Should They Stay Or Should They Go? (Part 3)

Should They Stay Or Should They Go? (Part 3)
July 3, 2015 Chris Rowland

Attack

By Chris Rowland and Daniel Rhodes.

With the  arrivals of Danny Ings, Roberto Firmino, Divock Origi and very likely one other – Benteke, Higuain, a rabbit out of a hat? – there’s more hope of a reversion to 2013/4’s riches rather than last season’s painfully pinched austerity. To balance that there’s the small matter of Raheem Sterling to be resolved.

Remember we’re only featuring players who made at least five competitive starts (an appearance of 45 minutes or more) for the Reds’ first team last season – so no Ings, Origi or Firmino. And Aspas has already been sold to Sevilla for about £5m, so he’s out of the picture too.

The rest of this article is for Subscribers only.

[wcm_nonmember][ttt-subscribe-article][/wcm_nonmember][wcm_restrict]

Season Performance Stats:

(I’ve included the previous three years, as well as Ings and Benteke, for further context)

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 10.39.29

Raheem Sterling / Age on 1 September 2015: 20/ Contract expires: 2018

Reasons to keep: Raheem Sterling is probably one of the best prospects in world football – though he may be a few years and some committed learning away from genuine world superstar status. To my mind he’s never really been a true winger, and is best suited to a free central role where he is adept at dropping into pockets of space between the lines. He has shown versatility in playing in various roles for Liverpool, and is surprisingly strong given his slight frame and lack of height. Above all, he has pace; devastatingly so in those all-important first few yards, and in his case from pretty much a standing start, dropping his shoulder and just surging away from opponents, leaving them trailing in his wake. His smooth gliding run is a pleasure to behold – when it works out and he isn’t dispossessed or shown into a cul-de-sac. With Sterling you get both, and in true Forrest Gump style, you never quite know which one you’re going to get. He works and presses hard when he can be bothered, but it’s increasingly looked as though he isn’t – and there’s the dilemma. Do we want to keep a talent who’d rather be somewhere else? As OptaJoe pointed out: only two players (Hazard 99 &  David Silva 86) created more chances from open play than Raheem Sterling (75) in the 2014-15 PL. That’s quite some company for a 20 year old in a struggling side to keep.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 13.00.39

Reasons to offload: He’s not the finished product by any means. He’s probably not as good as he and his agent think he is. He has a tendency to run into trouble, his decision-making is questionable – pass when he should shoot and vice versa – and his finishing can be dire. He can drift in and out of games, and like much of last season, appear fairly uncommitted.

As mentioned earlier, he has the ability to achieve global superstar status. He also has the potential to drift into under-achieving anonymity in the Shaun Wright-Phillips style, or become better known for his performances off-field rather than on it. He may achieve more column inches through his personal life than through his football. The reality may lie somewhere in the midst of that lot.

Verdict: SELL

[poll id=”319″]

[poll id=”320″]

I come to this verdict reluctantly, because nothing would please me more than him to come out and say openly that he’s settled his differences with Liverpool, has happily signed a new contract and can’t wait to continue his career development under Brendan Rodgers. But that’s not a day  can see coming anytime soon. I think he has made his decision, so it becomes a question of how much we can get for him, bearing in mind QPR are justifiably due 20% of it, and whether he goes to a PL rival or we can persuade a foreign club to remove him from opposition ranks. Couldn’t Rafa find us £50m for him?

Daniel Sturridge / Age on 1 September 2015: 26 (his birthday!) / Contract expires: 2019

The wonders of 2013/14, the injury-hit mess of last season – will the real Daniel Sturridge kindly stand up? He’s going to miss a slice of the start of this season too as he recovers from that surgery in the US. What we hope is that he recovers fully and quickly, gets up to match fitness as soon as possible and starts doing what he’s very good at – being a striker – without any niggling ‘fast twitch’ anything-at-alls. We need him fit and firing as soon as is humanly possible. He’s now reaching the age and the stage in his career where he should be getting up to his max. If he can achieve that, it could be sumptuous to behold.

Reasons to keep: The 21-goal Sturridge of last season showed that at his best he can be a match for any. He can score all types of goals – curled finishes into top corners, close range tap ins, headers, the sublime delicate chip (WBA at home last season), the lob (Everton last season), the assured finish when latching onto a Coutinho through ball. He has pace and acceleration, can beat a man and his passing can be decent too. He can drift wide or drop deep to link up the play in the middle of the opposition half. Just £12.5 million for his services looks like theft.

Reasons to offload: There’s one obvious one – his injury record. Last season was a car crash for him from that point of view, and the overhang will stretch well into this season, as he’s not expected to be available till October-ish. In other words, he’ll miss a whole series of our season-shaping away games. We need this corrective surgery to have worked. One other concern – a slight air of inflated ego/show pony about him, an inclination to let his head drop, sulk when  subbed off or just be a bit lazy and selfish, and shoot when others are better placed – in many ways a sort of Balotelli-lite! 😉

Verdict: KEEP.

[poll id=”321″]

[poll id=”322″]

A no-brainer really. At his best Sturridge is at the top of his trade. Now’s his time to start cementing club legend status, at Fowler/Owen level. Though I doubt he’ll ever be as popular as the former.

Mario Balotelli/ Age on 1 September 2015: 24/ Contract expires: 2018

Blimey, what to say? Somewhere, whirling around the chaotic core, there is a supremely gifted footballer in there. Even we have seen brief glimpses of it, in the red shirt. So far, neither Rodgers, Mancini or a host of other managers has managed to bring it out on anything remotely resembling a consistent basis. He’s a conundrum alright, is Mario. But that’s hardly a major discovery.

Reasons to keep: Somewhere in there, he has it all to be a complete modern striker. Strong, athletic, physically imposing and powerful, a superb first touch – when it’s not lousy – decent in the air, with a shot like a mule, a self-belief that could very easily be mistaken for arrogance, a brilliant penalty-taker in that he doesn’t seem prone to the same nerves as other mortals, a danger from free-kicks… after all, plenty of Italian national team managers have been prepared to risk him being their main striking outlet, as he was for the Brazil World Cup.

Reasons to offload: At his worst he can seem lazy, petulant, disengaged, self-obsessed rather than team-focused, an accident waiting to happen, a sending-off seeming almost inevitable, a personal battle with an opponent subsuming the wider picture of the actual match itself … His decision-making can be awful, his tracking back whole-hearted but woefully ineffectual – sometimes it might actually be better if he stayed upfield where he can make a nuisance of himself at their end rather than ours. And his strike rate …

Then there are his absences, which haven’t always seemed adequately explained. What does ‘illness’ mean? If as some have suggested it may be mental healthy issues then he has my and presumably everyone else’s genuine sympathy. He certainly does seem to exhibit some of the ‘too high then too low’ mood swings of bipolarity, but that’s only guesswork.

With a fit Sturridge, Ings, Origi, Firmino and presumably one more first-team striker, what room or need is there for Balotelli?

Verdict: SELL

[poll id=”323″]

[poll id=”324″]

I’d love to be wrong about this one, I want to like him, I want to see some dividend for all that talent. If I truly believed we were going to see it, I’d change the verdict …

Fabio Borini / Age on 1 September 2015: 24/ Contract expires: 2017

During his loan period at Sunderland in 2013/14, the Italian scored 10 goals in 40 games and made himself a real fans’ favourite. And they weren’t just any old goals; they were goals in cup finals, derbies and crucial relegation battles. This is clearly a player who thrives on the big occasion, and you must have that quality to succeed at Anfield.

So where is it? What’s stopping him doing at Liverpool what he did at Sunderland?

I think Borini will prove an excellent squad player next year, perhaps nicking a point or two from the bench or occasionally coming in to . , and as  progressed, he added goals to the mix.

Reasons to keep: He has showed during his time at Liverpool that he has good, intelligent movement. He’s tenacious and hard working. He showed at Sunderland he can score goals in big games. He can play in a wide role in a front three.

Reasons to offload: Basically, he comes up short on all the key metrics. He’s not particularly quick. His first touch is poor and he’s a bit of a lightweight. He isn’t going to lead the line. Worst of all, his goalscoring threat for Liverpool has been negligible. In fact he doesn’t offer that much threat to the opposition at all – does any of them see him on our bench with a heavy heart? Do opposing players or fans swallow hard when he comes on? Do any of us feel a sense of excitement at what he might bring to us?

If those are all no’s, then he has to go.

Our Verdict: SELL

[poll id=”325″]

[poll id=”326″]

Rickie Lambert / Age on 1 September 2015: 33/ Contract expires: 2016

Lovable cuddly Rickie, scouser Rickie, finally got his dream move to the hometown club he’s always supported after his rags to riches tour around the lower leagues and non-league. Except the old adage ‘be careful what you wish for’ reasserted that it’s rooted in truth.

Lambert looked more like a little boy lost than a triumphant prodigal son returning home where he belongs. That shirt weighed heavy on him, and in truth he looked like he filled it rather too amply too (OK, pot, kettle .. but I’m not a pro footballer! 😉 )

Reasons to keep: Sadly I can’t really find one. Caring for the club isn’t really enough. Ok he can bring other players into play, he’s got a decent touch for a big slow striker, etc etc. In truth he’s not a bad footballer.

Reasons to offload: He’s too slow (and at his age unlikely to get any quicker), he can’t get behind defences, he never gave us the Plan B option we supposed he was bought for, he was never remotely as effective as he was at Southampton, he’s dropped out of the international picture, and now he’s likely to drop out of the Liverpool picture too. Villa as part of a Benteke deal and Pulis’ WBA are rumoured to be possible destinations.

Verdict: SELL

[poll id=”327″]

[poll id=”328″]

We may like the guy, but there is no conceivable way of us playing, with the current manager and the current squad of players, that will accommodate him.

Divock Origi/ Age on 1 September 2015: 20/ Contract expires: 2019

In truth we don’t know that much about our new Belgian international striker – except that he IS a Belgian international striker, and often gets selected in a squad that also contains attacking talent such as Lukaku, Dembele, Mirallas, Chadli, Fellaini, Batshuayi – and Benteke. Oh, and we signed him a year ago for £10m and immediately loaned him back to Lille for the season, so in that sense he’s not ‘new’.

Reasons to keep: He’s young, he’s lightning fast – and you immediately think of Coutinho and now Firmino through balls – and he’s very promising. And he did score a World Cup goal for Belgium. He can play wide on the right as well as through the middle, where his pace can give full-backs a problem.

Reasons to offload: Forget that L’Equipe thing where he was selected in the Worst Ligue 1 Team of the Year. He was playing in a poor Lille side, he was 19 … but his strike rate stats are not particularly impressive. He can look clumsy, awkward, unsure of his positioning and what runs to make. But when he does decide, he gets there fast!

Verdict: KEEP

[poll id=”329″]

It would be mistaken to think this player is the finished article. What that will be, only time will tell, though some judges in the game believe he could be very good indeed. If it’s a question of horses for courses, and finding the right environment for you and your style of play, let’s hope he finds the Anfield going to his liking.

So, all that leaves our attacking options looking like this:

Sturridge, Origi, Ings, Firmino and one new signing – a proven striker, ideally with a sprinkling of stardust to replace our departing problem child.

SELL: Sterling, Balotelli, Borini, Lambert.

[/wcm_restrict]

Comments (45)

  1. The final instalment of the STSOSTG series is upon us…

    I think it is the most difficult yet in terms of deciding whether to keep, sell or loan and even rate them… 

    Enjoy!

  2. Verschlimmbesserer 8 years ago

    My votes agreed with all your decisions, except Mario. I can see all his downsides, and it might be that his relationship with Rodgers is broken, so he has to go.

    Right now though we would not get back what we paid for him, whereas as a second striker behind Ings or Origi in the Europa League he could get a few highlight reel goals against average opposition and bump his price up for January. He will be welcomed by all those fans who watch his two minute long youtube video. 

    He would be playing in his prefered position, with his strengths on show against the french version of West Ham or the second (or third) biggest team in Poland. 

    I bet then Besiktas or Lokomotiv Moskva or someone will be struggling for goals and take him off our hands. 

    • Chris wrote the text, which although very similar to my view, I’d be inclined to keep him for another season, even if that means 5th choice with everyone fit…

      • RedErik 8 years ago

        Not for me. I was really excited by him at the start (my lad has a ballotelli shirt!) but gradually his movement off the ball, selfish shooting and unwillingness to chase down opponents all started to get me down. It was as if he was slowing all of our attacking play down (I know it wasn’t all down to him) and it got to a point where I couldn’t even see the good things he was doing anymore.

        He seems llike a really nice lad but has problems with authority and wants to do his own thing. I reckon the best solution for all is for him to go to a different team and have it built around him so he can flourish.

      • Verschlimmbesserer 8 years ago

        I guess even where for most players the answer looks clear, there will always be small differences in opinion. I just guessed you wrote it. 

        @RedErik I don’t think he is a long term answer, I just think that he didn’t get a fair go last season in his best position. Look at how excited we all where after the Spurs game when he played with Sturridge. 

        He will not get that chance in the league with us this year, but most countries take the Europa League seriously and I think it could be a great shop window for players who are not fit long term for the first team. I would think the same for Borini if we can’t find takers in this window. We should do our best to sell them on at a good price. If someone gets four goals in six EL games it could boost their selling price by 3m or more to the right team.

    • Jonathon Davies 8 years ago

      Agree Versch, maybe one more season from him, play him in a front two see if that gets the best from him.  If come January, he’s still shite, wave bye-bye!

    • nobbyjbc 8 years ago

      I clicked sell – on the assumtion we’re buying.

      If we don’t buy – then I’d keep him in the mix with Ings, Origi, and a (possibly) returning Studge.

  3. RedErik 8 years ago

    After reading I just had to click on the STSOSTG part 3 attack from last season which just reminded me of how great Suarez was. Oh the memories! How did anybody not vote a 10 for him!

    Anyway moving on from there, thanks for doing these Daniel and Chris, I really enjoy them.

    • Don’t torture yourself!

      Suarez last season is my benchmark for a ten, and will continue to be so. If we get anyone near that again, we’re very lucky. 

      Nobody got over an eight for me this season. And those that did, only just about deserved it. 

      • RedErik 8 years ago

        It’s not torture really as it reminded me of what a wonderful season it was. Some of the performances that year were breathtaking especially the first half against Arsenal! It actually makes me want to go and watch the DVD.

        If we are using Saurez last season as a benchmark for 10 then we wont be seeing another 10 for a long time I suspect!

        Only Countinho got an 8 for me this season, and that was because I have forgotten how poor he was at the start.

      • Verschlimmbesserer 8 years ago

        In hindsight I think it was a little high, but I voted 9 for Sturridge, purely based on what he did on the field since he arrived.

        Last season despite having been mostly injured, and therefore not match fit a lot of the time he was playing, he still managed a goal rate of 0.48 per 90 mins.

        I hope we can get him and keep him fit, and that we keep him for five more years and sell him back to Chelsea just before he melts for a new club record. 

  4. vinnylfc 8 years ago

    I have a couple of questions for the voters:

    Who voted 3 & 4 for Sturridge? And why then did you vote ‘Keep’? Presumably the low score is just for his injury record?

    Also who voted to loan out Lambert and why?

    • Lurgankop 8 years ago

      I’m wondering who voted 8 and 9 for Sturridge. By my estimation that would mean that he would have been a 11/12 out of 10 guy, for the previous season!

      Personally, I gave him a 5, underperforming, most likely due to his injuries. No matter what way I juggle it in my mind, last season was not a good one for our Daniel.

       

      • Verschlimmbesserer 8 years ago

        Hello,

         

        waves ( ゚▽゚)/

      • vinnylfc 8 years ago

        I voted 9 for both Sturridge and Sterling as I was judging the player overall (including future potential), so apologies, it is me who misunderstood!

        That means I have voted ‘incorrectly’ on every player… oops!

      • Firmino's Cornetto 8 years ago

        I also gave 5. Based on the five or six games where he was there and the team improved but, in truth, he was never really fit at any point. Hence half marks.

    • nobbyjbc 8 years ago

      Is it a misunderstanding of whether you’re voting for “last season score” or “lifetime score”?

      • Daniel Rhodes 8 years ago

        Yes, the rating has to be for the previous season only, taking into account whatever factors you apply!

      • rafaisthebosphorus 8 years ago

        I voted high, as I discount his injury record

        I interpret this as a forward-looking measure and so I assume he’ll be injured less this season (if only because he’s had such intensive and comprehensive recovery and medical work and he won’t be managed so badly by DoF)

      • Verschlimmbesserer 8 years ago

        I rated him high because he scored when he was on the pitch 48% of the time, but my score of 9 was influenced by his previous year as well as the potential for him. I understand that might not be what I was supposed to do.

    • MikeH 8 years ago

      Haha..I may have given him 3 on what he contributed to last season. He’s a great player so it’s an easy keep. Not sure what value you’d get for selling him either..injuries woukd be a big deal for a buying club and on 140k per week we’d have to give him away.
      I’m a harsh marker..For me 5 is par/average. I acknowledge Versch rationale re .48g/90 but he just wasn’t on the pitch enough.

    • Paul McCormack 8 years ago

      I voted to keep Sturridge and gave him a 3 because it seems thats how many games he played last season.  🙁

      He only has value (and great value) if he’s on the pitch.

    • Bazz 8 years ago

      I voted 5 because his contribution to the season wasn’t more than that. When he played, he played well but he gets a smack on average for the season’s contribution overall. It seems we’re all applying our own arbitrary filters.

  5. BigJimCambo 8 years ago

    Balotelli is an interesting one, and I think the answer depends on the formation we intend to play.

    Up front on his own last season he looked lost and in need of a proper parter, i.e. Sturridge (or Borini), but we never really got to find out what he would have been like with a partner to feed off him and buzz around him.

    So, if we’re playing a front 3, i.e. a single man up front with 2 wider forwards then it’s probably time to cut our losses, however if we intend to play a front 2 then maybe he’s worth persevering with… for a while at least??

  6. echykr 8 years ago

    For the Sterling option: Sell ONLY if a foreign or lower league offer comes up. Don’t want him adding to a domestic rival’s roster, even if he will only be warming their bench.

    If no offer comes up, send him to the reserves to rot until his contract runs out and gets devalued, or he comes to his senses and resigns with us under more favourable terms for us.

    • garythespud 8 years ago

       Sell ONLY if a foreign or lower league offer comes up

      Yup, I’d definitely sell to Brentford. Now I wouldn’t expect their £50m cheque to cash straight away…

      • echykr 8 years ago

        If Brentford can come up with 50m, I’ll be more than happy to chuck him off there, where he’ll obviously be the Star Man in taking Brentford to their destined Holy Grail of the Premier League. Good luck to him.

  7. rafaisthebosphorus 8 years ago

    50:50 on Sterling, depends on price…

  8. Donny G 8 years ago

    I said to sell Sturridge *hides*

    If I’m honest, last season’s perma-injury situation has dampened my spirits somewhat when it comes to the silly dancing man. If I was a deeply religious man, I’d say all that praying he did to the Almighty wasn’t really working either. I predict it’ll be more of the same I’m afraid.

    That said, it’s not like I’m glass half full on the signings so far – I happen to think we’ll do fine without Sturridge in the team for half the season and we’ve planned well for that eventuality.

    • jonrushton 8 years ago

      I think it would be a bit premature to sell Sturridge! Even if you take a personal dislike to him, surely give him another season – if he gets fit again he’s worth £40m+ at least, and then we could use the money to sign someone worse.

      Or if he stays injured, he’s worth exactly whatever he is worth now – nothing lost.

    • Verschlimmbesserer 8 years ago

      I think he would be very difficult to sell right now, and unlike last year, we seem to have planned our attack to be fine without him.

      Anything he does next season is a bonus in a way, if we ignore the wages we pay even if he is not on the pitch. I would wonder though if he has that factored in as FSG seem quite wily like that.  

  9. SuperTiger 8 years ago

    Interesting to see that the sentiment to keep Lambert has swung so dramatically since the last window. It appears now that the financial reality of our far weaker position to our intended rivals is evident, the sentimental ones on here that argued to keep Lambert have since changed their position even though there was little evidence that he’d have provided us with much of a return in the goals department.

    If only we’d sold him in January, we’d have a bit more in the pot to buy the quality striker we need. The poor planning by the club has hampered in a small way, that for me, does not justify the ‘risk’ of not having the forward for the period after the winter window.

    • jonrushton 8 years ago

      I think Lambert didn’t want to move? Lambert will get sold this summer – he’s perfect for a lower mid-table club.

  10. Krishaldo 8 years ago

    On the other thread someone was selling Hendo and now someone is loaning out Lambo?! 

     

  11. Krishaldo 8 years ago

    Balo is an interesting one for me. 

    Was mentioned on TAW the other day, he’s a hero in waiting for someone. 

    IF(!!!!!) that someone was us, I’d be ecstatic but I just can’t see it happening seeing as how he’s been bombed out of the squad. 

    I hope he gets his brain sorted. 

    • garythespud 8 years ago

      Balotelli as the “hero” is the kind of story that Hollywood churn out every year. Except every film we see we say ‘what a load of old shite, would never happen’. There’s almost no chance of a Cameron Crowe / Rocky II ending to this story because this man, more than likely, doesn’t have it in him. 

      • Krishaldo 8 years ago

        One day he’ll click. Maybe. Perhaps. 

        Think it may be too late for him by the time it does. 

        He needs to decide if he wants to be a footballer or be a prima Donna. 

      • Krishaldo 8 years ago

        Or if he wants a phone that doesn’t auto correct. 

  12. vvedula 8 years ago

    Balotelli cannot fit in with our style, as from what I’ve seen, he either does not know how to run the channels, or is reluctant to do so. 

    Running into the spaces vacated by opposition fullbacks has been a key feature of our most successful strikers in recent years. (Torres, Suarez, Sturridge)

    It’s puzzling, because I’m sure I’ve seen Mario run into the channels when playing for Italy. 

    Maybe he’s confused and needs time to understand his role within the team. Who knows? I sure don’t

  13. Assif 8 years ago

    We need to cut our losses with Balo. While he’s got certain undoubted qualities he doesn’t do lots of things very well. He’s good at some things, hopeless at others.

    Basically he’s good but not great. An ok player who comes up with the odd bit of brilliance now and again. If he gets his head sorted I think he could be quite decent as he matures. I see him being quite handy at a lower level club with less pressure , the next tier down.

    He’s simply not good enough at the highest level because he’s so inconsistent. It’s been seen time and again. I think he’ll find his niche, just not at a top club.

  14. I am a devout Liverpool fan and try to stay positive but looking at the TTT crowd-sourced evaluation of existing players in this series of articles has me very concerned. Just how does a club get back into the Top 4 when our own intelligent evaluation of the returning players doesn’t have a single clear 9 out of 10 score and is, frankly, mired in a bunch of middling scores of 5 to 7?

    I recognize that Milner, Firmino et.al. were bought to upgrade the team but it still leaves me concerned.

    In each case it shows our voting scores that represent well over 50% of the votes for that player and, in general, are from 300+ votes each.

    in my humble opinion we need 8’s to compete  we are far from that  

    DEFENSE – Overall a 6

       Mignolet – 6/7 out of 10

       Skrtel – 7/8

       Sahko – 7/8

       Lovern – 4/5

       Toure – 5/6

       Moreno – 6/7

       Manquillo – 5/6

    MID-FIELD – Overall a 7

       Henderson – 8

       Coutinho – 8/9

       Allen – 6/7

       Lieva – 6/7

       Lallana – 6/7 

       Can – 7/8

       Markovic – 5/6

       Ibe – 7/8

    ATTACK – Overall a 6

       Sterling – 7/8

       Sturridge – 6 to 9

       Balotelli – 4/5

       Lambert – 5/6

       Borini – 4/5

    • Thanks for setting that out for us. 

      I felt a little depressed as I went through posting my own scores and you’ve made me worse (I’m talking about the message, not the messenger!)

      Last season, there was a need to fill out the squad for any potential runs in the CL and the domestic cups.  The consensus seems to have been that we went rather too much for quantity rather than quality.  However, this summer’s problem is no CL, which a massive hurdle in front of 8 or 9 rated recruits. In the circumstances, I think it’s been so far, so good. 

    • rafaisthebosphorus 8 years ago

      I think this is too negative when looking forward

      Firstly, I’d say that a title run requires 9s (Aguero etc) but top four can easily be done with a solid set of 7s and a few 8s. Look at Manure last season. Who would you score 9 on? Rooney? Phil Jones?

      Of our players, most if not all will be better next season due to age/injury return. I expect Can, Ibe, Hendo, Sakho, Sturridge will all be materially better

      We’ve also upgraded our worst positions.

       

  15. The point about Munure is well taken, few 9’s but maybe a few 8’s lurking among them. I wish the ratings were not as low as they are and it is certainly true that including the entire squad lowers the average. My wish was to see more 8’s. According to the genius analysts at TTT only one player – Henderson – got 8 as a majority vote. Just 6 others got any 8’s and for most of those few had more than 25% of us thinking they were an 8. 

    So let’s try to look at it more positively: assuming any vote at all for an 8 is now a real 8 aka our view of Henderson; assuming people on 7/8 (remember these got no more than 25% of votes for an 8) improve at least a full level to get to an 8; and Milner, Clyne and Firmino walk straight in at an 8 level.   Given all those assumptions which are possible but maybe also a little improbable we end up with this

    DEFENSE – a bit short?

       Mignolet – would have to improve 1 or 2 levels to be an 8

       Skrtel – 8

       Sahko – 8

       Clyne – 8

    MID-FIELD

       Henderson – 8

       Coutinho – 9

       Can – 8

       Ibe – 8

       Milner – 8

    Allen, Lieva and Lallana would all have to step up from 6/7

    ATTACK

       Sterling – 8

       Sturridge – 9

       Firmino – 8 (maybe not in right role but I needed attackers!)

    That’s 12 players total if the pieces all fall into place and a strong first team 

    • mlleclio 8 years ago

      Those figures put things in perspective. I agree with most of them but Can, Ibe and Moreno (who you didn’t include) stand out to me as marked too high.  They all have the potential to be 8s, maybe even this season, but Ibe didn’t actually produce anything and both Moreno and Can were clearly at fault with individual mistakes during some of the pivotal games of last season.  The consistency of the younger players was one of the main reasons for our poor showing last season imo.

Leave a reply