The Reds worst finish to a Premier League season in 19 years saw them place eighth at th end. Of course they won the Carling cup but it was little consolation for the American owners who quickly showed Kop legend Kenny Dalgish the door.
A managerial search that was looking more like a joke with every available manager linked to the Liverpool post finally yielded into the appointment of Brendan Rodgers – the man who beat Dalgish in what was to be the Scot’s last match in charge of Liverpool.
Rodgers tried his best at Watford and though things didn’t go his way at Reading, he showed what his capabilities are guiding lowly-rated Swansea into the Premier League let season and ensuring their safety quite comfortably despite many predicting before the season began that Swansea were favourites to be relegated. With some slick-passing football on show, Brendan Rodgers and Swansea earned the plaudits of most English football fans for playing football the ‘right way’. Liverpool in my opinion have got the right man for the task of helping them get the glory days back but it’s important he’s given the time especially if there are obvious signs as to improvement on the field. Stability in the coaching department is imperative and since Rodgers is the man for the Americans (unlike Dalgish who was a sort of stop-gap), I hope they will be sticking with the Northern Irishman whatever happens.
Pepe Reina, Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard are the only three surviving members of that great night at Istanbul and for me are the strong foundations for Brendan Rodgers to build his Liverpool team. These three players will put their blood down for the Liverpool cause and are perfect role models for the new crop of players in the squad. In Pepe Reina they have got one of the top three best Goalkeepers in the last five years in the Premier League. Age might be catching up with Carragher and he’s never had pace but I believe he can still do a good job for the Reds. On his day, not many strikers can stay up with him. He reads the game very well and especially if Daniel Agger makes the switch to Manchester City, so much would be expected from the former three-lions defender. Steven Gerrard is Mr. Liverpool and there’s not much to say about him. You know what to expect from the captain and team talisman, he’s not getting any younger but his influence on matches cannot be ignored.
With Glen Johnson ably assisted by Martin Kelly, the right-back position is well covered. Jose Enrique had a good first season in a Liverpool shirt – the Spaniard was arguably the only bright spot in an otherwise dour season for the Reds and would be assisted by the young but solid John Flanagan in the left-back position. The centre of distance has Danny Wilson, Sebastian Coates, Jamie Carragher, Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger but I feel like they would look short of quality in that position if Daniel Agger leaves, hence adequate replacement must be brought in before the end of the transfer window.
Joe Allen is a gifted midfielder with an ability to dictate possession. He was a revelation at Swansea last season and having made the step up to a big club, it remains to be seen if he will crumble under the expectations like Henderson and Stewart Downing did or prove himself and become the Prince to Steven Gerrard’s throne Liverpool have been searching for. Lucas Leiva (sadly) missed the whole of last season and boy was he missed. He’s the best holding midfielder at Anfield and would be a big asset for Liverpool this season.
It will be interesting to see how the partnership between Fabio Borini and Luis Suarez pans out. Liverpool would do well to keep Suarez out of trouble this season, he was no doubt distracted by the situation with Patrice Evra last season as he could only manage a meagre 11 goals all season.
Stewart Downing has got to deliver – i’m a big fan of the winger but somehow everything just went against him last season. He did create many chances (55) which due to Liverpool’s profligacy didn’t turn out into assists and of all his many shots (72) at goal, none went in in the Premier League – call him unlucky.
Liverpool’s finishing was the main reason why they ended up on the standings as low as they did. How do you explain a team hitting the woodwork 33 times in 38 matches? With Liverpool only managing a 9% chance conversion rate, they ended most matches goalless or lost by the odd goal – Some great deal of improvement needed in this regard.
Three of the first five games for Liverpool are against fellow European contenders Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United, although all three matches are at Anfield. Their results in the first five games will set the tone of how ready they are to break into the top four. Optimism is so high in the Anfield stands and an unconvincing start would do the team no good.
If Liverpool can get Steven Gerrard fit for most of the season and Luis Suarez can concentrate on only football on the field, they could just be on their way to getting their place back at the top of English football.
OctopusSaxy’s Verdict: Liverpool won’t get a top four place. I think they are still some steps behind the London (Chelsea and Arsenal) teams and both Manchester clubs but I believe an improvement on their final placing last season will be good enough. They should finish either 5th or 6th.