Although it might be difficult for Liverpool to let go of, the 2013-14 season is over. For fans and players associated with Liverpool, the upcoming season presents a multitude of questions and expectations that the previous season did not have with it. With Luis Suarez going under the knife and a huge portion of their prized possessions playing in Brazil, it will be anybody’s guess what the upcoming campaign looks like for Liverpool. Will the Champions League hurt their EPL aspirations or will it aid Liverpool? Let’s take a look at what the upcoming season holds for this season’s biggest surprise…
First, the goal for Liverpool in the 14/15 season: 3rd place. While flirting with the top of the league this season might have many hoping that Liverpool can actually obtain the EPL title this upcoming campaign, factoring in new signings and the massive impact of Champions League football means that Liverpool will not be able to focus solely on 1st place. Liverpool need to maintain Champions League status coming into the next season and that still needs to be their main goal. Considering the amount of money that the other teams will be spending, Liverpool still feel like an outside option to be lifting the trophy in May of 2015, but it should not be their priority.
Brendan Rodgers just signed a brand new contract, effectively ending any possible type of coach issue that Liverpool might have faced. Rodgers is one more finish outside of the top four from looking for work, but the team’s performance this last season proves that sticking with Rodgers was/is the right thing to do. If he can continue to produce the free-flowing attack that saw them score goals by the buckets and retool the defense to actually look slightly competent, Rodgers might turn into a long-term fixture on the Anfield sideline.
Players that NEED to go - Considering the amount of players Liverpool will need to face every competition with a decent starting 11 this upcoming season, it will be impossible to sell any players without bringing in an immediate replacement. Aspas could not cut it in the EPL (unless he was brought in to obtain yellow cards), Moses should have everyone glad that he is a loan-signing, and (despite turning a serious corner a few seasons ago) Lucas Leiva’s knee never looks like it will be back to 100%. Lucas is the hardest cut, but Joe Allen is still improving and Lucas has just never looked like the player that we were seeing 2/3 seasons ago. Like we said, considering the amount of non-EPL games that Liverpool are now committed to, no player should be sold without having a player immediately purchased to bring back in. There are a few on the fringe (i.e. Borini), but they have the talent to merit being given a chance to succeed.
Positions that NEED to be filled - Liverpool will be looking to slot in more of the upcoming youth players in the upcoming season (Ibe, Coady, Sama, and the return of Suso), but there are a few spots where some money needs to be spent. Liverpool need to genuinely (and FINALLY) start searching for the “Stevie G replacement”… an impossible task, but one that needs to be perceived as occurring. The defense needs an accomplished central defender, a defender that can be slotted on either wing, and to realize that Agger and Skrtel are nearing their 30′s. Considering Liverpool’s return to the upper echelon, any purchase made for any position needs to be proven…while Rodgers has done fairly well with bringing in young players hoping to fill their potential, this summer needs players able to slot in immediately.
The KEY to next season - While we try to avoid head-slapping-ly obvious “KEY” things to mention in every version of the “Dossier,” Liverpool’s KEY can not be avoided: defense. Allowing 50 goals on the season for any team hoping to sneak into the top four would typically be a death sentence (even Crystal Palace and Southampton allowed fewer goals) and Liverpool will need to tighten things up on the back line if they hope to stay in the top four. This is even more important as Liverpool cannot hope to score 101 goals every single season…can they?
Surprise boost - Suso and other new incomers. While the re-introduction to the Champions League might bring a lot back to Liverpool, the Liverpool newcomers (or returning players) will help aid the club the most. Suso just had an amazing season in La Liga and Liverpool can only benefit from a few more top-tier players. If they can find another player that brings the impact of a Suarez, a Coutinho, a Henderson, or a Sturridge (all transfers from the last few seasons), then it could really help propel Liverpool back to old heights.
It is not the one season that sees you return to the top four, but the seasons that follow immediately after to see if you can stay on top of the heap. There is a reason why Wenger is so highly respected despite not finishing on top of the table for so long, and Rodgers will be looking to have similar success. The biggest question will be if Champions League football hurts Liverpool’s standing in their domestic league or if Liverpool will quickly tumble back out of the top four…only time will tell…
Liverpool goal finish: 3rd
Players purchased for more than $7.5 million: 3
Players sold: 3
New coach: NO!
How long until somebody offers Bale-money for Suarez? You mean it hasn’t happened already?