Quasi-busy Tuesday as I continue to ignore the Champions League.
For no reason other than petty jealousies, of course.
First, I wanted to give a quick update on the way things are going to go on the blog from here on out. If you've been around for awhile you're no doubt familiar with Noel from the comment boards, and you'll also know that he contributed a few pieces in the past couple of weeks (here, here, and here). It started as a reader reflection/guest post gig, but given the warm response the pieces have gotten, I pushed ahead and invited Noel to join up as a semi-regular editor of the blog.
He graciously accepted my lucrative offer, and he'll be contributing however he sees fit. Selfishly this is a great deal---I've got a whirlwind of a personal/professional life right now, and while I'd still be able to get posts up on a daily basis, there's no way I'd be able to produce anything with the depth and quality he's provided in his first few posts. Not sure that I ever did. But still.
Anyway, with the blog getting the most traffic it's ever seen last month, and people willing to form some good discussion on the posts, adding Noel is a good thing all around. True to form, I have no idea when he'll be posting next. Keep an eye out, though.
Onto actual Liverpool news.
The first is focused on Fabio Aurelio, who's been MIA since coming off against Trabzonspor back in August. Apparently the road to recovery is a slow one for the Brazilian---Roy Hodgson has underlined the importance of "caution and prudence" in getting Aurelio back to match fitness, which, to me, means the problems at left back continue.
Paul Konchesky's been serviceable, but with news that he's going to miss a spell with an injury of his own (hamstring), the club are left without a left back again. We could lament the pitfalls of re-signing an injury-prone Aurelio, but that ignores his quality and contribution when fit. I'm more in the camp of continuing to criticize the decision to send Emiliano Insua off on loan, even with the addition of Konchesky. It seems we're right back where we were in the summer---no true left backs available, and Hodgson has to scramble to cover. Delightful.
One of the names that could fill the void (although I think Daniel Agger and Martin Kelly are far more likely) is Glen Johnson, although he's in the news as John Aldridge's winger du jour. I know we've talked about his defensive lapses of late, and it would open the door for Kelly and ideally provide more support for Fernando Torres (via Dirk Kuyt/David Ngog), but I struggle to see this happening with the squad's fitness concerns.
Maybe the Europa League is the right time to experiment, but Hodgson's shown a worrying propensity to stick to what he knows regardless of the outcome thus far, and I don't know that I'm convinced this tidies everything up. A change in personnel is one thing---theoretically it would give Liverpool more of an attacking emphasis, which we all want. Until it's put into practice, however, it's ultimately meaningless. Given the tactical displays we've seen so far this season, the starting eleven could have been ten forwards and Pepe Reina and I don't think we would have seen a whole lot of difference.
It all combines to make things a bit jumbled headed into the end of the week---reports that we'll see regular first-teamers in Utrecht, the aforementioned injuries, and growing concern (justifiably so) that Roy Hodgson's Liverpool are not an adaptable side.
We know there's problems off the pitch, and those can't be ignored. But that focus can't take away from the fact that there's football left to played, and early returns aren't encouraging. Yes, time to adjust and patience and so on. At some point, though, the performances become a pattern, and that pattern becomes Liverpool's identity.
It's still early enough that things can change, so let's hope the next few matches show some signs of life. The last thing I want is to head into another long international break having witnessed more of the same.
Back tomorrow with a preview for Thursday's away match with Utrecht. Have a good one.