Taking a page out of Major League Soccer's book by scheduling a mid-season "prestige friendly" to fill the downtime between games and put a few extra quid in the pocket, Liverpool have announced that they will travel to Glasgow to take on Rangers in a mid-week clash on Tuesday, October 18th. For those who haven't memorised this season's schedule, that would put the game three days after Manchester United's visit to Anfield on October 15th, with newcomers Norwich City set for the following Saturday. Needless to say, for many there's only one question in light of the news: Why?
There have of course been Liverpool links to both of Glasgow's dueling behemoths over the years, even if for many the Liverpool-Celtic connection would seem the more natural. Kenny Dalglish himself grew up a fan of Rangers, but with his boyhood club uninterested in signing the youngster he instead was snapped up by rival Celtic, leading to a frantic tearing down of the Rangers posters in his room when Celtic assistant manager Sean Fallon came to the Dalglish's home to talk to the player and his parents about joining the club.
There's also an obvious link in that Charlie Adam and Danny Wilson both came up through Rangers' academy, and fitness permitting one would have to assume both will start. Perhaps, too, there's another promising prospect nearing the end of his development and the club sees agreeing to the upcoming friendly as part of securing a transfer.
Additionally, one might speculate that with Rangers struggling financially in recent years and Liverpool missing out on European play for the first time in a decade, this is little more than a quick cash grab. It might be an easy assumption to make, but a one-off friendly hardly seems likely to be a make or break proposition financially—especially for the visiting side. From Liverpool's point of view, too, whatever they might get out of such a fixture financially will pale in comparison to the reward for getting back into Europe, a prospect that could take a significant blow if an important player manages to pick up a long-term injury in such a prestigious mid-season distraction.
That doesn't mean there aren't ways the two clubs couldn't have made such an unusual set up work. If, for example, they had looked at the international break currently in progress and arranged the match for the coming Saturday, it could have made a great deal of sense: A bit of football to focus on for those uninterested in the internationals—which also now are mainly split between Friday and Tuesday, leaving a weekend largely devoid of action—and a run-out for reserves and players who hadn't been selected by their national sides.
However, a midweek game in Glasgow, immediately following United and with a trip to Stoke the next Wednesday in the League Cup before facing off against Roy Hodgson's West Bromwich Albion on the weekend, all conspiring to saddle the club with five games in just over two weeks, doesn't seem to make a great deal of sense for Liverpool any way one comes at it. Even assuming that Kenny Dalglish will give most of the minutes to reserves who could use some quality match action, on the surface it still seems an event with far more potential for negatives than positives.
Regardless of what the fans think of it, though, it is of course now coming. With that in mind, here's to Jay Spearing and Danny Wilson getting a good ninety minutes of action. And to Steven Gerrard and his groin dong (Edit: Or doing. Whichever you'd prefer.) nothing more strenuous than waving to the crowd once or twice.