From pessimism early on, to fierce optimism later, and a more realistic approach as Liverpool end the 2012-2013 season without a European spot clinched for next season. And still, Brendan Rodgers has plenty of attacking talent on the team: Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and others, which leaves him in need of a less than drastic change to push Liverpool a little bit higher next season.
All the projections and predictions made for next season rely on the fact that Luis Suarez stays with the team. With him, the club has one world class player up front, proving he can score against anyone, even on bad days, in an excellent season (23 goals) that ended with him being banned for biting Branislav Ivanovic, next to a an established Premier League striker, Daniel Sturridge, who has proven again and again that when given the chances, he usually comes up with the goods.
Philippe Coutinho is proving to be one of the more impressive January signings in recent years, providing a creative spark the Liverpool midfield has been missing for quite some time. Jordan Henderson isn’t a play maker or a defensive midfielder who can concentrate on one aspect only, but he has shown a few times this season that he’s a vital addition to the attacking game with his off the ball movement, finishing and passing.
Then there’s Steven Gerrard, and Lucas Leiva who might be healthy for a full season for the first time in what seems like an eternity. Joe Allen disappointed in the first season on board, but he adds quality in depth, and should look better when playing in his natural position next season, if he’ll be getting enough chances.
The problems, and room for improvement, begins at the back, where most of Rodgers’ money should be spent. One must signing is a centre back next to Daniel Agger. Jamie Carragher is retiring, and shouldn’t have been starting this season, but Martin Skrtel seems to be declining as times goes by, in both ability and confidence. There have been talks of Ashley Williams, but Liverpool should go younger and better. Stefan de Vrij and Bruno, both of Feyenoord, have been linked to the club, and might provide a better option than the aging and limited Williams from Swansea.
And what about the goalkeeper? Quality keepers are hard to find, but Pepe Reina isn’t that bad. The theory says that someone like him should gain his confidence back once his defense becomes such once again. Glen Johnson is good enough at right back, but if Liverpool should find something on the outside that’s better, while getting Martin Kelly back from injury and a year of experience out of Andre Wisdom, Johnson shouldn’t be starting.
Things aren’t that bleak, even without a European campaign to pass the time next season. Liverpool have a solid foundation with some good young talent to build on for the future. A little bit more patience towards Rodgers, while some good decisions from his in the transfer market, and the good days for this club might not be that far away, even without spending of an enormous magnitude.