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Fernando Torres, Beef, and Liverpool

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Sounds delicious, doesn't it?

In a completely platonic way, of course. Otherwise it would be weird.

First---I've only seen bits and pieces of the 1-0 loss to Kaiserslautern, so I'm forgoing any sort of post-match reaction or analysis. Partly because I didn't see enough to qualify an actual reflection, and partly because I'm not sure I have "analysis" in my locker. As usual, I'll direct you to oh you beauty for a recap that, from the way it sounds, is disproportionate to yesterday's match in terms of quality. Me? I like to pretend I have quality that I'm saving up for later in the year, only to disappoint both myself and readers with the usual blathering crap. Yeah, you could say I'm in midseason form.

Anyhow, the big "news" today focuses on the same thing it's been focusing on all summer---whether or not Fernando Torres will stay at Liverpool. In the past couple of days there's been a few different interviews with Roy Hodgson and one with Kenny Dalglish. We can't act like these are the first of their kind, and we certainly can't act like they're gospel.

Without getting into the fear-mongering and end of days preparation, I think we can start to see a common thread emerging, particularly in the interviews with Hodgson. But let's start with Dalglish, because his stuff is a bit more encouraging and hasn't been twisted into oblivion (yet):

"When Torres sees that (Cole signing) and talks with Roy I am sure he will give us good news. I hope Torres stays. Only Fernando knows what he is going to do. Unfortunately for him he is injured, but he is a fantastic player and is very happy around the club and the city. The fact that Stevie is staying will be a great help and players like Joe Cole, Milan Jovanovic, Jonjo Shelvey and Danny Wilson means there is buying for the present and the future."

All things we've heard before, and all valid points. The club have shown ambition despite not spending too much in the transfer market, and Steven Gerrard staking his claim at the club could have a huge influence on Torres' decision. Pretty mild stuff considering what we've read this summer.

And then we move to Roy Hodgson, who's been under attack on the Torres front since he arrived. Here are the quotes he gave yesterday:

"No, but Christian might be able to if you got hold of him. I haven't spoken to him for the last two days he's been travelling back from Spain where he's been on holiday. His holiday has also been taken up a lot of time by discussions with Fernando and his people, so I'm afraid the only person who can give you the type of details you require is Christian. It would be wrong of me to say too much.

"I made it clear from my point of view I'm really looking forward to working with him and I believe he's a key, key figure at the club. I obviously want him to be a part of the team we're trying to build here and I can only hope he'll buy into what the club is offering him. I don't think there are any worries with him in terms of me personally or what we're doing. I think the concerns go back once again to the time before I came to the club."

Maybe a bit cryptic at the end, and completely ignoring the horror that is relying on Christian Purslow for such a large task, but on the whole you can't say that this is a doomsday prophecy regarding Torres' Anfield tenure. How else is Hodgson supposed to answer a question he's heard every day for the past month? If the truth is that he doesn't know, then you'd expect him to say he doesn't know. It's unfortunate that we're still having this discussion, but Hodgson being in the dark seems to be the running theme.

And then today this quote has either been elaborated upon or mutated into something far more dire, courtesy of that last bastion of true journalism, the News of the World. What's worse is that it's been quoted as actual news by Soccernet, who's managed to demote themselves below Paul as a reliable source of footballing commentary.

Anyhow, they've got Hodgson quoted as saying (you can get the quotes here as well, but I don't trust any of you will make it past the captivating "Paris Gives an Eiffel" piece):

"Unfortunately, I cannot do much more. His beef is with the club and not me. Fernando's situation has nothing to do with me, he made that perfectly clear over the phone during the World Cup and when I met him face-to-face.

"He knows what I would like to do with the club. He knows how much I value him. But his issues are with what has gone on in the past rather than the future. If he has problems with the club for things in the past, it is difficult for me to dismiss that.

"People forget he is a Liverpool player. One year ago he signed a four-year contract. I hope he will commit himself by honouring his contract."

It's essentially the same news as yesterday with a protein thrown in for good measure. We still don't know what the "beef" is, and in reality it could be any number of things---rift with the owners, rift with the medical team, rift with Rafa, etc. etc.

At this point, the problem isn't with Torres, Hodgson, or anyone else. It's that we don't know what's going to happen with Torres, and the not knowing has somehow become both unbearable and newsworthy. It's Monday? Do we know if Torres is staying? Christ, it's Wednesday, no news?

In the end, the 2010-2011 season will start, with or without Fernando Torres in a Liverpool shirt. If he stays, and stays healthy, it's fantastic news. Liverpool are a far better team with him than they are without him. If he goes, it'll be sad news, and it'll leave a gap that Liverpool will struggle to fill.

For now though, it's not any sort of news. And yes, I get the irony of devoting a thousand words to something that I say isn't news. Whatever.