Twitter can only get you so far when trying to explain your thoughts on a lot of things, limited to 140 characters, it’s difficult, especially when I see so many people being very optimistic and so many “ITK”‘s contradicting each other with whatever rumours there may be. So I thought I’d look at what we can expect and what I think we should expect to see from now until May of next year.
Since purchasing the club, John Henry has been quick to stressed that there is no short-term solution to putting Liverpool back at the top of their game and that they’re in it for the long-term. This message really should be stressed to fans who are convinced that we’ll be able to challenge for the title next year with teams like Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City.
There are no doubts in my mind that we can put ourselves in third/fourth next time out if we strengthen sensibly this summer.
It’s no secret that we’re looking to strengthen this summer since John Henry announced his surprise at the ‘lack of strength-in-depth’ in the squad upon his takeover.
Top priorities include a left-back, centre-back, central midfielder, two wingers and possibly a striker. Many people have already indicated that a ‘nudge-nudge, wink-wink’ deal is in place to sign Newcastle’s José Enrique this summer, whilst I believe we’ll secure the services of one of either Aaron Lennon or Ashley Young.
Make no mistake, Enrique and Lennon/Young are two very tidy players and with the possibility of three other potential first-team signings coming in, the time required to gel and with the possibility of Europa League next season as well, I feel it will be too early to consider ourselves for the title.
If you’re expecting an array of marquee signings to be brought in this summer, be prepared to be disappointed come-September. We do not have a Sheikh in charge of our club who is prepared to spend ridiculous sums of money in order to get anyone the manager may desire, although the people in charge of our club are still very wealthy nonetheless.
We will sign well-known players and perhaps one big move that is unexpected, but lots of big money signings are not what Comolli is after and not what NESV want to bring in. Their strategy is all about moneyball. They admire the philosophy Arsenal use to a certain extent.
The NESV strategy put in place is not ‘buy young, sell old’ in any way, shape or form. They believe in value-for-money. Hence why Dirk Kuyt recently put pen-to-paper on a deal deal despite being 31-years-old this summer. Comolli, Dalglish and the owners firmly believe that Kuyt has more to offer the team in terms of performance than they could get money for him by selling him. The work-rate he gives to the team and energy the team receive from him is a huge boost when playing, it creates energy, rhythm and tires out opponents.
The thing that is key to ‘moneyball’ strategy is basically value for money. If there is a player who’s market price is say £30 million, but we think there is a player who can contribute just as much is available for £20 million, guess which one we’ll go for. Comolli is regarded as quite an impatient negotiator and if teams are being picky with asking prices, he’s not one to hang about.
I would like to see Enrique, (Gary) Cahill, (Ashley) Young, M’Vila, Mata and a decent backup striker with potential join us this summer. But even I think I’m being a bit optimistic. We will need to completely rebuild if we are going to ship-out some of our current backup players like Joe Cole, Christian Poulsen, Milan Jovanovic, David N’Gog, whom have all failed to make an impact this season.
But in regards to signing big-names, Rafa Benitez proved that it doesn’t take a team of big-names to compete for honours and that sometimes signing players that aren’t from big-teams is also just as useful; (signing Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano, Daniel Agger and Pepe Reina from Real Sociedad, West Ham, Brondby and Villarreal respectively) and most hadn’t made their names yet but were signed and grew into crucial players for Liverpool.
Playing Djimi Traore, Steve Finnan, Harry Kewell and Milan Baros in our 2005 Champions League Final victory also shows that sometimes, team spirit and confidence is much more important than the names on the team-sheet.
But with the services of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll acquired in January and with Luis Suarez being the best value-for-money striker in the Premier League out of the strikers that switched Premier League clubs in January, the future is already looking bright.
It’s basically a matter of when, not if, Kenny Dalglish will sign his contract to ensure that he remains manager for the future. If the season had started when Dalglish took over, Liverpool would be 3rd. He’s transformed this club since taking the reigns off of Roy Hodgson in January. Liverpool are unbeaten at home since he took over with wins against Manchester United and Manchester City, as well as the recent 5-0 demolition of Birmingham City and last week’s 3-0 victory over Newcastle, meaning Liverpool are the only team to have scored in every Premier League game in 2011.
I have absolutely no doubts whatsoever that in two-years time, we will be challenging for the title again. Kenny Dalglish’s tactics have also been absolutely remarkable since taking over, he has time-and-time again outwitted opponents in a variety of ways, playing different formations and even being forced to bring in some youth players (John Flanagan and Jack Robinson) due to the injuries suffered in the first-team.
I reckon we’ll finish between 3rd-5th next season. Having to challenge Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City for the top-four and the title, in my opinion will be too much next season, more so if we play Europa League football. The new squad will need time to gel and need to adapt to playing in Europe on a Thursday as well.
I may be proved wrong, we may well surprise everyone next year and go out with a bang. I just feel those expecting to see Aguero, Pastore and Alexis Sanchez in Liverpool colours next season are being incredibly naive. I just don’t want to raise my hopes for the old Liverpool to be back and then be disappointed next season when in-fact, we’ve done incredibly well.
Damien Comolli also said in the April edition of FourFourTwo magazine that it’s important not to purchase players for the long-term in positions where we have potential stars blossoming from the academy, otherwise there would be no point to the academy. So expect to see the likes of Martin Kelly, Jonjo Shelvey, Danny Wilson, Jack Robinson, John Flanagan, Suso, Raheem Sterling etc. to all be integrated into the first-team in the next few years.
Give it time. I have faith the owners, Kenny Dalglish, Damien Comolli and the playing staff will restore us to our former glories.
I know I’m no professional writer, journalist and what not, I’ve probably made countless errors in my piece too, I am on Twitter: @jackwidnell, let me know your thoughts on my topic.
Thanks for reading, YNWA.