So the new season is getting ever closer and we have just over one week to go now until we open our account away at Sunderland. It seems like the last few weeks have really dragged, even though we’ve had plenty of pre-season games to enjoy. To be honest I have found that the pre-season games have only made the anticipation for the new season even stronger.
It has been almost like a tease watching the Reds play knowing that the games really didn’t mean that much other than playing for pride (and fitness). As much as it’s nice to watch these games, as any footy is usually better than none, I have been almost longing for the days when we didn’t have any televised coverage of pre-season. That way we could switch off for a few weeks and the tease of competitive football wouldn’t be quite so in our faces.
So the question I’m asking myself today is; how do I fancy our chances of winning some silverware next season? I think we have a fantastic chance of winning at least one trophy, based on what I’ve seen in the pre-season games. I am absolutely convinced we will definitely win the League (Carling) Cup next season. Some of our fringe/reserve players have shown tremendous promise when playing alongside established first team players. The likes of Plessis, Pacheko, Insua, Spearing, Nemeth, Ngog and others have more than held their own. While they may not all be ready quite yet to step up to playing regularly in the Premiership or Champions League, I feel a team with a mixture of reserves and first team players will more than be able to hold their own in the domestic cup competitions. Especially because other Premiership teams often play mostly inexperienced players too.
As for the Premiership, I’m quietly confident we can certainly compete this season. We just need to start beating the other top four teams and turn more draws into victories. It really is too hard to predict what will happen this season. I do feel however that Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal have not improved their squads and that in itself gives me encouragement that we will be much closer this season. I’m definitely not as optimistic as previous years, possibly for self preservation as much as anything, but as I said I’m quietly confident.
Robbie Keane has shown glimpses of an understanding with Torres in the brief time they’ve played together so far. This is a very exciting prospect and with Torres showing that he is continuing where he left off last season, I can see plenty more goals coming from our strikers. Ngog may only play as a backup striker but based on his finishing in the pre-season games it appears he has a terrific eye for goal. Clearly his statistics for the French youth sides are more of an indication of his abilities than those from his last season at Paris St. Germain.
I am hearing a rumour today that Yossi Benayoun may be heading to Roma. I sincerely hope that this doesn’t happen, in my opinion Yossi is one of our most skillful and creative players. As we saw last season he has a great eye for scoring and creating goals and I think he has been the best player in pre-season. I know that Rafa is still trying to finance the Gareth Barry deal but selling important squad players is not the best way to do this. I have heard that we’ve had offers in the region of three million pounds for Voronin and six million for Pennant. If we can get those type of figures I would be pleased to let them go to fund the first installment on Gareth Barry. I’d much rather say goodbye to Voronin and Pennant (who has hardly figured at all in pre-season) than quality players like Benayoun or Xabi Alonso.
So overall, based on pre-season so far, the signs are very encouraging for the upcoming season. If we can keep the important players from getting injured and continue the development of the younger players we will have a really decent squad this season. The other important factor is that we must hold on to the talented players whilst adding new ones. If we can put these things into place this year then we should have some exciting times ahead of us over the next nine months.