It’s fair to say I think that today was not the all-singing, all-dancing, bells and whistles barnstormer of a performance that we had been hoping for. Who says so? A lot of the people I spoke to after the game and none other than the boss himself, who put it down to people still trying to find their fitness and fitting in to a system that is new.
He has promised that there will be improvement, and we know from experience of watching his teams that this is the case. Brendan Rodgers teams grow in strength over time. Before long we’ll be watching the kind of football we’re craving.
When I wrote about David Turnbull earlier in the week, I wondered how long it would be before he got the chance to shine.
Brendan Rodgers started him today, and for two reasons. The first is simply, as Matt O’Riley said afterwards, he’s too good not to be playing regularly. The other reason is that Brendan had to make at least one high profile selection decision today if for no other reason than to remind people that he’s the man now, this is not Ange’s team any longer.
I thought it was a great decision, and fully vindicated by his goals and his role in the third. He showed us and the manager what he has got. If he keeps that up he’s going to be very hard to shift, and at a time when there has never been so much competition in the midfield.
Overall, I was happy enough to get the points. But the game raises some issues. First, I don’t like Kyogo playing so deep. He was a little ineffectual there today, although he still got a goal making a run into the box. Secondly, and much more pressing, is that Joe Hart continues to scare the life out of all of us, and is having a bit of a nightmare right now.
We have to be ruthless as a club. We badly need a better option, and if that’s not one of the key priorities I will be frankly astonished. I also wonder if Haksabanovic is someone we’re necessarily going to see with a future here. Don’t be surprised if he’s in the departure lounge. The manager has had a few chances to watch him, and right now he’s nowhere.
Carl Starfelt’s departure was the subject of a piece last night, as was the idea that I won’t be particularly furious if there’s no “net spend” at the end of the window. Because we posted a first season surplus under Ange as well and stormed to the title. But clearly, as I said in the piece, we absolutely cannot afford to lose a key member of last year’s squad in an area where we don’t have decent cover and then not replace him.
So it was especially heartening to hear the boss talk in the aftermath of the game about how this has recently arisen and doesn’t seem directly linked to the signing of Maik Nawrocki, and most important that this departure will send us back to the transfer market.
That is all I needed to hear. It would have been utter folly to have allowed Starfelt to leave without replacing him. Rodgers has talked about wanting four players competing in that position for the two slots – Carter Vickers, Nawrocki, Kobayashi and now another … that’s excellent news and will make this departure somewhat easier to take.
Big Carl was a player who I really liked and have defended consistently on this site although he is prone to the occasional error. I cannot other than wish him well. He’s 28 and this might be his last big deal, and he’s clearly got a good offer from somewhere. He will leave us with five domestic trophies out of the six he’s competed for with us.
Which is a heck of a return. And who knows? Depending on the transfer fee we might even turn a profit on the big lad, which would represent even better business.
Flag Day is over guys, and we’ve got the first three points. It wasn’t as beautiful as some of the football we’ve watched over the last two years but it’s enough, and it’s only the start and one of Rodgers’ famous player turnarounds looks well underway with David Turnbull, and that’s all to the good. He got his opportunity and he grabbed it.