Friday Feb 28, 2020  
  02/12/2011: Morning Coffee with... Alasdair
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As I stood watching Lazio take on Juventus on Saturday evening, one thing was clear enough to me. In order for a team to be worthy of playing in the Champions League, they must possess certain qualities that we apparently lack. To my surprise and relief, our defence has looked more than comfortable this season and it is our attack that is struggling, although this is the area of the team that contains the most ‘quality’ re. Hernanes, Cissé, Klose, Mauri. But this team is starting to look all too predictable. No dynamism. No spark. No invention. Much of last season was spent entirely relying on Hernanes to supply these qualities, but he is only one man and the rest of Italy seems to have worked him out by now, as his effectiveness diminishes game by game.

The fans will be crying out for a January signing to turn heads, to inject an attacking verve into a Lazio side that is not short on grit or determination, but relies on slender victories to retain an impressive league position. Italian clubs spend plenty of time scouring the South American leagues for ‘the new Messi’, a number 10 who will take Serie A by storm in the way Kaka did for Milan. Ricky Alvarez and Erik Lamela are the latest examples of this. And it’s not exactly a bad tactic; we’re pretty good at it ourselves having bagged Hernanes, Muslera, Dias, and Gonzalez in recent times. But at this point a ‘new Messi’ isn’t the answer. We should all know by now that Reja is not a man possessed of any gung-ho attacking philosophy, and I doubt he would be very comfortable with more than one attack-minded South American to deal with. In my opinion, the solution to our problems is already all over the Italian press: Lukas Podolski.

The fact that Podolski and Klose are old friends and teammates for club and country, who share the same Polish origin, is no secret. Their partnership first flourished in the 2006 World Cup, where they scored eight goals between them, helping Germany top the scoring charts with 14 goals in 7 matches. So far we have only really seen Klose the finisher, but in this partnership he was often Klose the supplier, as four assists to Podolski can be seen in games against Sweden in 2006 and Poland in 2008. Podolski also won the award for Best Young Player at the 2006 World Cup, and made team of the tournament in Euro 2008, collecting the Silver Boot along the way.

In my mind the problem is not that we are short of creative players, simply short on ideas of how to employ them. Reja’s stubborn 4-3-1-2 formation is all too predictable and with a team that could effortlessly change shape between 4-3-1-2, 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2, and 4-3-3, we would be a lot more difficult for the opposition to keep track of.

It is here that Podolski’s versatility would make him invaluable to Lazio. Originally a striker, and a fairly prolific one at that, he is also able to play on the left wing or behind the strikers. One of his best games for Germany came from left midfield, as he was involved in all four goals against Cyprus in 2007. With Podolski and Cissé both able to play comfortably either centrally or out wide, our supply line for Klose would be much improved. Also, with opposition defences having to deal with a potent threat down the wings, Hernanes may be allowed more space and freedom in the centre to wreak havoc. It was clear against Juventus that we lacked width in the first half and couldn’t deal with Juve’s constant threat on the overlap. The introduction of Gonzalez suddenly gave us much more of an attacking threat, as he drew defenders out wide and added an extra dimension to our play. I’m certain Podolski would have a similar impact.

This is all very well, but how likely is it that we could actually sign him? His contract at Cologne runs until the summer of 2013, meaning if we are going to sign him unfortunately it isn’t likely to be until next summer when he could leave on a cut-price. However, his agent has refused to rule out a January move, saying that he would ‘prefer not to comment, as it’s too soon to speak of the mercato. In January we will see, but when I’ve talked to him he has expressed interest.’  Miro is certainly a great bargaining chip on our part, and I would love to see the pair reunited sooner rather than later. Lotito may be pushed into a January move as Tottenham have expressed interest in replacing the on-loan Emanuel Adebayor with Podolski in the summer, and the draw of Premiership football, London living, and a hefty wage could well be more appealing even than the company of Klose. Let’s hope not!

(Alasdair Mackenzie)

Oscar Morgan 12/3/2011 5:27:25 PM
Great article, Lazio should put big money up in january to try and attrack Robin Van Persie the greatest striker ever seen to man.
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