Harry Kewell has been angrily defending himself for his early departure from the Champions League final. Kewell was forced off halfway through the first period as Liverpool were 1-0 down from AC Milan’s early goal and some fans booed him off the field. Some sections of the Anfield faithful felt that Kewell had failed to put enough effort in during his time at Anfield and to see him go off in that fashion at that stage of the game just confirmed their doubts.
What hadn’t been realised by many was that Kewell had spent most of his Anfield days with genuine injuries. When these injuries weren’t keeping him out games they were keeping him from showing his best form in the games he did play. Most Reds fans understand what Kewell says he’s been through and are now hoping he’ll show over the remainder of the season just what he’s capable of. Kewell has already shown signs that he’s going to be back to the form he showed in his Leeds days, but still wants to put his side of the story over to fans about what happened in Turkey: "Everybody thought I had thrown it in and I could not believe the reaction from some people. Even before the story was out properly they had diagnosed me and decided I had quit."
Kewell reveals his desire to be a part of that final included a plan that meant he could have been the one to take the penalty that led to Liverpool’s equaliser: "Do people know I was the number one penalty taker on the pitch that night in Istanbul? So why would I want to walk off in a game when I had a real chance of getting on the scoresheet?"
Kewell continued: "My groin just snapped and I loved it how people were criticising me in commentaries straight away, saying my heart wasn’t in it or I just wanted to go off."
Kewell’s surgery over the summer meant he got behind on his general fitness, but more worrying is that he says the operation hasn’t totally cleared his problems up: "I have still got a long way to go to be fully fit," says Kewell. "My groin is still giving me grief after all this time, but we are doing everything possible to combat the problem. I come in early every day before training to do the work that needs to be done on my groin and to allow me to train."
The Australian star says it’s a round-the-clock effort to get him back to his old self: "We are working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to try to correct the problem and hopefully one day we will have a breakthrough. At the moment, I just have to grit my teeth and get on with it, but at least I’m playing again now."
Liverpool are hoping to get back to winning ways at home to Newcastle in the league on Boxing Day, and Kewell feels that the Reds are capable of giving Chelsea some competition for the title: "Everyone always talks about Chelsea, but you look at our last game against them in the Champions League and I think we did more than enough to win the game. That gives us confidence about going back there in the Premiership and getting what we deserve. What we have proved is that we are getting there in terms of challenging for the title."
As the transfer window gets nearer to opening up again for the January sales, more links to Liverpool players leaving and new ones coming in are being reported. One link worth keeping an eye on is for a move for Atletico Madrid’s right-winger Luciano Galletti.
Spanish reports say that the Reds are considering a move to buy the player, but back in Liverpoool the Daily Post says Rafa Benitez will only be prepared to take the player on loan. The 25-year-old Argentinian has played in Spain since moving from Estudiantes in 2001 for £3.4million, but has only been at Atletico since the start of this season.
Other links include a move for Jermaine Pennant, a move which may well meet with some rasied eyebrows considering the player’s reputation.
What is certain is that Liverpool have a shortlist of potential targets that will grow shorter as the transfer window goes on. Rafa Benitez has already made it clear that he won’t be buying for buying’s sake.