Liverpool: 8 Biggest Reasons to Be Optimistic About the Reds' Future
Liverpool supporters have been desperate to find signs of progress all season.
They weren’t there during the recent FA Cup humbling at Oldham Athletic, the crumbling in the face of Stoke City’s power on Boxing Day or in the weak first half display at Old Trafford when the Reds allowed Manchester United to walk all over them.
All things considered, seventh place in the table isn’t really a bad position for the Reds to be in. They finished lower than that in the last campaign and have a young manager in his first season on the job.
But a club of Liverpool’s stature have never and should never consider such a position as a success.
Seventh place may soon become a thing of the past, though, as an optimistic Liverpool look forward to the weeks and months ahead with a spring in their steps.
Here are eight reasons why the Reds should be feeling rosy right now.
Luis Suarez Is Committed to the Cause
Others have scored more goals and will capture more awards, but there simply isn’t a player in the Premier League who is more exciting to watch than the Uruguayan.
You never know what he will do next, and whilst such a comment may have referred to his potential for controversy a few months ago, Suarez has defied the most recent media storms by simply putting on stellar performances.
Moreover, his reiteration that he is happy at Liverpool (Sky Sports) should see him remain at the club beyond the summer at least.
When there is a player this good in your ranks, how can you not be optimistic?
The Evolution of Daniel Sturridge
“Lazy, selfish and arrogant” were just three words used to describe Sturridge by those who saw Liverpool’s £12 million outlay on the Englishman as a bad piece of business.
However, four goals in six games have immediately eradicated any negativity.
Sturridge was excellent in his most recent Liverpool outing at Manchester City, and now finally given the sense that he has a platform to consistently display his skills every week, the 23-year-old forward should only get better.
Liverpool have had their fingers burnt by buying British before, but Sturridge looks to be a fantastic piece of business. His partnership with Suarez could develop into one of the continent’s best.
Steven Gerrard Is Reaping the Rewards of Hard Work
When Rodgers arrived, all the talk surrounded the style of play that he would instill on the pitch. Yet the fitness regimen he has introduced off it (Daily Express) has benefited his captain the most.
With 13 league games remaining this season, Gerrard has quite staggeringly played in every minute of every one of Liverpool ‘s 25 Premier League matches so far. He has never managed to complete a full campaign and has struggled in recent years with nagging injuries.
This is a superb achievement at 32, but increased fitness isn’t just allowing the captain to get through games—he has also begun to star in them. Gerrard is arguably in his best form since scoring 23 goals in the 2005/06 season.
Long may that continue.
The Kids Are Better Than Alright
For so long at Liverpool, a glass ceiling seemed to exist when it came to the club's youth players. They could see a path into the first team but just couldn’t break through and get onto it.
All that has changed recently, though, with the likes of Raheem Sterling, Andre Wisdom, Suso, and Jonjo Shelvey all featuring regularly this campaign. Even more established names such as Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen, Fabio Borini and Sturridge are all young and up-and-coming, with the potential to grow along with the club.
Youth has shaped much of what Liverpool are about this season, and it might be a campaign that many of players look back on fondly when they get older and wiser.
Brendan Rodgers Isn’t Afraid to Change Things
Tactical changes during matches always used to be a feature of Liverpool under Rafael Benitez, and although Rodgers isn’t at that level yet, he has shown an ability to alter his tactics on the fly.
Changes in matches at Goodison Park and Stamford Bridge turned potential defeats into unfortunate draws, and the arrival of Sturridge has shown that Rodgers is not averse to playing a front two like many thought.
These options and changes will only get more telling in time with the arrival of more new faces, but having the intelligence and bravery to make the right choices during a game is an often overlooked quality that Rodgers certainly has.
Philippe Coutinho and the Unpredictability Factor
Suarez is Liverpool’s maverick, that won’t change, but the £8.5 million signing of the 20-year-old Coutinho adds another element of the unknown into this Liverpool team.
Clearly a hugely talented midfielder, Coutinho will add yet another dash of style to the Reds' ranks, and whilst he may take a while to get up to speed, the club's supporters have welcomed the signing with open arms.
Working out what the Brazilian is going to do next will give defenders huge headaches.
The Full-Backs Are Flying
Glen Johnson has been one of Liverpool’s best players for the past season-and-a-half―if you hadn’t noticed that, you weren’t watching closely enough―and combined with Jose Enrique, the pair have often been a joy to watch down the Liverpool flanks.
Enrique has had untimely injury problems, but his response to criticism from Rodgers earlier in the season has been superb, with the Spaniard now showing even more aspects to his game than many thought he had.
The consistency of Johnson has been great to watch too. If Liverpool can keep their two flying full-backs―numbers two and three, just as they should be―fit and happy, then Rodgers won’t have to worry about the position for some time yet.
The Pressing Issue
It has taken a while, but the pressing game that Rodgers sought to introduce to this Liverpool team―i.e. the famous Barcelona "six-second rule"―is starting to take shape.
Henderson is the best pressing Reds midfielder, and whilst his inclusion might come at the expense of Allen's passing ability, it has allowed Liverpool to look more authoritative against their opposition.
As with everything about the Reds, it will take time to get there, but it is looking promising.
As do quite a few things at the moment.