Why Didn’t Liverpool Strengthen More In The Summer

It was a lot more fun when Liverpool were brilliant. Watching Manchester City dismantle Manchester United yesterday afternoon, I was able to take no joy in seeing our rivals humbled so easily. Before kick-off, I wasn’t quite sure who I wanted to win. On the one hand, City have been our title rivals in recent seasons and them dropping points has been seen as a good thing in the past. Equally, as much as I hate United, I have a lot more respect for how they made themselves successful than I’ll ever have for Sportswash FC. In the past few seasons, therefore, it was easy to cheer on the Red Devils, knowing that they were never going to be any of our business. Now, though, we’ve dropped off a cliff to such an extent that it is City that aren’t going to be any of our business and a win for them made it more likely that we’ll be able to finish above United. What a sad state of affairs that is for a team that has been going toe-to-toe with Pep Guardiola’s cheats for years.

When we could compete for the biggest prizes and laugh at Manchester United, life couldn’t have been better. We missed out on two titles because City’s financial doping has gone un-challenged, but we were the only side taking the fight to them. That very clearly isn’t going to be the case this time around and I therefore find myself hoping that they run away with the title so that maybe the rest of the league will do something about it. The Premier League is becoming just as bad as the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 in terms of it being a one-team division, which is unlikely to change unless a decision is taken to do something about City’s unregulated spending. It is a drum I will keep on banging and it is one of the greatest shames of English football that Jürgen Klopp and his phenomenal team haven’t won the silverware that they’ve deserved because of the goings on at the Etihad. Of course, we chose not to strengthen this summer, but why was that choice made?

We Nearly Won A Quadruple

It is such an easy point to make, but it is worth making nonetheless: Liverpool nearly won every trophy that there was to win last season. Barring some atrocious referring decisions in our matches against Tottenham Hotspur, we probably win the league to add that to the FA Cup and League Cup that we’d already won. We all know about the events in Paris before, during and after the Champions League final, which unquestionably had an affect on the players, yet it still took a goalkeeping masterclass from Thibaut Courtois to stop the Reds from winning their seventh European Cup. The physical and mental exertion on the players cannot be overstated, which would have been the case even if we’d won all four trophies. The fact that we missed out on the biggest two meant that the players were devastated in addition to being physically exhausted. Yet from the point of view of the managerial team, the fact that they nearly did it shows how phenomenal this side is.

When you nearly win every trophy that there is to win and it is sheer misfortunate that has stopped you from doing so, most people would be hard-pushed to suggest that you need a complete overhaul of the playing squad. This manager has repeatedly shown that he is all about having loyalty in the players that brought him to the dance, so he was hardly likely to sanction a massive fire-sale of players and stock replacements being brought in. It has never been his style and isn’t the way to success regardless, just ask Nottingham Forest. When he and his team were looking at the squad this summer, they won’t have seen gaping holes that needed to be fixed but rather minor tweaks that could be dealt with gradually. When we defeated Manchester City in the Community Shield, they’ll have felt that we were well-placed to go again. What they didn’t account for, though, was that mental and physical exhaustion that we’re seeing play out in real time.

We Have Specific Targets

Ask some Liverpool supporters why we’re seeing what we’re seeing on the pitch this season and their answer will be to do with FSG and a lack of investment. I’m not entirely sure I agree with that argument, though I can see why people make it. According to reports, the club was willing to pay around €100 million for Aurelien Tchouameni. We did pay an amount that could rise to that for Darwin Núñez. The idea that we won’t spend money doesn’t stand up to even the slightest bit of scrutiny, albeit we do need to balance the books with sales. That, though, is how a good club should be run and I’m not entirely sure that you can criticise Manchester City for their sports-washing activities whilst simultaneously being annoyed that the Reds aren’t spending money at a rate of knots. Manchester United have shown that spending money along doesn’t lead to success, with Liverpool’s joy in the market in recent years demonstrating that patience pays.

The problem is, our bar might be too high. Are there dozens of midfielders that are better than Naby Keïta from a technical point of view? I have no idea, but there are certainly plenty that would actually be able to make it on to the pitch. Are there countless defensive midfielders that are at the same level as Fabinho Tavares in his pomp? Probably not, yet his pomp hasn’t been seen in a Liverpool shirt for some months now. Do the sorts of players that we’d have been able to sign have the same level of professionalism and dedication as James Milner? Few footballers do, but I imagine that they’d be able to turn quicker than the Titanic. The point I’m making is that I do understand why first Michael Edwards and now Julian Ward have been specific in the targets that they’ve gone for, but I’m not convinced that it has always been the right move. Waiting for Virgil van Dijk proved to be the right decision, but if we miss out on Jude Bellingham we’ll have waited for nothing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *