Where will we finish?
Basically, I haven't a clue. Recent history - bar one genius-inspired season - tells us we're nowhere near a top team anymore; a club of intermittently great results and performances amongst seasons of embarrassment and failure. The trophy count is becoming desperate, the transfer policy soul destroying and the lack of a single consistently great talent utterly stark. So eighth in a seven horse race then?
Well yes, except - Kloppo. Apparently, things are exactly as he wants them: his players, his tactics, no problems with the policy or budget and the pre-season has been pretty much what he wanted. Manager-speak, obviously? Maybe not. Certainly things seem very similar to how he worked before and that is surely a good sign that comparable results will follow.
And yet, it's a seven horse race. With Pep. And the tit at The Mancs. And £30m signings the new bog standard. Can you detect my disbelief? Three hundred and seventy six times bitten, twice shy (as the LFC saying should probably go).
But I'm a sucker. And no Europe. And, like I said, Kloppo. So... fourth.
I don't think I could be on more of a downer on football and, by extension, Liverpool at the moment. Looking at our transfer business it's become obvious that I'm no longer in touch with what the club is willing to do and what I want them to do.
We needed a new left back above all else in the off-season so giving a relegated team £25 million for a player I'm not sure we needed is not quite what I had in mind. Worst of all is that I can't muster the enthusiasm to care because Liverpool are now clearly a tier below teams that they should be the equals of.
It's difficult to take watching Man City become more relevant and successful based purely on the whims of the Middle East and it's like Darth Vader meeting Emperor Palpatine when Mourinho took over at Old Trafford. Those two plus Chelsea and Arsenal have resources that Liverpool either don't have or don't want to use, which means everything is placed on the shoulders of the manager repeating what he did in Germany.
I used to be a pessimist but now I think it's realism. Liverpool should finish higher than eighth leapfrogging Southampton and West Ham is eminently achievable - as for the rest? Not so much. No Europe might help but all the teams from fifth upwards look strong and have strengthened. Can't see higher than fifth, it'll probably be sixth. No soup for Liverpool.
There’s still 3 weeks left in the transfer window so this could change but I get the feeling that this summer has been a wasted opportunity to really, really overhaul the squad. We have spent decent money (I don’t care what anyone says, that TV money has gone on the Main Stand) but nothing like I was hoping we would and we still have absolutely glaring gaps in the starting eleven.
We are short of a competent left back and currently only have Moreno because Milner, his 'emergency deputy', is one of a ridiculous number of injuries we’ve managed to accumulate in pre-season. The second half capitulation in Basel made me wash my hands of the vast majority of those gutless jabronis, but especially Moreno. I will not be happy until he has been replaced.
We also need a top drawer central midfielder. That is rumoured to be Dahoud but we won’t pay what Borussia Monchengladbach want. So, as usual, we’ll have to do what the spreadsheet says. I don’t trust these owners or our dreadful transfer policy.
That said, we’ve made some solid additions and there’s nobody we’ve brought in that have caused any "Eduardo Macia type alarm bells" to go off. We’ve finally managed to address the “no competent back up goalkeeper” situation and we have signed players to play how Klopp wants to.
But the manager is about the only thing I am optimistic about these days. He is carrying the weight of expectation on his shoulders and my worry is that weight will eventually become too much. There’s still weeks to go in the window but at the moment it looks like another window of over-promising and under delivering. But that Main Stand, eh?
As far as where we’ll finish? Probably about 6th. If we get some luck with injuries then maybe we can have a tilt at the top 4 but there’s so much money sloshing about us that we’re simply not prepared to try and compete with, and unfortunately money is what wins the arm wrestle in football now.
I’m with Paul in that I have no idea what’s going to happen. This team is just so ridiculously up and down I don’t know what to expect from them anymore.
Some of the performances since Klopp came in have been incredible, we’ve looked like we could beat anybody when we’ve been right at it. Other times it's been as bad as we ever were under Rodgers, and that second half in Basel.... *grinds teeth*
Klopp has signed some players who he feels will make his system work better than those they replaced so that should help. Maybe we’ll also become more consistent with only playing once a week? Perhaps Klopp’s training methods will kick in and the extra knowledge he’s got of the league based on the free spin he had at it last season will help to prevent the infuriating losses to crap teams. Or maybe they won’t. We'll see. Either is as likely as the other at this point.
I’m in “prove it” mode. I know what they’re capable of, I just don’t know if they’ll show it often enough so I don't trust them yet. We won’t finish any worse than 7th so I’ll predict 5th (behind both Manc clubs, Arsenal and either Chelsea or Spurs), but such is the uncertainty surrounding us I honestly wouldn’t rule anything out, even the title.
Just a few short years ago I recall watching a Dortmund side that were playing some of the most energetic and effective football in Europe and thinking that it must be a real treat to follow them; that if you had your pick of all the managers in the game it would be Klopp that got the call.
Fast-forward to the current day and the imposing German has had half a season to get his feet under his Melwood desk, a full pre-season, has brought some of his targets in and is ready to dive into what could be one of the most interesting and competitive Premier League’s for years. I can’t help but be excited about it.
The signings of Mane and Wijnaldum would seem to add pace, dynamism and some additional raw numbers of output to a side that was crying out for them, and give the squad the look of one with more depth and options than there has been for some time. There may not have been any big statements made in the market to resolve defensive worries but I’m banking on the manager choosing to bring in Klavan and Matip for a reason, and seeing them as part of his plan to make the team as a whole a lot more resilient.
With no European distractions it is not beyond belief that Liverpool could well be in the shake up come the end of the season. I’m going to say that we’ll qualify for the Champions league this season (finishing 3rd), and that with a wind behind us we might even be involved in the title race coming into the last 5 games. That all starts with Arsenal on the first weekend. Front foot lads. Get into this lot, they’re no great shakes!