So the squad has now landed in Bangkok for their Far East tour. The official website painted it like it was the second coming.
“After months of frenzied excitement, Liverpool’s fanatical supporters in Thailand are finally able to see their Kop idols in the flesh after Rafael Benitez and his squad arrived in Bangkok on Monday for the first leg of their Asian tour.”
“Frenzied excitement” and “fanatical fans” conjures up scenes of famous pop stars landing at airports to be greeting by crowds of screaming teenagers with the police holding them back and medics hauling people away who have fainted overcome with emotion. It’s hard to imagine the likes of Lucas, Dossena, Rafa and Sammy Lee copping the same adoring treatment!
I guess one has to question the wisdom of such a schedule? Playing Rapid Vienna on Sunday then on the plane for a ten hour trip to Bangkok for another game against Thailand tonight. Pre seasons tend to be rigorous affairs but normally that is confined to the fitness training squad have to go through to get themselves ready for the opening day. Now it seems the preparation includes arduous travelling? We aren’t the only club to be racking up the air miles. The Mancs are in Indonesia, City in South Africa and Chelsea in USA and this weekend Arsenal were… er in… Barnet! I remember when West Brom toured China in the 70s and it was so unusual that a documentary was made about it which prompted one player to comment on seeing the Great Wall of China. To say
“You’ve seen one wall, you’ve seen them all”
These days such long distance travelling is the norm especially since the Premiership became popular. If Liverpool has a following that is world wide then we should reward that support with appearances. However, there is always an underlying, less noble cause. It’s an undeniable fact that football is a worldwide business and that players are also there to help promote that. The Far East is a potentially lucrative market for the club, why else would they travel so far to play Thailand and then Singapore when they could in all honesty play harder, and therefore more beneficial, matches nearer to home?
One person who won’t be in the Far East is Steven Gerrard whose trial began yesterday. Let’s hope it is resolved quickly and fairly? Perhaps Rafa is relieved that he’s in Thailand so that questions about this aren’t asked. However this hasn’t stopped the press over there quizzing him on the future of Xabi Alonso. Although the player has travelled with the squad, noises from Xabi aren’t exactly comforting or encouraging.
“It is always a great feeling when Madrid want you, especially considering the phase of the career I am in now. But at this point, whether or not that can happen is not up to me. It’s a matter that involves three parties, including myself. I do not like to force the issue. I prefer to talk. Madrid’s project is certainly impressive.”
On the outcome Xabi said
“I am not the man who can answer these questions. The truth is that I cannot say much, because every little thing can be misinterpreted. And I do not know how things will turn out either because I am not a fortune teller.”
And sadly neither are we. No doubt he and Rafa will talk between games and tonights is on LFC TV, enjoy it if you have the channel.