Saturday, 28 July 2012

Liverpool’s Pre-Season Form- Should We Be Worried?

Liverpool’s Pre-Season Form- Should We Be Worried?

Just over a week ago, Liverpool left Anfield behind to go on their tour of America. Their first game of the tour was against Toronto, which ended in a 1-1 draw, and their second game was a 2-1 defeat to AS Roma. Their next match of the tour is against Tottenham.

Brendan Rodgers has only recently taken the reins at LFC, and I don’t think he will be particularly pleased with his first two results. Toronto is not exactly a world-class team and yet we could not manage to beat them, and losing to AS Roma will have been disappointing. However, it has to be remembered that Rodgers is using this pre-season tour to assess some of the reserves. Liverpool haven’t fielded anything like their strongest team in either of the two matches. The first and second choice goalkeepers Reina and Doni were not even taken on the tour! This makes the results a lot more understandable.

Although the teams fielded haven’t been full strength, there have however been members of the normal starting 11 involved in the games. With Carragher and Enrique both playing against Toronto, it is a little worrying that the team still let a goal in against such a small team. This is also the case against Roma, with two goals being conceded despite Skrtel playing alongside Carragher and Enrique, making it a close to full-strength defence for Liverpool. However, LFC were playing their 4th choice goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi.

Also, despite the results, lots of encouragement can be taken from these first two games under the Rodgers regime. For instance, 712 passes were made by LFC in the game against Toronto (the first time Liverpool have made more than 700 passes in a game since 2008), with a pass accuracy rate of 92%. This is extremely impressive, and suggests the tika-taka style of play is already well on its way to being fully implemented at the club.

In conclusion, I don’t think the first two results from the pre-season tour are any particular cause of worry. Although the results haven’t come, the way the team have been playing is very good, and shows the club is heading in the right direction. Also, considering so many reserves are playing, the results (especially only losing 2-1 to Roma) are actually quite impressive and encouraging. Hopefully, with a full-strength team, this new style of play will bring the results that Liverpool need.

Friday, 20 July 2012

What to do with Aquilani?

Two years ago, Alberto Aquilani was bought from Roma by Rafa Benitez for 17million pounds. He was dubbed ‘the replacement for Alonso’, but his first season at the club was plagued by injuries. For the subsequent two seasons he was loaned out, first to Juventus and then to AC Milan. But now ‘the Aquaman’ is back.

Many thought that he was due a return last season, as he impressed in his pre-season games with Liverpool. However, he was loaned out to AC Milan, and all things considered has had a pretty poor season there, getting just one goal from 14 Serie A starts and 9 substitute appearances. However, he did manage 6 assists in total in the league.

Although his Serie A form wasn’t great, I personally think he should be given a chance at Liverpool. I know I keep on going on about Brendan Rodgers and his new style, but I really think that the new Liverpool Rodgers is creating will be a club that really suits Aquilani. He likes short passing, keeping possession and neat, clever play. He is the sort of player that theoretically should fit into Rodgers’s plans very well.

Obviously, the ideal signing to help implement this new midfield style would be Xabi Alonso. He is the king of midfield, and is so versatile I think he could probably fit in with any style. Saying that though, he is particularly suited to the sort of play Rodgers is bringing to LFC. There is some talk that Liverpool may attempt to bring Alonso back to Anfield, although personally I think this is just rumours, as I don’t think the club have the funds to make a realistic offer for such an amazing player. However, last year Alonso did say how much he missed Liverpool, and he refused to rule out a return to the club at some point.

To sum up, Liverpool need somebody who can bolster their midfield, and turn them into the side Rodgers wants them to be. Alonso returning would be ideal, but failing that I think Alberto Aquilani should be given another chance. He is exactly the type of player LFC need, and has gained a lot of experience from his two years on loan. He was once marked as the next Alonso, and if he can fulfil that potential and play the passmaster role at the club, he may well bring a lot of success to the club.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

What impact would Carroll leaving have on LFC?

Andy Carroll. The cause of much debate between Liverpool fans. He was widely criticised for his performances in the first part of the 2011/12 season, but seemed to return to some of his old form by the end of the campaign. Now there is only one question being asked by supporters; should he stay or should he go?

The most obvious impact Carroll leaving would have on the club is the financial one. They signed him from Newcastle for £35million, and now are holding out for an offer of £20million. If this offer were to be met, Liverpool would be making a loss of 15 million pounds, which would be awful for the club. £15million is no small sum of money, and should not just be being squandered because Brendan Rodgers doesn’t think Carroll fits into his plans. However, there is an argument that LFC should just try to cut their losses now, as Andy Carroll is no benefit to the club if his woeful form from early last season returns.

Another point I think is key in the Carroll debate is the very recent signing of Fabio Borini. His preferred position is the wide striker role, and a wide striker needs a danger man to aim at. Someone with a big physical presence, who on his day can terrorise defences. In short, someone like Andy Carroll. If these two strikers can create a good partnership, it will do amazing things for LFC. In my view, Borini’s chances of doing well at the club will be seriously hindered if Carroll is sold.

Finally, and possibly most importantly, I think it is simply unfair to sell Carroll now. He hit form at the end of last season, was by far our best player in the FA cup final, and had just started to fit in at the club. To sell him now would be stupid, as it would get rid of a good player who is constantly improving, and would also be harsh on Carroll at a personal level, as his end of season form should be being recognised by the club.

Overall, I think selling Andy Carroll would be a huge mistake. There are no real financial benefits, it could have a knock-on effect on our exciting new signing Fabio Borini, but most importantly we would be losing a great player.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Borini will fit in well at Liverpool

Yesterday (Saturday 14th July 2012) Liverpool confirmed the signing of Fabio Borini from Roma. The price is said to be around £7.9million. I think this a great buy for LFC, and that Borini will be a great asset to the team.

Dirk Kuyt left LFC earlier in the transfer window, and Maxi looks set for a return to Newells Old Boys. Liverpool needed someone who could fill in the hole left by these departures, and Borini is the man to do so. He is a striker who operates in a wide position, and is a perfect replacement for Kuyt, as he can play in a right striker position alongside Carroll and Suarez.

Also, he proved a big goal threat for Roma last season. He netted 10 times in the season, and those goals came from only a small amount of games, as his appearances were limited due to injury. LFC last season were creating some good chances, but weren’t converting enough. Borini will hopefully change this, and become the clinical finisher that Liverpool need.

On top of this, he is the young talent that the club really need to bring in. He is only 21 years of age, and has already been capped internationally. He will be able to grow as a player at Liverpool, and hopefully become a world class striker.

In conclusion, I think Borini is a great signing, and could really turn around Liverpool’s fortunes. He is the wide striker that is required, but more importantly he will get goals for the club, and goals win games. If Borini and Liverpool are able to get the goals flowing again. I think they could be set up for a return to the top four next season.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool vision

After the departure of Kenny Dalglish from Liverpool, the board spent a long period of time trying to decide on suitable people to approach about the vacancy left at the club. One of the first names mentioned was that of Brendan Rodgers, and after three long weeks they managed to lure him to the club.

To me it seemed an odd choice at first, as Liverpool’s style is very direct, compared to the short passing style implemented at Swansea by Rodgers. However, this passing game, compared by some to that of Barcelona, could do wonders for Liverpool. What was so lacking at the club last season was the ‘killer ball’, that one pass that released one of our classy strikers into the clear. But under Rodgers, that could all change.

However, this new system being implemented at Liverpool does leave some good players somewhat stranded in no-mans-land. For instance, Andy Carroll, who really hit form near the end of the season, thrives on long balls hopefully punted up field, or aerial crosses looped into the box. It was in these sorts of situations that he really did well. These sorts of chances will be in short supply under the club’s new regime, and one word that certainly doesn’t spring to mind when Carroll’s name is mentioned is passmaster.

There is a lot of interest in Carroll from other clubs (he has been linked with Fulham, West Ham and AC Milan), but personally I don’t think he should just be offloaded by Brendan Rodgers because he doesn’t fit into the style of play Rodgers implemented at Swansea. Carroll can adapt his playing style to some extent, and if Brendan Rodgers is as good as people say he is, then I’m sure he can find a place for a world class player like Carroll in his vision for the club.

Overall, I think that if Carroll can be included in it, this new vision for LFC is really exciting. Liverpool have lots of great players, and if Rodgers can get them to really gel as a team and become a tight unit like that he managed to create at Swansea, Liverpool may well be able to return to their former dominance.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Did Kenny deserve to be sacked?

After 18 months in charge of Liverpool, Kenny Dalglish was sacked by the Liverpool board in May 2012. Although in his 18 months in charge he managed to guide Liverpool to an FA cup final and Carling Cup victory, the club’s league form had not been great, and in the end this was the deciding factor in the sacking of the Liverpool legend.

Liverpool finished 8th in the 2011/12 season, their worst league finish for 18 years. Based on this alone, the decision to sack Dalglish seems perfectly sensible. However, Liverpool showed extremely good cup form, and many argue that had Kenny been given longer, he may have been able to carry that form over into the Premier League. He was obviously an amazing player for Liverpool in the 80’s, and the players in the current squad really looked up to him as a legend of the club. This respect led to a very good relationship between the players and the manager, and that certainly leads to a successful club.

Although many are sad to see him go, his replacement, Brendan Rodgers, will certainly be good for the club. We saw how much the players liked him at Swansea, and he was able to guide them to a 9th place finish, very impressive for a newly promoted side. Early signs are positive, and he seems very eager to make some key signings over the summer. Hopefully he will be able to turn Liverpool’s league form around, and return the club to their former glory.

So Kenny Dalglish may have left, but he will still always be regarded by fans and players alike as a Liverpool legend. His departure as manager makes him no less a part of the club’s prestigious history. It is hard to say whether or not sacking him was the right decision, but in charge of the club or not, he will always be King Kenny to us.