By Lee Jaundrell 5/4/12
Liverpool could end the season with 2 trophies, which has to be considered a success. But, the league campaign has been a bit of a disaster, currently 8th, 16 points behind the Champions League placings, the target for the season. Being outside the top 4 for another season may mean Liverpool may need to cut their cloth accordingly. FSG threw money at the situation last summer but I don’t see them investing big again this coming summer, in fact, it wouldn’t surprise if they break even on transfer fees in the next window.
The investment since FSG took charge has generally been on talent with a future, players mid/low 20s, with 5-10 playing years to come, such as Carroll, Henderson, Suarez, Downing, Enrique, Adam and Coates. FSG having spent big to be in the Champions League and failed, and now must take a very long term view on the future, which could mean looking for slow improvement of the team and the squad. Trusting the players already at the club, in the first team squad, and the young ones coming through. This could be a project that could take years to place Liverpool back where they belong.
There are already noises that older, high earning players such as Kuyt and Maxi will leave in the summer, Bellamy another year older and Carragher will surely be spending more time coaching than playing. This will leave holes in the squad, and with Liverpool not being an exciting prospect for top class players, the coming seasons could be a struggle. Commolli will really need to earn his corn. Good players are available. Newcastle are being held up as the true ‘Moneyball’ team, with the excellent purchases of Tiote, Cabaye, Ben Arfa, Ba & Cisse and prove that the talent is there.
So next season will see experienced players leave, and be replaced by young players coming through the club, and also 2 or 3 ‘gamble’ signings which need to work. It’s not all doom and gloom though. Lucas has been sorely missed and will be back next season. Downing and Henderson will hopefully improve on their debut season, and if Agger stays fit, Liverpool’s defence is strong and well balanced with 2 good attacking full-backs in Johnson and Enrique.
Liverpool seem blessed with talented youngsters at the moment, Shelvey has talent and will improve, Kelly solid when given his chance and Flanagan and Robinson have some experience now. Others who will surely make a mark over the next few months, Suso, Eccleston, Coady, Wisdom, McLaughlin and the very exciting prospect Sterling. It would be foolish to think all 10 of these players will prove up to the standard required, but if 2 or 3 make it, the club could have a solid base from which to build.
In conclusion, it is doubtful Liverpool will get a short term fix to their problems in the summer, but things are not as dark as been made out. While the top 4 may be out of reach for another season or 2, progress can and will be made.