By James Watkins
Being: Liverpool returns to Anfield after relying early on the familiarity of Fenway Park and Toronto to lure new American fans to the club. After two episodes focusing on the North American tour, it’s what we’ve been waiting for: footage of Anfield, Melwood and the city we long to visit as soon as our bank accounts will support such a trip.
Brendan Rodgers awards Joe Allen the title of “Welsh Xavi.”
Charlie Adam suffered by comparison after being granted the ambitious title of “Scottish Xavi,” so, naturally, I’m skeptical of appearing too eager the nickname front. But after a number of performances that have seen the Swansea transfer dominate the middle of the park, Brendan Rodgers seems entirely justified here. I shudder to think of where Liverpool would be without the young Welshman: Allen is currently fifth on the list of Premier League midfielders with the most passes completed this season. And with a completion rate of 92 percent, he finds himself only behind Mikel Arteta among those top five. Sure, the title is still a bit presumptuous, but it wouldn’t be an overstatement to call him the club’s most valuable summer signing – especially with the continued absence of stalwart Lucas Leiva.
Zaf Iqbal has no sense of humor.
Get a degree. Attend med school. Wear well-tailored suits to work. Guarantee a world-class football club has healthy and fit players. Apparently, these accolades don’t make you any less susceptible to mockery. Jamie Carragher tried to egg him on, but the young physician remained stoic and unmoved by the playful humor. Even the forever hilarious “69” reference made as Joe Allen chose his jersey number would have left Zaf unfazed. As for the rest of us though? Challenge accepted.
Fox Soccer Channel pays an early tribute to the Hillsborough disaster.
The documentary wrapped up filming before the Independent Hillsborough Panel released its documents in early September. With a keen awareness of how central the disaster – and following cover-up – remains to the club identity, producers of the show were sure to allot some early screen time to the tragedy. Years have passed since 96 supporters died at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground in 1989, but FSC offered the following summary from Anfield’s public address announcer, George Septhon:
“I describe the Hillsborough Tragedy as a death in the family, because of the way it happened, because of the way the club all got together…. At the time, it was actually too horrendous to take in. We, as a club, as a city, we were in shock….We appear to be nearing some sort of closure with the release of all the documents, but it’s been a source of unifying for the club and families for a long time now.”
Unfortunately, there will be no footage to follow the release of documents that exonerated Liverpool supporters from accusations made for nearly three decades. But for anyone unfamiliar with the tragedy and its impact on the club, the city and supporters, this brief segment proves to be captivating and enlightening – despite the fact that those victims will always deserve much, much more.
Ian Ayre signs players.
I’ll count myself among those who have moved on from the transfer deadline day debacle. Sure, it’s not the depth we’d hoped for up front. But promising young talents have already managed to shine in the Europa League, Capital One Cup and Premier League, and Luis Suarez has proven to be deadly in front of goal.
Still, a decent portion of this episode focused on Ian Ayre and his role in bringing in the club’s new summer signings. Joe Allen, Oussama Assaidi and Luis Suarez all received heavy exposure this week, with Ayre calling the latter’s contract extension the “biggest signing of the summer.” Unfortunately, there was no mention of departures like Dirk Kuyt, Craig Bellamy and Maxi Rodriquez, and it remains to be seen if we’ll get any glimpse of the Andy Carroll and Jay Spearing loan deals.
To escape the stresses that accompany his role as managing director, Ayre flees to the streets of Liverpool on his motorcycle. Initial calls for his dismissal after the transfer deadline debacle have receded, but I assume he spent some long hours on the road that night of August 31. After realizing Rodgers’ desired “depth in attack” would be limited to just three first-team players this fall, we can only hope that he did so with less booze in his system than the average supporter.