Over the last few weeks, I've made little secret of my belief that Robbie Keane wasn't going to work out. And Rafa displayed that renowned ruthless streak by shipping him out during the first window. But I want to make sure no one's thinking that I'm reveling in this news. Because, even though it strengthens the team by removing a major question (and seems to show that Liverpool will focus on the 4-2-3-1, which I believe is the right move), it weakens the team as well.
According to the BBC, the deal is for £12m in cold, hard currency, potentially rising to some unstated figure due to those ubiquitous incentives clauses. That's at least £7m that Liverpool's losing (Keane's fee was originally £19m, rising to £20.3m, even though all the stories I've seen today only quote the higher figure) at a time when money's tighter than (pick your sexual innuendo). £7m for 7 goals and 5 months of service, not to mention the 25 or so weeks of wages. And because the transfer's happened so late in the window, it looks as if there was no time to buy a replacement, if Benitez was even allowed access to the funds. It turns out Spurs (or Liverpool) didn't fancy a player exchange – which is fine with me, as the only player I'd want from their squad is Pavlyuchenko.
Granted, if there are no major injuries (I can't knock on wood hard enough), the squad should be okay. Torres, Kuyt, Babel, and Ngog can all theoretically play up top, even as a lone striker. The Torres and Gerrard partnership, with Alonso and Mascherano holding, is and remains the most important part of this team. And Robbie Keane hindered that, even though he’s a Liverpool fan, gave it his all, and didn’t shirk from the spotlight.
Now, what I want to see is Benitez experiment with his "wingers" more. Specifically, I want to see Benayoun on the left or right in games like those earlier infuriating draws, where Liverpool needs creativity. Similar goes for Babel. Apologies for the 1984-style mantras, but 4-2-3-1 is the way forward. 4-2-3-1 is Liverpool's best chance for success. Now, use it in pretty much every game here on out, but vary the flanks according to the opposition.
Then, with help from other teams, Liverpool might actually make a season out of this.