Two weeks without club football? Check. The potential for the club's most important players to pick up injuries? Check. All the time in the world to stew over a bad performance leading into the break? Check. A fully functioning liver? That might depend on how many Liverpool players go to sleep Tuesday night without having picked up an injury between now and then…
* Internationals have dominated the news over the last few days for Liverpool fans, and most of that focus has been on Luis Suarez, who went from third best player in the world after a four goal display against Chile to nursing a back injury to declaring himself fit to face Italy. Over the longer term, that he picked up a knock against Chile could still end up being a cause for concern for Liverpool, but with all signs pointing to the player being well enough to play were the match against Italy anything but a meaningless friendly, Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez deciding it's in everybody's best interest to keep Suarez out of it completely has to be considered good news:
Suarez took a knock against Chile and is not in the best shape. He is getting better, but for the player, and for his club, it would make no sense to risk an injury, that is the way we see things.
So, knock bad. But probably not serious knock and not playing against Italy good. Or something. In any case, Italy v. Uruguay still looks like an appealing match for the casual viewer, but from a Liverpool point of view it at least makes the choice between it and Germany v. the Netherlands at 7:45PM GMT an easier one.
* Over the weekend, former Liverpool goalkeeper and England goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence fell ill and was taken to hospital. The Liverpool legend, who made 665 appearances over more than a decade of service from the 1960s through 1981's European Cup final victory over Real Madrid, remains hospitalised with almost no information available. The club, and Liverpool fans everywhere, will be hoping that it's not as serious as the extended stay would suggest and that he's able to get back to his job with the English national team soon.
* For Liverpool on the pitch so far this season, things have been decidedly okay. They've hardly been great, at least not based on what the fans, owners, and anyone else with the slightest involvement with the club would have hoped for. But with only three points separating them from Chelsea in fourth, the overall results certainly haven't been a disaster. Most have been willing to acknowledge the problems, but in general there has been patience with this badly misfiring side's manager that wouldn't have been afforded were he not named Kenny Dalglish. This isn't a bad thing, of course, but it does reflect a very real predicament for the average fan: How to fairly judge a living legend of a manager in an attempt to hold him to the same standards that would be expected of any other while still granting him the degree of respect he long ago earned.
And if that's a predicament for the average person watching from afar, then, as Simon Clancy sets out in the Anfield Wrap, it's an even bigger potential dilemma for Liverpool's owners—particularly if Dalglish and the coaching staff can't sort out the myriad issues hindering the squad so far this campaign. Clancy suggests that it's in fact a situation that John Henry and FSG would have been well aware of in advance of installing Dalglish, and as such it may be at the root of why it took them 85 days with a clearly misfiring and poorly suited Roy Hodgson in charge to finally pull the trigger—especially after it had taken them mere days to sack the coaching staff in Boston when they bought that storied institution.
But I digress. This isn’t about wanting a change, of course it isn’t. It’s more about facing up to a problem that I’m pretty certain Messrs Henry and Werner have considered; if it all goes tits up, how on earth do we remove the King from the Castle? We may well go on a winning streak the like of which has never been seen before. We may see Andy Carroll scoring like there’s no tomorrow, Stewart Downing performing like a man possessed and Charlie Adam just performing. If that happens then let’s rejoice for many reasons. One of which will be that after a decade of being essentially a one man team—hi Steve—we won’t be committing the cardinal sin of relying on another player to carry the can for the rest—hi Luis. Kenny will be safe, fans will be happy and idiots like me think of other nonsense to write.
After how well the squad played under Dalglish last season, with the misfiring odds and ends that Roy Hodgson couldn't push past mid-table suddenly discovering flowing, pass and move football—with the odd stroke of tactical genius sprinkled in—this season's less fluid 4222 stocked with what seem to be square pegs in round holes can't help but be worrying, no matter how much you want to see Dalglish succeed. In any case, here's to hoping that in a few weeks idiots like us won't have cause to still be questioning Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing, defensive lines, formations, and all the rest.
We'll be back if if any breaking news, er, breaks. But in the meantime, while you hope that Daniel Agger's ligaments survive the afternoon and that by the end of the season disappointments like Swansea and Norwich seem like crazy outliers, just remember, it could always be worse…