I’m referring back to the summer following the 2013/14 season. Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge had just unleashed terror upon English defenses, and nearly lifted their long-sought league title in doing so. And then Suarez left. And then the club failed to replace him.
We can argue endlessly (and we have) over just how effective the likes of Alexis Sanchez would have been in replacing Suarez. It certainly would have been better than our eventual last-ditch fall-back of Mario Balotelli, but in reality there was no way to replicate Suarez’s role in the team.
Instead, we were left perilously thin up top. How thin? We found out very early into the season when Sturridge’s injuries started piling up. Balotelli was not the answer to replace both Suarez and Sturridge, and neither was Raheem Sterling.
It wasn’t just Suarez’s production in raw goals and assists that we missed, but the amplifying effect that elevated all the players around him. His smart movement, passing, and dribbles opened up that little bit of extra space for other players around him to break down defenses.
Not only did Liverpool fail to replace Suarez, but the likes of Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, and Alberto Moreno either took a long time to bed-in (as was the case with the former Southampton men), or were frustratingly inconsistent (glares at Moreno).
The summer of 2014 was a big loss.
And this summer? It’s not great (so far), but it could be a lot worse.
Despite the rumors swirling around Philippe Coutinho’s potential transfer to Barcelona, it looks like Liverpool are in no mood to sell. This is great news (if, again, they stick to their word).
Additionally, Coutinho just isn’t as important to this squad as Suarez was to that squad. We have much more talent spread around the pitch. In this way, our one Big Name™ transfer, Mohamed Salah, can act as an amplifier in the same way Suarez did. Suddenly the likes of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Coutinho will be more dangerous because of Salah’s pace and goal-scoring threat.
Make no mistake, not losing Coutinho (or Emre Can) and adding Salah are big positives this summer. And unlike the summer of 2014, it does not look like incoming players will need a long bedding-in before kicking on in Red.
Prior to the summer, Klopp (correctly!) identified the need for quality over quantity. So far that gamble hasn’t worked out, but it’s worth remembering that more isn’t always better.
Of course, we need more players. When the season kicks off a week from today, we will already be without Adam Lallana. One or two more injuries in key areas could derail the season before it has properly begun. Hopefully this is a problem that is rectified prior to the transfer window closing at the end of the month.
Just remember, it could be worse. It has been worse.