Bobby Signs, Buvac leaves
For the best part of thirty years, it seems that for every great bit of progress Liverpool make, there is always a setback around the corner. The last week at Liverpool Football Club has certainly been no different. In the past seven days, we thumped AS Roma, only to lose Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for the remainder of the season leaving us with just three senior midfielders. The match also made some horrible headlines after one of our fans, Sean Cox, was left in critical condition, following a cowardly attack from a mob of morons. Everyone connected to Liverpool wishes the Mr Cox a speedy recovery.
Another early Saturday kick-off brought frustration as Stoke got a very Stoke-like goalless draw at Anfield, albeit having ridden their luck with odd refereeing decisions. Sunday brought the news that one of our key men, Bobby Firmino had signed a new long term deal and Mane’s knock wasn’t as serious as first feared. A good news day! Then this morning’s horribly timed announcement that Jurgen Klopp’s long time assistant, Zeljko Buvac is to leave the club until at least the end of the season.
A lot to squeeze into two paragraphs; but it sums up Liverpool’s bumpy ride in their post title winning era. The most recent news though, is very worrying to say the least. There have been a lot of fans likening the situation to when Pako Ayestaran left the club in August 2007, bringing to an end an eleven year working relationship with Rafa Benitez. It no doubt had an impact on Rafa back then, as will this on Klopp now. The way Liverpool currently play is phenomenal, so any changes and turmoil on the bench is very unwanted. However, it’s the timing more than anything that stings.
The club is on the cusp of its biggest match in a decade and the timing couldn’t be worse for our preparation. Klopp will no doubt face questions about it prior to Wednesday night, no doubt he’ll deflect and try to remain focused on the task at hand, but you can’t help but feel it’s a distraction to say the least. They have worked together for seventeen years and Klopp has referred to him as the “Brains” behind his gegenpressing style of play.
The club was quick to deny any rows, and stated Buvac very much remains an employee. You hope, if it is personal problems back home, that it’s nothing too serious for Klopp’s loyal lieutenant; there are more important things in life than football after all.
Sorting out Firmino’s long term future is a real plus for the club. He is reportedly Liverpool’s highest earner now, a status he has earned through two years of progress. His importance to how we play cannot be understated and it really is a sign of how the club’s long term goals are achievable with talent like him in the the ranks.
“The club have taken me in in an incredible way and I’ve grown a lot here with my work with the support of the whole team. I am very, very happy here.”
Encouraging words indeed! Let’s hope the contract is seen out, and extended, we should have no qualms about seeing our number nine extend his stay right in to his thirties.
Some more good news really needed
With growing concerns about who will be fit for this match in Rome, and the cloud over Klopp, we really need a great result in the second leg. Yes we are three goals up, but Roma will be buoyed by their away goals and no doubt fly out the traps at us in the first half. Liverpool will need leaders to step up, Milner and Van Dijk will need to have huge nights, as will the front three. The manager shouldn’t need to motivate anyone, but he will also need to be at his best, putting the past twenty-four hours behind him as quickly as possible.
We are still sweating on Mane, Henderson and Trent going into the match, so some of the fringe players may get a chance to shine. We really need them to step up to the plate if called on, so it goes without saying that Moreno and Ings with both have to do a lot better if they get the nod for the first XI. Moreno could actually offer a lot to the team if he put his mind to it, it really is a shame that he lacks a footballer’s brain as he has the athleticism and strength in his locker.
It’s hard not to mention the atmosphere going into the game. The violence which marred Roma’s fans is an ominous threat. Let’s hope we remember the match for football reasons alone. Roma’s support will make the Stadio Olimpico the most hostile place on Earth for ninety minutes, so it will be a huge test of just how much character Klopp has instilled into this Liverpool side. At least ninety minutes stands between us and Kiev, it would be very nice to wake up to some more positive headlines on Thursday morning to go with a post celebratory hangover. Up the Reds!