And now, the day before the season begins (sorry Brendan), the man on the platform’s sentiments serves as a forecast for the new season: this is big year for Liverpool. In terms of what’s acceptable to fans, there’s no further for the club to fall; last season was the end of the road. Many barely acknowledge the Carling Cup win, and seem resigned to acknowledge that when quality players look for a new club, Liverpool isn’t on the list.
The alarmist’s view is that, should this slide continue, Liverpool are headed down the same road as the likes of Aberdeen and Leeds United: two once great clubs who have settled into an uncomfortable nostalgia, with trophy rooms bare, save for images and hardware tied to players and seasons now long past.
But let’s ignore the alarmist’s view. Realistically, Liverpool aren’t in terrible shape. Brendan Rodgers brings a sense of purpose to the team that goes beyond his ambitions as a manger. Clearly, he wants and needs Liverpool to win. And with a clear system in place, he has instilled an encouraging discipline into his squad’s play. The pressing/possession system he touts favors fit, technical players with intelligence and high work rates. This doesn’t describe every player in the LFC fold, but there are enough in place at the club out of the gate. The transfer market may yet yield a few surprises, but the summer has so far seen the biggest names bypass Liverpool in favor of Champion’s League football and well-heeled ownership.
It’s not a World XI by any stretch, and there’s work to be done to find the right balance, (particularly in midfield), but there’s enough talent to stand up convincingly to every team in the Premiership. A top-six finish has to be the expectation, but more important is that Liverpool reasserts their presence as an imposing side at home and on the road. This won’t be easy.
The squad will always be up for the big games; they’re the easiest to rise to mentally. It’s the mid-season fixtures against lowly sides where the club must begin taking maximum points, especially at home, where too many draws were conceded last season.
Restoring Liverpool’s fearsome reputation means winning games. However these wins come, no one will be particularly bothered.