The general consensus amongst Liverpool-watchers is that Brendan Rodgers' dealings in this calendar year have gone some way towards adding genuine depth to a squad that lost the formidable skills and experience of Maxi Rodriguez, Dirk Kuyt and Craig Bellamy, before the last campaign kicked-off. When Andy Carroll was then dumped out, without a replacement lined-up, and Fabio Borini showcased his brittle physique and Aurelio-esque tendency towards injury, Liverpool were left to lurch towards January reliant on kids and the mercurial form of Luis Suarez.
Phillipe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge have both made impressive starts to their Anfield careers since January, and the two added immediate potency to an attack that was cripplingly dependent on Suarez. Iago Aspas has been brought in to supplement that attack still further, and Luis Alberto, Kolo Toure and Simon Mignolet will help to strengthen the spine of the team. There are, however, a couple of areas where there remains a worryingly inadequate look to the personnel. If the talk of challenging at the top of the table is to be anything more than pre-season guff, these areas must be addressed in the coming weeks.
It will come as no surprise that Rodgers spoke of needing to supplement the left side of the defence. There's a certain regular contributor to our comments section who's been leading the clamour to 'buy a left fullback' for some time now and it's clearly an area of the utmost importance. If José Enrique is on form, he can be a wonderfully combative, dynamic defender with a flair for the attacking side of the game. When he's off form, he can resemble a lobotomized gym-junkie, likely to pass to the opposition or stare vacantly with a kind of bovine calm, as attackers step around him. The breadth of the gap between good José and bad José is too vast to simply endure his off-days.
Glen Johnson, when asked to deputize on the left, has invariably been excellent. His comfort on the ball and athleticism make him supremely adaptable, and one fancies that were the manager to propose a stint for the England regular as a regista, he'd probably make a good fist of it, spraying the ball about with Pirlo-like aplomb.
Johnson was free to shift across because of the comparable depth the club has at right-back, with André Wisdom, Martin Kelly and even Jon Flanagan capable of playing there. On-tour Jay Spearing stepped into the role and Jordan Henderson has been typically efficient when asked to slot-in also, but Johnson is the man who should start on the right when the squad is all fit.
Jack Robinson was initially impressive when he made a handful of appearances under Kenny Dalglish, but his showings since have been patchy, betraying his youth and inexperience. Hopefully, last season's loan-spell will have greatly enhanced his play and he will become another successful academy transition but most, including Rodgers, seem to feel that a more immediate fix is required in the left-back position. A while back, Conor had a wide-ranging look at some potential recruits in this area and no doubt many of the names highlighted in the piece have been bandied about by Liverpool's recruitment team.
What was surprising was to hear the manager speak of a pressing need for quality in the striking department. With the current roster, Liverpool are as well provided-for as they've been in some time, but Rodgers stressed this was an area in need of supplementation. Does this suggest that he has a feeling Suarez will ultimately leave? Is he subtly preparing the fans? Perhaps your long-suffering scribbler has just fallen prey to the paranoia of transfer season. This time of year is the worst.
As it stands, the Northern Irishman seems to be suggesting the club needs a further attacker on top of the current options. Were Suarez to leave, wouldn't that then mean at least two new forwards must be added? The real problem for the club and transfer-speculators here, is that even armed with a massive pot of money, Liverpool's lack of Champions League football will immediately impair the amount of choice available to the club. Finding one genuinely top-class striker willing to come to Liverpool will be an achievement, finding two will surely prove to be tricky.
With his new teeth gleaming, Rodgers' Hollywood grin was unsettling. There is a real steeliness to the man now, as evidenced in his frank appraisal of the Suarez situation covered in Elizabeth's piece, but his sentiments were typically positive as he outlined the club's needs.
"There are obviously certain areas of the squad where we're a bit thinner than others," offered the Liverpool boss. "We probably need a wee bit more support at the top end of the field and that's something we'll look out for. It's not really about numbers, it's about quality. That'll be mixed with needing cover in the left-back position -- that's something we're looking at. And we want that extra bit of quality at the top end of the field. If we can do that over the next number of weeks, we'll be happy."
Another quality attacker and a top class left-back would make most Liverpool fans happy too, no doubt. As the machinations continue behind the scenes, it is comforting to know that the manager is searching for two more first-team-ready footballers. The arrival of such would leave a very healthy, post-holiday glow on the squad, and no doubt make the more excitable amongst us dream hopefully of of what might be.