21 August 2011

Going British: The Story So Far

Turn the clock back to this time last year and the buzz among football fans was that Liverpool were back on the right track by appointing an English manager to replace Rafa Benitez. Fast forward a couple of months later and it soon became clear that English doesn't necessarily translate into a good thing. At least not automatically when it comes to Liverpool.

A change of manager and another couple of months later saw Liverpool continuing the Go-British policy albeit with players by spending vast amounts of money on new acquisitions. Luis Suarez aside, most of Kenny Dalglish's big money acquisitions since his appointment have hailed from the British isles.

This is not necessarily an issue as each manager would have a preference on where he sources his players. Like Arsene Wenger, Gerard Houllier preferred French or French-based players. Understandably, Benitez would come to rely on Spain and South America when looking for talent. It's only human nature, I suppose and so, if Dalglish wants to look for his players in every corner of Britain (with a well-known soft spot for Ireland) then why not?

The matter appears to have reared its head during yesterday's match against Arsenal. Stewart Downing aside, Liverpool's big money British players on the pitch appeared to have been quite disappointing. Worse still, it all appeared to have been at the cost of Liverpool's foreign contingent with the obvious ones being Luis Suarez and Raul Meireles both of whom were eventually directly involved in Liverpool's two goals that afternoon.

Things however need to be put into perspective, starting with the two players mentioned above. If one were to do the math, it's quite clear that the only break that Luis Suarez has had this year is the two weeks between the end of Copa America and the start of the season. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Suarez needs a bit of a rest. Even if that means being reduced to 10-20 minute cameos for the next games. The same would apply to Meireles who unlike Suarez, didn't play in the Copa but appears to be turning into a midfield version of Danny Agger when it comes to injuries. Both Meireles and Agger bounce back well after their respective injuries but still, the situation needs to be managed. After all we'd definitely prefer if they weren't injured at all.

Then there's the British players themselves. Carroll clearly isn't a centre-forward in the Torres and Drogba mould so, without any close support (the type that Suarez and possibly even Gerrard can offer), he can at times appear to be a bit lost. Not entirely his fault is it? Speaking of support, Jordan Henderson appeared to have been given that role against Arsenal. Although he didn't do anything spectacular, he didn't do anything particularly wrong either. So, if supporters were patient with Lucas at the early stage of his development, then why shouldn't they be equally as patient with Carroll and Henderson?

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