Big summer for: Liverpool

A Carling Cup win did little to mask over the poor Premier League performance last season, where Liverpool, having spent heavily over the summer, could only muster an eighth place finish. If anyone can testify to that statement, it’s Kenny Dalglish, who was sacked from his position at the club a little over a week ago.

With the financial backing of the Fenway Sports Group, the Reds were expected to challenge for, at least, a top four finish. However, having dropped too many points at Anfield, a place they lost just following Dalglish’s appointment for the latter half of the 2010/11 season, the Merseyside outfit finished 17 points behind fourth place Tottenham Hotspur.

However, now managerless, this summer is set to be of monumental importance to the future of the Merseyside outfit. Currently underperforming, but set to participate in Europe next season, months of rebuilding are set to be undertaken as Liverpool look to break back into the top four next season.

The manager

The most important facet that needs addressing sooner rather than later. Following the sacking of Dalglish, Liverpool were linked with a host of big name managers ranging from Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho to former Chelsea coach Andre Villas-Boas. Yet, despite the Reds approaches for the likes Swansea City boss Brendan Rodgers to Frank de Boer of Ajax, nobody seemed keen to take over the reins at Anfield.

Getting a new man in as quickly as possible is the most viable option for the club’s owners as they look to secure the necessary stability to take the club forward. Wigan Athletics Roberto Martinez appears to be the overwhelming favourite having met John W Henry in Miami on Thursday. Many of the Reds faithful had been pining for a return of Rafa Benitez, a distinct possibility with the Spaniard out of work, but after admitting they want a younger man to take charge, Martinez appears to be the man FSG want in charge.

To be fair to the club’s American owners, they want the new man at the helm to bring in a stable environment and you can understand their inclination to bring in a younger manager to bring this on. Furthermore, the attacking football the Martinez had his Latics side playing during his time at the DW Stadium will surely get the Reds fans salivating at the prospect of the style of the play their team will be playing in the foreseeable future.

The only major worry appears to be his youth and inexperience. Yes, Martinez may have five years worth of management behind him, but at just 38-years of age, the possible criticism and lack of time with one of the so called ‘sky four’ could hinder his progress as a coach, especially if he gets off to a slow start with his new club, should he be appointed.

Nevertheless, it is vital that the new manager is ready to start pre-season at the beginning of July in order to stamp down his authority and implement his ideas into the first-team. Martinez clearly ticks all the necessary boxes to match FSG’s ambitions, being young and attack minded, and if they believe him to be the right man to take the club forward, in the long-term, then the support of the fans will be pivotal for their success.

The Players

The first-team squad at Liverpool will be key to the success of Martinez. However, it is also a two-way street and if the Spaniard is to be considered a success at Anfield, he will need to earn the respect of the players. Unlike the Villas-Boas approach at Chelsea, involving a major cull of the senior members of the squad, Martinez will have to ensure his workings are right.

Dalglish, to his credit, had already earned the admiration of the current playing squad following his cult hero status with the fans following his spell as a player and first stint as manager. From the word go, Martinez will, like Roy Hodgson, not be a fan favourite having succeeded Kenny on Merseyside. It is a similar scenario to Hodgson, who fans took an instant distain to due to the fact he wasn’t Dalglish.

If he is to establish himself on Anfield, should FSG look to him, Martinez may be wise in taking the Frank Rijkaard approach the Dutchman adopted when he took over Barcelona in 2003. With fan favourite Luis Enrique set to retire at the end of the campaign Rijkaard took over, a then 40-year-old Frank knew he would have to somehow cull the Spaniard from the squad.

However, rather than instantly cut him from the first-team, and face a revolt from one of the senior squad members, Rijkaard persisted with the midfielder at the beginning of the season before slowly fazing him out of first-team duties, explaining his decision to Enrique, thus earning his respect and harmony in the dressing room.

Martinez will have to take a similar approach should the time come with captain Steven Gerrard, much like it did with Jamie Carragher, another vocal and respected member of the dressing room, had been dropped from the starting XI in favour of Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger across the course of the season by Dalglish. Yet, the difference between Dalglish and Martinez is that, as previously mentioned, the former had already earned the respect of his player’s via his playing and managerial career.

Yet it isn’t just Martinez that could have to prove his worth to the club, with a number of under performers from last season set to be handed a second chance to really prove their worth. The likes of Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam all arrived with high expectations, yet failed to deliver in their first year on Anfield. These player’s, amongst other, will have to showcase their capabilities to the new manager in order to warrant a place in the starting XI for the new campaign.


The underperforming arrivals last summer will be put to the sword, should the new manager opt against utilising them in his future plans. FSG backed Dalglish heavily during the summer and the January window that the Scot took over and the group will again need to back the manager this transfer window again, should the need arise.

Reports suggest the American company will look to utilise the bosman market, a move that could backfire on them with the huge sums of money they have thrown at the club. The new manager will want the financial backing of the owners, should he deem the current crop unnecessary to his plans for the club.

If FSG were willing to save on costs, it could have a detrimental effect on not only the squad, but also the club’s limitations when it comes to re-breaking back into the top four. Liverpool now need to invest heavily if they are to improve on their eighth place finish and Carlin Cup win. Silverware in the trophy cabinet may have appeased some, but when it comes to measuring success, a lot is based on reaching the Champions League.

Another campaign outside of Europe’s elite competition could have a serious effect on the future of the club. The fanbase will forever remain with the club, that is a given, but whether the player’s will again settle for a third successive season without any involvement in the Champions League is another matter altogether.

Bringing in new acquisitions this transfer window could be more pivotal than in previous years and it is up to the owners to back the manager financially to ensure this happens. Without it, the new man could end up feeling undermined, leading to a disharmonic atmosphere in the dressing room that would, undoubtedly, cost the team on the pitch. For all football fans know, this could be the most important summer in recent history for Liverpool. 

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