Liverpool owners have little option but to take January risk

hicks-gillettFootball FanCast columnist Michael Glover claims that for the good of Liverpool, the owners must take risks in the January window.

It would have been a long drive home for Liverpool supporters who watched their side slump to a humiliating 3-1 defeat at Craven Cottage on Saturday.

Despite the best efforts of Fernando Torres, who scored a superb equaliser in the first half, the most optimistic of Liverpool fans must now admit the Premiership title will once again not be making its way to Anfield.

Instead, Liverpool now must think about their chances of even making the top four and qualifying for the financial haven of the UEFA Champions League.

The defeat at Fulham made it their fifth in the 11 Premier League games played this season and also saw some Liverpool supporters begin to lose patience with manager Rafa Benitez.

Benitez made the strange decision of substituting goal scorer and potential match winner Fernando Torres after just an hour of the game, a call that resulted in looks of bewilderment on the faces of supporters all over the country.

Discussions on Saturday evening would have revolved around the Liverpool manager’s strange tactical choices and inability to prioritise the Premier League. Benitez’s substitutions of Torres and Yossi Benayoun brought shouts of “he’s lost it, he’s actually lost it” from one Liverpool fan in my vicinity.

But the bigger picture must be looked at by Liverpool supporters, and therein lies a much greater problem.

As Benitez stated in his post-match press conference, Torres was not fit going into the game at Craven Cottage and could not be played for the entire match or the risk of losing the star Spaniard – who has scored 10 goals in 10 league games this season – for a lengthy period would be far too great.

The real problem for Liverpool is not the fact the manager substituted his best and most likely player to score with half an hour remaining in the match and the score deadlocked at 1-1; if the player is not fit and needs to come off then Benitez cannot be blamed for making this decision.

The real problem is the lack of quality in the squad and the fact that not one player on the Liverpool bench on Saturday had even half as much ability as Fernando Torres.

Although there have been a catalogue of injuries to key players for Liverpool this season, the fact still remains that the squad, as a whole, is poor both in terms of depth and quality.

If you look at each player in Liverpool’s squad and genuinely consider whether each one is good enough to be in a team wanting to challenge for the Premier League, then only a select few will be seen as a definite yes.

Look at it this way: which Liverpool players would comfortably fit into the squads of teams such as Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal or even Tottenham and Manchester City?

In my opinion there are just eight players out of Liverpool’s squad of 32 who are good enough: Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano, Yossi Benayoun, Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger, Jamie Carragher and Pepe Reina.

Maybe the work rate of Dirk Kuyt would put him in the list and Alberto Aquilani could make it once he’s proved himself in English football. Apart from these, Liverpool are left with a squad of players who, put simply, are just not good enough.

The red half of Merseyside is now in dire straits and they find themselves in a catch 22 situation. In order to splash the cash in the summer Champions League qualification is a must, but for Champions League qualification money must be spent on improving the squad.

For the good of the football club, the owners need to take a risk in January.