So that’s it for the team until we line up against Arsenal on 15th August. Can you believe it, a ten day gap before we play again and at this stage of the season?
The reason for this of course is that the FA/FIFA, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to inflict us with an international slot, in England’s case a game against Hungary. It’s ironic that only this week Premiership Chief Executive Peter Scudamore was refuting suggestions that the Premiership, with its large number of foreign players and demanding fixture list, was responsible for England’s poor performances in the World Cup! Yet here we are with this situation! He must be scratching his head?
Whatever the case would anyone really miss this game or, if it wasn’t there, demand it? I suspect the FA arrogantly and presumptuously welcomed it “lets slide one in before the start of the season as the crowds are bound to want to see their World Cup heroes” Little did they anticipate the abysmalness of their performance in South Africa? Sometimes I love it when a plan falls apart! Still may be the crowd will want to see them, if only to give them a different type of welcome that’s befitting of their efforts this summer?
Back at base I guess at least HRH can use the ten days to up fitness levels of those who are still with him? Presumably we will lose Gerrard, Johnson and Cole to England but of course Jamie Carragher has now retired, another come back and he’ll be well on course to becoming a footballing equivalent of Frank Sinatra! As far as I can ascertain we will be without others such as….. well I’d name them if I could be bothered to look up the other fixtures, that is the extent of my interest in Wednesday’s games!
The above notwithstanding I guess the main priority for us is to try and bring some new players into positions were we are lacking? Of course much of this might depend on whether we a: sell Mascherano, b: find anyone decent who is available and wants to play for us and, less likely, c: quickly stumble upon untold riches because of this alleged takeover by the Chinese, Syrians, Americans (no not them), or Kuwaitis or whoever! Will it be done in time, I doubt it?
The positions were we need to strengthen are fairly obvious to all. A new left back is required. Although Insua is still on the books I think, by being prepared to sell him to Fiorentina, HRH has made it clear that the Argentinean doesn’t feature in his plans even though the sale fell through. Fabio Aurelio has been resigned; a good, sensible move provided he manages to avoid the treatment table. Daniel Agger filled in this position in the first leg against Rabotnicki but one wonders, not for the first time, if he will be willing to make this a permanent arrangement and of course Jamie Carragher has also taken his turn. Martin Kelly pitched in yesterday with a helpful quote
“I feel comfortable on both feet so I’m just happy to get an opportunity anywhere across the back four”
So all in all it’s been “make do” for a quiet a while which might not be a bad thing especially if it means giving someone like Kelly a chance as he will be hungry to do well? Despite this HRH has been linked with bringing in Paul Konchesky from his old club plus others but as yet we’ve seem nothing concrete. I guess we can start the season by filling in but ideally we need some continuity, do we really want to go down the route of playing players out of position?
The other position, where we appear to be short is up front. For all his undoubted brilliantness Torres at present seems a tad injury prone and has in fact picked up knocks, or more long term serious ailments, every season since he’s been with us. Perhaps, in the light of this and his related World Cup performances, we have this to thank for him still being with us? Where there many clubs making offers this summer or were they prepared to wait to see how he faired after injury? Either way after the other night it should interesting to see how he links up with Joe Cole assuming the only time they do link isn’t just on the treatment table!
Even if Torres had the constitution of an ox and frame of brick outhouse we still need back up. The trail for Klaas-Jan Huntelaar appears to have gone cold which is slightly disappointing and there doesn’t appear to be anyone else lined up? Of course HRH may decide to make do with what he’s got? He can persevere with Dirk Kuyt or maybe even try to bring on Ngog or even Pacheco? Ngog has featured heavily pre season, mainly due to Torres’ and Kuyt’s absence, and one wonders if Hodgson will go with him for a while and hope he can pull off some kind of footballing alchemy as he did with Bobby Zamora when he was at Fulham?
Finally we’ve be paired with Trabzonspor in the next bit of the UEFA Cup! We play them at Anfield first on 19th August and then travel a mere 2,000 miles or so to Turkey to play them in the second leg a week later. Before the first leg we’ve Arsenal and in-between the two ties we’ve Manchester City away. Ho hum, bring it on!