to retake the penalty as the referee ruled it out for encroachment of players, but he slotted it home. 
     Shelvey scored his second goal as a shot from Lua Lua was spilt, again, at his feet by Rabuchka. He scored the third after being played in by Angel. 
     The win leaves Blackpool in 8th position on 22 points only two points off 5th place and a playoff position. 

Inter 2-1 Lille Champions League
     Cole and Lille succumbed to a decent Inter Milan performance. Officially the oldest team fielded in the competition, Inter missed many chances to put the game to bed. Cole gave Lille a superb chance with a pinpoint cross for Jelen but nothing came of it. 
     Joe Cole was substituted for Dimtri Payet in the 71st minute. The loss leaves Lille bottom of Group B on two points and a minus two in goal difference. Lille can only qualify if they beat both CSKA Moscow and Trabzonspor and Inter Milan do the same. 

Lille 1-1 Evian
     Cole played the full 90 minutes in their draw with Ligue Un's newcomers. Evian took the game to the French champions as they started sluggishly with a European hangover. An early goal from Joe Cole, on 13 minutes, was ruled as offside and Lille carried on looking for the equaliser. Cole is enjoying his role in the attacking front three wit Hazard and Payet. Eventually Pedretti scored with a wonder free kick and dragged a draw out of a loss. 
     The earned point means that Lille are still 3rd as all other results have gone their way. 

BATE Borisov 1-1 AC Milan Champions League
     Milan went in front with a Zlatan Imbrahimovic goal in the 22nd minute. Aquilani set the play well, cross field passes were sprayed everywhere and the Italian nearly scored as his header and the rebound were saved by Gutor. 
     Aquilani was substituted with Clarence Seedorf in the 69th minute. Milan can qualify with a draw and one point. Milan play Barcelona at the San Siro on 23rd November. 

AC Milan 4-0 Catania
     Aquilani played the full 90 minutes as they scored four past Catania, their first loss in seven games. 
     Aquilani almost scored, in the second half, with a wonderfully powerful free kick which spilt into the path of Inzaghi. 
     Milan move up to 3rd in Serie A, one point of the leaders Udinese. However, the match between Juventus and Napoli was called off and, with a game in hand, Juventus have the advantage to move back into the top spot.

Barnsley 2-1 Hull
     Peter Gulacsi came on in the 66th minute as Hull suffered a rare loss. Their first such loss, in the league, since 20th August. 
     The loss leaves Hull in 6th spot in the Championship, occupying a playoff position, and just four points off second placed West Ham. 

Oldham 0-2 Bury
     David Amoo is still currently injured and did not make the squad. The Bury win moves them up to 15th and a few points away from midtable safety. 

MK Dons 3-1 Rochdale
     Stephen Darby played the full 90 minutes in Rochdales ninth defeat and their sixth away from home. Nathan Ecclestone came on in the 77th minute yet couldn't influence the outcome of the game. 
     Rochdale have slumped to just 21st, a relegation position, in the league with only two points keeping them from the bottom. 

Rayo Vallencano 4-0 Real Sociedad
     Dani Pacheco wasn't in the squad that ran out 4-0 winners against whipping boys Real Sociedad. 
     The win keeps Rayo Vallecano at 8th and Real Sociedad firmly entrenched at the bottom of La Liga. 

Fortuna Dusseldorf
Villyan Bijev has not featured for the Bundesliga 2 outfit for some time.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Loan Sharks Issue 5

Loan Sharks Issue 5

      It has been a while since I've done a Loan Sharks Issue, yet we still have players on loan and I think it's a decent column to write up all the performances of the loanees.

   Roma 2-3 Milan
  Alberto Aquilani played the full 90 minutes for AC Milan. In this thrilling game he assisted all three Milan goals as every goal was headed in by each of his crosses. Aquilani continues to shine in Italy and it would no surprise if, come January, Milan look to buy a quality midfielder. On the back of the win, Milan topped Serie A for a few hours, however Juventus won the Derby D'Italia by beating Inter Milan 2-1 at the San Siro. Juventus now top the table with a 2 point lead.

Valenciennes v Lille
    Joe Cole came on in the 77th minute to replace Moussa Sow. He played out a draw which sees Lille stay 3rd on 23 points. Cole has seen some fine form recently and remains something of a success at Lille. 

Villareal 2-0 Rayo Vallecano 
     Dani Pacheco came off the bench in the 67th minute to see out a 2-0 loss to Villareal. 
     The loss leaves Rayo Vallecano in 9th position on 12 points. 

Burnley 3-1 Blackpool
     Jonjo Shelvey played the full 90 minutes for Blackpool in their loss to Burnley. The midfielder scored a decent goal deep into stoppage time at the end of the second half. He was also booked for a foul on Ben Mee.
     The loss sees Blackpool on 19 points and in 13th place. 

Bury 1-2 Stevenage
     David Amoo didn't feature for Bury as they sank to a defeat. They are 18th on 16 points. 

Rochdale 0-2 Leyton Orient
     Stephen Darby and Nathan Ecclestone both played 68 minutes for Rochdale in their 2-0 loss to the O's. 

Nottingham Forest 0-1 Hull
     Peter Gulacsi sat out the 1-0 win on the bench. Hull continue to dominate their away fixtures, losing only 2 of their last 25 away matches. Hull are now 6th on 24 points and occupy a play off position. 

Fortuna Dussledorf
     Villyan Bijev hasn't featured for the Bundesliga 2 outfit yet. 

Sunday, 30 October 2011

West Bromwich Albion v Liverpool 29/10/11

     The media had been hyping this league encounter all week. It was the visit of the club that had forced Roy Hodgson out. Delicious stuff for the papers, including the last time we came to the Hawthornes we lost, a statistic often thrown around when discussing Roy and West Brom. 
     Finding decent form is a struggle for Liverpool at the moment, however a 2-1 win over Stoke at the Britannia Stadium in the Carling Cup fourth round, should provide the platform for a good run. 
     The Liverpool team set out as a 4-2-3-1. At the back there was a new centre back pairing of Skrtel and Agger as Johnson and Enrique took up their flank positions. The midfield boasted Lucas and Adam, behind the three of Downing, Henderson and Suarez. Carroll played up front on his own.
     Dalglish was forced to leave the talismanic Gerrard and Carragher out of the side due to injury. Fans went into overdrive on twitter, on one hand salivating at the possibility of a Skrtel and Agger defence and on the other hand fearing the worst for the midfield. No one need have had a concern though. 
     Yesterdays game was dominated by Liverpool. They had 56% possession and 17 shots, 4on target, with 2 in the back of the net. 
     There weren't many controversies to speak about in the first half, Olsson clearly had an agenda to stop Suarez and Carroll, as he repeatedly fouled both and brought Carroll down in the box, without a penalty being awarded. Suarez was fouled running the ball out of the 18 yard area, Jay Emmanuel Thomas running a leg across Suarez. 
     Adam and Carroll argued over who would take the penalty, Adam brushed aside Carroll and placed the ball. He had to wait nearly a minute as two West Brom defenders tried to sandwich Carroll and prevent him running onto any rebound. Eventually Adam took it and slotted home easily enough. 
     West Brom didn't really mount a serious response to going behind and on the stroke of half time, into one minute of injury time, Lucas played out a killer pass on the outside of his right foot to Suarez. Suarez volleyed a first time pass to Carroll who was unmarked and who ran towards the goal, Foster rushed out to meet Carroll whose first touch was heavy, yet as Foster went to ground, Carroll poked a left footed shot through his legs and into the goal.
     After the break it was relentless pressure from Liverpool, but the game was over. West Brom tried to mount attacks yet they had no real steam. Liverpool made one change, that of Suarez and Bellamy in the 81st minute. 
     All in all, it was a good days work from Liverpool, a clean sheet for Reina as captain and the partnership of Skrtel and Agger. It was always going to be a match of intense scrutiny from the fans as Carragher and Gerrard were both injured. However the class of Lucas and Adam shone through in the midfield with Henderson coming on in leaps and bounds. Skrtel and Agger seemed relaxed and their performance was full of bold moves to break up the play. 
    Liverpool back up to fifth and hoping for Tottenham and Newcastle to lose or draw. The race for fourth place is starting to take shape as Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool seem the likely candidates. 

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Stoke 1-2 Liverpool Carling Cup 4th Round 26/10/2011

Always a tough fixture, Stoke at the Britannia Stadium have almost become the byword for difficult and frustrating football. The long balls, the long thrown ins and the siege mentality that the team has, always makes for a match of intense pressure and attack, usually from the visitors.
Liverpool's last visit to the Britannia in the League Cup resulted in an 8-0 thrashing of Stoke, Jamie Carragher the only player left of that victory eleven years ago. With a record seven competition wins and having featured in the final eleven times, there is always an air of expectation with Liverpool. Last night they needed to deliver.
Liverpool set up with seven changes to the team that drew with Norwich at Anfield. Coates, Maxi, Kelly, Agger, Carroll, Lucas, Henderson and Spearing all came into the side. The formation looked like a loose 4-3-3 moving to a Liverpool usual 4-2-3-1 at times. Stoke also made changes, eight, yet still had a side out who could frustrate and possibly win.
The best of the chances in the first half came to Liverpool, Suarez hit the post, dragged wide and had two shots superbly saved. Carroll had a header wide, shot wide and also had a shot saved. It seemed it was to be one of those games that Liverpool are having recently, all shots and no glory.
However, Stoke had another idea, when gifted long ball fell to Walters, Coates attempted a clearance and got it horrendously wrong, allowing the ball to bounce. Walters wrestled the ball of the Uruguayan and lofted it in only for it to be headed low into the corner by Kenwyne Jones. The Stoke goal was from the only attempt on goal by the home team, yet Liverpool had had the bulk of the chances. Coates had been having a very decent game up until that point, however he needs to learn the English game just a little better.
There was a contentious decision about twenty minuNtes into the match when it seemed that Jamie Carragher handled the ball as he tackled, replays showed he not only handled the ball but also fouled Etherington. Carragher was awarded a yellow card.
After the break both teams started up much like they had left. Yet Dalglish had clearly taken Suarez to one side. After only right minutes of the second half Suarez collected a pass on the edge of the eighteen yard box, a superb run by Henderson so him take Huth away from Suarez who played the ball through the legs of Shotton and curl a ball into the far corner past Sorenson. It was a sublime goal and immediately lifted fans and players.
After the first goal it seemed only a matter of time until the winner. A headed clearance fell to Henderson who side volleyed the ball high into the air and Suarez, unmarked at the far post, headed a strong header into the goal.
The match then seemed to filter out until Stoke started to press for the equaliser. Several lofted passes, throws and corners resulted in chaos in the Liverpool box. Coates seemed to be at odds with the Stoke attack and hauled down several Stoke players, fortunately the referee didn't see, yet they were clearly fouls.
Suarez came off in the 86th minute, limping off he was congratulated by fans and players. He had stayed on his feet for most of the match and even had a penalty appeal turned down because he stayed on his feet. However, the brace he scored helped him to overcome the frustration of the matches against Manchester United and Norwich.
The game closed out uneventfully and there was much relief from the Liverpool fans as, at last, we converted some of our chances into goals. Seven shots and two goals. A good days work.
Suarez was easily the best Liverpool player on the night, yet the whole midfield put in avert convincing performance, Henderson and Spearing looked more decisive and creative. Coates needs to learn from his mistake yet I wouldn't judge him too harshly, he had a good game overall.
Liverpool go into the pot for the auarter final draw along with, Crystal Palace, Cardiff, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City and Blackburn.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Chris Mavinga: Left Behind But Going Forward

On Tuesday it was announced by Liverpool FC, via their website, that Chris Mavinga will be playing for Rennes next season. Mavinga confirmed it on his own Twitter account shortly after.
     So what are Rennes getting? An injury prone leftback with hardly any first team experience? Or a pacey tackler with bags of enthusiasm and a winning mentality?
     Mavinga started his career in English football in 2009, when he joined Liverpool straight from Paris-Saint Germain. He spent three years at PSG's Camp Des Loges before departing for Merseyside.
     The main reason for Mavinga leaving PSG, he said, was down to a lack of a support structure for the teams youth. This is slightly baffling as the U18 team were only beaten to the Championnat National title by Marseille's U18 team. Another reason cited, for his move to Liverpool, was the unapproachable attitude of some of PSG's senior players. After the sacking of Paul Le Guen, PSG's manager at the time, Mavinga grew irrevocably disillusioned with the club. Despite interest from Arsenal and a tabled contract from PSG, he chose to sign for Liverpool. 
     What was PSG's loss was Liverpool's gain right? 
     Er, not quite. Mavinga didn't actually feature in a competitive match for Liverpool in the two years he was signed at the club. 
     He trained with the reserves for most of his 2009 season, before moving to train with the first team at the end of the season. 
     Following the sacking of Rafael Benitez, Mavinga publically stated his frustration at the lack of first team opportunities and his subsequent return to reserve team training under regressive coach Roy Hodgson. 
     Whilst his public strop angered innumerable fans of the Merseyside outfit, he always seemed a fringe player, often forgotten and never considered. 
     On 10th December Liverpool announced a loan agreement was being sought with Belgian high fliers Racing Genk. There had been initial interest from Turkish club Antalyaspor, even a reportedly accepted bid yet Genk was the preferred choice. It was a mutually beneficial move as Mavinga realised first team action and Liverpool had a chunk of wages off the bill, for a short while at least.
     A deal was finally agreed on 11th January 2010. Mavinga played his first professional match of his career on 19th February coming on as a 90th minute substitute against Mechelen, the team won 1-0. Mavinga failed to appear in the next six matches, yet when he again started, against Club Brugge, it sparked a run in the side for the remaining seven matches. Losing only once, drawing once and winning five.
     This run in to the end of the season saw Mavinga pick up three of his four yellow cards, something of a firebrand as he received a yellow card every two games.
     Mavinga started to really come into some fine form in those seven matches, yet an incident that occurred in the draw against Standard Liege, would affect his confidence. 
     Chasing a long ball back to his goal on the left side of the pitch, Mavinga tussled with Mehdi Carcela. The ball bounced and Mavinga tried a high kick to put it out to play, unfortunately, Carcela tried to head the same ball. Mavinga broke Carcela's nose and jaw. The accident shocked Belgian football and shattered Mavinga's confidence. Chris seemed to recover and Carcela has made a full return to football. 
     The events of that match threatened to overwhelm, what was, a  brilliant achievement by Genk and Mavinga. Winning the league was a rather large feather in Mavinga's cap and seemed to endear him to the Liverpool fans just a little more. It was a well fought campaign and a close one too. 
     Mavinga returned to Liverpool to start training in late June. He tweeted a few times that he was still a Liverpool player, yet the writing was on the wall, the search for a new left back at the club would place him fourth or fifth choice. Several clubs were quoted as being interested, Rennes, Villareal and Genk. It was always going to be a move back to his native country that had the biggest pull. 
     His international career is certainly set to have an extra boost from his inclusion in the Rennes squad. He has played for France since U18 and was instrumental in the U19 team who won the European Championship in France. 
     What Rennes have in Mavinga is a left back who can switch to centre back, he has pace, good tackling ability, a winning mentality, a desire to play and the experience of a title push. 
     Mavinga is no longer a Liverpool player yet I'll follow his career closely, he was always destined to be a fringe player at Anfield and was left behind when Benitez left. Yet he showed industry by going to a foreign league and winning it's highest honour. That's the kind of mentality that any team needs.