Christmas Shopping

Are you the one? - Shaun Botterill

Who's coming as presents?

While we used to wait for Christmas Day to find our new presents, as we've grown into rabid football supporters it is now January we wait for, and July and August, to see what will be under the....um, Liver Bird Tree? I can't finish that metaphor. But anyway, we're 11 days away from the transfer window opening and Liverpool getting to augment their squad in some way. While Brendan Rodgers has tried to tamp down any expectations we might have about who'll be arriving by train, helicopter, or boat, that has smacked as an empty ploy to not get totally hosed by whatever club Liverpool have to buy from.

The names you keep hearing are Tom Ince and Daniel Sturridge. There's enough smoke with those names to think there's at least a chance they'll be coming. However, there are going to be a lot of names a silly rumors and it's going to be next to impossible to discern what's real and what isn't.

On the one hand, Sturridge and Ince are the kind of players Liverpool should be buying. Not just quick fixes to get through the season before you have to unload them because they out-lasted their usefulness. God knows we're familiar enough with that (rhymes with "Downing", who never actually had any usefulness). These are two young players who would have every chance to grow with the team as Rodgers molds it more and more into the being he wants. They can be around for years.

But both come with their issues. Ince has already washed out at Liverpool once, and it feels a little silly to go spend cash from a limited fund on a player you've already deemed surplus. The other issue, from what I've read, is that Ince is a pretty one-dimensional player, in the Jermaine Defoe type. Defoe certainly has his uses and it a plus to a team that uses him right. But in a free-flowing style where the front three are supposed to interchange and play off of each other, his direct style of running and attacking might not fit. But he's still at an age where you can add to his game.

Sturridge has a different set of problems. The first one that pops out is that he might be an utter twat. Arrogance isn't always a bad thing in a player, but you have to be able to back it up. This is a guy who took Chelsea's millions at the first opportunity even though he hadn't proved much more than jack and shit. It took him all of seventeen minutes to start bitching at Chelsea that he wasn't getting a game in the middle, where he wanted to play ahead of Torres and Drogba (the former being somewhat understandable). When he has gotten a chance as a central striker, he hasn't impressed. This is just another Niklas Bendtner, where if he was half as good as he thinks he is he'd be a hell of a player.

So that's a challenge for Rodgers. Can he convince Sturridge to be part of a team instead of a focal point? Do you shift Suarez out wider to accommodate a very unproven player? That could lead to another host of problems.

There's no question there's some serious skill with Sturridge. He does have a nice touch and is quick and can be devastating when his head is on straight. But he can also completely disappear at times. You hope he shows up with a chip on his shoulder and ready to do anything to show Chelsea, and prove to the England set-up, that he's the next BIG THING. But can he transfer that belief from misguided bravado to actual play?

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