Rafa’s Young love and “It means (one) nothing to me oh Vienna”

Rapid Vienna 1
Hofmann 57

Liverpool 0

It’s been a quiet couple of days regarding our transfer rumours however, just as you thought it was safe to open a paper, the Sunday Red tops through us a grenade!

If reports are true it would seem that Rafa is prepared to try do business with Martin O’Neill again. This time the subject of the friendly twosomes coming together is Ashley Young. You’ve got admire Rafa’s bloody-mindedness. O’Neill’s attitude over the Barry Affair last summer would have probably put many managers off from ever dealing with him again. However, up pops Rafa aka some film villain who you’d thought had been killed off for another episode of verbal’s with the admirable but slightly batty Irishman!

Villa have slapped a price of £30m on Young. Like their valuation of Barry last summer, is far far too much although no doubt O’Neill, for the purposes of our attempts to prise to player away, won’t admit this! Our bid if the reports are true, is nearer £20m which suggests there will be bit of debating to do between the two clubs (sigh, we’ve been here before) if Rafa is intent of pursuing Young!

All the signs point to Villa not wanting to, or having to, sell Young. Although they have signed Stuart Downing he will not be able to play until Christmas due to injury and, with Randy Learner as Chairman, do Villa really need to sell Young to balance their books? The other point is that even though the playing positions are different, what does Rafa’s reported bid suggest about the futures of Alonso or Mascherano? I guess we will know soon?

And so to Vienna and again another pre season game to get match practice and build up fitness. Like Wednesday this was another high key game – I seem to remember the first couple of pre season matches last season being played in front of two men and a dog! Not so tonight which was a full house flags, flares, green and silver shiney tin foil wrappy things and, to cap it all, Status Quo on the tannoy ! Even the venue was changed from Rapid’s 18,000 capacity home ground to the larger Ernest Happel stadium which holds 50,000 fans such was the demand for tickets. All this suggested the game meant more to the Austrians than us. The Rapid team were keener and more urgent in the tackle perhaps due to the occasion and because they are more advanced in terms of fitness, their season starts next week. We played as if we were treating the games as a workout, which, for all the Austrian’s enthusiasm and hype, it was.

Our first chance occurred when El Zhar fed Nemeth who didn’t the get contact right and fluffed it. However Rapid had the first chance of note a disallowed goal from Hoffer for offside event though he was on! Overall Rapid had more of the play and more of the chances without duly concerning us. The second half again saw Rafa making mass changes, nine of them. Vienna finally made the breakthrough after 57 minutes with Hofmann’s free kick which bounced in front of Gulacsi into the bottom left corner. Hoffer had another disallowed for off side with us very exposed at the back and Dirk Kuyt of all people tracking back. Kuyt then got up the other end of the field but only to hit the side netting with a wild shot. Benayoun then had an awkward chance in a good position but we never really looked like troubling the home side. And that was the top and tail of it

After the game Rafa, having praised the youngsters said

“The other positives were to play a lot of players we wanted to play – it is all part of our preparations. We needed match fitness and we changed the majority of the players after 45 minutes – that was the idea. In terms of what we wanted from the game, only the result was wrong.”

Agreed, not an inspiring performance no goals and ropey defending but again want can you expect when we basically fielded two sides. Hopefully better organisation and fitness will come as the team heads out east?

Liverpool: Cavalieri, Insua, Carragher, Sanchez Ayala, Degen, Babel, Gerrard (captain), Plessis, El Zhar, Nemeth, Voronin. Subs – Martin, Kelly, Ngog, Leiva, Pacheco, San Jose Dominguez, Kuyt, Mascherano, Benayoun, Spearing, Skrtel

Rapid Vienna: Payer, Katzer, Eder, Patocka, Dober, Drazan, Heikkinen, Pehlivan, Hofmann (captain), Hoffer, Jelavic. Subs – Kulovits, Maierhofer, Kayhan, Prokopic, Trimmel, Schrammel, Konrad, Schosswendter, Kavlak, Thonhofer, Hedl

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