20 Reasons to Believe Liverpool Are on the Right Track
With Liverpool’s season having got underway with a morale-boosting 1-0 home win over Stoke City last Saturday, the atmosphere around Anfield is full of hope and optimism, and there are plenty of reasons to think that the good times are indeed once again just around the corner for the Merseysiders.
And to back that positive view up, here are 20 reasons to believe that the Reds are on the right track going forward under head coach Brendan Rodgers.
Keeping hold of the controversial yet word-class Uruguayan striker was the best piece of transfer business done by the club all summer. Liverpool now stand a chance of competing for a place in the top four of the Premier League this season, and with it comes the possibility of once again competing in the UEFA Champions League after a four-year absence from Europe’s premier club competition.
Positive news came in June that there are now just eight privately owned houses left to buy in the area surrounding Anfield before the club can then proceed with their ambitious £150 million redevelopment plans to increase the stadium’s capacity from its current 45,276 to 60,000.
No Place Like Home
Under Kenny Dalglish in the miserable 2011-12 campaign, Liverpool won just six league games at Anfield all season long, collecting only 27 points in the process. However, last time out after a tough start at home under Rodgers, the Reds managed to make Anfield a fortress once again, losing just once there after Dec. 15.
Boy from Brazil
Playmaker Philippe Coutinho has been an absolute joy to watch since joining the club from Inter Milan for just £8.5 million at the turn of the year. He racked up three goals and seven assists in just 13 Premier League matches for the Reds in the second half of last season, giving everyone reason to believe Liverpool are now finally on the right track again.
While Liverpool may have missed out on big-money signings such as Anzhi Makhachkala playmaker Willian (pictured), Atletico de Madrid striker Diego Costa and Shakhtar Donetsk midfield player Henrik Mkrtchyan so far this summer, the very fact that the club has been competing for these world-class players is a huge positive, and an indication the Reds are still thinking big for the future.
It is vital to have strong, supportive owners for a club to be successful, which is exactly what the Merseysiders now have in the form of the Fenway Sports Group (FSG).
And the Americans have provided one or two of Liverpool’s rivals with an ideal blueprint on exactly how to handle want-away star players, with principal owner John Henry’s recent unequivocal message regarding Luis Suarez’s future at the club.
"He won't be sold even if a foreign club comes in because we do not have time to sign a suitable replacement," said Henry on the matter earlier this month.
"It's not about finances. So late in the window ... we can't replace him. So for football reasons we can't sell, and especially to Arsenal."
Liverpool’s future now appears in safe hands under FSG.
Agger Do, Do, Do
The Reds must be doing something right if defender Daniel Agger is happy to turn down the opportunity of moving to Spanish champions Barcelona, as the Dane recently did with these encouraging words: "Barcelona are obviously a big club, but I have never thought about leaving Liverpool.”
Following the audacious head-hunting last summer of Manchester City’s Dave Fallows—now club’s head of scouting—the Reds have already been far more successful in their transfer dealings. This is in marked contrast to the disastrous reign of Damien Comolli.
And with the importance of a top-level scouting network now greater than ever to a team’s ability to be successful on the field of play, this off-pitch recruitment bodes well for the future health of Liverpool.
Rodgers has been a breath of fresh air since taking over from Kenny Dalglish last summer, immediately introducing a more attack-minded nature to the team’s play while also getting rid of much of the dead wood that the Scot had left him at Anfield.
Cyclical Nature of Football
It happened to Liverpool at the start of the '90s, and it will also happen to Manchester United, with all good things eventually coming to an end—that is the cyclical nature of not just football, but sport in general.
And now with a new man in charge at Old Trafford, perhaps this is the moment when the fortunes of England’s two biggest clubs once again turn full circle.
Start as You Mean to Go on
Last Saturday’s 1-0 win over Stoke in the club’s season-opening Premier League fixture was incredibly the first time the Reds had won their first top-flight encounter of a new campaign at home since 2001, when Michael Owen’s strike helped saw off West Ham United and Liverpool finished as runners-up to Arsenal for only the second time in the Premier League era.
Young at Heart
Rodgers has made a conscious effort to give youth its head at Anfield since becoming manager last June, and now the Reds can call upon promising starlets such as Jordon Ibe, Raheem Sterling, Andre Wisdom and Luis Alberto as genuine first-team players.
Liverpool collected a hugely impressive 36 points from their 19 Premier League games in the second half of last season, after Rodgers had brought in the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge in the January transfer window.
And, if the Reds were to match that points-per-game ratio across a whole campaign this season, then a 38-match total of 72 points would almost certainly guarantee Rodgers’ side a place in the top four of the Premier League come next May.
Money Makes the World Go 'Round
The very fact that FSG promised Rodgers the financial backing this summer to go out and land a marquee signing to play alongside Suarez—and not as a straight replacement for the Uruguayan—is hugely encouraging for everyone associated with the club. It's also a strong sign that the owners are determined to bring the good times back to Liverpool.
No More Fergie
This is the first season in 26 years that Liverpool have begun a league campaign without Sir Alex Ferguson in the Manchester United dugout, meaning there may now just be a window of opportunity to start their long climb back to the summit of English football, which they occupied when the Scot first arrived at Old Trafford in November 1986.
Liverpool found the back of the net 71 times in the league under Rodgers last season—more than the likes of Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur—a whopping 24 more strikes than in the previous campaign. This lends further evidence that the Reds are now finally back on track after three years in the doldrums.
Oh Danny Boy
While many questioned Rodgers’ decision to shell out £12 million on Daniel Sturridge in January, those doubters have since been silenced by the striker, who has already registered an eye-catching 12 goals and five assists in just 17 matches for the Reds since leaving Chelsea.
And if the 23-year-old can now stay fit for long enough, then there will be so much to be positive about at Anfield going forward.
Not blessed with the financial backing of many of their rivals, the Reds have been forced to be a little more savvy when it comes to their dealings in the transfer market since FSG bought the club, especially after initially getting their fingers burned under Dalglish.
However, that has still not prevented Liverpool from picking up a few gems along the way of late, most notably Coutinho and Sturridge at the turn of the year for a combined fee of £20.5 million, and more recently Iago Aspas from Celta de Vigo for just £7.7 million.
Ever since Rodgers took the helm at Anfield last June, the Northern Irishman immediately reintroduced a slick, one-touch passing game to the team that has not only been easy on the eye, but also hugely effective in helping to lift the Reds from their previous slump in form under Dalglish.
And in many ways, it is like a return to watching the side in their '80s pomp.