SO now for the interesting bit. The last pre-season ball to be kicked in mild irritation has mercifully been and gone. The next one Liverpool Football Club kick will have points riding on it.
The next line-up that Brendan Rodgers names will be one designed to kick-start a brand new nine-month odyssey. By the time the last competitive ball of the 2014-15 season is kicked the line-up will no doubt have altered markedly.
Old heroes will rise again, new heroes will make themselves known. Some dependable members of the squad will unexpectedly struggle and fall by the wayside, others that have previously been written off will rise up and prove to us that we essentially don’t know as much as we think we know.
Some of the new signings will shoot for and reach the stars, others just won’t take flight at all. Our perception about this great game and the football club we love will change again and again and again. Football is a perpetually rolling ball that never stands still.
We are, we are told, set to suffer from a hangover this season. 2014-15 is supposed to be the sore head in a ‘morning after the night before’ scenario. However, I’ve yet to see a version of Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool FC that toes any party line, or sticks to a script that is penned to the specification of others. It instead dances to its own tune, and there are plenty of reasons to feel this season’s tune is going to be another anthemic one.
This season will be very different from the last one, but it will retain some familiarities. Jordan Henderson will still press relentlessly, Simon Mignolet will still be uneasy about coming for the ball, Martin Skrtel will still hold the shirt of opposing players at the set pieces we face, Daniel Sturridge will still score goals for fun and do his wavy armed celebratory dance, Raheem Sterling will still burst past defenders with ease, Philippe Coutinho will still thread his eye of the needle passes and Steven Gerrard will still be the heartbeat of the team.
Enough, however, will be different to last season for us to head into the new campaign with a sense of renewal, rather than any overriding brooding about what should have been three months ago.
As you may well have heard, Luis Suarez has gone, while Gerrard is also another year older. On the up side, Liverpool have acquired a number of new players to add to what was far from the one, or at best two-man band many on the outside looking in would have you believe we were in 2013-14.
According to some people on Twitter that I’ve never met before, Lazar Markovic, Emre Can, Javier Manquillo and Alberto Moreno are all great signings. I haven’t much of a clue if this is true or not as I have either never – or rarely – seen any of them play the game of football before.
I’ve got a marginally better idea about Dejan Lovren, Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana, but a marginally better idea is all it is. If it’s ‘ITK’ you’re looking for then you’re reading the wrong article.
With the transfer window still open for more than a fortnight there is plenty of scope for more comings and goings but regardless as things stand we have what is shaping up to be a healthier-looking squad.
Rodgers isn’t going to be looking over his shoulder to the bench in games we’re chasing to be greeted by the sight of the likes of Iago Aspas and Victor Moses for ‘inspiration’. This is positive progression. We have lost one of the best players in the world, but we arrive at the start line with an array of options we simply didn’t have this time 12 months ago. Options that might well increase by the time September 1 rolls around.
2013-14 was all about the wheel beginning to turn again at Anfield. In 2014-15, in the wake of Suarez’s departure, the name of the game has sort of switched to reinventing that wheel. Suarez is irreplaceable, so we shouldn’t attempt to do that. What we instead aim to do is readjust and we don’t necessarily need a stellar name replacement to do that.
The Liverpool FC I grew up with never made lazy moves for big ‘splash’ signings. What they did was create the template of a team and then fill each position with players that fitted those roles perfectly. After that , we only replaced a player if the one coming in could be classed as an upgrade. Simplicity, the best ideas are always born through simplicity. There is something about this current version of Liverpool FC that transmits a beautifully reassuring aura of simplicity. I find them hypnotic on multiple levels.
There have been some big calls to make this summer and there are still potentially a few more to be made before the transfer window finally clicks shut. We’ve faced similar scenarios before over the course of the last couple of decades or so, but it’s been rare that I’ve implicitly trusted the people in control of the club at those various periods of time to get those calls right.
I trust the people who are currently in control of the club to get these calls right. I trust the players that will stride out on to the pitch at Anfield on Sunday against Southampton to get their calls right, too.
“We go again” was last season’s mission statement. This season’s needs to be: “Reinventing the wheel.”