After wandering the football wilderness for 2 months, we will soon emerge from the post/pre-season darkness as the Premier League returns in just 9 days. Weekends will no longer be spent aimlessly looking through transfer gossip, or watching reserve teams play in friendlies against teams you’ve never heard of. As ever, it’s promising to be an interesting season for Liverpool with some big transfers having already been made, and the possibilities of more in the pipeline.
I think it was Cersei Lannister that said: ‘When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die’ Ok, so we didn’t die after falling just short of winning the title in the 13/14 season, but we did get beaten 6-1 by Stoke and 3-1 by Crystal Palace (home and away), and that’s pretty much the same thing. No team has had as much shade thrown at it in the past couple of years as Liverpool and I should know – I’m one of the Liverpool fans that has had to put up with it. With this in mind, Brendan will be keen to improve on last season with his summer signings.
Ings, Benteke, Firmino, and Milner appear to have given Liverpool plenty of attacking options as Sturridge regains his fitness, but it remains to be seen how quickly they will fit into the side. Given Liverpool’s history of shall we say….underperforming signings (I’m looking at you, Konchesky), there’s a chance that this may not happen at all.
Overall though, these new signings are very promising and should reduce our dependence on players that are struggling to shine such as Lazar Markovic. They should replace the attacking danger Liverpool lost in Raheem Sterling. Getting £49 million for a player who didn’t want to be there was a great piece of business by owners FSG, and shows that they are not planning on being bullied. Sterling is a good and promising player, but in my opinion not worth anywhere near £49 million.
This leaves us with the question, how do you solve a problem like Balotelli? Sell him! I gave the Italian enigma more of a chance than most people did, and held onto the hope that he would eventually show his quality. But as last season progressed, the striker looked increasingly ineffective and uninterested on the pitch, which translated into his lack of goals. With the addition of so many attacking options this summer, I wouldn’t be surprised or disappointed to see him leave the club.
This summer also marked the departure of one of the greatest players ever to wear a Liverpool shirt, one who Liverpool will never truly be able to replace. I’m talking, of course, about Glen Johnson. The task of filling Glen’s very small shoes was given to Nathaniel Clyne after Liverpool’s new tradition of pillaging Southampton’s squad. Clyne had a good season in one of the best defences in the League last season, and should help solidify Liverpool’s back line. This is where Liverpool lost the title a couple of years ago, and it was not addressed last season as Dejan Lovren made a disappointing start to his Liverpool career. If you ask me Liverpool still need a quality centre back to complete the job.
Then there’s the Elephant that’s no longer in the room. Steven Gerrard. Will Henderson be able to step into that role? We’ll just have to wait and see. He had a great season last time out, and if he continues to develop at the same rate he’ll be a truly classy player in no time. Having the experience of Milner around him should help.
Other outgoing transfer rumours also need to be settled. Rickie Lambert appears to have fallen out of favour at Anfield, and the new signings only make it even more unlikely for him to break back into the team. With other clubs such as QPR, West Brom and even Tottenham reported as being interested in the 33 year old, selling him shouldn’t be too difficult. Fabio Borini is another question mark, I have to hold my hand up and say I actually forgot he was in our squad last season. After proving his talents during his loan at Sunderland, it would be a shame for him to carry on as an unused sub. It would probably be best for him to join one of the many Premier League teams interested in him.
So overall, there’s a lot going on at Anfield. After last season, especially the end of it, Rodgers will be under enormous pressure. Given Liverpool’s opening away fixtures, he may be lucky to last until the middle of the season. He has spent a lot of money again and needs to justify it. Given the signings of the other big clubs in the league so far, 4th place would be a fantastic result.