Mike Ashley’s insidious Rangers takeover isn’t the only football annexation going on right now, with Liverpool seemingly plotting a coup to gain control of the England substitutes’ bench.
Brendan Rodgers can already call upon a sizeable number of Three Lions understudies, but it seems that he is far from content, with the Reds linked to yet another player who spent much of the 3-1 win against Scotland conspicuously clearing his throat and trying to catch Roy Hodgson’s eye.
The diminutive Anfield puppet master is keen to sign West Brom’s Saido Berahino to ease his striking injury burden, seemingly encouraged by a lack of progress over the youngster’s contract talks at the Hawthorns.
Liverpool already boasted more representatives on the away bench at Celtic Park on Tuesday than any other club, with Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson all on warming duties.
Anfield’s dominion could have been greater still, but for Rodgers’ decision to bin the resurgent Stewart Downing and Steven Gerrard’s international retirement.
If Daniel Sturridge’s fragile fetlocks ever return to full-working order then Danny Welbeck’s recent hot streak as Hodgson’s number nine could mean yet another Red face among the substitutes.
However, it seems that with two Evertonians, two Baggies and a trio of Arsenal men also stewing in their tracksuits in Scotland, Rodgers is getting edgy, facilitating the Mirror-reported Berahino initiative.
The question is, what is the motivation behind this coup, this brainchild of the Merseyside Napoleon with the Marlon Brando circa ‘On The Waterfront’ mug?
Simple, having representatives away on international duty but not playing much is the perfect way to milk the break for as much political capital as possible.
Call-ups rubber stamp club prestige and player value.
Meanwhile injuries sustained in national team training (however minor) offer the chance for self-examination-free excuses for unpalatable reverses in the league and aid club sides in guilt-tripping the FA next time they’d rather their star man sat out a friendly or two.