Liverpool’s 3-1 loss to Aston Villa at Anfield on Saturday has been consistently described as shock in the press, but the problems Villa exploited in Rodger’s squad have been clear all season, and substantial investment needs to be made for them to compete for the top four this year.
Liverpool have been hamstrung in the transfer market since the blowout that saw Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Andy Carroll arrive for a combined cost of over £80 million. Whilst it would have meant a significant loss for the club, the smartest move in the summer might have been for Rodgers to clear out those players, and write off the last vestiges of the old regime.
Instead Liverpool were hesitant in the transfer market, and left themselves without enough senior players for the season. Rodgers has done well to integrate the likes of Suso and Sterling into the first eleven, and has had bad luck with injuries to Lucas Leiva and Fabio Borini, but the lack of new arrivals of sufficient quality to improve the first team has been felt over the past few months.
This needs to be addressed in January. Liverpool will likely still be in a decent position in the league, and two or three genuine stars could elevate the club into a position to compete for the top four (probably not the top two though). Having been gazumped by their Premiership rivals for Gylfi Sigurdsson and Clint Dempsey in the summer due to financial constraints, the club’s owners have to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
Liverpool have already been strongly linked with moves for Daniel Sturridge, Demba Ba, Tom Ince and Theo Walcott. Any of these players would increase their threat going forward, and Walcott in particular would be an excellent signing.
There will be competition from their Premier League rivals for all these players, and a significant financial commitment will be required to beat them to the punch.
With the excellent young talent they have in their ranks, under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers you can see Liverpool becoming a force in the Premier League over the next few years.
But there are still constraints on the squad caused by the excesses of the last regime, and Liverpool need to make a clean break by letting some of these players leave despite the loss they’ll be forced to swallow.