Transfer windows. They divide the football community. Some love them, with the drama they bring; others loathe that they carry on until the season has started. I do prefer them to when transfers could happen all season long, but in recent years Liverpool have done so badly in them that it’s almost like it would be better if we did away with transfers altogether. This time around we did a fair bit of business early in the window and I’ve talked about most of those. Mignolet has been an instant success, as has Toure. Aspas looks like he might have the skills to do ok, but needs working on his strength. Cissohko has had a torrid start with that early injury, and Alberto hasn’t really had much of a competitive run, although he’s probably one for the future. So would we be getting any more players in?
Just before the window closed, a reasonable squad suddenly started to issues. First Sebastian Coates went out with a long term injury, then two new signings were lost in the same game with Toure and Cissohko both getting injured in the cup game. Glenn Johnson then picked up an ankle injury against United, although at this stage there is uncertainty over how long he might be out. Skirtel is back, but with Carragher retiring in the summer, it was either relying on the youth (Kelly and Wisdom) or bring in new players. Rodgers went out and brought in two new defenders, Tiago Ilori and Mamadou Sakho. Of course, it may be that the injuries had nothing to do with the signings. It is entirely possible that we were already looking at getting Sakho, and we had certainly been linked with him. The injuries, however, surely helped spur on the needs to bring them in.
Both of these two players are young and highly rated. Sahko has played for France and he certainly looks like he could fit into the starting eleven relatively quickly. From most reports he appears to be quick, strong and composed. Of course, he is French, and well let’s be honest, Liverpool’s French contingent has hardly been what you might call quality. Ilori may be another one for the future, but we’ve now gone from having issues with cover at the back to giving Rodgers a selection headache which is always good to have.
Now we were linked with a couple of marquee signings, which all failed to materialise. In their place, we brought in another loan player, in Victor Moses. Now, I’ve talked about this here before, and I’ve mentioned that I’m not entirely in favour of these. What makes this even less impressive is that it is a player being loaned from a rival club, and that there is no option to buy apparently. So, if he has an outstanding season, either we have to stump up the inflated price (or maybe even lose him to a club willing to flash the cash, which we did not seem keen to), or Chelsea will just take him back, thank you very much. Sure, that outstanding season could be the difference between getting fourth or not, but then you’ve lost a decent player for nothing. He does fill a role that we maybe lack out on the wings, and Rodgers does seem to want to bring Coutinho in the middle, but then we do have Luis Alberto and Sterling who could fill that role, and I would rather see them get the experience than a Chelsea player. The only thing he brings in more than them is that he is a few years older and has that bit more experience.
Of the players that went out (not including Carragher), Pepe Reina was maybe the only one that might have been a regular starter, but he has been replaced by Mignolet, who isn’t currently wanting to play for Barcelona. It was the right move for Rodgers to make in my opinion. Andy Carroll was never really going to work in Rodger’s tactics and Stewart Downing elected to leave. Now I actually was impressed with Downing’s improvement and he did seem to finally be adjusting his game to be more than just the bloke who launches it into the box from the bye line, but I also don’t think he’s going to get much game time with the new additions, not to mention he struggled to get the fans behind him. Fabio Borini went out on loan. Of course that is one striker gone and we’re not exactly over burdened with them, but then he really needed to go somewhere to get some playing time. I’m not sure we’ll ever see him back at Liverpool, but who knows, maybe one brilliant season at Sunderland and that could change. Assaidi also went out on loan and I’m not sure he’ll come back either.
So what do all those changes mean? Well firstly it does mean that our wage bill has been reduced drastically. We probably haven’t really improved the starting squad much, but then did we really need to? We lost a decent keeper and replaced him with another. We lost Carragher and replaced him with Toure or Sahko. The rest of the park is relatively unchanged, except maybe the loss of Downing, to be maybe replaced by Moses. What we have done though is added some quality depth to the squad, except maybe in goal. Brad Jones isn’t a terrible keeper, but the failed loan move for Shay Given would have been handy. As I’ve mentioned above we now have decent cover at centre back, we have cover for Enrique and we do have Kelly to replace Johnson. We certainly have plenty of midfielders and with Coutinho, Sturridge, Aspas, Suarez, Moses, Sterling, Alberto and maybe Ibe we should have enough cover up top. Sure it would have been nice to get a quality top signing, but then there’s no guarantee they would have been a definite success.
Of course the key isn’t really just about what we’ve done to our squad, but what other teams have done to theirs. If we want to battle for top four, we have to have made up ground on those other teams fighting for that place. Man City and Chelsea pretty much continued their free spending. The question is whether all those new players will settle in, and how much they can be kept happy throughout the season. That spending will help them cover any injuries they might pick up. Spurs lost Gareth Bale but spent that money on a number of decent players, players that we were rumoured to be going for. At this stage it is difficult to know whether those three or four players will make up for what Bale gave them, but it does at least add to their depth. What is impressed is that they brought in three decent players and still made a profit. What a ridiculous sum of money they got for Bale.
Arsenal and Man Utd however struggled in the transfer window. Arsenal looked destined to not be bringing any new player in but then forked out the cash for Ozil. A surprise capture but was it really what they needed? Yes he is a great player but is he the striker or defender they were so desperately looking to buy? No. United brought in Varela and Fellaini. With the loss of Scholes they did need some bite in midfield, and I’m sure Fellaini will bring that but I’m just not sure he’s quite the sort of player United fans would have wanted. Of course they do already have a squad that won the league last year, but the loss of Scholes will be huge, and I’m not sure Fellaini will cover that.
It is a tough one, as really we made up a lot of ground in January last year, with the signings of Coutinho and Sturridge. We’ve started well, and of course Suarez is yet to return. i do think that we have made up ground on Arsenal and Man United squad wise, and if you include Coutinho and Sturridge I think we may just be ahead of Spurs unless their new boys fit in well. That should see us to fourth spot possibly even third. Once we get back into the Champions League, and be back in the money that the competition brings with it, we might then be able to challenge for the top. It promises to be another long interesting season though….