It was a of case past and future in Stockholm on Wednesday night.
On one hand we saw Steven Gerrard join the older stalwarts of English football by notching up his 100th cap, what are the odds on him beating the record for most caps? On the other hand we saw Raheem Sterling earning his first cap at the ripe old age of seventeen. What are the odds on him beating Steven Gerrard’s record and, given the crowded international fixture list, how quickly might he do it?
The fact that Sterling played the other night is testament to his potential however, it is also a reflection on priorities and /or how crowded the fixture list is these days. Would Sterling have won his cap had Roy Hodgson not received so many withdrawals due to “injury”, note the quote marks. It is also a reflection on Brendon Rogers’ faith in youngsters such as Sterling that he should find himself in such a position at such an early age. Rogers’ hand has been forced somewhat by our current resource issue however Sterling has responded to the challenge/opportunity given to him and capitalised on the circumstances the club finds itself in. Hopefully it will be our gain too however we must guard against overusing him. Sterling is still growing and I seem to remember Steven Gerrard, when he was a similar age, having injury related problems for the same reasons?
In the meantime it’s time for something predictable. It’s international week and there is only so much you can say about Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goals, incidentally wasn’t it a contrast to his performance against us when he was with Inter, he couldn’t hit a donkey’s ar*es with a banjo on that night. So, in the absence of anything else, let’s make up a transfer story. Who is playing well? Suarez. Oh lets make him the latest player to be associated with Manchester City!
Naturally BR has said this is nonsense.
“There will be no bidding war. He’s staying here. If we lost Luis then we’ve got no strikers. I don’t think we can afford to lose anyone. He’s certainly not someone we want to sell or move on. He’s been a brilliant player to work with and we want to add to our squad, not take people out of it, especially a world-class player.”
Hopefully this is the owner’s take on the situation and not just Rogers’? How brazen it would be to accept the money for Suarez, Merseyside’s favourite paper quotes £40m on it’s back page, when we are in need of a strike force. Suarez has since come out and said he’s happy at Liverpool and you’d think this couldn’t happen but who would have bet on us selling Torres even though he was out of sorts, do we really know what the owners are capable of? What messages would them sanctioning the sale of Suarez send to the fans and to BR who is working hard to build the side under difficult circumstances? Do they care?
In the meantime we have more immediate matters which is Wigan at home. What a pain in the proverbial this team has been to us recently. The 2-1defeat at home earlier in the year immediately springs to mind however, from a side that many continually underestimate and regard as an easy push over, we have failed to beat them in our last five games, and their win at White Hart Lane the other week suggests that they are more than capable of sustaining that level of “irritation”?
I suspect many think we are getting to the point in the team’s development where, despite everything I’ve said about underestimating them, we should expect to see wins against sides like Wigan, particularly at home. I know our home record isn’t great and our recent record against this side isn’t either but expectations will surely dictate nothing less than a win? BR’s talk about the side developing and being on a long and rocky road to recovery (after reaching two domestic finals in the last nine months) will for many begin to take on a more unconvincing air if we don’t see tangible signs of improvement soon? As times and games clock up focus will shift more and more on to him and his inability to get a performance out of the team. It will be disappointing as he does need time and but from time to time he needs to do himself a favour and buy it, on the pitch and not with his post match interviews or press conferences. Today is one of those moments.
Team wise it looks like Jose Reina will return which is a tad disappointing for Brad Jones, if anything he had his best game against Chelsea. Thankfully it seems that everyone has come through the midweek internationals without picking up any injuries.
Prediction? I don’t think we will thrash Wigan however at six games unbeaten perhaps we are on a slow upward curve? I’ll buy it (for now) and take us shade this one by a single goal.