It was always going to be a difficult season for Liverpool following the sale of the league’s best player last season, Luis Suarez, to Catalan giants Barcelona. Much like the Gareth Bale situation at Tottenham the year before, Liverpool followed exactly the same route, spending all the Suarez money on eight different players with the hope of replicating their second place finish last season. A number of these players did fill the Liverpool fans with some confidence. £16million for Mario Balotelli seemed like a steal and raiding Southampton for three of their best performers from last season, Liverpool seemed to have brought in some quality players.
Sadly for Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers, these players wouldn’t even come close to filling the gap left by Luis Suarez, and they had a disastrous season. Losing Suarez and having Sturridge out for a majority of the season had an adverse effect on the amount of goals they scored this campaign compared the last one. They managed to score 49 less goals this season, and that alone can suggest just how poor their season was.
A 6th-place finish and a return to the Europa League had many fans calling for Rodgers’ head, and all of this came before the even more disastrous news of Gerrard leaving and Sterling’s intentions to leave the club, placing Liverpool in a pretty poor position going into next season.
It’s been proved this season that just getting a lot of money for a player and reinvesting doesn’t always work if you’re not buying good enough talent. Despite this, they did have a 12-game unbeaten run from December to March that put them into contention for the Champions League spaces again, but their run of two wins in the final eight games of the season saw them drop off and finish behind Tottenham on the final day in 6th.
Crashing out of the Champions League in the group stages and then the first knockout round of the Europa League, Liverpool were simply not good enough for the European competitions. Their runs in both the domestic cups ended at the semi-finals stages, to the League Cup winners Chelsea and most disappointingly to Aston Villa in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley. One of the worst performances came in one of the biggest games of their season.
None of the above however will be how this season is remembered for Liverpool and their supporters. Instead it’ll be remembered as Steven Gerrard’s final season for the team he’s supported since he was a boy. After it became known that Liverpool weren’t going to offer their captain a new deal, Gerrard chose to sign for LA Galaxy of MLS.
A strange decision, as many believe, as although he isn’t in his prime anymore, he is the ideal man to have around the training ground and changing room, especially after the difficult season they had. Not only that, but he was their top goalscorer in the league this season with nine goals. After a 17-year career at Anfield, Gerrard said goodbye to the Kop faithful in an emotional fortnight which saw Liverpool get beaten at home by Crystal Palace in his final home game and then smashed 6-1 by Stoke in his final Liverpool game. A true Premier League legend.
Key Player – Jordan Henderson
The man challenged with taking over the mantle from the departing Steven Gerrard. Possibly the hardest thing to do for any one midfielder, but the majority of Henderson’s performances this season have shown that he is capable of becoming the driving force in the Liverpool midfield.
With seven goals in all competitions and nine assists, he was one of Liverpool’s most creative players, moving away from the more holding role he had played in during previous seasons at Anfield.
Most Improved Player – Philippe Coutinho
Arguably a contender for the key player of Liverpool’s season, Coutinho has hugely improved this year from the player who looked like he could’ve been heading out of Anfield after a very average first 18 months in England. Although I do think his influence this season has been hugely overhyped, you cannot doubt Coutinho’s ability and the way he’s developed as a player.
Some of the goals he scored, in particular the goal at Southampton, were incredible. In a difficult season for Liverpool, Coutinho grew as a character into that Liverpool side and I believe this season will aid his development for years to come. If Liverpool can get Sturridge back fit for next season, keep Sterling and maybe invest in another winger, they could have one of the best attacking foursomes in the league, and with someone like Coutinho in the attacking midfield role, they should be expecting to get back into the top four next season.
The sky is the limit for the young Brazilian. Having just scored his first Brazil goal and with Oscar’s poor, injury-ridden season, Coutinho is beginning to be noticed on the international circuit. Now at 22, he’s coming to the age where he needs to start taking games by the scruff of the neck and win points and trophies for club and country if he wants to reach the levels of Eden Hazard and David Silva.
Fans’ View – Jeroen Adriaanse (Writer for Di Marzio and FutbolPulse)
During the 2014-2015 Premier League season, Liverpool were never able to impress like they used to last season with Luis Suarez as their world class killer. Also, the absence of Daniel Sturridge due to several injuries made things even worse for Brendan Rodgers as the Reds were too often toothless and just not able to perform like they did last campaign.
All in all, this season was a season with huge disappointment in the league as well as Europe. It soon became clear that Steven Gerrard’s return to the Champions League was only for a short amount of time. On top of that, Raheem Sterling’s contract situation didn’t make things easier and in the end – of course – the manager was the one to blame for not getting the best out of his squad. He did still have the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson to bring back a smile on the faces of the Liverpool fans, and although they both played a fabulous season, they and all the other players could not mask the ongoing downfall that Liverpool had to deal with.
Moreover, the club were not able to give the skipper Steven Gerrard a memorable farewell with the FA Cup final as the icing on the cake of his glorious career at his boyhood club. The Reds somehow failed to win against Aston Villa in a battle to reach the final. They were not even able to get a win against Stoke or against Crystal Palace, which was Gerrard’s last Premier League game at Anfield. Nonetheless, the Reds will have to march on and get themselves ready to go again next season, which will be not only a vital season for Rodgers, but also for the club as a whole.