Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur — the two teams seem inextricably linked these days despite a lack of a historical rivalry between the two. Both teams made huge sales to the two giants of Spanish soccer, both used the cash to overhaul their teams immediately and both just lost to a Newcastle team that was in shambles just a few weeks ago.
Spurs set the tone for what not to do after selling star winger Gareth Bale for nearly £100 million before the 2013-14 season. That meant plenty of money to be spent to overhaul and upgrade the set up at White Hart Lane. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly how it all went for Spurs.
Instead, it struggled early on in the season, manager Andre Villas Boas was sacked quickly and most of the seven players brought in during the summer transfer window failed to make an impact in any positive way.
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy made the move hoping the £100 million kitty would be enough to spark a change. A sixth place finish was hardly what anyone had in mind, but that’s exactly what happened.
So, when Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers set out to spend the crazy cash they got for Luis Suarez there was no way they’d “do a Spurs,” right?
Heck, ESPNFC.com even gave us five reasons the wouldn’t repeat the mistakes Spurs made just one year earlier. Those five are worth exploring because they are nearly all disproven already.
The goals won’t dry up & Daniel Sturridge
The basic gist of the argument is that Spurs scored a total of 66 goals in each of Bale’s last two seasons at White Hart Lane, and even without Suarez’s 31 goals, Liverpool topped 70 goals. Oh, and Spurs have never topped 70 goals in a single EPL season since the start of the league.
Instead, the Reds have managed to tally just 13 goals in 10 matches to date, a far cry from what took place last season to say the least. It has hurt that the other big option up front outside of Suarez, Daniel Sturridge (21 goals in 2013), has not featured in the squad thanks to injury and may be out of the squad for a few more games.
Rodgers also realized this issue early on and signed troubled, but talented, striker Mario Balotteli. Through the first ten games that move has been disaterous, with Balotteli featuring in eight games and netting exactly zero goals in EPL action. At least he’s been helpful in Livepool’s exploits outside of the league.
But,the main goal for ‘Pool is to find its way in to contention for a title, something it barely missed out on last season. Balotteli disappearing in EPL matches is not helping the goal-scoring drought. To put the depths of Liverpool’s drought in perspective — just seven teams have scored fewer goals than the Reds have this season.
While there is time for things to turn around on the goal-scoring front, it is troublesome that this squad has just one player it puts its goal-scoring hopes on. Can Sturridge be the key to getting the goal-scoring back up to previous levels?
It’s clear that the Reds need to get goals in order to be a player in the race for Champions League soccer once again. However, it has failed to find an answer so far this year, and its move to offload Suarez appears to have backfired.
The Premier League factor
Spurs biggest mistake according to Dave Usher’s article? Levy took his haul of cash and spent it all on players who didn’t have EPL experience, and that group struggled to fit in the pace and style of the EPL.
Liverpool did much of its spending this summer on players who know there way around an EPL season, and that makes a huge difference. After all, it brought in the Southampton trio of Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren to help bolster big moves for Alberto Moreno and the return of Mario Balotelli.
The problem with that assumption is that those three players would be key figures to Rodgers’ 11 on a weekly basis. Instead, Lambert has been a bench option and Lallana has featured just six times. Lovren is the only one that has a regular place in the 11 that goes out every week in the EPL.
One of the biggest differences was supposed to be the managerial prowess and style of Brendan Rodgers over Villas Boas. He was also supposed to be much more attack orientated and knowledgeable enough to not worry about the loss of Suarez.
Instead, Rodgers has come under major fire early on this season with losses to bottom feeders like Aston Villa, West Ham and turn-around story Newcastle have left many scratching their heads. Those that remember the Spurs story in the 2013-14 season find losses like that all to familiar (and they’ve nearly continued at the same pace for Spurs this season too).
Rodgers’ tactics and squad selection have come under fire, especially since Sturridge has been unavailable to him. It seems as if young Raheem Sterling has become his crutch, but also appears to be misused in the 10 games of the season to date.
It’s not a rebuild
This is the most obvious of the five reasons why Liverpool weren’t going to be Spurs, as Suarez’s sale was more about strengthening a squad with a solid core already in place and getting rid of a headache. Last season, Tottenham looked to usher in a whole new flavor to its squad, a move that clearly backfired on AVB and Daniel Levy.
Spurs failed to find a squad that worked for it, continuously experimenting with its lineup and not getting enough out of the players they bought to begin with.
Liverpool looked to add maybe two or three starters and the rest as moves to strengthen its bench. The problem is, those moves seem to not be working all that well. Of the transfers in, arguably only Alberto Moreno has been a success to date. He’s at least made a significant impact on the season in a positive way, something you can’t really say about the rest.
There is time to turn all of these issues around, but expecting one player (Sturridge) to be the savior of its season begs of the hope from Spurs last season that Roberto Soldado would become the in-form striker he was back in Spain. Hint, that didn’t happen, and if Rodgers is hanging his hat on Sturridge as the sole answer Liverpool’s Champions League hopes are in as much trouble as Spurs were last season.
That isn’t exactly the plan Rodgers and Liverpool’s boardroom had in mind, and certainly not the hope fans had following a major run at the title last season. Could Rodgers become victim to the same situation that AVB found himself in at Spurs last season?
A series of injuries to important players, losses to average to below average EPL squads and a failure to integrate the new faces in to the squad sure sounds familiar and could ultimately doom Rodgers fate without a quick turnaround.