Overall, are you happy with this Transfer Window?
No I’m not happy – I think we have wasted a colossal opportunity to push home the advantage of getting back into the Champions League. The back page bombast of “KLOPP TO SPEND £175M ON DEADLINE DAY” quickly descended into the inevitable 9pm James Pearce tweet saying “No more ins today.”
We did well to get Mo Salah and extremely, incredibly well to get Naby Keita, though the latter is disqualified for me as he can’t do anything to help the glaring omissions this season.
I’m neither here nor there on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who is a good player but has a highly questionable injury record. Given the transfer fee and his contract situation, it’s fair to say we have grossly overpaid. He’s 24 though, time is on his side.
I haven’t seen enough of Dom Solanke and Andy Robertson yet to form an opinion, though if Robertson can’t displace that simpleton Moreno it doesn’t bode too well does it?
Whilst most of my ire is for our skinflint, ambitionless shyster owners, Klopp is to blame as well for this meandering window. I don’t care how much Virgil van Dijk might be the Plan A – I am not having it that there isn’t a centre half out there who is of the same ability who would improve on what we have now.
It’s admirable that we aren’t compromising on quality but at the same time not having a further option in the centre of defence is going to kill us stone dead when Matip or Lovren inevitably get injured or suspended.
I don’t mind seeing Klavan occasionally but he’s a 10 game a season man, while Gomez is feeling his way back into the team after a serious injury and lacks games at centre half at this level. If we’re left with the prospect of Can playing centre half in October or November when injuries begin to bite then I’m afraid that’s all on Klopp.
Our failure to get that deal over the line is completely in line with my expectations. “We tried” should be the motto on the club’s badge. “We were willing to spend £xx” is the excuse always wheeled out but ultimately nothing has changed since 2007 – “this is a club that likes to talk and talk.”
You can either blame the owners directly, or the people they are hiring, but FSG have a track record of failure when it comes to transfers. “We tried” to sign Willian, Konoplyenka, Mkhytaryan, Texeira, the list is endless. That's not a string of hard luck stories - it's a pattern.
Ultimately, they are willing to talk the talk but when it comes to putting it all on the line and getting it done, FSG are a waste of space. So long as the TV money comes rolling in and the corporate facilities are ticking over nicely, they are happy enough to allow a net spend of £15-£25m as that sum is small fry.
The transfer talk only resurfaced once Champions League qualification was assured. They are happy enough to get the Champions League revenue and the big money it brings in, but are they ambitious enough to go and get players for a genuine title tilt? I’m afraid not and I cite this window as further evidence. Another couple of players in and I honestly think we could have challenged for the title this season.
This is a 5/10 window and it should have been so much more.
Happy? I'm not sure that's the word. After all when your appetite is whetted for potentially world class signings for mind-blowing sums of money then it's pretty hard to be happy when they don't actually transpire.
As for the lack of a new centre half - is there anyone anywhere who thinks that wasn't our greatest priority? And yet I'm not slashing my wrists or calling the unlovable FSG every name under the sun either. Why? Two reasons, really:
First, this is patently the most challenging transfer window there's ever been with conventions being shattered left, right and centre: Barca and Madrid can have who they want from whomever they want them from, right? Wrong. A buyout clause of two hundred million quid is untouchable, isn't it? Nope. Don't players hold all the cards when they want to move and contracts mean nothing? Ask VVD, Coutinho and Sanchez about that. Chelsea are masters of the transfer market though, surely? Not from where I'm standing this time round, they're not.
No doubt about it: this was an exceptionally tough market for buying clubs. England is awash with money and PSG have exploited loopholes cynically to their heart's content and that adds up to much of the madness we've witnessed. I don't see much changing in that regard either. Transfer fee deflation is not something we've ever seen in football and I don't imagine it'll come along any time soon.
The other reason I'm not throwing a hissy fit this side of August is that I think we've seen a genuine step change in the club's transfer strategy and ambition. Unless you're the worst kind of Internet conspiracy-loving, swivel-eyed lunatic, it's clear we went after top class players for sums that not a single Red would have believed if predicted 12 months ago. I've read some absolute drivel about "FSG PR & lies" over the last 24 hours as if we didn't break our transfer record early on for a top class, instant impact player or then absolutely smash it for a player in Keita who we'd said we wanted and were prepared to go to £70m plus for.
The idea that these deals are easy is laughable to point of derision. So I'm delighted that one is nailed down: we have a world class talent coming next summer at the latest for a fee that will prove to be (ridiculous, I know) a good deal for us. We have shown huge ambition this summer, targeting players who would previously have been deemed beyond our reach on two counts - money and attractiveness of the club - and got some of them in.
I'm also made up players are snubbing Chelsea, City, Arsenal and The Mancs for us. Do I wish we'd been even more successful? Obviously. But you don't go from being transfer market bums to supremos in one fell swoop.
So, how is the squad looking now? I'd say much improved but still with flaws. Centre half remains glaring (although it's nowhere near the shambles many are painting it - what has Ragnar Klavan done to be so synonymous with defensive frailty among Reds?). However, in strengthening our attack and midfield to the point where we have almost two first team quality options for every position, I think we'll address most problems at the back indirectly simply by dominating the ball even more and steam-rolling parked bus defences.
Furthermore, we are far better prepared to cope with key absences than last year as shown by the demolition of Arsenal without Lallana and Coutinho. Will it be plain sailing all the way? Of course not - but it'll be a lot better than last time round, of that I'm certain.
In short, I am satisfied with this window's business and delighted with the step up in ambition we've shown. Giving the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal a bloody nose into the bargain cannot be bad either. Now it's time to do it on the pitch too.
Forward momentum is all in football and we've currently got it while many of our rivals are stalling. Now let's get on with the game.
To my mind the whole point of a transfer window is to address weaknesses and build upon strengths. In that sense I think this has been another disappointing window and once again we head into a season short in some key areas. I'm not necessarily angry about it; I expected this. I am frustrated though.
One of the key learnings from last season was that we lacked another player in the mould of Mane; quick, dangerous and able to turn a game. Salah looks to be that player and it can only be positive that we now have the same threat from both sides of the pitch. Having said that, I do worry about the drop in quality once those two are rotated, but more on that later...
As excited as I am about the signing of Naby Keita (who looks to be very, very good) he can't help us this year. Solanke has come in to replace Origi as the third choice striker and Robertson is in as cover for Moreno who is now, somehow, first choice. It seems as though a couple of weeks on a beach not only helps the tan but also the brain.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is an interesting one because I've always thought that he has ability. We haven't really seen enough of it though due to chronic fitness issues. Fingers crossed he'll move on from his Daniel Sturridge tribute act.
I see AOC as cover for both central midfield and the wide attacking positions; his goal return is pretty alarming though so I'm not particularly hopeful of our output once Mane and/or Salah are unavailable. Thomas Lemar would have provided the squad with another dangerous wide player. It's not yet clear what happened with that potential deal but we can file it alongside the likes of Costa, Sanchez, Willian, Texieria, Mkhitaryan, Konoplyanka and now Van Dijk as a signing we really wanted but failed to get over the line.
The real concern comes at the back. The achilles heel of this team is in its defending and while it would be churlish to suggest that one signing would solve all of the problems, it would certainly have been a step in the right direction. The prospect of a commanding centre back was very welcome as we've seriously lacked a presence at the back since the likes of Hyypia and Carragher hung up their boots.
We are now just one injury away from having Lovren, Klavan and Moreno as three of the back four. How can that have been allowed to happen?! By failing to sign a top centre back the club has effectively ignored its biggest weakness and is gambling on being able to paper over it elsewhere.
Could that happen? Possibly. Does it usually happen? No. The vast majority of title winners have relatively solid defensive records so we have to hope that these players we've seen plenty of times before will suddenly start performing differently.
I really don't want this answer to sound overly negative because I think we have done some good things in this window and anything can happen in football. I just think that on balance we've failed to address some glaring weaknesses and we can't complain at all if things unravel as a result.