Liverpool FC – Where do we go from here?

We can all sit and ponder on the future of our beloved clubs and there may actually be some owners who don’t just see football clubs as a commercial enterprise, and here at Liverpool it would seem we are finding ourselves in that enviable position.

On the back of a decision to offer Kenny Dalglish a 2 year contract and a return to the Shankly way of dealing with the club, the way it’s run and the way matters on the field are dealt with, it would be the icing on the cake if some major investment plans were laid on the table for strengthening the squad.

Chelsea have been the architects of their own downfall by keeping faith with an ageing squad whereas other clubs like Arsenal have relied a little too much on youth, maybe Liverpool can grasp the nettle and bring in an exciting mixture of both youth and experience

Luckily there’s no need to be an alarmist just yet, but with Steven Gerrard approaching his 31st birthday in May, how long will we have our Captain Marvel and if the worst happened? Do we really have a replacement?

Jamie Carragher is now 33 and, like Gerrard, is an inspirational leader but cannot go on forever. Don’t get me wrong; they would be two of the first names on my greatest ever Liverpool team sheet.

But replacements are thin on the ground.

Liverpool's new owners John W. Henry (L) and Tom Werner (R) applaud the teams before their English Premier League soccer match against Everton at Goodison Park in Liverpool, northern England, October 17, 2010. Henry's New England Sports Ventures, owners of the Boston Red Sox, completed a takeover of the Premier League club on Friday. REUTERS/Phil Noble (BRITAIN - Tags: BUSINESS SPORT SOCCER) NO ONLINE/INTERNET USAGE WITHOUT A LICENCE FROM THE FOOTBALL DATA CO LTD. FOR LICENCE ENQUIRIES PLEASE TELEPHONE ++44 (0)

Dirk Kuyt – whilst he runs like a greyhound now – even he cannot out-run Father time. Do we run the risk of being another Chelsea and being left with a team that needs more replacements than there are players of any quality let alone affordability available.

So does Kenny Dalglish take a leaf out of Alex Ferguson’s book and start blooding a few of our more accomplished Reserves? Certainly Jay Spearing didn’t look out of his depth at Sunderland and Martin Kelly for me has been a revelation.

Maybe we move on a couple of the less remarkable players such as Christian Poulsen, Milan Jovanavic and Joe Cole, who hasn’t really had that great an opportunity to shine in a Liverpool shirt, with the level of flair and ability that Luis Suarez has.

Pepe Reina has been an ever present between the sticks and has certainly had an illustrious career but if we are lead to believe rumours and paper talk, will he still be with us next season? If so should we wait and see how Peter Gulacsi or Brad Jones develops with the chance of a string of first team appearances? Or does Kenny delve into the transfer market and if it is the latter, who would be the target? There is conflicting opinion that Paul Robinson could be persuaded to join, but again, how many years would we get?

We need to look deeper into the future, there are budding keepers, central defenders, midfielders and strikers in our Academy, Youth and Reserve teams, but not quite the finished article. So the answer has to be the overly inflated market.

Could the end of Aquilani’s loan spell ease perhaps a midfield that lacks a little bit of a cutting edge? Whilst Lucas’s form has taken an up-turn, he still seems to play more sideways passes than needed.

The signing of Charlie Adam would be a good one and maybe given time he could fill a hole left by Gerrard, but that still leaves quite a few gaps: a decent left back, a right midfielder and most importantly a centre back.

I can only hope that Ayala gained the needed experience at Hull City to further his development and make an impact in the first team. As Arsenal have proved this season, there aren’t many decent centre backs on the market.

I don’t see Paul Konchesky as the most accomplished left back and Dirk Kuyt is not a natural winger. Arron Lennon would be an ideal target but with Tottenham doing so well, could he be persuaded to move?

The new owners of the club and Kenny Dalglish need to liaise with each other and come together with a single purpose; to move Liverpool Football Club forward and change the buy to win mentality that has seen a fortune spent – and in most cases wasted.

It’s time to look at the ground work, that clubs like Barcelona and Manchester united surround their younger players with and not be afraid to give them opportunities to showcase their talents and build a team for the future.

If clubs like Barcelona can be patient and develop their team then surely we can. Many believed Ferguson would fail when names such as David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes appeared on the team sheet, but with the right mixture of youth and experience great things can be achieved.

The experience was provided by players like Eric Cantona, Mark Hughes and Steve Bruce.

As I look at Liverpool, I know we have players that are experienced enough to nurture the youth, but if we are tempted to wait those players may no longer be able to assist them on the pitch.

It’s not a case of teams like Liverpool can’t do it because we have. Gerrard, Carragher, Steve Mcmanaman, Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen were all youngsters and home grown talent.

It’s more the case of we’ve forgotten and past managerial experiences haven’t followed this practice, leaving Liverpool now with a largely overvalued and over-ageing squad with little chance of a real shining talent to come.

I agree, if our reserve team are top of their league then you would expect there to be the quality, but why are they not blazing trails into the first team to learn and even provide the ‘legs’ for the older members?

Hopefully if we are returning to the ‘Shankly ways’, then the emergence of these players will not be far away.

Dan is an artists and Liverpool supporter since the age of 8. He began writing for This Is Anfield in 2011.
All posts are reactively-moderated and must obey the comment policy.
  • Corruptmonk

    “Certainly Jay Spearing didn’t look out of his depth at Sunderland and Martin Kelly for me has been a revelation”

    I agree with Martin Kelly being a relevation but Jay Spearing? I for one do not see him as being anything more than just a decent back-up player. People will flame me for that but i just do not see what he brings to the team esp in the sunderland match. In that match, he was just duplicating what Lucas did albeit more annoying so. We really need to strengthen in the summer esp bringing back Aqua.

  • Johnmathew

    I am a huge Stevie g fan from the time he joined the club… Its really sad to witness a side without stevie g. I am just a little anxious thinking about the summer. Would Pepe stay? For sure Arsenal and United will bid for him and he will prefer a move to United.. :(

    I hope the club persuade him to stay somehow as he is a very imp player. We lost xabi and i dont want pepe to go….

    as far as the transfer is concerned, better sign quality players else Suarez will be the next one to walk out in sometime!

  • HCallumH

    as soon as I saw that the article was a “focus on the youth” one I stopped reading.
    focusing on the youth = four or five years of mediocrity before we get to bring these players in, and even then it’s a risk they could flop at senior level.
    Unfortunately, the buy to win mentality is working at City and so there’s no reason it wouldn’t work here. it’s actually something we need.

    • dan garsed warner

      Hi Callum, thank you for the comment and to some extent i agree with you if only Rafa hadnt spent 229m in his time, i also have to point out that its not totally about the youth but we do have promising players in the reserves.
      again thank you for taking time to comment.

      • Casselden

        Rafa had a net of 10-12million, so considering we had Five out 6 succesful years we done more than ok. The legacy of the last 18months is still there to see. The last three months has shown us our sqaud is not as bad as results have suggested. Look where we were and now listen to context of our conversation. Yes the takeover and the introduction of KK has happened, so for that reason we should looking at the summer with conviction. We need a slight turnover of players, konchesky poulsen possibly ngog maxi jovanovic Krygiakos these players should bring around 15-20mil and we spent 2.7mil net.Aqualiani should stay.

    • Mickylyonnn

      ur a bell end!!!!!

  • Darryl_w

    I’d like to see both youth players and quality players being promoted to/purchased for the first team, if we keep Aqualani (a situation I understand is not in LFC’s hands providing Juventus meet the agreed asking price), add Shelvey and Spearing, then we’re looking pretty good in central midfield and it would be complete if we get a quality defensive midfielder in too, pace really needs to be added to the side throughout the team, none more so than central defence and the wings, soething I do not want to see though is what happened at Man City last Summer, but hopefully Kenny will be given between £50-100 million, together with transfer fees for players going out I’d be very pleased with that.

  • Aleavs

    I think that our chances to europe is almost null for the next season, then, maybe now its time do Dalglish test the players that had in the squad, to see who goes, who stays. For example, ask Joe Cole where he wants to play and put he there, for 2, 3 games to see what happens.

    Kyrgiakos, Ngog, Poulsen, sorry, but they arent good enough for Liverpool, its really better to give chances to youngs that them. The last three goals that we suffer was Kyrgiakos fail, maybe we can understand that for a young, but for a experience player, no.

    I beleive that we really need 2 left backs, one good center back, two man to the middlle ( included Shelvey development .. ), some good wings, one front man and use Kuyt like a backup for Carroll ( or in the place of Carroll).

  • Zombie

    Konchesky,Poulsen,Maxi, Joe Cole, Jovanovic = OUT
    Cahill/Kjaer, Coentrao/Taiwo, Aquilani/Honda = IN

  • Bonemonkei

    You said about blooding our youth players and then go on to talk about buying in a left back. Have you forgotten about Insua last season he was great and letting go out on loan was one of hodgsons many mistakes involving the development of the team.

  • Bonemonkei

    You said about blooding our youth players and then go on to talk about buying in a left back. Have you forgotten about Insua last season he was great and letting go out on loan was one of hodgsons many mistakes involving the development of the team.

    • dan garsed warner

      Hi, no i remembered Insua but as i believe his loan is with a view to a permanent move, i would like to see Aurelio in a more forward role, so a decent strong left back to make the team more balanced.

  • Anonymous

    my my, this is not good writing I’m afraid. It’s easy to say blood the youth, but the reality of it is the number of successes are minimal and involve huge amounts of player turnover.
    There are more promising players out there than hot dinners, but so few make it up the steep sided pyramid – it’s not funny, its tragic actually.

    Ferguson had a freak period getting a bunch of youth players at once – I bet he couldn’t believe how well it worked out and it hasn’t since (btw, it included Robbie Savage but he didn’t quite cut it). In fact Ferguson had just shelled out a huge amount to buy the ’93 title.
    I think virtually the whole MU team each cost more than half the then transfer record.

    He watched Liverpool buy for years, and finally he chucked in his hand and did the same.

    Rafa built an awesome 1st team, basically buying one big player per year (usually not a big name) and had to buy cheap for part of that team and the rest of the squad. Some worked very well (arbeloa, aurelio, hyppia?, yossi etc) others didn’t. You could argue he/his scouts could have done better, but I think that £5m-£10m bracket is always risky and his first team purchases left us a great 1st team.

    We would NOT have the belief if it weren’t for Rafa’s 1st team achievements under owners who hated him. Who else has challenged MU and Chelski? Noone!

    Ferguson basically had 3 or 4 times as many players over £15m than Rafa did – we shouldn’t even have been close to MU let alone get an 82pt and 86 pt finish and be number one in Europe. How long has it taken Alex to get Europe sorted out?

    We are 6 years down the road of Rafa and book balancing – hey guess what? Some of those players are now over 30. Spending stopped some years ago. Some players left, Some became injury problems. The first team may suffer hangover performances but it can still beat anybody on the day so long as they do not have more than 1 or 2 injuries.
    That’s impressive 6 years after Rafa started, not that Hodgson would know it.
    ManCity MIGHT challenge for the top next year after 3 years of unbelievable spending but don’t count on it.

    Most EPL teams are buying stronger and faster players and are now better organised – note they have often been well coached in Europe first.

    I think there’s been a dramatic change in the player’s available in the last 5 years, and we see the result in a very compact EPL table. Stoke came up playing championship style physical footy and now have some slightly better players. Dimatteo did really well at West Brom (and Hodgson hasnt stopped them shipping goals yet – we could have won that game and we played awful).

    We need to buy more intelligently for the squad in today’s terms but we also need to buy some key players – 2 MF, 3 defenders, wide player minimum.

    Gerrard is irreplaceable. Noone else will beable to drive the middle of the pitch (acknowledgement to alonso aswell) and put in 20 goals / season regularly AT THE TOP LEVEL, oh and put in killer balls from the right as a free extra.

    Comolli must prove his worth in the squad buys and defenders – this is the difference at the top, its the margins that do it for you. The big players are much easier to spot and you’ll only have so many of them – it might need Comolli to unearth some gems with no European footy to attract them.

    So KK/Clarke/Comolli really have their work cut out as we have to build a squad not just replace 2 or 3 players. It will involve wasting some money unfortunately but we won’t have the same constraints that Rafa did and hopefully a higher success rate of purchases.

    • dan garsed warner

      hi, thanks for the comment i will try to do better with it in the future, i believe that hyppia was actually a houllier signing and Alex Ferguson’s largest expenditure in 1993 was in fact Roy Keane purchased for £3.75m most of the players that won the title that year were already established. I agree Rafa did a good job, but he also made many mistakes.

      • Anonymous

        Hi Dan. thanks for the response.
        Lets hope the youngsters KK is bringing through in our current predicament will leave me with egg on my face!

        Yes, Rafa did make mistakes, and the wage bill as reported is high for the squad available. But could another manager challenge for the top, under the same ownership constraints, give an 82pt and an 86pt finish AND be rated #1 team in Europe all in 5 years?

        I don’t think we’ll see it, I really do think Rafa’s achievements were unique to the point that if an English manager achieved what he did, they would be approaching saint-hood. Rafa just gets hammered continually by media pundits and all for not having good squad players – while Manure have a bench worth more than Rafa paid for the first team!

        Since the arrival of Abramovich noone else has challenged the top 2.

        But I digress. I think we will rely heavily on purchases and it is the way to do it. The youth squad is in better hands than ever before but I think they will always be bonuses.

        Keep up the writing!

  • Anonymous

    Sorry to contradict a lot of comments about Insua, but he wasn’t great for us. Yes he’s young and he likes to bomb forwards, but his positioning was poor in defence and he did cost us goals.
    Don’t think he would have gone out on loan if he didn’t need further development.

  • Agung Yudha

    we used to have plenty potential youngsters to fill the depth of midfield, like 3-4 years ago, but the club let them go to other clubs. We need to keep talents like Pacecho, Shelvey, Nemeth, Wilson, Kelly and Coady. the club need to stop wasting training money only to see the player it developed move to other club simply because of lack of opportunity to play in the first team.

    to be honest, Liverpool FC should learn from Arsenal and Barca on youth development and promotion system.