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Luis Suarez Makes Ballon d'Or Shortlist, and Other Wednesday Notes

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Football federations are clueless at best, corrupt at worst, and in other breaking news the sky is blue. At least when it's not overcast. Though even then it's probably blue above the clouds. Unless there are no planes flying overhead and so nobody to see it, because then you're getting into trees falling in the forest territory. Which seems as though it's something that really shouldn't be much of a conundrum, at least scientifically, but then it turns out that observation actually does effect outcome, at least on the quantum level, so who the hell knows…


*Yesterday, Luis Suarez made it to the shortlist for FIFA's World Footballer of the Year award, leaving him as one of the twenty-three men who could take home the Ballon d'Or in January. He won't, of course, with Lionel Messi a virtual lock to look a bit like a child dressed up by his parents in a suit he doesn't quite know how to wear as he sheepishly accepts his third trophy in a row.

Suarez does clearly seem a more worthy member of the shortlist than many this year, as once one moves past the obvious finalists it looks a group made up largely based on reputation. There's Suarez' Uruguayan strike partner Diego Forlan, coming off arguably the worst club season of his career and a largely invisible showing at the Copa America, who made it to the list largely based on his accomplishments the year before. There's Iker Casillas, not even the best goalkeeper either in Spain or from Spain over the past 12 months, who also makes the list as the only stopper largely through inertia and reputation. Karim Benzema, Mesut Ozil, Nani—next to that sort of competition, one would have to think that Suarez is safely in the top ten somewhere, closer to the likes of Xavi, Xabi, Ronaldo, and Messi than those added to round things out.

And just as surely as Suarez won't win it, Liverpool's best player of the past 12-18 months didn't even make the shortlist. Which is really no surprise, since Lucas couldn't even make the various shortlists for the Premier League's player of the season last year, though I'm reliably informed by the English media that Scott Parker is the best thing since cleated bread. The closest thing to a nod to defensive midfielders everywhere from FIFA comes in the form of Bastian Schweinsteiger making the Ballon d'Or shortlist, while Gerard Pique joins him as the token centre half—both at least more worthy inclusions than the 2011 model Casillas.

* Any player who isn't an attacker may struggle to get the respect he deserves when it comes to the Ballon d'Or, but back with Liverpool, Anfield Index looks at the Opta stats and wonders if Maxi Rodriguez is in fact getting the respect he deserves from his current club after seeing a scant 13 minutes of Premier League action over the first quarter of the season. Given that after a bright start many have found Stewart Downing's recent contributions lacking, with the costly arrival yet to find the back of goal or register an assist, there has been an inevitable swell of support for either Maxi or Craig Bellamy to be given more time on the left. And when one looks back at how much better the entire team played last season whenever Maxi was in it—and just how poorly they performed when he was out—it does become increasingly puzzling as to why the player who along with Raul Meireles seemed most involved in making last season's side click offensively under Kenny Dalglish has been so unceremoniously dumped aside.

* And of course, no News and Notes would be complete without a Steven Gerrard injury update. Sadly, there's still nothing groin related for us to snicker and snark about, but there is confirmation on Monday's speculation: Liverpool's captain will miss the match against Swansea on the weekend, and he has also been officially ruled out for England's two friendlies in the coming international break. Elsewhere, top scientists are working on creating a suit of high-impact packing foam that Gerrard will be contractually obligated to wear at all times—including on the pitch, at least if the suitcase full of unmarked bills makes it to FIFA's head offices before the Chelsea match on the 20th.

We'll be back later if there's even the slightest chance to call FIFA either corrupt, incompetent, or corrupt and incompetent, but in the meantime, anybody with a cat coping with a Gerrard-esque ankle knock and subsequent infection might want to invest in a pair of Kitten Mittens...