By Jonathan Hartley
So the new Premier League season is almost upon us. How poignant it is that Liverpool should be starting this season in the same place that they ended the last one, away at Stoke City.
The less said about that final game the better and if the players ever needed any more motivation, all Brendan has to do is get a picture of the shameful 6-1 score line and slap it on the dressing room wall. If any of the players aren’t motivated to at least prevent that happening again, then they shouldn’t playing the game, let alone be in a Liverpool shirt.
A lot has changed around the club since that defeat though. Not only have players come and gone, but so to have certain coaching staff members. There seems to be a really fresh feel about the whole club at the moment, which can only be positive. Pre-season has gone really well too, with the club only drawing one game and winning the rest. Yes, all of the games were against lesser opposition, but you can only beat what is in front of you and it looks as though the players are as prepared as they can be for Sunday at 4pm.
One thing the club has done brilliantly this summer is get the transfer targets in early. Too many times in the past, Liverpool have left their business too late and end up missing out on top targets, whereas this summer, we had made the majority of our signings before the window had even opened! There has been strengthening in areas that needed it too. We have improved at right back, central midfield and, probably most importantly, up front. There are very decent options up top now, with three new players coming into the squad in the shape of Ings, Origi and Benteke, albeit Origi was signed last season but was loaned back to Lille.
The Benteke signing is one that has caused the most debate among Liverpool fans. Did we pay too much money? For me, the only way we would have paid too much money is if he doesn’t score enough goals. If he scores 20 this season, no one is going to be talking about the price. If he scores 10 or less, that is when people will start saying we have paid too much money for him. Will he suit our style of play? There is a lot more to his game than just being the big man up front. He can run at people, he has pace, strength and the most important quality he has is the ability to finish. I believe he is exactly what Liverpool have been missing and that he will fit into the team just fine. On the back end of last season, he scored 12 in 12 at a relegation battling Aston Villa. Imagine what he could do in a team with the quality that Liverpool possesses.
Interestingly, the signing of Roberto Firmino for not much less than Benteke is one that hasn’t caused any debate at all amongst Liverpool fans, in fact it has sent some into euphoria! I’ve seen twitter accounts already named after him and people making him their profile picture, this all before he made his 60 minute debut against Swindon. That debut is the only time I’ve seen him play. He looks like he has got quality about him, let’s hope he will shine for us this season. But, all the euphoria before he has even played a competitive game is premature to say the least. Of course I want him to succeed, but I just hope that fans don’t put a massive amount of pressure on him straight away, he’s got to settle into the most competitive league in the world yet.
I am very excited for this season, I’m really looking forward to seeing how our freshened up squad clicks together, and I honestly think that this is the strongest we have looked as a squad for a long time. I am quietly optimistic that we will make the top 4 as long as we can avoid any long term injuries to key players, let’s not forget we’ve still got Sturridge to return into all this!
It has felt like too long now since the end of the football season, and I am ready for the Liverpool ride again (I think.) COME ON YOU RED MEN!!!