So it's been nearly a week since the World Cup ended and normal service still hasn't resumed around these parts. I'd apologize, but it wouldn't be sincere. I'd rather stay silent than join in the speculative, wrist-slitting, 'everyone's getting sold and the world's gonna end' choir. The summer silly season always makes me insane, and this summer's unsurprisingly been the worst in recent memory. "Paranoid" and "irrational" don't even come close to covering my thought processes.
Of course, the problems at the club remain. Hicks and Gillett are still parasitic leeches sucking Liverpool FC bone dry, and getting them out remains the utmost priority. Purslow seemingly still believes he's manager and in charge of transfers, as illustrated by the recent gossip linking Insua and Lucas with moves (please God no), while Riera somehow remains bullet-proof. I don't believe much of what the club or media has said regarding transfers, but I obviously remain fearful. It's varying measures of confusing and depressing, and I'd rather not blindly fumble around trying to make sense of it all when nothing's concrete other than that the four horseman of the apocalypse need to be expunged.
Thankfully, there is a bit of "real news" to write about with today's Europa League qualifying draw and tomorrow's first preseason friendly against Al Hilal in Switzerland.
This morning, Liverpool drew FK Rabotnicki or FC Mika for the third round of the Europa League qualifiers, to take place on July 29 and August 5. A trip to Macedonia or Armenia to start the season (well, the first leg is at home, but you get my point). Unsurprisingly, I know next to nothing about them, but a cursory search shows Rabotnicki won the first leg 1-0 at home. Rabotnicki finished second in the 12-team Macedonian League last season. The Armenian League, which has eight teams, runs from March until November; Mika is currently fourth this year, and finished second last season. I admittedly haven't seen any of their players in action. Liverpool have never faced either of these sides, nor have they traveled to either of these countries. Sometimes I'm terrible at this analysis lark.
Meanwhile, the squad list for tomorrow's friendly is:
GK: Diego Cavalieri, Peter Gulacsi, Martin Hansen
DEF: Daniel Ayala, Stephen Darby, Philipp Degen, Emiliano Insua, Martin Kelly, Victor Palsson, Sotirios Kyrgiakos (arrived July 15)
MID: David Amoo, Alberto Aquilani, Thomas Ince, Steven Irwin, Lucas Leiva, Albert Riera, Jonjo Shelvey, Jay Spearing
ATT: Lauri Dalla Valle, Nathan Eccleston, David Ngog, Milan Jovanovic (came straight from Serbia)
Obviously, most of the first team is still away on holiday following the World Cup. Neither Jovanovic nor Kyrgiakos are expected to play tomorrow after joining the squad late. The players who took part in the World Cup will get three weeks off from when their country was eliminated (sorry, can't help linking the official site in this case), so everyone bar Torres, Reina, Kuyt, and Babel should be back by the time Liverpool line up for the first leg of Europa League qualifying.
I'm actually excited – well, as excited as I can be this season – to see some of these young players, especially Shelvey, Ince, and Dalla Valle. I'm most excited to see Aquilani with a full preseason under his belt – forget last year; this campaign will be utterly crucial for him, and will determine whether Benitez was wise to gamble on him. I canceled my e-Season ticket because of the ongoing ownership debacle, but if there's a stream and I get a chance to see this friendly – which is at 1pm EDT in the US – I'll have something up on it tomorrow. And if I do find a stream, I'll throw the link up on my Twitter feed.