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Gooners 3 Liverpool 4

What can you say after a game like that? Some stunning Liverpool games and some not so good defending? All had a familiar ring to it, a bit like in the ‘nearly season’ under Brendan. Coutinho and Manè were outstanding and when he came on I thought Origi did what Rush used to do so well, defend from the front.
Sadly the defence looked all over the place at times and even in the modern games there are times when putting ball in Row Z is the best option. Anyway, like Klopp joining in the manic scenes after the Sadio goal and we’ll take three points from Islington any day.

AS STEVE GERRARD ONCE FAMOUSLY SAID “WE GO AGAIN”

New season, new players, new hopes.
Whenever a new season begins every football supporter in the country hopes the new season will fulfil their dreams, for some it’s about titles, for others survival although I’m not sure what Leicester City and their new found followers will be hoping for this season.
However, staying closer to home and thinking about Liverpool; well we would stay closer to home if the new Main Stand was ready only we’re still another month away from completion of that particular project. What we don’t know is how far we are away from the completion of the team project [or whatever these things are currently being called].
The pro-longed pre-season games don’t tell you very much. Instead of arriving back at Anfield on the same day, the senior squad arrived back over a period of about a month. Others may have even commenced their pre-season with another club, others might be thinking about going to another club and by the end of the irritating rumour inducing Transfer Window some might well be with different clubs and new faces could still arrive. I can safely play the arl arse card and say, “It wasn’t like that in my day”.
We seemed to pick up injuries after every game; so much so that it could be autumn before we know if Simon Mignolet has got a spot of competition for the goalkeeping slot. Joel Matip – who some feel could help plug the huge gaps that regularly appeared in our defence over the past couple of years – still hasn’t spent many minutes on the pitch as Lovren’s partner; of course there are suggestions that Dancing Dan has got an injury…who’d have predicted that? And who knows what’s going to become of Sakho?
So after nine pre-season games I don’t know if we’re all that much wiser about who will be lining up at The Emirates on Sunday – or who won’t be. What we do know is that as the players jetted across the ocean after a few games in the north of England to a few games in mid-America and then from Wembley Stadium to Germany last season’s levels of inconsistency was still very much in evidence. I know The Kaiser sent out totally different teams against Barça and Mainz but to win one and lose one 4-0 still leaves many scratching their heads – well it does me. If the two results had been reversed it might have been understandable; but this sort of stuff was happening for just about all of last season. Herr Klopp also hinted that some of the defending in the pre-season games left more than a bit to be desired. Hence the need for the likes of Lovren and Matip to play together or whatever pairing the manager wants, and the same goes for the full backs. I’m sure this is what Jürgen wanted as well.
Despite this I believe we can improve on last season’s abysmal league form but we need players to, and I quote, Hit the ground running. The old excuse of needing time to settle doesn’t wash with me especially when it comes to players who’ve already spent a year or more playing in The Premier Division with other clubs. Levels of consistency need to be there from the likes of Firmino and even Coutinho. Saido Manè has got to do what Benteke [and a few others before him] failed to do and that’s at least prove he was worth buying. In short; the excuse book has got to be ripped up.
I expect the manager to treat every competition with respect and intent, unlike his predecessor. There’s going to be time between games and unlike last season The Kaiser will have plenty of it to sort any issues out. His biggest problem might be keeping players who don’t get in the side satisfied and convincing them they’re still part of the team [project]. There’s also the chance the spotlight will be centred over Manchester as the TV companies cream themselves over Mourinho and Guardiola. Let them slug it out both physically and verbally whilst we steal in on their blind side.
Although the two Mancunian clubs have got new managers and have spent multi-millions we can’t worry about them and what they do is no concern of ours. By comparison Chelsea’s almost tightened their money belt but they’ve still spent plenty and like Liverpool, won’t have any European games to interfere with their efforts to climb back up the chart. Arsenal’s still Arsenal and Wenger’s still Wenger but those four clubs, again like Liverpool, will have plenty to prove this coming campaign. Tottenham might have a hangover from what happened at the end of last season but on the other hand it could act as an inspiration. This might go against the grain, but Everton look like they’ve finally appointed a decent manager.
So the weekend starts here, although we start on Sunday against a Gooner’s side that the media’s telling us has more than enough shortcomings. Having to play three games on the bounce away from home isn’t ideal [four if we count Burton in the League Cup] but it will tell us a bit more about this team of ours and how they handle the matter. Forget Steven Gerrard’s “We go again” comment. It’s like Tony Blair once said, “Time to do”.

AFTER BASEL

Going back to that night in Basel I think it summed up our whole season but our shortcomings didn’t just get exposed in Switzerland they’d been there for a long time.

We didn’t lose against Seville because of any one player, or any particular incident we lost because collectively that Liverpool team couldn’t defend and hadn’t been able to defend for a few years. It was something that Brendan Rodgers strangely never seemingly sought to address but should have done after the likes of Jamie Carragher decided he wanted to become a pundit and Daniel Agger was shoehorned out of the club [or so it seemed].

Again under Jürgen we struggled to defend set pieces and we crumbled under pressure all too frequently. You could see in his face the frustration and agitation when even the basics become difficult but even Jürgen couldn’t find the solution in the time he had last season. However, the things that were happening could or should, maybe, have been addressed on the training ground? In a fifteen minute onslaught Seville exposed all our deficiencies and once they’d levelled just seconds into the second half you could sense what was coming next. It had happened before so it wasn’t a surprise.

Before that game some experts constantly said Jürgen had improved so many players and in a few cases that might be fact but collectively it wasn’t the case. He definitely got a bit more out of players but all over the pitch there were too many failings. This is shown by the league table, we finished eighth!!!

I am not criticising Jürgen Klopp but I think he put all his eggs in one basket, win the Europa and get into the Champions League and I fully understand the logic. However finishing eighth wasn’t acceptable. We finished eighth because the players he had at his disposal weren’t good enough. No matter how some like to view it, Manchester United have unearthed a few young talented players, if Chelsea and Manchester City want to use theirs, they too have some young talents at their disposal…and us?

Well the stark facts are there for all too see. The Academy is a shambles and although I don’t get too watch the games as I don’t and won’t subscribe to LFCTV there doesn’t seem to be any direction anymore. In fact ever since Steve Heighway departed the scene I don’t think we’ve had any direction. And to think he was shoved out because the conveyer belt of talent had broke down. There have been the occasional flashes of something, like Flanagan but name me another? We’ve ended up paying money to bring in talent but even that’s not producing very much. All those Iberian prospects have come and mostly gone. Pacheco, Suso and now Joao Carlos Tiexeira who some of us had hopes for. There have been several home based players as well but unfortunately we don’t know what goes on at Melwood when Academy players are upgraded. What happened to Jordan Rossiter is just a mystery, and he’s just one.

I had high hopes for Jordan Ibe as well, but his career went backwards when he returned from his loan spells and now it seems as he will be moving on. Like with Sterling, we pocket a handsome profit but the profit should be on the pitch in our colours, not the bank account. Our Academy needs its umpteenth overhaul because it’s producing very, very little – in fact it’s producing nothing.

Our recent past transfer history under several managers means I no longer get excited about the players we recruit. Each signing is accompanied by a fanfare of trumpets from the LFC PR department and if a new forward happens to score in a pre-season friendly against a team made up of Goat Herders, Sheep Shearers or whatever [sorry for the obligatory sarcasm, I don’t mean to be insulting to those teams from afar who have often made up our Friendly Fixture schedule] then the PR team go into a frenzy. Playing closer to home last season Christian Benteke scored a ‘wonder’ goal against Swindon and you could hear the deafening roars of WOW from within. It didn’t actually get much better for him did it? So when we signed Sadio Mane from Southampton my WOW factor was simply “Okay”.

Southampton seems to be our first port of call these days. I’ve started to wonder if former Red Sammy Lee isn’t some sort of spy in their camp sending back secret messages about who we should sign next. So much so that we’ve probably replaced Portsmouth as the team Southampton fans love to hate. The hostility towards us down there has to be experienced to be believed.

Long after the horse had bolted we’ve decided to buy a goalkeeper to either replace or be a serious rival to Simon Mignolet. I know very little about Loris Karius but he comes with the label of ‘good prospect’ on his suitcase. To be an improvement on Simple Simon all he has to be able to do, is catch crosses, command his penalty area, be able to pass the ball to his own defenders and actually seem to be aware of what’s going on around him. So not a lot to ask then? I know even less about Joel Matip another recruit from Jürgen’s Bundesliga notebook. I did read that he’s a midfielder who can play at the back, or was it he’s a defender who can play in midfield? Either way, there’s a vacancy for him if he can just show something. As far as Marko Grujic is concerned, he really is an unknown. I think they’ve said he plays in midfield as well. So with the returning Markovic we seem to have dozens who can occupy the middle of the park so I can only assume there will be a few departures before the Summer Transfer window finally shuts.

The one thing The Kaiser needs is a few ounces of luck [or to those pro-Europeans, grams]. Divock Origi had a strange season. Under BR he didn’t look the part but under Jürgen there were signs. Unfortunately every time we thought, here we go, he got injured. That wasn’t his fault although like so many he did he fall foul to the hamstring epidemic that plagued Anfield for much the first half of last season. As poor as Benteke often seemed he also spent many hours in the treatment room. Only something tells me he might not be around for much longer.

We should have a fully fit Danny Ings and Joe Gomez to add to the managers options. Ings under Brendan had started to look a snip at whatever we ended up giving Burnley. It would have been interesting to see how he would have developed under the Klopp training regime? Maybe the new season will tell us a lot more. Joe Gomez was another who hadn’t done too badly under Bren but never got the chance to show his talents under Jürgen. However, injuries can’t be an excuse, in football they’re an occupational hazard.

Looking to the forthcoming season, and our case won’t be exactly helped by having to play three games away before a ball gets kicked under the shadows of the new Stand. I mean playing against two sides who finished in the top 3, and away from home wasn’t the sort of start I’d hoped for. We have to have a side that’s competitive in every way and in every game. We can’t go on having a defence giving the impression it was assembled in a cheap plastic factory and melts away when the heats turned on. We can’t have players that go into hiding when the going gets tough – would anybody want Firmino on their side in the trenches? There are others that fit into that category even the much adored Coutinho and next season won’t be just about keeping Dancing Dan fit it will be about kicking his arse when he needs it, and in some games that’s bloody often.

Although we will only have domestic issues to go for next season, we still have to have the players who can turn things round when called upon; we haven’t had many, if any, of what they call Impact players sitting on our bench in recent times have we? Brendan’s nearly team took advantage of the fact that they only had one game a week to occupy their minds and hopefully Jürgen can use that to his advantage. Mind you, Chelsea won’t be fighting on too many fronts either.

Despite Leicester City showing you don’t have to spend a billion or two on a team you can bet that Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and, who knows, maybe even Arsenal will do just that in an effort to claw back what they think is rightfully theirs. Three of that four have new managers and they will have taken the jobs on the promise of a bottomless pit of cash, and that’s already being proved at Old Trafford. Financially we might not be in the same league [hence the need for that good Academy] but over the past five years we’ve spent a lot on money on players who haven’t or couldn’t deliver.

Sometimes you get asked about your dream team and reality usually goes out the window, but here’s mine. A goalkeeper who can catch a few crosses, a defence that can defend and has a built in mean streak, a midfield that can frighten the opposition and a forward line that strikes fear into opposing defenders.

Not a lot to ask is it?