After Liverpool successfully negotiated their way through the Europa League group stages, manager Roy Hodgson stated he believes he is finally starting to see the best from his squad. Not only does he no longer need to rely on the same quartet of players to get him through games, but his next generation of players are finally blossoming into Premier League players – according to the manager. Subsequently, Liverpool look set to be quiet in next month’s January transfer window, but you can’t help think Hodgson is merely towing the company line. Does he really believe the squad good enough as it is?
The clubs fortunes have taken a turn for the better in recent weeks. They have reinstated themselves as a team who represents a difficult fixture as oppose to their scandalous start of the season which saw them defeated by Northampton Town no less. but even so, it’s hard to see Liverpool fans being convinced by the quality of their squad.
By no means do I wish to label some of the kids at Anfield worthless, but when analysing the whole squad, it seems painfully clear that most successful club in English football are now settling to be a side who could challenge for a fourth-place finish.
Their performance against Steaua Bucharest last Thursday was ‘admirable’ as the Daily Mirror put it, and the likes of Johnjo Shelvey did themselves no harm whatsoever. But surely Liverpool fans want better than a youngster who stood his ground in the Europa League?
Standards have been raised. If you consider that three out of the top four places in the Premier League are automatically occupied by Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal in one order or another, that only leaves one place left for either Tottenham, Man City or Liverpool to claim come the end of the season if the club want to play Champions League football.
Man City have undoubtedly the strongest squad, in terms of quality and quantity and Harry Redknapp has done marvellous things with the resources he has at White Hart Lane. Serious questions have to be asked as to whether Liverpool can carry on competing at this level.
But is it a case of Hodgson truly believing he does have enough, or is he just papering over the financial cracks in the Mersey-side club? Money may not be so readily available to him when he needs it most. In which case, the former Fulham manager will have little choice but to put faith in the likes of Martin Kelly, David Ngog, Ryan Babel and Johnjo Shelvey.
The mention of those names when discussing the Champions League or even winning trophies indicates a need for Roy Hodgson to strengthen. Whether he is able to add to some questionable signings already made in the summer is debatable, but few would agree with the manager when he says Liverpool are ready again to challenge at the top. January will be an interesting month for the Anfield faithful.