They may have one of the most impressive histories in English football, but Liverpool know that they must experience a much better campaign this term if they are going to establish themselves as one of the country’s top sides again. Having finished last term in a disappointing 8th position, there have been wholesale changes at Anfield over the summer after legend Kenny Dalglish was replaced by Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers. While Rodgers did experience a fantastic period at the Liberty Stadium, there are still some doubts on whether or not he can mastermind such success at the highest level. Certainly, with some bookmakers pricing the club at an incredible 40/1 for the title, it appears as though the general consensus is that the Reds are a long way off from being the finished article.
After investing ridiculous sums of money in their squad last season, expectations at Anfield were huge as Kenny Dalglish prepared to lead out the Reds. However, despite revamping the squad through the summer, Dalglish’s men struggled for consistency and not once did they look up for a title push. In fact, as the season progressed the team appeared to weaken, and the possibility of a top four finish evaporated with months of the campaign remaining. With the Reds finishing just five points ahead of 12th place Norwich, it speaks volumes about just how far away they were from any sort of league success. While the club did manage to triumph in the Carling Cup and reach the final of the FA Cup, that was not sufficient for the board of directors who opted to replace Dalglish at the end of the campaign.
With a new manager coming into the hot seat, most people thought that Brendan Rodgers would be incredibly active in the transfer market. However, despite being linked with countless players, Rodgers has completed just two signings in the form Of Fabio Borini and Joe Allen. Coincidently, both players have played under Rodgers at Swansea, with Borini enjoying a prolific loan spell at the Liberty Stadium a couple of years ago, while Allen allowed his career to explode under Rodgers’ stewardship. It is understood that the club have spent around £25m on the duo although despite the large transfer fees, some people remain unsure that they have the pedigree to transform Liverpool into a top four club again.
In fact, the Reds have actually lost more players. While rumours of a possible exit for Andy Carroll continue to drag on, in the meantime Rodgers has let no less than six players leave the club. Following a successful six year association with the Reds, Dirk Kuyt was allowed to leave in a £1m deal to Fenerbahce. Elsewhere, Alberto Aquilani’s disastrous spell at Anfield came to an end following a transfer to Fiorentina, while Rodgers sold Craig Bellamy to Cardiff. Other players to leave were Stephen Darby and David Amoo, with the duo departing the club as free agents following the expiry of their contracts.
While most clubs have experienced a full summer of preparation, it could be said that Liverpool’s has been somewhat disjointed. Due to the club’s Europa League commitments, their campaign has started prematurely after the club played a qualification round against FC Gomel. Having beaten the Belarusian side 1-0 in the first leg, Rodgers’ side were even more successful in the home tie having swept to a 3-0 victory. Such success means that Rodgers has not yet suffered defeat under his tenure, after the club managed draws with Toronto and Tottenham and a 2-1 victory over Roma in pre-season friendly outings. The Reds still have one more piece to their preparation schedule, with a home fixture against Leverkusen set to be played on Sunday.
Considering the change at Anfield this summer, there is certainly going to be plenty of attention focussed on Liverpool’s season. However, while we think the Reds will fare much more successfully than last term, we doubt they will make any sort of challenge for the title. Instead, we think the Reds will be making a challenge for 4th spot, which certainly would not be a terrible achievement considering the spending power of some of the Premier League’s top clubs.