Friday, May 27, 2016

Liverpool End of Season Review

photo by mcclavevia PhotoRee

Correspondent Scott is back from a short break:
Well, I suppose after a lengthy pause, and given that the season has ended, a review of sorts is in order. But first, as you faithful readers have no doubt ascertained, Farlieonfootie experienced a down-sizing in the writing and editorial department.  Said downsizing was not done via fiat on a per capita basis, but rather voluntarily on a personal production volume basis. In other words, the Boss Man and Correspondent Ed are resting on their literary laurels.
Yet this sporadic contributor remains hopeful they will both emerge from their hibernation given recent developments at their respective teams. First, despite the last gasp/collapse, Spurs won a Champions League spot and Correspondent Ed must be optimistic of a more sustained title challenge next year. Plus he can watch nearly all the Tottenham players play for England this summer in Euro 2016. As for the Boss Man (I have firmly adopted Ed's monicker), Champs League may have just eluded his Red Devils but he can take heart that Beelzebub incarnate (AKA Jose Mourinho) will be arriving at Old Trafford to unleash his slash and burn form of team building.
Come on back, comrades. Leicester may be champions and Villa may have gone down, but Liverpool are still mid-table.
Which brings me to my topic - how can it be, I was recently asked, that Liverpool are so happy and optimistic when they finished about the same spot as they did last year under the new Celtic coach, and lost two cup finals?  Well, I suppose getting to 2 cup finals was sort of an achievement. But, more importantly, the discerning aficionado can see the style of play that Klopp is instilling and can see that the players move with more purpose and intensity. It isn't just the gangenpress; it is the work rate all over the field, both with and without the ball.
What I have enjoyed most this year is the resurgence of players who were deemed to have been failures. Notably, both Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana have found a new gear under the German coach. In fact, most every player except the poor Christian Benteke has excelled under Klopp. The Belgian is too much of a talent to be hidden under a bushel and only brought out for Cup matches so one hopes Jurgen will find a place for him or let him go to shine in the right system.
Other players like Joe Allen, Lucas Leiva and Kolo Toure might not have played as much as they would have liked but made important contributions when called upon. Youngsters like Ibe and Ojo were able to impress. Sturridge was mostly healthy. Coutinho was mostly sublime. Sakho was sturdy and Clyne was reliable. Moreno was erratic but exciting. Henderson was marginalized due to injury, as was Skrtl. Mignolet was generally brilliant with the occasional wobble. While Firmino's season, perhaps more than others, showed the same trajectory as the team overall - starting slowly with a few bumps but gathering momentum, even if unable to separate from the pack yet.
As for the future, I'm always optimistic but this time there are more reasons to be.  Some summer shopping to spruce things up, along with the aforementioned momentum, could very easily see Liverpool legitimately challenge for Top 4 next year, and maybe even more. Of course, TV money is very quickly bringing increased parity to the BPL - it wasn't all down to Chelsea and the Manchester clubs underperforming this year.
In summary, another mediocre year for Liverpool, tinged with a bit of quality here and there, more so toward the end. Things are looking up, as we have to do from 8th place, and a higher finish next year is a lock. The only question is how much higher. Oh, and when will the rest of the Farlieonfootie writers break out a keyboard again?
This is farlieonfootie for May 27 -- Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone.

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