Until Manchester United overtook them in 2010, Liverpool FC held the record for the most league titles in England. In addition to their 18 league titles Liverpool has also won the European Cup five times in their history, the most by any British club. However the Reds have not been crowned champions of England since the Premier League began even though they have come very close on a few occasions.
Last season Liverpool once again came very close to capturing their maiden Premier League title before stumbling at the final hurdle to finish just two points behind champions Manchester City. In only his second season with the club, Rodgers revived the club’s dwindling fortunes to bring the club back into the Champions’ League. Under Rodgers, Liverpool played an eye-catching style of attacking football that took the side to a 12 match winning streak until it ended catastrophically against Chelsea. And despite of scoring over a hundred goals in the league, Liverpool’s defensive frailties eventually forced them to hand the title over to Manchester City.
A big part of Liverpool’s stellar show last season was the performance of Luis Suarez. After missing the first four games of the season due to suspension, Liverpool’s no. 7 scored 31 goals in the next 34 games to finish as the league’s top-scorer. Suarez also swept away with the ‘PFA Footballer of the Year’ and the ‘Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year’ awards, showing that the mischievous striker had finally won the admiration of the Premier League fraternity. However, Suarez will no longer be part of Rodgers’ plans for the coming seasons after Liverpool accepted a £65 million offer from FC Barcelona. The Uruguayan striker had been handed a lengthy ban for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
But even before the departure of Luis Suarez, Liverpool had already begun signing players to bolster their squad which was a little short on numbers last season. Southampton’s England internationals Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert were the first to arrive at Merseyside. Last season, Southampton finished 8th in the Premier League and their captain Adam Lallana was one of their standout players. So impressive were his performances that the 25 year old earned a nomination for the Premier League’s Player of the Season besides a call-up to the England squad for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Southampton was not willing to let go their star-man cheaply and in the end Liverpool paid £25 million to prise the crafty midfielder to Anfield. On the other hand Rickie Lambert’s transfer was far less expensive costing the Reds just £4 million but not any less interesting. The journeyman striker gave a new twist to his fairy-tale career after completing his dream move to Liverpool, the club he has supported since he was a boy. Incidentally, in his childhood days, Lambert was at Liverpool’s youth academy but was released by the club at the age of 15.
Liverpool’s problems chiefly lay at the back and Brendan Rodgers decided to make a third raid at Southampton with a £20 million offer for centre-back Dejan Lovren. The Croatian international was a rock in the Southampton backline which had the third-best defensive record in the league last season conceding just 46 goals. Besides his defensive prowess Lovren also possesses wonderful passing ability which should suit Liverpool’s strategy of building attacking manoeuvres from the back and also to play the direct long pass to the strikers.
Keeping their Champions’ League exertions in mind Liverpool also the secured the signings of Emre Can, Lazar Markovic and Alberto Moreno. Markovic was the one which generated the most interest, mainly because of the £20 million fee that Liverpool paid Benfica for the Serbian winger. Emre Can came in from Bayer Leverkusen for £8 million while Moreno arrived from Spanish side Sevilla for a similar fee. All three of them are yet to prove their worth in the Premier League but they all have great potential and Rodgers is excellent at developing young players. Moreover, they bring a fair amount of European experience to this young Liverpool side.
Despite going so close to clinching the league last season, Liverpool’s main focus will definitely be the same as it was at the beginning of last season – to finish as high as they can in the Premier League and ensure qualification for next season’s Champion’s League. With Manchester City and Chelsea looking a cut above the rest, it is quite unlikely that Liverpool will get as good a shot at the title as they did last season. Also, Luis Suarez’s absence will certainly take them a step back because he was too important a player for the Reds and one who cannot be replaced by any player. Nevertheless, Liverpool has spent quite wisely over the summer, but it is still a work in progress and it may take a while before the trophies arrive.
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