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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Do Liverpool need to buy again? by Mark Smith

by Mark Smith for World Football Commentaries

Premier League 201415
Photo credit: AndhikaMPPP.
Synopsis:

Mark Smith concisely analyzes the positive and negative facets of Liverpool's current transfer market strategy. He also makes recommendations for the upcoming winter transfer window.







Liverpool’s brief flirtation with the Premier League title appears to be over after just 11 games of the new season. But where has it all gone wrong for the red half of Merseyside? Outsiders with Betfair to win their first Premiership trophy, the Reds are struggling in mid table while Chelsea already appear to be Champions Elect.

Liverpool may have lost their prize asset Luis Suarez over the summer to Barcelona, but Brendan Rodgers still lavished over £100m on new players to fill the void – Balotelli, Lallana, Markovic, Lovren and Lambert bolstered the squad - yet heading into November’s International break the club sits in a lowly 11th position.

With the January transfer window inching closer should Liverpool take the plunge and invest in another striker?

The short answer, in my opinion, is no.

Other Priorities

A knee jerk reaction by throwing £40m at Edinson Cavani or Gonzalo Higuain will not fix the problem in the long term. Looking at the situation objectively, Liverpool need to address their defensive issues and the lack of a protective midfielder before throwing more money at another striker.

Daniel Sturridge, Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini are the four main front men at Anfield, while Divock Origi, who signed for £12m over the summer, could return in January. Rodgers is keen to call back the 19 year-old Belgian from his loan spell and he could provide a freshness for Liverpool to kick on in the second half of the season, should they need it.

However, another concern when it comes to transfer speculation is that the manager has proved that his best work is carried out on the training ground and not in the market.

A brief look back at Brendan Rodgers’ transfer history at Anfield should make even the most ardent of Liverpool fans wince. During his tenure the former Swansea boss has signed 24 players for a total spend just north of £200m, nevertheless, nine of these players were signed during this summer so let’s just reserve judgment on them for now.

Best Deals


Luis Suarez photo LuisSUarez.jpg
Photo credit: AndhikaMPPP.

The £12m capture of Daniel Sturridge is clearly Rodgers’ best signing to date, Philippe Coutinho has also been a relative success for £8.6m, while Kolo Toure on a free was a good piece of business but the signings of Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto, Tiago Llori, Ally Cissokho, Simon Mignolet and Oussama Assaidi have fallen short of the standards expected of Liverpool players.

And that’s before we even mention Victor Moses, Samed Yesil and Nuri Sahin.

Rodgers biggest influence on the squad has been at Melwood, where he has coaxed vast improvement out of such players like Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge, respectively.

Elsewhere, Luis Suarez made the step up to an elite footballer under Rodgers by banging in 54 league goals in 66 games and almost dragging them to the title (he scored 14 goals in 44 appearances beforehand).

Transitional Period

Balotelli
Photo credit: AndhikaMPPP.

Trying to integrate some many new faces into the squad and balance the rigours of Champions League football was always going to be a thankless task for Rodgers. And to add insult to injury, the calculated £16m gamble on Mario Balotelli has failed spectacularly so far.

However, the Italian’s debut at Tottenham Hotspur in August, when paired alongside Daniel Sturridge, offered a glimpse back to the attacking prowess of a side that scored 101 league goals last season.

Liverpool fans have the right to vent their frustration at the boss and the team for the shocking performances this season. But Rodgers hasn’t turned into a terrible manager overnight and neither is he comparable to previous club legends – the truth is probably somewhere in between.

Rodgers is still a very young coach learning the game and perhaps he believed some of his own hype after last season’s title challenge. Now he needs time to get back to basics and work on the players he has at his disposal and concentrate on getting Sturridge and Balotelli clicking as a partnership.

And should the club feel the need to delve into the transfer market then it should be for a top class defensive midfielder to add some much needed protection for a defence lacking in confidence. That is the real problem at Anfield.

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About the Author

Mark Smith is a freelance journalist based in Prague with an extensive knowledge of European football. He has a penchant for teams that play in red and white - a Slavia Prague follower and a long-suffering Liverpool fan. This is his first contribution at World Football Commentaries.

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