By Ernie Fox
Excuse me for the blasphemy, but thank God the summer is almost over. For us Liverpool fans, last season couldn’t have ended any worse, and now we’ve had to wait all this time to see our team redress the balance. I just want us to get back on the pitch, play the football we know we’re capable of playing, and return to the type of form we saw just a couple of years ago.
But the waiting is almost over, the new season is finally here, and just like any new season I’m feeling that sense of rejuvenated hope and optimism for the future. The pre-season has produced a number of reasons to feel positive; the signing of Roberto Firmino was just the start, a world class play-maker to support our little magician, it was an early summer signing which had so many of us Liverpool fans feeling excited about what the future has in store.
It wasn’t just Firmino though, or even the huge amount spent on centre forward Christian Benteke, but a number of younger players are starting to emerge as genuine first team prospects and leading that line is Jordan Ibe. Forget Raheem Sterling, Ibe has shown genuine class this summer, both in the way he has performed on the pitch and off – he has earnt the right to prove himself in the first team this season, and I am certain that he will not disappoint. It’s great to see big name signings making an impact and scoring goals, but it is even better to see a youngster come through the ranks to earn his stripes alongside his more established colleagues.
There are plenty of other reasons to be excited as well; the midfield partnership of Milner and Henderson has already shown great promise during the pre-season friendlies, as has the work rate of new forward signings Origi and Ings up front providing pressure on the opposition defenders which was a factor badly missing from our front line last year, and the purchase of a genuine top class right back in Nathaniel Clyne means we have a potential first eleven to challenge any others in the league.
We’ve got less than a week now to see who Rodgers selects for his first eleven, personally, I will be surprised if we see both Benteke and Firmino starting against Stoke in the opening game of the season, but don’t be surprised if they both play a part at some stage. Milner and Henderson are likely to start in the centre of the park, and I suspect Emre Can may well make a midfield trio.
And then we come to the front three; Coutinho is an almost certainty but will he play behind the front two or as part of a three pronged attack? We will certainly be giving a league début to at least one forward but who? Will Benteke lead from the front or Divock Origi who has had far more involvement in the pre-season? Will Danny Ings be the additional forward, or will Rodgers look to the pace of Jordan Ibe? There are so many options at the club, it’s hard not to feel optimistic isn’t it?
But the biggest reason for all Reds to feel positive is the same reason as every year, because as Liverpool fans that is what we do; we believe!
The one thing that football fans have is that belief in their side, their ability to dream that their side can achieve the unthinkable, when we start to take that away from ourselves, what are we left with? I am not one for telling fans how to support their team, where they should originate from or what style of football they should wish for – but what I can’t accept is a fan who has no faith. Brendan Rodgers will lead us into the new season whether you believe it to be the right decision or not, as Liverpool fans we should all be behind the team from the moment that first whistle is blown, we should be willing the team to succeed.
I have read of certain alleged fans wishing for us to fail, saying they don’t believe in the Rodgers regime and think we would be better off losing so that he can be removed sooner rather than later, I can’t subscribe to such negativity. Liverpool football club is not about one man, the club will go on long after Rodgers leaves along with his future successors, but until that day I will continue to support the club I have always supported. Those who want anything other than three points from our opening game of the season don’t wish for such because they care for the club but simply because they want to claim they were right about Rodgers being the wrong man to lead the club. When you’re putting your own ego above the club, that’s not being a true fan.
Let’s make no mistake, as a fan you have every right to be critical of the management, of the tactics, of the style of play or transfer policy, it is every football fan’s right; but at kick off we should all be pulling together because that is the essence of being a football fan. Whether you think Rodgers is right for the club or not, whether you think Benteke was the marquee signing we needed or not, as a Liverpool fan we should be wishing for the club to succeed no matter what we think is right, because that is what makes a football fan.
Written by Ernie Fox