Following an embarrassing home defeat to Swansea City in the Capital One Cup it appears Brendan Rodgers has had enough. The Ulsterman is demanding money for reinforcements and honestly it’s hard to blame him.
The 39-year-old inherited an over-priced squad lacking attacking talent and experience in defence. But will spending significant money really solve all Liverpool’s problems?
Its clear Liverpool FC are nowhere near challenging for the Premier League title, while Arsenal’s recent failings have made the battle for the final Champions League spot seem very competitive, with Everton’s improvement this year and Andre Villas-Boas’s enigmatic Tottenham Hotspur team mean Liverpool might not be miles away from qualification for Europe’s coveted competition.
The obvious faults Rodgers will need to address is an over-dependence on youth. Raheem Sterling should not consistently be one of the club’s best attacking outlets at 17, while Suso at just 18 will also need to be used sparingly. While Liverpool’s embarrassing lack of striking options has been well-documented. New players may also need to be considered at full-back where Martin Kelly is side-lined and Jose Enrique continues to disappoint. While there is an argument the Reds’ position of 12th in the league is false due to a daunting run of fixtures at the start of the season, Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United and Chelsea are three of their next five league games, so improvement on that front may not be instant.
My main question before suggesting how much money is thrown at Liverpool’s problems is what do Liverpool truly hope to achieve this year? Signing three £10 million plus creative options wouldn’t guarantee they finished above Everton, Arsenal, Tottenham and Newcastle. The other main problem is there’s no guarantee that the ex-Swansea boss is the right man to sign players on Anfield.
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Joe Allen has been impressive upon his arrival, but hasn’t solved the club’s profligacy in front of goal. While Italian striker Fabio Borini’s signing looks like a hasty error when you consider Jermain Defoe might have been available for a similar price. It is also worth mentioning just how badly a combination of the owners and manager got it wrong on deadline day. Rodgers failed to compile a satisfactory list of striking targets, pinning his hopes solely and naively on signing Clint Dempsey. When he and the owners failed to get their man, Liverpool ended up with only two strikers at the club until January and better preparation from both parties could have solved this nightmare scenario.
I believe Liverpool should back the young manager if they truly believe he’s the man to eliminate the current state of mediocrity that has surrounded Liverpool. Such is the Merseyside club’s recent failings, little has been made in the national media of their cup exit or their disappointing draw at home to Stoke City, as it no longer surprises anyone.
Players who can score goals and ease the burden on youngsters are a must this January for Liverpool, but such were the failings of the club under the previous regime, balancing the books will not be easy. Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson and Joe Cole’s stock has dropped so dramatically at Anfield, finding potential suitors for the expensive errors will not be easy. Criticism of Henderson has been harsh considering his age and a loan deal with another Premier League club may be possible. But finding anyone willing to pay eight figures for £20 million man Downing after no assists and goals in league competition could prove impossible, also with Joe Cole in the twilight of his career, selling him and getting rid of his lucrative wages will not be easy.
Chance conversion and turning possession into goals once again, remain much like last season key areas of weakness for Liverpool. Player’s who fit Brendan Rodgers’ system and can help Luis Suarez in terms of goal-scoring are a must, but may not solve the underlying problem of constant misspending of money at Anfield. Finding a quick fix in January is also historically unlikely.
The most successful January signings to my memory are the ones who pay off in the long-term. Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra both initially struggled at Manchester United before finding their feet in their first full season at the club – both have now had long successful careers at Old Trafford. With the difficulty of integrating new players into a system set-up during pre-season half-way through the season obvious, I’m not convinced there’s much Rodgers and co can do to stop Liverpool coming up short in their quest for Champions League football.
However a few astute signings in January could save the club from the humiliation of once again finishing bellow bitter rivals, Everton.