Liverpool have a big problem at the heart of their team and they're in danger of underachieving this season.
You just hope they don't fall too far behind Manchester City because what they've done over the last few years has been phenomenal. But that is the risk you run when you ask your top players to play so many games – and for me they could have done with signing a world class midfielder this summer.
I worry for them in midfield. They are very reliant on Fabinho. Beyond him you've got Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Thiago really. I think they are just getting by there with that group, and that's not really good enough for a club like Liverpool.
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Because the full backs are creating and the forwards are scoring, you don't notice it so much but it's not like it used to be. Liverpool's midfield used to be the key to it all. It was a well-oiled machine that had everything and allowed the rest of the team to function. But Henderson is getting on now. Thiago for me is very inconsistent. Milner has been a warrior for them but is 36. And they've never been able to rely on Naby Keita.
Curtis Jones looks like a real talent but is he ready to play big minutes in a team that wants to win the title? I think they are weaker in midfield than they have been for a while. That might be the thing that makes the difference – and you can't tell me that losing Sadio Mane for a song wasn't a blow. He was a big game player who contributed so much in those key moments when you're not playing well and somebody steps up.
They are going to need Darwin Nunez – their big £85m signing – to hit the ground running but there are no guarantees he settles here like Luis Diaz did. If that happens, fair play, but how many players have you ever seen hit the ground running in the Premier League like Diaz? Not many. I thought they would have gone for a big-name midfield player. They could do with more quality in there. When Fabinho is out they are a completely different team.
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I know they wanted Kalvin Phillips and missed out on him when he want to Manchester City. But I don't think he would have been a game changer for Liverpool. There has been plenty of hype around Phillips for a while now, and Liverpool would have had a better squad if he'd gone there. But I don't think he would have added the kind of quality they need. You have to remember, Liverpool have an unbelievable goalkeeper in Alisson who makes big saves in games. They have an unbelievable centre back in Virgil Van Dijk. And they have three or four unbelievable forwards. But they all played virtually every single game it was possible to play last season. They are not going to be able to do that again.
How many teams have ever asked their players to play so much football? I don't think any other team has ever done it. The danger is that even if they win something this season it will feel like they have under-achieved compared to last season. They will be in the title race for sure. They score goals. They are solid. They have that winning mentality. They are great to watch. And they have a great manager. You just hope they don't fall too short, and that Mane leaving doesn't end up coming back to bite them. Would it really have mattered if he'd left on a free down the road?
Ronaldo has played last Man Utd game
Manchester United will try to paint Cristiano Ronaldo as the villain – and if he's really left it this late in the day to tell them he wants out, then he is! You don't know what's happened behind the scenes, but I don't like this situation at all. We all knew in February that United weren't getting in the Champions League. Ronaldo should have said he was going as soon as the season ended. Now, he's just thrown United into turmoil. He scored his goals and won them plenty of points, but they finished outside the top four, and scored less goals as a team.
Something's not right there, and I don't like what's happening now. If I'm being honest I don't really think Erik ten Hag wants him at the club. But it's a little bit of a game now where they will try to make him look like the villain. And I don't see Ronaldo playing for United again. United now need a striker more than ever. But where are they going to find one? There aren't many around now Nunez has signed for Liverpool.
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