Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Tribute To Bill Shankly, 50 Years After His Arrival At Liverpool FC

With arms aloft, scarf tied tightly round his neck and celebrating with the Kop, the iconic image of Bill Shankly has become what defines Liverpool Football Club.

The benchmark for any future manager, player, member of the backroom or supporter, and what they strive towards, was raised to unprecedented heights as the man from Glenbuck realised his managerial potential to unleash a new era in British and European football.

It was April 1973 when Shankly and Anfield, a pair of footballing souls intertwined, rejoiced together at winning the First Division championship for the third and ultimately final time.

And immortalised in statue form outside Liverpool’s home today, Shankly’s presence is as keenly felt now as it was between 1959 and 1974.

To know of Shankly has becomes almost a right of passage one has to pass when the love of Liverpool is handed from generation to generation.

A man idolised by thousands, but who thought of himself as merely one of the people, Shankly would be talked about like a member of the family – his resignation in July, 1974 was grieved in a similar way.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Shankly signing for the Anfield club, replacing the departed Phil Taylor, and ushering in a revolution, taking Liverpool from the humble surroundings of the Second Division to where the club stands today – as an outfit with a revered history and one with a now global appeal.

Everything which has already been achieved and that which will be won in the future by Liverpool, will have been done so with the foundations built under the Scotsman’s reign.

There is almost as much myth and legend surrounding the tenure of Shankly as there is truth, but it makes his legacy that more epic, inspirational and glorious to Liverpool supporters.

Anecdotes from former players and fans detailing acts of generosity, an unrivalled competitive streak and quotes of poetic quality all add to the aura Shankly had and still holds to all associated with Liverpool.

Talk of the former Preston North End player and Scottish international never ceases, but with such a poignant anniversary and in times when the current Liverpool are looking for inspiration, it was natural those he encountered began to reminisce.

Kevin Keegan was somewhat of an unknown when Shankly plucked him from Second Division Scunthorpe United but by 1971 but the Liverpool fans had learned to trust in everything their manager did – it came as little surprise Keegan would be one of the most stellar signings the club have ever seen.

“He brought me to the club, he believed in me and he inspired me. That first meeting with him changed my life forever,” said Keegan.

“Apart from my parents, Bill was the most important person in my life.

“Bill’s departure certainly played a part in my decision to leave.

“No disrespect to Bob (Paisley), but when Bill left half the club went for me as well.

“Bill took Liverpool by the scruff of the neck and put down the foundations on which the club’s been built.”

The Second Division title arrived in 1962 with a team comprised of players such as Ron Yeats and Ian St John and signalled a remarkable turnaround in the club’s fortunes as the former Huddersfield Town manager had transformed a club with a run-down stadium, training facilities not to standard and an average playing squad.

“When we won promotion to the First Division I went to a shareholders’ meeting and they were so thrilled about it that they presented us with cigarette boxes,” Shankly said.

“I told them, ‘we got promotion, but you don’t think that is satisfactory, do you? Next time we come back here for presents we will have won the big league, the First Division’.”

The gifts no doubt became grander after a first ever FA Cup triumph followed in 1965, when Leeds United were dispatched 2-1 after extra-time, and then being named the best team in the land the season afterwards, using just 14 players.

It would be seven years until Shankly brought silverware back to Anfield but he did it after building his second all conquering side – out went those including Roger Hunt and Tommy Lawrence and in came Ray Clemence and John Toshack.

Pipping Arsenal to the championship by three points in 1973, Shankly revelled in his ‘finest hour’ hailing the league win.

“This title gave me greater pleasure than the previous two, simply because here we had a rebuilt side, some of them only two or three seasons in first team football and they stayed the course like veterans”, he said.

“I wanted that title more than at any time in my life.”

More glory followed in 1973 as the club’s first European trophy was secured with a 3-2 win on aggregate against Borussia Moenchengladbach in the final of the UEFA Cup – lighting the touch paper for Liverpool to become European trailblazers.

His final trophy arrived 12 months later when Liverpool beat Newcastle 3-0 in the FA Cup final courtesy of Kevin Keegan’s double and one from Steve Heighway.

“These are my kind of people.”

Shankly sensed something special when he became Liverpool manager half a century ago yet few of the club’s supporters would have predicted just how monumental a 15-year love affair it would become.

But as evocative as the recollections of other people are, the words of Shankly himself are those which resonate the loudest.

"Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that,” is the line which crossed the most footballing borders.

Though when uttering, “If Everton were playing at the bottom of the garden, I'd pull the curtains,” he probably spoke loudest to the Liverpool fans.

Yet they were silenced when Shankly announced his shock resignation from the Anfield job – though the irrepressible Ayrshire man did it in his own style by announcing the signing of Ray Kennedy and then his own departure.

“It has been a momentous day, but his signing shows that I am not running away. Maybe it will be said that one of the last things I did at this club was to sign a great new player,” he said.

It is fitting that Shankly would have the final word.

Benitez Admires Shankly Way

Rafael Benitez marked the 50th anniversary of Bill Shankly's appointment as Liverpool manager by insisting the club must always aspire to the levels of pride and passion the great Scot achieved at Anfield.

Tuesday marks the day in December 1959 when Shankly was officially appointed manager of the club.

Benitez, the current incumbent, admits he knew little of Shankly when he took over the hot seat himself four and a half years ago.

But he soon learned exactly how important Shankly was to the history of the club.

And he admits the appointment of playing legend Sammy Lee as assistant manager was partly designed to rediscover the spirit of Shankly.

Benitez said: "When we decided to bring in Sammy we had someone who knew the philosophy and the ideas of the club.

"Everything has changed in football and everything is different in society nowadays.

"Life is different. Everyone has iPods or Wiis and in a hurry to do things. But still we try to have the same ideas as Shankly.

"When people talk about the 'Liverpool Way', it was always to win. We try to do this and that is our priority if possible. We try to do things properly, like Shankly did."

Half a century has passed since then chairman T.V. Williams changed Liverpool forever by making Shankly manager but, as far as Benitez is concerned, the Shankly way will never die and will forever provide motivation for future generations.

He said: "One of the things we did after Sammy came was to change a little bit of decoration at Melwood. We now have a lot of photographs of former players, the legends and the managers and quotes from different people.

"We have been trying to bring this spirit. It is much better now. When people come to training now, they can look around and it is an inspiration to them. It would have been an honour to have met him, 100 per cent.

"Now all we can do is our best to make sure the mentality and the passion is always the same. That is the key to making sure the club stays at a good level, the level Bill Shankly wanted it to be at."

Benitez adds: "I didn't really know much about him before I came but I started reading books about him and made sure that I spoke with a lot of people. I kept reading all those little phrases and sentences.

"But I also listened to an old radio interview he did, over and over again when I was at home or when I was in my car. I struggled at first with the accent but once it all became clear, I was really impressed with his ideas.

"He was so ahead of his time. He was talking about training sessions and if it had been raining and the players were wet, he would tell them to careful and he would look after them, make sure they recovered properly and ate the right food."

Liverpool are still formulating their plans to mark the half-century since Shankly took over.

It is likely they will honour his legacy during the home game with Wigan on December 16, the nearest match to the 50th anniversary of Shankly's first game in control - a 4-0 home defeat by Cardiff on December 19, 1959.

It is expected members of Shankly's family and former players will be invited to the Wigan match, with a ceremony on the pitch before the game.

One of those former players was Ronnie Moran, who figured in that Cardiff defeat before eventually joining Shankly's backroom staff.

His recalls: "When I came to the end of my playing days I was in the reserves and he called me into his office one day at the end of the season. I thought he was going to tell me my days at Liverpool were over.

"But he said 'Sit down son! How would you like a job on my staff working with the youngsters?'

"I was working with the kids for three years and Joe Fagan was in charge of the reserves. He asked me to help him with that. Joe moved onto the first team staff in 1971 and I took the reserve.

"In 1974 I joined the first team set-up when Bill retired to work with Bob and Joe.

"One of the reasons he was so popular with our supporters was because he told the truth all of the time."

Keegan: Shankly Changed My Life Forever

Kevin Keegan was sat on a bin the first time he met Bill Shankly. It was May 1971 and the 20-year-old Yorkshireman had been waiting patiently at Anfield to discuss his impending switch from Scunthorpe to Liverpool.

It's an encounter firmly etched in Keegan's memory bank because life would never be the same again.

"They were doing up the main stand at Anfield so they were using these temporary offices," Keegan said.

"The only place to sit was on a dustbin outside so I sat there talking to my manager at the time, Ron Ashman, while Bill was inside.

"After a while Bill came out, shook my hand and beckoned me over to his Capri to take me for my medical down near the docks.

"From the moment I met Bill I just gelled with him. I was from mining stock and so was he. I think he saw something in me that reminded him of himself.

"He wanted to help me and he did, massively. Apart from my parents, Bill was the most important person in my life.

"He brought me to the club, he believed in me and he inspired me. That first meeting with him changed my life forever."

Keegan cost £35,000 and it proved to be one of the shrewdest pieces of business in English football history.

Signed as a midfielder, Shankly soon spotted Keegan's striking talents and made him believe he belonged at the highest level.

"I had only been at the club a couple of weeks when Bill said to me 'you will play for England son'," Keegan recalled.

"I was a 20-year-old kid who hadn't even played for Liverpool's first team. I thought 'wow' if he thinks I can they maybe I can.

"Bill was a giver. He wanted to make people better.

"He always came in full of life and what I loved about him was that he was always honest. You always knew where you stood with him.

"If you did something wrong he would tell you but he was never negative about anything.

"If he didn't have anything good to say he just wouldn't speak to you."

Keegan went straight into the side for the first game of the 1971/72 season against Nottingham Forest and scored the opener in a 3-1 win at Anfield. It was the start of a successful double act with John Toshack and as Shankly predicted, international honours soon followed.

Keegan made his England debut against Wales in 1972 and went on to win 63 caps.

"I didn't expect to get in Liverpool's first team so quickly," the 58-year-old admitted.

"I came in at the end of the season and went on tour when a lot of the players were away with England.

"I got games, did well and forced my way into contention. It meant I never actually played a reserve team game for the club.

"That was one of the things about Bill. He wasn't scared to put someone in. If he thought you were good enough that was it.

"I was a 20-year-old kid who went straight from Scunthorpe in the Fourth Division to playing in front of 51,000 at Anfield against Forest."

When Keegan signed the Reds had won nothing since 1966 and Shankly was in the process of building his second great side.

"It was a period of transition for the club," Keegan said.

"When I signed there were great players there like Tommy Lawrence, Ron Yeats, Ian St John, Peter Thompson, Chris Lawler, Tommy Smith and Ian Callaghan.

"There was signings like Alun Evans, who had cost £100,000 from Wolves, John McLaughlin and Ian Ross.

"And new kids on the block like Emlyn Hughes from Blackpool and Ray Clemence who replaced Tommy Lawrence. Steve Heighway was a rising star and Brian Hall was coming through.

"There was a good mix of the old and the new, and Bill got the perfect balance."

A seven-year trophy drought was ended in style with the championship and the UEFA Cup in 1973. Keegan scored twice in the first leg of the final as the Reds overcame Borussia Monchengladbach 3-2 on aggregate.

He repeated the trick a year later with another brace in the FA Cup final as Newcastle were brushed aside 3-0.

However, two months later Keegan was stunned when Shankly resigned.

"I don't know anyone who saw it coming," he said.

"I remember someone called me and said 'have you heard about Shanks?' My first thought was 'he's been involved in an accident'.

"When I was told he had resigned I didn't believe it. There was talk after every season about Bill threatening to quit and the board talking him out of it.

"But when I spoke to Bill he said 'no, I'm finished this time'. It was a massive shock."

Keegan went on to play a key role under Bob Paisley as the Reds landed the championship and the UEFA Cup again in 1976. He scored in both legs of the final against FC Bruges and was crowned Football Writers Player of the Year.

However, the departure of Shankly had hit Keegan hard and midway through the following season he announced his intention to leave in the summer to play abroad.

Keegan signed off in style, winning his third league title and helping the Reds clinch their first European Cup with a 3-1 victory over Borussia Monchengladbach in Rome.

After 323 appearances and 100 goals, he made a £500,000 switch to Hamburg in the summer of 1977.

"Bill's departure certainly played a part in my decision to leave," Keegan said.

"No disrespect to Bob, but when Bill left half the club went for me as well.

"Don't get my wrong, I enjoyed playing for Bob. We had some great times and won the European Cup.

"But it wasn't the same after Bill left. I just didn't enjoy going into the club as much when he wasn't there. Nobody could replace Bill."

The fact that Shankly wasn't offered another role at Liverpool after he stood down in 1974 still grates with Keegan to this day.

"I was really saddened by the way he was treated by the club," he said.

"I appreciate it was a difficult situation for everyone. Bill was such a big personality but it could have been handled a lot better.

"It should have been a case of someone asking him 'what job do you want?' They should have done something for him whether it was a place on the board or whatever.

"I know it would have been difficult for Bob to have him around the place but I'm sure something could have been sorted out.

"Bill should never have been allowed to walk away and I'm sure if you could ask those people involved they would admit they regret the way they went about things.

"The sad fact is that Bill spent more time at Everton's training ground than ours."

After leaving Liverpool, Keegan won the Bundesliga title with Hamburg and was twice crowned European Footballer of the Year.

Spells with Southampton and Newcastle followed before he moved into management.

The former England boss believes both Liverpool and himself personally owe Shankly a massive debt of gratitude.

"Bill took Liverpool by the scruff of the neck and put down the foundations on which the club's been built," he said.

"Bob achieved more than Bill in terms of honours but Bob was the first to admit that Bill put in the ground work.

"Bill gave everyone connected with the club great belief and principles. Everyone counted for something whether you were the kitman or you cut the grass.

"I played under a lot of good managers but none were in the same county, let along the same street, as Bill.

"His way was right for me and I learned so much from him. I took a lot from what Bill taught me into my own management career.

"Things like if you treat people the right way and give them the chance to flourish then you will get the best out of them.

"Bill was unique and the man meant everything to me."

Roma Lead Race For Reds Target

Roman Pavlyuchenko's agent is trying to engineer a move to Roma for his player despite reported interest from Liverpool.

The Russian is desperate to leave White Hart Lane in the summer and Italian outfit Roma have emerged as favourites to wrap up a deal as soon as the transfer window opens.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has been linked with a move for the striker as he tries to find a partner for Fernando Torres up front and Birmingham and Spartak Moscow have also been linked but the striker's agent Oliver Wendt is hoping to fix up a move with Roma this week.

"We're meeting Roma today or tomorrow for Roman," Wendt told "Roman wants to leave London and he wants to go to Roma. If Tottenham allow him to go, Roman could be a Roma player.

"Everything depends on the meeting we will have today or tomorrow with Roma. I had contact with the Roma directors last week too and they showed they were interested."

Liverpool Star Fernando Torres Aiming To Return Against Blackburn As Boss Rafa Benitez Aims To Rebuild Troubled Season

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres could be back to face Blackburn this weekend, as the Merseysiders look to rebuild their season.

Rafa Benitez saw his team ride their luck in winning the Merseyside derby at Everton, and with his star striker aiming to return on Saturday, Liverpool's fortunes could finally be on the up.

Benitez said: 'Fernando is close, but he still has some pain. We now have a week to work with him and for the physios to try to get him fit to play.

'We will monitor this every day and then decide. But we do not want to take any risks with him now, he needed three weeks of treatment and that is not fully completed yet.

'There is no deadline. We will have to decide after we have watched him working this week.'

Liverpool were a long way from their best at Goodison Park, but after edging a victory that moves them up to fifth supporters will be hopeful of a decent run over the crucial festive period.

Steven Gerrard certainly wasn't at his best, but still lacks match fitness and Benitez admitted: 'Gerrard has found it hard. He has played three difficult games in a row without training for three weeks prior, and that is tough.

'People have to understand that some players are trying very hard to help the team when they are not really fit. But they want to play, and their attitude is very positive.

'Now we have a week of training, and that I hope will see a lot more of them much fitter for the next game.'

Benitez praised the players fighting to recover from injuries, who are forcing themselves through matches.

Yossi Benayoun, Glen Johnson, Albert Riera, Daniel Agger, Fabio Aurelio and Gerrard are all still at various stages of recovery.

Benitez said: 'There are several players who maybe should not be out there at the moment. They are not fully fit, they are not training and they have injuries.

'But we are working so hard together. We are seeing players involved when they should really be on the treatment table.

'But they all wanted to play, to do a job for the team and to work to get us going again as a team.'

Reflecting on the crucial win over Everton, Benitez said: 'It was a big result for us, any derby win is important. But to win when we knew that Aston Villa, Spurs and Manchester City had all drawn at the weekend was very important.

'We knew that if we won then we would be much higher in the table and that will give us more confidence.

'We feel we deserved that bit of luck for the first goal, a deflection. Because a lot of bad luck has come our way over the recent weeks, and that has gone some way to evening things for us.'

Rafa Explains Aquilani Absences

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez insists he will not bow to critics who want Alberto Aquilani to be rushed into the first team.

The Reds boss' tactics have been questioned as his £20million summer signing has remained on the substitute’s bench over recent weeks and only earned a strange 30-second outing in the UEFA Champions League win at Debrecen.

Fans have been desperate to see Aquilani start a match amidst the club's struggling form, but Benitez does not want to rush the 25-year-old's recovery from ankle surgery, which took place prior to his move from Roma, and a virus.

The Spaniard decided to keep the Italy midfielder absent from Sunday's win over Everton, resisting the urge of exposure in the fierce atmosphere of a Merseyside derby, and will continue to err on the side of caution.

"It's simpler than people think," said Benitez in the Liverpool Echo. "He has been out for longer than we expected and, because he has been injured during the summer, he couldn't train properly.

"Now it is much better and it is a case of improving his match fitness. We want to play him and we thought we might have been able to do that with the reserves at Wigan.

"That was called off (last week) but we had some games at Melwood and he played 45 minutes against our reserves last week. We are trying to improve him as quick as we can.

"But when you have a player who is not fit, he is always going to need time to settle in to a game; if the game is tight and he makes mistakes, then you have a problem.

"We want to protect the player but, at the same time, we want to keep winning games; he understands that he needs to be a little bit fitter before he can play."

Benitez is eager to select Aquilani, who produced an encouraging 14 minutes in October's Carling Cup defeat at Arsenal, and has no doubts regarding his ability, but will still not rush.

"It has not been easy (to not play him) but we are giving him more encouragement in training sessions and he is getting much, much better," added the Reds boss on a player who has a reputation in Italy for being prone to injury.

"We know he is a top-class player and we want to do the best for him and the team; but the best for the player and the team sometimes means he cannot play.

"Think about this example. We were winning 1-0 (against Debrecen) the other day and me and (assistant manager) Sammy (Lee) were talking about playing him.

"But if we played him for the last 20 minutes, when they were attacking a little bit more and he is not settled, maybe it will be the situation will become worse. It is not easy finding the balance but he is getting better all the time."

Johnson: 'Liverpool FC Deserved Some Good Fortune'

Glen Johnson is adamant Liverpool earned their derby day luck – but accepts they now have to make the most of it.

Despite being outplayed for much of the game, Rafael Benitez’s side earned a 2-0 victory in the 212th Merseyside derby at Goodison on Sunday.

It was the Anfield outfit’s first Premier League triumph in more than a month and moved them up to fifth place, two points off the Champions League qualification places.

What had been a run of two wins in 12 has now become a five-game unbeaten run ahead of another demanding away game at Blackburn Rovers this coming Saturday.

And while admitting their fortune was in with Javier Mascherano’s deflected opener at Goodison, Johnson acknowledges it will count for nothing if Liverpool fails to capitalise on a morale-boosting victory.

“The derby win might end up being the turning point of our season, I don’t see why not,” said Johnson.

“We have a platform to build upon.

“You maybe can’t read all that much into just one goal, but with the first goal against Everton, it’s the first time we’ve had a little bit of luck in a while.

“The lads are working as hard as they can all week, so maybe they deserve that luck. Now it’s up to us to make the most of it.”

Johnson was part of a defence that kept a successive clean sheet for the first time this season, with Liverpool having won 1-0 against Debrecen in the Champions League last week.

And he said: “We’ve got two clean sheets in a row so hopefully we can push on now.

“We know that we haven’t been picking up the results that people associated with this club expect but there is no better place to start picking up points than Goodison.

“We want to get on a good run now. The next game is all that we can worry about but we want to be pushing up the table and hopefully this will be the start.”

Johnson also hailed goalkeeper Pepe Reina’s remarkable double stop to deny Tim Cahill and Marouane Fellaini could prove a turning point in Liverpool’s season.

“That save was amazing,” said the England international.

“With it being 1-0 at the time, if either Cahill or Fellaini had scored, it could have been a different story.

“Pepe is one of the best in the business, there’s no disputing that. He’s a Spanish international on merit and deserves (recognition) every time that he plays.

“He’s certainly one of the best that I have ever played with. He’s got so much to his game, he’s really good with his feet and you can see him in training.

“That’s what the modern goalkeeper needs.

“He’s quick and agile and makes great saves like that; it was a turning point in the game and it could be a turning point in the season.”

Liverpool FC To Be Hit By Another Huge Financial Blow?

English soccer club Liverpool, hit by the financial blow of failure to qualify for the knock-out stages of the Champions League, are playing for more than the revenues qualification to the competition would bring next season.

According to a study produced by Italian sports business consultancy StageUp, Liverpool have received US$195 million from participation in the competition over the last six years - the fifth-highest of any club in Europe. That amount has allowed the signing of players such as Fernando Torres, the Spanish striker who has quickly become an iconic figure on Merseyside.

Failure to finish in the top four of the Premier League for next season would not just rob Liverpool of that lucrative revenue stream. According to press reports, it would also see the club's record shirt sponsorship agreement cut.

'The debt-laden Merseyside club and banking giant Standard Chartered agreed a £20 million-a-year, four-year sponsorship deal, which will start in July 2010,' reported England's Sunday Express newspaper. 'However, under the terms of the deal Liverpool needs to secure a finish in the top four to get the full amount.

'It is understood that if Liverpool finish outside the top four, they will receive a reduced fee,' the newspaper claims.

Youngsters Gain Wolves Revenge

Liverpool Under-18s are through to the FA Youth Cup fourth round after beating Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 at Anfield on Monday night.

Tom Ince fired the hosts into a deserved 35th minute lead when the winger collected Andre Wisdom's fine pass and dispatched an effort into the back of the net.

Liverpool made sure of their passage into the next round thanks to Krisztian Adorjan netting a Kop end goal in the opening exchanges of the second half.

The Reds kicked-off hoping to secure a victory on the first step of their quest to reach a fourth FA Youth Cup final in five years.

Last season's final heartbreak to Arsenal had only served to increase the Academy youngsters' desire to reclaim the trophy for a fourth time in the club's history.

Wolves had proven difficult opponents just over two weeks previous when they beat Rodolfo Borrell's men with a last-gasp goal in a league meeting in the Midlands.

However, Liverpool made an encouraging start to a bitterly cold evening inside Anfield, and Ince could have given the home side a third-minute lead when he burst into the box, only to drag his shot wide of the far post.

It was certainly a feisty opening to proceedings, with both teams snapping into challenges on the immaculate surface.

With Kop luminaries such as Kenny Dalglish and Jamie Carragher watching on from the directors' box, the young Reds had every reason to want to make an impression.

Back came Wolves, and Wisdom had to be alert to block James Spray's dangerous low cross into the six-yard box.

Play was zipping crisply from one end to the other in what was proving to be an absorbing encounter.

Adorjan stung the palms of visiting goalkeeper Daniel East before Nathaniel Mendez-Laing skipped beyond Jack Robinson at the other end and teed up Spray, who saw his shot on the turn tipped behind by Deale Chamberlain at full-stretch.

Such has been Mendez-Laing's progression at youth level, the forward has already appeared for Wolves' senior side this season and was named man-of-the-match for his performance in a Carling Cup tie with Swindon.

Liverpool should have broken the deadlock in the 22nd minute. Chris Buchtmann's pin-point ball over the top released Ince through on goal, but the winger delayed his shot prior to skewing wide of the far post.

Then, John Flanagan was sent bearing down on East's goal by an imaginative back-heel from Michael Ngoo, but the Reds defender was thwarted by the Wolves custodian. Conor Coady headed over the resulting corner.

However, East could do little as Ince finally found the back of the net in the 35th minute.

Wisdom's defence-splitting pass sent the Reds No.11 through on goal, and this time he made no mistake with a coolly-taken left foot finish across the 'keeper and into the bottom corner.

Liverpool had begun to assume control of the game, and within 60 seconds of the start of the second half, had two opportunities to extend their lead.

First, Ngoo scooped wide when well positioned before Adorjan struck into the Kop from the edge of the area.

A deserved second did eventually arrive on 56 minutes, though, when the Hungarian forward jinked his way into the box and slotted a low effort beyond an unsighted East from the left hand side of the area.

Despite the hosts holding a two goal advantage, the game remained fiercely contested with strong tackles being made all over the park.

It was a stern challenge that presented Adorjan with a shooting opportunity from a free-kick on the edge of the area, but he was unable to test East with his 20 yard effort.

Wolves should have reduced the arrears when substitute Andre Landell hooked an effort over the bar after being picked out by Mendez-Laing's run and cross.

Landell had another chance in the dying moments, but was frustrated by a goalline block by Flanagan.

The impressive Robinson could have capped the night in fine fashion for the Reds when a well worked moved carved open a shooting chance for the defender in injury-time, but East did well to repel the strike around the post.

Nevertheless, Liverpool had already done enough to deservedly secure a place in the fourth round draw and gain some revenge for the harsh league defeat they had suffered at the hands of Wolves earlier this month.