My apologies for the last post about Gerrard and Hicks. I didn’t intend to publish it but pressed “publish” instead of “save draft” hence odd bit that did not make sense! By the time I realised this and tided it up it was well into Saturday!
So finally we have signed Javier Mascherano. This brings to an end a long and protracted story, which first began when he and his fellow Argentina Carlos Tevez were “signed” by West Ham. We then had the West Ham fine over registration irregularities and then Sheffield United’s appeal. Then Mascherano was used as a barometer to determine Benitez’s future. Would we sign him if Rafa was going to go? Did the owners have the money to sign him? It was of course Rafa’s attempts to seek reassurance about this signing that lead to the “quit talking” fall out.
In this light Rick Parry was keen to play up the deal with a bit of PR so dubious it makes the stuff about Prince Harry in Afghanistan look positively convincing …
“I think this signing demonstrates two things. Firstly, that life at the club goes on despite all of the speculation to the contrary. And secondly it demonstrates in very large measure the ongoing commitment of the owners who once again have come good when funds have been needed.”
May be so but “Klinsmanngate” has meant that the owners need to win over the fans. Letting Mascherano slip through our fingers was therefore not an option as it would heap more criticism on them? It wouldn’t necessarily raise questions about the owner’s ambition and commitment but where it lies, the team, or Hicks’ bank account?
Whatever the hype, PR, or background, I believe Mascherano’s signing represents good business especially as we are in the unusual position of signing a player who we know fits in and can do the business for us. Those who say that £17m plus is too much and try to support their argument by pointing to his lack of goals misunderstand Mas’s role in the team. Having a holding midfielder of his class, means that the likes of Gerrard are free to attack more. To shoehorn in a rather poor analogy in, he is John Paul Jones to Gerrard’s Jimmy Page and Torres’ Robert Plant, solid, dependable, often unnoticed but playing a vital part which allows the others the shine! As for £17m, two words, Owen Hargreaves!
Finally to today’s game – Bolton at The Reebok, the “Sultana” TV match kicking off at lunchtime. Sammy Lee tried to turn Bolton into something a bit more tasteful in terms of style but failed or ran out of time. The Bolton we play today, under the stewardship of Gary Megson, is more of a familiar beast although they have yet to scale the heights they did under Sam Allardyce.
We’ve not done well at the Reebok recently, our last win was in 2002. Despite their league position Bolton are still more than capable of beating us as their home game against the Mancs and those in Europe have proved. We have Jamie Carragher back from suspension and presumably ahem “fighting” fit so he will replace Arbeloa at centre back. Will this be the only change? Rafa has said it will be his strongest team from now on?
Yesterdays results didn’t go too badly for us with Man City and Villa (unluckily) getting draws. Everton play Portsmouth today so someone, and something, will have to give. Given this I guess a draw wouldn’t be disaster however, we need to press on in what is an important week. The much talked about fall back of a game in hand, against West Ham, is being played on Wednesday so by this time next week we will have a clearer picture about what our situation is and what we need to do.
Prediction? It all depends on what version of Bolton turns up; let’s hope it’s the team we thrashed at Anfield? However, it also depends on what mood we are in. Suffice to say this isn’t one for the fixed odds coupon! I’ll be confident and go for a narrow win 2-1.
Enjoy the game and if you are a mother and are reading this put your feet up!