Not much news today as we await Saturday's friendly that could see Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson making their first appearances in Red (this always confuses me, as when a player suits up for a friendly for his new club, the press will call it a "debut", but then do the same thing when the first game that means something comes along. Whatever).
The only thing breaking today for the most part is Alberto Aquilani's agent claiming he will definitely stay at Liverpool this year. Now, anything an agent says most certainly has an agenda to it. Though why an agent aching to get a bit of a transfer fee would announce to the world that his player can't be bought is a mystery. But the ways of agents and marketing and all that are a language I don't speak.
It's in the same vain as when John Henry came out and said he really thought a lot of David Ngog and Aquilani after the Asian Tour's first friendly. Was he being honest? Or just trying to talk up two players that we were pretty sure were on the auction block? And with Fiorentina making it public they can't afford his wages, are they just trying to shame him into bringing them down, and Aquilani is just playing chicken with them? Does anyone really know?
We've discussed this at length before, but if Aquilani is here to stay, and it increasingly looks like he is, how does he fit? Well, he doesn't, in simply a numbers game. But maybe we haven't counted these right.
We all assume Charlie Adam is automatic. But y'know, I'm not convinced. Probably simply due to age, Adam costs 9 million less pounds than Jordan Henderson did. He also doesn't have the versatility. I don't know that a 7-9 million outlay guarantees you a first-team place, if you play your way out of one. That doesn't mean I think Adam isn't up to it, on his good days he most certainly is. But I feel like he's competing just as much as Meireles, Aquilani, and Spearing are.
As for Henderson, with his tender age, there may not be a pressure to play him now. I'm sure the thinking is that he'll be around for years before he even hits his peak. He may not garner an automatic spot either, as they won't feel they have to justify that investment immediately, with the real payoff coming in the next few years.
Or maybe they really want this much competition for places. Kenny Dalglish is in the rare position of not having anything to lose. He doesn't have to worry about players turning on him or even less the fans turning on him. And seeing as how he pulled FSG's ass out of a real sling and just barely missed giving them European football when it looked hopeless gives him a lot of leeway in however he wants to do things. This is the guy who in his first game managing in almost two decades yanked Fernando Torres off the field, something Roy Hodgson would have done only after shitting out several vital organs. Kenny can make everyone earn it.
I don't base it on much, but I think Kenny really rates Aquilani. It might have something to do with Kenny not being a dissimilar player in his day (or so I've read). But with Kenny wanting to bring back the ability to pass and control the ball, Alberto fits in perfectly. He probably has the best touch of any of the midfielders, and next to Adam the best passing range. And he doesn't have the habit of searching for satellites with his passes, as Adam occasionally descends into.
I sincerely hope Aquilani breaks through with Liverpool this year, even though it may come to the detriment of Meireles, who quickly became one of my favorites. But Aquilani came in to replace my favorite all-time Pool player in Xabi Alonso, and I so wanted that void filled. And Aquilani never got a fair shake, as Rafa either panicked or lost his mind or both in that lost season. And Aquilani has that quality that you can't really define that I'm not sure anyone else in the Liverpool midfield has, and that's genuine class. I don't even really know what that means, other than when you see it. And when Aquilani brings a ball down, there is just this air about him, this confidence, this arrogance, and he looks like he has just a bit more time on the ball than everyone else. I know you can't teach that.
I hope we see it a lot.