Time to be brutally honest.
Last night David Ngog was picked to start up front against Lyon in a crucial, let me repeat crucial, Champions League tie. One we could ill afford to lose, hell a draw would have been something, but to lose puts us in a whole heap of trouble. With all due respect to the young Frenchman he just isn’t ready to play such a pivotal part for a club as big in stature and ambition as we should be.
All night long the ball failed to stick to him and he tried his hardest to serve the team well and whilst he deserves credit for his enthusiasm and determination he really isn’t the finished article and perhaps never will be. So why was he playing? Well Fernando Torres is of course injured, and most clubs will suffer if they are without their top marksman and El Nino is arguably one of the top five strikers on the planet, perhaps top three. But look around at the rest of the top four in the Premier League, maybe even look at the top six or even top eight, look at the strikers they have to call upon either as their main forwards or even on the bench.
Man United: Berbatov, Rooney, Owen, Wellbeck, Macheda
Chelsea: Drogba, Anelka, Kalou, Sturridge
Arsenal: Van Persie, Eduardo, Bendtner, Vela
Tottenham: Keane, Defoe, Crouch, Pavlyuchenko
Man City: Adebayor, Tevez, Robinho, Santa Cruz, Bellamy
Aston Villa: Agbonlahor, Carew, Heskey
And who do we have?
Liverpool: Torres, Voronin, Babel, Kuyt, Ngog
Now of the five options we have, having sent out another option on loan to AEK Athens, Nemeth, two, Babel and Kuyt are more accustomed and perhaps more effective when out wide. Andriy Voronin consistently does well pre-season and then looks turgid on the pitch.
You could argue that the lack of another striker, we know that Rafa doesn’t like to play with two, is down to a lack of finances or an error on behalf of Benitez to not invest in one. Personally I am not sure the boss is wholly to blame. He felt he needed to replace Alonso, Hyypia and Arbeloa before he considered other options so he brought in Aquilani, Kyrgiakos and Glen Johnson. Now we could argue until the cows come home about the merits of those signings but once he had made them he didn’t have a pot to piss in and therefore was unable to resolve the position we could all see needed strengthening. I think it was most unwise to loan out Krisztian Nemeth and if I were the gaffer I would bring him back quick smart.
Anyone seeing that line up and indeed the one who played at the Stadium of Light would have had the same reservation “We are not going to score”. We are lucky in the sense that we get goals from the midfield but these should be considered a bonus and not something we should bank on. Yossi seemed to have given us a lifeline, and quite why he was subbed I will never know, but he can’t be relied on to make chances AND finish them.
Our squad as a whole has far too many average players and if as Liverpool fans we are honest it is not the squad that can hope to challenge for the any significant silverware. We played above ourselves last term and we now, in my view, have a worse squad than we did then, so how can we be expected to make up the gap to the leading pack, especially when the likes of Tottenham and Man City just get better and better.
Don’t get me wrong I still believe 100% in Rafa and do not want to see a change of manager but I do so desperately want to see more money injected into the club, not a shed load, but more. Of the 30 odd squad members only 8-10 are actually very good players and the rest are either good three times out of four, or just pretty much poor week in week out.
We are not a one man or two man team as so many would have others believe but right now we are a team with just one striker worthy of playing for the first team at this moment in time and that is just unacceptable.