Kieran Davies on a club very much in the ascendancy despite their ‘miserly’ owners.
They’ll never win the league. Same old Liverpool, they will slip up. They haven’t got it in them to win the title. These are the same old statements churned out by every other fan of every other club bar Liverpool when it comes to Premier League title races. Under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool have been transformed into a free scoring, flowing, attacking threat who are one of the highest scoring teams in the league during the German’s reign so far. At the start of the season, most people disregard league positions and say ‘see how the table looks at Christmas and then you can start talking!’ Well the festive period has been and gone and Liverpool find themselves second in the table, five points behind pace setters Chelsea. There is no doubt that as things stand, Conte’s men have far more strength and depth in their squad and all it would take is a few injuries or suspensions to deplete Klopp’s side. After the busy Christmas period and the impending Africa Cup of Nations, Liverpool are now facing this headache as they have a very threadbare squad. As a fan you can hope that some of the academy starlets step up to the plate but this is the most competitive league in Europe and to expect unknown entities to do this is the Everest of optimism.
Liverpool’s owners would no doubt point towards the money they have spent since they have been at the club to back up arguments over how serious they are in their pursuit of silverware. In reality when you factor in the sales of players from the club, the net spend of the current owners is nowhere near that of the sides constantly challenging for the Premier League title. Going into the second half of the season now and with a lot of the big hitters due to travel to Anfield – which Klopp has turned back into a fortress again – Liverpool are in the perfect position to kick on and challenge Chelsea for the prestigious crown. With no European football to distract them or test the depth of their squad, like their West London counterparts, they are in a situation any club owner would have taken at the start of the season. Winning the title brings many riches to the club, including Champions League football and featuring in ‘pot one’ which allows you to avoid a lot of the bigger teams in the group phase as Leicester City have found to their advantage. Now is the time for Fenway Sports Group to back the manager in the January transfer window.
Recently, Liverpool have missed their talisman Coutinho due to injury. Sadio Mane will travel to join up with the Senegal squad for the ACON tournament. With injury concerns currently looming over Henderson, Matip, Milner and Sturridge the Anfield outfit find themselves looking very thin on the ground for replacements. Against Sunderland the bench looked all too familiar for fans with little on it that could change a game or offer an attacking threat to create a goal. This has been something Reds fans have had to endure for all too many seasons which has culminated in their prolonged absence from Champions League football. FSG have money at their disposal and while the January window tends to spur overinflated prices, they currently have a manager at the helm who is far too canny to fall into that trap. What is worrying for Liverpool fans is how he has already been talking prior to the transfer window opening of the potential that they may not do any business in it. When their best eleven players are available, under Klopp, Liverpool can beat anyone. With a defence and two goalkeepers who have yet to prove their worth, they still look capable of self-destructing also. There are quite a few areas that need strengthening. While you may not be able to address all of that in a short transfer window, you can still do enough to ensure that you kick on for the remainder of the season. Liverpool are still in with a shout for all three domestic trophies but as to whether they can sustain that challenge with the current squad is open for debate.
What would be a real statement of intent by the owners would be to make a world class signing. Someone capable of that moment of magic that can turn a game on its head, that kind of player who inspires the rest of the team to up their game to be on his level. Now many of you reading this may be thinking, you won’t get that kind of player in a January window, but those kind of players are out there as PSG recently showed in the acquisition of Julian Draxler. What areas Liverpool need to strengthen are very subjective depending on who you are speaking to. Personally, while I think investment is needed in a quality goalkeeper, I also realise this is one position you will probably not fill in this transfer window. A solid centre back is also required as currently whenever a team get at the Liverpool back four they look like a rabbit in a car’s headlights as it hurtles towards it down a dark country lane. It is no secret that Mamadou Sakho’s off the field antics have pretty much sealed that his time at the club is done. Loaning the player out to a club who will never take up the option to buy at the end of the loan is not addressing the issue at hand. A sale would surely give Klopp money to spend in January if Liverpool’s miserly owners are not willing to dip into their own wallet.
The annoying part from a fan’s point of view is that they spend a lot of money on the team that they love season in, season out. Whether it be tickets, Sky subscriptions, replica shirts or any other club merchandise. What if they started taking the approach of FSG and started saying ‘hmm well I’m sure I could do without spending that money this season!’ It’s no coincidence that the teams who have won the title, in the main, have all had at least one landmark signing that season or spent heavily to ensure the title is won. Seasons like last season where Leicester won the title are few and far between. You could argue only Leicester and Blackburn have completed that miracle but most people forget that Blackburn were one of the biggest spenders in the season that they won the title. Looking at Leicester’s plight this season after selling one of their best players and not investing heavily to strengthen underlines what a cruel mistress this league can be. Liverpool have the infrastructure to be a dominant force in the Premier League for years to come. They have one of the best managers in European football, arguably the best fans in the world and a ground that again is a daunting prospect for any visiting team. In the main, when teams don’t achieve it’s the players and managers alike who are criticised but this season if the club do not find themselves in a title race come April it’s the owners who are to blame. If this comes to be the case, Fenway Sports Group…………………SHAME ON YOU!