Liverpool and I are back in action---they're at Anfield, I'm in Wisconsin.
Probably a push for who's got the more glamorous setting.
First, thanks to everyone who kept the comment section going in the last few days. Like I mentioned in the post late Sunday, I had plenty of driving to do in the last couple of days, so it made putting together something proper impossible. Luckily I've arrived---1700 miles, 15 large coffees, and 194 stops at rest areas for my wife to use the bathroom later. So let's get caught up before we look to tomorrow, because quite a bit has happened.
In the time since Martin Broughton's appointment, there's been disappointingly little talk about a change in ownership. As such, Broughton quickly became public enemy number four despite promises that he didn't expect much news until late July/early August. Bit of a surprise, then, that we get a flurry of news in late July/early August. Someone at the top actually following through on their word? What sorcery is this?
The first news to break was that Kenneth Huang, a Chinese businessman, was forcing the issue through the Royal Bank of Scotland by offering to buy out the £237million debt incurred by George Gillett and Tom Hicks. That amount would leave Laverne and Shirley with next to nothing in terms of profit, which would be the type of karmic justice that Liverpool supporters have sought for nearly three years.
The past few days have brought news of six bidders for the club, some apparently more serious than others. But it keeps coming back to Huang, who today denied actually making a bid, but did assert his interest. And, as it's his inaugural run in the British press, his representatives took the time to point out the obvious:
"There has been much speculation and commentary from a wide array of people, many of whom have little knowledge of the facts.
"Unless there is a statement that specifically comes from Mr Huang or his authorised representatives, which presently is solely Hill & Knowlton Hong Kong office, we would suggest such comments should be given little credence."
I don't think we need to go through a discussion of how important this is for Liverpool---new ownership could and likely would change the entire face of the club, and at this point it could only be for the better. The back-and-forth on the issue likely won't change for the time being, but let's hope that there's a swift and positive resolution.
Fernando Torres committing to the club
Finally the confirmation we were all waiting for---Steven Gerrard had made his pledge weeks earlier, and with Torres on vacation, we were made to wait with baited breath. I wrote a couple of weeks ago that it had entered the realm of daily non-news, but even with my forced nonchalance I had plenty of doubts.
But with the striker's return to Melwood we heard him re-commit to the club, deny the speculation that he would be leaving, and speak about his hopes for the changes that are being made. Others have made note of the class that he shows when interviewed, and rightly so. I think the questions themselves might as well be cotton candy, but his responses are music to supporters' ears---either entirely heartfelt or coached to perfection. Either way, he's back and ready to go. Non-news indeed.
Emiliano Insua deal collapses
When the deal between the clubs was agreed, I quickly lamented the loss of the young Argentine and couldn't help but think this was an awful move for the club. But rumors popped up that Insua and Fiorentina couldn't agree to terms, and it seemed there was a glimmer of hope. He was likely still on his way out, but his wage demands apparently couldn't be met.
And then Liverpool sign Fabio Aurelio---a great move by any measure---to fill the gap that Insua's departure would have left. And then Insua appears for 60+ minutes against Monchengladbach and is subbed off for the freshly re-signed Aurelio. And then we get confirmation that the deal is indeed off, leaving Liverpool with the same two left-backs that they ended the 2009-2010 season with. That's certainly not a bad thing, and hopefully it's an indication that Roy Hodgson has a little more flex than we thought. For me it's a countdown to the end of the transfer window---this deal collapsing doesn't mean Insua's here to stay, but it's certainly cause for more optimism.
Second Leg v. FK Rabotnički
Usually I'd exercise caution in proclaiming that Liverpool can and will progress in any sort of knockout competition, especially after the failures of last season. But after a dominant and confident 2-0 victory in Macedonia for the first leg, I can't see any other outcome than a Liverpool win and progression to the next round. It's not a slight to Rabotnički, but after their meek display at home in the first leg I just can't see them sticking with a Liverpool side that are even stronger this time around.
Much of that is due to the added muscle of the squad's regular first-teamers---we got confirmation today that we'll see Joe Cole and Milan Jovanovic make their Anfield debuts, along with the return of Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard, and Glen Johnson. There's still no Torres, and with David Ngog's performance in the first leg, the absence of the still less-than fit Torres won't be heavily felt.
We'll likely see another combination of veteran first-teamers and younger players, but this time the balance will be tipped in favor of the veterans, which spells trouble for the Macedonian side. Hodgson will undoubtedly want to make a good first impression on the Anfield faithful, who, along with the news of a potential sale, will be anxious to embrace what could be a new-look Liverpool.
As usual (except for the Monchengladbach match), matchday post in the morning and updates in the comments and on Twitter. It's going to be an all-stream affair again, so I'll be sure to update those links as soon as possible. Game time is 19:45GMT, 2:45 EST. Be here.