Soccer Mailbag: Daniele De Rossi Can Replace Lucas, City’s Impending Downfall and More on Gary Speed


Soccer Mailbag: Daniele De Rossi Can Replace Lucas, City's Impending Downfall and More on Gary SpeedIt’s time to sift through the mailbag again and, as always, there were many interesting and provocative questions. Let’s get right to it.

I think Liverpool needs some more quality in midfield (besides Steve Gerrard). Any thoughts on who or what kind of player Liverpool should acquire?
— Dan, Boston, Mass.

Hi Dan, welcome to the mailbag. This one came in before Lucas’ season-ending injury and is so much more relevant now. His absence leaves Liverpool in dire need of someone to cover ground, anticipate plays, tackle and distribute the ball better than anyone else in its midfield. Damien Comolli and Kenny Dalglish will have a hard time not only finding such a player but also prying him away from his current club. They are in short supply and very expensive.

One name that comes to mind is Daniele De Rossi of AS Roma. He is talented, experienced and, most important, dragging his feet on signing a new contract with the club. It looks like he will leave his boyhood club at the end of the season.

Fenway Sports Group has a connection with Roma’s owner (Boston-based Thomas DiBenedetto) and the funds to afford a player who is in the last six months of his contract. But I’m not sure if De Rossi, a Roman to the core, would want to move to Liverpool over London or another European capital. The flip side is that he could view ensuring Liverpool’s top-four finish as an invigorating professional challenge and an ideal baptism in the English game. De Rossi to Liverpool is, at best, an outside shot but imagine if the Reds had two of the best holding midfielders in the game at their disposal for the next three or four years.

The Reds could also do with a winger or wide midfielder. Someone who can provide the width that Stewart Downing gives them. Thanks, Dan. Be good. 

My father grew up in Ipswich, Mass., and so I sometimes find myself hoping to see an Ipswich Town game on the Fox Soccer Channel or one of the other channels in my cable setup. Do you suppose there’s any realistic chance of Ispwich getting promoted to the Premiership and staying there more than 1-2 seasons in the near future?
— John Shaw ยท John Marshall High School, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Thanks for the question John. I wouldn’t expect to see Ipswich on FSC or in the Premiership any time soon. The Tractor Boys only have 20 points to show from their first 18 games in the Championship and relegation is a far greater possibility than promotion at this point.

It’s surprising because they boast a number of players with Premier League experience. Lee Bowyer, Jimmy Bullard and Michael Chopra all call Portman Road home. I’m not really sure what’s going on at the club, but I would expect it to perform better given those names. 

If they come up, I wouldn’t expect them to last long in the top-flight. 

How can you say City won’t win the league based on a sub par performance versus Liverpool on the road (and still almost won)? Also, didn’t Silva have a chance to steal the win at the end from Liverpool? Also try to quote players who aren’t extremely bias next time.
— Conor, Washington, D.C.

Hi Conor, I’ve caught a lot of heat for that one, but I’m sticking to my story. First, City’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool merely prompted me to say what I’ve been thinking since before the season started.

Yes, Silva could have won it, but City created one or two scoring chances over the course of the game. I’ve seen City’s recent games against Napoli, Newcastle and Liverpool and each left me with same impression: this team is not winning the league. It’s a good team in the midst of a great run. 

I believe only a top team can win the English Premier League and City’s struggles in Europe show it is not at the level of Europe’s elite. Bayern Munich picked City apart in the Champions League a couple months ago. Would you pick Bayern Munich to win the EPL?

I realize the league leaders are off to a record-breaking start, but my essential point in the piece was that City was a fourth-placed (I know, third on goal difference) team that has not grown into a title- winning team in seven or eight months. Losses to Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton during last season’s final months are a good measuring stick of where they were in April and May. The additions of Sergio Aguero, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri (but losing Carlos Tevez) is not enough for me to call them anything but “contenders.”

There is also a lot of negativity coming out of the club in recent weeks. Disciplinary measures against Tevez and Kolo Toure will certainly have a negative effect the locker room. The club is still searching for a CEO after Gary Cook’s ouster. The term “house of cards” comes to mind when I see and hear all this as the Citizens continue to eat their own.

As for my use of Beckham’s quote, remember one thing. The man’s won 10 league championships in three countries. He knows something about what it takes to win a league and that outweighs any anti-City bias he may have.

If City goes on to win the league, I’ll be man enough to admit I was wrong and will post photos of me feasting on humble pie. But if and when City collapses in the face of adversity — as I think they will — know that I plan to link to that diatribe again and again. And I will call you out by name. Thanks for reading and for the question.

Hey Marcus, Ryan again. I have two questions/comments. Do you think that Liverpool should be looking for a finishing striker in the transfer window as it seems we can create tons of chances, but we can’t finish? My other question is, How exactly powerful was Gary Speed on the Premiership? His sudden death seems to have affected a lot of people and I would just like to know what sort of impact he made on people.
— Ryan Friend, Darien, Conn. 

Ryan I’m letting you carry the mailbag the rest of the way because your questions and comments are always so good … and appreciated. 

I agree that Liverpool could use another striker. Suarez is fantastic, but can’t do it all himself. He’s not Robin Van Persie (calm down, Gooners, that’s a joke). Another quality striker would ease the burden on Suarez and free up space for him to do his thing. 

As for Speed, he was one of the most admired figures in British soccer because of the way he carried himself over two decades playing at the top level. Tony Evans of the Times of London talked about his style of play in our weekly Q&A. His longevity is a testament to his professionalism.

His apparent suicide affected people because he was a man who seemed like he had so much to live for. He earned plaudits for turning Wales into a team to be reckoned with and had a bright managerial career in front of him.

More important is that by all accounts Speed was a real gentleman. He adored his wife and two sons. He always gave of himself to fellow players, helping them on and off the field whenever he could. He was admired for that selflessness as much (or more than) as he was for what he did on the field. The word, “senseless” doesn’t go far enough in explaining this tragedy. But that’s the best I can do right now.

One question I forgot to ask in my last submission was, Why was Reina so agressive against City? He made two very gutsy decisions to go out against Aguero and Nasri. Scared the bejezzus out of me! Is this what makes him the best keeper in the Premier League?

— Ryan Friend, Darien, Conn. 

The Liverpool goalkeeper is arguably the best in the EPL and, yes, his style is part of of that. Reina’s role as sweeper-keeper has its benefits and drawbacks. Both were on clear display against City.

He is quick off of his line and acts as an 11th defender at times. That allows Liverpool to play with a high defensive line, compress the field, while reducing the risk of being killed by passes played in behind the defense.

The downside is that he can be too aggressive and get caught out in no-man’s land, as he was against Silva near the end of Sunday’s game. You should be scared. If he does it enough times, he’ll be punished for it. Just hope the result is not on the line when it happens. Thanks for the questions and continued support, Ryan. 

And that’s all for this week. 

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