"These aren't the players you're looking for..."
What a difference seven days make.
Last week, I was writing stories (at my day job) about Spain’s victory, laughing as I realized I had inadvertently picked their victory song. But on the inside, I was an emotional blender. On one hand, I knew we’d be jumping into another League season, which is my true love.
On the other hand, I’m a Liverpool fan….
Last season ended bleakly to say the least. Drawing on the last day to Hull meant the Reds finished in seventh place, missing out on the valuable Champions League next season. The owners were 350 million pounds in debt and looking to sell. The manager bailed to fashionable Milan. The team’s two best players looked tired — and in Torres case, damaged — and it looked like rats for the good ship Anfield.
But then Woy appeared. Like old Ben Kenobi appearing out of the desert — alright then, Fulham – Roy Hodgson didn’t look like much. But he seems to have added a calming and stabilizing, er, force to a team very much in transition.
Before the World Cup was over, Liverpool announced the signing of Serbian striker Milan Jovanovic. Of course, Rafael Benitez did the deal before leaving. But Jovanovic scored a nice poacher’s goal against Ze Germans… something that neither Torres or Rooney managed to do. He’s coming from the less-than-impressive Belgian league… but I expect the team will lean on him early as Torres struggles to regain fitness.
And then… a minor coup. Obviously using a Cockney mind-trick, Woy somehow convinced want-away Joe Cole to leave Swinging London and set up camp on Hoth… I mean, Merseyside. I’m now stopping with the Star Wars references…
So now the questions start:
How will he play? Is he washed up at 28, or can he finally play the game he was destined to play?
Where will he play? Cole has said he sees himself in an attacking midfield role. Um, hello… Number 10? Meet Number Eight. Steven Gerrard has all but said he is now staying with the team. But England’s problem –where to play both Lampard and Gerrard – may now be Liverpool’s problem: where to play both Cole and Gerrard.
Can he keep fit? Liverpool fans are just about fed up with superstar signings touted as the next Red hope, only to spend too much time on the physio table. Torres, Aquilani, and Johnson spring to mind.
But no matter. Hodgson admits that Cole’s arrival does not automatically solve all of Liverpool’s problems. What he has done is what he was brought in to do: Stop the leak, soothe fears, and — Praise Cheebus — win. But do or do not. There is no try. Sorry.
Side note: Liverpool — along with five other Premier League teams — has banned vuvuzelas at its home games. Small mercies.