The great Cast return on March 5th with Troubled Times, their fifth studio album and first since 2001, so Football Burp caught up with songwriting guru John Power for a chat about his beloved Liverpool…
Will you be going to the Carling Cup final?
I hope to, but I’ll have to try and put the feelers out for a ticket because I’m right out of the loop – I don’t network, I don’t really know anyone at the club, even though I know a lot of fans. But with a bit of luck, fingers crossed, I’ll be heading that way, yeah.
Congratulations on beating United.
What a week, after the debacle that was Bolton. I watched that game with my dad ‘cause I was in Liverpool, and I looked across to him and said, “It pains me to say it, but we are looking like a mediocre team.” All the things that Liverpool stand for, they weren’t on the pitch that day, you know? But I thought it was great what Kenny said afterwards – I thought it was about time a few home truths were aired, and there’s been a marked improvement since.
One of the most frustrating things about Liverpool is the fact that they raise their game against the heavyweights – they’ve just got to learn to do it week in, week out against teams of lesser might. There were a few new signings on the pitch who hadn’t experienced a night at Anfield like the old days, and from what I heard on the radio of the City game, it sounded like static in the air, the crowd were getting at it, the commentators were shouting, and it was a nervy, nail-biting game.
I think there were some players there who wouldn’t have experienced that sort of atmosphere, and we need that week in, week out, but it starts with them on the pitch. The crowd can only do so much, but half the time recently they haven’t felt it, and then the team can feel the crowd not getting it, it starts reflecting off each other and before you know it…you know, there’s no real dynamics there. They’ve just got to get at them and they’ll hear the crowd like it was last Wednesday and Saturday.
Did you watch the United game?
I went to watch it at this old Irish pub near where we live where a few Liverpool lads congregate. It was one of those games that could have gone either way, I suppose. It was not a game of great, incisive football but we got the result. I thought we were the better side in the second half, but in the first half I thought we were sitting too deep.
Carragher in the holding role wasn’t entirely convincing…
I wasn’t too sure about that myself really. I was happy when Charlie Adam came on and I thought he brought a bit more to the game. The substitutions came at the right time and they helped it along. Tactically we kind of got it right. I feel sorry for Carroll when he’s playing as the lone striker because he’s not on top of his game, not confident enough to get the ball and hold it up on his own. He must have it in him because he was on fire for Newcastle. Everyone’s trying to find their feet and we’ll see where it ends.
Carroll doesn’t look totally fit…
No, but he wasn’t fit when we bought him and he’s not had a proper run. Like most players, he needs a season under his belt. If we could get to two cup finals and get fourth, it would be like heaven, this season. He’s been unlucky with those headers – he’s had about four headers in the last minutes where he’s hit the bar or it was a great save. There’s such a fine line (Football Burp sings: to pick the right time to make a change! Sorry…) between getting it right and not getting it right. If he’d scored a couple of those headers, he’d be flying now. As it is, you can see he looks like he’s carrying the world on his shoulders at the moment.
You must have been impressed by young Martin Kelly…
Yeah, I think Kelly’s a great player.
And the partnership of Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger has been…
…great all season, that’s why Carragher hasn’t been getting his place. It’s about time Agger put in a good season, although I always believed in his footballing prowess. In the past, whenever he’s got going he’s got injured, but I’m glad to see that him and Skrtel are looking like a good defensive set-up. To be honest with you, you’ve got Kelly, Enrique, Glen Johnson in the full-back positions who can get up the pitch and get crosses in, so it’s all there.
We’re missing an attacker, obviously, and midfield-wise, some of the lads who’ve come in, like Jordan Henderson…you know, it’s not good enough just to play the safe ball all the time. They’ve joined a big club where there’s been a lot of pressure lately, and no-one wants to be the player who makes the pass that gets caught. Hopefully they’ll get more confidence the more they play, but I would like to see Jordan doing more than that. Take someone on, knock it on for yourself. I don’t think Charlie Adams is a bad player at all.
Do you think it was a mistake not to bring in cover for Lucas during this window just shut?
We’ve got enough midfielders, really, although someone has to sit back and get tackles in because Gerrard isn’t fully fit, and when things are going wrong you want Gerrard to burst forward, because he sets the precedent for others to. Some of the other players need to take on that mantle as well, because they can’t just leave it to Stevie Gerrard and Luis Suarez to be the creative juices in the cooking, like. A few of the other players need to be taking people on, creating space. It’s a shame about Lucas because he was playing really well as a holding midfielder.
Would you have preferred to see Kenny Dalglish spend more of the money on cheaper talent from abroad, as previous incumbents of the Anfield hotseat saw fit to?
You just want the right kind of players. Suarez isn’t from these shores but he’s brilliant. I imagine Dalglish thought that a couple of the new signings would step up a bit quicker, but you’ve got to remember that it’s a work in progress. It’s a consumerist society – people want it now. Nothing’s achieved overnight, but when it does eventually happen you forget the long journey it took to get there. We’re only six points off 4th place – I’m not saying we’ll get it but it’s not over yet. We haven’t put a run together yet, and we’ve had some near misses at home. We’re already in the Carling Cup final, and if we managed to get to the FA Cup final as well then it could be the start of something great.
Do you remember the first game you ever went to?
I can’t remember who we were playing but I remember going. I’m trying to think if it was someone like Blackburn or Norwich or…my father might remember who it was. He took me to a reserve game first – I remember that because I could walk along the steps and the seats in the stands – and then he took me to the game. He used to take me to the game all the time from the age of about seven.
Would you be able to name the best and worst game you’ve ever been to?
Istanbul of course, and Saint Etienne [for the 1977 European Cup quarter-final]. Also a modern day equivalent of that one, the first semi-final against Chelsea. The crowd were electric that night – I hadn’t heard the static in Anfield like that since Saint Etienne. They’re my best games. As for worst games, there’s been quite a few recently, I suppose. The worst game is whenever Liverpool don’t turn up. Trying to play that slow passing game doesn’t do it for me, like. I like them when they get the tempo up, get at them and become a pressing team. That’s when they seem to make ground, like.
I’m surprised you didn’t mention the 2001 UEFA Cup final against Alaves…(and here’s why)…
In Dortmund – that’s right, yeah. That was the first European final that we’d been to in a while. They made a big fans square where everyone was drinking and singing, and we just jumped up and did four or five songs (Football Burp says: thus predicting the final score in an odd way), me and Peter from the band on acoustics. It was a great experience – everyone was singing along, “Live the Dream”, “Walkaway” and that, then it went off into a crazy game! I think we got home the next day at seven in the morning and went straight onto the tour bus. I didn’t have a voice left, and I’d been living off bread and mustard because all they had was hotdogs and I don’t eat meat. Not the ideal way to start a tour, but we got through it, like.
If you had to pick a five-a-side team out of all the Liverpool players you’ve witnessed in your time as a fan, who would you select?
Dalglish, Souness, Hansen, Lawrenson and Ray Clemence.
John Power, thank you.
Cast will release their new album Troubled Times on 5th March 2012. Following the album release Cast have confirmed a UK Tour for March & April 2012. The dates are as follows :
Thu 29th Newcastle O2 Academy
Fri 30th Glasgow 02 Academy
Sat 31st Liverpool University
Sun 1st Leamington Spa Assembly
Tue 3rd Cambridge Junction
Wed 4th Manchester Academy
Thu 5th Birmingham 02 Academy
Fri 6th London 02 Shepherds Bush Empire
The band’s official website www.casttour.com has links on its homepage for buying tickets.