David Moyes needs to make right call before transfer window shuts
Manchester United in need of a suitable midfielder if their gameplan is to bear fruit
Kagawa won’t be much use to a team whose gameplan is primarily based on crosses. Neither, it must be said, would Ozil. If that’s how Moyes wants United to play, then Marouane Fellaini, with his height and power, looks the logical choice.
Meanwhile, for the first time in a few seasons, Liverpool seem likely to emerge from the transfer window substantially strengthened. For most of the summer, it did not seem to be a priority for Brendan Rodgers to improve a defence that last season conceded two or more goals in nearly half of their league games. Liverpool seemed more interested in making bids for star attackers like Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Willian rather than in sorting out the problems at the back.
The presence in the stands yesterday of Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori should therefore come as a relief to Liverpool fans. Even if Martin Skrtel departs for Napoli or elsewhere, they finally have some quality defensive cover.
Also in the stands was Luis Suarez, who now looks set to stay at the club at least one more year. No doubt he has been pleasantly surprised at the form shown thus far by the club he wanted to leave. That form has given rise to the question: are Liverpool, in fact, a stronger side without him?
The logic is that Suarez is an individualist who tries to do everything himself, and that once his shot-happy, ball-hogging ways are taken out of the equation you are left with a better-balanced team.
It’s true that Liverpool have made a spectacular start to the season, considering what they had achieved last year with a similar squad. Last season it took them 38 league games to amass three 1-0 wins, and they had not kept three consecutive clean sheets in the league since December 2011.
Rodgers knows how tight the margins have been. His team has faded in the second half of each of their three games so far, and they appeared to miss Suarez’ energy, his quality on the counter-attack, and his ability to take the game to the opponent.
Liverpool look like they are on the verge of becoming a good side, but they are not yet so good that they could take injuries to players like Steven Gerrard or Daniel Sturridge in their stride.
The target Rodgers has set his side is simply to compete for fourth place, or rather “to be in that conversation as long as we can”. If Suarez returns in the same form he showed last season, that conversation could be longer than expected.