Would it be an Error for Liverpool to Steer Clear of Transfers This Month?

At the turn of the millennium, most people who found women attractive were lusting after Ulrika Jonsson, who had shot to fame in the previous decade as the host of the TV show Gladiators. As men up and down the country admitted to fancying the Swedish television personality, it turned out that it was a man with wire-framed glasses and an incredibly high hairline that had been having an affair with her, much to the shock of the nation. The England manager at the time, Sven-Göran Eriksson had overseen the Three Lions’ 5-1 win over Germany as well as getting the national side to the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup, losing to eventual winners Brazil. He was a manager who clearly got the backing of his players, with many of those in the England setup threatening to strike when the media led a campaign against him ahead of the 2006 World Cup. Although he failed to win anything with a talented group of players, many liked him as a person and he has always been fondly thought of by many. That has made the recent news that he has terminal cancer a difficult thing to swallow.

It has also emerged that the Swede has always been a Liverpool supporter, expressing his unfulfilled dream of managing the club one day. It is fair to say that he’s unlikely to get to manage the team proper before he passes away, given the success of Jürgen Klopp in the role, but the recent groundswell of support for him to be able to manage the Liverpool Legends in an upcoming charity match is something that makes a lot of sense. You can just imagine the roar inside Anfield as he arrives in the dugout, getting to fulfil a version of not only his dream, but the dream of the majority of those of us who support the Reds. I would be amazed if it didn’t happen, given the extent to which we know how much the club loves to do the right thing in any given circumstance. It is an opportunity for an easy win for all concerned, ensuring that Eriksson once again gets to do what most people would love to do. Cancer is a bastard and the news that Eriksson is likely to die from it within the year is terribly sad. If something even remotely good can come from his news then it would absolutely be worth it.

Competing on all Fronts Isn’t Easy

As things currently stand, Liverpool are top of the Premier League and have one foot in the final of the League Cup. We have also progressed in the FA Cup, having knocked out one of the favourites in Arsenal and been handed a decent draw in the next round. Add to that the fact that we’re in the knockout stages of the Europa League and you can see why many feel as though this is a season full of promise from an LFC perspective. As we know from two seasons ago, though, competing on all fronts isn’t easy. Whilst I don’t imagine that this team will fall off a cliff in the same way that the previous one did should we fail to win either the Premier League or in Europe, there is no question that playing a huge amount of games takes it out of the players. One way that the manager can look to mitigate that is by ensuring that he has a squad that is big enough to cope with three games a week, which Jürgen Klopp appears to have figured out. Having previously been a proponent of having a small squad, the German seems to have realised that that isn’t always the most sensible approach.

Whilst Liverpool don’t play ‘heavy metal football’ under him any more, it is difficult to argue that we don’t ask a lot of our players. The manager is a firm believer in the idea of the counter-press being the most important playmaker in any footballing side, so players have to run an awful lot in order to ensure that they give themselves the best chance of winning. It is a well trotted out notion that you feel less tired when you’re winning, but the reality is that winning matches doesn’t suddenly mean that you have actually run fewer miles than you have. Having a squad capable of challenging on all fronts and keeping going right until the end of the season is the only way of mitigating for the number of miles that players have to run in a Jürgen Klopp team. It is why many of us would like Liverpool to at least consider making a signing or two this month. There is a league title to be won, but there are other trophies that don’t have to be sacrificed in order to accommodate it. Having more legs could be the difference between winning silverware and not.

Injuries Could be our Undoing

Whilst I would love a few more players in order to cope with the amount of running that the manager asks of his players, there is also the fact that injuries continue to be a problem that could yet de-rail our season. Thiago Alcantara appears to be more of a myth than a man at this stage, whilst Joel Matip’s absence is likely to be felt most the next time Ibrahima Konaté picks up one of his semi-regular injuries. Yes, Jarell Quansah has been a revelation and it is brilliant to have him to turn to when we need to, answering a lot of the problems that we’ve had at the back. He is young, though, and, much like other options from the Academy, asking too much of him too soon is likely to push his body to the bring. Matip would need to be replaced in the summer anyway, so bringing forward the replacement for him makes complete sense to me. The issue, of course, is that teams aren’t always keen of letting their players go in the middle of the season, but that is something that the Reds can find a way around thanks to the likes of over-spending and triggering release clauses.

In his pre-match press conference ahead of the League Cup tie against Fulham, Pep Lijnders suggested that the club would turn to the Academy rather than bring in new signings. In many ways, that is an approach I’m totally behind. I am not and have never been a transfer hawk, desperate for the club to sign player after player rather than work with what they’ve got. I would sooner see every player in the Liverpool team be one that has come through the Academy system then signed in from the outside, but I’m also a realist. Alisson Becker is the best goalkeeper in the world and he’s assisted by the best centre-back in the world in the form of Virgil van Dijk. Both players needed to be bought in and had a huge impact on the team overall. We are currently asking a huge amount of Joe Gomez, for example, who has had injury problems of his own in the past. Do we really want to keep pushing him to the point that he breaks down again, rather than looking to the market for a player who can help us out in the long-term? There’s a league title to be won and three other trophies on top. Do what we can to win them all.

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