Following the second weekend of the Premier League season I wrote a rather scathing piece questioning Liverpool’s progression in the transfer market.
The response was quite incredible with many Liverpool fans vehemently disagreeing with what I said, some were willing to offer me their counter arguments, whilst others made statements such as: “After the sh*gging we gave Spurs on Sunday this article makes you look like the naive tw*t you are”.
Another asked me to review this article in eight months time to see if: “your original words are eating themselves." Well seeing as we are approaching the halfway stage of the season, I’ve decided to evaluate my embryonic predictions and find out if I really am a ‘naive tw*t’.
The first point I noted after their away trip to the Etihad Stadium was their lack of a cutting edge in the final third. It certainly hasn’t improved over the last 16 league games with summer signings Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert netting a spectacular total of one league goal between them.
I will at this stage mention the elephant in the room regarding Liverpool's goalscoring exploits this season, Mr Daniel Sturridge. As many optimistic Scousers will tell you, having a player of his ability missing for the majority of the season would hinder any team.
However, the reality is that injuries occur and that is why you have a strong squad of players to deal with them. This adage has a depressingly ironic feeling to it, given the idea behind the structure of their transfer business was to boost their strength in depth.
Brendan Rodgers said as much in an interview with the Liverpool Echo about injuries in early September: “This is why it was so important to strengthen the squad during the transfer window. We have options now and that’s key for us.
"We had a great window in terms of the calibre of players we brought in. We signed young players with quality and some with more experience as that’s what we needed.
"We were very specific about the types we were bringing in and they have all adapted very well. We did some really good business”.
So according to Brendan, Liverpool have strength (in depth), options, a good calibre of player, quality, experience and new signings that have already adapted very well (remember he said all this in September).
Well, unfortunately Mr Rodgers, it appears that the responses levelled at me, could quite as easily have been levelled at you with naive claims like that.
Going back to their attacking artillery, frankly it was obvious that Rickie Lambert’s dream move would fall flat. A 32-year-old lacking pace and experience at the highest level was always going to struggle when being thrust into Champions League football.
The main problem and one that has also been evident with Mario Balotelli, is that both men do not fit naturally into Liverpool’s style of play.
Lambert was the focal point of a superb Southampton team, all of whom knew his game inside out, but do Liverpool play to his strengths? Not at all, which is why you find yourself staring at the screen saying: “God he really is slow isn’t he.”
The failure to effectively replace Suarez could be Rodgers' greatest regret, in many ways he has already admitted his shortcomings here by allowing fringe forward Fabio Borini game time this season.
Changing tack slightly I’ll move from their fallibility in attack to that of their defence. The signing of Dejan Lovren was seen at £20 million as a decent bit of business, I of course had my own cynical view on it, suggesting that he was no better than the centre halves they already possessed.
Well it seems like I got that one right too with the Croatian being something of a symbolic representation of all that’s been wrong with the Anfield club this season. His inconsistent and sloppy performances saw him dropped from the first team in November, and with Skrtel, Sakho and the rejuvenated Kolo Toure all getting game time, Lovren has made the Premier League’s most accident-prone centre half trio a quartet.
The basis of my original article was that Liverpool hadn’t made a distinct progression in terms of their squad, considering they would want to at the very least match what was achieved last season.
This theme reverberates throughout the squad with Emre Can, Adam Lallana and Lazar Markovic, not one of them has taken Liverpool to a new level and only Lallana has shown signs of justifying his £25 million fee.
It’s still a ludicrous amount of money for a player I would describe as ‘ok’ and no better than Philippe Coutinho. To be fair to Can he has hardly featured due to injury, as for Markovic, I just don’t see it, apart from a playing style that resembles a headless chicken I cannot fathom why Rodgers would fork out just under £20 million for a player whose record at Benfica was average at best.
Something I failed to mention back in August was the state of Liverpool’s goalkeeper Simon Mignolet who has come in for some harsh but deserved criticism this season, culminating in being dropped and replaced by professional benchwarmer Brad Jones.
For me Liverpool got this one wrong from the off, initially by purchasing Mignolet instead of his number two at Sunderland Kieran Westwood who I believe to be the most underrated keeper in England.
Secondly, why allow a keeper of Pepe Reina’s quality to leave? Admittedly his performance levels did dip towards the end of his Anfield career, but the fact that both Napoli and Bayern Munich have deemed him suitable for their squads over the last two seasons speaks volumes.
The harrowing reality for Liverpool fans is that they’ve gone from legitimate title challengers and potential Champions League regulars to a upper mid-table side in the space of one summer.
I was a big admirer of Brendan Rodgers, firstly at Swansea and then in his first two seasons at Liverpool. However his deficiencies are starting to show, both his transfer acumen and his ability to produce farcical statements should worry Liverpool fans.
What you have here is a delusional manager who is a million miles away from the philosophical thinker and tactical genius that many thought had been discovered in south Wales.
Rather than concluding with a massive I TOLD YOU SO, in the knowledge that there are another 19 games to play I will leave you with a recent quote from Rodgers (made after the 2-2 draw with Arsenal) which makes you wonder where his head is right now: "[It was] a performance that was better than when we won here last year 5-1”.
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