• Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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BusinessDay

Six problems to solve at Anfield

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He has gone and since he is not coming back it seems counterproductive to keep on mentioning it, but when you sell one of the world’s greatest footballers you are the one who is going to pay the price, even if you have been given a £75 million cheque.

1) Luis Suarez’s sale

Suarez was the complete striker for Liverpool. It was not just his goals, but also the way he energised those around him. Liverpool knew they would miss him, but nobody at Anfield envisaged it would be this bad so soon.

2) Recruitment

Do you want the next big thing or the most expensive players on the market? The Liverpool view appears to be why sign proven, world-class talents who will demand in excess of £150,000 a week if you can sign unpolished gems on lower salaries who will show their class in the future? Thus, Liverpool failed to make Alexis Sanchez an offer he could not refuse as he moved to Arsenal, were put off by Radamel Falcao’s massive fee and salary, and even put out a sarcastic tweet – via owner John W Henry – amid false links to Marco Reus. The best Liverpool signings of the past 10 years were established Spanish internationals; the focal point of Argentina’s midfield; and a striker who inspired his previously unfancied country to the World Cup semi-finals. Do those players make more sense than under-21 internationals who look exceptional when stats are printed? You decide.

Gerad-Liverpool

3) Injuries

Daniel Sturridge’s absence cannot be underestimated. His last appearance against Spurs – alongside Mario Balotelli – gave the impression Liverpool would continue to flourish and rip opponents apart as they did last season. Without him, the goal threat is minimal. Joe Allen has also been missed. His diligence in midfield frees space for both Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson, and Liverpool look more balanced and dominate possession with the Welshman in the side.

4) Tactics

Blame it all on Jose Mourinho. When he took Chelsea to Anfield last April, packed his defence and midfield and ensured there was no space to exploit in a purely defensive measure he provided the tactical template for everyone else to follow. Aston Villa repeated the trick earlier this month, and allied to the constant on-field harassment of playmaker Steven Gerrard, Liverpool’s passing game has become virtually non-existent.

5) Defence

The questions lingered from last season regarding the Liverpool defence and goalkeeper and they remain unanswered. In defence of Simon Mignolet, Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel, they have improved in their last two fixtures. Phil Jagielka scored a screamer and losing a single goal, albeit from a corner, in an away European team should not be a guarantee of a timid defeat. There is no attacking threat to bail the defence out now, but it is collectively as much as individually Liverpool have looked most vulnerable at the back.

6) Fixture congestion

More games mean more tired limbs and more injuries. Just as everyone predicted, the Liverpool squad is suffering and with so many new players adjusting to their new club, more quantity has – at this stage – meant less quality. The Liverpool of last season would have relished having a game every four days, but this version does not currently look capable of coping with the demands.