WELL deadline day for us Liverpool fans was the biggest disappointment since the Gobbledy Gooker (and if you get that reference I will be impressed)!
What should have been a good and productive transfer window has left a sour taste.
I want to discuss more positive matters but first I want to raise the 3 main concerns I have following deadline day so I am not blindly labelled a FSG sycophant, although you may be surprised to hear Clint Dempsey isn’t one of these specifically.
First off surrounds Andy Carroll. I am a big fan of Carroll so understandably I am sad to see him leave the club on loan (although over the moon it’s not to Newcastle), but realistically I can see why it happened. He wasn’t first or second choice, rightly or wrongly, and we are not City or Chelsea and cannot be paying £80k a week to a third choice striker, yet what puzzles me is why he was allowed to leave without the absolute guarantee of a replacement coming in. You don’t sell your house before you buy another!
If the stories are true about a deal with Sturridge being in place only after Chelsea signed another, then why did we not have a similar deal with West Ham? My second problem centres on Jordan Henderson. If the stories about him being offered to Fulham in exchange for Dempsey what does this do to his confidence? What does this say about how the club view him? Personally, I am a fan of his and thought he played very well against Hearts and can certainly perform a role in the middle or the forward three, no problem. He is a young player with a great attitude and bags of potential that we seemingly pimped.
The final concern is the decision making process, as already discussed somewhat. The stories I hear are that the price Fulham wanted us to pay for Dempsey was far different than Spurs actually paid, and that is of course their prerogative and likewise, we were quite right not to pay. But why oh why going into the last day of the transfer window did we not have any backup options, especially following Carroll’s departure? I believe all three of these points need to be addressed by the owners and they certainly need to deliver some positive PR in the coming weeks (other than John Henry’s letter), whether that be contracts for the likes of Agger, Sterling and Suso or developments in the stadium plans.
Despite my concerns I fail to fully buy into the complete doom and gloom that seems to be hanging over Liverpool heads. First and foremost the players that we did bring in are high quality and players that Rodgers has specifically identified rather than selected from a list.
Joe Allen already seems a bargain at £15m and his performances have got all connected with the club – from the stands to the pitch – waxing lyrical about his ability. He will control games and allow us to institute Rodgers’ philosophy in a way our previous midfield could not. Nuri Sahin has a quality we all know is at a level above where we currently are. I’m sure if you asked Ferguson, Wenger, Mancini and the like they would love to have him in their team. His skill, creativity and dynamism will suit us and help create chances, once he adapts to Premier League life. Fabio Borini is a player known well to Rodgers and seems at this stage to provide the legs and work rate that Kuyt has previously offered at a fraction of the weekly cost. I’m confident that as he settles we will see the best of him, although I’m sure some have written him off already! Shock!
Two of our most important, if not crucial signings this summer have been without doubt Skrtel and Suarez. I don’t care what anybody says, but there were clear signs last season of a turnaround and a quality returning to a play which was spoiled by low confidence and form. Suarez and Skrtel, arguably our best performers last year were clearly in demand but whereas Arsenal lost RVP and Song, and Spurs lost RVDV and Modric, we tied down our ‘players of the year’ to long term deals. As the North London clubs will be aware, trying to fill the holes left by such huge players is a tough task, and in the likes of Podolski and Dembele for example, they may have taken the first steps in doing so, but they also need some fortune, whereas our focus was able to fall on improving the squad – which on the whole I think we did (although I think we remain light up top, and could use more faces for the squad) – their starting point was on having to replace. The big names we lost in Kuyt and Maxi were older players whose wages ruled out any chance of squad player status unfortunately, but that is the reality, rather than established week in week out starters. This aspect is crucial as we have retained the players crucial to our strongest XI, as well as bringing in improvements on the existing playing staff. The issue that now presents itself to Rodgers is something which the likes of Everton have suffered in previous years, is that when injuries and suspensions take their toll the depth of our squad does not hold the same qualities of some of our rivals, yet this may work in our favour somewhat as this year we should certainly see more and more of Sterling as well as the first team emergence of the likes of Morgan, Suso, Yesil amongst others.
In terms of our play, we only really have the need for one recognised striker in the front three as the other two slots can easily be filled with either wingers (like we have seen with both Sterling and Downing deployed there) or attacking midfielders (such as Shelvey and Henderson). I will also give an early shout for Stevie (I will be writing a piece on this in the near future!) as the infamous ‘false 9’. Why not? He has it all in his locker and could thrive in a role centred purely on his attacking abilities.
All in all I think we have seen a successful summer in terms of signings, reducing a wage bill hugely unsuitable for our current climate, and retaining key members of the squad that has been slightly tainted over the last couple of days. Should we see this first half of the season with pinch of luck in terms of injury, the lack of established forwards may never be a serious issue. Yes, some very serious questions need to be asked of the owners but this should not overshadow the good the club has done. We bossed the champions without Agger, Sahin, Lucas, Assaidi and for the most part Carroll last week, and the ideals behind that performance more than the personnel are what we have to carry forward.
Let’s all please remember that a whole world of patience is required as this is a long term project and the club needs our SUPPORT. Of course questions need to be put to FSG as we do not know what goes on behind the scenes, but Rodgers and the players need and deserve our support, our noise, our contribution and the atmosphere only Anfield can create.
YNWA, please come find me on twitter @timdibs