After the disappointment of narrowly missing out on the Premier League title in 2013/14 and the departure of star striker Luis Suarez this summer to Barcelona via his teeth, many critics have written off Liverpool’s chances of repeating their impressive feats of last season and mounting another challenge for the league championship. Liverpool’s 2013/14 campaign represented a high point for the club after 4 years away from the top four and really should have ended with the club’s first league title since 1990, only for monumental slip ups against Chelsea and Crystal Palace in two of the last three games of the season to seal the team’s second place finish.
While Suarez has left and taken his 31-goal haul last season with him, there is still plenty for Liverpool fans to look forward to this season. Brendan Rodgers’ team will be playing in the Champions League for the first time since the 2009/10 season, giving key players such as Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho the chance to impress on the European stage. Consolidating a Champions League spot should be the main aim as this will, firstly, bring in qualification and television revenue putting the club in a more stable financial position, but may also begin to attract more of the world’s best players to the club. Only then can the team begin to think about challenging for the title again.
Excluding Suarez the Liverpool squad that entertained so many last season remains intact, and in fact much stronger; Rodgers has moved swiftly to strengthen the squad, bringing in Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Emre Can, Lazar Markovic, Divock Origi and Dejan Lovren over the summer so far, giving the team some much needed depth for a season where they will be playing more games. While this is a high number of players to join a club in one transfer window, Rodgers clearly sees in these players great potential to add more quality to the squad and generally improve it, along with being suitable to his philosophy of quick, fluid attacking football. But Liverpool’s second placed finish last season was made possible by the destructive combination of Suarez and Daniel Sturridge and without a world class replacement for the Uruguayan a title challenge is highly unlikely in the forthcoming season.
Such a commendable league finish last season is additionally unlikely for Brendan Rodgers’ side given that the teams around it have been strengthening over pre-season, bringing in some of the world’s best players, such as Chelsea and their signings Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas and Arsenal’s marquee capture Alexis Sanchez. League champions Manchester City have also added big names to their squad and under new boss Louis Van Gaal, expect Manchester United to be thereabouts come next May. The fight for a top four spot, therefore, may be the toughest it has ever been for all teams in contention.
No one expected Liverpool to finish in the top four let alone come so close to the title last season but in the post-Suarez era, a period of (the overused expression) transition is beginning to bloom in Anfield. The main aim in this period, for now at least, should be to remain where many believe the club belongs – in the top four. With the players at his disposal, Rodgers and his side are more than capable of doing just that.