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Archive for May 2007

Off to America

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007 by Paul Grech

So, Abel Xavier is on his way to America. It isn't long ago that Xavier was a Liverpool player - December 2002 to be precise - but it seems as if he has been erased from the collective memory: most fans find it hard to beleive that this clown - at least in appearance - actually played for the club.

If his was one of the more surprising of Houllier's transfer dealings, it did make some sense. Xavier had been in good form for Everton, one of the better players at Euro 2000 and at £800,000 the deal represented excellent value for a back-up player. And, coming so soon after the transfer of Nicky Barmby, that Liverpool managed to take away another of Everton's best performers was particularly satisfying.

Still, there was little warmth towards Xavier. Although he played decently well, if somewhat inconsistently, many never forgave him for indirectly forcing local lad Stephen Wright out of the club. That Wright has since failed to impress at Sunderland, it probably means that Houllier was right at the time.

On a different note, what does this transfer say about football in America?

When news broke that David Beckham was joining the LA Galaxy, the people behind the deal stressed that this wasn't going to signal a return to the days of the NASL where America became the destination for any washed up old pro in search for a quick buck.

Try pulling that one now, guys.


What's in a name?

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by Paul Grech

Given all the agitation surrounding the failure to impose a points deduction on West Ham for fielding a player who was, to all intents, not eligible to play it is comforting to see that those running the game know what's really important by announcing a name change.

As from next season the Premiership will be no more with its place being taken by the Barclays English Premier League.

CEO Richard Scudamroe said that

after extensive research with fans and other stakeholders during the Premier League's recent re-branding exercise showed the need for a single unified identity.
Naturally the possibility of squeezing a few extra quid out of Barclays had absolutely nothing to do with this.

Scudamore added that
We are confident that our simplified and strengthened global identity will help fans associate better with our fantastic competition.
Sure it will Richard, sure it will.


He Should Do Well: Marvin Pourie (Liverpool)

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007 by Paul Grech

Steve Heighway's departure from his post as the head of Liverpool's Academy may have created some uncertainty as to what the future might hold yet it doesn't seem to have hindered the planning process for next season.

A number of players have been having trials for the past few months and, of these, German striker Marvin Pourie has been impressive enough to warrant the offer of a contract which will see him join Liverpool on a free from Borussia Dortmund.

Thanks also to Heighway's insistence, Liverpool have resisted bringing in foreign players into their academy. Yet their only two imports - Danish goalkeeper Martin Hansen and Swedish midfielder Astrit Ajdarevic - played pivotal roles in their FA Youth Cup win. Indeed, Heighway had previously praised Ajdarevic, describing him as a real talent and a great choice.

The key, therefore, is the quality of the players concerned. Pourie, a striker who bears a passing resemblance to cult hero Erik Meijer, was an automatic choice in the youth squads at Dortmund and the fact that he was signed after the Liverpool coaches watched him closely during training indicates that they feel he is good enough.

Yet his omission from the German U17 squad at the European championships currently being held in Belgium has to be worrying.

Of course, there have been many players who were overlooked to represent their countries at youth level but who went on to star at a senior level. Steven Gerrard was one of them so there has to be a degree of faith that Liverpool’s scouts are more capable at spotting talent than those working for the German national side.

What is certain is that Pourie hasn’t been overlooked because he is too small: at 16 he is already six feet tall, which means that in him, Jordy Brouwer and Peter Crouch Liverpool will have tall strikers playing throughout all set-ups.