6 Feb 2012

John Barnes: Liverpool have "too many squad players" - Is he right?

Liverpool are in the midst of a mini-resurgence at the moment; the Carling Cup Final awaits; hated-rivals Man United were recently dispatched with ease in the FA Cup, and it was back to winning ways in the premier league against Wolves last week. Things are definitely looking bright, but the plain fact is Liverpool are still seventh in the league, five points behind fourth placed Chelsea.

The club's lack of consistent attacking quality has been a definite issue this season, and Anfield legend John Barnes believes that the club may have too many passengers in attacking positions. Barnesy is always very positive about his old club, but he's also very honest, and speaking to ESPN recently, he argued that more quality is needed at Liverpool:

"Liverpool still need more [attacking] quality. Without a fit Steven Gerrard, and Luis Suarez, what else do they have quality-wise?

"They're got a lot of good squad players. Craig bellamy should be here as a squad player, but he's become one of the main players helping us to win matches, which he shouldn't be.

"Liverpool have too many squad players, and we should have better quality".

I totally agree with Barnesy here; yes, things have gone well over the last two weeks but that doesn't mean the first five months of the season should be forgotten. In attacking areas, there are (arguably) more squad players than genuine matchwinners, and that's a major concern.

In my view, here is a list of attacking players who are (or should be) squad players:

* Andy Carroll
* Jordan Henderson
* Stewart Downing
* Dirk Kuyt

All of Kenny's big signings should be no more than squad players, but they are regularly in the first team.

Dirk Kuyt has found some form over the last couple of games, but two games do not define a season, and he has consistently failed to find the net over the last 6 months.

The same goes for Carroll - he's upped his performance level in the last 3 games, but that is the exception of his season so far, not the rule.

Downing has not scored or created a single goal in the league all season, and Henderson very rarely - if ever - puts in a match-winning/game-changing performance

As Barnes states, Liverpool need more quality, and the lack of consistent quality from the above players is part of the reason why Liverpool have drawn 8 games at home this season, and are currently languishing in seventh place.

Barnes concluded:

"As a manager, one thing he demands is 100% commitment and desire. If you give that, and you play badly, it's not a problem with Kenny, which is why he defends his players when they give 100%".

Jaimie Kanwar


  1. Thanks for the positive outlook - you just cant enjoy and support.

  2. So KD basically bought crap players 

  3. Rome wasn't built in a day, chaps. A couple of astute signings in the summer; proven goal scoring striker and a fast, good crossing right winger, and we'll be better equiped for next season. The players brought in this year who have been underperforming have to learn a new system and gel with theri new team mates. City haven't become title challengers overnight and they've spent a bucket load more money than Liverpool, AND they're paying ridiculous salaries to get the players in.

  4. ph lordy......the most negative LFC site on the web.

  5. Henderson will be more than just a squad player - he has great potential, Downing - well I think he has had a dip in form, but saying that has started to show signs of why he was bought. As for assists and scoring he  has been very unlucky with wood work and an assist is only an assist if the person on the other end of his crosses score, if that was the case he's have more assists.

    I think LFC are a work in progress and whilst optimism is always great it has to be tempered with realism. We are playing some great football and this is the first season together as a team (several new players, Suarez/Evra case, SG out injured, etc). Not excuses, and I am as frustrated as the next LFC fan, but there is progress and if you look at teams like Spurs as models then you will see it has taken them years to get into shape. There is reason for optimism - great youth players to come through, the second season as a team, the fact that we haven't lost at Anfield so far this season (even though we should have won more), Cup final and the chance to buy more quality in the summer. I agree with Barnesy that we need more attacking quality and I think that will come. As a squad it's not done too bad, with new additions in summer we'll push on and maybe turn those draws into wins and the picture looks very different!

  6. You left out charlie adam

  7. For me, Adam is more than a squad player, and with 2 goals and 10 assists this season, his contribution speaks for itself.

  8. Giggs has got quite a few assists this season too, because like Adam he likes to look for the killer ball a lot too but like Adam, he is very wasteful in possession and this has a impact on how much the team loses possession and puts pressure on the team. This lack of calmness in the middle is what got the 'mancs' knocked out of CL, as they lacked the retaining of possession to ease the pressure on the defence and they still do, as teams can get at them easily this season. Lots of goals have come about for them because of Giggs this season but also lots of losing of possession have come about because of him. 

    Statistics alone do not tell the whole story. 

    As a central midfielder, Adam doesn't have the patience in the middle of the park when it comes to possession, to be a top 4 first XI central midfielder. Too forceful and too hollywood. Against Bolton, he was just horrendous in terms of retaining the ball. Xabi rarely gets a bagful of assists per season but his use of possession was and is hugely important.

    That is why I prefer the Swansea central midfield over Adam. They recycle possession very well and help ease the pressure on the defence by doing that. 

    Its reckless, Adam's and Giggs's style, in a two-man central midfield.

    It ends up like a stereotypical high tempo end-to-end PL game or like a basketball game, because a midfield lose the ball too many times/too quickly.  

  9. Adam is definitely a squad player, he has played so many games because Gerrard was injured earlier and now because Lucas is injured, i don't think Adam will start ahead of Gerrard or Lucas and so far we have seen that even Henderson is also preferred over him by Kenny.Adam has 2 goals and 10 assists but he has been good in 4-5 games only, in rest he has been really poor. Adam is one of the most wasteful player in the middle. Earlier Lucas used to bail him out and now Spearing. Adam should never have been bought by Kenny. Next season i think even Shelvey might be preferred over him.

  10. You're an idiot if you think kuyt is a squad player!

  11. What a player will/might be and what a player currently is are two different things...

    The comment is definitely right, and it has been for a long time, that are team is filled with too many senior players (on big wages) who are just performing squad player roles.

    I seriously wouldn't expect much of a drop off in the short term, and think the team would be better off long term, if we replaced some of the underperformers with reserve counterparts, and used the savings to invest in additional quality matchwinners

  12. This season has proven that Kuyt is now a squad player; he's spent just as much time on the bench as on the pitch.

    PS. If you include further personal insults in your comments you'll be banned. Make your points in the right way.

  13. What's a squad player ? Bellamy has been helping us win games , and he shouldn't be doing that ? Have a word with yourself Digger .

  14. adam blows hot and cold, he's not top class and makes too many mistakes with his hollywood balls.
    even enrique needs some proper competition to get him playing consistently. kenny has bought badly, look at mata,running games from the centre. give me him over downing or henderson ANY day.

  15. kuyt is coming to form because he is the type of player which needs to play conisistently to be sharp. I think he should be a regular starter until we can find someone better. I would play him out on the right where Rafa deployed him to so much success.
    I agree that Adam's hold up play is not so good, because whenever he gets the ball he tries to play a 'hollywood pass' forward. For that same reason however that means we play well on the break. He can therefore be useful when we want to play more counterattack football. When Lucas is fit he provides good cover to allow Adam to do his thing.
    I hope Henderson will improve as he matures and becomes more than a squad player.
    I don't see much hope for Downing to get much better and I think most of us were sceptical at his signing. Might be worth taking a loss on him and reinvesting the money in a younger, trickier winger.
    I am optimistic for the future, but we should be realistic about the fact that several of our best players (gerrard, bellamy, kuyt) only have a year or two left at their best. These players are so important to us that we cannot wait too long (ala Man U) in finding their replacements

  16. malicious activity blocked from malwarebytes on this page ???

  17. You read my mind (again). Kuyt, Hendo, Carroll and Downing are only good enough to warm the bench. We need constant attacking players. Pace and strength is the key to winning alot of games consistently. You will only need to look at City, United, Spurs and Arsenal to realise that. Liverpool are abit slow with the likes of Carrol, kuyt henderson etc. Get 2 pacey wingers and a proper defensive midfielder like Diarra - sorted!

  18. Cannot believe the negativity and criticism that our fans churn out these days. The same people who used to slate Lucas now start on Henderson. Makes me wonder if they understand the game at all. The only ones i feel unsure of are Adam and Downing. People throw stats about Downing's lack of asssists but he created plenty - just the strikers missed them, is that his fault too ? Try supporting the team and we might do better. When the fans played well against city and united, the team did better. Would love to see our fans give the team the support that used to be there every week. Stop trying to pick the team like you re on a computer game, kenny and clarkey know better, they see the players day in day out.

  19. Even if Kuyt isn't a squad player, he is a squad calibre player.
    And he has been so for years as far as I'm concerned

  20. He's basically saying that the team should have a lot more quality in it, where we don't end up depending on a freebie picked up off of the scrap heap to be the only legitimate threat in our attack

  21. Aren't those the same signings that we were all talking about THIS summer though??

    BTW, could ppl stop going on about City as if we were building from the same position. Spurs (restablishing themselves post-Ramos) are a much better equivalent, and even then we still started from a better position!

  22. You are right, Barnes. This is Kennt's biggest problem and will ever remain till he resolves it. Poor Kenny!

  23. Thank God somebody did!

  24. Had no choice. Reputation was on the decline. Was at the wrong end of the table. No Champions League Football. What didyou expect??

  25. Wasn't our priority to return to the top four this season? So we are we buying players who have not reached their potential yet anyway? Surely, if our youngsters are any good, the thing to do was to populate the first team with quality first and then fill up the reserves? Until we got enough squad players in, use the youngsters on the bench.

    We have a full first team now, presuming they were playing 442, or 5 in midfield with Suarez playing off the front man, they could go Reina, Kelly, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique, Johnson, Gerrard, Lucas, Bellamy, Suarez, Carroll. You can't have a 35 million player and not give him to the end of this season. It's the coaching staff's job to get him and Suarez to somehow combine, otherwise why buy them both?

    The bench/reserves would be decent then, Doni, Carragher, Coates, Spearing, Downing, Adam, Kuyt.

    To be honest, I don't think anyone else, apart from City, has a better first 11. If they could get these players fit, our team would compete with anyone in this country.

  26. I think the squad is all but perfect now with a nice blend of prem proven, experience, youth and impact players so from now on in i just want too see marquee style players bought... the best thats available (for us) and nothing less!

  27. no one has filled the void left by lucas, like many other seasons and more so this one with carroll we dont have one out and out winger either side, downing is just woefull. i stress again and again, we should play johnson on one of the wings, its so obvious for me. kelly is the better right back and needs more game time to get back to his best. surely shelvey should be getting more of a look in? he looks to have the most potential out of spearing,adams and henderson. hendo looks better in the centre must admit than playing out wide.
        kelly   skrtel   agger   enrique
        kuyt   gerrard   shelvey  johnson
    maybe suarez out wide and kuyt up along carroll

  28. Well said Seb, absolutely agree 100%

  29. To buy effective players at the cheap like Newcastle did. I would like to add Benitez was the master at that. 

  30. i would compare Adam to Scholes. Although Scholes was a better player in his peak. They have the same level in tackling that's for sure. 

  31. Execpt we appear to have been a work in progress team for the last 22 years.

  32. Ah yes! There's always "next season" isn't there? Just ruminating now on the drab, turgid, colourless and extremely toothless display against Spurs last night and thought, "Oh never mind there is always next season."