Last season was pretty turbulent for Liverpool Football Club. After the early promise of Kenny Dalglish’s second reign in charge, things took a sour turn and the 2011-2012 season might just go down as one of the most frustrating in our history – certainly as far as the league is concerned. Embarrassingly expensive recruits joined the regulars in failing to find the net on what seemed like most occasions, much to the amusement of our rivals. An incredibly regrettable scandal shattered our public image in the fall and despite some bright runs in the cup competitions, a feeling of solid disappointment prevailed when all was said and done. I mean, okay, we have the Carling Cup, but look – Everton are above us. Something’s not right!
Now things feel markedly different. With Dalglish back to a full-time golf schedule, Brendan Rodgers is the new manager. Although he’s spent the best part of twenty years as a professional coach, learning from and making friends with some of the best in the business, he does still feel like a bit of a punt. I mean – Watford, Reading, Swansea? Hardly sounds like the resume of someone prepared to return LFC to elite status, but then everybody has to start somewhere. Shankly came from Huddersfield, let’s not forget. Rodgers needs patience, and plenty of support. No Hodgson-esque revolts deserved or desired this time around.
Our summer has been relatively quiet, but a few respectable pieces of business have taken place. Both Suarez (key player) and Shelvey (promising squad player) have penned new deals, and we hope Skrtel and Agger will soon follow suit. Where new faces are concerned, at the time of writing we’ve only officially signed Fabio Borini (£10m) and Joe Allen (£15m). I’m happy with both, but after last year’s fee explosion and the consequential spotlight, I wish the prices were a little lower. Still, they’ve worked with Rodgers before and both seem bright, young and talented. The rumour mill also tells us we’ve secured Real Madrid’s Nuri Şahin on loan (fantastic if true), and are chasing Barcelona’s Tello – with Theo Walcott and Adam Johnson as back-up options. Elsewhere, Clint Dempsey seems to be on the cards, with cash and Charlie Adam in exchange. This would be a good deal for me, bringing in a versatile forward and alleviating some of the midfield saturation at the same time. But we can’t be sure exactly; if we trust Twitter then Gaston Ramirez has had at least seventeen medicals at the club. Overall, I’m satisfied with the business we’ve done and appear to be doing. Solid and shrewd, if unspectacular. All reasonable given the current level of the club.
This season I think Rodgers will help the squad develop cohesion on the pitch that was perhaps lacking under Dalglish. His game plan, if you will. Additionally, I think there’ll be less public focus on us this year, and that will help. Provided we don’t do something to draw mass attention to ourselves (no t-shirt stunts, please!), we can hopefully dip under the radar and go quietly about our business. Nobody expects us to break back into the fabled Champions League, Kenny’s sour interviews are a thing of the past and our ‘laughable’ overpayments for Carroll, Downing and Henderson will sit less sharply in people’s memories. Look elsewhere, folks. Go and see how Spurs are doing.
So what am I hoping for? Well at this stage, with more transfers expected across the board, it’s hard to pinpoint anything too exact. In and of ourselves, though, I do expect a few things:
- A better home record. The so-called-lesser teams seem to love Anfield right now. It feels like they turn up really confident that a draw is on the cards, and we simply can’t have that.
- More goals. Poor finishing with a lack of luck, I do feel as though last season was quite the anomaly – something which the statistics correspond with. We didn’t just make friends with the woodwork; we shacked up, moved in and had a couple of kids with the damn thing. At the same time we entertained a thoroughly frustrating affair with a certain Mr Penalty.
- A stronger challenge for fourth place. Whether we finish higher in the league or accumulate more points and reduce the gap between ourselves and the fourth place finishers, I want to see us last longer in the race. We need to be considered ‘in the mix’ for as long as possible. We might not get there in the end – I don’t expect us to, in fact – but I do think that a stronger challenge is entirely achievable.
If we get the above, finish 5th – 7th and maybe experience another cup run, I’ll be a happy camper. If not… then Rodgers out. Let’s give Roy another spin. After all, he’s taken England to 3rd in the World Rankings.
That’s a joke, that last bit. A horrible, horrible joke.
There’s more that could be said (I didn’t even mention the players who’ve left the club; Dirk, I’ll never forget you), but with the new season so close I thought a general look back and forward was the best way to start my tenure here at WhatCulture. Here’s to another year of belting Premier League action.
Deep breaths, now…
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