Cometh the Season… Cometh the Men?

19 August 2012

First of all, my apologies for the shite quality of the last blog.


My inner circle of friends are scattered around the globe, so not unlike my chats with Kopblog participants, my enthusiasm for all things LFC is shared with them mostly electronically via email and skype chats.

This can often include the exchange of 50 or more emails in a day, when we get going. But suffice to say, to varying degrees, we’ve all lost a bit of enthusiasm for the “game” of late… we’ve been disillusioned with the money and the politik for a long time and I guess the combination of the Evra Bollocks, the abysmal League run-in, the disappointment of losing the final to the Chavs and the subsequent firing of Dalglish all culminated in taking its toll.

(oh for fucks sake there he goes again… but bear with me, I’m making this comment to “draw a line under it, not continue a debate on it.)

Its more than fair to say that those suggesting they are “done with LFC” as a result of Kenny Dalglish’s sacking have reacted in a manner that is not completely reasonable.

But to discount completely that emotion, even if the intensity of it may be entirely questionable, is also not completely reasonable.

There are those that view the decision as categorically the right thing to do.
There are those that view it as categorically the wrong thing to do.
And there are those that view it as simply one option open to the owners…
…and the decision …either way… was simply a varying percentage game.

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As a result, the bulk of the discussion for the last 6 months or more surrounding Kenny’s termination, has once again divided a fanbase that his very hiring in the first place was viewed as “uniting”…
…And because this now seems to be a recurring theme of splits and reunion…
… a lot of people over the summer, seemed to simply lose their enthusiasm for the debate.
I completely understand that… I fell into it briefly myself.

And with no footy to discuss, or actual tranfer activity to discuss, and being at yet another crossroads… it was inevitable I suppose that the discussion slipped into entrenched positions, and further exacerbated people’s various disillusions.

But at no time did I read anything to suggest that this “argument” was in any way shape or form an indictment on the hiring of Brendan Rodgers as Kenny’s replacement…
…with the exception of suggesting that all players have their price (which is true, just stop fuckin advertising it lad) Brendan has hardly put a foot wrong since taking the job.

He has shown the right amount of respect for the particulars of the specific job of LFC Manager, for the particular animal that is the LFC fan, for the very real history of the club, and for the very real dichotomy of what the club IS and what it SHOULD be…
… and just as importantly he showed his predecessor the respect the man deserved, which is more than can be said for some of our fans.
(and that’s not a swipe directed at anyone in here, so hopefully that opening won’t reopen the debate… it is not intended to…)

Brendan Rodgers now has dozens of press conferences under his belt, a collection of pre-season games, 2 of which were competitive games, giving him the enviable position of having 2 wins in games that actually count, going into the “first game of the season”.
…and he’s now well into his first transfer window…

So now that we’ve got some footy on our plate… I feel the ever so slight growing pains of that enthusiasm for my life’s love returning again… you know, like when your bird walks in and says, “look what I just bought from Victoria’s Secret”.

The away leg in Gomel was not particularly encouraging… our performance was not great… or at least Gomel’s was better… but we got the goal that gave us the advantage.
It has been suggested in a few articles I read, that the team was a bit jetlagged after their travails in America… the combination of Air travel, Extreme Temps in the States, and the trip to Eastern Europe combining to take its toll.

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The home leg was a different kettle of fish, as my Dad used to say.
One pundit suggested that it “wasn’t exactly the tiki-taka that Rodger’s wants to play” …
… well that being the case… can we fuck off this bleedin’ tiki-taka and play whatever THAT WAS for the rest of the season.
I’m not going to suggest that we were invincible and ready for Barcelona, but we actually made a 2nd rate Euro team LOOK like a fuckin 2nd rate Euro team… and that’s what we should be doing.

Alimuna or whatever the kids name is, gave Skrtel a torrid time on their patch… at Anfield he was in Martin’s pocket for 90 minutes.
There were numerous examples of quick exchanging passes… not for the sake of it… but towards an end… that being the advancement of the ball up the field…
… and it was mixed in among some very probing long balls… not simply punts forward, but incisive passing in the channels… to be met by intelligent runs into those channels.
We got bodies forward… and that’s something we haven’t seen on any consistent basis, for a while.
All in all, it was a comfortable game, and the players looked like they were enjoying themselves… putting in their shifts and working for each other.

While the Leverkusen game was a friendly, and lacked the obvious energy that a competitive game has, the first half continued where the Gomel performance left off.
With one or two personnel changes, the fluid passing game continued here, where it left off on Thursday.
Unfortunately, the 2nd half wasn’t as good, and for me, exposed a concern… that while we have a “Good” First Eleven and perhaps 4-5 “Good Subs”… the rest of the 2nd string are a gulf in class below that.

My conclusion… and admittedly it was far too early to be making such things… was that going into the season, we would be okay if for any reason we need to incorporate 3 or 4 squaddies into the first team… but if due to injuries or suspension we need to incorporate any more than that for any real length of time… we would be in trouble.

Now I’ve already said, it’s a bit too early for that conclusion…
While the Premier League season starts on Saturday, the transfer window is still open for 2 more weeks.
… and while I continue to have concerns/reservations as to what those two weeks may bring, they are now more concern/reservation for and about that immediate period, rather than a fear for the season…

We’ve lost some decent contributions in Maxi, Kuyt and Bellamy… 20 goals between them and almost all match winners, or point savers, (as opposed to the 3rd in a 3-0 route) and that’s gonna need replacing.

It will be interesting to see how new signing Joe Allen fits into this squad.
Borini is already off the mark with his debut goal, and at Anfield, in a competitive match. That will do him the world of good!

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Reports suggest we are working on deals… and BR confirmed this himself, following speculation linking us with Tello and Sahin, with the suggestion that we would sign 2 players within 48 hours.
At which point, the club promptly announced our signing of Assaidi from Heerenveen for 3million, which looks a great piece of business on the face of it. His stats mirror those of Suarez, and his youtube video makes him look like Suarez 2.0 so I’m really looking forward to seeing this kid play at Anfield.

So Borini, Allen and Assaidi for Kuyt, Maxi and Bellamy…
…and with Sahin and possibly Tello to come???
… only time will tell, but that don’t sound bad?
… certainly more encouraging than discouraging?

As for the rest of the Squad … and replacing those 20 goals…
Downing is off the mark with an important match winner, and already he’s showing a marked improvement over the player most of us moaned about last season. Granted not exactly hard to do, and he’ll never be a world-beater, but if he can contribute, really contribute, then maybe he’ll eventually justify his price-tag, and in the few games so far, he has contributed.

SG got himself a nice easy tap-in after a good performance as a link-up man in an advanced position… hopefully he stays that far up the field.

Glenn Johnson scored a blinder of a goal, which was deserved on top of a very solid performance both defending and getting forward.

Luis hasn’t gotten a goal yet, but Sweet Baby Jesus, he’s playing like a man possessed of a desire to claim his place as a Kop Legend. The lad is unplayable at times.

Raheem Sterling has shown very real glimpses of why people are soiling themselves over him. The kid is a precocious talent… I only hope we handle him with great care… but he’s bloody quick and he can score a goal.

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Hell even Lucas got into the box… and scored a goal.
Yup, you read that right… Lucas Leiva got forward and scored a goal.
Okay, it was an easy tap-in and he was as surprised as anyone else on the pitch, but what a joy it was to see. The control and composure this lad now brings to the midfield is fulfillment of the promise he fleetingly showed under Rafa.

And then there’s Andy Carroll, who while it was pretty much just a shot driven straight at the keeper, was a shot hit hard enough to beat the keeper’s mistake… and that it came from an interchange of passes on the ground, and not just some lumped in cross, is all the better. I know there are those shouting, “take the 20 million” but myself, I hope we keep him, he has value to the squad.

So West Brom Look Out!

Congrats to Citeh for beating the Chavs in the Charity Shield… anytime the Chavs lose it’s a good thing, especially when Jovanovic sees red, (which seems to me to be quite often?)
I was very much thinking that this season’s title will be fought out by those two… with the weakness, for my money, in both sides being their defense.
But United’s capture of Van Persie, has I think revived their hopes for the challenge. United have a weak midfield in my opinion, and their defense isn’t half as good as its made out to be… especially when a team actually believes this for half a second and gets at them… but they’ve just added goals to an already scoring side. (what were Arsenal thinking?)

If we can continue to play this high tempo/pressing, passing, movement into channels game we’ve seen glimpses of now, we may well surprise a few people this season, so I’m gonna predict that we will fight it out for 3rd/4th … with an outside chance should everything go right for us (like that’s gonna happen) and the others stumble a bit… of even bettering that. (I actually fancy us for 2nd and a cup.)

So there it is.
Well done to Brendan so far… keep up the good work…
We’ve got big games in August, including the next round of the Europa against Hearts…

So…Come on You Reds!

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