Comment: The future is bright for Liverpool - but it will take a miracle for them to win the League this season
THE future is bright for Liverpool - but certainly not the immediate future.
While Liverpool hugely impressed last season, their fans can be forgiven for thinking “this year is our year”. But the harsh reality is, it won’t be.
There are just way too many mountains for Liverpool to climb in order to be crowned Premier League champions - and this season will be tougher than ever to reach the summit of English football.
Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal all have managers in place now who have been around the block and won almost everything there is to win in the game between them. In order for Brendan Rodgers to outmuscle them all, we would have to witness a miracle.
Liverpool fans are going to require uber patience this season. It is likely that their expectations are too high following a dramatic campaign last time out where the Premier League title was wrestled from their hands on the final day of the season.
But while City, United, Chelsea and Arsenal look stronger heading in to this campaign, the truth is Liverpool’s long-term future may look healthier than all of their rivals.
Rodgers has proven himself to be the best young manager in the English game, and arguably one of the best in Europe. What the Anfield club have over all of their rivals is stability and long-term planning.
We know that Rodgers is likely to still be at Anfield in five years’ time; can we say the same about the managerial positions at Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge, the Etihad or the Emirates? In all likelihood, there will be inconsistencies at those clubs in managerial terms over the next few years. History tells us that will be the case at City and at Chelsea. Van Gaal will be gone in three years’ time from the Old Trafford hot seat, and Arsene Wenger is nearing retirement.
Rodgers has noted this, very cleverly, and when Luis Suarez upped sticks and headed for Camp Nou, Rodgers didn’t invest all of the £75m he brought in on an impact purchase that could fill in for the departure.
He spread the money available wisely and invested in a future for Liverpool. He has brought in seven new players to Anfield in different deals, and four of them are 20-years-old or less. Rodgers isn’t aiming to win the Premier League in 2014-15, he is looking to three seasons from now, when he can really have an advantage over his title rivals. He is looking to build a dynasty for the Reds.
Alex Ferguson went close to winning Manchester United the league title in his second season at Old Trafford, but even then he realised the team required an overhaul and it wouldn’t be for quite some time that they would be crowned champions. He invested in young players and evolved the youth systems at the club. He was a young promising manager and had the luxury of planning ahead. Rodgers finds himself in this enviable position right now.
Last year’s epic league campaign has bought Rodgers time with the Pool fans and board. He can now look through the long lense and take stock.
Liverpool don’t have the squad capable of matching Chelsea and City, in particular, this season. Their best players are only at the start of their career. Raheem Sterling has all the promise in the world, while purchases such as Emre Can, Divock Origi and Lazar Markovic are all likely to hit their peak three-to-six years from now.
Rodgers has been accused of ‘doing a Spurs’ this summer by splashing out a load of cash brought in by the sale of one world class player on a bulk load of average players. But that’s not the case at all. The Irishman has taken stock and realised that he has an advantage over his rivals in the long-term and has invested very wisely in players who will hit their peak just as rival clubs are likely to be starting again under new managers.
The immediate future may not be so rosy at Anfield, but in the long-term - one season soon - that year will be their year. As well as many years after that!
WHAT LIVERPOOL FANS CAN EXPECT FROM THEIR SEVEN NEW SIGNINGS
The former Southampton playmaker clearly fits in the Premier League.
It is currently unsure where he will play at Liverpool though; will he take up a position wide of Daniel Sturridge in a forward role? Or will he play behind the sole striker in more of an attacking midfield role?
Lallana was a decent acquisition, and is clearly a talent. But Liverpool fans shouldn’t expect consistency from the 25-year-old every week.
Even Rickie himself knows that he is not a guaranteed starter at his boyhood club.
Rodgers lacked a second plan last season when Liverpool needed to steady the ball in certain games. The purchase of Lambert now offers a plan B, and Lambert is likely to start most Premier League games on the bench.
But his presence gives the Reds a different dynamic and although Liverpool fans aren’t expecting too much from their fellow Scouser, this signing may have more impact than most can see from the outside looking in.
Brendan Rodgers wasn’t going to let this one lie, despite opposition from Southampton to this purchase.
Rodgers identified Lovren as the talisman he wanted to organise his back line for the next few years and he got his man.
There was a lot of promise bought by Rodgers this summer, but Lovren is the one signing Liverpool fans should expect to get immediate performances from.
A cute buy that Liverpool desperately needed.
The Turk showed all the promise in the world three years ago, but expectations levels dampened somewhat in the last two seasons.
But Rodgers clearly has a vision for Can, who was most likely purchased to ease Steven Gerrard in to playing less game time.
Gerrard is a club legend, but he didn’t protect the back four last season when that is what his new role called for.
Liverpool leaked more goals than Crystal Palace last year, and the back four were left stranded at times.
Can can guard them much more effectively than Gerrard managed and despite only being 20-years-old, he is a definite starter in my book.
A player like Can was needed, Rodgers wrapped this one up early.
This quick winger is certainly exciting.
Word form Anfield is that he has already outshone Raheem Sterling in pre-season training as the most skillful player at the club.
Markovic has all of the potential in the world to be a big hit in the Premier League. But Pool fans will have to stay patient.
These flashy players are inconsistent at the start of their careers - even the greats such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
He can show flashes this season of what Pool fans can expect down the line though.
Kop supporters won’t be expecting much of Origi next season, that’s because he won’t be at Anfield.
Loaned back Lille, Origi is far from the finished article.
But his quick feet and awareness on the ball mean he has the potential to be a hit in the Premier League - ala Daniel Sturridge.
It will be interesting to monitor the young striker in France this season, but even moreso when he finally arrives at Anfield following his loan spell back at his former club.
With the Loic Remy deal falling through, it would shave been interesting to know if Rodgers tried to get Origi to Anfield this summer.
But even Rodgers must know that the player is extremely raw and will take years fulfilling any potential at all - if he ever does.
The young full-back will be at Liverpool for at least two years and is likely to take the place of Glenn Johnson along the back line.
Most Liverpool fans - rightly - are nervous about Johnson’s defensive capabilities and a purchase to replace him was necessary.
But in truth, Manquillo - despite showing decent potential in La Liga - may take a long time to adapt to the fast-paced English game.
I’ve a feeling we may see Johnson playing more games than Rodgers would like to see him play this season.
The Premier League is a different beast as many young full-backs have found out over the years. It will be interesting to see how Manquillo adapts.