The late sale of Javier Mascherano to Barcelona over the weekend has meant that Liverpool have had little time to bring in any new players. They acted quickly in buying Raul Meireles but they failed today in bringing another much needed player: a striker. Some may criticise Roy for loaning out Aquilani and finding a replacement before seeking a striker, I won’t slate the manager for doing such a thing. He obviously felt Aqua was not the type of player he needed, clearly with the acquisition of Joe Cole any place in the starting lineup for the Italian was unlikely as he also prefers to play in an advanced midfield position. Meireles, although not that similar in style, plays in the same central midfield postion akin to Mascherano and Alonso; he will pull the strings in midfield and for me it was an essential purchase. That leaves us with the gaping hole up front though.
Roy has said himself in recent days that he wanted a striker. He had looked at various options such as Ola Toivonen, Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Mario Gomez and Carlton Cole in recent weeks. The most likely deal that became apparent today was for Cole but a swap deal involving Ryan Babel never materialised. West Ham manager Avram Grant told Sky Sports News:
“We needed time to think about it and it didn’t happen. It was one of a few options to do something there but we couldn’t do it.”
In the end no move for a striker came to fruition and Roy Hodgson must now persist with three options: Fernando Torres, David Ngog and Ryan Babel until January. It is not an ideal scenario, especially for Fernando Torres. I am a firm believer that Torres’s injury problems over the last two years have been down to him being overplayed. When he has been tired or has had a minor injury he has volunteered to play as managers know his importance to the team. Although Ngog and Babel are decent players, I know Roy will start Fernando in matches even if he isn’t fully fit because of his abilities on a football pitch.
The acquisition of another striker would have lifted the burden, not solely because of greater options, but because the standard of player who was brought in would be trusted by Roy to start in place of Fernando if there was any injury concern. During the next few months, just like Rafa Benitez has had to in recent seasons, Roy will feel he has to play Fernando rather than risk either Ngog or Babel who have plenty of potential but have nowhere near the current experience of playing the lone striker role like the Spanish international. Even Carlton Cole, who is not close to Torres’s standard, would have been a good addition as he can hold up the ball, win headers in the air and play the lone front man, leaving Roy not having to revert to playing Torres if he is not fully fit.
The biggest test in the next few months now will be to ensure Torres stays fit and the new Sports Science team under Dr Peter Brukner will have their work cut out as Roy will endeavour to play Fernando in more matches than he would have liked. The lack of movement on the striker front on the last day of the transfer window has big repercussions for Fernando Torres as it does for the entire Liverpool team. Let’s hope the Spaniard lasts until January, when HOPEFULLY we will be under new ownership and can afford to have a regular sized squad with decent backup.
Follow us on twitter @live4Liverpool
Live4Liverpool is recruiting columnists. For further info contact the site editor at email@example.com