As if the Olympics weren’t enough many of our players will be on international duty tonight.
As I write Rafa’s traditional rant about the timing of these games hasn’t occurred. You can’t rely on anything these days! Many will say that with just one game of the Premiership season gone, he will have even more justification to vent his spleen than usual. However, in all honesty, when is a good time for these games? As we want to see our national side in the major tournaments, I guess there should be no complaints about players going away for qualifying matches. However, justifying a friendly at this stage of the season certainly requires some imaginative thinking?
On the subject of Beijing amidst all the hullabaloo over “Team GB” (whatever happened to “Great Britain”?) picking up a lot of medals, in “sitting down sports” that we only show an interest in every four years, Rafa will at least get two of his three “Olympians” back, maybe in time for Saturday’s game against Middlesbrough? I’ve not been following the football tournament but apparently Holland are out so Ryan Babel returns and Argentina are due to play Brazil (for all I know they have already done this) which therefore means either Lucas or Mascherano will be available again.
Good news for Rafa which is in contrast to his latest outburst over the Gareth Barry affair. God, how I wish it would go away! It’s been suggested that he even threatened to quit because he wasn’t getting his way over the issue. I can’t help thinking that Rafa is on not so solid ground as he was last winter over the Klinsmann affair. For a start many of those who supported him over this will not be so convinced that Barry represents value for money or justifies the selling of Xabi Alonso. Because of this will they see his alleged threat to quit as an overreaction?
The latest chapter in this saga also reminds us of the internal splits behind the scenes at Anfield. This time Rafa and Tom Hicks seem to be in one camp. Hicks has said money is available and clearly Rafa wants to spend it.
“I was talking to Tom Hicks and he told me we have the money. We are not that far apart. If we sell one or two players we have enough money to sign another good player”
George Gillett remains less than convinced and Rick Parry seems to be the man in the middle trying to get the deal done. Rafa clearly sees Parry as responsible for the delay in securing Barry’s services. This is the latest in a long running spat between the two where Rafa has taken issue with Parry’s involvement in transfer deals and accused him of being slow, or unable, to close down deals.
“We have to be quicker. I said this four years ago and I’m still thinking in those terms. That way we can save more money and sign the targets we want. In my opinion we aren’t doing all the things we need to do in terms of signing players.”
May be this has been the case in the past and clearly the team comes first, but surely everything has a limit? Surely there must be point, even allowing for Parry’s past and those who feel we should be unconditionally backing Rafa over improving the team, where we say “this one is a non starter because…..”. The Barry deal would seem to be at that stage. We’ve been at all summer for f**ks sake!
There is also the issue of whether Barry is needed when we have Alonso and when there is more convincing case of acquiring a winger such as Albert Riera, the latest rumour? Rafa has sited the need for a “left footer” and to up the quota of British players in his squad as justification for signing Barry. Yet this summer he was content to sell Crouch, and bring in players of Swiss, Italian, French and Irish nationality! I would also hope that, at £18m, Barry might have perfected the art of being able to kick with either foot!
Rafa’s additional assertion that the money is there surely isn’t the issue? It’s the fact that Barry is overpriced. Just because we have the money doesn’t necessarily mean we should spend it, regardless of whether or not it’s going to be well spent? I don’t want my club ripped off (as far as that’s possible in today’s transfer market) so sometimes you have accept that it’s not to be, move on and explore other options?
Rafa in the past has demonstrated a stubborn, bloody minded streak together with a habit of laying bare his frustrations in public. This is one of the reasons why we like him but it can also frustrate i.e. rotation. Last year his position and popularity amongst the fans was enhanced against a background of incompetence and skullduggery by the owners. However, this does not make him immortal or beyond criticism. When push comes to shove, most know what side of the owner/manager line their loyalties fall; it’s no contest! However that does not mean to say that if we disagree with Rafa we should be reluctant to say so.