By: Sam Mathius
It can be a love-hate relationship between football fans and the hysteria of Deadline Day. Even so, most Liverpool fans were excited when they woke up yesterday. In the wake of Andy Carroll leaving on loan, an imminent sale of Charlie Adam, and a loan deal for Jay Spearing it seemed that the powers at Anfield were clearing space for new faces. At minimum, two new faces, which was a number mentioned by Brendan Rodgers himself hours before the frantic rodeo of Deadline Day kicked off. The image of bucking bulls is an apt metaphor for Deadline Day, just not for Liverpool on this occasion. A more appropriate wild-west image to compare Liverpool’s actions to on Deadline Day is tumbleweed slowly rolling through a ghost town.
Initial excitement and optimism at the start of the day quickly turned into dismay and pessimism from Liverpool’s faithful. Potential moves for Daniel Sturridge and Clint Dempsey seemed to be on the cards. Then word came through that the former was on Chelsea’s bench for the European Super Cup. Scratch that move. Next up, rumors of Yossi Benayoun coming back to the club on loan. Alas, he goes to West Ham before the story can even materialize. It’s ok, we can still get Dempsey. However, after what can only be deemed as a laughable £4 million bid for the American workhorse, reports circulated that Rodgers and Ian Ayre had already gone home.
With a few hours still left until the deadline, Spurs’ transfer guru Daniel Levy probably sold some lemonade or found some extra cash among laundry in the White Hart Lane dryer and brought in Dempsey for just £2 million more than we were willing to spend. Keep in mind that he is 29, not exactly a spring chicken. Also keep in mind that his goal output in the league last campaign was equal to roughly 37% of Liverpool’s total offensive output in the competition. That pedigree is worth £6 million, even for a player of his age.
Another bitter number to chew on is oddly a very lucky one on most occasions: seven. That is the number of players listed in the first team squad that have never played a minute in the Premier League. That leaves 22 players with experience. The level of experience, however, is also a reason for concern. Included in that group of experienced Premier League players are Danny Wilson (two games), Jon Flanagan (12 games), Raheem Sterling (four games), and Jack Robinson (three games). That’s an additional four players with minimal experience. So let’s add them to the group of seven for a grand total of 11. That means we have a senior squad of 18 experienced Premier League players. That includes 3 goalkeepers.
The anemic manpower will have fans biting their nails until January 1. No one needs to be reminded that Lucas is already on the sidelines for up to three months. Realistically, he won’t be the last player to be injured before the next transfer window. Perhaps our central midfield is in good shape, even without the Brazilian, but the same can’t be said for the rest of the squad. Fabio Borini and Luis Suarez are our only two recognizable strikers and Stewart Downing has been told he needs to add left-back to his positional repertoire to provide cover for a thin back line. Admittedly, Sebastian Coates looks better every match. On the other hand, Jamie Carragher looks older and older every match. It’s suspect coverage for two hard tackling center backs, particularly when one is as injury prone as Daniel Agger.
The silver lining in this sobering occasion could be something we’ve bemoaned as a fan base for years: a lack of youth. Perhaps the imposing truth that Adam Morgan in his unrefined glory may be given significant minutes produces a reflex of shock to the unknowing masses. We’ve lacked a youth movement in recent times and now when we finally seem to have one, we’re reasonably a bit uneasy about it.
Even with the promise of young studs like Sterling and Shelvey, the last couple of days have been a disaster for Liverpool in the transfer market. There is no possible way to sugarcoat it. Instead of trimming the squad to a healthy size while bringing in a couple of dynamite names, the team has been left anorexic and vulnerable.
Brendan Rodgers was handed a difficult task upon taking the job. Now that task has become even more challenging. This has been one of the few occasions in which Liverpool fans have been unanimously critical of FSG and rightly so. Keeping transfer news and developments in-house makes sense. The misleading and half-hearted nature the owners attacked the late summer market does not.
Hold your breath. Cross your fingers. Say your prayers. Our tiny squad can’t strengthen until January.