December is looming so up and down the land kids will be compiling their Christmas lists. If you’ve kids like mine the list has been on the go since summer! Likewise with the January transfer window looming managers will be doing the same with players. As always part of these lists, be they real or the subject of newspaper imagination, have a habit of becoming public.
For us the first rumour to poke it’s head over the parapet concerns Carlton Cole. Of course one should take this with a pinch of salt however I guess there is a strong case for us needing a second top class striker to compliment Torres and/or shoulder the burden if he’s injured? On the West Ham side rumours about their financial situation suggest that they might have to sell? Cole is also English, we have too many foreign nationals in our side which will see us fall foul of UEFA’s barmy home grown quotas rule. Add all this together and you’ve a plausible story? Not really in my opinion, it could apply to a number of players and clubs, but I’ll press on anyway!
When I learnt that we might be interested in signing Cole my heart sank. As mentioned before I think there is a genuine case to be made for another striker at Anfield, however does Cole really fit the bill? More than anything I think we really to be really picky with this one. We need an experienced, recognised top flight, top class striker someone who has been there, done it and got the T shirt in fact a whole “wardrobe” full of them! Someone who can guarantee us at least 15-20 goals a season?
No disrespect to Cole but he simply doesn’t fit these categories, by any stretch of the imagination. Yes, he has broken into the England squad and yes his performances with West Ham have improved. However, there is no demonstrable record of consistent goal scoring going back over the years he has been in the game. He is 26, the goal scoring record should be better? Yes he was, understandably due to his youth and the experience of other players, well down the pecking order at Chelsea and, as a result, was shunted out on loan to Wolves Aston Villa and Charlton but even then the goals didn’t flow. Despite his age and recent form I suspect many would refer to Rafa’s oft used quote to describe Cole “He is still learning”. At 26 years I wouldn’t really expect Cole to be in that category, mind you Rafa still uses this phrase to describe Torres!
If we are in the market for a striker why go for someone with Coles experience and record? Why not save the ten million plus we would probably have to pay and concentrate on nurturing Ngog? There is little difference – both are“still learning”. On another day at another time perhaps Cole might have been suitable however, we have a specific striking need at the moment and he is wrong striker for us at the wrong time? If Rafa and the club are interested, they should think again.
Back to L4 and I was thinking yesterday when was the last time we had such a crop of injuries? I seem to remember it was during the days of Graeme Souness. Then, low and behold, up pops Ian Rush in The Echo with this
“There was a spell during my playing days when we suffered a spate of Achilles tendon problems but that was down to the training methods employed by Graeme Souness.”
Yes! I’m not going to seed! On paper at least we had, a one stage under Souness, what looked to be decent first team. Sadly we never really found out as most of the time they were on the treatment table!
I can’t believe the current list of casualties is caused by changes to our training methods, and treatment is more scientific and sophisticated now. However, the run of bad luck doesn’t stop. Glen Johnson, who I thought played very well on Monday, and Daniel Agger have withdrawn from their respective international squads. Reading between the lines the injuries do not look too serious and add this to the withdrawals of Torres and Gerrard then hopefully we will see a stronger squad emerge from the other side of the break once some rest and recuperation has been taken?
Less encouraging is the news surrounding Albert Riera and Yossi Benayoun who` both went off injured on Monday. Both look like being out for a month. However, this hadn’t stopped Riera issuing what he sees as a rallying call.
As rallying calls go it’s not exactly a hairs on the back of the neck humdinger however, Albert’s heart is in the right place. For example he calls us “untidy” I think that’s more to do with our organisation rather tucking our shirts in shorts and parting hair! He also suggested that the current run could be affecting us mentally. Given the flack that’s been flying our way perhaps there is something in it? No doubt experienced hardened pros such as Gerrard and Carragher will have views on this and I guess it is up to them, Rafa and the other senior players to ensure that confidence remains high. Also, in this respect, no one can complain about the crowd on Monday, they were right behind the players. No slight on Riera but perhaps Glen Johnson’s approach is best?
“If someone had told you at the start of the season that we’d win one in nine you’d have laughed your head off. But things like this happen in football. You stick together and keep fighting.”
And ultimately that is all you can do until things get better, and they will.