Archive for July 2007
Monday, July 23, 2007 by Paul Grech
Despite the U21’s relative success in the European Championships in Holland this summer, the lack of English players coming through seems to be causing some concern with a number of broadsheets dedicating a lot of thought to this subject.
It is also something that Four Four Two having been dealing with for the past three issues. And it was something in the July edition that caught my attention.
When talking about young Dutch players moving abroad before signing their first professional contract, the former Ipswich and Manchester United midfielder Arnold Muhren who is currently coach of Ajax’s under-14 side mentioned Jordy Brouwer as an example of what’s happening.
“He won’t succeed in England,” he told FFT. “He’s a good player but he won’t be playing in the first team. He’s so young and now he’s in a country with a completely different culture, so he’ll be homesick. He’s gone for the money and nothing else.”
Sour grapes? Perhaps: this is the same Jordy Brouwer about whom an Ajax technical director Martin Van Geel was quoted as saying that they weren’t going to offer him a professional contract. Time, obviously, will tell even though his initial (disappointing) games for Liverpool would suggest that both Ajax coaches were, in different ways, correct.
Saturday, July 14, 2007 by Paul Grech
Back in March, Danny Guthrie came in initially for a month’s loan as the team struggled to contain injuries and missing players. His role appeared clear: play a couple of games until the more experienced players come in at which point he would return to the sidelines before going back to Liverpool.
Only things didn’t proceed according to that plan. So good was Guthrie that he became a fixture in the Southampton team that suddenly found form and results to make it to the play-offs.
So it was him that Southampton initially tried to sign, enquiring whether Liverpool were willing to let him join on a season long loan deal. Unfortunately for them, Bolton had also noticed the midfielder’s displays and the possibility of Premiership football was more alluring.
But Burley wasn’t to be dissuaded and eventually turned his attention to another promising midfielder in the form of Hammill.
And, whilst the club’s fans won’t know too much about him at the moment, they need not be disappointed. For Hammill is a genuinely exciting player who can dribble past players and make things happen for the side.
Like Guthrie he spent the second half of last season out on loan – to Dunfermline in Scotland – and he too enjoyed the experience. Two years ago, as one of the stars who helped Liverpool to the youth cup final. At the time he was considered as a talented player but also one who had attitude problems. He didn’t take to substitutions well and tended to hog the ball too much.
Six months in Scotland seems to have cured him of most of most of those bad habits. He seems to have matured and can share the ball much better: he has much more respect for his team mates and is a better team player.
That loan deal also proved that he could score goals - including a fantastic effort against Celtic – as well as create them. During the run to the cup final he won a number of crucial penalties that helped get them through. His creativity and eagerness to run with the ball helped him shine despite playing in a side stuck at the bottom of the division and which was ultimately relegated.
So impressive was he in Scotland that both Celtic and Rangers seemed to be interested in taking him for a season long loan. Both teams would have given him a taste of European football but in the long run the Championship will probably guarantee him a better degree of competition on a weekly basis.
If he is allowed to play and express himself, he’ll end up the season as one of the division’s better young players.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007 by Paul Grech
It looks as if there's no end to Liverpool's spending spree on young talent with Dutchamn Marco Matic in talks with the club.
In an article complaining about English clubs picking off players before they sign professional contracts, AD mention that AZ Alkmaar's Marco Matic is in talks with Liverpool even tough his current club seems to be unaware of this.
According to AZ's technical director, "Marco Matic is still with us but he has been to the United Kingdom. I do not know any details."
"I wonder whether a club like Liverpool considers if a player is going to make it. If someone is sixteen years old, I have to ask myself whether he or another one is going to make it."
According to the reports, Matic stands to earn £30,000 a year if he joins Liverpool whilst in Holland he would still be on a minimum wage contract.
Earlier this year, Liverpool signed Jordy Brouwer from Ajax on a similar deal.
Monday, July 09, 2007 by Paul Grech
With so many new young players coming in this season, it is only natural for some of the slightly older members of the Liverpool squad to be given the opportunity to move to another side on a one year loan.
As Adam Hammill proved last year, it can be a career defining move which can prove whether a player can hack it in the Premiership. Hammill himself could be on the way to another year on loan somewhere else but this time there are clubs with loftier ambitions than Dunfermline who are looking at him.
There were also a number of clubs looking at Paul Anderson. Blackpool are believed to have enquired about the possibility of taking him for one year but eventually it was Roberto Martinez with his Spanish ties that got Liverpool’s approval to take the winger.
Martinez has been quick to praise the new addition, describing him as “young, has fantastic ability and able to play on either wing, although he is more right-sided because he is right-footed.”
“He will give us an extra dimension because he has the ability to go on the outside. He is an excellent crosser, sees the game well and has great quality on the ball. We have said all along that we needed a bit of pace out wide and hopefully Paul Anderson is going to provide us with that.”
Praise indeed by the Spanish manager, but his words aren’t misplaced. Signed by Liverpool from Hull for a fee that could eventually rise to £1.5 million, he was the star of the side that won the FA Youth Cup against Manchester City two years ago. Last season was more subdued, due largely to an injury that kept him out for several months but there are few at Anfield who doubt his ability.
At this stage of his career, however, spending the next twelve months training and playing occasionally for the reserves was hardly going to do him any good so a loan move was always likely. Swansea is a better destination than most. The club is hugely ambitious, there’s a good squad already in placed and he’ll get to play in front of passionate fans. And that’s without mentioning that he’ll get to learn a thing or two about Scouse culture from Lee Trundle.
It will also offer him his first opportunity to play real football on a regular basis and determine whether he can reproduce his form in the reserves at a higher level something that, ultimately, will determine his future at Anfield.
For all the high regard with which he is held by the Liverpool coaching staff, there are some doubts that he is somewhat too slight. If Anderson shows that he can handle the physical challenge of playing at this level, he’ll be proving that he could also make the step up to the Premiership.
Thursday, July 05, 2007 by Paul Grech
There won't be the eulogies that followed Thierry Henry's exit from English football, but Luis Garcia's return to Spain deserves a lot more than a simple passing mention.
And he’ll be getting that from the red half of Merseyside. It says a lot of the high regard in which he was held that the sadness of his departure overshadowed the news that Fernando Torres had passed his medical to edge his move to Liverpool closer.
Stories of his possible move back home had long been making the rounds. Earlier this year it had been reported that he was willing to move back to Atletico Madrid, a story that was later partially rejected by the player. When Liverpool made a move for West Ham’s Yossi Benayoun, a player with similar characteristics, it started to transpire that Garcia’s time at the club was coming to a close.
That Liverpool allowed him to leave so easily, not to mention cheaply – especially given the high regard that Garcia is held by Benitez – and the fact that his deal was completely separate from the one that should bring Torres to Anfield hint that the rumours that he wanted to move his young family back home were true.
Whatever the reason, he will be missed.
Yet not everyone at Anfield has been appreciative of Garcia. Indeed, there were many more than willing to moan each time he misplaced a pass or tried a bit of trickery that didn’t come off. And of course, he was all that and more. Frustratingly inconsistent, Garcia could not only be anonymous when off form, he was actually a problem with the ease with which he lost possession.
But there was also the other side, when he was on form and giving defenders headaches. Brilliant moves, fantastic talent and one of the few capable of turning the destiny of a game with one move, he was perhaps the most talented individual to put on the red shirt since Steve McManaman. How Liverpool could have used him during the Champions League final when they couldn’t find a way through a stubborn AC Milan defence. As the song went, he had really come from Barca to bring joy.
There were also the goals, over thirty in two and a half season is a great return for a midfielder especially as most of them are of the kind that will be forever etched in Liverpool’s history. His goal against Buffon in the Champions League quarter final or the one, later in the same competition, that according to Mourinho never was. Garcia loved playing, and scoring, against Chelsea and another superb effort during last year’s FA Cup semi-final would make the final cut for the best goals scored in recent years.
Perhaps the saddest aspect of the transfer is that Garcia never got the farewell he deserved from the Anfield crowd, that the sangria song didn’t get one proper final airing. It will do so when the two cross paths again and, whenever that happens, Liverpool’s appreciation for King Luis will be played out.
Monday, July 02, 2007 by Paul Grech
It would seem that Liverpool's scouts have been racking up the airmiles visiting Eastern Europe these past few months. Having signed Hungarian duo Kristian Nemeth and Andras Simon last May and concluded the signing of Bulgarian goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov last week, another Bulgarian in the form of Mihail Alexandrov could also be on the way. According to the Echo, the eighteen year old winger who played a couple of games for CSKA Sofia towards the end of last season has apparently already held a medical and could join in the coming days.