Torres and Gerrard hold more than just playing cards and a Villa review.

Yesterday I happened to get a glimpse of The News of The World’s latest Liverpool “shock horror exclusive” report. This time it concerned the futures of Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard.

Apparently Torres will quit Liverpool if we don’t qualify for next seasons Champions League and has “sought assurances that the club can match his ambitions”. Equally we are also told that Steven Gerrard may, after the World Cup, also be tempted to move elsewhere.

Yes, nice one. Let’s get a headline with maximum impact and a scenario that’s predictable but “newsworthy” enough to sell! Whilst not denying that our current form is bound to attract this sort of idle, simplistic “lets slot peg A into hole B” speculation, are Gerrard and Torres, with barely half the season gone and fourth place and silverware still within the club’s grasp, suddenly going to chuck it and say they want out? Are they that fickle? To suggest so is to insult the professionalism of both players not to mention their loyalty and commitment to if not the club, which I believe still remains, but also Rafa and the rest of the squad?

I don’t invest too much short term faith in the report but let’s run with it. If, and I say if, Torres or Gerrard or both suggest they want out then we might see the whole house of cards the owners have erected, albeit on shaky foundations, come tumbling down regardless of the money they will receive? It would be the first tangible sign of the trouble the club is in and is bound to provoke a chain reaction, remember earlier this season Rafa said he would quit if the club sold Torres. How would Hicks and Gillett react if either player does go? What will they do? They can’t afford to keep them but equally can they afford to lose them? If Torres and Gerrard do go perhaps they will remembered for not only their contributions on the pitch but also for starting the processes that finally saw us getting rid of the owners? For every cloud….?

Anyway that is for the future and of more pressing immediate concern is Aston Villa at their place this evening. Looking at the weather one’s reminded of a Friday night evening league at Villa Park game I went to see in the 1980’s. It was freezing however we were rewarded with a Ian Rush hat trick in an emphatic 3-1 win (see the “yesteryear” page at the top of this blog or click here for report).

Things have changed since then and we go into this game as underdogs but perhaps it will suit us? Villa’s form, which until Sunday included a perfect record against top four, sees them heralded as one of a few clubs capable of taking our place in this so called “elite” group. However, I seem to remember they were in a similar position last year before injuries hit and the lack of strength in depth of their squad was exposed. As a result they fell away. No doubt Martin O’Neill was aware of this and has tried to redress the situation and he is certainly having none this Liverpool “underdog” stuff!

“They are capable because it’s Liverpool Football Club. Look at Arsenal now. Four weeks ago they were being written off for the title and now they are right bang in there. That’s what can happen with the top clubs.”

Other things in our favour. We’ve had an extra day to prepare. We played on Saturday Villa played on Sunday at the Emirates. In that game they lost Luke Young who is now suspended due to a needless bit of simulation. One also wonders what sort of impact the 3-0 defeat has had on the squad’s confidence? However for some this is not enough as seen in The Guardian

“They (Liverpool ) head to Aston Villa tomorrow heartened by three points against Wolves, the latest belligerent response to the doubters from Steven Gerrard and the advantage of an added day’s rest over Martin O’Neill’s team. A genuine turning point presents itself at Villa Park, yet Liverpool will depart as wary travellers.”

Prediction? Wary? Who knows however, I’ve feeling that this could genuinely be a good night for us. If we are to revive ourselves then a win against one of the so called forth spot rivals is a good place to start. Said Rafa

“They have belief and confidence but we must try to win and reduce the gap. If we can’t, we still know we have to keep going because it is a long race. We have been good in the second half in past seasons and we will have to be confident.”

To making the last game of the year a good one 2-0 and a hope that we move on the better things in 2010?

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