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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!”


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”

Silly Season Talk

 Posted by on May 21, 2013 at 9:24 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL, Liverpool
May 212013

It would seem that January’s transfer window success has buoyed Brendan Rodgers and Co.

Already we’re finding out that Liverpool have accepted a £15 million ($22.76 million) bid for Andy Carroll; though the towering striker has yet to make up his mind on his future. We’re also hearing rumors that free agent Kolo Toure is high on Brendan Rodgers’ wishlist as a (hopefully) short term replacement for Jamie Carragher. There’s also the matter of whether or not Pepe Reina will depart for Barcelona this summer. Rumor has it Stoke City’s Asmir Begovic would be high on the list of potential replacements.

Clearly we don’t have a lot of time to prognosticate so let’s get right to it. Here’s my top 3 needs for Liverpool this summer.

1. A Centerback To Replace Jamie Carragher

Although I’m not a fan of bringing in Kolo Toure (even on a 1-2 year deal), it’s reassuring to hear that this particular need is a priority for the management staff.

If Martin Skrtel also departs, then suddenly this isn’t just about having a guy available on the bench, but rather someone who is going to partner up with Daniel Agger for the long run.

Top Prospects: Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy-MLS), Ashley Williams (Swansea City-EPL), Hector Moreno (Espanyol-LaLiga)

Omar Gonzalez is as fast as he is powerful in the air. He might not be quite as technically gifted as Brendan Rodgers would like for his preferred style of play, but the young American is going to wind up in Europe in the next two years and Liverpool would do well to talk to LA about him. Ashley Williams is the most likely given Rodgers’ propensity towards choosing former players of his; although the price tag for Williams will be steep. Hector Moreno is another up and coming star out La Liga’s Espanyol. Much more technically gifted, but less imposing, than Gonzalez, Moreno is a good distributor out of the back who would thrive in Rodgers’ system.

2. A Winger To Bump Stewart Downing

If it’s not clear by now, I’m not a fan of Stewart Downing, especially as a starting winger in Rodgers’ 4-3-3 formation. Raheem Sterling still needs another year to mature and Oussama Assaidi continues to be ignored. Suso is still too young as well.

Ideally this would be someone left footed, but the key is that they have speed and get technical ability to create on their own out wide to free up space for Luis Suarez to make runs.

Top Prospects: Clint Dempsey (Tottenham-EPL), Nico Gaitan (Benfica-Primeira Liga), Zoran Tosic (CSKA Moscow-Russia)

Rumor has it Dempsey could already be on his way out of White Hart Lane after one season. If that’s the case, Liverpool would be downright stupid to let him get away a second time. Benfica’s Nico Gaitan is an excellent left sided winger who is currently being chased by Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen. He’s got the technical ability to fit right in from Day 1. Zoran Tosic has gone on the record saying he regrets asking out of Manchester United and what better way to get him back into the Premier League than by bringing him to Anfield. He’s got a wicked left footed free kick and has the dribbling ability to free up lanes for Suarez to run wild down the middle.

3. A Striker Capable Of Replacing Luis Suarez

If Luis Suarez departs this summer and Andy Carroll winds up at Upton Park, then suddenly we’re looking at just Daniel Sturridge and Fabio Borini. If Suarez stays, he’s still missing almost a quarter of the season due to his bone headed decision to take a bite out Branislav Ivanovic. Either way, Liverpool need a clinical striker waiting in the wings.

Top Prospects: Jackson Martinez (FC Porto-Primeira Liga), Edinson Cavani (Napoli-Serie A), Stevan Jovetic (Fiorentina-Serie A)

These are all very expensive prospects, so selling Luis Suarez would go a long way towards bringing one of them in. Jackson is a good tactical fit as a lone striker in a 4-3-3. Edinson Cavani is the most clinical finisher on the market and Jovetic might have the best individual skill set for this system.

End Of Term Grades: Forwards

 Posted by on May 16, 2013 at 10:37 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL, Liverpool
May 162013

For those of you who haven’t been following along so far, I’m grading the 2012-13 campaign for individual Liverpool players using the O.W.L. rating scale from Harry Potter.

Here’s a quicker refresher…


O = Outstanding

E= Exceeds Expectations

A = Acceptable


P = Poor

D = Dreadful

T = Troll


Let’s get going!

Luis Suarez: O (Outstanding)

This one is pretty obvious.

Putting aside his extreme case of the munchies against Chelsea, the Uruguayan striker had a phenomenal season practically carrying Liverpool on his back throughout the season. He finished in the top five in terms of league goals and continued to show that he may just be the third best player in the world behind Messi and Ronaldo. He did struggle against better competition, but more than made up for it with his performances against the lower half.

The important people continue to say he’s not going anywhere, but we can’t help but wonder if he isn’t becoming more trouble than he’s worth. This won’t isn’t about to play itself anytime soon.

Daniel Sturridge: E (Exceeds Expectations)

Sturridge was pretty much on his last stop when he came to Anfield from Chelsea in January after washing out with Manchester City. Infamous for a piss poor attitude and a very selfish, “me first” game on the field, Sturridge has turned out to be a wonderful addition. In half a season he managed to score 10 goals and will be expected to fill the void up top whether Suarez returns next season or not.

I’m still not 100% convinced he’s a good fit for what Brendan Rodgers wants to accomplish, but there’s no denying he has revitalized his career at Anfield.

Fabio Borini: A (Acceptable)

Borini missed a decent number of games in his first season at Anfield, but he has shown a bit of a nose for goal and he’s still very young with lots of playing time ahead of him. Rodgers loves former players of his so expect to see the young Italian  a lot more next season, perhaps with an increase in responsibility if Suarez and/or Andy Carroll depart permanently.

Oussama Assaidi: P (Poor)

The Moroccan winger also saw little playing time with the first team in his first season at Anfield. He has shown flashes of the skill needed to play under Brendan Rodgers, but he did not capitalize on his chances to impress nearly as much as Fabio Borini; especially in terms of goal production. We’ll see if he can break out and snatch a more favorable role from his biggest positional competition, Stewart Downing.

Raheem Sterling: A (Acceptable)

He seemed poised for a massive break out in the first half of the season, but his form and playing time tapered off as the season wore on. He still has some growing up to do, but he’s got some time to do so and if he continues to develop properly, he can be a major contributor in a few years.

End Of Term Grades: Midfielders

 Posted by on May 14, 2013 at 8:05 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL, Liverpool
May 142013

If you missed the first part of this whimsical series, I’m grading individual Liverpool players based on the Ordinary Wizarding Level (O.W.L.) rating scale from Harry Potter.

First it was the defenders (and Pepe Reina), so today we move on to the midfielders.

Steven Gerrard: A (Acceptable)

Yes, “acceptable” is the lowest passing grade on the scale (below E-Exceeds Expectations and O-Outstanding), but “acceptable” for Captain Fantastic is still well ahead of the curve. Before the arrival of Daniel Sturridge in January, Stevie G was the man picking up the scoring slack from Luis Suarez. He may be slowing down in old age, but he still hasn’t lost his workmanlike effort to get from box-to-box. Aside from Lucas, he’s shown that he might be the only midfielder capable of tracking back in defense properly.

Lucas Leiva: E (Exceeds Expectations)

Speaking of the Brazilian holding midfielder…

He has fought through enormous injury-driven setbacks and still he remains a solid holding midfielder. If anything, his defensive responsibilities increased dramatically this year under Brendan Rodgers’ preferred 4-3-3 formation. He’s had to go it alone in defense sometimes and any shortcomings from the Liverpool defense as a whole are hardly his fault. His job is thankless and not very sexy, but he does it admirably despite constant fitness issues.

Joe Allen: P (Poor)

To recap: the failing scale is Poor (P), Dreadful (D), and Troll (T).

After a spectacular 2011-12 season under Rodgers at Swansea, Allen got off to a great start in 2012-13 before inconsistency and fitness issues crept in. There’s no denying that the Welshman is a fine passer of the ball. Unfortunately, that’s really his one and only elite skill. Before his shoulder surgery he was exposed as a bit of a one dimensional player. He can’t track back well enough to be a central midfielder in a 4-3-3 and he’s not the greatest dribbler under pressure either.

He’ll need to bounce back quickly from his fitness issues if he’s going to reclaim a starting spot from Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson.

Jordan Henderson: E (Exceeds Expectations)

Expectations may not have been that high after the 2011-12 season he had under Kenny Dalglish, but Jordan Henderson is finally starting to look like a starting midfielder in the English Premier League.

While he only tallied five goals and four assists, he showed a lot of quality in areas that aren’t measured well statistically. He has developed a dangerous boot on set pieces and while he may not always execute properly, he has shown flashes of the intelligence and speed of though required to play the kind of game Brendan Rodgers prefers. He can see the play develop in front of him and is always thinking one or two steps ahead.

Be prepared to see more of him in 2013-14.

Philippe Coutinho: O (Outstanding)

I would’ve said “exceeds expectations” but quite frankly, none of us had any expectations for him coming into the second half of the season. He’s only 20, but he arrived at Inter Milan with great expectations that he couldn’t meet.

Now he looks like he could be a true No.10 for the next 10 years. His passing skills appear to rival those of Xabi Alonso. He’s a great fit for the “tiki taka” 4-3-3. If you saw him on the street you’d never think he could stand up to the physicality of the English top flight, but he showed no such issues after arriving from Inter. If he still has room to grow another inch or two and works on his strength in the offseason, he could wind up being better than Juan Mata in the next year or two.

He might end up being the best purchase Liverpool makes in the 2013 calendar year.

Jonjo Shelvey: P (Poor)

This doesn’t have as much to do with the youngster’s ability as it does with his inability to cooperate with Brendan Rodgers. Rodgers has neglected to use him despite having a less than 100% healthy midfield throughout the season.

He has shown a propensity towards the spectacular, but he made need another year or two before he’s capable of playing regular first team minutes. I recently questioned what Liverpool should do if it comes down to Shelvey or Jordan Henderson and I’ve come to the conclusion that someone out there will still be a solid fee for the former’s services.

He just doesn’t seem to fit what Brendan Rodgers wants and Liverpool would do well to cash in while they still can.

Stewart Downing: P (Poor)

He played more often with the front three, but he’s still a midfielder at heart. Unfortunately he struggled to consistently perform well throughout the season. He’s a good tactical fit, but his first touch and his passing aren’t up to the standard necessary for Brendan Rodgers’s style. Downing is probably better suited as a wide midfielder in a very direct 4-4-2 type of system and so we’re left to wonder if he’ll ever fit in properly.


Stay tuned for the forwards at the end of the week!

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

May 132013

With the season 2012-13 effectively over for Liverpool, I wanted to look back and evaluate each individual player; not entirely unusual among the blog-0sphere. Most people like to use a rating scale of 1-10 or (if you grew up with an American education) A-F letter grades.

Well forget that!

I’m going to grade based on the academic rating system of everyone’s favorite boy wizard: Harry Potter.

If by some chance you’re a nerd or you’ve been living under a rock for the last 15 years, Harry Potter attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for six years. During his fifth year, he and his classmates were required to take Ordinary Wizarding Level (O.W.L.) exams. The scale is easy to understand whether you know the story or not.

Passing Grades

Outstanding (O)

Exceeds Expectations (E)

Acceptable (A)

Failing Grades

Poor (P)

Dreadful (D)

Troll (T)


Let’s get started!

Pepe Reina: A (Acceptable)

The Spanish international is not what he once was. Even going back to this time last season, we’ve watched Pepe Reina’s skills and (more importantly) judgement slowly diminish. The once rock solid Reina has been seen making poor decisions and letting in soft goals that a younger man probably could have prevented.

That being said, he wasn’t a total disaster and he has managed to record 13 clean sheets in 30 league appearances this season.

Daniel Agger: E (Exceeds Expectations)

The Danish international has made 35 league appearances and managed to score three goals as well. Agger proved to be the rock in the middle of a very inconsistent backline. A solid passer and above average on the ball (for your average central defender), Agger might be the defender best equipped to flourish in Brendan Rodgers’s high pressing system.

Unfortunately, the same probably can’t be said for his first team partner…

Martin Skrtel: P (Poor)

2012-13 has gotten progressively worse for the Slovakian center back. He’s only made 24 appearances this season and recorded 2 goals. He has received a lot less playing time, even when healthy, the second half of the season. You have to wonder if he’s on his way out the door this summer as Brendan Rodgers looks to get more involved in the transfer window. Skrtel seems just a half step too slow to recover from playing the kind of high back line that Rodgers desires. He was also caught flat footed on quite a few set pieces throughout the season.

Glen Johnson: E (Exceeds Expectations)

Johnson does enjoy getting forward in the attack and that’s what Brendan Rodgers likes from his fullbacks. Johnson has only managed to score one league goal this season and serve up four assists, but I think he has improved the defensive aspect of his game tremendously this season. He’s put in some great performances this year locking down top class wingers around the league.

It’s too bad the same can’t be said for his left sided colleague…

Jose Enrique: A (Acceptable)

The Spanish international did manage to produce two goals and four assists and did a great job supporting the attack on the flanks this season. Unfortunately, he has been exposed for being too slow to handle the elite wingers around the EPL. Granted, he makes up for his lack of speed with smart decisions but unfortunately he just can’t up with quicker attackers.

He’s not likely to go anywhere, but Liverpool would do well to bring in some reinforcements to back up Enrique, whether it’s giving Jack Robinson more first team reps or finding an outside source.

Jamie Carragher: A (Acceptable)

The Albus Dumbledore of Liverpool’s defense, Carragher has been respectable filling in for the out of favor Skrtel this season. He has announced this will be his last season and he’ll ride off into the sunset a hero in the history books at Anfield.

But none of that changes the fact that he probably stuck around one or two years too old. He may still be sharp as a tack, but the veteran Englishman won’t be winning any sprint races anytime soon and it has been painfully evident this season. Center back will be the team’s No.1 priority heading into the transfer window this summer.

Sebastian Coates: T (Troll)

Stunning bicycle kicks aside, the Uruguayan center back has looked and played like a troll this season. As far as I’m concerned he needs to be gone next season, whether it’s a season long loan or a permanent sale. This team needs serious help on defense and that means at least two purchases for the backline this summer.

Martin Kelly: Incomplete

Unfortunately the promising young defender has spent the vast  majority of this season injured. Hopefully it won’t wind up being a huge step back in his development as he has shown a ton of potential going back to last season under Kenny Dalglish.

Andre Wisdom: P (Poor)

The youngster showed his inexperience despite starting 12 league matches this season. He’s not quite clever enough to be a center back and he’s too slow to be a fullback. I’m not so sure he needs to be sold; he can still be a quality backup. But it’s tough to justify playing him in significant first team minutes next season.


Stay tuned for the midfielders!


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


May 082013


So that was pretty cool, no?

It’s not the first brilliant goal we’ve seen from Jonjo Shelvey and it probably won’t be the last. But could it be his last in a Liverpool uniform?

After watching that goal I stopped and looked at the midfield situation going into this summer. After all, there’s nothing left for Liverpool to play for this season so we find ourselves thinking about these sorts of things. The important thing to keep in mind is that Brendan Rodgers is pretty set in his ways with a 4-3-3 formation. Therefore, we can only play three midfielders at a time and all of them much be centrally located.

So with that in mind, here’s the list of Liverpool’s current central midfielders capable of playing for the first team…


-Steven Gerrard: Old and ailing, Captain Fantastic is calling it quits with a few games to go in order to have some work done on his shoulder

-Lucas Leiva: The only true “holding” midfielder currently on the roster

-Philippe Coutinho: Suddenly looks like a natural No.10 and he’s only 20 years old

-Joe Allen: Had a very inconsistent first season at Anfield and currently out nursing a injury

-Jordan Henderson: Greatly improved in his second season at Anfield and appears capable of starting for the next few years

-Jonjo Shelvey: Capable of the spectacular, but hasn’t seen much first team action under Brendan Rodgers

-Jay Spearing: Currently on loan and didn’t exactly light the world on fire under Kenny Dalglish


This doesn’t include any potential signings this summer and Rodgers has been talking like there will be a decent number of purchases; although there are far greater needs at the moment. As old and frail as Captain Fantastic might appear, we have to assume he’s going to start if healthy. I feel like Lucas HAS to play because he’s the only one on that list who can defend properly. Coutinho suddenly looks like he could be Kaka in 2-3 years and he was just purchased in February.

Barring the purchase of a Christian Eriksen-caliber player this summer, I had to think that those three guys are starting from Week 1 next season. So that leaves Allen, Henderson, Shelvey, and Spearing battling for the chance to be the first option off the bench. Joe Allen was very inconsistent before finally being shelved, but it’s his first year and Rodgers has shown a certain propensity towards former players of his. Jordan Henderson has improved tremendously since this time last season. I think he’s better than Allen at this point and should be the first option off the bench if he’s not starting.

So what does BR do with Jonjo Shelvey and Jay Spearing? I have to think there are some teams out there willing to take a chance on Shelvey going forward. They’d probably be willing to pay too. Jay Spearing may be tougher to get rid of and could find up rotting on the reserve squad. I’m more concerned about Shelvey than Spearing. I feel like he is close to breaking out the way Henderson did this season, but on this roster (without any talented additions) he’s surplus and probably needs to go.

It may come back to haunt Liverpool, but Shelvey and Spearing probably need to be offloaded this summer while there are still takers. They’re going to need the money if BR is going to spend the way he’s suggesting this summer.


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

What Can Philippe Do For You?

 Posted by on April 29, 2013 at 7:55 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL, Liverpool
Apr 292013

Who is Philippe Coutinho?

A lot of us were probably asking ourselves that question when Brendan Rodgers pulled the trigger to bring in the 20 year old Brazilian midfielder from Inter in January.

Saturday’s 6-0 rout at St. James Park gave us a pretty good idea of what Coutinho (as FIFA13 so affectionately calls him) can bring to the table over the next few years. I even found myself wondering if he is, perhaps, the next Steven Gerrard.

(Grabs a frying pan to defend myself)

Now wait just a minute! Let me explain!

Captain Fantastic is one of the five best players in the history of Liverpool Football Club. That kind of player only comes around once in a lifetime. It certainly doesn’t hurt that said best players have all come from the British Isles. For all of Liverpool’s history, they’ve had very few foreign superstars in their ranks over the years. So no, Coutinho will never be what Steven Gerrard has meant to this club off the field.

But on the field there are some similarities.

Coutinho is not a box-to-box, blue collar workman like Gerrard. You won’t find the Brazilian playing like, say, his countryman Lucas Leiva. Saturday’s match, however, did show us that Coutinho has the ability to single handedly generate beautiful, attacking football the way Gerrard did when he was a younger man. Coutinho played like a true No.10 setting up his teammates for some excellent goals. He played some fantastic through balls on the ground and in the air and he got everyone involved. He even showed some flashes of brilliance shooting from long range a couple times.

He looked like he was capable of inspiring a Liverpool side that could have easily thrown in the towel after losing their one and only reliable goal scorer to a lengthy suspension. He looked like a player comfortable with being a captain long after Captain Fantastic rides off into the sunset. His unselfishness made everyone around him better.

This is all several years away though.

In the meantime, he’ll need to get stronger and perhaps work on the more defensive aspects of playing in the center part of the midfield. In a 4-3-3 there is a need for all three midfielders to track back and defend; to retrieve possession. He’ll also want to improve his long range shooting since that’s where a lot of his scoring opportunities are going to come from.

But the future does look bright and I see no reason why the club would want to sell him 2-3 years from now. Hopefully he’ll want to stick around that long and pick up the mantle after Steven Gerrard departs.


The Pro And The Con Of Luis Suarez

 Posted by on April 22, 2013 at 9:15 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL, Liverpool
Apr 222013

I have no “Luis Suarez bit Branislav Ivanovic” jokes. The Internet burnt through them in about an hour.

Now that the aftermath of what happened has (somewhat) settled, Liverpool have a decision to make about what to do with Luis Suarez this summer.

Before Sunday’s incident, I made it pretty clear that I was worried about a seemingly destined move to Bayern Munich over the summer for the controversial Uruguayan. Juventus have played down rumors of Suarez heading to Turin, but it would be a good move for all parties involved if it came to fruition.

Now it’s hard to tell if teams will be willing to pay top dollar for the baggage that comes with such a brilliant striker.

Let’s say for the sake of argument, that nobody is willing to purchase Suarez’s services this summer. Should Liverpool want him back? I made a pros/cons list for Andy Carroll several weeks ago and I’d say now is as good a time as any for Suarez.

I will warn you though: the list is quite short. There is really only one pro and one con in this discussion.

Pro: He’s quite possibly the third best footballer in the world

Steven Gerrard has said as much and even the most passionate Liverpool haters would have to at least respect such a strong opinion.

If it weren’t for all his antics, more people might be inclined to make such a bold statement. When he’s on his game, Luis Suarez is an incredibly dangerous goal scoring threat. He makes brilliant runs. When the ball is at his feet, it stays there. He is always in control and always seems to be one step ahead of his opposing defenders. He can score from almost any angle and he can do it with any part of his body.

Liverpool need a player of this caliber. If Suarez were to depart, this team would be fighting for its lives in a relegation battle. He is the first Liverpool player to score 30 goals in a season since Fernando Torres. Only Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, and Robbie Fowler have accomplished such a feat during their time at Anfield. Like it or not, he is in historic territory with one of the most prestigious clubs in the world.

He’s also the perfect fit for what Brendan Rodgers wants to accomplish. Suarez does not relinquish possession easily and he knows how to find his teammates while being double and triple teamed by opponents. He is, quite frankly, the only true goal scoring threat on Brendan Rodgers’ squad as it is currently constructed.

It speaks volumes about Suarez’s ability that a club as proud as Liverpool are even considering holding onto him through the summer after what he has done.

Con: He’s bat $h!# crazy!

This is actually the SECOND time that Suarez has bitten an opponent during a match. He managed to grab the attention of Mike Tyson via Twitter.

Then there’s the matter of his blatant disrespect for the game in South Africa in 2010.

And let’s not forget his incident with Patrice Evra last season that resulted in an eight game suspension.

Which is why bringing Suarez back could be detrimental to Liverpool’s 2013-14 campaign next season. The FA are already talking as if three games is not enough this time around. Suppose Suarez gets another eight game suspension: now he misses several games to start the following season as well. I can understand wanting to put up with Suarez for his brilliant play, but he cannot help the team if he is constantly being banned for whatever reason. At this rate you could pretty much put money on the man missing at least 10% of next season’s league schedule, if not more.

Then there’s the matter of appearances. The club’s already dinged up reputation will take a bigger hit if they bring him back now. Sponsors will only tolerate so much before they say “No thank you” to a lucrative deal. Even Liverpool’s most loyal supporters are being tested right now.

To bring back Luis Suarez next season would almost certainly seal the club’s fate as a red-headed stepchild that no player, sponsor, manager, or fan wants to be a part of going forward.

At this point there’s nothing left to do but wait. There’s really no point in speculating further at this time.

No one, not even Suarez himself, knows where he will be come August of 2013.

Apr 082013

That was the question being asked ahead of Sunday’s clash with West Ham.

The scoreless draw has put Liverpool’s Europa League hopes in jeopardy. It also served to highlight just how inconsistent the Reds have played this season.

But it did not answer “the question”. In times of such doubt, I find it best to make a pros and cons list.

Con: Dribbling

Ready for some shocking insight?

Andy Carroll is NOT Luis Suarez!

The towering English striker has little to no technical ability to speak of whatsoever. As a result, he is not a good fit for the style of play that Rodgers wants to see out of his team.

Pro: Aerial Prowess

Carroll is more than capable of scoring with his upper half. While his technical ability (or lack thereof) hinders his chances with Rodgers, his tactical ability to play as a lone striker could be of great assistance.

With natural wingers like Stewart Downing, Raheem Sterling, Suso, and Oussama Assaidi on either side of him, Carroll would be ideal starting alone up top in a 4-3-3 formation.

Con: Attitude

Age and time away from Anfield haven’t exactly caused Carroll to mature. He still carries off the field baggage and Brendan Rodgers has made it quite clear that he will not tolerate dissent among his ranks.

Pro: Depth

If nothing else, Andy Carroll is one more true striker to add to the roster. If Luis Suarez leaves this summer then suddenly Carroll looks like a good option with only Daniel Sturridge and a hobbled Fabio Borini to compete with.

By my tally that’s a 2-2 draw. Ultimately it remains to be seen if Andy Carroll can in fact provide any benefit next year. The deciding factor could end up being financial. Carroll won’t fetch the same fee that Liverpool paid for him, but Rodgers may have to take what he can get if he lacks transfer funds this summer.

As of right now, I say he gets sold. And I’d say that’s the right move.