Liverpool's almost got a full week of training in Boston under their belt, and as expected, things are slowing down today ahead of their trip to Canada to face Toronto FC. It's a fairly short flight for the club, which will mean an opportunity for some last minute prep work before we see the Brendan Rodgers era get underway. Sort of, I guess, since nobody's playing more than one half of football and there's about six regulars yet to join the squad. Anyway, the football!
Telegraph: Rodgers Admits Interest in Joe Allen
Look, I think we can all pretty much agree that the reason that Brendan Rodgers is commenting on various transfer targets after firmly asserting that he would not be commenting on various transfer targets is because a) NESN interns are trollorific, and b) he's probably being asked about them every second question. Nobody actually cares about how well training may or may not be going, they just want to know who's coming and who's going.
So while it's maybe the tiniest bit hypocritical, it's at least sort of comforting to know that there's activity taking place, and that the targets are players whom, particularly in the case of Joe Allen, folks can get excited about. Obvious enough that he's a good fit with Rodgers, but he also adds adaptable depth in the central part of midfield and can do a job both defensively and in attack.
At 21 he's still very young--unless we're using the Carroll-Henderson quotient, then he's close to retirement--and his play last season served to create a reputation as one of the better young central midfielders in the Premier League. And at this point he'd likely be very close to competing for a spot in the eleven of both a 433 and a 4231, with Lucas and Steven Gerrard seemingly locks, and Jordan Henderson, Alberto Aquilani, Jonjo Shelvey, Charlie Adam, and Joe Cole left to fight it out for the remaining places in a midfield that's packed with bodies but not necessarily quality.
Official Website: Carra Determined to Keep Going
The past few seasons have seen a dramatic decline in the popularity of Jamie Carragher--starting with the exit of Rafa Benitez, a process in which Carragher was rumored to play a large part. Off-pitch rumblings gradually gave way to dipping form on the pitch, with far more poor performances than good and a very clear gap between him and the first-choice pairing of Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger in the season gone by. And while it wasn't necessarily his fault that he continued to be selected ahead of Sebastian Coates down the stretch, it made it awfully easy to highlight the fact that he was both a liability and getting in the way of a very promising young defender's development.
His work at the Euros saw something of an upsurge in general sentiment, however, with commentary that was insightful, honest, and, more surprisingly, indicative of someone who enjoys seeing football played in a more possession-based, fluid style. He very well could have been starting the process of getting in his new manager's good graces, and if that's the narrative, he's certainly continuing to tick all the boxes as someone who's looking to completely reinvent himself under Brendan Rodgers.
He might talk about how Liverpool have never been a "long ball team," and how playing the ball forward from the back is in the club's DNA, but anyone paying attention over the past few seasons will know that Jamie Carragher has very much been a long ball player, and with at least three central defenders who are comfortable with the ball at their feet ahead of him in the pecking order, he's going to need to do an awful lot of reinventing if he's going to get many games this season.
With their first match of the Europa League campaign set for just five days after they face Spurs in Baltimore, Liverpool will hope that tomorrow's draw for the third qualifying round gives them a bit of a respite from traveling. The odds aren't great, unfortunately--Soccernet's got a rundown of the teams Liverpool could be drawn against, and Scottish side Dundee United are the only ones that would give the club a chance to avoid traveling to the outer reaches of the continent.
That's going to happen at some point, of course, but on the heels of a North American tour, much of which will be played in high temperatures, with three members of the squad unavailable because of Olympic participation, and plenty more working their way back to fitness after a long summer, a shorter trip would be ideal in allowing for rest, recuperation, and, most importantly, progress into the fourth round.
Because after that, there's only 31 rounds left.
That's it for today's notes, and we'll be back a bit later on with discussion of reports regarding Martin Skrtel's status with the club, which apparently hasn't moved in any discernible direction. In the meantime, have a look at Liverpool's training stateside and feel the slightest bit encouraged by Lucas flinging himself around and making tackles. Just watch the knee, please.