Well, now the dust has settled in the week after the season that was, it’s time to take stock of the great achievement in securing the Premiership Runners-up berth and look forward to the season ahead. As is the case in every transfer window, rumours abound of numerous “targets” and “done deals” so let’s see what targets need to become reality and which deals need to be done if the team wishes to vie for Champion’s League success in 2014/15. On giving it some thought, I don’t see the need for a major overhaul. Brendan Rodgers need not reinvent the wheel.
Defence – well, where do we start? The only survivors in the back four from the error-ridden campaign that was last season look currently, to be Martin Skrtel, our league top-scorer (at the wrong end) at Centre back, Glen Johnson, who according to “reports” will be in his last season as there’s no sign of a renewal to his contract, and Jon Flanagan. It’s hardly the “who’s who” of footballing dreams, is it?
The latest speculation suggests Ashley Cole or 24 year-old Ryan Bertrand will come in at left-back. Cole, at 33 is not exactly what you’d call “one for the future” but a decent stop-gap whilst genuine quality becomes available. The talk of Ryan Bertrand, I’m not convinced of. I don’t see why Chelsea would sell him to Liverpool if he were that good and for me, the story remains wide of the mark. Chelsea loaned Liverpool Victor Moses last season and you can see why. Personally, I’d like to see Flanagan remain on the left and Andre Wisdom given his chance at right back following his successful loan spell with Derby County.
Cardiff Cuty’s Steven Caulker and Southampton’s Dejan Lovren have been mentioned as options at centre-back and for me these two are both decent options. It’s fair to say that Daniel Agger is not the player he once was for some reason – probably due to transfer speculation – and Mamadou Sakho has only impressed me when he has time on the ball. Put him under pressure and he’s all over the place. So Caulker and Lovren seem to be worthwhile propositions.
Midfield – the team is reasonably strong there but there’s clearly a lack of depth. Lucas Leiva looks as if he’ll probably leave. It would be a mistake to let him go because there’s no other cover for Steven Gerrard who is unfortunately, taxiing for take off into retirement. The Brazilian’s experience will prove invaluable and I’m not sure if Joe Allen or Jordan Henderson are quite ready to fill his spot in front of the back four. Talk of Adam Lallana is nice, but it’s already apparent that Southampton will price him out of a move so goodbye that idea. He’s not a defensive midfielder in any case and I don’t think the team needs him. In all likelihood Xherdan Shaqiri or Leverkusen’s Emre Can appear to be cheaper and better alternatives.
Attack – there’s definitely a need to strengthen here. Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez – our league top-scorer (at the right end), have carried the can for goals the entire season. Iago Aspas has been less than convincing and Rodgers should send him packing to the first club gullible enough to take him. He seemed a good buy initially but like many things in life, we thought it was a good idea at the time. For young Luis Alberto, I feel genuinely sorry because he has a lot of promise and would probably have done a better job than the aforementioned Moses if given the chance. Additions? Well the club can’t afford to blow the entire budget on back up for the SAS which is what it would probably take for a comparable talent so the task would have to fall to an older head. I always thought Jermain Defoe would be a good foil for the front pair and at 31 he’s still got a couple of good years left in him. As to whether he’d put up with sitting on the bench for 90% of the campaign remains to be seen.
So my preferred starting 11 for next season would be:
Mignolet/ Wisdom-Skrtel-Lovren- Flanagan/ Gerrard-Henderson-Can/ Sterlin- Sturridge-Suarez
Like I said, no major overhaul. Just the addition of some genuine ability. I’m not convinced that Rodgers needs to buy in seven or eight players as claimed in some quarters. The current incumbents on the bench need to be replaced with more capable players to give the boss more options.
Overall, as a wise bloke once said: it’s quality that matters. Not quantity.
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