Liverpool has never won the Premier League. Yup, while they have been English Champions for 18 times, they last won it in 1990 – a year before the Premier League actually started and replaced the old First Division. While the next 21 seasons since have turned out into false dawns, there is a genuine buzz about the club this transfer season. With the return of Kop idol Kenny Dalglish as manager, the last league winning manager of 1990, there is serious change in belief around Anfield.
With performances on the field turning since Kenny’s appointment in January, Liverpool surged up the league table to finish sixth. (My suspicion, Pool could have finished fifth but Kenny did not want to play in the Europa League this year, so Pool took the foot off the pedal in the last few games).
Anyways coming back to the transfer season, Liverpool areas of weakness from last year – Left Back, maybe a centre back short if as expected Agger picks up an injury which will keep him out of the rest of the season, and most importantly a lack of width on both the wings (No Offence Dirk … you are a star, but winger I don’t think so). The areas of strength where there was some surplus – Midfield. So Pool has addressed its weaknesses and strengthened it’s …. Wait for it ….. Midfield.
While the first two signings of the season were good ones, Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam are both central midfielders. Things have got more complicated with the return of Aquilani, who is back after finding no takers at €13 million, hot girlfriend notwithstanding. These three when added to the existing midfield group of Gerrard, Lucas, Merieles, Spearing, Poulson, Joe Cole, and Maxi Rodrigues has made the centre of the park very crowded. One would think that Damien Commolli should have focused his energies elsewhere.
Recently Liverpool seem to have turned their attention to other positions with the signings of Stewart Downing coming at a massive €20 million and reserve goalkeeper Alexander Doni. One feels they are still a winger and centre-back short and the left full-back position is still yet to be resolved. In my opinion the order in which future positions should be filled – centre-back, right wing and full-back.
Word emerging from Anfield is that John W Henry tap has been shut at €100 million for 2011. Any further buying will have to be funded by sales of existing players and there is a long list of available candidates – Joe Cole (110k a week … you kidding me), Poulsen, Jovanovic, Ngog, Aquilani and maybe even Merieles and Maxi Rodrigues. That’s a long list and if Pool does manage to get them off the books and one or two more big ticket signings look possible.
However, the most important of developments at Liverpool (return of Kenny notwithstanding) in the last six months has been the almost Arsenal-like emergence of young talent from the academy. Long derided, Liverpool’s assembly line of young talent now emerging from the academy is certainly impressive. With Jay Spearing, Martin Kelly, John Flanagan and Jack Robinson breaking into the first team, others waiting in the wings include Rahim Sterling, Conor Coady, Adam Morgan, and Andre Wilson amongst other names. Sterling is certainly a candidate for the right wing vacancy.
With growing optimism and momentum around the management of NESV and Kenny, Liverpool look like putting behind the nightmare of the last two years when they finished out of the top four. A first team comprising amongst others of Gerrard, Suarez, Pepe Reina, Carroll, Charlie Adam, Henderson, Downing, Carrager, Skertel, Agger and Johnson supported by a very exciting supporting cast of young and emerging talent should see Champions League football return next season. I still believe they are not there when it comes to winning the league. On this prediction I would like nothing more than to be proven comprehensively wrong.
If you were one of the few people who read my earlier post and went away with the impression of my being a Manchester United fan, then I must take credit for my ability to mask my true preferences. That was my first attempt at being balanced and objective.