Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Glasgow agog as Gers gubbed

Chain chasing at melwood this week.

I've two friendlies and four goals to report on this sunny bank holiday Monday in Dublin.

The Villareal match was pretty boring. It was arranged as part of the Riena deal a few years back. It had the look of a friendly about it, which is what it was. The only noteworthy incidents were seeing Keane wearing the shirt for the first time and seeing the reception that our Spanish heroes got from the home crowd. That Torres chap seems to be quite popular.

Then we paid a visit to Ibrox to put Rangers back in their box. I have no interest in Scottish football myself, especially the sectarian bullshit that goes on between the old firm. I think it's particularly brainless when you see somebody like Robbie Keane get booed by Rangers fans because he's Irish. Similarly, Celtic fans booed David Healy when playing for Fulham in recent weeks. That's not far off the bad old days when black players would get booed in my book.

Given all that, it was especially satisfying to see us wallop Rangers 4-0. Torres, Yossi, Ngog and Xabi managed to get on the score sheet. It's a pity that Robbie didn't join them. The Echo give N'Gog a glowing report. The young Frenchman scored the goal of the game when he beat a defender or two before firing past the keeper from distance. He could be the surprise package of this season. I would expect that he'll be used like Babel was last year, mainly from the bench to run at tired defenses in the last half hour of games. The Mail tips him as one of ten Prem teens to look out for this season.

Kevin McCarra suggests that King Kenny was the greatest British footballer from the last 50 years. Who am I to argue?

Despite hearing this on Wednesday, we heard this later in the week from O'Neil. Rafa says that he doesn't want to or need to unload Xabi. We'll see about that. If we do sign Barry, which is looking likely, then I think we'll have too many midfielders and one of them will have to be let go. Xabi is the obvious one to be sold in that scenario. Reports today say that Arsenal will sign him when we sign Barry. The Guardian reckon they've made an opening bid in the region of £10m but we want something nearer £18m.

Sky suggest Roma are interested in Yossi. How about De Rossi coming the other way if the Barry deal falls through?

One player we won't be seeing this season is Leto. He's been refused a work permit and is off on loan to Olympiakos for the season. I hope he makes a go of it there.

We drew Standard Liège in the champions league third round qualifiers. That's a handy enough draw and we really shouldn't have any problems over two legs. It would have been much worse if we drew Atletico Madrid, although El Nino would have been happy to go home for a visit. It would be nice if we drew them in the group stages.

I'm off to enjoy the sun while it lasts. I doubt it will be for long.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Robbie keen on Reds

He's always been a red but now it's official. Rafa's signed a premiership star who's going to drive us crazy with his goals and passes and Eto'o promised to do years ago.. He wants the premiership. As Captain Picard would say, "make it so".
Love at first sight.

The BBC website has a video of his press conference. The money quote from Robbie's unveiling:
"My whole family are Liverpool fans. I remember every Christmas asking for jerseys and tracksuits – it's great now that I get the tracksuits for free!"
Good to see he's remaining true to his roots, although, there's no accounting for taste. Chris De Burgh? Jaysus.

Check out some of Keane's goals here, here, here and here.

Here's what Lawro said about Torres last summer. Now he seems unimpressed wiht the Keane signing. Hopefully he'll be equally wrong this time around. Personally I'm very excited about the signing. I think his record shows us that he almost guarantees you around 15 league goals per season. It's interesting to note that he gets as many goals away as at home, as we saw at Anfield last season. I think he'll be another match winner to add to Torres, Gerrard and hopefully Babel if he continues to improve. This added goals and attacking threat should help us to win matches we drew last year.

I listened to some of the Hertha Berlin 0-0 draw on the e-season ticket. The only real incident of note seems to be the Voronin penalty miss. You can read the Liverpool Echo report here.

Rafa continues to hoover up Spanish teens like there's no tomorrow. The latest addition is Emmanuel Mendy, an 18 year old right/left back who'll go straight in the reserves.

Here's an interesting Rawk article on our defence. He thinks it'll be Agger and Skrtel and I'm inclined to agree, but I'm sure Carra will get his fair share of games. He's still the best organiser and leader in the defense.

The Ngog deal was completed for £1.5m as he only had a season left on his contract. Rafa says that he'll make a contribution to the first team. I expect him to get games in the Babel and Kuyt positions last season.

The Guardian have reprinted an old interview with Bill Shankly. Fantastic stuff.

The official site had an interview with Rafa's chief scout, Eduardo Macia. Keep up the good work.

Olympiakos officials laud Liverpool loanee Leto land, as a cheap tabloid might say. So Seb is Athens bound for the year. It seems that passport problems are limiting his chances with us for now. I hope he gets some experience in Greece. He's a hard one to figure out. He clearly has talent but the end product is missing at the moment.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A sign of things to come?

I must admit that I only saw highlights of the friendlies seeing as I don't have channel 5. The first of our two matches this week was a 2-1 victory over FC Lucerne with goals from Lucas and Voronin. Lucas was happy with his goal and reckons that we can expect more of them from him this year as he plays more of an attacking role this year. It was a great pass by Pacheco to set up Lucas. I know he's only 17 and has a bright future but can we expect Pacheco to make an impact at senior level this season? I think we might see him in the carling cup and maybe in the FA cup if we get another handy draw.

The second match was a 1-1 draw with Wisla Krakow and we'll face Hertha Berlin next. Gerrad has a strain so he didn't take part and went back to Melwood for treatment but Dossena made his debut in the red shirt. Voronin got the only goal. We've surrendered our 100% record for the season.

All is lost and woe is us now our 100% pre season record has gone up in smoke. We'll be lucky to make the inter toto cup. Very lucky considering it's being scrapped. Fingers crossed that we can avoid relegation and finish 17th ahead of Stoke, Hull and West Brom.

Scott Carson has competed a move to West Brom rather than the anticipated move to Stoke or Boro. I hope it goes well for the lad but it has to be said that Parry and Rafa did a great job making a massive profit on him. All goes back into the transfer fund, hopefully. The more cynical among us might suggest it goes on dividends to our directors.

Despite his flurry of goals pre season, it looks like Voronin could be on his way out of Anfield. I don't think that he's of the standard required so I would be happy enough to see us make a few million profit from him, considering that he was signed for free last summer. Hamburg and Olympiacos are the clubs being linked with him at the moment.

Rafa was impressed with Dossena on his debut against Wisla. Dirk is impressed with the impact of Pacheco and the other youngsters this pre season. Another youngster, Adam Hammill has gone to Blackpool on loan. With the skills like these displayed by him in Scotland, I can see him being a success for the Seasiders in the championship. Given the fact that he's signed a new 3 year deal, it's clear to se he's a bright future with the club.

Some reports in France and the UK are linking us with David Ngog. He's refused to sign a new deal at PSG and is supposed to be available for around £1.5m. Can't say that I know much about him, beyond the fact he's a 19 year old forward at PSG. Here he is in action. If this deal goes ahead, as looks likely now, maybe we'll see a triple unveiling at Rafa's press conference later this week. Barry, Keane and Ngog would be a healthy boost heading into August. I think that everybody concerned is sick of the Barry deal and wants it over. The Robbie Keane one seems much more straight forward and should be done this week by all accounts. Being Irish, I'm happy to see one of our top players switch to Anfield. If the fee is a speculated £15m + a possible £5m if we win the league then it's good business for a proven premiership player. I can see him doing well with El Nino.

Until next time.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Ins and outs

The pre season friendlies are under way and it started with a whimper. This was typical of this part of the season which is about getting fitness rather than performance or results. Nice to see the kids getting a run out, especially Pacheco up front. Yossi made it worthwhile with this wonder strike from the edge of the D after a pass from Lucas, but otherwise it was a walk in the (Prenton) park. Loads of subs and a relaxed tempo was the MO. I expect the Swiss games will be more of the same.

Rafa demonstrated his dance moves for Degen and Dossena at their press conference. Our new backup keeper, a 25 year old Brazilian, is called Cavalieri. He will replace Itanje, who looks to be on his way to Galatasary. While one keeper has arrived, it appears that Itanje will meet Scott Carson heading the same way as he leaves. Tony Barrett in the Echo, thankfully returned from his holidays, says that two clubs are on his trail, Stoke and West Brom, a race which looks likely to be won by Stoke for around £4m+. Villa paid £2m for his loan deal last year and £1m from Charlton the year before added to the fee for him now, will represent a sizeable profit on his £750,000 fee from Leeds. Barrett also says that Danny Guthrie will complete a move to Newcastle after a fee was agreed between the clubs of around £2.5m. He did well at Bolton last season by all accounts but it's another case of him not being good enough to challenge the first team here.

This is Anfield continue their excellent Kopstar series which focuses on the stars of the future. This time Dani Pacheco comes into focus. Check out this wonder goal from Adam Hammill for the reserves against Stockport.

Our Hungarian quotient has increased with the arrival of another teen from MTK in Budapest. Zsolt Poleskei, a 17 year old midfielder, is joining on a season long loan. He shouldn't find it hard to fit in with the likes of SImon and Nemeth here already.

News just in - Pepe is superloco. I can't say that I'm too surprised.

In the mood for a wildly speculative transfer link? Here you go. He has gone on record a few years back as saying
"I have been a Liverpool fan for as long as I can remember and it would be a dream to play there. I watched the Champions League final and celebrated every goal as if it was for Independiente."
Rafa did try to sign him before he left Argentina. He would cost a fortune but would be a phenomenal signing. Can't see it happening, even with Xabi in part exchange. Expect him to go to Utd when Ronaldo goes to Real. I think that the Robbie Keane rumours are much more likely. He's a red and wants the move so I think that one will happen.