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Damien Comolli Joins Liverpool and Previewing Napoli

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Decently-sized bit of news before we get to tomorrow's match.

And, as is so often the case with Liverpool of late, the biggest news happens off the pitch. From the official site:

New England Sports Ventures (NESV) and Liverpool FC are pleased to announce the appointment of Damien Comolli as Director of Football Strategy for Liverpool FC.

NESV Principal Owner John Henry said today: "Damien has a proven track-record of identifying exciting young footballing talent and we are delighted that he has agreed to join Liverpool. Working closely with Roy Hodgson and the coaching staff, I know he will make a valuable contribution to strengthening the Club and the squad as we move forward.

"Today's announcement is just the first step in creating a leadership group and structure designed to develop, enhance and implement our long-term philosophy of scouting, recruitment, player development and all of the other aspects necessary to build and sustain a club able to consistently compete at the highest level in European football.

"We intend to be bold and innovative. We will not rest until we have restored Liverpool Football Club to the greatness Liverpool fans expect."

There's also quotes via the above link from Roy Hodgson, which I didn't copy for obvious reasons (namely, to keep Noel's Photoshop program from melting), and from Comolli himself that are sort of worth checking out. But not really, because it's the same party line about the need to rebuild and the tall task and omigod Liverpool are in shambles. Time to put that narrative to rest, please.

As Galahad mentioned in the comments thread of the previous post, by all accounts this is a positive-seeming move, although it's nothing to shoot me through the roof. Comolli's got experience in the Premier League through his time at Spurs, he seems to be in line with the NESV way of thinking (if anyone mentions "Moneyball" or sabermetrics one more time I'm going to stab them), and, building on the previous point, he's apparently the result of a well-measured move by the new owners.

It's hard to get a read on what exactly this means beyond the role to which he's appointed---hopefully this assuages some of the concern about Hodgson's skill in selecting talent to bring in, as a gaggle of Christian Poulsen clones probably isn't the type of big spending anyone's looking for. As with anything at the club right now, I'm mostly interested in Comolli bringing stability and positive influence to the role. But you know, he brought in Gareth Bale, who's now the closest thing to the reincarnation of Jesus that we have on earth.

Anyhow, it's the usual welcome to the club, and best of luck to him in helping move the club forward.

On to Napoli, which will be brief, in part because I deleted half of this post when the Comolli news broke. It's also partly down to the fact that, despite the last result falling in the "slightly above average" category for Liverpool, I was left confused about what exactly Napoli are capable of. Yes, Liverpool got a good result, Roy Hodgson was in dreamland, and we'll no doubt see the commemorative DVD released soon.

But Napoli were passive and unimpressive, and they rarely strung together anything of note to threaten Hodgson's side. Since that meeting they've lost to AC Milan 2-1 and got all three points late at Brescia, which means they're now in the fifth spot in Serie A, level on points with Juventus. The only team news I've been able to track down for Napoli has Cristiano Lucarelli still out with a knee injury, so outside of that I'm left to assume that it'll be a somewhat similar squad to the one Liverpool faced two weeks ago.

For Liverpool:

1. Who will start for Liverpool?
2. What’s the most important factor for the Reds?
3. Who’s going to win and what’s going to be the scoreline?

This will be a brief version, as the Comolli news makes this post long enough. As usual, though, chime in below.

1. Who will start for Liverpool?

Reina
Johnson Carragher Skrtel Aurelio
Lucas Meireles
Maxi Gerrard Jovanovic
Torres

---Tough to say here, as Hodgson's stated that he doesn't want to rest many of the big names. That's something Rafa would have done, that bastard. But there's still injuries to Daniel Agger and Dirk Kuyt, and now we add Joe Cole and apparently Sotirios Kyrgiakos to that mix.

---I won't pick Christian Poulsen. I much prefer Lucas and Raul Meireles to anything involving Poulsen. I much prefer Jonjo Shelvey as well. Even Jay Spearing. Maybe Sammy Lee, on current form.

---I suppose the rest of the front four can remain the same, although I wouldn't be surprised to see Ngog in place of Torres or as part of a two-striker system. Maybe we see Dani Pacheco wide after the lip service he got from the official site earlier. But probably not.

2. What’s the most important factor for the Reds?

Hodgson pretty much said it in the link above---Liverpool are in a good place to progress, and getting the points is the main objective. I don't think he and I mean the same thing when we talk about getting points; he wants "four from the next three" and I'd be inclined to say that somewhere in the ballpark of nine points from the next three would be something worth shooting for. But there I go again, setting expectations that are only based on my own foolish hope and optimism.

So yeah, pretty much the same record on repeat. Don't play Roy Hodgson football.

3. Who’s going to win and what’s going to be the scoreline?

Hoping against hope we see Liverpool break out here, so I'm saying 3-1 to the hosts. I have no idea why or where three goals are going to come from, but it seems irresponsible enough for me.

Match will be covered as usual tomorrow, which means live on Five in the UK and DirecTV as well as GOLTV (thanks to Rhymenocerous for the assist, who's like global warming, you can't ignore him) stateside. Matchday post up early tomorrow with the usual links to streams for those without TV coverage.

Have a nice Wednesday everyone.