It has been several months of turmoil for Liverpool. The Luis Suarez transfer saga has dominated as first he sought a way out before then hinting he will stay. Meanwhile, rumours suggested Liverpool's owners, Fenway Sports Group, were looking to sell before an official denial. The off-field speculation has meant even Steven Gerrard's new contract and testimonial were overshadowed in a pre-season when only two goals were conceded.
The jury is still out on Brendan Rodgers. In his first season in charge, he made improvements in Liverpool's style of play and made some decent signings, particualry the January buys of Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge. He has also had to handle the diplomatic issues of the Suarez bite incident. But Liverpool still finished 12 points off the UEFA Champions League places. Having had a year to implement his plans, he will need to be competing for the top four this year.
Ins and Outs
- Simon Mignolet - £9m
- Iago Aspas - £7m
- Kolo Toure - Free
- Jamie Carragher - Retired
- Jose Reina - Loan
- Stewart Downing - £6m
Struggled to live up to a £15million price tag and his ability on the big stage was questioned before a shoulder injury.
Amid the Luis Suarez fuss and Steven Gerrard ageing, the Brazilian playmaker looks a superstar in the making.
Linked with a summer move to Barcelona and could yet leave, the classy centre-back had his best season in 2012/13.
Strengths & Weaknesses
Liverpool were at their best last season when counter-attacking with quick, passing play, as demonstrated in the 6-0 humiliation of Newcastle United at the end of April, rather than their habit for wasting possession. Defensively, they kept a league's best home clean sheet in 11 of their 19 games at Anfield and they have again been tight in pre-season despite the retirement of Jamie Carragher. But Liverpool struggled against teams in the top half of the table last season and that must improve if they have hopes of returning to the Champions League. The majority of their aspirations hinge on Suarez, who is banned for the first six games reagardless of whether he stays, particularly with Sturridge having spent the summer recovering from an ankle injury. Raheem Sterling, meanwhile, needs to justify the hype which previously surrounded his emerging talent.
Rodgers was keen to complete early business and he got his wish in bringing in Kolo Toure, Luis Alberto, Iago Aspas, who will be one to watch, and Simon Mignolet. Another forward could also be useful and Anzhi Makhachkala's Willian is a target. Daniel Agger has been named new vice-captain despite being linked to Barcelona while Stewart Downing has joined West Ham United. Another centre-back could arrive, along with Valencia left-back Aly Cissohko. Andy Carroll made his move to West Ham permanent while goalkeeper Jose Reina joined Napoli on loan
"I have been very pleased with the quality of our game. The new players have come in and settled in really well and it gives me great encouragement going forward."
"Is success around the corner? I hope so. We have bought well in the off-season and if we can get another two players in key areas then we have a good chance."
Facts and Figures
Liverpool had more shots than any other side in 2012/13
Glen Johnson kept more clean sheets than any other defender
Times Luis Suarez touched the ball in opposition box
Liverpool's goals in 2012/13 were scored by English players
Liverpool's goal difference was the best ever outside the top six
I want to see my old club go well but it is not going to be easy to get into the top four unless they make another couple of signings; maybe one defensively and one in the attacking areas. I would like to see them do that even if they keep Luis Suarez and I think there is money to do it so I am sure Brendan Rodgers will bring in at least one player before the end of the window. If they go with what they have got right now, I do not think it will be enough for the top four.