The Strive for Success creating Anfield Optimism

The Strive for Success creating Anfield Optimism

I have been one of Brendan Rodgers biggest critics in the last six months with very little positive to say about the work he has been doing. I would like to believe that I have been justified in my criticism. That being said my unrelenting flow of negative remarks about how the Ulsterman has brought the club from second to sixth place in twelve months has been interrupted by a surprising allowance for optimism. The Reds have successfully negotiated six first-team singings with a number of academy transfers also being completed. This quick and effective negotiating has been a breath of absolutely fresh air in contrast to the stuttering negotiations of seasons past. It may be a wee bit soon but many on Twitter have been heralding Ian Ayre as a masterful negotiator.

Liverpool Football Club has become synonymous with leaky defence. Last season Liverpool conceded 48 goals and it was ultimately due to the lack of an actual defensive coach. While that hasn’t been totally taken care of Liverpool of signed Southampton’s Nathaniel Clyne for £12.5 million. This is a superb addition to the first team and will have the right back role sorted at Liverpool for the next several years should the Englishman continue developing in the stead that he has been and suffers no serious injuries.  Joe Gomez, an 18 year old centre back, has been signed from Charlton Athletic and while he is likely to be loaned back out he has a bright future ahead of him. Adam Bogdan has also in been brought in to reinforce the defence and to provide competition for Simon Mignolet. The Belgian goalkeeper has been noted as performing best when decent competition has been provided.

At times last season, Mignolet looked complacent with a lack of competition for his No.1 jersey.

Liverpool have bolstered the midfield with two astute signings. James Milner signed from Manchester City on a free transfer with his contract expiring on July 1st. Liverpool negotiated his move on the premise of assured first team football on a consistent basis which he saw very little of at City. His addition to the ranks will mean that he will bring confidence and quality going forward as well as decent defence simultaneously. Rodgers would do well to bring back the midfield diamond in order to accommodate his now numerous midfield options. Emre Can at the base with Jordan Henderson and Milner in the wider holding roles and then Philippe Coutinho at the top of the diamond, diamond’s tip, spearheading the midfield proceedings.

The other signing in midfield is at the tip of the diamond so to speak. Roberto Firmino has signed from Hoffenheim for £29 million. He is the signing that has brought the most excitement to Merseyside, and globally for Liverpool fans. The Brazilian will provide more of the ‘X’ factor which Philippe Coutinho showed so consistently for Liverpool last season. However, by having two players able to provide the samba magic that the Red’s number 10 has led fans to expect from Brazilians it will make Liverpool more of a threat going forward. The threat will come from goals being scored as well as more chances created. Firmino scored 10 goals in 36 appearances for the German club last term.

Creating chances and getting into dangerous areas of the pitch is all well and good but when you don’t have a striker who can put these opportunities away then it is all a bit pointless really. Liverpool suffered greatly last season where this was concerned with new top-men Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert scoring a combined total of three Premier League goals. Perhaps the reason they performed so miserably was because they aren’t suited to the Red’s intense and mobile system. Regardless of what it is that caused them to perform so dreadfully, the point remains that the club is in great need of a top striker that will score 20+ goals a season.

Lambert (left) and Balotelli (right) failed to fire Liverpool to a Champions League spot last season. Doubts have already been raised about their possible impact on the season ahead.

The links to Colombian forward Carlos Bacca proved fruitless with the South American securing a move to Italy to play for AC Milan. Similarly links to Salomon Rondon don’t seem to hold the weight which is coming from rumours linking Christian Benteke to Liverpool. I have read a lot of the opinions from all the experts on Twitter and note a few articles discussing Benteke’s possible success at Anfield. The “Twitter Experts” seem to be 50/50. One half of these pleading with Liverpool to stay away from anything coming out of Aston Villa and the other half believe the club could do much worse than a proven Premier League scorer.

Personally, I would love to sign the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Gonzalo Higuaín who I strongly believe could guide the Reds back to regular European football and help attract other top talents. The fact of the matter is that Liverpool finished sixth in the Premier League. As a result expectations for signings can’t be of the class that Higuaín really is. Until the league starts Liverpool are essentially a sixth place team in all logic. In this line of thinking Benteke would the most likely of targets to occupy the first striking spot which will be challenged by new signing Danny Ings, Daniel Sturridge (when he returns from injury in September), Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert. Latter three players are very likely to depart from Merseyside but should they decide to stay they will be hard pressed to break into a front line of either Benteke and Sturridge or even Benteke and Firmino.

Liverpool are expected to launch a bid in the region of £27 million which will greatly test Aston Villa’s resolve given their asking price of £32 million. Widespread reports indicate that a bid for the Belgian is only possible if Sterling is sold. This is to ensure that the club’s net spend is reduced. Regardless of how it might happen, it needs to happen. Liverpool cannot go another season without signing a capable replacement for Luis Suarez.

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