Any hopes of an unlikely Liverpool reunion for Michael Owen met their end on Tuesday when the striker signed a deal with Stoke City for the coming season. Despite a rocky history with supporters and that many were vehemently opposed to the idea of Owen returning to Liverpool, when Stoke announced his capture it was Owen who led in a poll of which free agent forward fans most wanted to see the club sign. With Owen off the table, the list of attackers still available has been whittled down further. However, there have been whispers in the Italian media today suggesting that the reason Alessandro Del Piero's move to Sydney FC stalled was because Liverpool had offered the 37-year-old attacker a contract and that the player is now considering his options.
"You could see against Arsenal that it wasn't only one player," said Daniel Agger, talking about the need for the entire squad to improve its finishing. "It wasn't two players, it was three, four, five, six players who had chances, including myself. The chances are there and that's the most important thing. But we all need to start taking them." However, despite Liverpool's early season struggles to find the back of the net—struggles that mirror what was perhaps the club's biggest problem during the disappointing 2011-12 campaign—the honest Dane remains hopeful about the prospects for this group of players under Brendan Rodgers to overcome a poor start and find success: "I'm still upbeat about the quality in the group. Everybody has to believe in it, otherwise they shouldn't be at a club like this. Nothing is easy to fix. Not in football and not in life. But we are working on the manager's ideas every single day, so hopefully we can get better and better during the course of the season."
Following the disappointing events of Friday, when the transfer window closed and left Liverpool with fewer attacking options than they had when it opened, it was only a matter of time before ownership would respond in an attempt to placate an angry fanbase. That has now happened, with John Henry writing an open letter to Liverpool fans that hits all the points one would expect—talented younger players like Joe Allen and Fabio Borini, a belief in Financial Fair Play, increasing revenues to bolster spending, and overcoming the "errors of previous regimes." Talk of avoiding risky spending and being willing to invest heavily so long as that investment is sound may make sense, but it largely ignores the core concerns of many following Friday. Concerns about Ian Ayre and the entire upper management reportedly calling it a day hours before the close of the transfer window. Concerns about the appearance of Rodgers having to sell to buy—and then not being allowed to buy. Concerns about the club having three months to add depth and failing while at the very least appearing to undermine the manager given his many public statements leading up to the window's close. As owners, Fenway Sports Group have always said the right things, and so it's no surprise to see them do so once again. Actions, however, will always speak louder, and it will take a lot to overcome the actions of last week.
I put the fanshot on Anfield Asylum, and am too lazy to copy and paste it here. Comment there, or here and tell me how stupid I am.
"The reality is, financially, we need to repair, so the players being linked for the money mentioned, I don't have the ability to sign in this window," Rodgers said. "I respect players and I'm precise with my information so they know where they stand. We all come into the profession knowing what the job is. Ultimately, it comes down to what your objective is as a player. "I can only be straight. I've made it clear I have a 1 to 11, cover players and development players. Some of the development players may become starters. If you fit outside that, I will tell you. Then it's up to the player. Does the player want to play football? "You don't need to be a rocket scientist to see Andy has been a cover player for us and has been excellent in terms of his attitude and acceptance of where he is at, but as a football club, I don't think we are in a position to have £35m players as third-choice strikers, or wingers who are on £5m-£6m a year. This is the challenge I have."Brendan Rodgers
With midfield reinforcements of greater quality and fit arriving this summer, an exit for Charlie Adam has seemingly been on the cards for a while. Most of the talk previously centered on a player swap deal with Fulham to bring Clint Dempsey to Anfield, but that proved to either be untrue or something that simply couldn't be worked out. So at risk of running something else that might not be true or can't be worked out, Ben Smith of the BBC is reporting that Tony Pulis and Stoke City have tabled an offer to bring the Scottish international aboard. Also included is talk of a loan deal for Jay Spearing and renewed interest in Clint Dempsey, which would be boosted by the money Adam's sale would raise. Basically Friday's going to be really boring.
Weighed down by a poor opening day performance against West Bromwich Albion, Liverpool came in in tenth place in the first week of SBNation's Premier League power rankings despite a strong showing in week two that saw them outplay defending champions Manchester City on the way to a draw. City, meanwhile, finished a strong second to leaders Chelsea thanks to a week one win and the universally high expectations for Roberto Mancini's side to succeed over the course of the season. Elsewhere, the tension that exists in any power rankings between performance and expectation led to West Brom finishing behind Liverpool in eleventh despite having won their match in week one before battling Tottenham to a draw in week two, while this week's opponent Arsenal were given the benefit of the doubt when voters selected them the fifth best side following a pair of nil-nil draws many felt they would have won with Robin van Persie—or another player capable of clinical finishing—still at the club.
"Personally for me it was fantastic to make my debut and it was a great occasion and atmosphere," said Joe Allen, reflecting on an Anfield debut as a Liverpool player in which he put in the man of the match performance. "It was pretty frantic. It was a brilliant game for the neutral and it was great to go ahead twice, so we’re disappointed not to win the game. "Bittersweet probably sums it up perfectly," he added before acknowledging that no matter how disappointing the end result might have been, Sunday's performance against Manchester City was still a massive improvement over week one's loss to West Bromwich Albion. "We knew we would bounce back [from West Brom]. We put that behind us and [now] we will look to kick on from here."
"Over the season I don't think we are at that level but over two games we are up to it and we'll see how it goes. It's difficult to compete against the likes of Man United, Man City or even Chelsea now during the season, but we are in a project to do it. We have a long-term project and we are just building up from the beginning." In the build-up to the season--and in the case of Roberto Manicini, yesterday--there's been plenty of talk about Liverpool challenging for the top four and a Premier League title. Reina's quotes bring that conversation back down to the ground, though, and have a more accurate feel to them given the inconsistencies we've witnessed early on. That's not to say a top-four finish is completely out of the question, but it's one that would at least be on the most optimistic end of how this project starts.