Liverpool Half-Term Report: Back Rodgers In The Transfer Market Or We're Screwed...
What’s going right? For the most part we’re getting more and more comfortable in this system Rodgers wants us to play. We’re dominating possession, creating chances and looking dangerous, but the lack of genuine quality throughout the side is meaning all this good work is often wasted. Still, there is a good base from which to work from, and with Luis Suarez leading the line there is always the chance that he’ll pull off a piece of individual brilliance to inspire us. Other than that we seem to be fitter and healthier than we were last season, which is a Godsend given our small squad, and we’re still not that far off the top four if we can put a run of wins together. That’s much easier said than done, mind.
What’s not? The same things that plagued us last season, unfortunately: we don’t score enough goals,and we’re a bit soft in midfield. The former is something that was bound to happen given the departures and arrivals in the summer, and will only be rectified with more incomings. The latter problem, though, is something I think that will fix itself in time once Lucas Leiva is at his best and Joe Allen recovers from his dip in form. The two of them will provide a solid basis from which to work from, although whenever we come up against a real physically gifted midfielder – off the top of my head Yaya Toure, Abou Diaby and Mohammed Diame this season – we struggle to really contain him, so a midfielder of similar ilk, such as Moussa Sissoko who’s out of contract at Toulouse at the end of the season, to play in certain games would be welcomed.
Got the right manager? I think so, yeah. After the heartbreak of Kenny’s departure and the initial scepticism, I really like Brendan Rodgers. He was dealt a sh*tty hand with the mess that was the summer transfer window, and if he still had Maxi Rodriguez, Craig Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt in the squad we’d be a lot better off than we are now. His signings have been inconsistent but they’re young, and I think both Borini – who we’ll see the best of next season - and Allen – who started the season superbly but looked knackered over the past month - will prove themselves to be good acquisitions if they’re given time.
I enjoy watching us play; we’re entertaining to watch and if he had better players at his disposal you can tell we’d be a much better side. Unfortunately we don’t, at the minute, and we need serious reinforcements if Rodgers is going to successfully implement his ideas and transform us in to a top four team again. My one concern is that whilst he’s certainly ambitious, the players we seem to be linked with are not the types that will bridge the gap between us and the top teams. Whether that’s through lack of funds, this new scouting team not providing any alternatives or what, I don’t know. But the positives have certainly outweighed the negatives for me so far.
Star player? Luis Suarez. By a country mile and then some. He’s been an absolute joy to watch, as always, and I dread to think how much longer he can be bothered getting kicked to shreds by opposing defenders whilst trying to do everything in the final third by himself before he thinks ‘f*ck it, I’ll move to Spain or Italy’. He’s our only true world class player, and without him it’s no exaggeration to say we’d be near the relegation zone; he’s that good, and he’s been that important to us this season. He desperately needs help from other talented players if we’re going to make any progress.
Who do you want to sign? Not the players we’ve mostly been linked with, that’s for sure. I liked Tom Ince when he was in our reserves, but I question whether he’s improved enough at Blackpool to really make the step up to playing Premier League football. I also have huge concerns over Daniel Sturridge, although if he can recapture his Bolton form then he’ll provide the pace and goals that have been lacking from our frontline – that’s a big if, though. Neither play would cost a ridiculous amount that, say, Downing or Carroll cost, but the £18m that we’ll spend on them could get a couple of better players from the continent.
I don’t know whether it’s because we’ve spent so much on mediocre, homegrown players in recent seasons that I’m just perennially sceptical of any British players we sign, or whether they’re just actually not that good, but it’s fair to say these two impending arrivals don’t strike me as the type who will help us kick on and secure a top four finish. I’m sick of seeing clubs who we’re competing with in the top half go out and sign bargains from around Europe – and players who weren’t particularly unknown, either. So a Loic Remy or a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would excite me a lot more than these two. But we're Liverpool; we never learn from our mistakes.
Who would you like to sell in January? This is a tricky question to answer as our squad is so small that we can’t really afford to let anyone go at the minute. Getting Joe Cole’s £100k+ a week off the wage bill would be a start, although we’ll probably end up paying most of his contract off so what’s the point in letting him go to save a million quid or so? Cutting our losses on Downing, despite his recent upturn in form, wouldn’t be the worst deal in the world, but again, we currently lack the options in the squad to let him go. Oh, and if we could somehow get some magic beans off West Ham for Andy Carroll that would be ace. What a truly horrendous signing that one turned out to be.
Best chant so far? “We’re all gonna have a party when Suarez gets a pen” to the tune of for he’s a jolly good fellow is the one that stands out. Whatever you think of him - and I completely admit that he has dived in the past and often goes down too easily – it is open season on Luis, and the amount of fouls that haven’t been given in his favour this season is scandalous. Of course you could argue that the big clubs get all the decisions...
Best opposition player / team you’ve seen this season? This is a tough one because, despite us failing to win as many games as our fans would like, we’ve rarely been outplayed by a team this season. But when Swansea beat us at Anfield in the League Cup they were excellent and we were comprehensively beaten, so that was certainly the best performance from an opposing team. The best individual player is a tricky one, too. Antonio Di Natale, a definitely favourite player of mine, was flawless when Udinese beat us at Anfield. Abou Diaby ran the show when Arsenal beat us back in September, too. My inner Calcio aficionado is gonna give it to Di Natale, though.
Biggest **** of the season: I don’t quite share the pure, unbridled hatred that most of our fans share for Alex Ferguson – although I always make a conscious effort to never call him Sir – as I have a begrudging respect for someone who does whatever he wants knowing full well that he’ll get away with it. But his continued intimidation of officials, borderline amusing hypocrisy and general c*ntishness are getting beyond ridiculous now. Unfortunately, the FA, UEFA and the other powers that be, along with the media, seem scared to have the temerity to criticise him or call his actions in to question, so he’ll be given free reign over anyone and everyone until he eventually retires. A great manager, it must be said, but a truly reprehensible, senile individual.
End of season prediction: We’ll miss out on the top four, and our fanbase will yet again become divided and launch into a summer long tirade of bitterness, one-upmanship and tired, pointless arguments. Some will still give Rodgers time, so will claim he’s not good enough. Those who still yearn for Benitez will be clamouring for his return after he’s let go from Chelsea, and the board will again sit idly by and do nothing of note except overpromise and under deliver, which is what they initially swore they would not do.