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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”

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.

Confederations Cup Preview: Uruguay

 Posted by on June 12, 2013 at 9:15 pm  Blogs/Media
Jun 122013
uruguay flag 300x203 Confederations Cup Preview: Uruguay

Could this be the flag of the future Confederations Cup champions?

Despite being one of the smallest countries to ever play in the Confederations Cup and the World Cup, Uruguay is one of the most storied national teams in all of international football. Winners of the original World Cup in 1930 and the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, this is a club that has had legends like Hector Scarrone, Oscar Miguez, Jose Nasazzi, and Obdulio Varela on their side. A country whose footballing history dates back to the 1880’s, they are one of football’s giants, even if their country only has a population of a little over 3 million.
Uruguay took a bit of a nap in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, missing out on qualification for the 1994, 1998, and 2006 World Cups and only winning the Copa America once in 1995 at home. The past few years have been different though as the club finished fourth in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and won the 2011 Copa America.

As previously mentioned, Uruguay qualified for the Confederations Cup by defeating Paraguay 3-0 in the Copa America. Uruguay has won four Copa America titles and eleven South American Championships, which is the predecessor to the Copa America.


Simply put, there is no team in the Confederations Cup that can match Uruguay on the offensive side of the ball. Based off of tonight’s performance against Venezuela and their victory over France, it seems as if the team clicking offensively. With a three headed monster of Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani, and Diego Forlan this club should be able to score goals at will on their opponents. So far in World Cup Qualifying, Suarez has scored 9 goals in the competition, including 4 against Chile in November. When you add in Cavani’s 5 and Forlan’s 3 you have yourself quite a potent combination of forwards up front. I honestly fear that the Uruguay-Tahiti game may go into the double digits.
But I think this tournament will be a great asset for Uruguay’s qualification hopes for the World Cup. It provides Tabarez an excellent opportunity to gauge his team’s depth and to give their younger players a chance to progress. In a South American country, they will not to put on a poor performance. Also with players like Suarez, Forlan, and midfielder Cristian Ramirez looking to move on to bigger clubs this tournament could provide them with an important opportunity to showcase their skills on the world stage. It is important both for the general health of the squad and for their World Cup aspirations that they take this tournament seriously.


Qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil has not been easy for Uruguay. After last night’s victory over Venezuela, the team currently stands in fifth place, tied on points with Venezuela and only two points ahead of Peru. Fifth place will only guarantee them a playoff with a representative from the AFC. They are five points behind Chile for fourth with four games left to play. Among those last four games are two road games to Argentina and Colombia, and two home matches with Peru and Ecuador. Not a very easy road to travel to Brazil 2014.

Their biggest problem has been their defense. They have allowed in 21 goals in matches, which is tied for the second highest CONMEBOL competition (Only Bolivia is higher with 23.) There are also some very bad losses and draws in the record book, including a 4-0 pasting by Bolivia, a 1-1 draw with Paraguay, and losing 4-0 to Colombia.

Age is also part of the problem: while the club that played in South Africa was a young talented squad about to reach its potential, it appears that their performance has peaked. Players like Diego Forlan (although he did just score a wonderful goal in a friendly against France last week) and Diego Lugano have lost a bit of a step. For this team to have success both in the Confederations Cup and in World Cup qualifying it must start using its younger players like Gaston Ramirez of Southampton and Nicolas Lodeior of Botafogo. And for a team that has a porous defense it needs Sebastian Coates to finally live up to his talent. You could see it happening a little at the end of the season with Liverpool. He seemed much more comfortable with his assignments and his passing had improved.

While Uruguay should have no problem with Tahiti, Spain still has a better squad than Uruguay and should take them to task. Whether or not Uruguay advances will solely depend on how they can handle the raw speed and athleticism of Nigeria. This is a team that showed in the Africa Cup of Nations that it can blindside teams on the counter-attack. When Uruguay against clubs like Colombia and Venezuela, you can tell that they struggle against faster squads. Even if Uruguay does make it through, it will have a difficult time with teams like Brazil,Italy, Japan, and Mexico (I am still trying to figure out who it makes with through that group of death.) While I am sure Coach Oscar Tabarez would like to win another trophy before he leaves next year, he must take this opportunity to find out what he has in this squad. It is better to lose a game in the Confederations Cup than the World Cup.


There are plenty of players that are worth watching on this Uruguayan team. I could write 3000 words on Diego Forlan alone. But this squad depends on the success on the skill and attitude of Luis Suarez. When he is on, he is one of the best players in the world. A menacing forward who can make impossible goals realistic, who can take the tightest of spots and make it seem like there is ten feet between him and the defender. In addition to the nine goals that he has scored for Uruguay during World Cup Qualification, he scored 30 goals in all competitions for Liverpool last season. From all indications he is fiercely loyal to his teammates and gives it his all during every match. While many look at the hand ball incident at the 2010 World Cup as one of the most heinous incidents in all of professional sports, the fact of the matter is that had he not done it his team would have been gone from the World Cup. It may not have been pretty, it may not have been professional, but it worked. And besides it was nowhere near as bad as the dive by Cote D’Ivoire midfielder Kader Keita that had Kaka sent off.

That being said, many of Mr. Suarez’s actions both with club and country are indefensible. He has to realize when his actions on the pitch are counter-productive to his team. Biting players and using racial slurs will not make him a better player or an attractive asset to the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, two of his potential suitors. He has to keep his head in the game and must learn to play within the rules. Unfortunately at this point because of his reputation he may not be able to do that.

Playing on an international stage like the Confederations Cup gives Suarez a unique opportunity to change the narrative that is associated with his career. If he can lift his team to glory, he sets his squad up for being serious contenders for next year’s World Cup and for a massive payday with whatever club team would want him. If he chooses to act like a fool, however, Uruguay will suffer and he will never be mentioned of the world’s great players.


Goalkeepers: Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray,) Juan Castillo (Danubio,) and Martin Silva (Olimpia.)

Defenders: Diego Lugano-Captain (Malaga,) Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid,) Sebastian Coates (Liverpool,) Matias Aguirregarray (Penarol,) Maxi Perreira (Benfica,) Andres Scotti (Nacional,) and Martin Caceres (Juventus.)

Midfielders: Walter Gargano (Internazionale,) Alvaro Pereira (Internazionale,) Cristian Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid,) Sebastian Eguren (Libertad,) Nicolas Lodeiro (Botafogo,) Diego Perez (Bologna,) Egidio Arevalo Rios (Palermo,) Gaston Ramirez (Southampton,) and Alvaro Gonzalez (Lazio.)

Forwards: Luis Suarez (Liverpool,) Diego Forlan (Internacional,) Abel Hernandez (Palermo,) and Edinson Cavani (Napoli.)


June 16th: Spain vs. Uruguay
June 20th: Nigeria vs. Uruguay
June 23rd: Tahiti vs. Uruguay

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.

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.

(Almost) Mid-Week Musings

 Posted by on March 27, 2013 at 10:46 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL, Liverpool
Mar 272013

Liverpool had the weekend off thanks to World Cup qualifying, so let’s go through some rapid fire questions to reset.

Will Luis Suarez leave Anfield this summer?

Yes. Yes he will.

Juventus are playing coy and it’s no secret Suarez is Pep Guardiola’s number one target for Bayern Munich. About a month ago I wrote about all the reasons why Suarez would want to leave. It basically boils down to his desire to play in the Champions League next season. Steven Gerrard himself has said the volatile Uruguayan forward deserves as much.

Should Suarez depart, he will bring in quite the payday but it will also deal a serious blow to Liverpool’s hopes at being competitive next year. The Reds have no backup plan for Suarez and they’re also going to need some upgrades to the center back and goalkeeper positions. But if you believe the rumors, Brendan Rodgers won’t have much to spend.

And speaking of goalkeepers…

Is Guillermo Ochoa the next Liverpool keeper?

Ochoa has been wallowing in Ligue 1 with Ajaccio lately. He also managed to earn a start in goal for his native Mexico against the United States on Tuesday. His start was controversial as Jesus Corona seems to be the next big thing in goal for Mexico.

So why did Ochoa get the nod? Reports are surfacing that Ochoa got the start in an effort to help earn himself a work permit in England. Why England? So he can join Liverpool of course!

Personally I’m not wild about the idea of Ochoa replacing Pepe Reina as the starter, but he would definitely serve as a suitable backup; though I’m not sure why that’s necessary since Brad Jones has done well this season.

What’s the deal with Joe Allen?

One week Brendan Rodgers is saying the Welsh central midfielder needs surgery, the next he’s starting him. Now it turns out Allen is in fact having surgery and will miss the rest of the year.

I would say this is a huge blow, but Liverpool blew their last chance at a Top 4 run when they lost 3-1 to Sunderland. Not only that, but Jordan Henderson has proven himself more than capable of performing well.

Is Jordan Henderson Liverpool’s Most Improved Player This Season?


He’s still not living up to his hefty 2011 transfer fee from Sunderland, but he has come a long way from being the punching bad he once was. He’s notched three assists in league play despite inconsistent playing time and he has developed a fine shot from long range. Look for him to continue turning heads now that Joe Allen is done for the season.

Will Liverpool bounce back against Aston Villa this weekend?


There aren’t enough adjectives to describe how poor Villa have been this season. Granted, they defeated Liverpool in the first meeting this season but the Reds have had time to rest and collect themselves and the loss to Sunderland is still fresh in their minds.

Look for Suarez to do what he does best and torture the Villa backline single-handedly.

Prediction: Liverpool 3-1 Aston Villa

Look At The Big Picture

 Posted by on March 17, 2013 at 8:56 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL, Liverpool
Mar 172013

*Full Disclosure-I did not watch the match on Saturday*

But that’s also not what I want to discuss right now.

Saturday’s starting lineup featured Joe Allen, who is supposedly due for surgery any day now according to Brendan Rodgers. Meanwhile regular holding midfielder Lucas was nowhere to be found. Liverpool were thoroughly outplayed by a Southampton side fighting to avoid relegation and lost 3-1.

That, however, was just one game. Brendan Rodgers can be forgiven for one or two puzzling lineup decisions. But take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Liverpool have been outscored 5-0 by West Brom, lost 3-1 a few months ago to a pitiful Aston Villa side, and they’ve struggled mightily against quality sides; Manchester United and Arsenal in particular.

Recently we heard some harsh criticism from Nuri Sahin, who failed to impress in the first half of the season. Sahin complained that Brendan Rodgers insisted on playing him out of position as an advanced playmaker in the midfield as opposed to his more natural holding midfield position. The Turkish international was apparently not pleased with Rodgers’ tactical inflexibility.

While Rodgers appears to have had a good January with signings of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho, it is hard to ignore the botched attempt to sign Clint Dempsey even after letting Andy Carroll go on loan.

All of this put together makes me wonder if Rodgers is, in fact, the right man for the job at Anfield. We’ve been asked to be patient with regard to the Welshman bringing in the right players for his system. So far it appears the current roster has done well to adapt. The offense is flowing, but just as much for the opposing team as for the Reds. Can the defense be solved with one or two additions this summer? Perhaps. But as I’ve said many times before, you cannot wait 3-5 years to build a great club in modern football. You need the desire (and the funds) to go out get the best available players at any given position at any given time. But Rodgers doesn’t want the best players available, he simply wants the best who can play his game. That kind of tactical stubbornness will only get you so far. You have to be willing and able to adapt. Nuri Sahin’s comments suggest Rodgers isn’t prepared to do so.

At nine points out, Liverpool’s hopes of a Top 4 finish have faded fast with Saturday’s loss. Luis Suarez could possible be on the way out this summer and the talisman Steven Gerrard is running out of time. If a return to Champions League football is the goal, Liverpool are not doing themselves any favor right now.

Maybe it’s time to be proactive and make a change at manager before everything becomes too much about the Brendan Rodgers Way.


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

Dare To Dream!

 Posted by on March 11, 2013 at 9:35 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL, Liverpool
Mar 112013

“You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger Darling…”

If you’ve seen the movie Inception, hopefully you’re chuckling a little bit. But Liverpool doubters should not laugh at those of us dreaming of a return to the UEFA Champions League.

Brendan Rodgers’ men passed their second toughest remaining test as they erased an early blown lead and defeated Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 on Sunday at Anfield. Luis Suarez got the Reds on the board early, but they fell behind thanks to Jan Vertonghen. Eventually, Steven Gerrard did what he does best and stepped up to score a clutch penalty kick that gave Liverpool the victory.

It was display of both the best and worst the Reds have to offer. Philippe Coutinho linked up brilliantly with Suarez for the first goal. The defense showed they are not as strong as we once thought by letting Spurs back into the match. Then Captain Fantastic stepped up in the clutch to save the day.

Your 2012-13 Liverpool squad summed up perfectly in 90 minutes.

Now all you have to do is glance at the league table and see why Reds fans are so optimistic.  Although they have a game in hand, Liverpool currently sit just seven points behind Chelsea for the fourth and final Champions League spot. Of their nine remaining league matches, only three come against squads in the top half of the table: Chelsea, Everton, and Fulham (who currently sit 10th). Four of those nine come against four of the five worst teams in the league: Southampton, Reading, Aston Villa, and QPR. A clear path to fourth place lies before this squad.

And I believe they can make it.

It was a bit odd to hear in the middle of Sunday’s match that Joe Allen will require shoulders, only to see the Welsh midfielder take the field as a sub moments later. But there are bright spots like the newcomer Coutinho and the ever improving Jordan Henderson who can step up in his absence. Stewart Downing’s goal suggests he has a horseshoe tucked away in his back pocket. Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard continue to do their thing and lead the way by example. Yes, the backline is still shaky but if Liverpool can continue to score at their current rate they need not worry so much.

So get excited Liverpool fans. Our dream is not as far fetched as some would have us believe.


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