In the summer of 2013 I predicted Liverpool would probably come 5th or 6th in the forthcoming season. I was basing this prediction on our previous seasons form and also the uninspiring purchases in the transfer window during that summer of Aspas, Alberto, Llori , Toure and Sahko. I wasn’t alone in my prediction as expectations were quite low so nearly winning it last season was an unbelievable surprise for most Liverpool fans and it finally convinced fans that Brendan Rodgers was the right man for the job.
This year most pundits are predicting we won’t make the top 4 never mind challenge for the title, which suits Liverpool fans fine. With no Suarez they are presuming we won’t do as well as last season, but it was a ‘team’ effort and Rodgers' tactics that saw Liverpool overachieve last season rather than one individual, although no one can deny Suarez was unplayable at times.
I’m really pleased with our transfers this summer and I think we have a much stronger squad than last year. Having no European football obviously helped us last season so we will need that strength in depth to cope with the added pressures and strain of Champions League football.
With the signings of Can (Bayer Leverkusen), Alberto Moreno (Sevilla), Rickie Lambert (Southampton), Adam Lallana (Southampton), Dejan Lovren (Southampton), Lazar Markovic (Benfica), Javier Manquillo (loan, Atletico Madrid), Divock Origi (Lille) Liverpool look a much stronger outfit all round with intense competition especially for midfield places but we still lack a proven striker to back up Sturridge and Lambert. You can’t go into a season with only two recognised strikers and Rodgers knows this. Hopefully this will be resolved before the window shuts.
In pre-season Sterling and Coutinho have looked superb and they now seem to have a telepathic understanding. For me they are the most exciting young players we’ve had since Fowler and McManaman linked up in the 1990s. The all action Coutinho must be the bargain of the decade so far (£8.5 m from Inter in 2013)
The one thing that probably cost us the title last year was our defence as we leaked some really soft goals. Over the Christmas period we lost away to City and Chelsea due to defensive errors when we were arguably the better team. The jury is still out on Reina’s replacement Mignolet. He is undoubtedly a good shot stopper but he doesn’t control the box and seems to stay on his line too often. This could’ve been due to his lack of confidence/communication with the defence and hopefully with new signings like Lovren and Moreno and with Sahko looking impressive in the World Cup for France we can tighten up in that department. We will certainly need to, as I can’t see us scoring 101 goals again this season with Suarez accounting for 31 of them.
Overall I am looking forward to the season and I am quite excited about seeing attacking football played the right way. It will take an extraordinary ‘team’ or as Brendan Rodgers keeps saying ‘group’ effort to repeat last years challenge but we have a good young coach intent on improving all the time. As the flag on the Kop says ‘MAKE US DREAM’ (Again)