As most of the football universe has announced already it looks like Steven Gerrard, one of the greatest English footballers ever, will transition to the MLS to finish out his career. Where he ends up is still in question, and something that probably will not be finalized until he finishes out his final season at Liverpool FC. I want to tell you why he shouldn’t go to the LA Galaxy and why the NY Red Bulls are the best fit.
The short answer: Mike Petke.
Ignore the awful hair choices of the late 90s. Over the last two seasons as NYRB Manager, Petke has transformed the Red Bulls into a possession oriented squad with an emphasis on strong defense and lightning fast offense. The team loses Thierry Henry to retirement, but adding Gerrard would allow the team to stabilize its midfield and continue the transformation Petke started in 2013. Petke emphasizes a pretty standard 4-4-2, often with a holding central midfielder, which the aging Gerrard would slide into perfectly. Given his experience, Gerrard would have no problem patrolling the center of the pitch in the MLS for years to come, with Tim Cahill behind him captaining the defense and sending through balls to fellow Englishman Bradley Wright-Phillips until opponents’ defenses caved.
Compared to what seems to be the only other option, the LA Galaxy, Gerrard would fit into the Petke system better than the Bruce Arena way of life. Arena has struggled with more defensive type setups over his recent years in the MLS, formations that would accent an aging central midfield superstar, forcing a Steven Gerrard type to be a goal producer rather than a captain and facilitator. He would be judged by statistics, rather than pure football performance. The Galaxy have been successful when they’re blatantly outscoring opponents under Arena, not by merely outperforming their opponent on the pitch. In Los Angeles, Landon Donovan was the LA Galaxy, which resulted in other Designated Players coming into the MLS and playing second fiddle (i.e. Beckham, Keane, Omar Gonzalez…maybe that one’s a stretch).
Maybe, just maybe Robbie Keane and Steven Gerrard are BFFs and this is all about them playing the rest of their careers together and laughing at all the money they’ll be making to hang out in California for the next 5 years…
Seriously there are a lot of these pictures on the internet, forget everything I said, this bromance is just what the MLS needs. It might even help all the Liverpool fans cope with what is the 2014-2015 BPL season. 😉
It has been a “done deal” for over a week now but today it has become official. Mario Balotelli has become a Red. A big part of Liverpool’s summer was centered around fixing the defense. After the departure of Luis Suarez it became clear that another striker would be needed or Liverpool would find it tough to repeat last season’s success. Mario Balotelli is a volatile character but if he plays like he is capable of and keeps his mouth shut then this could be the coup de grace that make Liverpool title contenders this season.
According to recent reports Mario Balotelli to Liverpool is all but a done deal for a fee of 16 million pounds (20 million euros, $26.5 million). For those who remember Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool vehemently denied this possible deal about a month ago so it comes as a little bit of a surprise that this deal has come to fruition. However, the ending of the summer transfer window has a funny way of expediting seemingly dead deals and this is just one example of the many times teams have denied deals only to engage in them after their desperation had grown as the transfer window began to close. Liverpool have been in desperate need for a striker ever since Suarez had left and the recent Southampton game showed how frail they were up top. When they needed a second striker to bring on in the second half against Southampton they brought on Rickie Lambert ,who they only brought in as a a “Plan B” striker, in a situation where they didn’t need a “plan B” striker but a game changer. It had become clear that they needed another striker to both team with Sturridge and back him up, as he has shown a propensity for injuries during his career.
There were quite a few names tossed around this summer such as Radamael Falcao, Samuel Eto’o, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Mario Balotelli, and Edison Cavani. Samuel Eto’o at 33 years old would be, at best, a bandaid in case Sturridge is ever injured. Radamael Falcao would have been a world-class player who would have demanded high wages and was rumored to only want a loan deal so he could jump to Real Madrid next season. Ezequiel Lavezzi is a wide attacking player which Liverpool do not need since they have Lazar Markovic and Raheem Sterling. Which would leave Edison Cavani and Mario Balotelli as the best two options for Liverpool. It seems as though Mario Balotelli is the cheaper option and AC Milan was more willing to let him leave which is probably why Liverpool went ahead and signed him. Liverpool cannot afford for the transfer window to end without them getting a high quality forward to pair with/backup Daniel Sturridge. Juventus was reportedly in the lead to sign Falcao and there were no guarantees PSG would let go of Edison Cavani because of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s recent injury. Therefore, in order for Ian Ayre to avoid the same criticism he faced when he missed on Yevhen Konoplyanka on the last day of the winter transfer window he needed to make sure he signed a quality striker before the transfer window closed. Mario Balotelli was the surest bet.
At 24 years old he has the youth that Liverpool seek in their transfer targets and has shown that he has the quality to step into the Premier League and score goals. The only knock on him, and it is a big one, is his immaturity and disciplinary problems. He was forced out of Manchester City by Roberto Mancini because he was fined so many times by the club and acted out too much. This is the main reason Liverpool fans are wary of this signing. Luiz Suarez was a huge headache because of his actions on the field and fans are fearful that Mario Balotelli will bring the same headaches and further sully the good name of Liverpool FC. The concern is a valid one but it is one that must be temporary ignored at this juncture. It is highly possible Mario Balotelli turns out to do more harm than good. Nevertheless, bringing him in is a necessary risk. At his price he is one of the cheaper top-tier strikers in the market, especially since he already has a proven track record in the English Premier League. That, coupled with the fact that Brendan Rodgers has shown that he is a good man manager, means that Liverpool and Rodgers may be able to get the best out of Mario Balotelli. If Liverpool cannot then they are buoyed by the fact that next year Divock Origi comes back from loan and they can get rid of Mario Balotelli. In order for Liverpool to achieve greatness this season they need another quality striker and they found that in Mario Balotelli. Now they just need to keep the ticking time bomb that is Super Mario from ever-exploding. For all of his disciplinary problems at least he never bit another player… three times.
A Liverpool FC fan who was rescued after spending 19 hours in freezing, shark infested waters said his ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ tattoo kept him going. Australian Kim Thomsen this week spoke for the first time about the ordeal, in which his nephew and friend drowned. The grandad told Australia’s Channel 7 he had been fishing for snapper with nephew Sean Coffey, 23, and his friend Bryce Weppner, 24, in the sea near Leeman off the coast of Western Australia in August 2012 when two huge waves hit. The three were thrown out of the boat by the first wave and were unable to get rescue supplies when a second wave sunk their boat. His nephew Sean tried to swim to nearby Beagle Island, while the other two tried to swim with the current to the coast. Sean’s body was never found and friend Bryce drowned after drifting away from Kim. LFC supporter Kim was eventually found naked in the sea after he was spotted by a TV crew from Channel 7 in a helicopter. Speaking about his ordeal, Kim, who has a Liver Bird and the club’s motto You’ll Never Walk Alone tattooed on his arm, said: “I just had one thing to think about and that was my son.“We’ve both got the same tattoo and every time I took a stroke I could see that.”
This is both a tragic and uplifting story. Tragic because the nephew and friend were unable to survive but uplifting because of the perseverance Kim Thomsen showed in order to survive such a tremendous ordeal. There is something special about the Liverpool FC motto of “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” It transcends just what happens on the pitch and applies to the fans and their everyday lives. It has become especially poignant because of the Hillsborough tragedy. When we are in our darkest hours it is always reassuring to know that we are not alone.
Meet Sofia Balbi, wife of Luis Suarez who plays for Liverpool FC and for the Uruguayan national team. She may not be the hottest WAG we’ve posted but she was hot enough for Luis Suarez. Luis fell in love with her when they grew up together in Uruguay. When she moved from Uruguay to Spain in her teenage years, Luis Suarez practiced even harder to become a better player so that he could one one day move to Europe to be reunited with her. When he finally moved to Europe to play for a team in the Netherlands, he travelled to Spain when he had free time in order to reignite his love affair with her. We can thank her for Luis Suarez being as talented as he is.
Recently it has come to light that Liverpool’s debt has risen to £87.2 million. A sobering figure, and one sure to conjure up bad memories of Tom Hicks and George Gillett’s ruinous ownership. The damage of which the club is still recovering from. Building what is supposed to be a Champions League football club, without the influx of Champions League cash, will always cost money and LFC is experiencing that problem. However, that is not the only reason LFC’s debt has risen £21.8 million in the past year alone. Poor money management and decision making deserves most of the blame. The large amounts of money that were thrown at Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing are a prime example of those two problems and those payments were due in this fiscal year. Along with that the contract extensions given out to players such as Steven Gerrard and newly signed players compounded the money problems Liverpool has been trying to finally eradicate themselves of.
In fact, looking at their recent signings, and their commitment towards promoting youth-team players, it could be argued pretty well that Liverpool is on the right track towards being more fiscally sustainable. There are many who are hoping that this sobering news is only a temporary blight on the way to Liverpool’s resurgence. Since the December 1st Liverpool has been on a war path scoring 35 goals and amassing 26 points. Much of this can be credited to the influx of two very quality January signings in Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho along with Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson finally starting to give performances that better match their price tags. Yet Liverpool would not be where it is this season if it were not for their offensive stalwart Luis Suarez. He has amassed 21 league goals alone to currently lead the league in scoring and his performances have been nothing less than spectacular. The Messi comparisons may be tiresome but there is something to be said of his behavior on the field. He is constantly hustling, pestering, and running. For a star player on an under-performing team he could get away with being lazy but he continues to give his all. In the first half of this season he was all that stood in the way of Liverpool dropping into the relegation zone.
Great talent does not usually last long on teams that are not playing Champions League football and that is a tough lesson for most teams and fans to learn. Even great players on teams playing and succeeding in the Champions League, like Robert Lewandowski for example, will sometimes leave for bigger clubs. Luis Suarez is a great talent who deserves to be playing Champions League football and it is hard to convince a player who is offered ten of millions of pound/dollars/euros to stay to help the club achieve the dream of qualifying for Champions League football when he could easily transfer and play in the Champions League next season. Nonetheless, that is what LFC must do.
If this past few games are any sign, Luis Suarez is beginning to form a great attacking partnership with Coutinho and Sturridge. It is very plausible that next season that if those three are all still playing for LFC and Brendan Rodgers gets some quality summer signings then this team can set their goals on winning the Premier League and not just qualifying for the Champions League. Unfortunately, plans and scenarios are not valued as highly as money and Champions League football. When a player wants to leave then he finds a way to leave and it is sometimes better for the club to get the money while they can and Liverpool does need the money.
Yet Brendan Rodgers has a specific vision and Luis Suarez is the centerpiece of his team. Losing the centerpiece to this team could knock Liverpool back to square one and it is possible that whatever striker replaces Suarez is unable to replicate his proficiency in front of goal. Therefore, Liverpool may currently be in debt and a large transfer fee would be a perfect way to eradicate a large amount of that debt but in the end they would actually lose more money by selling Luis Suarez. This club cannot go on that much longer without Champions League football. There is only so long LFC can sell its fans and future transfer targets on a dream. The more someone talks about a dream the longer it takes to become a reality. Keeping Luis Suarez for at least one more season would exemplify to Liverpool’s fans that LFC may finally be within striking distance of becoming a “big club” again. Given LFC’s profligacy in front of goal, they cannot afford losing a man that scores twenty-eight goals and replacing him with an unknown is not a risk Liverpool can afford to take.