PlayersPosted by Leif Larsson Wed, January 14, 2015 17:15:20
The January transfer window has almost reached halfway stage and so far no new player has arrived at Anfield. We certainly need a few to be able to compete for a top four finish. Goalkeeper, centre-back and striker positions are prioritized.
Last season Liverpool didn´t sign any player in January. This time around manager Brendan Rodgers has hinted that the same can happen. But even if it´s more difficult to find suitable and available players in January than in the summer Liverpool must try. We require some new blood and strength in our quest for Chamions League qualification.
A new goalkeeper is a necessity. Simon Mignolet has been awful at times, average on other occasions and only rarely of decent standard. He is shaky and unreliable. We need to sign a steady and self-confident keeper good on the deck and in the air. Rumours say that Fiorentina keeper Neto is heading to L4. I don´t really know how good he is but probably better than Simon ”Bundles of Nerves” Mignolet.
No player in central defence has been convincing. Martin Skrtel, Kolo Toure and Dejan Lovren are all accidents waiting to happen. They make silly mistakes and are too often out of position and not alert enough. Mamadou Sakho has not been as clumsy as these three but is not quite ready to be the defensive leader. Signs is that he can be but he needs a cool customer beside him to improve further. There hasn´t been so many rumours about central defenders signing for Liverpool but players like Ron Vlaar, Aston Villa, Winston Reid, West Ham or Ryan Shawcross, Stoke, could come in and do a good job. At least short-term.
The striker position must also be reinforced. After Daniel Sturridge got injured no other Red attacker has been able to fulfil the role in a satisfactory way. Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert cannot find the net even if their life depended on it and not even Raheem Sterling excelled when tried as a striker on a couple of times. A prolific, experienced and hungry forward is needed to stop the goal-scoring-rot. Even if Sturridge is back soon there is no guarantee that he will bang in the goals directly and a new injury is also a probability. A high-class back-up or complement must be signed. Players like Ezequiel Lavezzi and Gonzalo Higuain has been mentioned and would be fine acquisitions.
No Red player has been consistently good this season so every position is up for grabs. So both defence and midfield could also do with som fresh faces to up the competition for places.
But maybe the current staff can manage a successful assault on top four if a new striker, centre-back and goalkeeper arrives. In the last few games players like Emre Can and Lazar Markovic has shown promise just as Adam Lallana did before his injury. And if these guys and Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho can reach their highest level in the run-in and Steven Gerrard play his heart out in his final months then top four is a possibility.
With this in mind:
We go Again.
PlayersPosted by Leif Larsson Thu, October 09, 2014 20:50:43
Time to conclude the look into how the new players in Liverpool FC has fared so far. Five newcomers has been under the microscope, now we turn to Emre Can, Lazar Markovic and Mario Balotelli. None of them has, regrettably, set the world alight.
• Emre Can, signed for £10m from Bayer Leverkusen.
Brought in to be a defensive monster in midfield. He played quite a lot, and well, in pre-season and seemed to have made the starting eleven. But when the regular season started he didn´t get any pitch-time in the first league match and in the following two he replaced Joe Allen twice coming in from the bench in the scond half. And after that he was injured and has not returned yet.
So the 20-year old German with Turkish roots has not been able to show what he can do. Even if he had stayed fit it would have been a lot to ask from such a young guy to be the anchor man in midfield in a big club like Liverpool. Perhaps he can be in the future, he certainly has got the physical attributes, but right now he nothing but an unknown quantity. Okay, he played a lot of games for Leverkuen last season and has represented Germany at a number of levels but not until he has played some matches for the Reds is it possible to know if he is going to make it at Anfield.
• Lazar Markovic, signed for £20m from Benfica.
Another 20-year old with a incredibly huge transfer fee weighing him down. It´s namely plausible to think that the pretty penny paid for him is holding the Serb back. So far Markovic has hardly showed anything to justify his price tag. Only a few pacy runs has indicated that he can be a threat to opposing defences. His contrubution has otherwise been sparse. Has bottled a few goalscoring chances and is drifting out of matches for long periods. His game-time has also held him back. Two starts and two subtitutions in in the league is nothing to build anything on.
The opinions about him was divided among experts when he arrived. Some people said Liverpool had signed a gem, others claimed it was a waste of money. At present the latter is the correct statement. But it´s too early to dismiss the winger cum attacker. He has just left his teens and can still be a valuable player for the Reds. Time will tell but right now the prospects doesn´t look so good. And to pay so much money for him was undoubtely a gamble of russian roulette proportions.
• Mario Balotelli, signed for £16m from Milan.
Talking of gambling with money and the name Balotelli pops up in a flash. The self-willed Italian is only 24 but has already made an name for himself both on and off the football field. When he played for Manchester City 2010-2013 you never knew what you would get. A lazy 90 minutes or a world class display. It was more of the former and some odd things off the pitch meant City sent him packing. In Milan he was calmer and played quite well and scored a decent amount of goals.
Many says Liverpool is his last chance saloon. So far the saloon door is more than ajar and Balotelli is standing in the doorway on his way out. Okay, perhaps he´s not so close to leaving but the talented striker must show a lot more to justify a longer stay with Liverpool. No league goals yet and only a couple of performances better than average is not of required standard. He can be menace, he can work hard, he has shown that. But he can also be infuriatingly uninterested and too selfish in his actions. Hopefully manager Brendan Rodgers can drive him in the right direction. Then he can be a top striker for the Reds. Right now he is nothing of the sort.
The verdict on these three newcomers is thumbs down. None of them has convinced that they are made for Liverpool or Liverpool made for them. (Sorry Shanks for loaning your words). But it´s early doors so let´s hope they can come good, stay inside the Kop door and declare:
We Go Again.
PlayersPosted by Leif Larsson Wed, October 08, 2014 13:14:44
Eight new players are in their first months with Liverpool. How are they doing so far, ten games into the season? Yesterday I wrote about Southampton signings Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert. Today it´s time to examine three new defenders: Dejan Lovren, Javier Manquillo and Alberto Moreno. And in an upcoming entry Lazar Markovic, Emre Can and Mario Balotelli will get their early verdicts.
• Dejan Lovren, signed for £20m from Southampton.
Came to Southampton last season and quickly established himself as one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League. Liverpool tracked him for a long time in the summer and Lovren himself wanted a move to L4. Finally it materialised. The common view was that the Reds had captured a high class defender. Well, at this point it´s still a bit debatable.
The Croatian has not shown the same standard as in the Saints shirt. It started well, though. Against Borussia Dortmund in the last pre-season match he acted as a leader, organizing the defence and playing with composure and self-confidence. He has been a regular since then but his efforts has declined. And in recent matches sunk to a non-acceptable level. He is known for aerial stregth but is not body-checking or getting up properly in duels right now. He misreads situations and is too often outpaced because of it. Perhaps he is not good enough for a team striving to be the best. At Southampton the demands was much lower. Now it remains to be seen if the 25-year old can raise his game and be the much needed boss in defence. Right now I have my doubts, hopefully they can be wiped out - and soon.
• Javier Manquillo, signed on loan from Atletico Madrid.
The 20-year old full back has directly been thrown in at the deep end due to injuries to Jan Flanagan and Glen Johnson and beacuse Andre Wisdom (loan) and Martin Kelly (sold) has left the club. He became the only recognised right back and has made a good account for himself. Not in a fantastic way but he´s been steady and filled the position well.
In his first matches the eagerness and inspiration shone through. He worked hard and participated a lot in attack. He still does but not with the same intensity and quality. A weakness is his positioning and naivety going forward leaving gaps behind him that opponents from time to time has used. His crossing is a bit wayward sometimes.
Like many young players Manquillo´s form is swaying and he needs a rest and will probably get one now that Johnson is back from injury. Age is on his side and if he stays he has a good chance to be Liverpool´s right back for a longer period. He´s got the ball skills, pace and mentality to make it. But he is not there yet. The Spaniard has still a lot to learn but has made a promising start in his new environment.
Alberto Moreno, signed for £12m from Sevilla.
Moreno has copied his fellow countryman Manquillo in a lot of things during his first months in Liverpool. He has been enthusiastic and keen to show what he can do. Especially in attack where he has been like a whirlwind sometimes. Even more whirlwindish than snooker player Jimmy White. Moreno possess frightening pace and combines it with fine technique and courage. His goal against Tottenham was a beauty and proved how dangerous he can be going (running) forward.
But just like Manquillo his performances has been up and down. It´s understandable since he is still only 22. And precisely as his back four compatriot he has his biggest weakness in defending. He is occasionally outmuscled by bigger players and forgets his defensive duties sometimes being stranded high up the pitch thinking only offensively. But the talent is there for everyone to see. He is already keeping left-back rival José Enrique out of the starting eleven and as the season proceeds Moreno will be one of the best fullbacks in the league. That is at least my firm belief.
So the verdict on these three players is that Lovren has under-performed, Manquillo is showing promise and Moreno is already almost established. Perhaps the future will tell another story when:
We Go Again.
PlayersPosted by Leif Larsson Tue, October 07, 2014 16:22:39
Liverpool has now played ten games, seven in the Premier League, two in the Champions League and one in the League Cup. Time for a first verdict on the newcomers in the Liverpool squad. Unfortunately, the negatives outnumbers the positives.
Liverpool signed nine players in the summer. One, striker Divock Origi, was loaned back to his club Lille. The other eight has been tryin to settle in and make a name for themselves.
None has been completely convincing. Here is a player by player check and I start with two of the newcomers, two guys from Southampton. The other six will be scrutinised in upcoming entries.
• Rickie Lambert, signed for £4m from Southampton.
Lambert was a success story during his five seasons with the Saints, of which two were in the top flight. He scored 28 goals in the Premier League. In Liverpool he is struggling. He hardly gets any game-time, has for instance only started one league match, the latest versus West Bromwich. So far no goals from the striker and his general play has been well below par. He seems slow, his first touch is not good and he hasn´t made his mark in the aerial duels either, his strong point. A good sign versus WBA was his work ethics and running at and behind the back four.
Lambert was born i Kirkby and a Liverpool supporter since childhood. He is therefore desperate to prove himself. Nothing is coming off for him though, but if he can get that first elusive goal and play a little more the burden will decrease. His role is to be a valuable squad player and an impact-sub from the bench, a plan B when Liverpool run out of ideas. But so far he has only sporadically and in a small way influenced matches. But he can do better as his performances for Southampton showed. But time is running out for the 32-year old. But I haven´t given up hope, yet, about the big centre-forward.
• Adam Lallana, signed for £23m from Southampton.
Lallana started the season on the sidelines injured and missed the first three league matches. In the other seven cup and league games he has started five times and been substituted in twice. In his first games the rust shone through and he seemed a little lost and wasn´t really sure of his place in the team. In his last two starts, versus Everton and West Bromwich, Lallana has been Liverpool´s best player. He is rapidly starting to show how useful he can and will be for the Reds.
He has a few tricks up his sleeve, is working hard, has two quick feet, moves all the time, combines well with his teammates and can put the ball in the net as he proved against West Brom. If he keeps this up he will easily be worth his fee and definitely help Liverpool climb the table. He was in the Premier League team last season, he is close to that form again in the red shirt. His price tag doesn´t seem to bother him. The 26-year old attacking midfielder is enjoying his football and others should follow suit.
So far Adam Lallana seems to be a really good buy while Rickie Lambert still has a lot to prove.
Whatever the duo is doing in the near future they must tell each other:
We Go Again.
PlayersPosted by Leif Larsson Mon, August 25, 2014 16:43:07
The sale of Luis Suarez that allegedly brought 75 million pounds into the Liverpool war chest plus a substantial amount of extra money from the owners has made it possible for Liverpool to broaden and sharpen the squad. But is it now on a par with Manchester Citys where Arab owners has spend large sums on players for a few years now? Let´s examine.
Tonight one of the most thrilling games of the season is on show. Reigning league champions Man City play hosts to Liverpool FC, last seasons unlucky runners-up. The general view is that Liverpool had a starting eleven in the same class as Man City last season, but a far lesser squad, both in depth and quality.
Has Liverpool´s nine signings (I don´t include the two youngsters from Tottenham but Mario Balotelli) this summer levelled it out? Eight of them is eligible this season, striker Divock Origi join in next year.
Here is an assessment of the strength throughout both teams.
Goalkeepers: In this department Man City has the upper hand. And safer ones. Both Joe Hart and new signing Willy Caballero are at least as good as Liverpool´s Simon Mignolet. And better than our reserve keeper Brad Jones. Hart is still a notch higher than Mignolet in class. The rating of Caballero is of course what I have read about him. I don´t remember seeing him play and perhaps he is not as good as our first choice custodian and as capable as some people claim. But on the whole Man City is better equipped.
Fullbacks: With our new acquisitions Javier Manquillo and Alberto Moreno Reds have taken considerable steps towards being on the same level as Citizens. They´ve got one of the best fullbacks in the league in Pablo Zabaleta but otherwise we match their set-up man for man. That is if Moreno and Manquillo is as classy as expected. Then these two plus Jon Flanagan, José Enrique and Glen Johnson is as able as City´s Bacary Sagna, Aleksandar Kolarov, Micah Richards and Gael Clichy. Still a small advantage for Man City.
Central defenders: Here City boasts Vincent Kompany, by many regarded as the best centreback in the league. But I don´t think he is all that fantastic. Our own Dejan Lovren will soon be his equal, if he isn´t that already, and even surpass him. The rest of the defenders in this cathegory are evenly matched. Eliaquim Mangala cost City 32 million pounds and should be a rock. But so is Martin Skrtel, and he has a lot of Premier League experience which Mangala lacks. Liverpool´s Mamadou Sakho is as good as Matija Nastasic and Martin Demichelis, perhaps better, and Daniel Agger is also at least as competent as these two light blue boys. Right now it´s a close call but soon enough Liverpool will be on the front foot.
Central midfielders: At the moment Manchester City is better off. Yaya Toure and Fernandinho, the best central midfield pairing in the league last season, has got a new accomplished player beside them, Fernando. Steven Gerrard, new boy Emre Can and Joe Allen can not match them.
Attacking midfielders: Both teams has got really skilful players in this part of the team. And the Reds edge out Citizens. Raheem Sterling is better than Jesus Navas, there is not much between Philippe Coutinho and David Silva, Adam Lallana is more effective than Samir Nasri and James Milner is probably more hardworking than Lazar Markovic but not as dangerous. Okay, the last rating is something I don´t know yet but believe in. Furthermore, Jordan Henderson and Jordon Ibe is better than Frank Lampard and Scott Sinclair.
Strikers: A section where City has got more class. With Luis Suarez gone Sergio Agüero is now arguably the best forward in Premier League. His three compatriots Alvaro Negredo, Stevan Jovetic and Edin Dzeko are also of high quality. Liverpool are a bit behind. Daniel Sturridge competes with Agüero as best striker in the league but Mario Balotelli (if he signs), Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini (if he doesn´t leave) is not as good as the City trio. Balotelli is an unknown quantity and could be a smash hit. But he can also be a failing, disrupting figure. Time will tell. At the moment, though, City rule this department.
So all in all City is better in four out of six cathegories, Liverpool heads one and the last one is a tie. The conclusion is that Liverpool are closer than before and not so far behind in squad strength. But we need one or two more transfer windows to close the gap.
So when its´time to buy:
We Go Again.
PlayersPosted by Leif Larsson Thu, August 21, 2014 14:39:15
He has played second fiddle in a few ways, now it´s time for Raheem Sterling to take center stage and score 20 goals or more for Liverpool this season.
Raheem Sterling left QPR for Liverpool academy in 2010. In March 2012 he made his first league appearence for Liverpool and became the second youngest to do so being 17 years and 107 days old at the time. In October the same year he once more were the second youngest, this time to score for Liverpool in the league. Recently he has been playing second fiddle, even third, to Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge in the red forward line.
But this season Sterling, still only 19 years old, could well lead the attacking orchestra. The Jamaica-born winger and forward has developed sensationally in a year or two. From a shy, unprolific and one-dimensional (speed) player to an almost complete attacker.
His outrageous pace, both from a standstill to maximum speed and at full throttle running at defenders, is still his best weapon. Sterling has in an astonishing rate added plenty of components to that. He is tactical pretty astute already, quite strong in duels, a good passer of the ball, improving in dribbling and tricks and even his heading is getting better, proof coming against Southampton when he rose to steer the ball with his head into Sturridge´s path for the winner.
And above all, his goalscoring ability has substantially been upgraded, also seen against the Saints when he cooly and precisely put the ball in the net for the opener.
And I am sure he will be even more prolific in the coming months. His rapid feet and awarenwess of how to beat the offside trap will take him to numerous of gilt-edged chances. And he will convert a lot of them. And after every goal he will be more and more relaxed in these situations. His overall and growing game intelligence is also going to help him get into positions where goals can be scored.
I predict that Flash Sterling will compete for the golden boot to be top marksman in the Premier League and definitely score 20 league goals. Could even be 25.
And every time he puts the ball in the net the motto is:
I (we) go again.
PlayersPosted by Leif Larsson Fri, August 15, 2014 13:50:33
The Liverpool door where newomers enter is constantly revolving this summer but no striker of significance has passed through it. The clock is ticking, time is running out and Reds must find an additional, capable forward before the transfer window shuts.
When Luis Suarez went Rickie Lambert signed. But that is not enough - by a long chalk. Loic Remy was on the verge but never came. Since then, if we should believe the newspapers and football sites, Liverpool have almost desperately chased an attacker. Names like Radamel Falcao, Edinson Cavani, Marco Reus, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Mauro Icardi and Wilfried Bony has been mentioned and lately Samuel Eto´o and Giuseppe Rossi. Among others.
Hopefully Brendan Rodgers and his co-workers know what they are doing and not jumping from one option to another without a plan. There is only a couple of weeks of transfer window left and this is not the time to be desperate. Then it´s a high risk of a too expensive and totally misplaced buy.
But at his point it´s a tricky job to find a striker who fits the bill both in terms of ability and price and at the same time is right for the Liverpool style. And above all are willing to play second fiddle to Daniel Sturridge. Because that is in store for a striker coming in unless it´s a 50 million pound acqusition, and that is not likely. More likely it will be, at best, a player costing about 20 million pounds.
Right now it seems that the most probable signing is Swansea´s Wilfried Bony. He is big, powerful and a decent goalscorer but hardly suitable for the football played by the red men.
Perhaps Liverpool has got someone else up their sleeve, an established, suitable striker who can immediately do a job for the team. Because we really need a striker to stand-in för Sturridge when (not if) he is out injured.
Hopefully the Liverpool staff hasn´t given up hope and after every missed opportunity to sign a striker has this in mind:
We go again.