Seems to be all happening on this Friday. Before we turn our attentions to Sunday's last friendly before diving in the deep end, let's get to the news.
-The big story is Craig Bellamy has returned to Cardiff City to finish out his career. While Bellamy will be missed by all of us I'm sure, it doesn't come with the confusion or melancholy that other departures have. Liverpool are left even thinner on the wings of the front line than they were before. But Bellers's desire to finish out at home near his family is one we can all understand.
Even though he was a Liverpool player for only two seasons, he will remain a firm fan favorite. Bellamy always gave everything to the cause. Yeah, he could be a bit of a twit, but unlike his younger days at times, it seemed he just wanted to win and help the club so badly. I remember his first Liverpool goal coming in a Champions League qualifier at Anfield where he practically shoved Gerrard out of the way to get to a rebound to put home. He loved being a Liverpool player, and we loved him for that.
He had to be unloaded to help pay for Fernando Torres, and he seemed to understand that. Maybe he was always going to be offloaded after his blow up with John Arne Riise in Portugal, as Rafa Benitez had no patience for drama (unless he was causing it). But i still contend the club would have been better off cashing in on Kuyt to help pay for Torres and keeping Bellers around. He could play the wing just as well, with more pace and menace than Kuyt ever could have. But that's in the past now.
We were all overjoyed that Bellamy returned to the club last August. We knew he barely had any knees, and even getting 90 minutes would mostly be out of the question. But he never complained, and when he did get on the pitch he always made a difference. He destroyed Chelsea twice, provided the winner against City, crossed for the winner in the semifinal against Everton, and all that as a bit player. He immediately had an understanding with Suarez, and was lively when the chance presented itself.
Bellamy leaves, just as he did the first time, with me wanting more. His performance at the Olympics was a perfect example of a true professional realizing the opportunity in front of him, and the few that would follow, and seizing it. Liverpool could have used more of that. But if his wish is to be home to see it out, then he's earned that right.
Best of luck to you Craig, you'll always be one of our favorites.
-Joe Allen is in for a medical, so that's just about wrapped up. I've expressed my concern about blowing whatever percentage of the transfer kitty on a position that Liverpool are already well stocked at. But the addition of a good player can't hurt, and he immediately becomes the only one who can fill in for Lucas when his knee doesn't allow him to pile on the matches. If Allen takes some of Charlie Adam's time, or hopefully all of it, that's an improvement. It may mean a lot more time on the bench for Jordan Henderson, but qualifying for Europa League will mean more matches for everyone. So no one should get truly frozen out unless the manager wants it that way.
-For the last qualifier in said Zooropa Liverpool will have a much shorter journey, just up north and east a bit to Edinburgh (strong contender for most beautiful city in the world). It's Hearts, and though we know these Scotland-England battles can get hairy at times, should be a cut and dried enough task for the Reds. Especially as the first team will be fully fit for it all. It'll make for a crowded schedule, as the first leg will be three days before City come to Anfield and the second before a trip to the Emirates. But hey, who wants less matches to watch?