At least Dejan wanted to come. So that's a positive, I guess. On the whole, though, it actually wasn't a terrible window: vaguely B-ish and pretty much okay once you got past Lovren and Balotelli. They cost a lot between them—more than an Alexis Sanchez, who was never coming but that’s still, like, a Lacazette-and-a-half—but Liverpool did spend a lot overall and, proportionally, it wasn’t nearly as bad a summer as some would like to remember it. The bigger problem was what got done with the players who were bought. And with the players already at the club. And that Liverpool gambled on Daniel Sturridge remaining ambulatory despite an already iffy injury record.
Dejan Lovren for 20m quid and a farewell party for Daniel Agger. That’s kinda where I see the disaster. If you reverse that decision, it’s absolutely a legitimate window. If you reverse that decision and plug in that extra dough into forcing the issue for Lacazette or something, it becomes an inspired window. Plus, as is, if Daniel Sturridge just has a lucky season injury-wise instead of a potentially career-derailing one, we’re in the big time. So, it’s difficult for me to cast too much shade on transfers alone. Lazar, Emre, Lallana, and Moreno are legitimate pieces. Crow all you want about not having landed the right profile of player, but we did some good business last summer. At the very least as good as you can ever really expect in the transfer market. I don’t even take back the Balotelli gamble, if you can guarantee me a management plan there that at least attempts to play to the guy’s strengths.
I was very satisfied with the window at the time. The pieces seemed to be in place and the talent level of the squad was very high. I remember thinking the team didn’t really have any players in it that I really didn’t want at the club. That has… changed. In retrospect, I also think the sale of Agger looks worse now than it did back then, because my view on Rodgers has changed somewhat and I’m starting to think it happened for the wrong reasons, i.e. not Agger’s body, but rather the relationship between the player and manager. And even if Daniel wasn’t quite as fantastic in his last season as he had been for most of his LFC career, he’d still much much better than Lovren. And the Sakho/Agger dream would’ve lived on. Beauty everywhere. My other big miss was Borini rejecting Sunderland. That 14m could’ve gone a long way towards preventing our goalscoring issues this year. Overall, I still think most of the players bought are going to be good for the club, Lovren the exception.
I still honestly believe that had Sturridge managed to stay fit for the majority of the season, we’d be comfortably in the top four and declaring last summer a roaring success. But… football isn’t about “what if’s” and actions speak louder than words. Really, only Lovren and Balotelli could be considered the flops of last summer’s recruitment, and I still (perhaps naively) think Dejan may come good sooner or later.
What I will say is that I don’t have time for anybody that dismisses Adam Lallana. The lad is the real deal, and his fitness record is really the only thing that can be levelled at him at this stage. When he’s been on the pitch, he’s delivered more often than not, and I’m super excited to see how he progresses next season.
I'm with the majority on this, and while I’ve not really ever been the type to actively hate on one of our own, sweet sassy molassey has Dejan tested that resolve! But even if I've taken to naming the poop emoji Dejan Lovren, I DESPERATELY WANT YOU TO COME GOOD, DEJAN, BECAUSE IT’S NOT FUN DISLIKING AN LFC PLAYER, MAN.
Aside from that, though, I think the transfers have been ok. Lazar, Moreno, and Can are all future buys with their performances providing the appropriate mix of wow and inconsistent. I think all of them will have a say in LFC being a solid contender a few seasons on, so I’m glad we’ve got them into the fold. I’m disappointed that Lallana got sidelined with so many injuries - when on the pitch, he’s usually among the bright spots. He can also take a decent shot, so if he’d have been healthy I feel we’d have felt Danny’s absence far, far less. Balo was mismanaged but a fair gamble at the time. So, yeah, I’m not really hating on much. Besides Lovren.
I agree with the group in saying I felt very optimistic about our transfers at the end of the window. The problem is that when you spend that much money, you expect immediate results from the players purchased. Only Can and arguably Lallana have proved their worth this season, and there has been enough disappointment that their contributions have paled in comparison to the expensive flops. What really gets me about Dejan Lovren is how much effort the club put into courting and acquiring him. That, almost more than his price tag, is what does it for me. It’s embarrassing.
Jury’s still out on Markovic, Origi, and Moreno. They didn’t really impress this season, except for Moreno in flashes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if at least one of them came good in the next year or two.
In our transfer window recap last summer, I wrote that “Liverpool's window has been an incredibly successful window by any definition.” I still mostly believe this even if some of the missteps now can feel larger than life — Dejan Lovren, I am looking at you — and even if I’m still not remotely over the admittedly sentimental decision to let Daniel Agger leave for Brondby. Some could have hit the ground running a bit harder, true, but there’s still a lot to be excited for in the future and I’m hoping that hindsight will give this window the faint glow I thought it had back on September 2.
I still like the chances for everyone who isn't Lovren, Balotelli, and Lambert to come good, at least as long as they’re given the opportunities. Even then, I don’t think it’s fair to count Lambert as a flop given that his role changed dramatically as Liverpool’s season went to shit, and for every Balotelli supposed misstep, there’s just as much blame to be laid at Rodgers’ feet for his handling of the player. Dejan Lovren has been as bad as it gets in recent seasons, though, and he should be nowhere near the starting eleven by the end of this summer. Like, maybe back in France. That’s probably close to far enough.
With a great opportunity for Liverpool to take steps forward after a second place finish, a couple of misjudgements detracted from a collection of great moves. Lallana, Moreno, Markovic, and Can were all solid additions to the squad with the latter three players offering real reason to be excited for the future. However, the expensive Lovren for Agger swap was doomed from the start and the absence of a legitimate striker addition after Suarez’s departure (the Balotelli signing excited me but he never fit Rodgers’ plans) cost Liverpool big time in the short-term. And that short-term dip meant not qualifying for the Champions League, which has long-term implications.
I don’t think it was an inadequate transfer window and was certainly enthusiastic at the time. My own endless articles on Mario Balotelli underscored my excitement, and I firmly stand by my bullish scouting report on Lazar Marković. And did we honestly think Dejan Lovren could really be that bad? I would say, though, that I never thought Daniel Agger should be sold as he’s the type of centre back who can use his intelligence, technique, and experience to play well into his thirties. That was always clearly a mistake, and for those who point to Agger saying he could no longer play in the English Premier League due to its physicality, it's hard to think he wouldn't have stuck around if he was wanted. Though in the end, if you believe the likes of Adam Lallana, Emre Can, and Alberto Moreno are talented - which I do - then the utilisation and management of the players must be questioned more than any one move.
Part 2 (Tuesday): Underperformers and Overachievers
Part 3 (Wednesday): Brendan Rodgers in His Third Season
Part 4 (Thursday): Steven Gerrard's Swan Song
Part 5 (Friday): Positioning the Club for Success in 2015/16