LIVERPOOL have a goalscoring problem. Or to be more precise, they have a goalscorer problem.
The more Luis Suarez proves himself the world-class forward we know him to be, the more precious he becomes, as our transfer-window bungling leaves him as the only player we can turn to for a regular supply of goals.
That hes been able to maintain such an excellent strike rate is tribute to his ability indeed, as opposition defences know that if they stop him theyre fairly certain of at least a point. And as many have shown that theyre not too bothered about how they do it, many are succeeding.
The transfer strategy that saw the departure of Kuyt, Bellamy, Rodriguez and Carroll, with only Borini coming the other way, has attracted wide criticism and rightly so.
You can make a case for all the individual exits, but collectively it was surely folly not to retain at least one, notwithstanding the deadline-day failure to land Dempsey.
They might not fit the profile of players that suit Rodgers system, but how they might have provided valuable experience to take the load off the promising youngsters that the manager has had to thrust into battle to a greater extent than might be wise.
But to confine the debate about our goalscoring inadequacies to the forwards would be to divert attention from a wider problem, as it would to pretend that this is a new phenomenon. For some time now, and at least since we finished second in 2008/09, we just havent had enough players in midfield who can count scoring goals among their attributes.
Gerrards 16 league goals in that campaign were a prodigious effort, but since then only Maxis late burst two seasons later has pushed a midfielder into double-figures. Benayouns six in 2009-10 is the next best. Only three league goals have come from midfield this term, with a paltry 14 last season.
Chatting with friends before Sundays match had us reminiscing about the clubs rich history of goalscoring midfielders: Ray Kennedy, Jimmy Case, Peter Cormack, Jan Molby and Terry McDermott, the master of the late run into the penalty area. And of course Steven Gerrard, probably the best of them all.
Gerrard apart, its hard to see any of our current crop rattling up the goals in future, though Suso and Shelvey have time on their side to add this to their games. Shelvey in particular may yet develop into the Steven Gerrard of the next generation, once he learns to add conviction in the penalty area to his obvious physical assets, as his two misses against Newcastle pointedly illustrated.
One thing is for certain, theyre not going to build a reputation from thirty yards behind play. Mark Lawrenson has persistently highlighted our failure to get enough men in the box, and hes not wrong.
Whether arriving late to get on the end of a cross, or running past the forwards onto a ball slipped between the back four, youve got to be in it to win it, as the saying goes.
So we must resist the temptation to pin our woes solely on the current management and ownership; this is a long-standing problem that will take a while to solve. You cant always find the right piece of the jigsaw at the right time; the important thing is to have a clear idea of the picture on the front of the box.