Tales of the east, more Downing drudgery and Anfield designs not so grand?

Refreshingly the rumour and counter rumour will be put to one side this a week, well for ninety minutes at least, as we actually play some footy. Our tour of the Far East kicks off on Wednesday with a game against someone called Guangdong Sunray Cave, no me neither!

The team arrived in China to, and I quote from The Liverpool Echo, “ecstatic scenes of welcome” quite what this involves I don’t know. Was the traffic outside the airport held up as throngs of Chinese fans attempted to catch glimpse of their loved ones? Did the police have to keep the fans back? Where woman fainting, overcome by Jay Spearing’s swarthy film star looks?

Resting players and making sure they are not burnt out appears to be the new rock and roll in football? Does a long trip to China square with this? Of course not but when it comes to the lucrative Far Eastern market! Perhaps that’s unfair Steven Gerrard and Jose Reina didn’t travel because they’ve been given time to recover from injury. Or may be the whole notion is complete nonsense as Lucas and Suarez have been playing football since last week, in the Copa America, and Fulham have started their Europa League campaign!

Even though the majority of the team is, as near as dam it, on the other side of the world the transfer rumours continue. The Stuart Downing affair is fast becoming Garth Barry Mark II in the sense that Aston Vila are digging their heels in and that, in my opinion anyway, neither player was/is worth the effort especially at the prices quoted. The rumours range from Aston Villa not selling at any price, to £25m which of course is nonsense just as the previously quoted figure of £20m was. It has also been suggested that Arsenal, possibly needing a midfielder if one of or both of Fabregas and Nasri exit, might be interested. I’m sure Stuart Downing is nice to his mother and kind to animals and all that so I hope he won’t take offence when I say that the Gunners are welcome to him!

Meanwhile back at home finally we have seen a small bit of light shed on where we will be playing football in the future and it doesn’t look it will be Anfield. Said Chief Executive Ian Ayre

“Land/property acquisition, environmental and statutory issues are creating barriers to our ambition. It looks increasingly unlikely there is any way we can move forward on a refurbishment of Anfield.”

When Hicks and Gillett poked their greedy, chubby chops over the Anfield parapet I was quiet looking forward to a new stadium however, since the idea of tarting up Anfield (I’m not one for building or architectural technical terms) was muted by the new owners, it’s grown on me. It goes without saying that it would be cheaper than an entirely new build but this is not a shoddy compromise nor is it new or radical. Look at Anfield now compared to what it was in the sixties or even in the eighties and early nineties. This could have been yet another natural phase in the development of the stadium, to keep it up to date and in line with our new ambitions whilst at the same time maintaining a connection with the past.

So it now looks as if we will be upping sticks or does it mean we’ll be doing nothing, for now at least? Can you fathom this from Ian Ayre again?

“We are mindful that supporters have been promised a solution in the past and have been disappointed, and also that local residents would like to know what direction we are headed in,”

So Ian, what direction are we heading in?

“However, just like any other business, we can only proceed as and when we are clear on all elements and we will not be forced to make a decision that is not in the best long-term interests of our club and we will not make any promises to our fans that we cannot keep.”

You mean you don’t know yet? Like Ayre’s words, this looks set to run and run.

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