After coming so close last season, expectations will be high at Anfield for the coming campaign. Liverpool finished just two points off the top of the table in 2014, the first time the team managed to sustain anything resembling a title challenge since 2009. But with Luis Suarez having jumped ship to Barcelona, will Liverpool go back to the wilderness years or can they maintain a place among England’s elite? The Uruguayan was the key man — on the pitch at least — during Liverpool’s surprise challenge last year.
He was the league’s outstanding performer, and few would claim that Liverpool would’ve come anywhere close to their 84 points total had the controversial striker not been among their ranks. But it was a two-way street for Suarez and Liverpool. The cut and thrust counterattacking style that Brendan Rodgers so successfully implemented suited Suarez down to the ground. He was allowed the optimum space to take on players and was often devastating as a result.
Liverpool received a substantial transfer fee for Suarez, and while some of this money has been reinvested, there must be funds still available. Liverpool have a much better chance of attracting top level players than in previous years thanks to qualifying for the Champions League for the first time since 2009. Europe’s premier club competition is a massive carrot to many players, and Liverpool can now look at signing some established top class players should they become available.
Looking at who Liverpool have added so far, it’s not a bad crop. Rickie Lambert has shown that he can procure a good strike rate in the EPL. You suspect that Rodgers will try the 32-year-old in a classic big man, little man combination alongside Danny Welbeck. Young talent Emre Can looks a decent player, but it will take him a while to develop into a commanding EPL midfield presence.
Serbian Lazar Marković showed plenty of promise for Benfica last season. Like Can he is only 20 years old, and it will undoubtedly take time for the speedy winger to adapt to the physicality of the EPL. The marquee signing so far has been Adam Lallana. The 26-year-old’s attacking urgency from midfield suits Liverpool down to the ground and will allow Steven Gerrard to flourish in a deep sitting role despite is decreasing mobility.
Loic Remy is expected to join this week, and he will add pace and finishing ability up front, although he is a long way removed from the raw talent that Suarez was.
Overall, with a much busier schedule thanks to European involvement combined with the departure of Suarez, it is hard to imagine Liverpool sustaining a serious title challenge. Signing a player with top class experience must be a priority for Rodgers and the board. The future does look bright for Liverpool, but perhaps this season consolidating a top four place and winning one of the domestic cups should be the highest expectation for the Kopites.