Ex-stars urge Reds to spend

Ex-stars urge Reds to spend
According to former Reds star Robbie Fowler, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers should look to sign young, versatile players in the mould of midfielder Jordan Henderson (left, with Glen Johnson) for next season.

Having clinched a spot in next season's Champions League, English Premier League runners-up Liverpool are widely expected to beef up their squad to cope with the additional matches from the elite European competition.

However, former Reds star Robbie Fowler does not believe that manager Brendan Rodgers needs to bring in world-class talents in order for next season to be as successful as this campaign.

"I think it is more important that he brings in players that fit into his football philosophy, rather than simply finding the biggest name available," the 39-year-old, who scored 183 goals over two spells with the Reds, said on Monday.

"He doesn't need to spend on a Cristiano Ronaldo, or a Lionel Messi. He needs players like Jordan Henderson - not top talents, but young and versatile enough to fit straight into the squad.

"So it's not about star power, but scouting for the right player that will fit right in."

Sitting down together with another Liverpool great, ex-winger John Barnes, to analyse the club's successful season, Fowler also believes that it is not just the Reds' shaky defence that needs strengthening this off-season.

"I would like to see players from all positions coming in," he said on the sidelines of the Standard Chartered Trophy international tournament, which offered football fans a chance of playing on the pitch of Liverpool's famous Anfield home ground.

"It's not just defenders, but players all over the pitch who need to press the opponents hard and contribute to defending.

"So not only do we need defenders, but it would be good if we can also get defensive midfielders, even strikers who can harass opposing defenders like Luis Suarez."

Of the Uruguayan who was a major factor in the Reds' stellar season which saw them mount an unexpected title charge, both he and Barnes expect the mercurial striker to stay despite interest from major clubs.

"Not only do I think he will stay, but I also believe that he wants to stay," said Barnes, who won two league titles in 10 years with the club.

"He wanted Champions League football, and we've qualified for next season's competition. I think he's also seen how the league has finally accepted him, after winning a couple of Player of the Year awards this season.

"If Liverpool get proper players this summer, it would also go a long way in convincing Luis that this is the club he should be in."

After a season in which the Reds' swashbuckling attack saw them plunder 101 goals, the two Liverpool greats admitted that they have not enjoyed such stylish attacking football at the club since the Roy Evans' managerial reign in the mid-1990s.

In fact, they pointed to several parallels between this season and the 1996-97 season, in which the Reds also challenged for the title before faltering late in the season.

Both Barnes and Fowler played in that season, and Barnes said: "It's always exciting when you have team-mates all looking to score goals.

"I was playing Steven Gerrard's position then, and I would be constantly looking for the right pass to start another wave of attack."

"I'm sure the players are eager to go again for another season. Hopefully we can fix our defence, and everyone can enjoy another great season from them."

This article was published on May 14 in The Straits Times.

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