Kenny Dalglish - Preparing to return to Goodison as Liverpool manager for the first time since 1991 (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Liverpool's season so far?
With the Merseyside derby not far away I did the unthinkable - yes, I actually had an amicable conversation with a Liverpool fan!
It's kind of where we started. The first four performances of the season, in the league were pretty encouraging, but included a frustrating draw with Sunderland on the opening day and another loss to Stoke where we basically dong-whipped them all over the pitch but couldn't break down the stone fortress they set up in their box (I've date girls who've done the same). But then came the debacle at Spurs where our pace-less midfield was totally exposed, Agger got hurt, and Liverpool were thrashed. The two games since, the cup win at Brighton and the home win vs. Wolves, couldn't be categorized as anything more than ok. While it's not pessimistic, I feel that saying I'm cautiously optimistic would be just a touch too strong as well.
2) What can they achieve this season - and beyond - under Kenny Dalglish?
Well, a month ago I would have said Top 4 no doubts for this season. Now? Probably a dogfight, as back then I underestimated just how much it takes to meld an overhauled squad that this one is. Plus two of our most important players, Daniel Agger and Steven Gerrard, are basically made out of a theoretical material these days, and we don't know what we can count on them for. If they play most of the games, I think Pool can get that Top 4 place. If they don't? Tricky at best. As for "beyond", it's hard to say. I would find it hard to believe that Kenny is a long-term solution. He definitely can get the team back to Champions League football this season, but is he the man to make them remain there and be a force in that competition? Those who say yes have no evidence of that. But it becomes a much more attractive job for the elite of the managerial timber if we're in the continent's top competition. So consider Kenny the captain of the ferry that takes you to valhalla, if he can completely mangle mythology and epics and all that.
3) A number of big money players have arrived since Dalglish returned to the club, who do you feel has been the most successful so far and who still has a lot to prove?
Well, the first answer is Luis Suarez and it's not even close. Probably the most exciting player to wear the Red since I started watching, and the fact that he's a bit of a tool (or utter tool) only makes it better. Everything is running through him right now. As for most disappointing? That's hard to say. I know you want me to say Andy Carroll, but that's hard on him as he was injured last year, and then has had to adjust to a system that might not fit him at all this season while watching the player he was brought in with pretty much become the new hero. He's only had 10 starts in the league, so it's too early. And that goes for everyone else. I'm no fan of Charlie Adam, but he's played six games and needs more time to win me over if I'm anything close to fair (which I don't like to be but I'm trying to evolve). Jordan Henderson hasn't done much at all, but he's 21 and it's the same with Adam.
4) If you could sell three players from the squad and bring in three replacements, who would they be and why?
Oh christ, isn't that fun? First I wouldn't have bought Adam and kept Aquilani, but that's just me. The Italian plays the same position but just does everything better. But he might not have wanted to be here. I don't know, I wanted Ashley Young at Anfield for years, because he can play wide but also behind a striker. I guess he could replace Henderson. Other than that I think I'm good. A solid second striker, so pick one. That Higuain fellow, he'll work.
5) A groundshare between Everton and Liverpool has long been suggested as a solution the their stadium problems - what do you think of the idea?
Well, living in Chicago probably disqualifies me from saying anything, but the heart says no while the brain says yes. These are two clubs that need a new stadium clearly, and with the economy the way it is and the struggles to just get one built, it makes the most sense. But that's not how things are done in England, and it would seem so weird. Although I bet that if it did happen, it would take like two seasons for no one to notice. But still, not a fan.
6) What is so special about Merseyside derbies?
The fact that they always seem to take place at 6:30am American Central time and I'm always out until 3am the night before, so I generally see these things through a painful haze. And tears.
7) In the 1980s the match was seen as the 'friendly derby', the atmosphere has changed now and is often angry and aggressive -why do you think the relationship between the clubs has changed?
Isn't everything angrier these days? I am American, y'know? Maybe it has something to do with a bit of a gulf opening between the teams finances or something. And that whole trophy thing. Do you have any? (oi - cheap shot that Sam! - ed)
8) How do you expect Liverpool will line-up on Saturday and who are the key dangermen?
Generally, Dalglish hasn't strayed from a winning lineup, so you'll see something very similar to the win v. Wolves. Reina-Kelly, Skrtel, Carragher, Enrique-Henderson/Kuyt, Lucas, Adam, Downing-Carroll, Suarez in a 4-2-2-2. Because Henderson was so awful on Saturday and it's away from home i would guess you'd see Kuyt. The wild card here is if they think Gerrard is fit enough to start. If he is, he probably comes in for Carroll and they switch to a 4-2-3-1 with Suarez up top. I'd rather Carroll remain and Gerrard come in for Adam, but Scottish love probably prevents that. Either way, it's up to Suarez if we score or not.
9) Who out of the Everton side should Liverpool keep an eye on.
Doesn't Tim Cahill have like 38 goals against us the past five years? Yeah, that twat (watch it - ed). But he's on my fantasy team, so it wouldn't be the end of the world.
10) And finally, a score prediction?
This doesn't strike me as a vintage of a Liverpool team that can stroll into Goodison and get a win like some of the past have. But it also doesn't seem like some of the vintage that I knew were not strong enough to even think about winning there either. I think 1-1 sounds about right.