Liverpool FC no doubt are having their best league start this season compared to what they’ve had for the past five or six years.
They have amassed 16points from 7 games- 5points short of maximum points. They are joint-leaders of the league with Arsenal. No other club is ahead of them in terms of amount of points accumulated so far.
However, in spite of the bright start to the season, there is an achilles heel to the club’s quest for both winning the league and top-four finish which if not effectively catered for, will result in a finish short of popular expectation and, consequently, break the heart of millions of fans of the club- the centre department of the team.
Liverpool have a midfield that is fragile. It is not very rich in creative personnel and less physical stewards. Also, the wealth of experience in competitive football available in that department is not quite enough. There is just one man with the necessary wealth of experience in competitive football that is available, the legendary captain of the club, Steven Gerrard.
Truth be told, his productivity is experiencing diminishing returns at the moment and may continue that way till he retires. His pace has drastically reduced, shot power has gone on the wane and, pass accuracy is a thing of concern. Only two things remain intact: discipline and ability to read the game- I’d even dare say those two parts of his game keep improving by the day. But that’s just not enough to win the club silverware. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an attack on Steven Gerrard for he is one half of the reason that made me an avid Liverpool fan. What I’m saying in essence is that our midfield needs improvement. Take out Gerrard from the middle pack and, we are literally done for. His ever-improving ability to read the game and discipline that still helps him to raise his game are the two things that keep our midfield going.
Lucas is injury-prone, less physical, not very disciplined like Gerrard and, more importantly, not all that experienced. One may say he’s been in the club for half a decade or thereabouts, but, don’t forget that for two to three seasons after he arrived, he was a squad player. He couldn’t play ahead of Alonso and Mascherano.
Joe Allen too isn’t a physical player owing to his miniature stature, less creative with the ball, and capable of disappearing in the heat of a highly competitive midfield battle. He is young and cannot boast a wealth of experience in competitive football.
Last of the central midfield players at LFC, but, not the least, is Phillipe Coutinho. A true Brazilian as I’m fond of saying about him. Quite creative with the ball and plays with so much flair but, not without betraying features to his game. He isn’t physical, impish like Allen. Less energetic and, comes with lots of injury worries. Also, quite importantly, he is very young thus, lacks experience in competitive football.
Another lad that is available who, in my opinion, isn’t a central mid-field player is Jordan Henderson. As a matter of fact, I am often confused about his natural position. His versatility makes me see him as a confused player and a confusing one to coaches. He is not so very intelligent in his game though, but highly efficient. For me he is LFC’s new ‘Mr Duracell’; very hard-working, focused and disciplined during play. Strong, but not 100% physical and, less experienced in competitive football too.
At this juncture, we can see that about 90% of the players in the middle department of the club lack a wealth of experience in competitive football and cutting-edge physical disposition. Two factors which are very key to winning silverware or winning a spot in the elite cadre of the league.
But, this can be tackled when the transfer window reopens in January. Brendan Rodgers and FSG needs to be objective by being a bit less strict with their rules for signing players. I agree that it is good to plan for the future, but, we must not treat the present with levity. The idea of signing only players not older than 23 years of age is not healthy for the expectations of the club and fans. There are very few players of that age range that come with all of the necessary features highlighted above. And these very few players cost a fortune! They will not even want to sign for a club that is not playing in the Champions League. But, we can get these important features in players who are about 2-3 years above that age range that will still be highly productive for another 3-4 years which, more noteworthy, are not so costly in the market. What I am saying here is that FSG should allow Rodgers to sign midfield players who have reached the climax age of their career instead of prospects which may or may not deliver. Truth be told, the present is as important as the future.