WITH the footie season now over, transfer rumours in full swing and the countdown to Euro 2016 ticking away, we thought the time was right to ask Anfield Wrap contributors what they made of the Liverpool season just gone. With two managers, two cup finals, a new stand and a mass walk-out, it certainly hasn’t been dull, but has it been good? And what can we expect from the Reds next season? All the questions asked, and answered, here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uu17qQV7Q0o

MELISSA REDDY

@MelissaReddy_

Rewinding back to the start of the season, did you think then that keeping Brendan Rodgers in position was the right decision?

​If Liverpool intended on sacking Brendan Rodgers, I wanted the axing to have taken place directly after the close of 2014-15. The way the Reds finished last season ​was abysmal, and while I thought firing the manager would have been harsh given the title tilt the year before, it would have made sense to pull the trigger at the end of the campaign if a top-class trainer could be recruited immediately. However, with Rodgers finally remaining on after a ‘review’ and no weighty alternatives readily available, I backed the Northern Irishman to turn things around.

In fact, I desperately wanted him to do well, because I desperately wanted Liverpool to do well. For me, the issue was never solely Rodgers: transfer business was not surgical enough and too divisive, he needed a better backroom team and there were too many players not giving all they had. The thing with Brendan was he had an idea you could believe in: exciting, progressive football with young talents being nurtured and players excelling individually and collectively. Read what Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling have said about his coaching ability… But the thing about Brendan’s idea is he stopped believing it — he veered away from what he knows best and threw everything he had behind the recruitment of Christian Benteke and risk-averse football. That was never going to end well. It’s hard to believe in a manager who no longer has courage in his convictions.

I truly hope he rediscovers his way at Celtic.

European Football - UEFA Europa League - Group Stage Group B - Liverpool FC v FC Sion

What were your expectations for Liverpool’s season then?

​So Brendan starts the season as manager and my first thought was, ‘this isn’t going to be fun at all.’ I remember having a conversation with Mike Nevin where ​I said for his own sake, Liverpool should have got rid of Rodgers because he was on the back foot before a ball had been kicked in 2015-16. Winning over the fans again was beyond him. My realistic expectations were probably finishing around sixth or seventh in the league with toxicity rife and Liverpool disjointed. A part of me hoped the rejigged backroom team and some of the signings (not the £32.5m one) could spark a rebirth of sorts. Alas!

Eleven games into the season, Rodgers was sacked. Forget that Jürgen Klopp replaced him for a moment (we’ll come to that), what then did you think was a realistic ambition for the squad in terms of league finish, cups and so on?

​Definitely not two finals, that’s for sure. I thought best-case scenario was possibly fifth if the other teams continued to wobble.​

Klopp then, surprised by his appointment?

​Surprised is not the word, as I knew it was coming. Stunned. Yes, stunned that Jürgen Klopp would be the manager of Liverpool. ​ ​TBQH, I’m still stunned today. Done well like, haven’t we?

It’s not because Liverpool, as English football’s most successful club, shouldn’t have such managerial heavyweights at their helm, it’s because we haven’t for a while. Klopp rejected the Real Madrid job​ before moving to Merseyside…

How do you think he has done so far?

Many will insist league position is the ultimate decider of a manager’s success or failure, but in terms of Liverpool’s season, that is a bit myopic. Big Jürgs has overseen a change in atmosphere, the improvement in individual and collective performances, the enhanced steel in mentality (which unfortunately jogged on in Basel), the revival of Anfield as a frightening place for opposition teams, the sneak peak at what Liverpool are capable of (Dortmund home, double over City in the league, Chelsea at the Bridge, slaughtering of ​Southampton in the League Cup, eliminating United, brushing off Villarreal at home)…

​All this without having a full pre-season or a summer window to fix the weaknesses of the squad. All this while only being able to name an unchanged line-up for the first time as Reds boss 133 days after being installed. ​He made things fun again and if you rewind to the start of the season, you’ll realise just what an achievement that is.

Of course, eighth is nowhere near good enough and being beaten in two finals is the furthest thing from fun but I have no doubt things will get bigger and better.

Football - FA Premier League - West Ham United FC v Liverpool FC

Eighth in the league, beaten in two cup finals — how does that performance rank against what you think this squad could/should be capable of?

This squad at the start of the season is a doubt to get out of their mediocre Europa League group and so they were definitely not capable of getting to the final in Basel.

This squad under Klopp should have actually won the damn thing. They should have been 3-0 up at half-time against Sevilla. What is this squad capable of? Much less ‘should haves’ as they get the job done much better next season.

Who are your top three Liverpool players this season and why?

1. Coutinho — when Liverpool so often needed something inspirational, he provided it in style. Twelve goals this season — many off the top shelf and in the big games

2. Firmino — Contributed heavily in his first ​season in English football. Possesses quite a bit of ‘quiet’ intelligence. Split vote for me — think Lovren has been immense since November onwards.

3. Clyne — A picture of consistency, which was pretty difficult given Liverpool’s inconsistencies.

Top three Liverpool games of the season?

1. Liverpool 4-3 Dortmund
2. ​City 1-4 Liverpool​
3. Liverpool 2-0 United​

Best Liverpool goal?

Coutinho ​taking the piss out of De Gea. On toast.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poZOD34j59k

What should be the major concerns for Liverpool FC right now?

​A really good goalkeeper in Loris Karius should be confirmed by Wednesday, so that’s one area of concern to tick off. ​

Is not being in Europe next season a help or a hindrance to Liverpool?

“Now it’s clear we are not in a European competition next year, it means no football on a Thursday and it means we have time to train​.​ We will use it and we will come back stronger, that’s for sure.​”

As per Klopp.​

Three Liverpool players you expect to leave the club this summer.

​Martin Skrtel, ​Adam Bogdan, Joe Allen

Three positions Liverpool need to improve in.

​Centre-mid, left-back and ​a wide attacker

Any (realistic-ish) players you think Liverpool should buy?

​#SignReus

Erm, Liverpool should really get Gotze. Currently, it’s all up to Mario to make up his mind. The club feel they’ve done all they can (except secure European football) to convince him Anfield should be his next destination. I think it would be brilliant, brilliant business. If they do, land Dahoud as well. ​

What can Liverpool achieve next season?

​Jürgen Klopp will believe Liverpool can win the league. He’ll get the players to believe that. And by extension I believe they can.

Football - FA Premier League - Liverpool FC v Sunderland AFC

KEV SAMPSON

@ksampsonwriter

Rewinding back to the start of the season, did you think then that keeping Brendan Rodgers in position was the right decision?

Weirdly, I did. Having witnessed the Stoke capitulation and Palace at home (which was, for me, even worse) there was plenty of justification for showing Brendan the door. Myself, I always think the best is going to happen and my thoughts on Rodgers this time last year were — he’s a bright enough man. He’s still got credit in the bank from The Season. He’ll learn from this — these are the times and the experiences that make you as a manager.

What were your expectations for Liverpool’s season then?

I wanted to win the F.A Cup. That’s all. I love The Cup.

Eleven games into the season, Rodgers was sacked. Forget that Jürgen Klopp replaced him for a moment (we’ll come to that), what then did you think was a realistic ambition for the squad in terms of league finish, cups and so on?

With the draw still a few months off, I felt even more confident we could win The Cup.

Klopp then, surprised by his appointment?

No, not surprised — but I was overjoyed that we got him. I will never not think that the biggest and the best should always want to come to Liverpool. Champions League or Central League — players, managers, fans should be fully inspired by what LFC is, and will always be: a big, beautiful, fucked-up monster of a club. Klopp seemed to get that, right from the start. The monster may be having a bit of a kip, but….

How do you think he has done so far?

You can’t give a true assessment until the cliches are in place; his own players. A full pre-season; a bit of luck. But, based on what we’ve seen — reasons to be cheerful but room for improvement. Jürgen, like they all do, has his blind spots. I’m just about coming to terms with his not starting Joe Allen against Sevilla. And it took him way too long to figure that a Liverpool team must never, ever feature a midfield of Lucas, Henderson and Milner. But Klopp absolutely certainly IS a quick learner, and he’ll have us purring next season.

Football - Football League Cup - Semi-Final 2nd Leg - Liverpool FC v Stoke City FC

Eighth in the league, beaten in two cup finals — how does that performance rank against what you think this squad could/should be capable of?

I think we’re better than eighth — but didn’t deserve top four. Don’t forget we only went into a plus goal difference in February (and, only then by hammering the truly abysmal Aston Villa 6-0!). And the cups, yeah, disappointing at the last jump, both times. Having got to the finals, we may as well have had a go at winning the trophies while we were there. But give any other team the season we’ve just had, studded with absolutely glorious memories…forget Stoke or Villa, most Manchester United fans would prefer the football we’ve played and the season we’ve enjoyed. And that’s it, in short: I absolutely loved going the game, last season. It was a joy, most of it. Now let’s fucking kick on and win some cups and that.

Who are your top three Liverpool players this season and why?

Joe Allen embodies, for me, what a Liverpool player should be. And he grows chickens.

Coutinho just carries on being Coutinho. I love him. I think he loves us. Let’s hope he gives us another season or two.

Sturridge is one of the most prodigiously gifted footballers I have ever seen. Again, it’s a truism…but give Sturridge a full pre-season with Klopp, keep him fit and watch him elevate funky football to a higher art form.

And can I also just mention Sheyi Ojo — sheer precocious talent; limitless potential.

Top three Liverpool games of the season?

They pick themselves, don’t they?

Southampton away, League Cup; Dortmund in the Waffa; Norwich away, 5-4. NO. No! These were NOT the games of the season. Don’t get me wrong, they were Wunderbar, no doubt about it, but… United home and away in the Waffa were just joy unconfined… joy of an absolutely absurd and rhapsodic nature… joy that keeps you grinning for days on end. And the uncontested highlight of the season was the three-minute, 177-pass taking of the piss against Everton. A 4-0 win against Everton is a thing of true and wondrous bliss.

Best Liverpool goal?

Sturridge in Basel. Another one of those “not from there, Daniel, ya tit!” moments for me, regrettably.

What should be the major concerns for Liverpool FC right now?

Getting the next crop of signings irrefutably blob-on.

Is not being in Europe next season a help or a hindrance to Liverpool?

It’s a hindrance to Liverpool fans — we live for Europe. But the absence of Thursday night football will unquestionably benefit the team.

Three Liverpool players you expect to leave the club this summer.

Benteke, Toure, Illori.

Three positions Liverpool need to improve in.

Right across the defence we can do better. Still need a Kante in midfield. But — you fellas know the Sammo mantra by now. If you have best left-back in the league then you’re probably going to win it.

Any (realistic-ish) players you think Liverpool should buy?

Ricardo Rodriquez. I haven’t seen any of the others we’re being linked with… Tah, Ziolinski etc. Get Rodriguez in, and we’ll….

What can Liverpool achieve next season?

Win The League.

Go in pieces, lads and lasses. Up the Pool!

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 20, 2016: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring the second goal against Southampton during the FA Premier League match at St Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

PAUL SENIOR

@PaulSenior1

Rewinding back to the start of the season, did you think then that keeping Brendan Rodgers in position was the right decision?

I wasn’t sure, Stoke on the last day distorted so much, but I guess it wasn’t even just Stoke was it?

We had lost to Hull, Villa in the cup, Palace, scraped past QPR, drew with West Brom away, Blackburn and Bolton took us to a replay, all within the 8-10 weeks prior to Stoke. We were in free fall, really, but 13/14 was never going to go away in my mind, there were so many “what ifs”.

We sat in a service station doing The Pink post-Stoke 6-1, talking of how the club needed to handle Rodgers’ departure. Then he didn’t leave. I wasn’t that arsed, really.

I thought he was a good manager, I still do. I’d have him back one day, more than Rafa, and I like Rafa. He’s qualified to do the job, just sometimes people get sick of your voice, and I think our players got sick of Brendan’s; the same way Chelsea’s players got sick of Jose Mourinho.

I was on the fence, I suppose. I didn’t desperately want him gone, but it probably was the right time to do it. Time proved that.

What were your expectations for Liverpool’s season then?

I thought we’d be better under Brendan than we were, 100 per cent. I thought that he bought well, not sensationally, but some nice additions. I don’t care what people say, hardly anybody knew what Firmino would add, he was exciting but an unknown.

Clyne and Milner excited me most, I remember buzzing over signing them both, thinking they would add a bit of quality, graft, solidity, which they ultimately did.

Origi seemed like a mistake, voted worst player in France, didn’t look any good, plus we’d bought Benteke and Ings. It seemed like just adding numbers and didn’t expect it to turn out as it did.

All things considered, I expected us to compete for Champions League. I thought United where shite, and would continue to be. I expected Chelsea and City to be a runaway top two, and Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Spurs to compete for third and fourth. I thought that was the maximum ambition — maybe add a domestic trophy if we were lucky.

Football - FA Premier League - Aston Villa FC v Liverpool FC

Eleven games into the season, Rodgers was sacked. Forget that Jürgen Klopp replaced him for a moment (we’ll come to that), what then did you think was a realistic ambition for the squad in terms of league finish, cups and so on?

We didn’t look great when he got bulleted and I wasn’t expecting much more without a spending spree, which aren’t common in January. I felt we’d finish fifth to seventh if the new fella could sort it out. Cups? Who knew, really? It all depended on the reaction the new fella could get, but that depended on who we replaced Rodgers with. The squad was capable, but Sturridge was crocked, Benteke didn’t seem to fit, and Origi looked a dud.

The ship needed steadying, and a cup run could have saved the season. It did to an extent.

Klopp then, surprised by his appointment?

Surprised more by the owners’ ambition to go get him, rather than the fact he was interested. He’s always been a character, hasn’t he? Apparently he swerved Bayern for Dortmund the season he went there, so I knew he was more about projects, than the instant success jobs that the likes of Pep and Jose usually go for.

I think the two major tasks in football that need sorting out are Liverpool winning the league again and somebody making AC Milan a force again. I think Klopp fancied the challenge. Imagine how high his stock is if he does that for us, seriously? It’s a hurdle that an array of seriously talented squads and managers have failed to achieve, and not through a lack of resource either.

The needs of both parties seemed to fit, hence why it was easier to do than many would have expected.

How do you think he has done so far?

Alright. Ups and downs. For every Dortmund there has been a Watford away and for every Norwich there has been a Southampton (in the league).

He’s an incredible guy, whose charisma has taken the fanbase by storm; he’s united the club, he’s improved players beyond recognition, he’s taken us to two finals. He finished eighth in the league and lost both finals. He’s done alright.

The caveat is that he hasn’t properly signed a player — he’s done it with lads that aren’t his own, and that makes me confident that next year, and the years to come, he’ll do great.

I find him a bit slow tactically sometimes — he’s very trusting — but you know Rafa who’s renowned tactically still has a Burnley in him. Klopp’s had 50-odd mad, frequent, games. He will have learnt so much this year to equip himself for a fruitful career in England, and I’m dead confident it will stand him in good stead moving forwards.

Football - FA Premier League - Liverpool FC v Leicester City FC

Eighth in the league, beaten in two cup finals – how does that performance rank against what you think this squad could/should be capable of?

It’s hard isn’t it? One manager bought the players and another manager picked them. It’s been an OK season — the league position is massively influenced by the UEFA Cup campaign — we could have finished fifth without it, I’m sure of it, and that would have been decent enough considering that at one point we were that bad this season that we sacked a manager. I think people forget how bad we were.

Who are your top three Liverpool players this season and why?

Coutinho: Big goals and big performances in big games.

Dejan Lovren:  Incredible, where he was, to where he is now. I’m not sure I’d swap him for any centre half in this league. I mean every word of that. Last year I would have swapped him for a Snickers.

Daniel Sturridge: He’s given me so much hope, even in such a small amount of games. He produces numbers, and good numbers win you things. An incredible footballer, only bettered by Aguero in this league for me.

Top three Liverpool games of the season?

Norwich away. I didn’t go, which is rare for me, and I still had a boss time, even through all the fume.

United away. Another one I missed, I was in Cognac (the place) for a work thing, drinking the best things in the world and watching us take the absolute piss out of Manchester United with one of my best mates in the house of Martell. I don’t think it could have got much better really.

Sevilla in Basel. Purely on a personal level, my dad spewed going the game a couple of years ago. We always went all the games together — he educated me on this club, and its values. He made me an ‘every week’ football supporter and when he jibbed it after a couple of games into that season it knocked me for six, I couldn’t understand it.

I knew he was suffering with the walk to the ground as he had bad tendonitis in his Achilles. Also, like most dads of lads my age, he’s been spoilt — he’s seen glory I will never see, and I guess the mediocre shite he had put up with the 20 years prior to the day he spewed it got too much for him.

Anyway, me and my dad went to Basel. I had a spare and he wanted to go, and I wanted him to go.

I wanted us so much to win that trophy but he wanted to witness me see us win a European trophy more. I reckon that’s the only reason he came. It didn’t happen but we had such a great day, a truly boss time, loads of beer, loads of laughs, like old times, and despite the result it was my favourite game of the season — because we went the match together again.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z25eFfvdgLg

Best Liverpool goal?

Benteke at United, there shouldn’t be another contender, regardless of circumstance.

What should be the major concerns for Liverpool FC right now?

Adding more goals, and adding lads who help us concede less. I want us to buy numbers. More Daniels and less Jordons.

Is not being in Europe next season a help or a hindrance to Liverpool?

I get why people say it’s a bonus — it is, you get to play your best lads, fresher, in the league, more often. We’ll have a better league campaign next year, most definitely, but we’re competing on less fronts, and this club shouldn’t ever celebrate that.

Three Liverpool players you expect to leave the club this summer.

Skrtel — Sad to see him go, but the time was right 12 months ago.

Benteke — A greedy me keeps him, his wages/desire to be a big fish will see him leave though.

Joe Allen — Can’t always be a squad player, and is too good to be. I really like Joe, but he can’t do any more — he needs to play every week, and he won’t here. Best of luck to him.

Three positions Liverpool need to improve in.

Keeper — don’t know much about the lad we’re meant to be getting (Loris Karius) but greater competition in that position has been needed for years. Our defence will enjoy the change.

Left back — Moreno… I don’t dislike him, and there are some games I’d absolutely have him in the side for next year. He’s young, and fixable. But buy a lad who can do all the things Albie can and a few bits than he can’t a bit better.

Centre half: Sakho’s not playing anytime soon and Toure’s about 50 now and been told he can leave. So unless Joe Gomez can fully recover, I can only see Joel Matip being first choice next year. He’s meant to be decent, so let’s hope he adjusts and creates a good partnership with Dejan Lovren.

Any (realistic-ish) players you think Liverpool should buy?

Aaron Cresswell, Ever Banega, Mario Gotze and Steven Nzonzi (just to stop him playing against us).

What can Liverpool achieve next season?

What can’t they achieve?

Clubs competing will have new managers, and be in transition — Jürgen has got a head start here. Buy well, and if they hit the ground running, anything is possible. Up The Reds.

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