One signing that Hodgson can ill afford to overlook this summer

You don’t need Rafael Benitez to tell you what Liverpool’s main problem was during his woeful last season with the club. It was plainly obvious to every Liverpool supporter that the club were struggling for goals, as The Reds endured one bad result after another in a nightmare campaign.

With Spanish striker Fernando Torres managing just 24 league appearances last term, due to a succession of injuries, the club were left desperately short of firepower. Liverpool struggled badly without their main source of goals and eventually staggered and stumbled their way to a seventh placed finish in a season which included the worst sequence of results seen at Anfield in over 22 years.

It was left to sub-standard Ukrainian forward Andriy Voronin and the unproven David N’Gog to step-in and lead the line and both failed miserably. Voronin did not manage to score a single goal in the league last season, while Frenchman N’Gog mustered a pitiful five goals in 24.Those statistics tell there own story regarding Liverpool’s  season of woe.

Fast forward to the summer of 2010 and new manager Roy Hodgson has so far failed to address Liverpool’s shortage in the striking positions. Spanish international Torres’ injury problems and 21-year-old N’Gog’s relative inexperience should set alarm bells ringing loudly in Hodgson’s ears.

The Reds managed just 61 goals last season, their lowest amount since 2007. This was an astonishing 42 less than champions Chelsea and over 20 fewer than both Arsenal and Manchester United. It’s clear that an adequate back-up for Torres needs to be found and Hodgson admitted earlier in the summer that a striker is a priority:

“If the right player comes along, it would be good if we could bring another striker in.

“But I’d want it to be the right man and I don’t think we should go out and just sign someone because we can.”

Hodgson has been strongly linked with a £9m move for PSV’s Swedish international Ola Toivonen who has bagged 24 goals in 49 appearances for Fred Ruttens’ side since signing in January 2009. The Dutch side have warned Hodgson off their star man however, claiming he is not for sale, and have so far refused any advances made by the Premier League side.

Liverpool have also been linked with a plethora of other strikers this summer including re-signing Peter Crouch, West Ham’s Carlton Cole, veteran Italian striker David Trezeguet and Bayern Munich’s Mario Gomez. Yet to date, with just six days until the transfer window shuts, Hodgson has been left frustrated by the club’s inability to conclude a deal for any of his forward-line targets.

If Liverpool want to begin to challenge again for honours then another striker is a necessity. All the top sides in the league have at least three established forwards; while Sir Alex Ferguson believes that to challenge on all fronts then four proven top-class forwards are needed. Liverpool have of course signed Serbian hitman Milan Jovanovic but Hodgson has so far only used him out on the left-wing, while Voronin has been shipped off to Dynamo Moscow.

The signing of Joe Cole, as well as Jovanovic, does give Hodgson’s side more of an attacking feel and if Torres manages to stay fit then Liverpool will have quality options in the final-third. Torres is one of the hottest striking talents in world football and has scored an incredible 72 goals in 117 appearances for the club and Hodgson knows he can rely on the 26-year-old for goals.

The amount of proven goal scorers Liverpool have released in recent years is phenomenal. Hodgson would snap your hand off to have Crouch, Robbie Keane or Craig Bellamy back as a support act for the prolific Torres. One of the trio would certainly be more comfortable leading the line than N’Gog, despite his four goals in as many appearances already this season. An improved N’Gog and another striker would equip Liverpool well for the challenges ahead and add some much needed competition up front.

The Reds are leaving it late to conclude a deal however and Hodgson may regret it should a new striker fail arrive at Anfield between now and midnight on 31 August.

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