Although the transfer window doesn’t close for another five weeks, the season is looming large and it would appear the bulk of Liverpool’s (non-youth) spending has been done. While I wouldn’t be surprised with another defender joining the team (even somebody other than a ‘disloyal’ Argentinian), I will no longer be bringing you the Friday Transfer Speculation Spectacular/Round-up. Quite simply, there aren’t enough unsubstantiated Liverpool rumors floating around out there.
Sad, isn’t it?
But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t golden nuggets of Liverpool-related news to be mined. So, let’s see break out this week’s quotes and see what we’ve got…
Firstly, the Heinze transfer saga is clearly driving Sir Alex up a wall (or to a bottle). It’s only a matter of time until he busts a blood vessel. Not only has he hinted at his disappointment with Gabriel Heinze for being ‘disloyal’ and the player’s agent for existing, but has now labeled Liverpool as ‘opportunists’ for their part in the affair.
SAF had this to say about Heinze-gate… Impressively, you can actually hear his blood pressure rising through the written words:
He’s our player, that’s the important thing. He’s not Liverpool’s player, despite them going on like he’s their player. He’s got two years left on his contract, if he completes his contract and then leaves at the end of it, that’s fine by us. We’ll have had five good years out of him.
Liverpool are opportunists, like the rest of them. The agent has obviously presented them with a situation and they’ve looked at it. If an agent came to me with a letter saying (Steven) Gerrard was available for a certain fee, I would do the same.
I think the role of the agent is very, very doubtful here. There’s no question about that. David (Gill) and I have had countless meetings with these people. But they are just impossible.
“Like the rest of them“?
“…meetings with these people…”?
Are you getting the feeling he’s struggling to hold back and is only a Scotch or two away from a red-faced expletive-laced tirade?
A warm, fuzzy and patient man he is not. But, the crusty ole Scot does have more than enough to go around. His take on new Liverpool striker (and former Man U target) Fernando Torres:
Torres is athletic, he’s brave enough and he’ll run the channels for them, which he did well in Madrid. He’s good in the air and has got a physique. He’s quicker than you think.
Over the past few years there has been some interest for us in Torres, but every time he signed a new contract. Sometimes you get fed up with that kind of thing.
I’m willing to bet SAF gets fed up with LOTS of things.
Sticking with the ‘rival manager talking shit’ theme, The Special One has found time in his busy pre-season to rekindle his war of words with Rafa.
The pressure is a bit higher (at Liverpool) because, at this moment, they cannot point at other people. In other years, they could say: ‘Oh, these guys, they’ve spent a lot of money so they have to win’. This season, they have to talk differently. They have high responsibilities and high expectations. In the last three years, it’s been Chelsea and Manchester United in the league, and it’s been a long time since Liverpool won the Premiership. So they really want it.
I heard something earlier this summer – Gerrard, Carragher and Riise saying it has to be this season. That’s normal and positive. I cannot complain about that. Everybody wants to achieve it.
We want it too, no problem. But it’s been four years with Benitez and they want the Premiership. They don’t hide it – Benitez, the players, they all speak about winning the title. I think winning nothing last season was frustrating for them, but they’ve got a good squad and good players, so they’ll be better.
It’s almost disappointing to hear him say something genuinely positive there at the end. But Rafa isn’t weak-minded and doesn’t fall for mind tricks.
I must say, it will be a sad day when Roman finally decides to turn his thumb down and kicks the chair out from under Jose. Not only is he a talented manager, but he is unrivaled at running off at the mouth. I’m going to miss his repeated lame attempts to crawl inside the head of our bearded Buddha.
I have a feeling that the frequency of the verbal taunting will increase this season, as Chelsea isn’t looking much stronger in comparison to United, Liverpool or even (granted, arguably) Mourinho’s own sleeper pick, Tottenham.
And no, I didn’t forget to mention Arsenal.
Moving on, there’s been plenty of noise from Liverpool players about competition for places and their willingness to fight for their spots.
After watching Andriy Voronin stake his claim for a regular place with some eye-catching pre-season performances, Crouchie had this to say to the Official Site:
There’ll always be competition for places at a top club like Liverpool but it doesn’t worry me. It can be difficult at times but I think it brings the best out of everyone.
Each striker has their own different attributes and the fact we can all play alongside each other can only be beneficial to the club. But I’ve got enough confidence in my ability so it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to.
When a new striker is brought in there’s always going be speculation that another one will have to make way, it’s inevitable. But I no longer take any notice of it. I’ve spoke to the manager and he’s reassured me that I’m in his plans. We’ll have to see what happens but hopefully I’ll have a big part to play this season.
The soon-to-be-freshly contracted (a new three-year deal) Steve Finnan echoes the sentiment and (kind of) issues challenge to any contenders for his starting spot:
I have been here four years now and during that time a lot of players have come and gone. It is a squad game now and competition for places is never a problem but I am confident I can continue to hold down a regular place in the side.
I cannot wait to sign the contract once we are back home. I am in my thirties now and there’s no doubt in my mind whatsoever that this is where I want to play for the rest of my career.
Jermaine Pennant would do well to follow the footsteps of those two and does, by also speaking to .tv about competition and training within the squad:
The manager said in a meeting with us that he wants the players proving in training every day that they are fighting for their positions, because doing that will only make you a better player.
That boosts the team and obviously then you tend to win more things.
Training at Liverpool is always fast, physical and 100mph, with everyone up for it. You have to do that if you want to play, because it really, really counts. If you don’t pull your weight in training then you know your place might go.
The history of this club and how big it is means you can’t let your standards slip for one minute.
Rafa has spoken on the upcoming season, his full stable of talented strikers and a synonym for his favorite word, “possibilities”:
For me, it’s a good problem. I like to have these options up front. We have different options now and it depends on the game, but I think all of them can play together and that is the important thing.
It depends on the game. If we want to play more crosses, Crouch can play or Voronin, and if we want to change the game we can introduce a different striker.
I think last season the team was attacking, but I would like to see more goals. We were attacking a lot but we can now improve the accuracy and hopefully we will see more goals.
And, in case you didn’t know, Pepe Reina is all about the mental welfare of his teammates. Pepe on Fernando Torres:
He’s a top quality player and after being with Atletico Madrid it won’t be a problem for him. I expect him to score goals, he is learning English very early and has the mentality to succeed.
I have spoken with him about a lot of things but he will find out for himself about English football. I can’t explain what he is going to find because I don’t want to scare him. He will find out in his own way but I am convinced that he is absolutely ready to meet the challenge.
How sweet of him.