Kieran Davies on a club without a marquee genius but with everything to look forward to.
Whether Suarez had left Liverpool for pastures new or stayed for another season, Liverpool needed to invest heavily to improve the depth of quality in their squad for the forthcoming campaign with the additional distraction of Champions League football to contend with. Suarez’s departure made sense for the transfer fee agreed as otherwise Brendan’s men faced another start to the season without their talisman. I don’t care who you are, no club can afford to have a key player missing for a quarter of every season for one reason or another. While other clubs lamented Liverpool and their fans for sticking by the Uruguayan, anybody would do the same in their situation. After all I don’t remember United fans demanding the Prime Minister deport Eric Cantona after THAT kick or that Roy Keane be placed in a muzzle after his attack on Alfe-Inge Haaland. In these situations you tend to find that fans will remain loyal to their player while all others castrate him. They do say there is a fine line between genius and insanity but a club is only going to put up with these incidents for so long.
So Luis is now photo-shopped into a picture stood in front of the Barcelona club crest (sounds like a Daily Star article) and kudos goes to John W Henry for standing firm on the figure Liverpool demanded despite the ban. After all it was a 5 year contract Luis signed and 4 months is only a small proportion of that so FSG stuck on the price and wouldn’t bow to Barcelona’s pathetic offers. For supposedly one of the biggest clubs in the world it amazes me how they try to pay below the true value of players. If anything the firm stance taken by Tottenham with Bale and more recently Liverpool with Suarez should send a message to any club whose star players are targeted by Real or Barca. Hold out for their true value, as you don’t want to sell. Then you fall into the grey area of players forcing their own transfers. Fortunately for Liverpool fans this is alien to FSG, an American based entity, who believe that contracts are legally binding agreements and are willing to sue anyone in breach of said contract. About time player power was quashed in my mind.
So with £75m to bolster a large transfer kitty granted by FSG surely the sky must be the limit for Liverpool with Champions League football to offer players. Well most of the transfer business has been done with Rodgers adding Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Lazar Markovic, Emre Can, Dejan Lovren, Divock Origi, Javier Manquillo and Alberto Moreno to the squad while fans expect a few more signings to come. There is still a void to be filled up front however and the men from Anfield have been linked to everyone ever to play in that position as ‘journalists’ churn out the usual drivel without a second thought for checking for any credence to their fiction. It is a tough position to recruit for currently with lots of teams looking for that striker to get the goals they need to help them achieve their ambitions for the season. It was always going to be difficult to bring in a straight replacement for Suarez and his 30+ goals from last season, with few world class strikers springing to mind. The usual suspects were named as they are whenever a club has money to spend and are in need of a striker…………Cavani, Lavezzi, Balotelli, Benzema but to name a few. Some of those strikers can’t even produce decent goal returns at clubs where the national deficit of Africa has been spent compiling the squads.
Liverpool will need to strengthen in that area for sure as a front line of Sturridge, Lambert and Borini is not good enough to match the club’s ambitions for the forthcoming season. Obviously Sturridge now has chance to step out of the shadow of Luis Suarez once and for all. People seem to forget that he was the 2nd top scorer in the league last season with 22 goals and made an electric start to the season last year during one of Suarez’s annual bans. The midfield is far more creative this season and has real depth so Brendan will expect them to chip in with more goals this term surely but the search for another striker will continue. Wilfried Bony has been linked with the club all summer but only time will tell whether there is any legs in this one. He did seem to take to the Premier League in his first season with Swansea and did impress in doing so and would certainly be stronger cover for Sturridge than Borini.
The most frustrating thing for all Liverpool fans this summer is the lack of a ‘marquee-signing’ by the club despite the sale of Suarez. Yes some big signings have been made (Markovic, Lallana and Lovren) but sides who want to be up there challenging for titles at the end of the season tend to have one big signing each summer in excess of £30m+. If the club had signed all the players the media have led us to believe were happening, Brendan would be looking to register a squad more akin to the NFL draft than the 25 man squad the Premier League requires you to register. Now there still is quite some time until that window slams shut and Jim White is dusting off his best trench coat to meet Harry Redknapp at the gates of Loftus Road with, but it will go all too quickly no doubt. The decision to let Origi go back to Lille on a season long loan seems a strange one considering our lack of options up front but I think this was key in order for Liverpool to secure his services.
Comparing last season’s squad to the current one should make any fervent Liverpool fan glow with delight as there is far more creativity and quality and more importantly, squad depth. I don’t think the transfer activity is done with a few minor tweaks still to be made but what has impressed me with Rodgers during his tenure at the club thus far, is how he tries not to build a side around individuals but around his ethos of how he wants his side to play. Hypothetically, this should mean you can easily replace one piece of the jigsaw without having to start all over again. The one thing which should reassure all reds fans is that they are in an enviable position where they have faith in their manager to do what is required, while also trusting the owners to make the right decisions for the club as a whole. John Henry and FSG have not let anyone down since they took over the club and are continuing to make strides in the right direction as they did with the Boston Red Sox model they hope to emulate with the Anfield outfit. Ironically, the fixture list throws up the one team Liverpool having jokingly been compared to due to the number of acquisitions they made from them, Southampton. It should be an interesting matchup as Southampton have barely replaced the players they have lost let alone had time to work with the new ones. Brendan’s team looked impressive against Dortmund recently but as we all know, preseason counts for nothing, and it is now down to the business end of the summer. Early games don’t decide titles but they certainly do shape them and Liverpool will be keen to continue their home form from last season where they were capable of tearing sides apart in the first 20 minutes of a game, leaving the result all but a certainty.