So we have had another off-season of upheaval. First casualties were Brendan's back room staff. I cant say I disagree with the decision. Colin Pascoe seems like a yes man to me and really we have always lacked a plan B. An Assistant Manager should be able to challenge the boss and occasionally offer a different point of view. As for Mike Marsh seems good enough with the academy squad but 1st team coaching is a big step up and probably out of his depth.
So I thought we would have went for a bigger name but no we appoint Sean O'Driscoll who has had success as lower level football (Bournemouth, Donnie, Forest and Bristol City) amongst others. While they are all teams that play attractive football not sure that CV is strong enough to be Assistant Manager at Liverpool. I am excited about Gary McAllister joining the backroom staff. He is a proven winner and will hopefully provide much needed common sense to our play without the ball and in our defensive third.
The third member added is Pepijn Lijnders, a highly thought of coach from our Academy looking after the U16's. His role is 'First Team Development Coach'. There is some pap on the club website him 'maximising the offensive skills of individual players'. This is slightly worrying for me as a blind man can see our main problem isn't scoring goals, its conceding them. We certainly don't need more gung-ho tactics.
On the player front I have been distinctly underwhelmed by our signings. While Ings and Milner and Clyne look like good business, wasting the Sterling money on Benteke is bridge too far for me. He is raw, inconsistent and does not fit in with the way we play. £32million is ridiculous. We could have bought Yohan Cabaye, Javier Hernandez from ManUre and had £16mill in change..... If Sturridge is fit he doesn't play for me. So why pay that money for a sub who scores 1 goal every 22 shots??? We have signed similar players before but never used their strengths. Crouch, Carroll, Lambert all epic fails at Liverpool. Why will Benteke be different? At Villa he had Agbonlahor and Weimann running in behind him. Lallana and Coutinho will not be doing that. I suppose if we go with Ibe and Origi them it might work. You cant leave Coutinho out the team and playing in the hole doesn't really work fro him so you are limited to 1 wide man then.
Firmino, I don't know a lot about but 6 goals and 22 assists at Hoffenheim seems promising. If he is similar to Coutinho, then thats great but I cant see us playing both of them very often. So again almost £30mill on a sub. While it can be argued its adding strength in depth I disagree, for that money they should be automatically in the 1st 11 to improve it. That's where our problem is, 6th from an expensively assembled squad is not good enough. All of last summers signings were, in a word rubbish. Emre Can did OK at right back but really should be in central midfield. he was shown up far too often in the big games. Lovren was brought in as a leader and has looked like a startled rabbit most of the time. Still is better than Sakho, in fact I am better than Sakho!
Lallana, Markovic, Balotetti were all extremely poor. The last one was never going to work, only muppet on the planet who thought it would was Brendan and our FSG sporting committee that decides who we buy.
Origi is back from loan at Lille in Ligue1 where he was outshone by St Etienne's Max Gradel who has gone to Bournemouth... So again is this 'moneyball' actually working?? The policy seems sound in principle. Sign decent young 'talent' with 'potential' and develop it. Unfortunately the whole World knows this is our policy and so anyone we are interested in get an extra premium whacked onto the fee. Ian Ayre seems obsessed with the figure of £18million and seems to be his opening gambit in any negotiation even if the player is only worth £5mill!
You cant pay £20-30million for 20 year olds that arent already performing at high level. Yet that's what we are doing. They are too expensive, too inconsistent and too out of their depth in the Premier League and in our shirts.
Lets hope I am wrong but I really cant see at Top 4 finish for us. You just have to look at the quality arriving at Old Trafford this summer to see where the benchmark for 4th is. We had to keep them out of the top 4 last season but we couldnt even finish above Spurs! As for out humiliation at Stoke on the final day, well says it all for me about where the squad is.
Our pre-season games have been a complete waste of time other than fitness wise. While other teams were playing proper competitive matches against other teams of similar quality, we were messing around with Australian, Malaysian and Finnish dross...... We should have been playing top teams to test ourselves and get ready for what we will face with the tough away games we have in the Premier League. The bizarre double header of Helsinki and Swindon just proves the lack of actual thinking going on. I would have liked to play someone like Bradford or Hull away last week with the 11 I intended to play today against Stoke. We need to have game plan against these kind of teams, pretty passing doesn't cut it and lack of fight is really sad to see. Ignoring it wont fix it.
My Starting 11 for today would be as follows:
Minging-olet (We have no-one else).
Clyne-Skrtel-Lovren-Enrique (Moreno is too light weight)
That gives us our biggest team as well as solidity in the middle of the park to complete with Whelan,Adam and Ireland. Origi or Ibe's pace should also help and if we can use Benteke's power then we might a least make a game of it. Stoke have been a bogey team for us since they came to Premier League and several managers have failed to solve the puzzle.
Lets hope the season gets off to good start opening day wins are not our forte.
- I have been a Red since I was about 6 or 7. My boyhood hero was Kenny Dalglish and I have an autograph from him while he was still at Celtic. Thanks Gran! As such I gravitated towards the team he played for. So I have been Scottish-South African- Scoucer for about 30 years now! I am extremely passionate about our club, and have felt the need to start this blog in the face of the abject nature of our performaces under Benitez and the Hicks/Gillett ownership.