By Shaun Wylde – @ShaunWylde
As the January window came to a close, Liverpool have – as expected – not added to the squad this window.
This isn’t really surprising, it was obvious fairly early on that Jurgen Klopp had no intentions of adding reinforcements this month and has decided to push on with what he’s got.
As a fan who personally thought it would be a good idea to make additions in January, I have decided to look at the positives and negatives of this decision and the ramifications it may have going forward.
First of all, the pros
A recent transfer of Liverpool’s that is a good example to refer back to when looking at the lack of signings this window is the acquisition of Virgil van Dijk in January 2018. As we all know, Liverpool pursued the Dutchman in the summer and had to apologise to Southampton for tapping him up.
Instead of signing another defender in the summer they decided to wait and tied up a deal in January. If they had moved for a another defender in the summer window then we wouldn’t have van Dijk in our defence now as the money wouldn’t have been there to sign him.
This is likely a big reason why there haven’t been any first team signings this window, Liverpool are most likely waiting to get their top targets in the summer rather than trying to secure their third or fourth choice now.
We have seen plenty of times under Klopp that if he can’t get his number one target he will wait until they’re available and its probably safe to say that that’s still the case now. If, say, Timo Werner, had suddenly been on the market then maybe we would have made a move but targets like this are usually hard to get mid-season.
Another positive of not signing anyone is the morale boost it must be to the players when he trusts the squad he started the season with to get the job done. At this point in the campaign, the mental battle is just as important as any battle on the pitch.
We have a squad capable of beating anyone in the league but when it comes to title races it’s about mentality more than anything else – and this is where Klopp’s man management skills are essential.
He has constantly talked up all his players including those that haven’t played much, such as Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge, and has publicly been consistent in his message that he is happy with his squad.
Whether or not he has privately been looking at options is irrelevant, backing his words by not signing anyone could be as big a morale and mentality boost as the return of fans’ favourite Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from injury.
Now, while I feel this is all true, there are cons…
The biggest one was slapping us in the face on Wednesday evening and has something to do with those players who aren’t playing much that I just mentioned. The fact that we were drawing at home and were relying on an injury plagued duo of Sturridge and Lallana to rescue the points for us is a problem.
I’m sure it’s a problem that we’re going to address in the summer but it’s still something that us as fans are going to be hoping doesn’t cost us anything this season.
You can’t help feeling that it would have been satisfying for Liverpool to bite the bullet and make a ruthless move to bring forward a potential summer deal to this window just to give us a little more options attacking wise.
Xherdan Shaqiri was originally bought as an impact sub but since we didn’t end up signing Nabil Fekir he has played a much larger role than originally planned. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing but when he has a bad game, like he did against Leicester, then we don’t really have any options on the bench.
January can be a perfect time to add to your squad if you get the right player and it would have been exciting to have another possibility to bring on. It usually takes players around six months to adapt to Klopp’s style completely anyway so why not accelerate that process and get them in early and acclimatised for next season? While they’re learning they could also offer something this season at times.
Another negative of not signing anyone is that if you manage to bring in a player that immediately challenges for a first team place then ideally it would make the current starters up their game so they don’t get dropped.
Klopp always talks about competition for places but there is only really competition in the midfield – the full backs and centre backs pick themselves when fit as do the front three. Bringing in someone now who could challenge one of those other positions would be an excellent way of keeping everyone on their toes.
Personally I would have preferred if we had brought in a signing this window, I think it would have been a sign of ruthlessness and real intent but I can understand if Klopp didn’t feel it necessary. He knows far more than any of us about these things and, as mentioned previously, I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re waiting to wrap up some deals in the summer.
This squad that started the season has got us to this point where we are five points ahead of Manchester City with 14 games to go. Let’s see where we are at the end and enjoy the ride; the rest is out of our hands.