By Christopher Boulay
The summer of 2013 has been one of much stress for the average Liverpool supporter. With the uncertainty brought during these turbulent times, there may be several people wearing red tops while rocking back and forth in the dusty corner of their bedroom.
There is no need to be upset.
The summer can be a difficult time for a supporter of any club, as the uncertainly about squad improvement is enough to make anyone a bit nutty. Liverpool’s recent fortunes forced supporters into being quite apprehensive about the future, especially with the building pressure for the club to win now.
Liverpool made many moves this summer, getting rid of a number of players through sales such as Jay Spearing, Jonjo Shelvey, Andy Carroll, Danny Wilson, Peter Gulacsi and Stewart Downing. Pepe Reina, Jack Robinson, Krisztian Adorjan, Conor Coady, Suso and Michael Ngoo were all shipped out on loan. Many of those names will likely never feature for Liverpool again, despite the loan label. Manager Brendan Rodgers’ moves in the past year helped mold this Liverpool squad into his own, and it is beginning to show. Not every move is popular, but there is a specific trend and style coming through the squad that was on display in the preseason friendlies.
Transition may not be easy
Jamie Carragher is gone, and the futures of Luis Suarez, and even Daniel Agger are up in the air. Agger was recently given the vice captaincy, and with Carragher’s retirement, it is likely that decision by Rodgers will quash any worries regarding the rumors of the Danish center back’s departure.
Suarez’s situation is much trickier, and this may just be the beginning of a long recovery process to work him back in the squad, or the precursor to selling him abroad. With the club’s hard-line stance against selling him at all (read: in the Premier League), it is likely there will only be one serious suitor if anyone else beyond Arsenal shows serious interest. That club would be Real Madrid, but the Spanish side has yet to put in a bid. There is still a possibility that he will stay, as recent reports whispered the possibility of a contract extension.
Tension is high among the Anfield faithful, and things seems to get more intense every season. There’s no semblance of certainty with the current shape of this squad, and no guarantees it is good enough to challenge for fourth even by keeping Suarez and bringing in at least two other players. The Uruguayan forward’s fate may not be sorted until that window slams shut on September 2, at 1800 EDT (2300 BST).
Still reason for belief
Supporters are likely still upset by the previous five paragraphs. However, the real comfort comes in the reality that this squad is pretty good, and it is significantly better than it was last season. Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet is a younger, more reliable version of Pepe Reina. The leadership abilities of Agger and new, veteran defender Kolo Toure may not be the towering presence of Carragher, but they will make a big difference in the dressing room, while helping captain Steven Gerrard push this squad to success.
Wingers Raheem Sterling and Jordon Ibe have the potential to be two of the best players of their generation, and will be significant parts of this squad this year. New signing Iago Aspas helps add dynamic attacking pressure that the club sought in the past several years. Philipe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge should continue the high-impact play that mesmerized supporters last season, and turned the heads of every fan of this league.
A midfield with options such as Gerrard, Lucas Leiva, Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen (who is actually healthy this season), may frustrate every club that steps on the pitch with them. This strength, combined with a front line (if Suarez stays) that could provide a plethora of goals can help keep the issues remaining in the defensive line an afterthought.
These projections are due to the impressive form during the final half of last season, as well as the strong additions Rodgers has brought in during the past two transfer windows to make this squad his own. He is in the second year of a three-year project. No one should be making guarantees that this squad will be in fourth next season, but there is a guarantee that this squad will be stronger, faster and tougher than last season.
All troubles will be forgotten once Liverpool and Stoke City meet Saturday morning. The summer is over, the autumn is on its way. The Reds are not a club to take lightly this season.
Follow Chris Boulay on Twitter @chrismboulay