There has been a lot of talk – particularly in the media – saying that we have had an unbalanced transfer window with the players we have brought in. I disagree and this is why.
Last year we conceded a lot of goals and came 2nd in the Premier League for ‘defensive errors leading to a goal’. At times Mignolet may have seemed ‘nervous or unsure’ particularly after the impressive start – some of that maybe due to the lack of confidence he had in the players in front of him.
Starting with the 2 centre backs – We haven’t looked composed or solid for a few seasons now. At one point Skrtel and Agger were one of the best pairings in that position but Agger’s injury record has meant that we have had to use different combinations – This may have had an impact on Skrtel too. We know at one point Skrtel wasn’t the first name on the team sheet. Sakho had a mixed first season. He got in some good tackles and blocks but never looked composed on the ball. Toure may have been quality at one point but seemed more a liability last year.
As for the 2 fullbacks, We were without Enrique for the majority of the season and Johnson never looked the same after his injury against Man Utd early on. Flanagan did well at left back despite the fact he is right back. Maybe Johnson came back from injury too soon as we really lacked any one else.
This summer LFC has bought in Lovren, Manquillo and (pending a few formalities like a medical) look likely to add Moreno too. Lovren is a quality Centre back and similar to Agger in his prime. Not only a good defender but also composed on the ball. Moreno is a young quality LB and like Lovren likely to be a starter in the big matches even though Enrique is back from injury. Manquillo is also young and another quality RB. With Johnson on the decline (it seems) and a year left on his contract, Manquillo gives Rodgers a selection headache. Flanagan (when fit again) can play on either side as he proved last year so we have the option of rotation to keep players fresh for a long season.
Although we have bought 3 defensive players, we have lost Sissoko and likely to lose Kelly, Toure and maybe Agger too. We know that we have a lot more quality and depth in these positions than we did last year.
Looking at Midfield, we have lost Moses and Alberto but replaced them with Markovic and Lallana effectively. When we needed to rest or change the midfield we had the likes of Moses and Alberto on the bench and both were really disappointing. Rodgers now could call on Markovic or Lallana (when they are fit again) instead. Markovic is world class, still a little raw around the edges but at 20 and with the way Rodgers nurtures young talent, he has the potential to be one of the greatest players in the world. Its no secret that I was disappointed with the signing of Lallana for £25m especially as both Reus or Shaqiri maybe could have been purchased for cheaper and I bet both Dortmund or Bayern would have seriously considered a bid of £25m. That being said Lallana is a much better option than Alberto and at least has proven he can play in the EPL. With Gerrard getting older and dropping back into a more defensive midfield role, Henderson proved invaluable as the main engine in the centre. However when he was not available at the end of last season, we also saw out title challenge slip. Whether this was due to Henderson’s absence or just simply a game to far is debatable but we certainly lacked that tenacious drive he provided – Now we have Emre Can. Suso has also returned from his loan and Ibe has looked impressive in pre-season and could easily break into the team in a similar way to Sterling.
Obviously we have lost a World Class Striker in Luis Suarez. Although we have proved we can easily cope without him, his impact is most definitely going to be missed. Lambert though was not bought as a replacement to Suarez but more of a replacement to Aspas. We have also bought Origi but unfortunately won’t get to see him until next season as he returned to Lille on loan. We know LFC have been looking for a replacement Striker although I do believe there is no-one that could. I know Sturridge can and will step up and score the goals as will other players too. The likes of Coutinho, Sterling and Markovic will bring that quality and creativity but we are still lacking a Striker of quality that can replace Sturridge (if needed) or play alongside without weakening the team. I don’t think Lambert is that man although he can be an impact player from the bench.
Its possible we won’t need to score as many goals as we did last year with a more solid defence, after all you won’t lose if you don’t concede. We have quality in attack – even without Suarez and have added to that quality during this window. If we had just bought Strikers then we would have really imbalanced our squad and as the Transfer Window still has over 2 weeks to go I am hopeful that we will sign a Striker (please not Eto’o). The media (as well as others) need to remember we have lost other players than just Suarez, had a leaky and unsettled defence, and a relatively small squad too. Our signings have effectively replaced those that have left (except Suarez – yet), added more depth and quality as well as addressed our defensive frailties too. We started last season without Suarez and this season is no different.
The LFC Team v Stoke for our season opener last season was
Johnson, Toure, Agger, Enrique
Gerrard, Lucas, Henderson, Coutinho
I would imagine our starting line up v Southampton could be
Johnson, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno
Sterling, Gerrard, Henderson, Coutinho
Subs: Jones, Sakho/Agger, Enrique, Manquillo, Allen/Can/Lucas, Ibe/Suso, Borini
Its a little difficult to predict as there is more flexibility in the formation. Lambert could be on the bench with Can starting alongside Gerrard and Henderson. I would imagine Can would play more on the left and Henderson more on the right to allow Coutinho and Sterling to get forward more knowing these two are behind for support. Maybe Johnson could be replaced by Manquillo but I expect both to be in the squad. If Moreno needs another week to settle in, then Enrique may start. Even without Markovic and Lallana (both injured) our team looks stronger and has much more depth. As you can see its not easy to pick the formation or starting 11 now either but the core team isn’t that different this season.
Its not just the 11 that start either as our subs bench will also be a lot stronger. Playing the likes of Chelsea and Man City last year, It was evident that our bench looked very weak. I expect opposition teams looked forward to us making substitutions as that often weakened our team.
Had Suarez not left, these signings would represent a good balance and have added more depth and quality to our overall squad and I have no doubt LFC would be lauded for them. Apart from Lambert, all other signings are under 26. Lallana 26, Lovren 25, Moreno 22, Markovic, Can, Manquillo all 20 and Origi 19. All have international experience at some level too.
Like I pointed out we have lost some other players to Suarez but the media seem to have overlooked that aspect. The media were quick to point out we lacked depth and had a small squad that couldn’t cope with CL football and we have addressed most of those losses as well as our squad size and I expect further signings too. Obviously without signing a Marquee signing to replace our Marquee player then it may seem unbalanced – especially as that player was a striker and we haven’t signed a quality replacement for this season – yet!
If we do manage to buy a quality Striker (or even a player like Reus), I would consider this a very good transfer window!
Do you think Liverpool’s transfer window activity this summer has been unbalanced so far? Should we be spending more on a quality striker to replace Suarez rather than strengthening other positions? Whatever your opinions share your views in the comments. You will need to sign up for King of the Kop first!