Liverpool FC: 5 Reasons Why Next Season's Team Will Be Better Than in 2005
Despite a disappointing 2011-'12 campaign, Liverpool will have an incredibly talented team next season, one that could be even better than the team that pulled off the "Miracle in Istanbul."
Every Liverpool fan should be familiar with the "Miracle in Istanbul," arguably the greatest moment in Liverpool's long and storied history.
But for those of you who live under a rock, a brief recap:
Liverpool and AC Milan played out the 2005 Champions League in Istanbul, Turkey. Liverpool came in as slight underdogs, and played like underdogs, going down 3-0 in the first half.
In six glorious minutes in the second half, goals from Vladimir Smicer, Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso saw Liverpool claw their way back to tie it 3-3.
Heroic goalkeeping from Jerzy Dudek kept the scoreline level, and Liverpool went on to win the trophy in spot kicks, completing one of the greatest comebacks in all of sports.
However great that team was, it had its flaws.
Next season's team, in new boss Brendan Rodgers' first season at Anfield, has the opportunity to be better than that legendary 2005 team.
Let's do it.
This Team Has Experienced an Unacceptable Failure
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So every team experiences failure—it's an inevitable result of playing sports.
However, the 2011-'12 Liverpool team experienced an unacceptable failure. They finished eighth, one place behind hated rivals Everton.
It was their lowest finish in a long while, with the added injury of the blue half of Merseyside rubbing the goalscoring prowess of Nikica Jelavic in our faces.
It was unacceptable to management, to the players and to the fans.
Next season's team will undoubtedly remember the results of this past season and take steps to ensure it never happens again.
A Much More Solid Defense
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The center-back pairing of Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel was one of the most feared duos in the Premier League last season.
Added with the solid play of Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson, Liverpool had one of the best back-lines in the league. The two fullbacks are definite upgrades from Steve Finnan and Djimi Traore.
In 2005, Liverpool had Jamie Carragher and Liverpool legend Sami Hyypia manning the backfield. Both of them, even in 2005, were aging. While it's no knock on Hyypia, Liverpool's defense today is much more disciplined and much more versatile, routinely making efficient runs into the attacking third and creating another dimension for Liverpool's attack.
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Although neither of them lived up to their respective potential, Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll will be better strikers in 2012-'13 than Harry Kewell, Milan Baros, Djibril Cisse and Luis Garcia were in 2005.
Both of them have oodles and oodles of untapped potential, and if Brendan Rodgers can figure out how to play these two effectively on the pitch at the same time, Liverpool will have one of the most feared strikeforces in the Premier League.
Both of them have the summer to learn under Rodgers' new style of play, and I have a feeling that Andy Carroll will come into his own next season.
Even though they may not have scored as many goals at the 2005 striker corps did, Carroll and Suarez both have huge ceilings for growth.
More Emphasis on Youth
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Brendan Rodgers will place a much bigger emphasis on youth this upcoming season, and it can only be a good thing for Liverpool.
Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher are the only two survivors of the 2005 Champions League victory; they are now in their thirties, and there are numerous youth products waiting in the wings to fill their shoes.
Jonjo Shelvey and Sebastian Coates, although not products of the Liverpool youth system, are still youngsters looking to take their place in the team.
Conor Coady, Suso and Raheem Sterling are exciting young prospects that could usher in a new era of Liverpool football with the help of new coach Brendan Rodgers.
Liverpool Will Catch Up with the Rest of the Footballing World
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One of the criticisms Liverpool has faced during the Premier League era is that the club holds too much store in its foundations, that the club's style of play has not reflected the ever-changing style of the game.
Rafa Benitez, although he won several trophies with the club and brought them closest to a Premier League title, was criticized for being far too defensive on the pitch, while Roy Hodgson was sacked after only six months for playing a "boring" style of play.
With the hiring of Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool management showed a willingness to embrace today's style of play—quick, pacy, attractive, attacking football.
Rodgers is a protege of the Special One, Jose Mourinho. He knows how the game should be played and implemented his knowledge in every coaching job he's held, especially with Swansea City, who impressed in their first stint in the Premier League.
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Although the Champions League Final in 2005 remains one of the greatest moments in Liverpool history—with the team going down in history with it—2012-'13 could be the season in which Liverpool relives its glory days.
Liverpool will be back in the Europa League next season, and although it's not quite as prestigious as the Champions League, it gives Brendan Rodgers to prove himself as an elite coach, and it gives Liverpool a chance to announce its presence on the European stage once again.
Liverpool will make a strong push for a Champions League spot next season—perhaps even the title—and could cement itself as one of Liverpool's better teams in the Premier League era.