Opinionista Ejaz Khan 10 October 2014

Seeing red: Are Liverpool’s new signings coping?

Liverpool Football Club has signed a host of new players. I am not convinced they’re all delivering on their promise… yet. Let's take an honest look at who’s playing ball, and who should be on the sidelines.

To be totally honest, I was not at all excited when we received the news that Mario Balotelli had signed for Liverpool. We all recall (with dismay) his attitude in games especially when things weren’t going his way, and of course the kicking out/headbutts that led to inevitable red cards. Having said that, I, like most LFC fans, accepted it and backed his signing, thinking maybe Brendan Rodgers felt taming a new ‘beast’ was a challenge he needed, having lost a mad genius in Luis Suarez. ‘Super Mario’ has been far from super in his opening games for LFC, but, with no red cards as yet and seeing him press defenders at times, track back to help defend when needed, he genuinely seems to be trying to embrace the Rodgers way.

I like our new young left back Alberto Moreno, all heart and fight, courage and pace to burn, not forgetting a powerful left peg. It’s on the other side of the defense that I haven’t exactly been blown away. I was hoping Javier Manquillo would be so good Glen Johnson would have to settle for Capital One and FA Cup appearances until his contract runs out. He came on as a sub on Saturday, so that hasn’t exactly worked out… yet. Johnson has been fortunate that those competing for a regular spot with him have either been injured (Flanagan) or not quite good enough/settled yet (Manquillo).

I interrupt this new signings assessment for a brief opinion on Captain Fantastic. Should our no. 8 be playing the no. 10 role?

Steven Gerrard has come in for a lot of criticism in recent weeks; how he had apparently been “found out” or “the legs have gone.” So it was refreshing watching him play further up the field in the final 15 minutes or so against West Brom. Of all the qualities he possesses, I think the ones that will take the longest to fade as he ages will be his ability to score and create goals. So, Brendan Rodgers, why not have him further up, doing what he does best? You don’t see Frank Lampard sitting deep in the latter stages of his career, do you? Likewise with Gerrard: you don’t put a Great White Shark in a fish tank. In those 15 minutes he found himself in the thick of things, putting in crosses, supplying perfectly weighted through balls and playing one-two’s with Super Mario, he was in the heat of the battle, not sitting in front of the back four, watching it all transpire in front of him. I hope Rodgers has seen the value of having him playing there, especially in light of opposition having “figured him out” when he plays in the Pirlo “quarterback” role. Another plus is that if he loses the ball there or is beaten for pace, the advanced position would mean that in the transition phase chances of him being directly to blame for goals would be far less likely, as he would have protection behind him, as opposed to him being the protection. More margin for error equals less slip-ups.

Sorry for that.

I still feel Rodgers missed a trick by not signing Xabi Alonso. Watching him pinging balls to all parts for Bayern Munich and already winning Man of the Match awards in the Bundesliga shows that he hasn’t lost it yet, with possibly two years left at the highest level. Ah well, at least we have Lucas Leiva

Emre Can, but can’t, due to injury. Another one who would’ve fitted nicely into the first team had it not been for that cursed international break.

Lazar Markovich is the real mystery thus far. Bought for £2o-million, he says he needs time to settle. Well, Lazar, Liverpool fans are the kings of patience, so no worries in that department. I think the fans will be somewhat disappointed, though, having seen all those impressively prepared YouTube clips demonstrating his pace and ability- sprinting, leaving defenders for dead, scoring and assisting. It’s been far from a smooth ‘bedding in’ for the Serb, and well, bedtime story time is now over. “The fans love me,” he said in a recent interview. Err… You need to earn that, son.

Dejan Lovren has been one of those signings you were sure would add value and stability almost immediately to a backline leaking goals last season. Awkwardly, and indeed on the contrary, he has been responsible for a huge number of goals that Liverpool has conceded thus far. Let’s just say, I wish Daniel Agger wasn’t sold. When Lovren flops up at the back and opposition score it feels like I’ve seen it before. Déjà vu?

Ah… On to that dream signing, Rickie Lambert. Been more of a nightmare really, thus far. In previous seasons he would play with a smile, thumping in goals for the Saints, delivering free kicks, headers, volleys etc.?Now, back at his boyhood club, inexplicably, he seems to have lost his smile together with his goal scoring ability. He looks slimmer, weaker and doesn’t seem to strike the ball with any conviction or power. Why isn’t he playing with any joy? It’s all very strange, really.

Now on to Adam Lallana. Yep, I’ve saved the best for last. He initially seemed to struggle adapting to the added pressure of playing for Liverpool, but he has settled now and is showing signs of his potential, with quick feet and an eye for goal. Having got his first league goal now, the pressure is off somewhat, and Lallana will kick on from here. My father joked, “Lallana is English? Are you sure? But he has so much technical ability!” He sure does and you can see him being one of the shining lights for Liverpool in this and many a season to come. DM

Who is your favorite new signing so far and why? Interact with me on Twitter: @ejaz_k


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Since its release, Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s book Gangster State, has sparked numerous fascist-like behavior from certain members of the public (and the State). There have been planned book burnings, disrupted launches and Ace Magashule has openly called him a liar. And just to say thanks, a R10m defamation suit has been lodged against the author.

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*No video of Richard Poplak auditioning for SA’s Got Talent actually exists. Unless it does and we don’t know about it please send it through.

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