Footy’s back, Agger’s back, it must be Tranmere!

David Mitchell, of Peep Show fame, wrote an interesting article in Saturday’s Guardian (click here for full article) in which he, besides saying that he doesn’t really like football, questioned our fixation with the game even when it’s the close season.

“. So-and-so is reported to be meeting what’s-his-name about a new job. AN Other is in talks with thingummy about a move down south. I mean, what’s next? Reports on clubs’ heating bills? In-depth analysis of a damp problem in one of the stands at Anfield? Even for football-lovers, those who don’t find the game dull and alienating, this transfer guff must still be pretty boring. So why is it so avidly read?”

Why? Well why not? It’s better than watching Big Brother, Wimbledon, Grand Prix Racing, The Olympics or reading Heat Magazine! It’s because it’s all we have. In this barren period where tennis, cricket and golf rule. News of heating bills and damp problems would be infinitely more preferable than these! However, enough of this as the footy was back yesterday with a friendly at Tranmere. No need to sift through the papers for our fix!

Friendly games are not always an indication of the season to come. Other issues such as getting players fit, giving youngsters experience and trying out different things tactically, are probably just as important as the result. Rafa fielded a good mix of youth (Hobbs, Darby, Plessis, Pacheco) and experience (Carragher, Lucas, Pennant and Benayoun). However perhaps the most interesting, and welcome, sight was the return of Daniel Agger from injury who played for a good seventy five minutes or so.

Pahecco had an impressive game looking confident and at home in surroundings he probably isn’t used to. Yossi Benayuon got the only goal of the game placing a looping shot from the left hand corner of the penalty area into the far right hand corner. He keeper had no chance.

In the second half we saw more youngsters such as Spearing and Flynn and got our first look at the new signings of Degen, at full back, and Cavalieri, in goal, the latter starting his career well arriving on the pitch late in a state of disarray like he’d just got off the plane or missed the first half as he thought the game was at Anfield! Fabio Aurelio was also back after his injury. Gerrard and Voronin came on after the hour.

I’m not sure if Degen will start in the first team but it was interesting that we played three in the centre to allow him to go forward which he did fairly often. Cavalieri did nothing but it wasn’t his fault!

What can you say about the game? A more comfortable win than the result suggested however, it was a friendly so it was hardly rip roaring, “up and at ‘em” stuff. Nonetheless a good work out easing ourselves slowly back into the way of things.

Above all it was nice to see a game. It’s been a long, long two weeks since Euro 2008!

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