The Premier League season eventually ended at the weekend, much to the relief of most Liverpool fans who must have been wondering whether it could get any worse than the defeats to Crystal Palace and Stoke.
The tactical failures of Brendan Rodgers have been obvious this season and have been accompanied by an uncertain transfer policy, contributing to a difficult and hugely disappointing season for Liverpool. Despite the opinions of Liverpool fans regarding the future of the club, in terms of who should be manager, the decision is entirely down to the owners and unfortunately cannot be impacted by the supporters. It is important that there is a focus on the positives of the season.
Emre Can emerges as a successful signing under Rodgers and appears to be one of the most accomplished and self-assured members of our team. Personally, I feel he is definitely best suited in a central midfield position and I believe he has been limited in the defensive positions he has been required to play in this season. The range of positions the German has played in throughout his first season at the club proves just how versatile he is and sets the tone for a promising future at Liverpool. He was pivotal in Liverpool’s unbeaten streak earlier on in the year and showcased his composure in a less preferred position at center back, playing with the confidence to stride out with the ball and look to begin the attacks from the back.
When playing at his best this season, he posed as a graceful yet powerful presence with impressive tactical awareness and discipline for such an inexperienced player. The Champions League game away to Real Madrid proved he was a central midfielder in my opinion as it expressed his desire to keep possession of the football and calm situations in front of the defenders. His performance depicted how he shared similar traits to an in-form Lucas Leiva with the added bonus of a power that will benefit Liverpool both defensively and offensively in the future. The fact Rodgers turned to Can as the third defender in a defensive trio as opposed to the £20 million man Dejan Lovren proved just how quickly the reds manager gained a trust in him. Without a doubt, Liverpool’s most successful signing last summer.
Similarly, Jordan Ibe deserves to be recognised as a significant and positive outcome from this campaign. Many Liverpool fans have spoken highly of Ibe for some time and suspected he would go on to become a prominent figure in the Liverpool set up and, judging by the glimpses we have seen of him, they weren’t wrong. The best is, without a doubt, yet to come from the youngster with his man of the match performance in the Merseyside Derby away to Everton displaying his potential. I wouldn’t hesitate to go as far to say that he has the attributes to make him as good, if not better, than Raheem Sterling. He looks as though he has the ability to make something happen in the final third of the pitch every time he has the ball at his feet. He carries the ball with such speed and power that it’s no surprise Liverpool Fans are eager to see how good he will become. The fact Rodgers persisted to pick the England Under-20 International over £20million signing Lazar Markovic speaks volumes in terms of h ow highly he is rated at Anfield.
Like Emre Can, I feel Ibe has been limited having been played in a right midfield role that has restricted his attacking threat as a result of defensive responsibilities. Despite this, his performances in this position have helped make his introduction to the Liverpool side such a positive outcome. He has shown his intelligence in terms of being fully aware of his defensive tasks while he has also shown a tactical awareness reminiscent of a player who has been playing in the Premier League for years. Not only has he shown an awareness of his responsibilities but he has also fulfilled them impressively, presenting himself as a strong and assured presence. I believe he will become an extremely important player at Liverpool as well as a fan favourite. I speak for all Liverpool fans when I say I can’t wait to see how good he turns out to be.
Amongst the disappointment of the 2014/2015 season for Liverpool, it can’t be under estimated as to how important Philippe Coutinho was. Without his creativity and trickery it is scary to think where Liverpool might have finished in the Premier League. He has continued to improve and deservedly earned a place in the PFA team of the year. The little magician has carried his side for a lot of the season and has produced when it has mattered in huge games with spectacular goals against Southampton, Manchester City and Blackburn. It is vital that Brendan Rodgers keeps Coutinho at the club as he is a player that the side must be built around. He stands as the one world class player at the club that I believe could get into any team in the world. For £8.5 million pounds, he defines a bargain in modern day football.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a huge fan of the Europa League, however, Liverpool fans might as well embrace it now we are part of it. It is important that Rodgers uses it correctly by giving youngsters some first team experience. It would be a great opportunity for Jerome Sinclair to establish himself as a striker and to become accustomed to more competitive football amongst experienced players. Though it may not be the first thought of many, the competition might trigger more transfer activity than the club expected, pushing Rodgers to make significant improvements to the squad. Having said this, the focus this summer must be purely on quality as opposed to quantity. If only Liverpool fans had more of a say in the club’s transfer dealings. While we are in the Europa League though, why not try and win it? It is an opportunity to compete with some very good European sides (as well as some not so good sides) which can only help improve the team and the players. Of course the locations are far from ideal and the additional fixtures often ruin plans for Premier League games, but the competition can be used to experiment with different systems and might help Rodgers rediscover his ‘no fear’ ideology that has gone missing recently.
It cannot be overlooked that the club faces an uphill battle to deal with the negatives, but the displays of particular individuals can be perceived positively, giving fans hope in terms of the inevitable rebuilding of the team.