The Squad Depth Dilemma

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From ‘we have a huge wage-bill’ and ‘there’s just too much deadwood’ and ‘don’t we have plenty of midfielders?’ to ‘this squad lacks depth’. We get the entire spectrum of these ‘reasonings’ alternatively, and equally.

I understand there’s a difference between ‘deadwood’ and ‘squad depth’ but am I to believe that a Maxi Rodriquez wouldn’t have added depth to the squad? May be not in terms of the salary he was drawing but he would have added depth to the squad nonetheless and who can ascertain the value of 3-points dropped at KC Stadium? The ‘merit payments‘ from Premier League mean that Liverpool lost almost £800k by finishing 7th and not 6th; and almost £2.3m by not finishing 4th. And that’s just from the Premier League. Needless to mention the extra £40m or that don’t come in from the Champions League revenue (but that would also mean more players at higher wages so we cannot directly compare). The merit payment difference between 4th and 7th alone would have covered at least half of Maxi’s reported wages but, more importantly, would have covered both Suso and Borini in entirety!

It is not that we don’t know how well we’ve played upfront with two strikers – Sturridge came in January and Borini was loaned in August. We’ve also known all along how fragile Sturridge is. So why loan Fabio? Well, that’s the difference between where we are and where we should be. With no European football whatsoever, there was hardly any assured football for him.

Had we played Europa, we would need plenty like Fabio to pitch in and even then we wouldn’t have kept the first choice XI out of Europa and even then we wouldn’t be assured of any success in the tournament – one bad night (Zenit) and it all counts to nothing. Even if we did go all the way, the financial reward is nowhere near the cost needed to participate in these tournaments – a £5m extra revenue only supports 3 or 4 fringe players. Since we don’t have Europa, players like Fabio Borini get limited opportunities and since they are younger, with greater ambitions, they want to play more often to prove their worth not just in the team they are but also to the football fraternity not least to the national coach. This is where slightly ‘older’ players do well as backups.

Having said that, we bought Iago Aspas (26 years old) probably as a back up to ‘SAS’ and since he was given the number 9 shirt, I am inclined to believe that he may not be all that bad. What is he in the team for if he does not replace an striker – not even for a part of the 90 minutes? The other ‘older’ player we bought, Kolo Toure, who was supposed to be a back-up and be the ‘Carra like influence’ in the dressing room, plays in place of arguably one of the best players in our side – Daniel Agger! Kolo is a good player but at best, he should be alongside Agger, and not in place of him. I am not knowledgable enough to know what’s wrong with our defence. All I can understand is that we were good defensively in 11-12 but not since. The only thing that’s changed? Steve Clarke.

And then we have Jordan Henderson. I, and probably the whole of LFC community, absolutely love players like him and Dirk Kuyt – who give their 110% on the field every single time they pull on the shirt. But I also remember the famous words used when he was sent away – that unfortunately for him he plays in a position where we have a certain Steven Gerrard. However, Steven Gerrard isn’t playing as the CAM anymore. I suppose there are very few who can be better than Stevie at CAM for Liverpool and Jordan doesn’t make that list for me yet. From what I understand, Stevie, however below par, is deemed to be better than Henderson and Allen at DM and Lucas alone can’t be the single DM that Rodgers so passionately spoke about a year or so ago. That begs the question – why didn’t we sign another DM in the summer?

Again, I suppose the answer lies in the number of competitions we are participating in. Lucas and another DM wouldn’t be justified if we are participating in Premier League alone. Younger players don’t want to just sit around and wait for someone to get injured to get a chance. And older players won’t stay or sign on reduced wages.

How do we get the balance? We need more games to play in so the bench is kept warm enough. And we need the reward from participating in these tournaments to be better than the cost of participating in them. We need Europe, and not just the Europa kind. Oh, and a defensive coach.