Whilst I liked a lot of our business over the summer, signing the likes of Luis Alberto, Iago Aspas and Tiago Illori was an attempt at padding out the squad. Aspas has spent long spells out of the starting eleven through injury or poor form, Alberto has made cameo appearances and Illori has yet to feature.
You can question the success of these signings hugely. It might be unfair to form opinions on Alberto and Illori in particular as they are young and have barely played. Aspas has attracted a lot of criticism that it is difficult to disregard. With their combined values approaching £20m, you have to question whether that money would have been better spent on one quality player given the impact of the players in question.
I’m not criticising the lads we’ve signed – I just question the reasoning behind signing them when we did. It all smacks to me of trying to be a little too clever in the market. I understand we can’t compete with the most financially powerful teams in Europe and need to grow some of our own talent, but you have to question whether summer 2013 was the window in which to do it.
January 2014 definitely isn’t, and I hope that the club show some ambition in January because we are not a million miles away from top spot. Last year we strengthened our first team by signing Coutinho and Sturridge. Both have been excellent for us and have been a big success.
Can you imagine how much of a shot in the arm it would be for us if we made two signings now that made a similar impact? We’ve had a good season as it is. If we could end this season as we did last, we could go very close to the title. It would certainly leave us in good stead for a Champions League spot, which is what we need most of all.
We are unlikely to make signings that will have the dynamic impact of Coutinho and Sturridge, as they are attacking players and we’re not really being linked with attackers with the exception of Mohammed Salah from Basle.
But if we were to sign another central midfielder who is effective at breaking up play and can stop midfield getting overrun, and perhaps a left back to add some much needed quality, it would improve us further.
I don’t think our squad has the quality we require at the moment and there were some tired legs on the pitch by the end of the game against Hull City on New Year’s Day. But that’s not something we can afford to address now. We need to do that in the summer.
For now, we need to bring in first team quality and make the most of the excellent position we find ourselves in.