Harry Redknapp made some strong claims surrounding Liverpool this week, claims that were highly critical of Brendan Rodger's squad. Liverpool have produced a patchy start to Premier League life in 2015/16 with wrongly disallowed goals in the club's favour and a horrendous home defeat held against any early signs of progress under a manager in his fourth season at the club. Stout away displays contrasted sharply with uninspiring football at Anfield, but Redknapp was clear as to the deficiencies in the squad that boasts the same amount of points as Manchester United and Arsenal.
"I don't fancy Liverpool at all," the former Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United manager said at a Telegraph football event. "I think it's the worst Liverpool team I have seen in years. They look bang average. They are lucky to have any points. Bournemouth should have beaten them, they got a wonder goal at Stoke. OK, they played all right first-half at Arsenal. I think they will do well to finish in the top five. I am not with Liverpool at all this year. Having said that they will probably win the league!
"They lost Steven Gerrard, their leader. What a player. They lost Jamie Carragher the year before. They've lost their characters. Look at the two centre-halves on Saturday (Dejan Lovren and Martin Škrtel). The left-back (Joe Gomez) is a good young player who can't kick with his left foot but he is playing at left-back. He's a fantastic talent, strong, quick. But what will he give you on the left? He is on the wrong side.
"They look a badly balanced team to me. Sorry, I can't have Liverpool. I love Liverpool Football Club, and if you said to me which team would I have loved to manage in this country it would be Liverpool - but I can't see it this year."
While it's heartening to hear that Harry Redknapp "loves" Liverpool FC, a sweet dessert can't make up for a rotten main course. It's his opinion, of course, which he's entitled to, but "scathing" and "stinging" would be the most appropriate of overused adjectives to describe Redknapp's analysis. However, it's not entirely unfair. Liverpool have a lot of work to do, but to say that this is the worst squad in years is to forget many of the muddles of the last five or six years. Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher are undoubtedly legends but were not the players they once were in their final seasons at the club, which is to be expected. Their influence and leadership, however, remained vital throughout their time at the club. Also, Roy Hodgson. Roy. Hodgson.
It is with pleasure to introduce John Barnes' contribution to the proceedings. In an interview with Talksport, the Liverpool legend responded to the aforementioned assessment with customary level-headedness and perspective. Once again, Barnes reminded anyone who would listen how underutilised he is by his former club. The 51-year-old adopted a more conciliatory tone in disagreeing with the 68-year-old Redknapp but made his point nonetheless.
"Some of Harry's points are valid, but it terms of this team being the worst Liverpool side ever - I wouldn't say so," Barnes said in response to Redknapp's unequivocal criticisms. "We're a very hard working side, we are a physical side, we can outrun teams and are strong. Defensively we haven't conceded many goals, part from against West Ham.
"Maybe fans got a little carried away because we did so well in their first three games and didn't conceding any goals, but I'm not getting carried away. It showed against West Ham that we do have out problems but, apart from Man City, every other team is not playing consistently well. You have to give teams time to settle down.
"We know the type of players Harry Redknapp likes, he likes exciting football, and this isn't necessarily going to be an exciting or free-flowing team. Apart from Coutinho, we haven't really got that type of that player. We haven't got that many inventive players, what we do have are fit, strong players - but that doesn't mean we can't be competitive. I understand Harry's perspective, because he loves attacking football, and while this Liverpool team isn't going to be like that, it doesn't mean we can't get into the top four. I'm still hopeful we can compete."
Roberto Firmino is a player with creativity who can make things happen, but in terms of a high level of creativity like Coutinho, there aren't many players like that in the squad. However, other players can play a role in creating chances for themselves as well as others. Tottenham look creatively hamstrung without Christian Eriksen and depth up front, Chelsea are struggling in multiple areas of the team, and Arsenal fans seem to be furious with their manager's reluctance to improve the side.
There are still 34 league games to go, and while Liverpool have some improving to do, other leading Premier League teams will have to do the same over the coming month to avoid falling even further behind early pacesetters and big spenders Manchester City.
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