Rodgers Gets Benefit But Can More Mid-Level Recruitment Save Liverpool?
With the opening of the transfer window fast approaching on July 1st, Liverpool will look to revitalize a rather stale and predictable squad. Having survived a humiliating 6-1 loss away to Stoke City on the final day of the season, many asked whether Brendan Rodgers was doing enough to merit further time and indeed money, that goes with it.
With Rodgers looking to have ridden the storm of indifference and discontent of Liverpool's impassioned faithful, now is the time for Rodgers to move on, but more importantly, in the right direction.
As their captain and talisman Steven Gerrard departs for Major League Soccer this summer and with the likely losses of Glen Johnson and Raheem Sterling at the very least, The Reds have the opportunity - a nigh-on necessity also - to inject a much needed dose of energy and vim into the squad. Above all though, Liverpool need new blood.
To Rodgers' credit, the recruitment process has begun in earnest, with the captures of James Milner from Manchester City and relegated Burnley hit-man Danny Ings. But is this what The Reds really need? Or merely the addition of more above-average talent, further papering over the cracks at Anfield.
The capture of James Milner is a shrewd move. The former Aston Villas, Leeds and Newcastle midfielder, is perhaps one of the hardest workers in the Premier League. His stats do not lie. This past term has been Milner's most salubrious for the Citizens, with five goals and eight assists in under 1800 minutes of play. Put into context, a full Premier League campaign is 3420 minutes. His best season numbers were from his 2009/10, finding the net seven times and assisting a mammoth 12 times for a mid table Aston Villa team. It were stats like this that got him the move to The Etihad and now ultimately Anfield, despite a decreased playing time.
Milner will fight; like a dog at times and is the ultimate utility man. For his new employers' however, he will have to be more. The 29-year old England international is almost certainly in the shake-up to take up the captain's armband on Merseyside, but for Liverpool, the question is, can Milner become not just a guaranteed starter, but a successful one, given his bit-part role at Man.City.
Liverpool's big issue last term was goals. With particular reference to the striking department. The risky-laden signing of Mario Balotelli has not paid off, but for the Italian to not find the net once domestically, is nothing short of catastrophic.
That brings us on to Ings. Ings will officially cross Lancashire into Merseyside on July 1st for between six and ten million pounds. But can the man who scored 11 goals step into the boots of messrs Torres, Suarez, et al. Can he make the step up to one of the biggest clubs across European football? As we saw with Southampton recruits Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana and more particularly Rickie Lambert, all three had checkered Liverpool campaigns, in the kindest of sentiments. The transition has been far from seemless for the trio.
Where Danny Ings may have the advantage, is he is a proven goalscorer as documented, with arguably better aerial prowess than Lambert, for someone of his relative stature. That is not to say we wont find Ings warming the bench frequently during his form dips - as indeed it did with Burnley. The difference on Turf Moor being, Ings was the big fish and could never be dropped.
With The Reds likely to suffer the departure of Sterling due to the player's unrest, who could Rodgers look to for a replacement? Philippe Coutinho will likely shoulder much of the responbility ins Sterling's absence, but will we see Jordon Ibe get his chance to stamp his name on the teamsheet?
The Reds need top-drawer quality still however. At this juncture luring talent is problematic without Champions League football to offer, as their rollercoaster ride across both European platforms continue. Even the Europa League's dangling carrot of automatic qualification for Europe's premier competition as winner, is not guaranteed, with qualifiers to negotiate. These will be major stumbling blocks to overcome.
Of course, we are only in mid-June, so perhaps judgement is best reserved for August. Liverpool have made good moves in the window so far, but much will be needed to satiate the needs and appetites of the Liverpool fanbase. If Brendan Rodgers cannot, then choppier waters may lie ahead for the Northern Irishman.