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The Arjen Robben Endorsement, Europa League, and Ownership Pseudo-News

Not too much to report ahead of Milan Jovanovic's debut...

But as usual, there's a few pieces of news to tide you over.

The first comes from Arjen Robben, who is undoubtedly everyone's go-to source for hard-hitting football analysis on the continent. Who knew that he's had time to look anywhere else besides at the ball, then at goal, then at the ball, then at the referee after he crumbled to the ground in the past few months?

Anyhow, he's decided that with the addition of Joe Cole, Liverpool have become one of the top contenders for the Premier League title. To be fair to the scantily-haired Dutchman, Ryan Giggs had a similar (if less hyperbolic) opinion in the past few days, so there's at least some back-up by a more accomplished, more finely-coiffed footballer. Here's what Robben had to say (via the above link at the Echo):

“With a front three of Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Cole I think Liverpool will be a real force in the Premier League.

“Last year was a freak year, but if those three click I can see them seriously challenging for the title.

“You look at those as a front three and you struggle to find a better front three in Europe – and I include Barcelona’s in that.”

I'm inclined to give Mr. Clean's opinion some credence considering he spent some time at Chelsea with Joe Cole, although I don't know that I'd start throwing around words like "Barcelona" and "click." Some chances aren't worth taking. But I'd extend it beyond just those three---taken as a collective, Liverpool are looking relatively deep in attack at the moment, at least on paper:

Torres, Gerrard, Cole, Dirk Kuyt, Maxi Rodriguez, Milan Jovanovic, Ryan Babel, David Ngog, Alberto Aquilani

Okay, so Barcelona might be a bit of a stretch. And I don't know that Ryan Babel is going to start tutoring Andres Iniesta or Lionel Messi on wing play any time soon. But with those names there are plenty of options for any type of formation, and as much as we've tried to fight it, you can't help but start to feel positively about how the squad is shaping up ahead of the start of the season's opener.

Of course, Torres could announce his departure tomorrow and I'd be burning this blog to the ground. So bide your time.

There's also more boring squad news today---the deadline for registering players for the Europa League opening round is July 23rd. Which happens to be today, stoner. As such, there's been a bit of discussion about the fact that Liverpool don't have a left back or the 13 players who took part in the World Cup. Small matters, I say.

As usual, Roy Hodgson's got a timely response for your troubles. And I'm not totally enamored with the response to be honest:

"These will be two unbelievably difficult games for us at this stage of the season but it really depends where we put the Europa League in the grand scheme of things.

"If the club puts such emphasis on it and they want all our top players to play, the sports scientists are telling me quite clearly that is not going to help us further down the road.

"It is a balance that not only I can sort out but it will be a decision for the club to take on."

I get it---there's going to be a balance as to how the club approaches their fixture list, and Hodgson is no stranger to doing so after leading Fulham to the final last season. It's a necessary conversation given the continued pressure on Liverpool to produce in league. And the long-term fitness of the top players in the squad should be the priority. But the language around "the club" and "they" doesn't imply that there's much for Hodgson to do at this point, which is worrying on a completely different level.

A level that's ideally going to start being more present in discussion, and some of it has started today. News broke that Spirit of Shankly and Share Liverpool have formally joined forces to displace the current catastrophe at the top. From Spirit of Shankly:

Spirit Of Shankly, the Liverpool Supporters Union, and ShareLiverpoolFC are pleased to announce that we have reached a formal agreement that allows us to push forward as one unified force for supporter ownership of our club. We have already been working closely together for some time but recognise the need for a unified organisation to successfully pursue this goal.

Recent discussions have led to an agreement about how we can work together for the benefit of all supporters. This will see ShareLiverpoolFC re-branded as Spirit Of Shankly – ShareLiverpoolFC (SOS-SL), bringing together the combined resources of both organisations to work on the issue of supporter ownership. By working as one we will be much more effective in achieving that goal.

There's not much that's impacted at the current moment---as the full release (via the above link) states, the model for supporter ownership is still being developed, and they're likely far away from being in any sort of position financially to launch a bid. But it's ambitious and committed at a time when the club are desperately in need of both ambition and commitment. Interesting to see how things proceed from here.

The friendly against Kaiserslautern kicks off at 15:15GMT, 11:15EST tomorrow ahead of the squad's trip to Macedonia next Thursday. Jovanovic's appearance has already been confirmed, and I'd expect to see a side that closely resembles the one we'll watch in Skopje next week pending any big announcements later in the day. LFCTV will be carrying the match tomorrow for the bourgeois among us, and streams for the rest.

Post up tomorrow morning with links.

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