Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

City will be too slick if Liverpool don’t click, says Walsh

Liverpool are favourites to win tomorrow’s North West derby clash against Manchester City at Anfield - but a player who has starred for both clubs isn’t quite so certain.

Paul Walsh won the title with Liverpool in 1986 before joining Spurs and later having a spell at City, picking up five England caps along the way.

“The bookies have Liverpool as favourites but I don’t see it like that,” he said.

“If Liverpool have Gerrard and Torres involved against City you could fancy them that bit more because they would have close to their best team out.

“If they have their best team out they are possibly as good as anyone else,” said Walsh.

“Keeping Gerrard and Torres fit is so important to Liverpool because when they don’t play they are not replaced with a proven player.

“Liverpool’s season depends on how often they can get Gerrard and Torres on the pitch.

“But when you are competing on several fronts over the course of a season it’s not just about the best team — it’s about the best squad.

“You need 18 to 20 top players. Manchester City and Tottenham are building towards that.

“At City, if Bellamy drops out maybe Tevez comes in or Santa Cruz. Adebayor is there too — all top strikers. Liverpool simply don’t have that — they’ve only one top striker and that’s Torres.”

And Walsh feels that the Reds’ season is crumbling before their very eyes.

“Liverpool are out of the title race and look like they could be going out of the Champions League so will only have the FA Cup to play for.

“Liverpool don’t have the resources at the moment to challenge for the title — they aren’t able to buy big. So it’s difficult to improve the squad — and the squad isn’t good enough right now,” he said.

But Walsh is sure manager Rafa Benitez will be at Anfield for some time to come.

“Benitez could be there for a while yet because I don’t think Liverpool can afford to get rid of him. The money doesn’t seem to be there for him to spend, so it probably isn’t there to sack him.

“Liverpool have been disappointing so far this season.

“It’s a poor squad and what that means is that fringe players like David N’Gog have got their chance and have progressed.

“But generally the depth of the squad isn’t good enough and therefore the bench isn’t strong enough. Once you get beyond the first 11 or 12 players, the rest aren’t up to it.

“Babel scored a great goal against Lyon but has been disappointing overall, Lucas as a replacement for Alonso isn’t good enough, Aquilani we haven’t seen enough of because he has been injured. It will be interesting to see what he can do. He might step in and turn out to be fantastic — and that would certainly make a difference,” he said.

City, thanks to their new-found Middle Eastern wealth, are very much a club on the up, according to their ex striker.

“Manchester City could finish top four this season. I’m sure they are looking at Liverpool and thinking they can jump above them.

“At the start of the season a lot of people thought Arsenal might be the team that could be picked off by the likes of City or Tottenham. But Arsenal are playing some great stuff,” he said.

“City’s problems are in defence. (Manager) Mark Hughes has brought in Lescott and Bridge and I don’t know if he’s happy with them. But the great thing about Hughes’ situation is that if things aren’t working he just goes out and buys someone else — just like at Chelsea when Abramovich first came in.

“It’s a great situation for a manager to be in because if he can admit he has made a mistake, he can sweep it under the carpet and go and buy someone else.

“Or not even admit to making a mistake — just say we need more depth in all positions!”

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