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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.

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Comments

  • It all depends on not getting injuries to key players.  I shall be wincing every time a tackle goes in and every time a player goes down between now and the end of the season.  I'm not for spending silly money on mediocre players but I'm disappointed Sturridge was allowed to go out on loan.  It leaves us very short of proven attacking options.

    • The more I think of it, the idea of keeping Daniel Sturridge seems an easy one but the reality is if we kept him, which Daniel Sturridge would we have kept? the one who can turn the game with just one chance or the one who's always injured.  His recent thigh injury during the key Xmas to new year period sealed it for me, that we simply we cannot rely on him even to be in a support role for the squad.   Whereas, Danny Ings has been fit, showed he can score in U23s but going from there to the PL is another proposition altogether.  If he was the quality backup we needed, it would have been proved in the Swansea game by him scoring his late chance and stealing us a point.  Solanke has shown promise but promise only. It's squad depth and midfield quality that concerns me as head into the business end of the season.  The base built from September to January was with Sturridge and Coutinho in the team.  We don't have them anymore but our rivals have improved. hopefully it doesn't hurt us too badly and we can hold on to a CL spot.

  • Disregarding the goalkeepers, I think we've pretty much got proven cover for every position apart from for Firmino at number nine and that's where my worries lie. Don't get me wrong, I like Danny Ings and he deserves his chance but if Firmino was to get injured Ings would have to find form very quickly, something that wouldn't be easy given how long he's been out. Solanke is getting there but it would be unfair to expect him to be a major scorer at such a young age. Klopp says in the scenario of Firmino being out Salah could play in the centre but that risks changing the dynamic that's built up over the first half of the season. What I find a little annoying is that there are indeed some solutions to 'get by' but really, given that within the club it was obviously foreseeable that Coutinho and Sturridge were likely to leave, a proper solution could've been found which involved replacements rather than relying on unproven players and temporary personnel switches.

  • It's a big gamble and the odds aren't favourable it must be said. The way players hit the treatment table these days it's inevitable that we'll have injuries over the next few months, how that affects us will depend on who gets injured and at what time. We have to rotate as little as possible, get a settled 11 and hope for the best because the back up we have right now doesn't instill much confidence, first 11 and we can beat anyone but keeping that first 11 fit for the rest of the season is the problem, like i said, it's a gamble and although the odds aren't stacked against us they aren't in our favour either.

  • They're getting more into the game and creating. We're failing on the break. perfect time for Klopp to make a change, which is one thing I hate about Klopp is his subs are too late.

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