Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Liverpool's bizarre season gets even stranger
Rumour mill has Cruyff taking helm
Liverpool Football Club's extraordinarily bizarre season took another strange twist on Friday when rumours surfaced that Johan Cruyff was being considered to replace Damien Comolli as the Premier League outfit's director of football.
Comolli, appointed to the job shortly after Boston Red Sox owner John W. Henry took over the Reds in October 2010, had been given a no-nonsense war chest to enhance the squad, but after blowing big money on flops such as Andy Carroll, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing and the controversial Luis Suarez (who was handed an eight-match ban for making racist remarks at Manchester United's Patrice Evra in October) was shown the exit on Thursday.
A run of results that would have had Liverpool in the relegation places if the season started on New Year's Day (they've won just three of 14 matches in 2012) obviously required a fall guy, and with ownership pink-slipping Comolli they appeared to offer a bit of reprieve to under-fire manager Kenny Dalglish, who has bungled his way from one embarrassment to another this season.
The Dalglish situation, the Cruyff rumours and a club that generally appears to be in turmoil will serve as an interesting subtext when Liverpool face local rivals Everton in an FA Cup-version of the Merseyside derby, today.
Everton, currently seventh in the Premier League and a point above Liverpool, have operated with a measure of steadiness about which their city rivals can only dream.
Significantly limited in the transfer market when compared to their more storied neighbours, the Toffees have spent well on the likes of Darron Gibson and Nikica Jelavic, the latter of whom has scored as many goals (four) in eight Premier League matches as Carroll, who cost £29 million more, has in 30.
And as they often do, Everton have only gotten better as the season has progressed. They've lost just four of 16 Premier League matches in 2012 and come into today's FA Cup showdown unbeaten in five matches in all competitions.
-- One can only imagine the buffoonery of a Dalglish-Cruyff axis at Liverpool. Dalglish's mishandling of the Suarez racism scandal was abysmal, but Cruyff -- the Ajax and Holland legend -- has few peers when it comes to shooting his mouth about matters that never required his opinion in the first place.
-- Tottenham Hotspur, facing Chelsea in Sunday's FA Cup semifinal, haswon just two of nine matches since Fabio Capello resigned as England manager and have claimed a paltry nine of 27 points available over that spell. Spurs manager Harry Redknapp has been linked with the England job since Capello's departure, and there's a school of thought that suggests his side's sudden downturn in form has something to do with the whole situation.
-- Chelsea host Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday and, as such, are unlikely to field a full-strength side at Wembley on Sunday. Ashley Cole and John Terry have both been passed fit to play, but look for the likes of Frank Lampard, David Luiz, Mikel, Ramires and Fernando Torres to be rested from the start against Spurs. Chelsea have a rash of important matches coming up and as they're currently sixth in the Premier League will not be prioritizing the FA Cup.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 14, 2012 C9
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