By Chris Rowland.
After a few weeks with its feet up in the sunshine on the beach, Symposium is back with the question – Who’s Your Favourite New Signing and How’ll He Improve Us?
Here’s what our panel made of it.
By Dave Cronin: For me it’s Mignolet. Bar the West Brom game, we played better (aesthetically and in terms of possession domination) in our opening games last season than we have this season, yet last season we had one point after three matches and two after five. This season we have nine points from the first three games. In terms of goal scoring there’s not a world of difference with two in three and four in five last season, compared with three in three this season. But the goals against stats are vastly different – seven conceded in three games and 10 in five last season versus 0 in three games this season.
A much better organised defence (and I include the whole team in that) has undoubtedly contributed but the opposition have still managed to create chances the type of which were being converted regularly last season.
This is where Mignolet has really added value. Seeing him flying full-stretch across his goal area to deflect or divert a goal bound shot has been a welcome reminder of what top class keepers do well – make saves. Mignolet’s stats at Sunderland suggested he would be a considerable improvement on Pepe in that respect and so far he hasn’t disappointed.
I admit I felt a sense of attachment to Reina and was possibly guilty of fixating on the player he had been and looking for evidence that he could get back to his best rather than seeing the evidence that he was not. I also felt it was an unnecessary gamble to replace our keeper having been burned by our hapless attempts to improve that position over many years prior to signing Reina.
I felt our priorities for strengthening lay in other areas. While it is early days yet, I like that Rodgers seems to have identified a problem that was far from obvious to supporters like me and acted decisively and ruthlessly to address it.
Rafa axed Dudek fresh from his heroics in Istanbul to bring in Reina and that heralded a remarkable turnaround in our defensive form. We only scored five goals more in 2005-06 than in 2004-05 but conceded 16 goals fewer, leading to an impressive increase of 24 points and, with 82 points, one of the highest points tallies not to result in a top 2 finish.
Top teams have keepers that make saves and earn their sides points. I would estimate that Mignolet has already earned us between four and six points this campaign with his saves in each of our games to date and put a very different complexion on our season’s opening as a consequence. Long may that continue.
By Paul Tomkins: It’s early days, so it’s hard to judge the players beyond what they’ve done in two or three meaningful games and a handful of friendlies, plus the potential they represent based on their careers to date.
I guess so far I’ve liked Touré more than I expected, and been more impressed with Mignolet than anticipated. I really liked the look of Aspas in preseason, but in league games he’s looked a bit lightweight – if still an intelligent and fairly gifted player. The intelligence and technical ability of Luis Alberto has been apparent when he’s got onto the pitch, but like Suso he lacks that little bit of pace that could make him so much more devastating; I see bright futures for both, but not quite at the level the best modern players get to if they’ve also got pace in their locker.
Cissokho seems a fairly sensible, low-risk loan signing, and although he barely touched the ball, I particularly liked the frustration and upset he showed at getting injured during his debut; it suggested he is not here merely to pick up a pay cheque.
Ilori looks like being a great bet for the future, and I’ve been a fan of Victor Moses for a few years. His stats aren’t the best, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can grow as a player at LFC, in the way that Sturridge has.
However, I particularly like the idea of the gym equipment needing reinforcement for Sahko. It’s been a while since we’ve had an absolute beast, and therefore Sahko gets my vote.
By Mark Cohen (maradoo): There seems little doubt that the squad is greatly improved from the beginning of the year, but the pick of the bunch must be Kolo Toure.
Whilst Sahko might turn out to be a beast, the one thing Rodgers banged on about the most in pre-season was ‘mentality’, and this guy has a winning one. Jamie Carragher had been a tour de force in the squad for so many years, so losing him and Reina in one season might have been disastrous for team ethos both from a defensive perspective and from an experience one.
It’s fantastic that we have started well, but with a squad that is close to the youngest in the division, we needed to add the requisite experience to make sure that when the going gets tough, for example a couple of defeats on the trot or a few defensive errors etc, the lads can quickly find their form again.
At 32, Kolo goes a long way to sorting this out by bringing a title winning mind-set to a squad that has lost much confidence and required a huge rebuild since 2010. Even if Kolo does not play that much, he will be crucial in helping us achieve the consistency by helping the youngsters in the squad overcome the mental barriers associated with a long and arduous 38-game top four challenge.
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