Criticisms of Brendan Rodgers' Signings at Liverpool Miss the Bigger Picture

Max MuntonLiverpool CorrespondentDecember 3, 2013

HULL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 01:  Brendan Rodgers, manager of Liverpool looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Liverpool at KC Stadium on December 1, 2013 in Hull, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

A barrage of criticism has been aimed at Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool’s transfer decisions of late, not least in an article from Chris Bascombe in the Telegraph on Monday, who explained an anxiety amongst some of Rodgers’ summer signings not starting games: 

Not for the first time in his Anfield reign, Rodgers found himself in a politically vulnerable position when asked about the rationale behind a series of deals that swelled the squad at considerable expense, but failed to provide enough of the high-class, first-team players the club need to have any hope of sustaining a top-four challenge.

Bascombe isn’t alone either. Fans have taken to Twitter to make similar points—that essentially Liverpool aren’t progressing because the team isn’t changing.

The timing of this criticism, of course, comes not after the recent 4-0 thumping of Fulham, but after a 3-1 defeat away at Hull City. Indeed, a bad day at the office for Liverpool. 

Suddenly questions are raised over who pulls the strings to make these transfers happen, who identifies the targets in the first place and who has the final word.

Unfortunately, the term “knee-jerk reaction” comes to mind.

There have been just ten league games after the end of the summer transfer window, and already the judgements are out.

In an attempt to dissect this rush of negativity—the point of which is difficult to fathom as it does neither the club nor fans any good—the bigger picture is being completely overlooked.

 

Competition And Price Tags

The arrival of Mamadou Sakho has seen the rejuvenation of Martin Skrtel, supposedly on the brink of leaving Liverpool in the summer.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19:  Martin Skrtel of Liverpool in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool at St James' Park on October 19, 2013 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by Julian Finne
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Sakho hasn’t necessarily put a foot wrong to warrant Skrtel’s 11 league appearances this campaign. 

Skrtel has certainly benefited from the wake-up call of Sakho’s arrival.

Following his ousting from the first-team by Jamie Carragher last season, Skrtel appears to have cemented himself as Rodgers’ first centre-back of choice. 

Against Hull, the Slovakian found himself making up the ground that his underperforming defensive teammates lost, and was unfortunate to see two goals deflect in off him. 

Before half-time, he’d made two vital interceptions to prevent the game going beyond Liverpool by the break.

On that theory though, Sakho’s £18 million price tag may well be seen as a big price to pay to give Skrtel a kick up the back side—especially if you add the signing of veteran Kolo Toure to that sum.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 02:  Mamadou Sakho of Liverpool battles for the ball with Tomas Rosicky of Arsenal  during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Liverpool at Emirates Stadium on November 2, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by La
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

However, just as 28-year-old Skrtel won’t be around forever, Sakho, five years his younger, is just getting started.

Sakho has signed a “long-term” contract at Liverpool. He’s not a quick fix, but he’s got the attributes and potential to be a first choice centre-back at Anfield in years to come.

Right now, though, the looming competition certainly isn't a bad thing for Skrtel and the other defenders at the club.

 

Experience

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19: Loic Remy (L) and Hatem Ben Arfa of Newcastle in action with Kolo Toure (C) of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool at St James' Park on October 19, 2013 in Ne
Paul Thomas/Getty Images

Was Toure expected to be a first-team player when he was brought in from Manchester City? At 32 years old and on a free transfer, it’s doubtful.

Toure provides a wealth of experience, as well as proving himself to be a model professional for younger players at the club to absorb.

Yet the Ivorian has also proven himself and been rewarded with ten league appearances in-between injuries.

  

Injury

Iago Aspas suffered a torn thigh muscle and hasn’t featured since October—any judgement on the Spaniard after four starts for his new club borders on cruel.

  

Youth 

Luis Alberto and Tiago Ilori are signings “for the future”, by Bascombe’s own admission, whilst the loan signings of Aly Cissokho and Victor Moses are very much "try before you buy."

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 23:  Simon Mignolet of Liverpool gestures during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park on November 23, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

That leaves Simon Mignolet, who is having a brilliant first season at the club and proving to be an upgrade on the already excellent Pepe Reina.

 

Future Signings

Bascombe describes the notion of a new signing needing to be a first-team player as “Comolli-esque”.

It's very apt—Damien Comolli wasn’t right on a lot of things.

Rodgers has already outlined his vision for the forthcoming transfer window in that he wants to improve his team.

Andy Hunter of the Guardian quoted him as saying last month:

We need to bring in players for the team. We've got a squad and we've got enough cover but in the future the focus is on bringing in players that can come straight in and improve our team. We did that last year and benefited from that. We know what we need to improve and we know the areas we need to improve but it's all about timing and all about affordability and can we do it? I always hope that in each window we can improve the team and if we can do that we can rightly be up there.

Needless to say, this isn’t Football Manager. The success of transfers is not the be all and end all of success over a season, never mind 90 minutes of football at the KC Stadium where this criticism appears to have sprouted from.

HULL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 01:  Brendan Rodgers, manager of Liverpool looks dejected during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Liverpool at KC Stadium on December 1, 2013 in Hull, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

The questions over Rodgers’ and the club’s transfer policy at this stage are negative and unnecessary.

Is opinion and journalism in football in such a reactionary state that a transfer that isn’t an immediate success story, such as Daniel Sturridge or Philippe Coutinho, can be labelled a failure now?

Only 13 games into the season and January’s transfer window in sight, it is only fair for the jury to still be out—and for quite some time yet.

Unfortunately, the pessimistic members of the jury appear to have come back in prematurely.