Sanjay Nair explains why Liverpool have cause for optimism after 27 years of Premier League disappointment.
As millions of Liverpool fans prepare for the 27th season of the Premier League in Klopp’s first full season in charge as the boss, pieces of the puzzle are still being searched for to complete a team ready to mount a title challenge.
Ever since news unfolded of Jürgen Klopp’s appointment as Liverpool manager, the air of positivity around Anfield has been incredible to read about and see during matches. Klopp himself has ensured that no matter what happens on the field, the way forward is only going to be seen in a positive light. His fist-pumps, animated appraisals and reproach of players on the field has gone a long way to rekindling our title hopes. At the very least, we know that everyone on the team will be fighting for their lives once they don the famous Red jersey.
However, an enigmatic coach is one thing and getting the perfect mix for a title shot is another. Going forward, this has to be the most exciting team is recent memory. Even when went so so close a couple of seasons ago, it was all down to the individual brilliance of Luis Suarez.
This season, the team looks and will perform as a team. Klopp and the transfer committee have so far done a very good job. Imagine a team that has Sturridge/Firmino and Origi/Ings upfront supported by Coutinho, Mane, Wijnaldum and Lallana with the likes of Henderson, Can, Milner, Lucas to provide defensive cover. Add that to all the new kids like Ojo, Grujić, Stewart and we look fabulous with a lot of depth and cover in those areas. The pre-season games so far have provided ample evidence of our slick passing and tremendous pace in attack. Did I not mention Benteke? For his and our sake, I hope we sell him soon.
Sure, critics will not think of us in the same light as a Manchester City or Manchester United with all their superstars, but ours is definitely a better unit.
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The major worry, as always and one that might scupper our chances in the longer run, is how the defence shapes up and holds up over 38 games. Even with 104 goals in the 2013-2014 season, it was defensive frailties at critical moments that eventually saw the title slip away from our hands.
This season is no different. Although on paper at least, we seem to have cover in central defence which left huge gaps last season. The likes of Lovren, Matip, Klavan, and Sakho are excellent on their days. Clyne has made the right side his own and injuries apart will be a permanent fixture. Wisdom and Randall can provide the necessary cover during cup ties.
With the amount of non-stop criticism being received, I really do not think Moreno is the right man to be on the left anymore. Anything he does is scrutinized heavily and our man has done little to alleviate those fears, not even for a small run of games. His judgement on tackles, especially in and around the box usually has fans on edge. Having said that, he is quite good going forward and can supply decent balls into dangerous positions in the opponents’ box and also has a thunderous left foot.
Perhaps, Klopp should look at an option of playing Sakho in the left back position (I believe he has played their before and is a solid defender, even with all his antics) and convert Moreno into a midfielder on the left side of the park. We do not have a natural left-footer in the team in that position and with no defensive burdens, Moreno might actually do well for all you know. On the plus side, he could provide that extra defensive cover during situations where we need to shut out games.
With Karius out, we have no option but to keep our fingers crossed and put our faith in Mignolet. Manninger is well, I suppose, brought in for a rare desperate situation with both Karius and Mignolet injured. I really don’t see him starting even a handful of games. There is also Danny Ward who could be pulled back in as well.
All in all, much to look forward to, and put an end to 27 years of misery. We must be the most patient of fans, belonging to a club of such rich history and stature. Let’s hope the footballing gods up there will finally smile upon us.