Michael Mongie discusses three key areas that Liverpool need to upgrade in order to build on the success of this season and ensure next season is promising.
When attempting to assess Liverpool’s season it is often a tricky business with the script usually filled with twists and turns. This season Liverpool’s fans emotions have gone through the emotional roundabout. From the season being a write-off as early as October to the appointment of Jürgen Klopp. There could be no knowing what the German could bring to Liverpool despite his reputation.
There was certainly no shortage of excitement. It started as early Philippe Coutinho’s late winner away to Stoke. The first of many. The season took on a narrative that, while most would have scripted a happier ending, will be content with. Klopp took charge in late October and has since managed 50 games and reached two finals. Hardly unsuccessful and yet I don’t imagine the charming Liverpool manager will be content with what his team have achieved this season.
It is fair to say that most fan bases disagree on many topics and yet Liverpool fans agree on one thing almost unanimously: our defence is pretty woeful. I would harp on about Martin Skrtel but then Alberto Moreno’s gut-wrenchingly poor defensive display against Sevilla in Basel springs to mind and I get violently angry all over again.
It would be a complete mistranslation to think that that only some players need to be sold. As in Klopp’s first season at Dortmund there needs to be a mass exodus of players who are not good enough. I have confidence that this will happen as, while he is a kind enough man, he has an uncompromising nature. Players that have been given chances and failed to take them may well be packing their New Balance-sponsored bags as we speak.
Despite going through his typical second half of the season resurgence, Simon Mignolet is simply not up to scratch. The Belgian has conceded 42 times this season, hardly what you’d expect from a team challenging for titles and Champions League football. Mignolet’s Liverpool career has been underwhelming – to put it kindly. He would be the first player that I would replace.
Already there are reports that a fee has been agreed with Mainz for their brilliant stopper Loris Karius. The fee is said to be in the region of £10 million. If this proves to be true it would be superb business. It would also ensure that Liverpool’s goalkeeper spot is sorted for years to come with Karius only turning 23 in June.
For any side attempting to put together a solid run of form and challenge for trophies a top quality keeper is essential. Liverpool’s European charge has also been due to Mignolet’s surge in form. The issue is he is not consistent. You need only look at Manchester United and David De Gea to see what a world class goalkeeper can do for a side. Their team is largely sub-par but having a player of De Gea’s ability between the sticks is the reason that Louis Van Gaal’s men didn’t finish further down the table.
Since his transfer from Spain I have been hugely skeptical of Alberto Moreno when he has played as left back. In his first game against Manchester City his defensive naivety was exposed as Liverpool was beaten 3-1. It was only five days later against Tottenham he showed his attacking prowess with an 60 yard sprint and a fine finish into the bottom corner for his first goal.
It should have been clear from the first two games that the Spaniard has an indisposition to playing at fullback. His tendency to switch off has cost Liverpool many goals most notably against his former club in Liverpool’s biggest game for 9 years. All the blame for the Europa League final can’t be shifted to Moreno but he had a huge part to play.
Seeing as Klopp is German it would be only logical to link German players, or at least that’s the logic of the media at this point. Jonas Hector has been heavily linked with a switch to Liverpool. The German international may be permitted to leave with Bild reporting that Cologne is close to signing Darmstadt defender Konstantin Rausch.
Hector has been superb in the Bundesliga and has earned a reputation as one of the best fullbacks in the division. Liverpool would do very well to secure his signature, for sure.
In the modern game it is essential to have a specialist defensive midfielder in the squad. In an era where merely playing two banks of four and having two forwards doesn’t work it is crucial to have a holding midfielder. For the most part, that is. As Leicester City has shown, it can be done.
As Liverpool isn’t Leicester, a defensive midfielder should be a top priority. The club haven’t had a competent holding midfielder since the days when Javier Mascherano held things together at Anfield. The breaking up of a midfield which had Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and Mascherano in it is a big part as to why Liverpool have been so poor these last few years.
With Arsenal on the verge of signing Granit Xhaka I am somewhat disappointed to hear that Liverpool didn’t even try and sign the Swiss international. That being said I have full confidence that Klopp knows exactly what he is doing.
If Liverpool strengthens in these three key areas I am fully confident that Liverpool can do big things next season. Without European obligations of any sort, Liverpool will have less games and more rest for each league game. Who knows maybe a title challenge can launched with full emphasis set to be on the Premier League and domestic cup tournaments next season. 13/14 version 2.0 coming up?
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