Executive Editor Graham Large offers his views on Liverpool, Peter Crouch, Michael Owen, Swansea and Wolves in the latest Editor’s Thoughts column.
Welcome to my first Editor’s Thoughts column. It’s been an exciting few weeks here at Chateau It’s Round and It’s White, and I hope you are all enjoying the new-look website.
I am going to use this column to get a few things off my chest, on a weekly basis. My intention is not to cause offence, just simply to provoke thoughts and opinions.
Without further ado, here are my thoughts on the past few weeks in football:
Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers
Perhaps I am stating the obvious, but Liverpool’s opening fixtures have not gone according to plan. It would also appear that Brendan Rodgers is already starting to feel the pressure, strengthening mainstream belief that the job is too big for him. However, without dwelling on the bad, there have been two big positives for me.
The first one is the emergence of Raheem Sterling. For the last two years the young winger’s name has been punted around as the next superstar to emerge from Liverpool’s youth setup. There was a degree of scepticism about the acclaim; for every Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen, there has been a Ritchie Partridge, a Jon Otsemobor or a Stephen Darby. Then came Liverpool’s game with Man City, and Sterling’s first Premier League start – my doubts were all but erased.
Playing the league champions is never an easy task, although Liverpool were dealt a good hand with Kolo Toure getting the nod in City’s defence over the more versatile Pablo Zabaleta. Sterling impressed with his ability to contain two City players; he defended against James Milner and pestered the susceptible Toure. The Ivorian looked vulnerable every time Sterling had the ball, particularly when he was forced out-wide by the youngster’s clever wing play. The 17-year old did quieten in the second half, which was hardly surprising after such a vigorous first-half display.
Sterling’s impressive early season form has led to an England call-up, which has been greeted with disbelief by football fans up and down the country. With rumours of interest from Jamaica (Sterling’s home country) it would appear that England have been forced to move quickly. Is he ready for the international stage? Probably not. But, his energy could cause teams problems in the last 15 minutes of games.
Another huge positive for Liverpool has been the arrival of Joe Allen. The Welshman was a huge part of Swansea’s success of the last two seasons, and seems to have slotted seamlessly into Rodgers’ midfield once again. What sets Joe Allen apart is his ability to pass quickly and accurately – he rarely wastes the ball – before finding space to offer an outlet for the next move. Yes, pass and move – the Liverpool way.
Allen’s ubiquitous nature allows him to go largely unnoticed when making runs from deep, and make important tackles when tracking back to defend. Even in defeat against Arsenal he turned in a confident performance, with Liverpool fans hoping that he can be the deep-lying playmaker they have been missing since Xabi Alonso left. Early signs are definitely encouraging.
Peter Crouch and Michael Owen
Whilst this pairing could be a very effective combination for Stoke City, I have no desire to see either of these players wear an England shirt again. Yes they did well for England together, but that was six years ago – football has moved on.
My personal opinions on Michael Owen aside, on a pay-as-you-play contract Stoke have got themselves a very good deal. Signing Owen is a risk but with a consistent run of games, he will score goals. One thing you can guarantee, is Stoke will probably experience record shirt sales this season – for cheap football shirts click here.
Shine On Swansea City
Michael Laudrup has arrived, and continued the momentum that took Swansea to an 11th place finish. Scott Sinclair and Joe Allen have gone and Gylfi Sigurdsson chose not to extend his stay in South Wales, but Laudrup has moved quickly to plug these holes.
At £2 million Michu looks a bargain, Jonathan De Guzman has also impressed and more highly rated players have arrived in shape of Pablo Hernandez, Ki Sung-Yeung and most recently Dwight Tiendalli. Former forgotten man Wayne Routledge’s sparkling form has forced him back into contention, and his opposite number Nathan Dyer is doing what he does best – terrorising defences.
Many were predicting Swansea for the drop (again) this season; but a return of seven points from a possible nine, paints a completely different picture.
A Viking in Wolverhampton
Hardly as glamorous as an Englishman in New York, but I feel obligated to mention my own team Wolverhampton Wanderers and the early days of the Ståle Solbakken era.
Wolves have lost two of their best players in Matt Jarvis (West Ham) and Steven Fletcher (Sunderland), Michael Kightly has gone to Stoke and Adlene Guedioura has returned to Nottingham Forest on a permanent basis. In return, Wolves have added seven new players – from seven different countries!
A return of four points from a possible 12 is not the start Wolves fans had in mind, but with so many new faces to integrate it will take time for them to develop as a team. New arrivals Tongo Doumbia and Bakary Sako have already shown plenty of promise, let’s hope this can continue and rub off onto the others.
These are just a few of the things I wanted to get off my chest, let me know if you agree or disagree by using the comments box below!