LIVERPOOL FC in 2016: 10 games, three wins — not including the penalty shoot-out victory over Stoke in the second leg of the League Cup semi-final — 14 goals scored, 15 conceded, a final secured, spectacles broken, only one top-flight game where the opposition failed to score from their first shot on target…
It’s only the start of February. Madness.
Factor in to those figures zero permanent transfers for right now then sit down, breathe and sip some water. Screw that, where’s the tequila?
Jürgen Klopp, who is not the “biggest friend of the January window,” always wanted it to be a quiet one until injuries and a starvation of quality forced the club into the market. In the end, it was as uneventful as he originally expected to be. Serbian starlet Marko Grujic was signed for £5.1 million from Red Star Belgrade and will join the club in the summer. Steven Caulker was recruited as short-term defensive cover on loan from Queens Park Rangers.
And Liverpool have not seen greater pace this year than the speed in which Jose Enrique’s proposed deadline day move to Newcastle was on and then off due to a failure to agree personal terms.
There was only one golden thread gluing the winter window together, a 26-year-old who managed 22 league goals in just 15 games and twice scored against Real Madrid in the Champions League this season. Strong, skilful with intelligence in and around the box capped with a clinical edge, everything Liverpool were crying out for was packed into his 5 foot 7 frame.
But the pursuit of Shakhtar Donetsk’s Alex Teixeira was always going to be as painful as last-minute Christmas shopping in stores filled with frantic people pushing and shoving. Negotiations with Ukrainian sides are notoriously difficult, but with the Miners in the middle of a title tilt and not in the mood to lose the Brazilian for anything less than the Austin Powers billion fafillion gajillion kind of money, Liverpool knew they’d get pushed and shoved. And pushed and shoved.
The club still tried though, and that in itself is important. Do that more often. Target players with the stylistic qualities that will suit and uplift the team. Sounds as simple as making toast, but it hasn’t been done enough. DO THAT MORE OFTEN.
Okay, so no Teixeira, but why didn’t Liverpool get someone else in?
This a recurring theme when it comes to transfers. Supporters, understandably, want to see signings. They can be exciting, can build hope, and allow you to press pause on everything that’s happening in life and scour through YouTube videos, stats, the player’s previous interviews and such. Forget sex, signings sell.
But if we all agree that quality is what the club are missing, getting someone else in is the easy, but not the most effective answer. Teixeira was a priority because he was the best option on Liverpool’s shortlist. Attempting to bring in number two or three or five just to have another body in the squad is doing the same thing over and over and then pleading against insanity.
Klopp has already stated that simply growing the squad without properly enhancing it is not for him. Not for me either, thanks.
When asked why he didn’t buy a forward in January on Tuesday night, Arsene Wenger brilliantly answered: “If you know a world-class striker who could strengthen our team you should have told me before the transfer window was over. They do not walk in off the street and say ‘please take me’. They are all at big clubs and under contract.”
World-class that would strengthen the team. Not just someone else. Arsenal have been doing it right by prioritising genuine quality over quantity and Klopp has the same idea.
Liverpool desperately need to elevate their standard in both boxes. Liverpool desperately need to add inspiration to a squad that is heavy on industry. But Liverpool need to bolster the team for the next few years and not just the next few months.
Listen to Melissa’s new show on TAW Player: Full Stop – featuring sports journalists covering Liverpool FC. In show one, Melissa is joined by Andy Hunter (The Guardian), Neil Jones (Liverpool Echo) and David Maddock (The Mirror)
While January was dead in terms of completed deals, the club did a lot of long-term planning. There is confidence that Schalke defender Joel Matip will sign as a free agent in the summer, while Leicester’s promising left-back Ben Chilwell has been extensively scouted along with Udinese midfielder Piotr Zieliński, who is on loan at Empoli. Grujic will link up with the squad at the end of the season and while these are not the stellar names, Klopp is undoubtedly getting a clearer idea of the big business that needs to be done then.
He has been in the job for four months, overseen 27 games and lost count of the injuries he’s had to contend with during this period. The German has still not seen his strongest 11 on the pitch at the same time and has he navigates his way through a turbulent spell, he’ll be picking up priceless information about what he has, what he needs and what it will take to get Liverpool fully implementing his fighting football.
Good players want to play for Klopp. Great players want to play for Klopp. Even Zlatan Ibrahimovic wants to play for Klopp.
Getting the 48-year-old in has been Liverpool’s biggest statement in recent history. They now need to follow their recruitment of one of the world’s best managers with a surgical strategy to help him build a formidable team in his image.
Thank you for writing this. I completely agree with your assessment as it is the reality of all things Klopp and Liverpool.
Treasure Island, FL
Well said Melissa, you have it spot on…trust i Klopp !
Excellent piece well said.
Think you summed it up there Melissa. I think Kloppo is the man to get us back to where we were most seasons under Rafa – regularly pushing hard across the board with a more balanced squad of quality players…
Agree with you on most points, definitely time to stop buying squad players. We’ve wasted far too much money in recent years.
One point I’m not so sure on is that the club “at least tried to buy Teixeira”. Im not saying we should have paid over the odds but you could swap Teixeiras name with Willian and Mkhitaryan and say we “tried” to buy them too. Were you ever convinced we would sign Teixeira? I definitely couldnt see it just from whats gone before. So January for me was a case of new manager (who we’re very lucky to have) but it seems the same old story in terms of the way the clubs being run otherwise.
Normally I’d agree as your writing is excellent, (as with most on this site) but the Wenger point has an obvious issue.
Where’s our world class striker? Our biggest problem is goals, lack of movement up front to provide space for those like Firmino and Benteke and our numerous 10ish type players to operate in. When have no one to stretch or run through defence’s, banking on the return of Sturridge is a gamble, if he gets injured again were stuck with a kid.
A loan of an experienced mobile forward should have been completed as soon as the window opened, he doesn’t need to be world class, he needs to offer some support and create space for the two alternatives playing along side him. In a season of opportunity’s, games, and injuries galore, would another set of legs been to much?
The club knew it had a problem on January 1, it done nothing to tackle it, result’s like Leicester, games where we’ve all the ball but no attacking threat are what I sadly expect for the rest of the season.
Well we certainly needed someone to put the ball in the the net.So why wasn’t that issue addressed? Someone like Austin could have done a job for us or get over to Morecambe and see if the have any more Vardys
‘It’s only the start of February. Madness.’
Madness? More like shitness.
They’re still somehow beneath us for strange, undoubtedly Evertonian reasons I wouldn’t understand, but Everton have scored 13 more league goals than us over the course of 24 games. I don’t even want to hear about the injuries anymore when the squad’s had the money it’s had spent on it the last couple of summers (for people who aren’t fans of sadness, I’d suggest against keeping tabs on Suarez’s goal return this season). We’re 2/3s of the way through the season and our goal difference is depraved.
Couldn’t agree more with your words on Klopp though, Melissa.
Everything depends on whether our esteemed owners will reward us customers with some team and squad improving players. As America is the home of the ‘customer is king’ mentality we should have world class players queuing for medicals come the summer.
Really enjoyed the new podcast. Great stuff!
Read Alex Texeira comments when LFC was in for him…”great many players passed through at LFC”. Now from that comment alone it seems that he saw LFC as a stepping stone to a better club and not his final destination.
Player like Hyypia who saw LFC as their final club and the desire to raise their game parallel to the success of the club. Now this is the template for the Transfer Committee to get their search on.
We need players who are not just full with skills and techniques but heart and desire to fight for the badge and Manager, something that we’re very lacking at the moment.
Sounds like he is off to China for the 38m quid fee originally quoted by Shaktar.
So, a few things about this – first, he is clearly interested in money, not development. Secondly, all the guff he spouted about wanting to join LFC was just that. He’d have gone anyone who gave him a route out. Thirdly, 38m would have secured him and not the 50m that ended up being quoted. Fourth – what the fuck is going on in China at the moment????
Hm, I have admired Klopp long before he was a TV pundit in Germany and right after he got Mainz 05 promoted some 15 years ago, so I do like him a lot, but he is not (yet) the world class manager you guys (and girls) make him to be.
From Mainz to Dortmund was a huge step and so is LFC. It is far more international, a foreign country with a language he is less capable of than he initially thought and a jam packed schedule.
But it is somewhat easier for him in Liverpool than in Dortmund, because he now got some pedigree and thus some “natural belief”.
And he is the right manager for LFC. He is a good tactician (maybe less so than Guardiola or Ancelotti) and perhaps one of the best man-managers in football.
But…is LFC/the EPL the right club or league for him?
I begin to doubt that. He has naturally fallen in love with LFC, but this new ticket deal will completely contradict his approach of creating a bond with the supporters and some atmosphere.
Basically, if FSG wants to increase ticket prices any further during his tenure, he might be gone. This overly money-orientated view of what is a sport to him, could really push him away.
I love Klopp. I really do.
But the reason he laughs a lot could be £5m a year.
He isn’t a red. Vfb Stuttgart likely his team…Or Mainz… That’s where is heart likely is. Where Porsches in Zuffenhausen and Benz are made. Where Robert Bosch work their wonders.
Much as i love Klopp (and Stuttgart), he has to start laughing less and winning more.
Its getting old quick when the footy is this shite.
First, the Black forest region and Stuttgart, though being in the same state, have not that much in common. So, a collection of cliches.
About his manic laughs: He does less so on German TV. The reason being, he simply lacks the vocabulary at that very moment or doesn’t understand the question. He is doing better in a presser in his native tongue – surprisingly, indeed.
He wants to fall in love with a club that has passionate supporters, which value his approach to development. So he is a Red in this sense. Still, love takes time to grow, it took him time after Mainz and the same happens now after Dortmund. Only natural, I reckon.
I realise the notion of likely supporting the team of your place of birth is a “cliché” to you , but to some people, its a reality. Not a cliché. The only reason I personally support LFC is because I was born 2 miles from the ground and have lived here all my life. According to Wiki, Klopp was born in Stuttgart. So where is the fucking cliché?
I think your reasoning behind his manic laughs is as much bizarre conjecture as mine is. Personally I would laugh a lot on £5m a year. Language my arse!
So, as your last paragraph emphasises in a long winded, unnecessary, around the fucking world way, as we speak, Jurgen Klopp isn’t a red.
And unless he is backed by a serious, viable transfer policy that is well funded, likely never will be.
Or is that a ” cliché ” too?
This club will never be able to sign top players again under these owners.The whole transfer policy is a farce,perfectly highlighted by soft arse flying out to Florida with his offer of roughly half of Texeiras escape clause!Excactly what was the point of it?
I’m just as concerned that Klopp and his coaches have failed to make the current team difficult to beat,as well as appearing to agree with Mignolet getting a 5 year contract.I really hope that Kloppdoesnt turn into yet another FSG yes man.
A jolly. A break in warmer climes for some hot Ayre….I mean air.
The shit heel
I’m starting to feel like I did at the end of the Dalglish era. Losing wouldn’t be so bad if there was at least a direction we were heading. But we are nearly 30 games into the Klopp era and I virtually have zero idea what he wants to do with the squad. I have an inkling about *some* of the players he prefers – because he persists with them even when they are rubbish – but every match is a real mystery that we simply watch unfold. And a depressing one at that.
Watching the Leicester game was especially painful because we were watching a team playing with conviction, direction, and adventure. All the things we were before Mario Balotelli was imposed upon us.
I don’t even have a point. I’m just moaning, which I hate doing, but even an eternal optimist like me has been ground into the dirt by the last two seasons.