The signing of Blackpool playmaker Charlie Adam from Liverpool could arguably create more problems than it solves for Dalglish. There is no doubt that Adam posseses great technical ability, but he was very much a big fish in a small pond at Blackpool, a team that played through him, something that Liverpool certainly will not do. The step up for the former Rangers man will be huge and Liverpool fans will be eager for him to make the transition comfortably and his 12 goals in 35 league games for Blackpool represents a great stat for any midfielder at the top level, more than any Liverpool midfielder scored last term.
However the signing effectively spells the end for Raul Meireles as asserted before on Think Football despite his great form in the renaissance under Dalglish that led Liverpool to a top 6 finish. With Adam. the signing of Jordon Henderson and the return of Alberto Aquilani from a loan spell at Juventus, Liverpool now have nine players who can occupy the centre midfield role including youngster Jojo Shelvy who may be loaned out, as well as Christian Poulson who will most likely be sold along with Meireles which still leaves 6 centre midfielder’s.
Lucas Leiva is the only out and out defensive midfielder and it remains to be seen how Gerrard will be deployed. One thing is for sure, and that is that manager Kenny Dalglish may have a serious slection headache on his hands come August. If he wishes to play his two marquee signings Andy Carrol and Luis Suarez in the same team it will be interesting to see how the midfield sets up, possibly with Gerrard and Lucas in the middle in a 4-4-2. If Liverpool set up this way they will no doubt lose much of the defensive solidity they have had over the previous years especially under Benitiz who opted for a negative 4-5-1 with 2 holding players. Playing Gerrard in the middle of the park is not something many managers have done over recent years with him playing out left for England and as a second striker behind Torres for much of his recent time at Liverpool. It remains to be seen if Gerrard still can maintain the tactical disipline to play in a solid 4-4-2 and playing him there will surely stunt much of his attacking instincts even if Lucas looks to anchor the midfield.
If Liverpool do set up like this where does this leave Adam? Or Henderson? Neither of whom can comfortably fit into Lucas’ role they would both in theory compete for the second midfield role that Gerrard occupies and then the young Spearing who enjoyed a good end to the season will surely be shut out or perhaps loaned out like Shelvy may be.
Liverpool’s squad is no doubt stronger than it has been in previous years with great strength in depth especially in the midfield. One area they will have to strengthen is at left-back if they wish to reclaim their place in the top 4 with Insua not yet showing he is ready for the first team and Konchesky failing to step up to the pressures that exist at Anfield. Missing out on Gael Clichy to City will have been a big blow especially as both teams are in direct competition for the title and the top 4. Another winger is also a priority with Dalglish who has been heavily linked with either Stuart Downing or the highly rated Valencia winger Juan Mata.
One thing that may remedy any selection crisis could be for Dalglish to opt for a 4-3-3 playing with Lucas, Henderson/Adam and Gerrard in midfield with Carrol as the centre striker and Suarez playing off him out wide as he has done before with Ajax and either Mata or Downing on the left flank.
Having too many players is certainly better than having too few, but with such a wealth in players, especially midfielders it could be the end of the line for players such as Aquailani, Poulson and Meireles as Dalgliesh looks to build a side to bring Liverpool back to greatness. What will be intersting is where Gerrard lines up for Liverpool next year and whether Dalgliesh continues to go for a 4-4-2 with Suarez playing along side Carrol next year, if he does this will most certainly be a strike pairing to watch, but it will likely mean that Liverpool are a lot more open in the centre of the pitch especially in a league where the majority of teams favour a 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 formation.