The Liverpool View
Ahead of another trip to Anfield, we have two for the of one as we had a chat with two Liverpool fans to find out their thoughts on the match up and for the new season.
First up, Scott Taylor from Hampshire Cricket Club writes about the youth Academy regularly answers our questions.
Q. Let us begin with finding out your opinion of how Liverpool did last season?
Liverpool got what they set out to achieve last season, and that was a return to the Champions League and many pundits said they only finished fourth, but if you look at it on the flip side, they finished above both Arsenal and Manchester United so overall it was a success. It was extremely disappointing to be knocked out of the FA Cup by Wolves and somehow be edged out by Southampton in the League Cup, but if you ask any Liverpool supporter, the majority would say they would prefer to qualify for the Champions League rather than win the EFL Cup.
Q. As last season ended, which areas did you feel needed to be strengthened for this campaign?
The glaringly obvious area of improvement would be the defence, because Liverpool conceded 42 goals last season, which is poor when you compare it to the teams around them – Tottenham Hotspur 26 goals, Manchester United 29, Chelsea 33. They have signed Andy Robertson from Hull City, whilst there has been the constant rumours of signing Virgil Van Dijk, and that is exactly what Liverpool need for the new season. It looks likely that Phillipe Coutinho may go in this window which is unfortunate, but with Mo Salah coming in, and both Ryan Kent and Dominic Solanke looking a breath of fresh air in pre-season, there is still an array of attacking talent in abundance.
Q. Even though there is still some time remaining in the transfer window, has Jurgen Klopp addressed those areas?
Bringing in Andy Robertson may look like an odd signing for Liverpool, but it addressed the issues at left back, and so far, it has revitalised the career of Alberto Moreno, who has had a fantastic pre-season. It will allow James Milner to return to the midfield, but with Jordan Henderson, Emre Can, Gini Wijnaldum, Adam Lallana and Marko Grujic already competing for a spot in there, there is plenty of depth.
Q. Now that Klopp has had some time to settle in and make the squad his own, does he still have the backing of the fans who clearly want a return to former glories?
Klopp has been here for almost two years, and the overall impression is that he has succeeded thus far. Although he hasn’t brought any silverware in, he’s reached a European Cup final and got Liverpool back into the Champions League, which in today’s financial market, is a great achievement. There are still fans out there which are still pinching themselves that Klopp is in charge, and believe he can do no wrong, which may be dangerous as the fans can develop tinted glasses because ‘We’ve got Klopp’ and therefore nothing else matters.
Q. A title challenge will no doubt be the number one aim this season but how will competing in the Champions League effect that?
Obviously there will be more games, which will be a test on the players and then not to mention the travel time and the recovery involved, but I’ve talked about the strength a lot in this piece and I believe with the options we’ve got, we can compete, but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. We have yet to see off Hoffenheim in the qualifier which is another tough game. However, bringing in Van Dijk will make all Liverpool fans feel a lot more comfortable, even more so if the current best defender at the club is also re-instated back into the first team.
Q. Which one Liverpool player is so influential that if you lost him during the season it would have a big effect on team?
Sadio Mane. You saw it when he went to the African Cup of Nations and you saw it when he got injured. I didn’t believe he was a world class player when he was at Southampton, but I’m starting to think £35million for him is very good business. He has raw pace and with Salah on the other wing, the duo can be lethal this season. Liverpool will be hoping he can stay injury free, and carry on from the early season promise he’s showed, and the form he’s showed since he signed for the club.
Q. Explain in no more than 140 characters how the last ten years have been for the football the club.
The last 10 years have been frustrating. Liverpool are a massive club & to only win a league cup is unacceptable, but good times are coming.
Q. Name one player from EACH side that you think the opposition should consider a real threat.
For Palace, Wilfried Zaha as a tricky winger is a real threat to our defence while for us, I have already mentioned Sadio Mane and he will likely be a focal point for everything good we do going forward against a Palace side struggling to get used to a new formation.
Q. Your prediction?
Liverpool win. I know Palace is a bit off a bogey team for us, especially after the last few results at Anfield, but as the home side you should expect to win, especially when you have title aspirations.
Q. And finally, please tell us a little about your site and any projects that you may currently be working on.
Well, because I’m currently working as the Assistant Press, Media, Marketing and Communications Officer at Hampshire Cricket, it’d be nice if everyone checks out Hampshire Cricket and the Southern Vipers and then hopefully that’ll be their cricket teams for the future! Also, if you’re looking for all things Palace stay tuned to TEB, but if you’re into your non-league football, a few of my former colleagues run a Ryman Premier League radio show call Back Of The Net so check them out as well.
Next up we have Tomas Nygren, a Reds fan from Sweden who writes for the TotaaLiverpool fan site.
Q. What are your thoughts on last season as a whole?
It was a strange season. We were really good in the games against the other teams at the top of the table, but we struggled against sides from the bottom half. At the beginning of the campaign we looked like title contenders, but when the new year started it became quite obvious that our squad was not ready. The injuries for Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana hit us hard and when Sadio Mané was added to that list we did not have the strength in depth.
Jurgen Klopp is still shaping this team, many things got better during last season and hopefully we will see more development this season. The league as a whole felt a bit more uneven last season, with the top six teams breaking loose earlier than in past seasons, it will be interesting to see if that is changing now or if the gap between them and the rest of table is getting bigger.
Q. Was last season a success for Liverpool?
I was very satisfied with the way the season ended for us, of course, there were games which you feel the team should have won but if someone had offered me fourth place before it started I would gladly have taken it. It was not a success, but it was a step in the right direction and that was what I wanted to see. We are slowly getting better and better and I like to see the way Klopp builds his team, he does not buy a lot of players, instead he tries to develop those already in the team. It is easy to see players like Simon Mignolet, Lallana and Jordan Henderson have become better under the Germans reign and I hope that will continue.
Q. What is your view on Palace as a club and how do you think we’ll do this campaign?
Palace is a team that brings back some terrible memories. I will never forget the night when you took away our dreams of winning the league. It is always hard to play Palace and Liverpool often tend to struggle against your side. It feels like we never beat you, especially at home. I think you will do better this season, but it is much up to the way Frank de Boer and Palace fit together. To me you are a very British team, and it will be interesting to see which way you are going when you have a foreign manager. I think you might struggle for the first few months, but when de Boer has settled you will climb to the middle of the table.
Q. How do you feel about safe standing? Would you like to see it introduced at Premier League clubs?
In Sweden there is always a opportunity to watch the games standing, and I think that is the way sport should be watched. Of course, it has to be made in a safe way, but the atmosphere is always better when you can stand up. In some ways it is more natural to cheer when you are standing up. Here in Sweden there has been a lot of focus in the comfort in arenas, but watching sport is not about being comfortable, it is about feeling close to your team and I think most of us would prefer standing together rather than sitting next to each other. The Premier League needs to do something about the atmosphere in stadia, and safe standing would be a really good start.
Q. If you could bring one Liverpool player back to Anfield at their prime who would it be and why?
I would say Steven Gerrard, but it is a close call between him and Xabi Alonso, but Stevie was more of a leader than Alonso. One could argue that Sami Hyypiä would be a useful addition to our back four, but in my opinion we really lack a natural leader in the midfield. I like Jordan Henderson, but he is not the kind of player who dictates the game and he is not ready to be the spine of a team challenging at the top of the table. He is a great player, but Stevie was world class. Against Hoffenheim our midfield struggled to get hold of the ball, in a game like that Gerrard would have made a big difference. Overall it is hard to see which player in our team the others can look to when we are in trouble. Gerrard was that kind of player who could take control of a game when the others could not, and I miss that in our team right now. So, if I could choose, Captain Fantastic would be the focal point of our midfield once again.
Q. Out of Palace’s current squad, who do you feel is our biggest weapon?
Without a doubt Christian Benteke. He is a player who always tends to score when we face him and he is the type of player that we have had trouble defending against for ages. He is strong in the air and often out muscles our defenders. I read that Wilfried Zaha is out and that is a good thing for us this weekend. I was really impressed with him last season and I think our full backs would have struggled.
Q. How do you feel about the current football market and the money involved in the game? Is it becoming too much?
This summer the transfer window has made me feel sick. A few years ago I thought it was exciting to see which players were coming and going but it has got out of hand. The fees being paid are insane and there is a change in attitude among many of the players that is really disturbing.
When you see players like Coutinho, Virgil Van Dijk and Ousmane Dembele trying to force their way out of their clubs just months after signing new contracts it makes you wonder if the contracts mean anything nowadays. I find myself no longer trusting players who say they love being at the club, since history has shown that they only love to be with us until a bigger team shows up with a better deal.
We have seen it with Luis Suarez, we have seen it with Raheem Sterling and now it is happening with Coutinho. That attitude is really disturbing, and it is equally as disturbing to see players like Kyle Walker, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jordan Pickford going for fees that would have got you Zinedine Zidane fifteen years ago. The Neymar transfer is dirty beyond anything else, and the final proof of Financial Fair Play (FFP) being nothing more than nice words on a paper.
Q. What were your thoughts when Palace appointed Frank de Boer as successor to Sam Allardyce? Do you think he fits at Selhurst Park?
As I wrote earlier, I have always thought of your team as a very British team, so I must say I was a bit surprised to see you appoint de Boer. It will be interesting to see how your patience is with him, because I think he will have a hard time in the beginning. It is hard to come to the Premier League and the way I understand it he wants his teams to play in another way than you usually see Palace do, but if you give him time I think it will be a good fit. You have many talented players who are good on the ball, such as Yohan Cabaye, Zaha and Andros Townsend and they have players who should fit his style. Maybe Benteke will have a bit more trouble, but that will not stop him from scoring against us.
Q. Liverpool’s first game was a goal frenzy at Vicarage Road. What went wrong in the 3-3 draw?
Well, the same thing that has been our problem basically since Rafa Benitez left, we cannot defend from set pieces. Once again, we conceded sloppy goals and that is something that Klopp needs to work on with the players. There have been a lot of discussions around us needing to buy another central defender, and we do need that, but nothing is going to change if we do not set up our team better. Mohamed Salah, Mané and Roberto Firmino will create lots of chances this season and they will score goals, but if we want to compete for the top spots in the table we need to find a way to stop these easy goals from coming.
Q. How do you think this season will pan out and why?
For Liverpool it will be a fight for a place in the top six. We have a decent chance of taking one of the four top places but it is hard to predict the season before the transfer window closes, since we all know crazy things can happen on the final days. If we lose Coutinho or if Arsenal end up selling Alexis Sanchez, things change. If both players stay I can see the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea fall behind. Spurs lack depth in a few positions, but that has not stopped them in recent seasons. I have a feeling they will be in trouble if Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli or Harry Kane get injured. They have Champions League as well, and maybe they will try hard to do better this season and that could give them trouble in the league.
When it comes to Chelsea they are few players short, especially in midfield, I cannot really understand why they let Nemanja Matic go to United. I would not be surprised to see David Luiz have a worse season as I suspect he overachieved a bit last year. Maybe I am just trying to convince myself that we will make it, but I think Chelsea will find it difficult but, as I said, it is hard to predict before the window closes.
Top four – Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool
Europe – Spurs, Chelsea
Relegation – Swansea, Brighton, Burnley