A tantalizing end to last season saw Liverpool come within touching distance of a league title; 2 points adrift of eventual winners Manchester City come the final day. The result was many supporters of the club choosing to try and forget the 3 game collapse and rather look forward to a 3 month period of rest, recovery, and most importantly, progression. It seemed, going into the summer that with the right additions, and limited departures, 2014-15 season might just see that 19th league title come to Anfield.
Half a season, 1 and a half transfer windows, and a departure from the champions league later, Brendan Rodgers side find themselves stranded in 8th position in the league, needing a run of record breaking form to claw their way back into the hallowed top four.
But what is behind this demise, this complete lack of progression, and sense of déjà vu at the club?
After all, it was not so long ago that the reds would have felt almost at home in the Europa League spot hoping for a lot but ultimately expecting very little.
These expectations are magnified in transfer windows in particular. Since the signing of Fernando Torres way back in 2007, never have Liverpool won the race for a player who was being chased all around Europe.
And yet, it seems that since then, Liverpool have seen some truly world class players bow out of the club; Torres, Alonso, and of course Suarez to name a few. So naturally, an equal number of proven international stars have come in, haven’t they?
In truth: no. Take the summer just passed. As was mentioned, the reds had just come off the back of a title chase, with confidence radiating from all corners of the city. Additionally Liverpool saw the best player in the Premier League leave (yes, he was the best) for a club record fee. And yet, the world watched in wonder as Rodgers and/or his mysterious transfer committee sign prospect after youngster after ‘next big thing’.
That is of course no disrespect to quality and potential of the likes of Markovic and Emre Can, who I am confident, will have an impact on the world of football as they continue to develop. But with the most established player coming in being Adam Lallana (with 2 Premier League campaigns under his belt), one really must ask whether Liverpool are shopping in the right market?
The ‘right market’ could be misinterpreted – the right market is the group of available players who would positively influence the squad at a club. In the summer, after such an impressive season, this calibre of players may have included the likes of recent Manchester United recruits Radamel Falcao and Angel Di Maria.
Now, however, I feel like this picture of an ideal (realistic) signing has been distorted. Recently, we saw Shaqiri move to Inter Milan, supposedly choosing to pass on an offer from Liverpool. This perhaps is evidence enough that Liverpool have been frozen out of major signings in this, or any transfer window, especially following a mediocre start to the season.
What’s more, Shaqiri isn’t even the type of player Liverpool particularly needed – with Coutinho, Markovic, Sterling and Lallana, they are well stocked in the advanced midfielder position. This serves to highlight the lack of direction behind the Liverpool transfer policy – a policy that was scrutinized enough following the controversial (and evidently regrettable) purchase of Balotelli. Subsequently, at best, one could say Liverpool are looking to buy exciting forward thinking players to improve the energy and skill going forward, but failing to get deals done.
At worst, it could be said the committee are chasing transfers like a dog chases cars – constant interest, with very little success, and no real plan behind the venture at all.
I would be the first to admit that this season has had a variety of issues for the men in red, but I would certainly say that the action (and lack of it) in the transfer windows, should be at the forefront of Liverpool fans’ minds.