Liverpool game launched
Three years in the making the first visit by Liverpool to Australia was launched at a ceremony at the MCG yesterday. As part of its immediate pre-season tour of Asia it is possible that Brendan Rogers will bring his promised strongest team to Melbourne to take on Victory on 24 July, though the status of Luis Suarez remains in doubt after his attempt to eat a chunk of Branislav Ivanovic. The Australian media was very coy about asking questions about that incident and its consequences, following a polite request by Liverpool.
Victorian Premier Denis Napthine was ecstatic about the prospect of a sell-out crowd at the MCG following the purchase of more than 50,000 tickets in minutes after the first release. More will go on sale today (Wednesday 24th) both to the public and to MCC members. The Premier appeared most enthusiastic about football and the Liverpool visit, ending by showing off a Liverpool shirt which he announced he would wear for the first half, then swap to a Victory top. ‘Victory will win 4-3,’ he predicted.
Liverpool were represented by Ian Rush, predatory striker and club record goalscorer who led the line with Kenny Dalglish, and who finished his career with a stint in Australia with Sydney Olympic in 2000. He remembers his time in Australia fondly and thought his successors would appreciate the visit to Melbourne and the MCG, which surprised the Liverpool contingent by its scale and facilities. Liverpool sales director Olly Dale, standing in for MD Ian Ayre who was occupied by the fall-out of the Suarez incident, said that the connection between Liverpool and Victory would not be a one-off though he talked in general terms about what this might mean. With Victory coach Ange Postecoglou a long time Liverpool fan it is possible that there may be value to both clubs in the relationship. When asked whether he would be sitting down with Brendan Rogers, the Victory coach made it clear that he was aware that his visitor would be fully occupied with preparing his own team. However, he would take any chance he could to meet and learn from his opposite number. Postecoglou will also be very busy that week, for he is also coach of the FFA’s All-Star team which takes on Manchester United in Sydney just days before the Liverpool match.
While it is clear that this is very much a marketing and brand-awareness exercise there is no doubt that the huge latent support for Liverpool around the country has already ensured that the game will be great experience for those involved. For my part I will be going not so much to see the current stars as to look out for the next generation of talent coming through the Liverpool system. In recent years it has been even harder for local youngsters to break into the first team but I am sure there are new Michael Owens, Robbie Fowlers and Steve McManamans to be found on Merseyside today.