Friday, December 10, 2010

Why it’s a misconception that Liverpool is an old and ageing team

I’ve read a lot in the press about Liverpool being an old team that will only get worse over the next couple of years. This view has been compounded by Hodgeson’s ‘straight into the first 22’ signings over the Summer being in their late twenties and (very) early thirties.

The problem is it’s just not true. The Liverpool first 22 has an average age of 27.1.

This could be reduced if you could make a case for Shelvey, Pacheco or Wilson being part of our first 22 but it couldn’t be raised; in calculating it I opted for the older player every time where there was a decision to make. For instance, I chose Spearing (22) over Shelvey (18) as our fourth choice midfielder.

The only players over thirty are Carragher, Aurelio, Poulsen and Kyrgiakos. Kuyt and Gerrard are in their 30th years.

My feeling is that this perception has arisen because the media perceives Cole (29), Gerrard (30), Carragher (32) and Kuyt (30) to be some of our key players. Of course, this is true in the case of Gerrard and any of the others might have an Indian Summer.

But Carragher is arguably not a first choice when fit. Cole has barely performed since his move and Kuyt, while a great player to date, hasn’t been key to us this season. And don’t forget, 28-30 is supposed to be a player’s peak, not the start of his dotage. We have some very strong young players as well; Lucas, Shelvey, N’Gog and Kelly are all really promising.

But what happens next year? Well, in truth there is only Carragher who will be of retirement age. And, if NESV’s stated belief in youth is proven in their transfer policy, we could have the likes of Hazard, Cahill, Sakho or Luakaku reducing our average age and replacing players like Kyrgiakos, Poulsen and Jovanovic.

And finally, what was the average of Chelsea’s Premiership winning side last season? 27.1.
For reference, here are the player ages used in my calculations:

Pepe 28
Johnson 26
Carra 32
Skrtel 26
Konch 29
Lucas 23
Meireles 27
Maxi 29
Kuyt 30
Gerrard 30
Torres 26

Average: 27.8

Jones 28
Kelly 20
Krgiakos 31
Agger 26
Aurelio 31
Poulsen 30
Spearing 22
Cole 29
Jovanovic 29
Babel 24
Ngog 21

Average: 26.45

Total average: 27.12

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Rod Fanni and Ronaldhinho

Liverpool FC transfer rumours

We've been linked very strongly with Rod Fanni and Ronaldinho today, which seems strange given the rumors that we are going to be focussed on youth. 

For me, Rod is a workmanlike right back - sort of the French, right footed equivalent of Paul Konchesky (in status and ability, not style). He's 29; why do we need him when we have Johnson and Kelly? 

Ronaldinho is also aging at 30. Since moving to Milan he has switched back to the left wing. This has seen his goal return drop to one in three, rather than one in four as it was at Barcelona. He's also had fitness problems that have seen him start on the bench regularly. 

All that said, I still think he would be a good signing on a short term contract (maximum two years). He would give us creativity and skill on the left and he's a player who has seen it all at every level. A very different kettle of fish to Fanni in my opinion. 

That said, I would prefer to see the likes of Sakho, Cahill, Luakaku or Hazard joining; just because they have age on their side. 

Is the best option a mixture of age and experience? Would anyone be happy with Ronaldinho?

A few gift ideas for the Liverpool fan in your life: 
Liverpool FC - Official Crest Bar Scarf
The Miracle of Istanbul: Liverpool FC from Paisley to Benitez
adidas Liverpool Club Team Training Performance Jersey - Black (Large)
Liverpool FC Authentic Fan Scarf

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Dann, Cahill or Shawcross

We've been linked with all three of these relatively young English centre backs recently. But which one would you prefer?

For me it would be Dann, were I choosing only from these three. At only 23 he still has the potential to be a top class international centre back in a couple of years.

In contrast, I would say the extra couple of years of experience that Shawcross and Cahill have mean that their full potential is likely to be closer to where they are now; very good players but not on the level of a Carra, Terry, Vidic or Ferdinand (when they were at their peaks).

Or would you prefer to sign a foreign centre back? Sakho is very highly rated and even younger than Cahill.
Or no centre backs at all? Have we got enough in the form of Carragher, Skrtel, Agger, Kyrgiakos, Wilson, Kelly and Ayala?

I think Agger will leave the club also - I suspect that something is not right behind the scenes, whether it's his relationship with the manager, his ability to ultimately settle in the area or even the crazy rumors that flew around a year or so ago.

I think Skrtel is an ideal third choice centre back. Probably not that highly paid, compared to some others, and very good but not quite great.

Carra and Kyrgiakos will both be retired, or in the case of the latter - sold, within two seasons as they get too old for the Premiership. I for one would love to see Carra join the boot room.

Perhaps with all this in mind the solution of Dann and Cahill isn't as crazy as it seems!

Liverpool FC - Official Crest Bar Scarf

Liverpool FC - Official Bar Set

adidas Liverpool Club Team Training Performance Jersey - Black (Large)

Liverpool FC - Official Team Flag

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Why I think the Sean St Ledger rumour is encouraging

Liverpool transfer rumours - Sean St LedgerIf we really have sent scouts to look at Sean St Ledger, I think this is a genuinely encouraging move. Not because I would like us to sign him (I actually think he's not really good enough but would love to be proved wrong) but because we are scouting players from the Championship.

I genuinely don't think we have done this for a long time. We have signed players with potential from the lower divisions but very rarely have we looked at established Championship players who have the talent to step up.

And there are plenty of them out there you know? Tim Cahill, Scott Dann, Roger Johnson, Chris Brunt, Ashley Young, Matt Jarvis, Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott are just a few who have stepped up to the Premiership, either through promotion or transfer, in the last few years.

If I have a criticism of our scouting and reserves set up over the last decade it's that we haven't done enough of this. The last player I can remember us signing in this way was Danny Murphy.

That said, I do think our scouting set up and youth teams have been, at the very least, made up of talented people trying very hard to do the right things for a long time now. And I also believe we have some young players who will prove that the last five years of youth recruitment have actually been successful when they come to fruition.

But for now, for after the January transfer window and for the foreseeable future, a few players like the ones listed above could really help us out. And the Championship is clearly a fertile breeding ground for them.