This is an article by a very good Liverpudlian sports journalist called Gareth Roberts (original article here) in which he describes what is probably the most common point of view amongst the Liverpool fanbase right now. He writes as a supporter but without the hysterics, always a good thing, and I found myself in agreement with pretty much all of it:
Liverpool are just an injury or two away from regretting their January transfer business
by Gareth Roberts
Couldn’t Jurgen Klopp and the team around him not see how potentially precarious the squad situation is?
In 13 games’ time, another Premier League season will be over. The wondering and worrying will go on hold for the summer and the table will no longer be a subject of speculation.
With Manchester City seemingly home and hosed in top spot, for Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal, the make up of positions two to six in that table will be crucial.
Second to fourth places are now, in modern football, deemed a success. No longer does the infamous Bill Shankly of “if you are first you are first, if you are second you are nothing” apply.
Finish fifth or sixth though, and, as a manager of any of the “Big Six” you’ve failed by modern standards and scrutiny will follow.
You’ve failed because without the Champions League, your club is now a harder sell. It’s harder to buy players and harder to keep them. And harder to convince that your “project”, “five-year plan”, “vision” or whatever the current corporate buzzword of choice may be, will be bearing any fruit anytime soon.
The Champions League has become the be all and end all for a “big club”.
In these stark terms Liverpool have failed too many times. The last time The Reds clocked up consecutive qualifications for the Champions League was 2009.
In the eight seasons that followed only two – including the current one – have featured games in the old European Cup.
Last season’s last day grab of fourth was heralded as progress under Jürgen Klopp and the current third spot means The Reds are well placed to repeat the feat.
And yet. But. What if? Doubts are part of the game – particularly when it has played out contrary to the dream scenario so many times in the past.
Many Liverpool supporters – myself included – are fearful of the consequences of a transfer window now closed, which while boosting Liverpool defensively with the record signing of Virgil van Dijk has weakened Klopp’s attacking hand for the run-in with the departures of Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge.
While Liverpool have thrilled with goals galore so many times this season, a thread of frustration has also been sown by eight league draws coupled with two cup exits.
Many of those draws have pocketed points for sides sitting deep and working hard; the thinking being that opening up and going toe to toe only plays into the hands of Liverpool’s lock pickers.
In those situations, you need your difference makers and as many of them – lads who earn the big money because they can find a way; produce from nothing, conjure some magic.
Coutinho was nicknamed The Little Magician with good reason and his knack of picking a pass early coupled with increasingly trained eye for goal is what persuaded Barcelona to part with the big bucks.
Even in a season when his application was under scrutiny, he had managed 12 goals and eight assists for Liverpool before he headed for Spain.
Now a big chunk of those big bucks lie dormant from a sporting sense, unspent, and cannot win Liverpool a football match for the rest of this season – one that features a Champions League last 16 match versus Porto and an incredibly tight race for top four.
Liverpool’s first 11 remains strong, and was too strong for Manchester City at Anfield. But while those around Liverpool did business late on in recognition of the battle ahead, The Reds seemingly sat silently and watched. Priced out and seeking perfection in the make up of a deal.
We’ve had the inevitable PR that protects any and every decision a football club makes. Klopp could spend but chose not to. Fees were too high. Leipzig wouldn’t bow on an early deal for Naby Keita. And so on.
Yet the feeling remains – Liverpool are an injury or two away from starting Danny Ings, Dominic Solanke or both. Neither has a recent goal record of note and both represent a significant step down from the remaining three that helped to form the now defunct “Fab Four”.
Are we really to believe the manager didn’t fancy an upgrade or two? Can he – and the team around him – not see how potentially precarious the squad situation is?
Terms like “value” are highly subjective. Jose Mourinho has found “value” in Alexis Sanchez. Arsenal have found value in £350,000 per week for Mesut Ozil and Liverpool found it in £75m for van Dijk.
The proof in the “value” of deciding some options were too expensive in the window just gone will come in May. The decision-makers could of course be proved right. Liverpool have talented players and are capable of anything. But is the depth of the squad sufficient? And what price missing out again?
If it blows up in their faces and fifth or sixth is the end result, the questions will be asked: why didn’t you do more in January? Why didn’t you prepare for the inevitable departure of Coutinho? Why wasn’t a replacement lined up for now? And was a couple of million saved on Daniel Sturridge’s wages really worth it?
It is possible to support and question. It is OK to cheer on but wonder. Fans will show fear and fury around because they care. Liverpool fans care perhaps too much at times.
But you either get that, embrace that and understand it, or you don’t.
Kenny Dalglish once summed it up so well: “The people who come to watch us play, who love the team and regard it as part of their lives, would never appreciate Liverpool having a huge balance in the bank. They want every asset we possess to be wearing a red shirt, and that's what I want too.”
Klopp and co have chosen to back what they’ve got, keep the chequebook closed and crack on. Supporters now have no choice but to do the same. Here’s to the roulette wheel landing on red come May.