Thursday, August 20, 2009

Looking Back On Week 1

In a season that promises to have its ups and downs, Week 1 of the Barlcay's Premiership was just that. For many Reds, this first week was seen as a new beginning of sorts. This was finally the year we would challenge and over take the scum from Manchester. Yet if you looked on any LFC Forum, you would likely see doom mongers wildly proclaiming the season lost.

That last observation may be a bit heavy handed, but it still raises a point. It it took one poor performance at a venue where we rarely play well to once again bemoan the manager and the players. Truth be told, no one bar Pepe Reina put in a good shift. It was simply one of those games. It also gave us a possible look into what is to come against stronger opposition. Lucas struggled at times against Tottenham, but never really made any massive mistakes. I think Lucas is a good squad player, and someone who could eventually make an impact for us, I just think our midfield is less creative with him in there.

Oh how quickly outlooks can change.

As I was getting ready to watch the match yesterday, I was telling friends back in Liverpool that we needed this fixture. I was strangley confident, but all the while knowing all too well the four points dropped against Stoke last season. From the first whistle I saw a different Liverpool. Where we seemed unassured and simply poor in the midfield against Spurs, we were confident and comanding against Stoke.

It would take but four minutes for Fernadno Torres to find the back of the net. This my friends, was the product of what we will need to see more of if we are to end our 19 year drought. Not just goals from Torres, but a complete team attack. All of our attacking six got involved in the goals scored. None more spectacular than Anfield debutant Glen Johnson's 44th minute beauty.

If there is one massive difference in our side, it isn't the loss of Alonso. It is the signing of Glen Johnson. Johnson clearly adds flair to a right side that was rather dull last season. Not only is our attack already more dynamic, but his nose for the penalty area will only aid our attack. He has been involved in three of our five goals scored this season. He's already matched our previous RB's production in just two matches. Should this keep up, it may very well be a key part in bringing number 19 home.

Without getting ahead of myself, a look at the next five fixtures brings a positive feel to our chances. Three of these five fixtures are at home. A struggling Aston Villa, newly promoted Burnley & Hull. While we must be weary of all opposition, these fixtures maybe coming at just the right time for Liverpool.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

No Money in the Coffers

As the transfer season winds down, fans were treated to a rude awakening this morning. Rafa has but £1.5-£2m left in his budget. Tony Barrett writes a piece today on our worrying central defensive woes and paints a sobering picture for the year ahead.

To put it in blunt terms, we're skint. It's no secret that our owners have talked a big game and failed to deliver time and time again. It was widely reported this past spring that Rafa would receive £20m a season plus any player sales for his transfer budget. Under normal circumstances, this is a fair bit of money for any manager not residing at Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford or the Eastlands. As Barrett writes, this is obviously is not the case:
The Liverpool owners argue that the club must be run as a business and made it clear that pay increases handed out to Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard, Dirk Kuyt, Yossi Benayoun and Agger would be subtracted from the money made available to Benítez.

That's right folks, our owners have taken the salaries signed by first team players into account. Its a maddening prospect when you analyze it. It also makes you wonder where the money has gone. By my count Rafa has brought in close to £50m in player sales this summer. Even the reported fees for Glen Johnson & Alberto Aquiliani add up to just £38m. Even that figure is surely lower as Portsmouth owed us money from the sale of Peter Crouch last summer (around £7m).

By that figure it leaves some £20m unaccounted for. I find it rather unlikely that the money was taken out of his budget for contract signings. Torres, Gerrard alone account for over half that remaining figure. Adding in three other players would see what's left surely gone.

It was this article, published last month that leads me to believe something far different is going on at Anfield. In order to refinance their £290m loan, our owners are being forced to pay £60m, with half coming up front. That £30m had to come from somewhere, and with the history of these owners, I have a feeling I know exactly where that £30m went.

There may be a twinge of over reaction here, but when an article like the one written in the Wall Street Journal, it paints a sobering picture of our owners.

Creditors to Texas financier Tom Hicks's Hicks Sports Group have declared the company in default, a measure that could eventually dislodge the Texas Rangers baseball club and Dallas Stars hockey franchise from his control.

The default notice is the strongest sign yet of the economic perils awaiting the country's professional sports leagues, where owners have spent lavishly on player salaries. Many owners' personal fortunes are also on the wane, creating uncomfortable standoffs between the owners and lenders. (link)

In short, Rafa has been duped once again by our owners. A season that was once filled with optimism is quickly becoming the same old story.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Examing the Alonso Sale

With the season just four days away fans should be excited for what is coming up, not looking back and questioning the manager. It seems as if the sale of Alonso has polarized the fan base more than it already is. This blogger sees both side of the argument, and that is what I am trying to lay out in this post.

Xabi's qualities are unmatched in the Premiership, and in many a pundits opinion, Europe. It is no wonder Real Madrid tested Rafa's resolve all summer and finally broke down and paid up. They see Xabi in the same light that many of us see him. He was the calming influence that our midfield often needed last season. He has this uncanny ability to switch the field with a cheeky ball that many try to pull off and ultimately fail.

So what now?

I think it would be prudent to examine both sides of the argument currently being written about on the many LFC forums and even in the papers. Lets start with the negatives.

First off, I don't think we have an adequate replacement for Alonso currently in the side. It remains to be seen what the new boy Aquiliani brings to the side, but an Alonso he is not. Alonso didn't score as much as I liked, but his bag of tricks played a large part in us scoring the most goals in the league last year.

Alonso was also the perfect foil to Mascherano. While Mascherano's industry broke up opposing attacks, Alonso's passing ability spurned our attack on. Being able to put his foot on the ball and calm play down, is something I think Liverpool may miss this season. His overall distribution will be hard to replicate and it remains to be seen how our midfield will work without him.

Why so negative Jeff? How about some positives!!

In all honesty, I had to think long and hard before coming to my overall opinion. I have debated this with many friends and each has provided some great insight. I will miss Xabi and his cool demeaner and vast array of passes, but it is time to move on. It is clear he wanted to move on, and I don't want a player in the team if he doesn't want to play for the shirt.

Looking at the team, there is a good chance that we could be even better without him. Ian made a point that his long balls and daft passes are no good against teams who will play 10 men behind the ball and ultimately pack defense. This, in my opinion, is too true. If Aquiliani is the player he seems to be, it will bring another dynamic to our attack that Alonso could never bring. His quick one-two short and midrange type passes will hopefully provide the missing link against a vast majority of the Premier League.

If there is one thing that I am hoping to see from this move is more goals from our midfield. The problem is, I am not sure we have signed the player to do this. His injury record seems more distinguished than his goal scoring record, and he's never scored more than 5 goals in a season. I must say, I don't expect him to come in and score 15-20 goals a season because he doesn't have to. We have Gerrard, Torres and Kuyt to do that.

So what is my final opinion?

I trust Rafa and his judgement. Alonso wanted to go, and Rafa made the best of the situation. We got top dollar for Xabi and brought in a replacement that has the chance to make a big difference. It is just a chance though, there is no guarantee that Aquiliani can come off his ankle surgery and make a difference.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Aquiliani Signs with LFC

More commentary will be coming about this signing in the next few days, but I thought we should at least get the word out. Story can be found here.

Liverpool FC confirmed this evening that Alberto Aquilani has successfully completed a medical and agreed a five-year contract with the club.
The player will now continue his rehabilitation from an ankle operation under the guidance of Liverpool's medical team and is expected to be fully fit in approximately four to eight weeks' time.


Who We Are

I will start the first post of the blog by explaining who we are. The 'we' I refer to is a group of supporters who have an undying love for a football club in Liverpool England. Many, point and laugh at football supporters here in the states, but can they say they are a part of something?

The short answer to that question is no. Unless you follow Liverpool F.C. or football in general you would have no clue what it means to 'be a Red'. With millions of supporters all across the world, LFC are more of a family than just another football club. It does not matter if you have an L4 postcode or are 7,000 miles away from Anfield, its your support that matters. This alone makes Liverpool FC the best team in the world.

Ian, Todd and I have been working together for a few weeks to get an Official Liverpool FC Supporters Branch started in Seattle, WA. This blog is in no way affiliated with the views of LFC Seattle, moreover it is simply an outlet to express our own feelings on the club as well as experiences we have had while following the Reds.

We thank you for taking the time to find our blog, and we hope you enjoy what we have to offer.