So we have had our preseason and what have we learned?
1) We have strengthened our squad.
2) We have let more youngsters go.
3) Need to be more clinical in front of goal.
4) Luis Suarez is the biggest scumbag in the World (That hasn't worked for the BBC and been caught kiddy-fiddling).
Ok so the last 2 aren't new!
Our preseason tour was the usual mix and match of 'Commercial Brand Promotion' and actually worthwhile games. The highlight for me was seeing 95-odd thousand Aussies singing 'You'll Never Walk Alone' in the MCG at the top of their voices! Awesome.
I think this was our 1st preseason in years the manager who organised it is actually the one who led the team on the tour. There was subtle change in approach from the Gaffer instead of the usual wholesale changes at halftime.Other than the Preston Game most games saw the players that started getting at least an hour. We played well in all the games but were wasteful again in front of goal but we seemed to have defensive solidity only conceding 1 goal. OK that has to be measured against the quality of opposition but to be fair Mignolet made1 or 2 good saves in every match. The Celtic game was a strange one.We basically dominated it but Celtic took 1 of their 3 chances and their 1 half keeper had a blinder saving 6 or 7 good efforts. But in the second half Fraser Foster could have been sitting in the crowd we really didn't make him do anything.
So now that we have seen our new signings in action what can we gleam from it:
Mignolet - Ronseal Goalkeeper - Tall, good in the air excellent shot-stopper probably needs to work on his distribution skills.
Toure -Ronseal Defender - Premier League vet used to 'Big Club' pressure brings some much needed steel, pace and organisation to the Back 4. I have to agree with Gary Gillespie though, Skrtel and Agger are our best centre-half paring.
Aspas- Looks real live wire, comes alive in the box and is very aware of those around him. He will be an excellent foil/back-up to Sturridge. Already seems to be on same wavelength as Coutinho. Looking forward to his performances this season. More assists than Messi last season!
Coutinho - Seems to be carrying on where he left off last season.He is our creative lynchpin.Almost everything worthwhile goes through him.Has a hell of an eye for defence splitting pass.Where we finish will largely depend on this little man. I have to give Rodgers credit,not just for signing him but using him out on the left. The couple of times we did try him centrally he was less effective as was being picked up by the holding midfield player.
Our Midfield Trio - looks like Rodgers has reverted to type here - Lucas,Gerrard and Allen.I still don't understand the point of Allen. He is clueless going forward which he seems to be trying to do more of. He cant tackle and his passes are rarely forward. Obviously Rodgers is obliged to play him after spunking £15mill for him but JonJoShelvey or Jordan Henderson are far more adept in the advanced central role.Not sure about Luis Alberto, he seems like another Joe Allen,lots of pretty nothing passes.
Out wide - Ibe and Sterling - Both looked very lively in preseason and I am sure Rodgers has learned from burning Raheem out early doors last season due to lack of options. I expect them to be rotated rather than used in tandem.The departure of Downing (good riddance) make that less likely. Not sure what poor Assaidi has to do to get game. He looked very good against Valerenga. drifting in , running diagonals and making a nuisance of himself in the box. Lets hope we see more of him.
One the out front cant say I am too surprised by many of the departures.
Downing was coming he has been a huge disappointment.
Jay Spearing isn't really good enough for top Premier League team. I hope he has great career and gets Bolton promoted.
Loanees- Robinson,Suso,Coady to be expected. These guys need game time and with no Europa League there wont be lot of opportunities for them at the club.
Reina going was to be expected once we signed Mignolet. He needs to try and find himself. He is low on confidence and I think he just wants to go back to Spain with his wife and daughters. Hopefully Rafa will help restore some of his confidence. Whether he comes back is neither here nor there. he has been a good servant but has been well below par the last 2 seasons.
JonJo Shelvey - pretty shocking decision. Of all the midfielders in the squad he is the most natural replacement for Stevie G. His height, strength and power are exactly what we need. Not a tippy tappy hobbit from Wales or a headless Mackem. Sure Shelvey can be wasteful and indecisive in the final 3rd but the boy is 20 for crying in a bucket! Plus he only cost us £1mill!He will come back to haunt us I guarentee it. If not in Swansea shirt then when he moves to one of the bigger clubs in a couple of years. Why you would sell him is beyond me. He basically ran the game for Swansea against Malmo when they won 4-0. I guarantee he will score more goals and get more assists and MoM's than Henderson and Allen combined this season. It is a bit like the Tom Ince decision makes no footballing sense.
We are still in the market for left back and looks like we have solved that with Aly Cissokh coming in loan from Valencia.Enrique needs the competition. So think all we need is a winger.
As for Mr Suarez, expect an 'apology' after the window closes when no-one has bought him.Brendan Rodgers has been right to exclude him from training last week.His preseason runouts have been completely lacklustre.Clearly doesn't want to be there but no-one wants his baggage except Arsenal and that is just desperation on their part. We wont sell to a direct competitor. If Suarez want Champions League football, loan him to Celtic for the season!!! See how long his ungratefulness and attitude will last in the goldfish bowl of Scottish Football.
So Stoke at home1st, hopefully Agger or Skrtel are fit to partner Toure, I would even go so far as play Kelly at right-back and push Johnson forward. Wisdom is too lightweight for Centreback in the PL, Kelly is more natural choice in there.Gives us more height against the giants of Stoke. With Coutinho and Allen on the pitch we can afford to many other short players on the pitch. Lets hope we can start with a win.
- I have been a Red since I was about 6 or 7. My boyhood hero was Kenny Dalglish and I have an autograph from him while he was still at Celtic. Thanks Gran! As such I gravitated towards the team he played for. So I have been Scottish-South African- Scoucer for about 30 years now! I am extremely passionate about our club, and have felt the need to start this blog in the face of the abject nature of our performaces under Benitez and the Hicks/Gillett ownership.