Many teams in Liverpool’s situation would welcome the January transfer window as a means to address squad issues, but if this was to happen, it will have to be done the hard way.
Rafa has declared on several occasions that he had agreed with Christian Purslow to work together in dividing the priorities between the need to build a winning squad and also to look at decreasing the Club’s financial liabilities. It may be possible that for someone like Rafa, who had been complaining of not having enough funds to build the squad he needed, signing a Stg 4.5 million a year contract may have induced him to compromise and accept this way forward.
The elimination from the Champions League after the group stages further complicated matters as a possible downfall of fresh cash became suddenly unavailable. There is no doubt that in August these funds had been taken into consideration for possible changes in January, given that passing the group stages at the time seemed a formality.
To buy, Rafa has to sell. But who will we sell? To sell a player and fetch a decent price for him you have to put him on show, meaning first team playing time. A clear example is Dossena. The Italian almost left the Reds in the summer, but the deal fell through when Napoli president De Laurentis moved away from the deal. In the process, Dossena has also lost his place in the national squad because of limited playing time. The point I am making is what is his value now? Who will want to but him off us? We do not need to loan out players, we need to sell.
Rumours are circulating that some senior players may be venting off some frustration at Rafa’s conservative tactics. These rumours have not been substantiated but truth be told, we are not fielding an offensive squad. You will notice that the defensive line rarely exceeds half way up our side of the pitch and when we field Mascherano, Lucas, Gerrard, Kuyt and Benayoun we are actually playing with five midfielders (two holding, three attacking) but only one real striker. We are not making most of the width of the pitch upfront and our fullbacks are more concerned at covering their counterparts than foraying forward to get the ball inside the danger area.
We all know we need to change something. To buy we have to sell, to sell you need Clubs that want the players you intend to offload. Players will not come to Liverpool to warm the bench. Johnson chose Liverpool because he was guaranteed a starting spot, and Aquilani came because he was promised to replace Alonso. Kyrgiacos came for the honour of wearing the Liverpool shirt. The players that come want to play! Ruud van Nistelroy, just to make an example, will prefer to sit in the warm benches of the Bernabeu than the frigid ones at Anfield!
My view remains that when Alonso left the team, it was time to revise the whole gameplan. Mascherano was to be retained as the main holding midfielder, and Stevie needed to sacrifice himself and come down to direct play. Alonso needed to be replaced with a quality Stg 20 million striker to partner Torres game in, game out in a conventional 4-4-2 formation.
I don’t believe Rafa intended to replace Alonso with Lucas, not even with Aquilani. But we have been trying to play the same game and it has just not worked. Something needs to be done, and fast!