Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Benitez Needs to Spend, Spend, Spend

Yesterdays £20m signing of Robbie Keane is a bold statement of intent by Rafa Benitez, but the Merseysiders are still well short of the quality required to win the Premier League. Keane is an experienced and reliable goalscorer in this division, and is in the prime of his career. I am confident he will forge a good understanding with Torres, as they are clearly both intelligent footballers. Although the price tag seems excessive, Liverpool fans have often criticised Benitez for spending his money on mediocre or younger players rather than players of undoubted and established quality.

The acquisition of Gareth Barry would strengthen Liverpool yet further, given his experience of English football. I remain to be convinced about Liverpool's other summer signings. Dossena, despite being in this mid 20s, has hardly pulled up any trees in Serie A, while Degen is, by his own admission, a better attacker than defender. Ngog is an untested 19 year old whose record at PSG was, to put it kindly, average. Cavalieri is a reserve keeper who will play in the Carling Cup. It is in the wide areas that the team are still severley lacking. In this respect I would have no complaints if Benitez were to bring the little Spaniard David Silva of Valencia to Anfield. Silva was, for me, one of the star performers throughout Euro 2008, and would provide a wider option for Gerrard, Alonso and Mascherano.

In many ways, whoever Liverpool bring in this season is irrelevant in terms of wining the title next season. That honour will once again go to Manchester United or Chelsea. However, the signing of Keane provides us fans with a traditional glimmer of hope and optimism - at least until November.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Anfield Transfer Policy Continues to Baffle

And so it continues. Another week and another inexplicable transfer involving Liverpool FC. Having spent the past 2 months in a public wrangle with Aston Villa over the extra £3m required to secure the signature of Gareth Barry, Liverpool this week completed the signing of another reserve goalkeeper from some club in Brazil for (yep you guessed it).......£3 million pounds! I wonder whether this guy - Diego Cavalieri I believe his name is - is the final piece in the jigsaw? With Cavalieri on board, Liverpool will surely romp home to Premier League glory next May with 5 games to spare. Or perhaps he will disappear in the ether next summer, just like Charles Itandje and countless other reserve goalkeepers the club have signed in the past 5 years. Perhaps if Liverpool used their money wisely - on players in key positions where we are currently weak, namely left midfield and up front, then we wouldn't be out of the title race by December every year and 20 points behind Man Utd by February, which as any football fan knows is exactly what will happen next season.

And another thing. So far we have sold Riise for £5m and Crouch for £11m, and bought Dossena for around £7m and Cavalieri for £3m. I believe this is a £6m profit, so how exactly are the club struggling to find the funds for Barry and Keane? Where is the Hicks and Gillett money? I was under the impression that they were brought in partly to srengthen our hand in the transfer market. If anything, Liverpool appear to have LESS clout these days. If the transfer budget is so tight now, I dread to think what it will be like when we start paying off the new stadium.

And as if to rub salt into the wound, Liverpool today appear on the verge of selling the highly promising Scott Carson to Stoke City for £3.5m, having rejected an offer of £7 million from Aston Villa no more than 9 months ago. And who is Liverpool's chief negotiator when it comes to transfers? Yes, the hapless Rick 'The Clown' Parry. Tom Hicks was absolutely correct in identifying Parry as a weak link in the Anfield hierarchy and he should leave asap.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Phew! For a minute there, I lost myself.

One of the first CD albums I ever bought was ‘The Bends’ by Radiohead. To this day it remains one of the centrepieces of my since expanded CD collection. Despite my admiration for the band however, I had never actually seen them play live – until last Friday night. Various accounts had suggested that their recent performances had been disappointing, and they tended to over concentrate on the less popular 'post OK Computer' material. Whilst their latest offering, In Rainbows, certainly marks a return to more traditional Radiohead territory following the electro-rock experimentations of Kid A, Amnesiac and Hail to the Thief, it still does not quite reach the heights of The Bends or OK Computer. That said, there are some corking tracks, my favourites being Jigsaw Falling into Place, Reckoner and Nude.

Playing to a crowd of around 30,000 in Glasgow Green in the evening drizzle, the Oxford quintet opened to 15 Steps, the opener to In Rainbows followed by Airbag. After what I thought was a slightly dodgy start – Thom York appearing to struggle with his microphone – they were quickly into their stride. The first half of the set did tend to concentrate on newer material, although the best of the past three albums were played, including There There, Everything in its Right Place and Jonny Greenwood's electrical storm of a crowdpleaser Idioteque, accompanied by an impressive light show.

The second part of the set focused on the older classic material, including Fake Plastic Trees, No Surprises and of course the sublime Paranoid Android which was played to perfection. The band reserved Karma Police until the encore, and with the crowd finishing the last verse, I thought this would be the last piece. But York, clearly enjoying himself, came out for a second Encore, performing a delightful acoustic version of 'Videotape' from In Rainbows. Despite a 2 hour set including 2 encores, the sodden audience did not fade and were left wanting more. This was certainly one of the best gigs I have been to for a long while, and ranks with U2 1995, Ash 1997 and The Prodigy 2005 in my top 5. It was a privilege to have witnessed one of the finest bands of my generation at their majestic best.