So here we go, another season starts today. The sun is shining, it always does on the opening day, the Fantasy Football team is primed and Match of the Day is on “series link” on the Sky+ box!
Of course this season will be different, at this stage doesn’t anyone feel that way? However according to the press everyone who is interested today should refer to a new behavioural blueprint, something that should radically enhance the game and make it an example and an inspiration to us all. Yes ladies and gentlemen I give you the Olympics. How many times will the subject of how football can learn from the Olympics be raised today?
Before the moral high ground is taken here are some examples. There is Australian Anna Meares’ elbow on Queen Victoria Pendleton in the bike final. There is the Chinese badminton team who prioritised their games with a view to progressing in the tournament. This meant underperforming in one match which I guess is tantamount to fielding a weakened side and certainly not treating the tournament with respect. There is the shot-putter who had her gold medal taken away because she had taken drugs and then there is the Belgium competitor who was sent home because he was out in nightclub pi*sed. What can football learn from the Olympics? Nothing? Been there, done it, got the fine!
Off the pitch no doubt comparisons will be made with the respective fans as if Olympics spectators only come out ever four year before going back into the cupboard. The truth is that both are pretty much the same the difference is the respective attitude they have to football compared to the Olympics. For example I was upset for all of ten seconds when the men’s 4 x 100 relay squad failed to get the batten round my disquiet at Liverpool losing to the Mancs, or anyone else for that matter, lasts longer!
Anyway I digress what of Liverpool Football Club and season 2012-13? Can we win the league and sweep all before us? Yes of course we can, in my fantasy, day dream mind at least! Sadly however, the reality is a little different. Everyone seems to be suggesting there will be new dawn at Anfield as Brendon Rogers finally teaches us how to pass the ball just like those Spanish players do. No doubt Rogers will bring in changes to the way we play however to suggest he is somehow replacing meat and two veg with some sophisticated seafood paella is nonsense. Liverpool have always strived to pass the ball and we did so, very prettily, as recently as last season. Where we fell down and where I feel Rogers’ needs to focus his attention, is sticking the ball in the back of the bleeding net! The goals to shots ratio and much “trumpeted” and referred to, hitting the woodwork statistics seem to back this up?
To this end the sale of Dirk Kuyt and potential off loading of Andy Carroll looks a tad premature, even allowing for the introduction of Fabio Borini. However, equally perhaps a change was needed and on last season’s evidence who can blame Rogers’ for instigating it? Whatever his decisions Rogers should and will be allowed time. How we will do depends on whether he hits the ground running and gets his framework in place (remember he is still learning). Equally, and more importantly, we need buy in from the players and an ability, or intelligence, to effectively interpret his plans on the pitch? Results wise this could mean anything from regaining a Champions League place to the lower top upper mid table flirting with the Europa League position we’ve “enjoyed” so much over the last three years. Me? I think we’ll end up somewhere in the middle gosh this fence is uncomfortable! To be honest I just don’t know, there are too many “what ifs” and gambles on and off the pitch to contend with this season?
What I will say is that although it should be remembered, cherished and celebrated the current squad needs a break from comparisons with the past. Some of the players that will pull on a red shirt this season weren’t even born the last we won the league. It isn’t fair on them to be constantly compared to previous times, it is a heavy burden and an unnecessary one especially when we have enough trouble keeping things on an even keel in the present?
All this starts today with our trip to West Brom who are ironically managed by ex coach Steve Clarke. On wonders how Clarke feels about his fairly short time with us. He says he holds no grudge but was he given the time to get the players doing things his way? Probably not and I guess the best response, as with Roy Hodgson last season, is shove it up us by beating us today?
Team wise one assumes Andy Carroll won’t start and a non appearance of Daniel Agger will surely increase speculation about a move? Borini and Allen to start? Prediction? It’s the first game of the season and I genuinely have no idea how it will go. With Manchester City, Arsenal, The Mancs and Everton waiting round the corner a win, of any sort, would be nice and I’ll take us squeak it by 2-1. Whatever the case here we go and, as always, despite what people say, you wouldn’t be without it!