With new signing Kolo Toure today coming out to say he believes that Liverpool can get a top four spot this season, I wanted to look at their chances of doing just that.
The Reds haven’t made it to the Champions League since being knocked out in 2009, Rafael Benitez’s last season in charge. This also marked the “downfall” for Liverpool, as they haven’t managed to finish in the top four of the league since then. But despite this, many people believe that this could be the season Liverpool return to the top.
Speaking to BBC Sport today, Kolo Toure said: “We want to win trophies and we want to play in the Champions League. This club is a winning club, I want to be part of history here.” Toure is a new signing at Anfield, having joined from Premier League rivals Manchester City on a free transfer last month. He went on to say “I think with the squad we have got we can do very well this season. Liverpool have the history, quality, players and mentality.”
And he isn’t the only one who believes they can get back into the Champions League. Captain Steven Gerrard believes that if the club can continue their great form from the end of the last season then they can definitely get there. Whilst talking to the Daily Mail, Gerrard said: “It could have been an awful lot trickier. We’ve got to be reasonably pleased with the start we’ve got but every game in the Premier League is tough.
“You need to turn up and perform. I look at the fixtures all the time but the most important thing is to not get too carried away and look at that first game. We need to get off to a good start in terms of being positive for that first home game.” Reflecting on a encouraging 2013 for the club, the 33-year-old added: “The final five or six months of the season were fantastic, we showed fantastic form – I think it was top-four form.”
And he may have a point. With Liverpool’s first nine games including only one team that finished above them last term, Manchester United, you could argue that they have a fairly easy start. And if they can capitalise on this then they may well be in a comfortable position. Considering they have only lost one in their last twelve, if the Reds can carry this fantastic form into a successful pre-season, a good start to the league could be on the cards.
But despite this, there is one issue that is yet to be resolved. With Luis Suarez’s Anfield future still uncertain, one of their most important players could not be there come the start of the season. Some would say that the Uruguayan is imperative to Liverpool’s success and without him then their season is doomed. But even if they can keep hold of him, he will miss the first six league games anyway due to his ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic last season. Despite his ban, though, he will definitely be a key part of Liverpool’s top four chances once he has served his suspension – his partnership with Daniel Sturridge last season was fantastic and I’m sure that this link can be continued into this season, if he decides to stay that is. The BBC reported this morning that Suarez admitted on Uruguayan radio that there were “two or three teams interested”, and with Arsenal already having a £30million bid turned down, interest looks certain to intensify.
Another integral part of Liverpool’s potential success is to make sure Steven Gerrard is kept fit. Their skipper has a history of injury problems and missed the end of last season due to having surgery, but he is likely to be ready for the start of the season. Despite this though he needs to be kept in top condition as a player of his quality would be key to any side, which he is to Liverpool. Not only does he possess the ability needed, but he also has the experience and leadership qualities to aid the rest of the team and motivate them on to get where they need to go.
However consistency will arguably be the most important factor in Liverpool’s success this season. A number of the players themselves, especially Gerrard, admitted that what they lacked last year was consistency and this is surely the basis of any football club’s success. In recent years the Anfield side have been given the reputation of throwing away ‘easy’ games – they could go on a great winning streak, beating United and Everton and then throw it away in a 1-0 loss at home to Norwich. If they are to have any sort of ‘resurrection’ then instances like this cant continue and their form needs to be uniform and they must keep losses down to a minimum.
If they can keep hold of Suarez and ensure they have a clean bill of health throughout the season I personally think that Liverpool can mount a good challenge for the top four. I think that Brendan Rodgers is building a great young side and in a couple of years time they will be back up at the top, potentially challenging for the league again. But they really need to hit the ground running this season a good start will be crucial for them.