The lid may have been slammed firmly on Liverpool’s season in Monday night’s 3-3 draw at Crystal Palace, with Manchester City hammering in the nails during their 4-0 rout of Aston Villa on Wednesday night, but it’s hard to believe this is the last we’ll see of Liverpool in a title race.
We hear it after almost every setback, after every missed opportunity: the other title challengers will be stronger next season; they’ve blown their chance and might not get another for many, many years.
It’s funny because what happens is an adjustment of the teams in question, those who are going to strengthen and the team who have blown their chance. All we do is move the pieces around to suit whatever the agenda may be.
Liverpool have missed the boat on the Premier League title and everyone will be stronger next season, but what about Liverpool themselves? Are we so naïve to think the club won’t strengthen? Brendan Rodgers knows exactly what is required to build on what has been a fantastic season, league title or not. The club’s owners know they’re onto something good, and while they may hold reservations and even fears on splashing out in the manner they did in 2011 (both in January and the summer), investment is a must and Rodgers has earned the financial backing of the owners this summer.
Remember when the discussion last summer revolved around Luis Suarez and whether Liverpool would be better off without him? Maybe on a smaller scale they’ve blown their chance at keeping him at Anfield. Sure, the Uruguayan wants Champions League football, having only tasted it once while with Ajax, but the disappointment of this season may lead him into the arms of Real Madrid. It would be foolish to categorically rule out such a move.
It’s not to say Liverpool would be better off without a player who more or less guarantees you 30 goals a season, but it is to say they can replace his production, either in one individual or two or three. The point is, the club won’t crumble upon Suarez’s departure. It is possible to sell a big name, then buy well and remain competitive.
And let’s think for a moment if Liverpool weren’t title contenders this season, instead simply contenders for a top four spot. That was the goal at the start of the season. Brendan Rodgers, like most I’m sure, rubbished the idea at the start of the campaign that Liverpool could win the league. If they finish in second place, which you have to assume they will, it will still count as a monumental leap forward from where they were to where they want to be. The chance for further progression and possible title glory next season won’t be cut off simply because an initially out-of-reach target materialised but then slipped out of grasp.
Liverpool are back among the big time, and it won’t be ending come Monday next week.
Rodgers has his tactical setup in place. The attack needs tweaking with additions, but Crystal Palace highlighted a problem area at the back that must be addressed over the summer. Blitzkrieg football one day, kamikaze the next. Liverpool can’t go into the Champions League playing the way they do.
But again you assume there are plans in place to rectify those issues. This isn’t the end of the road for the building process.