Liverpool resting on their laurels at worst possible time

Liverpool are getting complacent.

This is a team that, for all intents and purposes, ran the very best side English football has ever seen as close as it has ever been run before.

Manchester City, that irrepressible winning machine under Pep Guardiola, won the league by a single, solitary point on the final day last season. They lost four games throughout the campaign. Liverpool only lost one.

City were eliminated in the quarter-finals of the Champions League by Tottenham Hotspur. Liverpool beat them in the final in Madrid to be crowned champions of Europe yet again.

Why, though, is Jurgen Klopp actively choosing against strengthening his squad?

Reports have suggested that he mainly wants to sign players of the ilk of Xherdan Shaqiri, snaffled away from Stoke City after their relegation at the end of the 2017/18 season. He cost £13m.

City, the team that have won the last two Premier League titles, have already broken their transfer record to secure Rodri from Atletico Madrid. He is likely to be the long-term replacement for Fernandinho, the 34-year-old defensive midfielder.

Even Spurs, the foes the Reds vanquished in Madrid, have already broken their transfer record to sign Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon.

Liverpool have signed 17-year-old defender Sepp van den Berg. That is all so far this summer.

Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United legend who built a dynasty as manager, wrote in his book that, when he won his first league title in 1993 at United, the thought of his team slacking off “appalled him”. He wrote that he told his players: “‘Some people, when they have a holiday, just want to go to Saltcoats, twenty-five miles along the coast from Glasgow.

“Some people don’t even want to do that. They’re happy to stay at home or watch the birds and the ducks float by in the park. And some want to go to the moon.

“It’s about people’s ambitions”.

Liverpool aren’t showing much ambition.

They have exceptional footballers in their squad; Mohamed Salah has emerged as one of the best strikers in Europe, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are excellent, while Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson are both wonderful flying full-backs.

But there are signings to be made in this squad; Ferguson, always, was looking to build, he was looking for the next challenge. After winning the Premier League title, he wanted to win the next one.

Paul Hayward, the Telegraph journalist who was the ghostwriter on Ferguson’s autobiography, said that United losing the title to City was the most painful moment of the Scot’s career and that there was “more plotting, more intensity, more detail than ever” as he looked to overhaul them.

The same fire should be burning within Klopp. He took Liverpool to within a point of their first ever Premier League title and a team who suffered four times the amount of defeats as his side in the Premier League beat him.

Liverpool, as noted, are very good, but there could be more depth added. They could use an attacking midfielder; the likes of Fabinho, Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum are all functional players instead of being the kind of forward-thinking playmakers that City have in David Silva, Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne.

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Depth on the wing would be useful too; there is precious little beyond Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah. They do not want to be relying on Divock Origi next season.

Ferguson was a master of this. Look at the 1999 squad that won the treble. United had Teddy Sheringham, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, their current manager, Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole up front. In his final season, as they knocked City off their perch after signing Robin van Persie, they boasted the Dutchman, Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck in attack, supplemented by the likes of Ryan Giggs, Nani, Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia, prior to the latter’s shift to a full-back.

Liverpool don’t have anywhere near as much depth and yet Klopp is placing his faith in the side that almost got over the line last season.

It would be admirable if it was not so naïve. The German knows how to win trophies but he has not won a league title since 2012. Perhaps he is too wedded to what he knows, to the players who have given him excellent results and performances.

It was easy last summer; Loris Karius was terrible in the Champions League final so Alisson Becker replaced him.

It is harder after a successful season but bringing in fresh blood has a threefold effect; firstly, it refreshes the team and ensures that there is greater competition for places; secondly, if the signing is right and of a sufficient profile, it can send a statement of intent to the rest of the league; thirdly, it reassures fans that steps are being taken to improve on what has gone before.

As it is, that is not happening. Klopp, right now, appears to be placing his faith in the mantra of not changing what isn’t broken.

But in football, teams need to evolve, squads need to evolve and players need to evolve. The best way for that to happen is by recruiting from a position of strength.

Liverpool, if they keep their powder dry, are in serious danger of being left behind.

Article title: Liverpool resting on their laurels at worst possible time

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