14 January 2010

On Maxi Rodriguez

Poor Maxi Rodriguez. From Atletico’s fire to Liverpool’s frying pan.

I can’t decide whether I’m happy or skeptical, optimistic or pessimistic over the deal. Little has a silver lining after yesterday’s calamity, but I felt similarly before the match. And yesterday's result will only intensify the pressure on Rodriguez, which obviously isn’t fair.

First and foremost, Maxi Rodriguez is a classy player that’s impressed me the few times I’ve seen him. He’s a clever, skillful attacker with a cannon of a shot, and Liverpool could certainly do with more creativity, especially from the flanks. He scored the best World Cup goal I’ve had the fortune of seeing, and a peach of a strike at Anfield last season. And he needs to prove his worth to the national team before this summer’s tournament, which is a massive incentive.

That he’s signed for three and a half years – instead of the 18 months first suggested – also demonstrates Benitez has faith in his adaptation. Or it could say that Liverpool were hamstrung to the player’s (read: agent’s) demands.

It’s cliché (and it certainly wasn’t true for the last player Liverpool signed from Atletico), but I just can’t get the memory of Morientes out of my head. I worry about how Rodriguez will adapt to English football and where he’ll fit into the team. While Benitez unsurprisingly said he can play anywhere along the line of three, he’s been on the right every time I’ve seen him. And while Kuyt’s recent form has revived the debate over his merits on that flank, he’ll still be hard to dislodge from Benitez’s 4-2-3-1. But who knows if Liverpool will continue with that formation; it certainly hasn’t done wonders of late.

Having played with Mascherano, Insua, and Torres should also be a massive benefit. Maxi’s relationship with Masch was a key factor in coming to Anfield, and he played well with Torres at Atletico before his knee injury and Torres’ transfer. He’s yet another player that’s captained a club or country side – Gerrard, Torres, Mascherano, Benayoun, Lucas, Kuyt, and now Rodriguez (I reckon Carra counts as a leader too).

But he’s struggled to recreate his best form for almost three years now, since a serious knee injury in ’06-07. He still played nearly 40 games in each of his last two seasons, but I wonder how much gas is left in the tank. Atletico’s problems assuredly haven’t helped his recovery either, but that alone makes me question how he’ll adapt.

That and Liverpool’s form – sadly parallel to Atletico’s at times this season – won’t ease any transition. We’ve seen the pressure built by expectations in Aquilani’s performances after finally getting over his injury. Any player finds it hard to settle into a struggling side.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still thrilled Liverpool signed someone, and on paper, Rodriguez checks a lot of boxes. The cost was also right, which is a rarity in January. And to be honest, if his clearance goes through in time and he’s fit, I hope he’s thrown in the deep end against Stoke. Can’t do much worse. But this season should have demonstrated that there's little chance of panaceas.


epiblast said...

Maybe this is what we need as a club. A season of intense disappointment--not that we deserve what has happened already or will happen. It acts as a good marker for season to come and it gives us somewhere to start from for the next season. There's already too much expectation on a side that is gravely unsettled. And to expect both Aquilani, and now Rodríguez, to come in and make up the difference is too much. We've got to settle on focusing on the season and seeing it out, one match at a time.
As much as I longed for this season to begin, I can't believe it's half-over and I've been waiting for it to end for the last few months, just so the misery of our paltry results can be over and done with.
I don't know what's going to happen with Benítez, or what SHOULD happen. All I know is that we really need new owners, not in terms of money--although it wouldn't hurt--but in terms of sensibility and stability, none of this "blow me fuck face" rubbish.

Mike Georger said...

Combined three months out for the injured trio.

Leeds situation is fully on right now. We're beyond fucked on every front.

nate said...

Torres 6 weeks (fuck it; just do all his surgery now), Gerrard 2 weeks, Benayoun a month. Yikes.

So the probable front six for Stoke and Spurs (and maybe Wolves and Bolton) is:

Kuyt Aquilani Lucas Aurelio

That's utterly terrifying. God I hope Gerrard's back for the derby (2/6).

Ed said...

Just read the same news, nate, and see the same front six (except hopefully Riera for Aurelio)...except in a 4-4-2. But like it matters, it's slim pickings. Mentioned in the blog that this is the East Dillon Lions incarnate.

Marlon said...

If now isn't the time to play Dani Pacheco then I just don't know when is. This season is a fucking wash anyway.

nate said...

Agreed. I also wonder if there's any way to recall Nemeth from his yearlong loan.

andrea asyraf said...

I bet Spearing should also be considered into the midfield. So much trouble on the left wing. Pftt.

muffins said...

Babel Time?!?

Ed said...

Re: Nemeth, hopefully his thoughts have changed since November, when he was talking about making the move to Athens permanent...But running with it, what sorts of terms are there for a loan being canceled? Would the club need some sort of emergency exemption to cancel a season-long loan? Do shitty performances count as an emergency?

Mike Georger said...

I get the feeling Nemeth won't be coming back, not sure why.

Pacheco has to start playing.

Anonymous said...

Kuyt Aquilani Lucas Aurelio

That's utterly terrifying. God I hope Gerrard's back for the derby (2/6)."

Why is that terrifying? They are all good players who compete well with Stoke's lineup. I wouldn't exchange a single player between us and our next opposition.

How they are managed and play together, well that's a different story...


andrea asyraf said...

I guess its the right time for 4-4-2, with Ngog-Benny / Babel-Pacheco up front. Should ther any space for Voronin? With Aurelio returns, soon we expect Riera to be available on the left side,and Maxi Rodriguez as new member, they should provide enough width to the team (which the team had been missing for this season), provide decent crosses into the box, and stretch out opposing defenders line for strikers to break in.
And I believe Rafa should spend to get a target man who is strong enough to hold up the ball on the front, with decent first touch to link up midfield and attackers. I've been missing Crouch, and his cute hatrick against Arsenal.

epiblast said...

Sorry mate, Benny is injured for a bit and Voronin was sold a few days ago to Dynamo Moscow for around £2M.
I'd be comfortable with N'Gog/Kuyt up front. But I would really like to see Pacheco and now Rodríguez get some action.
Philipp Degen looked fairly competent in the first sixty-minutes against ready. I hesistate--only slightly--to say that he was better than Johnson, but that doesn't take much at this point.

andrea asyraf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
andrea asyraf said...

Oh sorry Ive been missing that Bennys fractured rib for a month. Thanks for reminding mate. :) How unlucky we are. Hopefully Maxi is fit to play on the right hand side.
As far as I'm concern, Degen was signed years before as attacking fullback, but even fail to make first team football. Only then Rafa signed Johnson. I believe he got great position and run, always try to break into the blankside, and make spaces available for midfields to pass the ball to him. But he often lack of energy when he rush forward, which lead to bad decisions, and in the end we'll see waste effort, disappointing cross. However I love him more than that Johnson also, and that Darby too.