Tom Burchill discusses Liverpool’s lack of depth and why he believes it has been their Achilles heel this season.
It is no secret that the summer transfer window is fast approaching and Jürgen Klopp has already promised that it is going to be a good one.
With Champions League football within reach and a transfer window last year that saw the club break even there is no doubt among fans that this is going to be the most crucial window of Klopp’s reign. But just how important will these signings be?
Firstly, let’s look at this season.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that when we have had our best starting XI we have been one of the best teams in the league. Our two wins and two draws against Chelsea and Tottenham are testament to this.
Unlike the two London teams that currently sit above us in the table, there have been plenty of times this season that we have been without key players.
Conte has found his working formula and stuck to it. Granted, Tottenham had a brief spell in Europe and Harry Kane did take a knock that sidelined him for a few weeks but most of the time Pochettino has had a fully fit squad to choose from.
Fast forward to our Christmas decline which saw us play 10 games in 32 days. A congested fixture list has never been our strong point. Last season saw the same woes. Players get tired and players get injured. Rotation is the key to consistency.
3 wins, 3 draws, 4 losses and we crashed out of two cups. Why? Mané was at AFCON, Matip was banned for not going to AFCON and Coutinho was side lined after Didier Ndong’s challenge in the 2-0 win against Sunderland.
Look at our forwards. It has been a rare occasion this season that Coutinho, Firmino, Lallana and Mané have graced the pitch at the same time.
To make matters worse our backup attacking options have not had much luck either. Danny Ings is out for the season with another knee injury and Daniel Sturridge has been, well, Sturridge.
Defensively, it has been the same story. The combination of Matip and Lovren is still an unbeaten one yet both have been interchangeably missing throughout the course of the season.
In their absence, we have had to rely on £4.2 million signing Ragnar Klavan. It has not all been bad for the Estonian defender although he has made some costly errors.
He unnecessarily brought down Defoe who made sure he scored from the spot in the 2-2 draw away at Sunderland and more recently allowed Joshua King to turn him from a long throw which saw Bournemouth equalise late at Anfield.
Where Liverpool might have proven to have strength in depth, off the pitch disciplinary issues resulted in Mamadou Sakho’s loan to Crystal Palace where he has more than proven his worth.
The truth of the matter is depth is like insurance. You don’t think too much about it, you don’t want to spend money on it but when it’s needed it’s essential.
As I am writing this we are missing Mané, Lallana and Henderson who have arguably been our best players this season. You only have to look at our bench against West Brom to see where we are lacking.
Despite how it looks on paper it is not going to be easy to grind out our last five games of the season and everyone knows that including the opposition.
Let’s be honest what manager would be scared to see a bench where one of the two senior players is a left back who can’t break into a team that does not have a left back? Yes, that is the same player who tragically missed an open goal at the Hawthorns last weekend.
Substitutes are a vital part of the modern game. When things aren’t going to plan they are who you look to whether it be for fresh legs or new tactics entirely. There have been multiple games this season where we have failed to have a plan B and I think it all boils down to the quality of the bench.
That is why this summer is not just about buying new players it’s about keeping old ones as well.