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Adam Uthe

VP of Content Development for GFT and proud supporter of Columbus Crew (MLS) and Liverpool FC (EPL). @AUtheGFT

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Aug 252013

It would seem Gareth Bale is (finally) headed for Madrid, but in the meantime several key players have made moves and are already making impressions with their new clubs.


The Brazilian central midfielder was first the subject of rumors in Liverpool, then Tottenham, and now Chelsea it turns out will get his signature. The Blues signed him for £30 million ($46.7 million) from Anzhi Machhakala in Russia.

Adel Taarabt

After hitting the drop with Queens Park Rangers, the Moroccan playmaker joins Fulham on loan for the 2013-14 season.


The former Arsenal winger is now with Roma in Serie A after completing a £6.9 million ($10.75 million) move.

Lisandro Lopez

The former Olympique Lyon striker has completed a permanent transfer to Al-Gharafa in Qatar’s top division.

Pablo “Dani” Osvaldo

The powerful Italian forward completed a four year, £15 million ($23.3 million) move to Southampton from Roma this past week and made his debut with the team in the second half of their 1-1 draw with Sunderland at St. Marys.


After impressing scouts at the Confederations Cup this summer, the diminutive Brazilian has moved from his native Atletico Mineiro to Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk for five years and a €25 million ($33.45 million) transfer fee.

Helder Postiga

The Portuguese striker has completed a two year move from Real Zaragoza to Valencia as the latter looks to replace the production of Roberto Soldado.

Luis Gustavo

After much speculation he would wind up in London with Arsenal, Gustavo has instead decided to stay in the Bundesliga and completed a move to Wolfsburg.

Gary Medel

The Chilean international has joined Cardiff City from Sevilla for a reported £8 million ($12.5 million) transfer fee. Medel got the start in Cardiff’s 3-2 win over Manchester City this weekend.

Lucas Piazon

The Chelsea youngster has gone on loan to Vitesse in the Netherland for the 2013-14 season.

Tom Huddlestone

The Tottenham central midfielder completed a three year move to Hull City and is joined by fellow Spurs midfielder Jake Livermore who will be in Hull on a season long loan.

Johan Elmander

The Swedish striker returns to England and will join Norwich on loan this season from Galatasaray with a view to a permanent move next summer. He spent several years in the EPL with Bolton Wanderers before ending up in Turkey.

Etienne Capoue

The French holding midfielder completed a four year move to Tottenham and got the start in their 1-0 win over Swansea on Sunday.

Stewart Downing 

The former Liverpool wide player has completed a £6 million ($9.3 million) move to West Ham where he joins former Red Andy Carroll as well.

Darren Bent

After missing much of last season with a knee injury, the Aston Villa striker joins Fulham on loan for the 2013-14 season.

Scott Parker

The Tottenham midfielder completed a three year move to Fulham and featured in their 3-1 defeat to Arsenal on Saturday.

Scott Sinclair

The Manchester City winger joins West Bromwich Albion on loan for the 2013-14 season.

Aly Cissokho

The Valencia left back has joined Liverpool on loan for the 2013-14 season and he came on as a substitute in their victory over Aston Villa on Saturday.

Sebastian Cristoforo

The Uruguay U-20 starlet has completed a €2.25 million ($3 million) move to Sevilla in an effort to replace the since-sold Gary Medel.

Park-Ji Sung

The South Korean veteran midfielder joins PSV Eindhoven on loan from Queens Park Rangers for the 2013-14 season.

Gino Peruzzi

The 21 year old Velez Sarsfield (Argentina) defender has completed a permanent move to Catania in Italy.

Charalampos Mavrias

The 19 year old Greek winger joins Sunderland for a three year deal from his native Panathanaikos.

Saphir Sliti Taider

The 21 year old Bologna midfielder completed a permanent move to Inter.


Aug 192013



Sorry…that was just my Runner’s High wearing off. But really, talk about getting off to a fast start. Saturday’s 1-0 win over Stoke certainly seemed to have it all.

Now, I’m going to try and avoid recapping each individual game as much as possible this season. But the first match of the season is a time for overreaction and hyperbole (hence the title of this post) so I came up with a list of over-the-top statements and a more realistic counter for each one. Starting with…



I don’t think there’s a lot of people out there singing the Belgian’s praises so highly, even after he did his homework and denied Jonathan Walters minutes before the final whistle. It would be foolish to overlook his tentative first half in which he struggled to re-direct with the ball at his feet on several different occasions. Let’s hope it was simply first day jitters because he’s going to see much more of the ball at his feet throughout the rest of the season.



It was certainly good to see Daniel Sturridge prove himself capable of leading the front line. While his goal turned out to be the difference, however, it was a bit lucky. Liverpool managed to put up double digits shots on goal and yet only one of them made it in the back of the net.

Sound familiar?

If anything, this match showed us just how valuable Luis Suarez is if a Top 4 finish is going to be achieved. This team had similar performances with the lethal Uruguayan in the lineup last year. Without him, this team will have to rely upon Simon Mignolet more often than they’d like. With him, a Champions League spot next season isn’t completely ludicrous to imagine.



The newcomer from Celta Vigo didn’t exactly wow everyone with his finishing ability, but (as we just discussed) neither did anyone else. Since I reside in the United States, I did not catch any of the preseason action. I was pretty shocked by how small Aspas is, especially compared to your average EPL center back. His skill set is well suited for the style of play Brendan Rodgers prefers, but guys like Vincent Kompany, Phil Jones, John Terry, etc are going to eat him alive if he can’t get stronger in a hurry or figure out how to move the ball even quicker than he’s shown he’s capable of.



I found myself pondering this issue when Jordan Henderson missed a good chance in the first half inside the box. He had a pretty quiet game for someone whom management appears ready make the next midfield general once Steven Gerrard rides off into the sunset. Shelvey didn’t exactly light the world on fire himself, but he had his moments against a grizzled Manchester United defense in his Swansea debut.

Jordan Henderson has always been, good but not quite great; or even “very good” for that matter. This is a make-or-break season for him. Shelvey is young and appears to have a brighter future ahead of him in terms of upside. If Henderson doesn’t start finishing more chances and coming up big in big moments he’s going to find himself on the bench in favor of Joe Allen.



Jose Enrique may not be a world beater at left back, but he’s capable. He does have a tendency to get dispossessed a little too easily while going forward, but he was fine on Saturday. Cissokho may turn out to be world class, but we’ll have to wait and see. The greater need is at center back next to Daniel Agger. Kolo Toure was the physical presence Liverpool needed him to be, but Brendan Rodgers would prefer to have a second Agger; a center back who is extremely confident on the ball. Toure was OK distributing out of the back and Peter Crouch had his moments in the first half as he was getting in behind the line pretty frequently; both through the air and on the ground.

A platoon between Toure, Martin Skrtel, and Andre Wisdom probably won’t be enough to earn a Top 4 finish this season.


“Walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone!”

Aug 142013

Week 1 in Germany’s Bundesliga saw quite a few surprises including recently promoted Hertha Berlin putting up six goals in a 6-1 victory over Eintracht Frankurt and Borussia Dortmund’s newest striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netting a hat trick against FC Augsberg.

Early results aside, however, what can we expect from the Bundesliga in 2013-14? Here’s a few of the top story lines…

Can Anyone Stop Bayern Munich?

The defending Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League…champions…put former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola in charge after Jupp Heynckes stepped down at the end of last season when Bayern thrashed the rest of the league with a whopping 91 points. Guardiola immediately went out and brought in his former Barca winger Thiago Alcantara in addition to Borussia Dortmund starlet Mario Götze. Now the Bavarian giants look unbeatable heading into the new season.

Borussia Dortmund, who fought valiantly against Bayern in last season’s Champions League final, added some reinforcements of their own in the form of striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (who showed us in Week 1 that he should have no difficulty adjusting to his new surroundings) and attacking midfielder Henrik Mkhitaryan. The men in black and yellow are likely the only team capable of challenging for the title, but teams like Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke 04 should have no trouble contending for a Champions League spot.

And speaking of the Champions League…

Who Will Grab The Other 2 Champions League Places

This season third place will earn a berth in the group stage while fourth place goes into the qualifying playoffs. Last season saw Leverkusen take third and Schalke fourth and both will be difficult to overthrow.

Borussia Monchengladbach have some young, up and coming talent in the form of 20 year old Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka, 22 year old German midfielder Patrick Herrmann, and 22 year old Dutch striker Luuk de Jong. They finished a respectable eighth place last season, just a few points away from a Europa League spot. Hamburg SV are led by veterans Rene Adler in goal and former Tottenham midfielder Rafael van der Vaart as well as newcomer Johan Djourou (former Arsenal defender) and longtime midfielder Marcell Jansen. SC Freiburg and Eintracht may or may not have punched above their weight into Europa League spots last season; we’ll see how they do in said Europa League this season. Werder Bremen had a disastrous season last year and will hope to bounce back as well.

Then there’s Hertha Berlin, who have been relegated and then subsequently promoted back-to-back times going back several years. They came out of the gate firing with multi-goal performances from strikers Adrian Ramos and Sami Allagui. American John Anthony Brooks is an up and coming star at center back and Brazilian central midfielder Ronny is always a threat on set pieces. Could this be the year they not only stay up, but also challenge for a European spot; be it Europa League or even the Champions League?

Who Are The Contenders For Relegation?

As mentioned above, Hertha Berlin are always a threat to get the drop. Eintracht Frankfurt and Nurnberg have both gone down in recent years and FC Augsberg always seem to find themselves near the bottom. TSG Hoffenheim and Werder Bremen also found themselves near the bottom last season, but both have too much talent to find themselves so far down again this season.

The “favorites” to hit the drop have to be newcomers TSV Eintracht Braunschweig. History tells us that we can expect at least one newcomer to go back down and Hertha Berlin’s display in Week 1 was pretty convincing. Braunschweig lost a close one to Werder Bremen in their opener. They lack talent across the board but they’ll be hoping for some help from Canadian striker Simeon Jackson, who arrives in Germany after scoring three goals in seven starts with Norwich City last season.

Can The Germans Impress In Europe Again This Season?

Last season’s all-German Champions League final in London had everyone wondering if Deutschland had conquered Spain. After all, Bayern demolished Barcelona and Dortmund (or rather Robert Lewandowski) crushed Real Madrid before the thrilling final. Schalke had a solid run into the knockout round as well. Borussia M’Gladbach, Stuttgart, Bayer Leverkusen, and Hannover 96 all advanced to the Round of 32, although Stuttgart were the only ones to advance beyond that point and they were promptly routed by Lazio in the Round of 16 by a score of 5-1.

Still, all eyes will be on the German squads in European competition this season, especially given the overall financial health of the Bundesliga. With an increased emphasis on fiscal responsibility, everyone will want to see if the German model can in fact consistently produce multiple teams capable of competing on the big stages in Europe. This year Bayer Leverkusen are guaranteed a spot at the table with Bayern and Dortmund while Schalke will need to navigate the qualifying round to join them. In the Europa League extra attention will be paid to the German clubs, Frankfurt and Freiburg, because they are particularly “small” clubs in terms of what they spend on players.


Champions League Spots

1st-Bayern Munich

2nd-Borussia Dortmund

3rd-Schalke 04

4th-Bayer Leverkusen (Qualifying Round)

Relegation Spots

16th-FC Augsberg (Relegation Playoff with Bundesliga 2)


18th-Eintracht Braunschweig

Golden Boot

1-Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang

2-Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

3-Adrian Ramos

Not So Great Expectations

 Posted by on August 11, 2013 at 12:02 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL, Liverpool
Aug 112013

I wish this pun-derful headline was more fun. I’d love nothing more than to crack some humorous headline about how Liverpool are headed back to the Champions League this season.

They aren’t.

This summer has come and (almost) gone with a lot of moves being made. Let’s quickly recap…


Andy Carroll-ST

Jonjo Shelvey-CM

Pepe Reina-GK (Loan)

Jay Spearing-CM

Suso-Winger/FWD (Loan)

Conor Coady-CM (Loan)

Jack Robinson-LB (Loan)

Danny Wilson-CB

Peter Gulacsi-GK


Iago Aspas-ST/Winger

Luis Alberto-Winger/FWD

Kolo Toure-CB

Simon Mignolet-GK

Now, for the purposes of this discussion I’m going to assume Luis Suarez is staying here this season. The team has been incredibly firm with him, most recently by sending him to train with the youngsters, and they appear intent on holding onto him and letting him work his way back into the squad upon the completion of his suspension. I’m not sure they always felt that way (see: Aspas and Alberto signings) but there can be little doubt about their intentions at this point in the transfer window.

So let’s take a look at what the lineup will probably look like before/after his return.



Johnson – Agger – Skrtel/Toure – Enrique


Gerrard    -    Coutinho

Aspas – Sturridge – Alberto



Johnson – Agger – Skrtel/Toure- Enrique


Gerrard    -    Coutinho

Sturridge – Suarez – Aspas

That still leaves guys like Joe Allen, Fabio Borini, Sebastian Coates, and Oussama Assaidi on the bench. It’s exciting to have new signings like Aspas and Alberto in the mix up front and Kolo Toure is a seasoned veteran who should help shore up the backline…a little bit.

See this is the problem with the business done by Brendan Rodgers and Co. this summer. They have failed (so far) to address their biggest need: a world class (or at least a very very good) center back. Kolo Toure may crack the Starting XI regularly this season, but at 32 he is a bit past his prime and will struggle to keep pace with the current crop of Premier League strikers; like newcomers Stefan Jovetic (Manchester City), Wilfried Bony (Swansea), and Gary Hooper (Norwich City). It’s possible Brendan Rodgers will attempt to outscore his opponents every week as he did last season.

But I am concerned that Saturday’s friendly defeat against Celtic is more indicative of the Liverpool we’ll see in 2013; lots of possession and chances with one untimely mistake at the back doing the team in. It was often the story last season, especially in domestic Cup competitions, and management has failed to address the needs that can correct that issue.

There are a few things working in Liverpool’s favor though, mostly with the other clubs around the league. Manchester United appear to be taking a step back as they transition to the David Moyes regime. Arsenal have stood pat all summer and Tottenham, even with the addition of Valencia’s Roberto Soldado, still look like they lack something to compete for a Top 4 spot. Chelsea and Manchester City look like the two favorites to contend for the title and the only guarantees for a Top 4 finish at this point.

Then there’s teams like Swansea, Southampton, and Everton who have quietly made some upgrades to their squads and could challenge for a Top 4 spot. Even this year’s newcomers, Cardiff/Crystal Palace/Hull City, look to be tough opponents. Finishing in the Top 4 looks to be a very daunting task at this point for the squad that Liverpool have assembled currently.

Assuming Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho can play as well as they did in the second half of last season and the new signings (Toure/Aspas/Alberto) can contribute then anything is possible. But that’s a lot of “ifs” and things have to fall into place with the other clubs as well.

At this point, one week before the Stoke match, I’m predicting a finish of 7th Place which may or may not even be good enough for the Europa League.

“Walk on with hope in your heat and you’ll never walk alone!”


Aug 052013

With all due respect to Clint Dempsey, his move to the Seattle Sounders is not even in the top 3 of this list…

Gonzalo Higuain

The Argentinian striker has moved from Real Madrid to Napoli in Serie A where he will be expected to replace the void left up front by the departure of Edinson Cavani.

Raul Albiol

And speaking of Real Madrid players joining Napoli, the veteran Spanish defender joins Higuain and signs a four year deal.

Roberto Soldado

The prolific Valencia striker has completed a (reported) €30 million ($39.7 million) move to Tottenham Hotspur after weeks of speculation and negotiations.

Diego Lugano

The veteran Uruguayan center back has completed a two year move from Paris-Saint Germain to West Bromwich Albion.

Kevin Gameiro

The French striker leaves his native Paris-Saint Germain and signs a five year deal with Sevilla in La Liga.

Morgan de Sanctis

The former Napoli goalkeeper has completed a two year move to AS Roma for a reported fee of just €500,000 ($662,000) where he will replace the recently sold Maarten Stekelenburg.

Loic Remy

The QPR striker joins Newcastle on a season long loan after arriving in the EPL back in January.

Gary Hooper

The former Celtic striker completed a three year to move to Norwich City after much speculation about whether or not he would stay in Scotland.

Yannick Sagbo

The Ivory Coast international departs Evian (France) and joins newly promoted Hull City and signs a two year deal for a reported fee of £3 million ($4.6 million).

Lucas Biglia

The former Anderlecht central midfielder completed a five year move to Serie A’s Lazio.

Joel Campbell

For the third time since being bought by Arsenal three years ago, the Costa Rican striker will go on loan for the season, this time to Olympiakos.

Derk Boerrigter

The Ajax winger has transferred to Celtic where he signed a four year deal with the Scottish giants.

Steven Caulker

The former Spurs defender has completed a four year move to recently promoted Cardiff City.



Aug 052013

There are many problems with the Columbus Crew right now.


Many people point to a lack of talented up front when it comes to finishing. Some say it’s all because Robert Warzycha can’t figure out how to play his best players. Others will blame the front office for not spending more money on better overall talent. These are all legitimate issues. I, however, don’t see any of them as THE issue for the Crew; their No.1 concern going into next year and beyond.

I had the pleasure of attending Saturday night’s game against Houston. Yes Columbus lost, but it was still nice to finally watching the team play in person. I’m glad I had this opportunity because I was finally able to confirm my worst fear after the losses against New England and Toronto.

The biggest problem facing the Columbus Crew is the decline of Chad Marshall’s form.

The veteran center back is only 28 years old, but he’s missed so much time with concussion-related injuries that it genuinely feels like he’s in his early 30′s. It also feels like it’s been ages since Marshall won back-to-back MLS Defender Of The Year awards in 2008 and 2009. He used to be the one player Crew fans could always count on. He was the glue that held the back line together; the stereotypical “field general” commanding his troops to success. The center back position was never a concern. Columbus would always be a difficult team to score against and it was almost always thanks to Chad Marshall.

Fast forward to 2013 and we see a completely different Crew defense. While the first goal in the New England was not actually his fault, disorganization on a corner kick falls on your goalkeeper and your No.1 center back. Marshall was much more culpable on the second goal. That kind of poor pass/communication is not something we are used to seeing from Chad. He used to be better than that. He never made such poor decisions. Then it got worse in Toronto when he was straight up torched on the equalizer and completely lost track of Andrew Wiedeman on the winner for Toronto. Then there was his poorly advised challenge early in the Houston game that led to the penalty that opened the proverbial floodgates for the rest of the evening.

We’ve never seen so many critical mistakes from Chad Marshall in an entire season, much less a three game stretch like this one. The fact that Chad is only 28 almost makes things worse. If he’s becoming less and less reliable now, what will happen when he hits the “magical” age of 30 when most soccer players really start to see their form decline? Add in the fact that he’s been partnered with either Glauber Berti (older and slower than Marshall) or Danny O’Rourke (older and even more reckless) and suddenly there is a serious need at center back not just for 2014, but for the next 5-10 years. That’s what makes Marshall’s dip in performance so back-breaking: he was supposed to be one of the veterans who could hang around for the next 5 years and groom “the next Chad Marshall” who would take over as captain of the back line when Marshall turned 30.

No one on the roster currently inspires confidence. Eric Gehrig has his moments, but he’s already 24 and doesn’t get enough playing time to learn from his mistakes and get better on a regular basis. Josh Williams has so little soccer IQ that he has no choice but to slide out to the right. Kevan George didn’t inspire when he started at center back during an away game against New York in June. Chad Barson isn’t big/strong enough and Drew Beckie continues to fight minor injuries preventing him from having the opportunity to show us what he can/cannot do.

The Crew will need to look outside their current roster for a solution at one of the most vital positions on the field. Fortunately, Brian Bliss is still technical director, Robert Warzycha is almost certainly on his way out after this season, and there’s still the possibility that new Crew owners Precourt Sports Ventures will make an effort to pump some cash into the roster this offseason. There’s no reason Chad can’t break out of his slump and start playing better, but in the meantime he is clearly not the steady he used to be when he commanded one of the toughest back lines in MLS.

If his form doesn’t pick up, however, it’s simply another bullet point on a laundry list of problems facing Columbus; one they really cannot afford at this time.

Jul 302013

Wow! Talk about a bombshell!

For the first time ever, the Columbus Crew will not be operated by Hunt Sports Group. The team’s new overlord Precourt Sports Ventures is led by Anthony Precourt, a young financial guru based out of San Francisco.

At first this sounds like the kind of news many of us had been hoping to hear for several years. While Lamar Hunt himself was more than good to Columbus, his sons have largely ignored the MASSIVE club in favor of FC Dallas and the Kansas City Chiefs. We’ve cried out for change and our cries have been heard by the soccer gods.

Initially I had some pretty negative vibes coming from this announcement. Precourt was downright awkward during the press conference, reading straight from a piece of paper laid out in front of him. He spoke more about MLS as a league than the Crew specifically at first. Don Garber himself welcomed Precourt as the newest “MLS owner” and Precourt took over the official MLS twitter account Tuesday night instead of that of the Crew. Then there’s the fact that Precourt and his group are based out of San Francisco, more than halfway across the country. Precourt made it clear he is staying in San Francisco, though he did say he’d be buying a second home in Columbus.

What worried me more than anything else was that Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman almost sounded like he was trying to convince himself as much as the rest of us when he said Precourt told him the club would “absolutely” stay in Columbus. Notice how Coleman said it for Precourt rather than Precourt himself saying it explicitly. It’s no secret Columbus is one of the 3-4 financially weakest teams in the league. It’s also no secret that new cities are popping daily as prospective homes to future MLS clubs.

You wouldn’t be completely off your rocker to suggest Precourt is, at the very least, considering the possibility of moving the Crew out of Columbus in the future. After all, when Clark Hunt had to backtrack after admitting he wanted to sell the club, he simultaneously assured us that the team would only be sold to a local ownership group. San Francisco is hardly right next door to Ohio.

Then there’s the timing of this announcement. The Crew have suffered back-to-back extra time backbreakers to a mediocre New England side and Toronto FC. Not only did Toronto snap a 400+ minute scoreless streak against Columbus, but they also won their first game at home in over a year. The significance of these two most recent results for Columbus cannot be overstated.

So why make the announcement now?

Most people will say it was done to calm an increasingly restless fan base. But I don’t believe that’s entirely accurate. The Hunts had made it clear they wanted out way back in February. To officially sell the team (effective immediately) after the two worst losses of the season suggests the Hunts were desperate to leave.

But why would PSV be so eager to seal the deal? Surely these last couple results would make them think twice about purchasing this team…?

This had me worried initially, but Precourt has been speaking out since the press conference and he has started to say some reassuring things. He took over the MLS twitter account, but spent the entire time answering questions about the Crew specifically. He confirmed there would be upgrades to the East side premier seating. He talked about how much he enjoys the team name and colors but wants to take a long, hard look at the badge. He said he would assess the team from top to bottom and start making a plan, as well as some personnel changes, once the season ends.

The more I hear him talk, the more I think maybe he’s serious about Columbus. PSV is less than a year old and Precourt himself is isn’t even 50 years old. Maybe the reason he needed so much help speaking at the press conference was because he’s new to this idea of owning a sports team. The fellas at Massive Report made a good point about how owning a sports team is more of a hobby than anything else for really old men who have made their wealth from something other than sports.

Everyone has to start somewhere, right? Maybe Precourt is simply learning about owning a sports team on the fly.

Still, it’s also possible Precourt entered the MLS single entity under the pretense that he’d watch over the Crew in Columbus until the rest of the league figured out where to move them. Perhaps the league has an interest in the actual Bay Area and not just San Jose. Precourt may simply be biding his time until a new option presents itself. According Clark Hunt, this sale took less than a year with Precourt approaching them initially back in December of last year.

The only thing we know for sure right now is that there are way more questions than answers surrounding PSV’s purchase of the Crew and the timing of the announcement. We’ll also have to wait until the end of the season before we get any sort of answer to any of the questions we all have.

In the meantime I suggest rocking out to Snow Patrol’s “Take Back The City” in the hope that there are bright days ahead for the Crew.

In Columbus.

What’s In A Manager?

 Posted by on July 29, 2013 at 10:28 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL, Liverpool
Jul 292013

I find the role of “manager” for a European football club to be absolutely fascinating.

Here in the United States the “head coach” of a sports team has his duties limited almost exclusively to producing results on the field. The completely separate role of “general manager” is primarily responsible for assembling the roster that the head coach has to develop. The two certainly try to collaborate for the sake of a cohesive organization, but the two positions pretty much stick to their “side of the tracks” so to speak.

But a manager of a European football club essentially has to do both of those jobs. The manager must have a wide range of skills. He (or she, one day God willing) has to be a master motivator. He needs to have an eye for talent in order to field the best players each week. His problem solving skills must be impeccable in order to figure just how to deploy said players. He must also be accountant, constantly aware of how much money is in his account to bring in players from the outside. Good negotiating skills go hand-in-hand with such financial wisdom. It’s no wonder great players rarely go on to become great managers. The leap from the narrow mindset of one player with one responsibility out of 11 to that of one with the omnipotence of a benevolent dictator is not for everyone.

And so my question is this: Does Brendan Rodgers have all of the necessary skills to become a great manager?

Let’s break it down…

Motivator: 7/10

I never watched Being Liverpool but pretty much everyone I know who did see it felt ready to run through a brick wall for Brendan Rodgers afterwards. He certainly has a way with words and almost plays mind games at times with his players in order to get the best out of them. While his team didn’t get the results against Top 4 clubs the way Kenny Dalglish did in 2011-12, Rodgers did motivate his players enough to make life difficult for superior teams.

Scouting: 9/10

While Joe Allen and Fabio Borini struggled with injuries in their first season at Anfield, Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge showed that Rodgers is more than capable of identifying good players. You can certainly make the argument if you go back to his tenure at Swansea as well. With several new additions in the form of Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto, he’ll have another chance to show us all just keen his eye for talent is.

Tactics: 5/10

While Rodgers does have a clear vision of how he wants his team to play, he struggled at times last season to get everyone in the right place. The high line he wanted from his back four did not play to the strengths of Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel, and Jose Enrique. Luis Suarez is the perfect lone striker for a 4-3-3, capable of creating plenty of chances for himself out of nothing. As good as Steven Gerrard is, he looked out of sorts at times when asked to play in a three man midfield, all of whom were technically considered “central midfielders”. We’ll see if the new additions can fit in more seamlessly this season.

Money Management: 6/10

Daniel Sturridge proved to be worth his transfer fee in just a couple months worth of play. Let’s hope he can continue where he left off now that he will be given a much more prominent role, especially if Luis Suarez departs. Philippe Coutinho was also a good bit of business and while the Clint Dempsey deadline saga didn’t end well, Rodgers got a decent amount back for Andy Carroll and put it to good use (in financial terms, the jury is out on results) in the form of the aforementioned Aspas, Luis Alberto, and also Kolo Toure and Simon Mignolet. He also did a good bit of business selling off Jonjo Shelvey for roughly £6 million.

Negotiating: 5/10

The Dempsey deadline saga last summer may or may not have been Rodgers’ fault entirely. In hindsight it appears there was a lot of mis-communication between Rodgers and the folks at Fenway Sports Group. Regardless, this Luis Suarez situation is getting out of hand quickly (assuming the club is trying to sell him, which nobody at Anfield seems to know for certani either) and Pepe Reina seems to think his own situation could have been handled much better.

Those aren’t the scores of a manager capable of returning to Europe and restoring glory to the ghosts of Anfield Past. Look around at his competitors for example. Despite a quiet summer of his own, Arsene Wenger has shown himself to be an excellent manager of his squad’s transfer coffers and has consistently produced a Top 4 finish to earn a big, fat Champions League paycheck. Jose Mourinho isn’t called “The Special One” for nothing. There’s turnover at both Manchester clubs, but David Moyes and Manuel Pellegrini have had great success with lesser clubs, though the latter seemed to spend out his welcome in Spain.

The bottom line is that I don’t believe Brendan Rodgers can be both a great “coach” and “general manager”. He seems to be much more suited for the former than the latter. But part of being a manager in modern football is being able to outsmart your competitors when it comes to financial negotiations. Time will tell if this transfer window proves to be more fruitful than his first one in 2012, but he’ll need to sharpen his off-the-pitch skills if he wants to bring in the talent necessary to take Liverpool back to the Champions League.


“Walk On With Hope In Your Heart And You’ll Never Walk Alone”

What’s New In Liverpool

 Posted by on July 21, 2013 at 7:51 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL
Jul 212013


It’s been a while since I wrote anything related to Liverpool Football Club on here. If I remember correctly, my last post involved giving mythical, wizard school grades to Liverpool’s players for their performances in 2012-13.

Now we’ve seen the 2013-14 fixtures (which I am unable to post thanks to the FA) and the team is currently getting up speed in the Land Down Under. Although Luis Suarez remains the biggest question mark at this point, Brendan Rodgers has still been busy throughout the silly season.

Let’s take stock of what the roster looks like…


Notable Departures: Pepe Reina (Loan), Danny Wilson

Notable Arrivals: Kolo Toure, Simon Mignolet

It seems we finally have an end to the Pepe Reina “saga” as he is set to join Napoli on loan for the entire 2013-14 season. The move was prompted by Liverpool signing Sunderland/Belgium standout Simon Mignolet who appears set to takeover the No.1 spot between the stick for the next few years. It’s always nice to have your goalkeeper situation settled long term and while Reina will be missed, Mignolet is an excellent replacement.

It is the back line that appears most in need of an upgrade at this time. Kolo Toure is a seasoned veteran, but he can’t be expected to start every single match week in and week out alongside Daniel Agger this season. If Martin Skrtel is on his way out, that leaves only Sebastian Coates as a true center back left on the roster to pair with Agger.

Liverpool have been dangling some offers out there to guys like Jeffrey Bruma (now with PSV Eindhoven) but Toure appears to be the only guy they really felt compelled to sign right away. I’d like to think Brendan Rodgers is waiting to complete a deal to sell Luis Suarez before pursuing another central defender, but it’s tough to tell at this point.

On the outside, Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique are still the top guys but the depth has shrunk a bit with the departure of Jack Robinson on loan to Wolverhampton Wanderers. I’ve read a lot of talk about Johnson and Enrique being a bit too stale to be the starters, but I think they’re good enough. It would be nice to have some quality guys behind them but for now we’ll have to settle for the recovering duo of Jon Flanagan/Martin Kelly and Andre Wisdom.


Notable Departures: Jonjo Shelvey, Conor Coady (Loan)

Notable Arrivals: None (Unless you want to call Luis Alberto a midfielder, which I don’t)

This is the part of the formation that needed the least amount of help from the transfer window. Philippe Coutinho has been an absolute revelation and Steven Gerrard has put pen to paper on a new two year deal. The departure of Jonjo Shelvey hurts a little bit, but I ran through the midfield several months ago during the season and made the case for the U-21 captain to be the odd man out. His move to Swansea is a rare deal that greatly benefits all parties involved. Jay Spearing may also be on the way out, but Jordan Henderson is on the cusp of making a gigantic leap this season and Joe Allen should be better if he can remain healthy.

Since BR loves to deploy a 4-3-3, there’s plenty of depth here for the time being.


Notable Departures: Andy Carroll, Suso (Loan)

Notable: Arrivals: Luis Alberto, Iago Aspas

Here’s where we’ve seen the most movement so far during the silly season. Andy Carroll was never going to fit in with what BR is trying to do and while Suso got a lot of playing time prior to Daniel Sturridge’s arrival, he’s still a year or so away.

The two newcomers are, if nothing else, intriguing. Both are capable of playing anywhere along the three forward line BR wants to use. Luis Alberto had double digit assists playing as a striker last season while Iago Aspas notched 12 goals. Their roles will depend heavily upon what happens with Luis Suarez. If he’s gone, I could see the two of them playing on either side of center forward Sturridge. If he stays, Alberto could wind up on the left wing with Aspas being relegated to the bench.

The Luis Suarez drama has been anything but productive. I’ve already said he needs to be sold while he still has value, but it appears no one out there is willing to pay the high price Liverpool have placed on his services. Even if he can’t be sold for full value, his transfer fee should command enough to buy quality center back, which is the team’s greatest need right now.

Bottom Line

Suarez needs to be sold in order to procure the funds to buy a partner for Daniel Agger in central defense. Other than that, any smaller/younger buys for depth at fullback would be nice, but it appears most of the team’s transfer business has already been completed.

If this is what the roster will look like come August then this is what I’d like to see BR trot out…


Johnson – Agger – Toure – Enrique

Gerrard – Lucas – Henderson

Sturridge – Suarez – L.Alberto

On paper this does not look like a team capable of claiming a Top 4 spot, which is disappointing considering the current landscape of the entire league. Manchester United will almost certainly take a step back, even if it’s just at the beginning of the season, with the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. Chelsea and Manchester City have made a couple big buys and look to be the top two contenders for the title next season. Arsenal haven’t made any upgrades and neither have their North London rivals Tottenham. The two most dangerous teams next season look like Everton and Swansea, who have made several brilliant acquisitions so far this summer. Both appear primed for a run at the Top 4.

The bottom line is Liverpool haven’t done enough to shore up their defense yet and if they want to get back to playing Champions League football, they would do well to buy a quality center back as soon as possible.

Jul 212013

No time to waste so let’s go to it!

Edinson Cavani

The Uruguayan center forward, long rumored to be on the move from Napoli, has finally completed a transfer: to Paris-Saint Germain. The leading scorer in Serie A last season, Cavani joins the Ligue 1 side after they ponied up a reported €64 million ($84 million) transfer fee.

Thiago (Alcantara)

The Barcelona winger was supposedly headed to Manchester United, but in fact joins German champions Bayern Munich for a new four year deal and a reported €25 million ($32.8 million) transfer fee. The move unites Thiago with his former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola.

Alvaro Negredo

The former Sevilla striker has joined Manchester City for a reported £20 million ($30.5 million) transfer fee.

Stevan Jovetic

In addition to Negredo, Manchester City have also procured the services of former Fiorentina striker Stevan Jovetic. The transfer fee is a reported €23 million ($30.2 million).

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

The highly sought after Shakhtar Donetsk attacking midfielder joins Borussia Dortmund for a reported €27.5 million ($36 million) transfer fee. Dortmund were able to beat out Liverpool, who were very much interested in the midfielder’s services.

Pepe Reina

The Liverpool goalkeeper is on his way to Napoli for a season long loan after the former went out and bought Belgian international Simon Mignolet.

Kevin Strootman

The PSV/Netherlands central midfielder joins AS Roma in Serie A for the next four years.

Jose Callejon

The highly scrutinized Real Madrid youth product has completed a permanent move to Napoli. Callejon has been the subject of several loan deals ever since coming out of the youth ranks in Madrid.

Oriol Romeu

The 21 year old Chelsea holding midfielder will join Valencia on loan for the upcoming season. Romeu came to London via Barcelona last summer.

Victor Wanyama

The central midfielder who helped Celtic advance from the group stage during the UEFA Champions League last season has joined Sunderland for a reported £12.5 million ($19 million) transfer fee believed to be a club record.

Jozy Altidore

And staying in England, Sunderland have purchased AZ Alkmaar striker Jozy Altidore and signed him to a four year deal.

Giovanni dos Santos

The Mexican international has completed a four year move from Mallorca to newly promoted Villareal in Spain.


The Atletico Madrid defender joins Portugal’s Benfica on loan after spending 2011-12 on loan at Deportivo.

Gerard Deulofeu

After an impressive performance at the U-20 World Cup for Spain, the young forward joins Everton on loan from Barcelona.

Carlos Bacca

The former Club Brugge striker joins Sevilla for a new five year deal and a reported €7 million ($9 million) transfer fee.

Joel Robles

The Atletico goalkeeper who spent last season on loan at Wigan is returning to England after joining Everton to sign a five year deal.

Marcus Berg

The Swedish international striker moves to Panathanaikos (Greece) from Hamburg and signs a new four year deal.

Giorgos Karagounis

And speaking of Greece, the veteran Greek center back has signed a new one year extension to remain at Fulham.

Martin Olsson

The Swedish defender completes a four year move from Blackburn to Norwich City.

Grant Holt

And last but not least (for now) the former Norwich super sub has completed a three year move to Wigan Athletic.