As the transfer window slammed shut on deadline day, it brought about a moment Liverpool fans had been awaiting for a number of years; the clearance of deadwood in the squad had been (Brad Jones aside) complete.
The names of Jovanovic, Deggen, Poulsen, Konchesky, Ngog, Kyrgiakos, Insua, and El Zhar have been sold with Joe Cole and Aquilani sent out on loan to probably never return. Over-priced, over-paid, under-performing (sometimes all three) or just plain not good enough for the squad, let alone the first team, they will never been seen in a red shirt again and free up space (as well as the wage bill) in the squad that Kenny Dalglish is building, in an attempt to re-establish the club amongst the elite.
Coupled with the carefully chosen quality signings the legendary Scot has chosen to bring into the club since his appointment in January, Liverpool now have a squad of players who can all make legitimate claims to a starting-11 berth. This of course leaves Dalglish with the dilemma of choosing his team whilst keeping everybody happy in the squad. It’s a problem, as most pundits never tire of churning out, that is a nice one to have.
How will those who remain from the previous squad, who found themselves to be regular starters more often than not, cope with their places now under real threat from new team-mates who should provide real competition, instead of just providing back-up?
It all proved too much for Raul Meireles who took the opportunity of transfer deadline day to jump ship at the 11th hour. The Portuguese international made quite an impact during his first season at the club but was often deployed in different positions around the pitch, indicating that he didn’t fully fit into Liverpool’s formations or plans. With the influx of midfield summer signings Meireles’ place in the team came even less assured, culminating in him being left on the bench for the opening few games of the season – and his unhappiness on show.
The new increase quality and competition for places in the first team may also affect the likes of Lucas and Dirk Kuyt, players who split Liverpool fans down the middle when it comes to their starting credentials. Much maligned by many, the two had become vital members of the first team under previous regimes which was probably more down to the circumstances of having a weak squad. Having now proved their worth, they will find the competition intense as Dalglish used the summer to strengthen the areas of the pitch which they occupy. If they lose their starting position, how will they react? Will they chose to meet the battle head on and fight in a positive manner? Or will they chose Meireles route and look for a quick escape when things aren’t going their way?
Will Kenny Dalglish be able to use his famous man-management skills to ensure they see the bigger picture of having a quality squad is for the benefit of Liverpool Football Club and they remain an important part of the squad? This is all hypothetical of course; Lucas have started every league game whilst Kuyt has featured in various positions and looked a better partner for Luis Suarez up-front than Andy Carroll thus far. But the signing of Craig Bellamy and the return of club captain Steven Gerrard will only add to the fierce competition over the coming months.
Martin Skrtel is another of those who finds himself on the bench at the start of this new season whilst a fit Daniel Agger and Jamie Carragher are preferential centre-back pairing, and upon returning from injury, Glen Johnson will now find it difficult to displace Martin Kelly at right-back.
Dalglish’s biggest difficulty may not be getting Liverpool to perform well this season as well as in a position to challenge for honours once more; it may be keeping his newly acquired quality squad members all happy. But, as they say, it’s a nice problem to have.
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