Ok, so we want to build on last year’s second finish. We have our first XI pretty much set, we have made two notable changes that would only enhance our team even further. Seems we are set for the long-awaited 19th English League title…until we turn our attention to the sidelines and realize something: our bench would make Hull City proud of theirs.
No, this is not an excuse toward our recent loss against Spurs on Sunday. We were poor that day, period. What is worrying is the prospect of losing our key members through injuries (God forbid!) and not having enough quality backups to replace them. True, we have pretty much the same squad last year yet only a whisker away from that elusive title. However, last year we also have Hyppia and Lucas on our bench. We haven’t bought a replacement for Hyppia and we’ve only bought an injured replacement for Alonso. Losing two peripheral players can’t be that bad, can it? Well, losing two QUALITY ‘peripheral’ players would affect the whole balance of the team.
Finding a classic example of the above argument couldn’t be any easier. Man Utd 1 Liverpool 4, every Liverpool fan would remember that day as if it was yesterday. What they might not remember was the player who shouldn’t have been in the first XI: Sami Hyppia. When Arbeloa pulled his hamstring during the warmup (20 minutes before the game!), Benitez had to turn for the 35-year old in a massive game that would decide Liverpool’s quest for the title race. Not only Hyppia fitted in seamlessly, but he was also immense in that game. He was so good that we almost forgot about Arbeloa’s injury. Now, imagine the same scenario in 2009. If Glen Johnson gets injured, Carra has to shift to the right side and someone has to step in. With all due respect to Daniel Ayala and Martin Kelly, I would be pretty pessimistic with the lineup. Young players give you promise, but experienced players give you calm.
Until Aquilani is fully fit and has adapted to the system (January is the best case scenario), we are left with only 3 midfielders in Lucas, Mascherano and Gerrard. The problem is, Gerrard is considered a forward nowadays. Sure, if either Masch or Lucas gets injured, Gerrard can be put back into midfield without any problems. But who’s going to replace Gerrard up front? Kuyt is not prolific enough, Benayoun is skilful but not strong enough, Babel has no understanding with Torres (well, with anyone really), N’Gog is far from the finished article, Voronin…the less said about him the better.
To get the balance right, Liverpool has to get an experienced defender a la Sol Campbell and another attacking midfielder to help bolster our lack of depth. We got lucky with injuries last year, where we never encountered multiple injuries at the same time. This season might not be as fortunate.
BUT WHEN YOU ARE GIVEN A £2-MILLION TRANSFER BUDGET, YOU MIGHT AS WELL FORGET ABOUT IT! THAT AMOUNT WOULDN’T EVEN GET BENITEZ HIS DREADED LAMPSHADE!
“AT VALENCIA, I ASKED FOR A TABLE BUT THEY GAVE ME A LAMPSHADE. AT LIVERPOOL, I RELUCTANTLY ASKED FOR A LAMPSHADE BUT THEY TOLD ME TO GET ONE AT A FARMER’S MARKET”
THAT MAY WELL BE BENITEZ’ FUTURE QUOTE AFTER HE’S DONE WITH LIVERPOOL AND ITS CHAOTIC UPPER MANAGEMENT. GOSH I HATE THE YANKS!