A bit of catch up today due to the holiday.
Thursdays result was a good one and, if truth be told, slightly unexpected given the weakened side and Tabzonapor’s performance in the first leg.
I didn’t see the game, it was hard enough trying to find a pub with Sky let alone ESPN, but listened on the radio and thought the writing was well and truly on the wall when they went 1-0 up. However after Jose Reina’s fumble against Arsenal, Joe Cole’s penalty miss the following game and then hitting the post a couple of times last Monday perhaps we were due to some luck with Kacar slicing Glen Johnson’s cross into his own net? Thankfully a tiring extra thirty minutes was avoided as Dirk finished it off in the dying minutes
Napoli, Steaua Bucurest, and Utrecht, our opponents in the group stages, according to those whose know seeming represent a tough challenge for us. I can’t say I know too much about the recent form of any of them and still wonder if HRH will adopt the same policy of sending out a less than full strengthen side. The attitude of this writer at present is if we progress then great if we foul up then it’s not the end of the world.
Dirk’s winner in the dying minutes was a decider not only in terms of the game but also signifying his announcement after the game that he is staying with us. I guess at his age one can’t blame him for looking at the offer Inter had made, it could be his last big pay day. However he has opted to stay with us which we should enable us to take heart.
“My future is at Liverpool, I have had four great years at the club. Unfortunately I have not won any trophies but hopefully I will do in the future. The point for me was that I’m 30 years old and I wanted to know if any club in the world showed any interest in me. The club spoke to me and explained everything. They said I was really important for Liverpool and that made me a really proud person. At that point I focused my thoughts on Liverpool.”
One person who didn’t turn out for us on Thursday was Javier Mascherano. For a while it looked as if things were going to turn ugly between player and club with HRH caling him “selfish”. Thankfully as I write that seems to have been nipped in the bud and agreement has been reached with Barcelona. The price is £17.5m around what we paid for him originally however there are add ons which should hopefully take us nearer to our valuation of £20m.
Even though it has been coming for some time, it will be a real wrench to lose a player of Mascherano’s talent. Along with Torres, Alonso and Reina he was one of Rafa’s best signings and to my mind was simply the best of his type in his game. He didn’t score goals (in fact he was cr*p in front of goal) or make stunning saves but his contribution to the side was just as valuable. Tenacious tough and passionate which are all signs that endeared himself to the fans. He was almost a through back to the non nonsense professionals one used to see which now seem to have been replaced by a series of hysterical, airy, fairy go down at the slightest touch, narcissists. This occasionally boiled over into indiscipline, memorably against the Mancs (twice), but no one can doubt the stability he bought to our midfield when he was on form.
In Christian Poulsen and Lucas we have ready made replacements but it’s a big gap to fill. It should also be remembered that Masch’s departure is not through disillusionment with the current situation but simply for personal / family reasons. I wish the very best of luck in his new adventure and hope it works out for him and on and off the field.