'Transfer windows mean nothing': Liverpool legend John Barnes analyses Jurgen Klopp's squad for the season - Exclusive | Football News - Hindustan Times
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'Transfer windows mean nothing': Liverpool legend John Barnes analyses Jurgen Klopp's squad for the season - Exclusive

ByKaran Prashant Saxena
Sep 02, 2021 02:56 PM IST

In an exclusive interaction with Hindustan Times, Liverpool legend John Barnes spoke on the lack of activity in Liverpool's transfer window and said that there is a depth in the squad at the club this season, which they did not have before.

For Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, multiple injuries in the defence line posed a major worry in the 2020/21 season. Defenders Virgil Van Dijk, Joel Matip, and Joe Gomez were all injured by the end of the season, and the club had to rely on youngsters to see them through. But while fans expected the club to spend money in the summer transfer window to buy multiple defensive options, Liverpool's only purchase before the start of the season remained RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp gives instructions to his players.(Action Images via Reuters)
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp gives instructions to his players.(Action Images via Reuters)

Even the departure of Georginio Wijnaldum to PSG did not convince Klopp to spend money on buying another defender, and he insisted the club does not need any more players in the summer window.

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On the other hand, Liverpool's traditional rivals Manchester United bought star signings in the form of Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane, and Cristiano Ronaldo - getting a lot of media buzz in the process. So, who had a better transfer window?

Liverpool legend John Barnes says he does not put too many stocks into transfer windows and instead believes in seeing which club has a better squad with better players. In an exclusive interaction organised by indiabetting.co.in, Barnes gave an assessment of Liverpool's squad for the 2021/22 season, and also spoke on potential problems United's business in the summer can create at the club.

Excerpts:

Q1) Liverpool's last season was marred by injuries in defence line. Have you seen manager Jurgen Klopp making any changes in defence to avoid that?

John Barnes: "You cannot avoid injuries. A player is going to get injured because he breaks his leg, he pulls his hamstring, something happens to his knees. You cannot avoid injuries. There is nothing a manager can do for that. So, I have not seen any difference.

"The players have given their 100 percent. Injuries are complete accident - like Van Dijk's injury was a complete accident. What Klopp does have now is that he has a bigger squad, so if he feels a player needs rest, he could do that. That is not a guarantee to avoid injury, but what it does is that if a player gets injured, you have a player of equal quality to come in and supplement that. So, you can stay strong as you can and be competitive."

Q2) What were your thoughts on the controversial red card given to Reece James in Liverpool vs Chelsea, Premier League match? Is there a need to change the double punishment rule?

John Barnes: "You cannot change the 'double punishment' rule. Because the thing is that if there is a deliberate handball that stops the ball going into the net, it is a red card - and it is a penalty. There is nothing you can do about that. As you can see, he moved his arm, he stopped it. So, that's it - it's the rule. You can't send him off and not give a penalty, or you can give a penalty and not send him off.

"If it's a handball in the half-way line, you have to give him a yellow card - and if he already has a yellow, you have to give him another yellow. So, you have to give him a red if that happens inside the penalty box. Unless you change the rules - which I don't think you should.

"In fact, I feel if it was Liverpool against 11-men, they would have gone on to win the match because it made it harder for them when Mateo Kovacic came and defended. But I don't think rules can be changed for that."

Q3) For the first two games, Klopp started with Jota, with Firmino replacing him in 2nd half. In third match, Firmino started, suffered a hamstring strain, was replaced with Jota. Is that going to be Klopp's tactics throughout season do you feel, or we may see either of the two getting a full game, or even playing together in Premier League?

John Barnes: "You can play Jota-Firmino-Salah and/or Jota-Firmino-Mane and/or Mane-Jota-Salah - so you have got your front four. And he can also play Jota at times, as one of that midfield three. So, what it does is gives him options. And I think we will see that being used a lot.

"Before he did not have those options, so you have to have your front three. You got to have the midfield three. Of course, now you can see - Thiago, being there as well, with Jordan Henderson, Firmino, James Milner is still there, you can put Jota in that position. So, Liverpool are just much more healthy in having those options. Klopp will utilise that depending on the game and the opposition."

Q4) But there is still a place for Firmino in that team?

John Barnes: "Absolutely, I like Firmino. I think he is my favourite player. I think the way he plays allows Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to score goals like they do. Playing with Robert Lewandowski, they will not be able to do that. So, I think he is the reason Liverpool play the way they do.

"Jota coming in gives you something different. And he feels he needs something different depending on who you gonna play. But I think push comes to shove, you look at what Klopp like, and you see big games coming, I think he will play Firmino. As much as you may see Jota, but in big games, you will see Klopp going with Firmino.

Q5) Switching gears, what is going so wrong with Arsenal?

John Barnes: "Well, it has been just three games. Nothing is going wrong now that has not gone wrong last year. You look at where they finished last year. It's a work in progress and they have to be given time to adapt, to adjust. They have got young players who need to time to develop. And unfortunately, this season has not started well for them.

"I don't know why people expected after last year for the things with Arsenal to automatically turn around this season. They still have those problems. But if Arsenal stay together, they have got good players, good belief, good support, I see them going back up the table. But it's been a difficult start for them."

Q6) Manchester United have Sancho, Pogba, Fernandes, Ronaldo - a very strong attacking midfield. Do they still need to buy a defensive midfielder in January?

John Barnes: "They have got Scott McTominay, Fred, Nemanja Matic. They just need to have the right balance. It is not just about scoring goals - it is also about the balance of the team. There is only one football. When you have Fernandes, and you also have Ronaldo, and Pogba, all of them want to be the top dog, it does not work that way. So as much as they have got good players, they also need to have the right balance and right attitude.

"You have to stop questioning the manager. You keep thinking if he lose a game, he has to be sacked. Once you don't have that harmony and all those question marks about whether Ole's still the right man to be the manager which people are still asking, it does not create harmony and there will always be that inconsistency. Because if they don't play well and loose, it will be Ole's fault. You don't want a situation like that. If you look at Liverpool, City - the manager is unquestioned. If they lose a game, you never question whether he is the right man for the job and that is why they do what they do. If Manchester United want to do something, they really need to have that attitude."

Q7) Manchester United bought Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane, Cristiano Ronaldo. Sold Daniel James for £25million. Managed to retain Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani despite all the murmurings. Would you think among the 'top six' clubs, they have had the best transfer window?

John Barnes: "I don't look at transfer windows. Transfer windows mean nothing. Because players can come and do nothing, we don't know. They have to be integrated in the team. Will Ronaldo fit into Manchester United, we don't know. Will Varane fit Manchester United, we don't know. So, as much as you can buy players, how do we know how long it will take them for to settle or get used to play with each other?

"So, I don't care about transfer windows. I look at the squads - and Ole's got good squad with good players. But Liverpool have got a good squad with good players - and they have got two good signings they have integrated into the team.

"They had four-five months last season in Jota and Thiago Alcantra. They have got four signings this year - because Virgil Van Dijk is back after a year, so he is a new signing. We also got Konate, Matip and Joe Gomez is back as well. And these are people who understand the system, understand how we play. So, signings for me is just about how much money you spent on players you have - the players you have in the team. And Manchester United have got good players."

Q) With Ronaldo coming in to Manchester United, do you think it might make it harder for some players to be in starting XI?

John Barnes: "Ronaldo signing may put a lot of people's starting XI position in contention. Look at Marcus Rashford. Greenwood may not play. You may not play Edinson Cavani. And then Daniel James is gone. Then it could be a setback for either of the two - Rashford or Greenwood. Because Ronaldo is there, so how are they going to feel about that. And how are they going to move and plan for the future?

"If Ronaldo leaves next year or in two years' time, and Greenwood or Rashford have not developed because of these two years period when they have been on the bench most of the time instead of playing all the games. So, only time will tell."

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Karan Prashant Saxena is a reporter/writer/editor, who specialises in sports. His primary areas of interest include football, Olympics sports, and pro-wrestling. When not working, Karan spends his time reading, travelling, and pondering on the question - What If?

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