Kindergarten Kop

Well doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun. After the joys of a summer filled with the Confetti Cup, the Welsh Lions tour of Australia, the annual Spot the Lesbian competition at Wimbledon and other such delights, our pre-season is well and truly underway ahead of the new season and I’m so excited I have to sit on my hands to keep from clapping!

The 4-0 win against Preston last weekend and our 2-0 win against whoever we were playing in Indonesia yesterday were decent run outs for the squad as they ease their way towards the levels required for the season ahead. It has also been good to get an early look at the new additions to the squad and all of them have looked pretty decent so far.

I like the look of Toure in the centre of defence. He’s certainly a bigger lad than I remember and seems to have a real presence about him at the back, definitely a very good addition in my opinion. Mignolet hasn’t had a lot to do in the games so far but what little he has had to do, he’s done really well. He is also a talker/shouter and doesn’t seem to be afraid to give the defenders in front of him a real earful which is great to see. I’ve just heard the news that it seems Pepe is off for a season long loan to Napoli and I’m sorry to see him go but I think we’re in safe “hands” with Mignolet and he is another very good addition.

We can’t be as sure about the other two new additions Aspas and Alberto at this stage. Both of them have looked really good so far but the quality of the opposition they’ve faced hasn’t been great and I don’t think we will be sure about either of them until the real stuff begins in August. They both look very promising though, Aspas is like a hyena on acid constantly on the move and always hungry for the ball and Alberto seems like a classy player with a good range of passes and a good football brain to go with them.

As for the players from last season, it has been the youngsters who have been the stand out performers so far. I really like the look of young Poison Ibe. He is still very young but looks very promising. It will be difficult, particularly without European football, but I hope he gets some more game time next season because potentially I think this kid could be a future star.

Also good to see Sterling return with a bit of fire in his stomach. While he does tend to get a touch of Alzheimer’s when he’s on the ball and forgets to pass, he is still an exciting talent and next season could be a big year for him if he continues to progress and avoids injury. But the big star for me so far has been Couthino.

I’m not sure if it’s strictly legal for a man of my age to say such a thing, but I love this kid! Despite his tender years he is a wonderful footballer and a real joy to watch at times. To be honest, when we signed him back in January and I first got a look at him I thought he would be far too lightweight for the Premier League. I mean I’ve eaten burgers stacked taller than this lad and he looks like a stiff breeze would blow him over but looks have turned out to be very deceptive in this case.

The lad is a terrific player, he’s got everything, touch, vision, close control etc. He made a big impact as soon as he was brought into the side but for me he really came into his own when he was moved into the central role off the striker. From there he was on the ball a lot more and able to exert a greater influence then he could in the wide role where he would drift in and out of the game which tends to be the standard return you get from wide men.

Of course Tino is still a very young lad and his form may dip here and there but for my money when you have player like him in your side you get the ball to them as often as possible and let them make things happen and this would be most effective if he is playing centrally. Unfortunately I’ve no doubt he will become a marked man among some of the Premier League knuckle draggers but if he can survive the upcoming season without suffering too many serious knocks, he will be a massive player for us and a key part of any relative success we achieve.

My biggest regret about the pre-season so far is that Sturridge is sitting at home nursing an ankle injury and hopefully reading the Bumper Book of Non Cringe-worthy Goal Celebrations. Sturridge is going to be a really important player for us in the campaign ahead, particularly as Suarez’s future is at best uncertain, I see he has arrived in Australia (I thought we had stopped sending criminals there?). And there’s also Aspas who is unproven and Borini who couldn’t hit a blind donkey in the arse with a banjo!

Obviously we want to see goals coming from all areas of the team but if we are to make any progress on improving our league position we are going to need a 20+ league goals a season striker. Sturridge certainly fits the bill but it’s worrying that he is missing out on pre-season and his legs seem to be made of glass! We definitely need to make a signing in this area.

Rodgers has said there will be more “exciting” signings before the end of the transfer window, but 48 hours before the close of last summer’s transfer window Rodgers also stated that he was expecting us to sign another 2 or 3 players and we all know what happened then. Rodgers also recently said that Mignolet was brought in to compete with Reina, and of course Pepe is now on his way to Napoli. So you’ll forgive me if I don’t arrange any street parties on the basis of what Rodgers says.

Apologies if the rest of this blog appears to be a little negative but I lost my rose-tinted spectacles a long time ago and I’ve never been a big smoke and mirrors fan. What am I on about? Well to be honest I’m not sure but my spider senses are tingling and maybe I overdid it on the curry last night, but something doesn’t smell right. Over the years this is normally the time when I start really looking forward to the season ahead but right now I’m feeling as confused as a hungry baby in a topless bar!

Despite the fact that we finished 7th last season, I reckon if you did an honest assessment right now we would rate as the 6th best team in the Premier League. Credit is due for the fact that the club got some of its business done early but have the signings made so far really improved us? Toure and Mignolet are more or less direct replacements for Carra and Reina, but, perhaps significantly, they reduce the wage bill.

Aspas and Alberto are promising talents brought in relatively cheaply by today’s standards, if they make it great but if they don’t there is still an excellent chance the club will recover most of its outlay and perhaps make a decent profit. That seems like good business and there’s nothing wrong with that as far as it goes, but the fact is the club hasn’t actually spent any money so far. What has been spent on the incoming players has been more or less covered by the transfer fees of the outgoing players. Remember the smoke and mirrors I mentioned earlier?

But all of that is really good business if it plays out as Rodgers said recently that the early signings were to strengthen the squad, the next signings will be to strengthen the team. It is these “next signings” that are the most important in determining how serious the club is in challenging for a return to the top table of the Premier League, assuming of course that these “exciting signings” will materialize at all.

So far all we’ve heard about was that Armenian guy that we missed out on and to be honest I’ve got my doubts about how serious our attempt to sign him was. I mean it’s very easy to say you were going to pay the £20+ million asking price when he’s already gone elsewhere. Maybe I’m being a little too paranoid but I find it a little worrying that when the manager was asked about signings at the weekend he said there’s nothing close at the moment but there’s lots of work going on behind the scenes.

There’s nothing close yet? FFS we are halfway through pre-season and about 5 weeks away from the new season, what are they waiting for? Could it be they are waiting for the Suarez money? If Suarez stays, will we actually sign anybody else? Can I fit any more question marks into this paragraph?

I just wonder if we end up selling Suarez for say £50 million will the club then go out and spend about £30million, bank the rest and tell everyone what a great job they are doing backing the manager. It just seems a little suspicious to me that the club can go out and make such early signings which would clearly have required a lot of planning before the last season even finished and now we’ve had this large gap where nothing has happened, and the manager says there is nothing close. It almost seems like they haven’t actually planned on spending any money.

Of course all of these questions will no doubt be answered in the weeks ahead, but I’m a little worried. We need to spend money and bring in some quality if real progress is to be made this season. I’m not talking about players who come with the tagline, “prospect”, “potential” or “highly rated”, we’ve already got a squad full of those players.

I’m talking about players who have experience and have already proven themselves at a decent level. We need a blend of youth and experience, and we’ve certainly got the youth so it’s high time to start working on the experience part of the equation. If such players arrive in the weeks ahead we’ll be looking good but if not, then I’m afraid to say that it would appear the club’s owners are not interested in building an empire, they seem to be building a salmon farm!

Keep the Faith