by Kieran Davies
You’ve got to let the new players settle in. We just need Sturridge to return to fitness. He’s only young, you’ve got to give him time. We were unlucky. No, no, no and no! These are the excuses that are doing the rounds amongst Liverpool fans so far this season. They try to rationalise their thoughts by saying ‘you got to support your club through the good times and the bad YNWA’ during a start to the season by the side who ran Man City close for the title last campaign with a string of performances that are more YAWN than YNWA. You’ve got to take a step back from the blinkered view you have of your club and stand up and be counted. Fans are the lifeblood of any football club and whether you have Abu Dhabi owners or someone who has financial wealth of a Jimmy Carr tax return, your voices should be heard. Nobody is bulletproof and at a club the size of Liverpool, excuses should fall on deaf ears. After all it is predominantly the same squad that fell just short at the final fence of last season’s Premier League race.
Yes Luis Suarez has moved on to pastures new and he does leave quite a void to fill after his performances last season, but even if he had stayed, Liverpool would have been without his services thanks to another performance more akin to the Blade franchise with Wesley Snipes. Liverpool’s squad was relatively small and didn’t have the strength in depth that was needed for a campaign where Champions League football had to be factored in. So the owners spent appropriately and added many players to the squad.
Liverpool look far from the side who dazzled last season with free flowing, expansive football and seem to have exchanged their intensive style of play with possession football which a lot of the time ends up going sideways or backwards. Even more unbelievably, their defence which leaked goals with regularity and probably ultimately cost them the title has got worse! But how?
Full backs have been added full of quality and they have even added the solidity of Dejan Lovren to their back four. So how on earth is the back line looking as impenetrable as a paper castle? You have to ask questions of the management and coaching staff on this one as it seems any player who is added to this back line is quickly brought down to the poor level of others. Mignolet is a decent shot stopper but he isn’t Liverpool first XI quality and should be challenging a more accomplished keeper for that number one spot. People defend him but his positioning is terrible and he always seems to be in a crouched stance which isn’t making life easier for himself. Irrelevant to what the blinkered may say, in that crouched position he has to make two movements to even get himself into a position of a keeper stood upright awaiting a shot. I always remember Giggs’ goal against Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final where Seaman took a similar stance that resulted in Giggs blasting the ball into the roof of the net. But as has been the case for a long time now, Liverpool just don’t seem to want a number two at the club capable of challenge for a first XI spot. Brad Jones wouldn’t get in the Middlesbrough side let alone a Premier League one. Reina was shipped on (mainly due to wages I believe) but why cant the club coax a top class keeper to Anfield to challenge Mignolet for his position?
The other thing you have to question is that in a defence with so many international stars, why do they leak so many goals? How can international players be so dreadful at defending set pieces? It seems that as soon as they don the Liverpool top they lose all ability to judge distance or awareness of their surroundings, like a cat with its whiskers cut off. This needs to be addressed and quickly if the club plan on achieving any of their goals for the season. I can’t remember the last time a Liverpool side looked so susceptible at the back as in the last couple of seasons. Everytime a team attacks you expect them to score. Considering the money spent by Rodgers in these areas this is completely unacceptable.
Good players don’t become bad players overnight so who is to blame and will Brendan address it or just keep waxing lyrical? He has brought the club forward from Dalglish’s tenure but he cant live off runners up medals for ever as Rafa Benitez found out when walking out of the club car park with a boxful of his belongings. We craved Champions League football again but I do fear facing Real Madrid with the defence we have. At home we can maybe mask it somewhat with the electric Anfield atmosphere but after that a trip to the Bernabeu waits. This could be embarrassing unless defensive frailties are dealt with. Many great managers over the years have showed that great teams are built from a foundation of a solid defence, something Liverpool haven’t had since the days of Hyypia and Carragher as a partnership.
With the exception of Lallana the attacking singings have failed to impress and while it will take time for them to gel into the style of play of their new team, they are letting themselves down with what they are showing in individual ability. For the sums of money spent on these players they should be hitting the ground running. No player who has commanded a transfer fee in the millions should need time to bed in. We seem to accept this as a given in macabre world of football where money is about as valuable as a wad of Monopoly banknotes. This shouldn’t be the case. Take Markovic for example………..’one for the future’. I don’t think so. If you are paying £20m for someone they should be performing from day one. Coutinho has had a poor start also, struggling to replicate the promise he showed in pre season. It almost followed directly after Rodgers comments about him being the engine room of his side. Lambert has not had the start he would have liked coming back home but hasn’t had a wealth of starting chances in all fairness. This weekend the reds travel to easily the worst team in the Premier League in QPR and anything but victory and Rodgers may find himself under the same sort of pressures AVB did after an unsuccessful transfer splurge.