I have to be honest here. I saw that result coming.
I attended the friendly match against Atletico Madrid and I left the stadium a very worried man. Worried because it seems as though none of the glaringly obvious deficiencies in the Liverpool team have been addressed in any way, shape or form in the off-season.
Then the Spurs game happened.
We were shambolic in the first half. We couldn’t string two passes together and struggled to make any impression on the game at all. Things were compounded when Carragher and Skrtel both jumped for the same ball leaving Carragher with a badly cut head and Skrtel with an injured jaw and an overall feeling of grogginess that affected his game.
Spurs’ resolute defence snuffed out our usual game plan of ‘lets give it to Torres or Gerrard and let them do something’. We had no alternatives. Babel was pathetic, he really could have staked his place in the team and he completely failed, both in ability and effort. Kuyt was his usual industrious self, but didn’t produce anything, Johnson didn’t get forward enough in the first half and Insua was too busy marking Lennon to join the attack.
There was a bit of fortune for the opening goal as Huddlestone’s free-kick hit the wall and ricocheted off Insua’s face straight into the path of Assou-Ekotto who hit a glorious 30yard screamer into the top corner giving Reina no chance. It was well deserved, as Reina had had to make a few good saves to deny Keane by that point.
We did come out with more purpose in the second half. Glen Johnson went on a surging run into the box and was brought down by Gomes. Gerrard scored the penalty to give us an equaliser we didn’t deserve. Spurs scored more or less straight away as a clumsy bit of defending by Carragher on Defoe led to a free-kick and once again zonal marking was found lacking as Bassong scored after running across Carragher and Johnson.
We played a little better after Gerrard dropped back and was able to use his passing to move us forwards. We still didn’t have many attempts on goal but it looked as though we would get the next goal. We should have had a second penalty as Assou-Ekotto barged straight through Voronin as he was about to shoot but the referee Phil Dowd didn’t give it despite having a good view.
The result was fair given Spurs’ domination of the game for the first hour. If this was an indication of how our season will unfold, kiss goodbye any hopes of the title, we’re going to struggle to make the top 4 if players aren’t brought in now. I know it’s only the first game of the season, but our pre-season was dire and that performance at White Hart Lane was a huge worry.
Remember, you can’t win the title early in the season but you can lose it. Remember Arsenal last season? A string of poor results early on meant that even though they were in amazing form in the second half of the season they were too far behind to get close to the front-runners. That could easily be Liverpool this season.
Our bench was disgraceful. Only Benayoun could be described as a first team player and none of the others were ever going to be able to help turn a game in our favour. Once again we had 3 defenders on the bench and a holding midfielder. That just isn't good enough.
Why the hell didn’t we sign a centre-back over the summer? Daniel Ayala came on and did a good job but surely there was somebody we could have signed, even on a Bosman free. With Agger injured once again, our defence is stretched thin and Carragher is looking increasingly susceptible to pace. Allowing Hyypia to leave was a big mistake.
A lot has been written about how we missed Alonso. Lucas actually didn’t play too bad, at least no worse than anyone else, but we did miss Alonso's passing. The solution, at least until Aquilani is fit, is to drop Gerrard back so we can use his passing ability and creativity and put someone else in behind, or ideally, alongside Torres. Trouble is, we have nobody.
What about the attacking midfielders we should have signed? With Riera injured we had a useless Dutchman on the left, Gerrard up the middle and a failed striker on the right.
Where is the cover for either Gerrard or Kuyt if they’re injured? Easy, there isn’t any, except Benayoun who cannot be relied upon week in, week out.
What about strikers? I know Benitez has a natural aversion to anyone that isn’t a defender or defensive midfielder but its actually laughable how poor our options are if and when Torres gets injured. Voronin wasn’t good enough in his first season, was sent out on loan his second season and still isn’t good enough. David N’gog isn’t the answer and there’s even rumours we’re going to send him out on loan, which would be ridiculous. Thats all we have.
Latest rumours are that Albert Riera is being lined up by Barcelona and Real Madrid and if he is sold we absolutely need to overhaul our attack, as in buy some attacking players. There are some good, reasonably cheap options out there. Tuncay of Middlesborough would be one.
Its not as if we can do an Arsenal and bring youth players through, as there is nobody close to being ready and despite Benitez bringing youth players in from all over the world, none have broken into the first team.
The questions I want answering about our off-season are:
What happened to the money Hicks and Gillett promised was available for transfers this summer?
Was spending so much on Glen Johnson really wise when right back was not a problem position?
Why have we spent £18m on a player who is injured for the next 2 months?
How did Aquilani pass a medical despite his injury?
What’s happened to the transfer money raised this summer? We’ve sold Alonso, Arbeloa, Hammill, Hobbs and Anderson and offloaded Pennants wages. That’s at least £35m, maybe more, so why are newspaper reports today saying we have only £1.5m to spend?
Why haven’t the obvious deficiencies in attack been addressed?
If you have any answers to these questions, please let me know.
I have to be honest here. I saw that result coming.