It is a new era at Merseyside, as Liverpool head into a Premier League season without Steven Gerrard in the squad for the first time since the 1998-99 season. Jordan Henderson will captain the team in the absence of the iconic midfielder, who has departed for LA Galaxy. Gerrard is not the only big-name to leave Anfield in the summer. Raheem Sterling has forced a move to Manchester City while Glen Johnson has gone for new pastures at Stoke City.
The big question, though, will be the future of manager Brendan Rodgers as the season progresses. Rather than losing his job, Rodgers has seen two of his assistants pay the price for a poor campaign. It remains to be seen if Liverpool’s approach with a new backroom staff pays off.
The high-profile departures has left Rodgers with a major rebuilding job once again. Just like last summer, the club has splashed out heavily on new players like Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino. Incidentally, only one of the major summer signings this season comes from abroad. The rest – like Benteke, Milner, and Ings – have plenty of experience of playing in the English league. Speaking about the new signings, Rodgers said:
“I’ve got a real inherent belief that the players we’ve brought in can help us push on this season. I’m very happy with the players we’ve brought in. We had to bring in quality and ambition.
“We’re very hopeful that we can go on and be really competitive this season and challenge on all fronts.
“We might have some more business but currently as we sit I’m pleased with the players that we’ve brought in. I think this can be another good season for us after a difficult season last year, there’s no doubt about that.”
Pre-season could not have gone better for the Reds, who failed to win only one game in the last few weeks. More importantly, Christian Benteke received a boost confidence following his sensational volley against Swindon a few days ago. The Mario Balotelli experiment failed miserably last season, but Benteke already has signs of being a better fit in this team. Coutinho was on the shortlist of the PFA Player of the Year and he will hope to win it this time around.
Roberto Firmino has looked like an exciting prospect but the £29 million man may take a while before he settles and makes an impact.
Liverpool appear to have a very favourable run of fixtures just before Christmas. This could just help them get their noses ahead during a busy time when competitors are struggling with big games. However, the Reds have to make a good start in order to make it count.
Key Players to Watch: Jordan Henderson, Christian Benteke, Philippe Coutinho
Last Season’s Position: 6th
Important Signings: Christian Benteke (Aston Villa), Roberto Firmino (Hoffenheim), Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton), James Milner (Manchester City) and Danny Ings (Burnley)
Key Departures: Raheem Sterling (to Manchester City), Steven Gerrard (to LA Galaxy), Glen Johnson (to Stoke City), Ricki Lambert (to West Brom)