Due to spending most of Friday travelling it wasn’t until I’d posted yesterdays piece that I finally got round to reading the details surrounding the run up to the announcement of Javier Mascherano deal.
The thing that struck me was how vociferous Roy Hodgson was about the whole situation. He was particularly critical of the fact that Masch refused to play at Eastlands last Monday.
“There are a lot of factors I don’t want to be drawn on too much. But it’s not easy to defend his actions because professionals are paid to play and when called upon to do so, they should. But it is a complicated situation, to be fair to him.”
He then added…
“Players must also understand when you sign contracts, you do so to play. If the club decides it’s going to accept an offer for you and let you go then that’s one thing. If the club say ‘you have a contract, we’re not selling’, then therefore they are staying”
I can fully understand HRH being miffed about Mascherano not playing on Monday, it must have been a blow to his authority. However, I can also see it from the player’s point of view in the sense that he has more than patient about leaving Anfield. Least we forget the Argentinean wanted to move last summer for the same, personal reasons that he left this week. However, he stayed on and it looked as if, with the transfer window about to close, he wasn’t to get the move for a second year running. Not many players are patient enough to hold on for an entire year so perhaps Mascherano felt he had no alternative but to force an issue what he waited to be resolved for twelve months?
Roy Hodgson’s comments about contracts, although noble and correct, clearly don’t bare any relation to way things are done in football these days (they should). Mascherano’s situation goes back to long before he took over so perhaps this needs to be taken into account? Nonetheless at least HRH has managed to see a positive side.
“It will be good next week because I like to work with the players and although I’d like to recruit a few more, it’s much better when you are working with a group you know will be staying.”
HRH has been told he can spend the Mascherano money on players. Three have been mentioned, FC Porto’s Raul Meireles, Fulham’s Paul Konchesky and PSV Eindhoven’s Ola Toivonen.
Toivonen is an unknown quantity to me although his scoring record for PSV looks handy. Konchesky has been muted as a replacement left back for some time and this makes sense however one wonders about the signing of Meireles who is widely touted in the papers yesterdays as a replacement for Mascherano. If that is the case then what is Christian Poulsen, surely not a replacement for the on loan Aquilani? I hope I’m proved wrong but at present our midfield looks overly industrial as opposed to creative? Clearly however, HRH has a plan? Maybe that involves unshackling Meireles, who with respect has more to his game than Poulsen, into a more creative role?
Which brings me to today’s game with West Brom. It was a tough start to the season and after one point from two games we now find ourselves fighting relegation! Hopefully we can get on to winning terms now against the newcomers. Our record against West Brom at Anfield is good, they haven’t beaten us since 1967! Of course that counts for nothing but nonetheless anything other than a win for us will be seen as a shock.
Team wise one assumes that we will have Gerrard and Torres available, both didn’t travel to Turkey. Torres looked lively against in the first leg against the Turks and even better on Monday so hopefully will give us more bite up front. We will need it, David Ngog has done a fine job so far but chances are few and far between apparently we’ve only had nine shots on target this season!
Prediction? Three points is a must and I take Torres to continue his improvement and score a much needed goal, not only for him but also the team. 2-0.
By the way this blog now has an index of match reports since it started in October 2006 so for machinations of previous games, against West Brom since this date click here.