I find this preview comes to you in a slightly different mood to the usual, and that’s principally because this is the first time our previous manager, Brendan Rodgers, has returned to the Liberty in charge of his new team, Liverpool FC.
I guess there’s still a twinge of frustration within me, but I think it’s fair to say it gets less by the week and with each and every game .
Ah, it seems ages ago now, when in another odd Summer along came the Scouse “giants” and tempted yet another of our Managers away, but it would be hard to argue (from my point at least) that we haven’t done even better since.
It starts, of course, with both our Club set up generally, and Board particularly.
Despite the upheaval of change, Huw Jenkins and colleagues have at least secured both Financial probity and proven Managerial worth in both the Transfer and Compensatory markets and the Leadership of Michael Laudrup. We won’t know the eventual outcome until at least this season’s end, but thus far I suspect most of us Swans are justifiably pleased with the progress.
BR is embarked on his new career at Liverpool in a major period of change at that Club too, and his road has been rocky (to be kind), with perhaps the most puzzling aspect the failure to secure Striking cover for the on loan and controversial Andy Carroll and to go into the season with so little depth up front. Plus there’s the now infamous £35m fee aroma which will never go away. We’ll come back to that.
Here’s their full squad……..
1 Jones, 25 Reina, 32 Doni, 42 Gulacsi, 52 Ward
2 Johnson, 3 Jose Enrique, 5 Agger, 16 Coates, 22 Wilson, 23 Carragher, 34 Kelly, 37 Skrtel, 38 Flanagan, 45 Sama, 47 Wisdom, 49 Robinson
4 Sahin, 8 Gerrard, 10 Cole, 14 Henderson, 19 Downing, 21 Lucas, 24 Allen, 31 Sterling, 33 Shelvey, 35 Coady
7 Suarez, 11 Assaidi, 12 Pacheco, 29 Borini, 30 Fernandez Saez, 36 Yesil, 50 Morgan
On Thursday night they played out a frustrating 2-2 draw with Young Boys of Berne in a Europa league group game that leaves them still to secure a Qualifying berth from the Group, and all will depend on the final Group match up.
The team they went with on Thursday was……..
25 Reina, 23 Carragher, 37 Skrtel, 47 Wisdom (Gerrard – 31′ ), 04 Sahin Booked, 10 Cole (Sterling – 75′ ), 14 Henderson, 19 Downing, 33 Shelvey, 11 Assaidi, 30 Suso (Suarez – 60′ )
01 Jones, 03 Jose Enrique, 16 Coates, 08 Gerrard, 24 Allen, 31 Sterling, 07 Suarez
…..in a typical BR 4-2-3-1 with Pepe Reina back in goal, Wisdom, Carragher, Skrtel and Downing across the back, Henderson and Sahin as the defensive MF’ers, Suso, Cole and Assaidi the 3 supporting Jon-Joe Shelvey as a “false 9”.
I understand the Irishman’s need to balance and rotate, but the frustrating outcome was given the clue to by his need to use both all of the initially rested first choice trio – Luis Suarez, Stephen Gerrard and Raheem Sterling well before the end of the game, presumably in an attempt to get it done and dusted on the night. Ah well, such are the plans of Mice and Men often stymied. (Whoops = stop smirking in the back!)
Now look – I know Pepe Reina’s been injured some and has had more frequent episodes of mistake than previously – but is Brad Jones really in front of the Spanish International generally, Brendan?? Really???
Personally I don’t think so – but then that’s why he’s paid MegaBucks as the Manager of Liverpool and I’m not.
Maybe it’s got something to do with Neuro-Linguistic Programming or maybe it’s because he (Reina) is a very strong dressing room character who sometimes rocks the boat with opinions, – after all, nothing must detract from the “project”.
First choice RB is likely to be Andre Wisdom, the Academy graduate, (Stephen Kelly is injured) with Glen Johnson, the England RB replacing the nowadays utility LB Stewart Downing ( only £20m Kenny !). How are the mighty fallen.
CB’s are almost certain to be our old friends the Tattoo Twins, Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel. The Dane and the Slovak are solid and quality players – even if Daniel seems to have stolen one of Martin’s vowels.
Rogers has been using both our own Swansea City developed Joe Allen and the Club Captain Steven Gerrard to hold, and we know both the quality and influence of both – 2 players at opposite ends of their career. Gerrard is rightly revered by the Scoucers, and young Joey seems to have won over most of their doubters ( most, but not all), and at £15m I’m confident the deal was right for us both.
Nuri Sahin, the quality Turkish International on loan from Real Madrid has also been used to hold, but as Sahin is essentially a Michu type (advanced MF’er) rather than a Leon type (withdrawn MF’er) the Turk has of late fallen out of favour, and will ultimately be contesting selection along with Suso. Undoubtedly Lucas Leiva, the recently injured and talented Brazilian is likely to enter the MF equation too, when fit.
Part of BR’s gamble this year has involved using the far younger players more and more, along with a fairly recent conversion of a stalwart Spanish defender into an advanced left sided MF’er.
That’s why he’s used an advanced 3 of young Suso, the Spanish youth generally playing left footed from the right, and Jose Enrique, the Iberian LB signed long ago from the Toon on the left, and England’s (or Jamaica’s) 17 yr old Raheem Sterling as the support striker to the out and out goal-thief Luis Suarez at the head of the team.
Suso is a highly skilled dribbler with a good shot, but has periods where he does tend to drift out of games. Enrique, on the other hand, after long being out of favour with Rodgers as a defender has been a key assister in two of Suarez’s more satisfying goals of late, providing one long and one threaded final pass prior to the goals. Moreover, he’s chipped in with one himself.
Sterling’s rising star has been nothing short of meteoric – from Academy player last season when we played their reserves at Parc Y Scarlets to first-team saviour and the “future of the club” and a full International within 6 months. Forgive me if I proffer that I’m not yet entirely convinced.Seems promising, but still a long way to go, methinks.
Up front, of course, think of him what you like, what we can’t argue about is that in Luis Suarez they have the PL’s most in form striker. His performances this year have been genuinely thrilling, and the recently stated Ash Williams’ reported wish to “knock him out” when he saw the alleged extent of his more nefarious tricks, makes me hope our defence can keep this predator caged as he their most dangerous player by a country mile.
On that basis, this is the team I expect to face us – and my belief is he’ll pick what is at the moment both what he perceives as their “strongest” side – fitness permitting.
Jones, Wisdom, Skrtel, Agger, Johnson, Gerrard, Allen, Suso, Sterling, Enrique, Suarez. We’ll see.
Incidentally, you may wish to take a look back at the full squad listed above, because some of the names on there will give you more than a hint at the scope and range of transformation that BR is attempting to imprint.
Firstly, there’s the “Elephant in the Room” – Overpaying.
As I’ve hinted previously, the amounts lavished by the previous Manager ( the sainted King Kenny) encompasses the on loan Carroll (£35m), the stuttering Stewart Downing (£20m), the bereft Jordan Henderson (£18m), and the lost Joe Cole (free but on £120k a week). I suspect there may be some money lost there over the next couple of years.
There are some quality squad players too, to be fair.
Sebastian Coates is Uruguay’s first choice CB. Nuri Sahin and Lucas Leiva I’ve mentioned already. Oussama Assaidi is a young Moroccan winger/striker of some talent and pace. Samed Yesil is a very young highly rated German Striker. And then there’s the currently injured Fabio Borini, late of this parish and still much admired in my heart.
Plus, there’s a tranche of good young talent that will also come through. Guided by senior pros like Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard, there’s no doubt that if allowed the time and patience (and money!) to process his changes, BR’s incessant modern “Managerspeak” may succeed. Just forgive me if I don’t really care. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the King is dead, long live the King.
As for our own side, after last week’s excellent win at Newcastle, perhaps you’ll allow me a phrase associated with the saturnine Peter Mandelson when talking about the super-rich = he’s alleged to have said – ” I’m intensely relaxed in their presence…….”. So am I, Peter, so am I.
I quite fancy fashioning another mud pie, all the better to poke into BR’s beatific visage……..
ONWARD, SWANSEA CITY.