WHAT an utterly good performance that was on Saturday, at what was fast becoming a bogey ground for Liverpool FC.
The team as a whole, from Reina through to Suarez, played their part to perfection and although the scoreline suggests a rather one sided affair, the game could have been very different if not for Pepe.
Yet with all that optimism pouring out from the DW, the genius of Suarez, the magic of Coutinho and the real Reina, the result from White Hart Lane dampened the slim top 4 chance we retained. Even Wenger, above us in the league, has stated such a finish for his charges is now very difficult.
Whilst we must carry on pushing to finish as high as possible and build momentum for next season there is that worry that a lack of Champions League football will really hurt us.
I want to try something new here, so what follows is a conversation between Oliver Optimist and Peter Pessimist:
Peter: No top 4 finish again will see yet another year without Champions League money, and with this recent announcement of £40m losses and a rise in our debt of £22m, are we not at the top of a slippery slope again?
Oliver: Of course, failure to finish in the top 4 is going to hurt. Fans want to see Liverpool back on the biggest stage and truly competing once more, but I don’t think the money issue is as worrying as yet. As a club we need to be financially secure without having to rely on the Champions League; that’s what happened last time. We have one of the most lucrative shirt and kit sponsor’s deals and will receive a huge coffers boost from the new TV deal.
The club needs to be able to operate securely so that Champions League money that hopefully comes in the future is seen as a bonus and can be used solely on transfers!
Peter: But without Champions League how can we compete for the big names? How can we attract the top talent to Anfield to challenge those above us?
Oliver: Michu, Lewis Holtby, Hatem Ben Arfa, Moussa Sissoko, Marouane Fellaini, Adam Johnson, Yohan Cabaye, Chiek Tiote…what do these names have in common? They are all players that would undoubtedly improve our squad and help us push on, yet signed for their club with no guarantee of immediate Champions League football. They were properly scouted and sold on the direction of their new employers. We have a whole new scouting setup that started at the back end of 2012 and this summer will be their first opportunity. Let’s not forget that Luis Suarez was signed with no guarantee of Champions League football in the short-term.
Oliver: There can be no guarantees in football, and should we get a HUGE bid, then who knows (see Cristiano Ronaldo!) But what the club must do behind closed doors with the agent and the player is to detail the direction the club is going in and how is it going to get there. Certainly this past January will be a good indicator with Coutinho and Sturridge coming in and the immediate impact they have shown.
Our last 6 league wins and the performance against Zenit at Anfield have truly shown what an incomplete squad is capable of. Highlighting the players to be brought in and the expected impact they will have is key.
Luis clearly loves the club and the city; he signed a new deal under Rodgers, without Champions League. The club needs to be able to match his ambitions, and I would wager they are the same ambitions of everyone connected to the club.
Peter: But top players want Champions League football.
Oliver: Of course they do, but I would imagine they want to be at a club clearly moving in the right direction more! Otherwise why have Arsenal sold Nasri, Fabregas, van Persie and Song? They offered Champions League football but no forward movement. Liverpool is a special club and I want the type of player here who buys into what the club is about – like Agger - not a mercenary.
Peter: Kenny got sacked for not finishing top 4, why should Rodgers stay? He hasn’t even won a trophy.
Oliver: The club is begging for stability. I believe the sacking of Kenny was the wrong decision, but it happened and we need to move on. Clearly, under new management things will take time, but have we not seen what Liverpool can do under Rodgers? And isn’t it good!? Surely sacking him and bringing in someone new resets the clock again? Is that what we want? Player turnover and finding our feet once more? We are at the start of the process with a very young squad and different outlook, it will take time and be a bumpy road.
Peter: Can we trust him in the transfer market though?
Oliver: Well Sturridge and Coutinho are outstanding buys who have made an immediate impact. Can we really judge Borini yet? Allen is clearly a top player that needs to settle and establish himself, not every signing hits the ground running, Rush and Lucas are testament to that. But all these newbies are young with their careers ahead of them. Can we doubt whether Rodgers can get the best out of them after we have seen the resurgence of Downing, Henderson and Jose Enrique these last few months?
I hope that worked and wasn’t too weird, I could have carried on! I think each of us have these two sides to our footballing make-up and of course we need to question things about the club.
Let me know what your questions and answers are below. I’m also on Twitter: @timdibs with a whole new avatar featuring a guy that would slot nicely into any Livepool FC side!