Another year for Koptimism

The Boss

At some point we have all issued the advice ‘dont take him/her back, leave him’, either to a friend, butting in when our opinion wasnt asked for or just ludicrously shouting at a character on a mundane TV show. The assumption is that once trust has been repeatedly broken we should all have the self respect and strength of character to move on from this destructive influence in our lives. Transfer season can often feel like this.

Yet rather than absorbing this staunch and valid advice, every summer we dive back in, into the midst of rumours, links, outright lies and the new villian in the play ITK’s. No group of wounded and heart broken victims report back for duty so readily and optimistically as Liverpool fans. Perhaps the only thing more erratic than Liverpool’s on field form is their off field performances. More ‘final pieces of jig saw’ have rolled in and out of their summer revolving doors than a Mattell store room. But once again its summer time and fans are more willing than Bridget Jones, returning from bad news at the ovaries clinic, to say ‘this guy is gonna be different’.

The cold fact underlying all this is that fans have been bitten so often that apprehension should consume them by now. Make a list of the 20 worst transfers in Premiership history and its the only league table Liverpool would dominate now. From Paul Stewart on the maiden season, right through to Stan Collymore, El Hadji Diouf, Harry Kewell, Ryan Babbel and more names than a phone book, right up to the present day piñata style spending of last year (Luis Suarez aside).

The figures for Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing are well publicised, yet still bend the mind attempting to comprehend. Expenditure so ridiculous that now fans of all most every club weigh up their new signings against the outlay of Dalglish and Comolli last summer (Usually Carroll’s fee alone is enough to quash the other teams receipt for 3/4 players better than Carroll himself). The damage this lavish budget caused is far out reaching and enough for an entry of its own so all that can be done is move on to new solutions.

So what of this summer? So far more players have left than have come in which could be concerning but the reality is exodus is as needed as entires. Players like Dirk Kuyt and Maxi have seen their best days fade behind them. Kuyt especially will always be remembered by the Kop faithful having scored as many important goals as almost anyone to play in front of them. The realisation must be that his super human engine, that could conceal a lack of technical ability, has diminished, leaving him very little to offer. Fans can appreciate his need for first team football and Maxi’s need to return home and as ever, should feel no ill will. Alberto Aquilani should be afforded as much page time here as he gave pitch time at Anfield. Good Riddance.

Thus far despite being linked with every player with a pair of boots, only two have spilled ink in the name of the club. Fabio Borini of Roma and Joe Allen of new boss Brendan Rodgers’ old side Swansea. Neither have genuinely caught the excitement en mass. There can be lack of reality in the nature of Liverpool’s current enticement level in the market. In one hand a supremely respected and global powerhouse, but little to offer top players in terms of career enhancement. In a time when winning a cup is no longer enough to save ones job, Champions League is king. It’s not only ruthless owners who believe this, ambitious players need this. Therefore budgets and targets must be managed as tactically as an on field opponent and already its clear the direction Rodgers is venturing. In Borini and Allen he has gone with players he knows, yet affordable within his current restraints.

Reunited

Joe Allen’s arrival has been met (if social media is to be taken as a barometer) with lukewarm appreciation at best. Last year’s outlay was so outlandish that even Liverpool’s fans are sceptical. The big concern being that yet more double figure millions were dropped on another average player, playing for an average side. Stats have become transfer witchcraft. Illusions to mirage over the most average of players to make him seem like a world beater. Joe Allen’s are spectacular. But unlike Henderson and Downing, this is not a purchase from a manager who has watched from afar and hoped he would work, Allen is a player the manager knows inside out and believes he can work. Rodgers himself should be the best gauge of what Allen is and isn’t worth, having not only seen his ability as a player, but his attitude as a man, an aspect becoming abundantly clear is very important to Rodgers.

What is vital about Allen is that he is ready made. Every player at the club, even the few top quality members left like Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez, will still take time to adjust, comprehend and transcend that vision on to the pitch. Joe Allen should need no such time. Time to adjust to a bigger club sure, but he comes ready made for the philosophy and should be a perfect projection of this mantra right in the hub of Liverpool’s team.

Fans have proclaimed that Rodgers will be given a chance, but with an opening quintet of West Brom, Manchester City, Arsenal, Sunderland and a quiet affair at home to Man. United, the patience could be tested in the most arduous of saints. The possibility of 0 from 15 is distinct, as the team fumble for understanding of the new system. That is why it is absolutely vital to have at least one player in there who already knows what his duty is.

Allen’s Swansea background has sadly been used a slant rather than commendation upon his arrival. A player playing for mid-table side has no place at Anfield. Yet the same protesters would seemingly cut off a limb to poach Gaston Ramirez from mid-table Bologna in an inferior league. These rabble-rousers have most likely seen Ramirez play as often as they’ve seen Joe Allen play, which combined is probably a mere fraction of their time spent on Twitter. Xabi Alonso is player who joined from modest surroundings for a similar price yet only Christians match the Kop in desire for a return of a bearded man.

Knife Man

From early impressions Borini looks like another player who already has a secure sense of what is expected of him. Much has been made of Rodgers’ obsession with ball retention. His passing style caught the eye and plaudits of anyone who had the pleasure to watch Swansea on form last year. Yet as crucial an aspect of this style was retrieving the ball. His entire team worked tirelessly to smoother the opponent into mistakes and loss of possession. Already it is clear Borini is adept at this, would also enhance any admiration for possible target Clint Dempsey. Even at this early stage, Borini’s movement has been toxic for defenders and agility visible in his link ups with Suarez at home to Gomel.
Sadly none of these new traits of Liverpool’s frontline encourage the idea of a place for Andy Carroll. Probably Liverpool’s zenith in spectacular transfer disasters and one they seem unable to relieve themselves of without once again being bitten. Many believe he should be given a chance, Rodgers should adapt to forge out a place for him in the side. This defeats the entire purpose of his appointment in the first place.

Liverpool’s owners have taken the risk of Rodgers not based on his accumulation of trophies, not based on his experience at the top level and not to appease the fans but because of a belief in his footballing philosophy. Why would he change that entirely to accommodate a mistake of his predecessors? The expense of that mistake is not his to rectify. Yes a severe hit is expected on his now inevitable transfer (ironically Newcastle seem likely to add to the entire insult) but if he does not figure in the managers plans then another season unused and benched will hardly increase his value. Better to cash in on his brief success at the Euros now.
Pre season has been somewhat condensed. A tour of America was this years destination to fatten future budgets. Marketing and globalising have become dirty words in football. But this is 2012 and if Liverpool had grasped this shift in 1992 then they may not be striving to surpass Man. United in years without a league title.

The generations that saw Liverpool dominate England and Europe now have kids and grandchildren. This generation have not been witnesses to a May league table that reads Liverpool then the rest. They live in the world of Chelsea and Man. City out spending everyone. If on the field success has been lacking, then tours of America and afar are absolutely vital to maintain that connection. The global resilience can only last so long and until the players on the pitch put things right, then fans must accept this air mile accumulation.
Another positive about the American tour was game time for the youngsters that promise so much. Whether they performed or not is irrelevant compared to the importance of that first taste on the lips of playing for Liverpool. Ravel Morrison and countless others highlight just how easy heads can be turned by outside influences if their star child is not given everything yesterday. The experience of first team football should only set to encourage effort and understanding as they head back to the daily grind of reserve training knowing they can make it, but not yet.
Fourth place becomes the new title as far as Liverpool’s current standing allows. Difficult indeed but impossible, no. There is no question that Arsenal and Chelsea have added to their squad, but there would be no point in this article if adding players guaranteed strengthening.

There’s certainly a collective acceptance that an improvement on last year is paramount. 6th or even 5th may be as far as Liverpool can stretch with a visualisation that the new strategy is taking shape. But if this acceptance is to remain true then there must be a realisation that any team that finish 6th will go through a random November where more points have been dropped than gained. Patience is once again the key. 2 maybe even 3 more players before August 31st, without losing any stars and there genuinely is a good team waiting to happen at Anfield, that is of course if this transfer curse can finally be lifted.

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