Has Liverpool’s Hierarchy Learnt From Past Mistakes?

I’m 37 this year. I reckon I’ve been watching Liverpool in a focussed manner for about twenty-five of those years and have been following football religiously for at least twenty of them. I have never and would never pretend that my opinion is somehow more valid than somebody else’s and I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that disagree with pretty much everything I’ve ever said. After all, there are people that think the fact that the British won two World Wars when fighting alongside fellow Europeans is a solid argument for leaving the EU, so it’s fair to say that there’ll always be someone that disagrees with you. One thing I do know after having watched the Reds for that long, though, is that the club has often made the same mistakes over and over again. One such mistake has been to depend upon the name of the club to be enough to attract world class talent, which is something we’re seeing Manchester United play out in real time.

There are others, though, with one of the most glaringly obvious being a failure to improve all aspects of the club that we can whilst we’re in a position of strength. It’s easy to look towards the playing squad, and I’ll be doing just that shortly, but when the club was seen as the most successful and important in the world at the end of the 1980s and start of the 1990s, next to nothing was done to improve facilities at Anfield. Manchester United, by contrast, spent large amounts of money to make Old Trafford one of the most impressive football stadiums in world football. Yes, Fenway Sports Group have done their best to improve the ground recently, but the capacity of around 54,000 is still well short of United’s nearly 75,000, so they need to be looking to increase the Anfield Road End Stand and then do the same thing with the Kop. Let’s not repeat past mistakes and rest on our laurels.

The Squad Needs To Be Improved

We’re currently the best team in Europe and will almost certainly challenge for the Premier League title in the 2019-2020 campaign, so it would be churlish to suggest that the first team is somehow poor. It is a team built in the image of Jürgen Klopp, with players knowing their roles, happy to fight and press and intelligent enough to mix things up mid-match if it feels as though things aren’t working for us without needing the instruction to do so from the bench. It would also be ridiculous not to point out that we did well last season in terms of goals from substitutes, with obvious ones being the double from Xherdan Shaqiri that sank the Red Devils at Anfield, Gini Wijnaldum’s brace in the Champions League semi-final and the the most famous pair from Divock Origi in the Merseyside derby and at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Yet we also have to admit that the squad isn’t anywhere near the level of Manchester City’s. Not many can make that claim, of course, and we all know that the Cityzens almost certainly haven’t exactly been above board with the financial dealings they’ve used to amass that squad. Even so, we basically had to intentionally sacrifice the FA Cup and League Cup in order to battle on in the Premier League and Champions League because the drop off in certain areas of the squad is just far too severe to be able to cope with playing games on multiple levels. I’m always an advocate of buying players, so of course I’m going to bang the drum of doing so this summer, but surely even the most self-proclaimed ‘massive Red’ would admit that strengthening the squad is crucial to further success.

We Need To Get Rid Of The Deadwood

Being successful simultaneously makes it easier and harder to get rid of the players that shouldn’t really be at the club any longer. On the one hand, those players will want to stick around in the hope that they’ll be able to pick up some more winners’ medals at some point in the future, yet on the other hand even the weakest of players look stronger and more attractive to buying clubs by association with our success. Now is the time to remove the deadwood from the squad, therefore, and bring in better players to replace them. The club should always be trying to improve in every way possible, with changes to the playing squad being the most obvious example of how that can be done. Part of the problem, however, is that the manager might not see the same players as being ‘deadwood’ as the rest of us. We know, for example, that he absolutely adores Adam Lallana and won’t countenance his departure unless he agitates for a move.

We’ll all have different opinions on which players constitute ‘deadwood’, too. For my money, the following would be on the list for a variety of reasons:

  • Simon Mignolet
  • Dejan Lovren
  • Ben Woodburn
  • Adam Lallana
  • Loris Karius
  • Nathaniel Clyne

Moving them on not only gives us more wage money to play with but also gives us a few spaces in the squad that we can then fill with better or more suitable players. Simon Mignolet obviously isn’t a terrible goalkeeper, for example, but his style of play doesn’t suit the way we’re currently set up. Him moving to somewhere he can play regularly football and being replaced by someone who is will make us infinitely stronger. Nathaniel Clyne is already practically out of the door, so let’s send him the rest of the way and bring someone in who can play on both sides as a fullback, thereby improving us. We’re really close to being a genuinely superb team, but it’s important that we don’t make the same mistakes of the past and fail to take advantage of the club’s current high stock.

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