This article has been brewing for weeks, and the reasons I’ve kept my powder dry until now are simple. I haven’t wanted to rock the boat, not that I think my opinion will shake the very foundations of Anfield or anything like that, more that I hoped Liverpool would begin to convert our chances and that players who have been bought in for vast sums of money would step up and begin to justify their fees and place in the team.
Yet after the 3-1 defeat by Bolton, serious questions need to be asked of just where Liverpool are going under the stewardship of Kenny Dalglish and with Damein Comolli in charge of transfer activity.
Dalglish was rightly livid after one of the three worst performances of his second tenure (the others being West Ham away last season and Spurs away this term) and was correct in his assessment that certain players took this game lightly, as some sort of non-contact dress rehearsal for the forthcoming meetings with City and United. Only Bellmay, a free signing with knees made of glass, can take any credit for his performance.
Yet as much as the players deserve castigation, it is the manager and his coaching staff who prepare the team all week and, surely, any signs of complacency should be hammered out of them before the team coach has fired up the engines. That said, there is only so much a manager can do, and I think Liverpool fans now have to accept publicly what supporters of all clubs have been telling us for months – we’ve signed a load of over-priced and ineffective tripe who don’t, on the evidence of this and several other lackluster performances, have the mix of technical excellence and bloody-minded desire required to make a surge at European places.
Liverpool fans now have to accept publicly that we’ve signed a load of over-priced and ineffective tripe
All this cobblers about signing ‘proven Premier League experience’ has never washed with me. How many players have we seen over the years come in from abroad and hit the ground running. Look at the Van Nistelrooys, the Agueros et al, did they need to time to acclimatise? Did they knackers. With the fees we have paid for decidedly average footballers we could, and should, have signed world class footballers in the early to mid-20s, rather than the dross currently cluttering up the car parking spaces at Melwood.
Despite the odd decent touch or pass against Bolton, Andy Carroll is, pound for pound, perhaps the worst £35m striker I have ever had to suffer watching. It's not his fault that we paid the fee for him, or even that he isn’t good enough, the fault lies with the club for spending that much money on a player whose strengths are alien to they type of football we want to play.
Jordan Henderson, all £20m of him, is perhaps the least creative young midfielder I have seen. He has positives to his game, of course he does, he’s a professional footballer and an England U-21 player who had decent stats at Sunderland. But £20m, really? £20m for a player who is decent in a few areas? Have we gone doolally?
And what about Charlie Adam, a man who looks, and currently plays, like a Glasgow bouncer who has been on the lash for a week. He gives away stupid fouls in dangerous areas due to his lack of mobility and shocking positional sense, is wasteful in his passing, struggles to get forward to support the strikers yet plays with the air of a man who thinks he could walk in to the Barcelona midfield. His positives in a buccaneering Blackpool team last year were all we saw, his negatives didn’t matter, it was brave old Blackpool, who cared if they conceded four as long as they scored a few. Adam didn’t need to be disciplined, it wasn’t required, all he had to do was put in a shift and play to his strengths. And there is nothing wrong with that, but why did we feel the need to buy him? Was he really better than what we had? For my money he isn’t fit to lace Raul Meireles’s boots, a modern midfielder, fit as a butchers dog, who is economical in possession and worked brilliantly in tandem with Suarez and Lucas and was a constant outlet running beyond the defence. We sold him for half of what Henderson cost for crying out loud.
And what about Charlie Adam, a man who looks, and currently plays, like a Glasgow bouncer who has been on the lash for a week
And Stewart Downing? I’ve never read such shameless propaganda as that of Dalglish yesterday, saying that he was ‘better than I’d imagined, and he’s quicker than Carra thought?’ Stewart Downing has always been a nappy of a player, decent left peg, can cross and shoot, but has he ever put bums on seats and then had the people in those seats rise in excitement when the ball goes near him? And if he didn’t think he was that good, why did we sign him?
Because of statistics, that’s why. Our whole transfer policy has been based on statistics, Suarez and Enrique were no-brainers that most clubs would have signed and they have both improved the team, the rest have weakened it. Damien Comolli and his stats based system of buying players, that has been more miss than hit at his previous clubs, has snake-charmed his way into the club and been given authority at the most important juncture in the club’s recent history.
Stats can tell you a lot of things if they are manipulated in the right way, but football isn’t only about stats, it’s about desire, the bravery to be able to apply the technique in the tightest of situations and the biggest of games. Can any of you reading this, hand on heart, tell me when Downing, Adam, Henderson or Carroll have taken the game by the scruff of the neck, wrested the momentum back from the opposition and drove us home? Because isn’t that what world class players do? Influence others around them and make them raise their game? We’ve paid world class prices for mid-table players, while all around us teams have picked up quality for less. I’ve just watched the Senegal v Zambia game and Newcastle’s latest recruit, Papiss Cisse, showed more inn his 23 minutes on the pitch than any of the players mentioned have all season.
When Lucas and Suarez were both available, we looked a decent team probably lacking a couple of players, without them we are one dimensional and ineffective and look like we need four or five to come in.
I’ll tell you where we go, we sack Comolli and rely on a scouting network, we flog Henderson and send Adam as far away from the midfield as possible
I actually think Kenny is the right man to manage the club. We have shown in plenty of games this season that we can take on the top teams and often best them in possession, yet only Suarez and and Enrique have improved the team. The others have weakened it.
So now what, where do we go with new owners who have splashed the sort of cash we could’ve only dreamed of in the last ten years? I’ll tell you where we go, we sack Comolli and rely on a scouting network, we flog Henderson, send Adam as far away from the midfield as possible, given Downing the rest of the season to get it right and sell Andy Carroll, it’s the only thing to do.
I’d prefer to see Spearing in the midfield and players like Raheem Sterling and Suzo given the chance to play, I’d prefer to see Torres (who anyone with half a brain knows didn’t want to leave and was bullied out) and Meireles back but that won’t happen. At this rate we are going to be lucky to get into the Europa league and we can only rely on history for so long to attract top players. If Roy Hodsgon had been in charge yesterday he’d have been sacked. Dalglish has earned his right to be given more of a chance than any other man, but we need to get the next set of personnel changes bang on or we will be staring down the barrel of another false dawn.
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