SILENCE often reveals as much boom and bluster and where Liverpool have been noisy in their pursuit of attacking talent to bolster their ranks, there has been not the slightest of murmurs about additions to the central midfield.
In fact, there has been a reduction in the resources available to play in the centre of the park. Jonjo Shelvey has been sold and Spearing departed as quickly as he returned from his Bolton sojourn. This leaves Gerrard, Lucas Allen and Henderson to take the midfield places.
However, things are not quite as they seem in that regard. Last season those players and the departed Shelvey (as well as Nuri Sahin) were battling for 3 positions in the team, the two centre midfield roles and the more advanced midfield position. Now, they will be battling for just the two deeper positions.
What was evident last year was that the midfield was disjointed until the arrival of Coutinho. This was because most of these players like to take up the same positions on the pitch. Rather than having a more natural attacking player, all three took turns in getting forward to support the attack with variable success.
Sahin even complained about having to play in the number 10 position but he was deployed there because he was more naturally suited to that role than any of his team mates.
With the midfield operating fluidly, the central areas were often caught out when possession was conceded. One ball from the opposition often bypassed our midfield and the defence was left exposed. There was also hesitancy in the centre, with players often not being sure when to drop in or when to get forward.
The arrival of Coutinho saw him moving in off the left flank to provide the pivot at the top of the attack and allowing space for other players wider. Rodgers has recently stated that he sees Coutinho as playing in the number 10 role for the team and this is a logical step.
This coming season will most likely see an attacking quartet which, with a full squad available, will allow a team of Sturridge, Suarez, Aspas and Coutinho and ideally another forward (the current link being Willian) actually displacing one of those four.
The greater strength in the attacking positions will allow the central midfielders to operate with more certainty and there will be less necessity for them to contribute with goals as the forwards should provide these. A more potent and intelligent attack should also open up space which may even allow the midfield to score more often.
In theory the increased attacking options make our midfield seem much stronger and the system will certainly be more robust than last year. However, the question still remains as to whether the personnel are good enough.
Gerrard has been one of the greatest performers in the Premier League era and his quality is unquestioned. That said, we should not expect our talisman to play quite as many games as he has done before. Although he managed more minutes last season than he has for a while, his game time is likely to be reduced in the coming seasons.
This impact may not be felt so keenly this year given that there is no European football to contend with but it is something that must be considered.
As for Henderson, he is developing nicely and had a great end to the season after forcing his way into the team. There is talent there to be harnessed and hopefully he will grow as he continues to collect match experience and as his responsibility increases. But for all his positives, he is not yet in the upper band of Premier League midfielders.
Lucas will feel that he has something to prove this season having missed large portions of the last two campaigns. Since the return from his injury, he has not recovered the tenacity and poise that we had seen previously and he will be eager to cement his place in the first team. However, there are question marks over him particularly as the game has seen less of a reliance on defensive midfielders as tactics have adapted.
This leaves Joe Allen, who suffered a fan backlash and nosedive in form after his injury. He is fortunate in that he has a fresh start this season with most fans optimistic that the real Joe Allen will shine through this time around. So while pre-season optimism may allow us to believe that Allen will prove to be a success, the reality is that the jury is still out on our Welsh maestro.
So the question is whether our midfield is up to task next season. It’s certainly a distance behind the strongest midfields we’ve had in the past but it would be fair to say that the depth and quality is reasonable.
It is clear that other areas of the team needed much more urgent surgery and indeed still do with a left back and centre half a priority. The positives are that Allen and Henderson will have the opportunity to prove that they can cut it at the top and at the very least the middle of the park is fit for purpose.
Overall though, if our ambition is to fight at the highest level in the Premier League then our current players will need to either step up or step aside in the future.