So the cast iron gates of the summer transfer window slam shut, chopping off the fingers of Liverpudlian hope in its wake once again.
It has been a busy summer for the HR department at Anfield as Mister Hodgson sought to clear out the “deadwood” from the previous regime and reinvigorate the squad in time for a new campaign. The signing of Joe Cole on a free set hearts racing early on and completing the Rafa business of Jovanovic, Shelvey and Wilson all seemed to bode well. Add to these solid internationals like Poulsen, and Meireles, and an experienced Premiership stalwart in Paul Konchesky and on paper it looks a good summer all round… That being said, why is it that we feel as though we’ve been ripped off once again?
Let’s start with the “biggest signings of the summer”. Yes Stevie and Nando both committed themselves to the club. Phenomenal news. The globe over Kopites breathed a collective sigh of relief, amid lines like “Keeping them two is like having two new signings”. Except that it’s not. It’s actually just like having two long-term contracted players, (and two long term contracted fans of the club no less) continue as normal. It was being described as the “coup of the summer by Hodgson,” in some circles. But lets face it, if you hadn’t read a tabloid or turned on Skysports news over the summer and been constantly subjected to the constant scare-rumour mongering, we would’ve been able to view the situation objectively- Two players, both love the club, both idolised by the fans, both highly paid, both on long term contracts- staying. Simple as that.
Of course this is where the Mascherano deal comes up. I’m not going to be drawn into bashing Javier, because although his conduct over City game would merit it, I think that the guy wanted to move last summer and was more than likely told to give “one more season”. With the change in management I imagine this deal may well have been whipped from under him, thus causing him to dig his heels in.
Right lets move on the rest of the business, the proper business.
The positive PR mission launched by the club post Benitez has had a lot of people forgetting just how dire the situation at the club was. With the wave of optimism from those who wanted an Englishman at the helm, talk of new owners, and a sparkly new shirt sponsor it’s easy to see why. Had Rafa stayed he would’ve spent pre-season reminding the world that the owners were refusing to sufficiently back the rebuilding of the squad. Roy of course was clearly briefed as to the situation and told to get on with it- make do and mend so to speak. He has conducted himself with great dignity and composure so far, and should be commended for it. The only bonus to all of this happy shiny thinking is that it has probably helped save us all from a summer of mental depression- particularly as up the M62 we watched all the men we should’ve been targeting lining up in Sky Blue.
I heard people call Roy a “yes man”, but then I’ve heard people calling Rafa a “pain in the arse”. Whilst the latter was certainly true for the Yanks, (particularly in the wake off Klinnsman-gate), I think it’s a little harsh on Mister Hodgson. Think about it. How many people walk into a new job and starting slagging off their boss? You’d be back at the job centre before you could say Texas Rangers.
All told thought, however you choose to look at the business we’ve done this summer- all that’s really happened is that we’ve replaced the players that were shipped out. Jovanovic=Riera, Cole=Benayoun, Konchesky=Insua, Meireles=Aquilani (or Xabi), and Poulsen=Mascherano. And whilst I think Cole is better than Yossi (as an attacking threat), and Konchesky is more experienced than Emiliano, i’m not certain that we’ve improved the squad at all, we’ve just about managed to stop it from imploding. Again though, let’s not forget that, with a Champions League-less season that is no small feat.
I think our biggest worry coming out of this window is that by the time the January Window opens (if H&G are still here) that the Mascherano money will have been forgotten about (or re-distributed- read: used on the debt).
So, no tricky winger, and no centre forward. No amount of positive spin can hide the glaring holes in the season’s squad, and our start to the season has been less than inspiring. But, with the squad now in place and the campaign well under way let’s draw a line under all this talk of what could’ve or should’ve been.
The squad is what it is, The Rafalution is over, and Roy Hodgson is the man to lead us.
A lot of people complained last season about the lack of time that “the kids” were getting in the first team, well this season is going to be their year. It’s going to have to be. We didn’t sign Llorente or Carlton Cole? Well then it’s about time that Ngog, Babel and Eccleston showed what they can do! No David Silva or Milner? Perfect time for Amoo and Pacheco to shine! The same goes for Martin Kelly, Danny Wilson, Jonjo Shelvey, Jay Spearing, Steven Darby, Suso, Tom Ince, and Bruna, to name but a few.
And I know we already know this, but it never hurts to say it again: In Pepe, Stevie and Nando, we have the best keeper in the world, the best midfielder in the world and the best centre forward in the world, and not many Europa League/Premier League “also rans” can say that…
So fellow Redmen, keep your heads up, and stay positive. It’s a long season, and if we continue to give every drop of our passion and support to the team and the manager- then come May 2011 we’ll know that, as fans, we’ve done all that WE can do to guide the mighty Reds back to the top.