Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Post Season Team Review Part III

After reviewing the defence and midfield components of the team, it's time to focus on where the goals come from and that's the forward line.

With the inclusion of Dirk Kuyt and Craig Bellamy last summer, Liverpool were looking to include more options upfront to support Peter Crouch and after a season, the views of both the players seems divided.

So here's my take:

9. Robbie Fowler

Signed from Man City last season during the winter transfer break, it was to boost the rank of the Liverpool strike force back then, when hitting the back of the net seemed pretty tough. It was also to give the fans something to cheer about as Fowler never really had a chance to bid his goodbye to the Anfield crowd properly.

Rewind it forward to 2007, he has had a decent season although it appears that his chances are limited due to the arrival of Kuyt and Bellamy.

But when he was called upon, he seldom fails to deliver. Yet the injuries over the years and that pair of old legs seemed to have taken a toil on the man they dubbed the Anfield God.

He made 6 starts and 10 substitute appearances for Liverpool this term and yielded 3 goals which is an impressive statistic. But if you're not aware, the 3 goals all didn't come from open play.

But his real contributions did come in the domestic cup games while off the pitch, he'll always provide the players with his experiences and also his presence in the dressing room helps the team in some extent.

Although his farewell match didn't turn out to be a fairytale story, it just wouldn't change our mindset of one of the club's greatest striker. Thank God for him.

Grade: B-

15. Peter Crouch

Who would've thought that when Liverpool goes through another round of 'Rafalution', the beanpole striker will manage to hold down a spot in the team and becomes an integral part of it?

Not me, and I don't think you do too. But what an amazing turnaround for a so called journeyman football, who has gone through the ups and downs, switching clubs and ended up playing for Liverpool, FA Cup winner and CL finalist.

Ridiculed for his build, he has since silenced many critics including me myself. Looking back, that 7million GBP paid for him seemed justifiable since English player's price always seemed to be inflated.

His stats shows 19 starts and 9 goals. That is an impressive return for the forward and also not discounting his 8 assists.

And from the mentality of 'let's not start him upfront' to this season's 'start him, Rafa, he'll deliver', it's amazing how the big man with good touch has managed to change our views of him. Memorable moments including that 'perfect hat trick' against Arsenal and his double scissor kicks in the league against Bolton and in the Champions League against Galatasaray.

Grade: A- (Nominee for TRC's Player of the Year)

17. Craig Bellamy

The Welsh striker is brought in to provide Rafa Benitez an alternative option for his strikeforce. For years, Liverpool have had a dearth of pacy strikers and that has limited us to pretty one dimensional football at times.

With the forward's speed and acceleration, it no doubt struck fear in the opposition defence and with his previous season at Blackburn being rather decent, Liverpool fans expect something from him.

But with only 7 goals in 23 starts, it was rather disappointing from the front man as he squandered bucket-loads of chances earlier in the season before hitting a high just about the right time and then slid downwards again towards the end of season.

If he's the answer to Michael Owen, then we're sadly mistaken and that he doesn't seemed to be featuring in the future plans of Liverpool after Rafa was promised a transfer war chest by the American owners. Expect his departure sooner rather than later.

Grade: C+

18. Dirk Kuyt

A long time transfer target of Rafa Benitez was signed last summer and he impressed the fans with his debut appearance against West Ham in the Kop's 100th birthday.

A 'modern day Mark Hughes' they called him, his work ethic and attitude on and off the pitch is something that many Liverpool fans love about him but that's not all.

He was brought in to be the worker up front for Liverpool while his ability to get goals are never in doubt. His goal record in Holland's Eredivisie speaks for itself.

But this being his first season at Liverpool, scoring 12 goals from 27 starts isn't that bad from the Dutchman although some feel that he could do better. His future at the club seemed certain and that he'll have a part to play in Rafa's Liverpool for the coming seasons.

Grade: B+ (Nominee for TRC's Player of the Year)

Alright, that wraps up the team review for the season but look out for more in the future as there'll be a vote for the best Liverpool goal for the 06/07 season. But for now, do vote for who you thinks deserve the TRC Player of the Year award.

Do drop a comment if you please.

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