Right at the top, I have to declare that these kinds of posts are completely useless and probably unfair. They don't forward the cause, and it's easy to try and make yourself look smart about moves that didn't turn out well months after the fact. That said...
I couldn't help but watch whatever that was thrashing about against Stoke, or the myriad draws at home where Liverpool were the octopus that played the drums in front of net, and wonder about the changes at the club in the summer. Specifically, I wondered about the exchanged of Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam for Raul Meireles and Alberto Aquilani.
First, so much more went into it than just trading one duo of players in for another out. Meireles's salary not being upped may have soured him on the club anyway. Aquilani may never have wanted to stay after being so quickly jettisoned by Roy Hodgson after the guy who bought him refused to play him ever. We do know that it must have been a bewildering time for Alberto on Merseyside. So maybe they were never solutions.
And it's harsh on Henderson, who I do think may end up being a special player not too far down the road. But I can't escape the conclusion that Liverpool opted to make their midfield worse. I can't see that isolated striker in the box and not think of either Meireles or Aquilani pouring in in support. Aquilani especially was always in the opposition box, looking for anything. Meireles only really had the one goal spurt right at the beginning of 2012, but which midfielder is in a goal scoring spurt now.
And now I can't see how Liverpool correct their biggest problem, scoring, without getting another player who would do just what Meireles or Aquilani would have done anyway. Another striker? I can't see it. Liverpool are at their best when Suarez plays up top by himself with creative midfielders on either side, though maybe Kenny thinks a 4-2-2-2 is still their best formation. I'm dubious of that.
Sure, Meireles isn't getting a regular game at Chelsea, and probably will less so with Essien coming back. And Aquilani took his time fitting in at Milan. But ask yourself which midfield duo you'd rather have now?
Some of this isn't being helped by Stewart Downing's regression into Hades. I wasn't a huge fan of that signing to begin with, or maybe just the price tag. Downing just seemed capable without being special. He hasn't been either. But I don't think he's been helped by how he's been deployed. He always seems to be on the right, which worked at Villa ok but hasn't at Anfield. Then again, with Ashley Young better on the left, there was only one place for him to go there. Secondly, combining that stationing on the right with almost never playing with Andy Carroll, and you've essentially taken Downing's best weapon, his crossing, away. So now you have a winger on the wrong side who will cross the ball less with his weaker foot to no obvious targets in the middle. What is it exactly that Downing's supposed to do then?
We need a transfer just have something to be excited about again.