The 2015/16 season will be the season of reckoning for Brendan Rodgers, and his future at Liverpool.
Simply put, the Northern Irishman has to deliver now or face the sack. The parody twitter account @DeludedBrendan provides humour for all football fans bar Kopites, and it is up to the actual Brendan to prove himself. Given the amount of John Henry’s money spent, Liverpool need tangible silverware and/or Champions League football to avoid becoming a footballing basket case. If the Premier League was the Eurozone, Liverpool are in grave danger of resembling Greece.
This transfer window thus far has represented an outlay of nearly £60 million, and that’s assuming a tribunal sets Danny Ings’ cost at £4 million – an absolute steal. Roberto Firmino and Nathaniel Clyne spearhead Brendan’s splashing of the cash, over £41 million for the pair of them. Add to that James Milner and Adam Bogdan on free transfers as well as the potential of young Joe Gomez, then Liverpool must be considered contenders for major trophies or serious questions need to be asked – are they spending this money for the fun of it?
It’s not just this summer either.
Brendan is no stranger to flashing his (or rather Mr.Henry’s) wad of dollar bills (think the 1980s Harry Enfield sketch), and in his defence he has had some success. Coutinho for around £8 million is very good value for money, with Mignolet and Moreno at £9 and £12 million each not being exactly over the odds. Unfortunately for Rodgers, these are overshadowed by some of his less successful wheeling and dealings (think Del Boy). Dejan Lovren, Mario Ballotelli and Fabio Borini cost over £46 million together, with Lambert and Lallana alone adding nearly £30 million to Southampton’s transfer kitty this time last year.
In crude maths, Rodgers has spent over £235 million on signing players, and what has he got to show for this? A Premier League runners-up medal. We all know how agonisingly close Liverpool were that season to clinching a much needed first Premier League title, and horribly for Steven Gerrard, it was not to be. Mr.Rodgers nearly won the league in his second season in charge, and looked untouchable on the eleven game winning streak – no mean feat whatsoever. However, how much of that was because of the scintillating Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge partnership remains up for debate. Certainly, SAS weren’t a hinderance.
Brendan now needs to vitalise the troops and make it work. The current crop need to gel and buy into Brendan’s way of thinking to deliver instantaneous results, not least of all to repay the faith of John Henry. Not purely fiscal, Henry’s support has also allowed Rodgers to bring in Sean O’Driscoll as his left hand man. O’Driscoll is something of a football philosopher, and as a manager focused on performances rather than results. This worked wonders at Bournemouth and Doncaster, less so at Bristol City. But if the players buy into the Rodgers/O’Driscoll way of thinking, a unique ‘Liverpool’ culture will emerge, and may be the breeding ground for success.
On paper Liverpool have a more than competent squad to challenge for the top four, and to put distinct effort into either the FA Cup or Captial One Cup. It isn’t a small task, especially considering the league now boasts a Mourinho Chelsea side, a Manchester United team seemingly clicking with Louis Van Gaal at last, not to mention steady Arsene Wenger now actually spending some money himself and winning trophies. And yes, Manchester City, Spurs and Southampton fans, we know you exist too, and you will of course provide yet more stiff competition for European football and in the domestic cups.
Let’s now address the elephant in the room, if he’s actually turned up.
From the outside looking in, Raheem Sterling does not seem to want to be a Liverpool player. At the time of writing, he has phoned in sick for two consecutive days, and a national tabloid has run a story stating he wants to leave purely because of Mr.Rodgers. At the tender age of 20, Sterling has already had his fair share of controversy. His rejection of a £100,000 a week contract led him to publicly announce that he wasn’t “money-grabbing”, he has been pictured with a shisha pipe and inhaling nitrous oxide and now he has pulled consecutive sickies. Manchester City are rumoured suitors, and he may well have offers from overseas as well. Sterling has undoubted talent, and an all too rare ability to get spectators out of their seats, which, if he leaves, will be missed at Anfield. However, Liverpool’s path to glory does not rest on the shoulders of one Englishman, despite Steven Gerrard carrying the side in years gone by. With his scattergun approach in the transfer market, Brendan is finally assembling a good looking squad, and he is likely to add more before the season commences in August. Sure he may want Raheem to remain a Red, but plans will be in place if the Kingston born flyer does leave. The potential loss of Raheem Sterling should not derail Liverpool’s plans for success.
After an underwhelming 2014/15 season Liverpool and Brendan need something to put on the CV, which is looking decidedly bare in the case of the latter – how long can you live off of one Championship play-off win? A top four finish and/or silverware is paramount to continuing Rodger’s career on Merseyside. He has already enjoyed more time in the job than perhaps he would of otherwise due to the backlash of Henry’s Dalglish dismissal, and for only so long can he spend the American’s money on his chosen players and backroom staff before he has to triumphantly return a gift stateside, much like a domestic cat when lording a catch. Now is the time to make a statement that Liverpool FC are finally back. Just don’t tell Steven of Los Angeles Galaxy.[separator type=”thin”]
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Luka Modric could prove the perfect Emre Can replacement at Liverpool
The Croatian has been linked with a move to Anfield with Emre Can expected to leave this summer.
Emre Can looks set to be on his way out of Anfield this summer as the 24-year-old German international seems unwilling to sign a new contract at Liverpool.
Spanish news outlet El Gol Digital have recently linked Real Madrid with the German international, although they would have to fend off interest from European rivals Juventus.
Speaking to Sport 1, Can recently expressed his desire to be featured in the world team of the year at some point in his career.
For the 24-year-old, it would be difficult to turn down a club of Madrid’s magnitude and his departure would represent a blow for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Nonetheless, a swap deal for Real Madrid star Luka Modric would be a superb way to ease the pain of the German’s exit.
Reports linking Can with the Bernabeu come just a matter of weeks after Spanish newspaper Dario Gol expressed Luka Modric’s desire to leave the current Champions League holders.
The Croation international is reportedly keen on a return to the Premier League return, with Liverpool, along with Tottenham, named as front-runners for his signature.
Even at 32 years of age, the Croatian midfielder is still one of the best players in the world and would represent an excellent short-term fix for the Reds.
His brilliant passing range, his superb footballing brain, and his delicate skills are all crucial components that would boost Liverpool’s attacking threat.
Combined with a world-class attack consisting of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane, the Reds truly could stake a claim for the most dynamic frontline in England next season.
Most importantly, the addition of Modric could finally mark the replacement for Philippe Coutinho that many Liverpool supporters have been begging for.
A seasoned international with tremendous experience at the upper levels of world football would be a remarkable transfer for Klopp’s side, and would surely bolster their title aspirations in 2018/19.
Andrew Robertson the most important Liverpool summer signing
The Scottish left-back has plugged a gap that has existed at Liverpool for some time.
Mohamed Salah rightly received all the praise yesterday, after Liverpool put Watford to the sword in the Premier League.
Liverpool beat the Hornets 5-0 at Anfield, with the Egyptian scoring four of the goals.
It is hard to argue with Salah being the club’s best signing in the summer. His tally of 37 goals in 43 games certainly highlights that fact.
However, the most important signing might have been that of Andrew Robertson.
The Scottish left-back joined from Hull City in a deal, reported by the Independent, to be worth around £8 million. That price-tag is now looking an absolute bargain.
Liverpool have had problems at left-back for a number of seasons.
Alberto Moreno looked like being the solution. However, the Spaniard’s defensive work and decision making made him a liability.
Jon Flanagan, who was Brendan Rodgers’ regular left-back, has not reached similar heights since a series of knee injuries decimated his promising career.
Last season saw James Milner fill the role. The experienced midfielder played well out of position but long-term, was not the solution.
Now, Liverpool have Robertson. The Scotland international has made the step up from his time at Hull with ease.
The 24-year-old Glaswegian is not only a threat going forward, but defensively he is exceptional.
His delivery into the box is undoubtedly exemplary, but he is equally adept at stopping opposing players from getting near Liverpool’s.
Liverpool have managed to bring in a player perfectly suited to Jurgen Klopp’s style of play.
Heavy-metal is the way Robertson plays in both attack and defence and the fans at Anfield already love him.
At just £8 million and only 24-years-old Liverpool picked up the bargain of the summer in the Premier League.
If Robertson can continue to progress and play with the same level of consistency he already has, then a decade of dominance at left-back could follow as Liverpool’s left-back.
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah within touching distance of all-time Premier League goal-scoring record
The Egyptian international has 28 Premier League goals this term.
Anfield witnessed a truly special moment in the second half of Liverpool’s 5-0 thrashing of Watford on Saturday. Winning 3-0, Liverpool were running riot in wintry conditions, and Mohamed Salah collected the ball just inside the box on a hat-trick.
What followed was absolute magic, emblematic of a dream debut season in the north-west for the Egyptian. Salah was mobbed by three defenders, but left all three in the dust with one deft cut-back.
Then, with two more Watford players crashing in on the ball, Salah remarkably managed to poke an improvised finish into the far corner past the helpless Orestis Karnezis.
As Salah wheeled away in celebration, tongue stuck out and arms extended, Anfield reveled in history in the making. That goal marked Salah’s 27th of the Premier League season and he would go on to score his 28th just eight minutes later.
The Egyptian is on course to smash the Premier League scoring records in emphatic fashion. The current record is 31 goals, a tally achieved by Alan Shearer in 1995/96, Cristiano Ronaldo in 2007/08, and fellow Red Luis Suarez in 2013/14.
With seven matches remaining, including fixtures against the likes of West Brom and Stoke, few would bet against Salah demolishing the 22-year-old record.
The achievement would place Salah in the illustrious company of Premier League legends, an incredible feat for a player who many in England wrote off during his short spell at Chelsea.
Thanks to Salah, Liverpool have barely missed a step after the departure of Philippe Coutinho in January, advancing to the Champions League quarterfinals and cementing their top-four position.
The prolific winger is proving all of his doubters wrong in audacious fashion, and with a Premier League Golden Boot and goal-scoring record seemingly on the way, he is one of the most in-form players in the world.
The early-April European clash with Manchester City will provide Salah with, perhaps, his biggest stage yet. Expect the top goalscorer in England to rise to the occasion.
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