Liverpool End Of Season Review: Let's Just Give Away Glen Johnson
What’s going right?
Pretty much everything. Not only are we back in the Champions League after a five year absence, but we defied everybody’s pre-season expectations to mount a serious title challenge that every fan should be incredibly proud of. We scored 101 goals in the league despite only having two viable strikers and the best attacking options on our bench being Iago Aspas and Victor Moses. We played the most exciting football in the country, and handed out serious beatings to Arsenal, Everton, Spurs and Manchester United - all of whom finished above us last season.
Our defensive frailties are an ongoing concern. You accept that a team that attacks as relentlessly as we do is going to be vulnerable at the back, but we’ve leaked goals all season and it is the only questioning mark moving forward – can Rodgers sort out our defence? That said, we had to integrate a new goalkeeper in to the side, lost our leader at the back to retirement, and rarely had the chance to play a settled back four: our first choice left-back missed practically the entire season; our two left-sided centre-backs constantly missed periods through injury; and our first choice right-back forgot how to play football. Time will tell, I suppose.
Got the right manager?
Absolutely. I liked Rodgers a lot, but he is still a young, inexperienced manager, and as such is learning on the job. The way he handled this season, and the pressure that came with it, has been phenomenal. His man-management is superb, particularly the way he handled the Luis Suarez saga. He adapted his philosophy to suit the players at his disposal and has shown great tactical nous by deploying a number of different formations, often in the same game, to great effect this. He has given the players the platform to express themselves and play with freedom, and he has given the fans a manager and a team to be proud of again.
How could it be anyone other than Luis Suarez? I wrote an article about him on here after the Ivanovic incident last season stating how I accepted him for his moments of madness - and I didn’t even hate him when he tried to force a move through to Arsenal in the summer. Football is a business to players, and as long as they give their all on the pitch I accept them for their selfish actions off it. It is pleasure to watch him every week, and the only shame is that he didn’t get a 32nd league goal and deservedly break the goalscoring record held by Ronaldo and Shearer. Let’s just hope he’s still at Anfield to lead the charge in to Europe next season.
Who would you sell in the summer?
Glen Johnson. In fact I’d give him away. Or put him in a rocket and fire him in to space. I never want to see him play for Liverpool again. He’s been sulking since November because the club refuse to give him a new contract unless he takes a pay cut, and some of his performances have been disgraceful. The two longest-serving foreign players, Lucas and Daniel Agger, are getting older, no longer first choice, and also earning a lot of money, so if we receive sizeable offers for them I wouldn’t be particularly sad to see them leave; Lucas is a great lad but runs like he’s got a parachute on his back. Other than that, we need to augment rather than overhaul, but there are five fringe players we wouldn’t miss: Aspas and Alberto, the Spanish equivalent of Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in ‘See No Evil, Hear No Evil,’ offer us absolutely nothing so they will likely to be off to Spain, along with Pepe Reina and his £120k-per-week, whilst Assaidi and Kelly would bring in an extra few million quid, too.
Who do you want to sign?
Players that the manager wants, not the ‘transfer committee’. Rodgers has improved all but a handful of players since he’s been here – that handful are listed above and unlikely to still be here beyond the summer – so let him identify the targets as he knows what he wants in a player. I’ve not seen that much of Lallana, but he’s always impressed and is versatile, so I’d be happy with him. On top of that we need a pair of full-backs and another match-winner. I’d take Ashley Cole for a season or two to compete with Enrique at left-back, and then maybe someone like Serge Aurier to push Flanagan on the right. Antoine Griezmann at Sociedad looks a special player and would give us more depth across the front three. Then if there’s enough gold left in the summer warchest, a more mobile midfielder to replace Lucas and another centre-back, but if not, let the young lads get a chance to provide depth – no more average squad fillers.
Best chant so far?
“We are Liverpool, tra la la la la” to the tune of Boney M’s ‘Brown Girl In The Ring’ has been the soundtrack of our season. Honourable mention to Brendan Rodgers’ song; it was long overdue.
Best opposition player/team you’ve seen?
In the first half of the season, an Aaron Ramsey-inspired Arsenal played us off the park at the Emirates before they, y’know, did an Arsenal and collapsed in spring. Hull City also turned us over at the KC Stadium at the start of December. The one player who has stood out when we played them was Cesar Azpilicueta at Chelsea. Best full-back in the league, for me.
Biggest w***** of the season?
How could it be anyone other than Mourinho? I’d grown ambivalent towards him whilst he was in Italy and Spain, but his whole act is already tiresome. Alienating his own players, crying poverty and injustice, being a massive hypocrite and generally acting without class and dignity whilst everyone but Chelsea fans see through it. You can’t argue with his track record in the past, and he did the double over Liverpool and City, but watching Chelsea is just an excruciating, mind-numbing experience.
Funniest moment of the season?
Manchester United. Nothing in particular, just everything about them this season has been great entertainment.
Next season’s prediction?
Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Coutinho develop in to world-class talents, we finally win the Premier League, and bring prestige, credibility and panache back to the Champions League, valiantly going out on penalties to Real Madrid in the semis.