I won’t bore you with my take on the relative snoozer that was the Liverpool-Auxerre match. The pacing and quality of play was drastically different than the Werder Bremen game and I struggled to give it 100% of my attention, as my coffee and bagel offered up fierce competition.
If you want to read more about the game, check out Oh, You Beauty’s take. I will say, however, that I do enjoy seeing the youngsters play. Mihaylov, Hobbs, Paletta, El Zhar, Darby all got run-outs today.
Otherwise, enjoy Setanta’s match review, including in-studio commentary from my boyhood hero, Steve McManaman! (Make yourself at home, Macca. By all means, stretch out. Can I get you an ottoman?)
Programming notes for my fellow US Reds: Liverpool vs. Hong Kong XI, Tuesday, July 24 at 8:15am, live on Setanta. Sadly, finding a bar open at that hour is a tough task.
Also, LFC will be playing Friday, July 27 at either 5:30am or 8:15am, also live on Setanta. I retract my previous statement. 5:30am is a slightly more challenging hour.
The pre-season rolls along (only 3 more weeks until the season starts!) and here’s some pictures of the team training in the bosom of Switzerland’s picturesque mountains. Good thing somebody remembered to bring a camera!
John Arne Riise wants a new contract that will keep him at Anfield the rest of his career. Fresh off a free kick goal versus Werder Bremen, JAR may want to polish up his defensive skills if he wants to stay in the squad. He may find himself in an unenviable situation, though, as with Aurielo and Arbeloa, Rafa has indicated a willingness to move for stronger defensive fullbacks while the club has two true left wingers in Kewell and Babel.
So, where does that leave Johnny if he’s not a out-and-out winger or a defensive specialist? His cannon of a left foot may not be enough. I certainly wouldn’t paint Rafa as the sentimental type and six years of service aren’t going to keep the Norwegian around if there are better options available.
Now, will Liverpool be making a move for another defender? Does Rafa have any other tricks up his sleeve? I honestly don’t know, but neither does the footballing press. So, let’s sort through this week’s transfer babble:
- Rafa has responded to whispers that Manchester City, Aston Villa and Newcastle are hot for all 79 inches of Peter Crouch by stating that the England international will cost any potential suitor £20 million. (For those of you who don’t have a calculator handy, that’s £253,164 per inch) I think it’s fair to say Rafa has no actual intention of actually selling Crouchie (as he’s stated) and was obviously demonstrating a point by slapping a high price tag on him. Yet, as much as I value the lanky striker, if Randy Lerner or Mike Ashley want to throw around silly amounts of cash, I’d make my peace with Peter’s sale real quick-like.
- Mark Gonzalez does seem to be on his way out to Real Betis for a fee in the neighborhood of £3.5 million. I was initially worried what the warmer temperatures and humidity in Spain might do to his faux-hawk, but I’m sure he has it sorted out since he had a loan spell there.
- And the dumb rumor of the week: Harry Kewell to Olympiakos, courtesy of a £1.5M buyout clause in the Aussie’s contract. With only a year left to run on his contract, a Kewell exit isn’t terribly unlikely. But, I have a hard time seeing Harry leaving Anfield for the ‘comforts’ of Greece.
- Villa and Man City are both sniffing around Scott Carson. The young ‘keeper is hopeful of making the England squad for the 2008 European Championships and playing second fiddle to Pepe is unlikely to cement him a spot. His amibitions are admirable, but I don’t see him unseating a healthy Reina anytime soon. I fear this ends only one way.
- Sir Alex has made it crystal clear that Gabriel Heinze will not be joining Liverpool. Apparently there have been bids from multiple sources, which have been turned down, but SAF isn’t ready to pull the trigger just yet. Apparently, the window in which Heinze would have had to notify the club if he were going to buy out his own contract has expired and the crusty old Scot isn’t about to make his rivals any stronger. His words:
I can assure you, Liverpool will not be getting Gabriel Heinze. We can put that to bed right now and we have done so.
- The agent of Roma winger Alessandro Mancini says Liverpool are thinking about making a move for the player. Indeed, after bringing in two wingers last week and with pre-season training well under way, I’m sure Rafa is keen for another midfielder. Shockingly, somebody’s contract is up in two years and would like another one. But, I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.
- Speaking of midfielders, word is that Rafa is eyeing Man City’s 19-year old Michael Johnson. The starlet made his Premier League debut last year and is tipped to carve himself out a bright future. Maybe Rafa can con Sven out of the starlet’s services. Time to put the evil goatee to the test.
- With a move for Heinze looking increasingly unlikely, speculation has surfaced about another full-back coming to Anfield. Rumor has it the club are weighing up a £7M move for 22-year old Giorgio Chiellini. Having returned to the Serie A, what plans Juventus have for the left full-back are unclear.
- Robbie Fowler will not be receiving any vegemite sandwiches anytime soon. Not shockingly, God has turned down a moved to Sydney FC. It’s likely Robbie was unwilling to leave his family, or drag them to the Land Down Under, when he had other job prospects in England. Personally, I vote for Leicester.
- Jerzy Dudek has officially joined Real Madrid. Word of advice to the Spainards: You may want to think twice about playing him in the King’s Cup.