If ever proof was needed that Liverpool will have to strengthen this summer, then a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Tottenham was it. Kenny Dalglish took charge for the first time since signing a three-year deal to extend his stay in the Anfield hot-seat – a contract he earned by turning the Reds’ season around in just a matter of months. By dragging an under-performing Liverpool side out of the bottom half, Dalglish showed that the current crop of players are far better than his predecessor made them out to be, however the Merseyside outfit will need to add some quality to the ranks if they are to mount a serious challenge for a place in the top four next season.
Prior to this key fixture, Liverpool were sitting pretty in fifth spot, just a place above Harry Redknapp’s men. Tottenham leapfrogged Liverpool into fifth with a convincing win and another victory on the final day of the season would see them finish above Liverpool for the second consecutive campaign and qualify for the Europa League. To some, Europa League football is something of a poisoned chalice given the excessive number of games needed to be played for very little gain. However, based on the way the two sides set out at Anfield, it seemed both were eager to compete in the much-maligned tournament.
Having scored 17 goals in their last five league games, buoyant Liverpool lined up with an attacking formation. The lethal trio of Luis Suarez, Dirk Kuyt and Maxi Rodriguez retained their places and £35m striker Andy Carroll also started instead of the injured Portuguese midfielder Raul Meireles. Although it would be slightly harsh to say that Carroll’s presence spoilt the rhythm of Liverpool’s attacking play, based on this performance Liverpool will have to learn to get the best out of a player who displayed his class against Manchester City last month.
One way of doing this would be for the club’s owners to invest in a couple of quality wingers during the transfer window. Maxi and Kuyt were used as auxiliary wide-men against Tottenham and Carroll was not given the service he deserves. However, should the Merseysiders splash out on the out-and-out winger they have so desperately needed in recent years, then they would be able to make far more effective use of their record signing. Based on reports circulating in the media lately, it looks as though Fenway Sports Group are more than willing to spend big in the summer. Dalglish will undoubtedly have a winger on his shopping list.
Overall, Liverpool fans will be delighted with the fact that their team still has a chance to finish in the top five following a sluggish start to the campaign. Dalglish has certainly brought smiles back to Anfield and even this defeat against Tottenham will not dampen the spirits on Merseyside, however both the manager and supporters know money will have to spent in the summer if the Reds are to stand any chance of playing among Europe’s elite in the future.