8 Reasons for Liverpool Fans to Be Excited About Next Season
After the tributes to the retiring Jamie Carragher ended and fans drifted away from Anfield for the final time in three months following the final day win over QPR, Liverpool were left with the kind of transitional 2012/13 season that many had predicted.
Following a seventh-place finish in the Premier League the club must now look forward to a 2013/14 campaign which simply has to show more tangible signs of progress than the previous one did. The Reds simply have to get closer to the elite now for fear of being left behind them forever.
Fortunately for the club's fans there are plenty of reasons for excitement ahead of the new campaign due to events both at Anfield and beyond.
Here are just eight of them:
It's tempting to give the silky Brazilian all eight votes given the impact that he has made on the club and its fans in such a short space of time since his move from Inter Milan in January, and the excitement levels that the 20-year-old brings to his supporters on matchdays has hardly been matched by any player over the club's recent history.
Coutinho has proven to be a huge hit during his brief period in English football, and after sampling Premier League life for just a short spell he'll be hoping to kick on from here and produce even more eye-catching displays in the months and years to come.
Hopefully he's started as he means to go on.
At Least One New Defender Will Sign
Easily identifiable as the key weakness in the Liverpool side in the season just gone, the central defensive area will undoubtedly be strengthened this summer.
Names such as Kolo Toure, Kyriakos Papadopoulos—according to the BBC and Liverpool Echo respectively—and many more have been linked with moves to Anfield, and with the links to the Ivorian and the Greek seemingly growing and growing, Rodgers perhaps seems set on recruiting both experience and potential to replace the retired Carragher.
There may well be other departures from the club too, but with new arrivals looking almost certain to happen then the Reds will hope to be stronger in an area which let them down frequently last season.
The Young Guns Are Getting Even Younger
So much excitement followed at first the selection and then the progress of the likes of Raheem Sterling, Suso and Andre Wisdom throughout Rodgers' first campaign, and next season there will be even more names for supporters to get used to.
Both Conor Coady and Jordon Ibe made their Premier League debuts in Liverpool's final two matches of the 2012/13 season, and they seem set to enjoy many more appearances in the first team throughout next season.
There are plenty of others from Liverpool's youth sides who are queuing up for a crack at the big time, and with Rodgers already proven to be a manager who gives youngsters the opportunities to shine it might not be long before they are seen too.
It's All Change at the Top
Of the six teams that finished above Liverpool in 2012/13, four will start the next campaign with a new man at the helm.
Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Everton will all be experiencing degrees of uncertainty as a new man takes over at the top, and the Reds can exploit that instability if they can get off to a good start under a manager who has now been in place for a year.
Rodgers will be looking at the new season as one in which he can make a real impact and lay down a marker which will be remembered by the new men.
Luis Suarez Will Still Be Banging in the Goals
Liverpool's Uruguayan goal-getter won't be waving goodbye this summer, and once he returns from his suspension early next season he'll be tipped to immediately rediscover his form.
Controversy may follow Luis Suarez around but pretty much every team in the world would take him if they had the chance, and the Reds will accept him back with open arms when he returns.
He's not going anywhere just yet, and supporters will hope that they can enjoy his goals for some time yet.
Daniel Sturridge's Growing Maturity
Eleven goals in 16 appearances since his summer move from Chelsea is a thoroughly impressive start for Daniel Sturridge at Anfield, and if he can keep up that rate next season he'll be challenging Suarez to the club's top scorer crown.
It isn't just his goals which have impressed though, with Sturridge's link-up play and assists also becoming more apparent the longer his first half of a campaign at the club went on.
This blossoming of an extremely talented player could be a treat to watch next season.
No Europa League Football
Of course a club like Liverpool should be striving to finish each and every competition in the best possible position, but missing out on the exacting demands of the Europa League this time around might just help the Reds to an impressive Premier League showing.
There is little doubt that matches in the competition helped Rodgers find out more about his squad during his first campaign, but now he has got his feet under the table he might be more than a little relieved that he only has domestic football to focus on.
It could lead to a more settled side and better performances as a result.
Brendan Rodgers Will Have Learned on the Job
Liverpool's manager could be naive at times during what was only a second season as a top-flight boss, but he'll have learned from his mistakes and surely become better at his job because of them.
He might not have been everyone's first choice for the role when he first undertook it a year ago, but the Northern Irishman is seemingly growing into the task of being Liverpool manager and he'll already be looking towards ways to improve next season.
Fans should be pretty excited about that, amongst other things.