It’s pretty much all you hear, in the papers, social media or Brendan Rodgers press conferences. Liverpool have no squad depth, they can’t possibly compete for the title until there is heavy investment etc etc etc.
I for one think there is a bit of a myth to this, maybe even naivety by many to some degree. Maybe in modern football we have been brainwashed in to thinking that you have to spend like Chelsea or Manchester City and have expensive recruits sat on the bench or in the squad before you can think of competing. I am not so sure.
Big squads don’t necessarily deliver great teams. Look at Manchester Utd, they have a huge squad, full of players of similar capability, no combination of which seems to move the club forward. Yes Chelsea and City have massive squads and are top of the league or there about, however most don’t have the resources to accommodate or move on players like they can.
So what do Liverpool need to do, certainly not invest in a big squad of average players like Utd, and they simply cannot invest like Chelsea or City in players to sit idle week after week. What Liverpool have to do is very little, this may sound like a strange move but I believe it to be the right one.
Liverpool have a cohesive, energetic and emerging team, a blend of youth, pace and talent. It’s the smaller squad that works for them not against them. The first eleven is capable on the day of beating anyone, over a season the squad is almost good enough to hit a title push hard.
If you look at what is available to Rodgers, the depth is there to see. Not only has he maintained a top 4 push all season, he’s done so having to cope with many injuries to key players and the end of the Suarez ban for biting. He has lost such talents as Suarez, Coutinho, Agger, Sakho, Enrique, Johnson, Flannagan and Sturridge this season, all of these players missed a number of games, not just one or two. They have had to be replaced and the results have not unduly suffered.
The reason why Liverpool have coped with such an injury list is simple, the squad is better and stronger than most people, certainly outside Liverpool and it’s supporters see. There is depth, in most positions, enough to certainly push on. If you look right now, after a sensational thrashing of Arsenal there was no Enrique, Sakho, Agger or Lucas, all excellent players, however Flannagan, Skrtel, Toure and Cissokho all did just fine, as did Gerrard and Henderson in the midfield axis.
Don’t get me wrong, the squad will need improving in the summer, but only tweaks not wholesale changes. A good back up goalkeeper, a creative central attacking midfielder who can push into wide areas and another striker for competition.
Players will leave, Johnson, Aspas and even Agger may move on this summer. However if Rodgers continues to let the young talent blossom, this can be absorbed, it’s worked so far with Flannagan and Sterling, it’s time for Kelly, Ibe and Alberto to step up their progression, adding in Suso, IIori and Borini, fresh from good loan spells. This makes the squad significantly stronger and in my view good enough to challenge anyone.
Liverpool may not have large cash reserves but what they have got is a superb group of players, blending well with cover in almost all positions. Spending wisely, not heavily is the key.
So, if you take a closer look, the Liverpool squad is in pretty good shape, get those injured players fit and it’s a squad strong enough to challenge, certainly for Champions League and maybe more?
By Chris Hutchins