Liverpool Shouldn't Be Afraid to Restructure Defence over Summer Transfer Window

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistFebruary 26, 2014

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - JANUARY 12:  Martin Skrtel of Liverpool is watched by team mate Kolo Toure of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Liverpool at Britannia Stadium on January 12, 2014 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Liverpool have won plenty of plaudits this season for their attacking nature of play and willingness to outscore teams on their way to three points.

The likes of Daniel Sturridge, Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho have all contributed significantly throughout the season to the huge number of chances created, while the former two names in particular have been red hot in front of goal.

At the other end of the pitch, however, it hasn't quite always been the same, with the defence being widely criticised at times after conceding a number of needless goals.

Own goals, sloppy marking off set pieces and questionable decision-making have all led to more going past goalkeeper Simon Mignolet than necessary.

While manager Brendan Rodgers will no doubt look to add even more firepower and creativity to the team in summer, the defence also requires attention. And if Rodgers deems it to be the best course of action, a completely clean sweep of the back four should not be reason for concern or worry for Liverpool supporters.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29:  Daniel Agger of Liverpool reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on December 29, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

There are those who would be reluctant to see the likes of Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger or Glen Johnson leave; all of them have been at the club for a significant period of time and have contributed to good performances and winning trophies.

However, it is undeniable that given the way Rodgers wants to play, with the midfield pressing hard and looking to attack whenever possible, the defence needs to be able to take care of itself a little better next season.

Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling—or whoever else comes in—won't always be able to hit the back of the net multiple times to claim three points.

At the weekend at home to Swansea, Liverpool conceded three goals and needed four to get the win. At least two goals were highly preventable.

Back at the start of the season, however, the Reds picked up a succession of clean sheets against the likes of Stoke City, Aston Villa and Manchester United.

The defence is capable; the team as a whole is capable; but the shifting emphasis (and team shape) since then toward an almost all-out-attack means there are greater stresses and less deep-seated protection in place for the back four than there was in August or September.

Some might point to the potential of destabilising the team if too many changes are made; true, but if one particular part of the team already isn't functioning well enough, there is little danger in changing that which is in place.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07:  Mamadou Sakho of Liverpool celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and West Ham United at Anfield on December 7, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive B
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Mamadou Sakho is a cert to be involved for the long haul. Loan defenders Tiago Ilori and Andre Wisdom may have some part to play in the near future, and full-back Jon Flanagan has certainly earned the right to at least challenge for his place in the coming seasons.

Beyond that, though, uncertainty and deliberation will likely hold sway over the futures of the more senior, established defenders—and even more so if Liverpool go on to assure themselves of Champions League football next season.

With all respect to the Premier League team, if the likes of Wayne Routledge, Nathan Dyer and Jonjo Shelvey create havoc and chances against the back line of Liverpool, what will happen when the likes of James Rodriguez, Lucas Ocampos and Joao Moutinho come to town? And that's only Monaco, likely to be a fourth seed. Let's not even get started on the top seeds the Reds get drawn against.

Rodgers has carefully addressed the balance of his midfield and attack. Now, the defence needs the same. It might be that fairly large-scale changes are required this summer to give the manager the traits and leadership in that area of the pitch he requires, and it shouldn't be something that fans fear.