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Liverpool Season Preview: Life After Suarez
Liverpool FC are without doubt a club in transition. In the 2008/2009 season Liverpool took the title race down to the wire having lost just two games all season. That team involved players such as Reina, Carragher, Mascherano, Alonso, Gerrard and Torres. Following disappointment the majority of these players seeked pastures new from Barcelona to Chelsea and only Gerrard remains. Liverpool spent big following their departures; £35 million on Carroll, £23 million on Suarez, £20 million on Henderson and £20 million on Downing among others. Unfortunately, whilst Henderson is improving year on year the only majorly successful signing was Luis Suarez. However, if he gets his wish he too will have played his last game for the club.
Liverpool FC have firmly lost their bragging rights as part of the much coveted ‘top 4’. Not since the 2009 season have they qualified for the Champions League and it is fair to say they have been in decline ever since. Since that stellar season, Liverpool have come 7th, 6th, 8th and 7th. In the 2011/2012 season Liverpool came 8th, but their blushes were saved as they made both the FA Cup and League cup finals, winning the latter and confirming their place in Europe. Unfortunately 2012/2013 did not herald such success. Liverpool once again placed a disappointing 7th, behind their fierce rivals and will play no part in European football this season. As a result, star man Luis Suarez who has been one bright spark in the red shirt over the past 3 seasons has too stated his desire to leave. Even worse news for Liverpool fans is the prospect of selling their star player to a Premier League rival. Arsenal have been the most linked team and have bid for the player. Liverpool cannot afford to sell the player to a rival as it will push them even further away from recapturing their former success.
Brendan Rogers is slowly building a team that can once again be a force in English football. The signing of Coutinho was a masterstroke, and he will prove to be one of the standout performers in this year’s competition. Daniel Sturridge was also an excellent acquisition. After a torrid time at Chelsea, the Englishman certainly had a point to prove and 11 goals in 16 appearances is a good return on LFC’s investment. So far this summer, Liverpool’s transfer activity has been slightly stunted, although much lies on the Suarez saga. Should he leave, Liverpool will have vast sums to spend on genuine quality replacements such as Diego Costa from Athletico Madrid and Willian from Anzhi. So far, Toure has been brought in to replace Carragher, Mignolet to replace Reina and two strikers who may struggle to fill a void left by Suarez; Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas. Suarez has out rightly claimed this week on international duty that he has never stated intent to stay at Liverpool this summer. In a similar vein to the Bale saga at Spurs, many Liverpool fans may have to come to terms with the fact that Suarez is leaving and look to the future. The problem for Liverpool will be reinvesting money on quality players, whilst not being taken advantage of in a similar vein to desperately forking out £35 million for one Andy Carroll.
Although Gerrard is coming to the end of his career, he is still a class act. Unfortunately the England Captain has never been able to lift the Barclays Premier League trophy and it looks as though this is not about to change. Should Suarez leave and Liverpool fail to adequately replace him then they could face another season without European football and yet another 8th placed finish behind local rivals Everton. However, one benefit of last years failures is the fact that the team will play less fixtures this season. As a result, they will be much fresher than the teams in direct competition with them and can focus all their efforts into the league. Teams such as Tottenham, Arsenal and even Swansea do not have this luxury.
Most Liverpool fans may disagree, but I believe the team will repeat exactly their result from last season. An 8th placed finish in the Barclays Premier League and no silverware this season. I underline the fact that this will be the result regardless of whether Suarez stays or not. Should he stay, he will be unavailable for a chunk of the season due to suspension anyway. The only consolation I see for Liverpool fans is the fact that they could finish above Everton this season, although Swansea, West Brom or even West Ham could be right with them this season vying for a top ten place.
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