The Opening Day
At the weekend we saw Curtis Jones begin the game as one of the Reds’ substitutes, on the opening day of Liverpool’s 2023/24 Premier League campaign. The theory is that Jürgen Klopp preferred to have at least one central midfielder on the bench (with Harvey Elliott more of an attacking asset), in case any of the starting middle three succumbed to an injury. The departures of the below listed players has been tempered somewhat with the arrivals of Alexis Mac Allister & Dominik Szoboszlai, yet there is still much work to be done in this extraordinary transfer window. In starting Cody Gakpo at Stamford Bridge, it created a brilliant pre match buzz which outfoxed the home side through the opening stages of the game. Unfortunately, the organisation of our opposition overwhelmed our team, which must be rectified in both acquisitions and selection decisions.
All the departures this Summer (including loans) pic.twitter.com/IkePSJHZo3
— Liverpool Transfer Dude (@livtransferdude) August 6, 2023
The Curtis Conundrum
Getting back to the Curtis conundrum, his future first team opportunities will inevitably be reduced once Liverpool sign a holding midfielder, or two. The irony is that with both Stefan Bajčetić and Thiago Alcântara only just returning to training last week (from their injuries), our number 17 was held back in order to offer an ample fallback option from the bench. This scenario unfolded despite the 6ft 1inch man ending last season as the Reds’ standout middle man. The horrendous list of injuries that have historically plagued that area of this team, means delays in signing replacements have hampered the initial season use of our England under-21 international. This is an eclectic and energetic player that helped guide his under-21 England team to European Cup glory in the summer, therefore, he would have been entering this season after the best extended form of his limited career.
Decisions at Anfield
At the close of last season’s horrid campaign, the Anfield decision makers thought it was wise to replace their outgoing Sporting Director, Julian Ward, with the previously retired Jörg Schmadtke. Despite once having the best recruitment department and Director of Football (Michael Edwards) in the game, it appears that resting on one’s laurels was not restricted to only the player squad of last season. In appointing a part-time and perhaps under-qualified negotiator, it created a lack of thrust and control within negotiations. If we are to believe reports, Billy Hogan (CEO) led the failed Moisés Caicedo charge, which has now left us greatly short of bodies.
In welcoming back both the Spanish players (as stated above) to first team training, it is likely that either could make the bench for Bournemouth’s Saturday afternoon trip to Anfield. In this instance, any fear of lacking adequate coverage from the bench would be averted, thereby allowing Curtis Jones to start the secoLiverpool, Curtis Jones, Premier League, Jürgen Klopp, Anfield, transfer window, midfield, Chelsea, Bournemouth, Diogo Jotand game of the season. Cody Gakpo struggled to excel in his unfamiliar starting role last Sunday, as Chelsea took control of much of that fixture. What must be reinstated for this coming weekend test, is more control of the ball, which should see one forward drop out of the side. I would be tempted to push our Dutch attacker back into the more familiar false nine position, which would see Diogo Jota drop to the bench. With that, it would place Curtis Jones either into the holding role or on the left of the central midfield three. Overthinking situations can be a detrimental factor to our results, when attempting to fill spots more strategically would suit our on and off ball patterns of play. Curtis Jones did not deserve to be dropped for game one and should be drafted back into the side for game two, with a physicality, drive, and knowledge, of how to react in transition.
The Need for Victory
A single point away to the billion spending Chelsea will soon look like a solid result, however, three points is an absolute must for our next game at Anfield. In order to give the team, the correct balance, and opportunities within the game, our 22-year-old academy product should be reinstated to the starting eleven, especially with our ongoing inability to attract new signings.