The End of the Beginning

I was about to start this blog with “reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated”, but on this occasion they actually haven’t been too far off the mark. A bit of a health scare among other things has given my presence on Kopblog over the past few months an almost Joe Cole-like invisibility, in fact I’ve made even less appearances than Steven Gerrard!

I’ve had other things occupying my mind and have hardly even been online for the past couple of months. But just like King Kenny at Liverpool I’ve managed to turn things around. I’m well on the road to recovery and have also just got myself an extended contract at work, so life is good again! Many thanks to those who sent me some e-mails they were much appreciated. Anyway I just want to brush off the cobwebs now and get back to some serious (ish) blogging, so let’s get on with it.

The one bright spark I’ve had over the past few months has been the turnaround in fortunes of my beloved Reds. You talk about a season of two halves, since King Kenny has returned to the Liverpool dugout we’ve made one of the most remarkable comebacks since Lazurus!

When I think back now to where we were just 6 months ago with all of the doom and gloom among our players and supporters not to mention the bloody awful football we were playing, I shudder to think where we might have ended up. But thankfully the FSG guys took the necessary action of removing Gandalf the Grey and returning the King to his throne, and the effect was immediate and even beyond what I had hoped for.

Considering the position and mood at the club when Dalglish took over I would have considered it an achievement just to come within a mathematical sniff of a European qualifying place but the fact that we actually got ourselves into a position where we were in control of fifth spot with an outside chance of the top four was just amazing.

Granted it was a bit of a disappointment that we finished the season with two defeats and ended up finishing in 6th spot but from an overall point of view you’ve got to say that since Kenny returned we’ve gotten more positives than Wayne Rooney at an STD clinic!

The pass and move football we are trying to return to, the players coming together as a team, the amazing signings of Suarez and Carroll, the appointment of Steve Clarke and the terrific performances of the young players coming into the team. The list goes on and on, and getting into the specifics of it all will give us plenty to discuss over the close season but for now I’m just going to stick with the overall picture.

I was split pretty much 50/50 on the question of us qualifying for the Europa League. On the one hand I thought being in it would give us more games to continue to blood the youngsters and build up their experience and it is also a competition that we could realistically win. But on the other hand a season out of Europe might not be a bad thing for us right now in fact focusing on things domestically without a European distraction might turn out to be just what the doctor ordered.

As I’ve already mentioned, things have been great since Kenny returned. The performances have been much improved and we’ve played some really entertaining football at times. Suarez has been superb, the energy of him and Kuyt upfront has been like watching Jedward on Acid! Raul the Merciless has also been terrific in midfield as has the ever improving Lucas. The young players have all been brilliant when called upon, particularly Kelly and Flanagan. Pepe has been solid as ever and I really enjoyed the double hat-trick by Maxi recently, the guy was running around with a smile wider than the Mersey, brilliant stuff!

So while it didn’t seem likely at the start of January, I do have some happy memories of the season but the fun is over now and the real work must now begin. When Kenny arrived his task was to turn things round, get the players performing and get the team climbing the table. He certainly achieved all that and more, and has thankfully been given the job on a permanent basis. But he knows and we know, a lot more will be required next season.

The honeymoon is over now and this is the end of what will hopefully be the beginning. We’ve got to kick on from here and at the very least be aiming for a return to the top four next season but that is not going to be easy. We finished the season in 6th spot and the five teams that finished ahead of us are all likely to spend heavily over the summer and we can’t afford to do any less.

I believe the FSG guys will make cash available, especially considering that beyond the Suarez and Carroll signings we had another £20 to £30 million in unsuccessful bids for other players in January. But no matter how much we have to spend it’s important that we spend it wisely. Obviously quality is important but so is the character of the players we target. Our dressingroom seems to be a happy place at the moment and there’s a good team ethic among the players so we wouldn’t want anyone coming in who might upset the balance.

Equally important in terms of generating funds and freeing up space on the wage bill is getting rid of some of the deadwood that is clogging up our squad and we’ve got a lot to ship out. I remember a report of some German side bidding £6 million for Jovanovic in January. So if I take that as his value and add in my estimated value of Konchesky and Poulson, then getting rid of those three would by my reckoning generate a total of £6,000, 003.57p, a fun size Mars bar and a Chicken McNugget!

There are also plenty of other players we really need to be rid of. A lot of them have been out on loan but there are others in the current first team squad I’d rather see the back off. Joe Cole has turned out to be a disaster. Granted he’s had a bad run with injuries but even when he has been available he’s been about as much use as a chocolate tea-pot but he’s apparently on mega wages so he might be a hard one to shift.

Aquilani is a difficult one. Considering the lack of depth of quality in our squad I thought it was an absolutely crazy decision to send him out on loan for the season, particulalrly as we’d spent most of the previous season getting him fit only for Juventus to reap the rewards of our efforts. From the bits and pieces I’ve seen of him playing for Juve over the season he seems to have done very well for them. I can’t blame the guy for wanting to stay in Italy after the way he’s been treated at Anfield under the previous regime but a part of me thinks a player like him could really flourish under Dalglish so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how this works out.

Another one I’d like to see the back of is David Eggnog. I don’t have anything against the lad and I’m sure he’ll go on to have a good career in the game but I just don’t think he is good enough to be playing for Liverpool. If you consider that Suarez, Carroll and Kuyt are our three main strikers and each of them have different qualities then you would want to have a fourth choice striker who might offer something different and be at or near their level but Eggnog is a long way off.

There have been times when he’s shown flashes of quality and he has scored a few goals but even a blind squirrel can occasionally find an acorn. He’s also not somebody who can be a game changer coming off the bench. I’ve seen him brought on many times in games and he’s really made no difference, in fact most of the time he looks as if he couldn’t hit his own arse with both hands and a GPS!

So I’d definitely get rid of Eggnog if possible. I noticed recently the club have placed an £8 million price tag on him, I don’t know who came up with this price but whoever it was I wish they’d come over and do a valuation on my house!

As regards incoming players, I’ve read recent press reports linking us with the likes of Aguero, Mata, Coentrao, in fact just about every player whose surname ends in a vowel! The one common thread in all of these reports is that they are all total bollocks. This is the usual press tactic of firing buckshot in every direction in the hope that they might hit on something and then proudly proclaim “you read it here first”.

It may turn out that we end up signing one or two of the players they have us linked with but this would be just a lucky guess on their part. I think we all know enough about Dalglish and Comolli at this stage to realise that they both play their cards very close to their chest and these press guys know as little about their potential transfer targets as we do.

A left back, some width and another attacking option is the priority in my opinion, more cover in central midfield and central defence would also be nice if possible. But there are only so many quality players around and there is going to be a lot of competition for signings. We’ve also got the added disadvantage of not being able to offer European football to our targets so Comolli really has his work cut out. I’m still not too sure about this guy but if we get through this summer with some quality signings coming in and some of the squads dead wood going out, he will make a believer of me.

Anyway, I’ll leave it there for now and just finish off by saying congratulations to Barca for their very well deserved victory over the mancs in the Champions League final yesterday. They are a great club with a great team and some of the football they play is really quite beautifal at times. In Lionel Messi they have beyond a shadow of a doubt the world’s greatest player. I’m glad they won it and I hope they go on and win it again next season, but the season after that may be a different story. Because somethings stirring at Anfield and after we get through knocking the mancs off their perch we might turn our attentions to Barca!

Keep the Faith

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