If you’re expecting another article damning the last two season’s signings then this won’t be it.
We’ve seen just about every sports journalist in the country criticising Liverpool’s new players and quoting how much has been spent on them, yet none of them have tried to explain why they are not performing as hoped or expected.
At least that is the case now, at the tail end of the season and a string of poor results, yet it wasn’t so at the start.
In Liverpool’s first half a dozen matches Downing surprised his doubters with some sensational games, and Adam, along with Enrique was hailed as a prized bargain and one of the best summer signings.
So where did it all go wrong?
It’s no good just pointing at these players and saying they were a waste of money, or they aren’t trying hard enough, it doesn’t come close to explaining the situation.
Price aside, all the signings are first class players with strong accolades.
The best players in their clubs, England’s U21 captain – it all looks excellent on paper.
My good wife has a friend who is a Liverpool fan and has always derided Lucas Leiva – constantly asking ‘What does he do?’
Well Lucas holds the team formation together, he allows the attacking creative midfielders to go forward and do what they are best at. He gives everyone ahead of him the confidence to get up field and score goals.
He’s the holding midfielder – the player with grit and grace in equal measure.
He makes the whole thing tick, that’s what he does.
So for those who understand his role, there was horror and utter dismay to learn he would be injured for the rest of the season.
I for one held my head in my hands and stared into my beer as it went flat.
Many folks couldn’t grasp this panic, but maybe in retrospect they can now see the correlation between the alarming drop in form of Adam and Downing.
Since the Lucas injury they have mostly played out of position and have not been able to do the roles they are good at, which is to create chances for other players.
It’s not exclusive to these guys however, the collapse in the team balance produced all manner of negative affects, chiefly the drop in confidence and failure to score.
Carroll has not had the service he needs from Downing and Adam, and indeed Gerrard.
The lack of confidence is there for all to see, despite putting in a string of MOTM performances when he got a good run of games in the absence of Suarez.
This kind of nervousness is very contagious to the fans, which the players detect, and may well explain the disappointing home results, the woodwork strikes and outstanding away keepers.
For a good spell however the defence still maintained their record as one of the meanest in the league. Whilst the Enrique, Agger, Skrtel, Johnson back four were in place that is.
These guys were good enough to at least ensure the team were getting draws, even if there was frustration at the other end.
So how can Dalglish and the team put this right?
(I refer to the team as Dalglish and Clarke of course. Clarke has a big influence on what goes)
This season, whilst still adopting attacking tactics, he can’t put it right.
He’s tried different players in the holding role, and whilst Spearing should be saluted for his efforts, he’s just not in the same class as Lucas, and few are.
Dalglish adapted tactics against the big clubs in the cups to grind out results, and this proved successful.
In a defensive formation and approach the holding midfielder has much less influence of course.
But in the league and under pressure for results, he has tried to maintain the creative attacking football the fans expect, and this is where it has all gone wrong.
The back four are too exposed, the attacking midfield have no confidence and the team balance is a shambles.
The greatest disappointments are therefore that there was no contingency to replace Lucas, and there has been a failure to adapt to his absence by employing less attractive tactics and grinding out results.
I say replace Lucas, but in an ideal world where the 4-2-3-1 formation is favoured then two decent holding midfielders are the solution, which is why the Alonso and Mascherano coupling was hailed as the best ever.
A good example of how to overcome these kind of problem is Arsenal. At the start of the season they looked hopeless.
Wenger swallowed his bitter pill though and set aside the attacking flair Arsenal are known for in favour of a more defensive system and lumping it forward to Robin Van Persie.
Same thing has worked for Newcastle.
Fortunately for both teams they have had strikers doing the business, otherwise they would both be much further down the league.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for Liverpool, despite the willingness of many to wallow in self pity and positively flourish in the cynicism of the blame culture.
I strongly believe that all our signings have a promising future with the club, they are all excellent players.
With the team balance restored all the recent signings can flourish and any suggestion of selling them on should be totally dismissed.
Liverpool can raise their game in the FA Cup semi final and progress.
If a defensive grind is used against Spurs or Chelsea to win the cup and secure some dignity in the league then the season will be a resounding success.
As for next season I really don’t think much needs changing in terms of personnel over the summer.
But just another Lucas please.