After what was a crazy season in 2013/14, we arrive at the door of the 2014/15 season with a team that appears to have clear direction, vision and identity; on top of that we are back in the Champions League.
At the start of last season I made what everyone told me was a ridiculous bet for Liverpool to win the league. Did I think it was going to happen? I would be lying if I said yes, but I certainly didn’t think it was impossible as everyone made it seem. We took great advantage of no European football which allowed us to concentrate on the league. We finished the season with the top 2 goalscorers and second place,We came so close.
Fast forward past a summer which included an entertaining World Cup and Liverpool losing Luis Suarez; what does the future hold for us? Well for starters we have the 2nd top scorer from last season in Daniel Sturridge, we have the most exciting teenager in Raheem Sterling and we have a through ball specialist in Philippe Coutinho who is fresh from a summer break of no football for Brazil. Sturridge now has the opportunity he has waited so many years for… to be the main man. Raheem Sterling is still only 19 and is a boy beyond his years. There is no direct replacement for Luis Suarez in existence however there is a system in place for the current crop to flourish.
We have added depth to what was a very thin squad which should allow us to cope with the demands of the new season. I am most excited to see Emre Can who will add power, pace and can go forward; Adam Lallana who has excellent awareness and movement and Lazar Markovic who is lightning quick and looks like a fantastic prospect. I genuinely believe we are a stronger force this year. We have a young team which for the recent friendly against Borussia Dortmund had an average age just shy of 25 years and are the likely starters for the curtain raiser against Southampton.
So what are my expectations for this year? Well we have taken big strides but there is still some way to go. This year we will have some of the best 1v1 players in the league so I expect clubs will continue to fall apart at Anfield, defenders will still get caught square and the goals will be flying in. We have players that are technically strong, have the capacity to learn, have the personality and character to perform at the highest level and are motivated. Brendan Rodgers said it is important that us fans keep perspective; we are still ahead of schedule as a club. That will not stop me dreaming. My only expectation is more excitement.
With bookies giving me odds of 11/1 for the league it would be silly to not place a cheeky bet. Once again there is no pressure to win the league but surely this year we can bring it! I see a few nervous fans because other clubs have strengthened well, but it looks to me like it’s all under control. The start of the new season should be the grown mans Christmas!
The summer for Liverpool, started at a low. Losing Luis Suarez, undoubtedly one of the best players on the planet, was a rude awakening. The goals he scored last season were one of the key reasons Liverpool found themselves in the title race. But all is not lost. The new recruits Liverpool have signed are perhaps not a like-for-like replacement for Luis, but may just affect the club for the better.
The key area of strengthening for Liverpool was the defence. It would be understandable for fans to feel a Suarez-shaped vortex must be filled by a similarly goal-thirsty, creative striker. Surely though, the opportunity to sure up a defence that leaked 50 goals last season is one that should be grabbed with both hands. Luckily it was.
The signing of Dejan Lovren was an incredibly astute one. Although some fans baulked at his £20m transfer fee, they could at least say Liverpool threw money at Southampton to sign a very good centre half. For me last season, Dejan Lovren was the most consistent centre back in the Premier League. Although Vincent Kompany is perhaps the most established and highly rated defender in the league, there were times when the talismanic captain was absent from high priority games. The opposite can be said of Lovren.
In my mind there are two different types of centre back. There is the tactician and the tackler. The most obvious example being Jamie Carragher and Sammi Hyypia. Big Sammi was a genius. He led the line, his positioning was impeccable and he gave Jamie Carragher the easier job of pressing the attackers. Dejan Lovren will bring this quality back to Liverpool’s defence.
Monday Night Football (SSN) – Dejan Lovren Analysis
Only time will tell who will be given the opportunity to partner Lovren. For me, I would love to see Sakho being moulded for the job. One of Sakho’s flaws is he is petulant and doesn’t hold his line very well. His strengths though, are tackling and brtutish force. With Lovren’s guidance, I feel they could form a formidable partnership.
Another area Liverpool needed to improve upon was the right-back position. Funnily enough Liverpool look to have solved that problem by signing a left-back. With the arrival of Alberto Moreno seemingly imminent (for anyone who hasn’t seen him yet,
you’re in for a treat), Rodgers has cleverly paved the way for Jon Flanagan to play in his more comfortable position of right back. ‘What about Glen Johnson?’ you may ask. My answer to that would be, ‘what about Glen Johnson?’. In recent seasons his form has gone from bad to worse.
Javier Manquillo for me, as I’ve mentioned before, looks a very scruffy full-back, graced with all the pace in the world but with no defensive discipline. Perhaps time will tell and he will prove me wrong, however, his performances in La Liga last season were sometimes quite hard to watch. Having Glen Johnson as a possible mentor may further is defensive ineptitude.
As fans can tell already by pre-season, Emre Can looks like an absolute beast. I admit, I had only heard of the German midfielder before his Liverpool career and had never really seen him with my own eyes. There was a general sense of mixed feelings for his signing, but he has put any doubts to bed so far with an excellent pre-season.
The signing of Ricky Lambert was very astute. for £4 million pounds, we signed the second highest scoring English striker. £4 million. That is the equivalent of the average Liverpool players wages per season in total. Not bad for a pretty decent striker. Trying to justify the signing of Adam Lallana though causes quite the head ache. Lallana was one of the star players last season, but trying to find a place for him in the Liverpool squad for me is a difficult task. If you sign a player for £25 million, he needs to slide right in to your starting 11. However, with the diamond system, the 4-2-3-1 and the odd 4-3-3 we play now and again, I see absolutely no place for him. For me it was an ill advised transparent display of wealth. Something that was completely unnecessary.
Perhaps looking even more unnecessary with the arrival of Croatian wonderkid Lazar Markovic. The frightening fact that Markovic has won the league in every season he has played in since signing his professional contract, is something Liverpool fans will relish. To describe the lad as quick would be a disservice; the kid is like lightning. Combine that pace with Liverpool’s ferocious counter-attack and he should fit in seamlessly.
And finally, the signing and then loan-back deal for Divock Origi seems a very smart deal. The pacy and tricky attacker has been attracting a lot of attention in the last 18 months from a number of huge European clubs. Luckily for us he chose us. After an excellent season with Lille is Ligue 1, Origi topped it off with an outstanding World Cup displaying, scoring a well placed goal against Russia in the Maracana on his debut World Cup. According to Rodgers, ‘Origi has everything’. There is a common misconception from fans who have not seen him play that he is an out-and-out striker. Origi is a versatile forward, much like Hazard or Sterling.
Lallana, Origi & Markovic
All in all the signs are there that Liverpool have strengthened in the summer. In particular the arrival of Lovren, the imminent one of Moreno and Emre Can please me the most. The idea of scoring goals from the counter attack was a pretty well worked one last season. Imagine how much greater that plan would be if Liverpool had the defenders they have now?
So the new season is upon us, after last season’s League performance and all the summer signings we Liverpool fans just can’t wait any longer.
Liverpool played a total of eight pre-season games with the Reds winning five and losing three. However we all know that pre-season results don’t mean anything however the performance on the field does and personally I am very happy with what I saw during our pre-season and especially with our final game against Borussia Dortmund.
I am also happy with the transfer business so far with Emre Can, Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Javi Maquillo, Lazar Markovic all signed and Alberto Moreno is on the verge of signing. Divock Origi was also signed and re loaned back to Lille for a year (as part of the contract terms). Yes we lost Luis Suarez and he wasn’t replaced by a player of his calibre however I believe that there will still be another big signing before the window closes at the end of the month. Check out transferrumours.co.uk to see some of the players being linked to Liverpool.
There are many who feel that Liverpool are favourites of winning the league and various articles teaching the basics of sports betting and bookies put Liverpool’s odds pretty high. The big question everyone has been asking is what would be deemed a successful season for Liverpool? As far as I am concerned, if we finish in the top four again, win a domestic trophy and have a good Champions League I will be in seventh heaven. What if we win the league? Take that seventh heaven and multiply it by 10 :-)