TEAM PREVIEW: Liverpool – David Fairclough optimistic ahead of the new season

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Last season certainly didn’t go to plan for Liverpool. Luis Suarez’s departure was always going to be difficult but nobody expected a drop from 2nd to 6th and a severe lack of goals to go with it. Daniel Sturridge was injured and Raheem Sterling intent on a move away whilst their replacements simply couldn’t live up to previous standards. Rodgers’ job will be on the line this season and it’s crucial they hit the ground running.

Last Season: Premier League (6th)

Manager: Brendan Rodgers

 

Squad

GKs: Simon Mignolet, Adam Bogdan
DFs: Nathaniel Clyne, Jose Enrique, Kolo Toure, Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez, Mamadou Sakho, Alberto Moreno, Tiago Ilori, Martin Skrtel, Jon Flanagan, Andre Wisdom
MFs: James Milner, Coutinho, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, Lucas, Emre Can, Joe Allen, Jordon Ibe, Jordan Rossiter, Lazar Markovic, Joao Carlos Teixeira, Sheyi Ojo
FWs: Rickie Lambert, Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi, Danny Ings, Fabio Borini, Mario Balotelli, Jerome Sinclair, Christian Benteke

 

Transfers

In: Joe Gomez (Charlton Athletic), James Milner (Manchester City), Danny Ings (Burnley), Adam Bogdan (Bolton Wanderers), Roberto Firmino (Hoffenheim), Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton), Christian Benteke (Aston Villa)

Out: Brad Jones (Released), Steven Gerrard (LA Galaxy), Glen Johnson (Stoke City), Sebastian Coates (Sunderland), Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo), Javier Manquillo (Atletico Madrid – Loan Cancelled), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jordan Williams (Swindon Town – Loan), Kevin Stewart (Swindon Town – Loan), Danny Ward (Aberdeen – Loan), Luis Alberto (Deportivo La Coruna – Loan), Lloyd Jones (Blackpool – Loan)

 

First Six: Stoke City (A), Bournemouth (H), Arsenal (A), West Ham United (H), Manchester United (A), Norwich City (H)

Likely Lineup: (4-3-3) Mignolet – Clyne, Skrtel, Sakho, Moreno – Can, Henderson, Milner – Lallana, Benteke, Coutinho

 

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A word from…David Fairclough

On the club’s success in the 1980s It is very difficult to describe. I was very, very fortunate to be around at the time where Liverpool were evolving into such a strong power.

Great credit needs to be given to the people who identified and put together a group of players who individually had very little weaknesses and as a group we were even stronger. One thing sort of led to another and I was very lucky to have been able to break into that group. When I look back at that now, it’s very difficult to pick out one of so many memories but the fact that we were able to dominate Europe for such a spell was something we took in our stride and maybe, when you look back on it, something we didn’t realise how much of an achievement that was at the time.

On that goal against St Etienne St Etienne has been unbelievable for me – I get the impression sometimes that it was the only goal I ever scored for Liverpool because it is most often the one that is remembered. A day rarely goes by where someone doesn’t recall it to me. It was fantastic as an occasion and, as I mentioned before, I think we just took it all in our stride, I don’t think we ever thought we’d taken part in one of the most cherished games in Liverpool’s modern history. The fact that I got the opportunity to get the winning goal was great for me on a personal note, of course.

On the club’s struggle in the Premier League era Difficult to be absolutely certain about that type of thing but I think Liverpool maybe didn’t go with the times as much as they should have done. I think they were stuck in their ways and maybe didn’t take advantage of the world-renowned reputation that they had as much as other clubs did.

Manchester United got a leap on them, Blackburn evolved and you thought maybe where Liverpool had once been ground-breakers in terms of transfer fees and whatnot for players, all of a sudden they weren’t competing with the teams that were really hungry for the success. Some clubs got a march on Liverpool which led the club into thinking about how they change things and ultimately they went for European coaches in Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez.

On the change in Liverpool’s attack I think you have to give Liverpool credit this year for acting quickly in a no-nonsense fashion – they’ve identified that there were changes needed and they’ve picked out the players that they clearly wanted.

Signing Milner, Ings, bringing Origi back from loan is all very encouraging and to have all but secured the signing of Benteke is something you have to give Liverpool credit for. They clearly underestimated the impact of Suarez on the squad, thinking that they could simply replace him with the couple of players that you mentioned, maybe that was a little bit naïve. Suarez was absolutely phenomenal, he made an incredible difference to Liverpool and raised everyone’s level so when he left he was always going to leave a massive void.

On Brendan Rodgers I don’t think you gain anything by chopping and changing managers, although there are as many people who think you should do that as there are people who think you should give managers time to develop the squad and so on.

I think that we’ve seen under Brendan Rodgers that he has given Liverpool an identity – ok last season didn’t go to plan perhaps and it was very disappointing – but if you look at Liverpool’s different performance in the transfer market this summer then clearly you have to say they have learnt from the mistakes of last season.

On the departures of Gerrard and Sterling They’ll adapt slightly. I think what we’ve seen in pre-season so far is very much an emphasis on getting the full-backs into attacking positions. The signing of Clyne was an excellent one, and Gomez too – he looks very capable of being a good option down the left-hand side along with Moreno.

I think you’ll see differences, I don’t think they’ll be as narrow as they were perhaps guilty of being at times last season and now that they’ve got someone like Benteke who clearly thrives on good service, I think they will adapt a little bit. The changes in the backroom staff suggest that too, with Marsh and Pasco leaving, McAllister and O’Driscoll coming in – there’s a whole different dynamic and attitude developing around the place which is going to give Liverpool an opportunity to evolve!

On the future Well Ibe is very much a talent who has evolved over the last few years. I’ve seen a lot of him as he’s been going through the junior teams – being allowed to go to Derby has been a big part in his development definitely, obviously he still has a lot to learn. I think when you look at Ibe though you have to pinch yourself slightly because he looks like a man although he is only 19. He still has a little bit to learn but he has fantastic potential.

Gomez has definitely come under the radar – initially there was talk of him going back to Charlton on loan but I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve changed their mind now because he’s come in and look very comfortable in the first team squad. Obviously there has to be a balance with these teams, you can’t just throw a load of youngsters out there and expect them to compete at the very highest level, and I think what Liverpool have done in the transfer market is a good move, bringing in people who are home in the Premier League. I’m very pleased with Liverpool’s work and business this summer so far, definitely!

 

The Offside Rule Podcast Prediction: It’s difficult to predict how Liverpool will do given the squad is so big and nobody quite knows their first eleven. The signings are solid if unspectacular and given the signings of the teams above them, it’s hard to see them returning to the top four unless it also clicks in perfect harmony.

Key Player: Jordan Henderson – Replacing Steven Gerrard is no mean feat but the midfielder was excellent last season and has really grown into the side after a difficult start. He’s added goals and assists to his game and is now ready to fill the permanent void left by the Liverpool legend.

One to Watch: Adam Lallana – Whilst no youngster and perhaps better known than a Jordon Ibe or Divock Origi, Lallana has been excellent in pre-season after under-performing last season. If he hits top form and recovers his Southampton form he’ll be like a new signing on the wing for Liverpool.

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