Greetings my Liege, Robbie and “Nando” speak and Villa in denial?

So, we’ve drawn Standard Liege the Champions League qualifiers.

Besides being Ronnie Rosenthal’s old club, Liege were Belgium Champions last year, for the first time in twenty five years. Although nothing can ever be taken for granted surely, over two legs, we should be confident of victory? Should things really go pear shaped then the intrigue will be immense as the spotlight is bound to intensify on the owners provoking speculation about their ability to move the club on without the Champions League revenue?

Elsewhere there was some fall out from the Villarreal match mainly concerning our new strike force. Torres, who made his first appearance for us since Euro 2008, has obviously reflected on and enjoyed Spain’s victory but now appreciates the need to focus his attentions on the future.

“The European Championship is over. Now it is time to look ahead to different challenges with Liverpool. Its 19 years since we won the league – it’s time to end that wait now. I at least have to aim to equal last year’s figure (33 goals).”

Nice to see that the laurels look like being binned immediately. However in speaking about Robbie Keane, and a potential striking partnership, Torres was less forthcoming.

“Whether or not we are going to play two up front is down to Rafa, not me. When he signed Keane I imagine he had a clear idea of where he wanted to play him.”

Early days yet and with Rafa I guess you can never assume anything regarding line up or formation. Meanwhile the new boy himself reflected on this debut.

“I was delighted to get that game under my belt. I have been dreaming about that moment since I was a kid, can’t wait to play more with Stevie (Gerrard). He is world class and able to spot passes that maybe others don’t see. He created a chance for me which maybe I should have done a bit better with. We linked up well.”

Sadly Keane wasn’t able to pull on the red shirt. He had to make do with grey/silver. Why? Answers on post card to “Plug the new shirt cos it’s in the shops competition……” Or could it be because our all red really does clash with Villarreal’s all yellow?

With the signing of Keane more eyes are looking forward to the new season however, there is still the ugly business of the Barry affair which steadfastly refuses to leave us.

The latest chapter in this gristly and increasingly tedious tale sees Liverpool missing Villa’s self imposed and entirely arbitrary deadline by minutes because we were scrabbling for pennies down the back of the sofa! However, with Blackburn circling over Jermaine Pennant and other bits and bobs, ie. a spare million hiding in the biscuit tin (or should that be cookie jar?), it now seems we’ve raised enough cash. Deal done? Nope? Villa, increasingly a law unto themselves, decided to change the payment plan. As a result we ask for more time and miss the deadline. Is this the football equivalent of philibustering?

All this prompted Martin O’Neill to announce that everything is now is fine and dandy and that Barry is staying put. However, do Irishman speak with forked tongue? Reports suggest Liverpool and more significantly Barry himself are still crooning the Rick Astleys to each other ie: “never gonna give you up”. If Barry still wants to leave and we now have the cash surely O’Neill is pushed further and further back into a corner? Perhaps, by causing chaos and confusion with his announcements and holding out for as long as possible and then moving the goal posts (no pun intended) he is hoping that we will get fed up and drop it. However, even if we do he still has the problem of trying to win over a Gareth Barry whose head must surely be far from focused on playing for Villa! Surely no ultimatum or “deal is dead” announcements can solve that one?

Meanwhile The Guardian has instigated a survey to find the best footballer of last 50 years. Clue, it isn’t Torben Piechnik! They are also running extracts from a book they are plugging. It’s called “The Guardian Book of Football”, imaginative eh? I can’t remember which article relates to which, but here is one on Kenny Dalglish (click here) and another where John Barnes (click here) explains why he feels Ian Rush is the best centre forward of the last fifty years and therefore the best footballer. Debatable logic perhaps but heartwarming sentiments. If we were offered Rushie, and Dalglish, in their pomp now would we take them over Torres and Gerrard – discuss?

To the present and off to Kenny’s home town to face Rangers. With Rangers’ now involved in a vital Champions League qualifier next week I don’t know how serious this will be. Nonetheless I suspect we will see a capacity crowd and plenty of atmosphere where no doubt Robbie Keane, Captain of Ireland, will be afforded a special welcome by the home fans!

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