Suarez, the exiting – phase two begins?

I guess the club knew they were going to have to deal with this issue sooner of later this summer and now that our man (and he is still our man – just?) has recovered from the Federations Cup, the issue of deciding Luis Suarez’s future begins again.

The next round of salvos have already been fired. Suarez’s agent has held talks with the club which were described as “positive” and “amicable”. What does this mean? The latter suggests they got on well and have a good working relationship however the former is surely only from the players parties view unless we have persuaded him to stay. Hardly given that reports still suggest Suarez still wants away!

Liverpool remain steadfast, insisting that Suarez is not for sale however, if he wants to go then surely this is an empty statement a statement as empty as Arsenal’s trophy cabinet in recent years. This is not a gibe at the London club merely a statement of fact and Suarez will surely be weighing up his chances of winning things at Ethe mirates compared to the Bernabéu, his preferred destination? What Arsenal can offer Suarez over us of course is Champions League football hence their bid of £30m which I suspect they knew would be turned down, reports suggest we holding out for around £45m – £50m.

One wonders if Arsenal’s offer was political part of manoeuvring against Real Madrid. Both clubs are currently in process of conducting, what seem to increasingly futile, negations over the sale of Gonzalo Higuain? Curiously, and perhaps significantly, Real Madrid have remained silent on Suarez who has stated that because of press treatment he would prefer a move away from England. Because of this a move to London hardly stacks up moreover if he was prepared to stay on these shores I suspect Arsenal’s offer would be easily trumped probably from a club to West of their ground or from another considerably nearer to Anfield than the Emirates? In short it’s a bit of a mess really! It would also be a stark reminder of the financial pecking order in this country and, if the move goes through, a poor reflection on the credibly of Suarez’s statements about his reasons for leaving.

Speaking on a Uruguayan Radio Station Suarez said

‘It’s good to know that I am still valued by teams like Arsenal. Friends call me up to ask if I am moving to Chelsea,’

Nice one Luis let’s just plant the seed of a possible Chelsea move. Am I being paranoid but the use of the words “still valued” suggests he is no longer valued. No doubt with many this might be true on personal level but of course this is utter nonsense when it comes to football. On the question of us we get

‘Don’t believe everything you read or hear! I am sometimes off the grid. I don’t even know where my phone is sometimes.”
ow Luis you certainly live on the edge!

‘There have been no offers yet but Liverpool know exactly what is going on and what I want.’

These sort of selfish, clumsy crafted statements are why I can’t see Suarez staying. Suarez is quick to praise the Liverpool fans but childishly cryptic over his future. If he had any respect why doesn’t he tell us what he wants, or just shut up until everything is decided. It’s also ironic that he is using the press, which he seems so intent of blaming for his current predicament, to finesse his end game.

Suarez tells us not to believe everything we read however, quotes are quotes and radio tapes and radio tapes. His talk may well have seen him paint himself into a corner. Even if he was persuaded to stay it is now by no means certain that he would be forgiven by those who were more than happy support him over the last few years when many outside this club were more than happy to feed him to the lions?

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Jonjo goes, Villa rumours and Mkhitaryan must wait?

I guess given the number of players we’ve signed in the last month then there would be one or two heading for the exit door?

Luis Suarez appeared to the first however, his international commitments, in the Federations Cup, and Real Madrid’s managerial changes have put that on hold, for now? As it is we, rather surprisingly perhaps, say goodbye to Jonjo Shelvey who joins Swansea for around £6m.

Shelvey was one of a few players rumoured to be heading for the exit door this summer and even if we hadn’t made the signings we’d made one wonders, with only 17 starts since he joined us from Charlton in 2010, what his Reds future would have been? Things looked set fair for him less than year ago when he was thought to be sufficiently good enough to represent England, admittedly against San Marino. I often wondered if Shelvey, was part of the clubs succession planning. Steven Gerrard, despite what might think, isn’t indestructible and isn’t getting any younger. Eventually he will need to step aside and I suppose Shelvey, along with Jordan Henderson, would be pencilled in as potential long term replacements. The best laid plans don’t always materialise especially if you get another manager who has other ideas and you don’t make sufficient progress, how long do give a player to prove themselves?. Both Henderson and Shelvey could, arguable fall into this latter category however, I can’t help wondering whether we should have shown Jonjo a bit more patience and approved a loan move to Swansea rather a permanent one?

Elsewhere things appear to be in a state of flux. As mentioned before nothing on Luis Suarez although I’ve read rumours about him going to Arsenal presumably a move to the secluded, rural backwater of London will enable him to achieve his stated desire to escape the attentions of the British press! In the meantime it’s business as usual and he’s been told to join us on the tour of the east (that’s Australia and Thailand not Norwich) once he’s recovered from the Federations Cup.

It’s been suggested that once Suarez goes and we get some money that we’ll pitch in for David Villa. I can’t believe this makes sense, I sometimes wonder if journalist concoct these stores just for a laugh. Why? Villa is old (in footballing terms) expensive (even though he’s got one year left on his contract) and, as result, has no sell on price he is also, probably as result of his advanced years, injury prone. All these attributes fly in the face of our stated buying and development policy and suggest, on the evidence of their past signings anyway, that he is ideally suited to Spurs the club he’s been most linked with him?

Meanwhile the tale of Henrikh Mkhitaryan (can’t spell it or pronounce it yet) takes another curious twist. Having seen Shakhtar value him at around £25m, in way that suggested they were holding him blind folded in darkened room until we coughed up, we told that he can move for £20m if he breaks his contract.

Said a man in dark glasses with a violin case

“If Mkhitaryan wants to terminate the contract, he must pay Shakhtar $30m and go to a club that he likes. If we go in a civilized manner and sell the player, and in doing so he does not break the contract, the value we place on him is 30million euros (£25.5m).”

The good news is that Mkhitaryan does want to come to us and will await our move. Shakhtar appear to be holding out for more but if the player wants to go, and to us, what can they do? It remains to be seen if we can cut through all the bullsh*t and achieve the desired outcome?

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Carroll’s curtain call, introducing our first Belgian and some young Spaniards but where’s Henrikh?

Quite a bit catching up to do since the last post so here goes.

So, we begin our 2013-14 campaign against Stoke. Christmas could be interesting with back to back matches against Chelsea and Manchester City and I guess all the new signings could have wanted a bit more time to settle before facing the Mancs, our third game of the season. However, I guess there’s not really a great deal to say about this as we will eventually have to play everyone? The dates are in the papers but, as ever, these will mean absolutely nothing once Sky and now BT get there hands on them and try and wring out the maximum viewing experience for the armchair fan whilst giving travelling fans the maximum inconvenience. Roll on that trip to Norwich for an 11 o’clock kick off!

Back at the ranch and it’s welcome to Liverpool for Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto and Simon Mignolet who were signed for £7m, £6.8m and £9m respectively. Clearly we are not messing around in the market “what’s the hurry” is not a phrase you’ll hear bandied around Anfield these days! This is good!

This piece has discussed Aspas before with the main conclusion being that he should be regarded as one for the future and hopefully an eventual, but not an immediate, replacement for Luis Suarez? Alberto remains more of an enigma and perhaps more of a gamble? Apparently he has been on our radar for some time, certainly before he went to Barcelona on loan, which suggests we’ve done our homework and are confident that he can be an asset for us? What is uncertain his experience in Spain, where he played mainly for Barcelona reserves in the Spanish second division, which perhaps suggests there is more work to do before he breaks into the first team. On the other hand I could, and probably am, be talking b*llocks! I think I said the same about Coutinho who made a great start and of course football is littered with young players who have made their mark before they’ve started shaving properly! Here’s hoping our new man can do the same?

Simon Mignolet is different prospect, he has experience. I was conveniently playing golf with a Sunderland season ticket holder last week who said the Belgian was easily their best player of the season, and was voted so by the fans, keeping a high proportion of clean sheets which belied the final position his club finished in. People knock Liverpool for going about their history but Mignolet made us aware of another milestone.

“Liverpool’s a big club. To be the first Belgian to play for Liverpool is a big thing. This is a big challenge for me but that’s what you want. You want to play in the big games, you want to play for a big club and to play with pressure.”

Other quotes I’ve read seem to suggest Mignolet is very level headed guy who, above all, is pleased to be with us, in short I like the cut of his jib!. I guess the next question is what will happen should Barcelona (or anyone else) fail take Jose Reina on? Competition for positions is healthy but, of all the places on the pitch, surely you need stability between the sticks?

The same question can be asked about the future of a number of our players in the light of our new signings. Rumours concerning Jonjo Shelvey and Stuart Downing’s positions are already circulating. Early last season BR suggested that he was less than happy with Downing hinting that he had talked to the player about his form and future and then, later on in the season, even floated the idea of him playing at full back. Nothing seemed to come of this and Downing’s form improved over the season although not to the extent that he should be regarded as a crucial, indispensible first team player?

Moving on and Andy Carroll’s short but newsworthy association with this club has come to an end with £15m deal that takes him to West Ham. Carroll, through no fault of his own, will always be known as the player Liverpool paid £35m for. Was he worth the money? No, at least on the form shown during his time with us. Would he have been worth the money had we preserved with him and given him a longer run in the side rather loaning out to Upton Park? Probably not. Would have been worth the money if say he’d stayed injury free and scored twenty to thirty goals for us in his first full season? Probably not, he’d need to do that over a longer period to really convince? Something’s however don’t change despite passing his medical Carroll has a heel problem!

I guess it is easy to forget the context which lead to the signing of Carroll? Torres had gone to Chelsea and we needed a replacement. We received £50m for him and Carroll at £35m, presumably was an expedient buy? Newcastle were given an offer they couldn’t refuse and Carroll, allegedly, was told he couldn’t refuse to go? The irony is that at the same time we signed Luis Suarez and had we known how he would have performed I wonder if we would have bothered signing Carroll at all! Much has been made of the wisdom behind the signing and who is responsible but I wonder if the lesson the club has learnt over the Carroll issue has dictated current transfer policy. A degree of prudence where logical, sensible deals and value for money are key. It this day and age who can argue with that?

Finally I guess the Carroll and possibly, if he goes, the Suarez money might mean we have the confidence to push further forward into the market? Will it go towards securing the services of Henrikh Mkhitaryan? Although Apas and Mignolet looked nailed on as signings I’m still not sure about our chances of securing Mkhitaryna’s services, all it takes is one better offer from a club that is playing in Europe and surely we are scuppered? As I write it appears Borussia Dortmund are fluttering their come to Champions League eyes at him?

To add to the mix Shakrtar Donnesk, Mkhitaryna’s current club, say he’s gone AWOL. The red tops have suggested it’s because he wants to play for us and he was supposedly seen in the UK earlier this week. It’s an intriguing an increasingly bizarre story. however I suppose it’s encouraging that he apparently wants to play for us. All we have to do now is find him?

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Mignolet is Reina replacement? Heard about Henrikh and Luis goes “soul” mining!

It is good that the club isn’t hanging around with their transfer business.

Having secured the services of Kolo Toure Iago Aspas now looks like being our second new boy to pull on the red shirt seemingly before other clubs have even tried to locate where their cheque books. The club said

“Liverpool have tonight agreed a deal in principle with Celta Vigo for striker Iago Aspas, subject to documentation being completed. Aspas can play through the middle or out wide and he could become Brendan Rodgers’ second signing of the summer transfer window following a deal for Kolo Touré.”

It’s not been rubber stamped yet however we appear to be all but there. It’s good that we are moving quickly in the market, we did the same with Daniel Sturridge in the last transfer window? I remember the days when negotiations seemed to take an age and, although the club would probably never admit to it, I suspect, as a result some players were snatched from under our noses by other clubs? I don’t know why we were so slow of course we’re not always going for the high standard of signings we’ve got in the past which I suspect means negotiations are easier but nonetheless it’s good that everyone quickly knows where they stand? I guess it’s also important for the player. Aspas will have most of the summer to acclimatize to England and our club. It is easy to forget that players are human. Moving abroad to new surroundings, particularly at such a young age, is not easy. Alberto, another young Spanish player we’ve been linked with may well face the same problem?

As ever the transfer situation develops by the day. Our reported interest in Sunderland’s Simon Mignolet suggests that we are resigned to losing Jose Reina, Barcelona looks the likely destination. I guess at 31 Jose might be looking at one last pay day and the last chance to play in (and win?) the Champions League? All this seems to depend on current Barca keeper Victor Valdés who is undecided on what he wants to do. Even if Valdes decides to move on will Barca go for Jose or will look to the future and go for someone younger? As for Mignolet, Sunderland want £10m. We have offered around £7m so it looks like we’ll get him for a compromise (around £8m – £9m?) which isn’t a bad result for a keeper who has good Premiership and international experience?

Leaving aside any cash we might get for Luis Suarez, the big signing on the horizon appears to be Shaktar Donetsk’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Fees of £20m – £22m have been mentioned. Steven Gerrard aside we’ve been short of goals from midfield. Mkhitaryan’s record suggests he might be able to fill this void and let’s hope Coutinho can also build on his impressive start and chip in with a few too? I can’t believe we won’t face competition for Mkhitaryan and one wonders if we’ll be able to attract him? Shaktar are in the Champions League, we aren’t even in Europe and surely there will be other clubs who will seek to tempt him away? Time for BR and Ian Ayre to brush up on the “big sell”?

Finally Luis has been at it again

“I’d give my soul in every match as I do every time I set foot on the pitch, be that for Uruguay, Ajax or Liverpool. I never hold anything back”

And on playing at Anfield

“It makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck to think about it… It is a big club on a global level, but we didn’t qualify for the Champions League nor did we fight for the Premier League, which is where the club has to be. And the club knows that I have suffered and struggled with what I have had in the Press.”

Perhaps if Luis had held back a few things he wouldn’t be talking in this way? If he carries on like this I suppose it will get to a point where his words have been become so numerous and damaging that he will have backed himself into a corner and made staying at Liverpool untenable? I don’t know if this is the intention, it certainly seems so. Me? I wish he’d just cut the cr*p and come out with it and say “ I love Liverpool, I’ll be sorry to leave but Real will offer me more money and Champions League football, it’s good opportunity for me professionally and personally so time to move on”

Then it would be a case, albeit an unpalatable one, of “understood, thanks and good luck. And don’t forget to take your seemingly endless supply of souls with you!”

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Conor’s call up, transfer dilemmas and Luis and Brendan, stop it, no more excuses!

It’s that time of year again, England have gone out of another international tournament in this case the under 21 European Championships in Israel. So off we go with mass, post mortem discussions about the state of the English game until something else more newsworthy comes along. Then the debate is shelved once more until the next time England go out of a tournament which presumably will be in Brazil next year assuming they qualify!

However for Reds fans there is good news on the international front. Congratulations to Conor Coady who has been named as England’s captain for the under 20 World Cup in Turkey. This caps a good year for our man as he made his debut for us at Fulham towards the end of last season. This tournament promises to be different from the last one. Apparently then over 50 players withdrew from the squad because it clashed with pre season. FIFA have changed the dates now but if anyone is looking for an excuse about why England go out of tournaments then they should look no further than this incident as a reason?

Back to base and BR has been waxing lyrical about the club summer transfer policy without, understandably, giving any clues about potential targets. I guess it’s a bit tangled for the club at present in addition to the uncertainty about Luis Suarez’s future there is also that of Andy Carroll who doesn’t appear keen to play ball in a proposed £15m move to West Ham? Presumably if, or when, these issues are finalised BR know how much he has to spend and, as a result, what quality of targets he can go for?

“We need one or two centre halves and I’m looking to bring 20 more goals into the team. So I’m also looking at another offensive player to give us a real threat on goal and another attacking midfield player. We definitely need to do that, especially if we’re going to put some young ones out on loan next season to gain experience. But it’s not easy when you can’t make mistakes. We want to keep the acceleration and pushing on so this is a very important window for us. We have to do our best to make it right because the players who need to come in have to be effective right from the off.”

All this looks good but it does sound a bit like an over enthusiastic kid’s Christmas wish list. The target of bringing twenty or more goals into the team seems stiff given the possible departure of Suarez however if BR was suggesting that the rest of the team need to score more then fine. Reading between the lines of this quote I sense that BR knows that the 2013-14 season is crunch time. The patience he has been afforded since he started will, in some quarters, begin to run out. Talk of players hitting the ground running is also fine in theory but all too often the reality of the situation is different?

BR also took time to look back over his first season with us and sadly his comments fall back onto the less than convincing arguments and excuses that have dogged his utterances since he joined.

“What we have shown in my first season is promise. There have been moments of disappointment and moments of delight but when I look at the reality of it we scored 47 goals the season before I arrived and this time got 71, and we hope to add to that amount. Defensively, for a team that was supposedly very strong last year, we only conceded three more goals so in terms of numbers and performance-wise then we have improved.”

There are lies, dammed lies, and statistics. Although we scored more goals and conceded three less the fact is we only finished one place higher than we did last season and didn’t reach any finals were as the season before we reached two and won of them. I also wish BR would stop harking on about the previous regime(s) as if they had just crawled out of the primeval footballing swamp and that, as a result, he has been left with a crock of sh*t. Some of Kenny’s signings were over expensive however, many of the players that ply their trade for BR were signed by him or previous managers, Luis Suarez for example. I am not anti BR and do not slavishly worship at the golden alter of Dalglish however, it simply does not wash for BR to try and buy time by suggesting he’s been left with the sh*tty end of the stick?

“I believe we will improve again and we have to because we want to sustain a challenge. I think we can do but it will be a tough ask because as we improve other clubs will have masses more money to improve also. But I believe we have built a real good base. It’s not my job to look for excuses…”

Well Brendon stop making them then. It is tiring and unnecessary. The fans will give you time if they see you are genuine and passionate. Just get on with it, stop trying to cover your tracks or constantly justify yourself at the expense of others!

Meanwhile Luis’s lamenting his lot again. In addition to being hard done by the media he, correctly, feels he’s been a victim of the FA’s lack of consistency. Re the ban for the Evra incident

“Without any proof they gave me an eight-match ban. But with (John) Terry, where they had proof, lip-readers, they gave him four. I’m South American and I think that’s the root of all of this.”

I sympathise with Suarez on this point but why on earth didn’t mention this when it happened instead of letting it fester inside him and dredging it up (conveniently?) when he wants a move? Doe he really feel this will make his move easier? Does he really think it will placate everyone?

He also gave us some indication as how all this has effected his family.

“About a week ago I was walking in a shopping centre near Manchester and three or four guys asked me for a photo. While we were posing for it my wife said to me: ‘Luis, get out of the photo.’ She noticed they were making biting gestures. I was with my wife and my daughter. Things like that get on your nerves. My wife was on the brink of tears and the blokes ran off laughing. You get tired of stuff like that.”

Again one is tempted to say “don’t bite players then” however the overriding thing that strikes me when hearing this tale is not “you poor thing, pack your bags and go to Spain with our blessing” but what the f*ck was Suarez doing shopping in Manchester! If you play with fire…….?

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Aspas gets closer but Skrtel to go as the case for a new defence builds?

By the time you read this Lago Aspas might be a Liverpool player. He underwent a medical yesterday and the club is in the process of finalising his deal, which will see £7m or so going into Celta Vigo’s coffers.

So, if he signs, where will Aspas fit in? It is no ones fault, the club should be commended for moving so quickly to get their man, but I think the timing of the signing is unfortunate. The prospect of Luis Suarez leaving looms large over the club and I guess many scribes, and fans, will make a direct comparison between Aspas and the Uruguayan and draw negative conclusions. This is unfair.

Aspas does not have the experience of Suarez, he hasn’t been capped for his country and hasn’t played at the top club level, Celta Vigo only just avoided relegation from La Liga last season. In that time Aspas scored twelve goals Suarez netted around thirty in all competitions. On these cold facts alone Aspas clearly shouldn’t be regarded as a direct replacement for Suarez but was that ever the intention?

Lets be positive. I think for some of the time last season Aspas also played in wider position which I guess makes the dozen goals he scored more impressive, especially as Celta Vigo were struggling? Swansea and Arsenal were also interested in him both clubs, particularly the latter, have good track records of unearthing and bringing along new young players form abroad. Aspas may follow suit and develop into something along the lines of Suarez in a few years and I guess that’s the hope behind the signing? However for his sake I believe we should play down the Suarez comparisons. Things will presumably ease in this area if Luis does go and Brendon Rogers uses whatever funds he gets from the deal to buy a more proven replacement? In the meantime for Aspas it’s surely a case of “work in progress” and, hopefully, “one to watch” rather than a likening to Luis?

If Suarez does go then the club will immediately know what is required of them, they will need to secure a replacement. A more tricky prospect is the defence. Jamie Carragher’s retirement has left a big hole if not in terms of play (his appearances were limited last season) then most certainly experience. A replacement is needed and I’m assuming Kolo Toure is designed to fill in for some of the gaps. I guess one of the key features in a defence is consistency and continuity. Of all the units on a football field the back four, plus the keeper, is the one that must have the best understanding. Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel, Carragher, Glen Johnson, and to a lesser degree Luis Enrique have been together a long time however, sometimes they concede goals which suggest they’ve only just been introduced to each other before the game!

Last season the errors seemed to be spread evenly across the back four however, regular readers of this nonsense (hello to both of you) will know my opinion on Glen Johnson and, in an ideal world, he would be first in my book to go. If Johnson isn’t going to play in midfield then he should not play for this club at all because as a defender …. well don’t get me started. However, of all the regulars it now looks as if Martin Skrtel will be first to go possibly to join Rafa at Napoli. At least Skrtel has been open and honest about the fact that he won’t be averse to a move describing last season as one of the worst he’s had. Sometimes I guess a move is best if only to freshen up things (Martin’s been with us for around five years), a new challenge and all that? Skrtel will be familiar with Rafa and his ways and also his mate, Marek Hamsik, plays there.

The departure of Skrtel will presumably increase the urgency for new blood, various young foreign players have been mentioned. Kyriakos Papadopoulos is one but Schalke appear to be asking for too much. Sporting Lisbon’s Tiago Ilori, at present, looks a more realistic prospect but, at first sight, I prefer to Ajax’s Toby Alderweireld who seems to have plenty of club and international experience and plays in country more suited to the Premiership style?

“England and Germany are the best leagues where I think I can take the next step, I have to go somewhere where I can play football a bit and where my style of play suits. On the other hand, I do not want to play for a team at the bottom of their league. I want to leave Ajax for a nice club, otherwise I’ll just stay in Amsterdam.”

Not quite bottom of league but hopefully not “nice”, on the field at least? We shall see, presumably it will be a case of (and may I be the first to get this one in) Toby or not Toby!

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Luis for Real but Tevez to fill the void?

Things appear to have gone a tad quiet on the Luis Suarez front. Perhaps it’s because the player is away on International duty one thing is for sure no news is certainly not good news?

I guess after Suarez has finished his matches with Uruguay (he scored last week against France) we will enter “phase two” of the saga. Already the battle lines have been drawn up.

Suarez says that it would be a good time for a change but he doesn’t know if he’s going or not. However, he’s been fluttering his eye lashes at Real Madrid suggesting it would be hard to turn down their advances.
The club has been more assertive

“Luis Suarez is not for sale. Neither Luis or his representatives have communicated these feelings directly to Liverpool. The club remains supportive of Luis and expect him to honour his contract. The club will not be making any further comment at this stage.”

One wonders just how much of a case of p*ssing into the wind this will prove to be? If Suarez wants to go then surely we can’t stop him? Leaving aside the arguments about player loyalty and honouring contracts, which change as quickly as the wind you are p*ssing in, if Suarez is unsettled and doesn’t want to play for the club then surely it is in the best interests of both parties that he should go? The thing Suarez appears to be trying to convince us is that this isn’t the case and that, in some bizarre way, he as no choice but to leave?

For Suarez to suggest he might leave because he has been persecuted by the media somehow doesn’t fully wash. The obvious argument is that if you want to stop the levels of media intrusion then don’t draw attention to yourself by getting embroiled in a race issue with a fellow professional and then go on to bite another one of them! Having done this I’m sure Suarez would have expected a degree of negative coverage and harassment, however, things wash over and I don’t really think Suarez is constant headline news. Even after the Evra affair things were beginning to get better for him as his play shone however he then shot himself in the foot by biting someone else on the arm!

For Suarez to say it would be hard to say no to Real Madrid is disappointing but, I guess, understandable. Real can offer Suarez more on and off the pitch than we can, we all know that so lets not pretend otherwise. Many will say he owes Liverpool because they stood by him over his various misdemeanours, another season perhaps? However, the loyalty card is only played when circumstances suit and it can easily be withdrawn for the same reason. It’s nice to say that the club stood by Suarez over Evra however, I wonder just how much of this related to the £22m (Suarez’s transfer fee) they would have stood to lose if they’d dumped him? Moreover Suarez was clearly upset at the outcome of the FA verdict however, rather than back him to take it further the club advised him to take his medicine and move on leaving Kenny to field the brickbats.

Hopefully I won’t need to write Suarez’s leaving obituary”. I hope he will stay, fruitcake antics and all! However, enviably reports about replacements are already merging. There are many but the one that intrigues the most is the possibility of Carlos Tevez coming our way.

Like Suarez Tevez is seemingly never too far away from controversy, on and off the pitch (how is the fence painting coming on Carlos?) however his goal scoring record speaks for itself. The player has a year left on his contract so shouldn’t cost too much however, what puzzles me is what Tevez sees in us. I know we are a great club however, look at it from his point of view. We can’t offer European football, Man City can and even they don’t want to there will be plenty of other clubs in Europe that will be more than willing to do so? There is also the issue of the 29 year old Tevez’s reported salary of £200k a week. This doesn’t seem to fit in with the recruitment noises the owners have made in the past about age and salary, exceptions can be made but….?

I guess the only thing in our favour is, like Manchester, we are in the North West so he won’t have too far to travel however remember this is the Carlos Tevez that toyed with a move to Spain and Italy so he could be nearer to his family … in Argentina!!!!

Does all this add up? No. Which means it will probably happen?

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Luis Suarez a Real deal and Iago to go .. to us?

Well did anyone think it wouldn’t happen? Surely during the cause of this summer there would be some speculation regarding the future of Luis Suarez even though he has gone on record as saying that he intends to stay at Anfield?

That assurance of course was given before the biting incident which now sees him serving out a ten match ban and being subject to yet more bad press. Add to this the Evra incident, our absence from European competition of any sort, and you could argue that that’s not an earth shattering revelation to discover there is talk of a Suarez move, there is only so much a man can take?

Not surprisingly given a player of Suarez’s quality the calling appears to be from Spain, well actually it doesn’t appear to be calling just Luis saying that if Real Madrid did come calling it would be hard to refuse. This is the same Real Madrid who Gareth Bale, despite stating he would also be a this club next season, would find hard to turn down!

Speaking on Uruguayan radio Suarez said

“I’ve talked to my agent, there’s nothing concrete. To say no to Madrid would always be difficult and more so with the team they have. I have a contract with Liverpool, but it would be very difficult to say no to Real Madrid”

Suarez wouldn’t be the first player we’ve had to let go to Real, sadly it is reality, the footballing food chain and I guess over the years we’ve fallen down it. A hefty wage, Champions League football and presumably a less intrusive (more tolerant?) press tick all the boxes in terms securing Suarez’s future, advancing his footballing career and his work lifestyle. On the latter point Suarez was pretty forthright….

“My family have suffered and things have gone beyond the limits. I am tired of it. My daughter and my wife have suffered. I’m not prepared to continue suffering at the hands of the English journalists. I suffered a lot as a kid to get where I am just to be attacked unfairly by the English press. They haven’t appreciated me as a player. They’ve just judged my attitude.”

Many will feel Suarez has bought all this on himself with his conduct, the Evra, incident, the biting, the diving etc However, did all this warrant the frenzied press reaction? There are arguments on both sides and some fans would even say he should leave because of what they think he has done to the reputation of the club. Whatever the case I guess this is irrelevant in this instance even if Suarez’s reputation was such that people showered him with scented rose petals every time he appeared Real would be interested because he is good player and Suarez in Real given what the club can offer him over us? Will Real have the desire and bottle to see it through …. moreover will Suarez be able to resist them? I guess as ever during the summer, it’s a case of wait and see?

Elsewhere and some mixed news on the striking front. Daniel Sturridge played the other night for England against Ireland and set up Fat Franks’ equaliser but then departed with what looked like a pretty serious injury. Suggestions are that it’s ankle ligament damage but everyone seems to be coy over how serious from talking about a minor injury on Thursday yesterday there are now stories about Sturridge missing the start of the season?

If Sturridge is injured and Suarez does go we appear to have a replacement already lined up in the form of Celta Vigo’s Iago Aspas. The details are in the region of £8m which is a few million shy of the fee we paid for Fabio Borini last year. Perhaps it’s unfair given the injuries he has experienced but Apsa looks more of a prospect than Borini? He is 25 years old and has scored a dozen goals for Vigo this season. He is also versatile being able to operate as a first or second striker or wide. This appears to tick all the boxes for the sort of player we are after however, as ever, it is something of a gamble. BR has “struck lucky” with Coutinho and Sturridge, let’s hope, if the deal materialises, he makes it three.

If Suarez does go then presumably Borini and Aspas will have increased opportunities to establish themselves in the team. However, one supposes that BR will also have all or sizable chunk of the Suarez funds to spend? Perhaps this is why Schalke have now suggested that Kyriakos Papadopoulos is worth around £10m more than the £12m we appear to be willing to offer. I know money is an issue with anything Greek at the moment however as this is young player who has just recovered from a knee injury three words spring to mind “p*ss”, “the” and “taking”!

There is also the issue of Jose Reina who has said it would “be difficult to say no to Barca although

“I am not aware they are interested in me”

Hmmm I would find it difficult to say no to Gemma Arterton although I’m not aware she is interested in me (actually I’m dammed sure she isn’t) or has even heard of me? I sense a trend here it looks like being the summer of where players, or specifically their agents, will be finding it “hard” or “difficult” to say “no” and saying so. The words may change but the sentiment, and the strategy, never does?

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The night a Red Gayle blew through Munich!

Liverpool v Bayern Munich European Cup semi Final 1981.

As we, and all the other English clubs, are sitting at home this weekend watching the Germans invade Wembley for the Champions League final perhaps it’s an opportune moment to remember another classic “Red’s in Europe” tie – our game in 1981 against one of this Saturday’s Champions league final participants, Bayern Munich

For me Bayern Munich were the foreign team, in the early to mid seventies They had a certain coolness, and a ruthless efficiency about them Franz Beckenbaar personified the former whilst Gerd Muller “der Bomber” the latter. Muller scored 365 goals in 427 league games with Bayern Munich and 68 goals in 62 games for West Germany, no one can argue with that? Beckenbaar was simply an awesome player and my admiration increased when my parents bought me my first pair of screw in football studs “Adidas Beckenbaar” with the lime green stripes. Of course you would immediately take out the plastic studs and replace them with metal ones!

In this period Bayern won the European Cup three times in row (1974, 1975 and 1976) they also had a cool stadium, the old Olympic Stadium (Olympiastadion) in Munich and a kit – red Adidas compared to our red Umbro! I was desperate for us to play them but, apart from a Fairs Cup tie in the early seventies we kept avoiding them until the 1981 European Cup semi final.

By then Beckenbaar and Muller had gone however, they now had Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and, from the old guard, Paul Breitner. On the way to the semi final we had overcome Oulu Palloseura, Aberdeen, CSKA Sofia in the earlier rounds That’s six games to get to the semi finals which is now the amount you play now to get out of the Champions League group stages more if you’ve had to play in a qualifying round!

My only memory of these games was the 10-1 hammering of Oulu at Anfield, in which Graeme Souness and Terry McDermott both got hat tricks, and the Aberdeen tie at their place. McDermott scored the only goal of this game with a lob cum chip over the keeper from a very tight angle. My other memory is that my mate’s dad, who was working in Bootle at the time, had his car stolen the day before that match. The police eventually recovered the abandoned vehicle – in Aberdeen!

The first leg, at Anfield, was in many ways a warm up to second leg at the Olympiastadion in Munich. Bayern Munich managed a 0-0 draw at Anfield. Reports at the time attached great significance to absence of Graeme Souness which hindered our penetration and allowed Bayern to push up more. I guess for many reds the writing was well and truly on the wall. How would Liverpool be able to get the result in Munich, had we missed our chance? Then, before a ball had been kicked, the Germans well and truly shot themselves in the foot!

Sport is littered with instances of arrogance from individuals or teams assuming that all they need to do is to turn up to get a result. This is fair enough if this is kept “within house” however it can stray into troubled waters when you leak it and allow it to wind up the opposition. In this case Bayern Munich did just that I guess they fell into the fatal trap of not treating us with respect? After the first leg Breitner described our tactics as “unintelligent” and “lacking imagination”. It seemed that the German club as whole assumed progress to the final in Paris was a given, they even handed out leaflets giving directions to the Parcs Princes, the final venue. Bob Paisley had a problems with injures to Phil Thompson and Alan Kennedy, however surely this was all he needed to galvanise his team, this sort of behaviour should have been motivation enough?

On The Liverpool Echo website there’s an interview with Richard Money who, in for Alan Kennedy played in that game. He said

“I have never been in a dressing room that was more determined to get a result than that one. It was quite something to see people like Alan Hansen, Graeme Souness and Ray Kennedy so fired up. Nor do I think that anyone in that dressing room in Munich had any doubt we were going to get the result we needed.”

At the time Kenny Dalglish was central to the fortunes of the team. Ever pragmatic the Germans set about him right from the start causing him to be substituted after an only few minutes because of an injured ankle. I guess the Germans felt smug that they had “taken out” one of key players however again they had messed up because it was his withdrawal that had a decisive influence on the game…. enter, off the bench, Howard Gayle.

No doubt when the Germans prepared for this match they probably thought Liverpool would adopt their usual patient “away in Europe” tactics keeping the ball and biding their time for an opening. However, they didn’t reckon with Howard Gayle who did exactly the opposition by tearing into them. They just couldn’t handle his direct approach which involved running at them with the ball at full pelt. In the end they just resorted to desperate measures i.e. kicking and fouling. In one instance there was clear penalty David Johnson put Gayle through on goal with along ball and he was felled by a Dremmler “tackle”. The challenge went right across his legs with the ball no where, in today’s game it would have been a sure fire penalty however then the referee remained unmoved.

Understandably all this “attention” got to Gaye and he was later booked for retaliation. Eventually, after an hour or so, Bob Paisley decided to take him off – “subbing the sub” and bring on Jimmy Case. The reasoning at the time was that we didn’t want Gayle to be sent off however others, including Gayle I think, saw it as a lack of confidence in the player’s ability to kept his cool under provocation?

Eventually, Ray Kennedy edged us into the lead picking up Johnson’s cross on the edge of the area, chesting it down and, on the half volley, firing it hard, low and straight past Junghans in the Bayern goal. Bayern, via Rummenigge, did equalise however it was to late. Because of the away goals rule Bayern needed another to progress and simply ran out of time giving us an unlikely and memorable victory

Above all the game will be remembered for Gayle’s contribution which was significant. Beside the fact he was a subbed sub perhaps it is more remembered as he became the first black player to play for Liverpool and that he was a local lad, born in Toxteth and at, 19 years of age, showed no nervousness as went for the opposition?

The following Saturday Gayle started for us at Spurs and scored his only first team goal for us in a 1-1 draw. Bayern would have to wait twenty five years before they won the European Cup but Liverpool went on from Munich to the final in Paris to secure their third when Alan Kennedy struck late to get the only goal of the game. Howard Gayle was also there, on the bench, and therefore received a winners medal as a none playing substitute.

Semi Final 1st Leg – April 11th 1981
Liverpool 0 Bayern Munich 0

Liverpool: Clemence, Neal, A.Kennedy, Thompson, R.Kennedy, Hansen, Dalglish, Lee, Rush, McDermott (Heighway 46), Case Subs:: Ogrizovic, Irwin, Money, Whelan

Bayern Munich: Junghans, Augenthaler, Horsmann, Weiner, Breitner, Dremmler, Dürnberger, Kraus, Niedermayer, Hoeness, Rummenigge

Att : 44,543

Semi Final 2nd Leg – April 22nd 1981
Bayern Munich 1 Liverpool 1

0-1 R Kennedy (83), 1-1 Rummenigge (88)

Liverpool: Clemence, Neal, Money, Irwin, R.Kennedy, Hansen, Dalglish (Gayle 9, Case 70), Lee, Johnson, McDermott, Souness Subs: Ogrizovic, Rush, Cohen

Bayern Munich: Junghans, Augenthaler, Horsmann, Weiner, Breitner, Dremmler, Dürnberger, Kraus, Del’Haye, Hoeness, Rummenigge

Att 77,600

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The kit’s sh*t, Carroll’s end, Toure talk, and signing a long Greek name?

I suspect that the trophies presented at the end of the season have yet to experience their first application of silver polish however, already there is transfer talk in the air.

Whatever Liverpool’s out or inflows the future of Andy Carroll was always going to be the one thing that was decided once and for all during this break. So the recent news that fee had been agreed with West Ham is no surprise?

Many have already seen fit to question the wisdom of Brendon Rogers in letting Carroll go however one wonders just how much his hands were tied? True I suspect that in an ideal world BR wouldn’t be the sort of manager to sign a player in the style of Carroll however, he “inherited” him and was presumably betwixt and between when he was loaned out last September to Upton Park? On one side he had been “deprived” of the services of a striker who didn’t fit not his style of play and FSG, ever conscious of the purse strings, were also happy as his salary was being paid. However, as we know, this left us woefully short of striking power until the signing of Daniel Sturridge in January. A reckless, foolhardy decision which we were lucky to get away with due the continued fitness of Luis Suarez?

The reported sum of £15m (plus add ons) we will receive is clearly way short of the £35m we paid for Carroll however, it is FSG and not BR that should take the blame and the hit is not in the pockets I suspect but in the area of the body that lies between them! It must be a painful financial lesson learnt which I suspect, budget and transfer policy wise, the club is “reaping” the consequences of now?

I suspect there is a feeling amongst many reds that we should have persevered with Carroll particularly because of BR’s apparent lack of a “credible plan B” to his preferred style of play. I believe BR has no firm plan B or no real plan C, and plan D is just a distant ship smoke on the horizon, however, that does not necessarily mean Carroll is the answer to this. When you look back over his time with us, and strip out the injuries, his performances, although not necessarily bad, certainly didn’t seem to justify the £35m fee. I wonder just how much, with Torres gone, desperation there was in our offer? Whatever the case there is no getting away from it, we overpaid big style and even if Carroll was on top form, we’d probably have no chance of getting it back? Moreover I would wager good money that he will be back to haunt us in some way or another next season?

Elsewhere it looks like BR might get the “man” he seemed to think we are so short of, particularly in defence. I don’t know if Kolo Toure smokes a pipe, rips up trees, shaves with a cut throat razor, takes cold baths and talks with a deep voice however, at 32 years old he is certainly not a kid! Toure is, I guess, seen as a replacement to the experience of Jamie Carragher but does that mean he has to be as old! Of course this is nonsense Toure is Toure and Carragher is Carragher they have, and will, bring different things to the side, on and off the field.

Toure’s contract is up this summer meaning he’ll be on a free transfer which gives us an fair indication about his involvement at Manchester City recently and why we are probably interested in him! However, I guess we should look at this in context. Perhaps Toure will bookend nicely with our other defensive target, Schalke’s Kyriakos Papadopoulos who is 21 years old and highly rated. Papadopoulos, despite his few years, has been around for a while having played in the Champions League and also attracted interest from AC Milan. I guess he is just the sort of player the frugal folks at Anfield would be willing to spend their money on?

Perhaps Papadopoulos has been bought so the owners can make an killing on names to be printed on the back of their new shirts, it’s a hell of a lot of letters! The new home shirt was paraded at Sunday’s game it’s roughly the same as the one before with a little bit of white on the collar. Warrior say it harks back to the design we wore in Rome when we beat Roma in the 1984 European Cup final. It is nothing like it!

I assumed that Warrior were issuing this so that they would be able to change the away kits next season keeping the home kit for two seasons before changing it again. This seems to be the norm for most clubs, changing home and away kits in alternative seasons? However, Warrior have also bought out new second and third kits! We live austere times so I hope the fans will protest against Warrior’s commercial greediness by not buying these garish products, it shouldn’t be too hard, both look absolutely awful!

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