30 Jan 2008

Keep Reina, Agger, Carra, Alonso, Lucas, Benayoun and Torres - Scrap the rest.

Liverpool’s wretched season reached its nadir against Havant and Waterlooville last weekend, with the non-league minnows embarrassing Anfield's lumbering primadonnas and once again exposing the obvious truth: Liverpool are as far away from winning the premiership as they've ever been, and the club's deadwood is dragging the team into oblivion.

Four years into Rafa’s reign, and the rebuilding process is only just beginning. People may not accept that, but it is depressingly self-evident. In my view, the signing of Fernando Torres heralded the start of the real rebuilding process. Until players of Torres’ standard are consistently bought and developed, Liverpool will continue to wallow in premiership mediocrity.

There are, apparently, 60 players on Liverpool’s books. 60! Unfortunately, 95% of them are not good enough. To my mind, Liverpool have only 8 players who are capable of being part of a premiership winning squad - by that I mean they:

1. Are good enough in terms of quality and technique.
2. Have a positive, winning mentality
3. Do not unbalance the team.
4. Can form part of an effective 4-4-2/3-5-2/4-1-3-1-1 system.
5. Do not symbolise the counter-productive, ultra cautious 'safety first' approach so entrenched in Rafa Benitez's Liverpool.

The list of players Liverpool should keep is below:

Pepe Reina
Daniel Agger
Jamie Carragher
Xabi Alonso
Lucas Leiva
Yossi Benayoun
Peter Crouch
Fernando Torres

The following players should be sold and replaced:

Steve Finnan
A fine servant for the club, but does not offer enough going forward. A very good player, but needs to make way for the new breed of right-back i.e. marauding and offensive.

Sami Hyypia
My favourite player – a true Liverpool legend, but his time has passed. He should stay as cover and hopefully move into the coaching set-up too pass on his defensive genius to younger players.

Fabio Aurelio
Always injured and not reliable enough as a defender or an attacker. Great technique but too often flatters to deceive. Not the solution to the left back problem.

John Arne Riise
How the mighty have fallen. Once a potent attacking threat and a capable defender, but his form has tailed off badly over the last two seasons. Too often a passenger and a liability these days. Needs to go.

Alvaro Arbeloa
Competent, lightweight, unremarkable player who doesn’t really excel at anything, whether it’s defensive duty or attacking play. Sometimes, it’s hard to even remember he’s on the pitch. Doesn’t bring anything special to the team, and in the modern game, an effective right-back has to offer more, especially going forward.

Harry Kewell
He’s past it, pure and simple. It doesn’t matter how much faith Benitez has in him, the Harry Kewell of old died as soon as he signed his Liverpool contract. He’s lost his pace and sharpness and hardly ever beats his man these days. Liverpool don’t have time for him to ‘come good in the end’. The team needs a left wing specialist NOW, not next year.

Jermaine Pennant
Has vastly improved over the last year, but his goal return is negligible, as is his assist ratio. Pennant is a good player, but he belongs at Blackburn or Portsmouth, not Liverpool. Just compare him to a winger like Cristiano Ronaldo. Enough said. That is the quality Liverpool need on the wings. Pennant just doesn’t cut it.

Steven Gerrard
A great premiership player, but if Liverpool want to move to the next level, he needs to go. His presence restricts other players (especially Alonso) and stops Liverpool from becoming a fast moving, technically adept team. Gerrard’s positional indiscipline is legendary, and his inability to pay with his head and dictate the pace of the game is a problem.

Then there’s the perennial conundrum: Where does he play? In the centre; on the right; behind the front-man? Gerrard excels in none of these roles, and wherever he plays, the whole team has to dance to his tune. The bottom line is, if Gerrard plays well, the team plays well. If he has a bad patch, the team has a bad patch.

This needs to stop. Liverpool need all players taking responsibility instead of one player trying to do everything and overpowering the team. Just look at Arsenal after the apparently ‘irreplaceable’ Thierry Henry left. This is exactly the type of change Liverpool need.

The team is stagnating. There is no sign of forward progress in the league. Just look at the current debacle of a season: Gerrard has a purple patch of playing well, the team plays well. Gerrard’s form has dropped off again, the team can’t win!

On top of all this, he is a poor captain, and this has been proven again with the team’s diabolical performances in 2008 and his failure to motivate the team over the last few months.

Gerrard also needs to leave Liverpool for his own benefit – he is not improving as a player, and the problems with his game will not improve unless he abandons his comfort zone and tests himself in a different environment, where he feels the pressure of having to perform, instead of being guaranteed a starting place at Liverpool regardless of his form.

Javier Mascherano
In December I argued why it is madness to spend 17m on a defensive midfielder - my feelings have not changed. Liverpool's priority needs to be creative, attacking players, not more defensive-minded players. Furthermore, spending 17m on a defensive midfielder is indicative of the negative, 'safety first' culture so depressingly evident at Anfield these days.

I don't care how much Man United spend on Carrick or Hargreaves - they can do so because they already have the creative side of the team sorted out.

I have no doubt that Liverpool could find an excellent DM for 8-10m; to suggest otherwise is ridiculous. This would leave 7m left over to put towards creative players. If the club can get Mascherano for 10m all inclusive, then go for it. If not, let him go and find someone else.

Andriy Voronin
A sprightly player who always tries his best but he is just not good enough for Liverpool. Even as a fourth striker, Liverpool need more quality. Taking a player on a free just to make up the numbers should not be part of Liverpool’s buying strategy.

Dirk Kuyt
Has to go. It’s that simple. Not good enough for Liverpool and will never be a free-flowing goalscorer. Who cares if he runs 20 miles a game – his job is to SCORE GOALS, and on the front, he is an utter failure. He reminds me of Emile Heskey, except Heskey (amazingly) scored goals occasionally!

Ryan Babel
Will never make it at Liverpool. The excuses for his dire performances are already verging on the cliché:

Thierry Henry took a year to settle’
’Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t set the premiership alight in his first season’
’He just needs time to adapt to the league’
’Next season we’ll see the real Ryan Babel’

I don’t buy it. Babel himself admits that he ‘can’t cope’ with the pace of the premiership. If he doesn’t believe in himself, then Liverpool are in real trouble. Such a defeatist attitude is not what Liverpool need. I haven’t seen anything this season that suggests Babel will be a future success. And if he was so great, why did Ajax sell him in the first place, and why did Arsene Wenger cool his interest?

Spending 11m on Babel was a mistake, as was spending 11m on Emile Heskey, and 10m on El Hadji Diouf.

Rafa (or whoever the club’s next Manager will be) needs to be ruthless - get rid of all of the above players and use the money to buy quality players (especially attacking players) who will fit into a system that will bring league success.

And it’s not just about spending huge amounts of money. Tomas Rosicky and Alexander Hleb cost Arsenal about 12m combined. They are superbly creative, technically gifted players – just the type of quality Liverpool should be buying.

It is possible to find the right players at the right place if you have an excellent scouting system in place. Liverpool clearly do not.

And it’s not even the scouting system that is most important here; Liverpool need a complete change of philosophy. At the moment, the team is built around defensive-minded players, which was also the way under Gerard Houllier.

This needs to change. Like Arsenal, the team needs to be built around attacking players and the emphasis has to be on offensive play.

Until this happens, Liverpool will never win the Premiership.


  1. Sell Stevie, Mascherano and Arbeloa, yet keep Benayoun and Crouch?

    I can kind of hear you about Stevie, but getting rid of the BEST defensive midfielder in Mascherano is madness.

    Arbeloa is decent cover.

    Benayoun? A very poor man's Luis Garcia. Absolutely useless against any team of adequate quality.

    Crouch? Completely overrated. Ultimately flawed.

  2. I think this is pure shit. the person who wrote dis article is not in his sense.. firstly Stevie in a great player..if you hav any othr player who can replace him and his role in the team just let me knw. And Lucas Leiva ? r u mad ? dis player is crap. with his mistakes evrytim, we hav lst point.

  3. Yikalo Yohannes7:42 pm, June 14, 2009

    this is pure bullshit, how the hell do you replace mascerano and gerrard, and keep lucas, u r an idiot that knows nothing about a great player, mascerano is the base of liverpool's defence and is the best defensive midfielder right now, u really need to check your opinions b/c u really need to see the reality that as much as you hate Gerrard, he is the heart and soul of liverpool and u cant change that, period