Jürgen Klopp has sent Mamadou Sakho home from Liverpool's pre-season tour of America, Chelsea inflicted the club's first defeat of pre-season, no £100 million players will arrive at Anfield, and James Milner might be the main challenger to both Nathaniel Clyne and Alberto Moreno. More on Milner treading the path of Kevin Großkreutz later, but why has this been another week of moaning and groaning for Liverpool fans?
There was one article written this week that was beyond inflammatory, but to avoid unnecessary strife and finger-pointing, neither the site nor the writer will be referred to. The main point of the writer's article, however, was to claim that Liverpool will be in serious trouble without further reinforcements. It was, of course, a reaction to the comments Klopp made about the club's transfer plans for the remainder of the summer.
Essentially, Liverpool must make more signings to avoid a revolt. What spurious nonsense. Is a left back needed? Yes. Should there be another option in the event of Clyne being available? That would be most prudent indeed. With a month to go in the transfer window, Liverpool have brought in two goalkeepers, two centre backs, two central midfielders, and a support forward. One of those central midfielders is an extremely versatile athlete with speed, stamina, skill, and intelligence. Four of those seven players are likely starters, too.
Look around naysayers. The Whatever Shield is going to be played this weekend with the start of the Premier League season just two weeks away. Liverpool have been sharp and swift in the summer transfer window. Ronald Koeman's new club, Everton, haven't spent any money to sign a player yet even with all that rumoured Farhad Moshiri money swishing around. Maarten Stekelenberg plus a host of young freebies don't exactly fit into the "splashing out" category. Arsenal bought Granit Xhaka early and pushed for Jamie Vardy, but apart from signing a couple of young players, haven't brought in any other senior players. Arsène Wenger still has quite a bit of work to do.
Manchester United, however, have been busy to satisfy José Mourinho's predilection for spending vast sums of money wherever he goes. Before anyone questions the fee for Sadio Mané, a similar sum was spent on a centre back in Eric Bailly. Paul Pogba will be the first nine-figure player in football history, one who left the very same club for scraps four years ago. Throw in wages and Mino Raiola's agent fee for a ridiculously exorbitant deal for a very talented player. The signings are good enough, though, to improve a side that finished fifth last season.
Tottenham have been relatively sensible in picking up players to improve the squad in key positions but haven't made a big splash. Keeping the manager and players to grow together is valuable in and of itself. Chelsea have made a couple of interesting signings under new head coach Antonio Conte but haven't signed a centre back that's been seen as a priority for the Italian. Pep Guardiola has inevitably sexed up the Premier League and Manchester City without being as active in the transfer window as many have thought. Leicester City have lost N'Golo Kanté to the bright lights of London and might lose Riyad Mahrez to England's capital before September rolls round.
In short, Liverpool haven't done too badly this summer. The lack of depth in the fullback positions are certainly worrying, but fear not, there's a dependable and trusty option available. James Milner is Liverpool's vice-captain and one of the club's highest earners. The 30-year-old looks set to have a new role this season as defensive cover on both defensive flanks, according to James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo and various club-connected journalists. Milner will get on with things as usual and might be a better option than some think.
"The manager pulled me at the start," Milner said bluntly. He’s obviously looked at his squad and what players he has. He’s asked if I was willing to cover the full-back positions, basically, if there was a point in the season where there were injuries or like at Man United last season in the Europa League when I played left back. We had a conversation about it and I told him it’s not my favourite position and not one I particularly like playing, but he’s the manager and if he wants me to play there, I’ll play there. The team comes first, always has, always will."
Sakho doesn't seem to be in the desperate position that some, including myself, thought he was in after the manager simply stated that the 26-year-old broke some rules regarding punctuality and won't be fined. Thank Fowler for that, everything should be cool. What's not cool is Loris Karius' broken hand, which will keep the goalkeeping stunner out for at least two months. It's time for Simon Mignolet to just stand up and travel new land; it's time for him to just take matters into his own hands. He's only got one shot and shouldn't miss his chance to blow this opportunity that comes once in a lifetime. So he better...