Four players that could bring Champions League football back to Liverpool
Liverpool set to miss out on Champions League football again this season
Liverpool seems to have fallen by the wayside in world football in recent years. The team that used to dominate the league, winning 18 league trophies, will now be lucky to finish in seventh place this season.
Even four years ago in the 2008-09 season the Merseyside club were only just beaten to the title by archrivals Manchester United, however since then there has been a steady decline at Anfield.
Some fans will say that going from seventh-to-sixth-to-eighth isn’t a steady decline, but I think it’s clear in which direction they’re moving.
Sure, they’ve won three out of their six Premier League matches, but the Liverpool of old would have won at least four, probably five considering the opposition they’ve had.
Arsenal are a shadow of the team they once were, so a draw against them just isn’t good enough.
Losing to West Bromwich Albion is an embarrassment for Brendan Rogers, who at least managed to beat his old club Swansea.
Clearly something is missing from this crop of Liverpool players of present. I’m not talking about superstars, like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Radamel Falcao or Neymar, because any one of these players could single handedly win games for the club and change a mid to low table team into a top four challenging side - just look at Tottenham Hotspur - and I don’t think that it’s simply the departure of Fernando Torres that has implemented this, because the 7 goals from 28 appearances that he’s made in the league this season wouldn’t change Liverpool's position.
The Liverpool fans that grew up watching Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness, Sami Hyypia, Alan Hansen and even Michael Owen will surely look at the current crop of players and say they’re not good enough.
Look at Steven Gerrard, who has scored- and can score great goals. You’d be hard pushed to find a better goal scored than his goal against Olympiakos in the Champions League in 2005, and players like that don’t just lose the ability to hit a ball – as we can see in United’s stalwarts.
Then there's Luis Suarez, I’m not sure any of Liverpool’s forward’s have ever had the ball skills the Uruguayan has.
Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique are two fine sets of full-back (some will say Johnson's more of a winger, playing at full back).
It’s true players like Jordan Henderson and Martin Kelly are quite fresh, but they show some of the attributes that the great English players had in their youths, like Paul Gascoigne, Gary Neville and even David Beckham.
And it’s also true that players like Jamie Carragher are getting past it a bit, but I think he’s still in the top 10 central defenders in the Premier League as he’s clever enough to anticipate the majority of striker runs.
However, not all these players can get Liverpool back to the glory days, so what do they need to change their fortune?
One of the key differences between the 2008-09 team and the current squad at Liverpool is Vision. When Benitez was in the manager’s chair, Xabi Alonso ruled the pitch noting when Torres was running up the flank, or that Gerrard was at the edge of the box, and hitting pinpoint precision balls to his teammates that they could run onto.
Alonso’s not coming back, but there are other players that show such vision and I think Parker is definitely one of them.
It’s true that he’s slightly one footed, as he turns defenders by pivoting, but his strength makes up for that which we can see when he manages to turn those defenders, and he’s got vision. Look at the way Bale has flourished with him pulling the strings in midfield for spurs.
Tottenham fans will scream that moving from Spurs to Liverpool would be a huge step down, and to an extent their right, but what Liverpool really need right now is someone with the vision that Parker so often showed at West Ham - and continues to show at Spurs.
Chris Brunt also shows that vision that Parker has and could be a great signing for Liverpool. He’s not got the best tackling record in the league, but Liverpool have players that can tackle, what Liverpool need (which they’re not getting from Gerrard or Suarez) is a player with vision. And Brunt’s got bags of it.
Another key difference in the squad since 2009 is their forwards. It’s not that Suarez and Daniel Sturridge don’t have the pace or skill that Torres or Crouch had, it’s that their movement isn’t as good.
Sturridge has been a breath of fresh air for Liverpool but in comparison to Odemwinge he’s static. Someone that can run the line like Odemwinge would make a huge difference to Liverpool’s attacking. There are not many players better than him at running the line and running onto balls; especially not outside of Manchester.
Toure is still playing like a young man, he’s a few years younger than Carragher is, and he’s out of a contract at the end of this season. His prowess as a defender has been lauded since he joined the Premier League and went on to be part of Arsenal’s 'Invincibles'.
He’s won multiple trophies, ten years apart, and putting him next to Agger in that back four could really sure up Liverpool’s defence.
With three of these four players, as well as their current squad Liverpool could create a strong team that could be back challenging for the Champion’s League places and then would make enough money to buy some of the super stars, like Bale or Falcao.
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