Rodgers must look to strengthen this summer
That squad, however, finished only 8th in last season's Premier League, and though bad luck can be talked about until the proverbial cows return home, the truth is that that it's nowhere near where the fans would want it to be.
July 6th, 2012
As the final remnants of Euro 2012 discussion are swept away, focus inevitably turns back to the forthcoming Premier League season. For Liverpool that means a gnashing of teeth over the missed opportunity to sign Gylfi Sigurðsson and wondering how Brendan Rodgers’ philosophy will manifest itself upon the squad currently in place at Anfield.
That squad, however, finished only 8th in last season’s Premier League, and though bad luck can be talked about until the proverbial cows return home, the truth is that that it’s nowhere near where the fans would want it to be. Rodgers himself has admitted that additions will be made to the squad, but which areas most need the Northern Irishman’s attention? Here are the four areas of the Liverpool squad which, in my opinion, most readily need boosting.
Regardless of your opinion on Andy Carroll (and mine probably sits somewhere in the middle of the wide ranging view of Liverpool fans), there is little doubt that the Reds are in need of a striker this summer. Throughout last season the stats were relentlessly trotted out regarding the number of times they hit the woodwork and their shots to goals ratio, and a reliable goalscorer would have masked a number of other problems with the squad.
The club have been linked with countless strikers since the back end of last season from the fanciful – Fernando Llorente – to the more realistic – Luuk De Jong, but whomever does come in to fight for a place in the Liverpool frontline, they must bring goals with them.
With Rodgers favouring a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation, the wide forwards become of great importance. Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyer were consistently impressive performers for him during his time at Swansea, and suggest that the former Chelsea man likes to have pace out wide. With Dirk Kuyt gone, Maxi Rodríguez seemingly on his way, Craig Bellamy unreliable on the fitness front and Stewart Downing the black sheep of the current squad, quality out wide is in short supply.
At this point many will nudge you in the direction of Raheem Sterling, and while the 18 year old has shown promise, and one suspects will get a chance to impress under Rodgers, to heap such expectation and pressure on one so inexperienced could be considered unfair. One name consistently linked has been Wigan’s Victor Moses, a player who would seem to fit in the Rodgers mould but who is also reportedly grabbing the attention of Chelsea (because clearly Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Marko Marin aren’t enough). At least one, and a strong case could be made that two wide players of real quality are needed at Anfield this summer.
A significant problem for Liverpool last season was the loss to injury of Lucas Leiva. The Brazilian proved himself one of the best players at the club, and one of the best in his position in the league, before a knee injury sustained at Stamford Bridge in December ruled him out for the season. In his absence Jay Spearing proved an entirely inadequate backup, lacking both the technical skill and tactical nous that Lucas possesses, and as such reliable cover for the former Gremio man has to be accquired.
Mohamed Diamé was heavily linked before the sacking of Kenny Dalglish, and has since gone on to complete a move to West Ham, while there has been some rather hard to believe speculation around Manchester City’s Nigel De Jong. To my mind an experienced player would be preferable for the role, someone who isn’t still learning the game and the position, but examples of those available on the market are few and far between.
The move for Sigurðsson suggests that the Reds are in the market for an attacking midfielder, and one can season the reason why. Assuming that Alberto Aquilani and Joe Cole find new homes (an admittedly big assumption, given the wage they are on) then the club are left with the option of Steven Gerrard, whose fitness will likely always remain in question or Jonjo Shelvey, as yet to prove himself worthy of a regular starting place. A goal threat from midfield is a basic requirement for a successful club, and it may well be that having missed out on Sigurðsson, Rodgers moves on to other targets.
There are doubtless holes to fill in the squad, there are some who have suggested that competition at left back for José Enrique would be welcome though, fitness permitting, I am hopeful that Jack Robinson can provide that. But with the European Championships over and the players reporting for pre-season training, where Rodgers can make a proper assessment of their abilities, we will hopefully see the beginnings of movement in the market to edge the squad closer to where it needs to be.
Written by Simon Furnivall.