How do you overview a team which both celebrated silverware and experienced disaster in the same season. The Reds won the League Cup and reached the FA Cup Final. They still have a selection of top European players: Gerrad, Reina, Suarez. But last time out they lacked the quality and consistency in the Premier League and with £20 million Stewart Downing rewarding the club with zero goals and assists. However, this time out Liverpool will have a point to prove, the new man in charge will want to play a new brand of football and return the club to Champions League spots. Will they be able to do it??
The New Boss
Brendan Rodgers will be quick to implement his passing style into Liverpool and if he is able to replicate his tikkatikka football that we saw at Swansea last year then Liverpool will be an exciting prospect because of the higher calibre player they currently have. Rodgers has been quick to get the club’s restless fans onside in a way that Roy Hodgson failed to. But how do you follow a king, one whose sacking has divided fans despite overseeing Liverpool’s worst season since relagationin 1954? That’s the challenge faced by Brendan Rodgers plucked from last season’s surprise package Swansea to succeed ‘King’ Kenny Dalglish. He’ll need time to implement his style correctly, but time is a commodity that has been lacking at Anfield of late.
After last seasons rash signings what could we expect from a Liverpool side aiming for a top four spot. Well they were still active in the transfer window but will their signings this season be better than previous campaigns.
Borini, an italian striker who spent last season on loan at Roma playing 24 games and scoring 9 goals. Liverpool fans will be hoping he is as solid as Suarez up front or perhaps able to recreate Torres of a few seasons ago. He played under Rodgers when Swansea were a Championship side playing 9 games and scoring 6 goals. He should be quick to adapt to Rodgers’ playing style with which he can play up top or out on the wings.
Joe Allen, one of the clogs helping Swansea tick along last season. Following Rodgers from Swansea, should seem to be a good signing but in Liverpool’s already packed midfield he will have to make way to fit Allen in. For myself, Allen would start above the likes of Shelvey and Spearing but when things aren’t going Liverpool’s way Rodgers may resort to a more aggressive midfield.
Although Aquilani looked set to return to Liverpool, featuring in their preseason games, he was transferred to Florentina for an undisclosed fee.
Plan A: Their first tactic will be to replicate Rodger’s tikkatikka football we enjoyed when he was manager of Swansea, based on patient possession and passing the ball out of defence. The experienced players in the squad should be happy with this approach but will Liverpool get the goals they lacked last season. Only 47 in 38 games, Rodgers will hope that the attacking players respond to the new style, although Swansea were still fairly pragmatic.
Plan B: Liverpool still have Carroll, so Rodgers can always resort to the long ball forward if things aren’t going Liverpool’s way. Fact: Andy Carroll won 64% of aerial duels last season more than any other striker last season. And even a short-passing ideologue like Rodgers will be happy with a scrappy winner from the big Geordie.
Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Enrique
Lucas, Gerrard (C), Allen
Note: The front three would be interchangeable to suit the opponent. And the middle three would have no set role (not to tackle everyone), simply to start attacks and keep hold of possession.
Lessons From Last Season
Don’t lose hope with the new style that Rodgers tries to bring in, and if the midfield can stay fit they’ll have no trouble fitting in to the “Swansea” mould.
Liverpool should see improvement under Rodgers, but like all new managers he will need time to build a squad to suit his style and challenge for the top four. Liverpool fans shouldn’t expect an immediate return to Champions League football, give the man some time.
If you liked this blog why not check out some of the other team previews, maybe for your teams opponents next week or for new transfers.
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