As God as my witness, I was really hoping to avoid writing about the January transfer window this year. Sadly that just wasn’t possible. It’s not analogous to me being an alcoholic on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras (which admittedly may have been a more accurate image about about 15 years ago), rather more like me being a butcher sitting at a dinner party hosted by vegans. I’d just bite my tongue until the inevitable outburst: “stop with the quinoa and tofu already and give me a damn bacon cheeseburger!!” Per my daily routine I check my twitter feed on an hourly basis and read many tweets from the hundreds of people I follow speculate about what Liverpool may, should, need and will do in this transfer window. Most of the time I want to rip out the small amount of hair remaining on my body. I don’t know why I thought 2014 would be any different. This feeling can only be described as the “Madness of January.”
Just eight days remain in the transfer window, and I’m actually quite proud to have made it this far without going off. For weeks I was waiting to see when this “Egyptian Messi” named Salah would leave the continent to test his skills on Merseyside. Then Chel$ki had hijacked that move, and now my twitter feed has exploded with everything I could ever want to know about Liverpool’s next target, whomever that starlet may be. It’s time for me to speak up. I’m here to do my job talking you off the ledge that this constant speculation and frustration has put you on. Yes it’s true that Liverpool have been hit quite hard with injuries this year. Perhaps we should be questioning how the club is running the Physio Room instead of bitching about what happens in the Board Room and what’s not happening in the transfer “War Room.” Losing out on Salah will not be the reason we don’t win the title. Nor will the failure to add a single first-teamer to our roster keep us from making the top 4. Liverpool’s quest to make the Champions League next season will be impacted mostly by other factors. Can we keep our core players healthy? Will Brendan Rodgers make the right tactical moves against the top clubs? Can we keep Luis Suarez from biting Serbian defenders? Those questions weigh more on my conscious than the loss of some player that has yet to prove himself in the Premiership.
Speaking of Serbian defenders, I really envy Chel$ki. It would be nice to have a player of Juan Mata’s caliber deemed surplus to requirements. It would be refreshing to be able to get an influx of about $60-million cash to spend. The last time Liverpool got that much incoming cash was when we shipped off Torres to make room for Luis Suarez, and that sure did work out well for us. But can you really blame Chel$ki for this move? Liverpool’s interest in Salah was the worst-kept secret since the U.S. government finally admitted to the existence of Area 51. As an American fan, it seems bizarre to me that the prospects being targeted by football clubs are publicly available for everyone to see. I’m used to seeing NFL teams on Draft Day tactically spreading misinformation in order to try to secure the rights to the player that they really want. So can you really blame Jose Mourinho? If I were running a team that had 37 first-team players (the vast majority of which could make the starting XI for most teams in the bottom half of the Premiership) and I’m about to add a large amount of cash to my expense account, then why wouldn’t I overpay for Salah? Clearly Mourinho doesn’t feel threatened by Manchester United such that he is willing to give them a clear upgrade in the form of Mata. Apparently though he feels threatened enough by Liverpool that he is going to pay Basel millions more than the asking price to add a 12th midfielder to his first team just to keep him from helping the Reds. This should comfort you to know that Liverpool is heading in the right direction. Mourinho is worried and looking in the rear-view mirror, at least a little bit.
So what now? I stick by my original statement back in December where I pleaded the club to only spend on players that will be able to play immediately. No more projects. I agree that the club needs reinforcements, especially on the back line. There has been little cohesion all season long, and now our defensive corps looks more like a M.A.S.H. unit than a battalion protecting the fortress. Still ailing from injury are Agger, Sakho, Flanagan, Coates, Enrique and now Glen Johnson. Aly Cissokho has been hugely disappointing to the point where even Brendan Rodgers is admitting that he’s in “over his head.” Kolo Toure has clearly lost a step and, as my esteemed colleague pointed out to me earlier this week, appears to be well on his way to the glue factory. Suddenly people are no longer complaining that Rodgers kept Martin Skrtel from emigrating last summer. But thankfully we have Sakho and Flanagan back in training and a relatively innocent FA Cup coming up on Saturday. This match at Bournemouth should get them both closer to league fitness in time for the Merseyside derby next Tuesday. And if the dozens of my “inside sources” that I follow on twitter are accurate, Agger will be right behind them in time for the Arsenal match. While I am certainly worried that we can’t seem to keep a clean sheet, I can’t put all of the blame on the defense. The midfield play of late has been hugely disappointing. The loss of Lucas certainly doesn’t help, but hopefully that will be offset by the return of Joe Allen who started to show some promise before his own injury sidelined him. Mainly though I really need to see Captain Fantastic step his game back up. Gerrard had a poor game against Villa, no one will argue that point. I honestly can’t remember the last time he went back-to-back with sub-par performances. It may have never happened and I hope it never does. And let’s not forget one important fact: as long as #7 and #15 are terrorizing the opponent on attack then Liverpool will have a chance to win any match.
In conclusion, I am really looking forward to Saturday morning. I hope to see Sakho and Flanagan get a run on the pitch and build some confidence. I expect to see a guy like Victor Moses get some time, mostly to give some of the other midfielders some extra rest before the Everton match. I would love to see Jordan Ibe get 90 minutes to see what he can do. But mostly I am looking forward to Saturday because it will get me that much closer to February where we can finally close this damn transfer window and end the “Madness of January.”