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Team Sorted

Liverpool shouldn't rip it up and start again

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Antony Melvin

Antony Melvin is the squarefootball.net editor and spends his spare time sifting through needlessly abusive emails....
[full biography]
25/05/2007 10:30:00.
read: 2766 times.

In the aftermath of the Athens anti-climax there have been some excited pundits suggesting that Liverpool should clear out their 'underperforming' team. This is extremely harsh considering that although Liverpool were ordinary domestically, they really should have won the European Cup on Wednesday; they bossed possession and were undone by a flukish goal.

As an example of overkill the Guardian today suggests that sixteen players are 'on their way out' or 'open to offers'; Fowler, Gonzalez, Zenden, Dudek, Padelli, Cisse, Guthrie, Le Tallec, Bellamy, Carson, Hyypia, Crouch, Pennant, Riise, Kewell and Arbeloa.

Whilst the loss of four or five fringe players wouldn't matter - selling the likes of Crouch, Pennant, Carson or Kewell would appear to be counter-productive. And would also call into question Rafa Benitez's transfer record.

The new American owners have already commissioned a report from Deloitte & Touche on the transfer policy of Rafa Benitez and it is probably headlined 'obsessed with buying reserves'. One valid criticism of Rafa Benitez is that he almost refuses to bring through reserves and youth players that he has not purchased. As a result he has spent £80m on players (he has recouped half of this) none of whom could be validly called world class. Whether this was symptomatic of his relationship with Steve Heighway or not it has not always helped. Only Chelsea can afford to buy in every player these days - Manchester United and Arsenal are peppered with players who have come through the youth system. Even if a youth team is generally poor (Liverpool's isn't - it has just retained the FA Youth Cup) there is always a gem or two; so why wasn't Stephen Warnock given an extended run, for example?

Now, though, Benitez seems converted to the idea that success needs to be bought, and quickly. In acknowledging that Liverpool need to buy in some finished articles, hopefully he will stop fiddling about with £6m - £12m signings who pad out the squad, but don't add much to the first team.

Running through the Liverpool team there really is little need to be dismantling it.

In goal Pepe Reina is a good goalkeeper and Scott Carson should return from loan to push him hard. In defence Agger has been a success this season and alongside Carragher is half of a powerful pairing; Hyypia is a valuable reserve. At fullback Finnan is consistently excellent and although Riise has his critics he is a decent defender and offers a goal threat. In midfield Mascherano is looking superb and alongside Alonso (despite the Spaniard's 'dip' season) he would offer a brilliant base for the team.

That settled back seven leaves only four places up for grabs - and obviously Steven Gerrard fills one of them, and there should be room for the hardworking Dirk Kuyt - possibly slightly withdrawn behind a star striker. If Harry Kewell does return to full fitness he has the ability to play for any team in the world. Which makes ten.

With all the £6m - £14m signings that are available in reserve (Bellamy, Crouch, Garcia, Pennant, Cisse) there can be real focus on the big one. Benitez needs to buy a striker that pushes Liverpool on - rather than covers for injury. A goalscorer, a team man and a winner all rolled into one.

For me Benitez needs to spend whatever it takes on the best striker in the world; and for me if you want to buy one striker it would be Samuel Eto'o. Stick £50m on the table, buy the man and win the title.

My Liverpool XI for 2007/8

Finnan, Agger, Carragher, Riise
Alonso, Mascherano
Gerrard, Kuyt, Kewell

It will take nerve from Benitez to sanction such a deal because if it goes badly wrong then the interminal Liverpool wait for domestic supremacy will start to weigh heavily. No manager of the 'big four' can reasonably expect to be given more than five seasons to mould a title winning team - and next season is Benitez's fourth.

The Athens come-down has been heavy - but Liverpool can win the league by adding to their solid base; now is not the time to rip it up and start again.

Latest article feedback

tristan campbell:

 i think the article was correct in saying we should not just rip it up and start agian we have a really good squad we just need to finish it off with a natural goal scorer because the delivery to the box is there just not enough talent to convert it to goals i think torres or eto are the men for the job or even both come on rafa get it together


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