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.
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.
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.