Going back to that night in Basel I think it summed up our whole season but our shortcomings didn’t just get exposed in Switzerland they’d been there for a long time.
We didn’t lose against Seville because of any one player, or any particular incident we lost because collectively that Liverpool team couldn’t defend and hadn’t been able to defend for a few years. It was something that Brendan Rodgers strangely never seemingly sought to address but should have done after the likes of Jamie Carragher decided he wanted to become a pundit and Daniel Agger was shoehorned out of the club [or so it seemed].
Again under Jürgen we struggled to defend set pieces and we crumbled under pressure all too frequently. You could see in his face the frustration and agitation when even the basics become difficult but even Jürgen couldn’t find the solution in the time he had last season. However, the things that were happening could or should, maybe, have been addressed on the training ground? In a fifteen minute onslaught Seville exposed all our deficiencies and once they’d levelled just seconds into the second half you could sense what was coming next. It had happened before so it wasn’t a surprise.
Before that game some experts constantly said Jürgen had improved so many players and in a few cases that might be fact but collectively it wasn’t the case. He definitely got a bit more out of players but all over the pitch there were too many failings. This is shown by the league table, we finished eighth!!!
I am not criticising Jürgen Klopp but I think he put all his eggs in one basket, win the Europa and get into the Champions League and I fully understand the logic. However finishing eighth wasn’t acceptable. We finished eighth because the players he had at his disposal weren’t good enough. No matter how some like to view it, Manchester United have unearthed a few young talented players, if Chelsea and Manchester City want to use theirs, they too have some young talents at their disposal…and us?
Well the stark facts are there for all too see. The Academy is a shambles and although I don’t get too watch the games as I don’t and won’t subscribe to LFCTV there doesn’t seem to be any direction anymore. In fact ever since Steve Heighway departed the scene I don’t think we’ve had any direction. And to think he was shoved out because the conveyer belt of talent had broke down. There have been the occasional flashes of something, like Flanagan but name me another? We’ve ended up paying money to bring in talent but even that’s not producing very much. All those Iberian prospects have come and mostly gone. Pacheco, Suso and now Joao Carlos Tiexeira who some of us had hopes for. There have been several home based players as well but unfortunately we don’t know what goes on at Melwood when Academy players are upgraded. What happened to Jordan Rossiter is just a mystery, and he’s just one.
I had high hopes for Jordan Ibe as well, but his career went backwards when he returned from his loan spells and now it seems as he will be moving on. Like with Sterling, we pocket a handsome profit but the profit should be on the pitch in our colours, not the bank account. Our Academy needs its umpteenth overhaul because it’s producing very, very little – in fact it’s producing nothing.
Our recent past transfer history under several managers means I no longer get excited about the players we recruit. Each signing is accompanied by a fanfare of trumpets from the LFC PR department and if a new forward happens to score in a pre-season friendly against a team made up of Goat Herders, Sheep Shearers or whatever [sorry for the obligatory sarcasm, I don’t mean to be insulting to those teams from afar who have often made up our Friendly Fixture schedule] then the PR team go into a frenzy. Playing closer to home last season Christian Benteke scored a ‘wonder’ goal against Swindon and you could hear the deafening roars of WOW from within. It didn’t actually get much better for him did it? So when we signed Sadio Mane from Southampton my WOW factor was simply “Okay”.
Southampton seems to be our first port of call these days. I’ve started to wonder if former Red Sammy Lee isn’t some sort of spy in their camp sending back secret messages about who we should sign next. So much so that we’ve probably replaced Portsmouth as the team Southampton fans love to hate. The hostility towards us down there has to be experienced to be believed.
Long after the horse had bolted we’ve decided to buy a goalkeeper to either replace or be a serious rival to Simon Mignolet. I know very little about Loris Karius but he comes with the label of ‘good prospect’ on his suitcase. To be an improvement on Simple Simon all he has to be able to do, is catch crosses, command his penalty area, be able to pass the ball to his own defenders and actually seem to be aware of what’s going on around him. So not a lot to ask then? I know even less about Joel Matip another recruit from Jürgen’s Bundesliga notebook. I did read that he’s a midfielder who can play at the back, or was it he’s a defender who can play in midfield? Either way, there’s a vacancy for him if he can just show something. As far as Marko Grujic is concerned, he really is an unknown. I think they’ve said he plays in midfield as well. So with the returning Markovic we seem to have dozens who can occupy the middle of the park so I can only assume there will be a few departures before the Summer Transfer window finally shuts.
The one thing The Kaiser needs is a few ounces of luck [or to those pro-Europeans, grams]. Divock Origi had a strange season. Under BR he didn’t look the part but under Jürgen there were signs. Unfortunately every time we thought, here we go, he got injured. That wasn’t his fault although like so many he did he fall foul to the hamstring epidemic that plagued Anfield for much the first half of last season. As poor as Benteke often seemed he also spent many hours in the treatment room. Only something tells me he might not be around for much longer.
We should have a fully fit Danny Ings and Joe Gomez to add to the managers options. Ings under Brendan had started to look a snip at whatever we ended up giving Burnley. It would have been interesting to see how he would have developed under the Klopp training regime? Maybe the new season will tell us a lot more. Joe Gomez was another who hadn’t done too badly under Bren but never got the chance to show his talents under Jürgen. However, injuries can’t be an excuse, in football they’re an occupational hazard.
Looking to the forthcoming season, and our case won’t be exactly helped by having to play three games away before a ball gets kicked under the shadows of the new Stand. I mean playing against two sides who finished in the top 3, and away from home wasn’t the sort of start I’d hoped for. We have to have a side that’s competitive in every way and in every game. We can’t go on having a defence giving the impression it was assembled in a cheap plastic factory and melts away when the heats turned on. We can’t have players that go into hiding when the going gets tough – would anybody want Firmino on their side in the trenches? There are others that fit into that category even the much adored Coutinho and next season won’t be just about keeping Dancing Dan fit it will be about kicking his arse when he needs it, and in some games that’s bloody often.
Although we will only have domestic issues to go for next season, we still have to have the players who can turn things round when called upon; we haven’t had many, if any, of what they call Impact players sitting on our bench in recent times have we? Brendan’s nearly team took advantage of the fact that they only had one game a week to occupy their minds and hopefully Jürgen can use that to his advantage. Mind you, Chelsea won’t be fighting on too many fronts either.
Despite Leicester City showing you don’t have to spend a billion or two on a team you can bet that Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and, who knows, maybe even Arsenal will do just that in an effort to claw back what they think is rightfully theirs. Three of that four have new managers and they will have taken the jobs on the promise of a bottomless pit of cash, and that’s already being proved at Old Trafford. Financially we might not be in the same league [hence the need for that good Academy] but over the past five years we’ve spent a lot on money on players who haven’t or couldn’t deliver.
Sometimes you get asked about your dream team and reality usually goes out the window, but here’s mine. A goalkeeper who can catch a few crosses, a defence that can defend and has a built in mean streak, a midfield that can frighten the opposition and a forward line that strikes fear into opposing defenders.
Not a lot to ask is it?