Liverpool 23/24: Stick or Twist?

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The way Liverpool finished last season has maybe cast a few doubts into the minds of their fans. Up until then the team were showing every sign of squad on the decline. All of the attributes that had brought their success, plaudits and admiration over the previous seasons appeared to have slipped away. If everything had stayed remained that way, then a rebuild would have been on the cards this summer.

As it was, something clicked, Salah in particular rediscovered his mojo and everything was (almost) all OK again. That late push for a European place has caused somewhat of a dilemma though. To borrow a phrase from my late Grandmother, we don’t want a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Another hackneyed expression is ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ Both of these are apt in Liverpool’s situation. To use one final footballing cliche, evolution not revolution, should be the name of the game this summer. The lack of form was a blip, not a sign that there needed to be wholesale changes.

Starting again would not be a quick process. The way Klopp gradually put together his title winning side was a masterclass in the patient, gradual and continuous improvement of a squad of players. It was not merely about names on shirts, but a whole new philosophy that every single person involved in the club had to and did buy into.

It would be hard to see the German willing to have to go through that all again. And the run in must have proved to him that that was unnecessary. That said, at the time of writing, the transfer business at Anfield does appear to have been mainly one way (two in, fifteen out), suggesting he did want something of a clear out.

A glance at the latest Premier League betting suggests that most bookmakers have Liverpool as third favourites to win the title. That again suggests that there is not as much that needs tinkering with the squad as some have suggested. The fact that they are only behind Arsenal, who have accumulated the most expensive squad in world football and Manchester City tells its own story.

So what areas do need improving?

The fact that both signings so far are in the engine room of midfield point to the fact that that was where Klopp sees the most need for strengthening. The departure of stalwarts Milner and especially Henderson have left a hole in what was arguably already the weakest area of the team. The side may have lost experience, but that is more than offset by the energy and running, those two players will provide, and those are two of the cornerstones Klopp’s teams are built upon.

The signing of the Argentine World Cup winner could be the buy of the season

The acquisition of Mac Allister could very well be one of the scoops of the summer. When you compare the £35 million paid for the world cup winner with the £105 million dished out for Rice, you would assume that deal would have been done with the aid of a sawn off shotgun and balaclava.

One area of concern is that the focus, in the public arena at least, seems to have been focussed everywhere apart from the defence, and if Liverpool are going to mount a credible challenge on the top two, then let us be in no doubt that they need to strengthen all across the back five.

One thing that for certain in the Premier League is that standing still means you end up going backwards. That, in truth, is what happened with Liverpool last season. Other clubs fighting around the top six places (Tottenham and Chelsea apart) all strengthened and improved. All have done so again this season, including those two London clubs.

Have Liverpool as we stand today improved on what we had last season. To me, the answer is an unequivocal yes, and with the (almost) certain knowledge that there will be further improvements to come in the coming days, and weeks.

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