A Struggle For Top 4? Liverpool Preview
Top 4 Finish
It’s hard not to look back on last season as a missed opportunity for Liverpool.
So close and yet, realistically, so far, the Reds really should have had some silverware to show for their efforts after what can only be described as a remarkable campaign. Yet, despite so much in their favour, they ended the 2013/2014 season trophyless. 2014/2015 presents even bigger challenges.
Luis Suarez’s inevitable yet untimely departure to Barcelona has left a gaping hole in Liverpool’s squad. The £75 million fee for the Uruguayan is all well and good but you simply can’t replace a player like Suarez or recreate the effect he had. His DNA was ingrained in this Liverpool squad and how it performed and his absence is something Rodgers will have to overcome along with some other major obstacles.
A Champions League-less campaign last season allowed the Merseyside club to concentrate solely on the domestic scene, which, arguably, gave them a vital edge over their competitors in the race for the title. Their return to Europe’s premier competition, whilst hugely welcome, brings its own pitfalls.
Suarez’s absence is palpable but Rodgers has done well to supplement his squad ahead of the new campaign with plenty of rotational options ahead of a busy schedule.
Rodgers has been quite hit and miss in the transfer market since taking over at Anfield.
A lot of his signings haven’t clicked straight away but his reasoning is unquestionable: young, talented and retaining a sell-able value.
He has continued this trend over the summer with the majority of his signings in their early twenties possessing world class attributes. Lazar Markovic – regarded as one of European football’s hottest talents – is quite a coup. Belgium starlet Divock Origi – hugely impressive at the World Cup – was also nabbed and sent back to Lille for further development.
Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren will immediately improve the starting eleven whilst Emre Can provides much needed physicality and endurance to complement Gerrard’s ailing legs.
Rickie Lambert has looked a shadow of the striker he was at Saints and one would wonder whether he truly believes he’s good enough to play for his boyhood club. Rodgers isn’t finished in the transfer market, though, and with rumours flying that Ramadel Falcao is on his hit list, it’s clear the Antrim man feels another striker is vital.
Last season I’d tipped Liverpool to be dark horses and they duly obliged. This season, I fear the opposite.
Losing Suarez, despite the millions received, will be a big blow to this squad and it may take a while to acclimatise to his absence. The Uruguayan scored 31 goals last season and created half as many. That’s going to be massively difficult to replace no matter who Rodgers signs. With a Champions League campaign to contend with also on the horizon, expectations at Anfield may need to be re-aligned for the 2014/2015 season.
A top four spot may even be beyond them and with Spurs and Everton improving further, a battle for any sort of European football could be on the cards. The Reds may have to be content with a 6th place finish.