AS a Liverpool supporter I’m a little down and apathetic right now, and I dare say I’m not alone. It’s not because Brendan Rodgers is staying. Well, it’s not just because of that. I can’t deny that the news of the manager keeping his job (leaked to the press unofficially in true present day Liverpool fashion) was met with a resigned sigh and a small shake of the head, but I was hardly raging about it.
I’d have loved a Jurgen Klopp to come in and provide some post-season hope and excitement, but Rodgers has been given another shot at turning things around so there’s nothing left to do but hope he can drastically improve next term.
It won’t be easy and, frankly, I have severe doubts that he can. The pressure will be intense from day one.
A majority of fans have already turned on him and you can bet that every defeat under his stewardship next season will be scrutinised to the Nth degree. He needs to get the side off to a great start if he is to win hearts and minds back again and avoid once more having his employment status discussed in the press.
But first he needs to oversee a summer of shrewd spending that will see an injection of significant quality added to his Liverpool team. There’s nothing like a couple of top-level summer signings to restore faith and renew optimism in even the most hardened football supporter.
And here we’ve arrived at the main cause for my current state of apathy regarding Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers.
While it’s admittedly early days right now, that much needed addition of top talent that this current team is crying out for doesn’t appear likely to materialise when you consider the players Liverpool are perusing at present.
It’s fairly obvious that the club have identified four primary summer targets and they all smack of being typical Brendan Rodgers signings. You know the type; established Premier League lads who cost an arm and a leg but aren’t actually all that.
James Milner’s signing has been confirmed this morning and it’s certain he will be joined by Danny Ings. Christian Benteke and Nathaniel Clyne are obviously also being courted.
Look at those four names for a moment. Does anyone seriously think that an initial outlay of over £50m and a king’s ransom in wages and signing on fees represents value for that group of players? Does anyone look at those four names and genuinely believe they are of the requisite quality to aid Liverpool’s push for a return to the top four, let alone what needs to be the ultimate goal of an unlikely run at the title?
Benteke is striker who has scored 10 and 13 goals in his last two league seasons. If he is to be acquired, the transfer fee will be approaching the one that Arsenal paid to secure the services of Alexis Sanchez 12 months ago. I won’t add much more on Benteke here as Melissa Reddy has already gone into detail about why the Belgian doesn’t look a good fit for Liverpool and I agree with almost every word she wrote.
Danny Ings is barely a one in three striker despite spending the majority of his playing days to date in the lower leagues. He’s had one half decent season in the top flight for a side that was relegated. I have absolutely no idea who he is supposed to be an improvement on. We already have a young striker arriving this summer who scored less than a goal every third game last season in the form of Divock Origi. Ings’ imminent signing appears to be a speculative punt at best.
James Milner is a good player but the reported £150,000 per week he will receive from Liverpool boggles my mind. He’s approaching 30 years old and seems set to become the highest paid player at the club. So much for the oft touted and much vaunted strategy of buying promising young players whose value will appreciate, eh?
While I’ll admit that Milner is talented, I can’t quite fathom where he fits in at Liverpool. Hopefully it isn’t in central midfield because there’s a reason he’s played there so sparingly for Manchester City. Maybe he’s the man who will be charged with swinging high balls into the box from the right hand side for Benteke to attack, who knows? Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll 2.0 perhaps?
The pursuit of Milner reminds me very much of the Adam Lallana situation last season where Liverpool brought in a decent player at a monstrously inflated cost despite already possessing more talented and younger players in his preferred position.
Clyne offers a little hope, at least. He’s certainly an upgrade on the departing Glen Johnson but when a 24-year-old full back from Southampton is the only player your club has been linked to that excites you you’re probably not looking at a great summer.
And that’s the crux of the matter.
This time of year is usually a period for new found optimism and hopes of a better tomorrow. While so many of us rightly scoff at the endless, monotonous speculation and despise all the ‘ITK’ rubbish that goes along with a transfer window, seeing solid links to top level players is exciting and gets you dreaming again.
Last summer we were hoping the club could get Alexis Sanchez over the line. It didn’t work out and the back up plans were horrendously inept and bewildering in equal measure, but at least the initial target of acquiring the Chilean made sense and got the blood pumping for a while.
Where is the ambition and appeal in the players who the club are chasing right now?
The only hope I have when I read the morning paper these days is that Liverpool have thought better of recklessly splashing another £30m on a mid-table striker and that Spurs do their usual trick and nip in to pinch Burnley’s(!) star man from under our noses.
Maybe new targets will emerge as the summer progresses and perhaps they will be of a higher quality and inflame the imagination, but as we speak Danny Ings, Christian Benteke, Nathaniel Clyne and James Milner appear to be the players that Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool have identified to make next season better.
Forgive me for thinking that that just isn’t good enough while I stifle a yawn.
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda