Winter is Coming

Clive Brunskill

I can sense an all-too familiar chill as I lurch awkwardly over my doorstep, midnight cigarette in hand. It's unmistakable; the depressing reality that the warm summer months have come to an abrupt end, or—in Britain, at least—never really got started.

There are few things to look forward to after the once-vivid leaves of your favourite picnic spot have hit the ground. You may spend your time preparing to endure a spiritual battle with man-flu. For those of us blessed with miniature (or terrorizing) versions of ourselves, we'll see our bank accounts wiped clean as tricking becomes treating. We'll spend what feels like an eternity willfully avoiding throwing ourselves onto the bonfire, sparkler clutched enthusiastically, whilst our pride and joy marvels over an extortionate pyrotechnic display. Worse still when Santa Claus comes to town. Suddenly, a glorified Sunday roast becomes triple the price as you cater for people you'd rather weren't perched happily in your seat.

Even for us football fans, the outlook isn't so great. It becomes much more difficult to proudly adorn yourself with your summer investment—the Coutinho shirt, obviously—as it seeks shelter beneath a duffle coat, while you shiver relentlessly in the Anfield stands. We're plagued by mid-week evening encounters which, if we're honest, lack enough semblance of atmosphere to be considered anything more than a chore to sit through. For Liverpool fans in particular, there is a tricky November and even deadlier December itinerary swiftly approaching.

Perhaps the most dreaded of all events on the footballing calender though, is, ironically, one which we spend the months prior eagerly anticipating. I am, of course, referring to the emotionally polarizing transfer window. For some, it is an opportunity to freshen and strengthen a squad as your team of choice prepares to sustain or mount a challenge during the 'business end' of the season. For others, though, the implications are far more sinister. Fans and coaches alike share the burden of awaiting a written transfer request from their star striker.

Liverpool's business in the summer was a refreshing change of pace in comparison to years past. It's hard to argue against the arrival of man-mountain Mamadou Sakho and subsequent departure of he-who-must-not-be-named. Yet, for all of Brendan Rodgers' positive moves, it's hard to shake the feeling that Liverpool's transfer activity remains incomplete. For the duration of the summer, our manager chased and was rebuffed on his quest for that elusive 'marquee signing.' Henrikh Mkhitaryan, despite flirting with a new life on Merseyside, understandably relocated to Germany with Champions League runners-up Borussia Dortmund. Diego Costa used Liverpool's interest as leverage as he angled for an improved contract with Atletico. And the less said about the Willian debacle the better. Even an optimistic (and absurdly unlikely) suggestion to free Juan Mata from the evil clutches of Jose Mourinho was touted as the midfield maestro fell victim to Chelsea's abundance of attacking options.

It could certainly be argued that the aforementioned mammoth defender was the club's marquee signing, or at least Ian Ayre would have you believe he was, but Brendan Rodgers' affinity for attacking players and those three high profile misses suggest that's where the manager's idea of a marquee signing was supposed to arrive—especially with questions still surrounding the fate of Luis Suarez. While Victor Moses has proven handy if unspectacular in the first months of his season-long loan, he is not the world-renowned winger most had hoped for. And his presence hasn't stopped rumours suggesting a bid for the promising Xherdan Shaqiri could be on the cards for January, with Arsenal also believed to be in contention for his signature.

A failed deadline day inquiry regarding Shay Given gives us an indication that Brad Jones may not deputize for the impenetrable Simon Mignolet much longer, but the back four (or more recently, three) in front of him is well-stocked. Martin Skrtel has been linked with a return to Zenit or a reunion with Rafael Benitez in Naples, having rediscovered the form that earned him Liverpool's Player of the Season award just two years ago. He may still find himself surplus to requirements, however, as Daniel Agger, Kolo Toure, Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori are all vying for his place in the starting lineup. The future doesn't look as bright in the middle of the park, as legless performances from the usually flawless Lucas Leiva and a visibly disheartened Steven Gerrard have been Liverpool's main concern during an otherwise exceptional start to the season. Jordan Henderson remains a vital cog in the pressing machine, though, and with Joe Allen still to return from injury, further additions to the midfield may not be required.

So, the question is, where do Liverpool go from here? Brendan Rodgers has made assurances that money will be spent in January, and if last year's winter recruits are any sort of indication, fans on the red half of Merseyside could yet see some light at the end of a cold and miserable tunnel until Spring.

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