Merry Thanksgiving to everybody!
(‘Happy Thanksgiving’… We say ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ in this country!)
After a quiet international break (not counting the anguished moans of Three Lions fans), the Premier League is powering back up and Liverpool are set to travel to Newcastle on Saturday.
But what have we missed in the interim? Before I gorge myself on equal parts of Guinness Extra Stout and turkey & mashed potatoes, let’s run through all the ‘news’ that may have escaped our proper scrutiny as we inexplicably found ourselves in the holiday season.
Firstly, Tom Hicks and George Gillett released the following statement:
We made a significant investment in the playing squad during the summer and desperately want this team to succeed.
There are some very important games coming up in the next couple of weeks and all of us need to focus on winning those games and getting the best out of the players we already have at the club.
We will leave any talk of buying or selling players until we come across to Liverpool in December and sit down with the Manager then.
Yes, that’s the long and short of it. Interesting, no?
Each time I read it, I can’t help but get the sense that it’s almost a veiled threat — ‘Get back to winning. Now!’ Not that I believe there is any true reason it should or would be, but the succinctness of the message doesn’t exactly translate as friendly. Maybe after the predictable collapse of England, the owners felt it was necessary to direct attention back to the club. Though, only two (not counting the soon-to-be Villian Scott Carson) players are English internationals so that theory doesn’t hold much water (unlike the Wembley pitch).
Then again, maybe they’re fast learners and are trying their best to (ultimately & unsuccessfully) stave off transfer talk with the January window fast approaching.
Not that the transfer talk hasn’t already begun. Rafa has already respectfully laughed off rumors that he’d consider a move to Bayern. No disrespect to a fine club, but I’m not sure who (outside of those in Bavaria) thinks that moving from Liverpool to Munich is a step up. Pepe Reina has also sidestepped talk of him moving abroad, this time linking him to Atletico Madrid, the club his father played for.
Also in rubbished reports, Rafa has poured cold water on rumors that he has been tracking 19-year old Athletico Bilbao midfield maestro Javi Martinez. The Spanish U-21er is reported to have a £17 million buyout clause in his contract, but with a full cupboard of central midfielders, it’s not a move that makes much sense.
The same reports also mention Benitez’s appreciation for Martinez’s teammate Fernando Amorebieta, a 22-year old Venezuelan-Spanish defender. I think we all know a move for a central defender in the New Year is more than possible and the rumor-mongers know this. Hence, Argentina and Racing Santander’s 21-year old Ezequiel Garay has been linked with a move to England with Liverpool among those mentioned. And with a £14.2M buyout clause, it’s more than plausible that he could become a genuine target.
As for the players who already reside at Anfield, it appears as if Daniel Agger will have some role to play in the match at Newcastle. Whether or not that includes a starting spot is unclear, but one Harry Fucking Kewell is said to be ready for a starting spot after completing 90 minutes for Australia against Nigeria. And not only did the Aussie manage to avoid injury, but there are no fresh reports of any injury to Liverpool internationals. Fernando Torres should also be fit to feature against the Barcodes, but Xabi Alonso will not. Yossi Benayoun, obviously, is still on the shelf.
But, that’s a post for another day. I’ve got dark meat to eat and dark beer to drink.
Enjoy your holiday.