Liverpool have been the architects of their own downfall, and cannot continue to blame Luis Suarez…
When Luis Suarez completed his £75m move to Barcelona during the summer transfer window, the news was greeted with a distinctly mixed reaction among the Liverpool fans.
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First and foremost, supporters were clearly devastated to see their star man leave. And rightly so, in his relatively brief time at the club, Suarez bagged 82 goals in 133 games and, despite a whole host of controversial incidents, became a cult figure on Merseyside.
But their regret was tinged with a refreshing optimism. Liverpool had already secured a return to Champions League football, and had netted £75m for a player turning 28-years-old in January, who was banned until late October.
When compared to the departure of Fernando Torres in 2011, a move which left Liverpool totally stranded, things could not have been much better. Brendan Rodgers had allowed Suarez to depart on his terms, and had the time and financial backing to secure a suitable replacement.
And that is where we hit Liverpool’s biggest problem. Any team would miss a player of Suarez’s quality – he is, after all, among the top half a dozen players in the world – but Rodgers missed a golden opportunity to use his exit as an opportunity to revolutionise his team.
Liverpool defeated Stoke City on Saturday, ending a five match winless streak in the Premier League. Just one of their nine summer signings started the game – Rickie Lambert – and his inclusion was purely down to Daniel Sturridge’s ongoing injury issues.
That doesn’t say much for the £120m worth of talent that was brought in before the start of the season does it. The major issue is that Rodgers, for whatever reason, could not attract his first choice targets – think Alexis Sanchez, who has been outstanding for Arsenal so far this season.
But surely, when you can’t sign the players you want, you hold fire, rather than blindly pushing forward and snapping up a collaboration of young, unproven players, ‘calculated’ gambles, and every other member of last season’s Southampton squad.
Liverpool spent almost £50m on Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Rickie Lambert. You can probably excuse the latter, who for a £4m fringe player with a decent goal record and international experience was a respectable decision.
Lallana, a player supposedly at the peak of his powers at 26, needed to be capable of coming in and making an immediate impact. The issue here seems to be that Rodgers just can’t fit him into the team. When you have the likes of Gerrard, Allen, Coutinho, Sterling, Henderson… surely this was the last position they needed to strengthen.
Lovren, with just one season of Premier League experience behind him, has been totally exposed. His positional sense and tactical awareness have consistently let him down this season, while the Reds allowed one of their most loyal centre backs – Daniel Agger – to leave on the cheap.
Emre Can, Lazar Markovic and Divock Origi are all fine young players, but again they weren’t the answer to Liverpool’s problems. Markovic, a player who cost £20m, cannot even make the squad, let alone the team. Fans can only hope that he is allowed to go out on loan in January, and does not become another expensive flop.
And while talking off expensive flops, that brings us on to Mario Balotelli, a player once dubbed ‘unmanageable’ by Jose Mourinho. Will Liverpool never learn? Suarez might have been controversial, but at least he was a top, top player. It’s hard not to feel a little sorry for Mario, whose reputation proceeds him in many ways.
Let’s just say this, AC Milan could not have been more delighted to get rid of him, and virtually bit Liverpool’s metaphorical hand off when they came knocking. He was dropped from the Italian national team following the World Cup, and his goals had all but dried up several months prior.
The one positive are the two young defenders, Javier Manquillo and Alberto Moreno, who – putting aside a couple of errors – have been more than satisfactory thus far, and are long term solutions to Liverpool’s long-standing full-back issues.
The sad truth however is that Liverpool now face a January transfer window bereft of funds, as they attempt to achieve the impossible and undo their summer errors. Rodgers once promised that the club would not ‘do a Tottenham’ – hindsight is a wonderful thing, but if only he could change that now.
SEE ALSO: The Best Liverpool goals.