Best Signing:Dejan Lovren or Alberto Moreno (if they finally get him signed)
Should still sign: Wilfried Bony
Should have signed: Alexis Sanchez
Shouldn’t have let go: Luis Suarez…? (as if he was going to stay) – I really wouldn’t want to see Dan Agger leave either
Youngsters to Watch: Where to start? Phillipe Coutinho, Raheem Sterling, Lazar Markovic and Jordan Ibe
After the heartbreak of last year it would be unwise, and slightly optimistic, to say Liverpool will win the league this season. Luis Suarez has obviously left and we have spent a lot of money in attempt to rebuild the squad and prepare for a packed fixture list – Champions League football is back at Anfield!
Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool are the best Liverpool team that I have watched in my life. Rafa Benitez may have brought “old big ears” back to the Anfield trophy cabinet but he was a tactician when it came to management. Rodgers is a man dedicated to attacking, total football. It is a joy to watch, and last season should provide the stable foundations necessary to push on.
The main concern last year was the defence. It was as leaky as a sieve in a swimming pool. Though our phenomenal goalscoring record kept us on the right side of results, at some point our defence was always going to hurt us. The game against Palace, fabulously named “Crystanbul”, was both incredible and painful to watch. Rodgers will not forget that game in a hurry, and that lingering memory will be the motivation he, and the rest of the squad will need to improve.
Though Suarez has gone I think Liverpool can still do very well this season. There will not be as many goals, but there will also not be as many goals conceded. The defence has strengthened and I am a firm believer in the saying “goals win you games, defence wins you titles”. The loss of Suarez’s goals should be made up in part by the new attacking signings, and in part by a tighter back line. A positive goal difference of 51 is quite an achievement, and I doubt we will replicate that this year, but a healthy +35 would see us challenging.
The problem with writing this now is that Liverpool still have a pocket full of cash, and a couple of weeks to spend it. I could predict a top 4 finish and then Rodgers could strike (unlikely) deals for Cavani and Reus. Such signings would impact greatly on Liverpool’s final league position.
As it is, I predicted a 3rd or 4th place finish for Liverpool this year, and this indecisiveness is precisely because the transfer window is open and I fully expect at least two more signings at Anfield. The priority is a striker to ease the burden on Sturridge, someone to help out with 15+ goals a season. I don’t think Lambert is the man to do that, and neither does Rodgers considering he is still sniffing around looking for a goalscorer. Cavani, Falcao and Reus have all been talked about but to be honest, my preference, and the most likely would be Wilfried Bony. I’m a big fan.
With the likes of Sturridge and Bony leading the line, fuelled by Markovic, Sterling, Lallana and Coutinho, there will always be goals. Stability and strength are vital if the team is to balance, and all too often last season the attacking intent outweighed defensive responsibility. My concerns over Glen Johnson grow every time I watch him play, but at least he will not be alongside Kolo “here have the ball Victor Anichebe” (heh – Jimmy) Toure and Jon “the most dribbled around defender in the league” Flanagan. You heard it here first, Moreno (when he signs) and Lovren are the star signings this season for Liverpool.
As well as a top 4 finish in the league, I predict Liverpool will go far in one of the cup competitions. The Champions League may have to be a learning experience for many of the players, but FA Cup success could well be a target for Rodgers and his men.
It is not possible to talk about Liverpool, and Everton for that matter, within a vacuum. Football teams must be looked at in context, and the signings, the sales, and the progress of both Merseyside clubs should always be seen in relation to what the other teams around them are doing. As my esteemed colleague Jimmy mentioned, Spurs will be stronger, but I don’t see them threatening the top 4, and Man Utd cannot possibly do worse than they did last season. That being said, the optimism surrounding Utd fans, the whisperings of a title challenge, and the belief that they are back, is naive. I have many reasons to believe that Utd will go no further than 5th this season, but that is another story.
Rodgers and Martinez are the new faces of football management, they are the future of the sport in this country, and the future looks bright for both Merseyside clubs. European football is back, the football is wonderful to watch, and the glory days are just around the corner. Times are changing, the sands are shifting, Merseyside is on the rise.