Pre season: Good, bad or ugly?
A bit of a mixed bag, really. The North American tour wasn't particularly inspiring, but the squad was mostly made up of fringe players and youngsters so expectations shouldn't have been high anyway. Since the big guns have returned from their international excursions over the summer, however, things have really starting to come together. The two home games against FC Gomel and then Leverkusen last week were very promising; the side looked much sharper and fitter, Fabio Borini scored on his debut, and we seem to be adapting to Brendan Rodgers’ methods with relative ease.
Hopes for the season:
Obviously a return to the Champions League is the main priority for the owners – and it is vital both financially and in terms of being able to attract the top players – but given the quality of opposition it will be a tough ask at the first time of trying for Brendan Rodgers. Last season’s cup runs were a lot of fun, so more trips to Wembley, as well as a potential trip to Amsterdam for the Europa League final would be nice. Ultimately, though, just some real indication that the club is progressing both on and off the field is my biggest hope. Not asking for too much, eh?
Fears for the season:
That we get off to a poor start and the mouthy, spoilt, insufferable fans who like to moan incessantly call for the manager’s head by the end of September, citing Brendan Rodgers’ inexperience and Rafa Benitez’s availability as just cause for yet another in management. Also, a long-term injury to any of our star players – particularly Luis Suarez - would really leave us up shit creek without a paddle. Well, maybe we’ll have a £35m paddle to call upon, but that won’t be of much use.
Absolute bare minimum you’ll accept:
A top-half finish, I suppose. Like I said earlier, though, it’s more about showing signs that we’re progressing as a club and giving the manager the time he needs to really put him stamp of the side, so I could tolerate a lack of Champions League football and silverware this season. Some purposeful, ambitious, aesthetically pleasing football would make for a refreshing change, too.
I’ve been very impressed with Brendan Rodgers so far; he has handled himself with the humility and respect that is expected of a Liverpool manager.
Fixture you’re most looking forward to?
Obviously relishing our encounters against the usual suspects (Man Utd, Everton, etc), but the opening day of the season away to West Brom – partly because it’s my birthday so I’ll be absolutely hammered regardless – is just days away and I can’t wait. Plus, we play Arsenal and both Manchester clubs in our first five league games after that, so it may be the only three points we can realistically get for a while!
Got the right manager?
Far, far too early to say, but I’ve been very impressed with Brendan Rodgers so far; he has handled himself with the humility and respect that is expected of a Liverpool manager. No false promises have been made, he has been completely realistic about the size of the task and the amount of hard work that is needed to restore us to where we were a few years ago, but he is an incredibly determined, assiduous and ambitious individual – and the future looks very bright. After his predecessors have wasted sickening sums of money on players who never fit in to the side, he has identified players who can seamlessly integrate themselves in to his system, so fingers crossed there will be no more aimless flurries in to the transfer market.
By Christmas you’ll be…
Hopefully qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa League and still in contention for a top four place, rather than already thinking ahead to next season and where we need to improve.
Player you’d most like to sign?
Obviously we’re not going to be competing for the Eden Hazard’s or Juan Mata’s, but if we could snatch Nuri Sahin from under the noses of United, Arsenal and Spurs (hopefully with the view to a permanent deal), along with Clint Dempsey, that would represent an excellent summer, all things considered. Pushing my luck here, but if we also managed to sign Gaston Ramirez I’d be absolutely delighted; I like him a lot.
Ultimately, though, just some real indication that the club is progressing both on and off the field is my biggest hope.
Which player should we look out for?
Raheem Sterling has impressed in pre-season and has remarkably improved his off-the-ball work in the few short weeks he’s worked with Rodgers, so as long as he continues to stay level-headed and show the same willingness to learn and become a better player, he should get a few opportunities to impose himself in the first-team – especially as we are currently devoid of alternative options out wide.
Which player would you love to ditch?
Straight up coin toss between Andy Carroll and Charlie Adam. I didn't want us to sign either of them in the first place, so it’s difficult for me to really defend keeping them when they’re clearly not suited to the style of football Rodgers is looking to implement. Plus, we’d recoup a decent bit of money to spend on more mobile, technically gifted players.
Opposition hate figure?
John Terry, by a country mile. Won’t be holding my breath for England’s big brave lionheart to be handed an eight-game ban by the FA, though.
We’ve won more European Cups than Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Newcastle, Spurs and Everton put together.
Tell us something we don’t know about your club?
We’ve won more European Cups than Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Newcastle, Spurs and Everton put together. Well what sort of Liverpool fan would I be if I didn't keep referring to our illustrious history?
What won’t happen this season?
Opposition fans stop singing that outdated and generally pathetic ‘You’ll Never Work Again’ song when their team visits Anfield.
Now that Maxi Rodriguez has left the club, taking with him the chance to sing some Buddy Holly, it has to be the Suarez song. He’ll be getting dog’s abuse from opposition fans every week, so it’s nice to support him to the tune of Depeche Mode.
Where will you finish?
Head says fifth; heart says fourth.
Any other news?
The Hillsborough Independent Panel will disclose documents (over 400,000 pages) relating to the disaster and its aftermath to the families of those who died next month, so hopefully justice will finally be served.
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