It is hard to imagine what it must feel like to be a Liverpool supporter at times. The club seem to have fallen from grace to some extent in recent years, having failed to win a league title since 1990. Add to that Steven Gerrard’s infamous slip against Chelsea towards the end of the 2013/14 season and you might just about make up as to how agonising life must be as a Reds faithful.
Last season, Liverpool went into the Premier League with a second-place finish behind them and a long-awaited return to the Champions League, but the campaign could not have been any more disappointing, with the 6-1 defeat at Stoke the icing on an ugly cake. Understandably, there has been a lot of discontent and talk of the need for a new manager. Since then, a lot seems to have changed for the better. In other words, if the Premier League awarded points for the off-season, Liverpool would be table-toppers with a significant edge over the closest competitors.
Even with the potential departure of talisman Raheem Sterling, the team are already certainly stronger than the squad that underachieved last season. With an average age of just 26, the squad is packed with potential greats, some of which gained important experience last season and will be ready to kick on. Discounting the new additions, the likes of Emre Can, Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho had breakthrough seasons and will only get better. Despite a season that could have gone better, for these players in particular, the campaign was one of great opportunities. All of the above managed to establish themselves as leaders of sorts, with Henderson even captaining the side in many games.
This summer, the club’s transfer business has been nothing short of sensational and incredibly intelligent, at least so far. The purchase of James Milner for example, adds extensive experience and an extra midfield engine, whereas the likes of Danny Ings and Divock Origi add more quality, potential and an alternative dimension in attack. More of that great quality can be found in Nathaniel Clyne, the right back and England international who will be moving to the club for a fee believed to be in the region of €21 million, after agreeing to leave Southampton.
Nevertheless, the stand-out transfer has to be the purchase of Brazil international Roberto Firmino, who moves to Anfield from Bundesliga outfit Hoffenheim. The 23-year old is currently showcasing his skills at the Copa America, leading Brazil’s creative and attacking department, and showing the Liverpool faithful as to what they can look forward to. Arguably, this might be one of Liverpool’s best purchases ever and the midfielder will certainly help Liverpool have a go at the top four, or even beyond.
At this stage, it can almost be argued that anything other than a European top-club of Barcelona’s size would be a step down for Raheem Sterling. There is no need to argue that Sterling’s potential destination Manchester City can actually compete with the Reds’ quality and depth as of now, as Liverpool look too strong. In that sense, it will ultimately be down to Sterling to make a critical decision, although staying at Anfield might be the best option, given the club’s ambition. In addition to this, Liverpool should be admired to remaining calm and sticking to manager Brendan Rodgers when loyalty was needed. It will be intriguing to watch the rest of the transfer window, although Liverpool have clearly made the most impressive start across Europe so far.
As far as the upcoming season is concerned, it is always hard to make valuable predictions, but the Reds look genuinely impressive and frightening. This is definitely not the type of line-up any opponent would look forward to; see an example below.
Mignolet – Moreno, Skrtel, Lovren, Clyne – Can – Firmino, Coutinho, Milner – Ings, Sturridge