The FA hates Liverpool, but the feeling's probably mutual. Dirk Kuyt can score, or at least he used to be able to. And hey, I've got something to show you. Right over here. That's right, don't be frightened…
* Are you English? Are you too young to drive? Can you kick a football? If you answered yes to all three questions, then Damien Comolli's got some candy waiting for you in his windowless red van. Arsene might be stalking the French countryside, peering through windows, looking for just the right kind of talent, but when it comes to snapping up England's footballing youth nobody can match Comolli on present form. Which, as integral as it might be to ensuring a bright future for Liverpool Football Club, can't help but make us feel increasingly unclean with each new recruit we report on. This week, then, it's Wycombe youngster and England's captain for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Jordon Ibe, who's set to head to Liverpool in the summer—once he wraps up his final year at secondary school—after a fee of £500,000 was agreed between the two clubs as Wycombe looks to cash in on the young starlet before new rules come into place that would see them receive a set, lower compensation fee for the player.
Is he any good? Probably, since Liverpool and a host of other clubs were competing to pay half a million pounds for him as a sixteen-year-old. Can I tell you anything other than that he's a forward of Nigerian descent and made his professional debut in a League Cup match back in August while he was still fifteen? Not really, since I'd rather not have to go door to door to inform the neighbourhood I've been placed on various lists kept by law enforcement agencies, and that I know this much already has me nervously looking out the window, waiting for the sound of approaching sirens.
* Dirk Kuyt led the club in goals scored last season, but this time around not only has he had trouble locking down a starting role in Kenny Dalglish's preferred eleven, he's also had more than a touch of trouble putting the ball in the back of the net. He's come close a few times, most recently with what seemed a good goal ruled a hair offside against Fulham, while earlier in the season his first ever penalty miss versus Everton means that at the very least he should have a pair so far—still well below what many would expect from him, but not anywhere near as bad as still being goalless as the season's half-way point approaches.
He isn't the only one having a hard time scoring, of course, but after being such a reliable poacher for the club in recent seasons the dry spell comes as something of a surprise. Kuyt, though, thinks it's only a matter of time for both himself and the rest of Liverpool's attackers:
I haven't scored for a while but we all feel like we are close to it and we have the confidence to keep going and soon we will score more of our chances. The last six months of last season we were all scoring goals. Sometimes in football it is like this, you have to keep working hard and it will come.
Last season I was scoring five or six games in a row and everything I touched was going in. Now sometimes you are a little bit unlucky to be just in the wrong position or you just miss a chance—that is football.
Kuyt has always been a player who can run hot and cold, and though he has played more in recent weeks than he did at the start of the season, there is cause to wonder if the early lack of minutes could be at the root of his current poor form. This season, in fact, his total minutes played to date work out to just under 58 minutes per game after starting nine of fifteen Premier League matches and coming off the bench in four more. And if you think that seems low for Liverpool's ironman, then you're right, as last season he averaged 84 minutes of action in every league match he was fit for.
Hopefully that his minutes have increased in recent weeks will see Kuyt's scoring touch return soon, as more than his work rate what the club needs now is for somebody—anybody—to find the back of the goal with any kind of regularity.
* There aren't many certainties in life, and most that do exist are somewhat less than comforting. Amongst those things that are certain—and not entirely good—would be that the English FA is hideosity, embarrassingly incompetent to the kind of degree that their institution would be improved by putting a monkey in charge and letting him make important decisions by choosing between different coloured jelly babies. After starting up their campaign to banish Luis Suarez from the British Isles, after Fulham they decided to tack on a charge of failure to control players for the entire club after Liverpool's squad offended Kevin Friend by arguing Jay Spearing's red card against Fulham. Of course this was after recent cases of Manchester United reacting even more forcibly on the pitch to decisions they didn't agree with and, of course, going unpunished. As with Suarez' case, this too now seems set to drag on interminably after the FA decided to push back the deadline for Liverpool to respond to the charges and with it further delayed any chance for immediate resolution one way or the other.
We'll be back later on if we're still legally allowed to access the internet, but in the meantime, remember, free candy is never, ever a bad thing…