Can Liverpool FC Rejoin Europe’s Elite?
The question on everyone’s lips, well perhaps predominantly the ‘red’ half of Merseyside, is ‘will we get a Champions League place?’
I will would absolutely love it when if this was the achievement of the 2013/14 Premier League season, but at the same time, I am a realist. It won’t be easy.
Before any presumptions are wrongly made, this isn’t because I think Joe Allen is useless, or Sir Alex Ferguson is controlling English football’s Illuminati. It is purely based on the lack of depth in the squad.
Liverpool Football Club has never failed to convince me – going in to any game that they’ve participated in since I began supporting them – that they can win it. I don’t think anyone can seriously believe that they will 100% not obtain something from a game. They still have that ‘winning’ aura.
If I go onto Facebook on a Saturday evening and Liverpool have lost, and Manchester United have won (they will do this again eventually), the United supporters’ posts are never to do with the fact that they’ve picked up three points; they’re more interested in the fact Liverpool have dropped three. When the fan base of one of, if not the only club in the country worthy of comparing their glorious history to that of Liverpool’s, you know that people on the outside are still very much ‘bothered’ by how they get on.
I think a subject widely open for debate, is Brendan Rodgers’ inbound transfer activity. I have no qualms with any of the movement occurring in the opposite direction, apart from sending Fabio Borini out on loan. But even the doubts about that move aren’t based on a strong belief in the Italian’s talent. It’s because, as we are now seeing, we simply don’t have enough quality to come in when a first choice player is sidelined.
Patience is something that Liverpool’s supporters have been asked for, and it is still yet to see just how much the likes of Tiago Ilori and Luis Alberto can offer in the future, but at the age of twenty-six, Iago Aspas should probably have been at the required level by this stage of his career. That said, without offering him much playing time, it’s difficult to say whether or not he is or not.
Daniel Sturridge has undoubtedly been the most consistent performer so far this season, regardless of Luis Suarez’s late arrival into the mix. When I saw the report that Sturridge would be out for up to eight weeks, my immediate vision was that we would gradually slip down the table in a fiasco of wasted chances and leaky goals.
We then proceeded to put in disappointing performance against a battling Hull City side, losing 3-1. This can’t purely be based on half of the ‘SAS’ being missing, however. It’s becoming clear that despite this Summer’s attempt at bolstering the defensive options, there is still something not working at the back. Of course, Jose Enrique’s absence until February is a blow, though it has to be said that youngster Jon Flanagan has looked promising at left back.
Referring to these transfers, I was particularly pleased at the signing of Kolo Toure, and remain intrigued by what Mamadou Sakho will offer.
In the loan business, Victor Moses certainly has promise and could well be a key member of the squad; however I’m unconvinced by Aly Cissokho thus far.
Simon Mignolet has been fantastic so far this season, and I genuinely feel that his performances are not complimented nearly enough by the figure of four clean sheets in fifteen matches. This deal was definitely the buy of the transfer window for Rodgers.
In midfield, Henderson has improved a lot from last season, and has warranted his selection. As ever, skipper Steven Gerrard has remained an integral part of the squad, but he could now be out for up to six weeks. Another disappointing factor is that Lucas appears to be struggling to find the form he enjoyed prior to the lengthy absences he’s suffered through injury.
Our attacking options, in my opinion, are definitely where we struggle.
Luis Suarez is incredible. It doesn’t matter what anybody thinks of him as a human being, as a footballer, it would simply be moronic to deny that he is one of the best players in the world at the moment. As mentioned, Daniel Sturridge has also proven himself as a more than able goal scorer. It just has to be hoped that he can limit the time he is injured, an issue that has seemed to affect his career until now.
Besides the SAS, young Philippe Coutinho looks set to become a hugely inspirational member of the side, but is yet to pose much of a threat when it comes to goals. Raheem Sterling is still very young, and whilst he offers incredible pace, his final product needs polishing. This could, and should, improve in time.
At full strength, we have seen that Liverpool have more than enough firepower to threaten anybody, but the current injury to Daniel Sturridge has highlighted that there is nobody who is yet able to step into the side and continue where he has left off.
This could have been where Borini would finally prove himself as a Liverpool striker, but as he is on loan, Aspas has failed to impress and Luis Alberto not having chance to do much at all, there is an awful lot of pressure on Luis Suarez. Rodgers has said that the team ‘can’t rely’ on the Uruguayan, but if Aspas and Alberto aren’t going to start, what option do the side have?
January will be an interesting transfer window, and I cannot wait to see if and who Rodgers brings in, and ships out. It’ll also be a very interesting period on the pitch, as we see if Liverpool can take their (until now) strong start in the first half of the season over into 2014. I believe they can, but they will have to earn it.