Quite a bit catching up to do since the last post so here goes.
So, we begin our 2013-14 campaign against Stoke. Christmas could be interesting with back to back matches against Chelsea and Manchester City and I guess all the new signings could have wanted a bit more time to settle before facing the Mancs, our third game of the season. However, I guess there’s not really a great deal to say about this as we will eventually have to play everyone? The dates are in the papers but, as ever, these will mean absolutely nothing once Sky and now BT get there hands on them and try and wring out the maximum viewing experience for the armchair fan whilst giving travelling fans the maximum inconvenience. Roll on that trip to Norwich for an 11 o’clock kick off!
Back at the ranch and it’s welcome to Liverpool for Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto and Simon Mignolet who were signed for £7m, £6.8m and £9m respectively. Clearly we are not messing around in the market “what’s the hurry” is not a phrase you’ll hear bandied around Anfield these days! This is good!
This piece has discussed Aspas before with the main conclusion being that he should be regarded as one for the future and hopefully an eventual, but not an immediate, replacement for Luis Suarez? Alberto remains more of an enigma and perhaps more of a gamble? Apparently he has been on our radar for some time, certainly before he went to Barcelona on loan, which suggests we’ve done our homework and are confident that he can be an asset for us? What is uncertain his experience in Spain, where he played mainly for Barcelona reserves in the Spanish second division, which perhaps suggests there is more work to do before he breaks into the first team. On the other hand I could, and probably am, be talking b*llocks! I think I said the same about Coutinho who made a great start and of course football is littered with young players who have made their mark before they’ve started shaving properly! Here’s hoping our new man can do the same?
Simon Mignolet is different prospect, he has experience. I was conveniently playing golf with a Sunderland season ticket holder last week who said the Belgian was easily their best player of the season, and was voted so by the fans, keeping a high proportion of clean sheets which belied the final position his club finished in. People knock Liverpool for going about their history but Mignolet made us aware of another milestone.
“Liverpool’s a big club. To be the first Belgian to play for Liverpool is a big thing. This is a big challenge for me but that’s what you want. You want to play in the big games, you want to play for a big club and to play with pressure.”
Other quotes I’ve read seem to suggest Mignolet is very level headed guy who, above all, is pleased to be with us, in short I like the cut of his jib!. I guess the next question is what will happen should Barcelona (or anyone else) fail take Jose Reina on? Competition for positions is healthy but, of all the places on the pitch, surely you need stability between the sticks?
The same question can be asked about the future of a number of our players in the light of our new signings. Rumours concerning Jonjo Shelvey and Stuart Downing’s positions are already circulating. Early last season BR suggested that he was less than happy with Downing hinting that he had talked to the player about his form and future and then, later on in the season, even floated the idea of him playing at full back. Nothing seemed to come of this and Downing’s form improved over the season although not to the extent that he should be regarded as a crucial, indispensible first team player?
Moving on and Andy Carroll’s short but newsworthy association with this club has come to an end with £15m deal that takes him to West Ham. Carroll, through no fault of his own, will always be known as the player Liverpool paid £35m for. Was he worth the money? No, at least on the form shown during his time with us. Would he have been worth the money had we preserved with him and given him a longer run in the side rather loaning out to Upton Park? Probably not. Would have been worth the money if say he’d stayed injury free and scored twenty to thirty goals for us in his first full season? Probably not, he’d need to do that over a longer period to really convince? Something’s however don’t change despite passing his medical Carroll has a heel problem!
I guess it is easy to forget the context which lead to the signing of Carroll? Torres had gone to Chelsea and we needed a replacement. We received £50m for him and Carroll at £35m, presumably was an expedient buy? Newcastle were given an offer they couldn’t refuse and Carroll, allegedly, was told he couldn’t refuse to go? The irony is that at the same time we signed Luis Suarez and had we known how he would have performed I wonder if we would have bothered signing Carroll at all! Much has been made of the wisdom behind the signing and who is responsible but I wonder if the lesson the club has learnt over the Carroll issue has dictated current transfer policy. A degree of prudence where logical, sensible deals and value for money are key. It this day and age who can argue with that?
Finally I guess the Carroll and possibly, if he goes, the Suarez money might mean we have the confidence to push further forward into the market? Will it go towards securing the services of Henrikh Mkhitaryan? Although Apas and Mignolet looked nailed on as signings I’m still not sure about our chances of securing Mkhitaryna’s services, all it takes is one better offer from a club that is playing in Europe and surely we are scuppered? As I write it appears Borussia Dortmund are fluttering their come to Champions League eyes at him?
To add to the mix Shakrtar Donnesk, Mkhitaryna’s current club, say he’s gone AWOL. The red tops have suggested it’s because he wants to play for us and he was supposedly seen in the UK earlier this week. It’s an intriguing an increasingly bizarre story. however I suppose it’s encouraging that he apparently wants to play for us. All we have to do now is find him?