I feel a sense of optimism this season, like I did before the 13/14 season when Suarez and Studge were running defenses ragged. No one I knew thought we would realistically challenge for the title that season.
No European football certainly helped our cause to keep a thin squad viable for as long as possible. It was evident towards the end of that campaign we ran out of gas and focus.
This season, like 13/14 is all about getting back to the Champions League. Unfortunately this time around, we will have to contend with Europa League fixtures (And hopefully some deep cup runs!).
Notable Departures: Steven Gerrard (LA Galaxy), Raheem Sterling (Man City) Glen Johnson (Stoke City), Rickie Lambert (WBA), and Brad Jones (Parts Unknown).
Notable Arrivals: Christian Benteke (Aston Villa), Roberto Firmino (TSG Hoffenheim), Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton), James Milner (Free Transfer, Man City), Danny Ings (Free transfer, Burnley), Divock Origi (End of Loan, Lille), Joe Gomez (Charlton), and Tiago Ilori (End of loan, G. Bordeaux)
Here’s the deal, I think we are going to struggle to make top four. The only way I see Brendan keeping his job without a top four finish would be to win the Europa League thus securing a next year’s Champions League. If we are sixth in the table after Boxing Day, I see a change coming in the January window. Especially if Jurgen Klopp is still milling about. And no, even if Klopp becomes manager, we’re still not getting Reus. Move along.
In fact, I think this season is more about Rodgers than any one signing. If he can make it work, he stays and success will follow. We’ve done a tremendous job in the transfer window this summer to get the likes of Clyne, Firmino and Benteke without CL football. Milner will also prove a solid signing. But the lot of them won’t be enough to secure top four. Lovren, Moreno and Markovich need to justify their transfer fees. Sakho and Sturridge need to stay fit. Ibe and Can need to come of age and continue to develop. Mignolet needs to command his box and improve his handling of crosses. Lallana might just needs to give us 90 minutes. Lucas needs to stop fouling three yards outside the box.
So Finchy, who are you not hyper critical of? I’m in love with Coutinho, and he’s not done getting better. Henderson was asked to provide goals, he provided more goals, not season’s altering amount (but still). He will also continue to lead by example now that he wears the armband; the kid has an engine and has a higher ceiling yet. Skrtel, for all his grappling, has upped his game since being on the brink of exit two seasons ago. I also think Brendan adapt a system around Benteke while continuing attractive attacking football. The defense will still leave a lot to be desired I fear. It won’t be allowed as an excuse with the money we’ve spent.
Chelsea win the league, again. Mourinho still finds a way to complain about other teams spending money to “catch up.” Our two league matches against them will be mind-numbing torrid affairs. Who will survive and what will be left of them? We beat them in the FA Cup semi-final. Mourinho claims it was all, “part of the plan.”
Man City runners-up…again…how can they not? I do not wish him injury, but I hope Raheem gets Lucas’d…
Arsenal third…say what you want about Wenger, his teams are always in the discussion. Heaven help us if they get a striker better than Giroud.
Liverpool are FOURTH!!!! !@#$ yeah we did it! Benteke proves a good signing, bagging 21 goals in all competitions. Joe Gomez becomes something of a cult hero for being an every-man in the defense and lip-syncing to old school hip hop songs on YouTube. “Bob & Phil” becomes an animated kids show back in Brazil. Lucas continues to have the best Twitter feed, but leaves during the January window to a mid-table Serie A club. That same window, the club agree to terms with Marco Reus, but he fails the medical. Can becomes something of an enforcer in midfield and finally admits to stealing Henderson’s pomade. Daniel Agger comes back for a testimonial match, and there was much rejoicing. We continue to sing about Stevie G and King Kenny. Rushie looks dapper as ever in the stands. The supporters petition the club to stop playing YNWA over the PA system so we can sing it acapella and the club listens! The mascot disappears, never to return (except for charitable functions). Luton Town get their revenge in the FA Cup final. The League and Europa cups provide valuable experience for the team to gel and bleed in the youngsters, but are unremarkable outside of Joao Carlos Teixeira showing continued glimpses of brilliance. He’s re-loaned out a struggling La Liga side in the January window…
Enjoy the ride. YNWA