Season Preview: Liverpool FC
Fenway Sports Group has taken the bold step of retaining manager Brendan Rodgers in the face of staunch skepticism from the Kop faithful, and one must feel that this is the time to sink or swim, with Rodgers thrown right into the deep-end.
Liverpool begin the 2015/16 EPL campaign with a host of away fixtures against title challengers (rather than rivals, considering the Reds would be optimistic to say the least, if ambitions included a title challenge) which could shape the club’s destiny, and ultimately his. It was only 12 months ago he seemingly could do no wrong, being rewarded with a four year contract after an unprecedented title challenge which saw one of the most prolific and entertaining seasons in the club’s history. A 6-1 hammering to Stoke seemed a far-fetched fantasy for a Potter…
Alas, fast forward a year later and Liverpool find themselves spineless, unimaginative and goal thirsty – but such is the nature of the beautiful game, and the question we must ask is can things change this season?
The armband which belonged to Gerrard for more than a decade has been passed to Jordan Henderson , and replacing a player of that calibre was always going to be a fruitless task, thus Rodgers has approached the issue by supplementing other areas, is this a case of quantity over quality? We shall see.
By securing the services of James Milner on a free transfer from Manchester City, Brendan has added experience and athleticism to the midfield as he looks for a new leader in the team. One can draw many parallels between him and Henderson and wonder why another midfielder of that ilk may be necessary but we should expect a different player to the one we saw at City with a player being restored to his preferred central midfield role that earned him his stripes at Aston Villa. Let the post-Gerrard era begin…
We need goals
The fact that FSG graciously permitted a further £32.5million to acquire Benteke’s services was another demonstration of their unwavering support for the manager, a striker who has much to prove in his attempts to fire Liverpool into a Champions league spot. But it is symbolic of the overarching aura that surrounds
the whole team, a group of talented players who have yet to live up to their “potential” and one has to wonder how long can a club depend upon hopefuls?
Having lost their most gifted youngster to a domestic rival seems to revive that poignant reminder that Liverpool are dwindling to selling club status, and delegates responsibility to another youngster in Jordon Ibe who must show that he can fill this void (I predict he can’t, but he is a talented player) .
Another important attacking prospect is the Brazilian international Roberto Firmino who joined from Hoffenheim for a figure reported £28 million (contingent on appearances and performances). He arrives at Merseyside with the expectation that he will add so much needed firepower to the frontline, and all the ingredients are there for him. A player praised for his “tactical versatility”, one envisions that this may contribute to the fluidity of the attack but there is a probability that issues might arise in his lack of a defined role at LFC, and with a plethora of players all competing for that attacking midfield role it is make or break time for the ex- Hoffenheim man. As the likes of Adam Lallana, Lazar Marković look to belatedly live up to their price tags, Coutinho ponders who he will be working with to provide for the forwards.
This season there will be no room for excuses. Rodgers has the tools he asked for. Now he has to deliver.