So I’ve been looking at the rumours of who we may sign and the analysis of the squad combined with what gaps are plainly obvious and decided to look at our requirements based on the Gerrard notion of youth is great, but we also need to look at bringing in some experience to compliment the youth. With that in mind, I’ve tried to indentify the standard of players we have in each position, what the gaps are and standard of player we need to fill the gap.
Player Rating A-E. This is an indication of the players performance and ability rating. This will not include overreactions to short term form dips or lack of playing time due to short term injury but will consider longer term injury or influences such as age and reoccurring injury.
Player Potential 1-5. This is an indication of the players ability to increase his current Player Rating. This is certainly more geared towards younger players.
A is an indication that the player is an integral part of the team; someone that has excelled and become the catalyst for their team achieving success. B implies that the player is not only doing well, but has become an integral part of his team and perhaps integral part of his National Team. C is an indication that a player is performing well D is a player whose last twelve months has disappointed. This might not be the player’s fault, often injuries or competition for places may contribute. E is awarded to players who have fallen badly by the wayside with no immediate indication that things are going to improve.
1 suggests there is no doubt that payer has the ability to kick on from his current performance level whereas 5 suggests they have very little chance of doing so.
Goalkeeper: Pepe Reina B+ 2 - Very good performer with enough merits in recent performances to suggest likely ability to recapture previous form Brad Jones C+ 4 - Better than average back up keeper with restricted potential to improve above current level. Peter Gulacsi D 4 - Hasn’t dislodged Jones, am not hearing much positive press that he will do so.
My transfer opinion - Buy a couple of highly rated younger goalkeepers – perhaps an English and foreign option. If the English keeper is plying his trade in a lower division, I would advocate loaning him somewhere he’ll get games say in the Dutch or Portuguese league to a team which plays with a similar philosophy in order to adapt him to the style and to the pressures of playing in a higher division. In the case of a keeper already in the first team of a side in the top division in one of the better European leagues, buy him and loan him back for 18 months.Assess after 12 months and make decisions on each one ‘s future.
Right back: Glen Johnson B+ 3 - Very good performer with a small possibility of improving defensive lapses to take him to the next level Martin Kelly B 2 - More defensively sound, but still learning finer points of full back play. Andre Wisdom C 2 - Converting from CB means there’s still a lot to learn but a lot to like.
My transfer opinion - There’s a lot of cover here including the less fancied Jon Flanagan, and the very very promising Mclaughlin so I see little point in investing in this area.
Left back: Jose Enrique C+ 3 - Significant lapse in form at the end of lat year and the start of this season, plus injury have placed questions in my mind over our No.3
My transfer opinion - Beyond JE there’s Johnson playing on the ‘wrong side’ or Downing. There’s no other option that has been used this season after that which is surprising considering the performances of Jack Robinson last year. If we could bring in a top drawer left back or a young B rated player who is currently a first choice LB, then the to of them could fight it out for the 1st team starting spot. Another LB could allow JE to give us an option further up the field as well.
Centre back: Daniel Agger B+ 3 - Excellent ball playing defender, small question marks over pace and injury record, but no question over his footballing abilities Martin Skrtel B 4 - Very solid EPL standard CB. To my mind, he’s shown glimpses of excellence that suggests he could step up to the next level, but occasional lapses and not blessed with electric pace make me think this step up won’t happen. J Carragher C+ 5 - Very solid, experienced and rugged defender. Likely to not play too many more games. LFC Legend. Seb Coates D 4 - Looked a prospect when we signed, but has been continually overlooked by Rodgers. Defensive lapses may be ironed out with experience, but that lack of pace is troubling. Danny Wilson E 4 - Looked great at Rangers, should have been loaned out to a good side with a similar footballing philosophy when it was clear he wasn’t going to break up SkAgger. May have lost too much developmental time sitting in the reserves to fulfil early expectation.
My transfer opinion - The other factor we have little knowledge about is whether Kelly and Wisdom are going to be transitioned back into the centre back position or whether their long term future lies at full back. I have not considered them CB’s for the purpose of this as they have not played at centre back for the first team. I think we need a player who can instantly push SkAgger. Ideally, the player would have pace, physicality and be good on the ball. This may be difficult to obtain in one player and we could be looking at a ball playing centre back plus a quick physical player. In my mind with Wilson and Coates behind in their development and playing time and with Carragher approaching 35, this really is an area we need a player to come in at the higher end of the ratings. Perhaps this is summer business rather than January business though.
Defensive Midfield: Lucas Leiva C 3 - Still getting back into match fitness and not currently showing the level of form that saw him dominate many games before his injury.
My transfer opinion - We have cover in this area, but not a direct replacement for the golden brazilian. We can play with the system to accommodate our cover, but for a like for like swap, we are lacking. Covering this position is going to be a bit of a headache. Its a one man job. Whoever we sign has to know they are understudy to Lucas, or they are there to take the place off of him. I can’t imagine too many players who we as fans would find an exciting signing, would want to sign as cover, so I would personally look to approach this position very much like the goalkeeper position and look to buy a two or three highly rated younger DM’s. With DM’s, as long as their specialist position is DM, they may very well be able to get games at CM or perhaps CB. Again, let’s look at deciding who’s best to stay with the squad and look at loaning the other/s out somewhere they’ll get games to a team which plays with a similar philosophy.
Central Midfield: Steven Gerrard B+ 3 - Showing signs of adapting style of play, but is very much being accommodated in the new system and we need that to happen, as we are lacking the creativity and potency further up the field. J Henderson C+ 2 - Has come through a difficult first season and is showing glimpses of excellence and I’m certainly expecting to see more from him. Could very well become a solid 1st teamer for years to come. Joe Allen C 2 - Showed a lot of early promise but has recently seen a dip in form, but those early performances indicate a player with some considerable potential.
My transfer opinion - This position is slightly overstocked at the moment, but when Gerrards influence starts to wane (next season or season after) he’s not going to be the nailed on starter he currently is. When that time comes hopefully Rodgers will have two excellent midfielders who he has shaped accordingly. Allen certainly seems comfortable as the link player, and does a half decent job of a DM. Henderson seems to be growing into a more action style getting more and more involved in attacking play, so maybe we have the balance just right.
Attacking Midfield: Jonjo Shelvey C 2 - Still only twenty and wants to play a more creative role. Has to work on decision making (as does many a 2 0yr old but physical attributes may dictate where he plays rather than actual ability Suso C 1 - Still only 18 and has played out of position for most of his game time in the first team. No doubt there’s a cracking little player in there.
My transfer opinion - if Rodgers were to play Gerrard here occasionally, I wouldn’t think we’d need to recruit in this area, but as it stands we do have a gap when it comes creativity, guile and flair just in behind the forwards and obtaining a proven attacking midfielder would be very beneficial but not necessarily urgent.
Wide forward: R Sterling B 2 - Potentially suffering a little burn out right now, but hasn’t our young winger been a revelation this year? Still lots to learn, but don‘t you just suspect he’ll do just that? Stuart Downing C 4 - Just looked so poor all of last season and whilst this season has recently shown he may have a little bit in his locker that we haven’t seen, I think the writings on the wall for such a traditional winger. O Assaidi C 3 - Hasn’t had much chance in the league, but I’ve read conjecture that he’s had a knock? May explain his absence as whilst he may not be a world beater, he certainly gives us something different.
My transfer opinion - More than any position on the pitch, if we had a world beater in this position, then I think we’d improve our results dramatically. Imagine having a Ronaldo type (not saying he’s a realistic target) cutting in from wide supplying goals and assists? We are in desperate need of a match winner – a creator. These usually come from wide forward positions or attacking midfield and with the numbers we have in central midfield, it makes sense to me that we should be looking at this position to find our match winner. Would also like to see us pick up a very highly rated couple of youth players to loan out.
Centre forward: Luis Suarez A 3 - One of the best in the world – and versatile too! D Sturridge C+ 2 - Only a few minutes played and seems to be striking up a good partnership with Luis. Showing enough to suggest he can get better and better Fabio Borini C 3 - Makes good runs and gets in good positions, but doesn’t have electric pace, isn’t blessed with great trickery and hasn’t set the world alight with his goalscoring; but from an effort and versatility perspective, could be Rodgers Dirk Kuyt equivalent!
My transfer opinion - Like we did buying Yesil, I’d like to see us continually invest in bringing the best potential for this position to the club and look to loan them out to aid their development.
We seem to have a lot of C’s where we are hoping they will recapture form, or see their development kick on so that they become a B and even in some cases and A; but they’re not there yet. A match winner in the wide forward position, good cover or even a replacement for Lucas and the same (good cover or a replacement) at left back would strengthen the squad up considerably and make us more damgerous. But of those two, the wide forward and left back really need to be able to make a telling contribution straight away.