The season in store for Rafa Benitez and his Reds

Steve ClarkContributor IAugust 26, 2008

What can Rafa Benitez and his Liverpool team expect from this season?

Benitez has arguably his strongest squad since making the switch to Merseyside. On top of that, the majority of current players were acquired by Benitez himself. So surely that means no excuses, no prisoners and our 19th title.

If only it were that simple.

How much of last season was determined by Lady Luck? The Chelsea game certainly springs to mind. If you can cast you mind back that far, I'm sure you'll agree that they were awarded a dubious penalty.

If this hadn't been the case, how would we have faired in the next few games? A big win over a rival club so early in the season. What more could we have asked for?

Confidence high. An extra two points in the bag! Who knows?

On the flip side, I'm certain Aston Villa fans would claim they too were victims of a bad decision in the game previous. Liverpool awarded a late free kick on the edge of the box. Villa left feeling robbed of points that were rightly theirs.

I guess the underlying point for me here is how much of an impact luck can have on your season. You can have the best squad in the league but if the gods aren't with you, it could count for nothing.

Two games into this season and the amount of people that have spoken to me about "Lucky Liverpool" is amazing. The games we've played so far have been lacklustre to say the least. 

The difference this time around is that we appear to have a bit of this so called luck on our side. Playing badly is never a good thing, but playing badly and winning is infinitely better than the alternative. And obviously there a lot to be said about playing to the final whistle.

There have been some good additions to the staff at Anfield. Sammy Lee coming back on board and the return of the infamous Mauricio Pellegrino. Time will tell but at first glance, they would appear to be good additions to the already excellent staff we have.

Further additions on field have again added depth to the squad. The obvious eye catcher is Robbie Keane. A proven goalscorer and intelligent striker. More importantly he's an out and out team player. His workrate is second to none and he is the kind of player Rafa relishes working with.

There have been moments in the games played so far where Mr Keane and Senor Torres have linked well and given us a glimpse of the devastation they can cause once the understanding is there. I'm certain it won't be long until they show us all what they are capable of doing together.

All in all, the coming season should be an exciting one for Liverpool fans. We have the right players. We certainly have the belief. If only we could get things right off the pitch and gain the stability we crave, who knows what we could achieve.

At the very least we can expect another excellent Champions League run. I'm also confident we can improve our points tally in the league. I'd love to say we can mount a serious title challenge but I've been there before. Like Jamie Carragher and Kopites alike, I'll be very happy if we can stay in the chase until the latter end of the season.

No matter what happens, I don't subscribe to the idea that Rafa is on his last chance. I've previously mentioned player power, well welcome to Gaffer power at its best.

Benitez has a kinship with the fans that resembles a modern day Shankly. I'm not saying the man has a job for life, but I do feel the fans understand what he's trying to do at Anfield and fully understand the challenges he faces in achieving his goals. For now, despite what the tabloids will have you think, he's safe.

The key this season has to be "consistency". In recent seasons we've demonstrated the ability to beat almost any team put in front of us. It's maintaining the high standard that let's us down.

So let's hope the new players settle well and we can grind out results when we have our off days. Oh and the small matter of beating Standard Liege tomorrow. A wrong result there would certainly put a different angle on the year ahead.