On Sunday 19th April the stage was set for Liverpool to punish Aston Villa and get club legend Steven Gerrard to the FA Cup final on his birthday. But two poorly defended goals later: it was over. The fairytale was finished. The blip in form continued. Liverpool descended from the FA Cup.
This brought me to consider the impact of some of the new signings at Liverpool this season and whether it would have been enough just to get to the FA Cup final.
- It was always going to be a risk to sign the Italian International, but for Brendan Rodgers it was a risk that was worth taking. With the departure of Suarez, backup was needed. However backup hasn’t been fulfilled as Balotelli has netted just once in 14 premier league appearances. Additionally, Raheem Sterling, a man who prefers to play wide has been deployed upfront and has played considerably better making the £16 million investment in Balotelli a total flop. He has rightly been criticized for his poor work ethic and his selfishness. His poor attitude towards each game makes it likely that within just a season at Anfield he could be axed. Their has been reported interest from ex- Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez, currently in charge at Napoli, with the price reportedly being £10 million.
- He has arguably been the best signing for Liverpool this season. At just 21 he has been able to adjust to varying positions and formations and has been able to secure a regular role in the team. His preferred position is in the center of the park but he has adapted well to his right-sided center back position and has provided a lot of mature performances. He has made more tackles and has a higher percentage of his aerial duels won than Barcelona legend Gerard Pique. With stats like this and consistent performances he is definitely one to watch out for in the future.
- He arrived at Anfield on the back of an impressive season at Southampton but since arriving he has had a tough time. He has struggled to adapt to the back three that Rodgers has appointed which has seen Sakho and Skytel and occasionally Kolo Toure be preferred defensive options. To top off a dismal season he missed the decisive penalty in the quarterfinal defeat to Besiktas to knock Liverpool out of the Europa League. In the 21 games he has played this season he has conceded a total of 27 goals, whereas the new younger Emre Can has conceded just 22 in the same number of games. This makes Emre Can a lot better value for money as he cost 10 million less and has played out of position.
- During his short spell at Liverpool he has been devastated by injuries consequently not making the desired big impact the club had hoped. However, his immense control, sublime trickery and superb vision have made him look like a key acquisition for next season. He has even averaged more chances created than Bayern star Mario Gotze with 1.29 chances created per game in comparison to Mario Gotze’s 1.22.
- A boyhood Liverpool fan. He must have visioned his dream to be a little more glamorous than it has been. He has played just over 600 minutes of football this season, which clearly shows the lack of faith Rodgers has shown in him. When played he has only being able to rack up a total of two goals with zero assists to add to this dismal record. Sterling, Sturridge and surprisingly even Balotelli have been preferred before him. When he’s been used he’s had a limited time to show his ability. Furthermore, he doesn’t fit the style of play that Liverpool has adopted and the pace that scares teams isn’t there with him in the starting eleven, which could see him leave Liverpool in the summer due to the limited amount of opportunities he’s getting.
- Rodgers is building for the future and this is one of his signing who is likely to get better with more game time. He hasn’t shown enough of the quick mazy runs that he was accustomed to at Benfica and hasn’t had a riveting start to life at Liverpool. Like many of the players this season he has had to play in a number of roles including playing as a wing back which he hasn’t adapted positively to. He seems more comfortable as a right-winger where his defensive contributions are less of a worry. With just two goals and one assist in seventeen Premier league matches he ultimately hasn’t shown why he is worth £20 million.
Liverpool have spent in excess of £100million and instead of progressing could be seeing themselves slipping out of the top four. Even if they did get to the FA Cup final and win it, it wouldn’t have been enough. It would have been a start, but not enough. Brendon Rodgers also supported this view when he commented on Tottenham spending the same amount of money; He said, “Look at Tottenham. If you spend more than £100 million, you expect to be challenging for the league.” This has came back to haunt him as Liverpool are currently 19 points behind the leaders Chelsea. Whoops!