ONWARDS AND UPWARDS!
Liverpool FC are really pushing towards the future. Onwards and upwards, we go!
It hasn’t been the best of seasons in some ways, but we’ve actually made rather good progress in other ways.
Looking at the competitions we’re currently involved in, it could have been worse. It could have been better too, but no club is perfect enough to keep progressing in all competitions until the end of the season, because that’d make you the “finalist” in every trophy you were involved in – and there can only be two finalists maximum in the cups and one winner of the trophies.
At some point, many clubs start dropping out of the cups and in the league start to really gather enough points to keep their current position for a while, or hopefully until the end of the season (assuming it’s a good enough position to want to hold onto). It’s often clear by the New Year (January) who will be favourites to win some silverware or at least appear in a Cup Final, who is likely to face a relegation battle and who will probably be contending for the top four spots which award Champions League qualification and maybe even be Premier League Champions. It’s kind of like a horse race. You can tell who the best horses are out of the whole pack by the middle of the race, but it’s not always guaranteed that the leader will be the winner – they can run out of energy eventually and start to drop back a little after a while. Then the others that aren’t too far behind start to catch up.
Places change, it’s not just the same horses in the same places for the entire race. Football is full of surprises, nothing can be 100% predicted accurately. That’s why the bookmakers make so much money! People put money on something that isn’t definitely guaranteed to happen the way you think it will.
We’ve really seen some upsets this season with several big clubs being taken down by smaller clubs. MK Dons beat Manchester United in a League Cup tie that saw the Premier League club suffer a 4-0 defeat. Arsenal got knocked out of the League Cup by Southampton and Newcastle managed to overcome Manchester City in the League Cup, too. In the FA Cup, Manchester City got beaten 0-2 at their own ground by Middlesbrough and Chelsea also suffered a home defeat as Bradford overcame Chelsea’s two goal lead and came back to win 2-4 at Stamford Bridge. This season’s League Cup finalists Tottenham too were beaten by Leicester in the FA Cup.
In European competition, you could say that two out of three of the clubs Liverpool had in their Champions League group certainly weren’t “bigger” than us (and the third club was Real Madrid) but we didn’t manage to qualify from it, only claiming third place as we just couldn’t do enough over the 6 games to push into 2nd place (Real Madrid had won all 6 of their group games and claimed 1st place for themselves).
How have Liverpool done so far in these competitions, amongst all these “giant killers” and “underdogs” that grab surprise victories?
Well, we reached the League Cup Semi Final, got ourselves a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the two leg tie at Anfield. Chelsea had an away goal advantage, but they actually wouldn’t need it as Liverpool couldn’t score a single goal in the second leg and they added a second goal to their aggregate score, winning 2-1 eventually. We didn’t make it to the final, but we certainly didn’t get taken down by an underdog. We faced one of the most successful and difficult teams in the Premier League (and a previous Champions League winning side) in our efforts to make it to the League Cup Final. Hey, we were one of only 4 teams that made it that far. We can still be proud of that much.
In the FA Cup, Liverpool haven’t been knocked out yet, we’re still going. A recent victory with late goals from Raheem Sterling and Coutinho against Bolton Wanderers saw us progress to the fifth round, where we will face Crystal Palace in our next fixture in that competition. The Reds fans, particularly, want this trophy to be Liverpool’s by the end of the season, which will see the end of Steven Gerrard’s 17 year career with Liverpool. The captain fantastic deserves some silverware!
As previously mentioned, Liverpool didn’t manage to qualify to the knockout rounds of the Champions League, but 3rd place in your CL group stage makes you eligible for progression into the Europa League knockout rounds, so our European campaign this season is not entirely over. We have a chance of reaching the Europa League Final.
Competitions aside, what else is going on with the club? Well, we’ve been securing our future with some players negotiating new contracts at the club. Steven Gerrard may not have a new contract, but Coutinho just signed a five year deal that will keep him at Liverpool until 2020.
Raheem Sterling is reported to be negotiating a longer contract, too. Although he did sign a contract in 2012, it should be the case that in the next season or two, Sterling has arranged to stay at the club for a further several years. Reports say he wants £100,000 per week but has not been officially offered that much yet. He’s a vital part of the first team though, and sooner or later, we’ll have to offer Sterling a deal he’s willing to accept or be prepared to lose a valuable asset to the club.
Then there’s the Academy players. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers signed ZERO players in the January Transfer Window, stating that “we intend to use the young players from the Academy in the first team squad” as his reason for not making a single signing. He obviously feels comfortable with using the current squad available to him and has been known to use players such as Jordan Rossiter, Sheyi Ojo, Jordon Ibe, Jordan Williams and Danny Ward in the first team squad this season. Though I feel disappointed that we brought no new players into the club, I’m excited and eager to see the Academy stars make their way into the first team squad.
Liverpool have had some important players who have been out of the side due to injury this season. This has had its undesired impact on our results (games which may have been won or at least drawn if a certain injured player had been available) and you could even make assumptions that perhaps Liverpool would have qualified from their Champions League group if they had a better goalscorer available to them (we had proven goalscorers injured and not many players were scoring in the Champions League).
Most recently, Daniel Sturridge returned to full fitness and in his first game against West Ham as we beat them 2-0, with Sturridge coming in as a substitute and scoring a goal within 12 minutes. We missed him and now want him to play as much as possible in the coming games. He’s clearly going to make a difference to the first team, a real positive change that we’ve needed at several low points in our season but just not had until now.
Liverpool also have announced recently that they will be involved with New Balance in a sponsorship deal with the kit designer for the next season. A lucrative deal reportedly worth £300M to Liverpool will see the NB logo on our Liverpool kits for 2015 – 2016. There’s nothing like generating large amounts of money for the club and being able to use it for positive change to the club. Maybe to buy some new players in the future, or use it to secure new players contracts (some of who request large amounts of money per week). Financial security is important and we really seemed to have secured the club by creating this relationship with New Balance, whose owners are Fenway Sports Group, FSG (John Henry and his group of friends, who we already know as current owners of Liverpool).
Where do we go from here? We continue to attempt to improve in all current competitions and keep moving forwards. We strive not just for winning silverware (though that’s very nice and good for the whole club and its fans) but for seeing real positive change in whatever we’re doing. Whether that’s simply raising the level of performances for all players, nurturing and developing young Academy players to become first team superstars or making sure our players are happy enough to sign a new long term contract, we have a bright future to look forward to.
We’ll all get there together, Anfield Family! YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE!
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so i was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (about 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.
I’m a die hard Liverpool fan (only supported ONE club in my whole life, Liverpool) and one of the most dedicated fans you’ll ever meet.