The transfer window edges towards its closure, and we look no nearer to addressing some of our crucial issues than we were a week ago. It is incredible to look at a squad to which a whole lot of players have been added and conclude that we’re no better off for it, but unbelievably that’s what I find myself having to write at the moment, as we head into the last hours.
We have replaced Jota with a player we can’t say for sure is better than him. We have replaced Starfelt, but the jury is very much out. Bernardo may do us a job, but if we’re unconvinced just listen to the manager today casually throwing out that it’s another young player, more “potential”, something for him to “develop”.
Brendan Rodgers does not sound like a man who is terribly impressed by what he’s watching going on, and he’s entirely correct not be impressed. He’s entirely right to be pissed off.
If you assume Bernardo offers us something and can fill in as a defensive midfielder then you can check that off the list.
The manager has his doubts, and that means we should too.
So for the moment, let’s not check defensive midfielder off the list. Let’s see where we are.
We have a goalkeeping situation here.
Three on the books, and not one of them up to snuff.
The left-back area, I wrote about earlier today.
We arguably still need the midfield ball winner and we need a backup striker.
I’m sorry, but the signing of Palma does not mean, as some board lackies have suggested, that we’re covered in that area; he has been brought in to play wide, and if he’s not playing wide then we haven’t replaced Jota, have we? We’ve also lost – although that’s not the word I’d use since he contributed nothing – our current backup winger Haksabanovic.
But hey, Mikey Johnston is back in training so there’s that, I suppose.
Liel Abada has just signed a new deal, so that’s good news … the only trouble is that it leaves us standing still. We didn’t just get stronger because that guy has committed himself to the club for another season.
He didn’t magically become a left back or a goalkeeper or a defensive midfielder, although I can see the manager making him a striker if something happens and Kyogo gets injured. Which wouldn’t exactly be unheard of.
It’s not that this club is gambling.
It’s this club doesn’t think it is gambling.
The manager knows they are, and with his job. But more than that, with his reputation.
I said on the Spiers podcast today that perhaps the reason for his gloomy mood up until now is that he realised that coming back it was never going to be the same as it was because his time here was so successful and that he knew that his “perfect record” was not going to last.
My hope is that having been freed from the shackles of that he now knows he will be judged based on what he does next, not against the record of what he did then.
I still think that may go some way towards raising morale a bit and making him less morose.
But if he thinks that his future successes are being jeopardised then nothing is going to lift his head. The bitterness and anger will build up and build up until it’s as bad as, if not worse than, the last time he was here and then we’ll be in a lot of trouble. As it is, we’re in a lot of trouble anyway if this is the state of the team going into the Champions League.
The very fact that many of us view the draw as if not favourable then at least well short of the worst case scenario only makes this look worse. Because people will forever conclude that had we pushed the boat just a little we had a chance of second place here.
It’s not that long ago that Lennon beat Lazio home and away … a well resourced Rodgers, having built on the foundations of a treble winning squad should have been able to put something together.
Except that if the window closed right now we wouldn’t have built on those foundations at all. The first team has not been improved one iota. Glaring holes remain obvious. It’s almost as if the guy who was brought here with such hype as an elite level scouting head isn’t actually all he was made out to be and got the gig because of his second name or something like that.
Believe me, if this window shuts in this underwhelming fashion, with those holes not fixed, every single one of us is entitled to ask why how a club can spend the guts of £20 million, signing ten players, and not be any better off for it … and that’s on them, that’s on Lawwell, Desmond & Sons and the system they built.
I could not indict them more than to let those numbers speak for themselves.
This club now has a few short hours to sort this out.