If you are a Liverpool fan reading this, then you would agree that the build up to the new season was one not only filled with excitement and anticipation to watch new arrivals on the pitch but also with a sense of positive apprehension on how the new manager, Brendan Rodgers was going to execute the highly famed philosophy of tiki-taka.
Let’s get straight to the core of this “concept”. Liverpool’s first game against West Brom was a huge disappointment to say the least. It’s not to say that we doubt the quality of the players. It is unrealistic to think that a club like Swansea took the Championship by storm, whereas Liverpool cannot do the same under Brendan Rodgers. The Reds will definitely hit the tar sooner rather than later. However, the advantage of having the transfer window open through till the end of August means that Brendan Rodgers gets a game or two to assess the practical scenario of his teachings, having already initiated the theory portion.
Fabio Borini and Joe Allen will prove to be good, beneficial additions to the squad no doubt. They have a role, a purpose which is bigger than that of being match winners; and that is, being team players. Allen was remarkable in the game against West Brom and not so surprisingly, was the shining light in an otherwise inept Liverpool roster.
The 3-0 loss to West Brom proved two things – First, it showed us how much work needs to be done comparing to where the players stand. Mind you, Brendan Rodgers’ task at Liverpool is really tremendous because of this reason – not only does he need to get his first-choice players up to speed on the concept of possession and passing football, he needs to transcend this to those who will likely take the bench in the coming days.
Secondly, it showed us that there are still a few missing pieces that are required to get the clock ticking again. Most importantly, Liverpool need a winger, one who is better on paper and pitch than Stewart Downing as well as a striker who will preclude the need to play Luis Suarez in the central slot upfront, allowing him and probably Borini to take up either ends of the attacking positions.
Many argue that the presence of a center-back is also vital for the squad going forward, but that hinges on the situation of Daniel Agger, whose Liverpool future has become less of a talking point nowadays, in a good way.
Do not forget this though – while there is talk of bringing in new faces, it is evident that there are a few players in that Liverpool shirt who may never enjoy their share of success in this renovation program under Brendan Rodgers. Quite clearly, the club should be looking to offload these players and raise the funds to make a few more sensible buys in this transfer window.
So, who are the latest players linked in and out of this new look Liverpool side? Let’s take a closer look.
Players likely to leave
After investing over £100 million last summer, all for a lack-lustre performing squad in the League, it is of consequence that the owners aren’t willing to fork out the large-sized briefcases again. They did, however, provide a part of the funds for the purchase of Borini and Allen, the other bit coming from the sales of Aquilani and Dirk Kuyt.
However the situation is more demanding than that, by the looks of it. So, Liverpool will have to cut their losses and show the exit door to a few players in order to bring in the lot that fits into Brendan Rodgers’ philosophy.
Imagine a striker in the mould of Andy Carroll featuring in the current Barcelona setup, or the current Spain squad or at the least, the current Swansea squad. Finding it hard to do so, isn’t it? That’s right.
Liverpool’s approach to games has been spoken about and Brendan Rodgers will make sure his team plays the game to his style. Andy Carroll was brought on as a sub in the West Brom as the last resort for Liverpool to score but it did not happen. Soon after the match, many in the Liverpool circle agreed to the fact that it is better for the team to let go of the big Geordie for a striker who has a reputation for finishing off any attack that ends with him in the box.
Although Liverpool had several shots on goal last season, they failed to convert several of them and were left ruing their chances at the end. This needs to change if the Reds are going to challenge for the top four this year. As part of this plan, Carroll could be the first target of exodus.
It is reported that his former club Newcastle have once again expressed an interest in the striker, but it is highly unlikely that Liverpool will recuperate more than £20 million for the £35 million they invested in Andy Carroll.
Although Alex Ferguson touted his corners alone to be worth ‘£10 million’, Charlie Adam really hasn’t done much from either of the four corner flags on the pitch. Last season was not really one he would want to remember – the former Blackpool captain was injured for major part of the campaign and also picked up a red card against Tottenham early in the season. Kenny Dalglish still continued to show faith in him which led to higher expectations from the left-footed midfielder.
Adam plies his trade from the deep end of midfield as well as higher up on the pitch in attack. However, he still has a long way to go if he is going to build himself into the kind of player Brendan Rodgers wants in the squad.
Reports are suggesting that Fulham are interested in taking the midfielder as part of a deal that would see Clint Dempsey go the other way to Liverpool. However, Adam has vowed to fight for his place at the club which is a good sign for Liverpool. But his presence does carry a degree of risk as it adds to squad depth without much clout. However, at the end of the day, the club needs to keep its foot down and part of this means accepting the bad buys from last season and making sure they are replaced with new, quality players who will give Liverpool the edge.
The biggest transfer story from Liverpool’s perspective this season has, so far been Daniel Agger. The Dane was touted to leave the club for North-West rivals Manchester City but the club having turned down three bids for the defender due to their high asking price, it looks like Agger is here to stay.
Daniel Agger is definitely the kind of player Liverpool should hold on to. Defence playing a vital role in the tiki-taka school of thought, Agger is the kind of player who will fit well in the role of the libero. The main reason is that unlike Skrtel who prefers to go with the long ball approach to beat players and set up attacks, Agger likes to move a few more yards up the pitch and send in those ground passes in order to initiate the attack.
Such an approach is highly regarded by Brendan Rodgers and the Gaffer himself stated that he would want Agger to stay at Liverpool despite reports linking him to a move away from Anfield. Losing the Dane will no doubt be a big blow for the club and would surely undo the good work done so far in this transfer window through the purchases of Fabio Borini, Joe Allen and Oussama Assaidi.
Players likely to join
It is evident that Liverpool need to do further shopping before this transfer window ends to fill in a few more gaps that will complete the team Brendan Rodgers wants to work with. This is important because Rodgers cannot continue without a team he is convinced about. Having to coach the players on this new style is a big ask in itself so Rodgers and Liverpool need to be sure they have the right people on board before they continue revamping the club.
Stewart Downing has received a lot of flak for the price paid for him last season. However at the end of the day, performances count and he has the chance to improve his reputation as a winger. The biggest disadvantage for Downing is age. At 28, he doesn’t really boast a blistering pace and skilful dribbling, both pre-requisites of a good winger.
Adam Johnson on the other hand is in better stead to prove himself as a quality winger. Lack of first team chances at Manchester City has led to the increased possibility of the winger moving out and Liverpool are said to be in pole position for his signature.
Having Johnson and Assaidi on either wings presents a diminutive midfield once you’ve included Allen and Lucas in the centre. Downing could well be the backup player for Rodgers in this case.
Johnson is quick off the block and also possesses good dribbling ability in order to get past defenders. If the club is successful in purchasing the kind of striker who will finish off chances, then Johnson is another name who could bring in the assists.
Earlier, we spoke about a deal Liverpool are looking to strike with Fulham to bring Clint Dempsey to Anfield and send Charlie Adam to Craven Cottage. The hold up here is mainly because of Adam’s reluctance to jump ship but also, reports are suggesting that Dempsey isn’t the first choice for the club.
Although other targets are unknown, Dempsey has proven Premier League experience, the only drawback being that, at 29, one shouldn’t be expecting too much from him. He will surely prove to be the difference in the other domestic competitions the club is competing in but Liverpool will need someone more lethal than the United States international to improve their League performance from last season.