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Soup of This Day #62: The Backson’s The One Who’s Been Putting Holes In Our Socks!

September 6, 2011

Routemaster Bus, Picadilly Square
The size of bus needed to ship out all of Liverpool’s Summer 2011 offloads. Although this bus is technically in London. Note the idiot dude rollerblading at the back – Photo: Andrew Dunn, 2005. Andrew Dunn is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

This post started out as another lazy Saturday afternoon, post-swimming lesson, effort. Once again it was constrained by The Noah napping, with the window of writing opportunity being initially as long as he was asleep for. This was fitting for this post as the subject is the transfer window, the period of opportunity for teams to add players key to the season ahead or to trade off those that haven’t fitted in.

The EPL has 2 such windows each 12 months. The 1st and largest is the Summer transfer window. It opens at the conclusion of a season, around May, and shuts at the end of August which is confusingly several weeks after the new season has commenced. The window then reopens mid-season for all of January. Quite obviously the Summer window is the key – It’s where you would look to get the core pieces of the puzzle in place. The January window is more about tweaking the mix or in some cases, a desperate, wholesale scramble for survival. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re making big changes in January your season is already shot to hell.

Liverpool were in football hell in January of this year. Roy Hodgson was struggling as Manager. The playing roster was too heavily made up of dross and the star striker wanted out. But then prodigal Manager Kenny Dalglish shunted want-away prima-donna Fernando Torres to Chelsea for a staggering 50m and brought in Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll for a combined 60m. At the time Dalglish made it clear that this was about the next season and he’s backed that up with a big raft of Summer changes this year.

IN

Stewart Downing (Aston Villa, £20m): Pacy winger who consistently crosses for goals.
Jordan Henderson (Sunderland, £16m): Young midfielder. The future Steven Gerrard. Maybe.
Charlie Adam (Blackpool, £9m): Solid Scottish midfielder with an eye for a pass and a nice line in deadball delivery.
Jose Enrique (Newcastle, £6m): Competent and experienced left-back. A critical acquisition.
Alexander Doni (Roma, free): Backup for Pepe Reina.
Sebastian Coates (Nacional, undisclosed): 20 yr old 6 ft 6 in central defender who has impressed for the Uruguayan national team, particularly in recent Copa America win.
Craig Bellamy (Manchester City, free): Pacy, veteran striker who, in a previous stint, attacked Liverpool teammate, Jon Arne Riise with a golfclub. He’s clearly not very balanced but he does score goals.
Villyan Bijev (California Odyssey, undisclosed): Never heard of him.

OUT

Joe Cole (Lille, loan): Former England winger who cost a lot in wages but didn’t offer much in return.
Christian Poulsen (Evian, undisclosed): Danish holding midfielder who wasn’t very good in the EPL.
Alberto Aquilani (AC Milan, loan): Skillful player who just seemed to want to go home.
Paul Konchesky (Leicester, £1.5m): A good championship defender who came to symbolise everything that was worng with Roy Hodgson’s tenure as Liverpool manager.
Emiliano Insua (Sporting Lisbon, undisclosed): The defender of the future who never quite delivered.
Daniel Ayala (Norwich, undisclosed): As above.
Sotirios Kyrgiakos (Wolfsburg, free): The defender of the past who never quite delivered. Unless you were counting on him doing an impersonation of the Wolfman.
Milan Jovanovic (Anderlecht, free): The latest in a line of strikers who were wonderful in another league but really quite shit in a Liverpool shirt. See also Cisse, Djibril and Voronin, Andriy.
Tom Ince (Blackpool, free): 19 yr old midfielder who didn’t make the grade. His dad is former Liverpool midfielder, Paul Ince.
Stephen Darby (Rochdale, loan): 22 yr old right-back. Consistent
Daniel Pacheco (Atletico Madrid, loan): Young striker loaned out with option to buy. Has promise but lacks hardness for EPL.
David Ngog (Bolton, undisclosed): Had promise, we were told. And that’s all.
Raul Meireles (Chelsea, undisclosed): Good midfielder who apparently asked for a transfer at the last minute. Fee thought to be £12m and really didn’t fit into the lineup anymore despite his obvious quality.
Villyan Bijev (Fortuna Dusseldorf, loan): Still no idea who he is (See ‘IN’ above). Must be 1 for the future if we’re shipping him on loan right after we get him.
Philipp Degen (released): Swiss defender who wasn’t good.

Of these transfers, all bar 1 of the acquisitions and 1 of the farewells were completed in a seemingly timely fashion. There seemed to be little last minute panic, with most of the major buys occurring earlier in the window. For Liverpool August 31st was measured and calm.

As it was for the Red Sox. August 31 is a transfer deadline of sorts in that players acquired after this date are excluded from post-season action. This then is a last opportunity to add the missing ingredient to the roster.

(At this point The Noah stirs and the remainder of this post was written 3 days later. Because The Noah does rule this house.)

INS

Joey Gathright (Yuma Scorpions): The 30 yr old played 17 games for the Sox in 2009, primarily added to the playoff roster as a pinch runner, surely his most likely role this time out.

Conor Jackson (Oakland A’s): Outfielder Jackson was hitting .249 for the A’s this year. He had 4 home runs, all against RHPs and 38 RBIs. All-time he is .286 against LHPs. Jackson will be direct competition for Reddick, MacDonald and Drew (If he ever gets back).

Trever Miller (Released by Blue Jays, Aug 21) The 38 yr old LHP is a lefty specialist. Not quite sure where he fits with Franklin Morales, Andrew Miller and Felix Doubront. Actually, having seen these guys over the last month maybe Miller has a place.

OUTS

Jason Rice (A’s): AAA Pawtucket relief, 4 and 5 for the season with an ERA of 3.69.

Of the 3 new Sox players, Conor Jackson has already seen some action vs Texas over the weekend. Unfortunately in Game 3 of the series he also saw some of the fence around the bullpen.

At some speed.

It was ugly. He initially seemed not too bad, considering he was clutching his arm, however he soon came out with a bruised knee. Scans were negative but there will probably be some problematic soreness for Conor.

There will also be general soreness for the Sox as a team. The battled back against the Yankees at Fenway to at least win Game 2, thanks in no small part to some power hitting from Ortiz, Ellsbury and Tek, all of whom nailed 2 run blasts. They did pull a neat trick, turning a 4-2 lead into a 4-5 deficit and then back into a 9-5 result but raised blood pressure aside it was enough to get Beckett the win.

In Game 3, the series decider, they again conceded a lead, after going 2-1 as deep as the 7th. There, Aceves imploded, Bard couldn’t rescue it and the resultant 3 runs was enough to give the Yanks a 4-2 win and Aceves a 2nd loss for the year.

If that was an implosion then in Game 1 against Texas all hell broke loose. Andrew Miller started bad and got worse, yanked after a 6 run 1.1 innings effort. Bowden went for 1 more and then the free-falling Albers tacked on another 3. So 10 for the Texans and the Boston bats responded with… 2 hits, 0 runs. Miller’s loss and subsequent 6 and 2 record does not disguise how much of a liability he can be.

Game 2 and southpaw Erik Bedard seeking his 1st Sox win started average-like, giving up 3 across the 1st 3 innings. The Sox mustered 1 in reply via Lowrie RBI single in the 3rd. Then in the 4th Salty smacked a 2 run blast, Aviles with a RBI single and Ellsbury tacked on a RBI single. Oh and I almost forgot – Crawf belted a grand slam, making it an 8 run 4th. More shenanigans in the 6th as Pedroia cleared the bases with a double and it was a 12-3 lead. Texas pulled back 4 to make it 12-7 at the close but Bedard was worth the win.

For Game 3 and the Sox were now on a rally, with the redoubtable John Lackey to get behind. Sadly ‘get behind’ was Lackey’s mantra of the day. He fell behind early and often on counts, going for 40+ pitches in the 1st alone. He also fell behind on the scoreboard giving up 4 before being pulled in the 6th. He was then tagged with another 2 as Doubront piled more coal on for the train wreck, with 3 of his own. 9-0 into the 7th then and a minor rally from the Sox as Scutaro hit a 2 run RBI single. In the 8th Big Papi got another via an RBI single and McDonald 1 more via a sac fly but that was all folks. Late homers made it 11-4 with Lackey declining to 12 and 11, a record that flatters his 6.11 ERA.

I’m going to leave this post with something out of left field, since that is the position that Conor Jackson will be fighting for. It’s a little something from the world of Rhythmic Gymnastics, a sport I’m on record as saying I don’t get. I might not get it but that doesn’t stop my jaw from dropping at this from 14 yr old Boyanka Angelova at the 2008 European Champs in Torino:

And that was only good enough for 2nd.

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