Date:Tuesday August 11 2009
Once again, Liverpool have won the Premier League title. It's no major surprise: they do that every August. They are the best team in England every summer and this one is no different.
The BBC, the Telegraph and the Guardian already declared Liverpool as champions, thus giving them their 10th Pre-Season Champions Title. Or about 10th, I'm not too sure, there have been so many summers since their last title success...
The reasoning? As you would expect from quality papers, it is sound. Almost. Take the Guardian when Andy Hunter writes that 'still the prediction is that this could be Liverpool`s year' because "It is United, not Liverpool, who have lost more to the continued lure of Real Madrid." Got that? Hunter admits Liverpool's squad depth is still a concern and that Aquilani needs to overcome his injury problems. But still, they're going to win the league because Alonso is no great loss, compared to Ronaldo.
Strange reasoning but we've got better. The BBC and Phil McNulty. Well of course you would expect nothing but drooling over Liverpool from the Beeb and they do not disappoint.
'Liverpool's title hopes rest on manager Rafael Benitez refusing to become distracted by Manchester United, as he did so pointlessly last season, and on the well-being of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.
If this world-class pair stay fit and play in the manner that propelled Liverpool so beautifully through the last three months of last season, then all the optimism and expectation is justified, despite a stuttering pre-season.'
OK, so let's see: we have a player (Fernando Torres) who's regularly struggling with hamstring problems. Hamstring (and all kind of muscle strains) reacts to overexertion more than anything else: the more the player in question plays, the more likely his problems will flare up. Torres has no quality backup and as we heard Liverpool's title chances rest on him playing all the time anyway. But if he plays all the time he's almost certain to pick up injuries because he's that type of player.
But OK, move on, let's assume that both Torres and Aquilani stays fit for the entire season (otherwise they'll have to make do with Ngog and Lucas). The best is the Telegraph, though, and their writer Rob Kelly.
'Benitez has improved his already formidable defence with the signing of Glen Johnson, and if he replaces Alonso with the exciting Alberto Aquilani and then uses the rest of his transfer budget to sign a striker and/or an out-and-out winger, then I believe Liverpool will win the Premier League by five or six points.'
He did sign Aquilani who, I repeat, is a very injury-prone player. IF he signs a striker... but he shows no signs of wanting to purchase anyone else. But even if he does... shall we recite the names of some of the out-and-out strikers and wingers he had bought? Mark Gonzalez, Jermaine Pennant, Craig Bellamy, Fernando Morientes, Andriy Voronin, Dirk Kuyt, Ryan Babel... yeah, you get the idea. Do Liverpool have the money to sign a David Silva? Unlikely. Did Benitez's budget solutions for attacking positions ever work? No.
'United simply do not look the force that Liverpool do, no matter how much Ferguson tries to talk himself, and anyone who`ll listen, into it.'
That's it: no justification, no argument, nothing, just stating that we do not look like a force like Liverpool do. Because they have replaced a solid, reliable, creative player with an injury-prone, unreliable, creative player and because they replaced a right-back with a right-back. And of course there's no way we're gonna score 68 league goals without Ronaldo just as we were never going to score goals without Van Nistelrooy.
I'm afraid I'm with Fergie on this one: last season we weren't at our best, Chelsea were managed by a man who wasn't good enough for the job, Liverpool enjoyed some astonishing luck (all those games won in the last minute, all those games when a sending off helped them turn it around), they had a brilliant year, their best ever in the Premier League and it still wasn't good enough. They did not improve in the summer but got weaker - it would be a major surprise if they won the league. They can do it: if both United and Chelsea mess up royally.
I still think we'll finish as runners-up but behind Chelsea. Why? Simply: because it's hideously difficult to sustain the kind of success we enjoyed in the last few years. Some of the hunger, the eagerness goes away and fatigue takes over. That's why I believe Chelsea, under a new, experienced manager, will win it now: it will be a last hurrah for their aging players, just as 2006/07 was the last really great season for Scholes and Giggs even though they contributed significantly to the next two as well. But Liverpool winning it? Very unlikely. Especially as they are viewed as the favourites while United are written off: familiar and much-loved territory for us.
Date:Tuesday August 11 2009
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