Logging on to social media during the most recent transfer deadline day and searching for any news on potential new arrivals at Liverpool, you would be forgiven to think that this team had not racked up a record amount of Premier League points and been crowned champions of Europe only a couple of month’s previous.
Liverpool and Jürgen Klopp’s decision not to spend on a forward this summer was met with plenty of groans from the Anfield faithful. Surely now was the time to add some big names to the squad and finally make that final push towards Premier League glory?
Fan’s were quick to point out that Firmino, along with Manè and Salah had very little rest due to International commitments during the summer. Plenty of people on social media were making the point that not signing a back-up for Firmino in particular, will hurt the team’s chances to dethrone Manchester City. In fact, the title race was over before a ball was kicked, according to a few.
Those same fan’s should be aware by now though that Klopp will not spend for spending sake, and his first approach will always be try and extract the maximum out of the player’s he already has at his disposal. He is a coach first and foremost.
Klopp has been very careful to put together one of the most dynamic and versatile squads in the Premier League. Nearly all of Liverpool’s outfield player’s can play in multiple roles across the pitch, performing different duties. This may sound like something all player’s should be able to do, but only Guardiola’s Manchester City team can match Liverpool for functionality.
Liverpool’s attacking player’s are a prime example of this type of versatility and are probably one of the main reasons that the German coach was so reluctant to dip into the transfer market this window. Getting more out of what he already has at his disposal makes much more sense than taking a risk on a player your not sure about.
Trying to find the balance between midfield and attack usually means there are only three out and out attacking positions up for grabs in the starting eleven, which isn’t unusual by any means. At Liverpool though, the front three are so good and so consistent that fringe player’s like Origi and Shaqiri have been limited in the amount of game time they have received. When both player’s did get game time last season they both made huge contributions, especially Origi. But no matter what they both do, the front three of Manè, Firmino and Salah will always get the nod ahead of them week in week out, which is the can’t really be disputed.
With all of the front three players able to play in the centre forward position, and a couple of perfectly good wide player’s sitting on the bench, it makes sense for Klopp to look within the squad to help burden the load upfront over the course of a long season.
When it comes to Roberto Firmino, few could argue that he isn’t one of the most important cogs in Klopp’s machine. It’s not that easy to go and find a player similar to him in the transfer window, that could mimic his role in Liverpool’s attack. Instead, Klopp will look to Manè or Salah to step into his position whenever he is substituted or missing from the first eleven. Both player’s are comfortable playing through the middle and have done so on numerous occasions.
We saw this against Arsenal already this season. It’s a way of keeping the defence guessing and and also tiring out the opposition defender’s. In Salah’s case, he practically plays in a central position most of the time coming in off the right side. Firmino hovers centrally between the lines of the opposition’s midfield and defence but can play on either flank when needed. His first position for Liverpool was out on the left. Manè was predominantly a right sided winger for Southampton, but had to switch flanks at Liverpool due to the arrival of Salah. He is also more than capable of leading the line up front.
The variety shown by the front three will in turn present more chances of playing time to the likes of Origi and Shaqiri. Last season in the Premier League, Firmino and Salah were both substituted thirteen times and Manè ten times. In turn, Shaqiri was brought off the bench a total of thirteen times and Origi ten. With Daniel Sturridge out of the picture and Oxlade Chamberlain playing as part of the midfield three, we should see more of Liverpool’s cameo performers throughout the season. This will allow Firmino and co. to rest more, which will see game time increase for the squads supporting cast.
It’s a win-win situation for Klopp as he gets to manage his forwards game time a little better and keep the likes of Origi and Shaqiri happy and involved.
The decision to maximize what you already have instead of signing another forward, who would more than likely end up spending a lot of time watching from the sidelines, seems like an astute move from Klopp, rather than some sort of failure in the transfer market as fan’s are making it out to be.