IT has been 113 days since Steven Gerrard posted an image of the Liverpool starting line-up that scorched Real Madrid 4-0 at Anfield in March 2009 on Instagram, simply captioned “spine.”
It was clumsily cropped and of low quality, but the picture smacked you square in the face. It took you back, left you sifting through the crumbs of the present and had you wondering about the future.
That 11 needed no filters to look good; no Sepia tint for nostalgia, nor a Rise layer for brightness. It was good just as it was, it was great just as it was.
Over the past few months, talk has centered around what Liverpool will do in the summer.
There has been a steady flow of names linked in and out of Anfield, which will only multiply once the transfer window edges closer. But the club do not need yet another high turnover in the market, they require what Gerrard was rewinding to, and what has been lacking over the past seven years: a solid core.
Under Jürgen Klopp, a group of players that were previously questioned have bubbled to the fore and proved that they can implement the manager’s full-throttle football.
Divock Origi’s development has been fast-tracked, Adam Lallana has been head of the press, Roberto Firmino can lead the line or adroitly supply it, Emre Can has been sharper and slicker, and the half at St Mary’s aside, Dejan Lovren has markedly improved.
There’s plenty of talent and industry in the squad for Klopp to shape and summon, but what the German is lacking is a stellar spine.
Forget names for a second and just think positions. Liverpool need a better goalkeeper, a dynamo in midfield, and two fresh attacking threats — all of “the highest quality” as the manager himself referenced with regards to upcoming business.
In terms of stick men, a move for Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen wouldn’t be straightforward, but it’s the one the Reds should do everything in their power to pull off.
The acquisition of Klopp was pure heavyweight and Liverpool must follow that up with more knockout punches.
The defence has already been strengthened with the signing of Joel Matip (above), and Leicester’s Ben Chilwell looks exceedingly likely to join the club.
Klopp will be able to count on the versatility of Joe Gomez next season, too. It’s a department that needs more shredding than bulking as things stand.
Liverpool’s midfield is packed with industry, but it could do with more inspiration.
Marko Grujic will join from Red Star Belgrade in the off-season, but while the Serbian starlet is hugely promising, he is still, at 19 years old, currently potential rather than the final product.
Poland international Piotr Zielinski is a player the club have been greatly impressed by, but he is not yet the finished article either.
God, look at that 11 again. Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso in the middle. Screw Easter Egg hunts, send out a search party for such authority again.
Back to the future. The presence of Mario Gotze in a Liverpool shirt next season is a big possibility and he would add star quality to the club’s attack.
A rejuvenated Danny Ings will also be “back in the race” but it would be a risky not to look at another pacy, potent centre-forward to rival Daniel Sturridge.
It’s almost certainly bye-bye to Christian Benteke, whom the club should have never said hello to — especially not for £32.5 million.
Under a phenomenal manager, and with a good squad, Liverpool have the opportunity to be cute and clever this summer. To be surgical. To operate on the spine.
To be done having us rewind to March 2009.
Bit of an unnecessarily leading set of answers to the poll at the bottom.
May as well have put ‘play mighty red in goal’ as one of the options
What answers would you have put, Dave?
I agree, straight out of the TIA school of spoon feeding your readers and then asking a direct question that says “Do you agree with the article you have just read?”, plus two other less attractive options.
We could have that identical spine next year for a pretty cut rate price overall. With a little help from the Spanish Government and another poke through some dodgy write-offs I bet Mascher could be had for £12-£14m of erm your strong pounds (do they start off in my dollars…ah, Bulgaria)…surely Torres on the cheap…is Xabi on Bosman? Reina’s running around in Italy somewhere. I know for a fact, Facebook told me so earlier. Skrtel we already pay and don’t tell me if we didn’t get them in uni(Form)* you don’t think with enough noise Carra doesn’t rip off that suit and go charging onto the pitch looking to smack Arbeloa right in the mouth for dicking around with a clean sheet.
That’s what I would like for my answer.
*cuz of those seizures the expression “uni” being for uniform being for Jersey being for kit is jumbled so I’m just going scorched earth and covering all my bases oh balls
I’m seeing a lot of people wanting to ship 10-12 out. We are going to have to ship a lot of players out, before we start looking at the ‘maybe’ we could upgrades. Personally I think we should avoid this at all costs. As far as possible I want us to concentrate on the spine and the 1st team.
If you think about the probable/definite leavers – 13 of them.. massive..
– Bogdan, Skrtel, Illori, Toure, Enrique, Wisdom, Allen, Teixiera, Alberto, Benteke, Balotelli, Yesil (presumably), Sinclair
– You could then make arguments about all of the below –
Mignolet, Moreno, Smith (maybe another year in reserves?), Lovren, Lallana, Lucas, Henderson, Milner. Sturridge (if someone offers big whack)…
With such a big turnover of players, I don’t want us to think about swapping one squad player for another talented young squad player… i.e. selling Lucas/Allen/Hendo and bringing in two young squad players.
For me –
GK, RCB, LB (to actively compete with Moreno and put pressure on), CM, AMR and a Striker who can actually run.. Only the LB as a squad player, the rest starters (plus Matip, Grujic, Markovic).. We need to be surgical. I’d be ok with Lucas going and would be ok with Milner going (but doubt anyone will pay his wages) otherwise, all of the above in the maybe’s are rotation/squad players.. Review next summer and some may wish to go to play more, this summer, be precise..
Watch Can when Hendo plays. Watch him when he doesn’t. Then make this case for selling Hendo you are talking about. Can’t really see much argument for Lovren, Milner or Lallana either.
On Melissa’s article itself, I don’t disagree with the general idea. At the same time, our weakest positions are keeper, left back and wide attackers and only the first is a “spine” position. For the keeper I think we should pay whatever it takes to get the best we can. If we will pay 30M for people to put it in the net (or not), why can’t we pay 30M for someone to keep it out?
But of your 13 leavers only Skrtel has ever been a regular starter, so it’s hardly a big turnover in terms of who actually plays for the first team.
Hope we finally get Mascherano’s replacement in
Kevin Stewart. He’s going to be even better than Masch because he was found in Liverpool’s reserves, not West Ham’s.
Granit Xhaka please
Im in the just get a few boss players in, doesnt need to be in the spine but that would help. Assuming we dont sell anyone important, if we just signed a keeper, left back and winger but they are all top class players id be happy with that. Maybe with a CM instead of a left back.
If we get a £25m plus offer for Benteke id take that and replace him too. Then offload the chaff, enrique, wisdom etc, maybe Skrtel but no other first team players.
We surely arent going to be as unlucky for injuries next year and we have Matip, Grujic coming in too and Markovic coming back. A full preseason with Klopp should help things massively especially with defensive organisation.
Then next season we bring in 3 or 4 more, and the same the year after. Lets build something special. We arent rich enough to be able to go out and get 8 top class players so we need to be a bit more precise in our transfer dealings. We generally have a young squad and players will get better with another year at the club. Leceister and Spurs have shown what a well balanced and established squad can be achieve. Contrast the likes of Newcastle with a lets buy loads of players each year.
Generally agree. However we could dobwith a steady left back in the squad. Moreno’s needs competition and it would be good to have an option who does the basics.
Fucking Skrtel… If Gerrard had any sense about him he’d have found one to screenshot with all the same players but with Sami in next to Carragher.
Kudos to you Melissa for predicting the outcome of signing Benteke. Your skepticism of that signing and the argument you made as it was being rumoured last summer has proven to be more or less spot on.
I think it would be wise to go for the safest possible approach when it comes to signing new players – build the team from the back. Without a solid and commanding goalkeeper in place, a team will generally struggle to perform over time. Needless to say, Simon Mignolet isn’t that goalkeeper, not on this level. So to improve on that position should be the first order of business in terms of transfers.
Secondly, I would put a good and reliable defensive line in place, with good and reliable options on the bench. They don’t have to be world class. In fact, it’s hard to think of many world class defenders these days. Some of the players we have at the moment could well be part of that good and reliable defensive line, but it clearly is in need of strengthening.
Thirdly, I would go for players that can make the difference in the attack. Whether they are midfielders or strikers or something in between is less important. At the end of the day it’s the players with that touch of class and those numbers in them that turns draws into wins. Mario Götze would be an ideal signing, but would it also be too good to be true? I used to think just that of Jürgen Klopp as Liverpool manager. As that dream you never want to wake up from. And yet, when I wake up in the morning, he is still the manager of Liverpool Football Club.
I’m glad you brought this up. Klopp. People saying that Moreno etc will be shipped out seem to be talking in circles slightly….I think Klopp loves Moreno and Clyne. They are really interesting contrasts because of what they share and what they need to learn. Clyne has been our defensive rock. It’s true. He’s been our most reliable defender especially when you look at fitness. Moreno is the Joker – I’ve never seen a fullback start counters faster. I’ve really never seen another fullback like him. Yes he’s rash and impetuous but he’s a kid and his pace is punishing, his ball control and technical ability is fantastic and I’ve never seen anyone with his recovery pace. He’s infuriating at times but he posses a skillset that is unique and he’s a weapon. He needs to slow the game down mentally, but that’s what Klopp is famous for right? Development. Last time I checked nothing says Moreno can’t learn to change his playing mentality, what I do know is that he has a gift you cannot be taught – electric pace – and speed kills. Anyways, Clyne is a contrast. Athletically he’s elite just like Moreno. He’s not as fast but he’s got fantastic pace and while his technical ability isn’t as high he’s stronger. But he’s clearly a product of Southampton because he’s defense first as much as Moreno oozes attack. But we’ve seen the glimpses. That surge against United. That knuckling shot. I see a player who needs to be taught to believe in his ability going forward (yes he gave away a penalty but he’s still a fullback and like the CB and the OG when you make a mistake that’s what happens – Carra has made this point before – when he screwed up it usually means the balls in the back of our net, often times knocked in off his own shins). We rage about Benteke and his wastefulness in front of goal but when he misses a sitter a 1 doesn’t go up on the scoreboard, a CB makes a mistake and a lot of times it does. It’s the cruel nature of the beast but every single player makes mistakes. Maybe not technical ones, but Suarez taking a chomp out of Chelsea is certainly a mistake. Gerrard’s slip is a mistake…to err is human so let’s not start washing ourselves of kids with bags of potential because they make a few mistakes.
I’d rather we make those mistakes now when the pressure is off – and it is. Klopp was the biggest signing we’ve made since Suarez but I reckon he sticks around. And remember when FSG snatched him we had ZERO hope of Champions League next season so obviously Klopp has some faith in this squad, he’d have to be an idiot to take this job if he didn’t. So maybe that’s it, I’m more forgiving because I see Klopp (and the Mainstand) as this year’s biggest prizes. Let the kids fail now when it doesn’t matter and not two years from now when we are trying to get into the last 16.
Now as for transfers…Benteke is going to be moved on, I’m confident about that. I think that we’re in a position to bring in a better player there too, Morata basically said as much, the English top flight fits a particular type of striker and there are some interesting names that should be floating this summer.
But we need a statement of intent. We need a world-class signing to really make people take notice. Rarely is it this logical but Jesus I want Goetz. I think we’re going to get him too. Read what Henry said at Baseball’s winter meetings. He signaled a clear change in regards to Sabremetrics. Less data more proven quality and he frankly acknowledged that takes Cash. We’re going to spend, FSG have earned the benefit of the doubt (I’m sure many disagree but I recommend looking into the Red Sox signing of David Price. That’s a Goetz type purchase. World-class.
So: Benteke out and I’d settle for £20m. The number is almost irrelevant I mean we DID activate his release clause so we knew full well we were going all in.
In? Goetz. At any cost. Morata is nice.
Now the obvious: Migs. Honestly he’s terrible and I hate stating our own players, I own a Lucas Jersey and I’d have that man’s babies but Simon is a back-up and when we’re talking about keepers that’s not even the same thing as looking at Adam Lallana as a true impact sub what I’m saying is that the silver lining with Migs is it’s not difficult to make a solid upgrade.
As far as a second midfielder, I don’t think so. Can is too talented. Klopp wants him on the pitch at all times.
Ter Stergen? That’s awesome but seriously even Tim Krull would be a massive upgrade.
That’s just my opinion.
I also think that in the end Klopp is the prize of all prizes. But don’t sleep on Bobby Firmino because I think there’s magic in his boots.
And just to answer your question, yes I was diagnosed as ADD at 6 so I’m well aware my thoughts can be less than linear.
Sorry there was supposed to be a =P emojii there because that last line was meant to be playful and without that stupid winking simpleton I look a bit of a dick, lol.
We have no idea of the budget, we don;t know for certain which players in contract will leave, we have no real idea how attainable the most desirable targets are but all that said
OUT – Mig, Bogdan, Skrtel, Enrique (free), Henderson (for right price), Teixiera (free), Benteke. plus loan players – Balo (China surely?), Alberto (hopefully get a decent price he’s doing well), Yesil, Wisdom, Vigouroux
Back – Markovic, Canos, Grujic, Fulton
In – Fährmann (if ter-Stegan not possible), Matip, Kolašinac, Xhaka, Gotze, Lucas Moura.
Fährmann would be a good alternative to the more obvious GK names that have floated about. Promote Ward to No 2.
Sturridge chatter is interesting but unlikely, unless he wants to leave of course.
3/4 top (I mean top) players each year for next 3 years. No more squad players