Today I was planning to a piece on the poor performance by the England team in the World Cup but then I witnessed something we thought I would never see again. The sight of Luis Suarez biting another player.
Let me preface this by saying that I am a Manchester United fan, but even I appreciate Suarez as a top player and I completely agree with his clean sweep of awards last season as he was phenomenal and almost pushed Liverpool to their first league title. The thing is this time, unlike the others times there are no words of support coming from Liverpool, fellow pundits or anyone. It’s almost as if the patience has run out for the Uruguayan from everyone. There is even talk about Adidas and 888 Poker withdrawing their endorsements with the striker.
So in case you live under a rock what actually happened? Suarez and Chiellini clashed shortly before the goal that ultimately decided the clash and eliminated the Italians, at first look the Uruguayan seemed to run and headbutt the Italian defender and both men went down. The first inkling that something was different from a standard clash in the box was the sight of Suarez grabbing his front teeth as if he had been elbowed. It wasn’t until the second and third replay that I thought hold on a minute, surely not, not again, he didn’t just bite Chiellini did he? The answer is yes, yes he did. It became obvious when Chiellini pulled down his shirt to show 5 teeth marks on his shoulder. The whole thing cast a massive shadow over a big win for Uruguay, the Italians elimination and Pirlo’s & Buffon’s last international game.
So the big question is whats next? Well there is no doubt that FIFA will impose a ban on him that could have potential ramifications not just for country but for club as well as they could put a worldwide ban on him, although this is highly unlikely as it would leave them more open to appeal and reduction under various human rights infringements. If they go down the route of just banning him from all international football it may make him more desirable to teams looking to sign him from Liverpool as they wouldn’t have the burden and risk of him going halfway across the world to play football for Uruguay, so he would essentially have a two week rest every couple of months which would probably make him an even more useful player for the club. As we have already said he risks losing potential endorsements with this latest blot on his copy book, although in his native country he is seen as a bit of a hard man and uses it to trade on his likeness in adverts.
The thing is as well is if this was an isolated incident then perhaps it could be written off as a lapse of judgement but it’s the regularity he seems to do something controversial that would alarm me if I was a Liverpool fan, after all this is now the second world cup in a row that Suarez has done something to cast a shadow on his performances. I have seen various things saying that this is like his way of blowing off when his frustration gets to its maximum, but surely fans would prefer him to go and destroy a team with a magnificent solo goal? or a bit of outstanding play like he showed last season in the Premier League? And if it is the case then why did he not do it last season when the pressure was on Liverpool in their title run in.
Either way FIFA need to exercise the full force of their power in this instance more than anything to show that they are not as corrupt as they seem. Let me know your thoughts?
We all often sit around and offer opinions on how to make football better and here is one we would like to see happen. Lets stop transfers for players under 21. Now we can understand any of you scoffing at the prospect but consider this, how many players under 21 can you say are worth the transfer fees you see banded about for them?
Take for example Luke Shaw of Southampton, now if you were to believe the rumors he is valued at around £30m. £30m for a player who is only just past 50 games for his club and one full England cap is far too much, we can understand Southampton placing that value on his head to try and ward off potential suitors but it shouldn’t be an issue. Southampton are no longer in the position they were with Walcott, Bale or Oxlaide-Chamberlian where they have to sell as they aren’t in the Premiership or in financial difficulty they should simply say he is not for sale full stop.
Daniel Sturridge is another example of youngsters moving about when they are too young, although he himself must take some blame for this one. Sturridge started his career at Manchester City but had his head turned by the money that was on offer from the up and coming billionaire plaything that was Chelsea and allowed his contract to expire. Once at Chelsea his career floundered, he was rarely used as an out and out striker, instead coming on as a wide player where his speed was a great attribute. We are glad he is now showing his true skill and attacking quality now at Liverpool where he has to be in line for featuring in Teams of the Year.
There is also the argument that a player should show a degree of loyalty, after all a young player has been a product of teams youth development system and should show thanks by helping the team to the best of his ability. After all if the player is truly good enough he will still be able to command a big enough fee when he turns 21, thereby giving something back to the club on two levels. We look at some of the situations and tribunals you see (no doubt there will be one this year with Thomas Ince) and clubs rarely get much above £3m and you feel sorry for them as they are losing someone who is probably a star turn for their team. Sometimes as well the players don’t get the benefit either, like we mentioned Sturridge is and example of this, as is Nick Powell, Willfried Zaha and Glenn Johnson (who was Roman Abramovich’s first signing when he came to Chelsea) his progress was majorly held back by that move at 18 and didn’t flourish until he went to Portsmouth and then to Liverpool. We just hope the likes of Shaw & Will Hughes see sense and give something back to the clubs who have shown faith in them.
It’s been 23 long, hard years since Liverpool last won a league title. 23 years of false dawns, highs and lows, shocking ownership and having to play 2nd fiddle to ‘that lot up the East Lancs Road’. Sadly I’ve lived throughout the entire duration of this period and am one of the few Liverpool fans I see that doesn’t give it the traditional ‘ this year will be our year’ comment. 3 wins out of 3 to start the season and as we stand, Liverpool sit 3rd in the league, just 2 points behind the leaders Arsenal and already there is a lot of talk about Reds being genuine title contenders. Man United are struggling to adjust to life under new manager David Moyes whilst Chelsea and Man City are also adapting to new management. Spurs are having to bed in so many new players and lost their main man in Gareth Bale, whilst Arsenal haven’t won anything for ages. Could this finally be ‘our year’?
Brendan Rodgers has guided Liverpool to what I can only remember as being one of best starts to the season in years and it’s fair to say I’ve noted the optimism returning to Liverpool’s fans. He himself will be delighted with the points haul at this stage but realistically he will be thinking there are tougher tests to come. With the exception of Man United at home, Liverpool have yet to face any of their rivals for a top 4 spot and I think they will be the true test of Liverpool’s credentials. It also remains to be seen how a lack of European football affects the team. On the one hand there will be less fatigue and injuries in the squad and on the other, less chances to gain momentum and form.
Worryingly, despite the current position, many of Liverpool’s victories have been secured by the tightest of margins (Mignolet’s last minute penalty save v Stoke for example). There has been a worrying trend of the team not putting in a performance in the 2nd half which has led to a few desperate defensive showings. However, I think the problems run deeper than simply not turning it on for the full 90 minutes. The big problem Liverpool have is goals, at both ends.
Suarez and Sturridge have shown signs of being a devastating partnership, having scored between them 10 of the team’s 13 league goals and therein lies the problem. Outside of these 2,
it is hard to pick out a single player who is going to regularly chip in with goals. Liverpool have so far offered just 4 different league goalscorers. Even the mercurial Stevie G has only contributed two goals from the spot so far and I feel his goal scoring will be limited by a combination of age and tactics. Philippe Coutinho has yet to sparkle as he did in preseason, not helped by a shoulder injury but I am really looking forward to him linking up with the SAS at long last. Moses, Henderson, Aspas, Alberto, Sterling, Lucas, Allen…….the list goes on and still very little genuine goal threat exists. Our defenders don’t seem to get on the scoresheet as regularly as those elsewhere; Vertonghen at Spurs, Terry at Chelsea, Vidic at United. Liverpool’s over reliance on the goals of the new SAS is something many of their rivals don’t have to worry about due to the quality of depth in their squads. If Liverpool are still in touch come January, the window could prove vital in terms of adding some much needed killer instinct to the squad.
Rodger’s has had to revert to an unorthodox 352 formation in order to accommodate the partnership and my big worry is why it’s taken a handful of games to decide this is the way to go. Why wasn’t this adopted and prepared during preseason? Liverpool have failed to keep a clean sheet in their previous 5 league games, coinciding with the change in tactics. The normally reliable Lucas has received a fair bit of stick and although he is undoubtedly a good player, Liverpool need a more athletic and physical player in the holding role. I’ve noticed he gives away many cheap free kicks on the edge of the box and I feel as though he is struggling with the demands of the role. As a result of these problems, Liverpool have struggled to kill off relatively modest opposition, most recently failing to put away 10 man Newcastle at the weekend. You look at Liverpool’s bench and there was nothing there that was capable of changing the game in Liverpool’s favour and unlocking the door. Compare this with the rest; Spurs had Defoe, Eriksen and Lamela on the bench this weekend, Man Utd have Hernandez and Kagawa. Arsenal will have the likes of Walcott, Podolski and Ramsey when all fit. Man City have Negredo/Dzeko and Jovetic. Chelsea have Ba, Torres, Mata and countless others. All these players would arguably get into our starting eleven.
My thoughts are quite simple, I genuinely don’t believe Liverpool are title contenders this season. I feel that the battle for 4th place is where the season will drift to as a couple of injuries, suspensions or loss of form will really hit the team hard. Liverpool has a great 1st eleven that are having to adapt to a new system on the go, but the bench offers little proven quality when needed. Potential signings in January are rumoured to include Jeremy Menez and Javier Pastore from PSG, both who would add some much needed creativity into the mix. It’s clear to see Rodger’s has the side moving in the right direction and a Champions League finish would provide him with an opportunity to bring in a better quality of player to move onto a title push next season.
I’ll leave it with this final fact, it has been 2 decades since a team that finished 7th in the top flight genuinely challenged for the title the following season……….
So one of the most unsurprising transfers of the summer was Welshman Gareth Bale’s world record breaking transfer to Real Madrid.
The only surprising thing about the whole transfer was the way Tottenham Hotspur went about replacing him before he was officially gone, instead of looking for that one star player who would cost them a decent chunk of the Bale fee instead they went about signing some of the best young talent and a proven marksmen which is something the White Hart Lane faithful have been crying out for for a while.
In came Nacir Chadli, another product of this Belgian golden age. Chadli is a tricky wide man with a burst of pace sure to terrify players in the embers of games and a steal at £7 million. Chadli was joined by Brazilian Paulinho who has already gone about deposing Scott Parker and seemingly forcing him into Andre Villas-Boas out pile, the Paulinho transfer also showed a ruthless streak in the transfer market as he was impressing in the Confederations Cup and Spurs had to act quickly to secure him before a bidding war ensued and they paid more for the player.
One of the biggest surprises was Christian Eriksen coming in and for a relatively modest fee given his talent and potential. Eriksen is considered by those in the know to posses enough talent to become one of the worlds best attacking midfielders and at 21 and moving to a club who play the same style of football has Ajax his career path will be kept along the same course. Soldado coming in was another sign of the intent shown by Spurs, as they listened to the fans pleas for another striker and signed a player who as Matthew Le Tissier described “only posses the ability to score worldies.” A look back at some of his goals in a Valencia (where he scored 59 goals in 101 appearances) show exactly what the fans can expect, with strength combined with excellent movement couple that with an explosive start for his new club if he continues the fans will be asking Gareth who by the end of the season.
It shouldn’t be forgotten the talent Spurs already had at the club with the likes of Dawson, Dembele, Holtby, Defoe, Lennon, Walker, Lloris & Vertonghen all looking to build on a relativley strong 2012/13 season and also the likes of Capoue, Lamela & Chiricheș arriving during the summer its fair to say Spurs had the best of the transfer market and can look forward to a strong season coming up.