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Rehabilitating Rafa, and Other Friday Notes

Gerrard Istanbul
Four more years... Four more years...

Jermaine Pennant, as most will be aware, used to play for Liverpool. When he moved to Zaragoza in 2009 he decided to buy a new Porsche so that he could day trip around the vineyards of La Rioja in style. He also got a sweet vanity license plate that read "P33NNT" to make it all just that much more awesome.

When he headed back to England at the start of the season to join Stoke on loan, he did what any normal person would do and just abandoned that custom-plated Porsche in a train station parking lot, completely forgetting that he owned it until the police tracked him down six months later.

I imagine he has a bright future as a Sky Sports pundit...

*Jimmy Rice, news editor of the official site and as such probably not responsible for the transfer rumours section so beloved by Ed, discusses the idea that Rafa Benitez' overhaul of the academy in his final year with the club might be his real lasting legacy for Liverpool. In bringing back former chief scout Frank McParland, as well as introducing La Masia gurus Rodolfo Borrell and Pep Segura--essential figures in the development of much of the current Barcelona lineup from Pique to Iniesta to Messi--to Merseyside, he may have provided the foundation for Liverpool's long-term future of squad development from within, a method clearly favoured by John Henry and FSG. It doesn't hurt that he managed to bring in players like Shelvey and Suso before the end, either.

* In related news, along with bringing Suso and Conor Coady to train at Melwood for the week as part of what will be an ongoing effort to acclimatise promising youngsters with the senior squad to make their eventual transition easier, Kenny Dalglish also sought to praise both those leading the charge to revitalize the academy and to give a nod to the man who started the overhaul:

I wouldn't go and say there are any kids who played in the Youth Cup against Crystal Palace are going to be first team [yet] but the progress at the Academy in the last year and a half has been absolutely fantastic.

That's great credit to Rafa who brought in Pep Segura, Rodolfo Borrell and Frank McParland. He reorganised the whole Academy and you can see the benefit in the kids now. It's fantastic to see.

The reserve team's average age has been drastically reduced. Whether we get them through or not, we'd never put that pressure on them, but we're clearly encouraged by the work that's being done there and it's a work in progress.

What a change two weeks makes.

* Back on the senior side of the squad, Steven Gerrard has set the goal of playing for another four to five years, which probably isn't an especially surprising statement, but it seems like the sort of thing people might like to know. So there you go, and now you know. He also may consider getting his coaching badges at some point. Or he might join Jamie Redknapp as a commentator, leaving fans to fear he'll spend years in the television studio chipping away at his image with asinine and simplistic commentary like just about every other ex-pro who goes that route.

So yeah, here's hoping he goes for coaching, I suppose. Though in any case, he doesn't actually say that he'll spend those next four or five years of his career at Liverpool. So queue "Gerrard to Madrid!" rumour-mongering in 5... 4... 3...

Say, I wonder if the Suarez deal is done yet? No? What about now? Oh. Okay. Well, in the meantime, I guess we could all brush up on the best methods for getting a bargain in the transfer market...

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