Our friends at the Liverpool Echo asked us for our thoughts and feelings on the current situation and Liverpool, and we duly obliged.
You can check out the original interview, here.
1) What are your thoughts on Liverpool’s defeat to West Ham? Were there positives to take from the performance?
Any defeat after Extra Time hurts, but part of Jurgen Klopp is surely breathing a sigh of relief. Liverpool will now have the weekend of February 20/21 off – giving the squad a week’s break between the FC Augsburg legs. Klopp would’ve selected a team of kids anyway, but it’s the added time on the training ground he’ll be delighted with. The lack of it has been his biggest gripe since arriving. In terms of positives, there’s three glaring ones: the return of Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi. Creativity, goals and pace – three things we’ve lacked in their absence.
2) Which of Liverpool’s youngsters impressed you? Have they staked a strong enough claim for a first team place?
The Kevin Stewart story is brilliant. This is a guy released by Spurs aged 20, who did nothing on loan at Cheltenham Town, Burton Albion or Swindon. Now, some fans are calling for him to be our starting Premier League anchorman. I wouldn’t go that far yet, but his progression is mighty impressive. Hopefully he can become our Francis Coquelin – who similarly floundered on loan in the lower leagues before suddenly taking a chance presented to him by Arsenal. I like Pedro Chrivella, but think he lacks the required bite to thrive centrally in England. Tiago Ilori is silky, but lacks defensive nous. Brad Smith’s great though… He’s really pushing Alberto Moreno for a start.
3) What are your thoughts on Christian Benteke’s poor form? Should Liverpool persevere?
I’m simply not surprised. Benteke’s £32.5m price-tag doesn’t make him a biologically different player to the striker that battled relegation with Aston Villa for three years. Yes he scored goals them (23, 11, 15), but he did so in a team playing entirely to his strengths, a team that did everything to maximise him. He was allowed to stand still on the edge of the box, in short. Liverpool can’t afford Benteke as a luxury, because he limits Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Adam Lallana and all our creative, technical players. Klopp’s actions in regards to Benteke speak louder than his words. With Daniel Sturridge injured for the past two months he’s barely played the Belgian. Let’s get rid in the summer and buy a quick striker who runs in behind.
4) Looking ahead to a busy week, should the Europa League be a priority for Liverpool now?
Totally. It’ll be better to finish 12th domestically and win the Europa League than pour our eggs into the Premier League basket and finish 5th. Not only for the glory, but for the cold, commercial reason of automatic Champions League qualification. Manchester City are currently 4th, 12 points ahead. We’re not catching them. There’s some good teams left in the Europa League, but a fully fit Liverpool squad, armed with the weapon of a ferocious Thursday night Anfield can match them.
5) What are your thoughts on the club’s response to the ticket situation?
Fair play. It took just five days for FSG to drastically change a plan which had obviously been drawn up and meticulously planned for months, solely down to one fan protest. You can’t help but be impressed by that. Granted, it’s probably a necessary PR mission from the owners but providing that results in fairer ticket prices, who cares? There’s rumours of a planned 77th minute applause during the next home game versus Augsburg as a thank you. I support that.
6) Any other business?
Not once this season have Daniel Sturridge, Coutinho and Roberto Firmino been on the pitch together at the same time. I checked this stat as it sounds so unbelievable, but it’s true – and ultimately defines our campaign. For all the debate around potential signings and a change of style, Liverpool’s primary issue is blindingly obvious: our three best players have been injured all season! Now we’ve got them simultaneously fit, Liverpool should be a totally different offensive animal from now until the end of the season.