After Naby Keita fell to another injury and Liverpool fell to another draw, the same questions came up about squad depth and the midfield…
DOUBLE, double, toil and trouble. Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
As spooky season swept over Merseyside, Naby Keita doubled in pain, Liverpool toiled and were troubled, while Brighton’s fire burned and the Anfield cauldron bubbled under the surface.
The atmosphere was the most muted I’ve seen so far for a home game this season and that became immediately apparent long before kick off, as Jamie Webster tried his best to gee up his admiring audience outside Taggy’s Bar.
Team news rumours had been kicking around from early in the day, which may have fed into the fears of fans. The Manchester United midfield was set to go again, save for Curtis Jones replacing James Milner. It lasted all of 20 minutes though, as Keita pulled up with a hamstring injury which Jurgen Klopp has confirmed will keep him “out for a while”.
Naby’s injury and the subsequent disappointment of dropped points brought up the same old questions about squad depth, and whether Liverpool could and should have done more to cover themselves better in the summer window. Did somebody say Groundhog Day?
I say could and should because they are two different questions. Could Liverpool have protected themselves better against injury this season, especially with the defensive injury crisis of last term still fresh in the mind? Absolutely yes. Should they have brought a body or two more in? That I’m less sure about.
For us supporters it’s easy, really. It’s always black and white. Buy them or don’t. Be deep or be left short. To the decision makers at the club there is much more nuance. If we buy this player, how does he fit in? Will he adapt to our demands? Will he adopt our culture? What does his arrival say to our other lads? What if he ends up getting injured?
Because that’s the thing, injuries happen and we can’t stop that. Such is our need for a silver bullet answer to everything, we’ll find scapegoats in players’ fitness regimes, diets, the staff looking after their wellbeing and dealing with their injuries. I’ve referenced in the past the time that John Achterberg’s job was being called for during our goalkeeping crisis.
We don’t know most of what goes on inside the club, so we fill in gaps. Then if anybody questions it they’re accused of being for or against the manager, the owners, or any other figure that can possibly divide opinion, and then we fall out over it. Did somebody say Groundhog Day?
It’s possible Liverpool looked at midfield recruitments in particular over the summer. They always explore every possible avenue, but have been very successful with their recruitment in recent times because they are thorough and like to make absolutely sure it’s the right fit. They probably didn’t find that fit in the summer and decided to stick.
They would’ve had confidence that every member of Liverpool’s midfield — which is seven, according to the club website’s first team profile page — could make a contribution this season. A few would need better luck with injuries but if, say, Naby was to go injury free for a whole season (just bear with me) Klopp could have an extra disgruntled player on his hands.
Once one or two injuries happen you have to rely more on other players and that increased strain can cause them to break down too. That is something Liverpool could probably adapt better to since the schedules are only getting more extensive, but questions should always be asked about just how much is being asked of the footballers.
Plus we all want to see youngsters getting a chance, and admittedly that too needs to be tempered — I’m sure the club didn’t anticipate Tyler Morton making Premier League benches this season — but compromises have to be made to allow that to happen, and the easiest compromise will always be ‘well let’s not bring in a big question mark of a new lad then’.
We live in a world which is getting increasingly worse at accepting that nuance exists and acknowledging that other people’s jobs might not be as easy as we think, unless it suits an “agenda” of course.
This is an issue that carries nuance and isn’t as easy as saying ‘let’s buy a few lads we aren’t overly sure about and worry about the rest later’. That’s how you end up in Manchester United’s situation.
Maybe I’m being too reasonable. It’s just that, where I’m from, being unbeaten in all competitions after 15 games is definitely not the time to be pressing any panic buttons.
Oh, and Thiago and Fabinho are back in training. So what was all the fuss about?
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“Liverpool looked completely short and unbalanced in the middle of the park after Keita’s injury.”— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) November 1, 2021
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The article makes it sound like we are overly stocked with reliable players.
We’ve known enough about keita and thiago – that they are both injury prone
We let wijnaldum go
Elliot is unlucky.
But for a club that wants to win trophies (they do, not sure about FSG), we should have bought 1 world class midfielder (do we have one?)
This is on the owners and their strict budget.
Nowhere to hide this season for them.
Oh, and sign Salah if FSG don’t want a serious mutniy
Last preseason everyone knew we needed a replacement for lovren. It didn’t happen and we paid for it. Who knows where we’d have ended up. We got a replacement for degs a season too late even though we knew he was going. It was obvious for a whole season Gini was doing a Michael owen and yet no replacement. He’ll come in the summer but our next problem will probably go unaddressed, aging hendo/milner. Jones isn’t ready to be a regular and jury’s out wether he’s got the defensive side, hendo can’t do 3 games in a week any more, naby fab and Thiago all prone to injury. Jurgen knows it all and is doing his admirable job of covering for the owners. Champs league our best bet this season
Shoulda kept Gini, fittest and most robust midfielder, knows the system, and has the skillset for the system, not one of our current mf’s is any where near Gini’s fitness levels
we were all susprised at Naby’s run of games in succession, but pushed it too far and now he is out longer term once more, this is very much because of lack of options.
No excuses, had all the teachings last year, addresed that with CB’s but have repeated mistake with the midfield this season. simply must have more than enough players, because of injuries, this will invariably become just enough players.
Because of time it takes even a player of Fabinho’s quality to bed in and learn the system a signing in Jan may not have much an impact this season, more the following
Considering the squad depth of our plutocratic and oil rich backed rivals and Liverpool’s shortsighted stubborness I spent the weekend reconciling that Liverpool will not win the league,
Its the hope that kills, so now hopefully I can relax and enjoy it a bit more, watching the likes of Tyler develop