“Viva Liverpool” for Torres and Rafa, Jens fires a blank, coaching capers and Barry route clear?

It was nice to hear Fernando Torres’ tribute to Liverpool in the light of his Euro 2008 success.

“I would like to thank the staff and players at Liverpool for their support during Euro 2008 because it makes a real difference when you know you have the backing of the people of your club and because of this they share in our success…. I would like to thank Rafa and his staff because I have improved as a player thanks to them.”

He also found time to thank the supporters

“From the moment I first came to Liverpool I have been made to feel welcome and that is why I am able to enjoy my football so much. It is incredible because the Liverpool fans have given me so much support and I know that they have even been supporting Spain and this is something I will never forget and I thank everyone for that.”

Nice words and a refreshing change to recent stories about footballer’s mercenary and selfish disregard their clubs even though they have bought them on, given them a chance to shine, and as a result helped make them into the players they are today.

Torres’ success can only increase his confidence but it is incumbent on Rafa to maximise this for the benefit of the team. However, that is for next season and, understandably, he was intent on praising him and flying the flag for his homeland

“I am really pleased for him and the rest of the Spain squad. Everyone will know now why we are signing Spanish players! I am very proud, especially after he has been criticised from some journalists in Spain. Everyone remembers the Marcelino goal from 44 years ago, and the last final Spain were in was 24 years ago. Now people will talk about Torres in the same way.”

Naturally there will always be a degree of sour grapes or in this case “Sour Kraut”. The predictable source is Jens Lehmann who says that Torres is no Thierry Henry. One is tempted to say how very true and “thankfully” if Henry’s performances in this tournament are anything to go buy! However, although it is a fun diversion to compare and contrast different players it ultimately a pointless exercise. Torres is no Henry just as Al Pacino is no John Gielgood or David Bowie is no Cliff Richard!

As for Lehmann he doesn’t appear to have learnt his lesson. Perhaps if he’d kept comments like this to himself over the last few years he’d still be a respected member of the Arsenal squad instead of the loose cannon (no pun intended) he has become. Torres may be no Henry but at least he was good enough to flick the ball past Lehmann in Sunday night?

To others who still have future in the Premiership. Aston Villa have named their price for Gareth Barry. It is £18m and, in my opinion, too much. What we will make of this and whether we can knock Villa’s price down remains to be seen. At least we now know where we stand? To be honest I‘d rather see the rumours regarding David Silva or Robbie Keene become reality rather than persevere with this deal. I’ve nothing against Barry and, even though I think we shouldn’t sell Alonso, I can see the logic as to where he might fit in the team. However, I think we are paying over the odds and our priorities should lie elsewhere.

Meanwhile it would seem it’s welcome back to Maurico Pellegrino who looks like joining the coaching staff. He was probably best known not for his contribution on the pitch, he only played in a dozen or so games for us, but for recycling the Champions League losers’ medals discarded by the Milan players in Istanbul and handing them out to the Liverpool youngsters. Pellegrino was with Rafa at Valencia and now looks like returning to take up the coaching post I suspect he had earmarked him for all along. Said Rafa who clearly is in the mood for giving out compliments

“He is a winner. That is the most important thing. He is very, very competitive and has a very good mentality. When I first arrived at Valencia he was fantastic. He was always talking to the other defenders, organising them and offering advice to the younger players about the strikers they would be facing….We now have two former players on the backroom staff and that will be important”

Having worked for most of last season without back up it will be interesting to see if there are any significant changes in 2008-09 now we also have Sammy Lee on board.

Finally, best wishes to Anthony Le Tallec who left us 24 hours ago to join, appropriately given the time, Le Mans!

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