Pre season is officially underway and it’s at this time of year when most football fans are understandably feeling as optimistic as ever. I’m especially optimistic because Liverpool ’s squad is beginning to look seriously strong, and the best thing about it is that we haven’t yet finished strengthening for the summer.
For the first time in a while, our squad looks very balanced and if you were to try to predict our player of the season for next year, it wouldn’t be as easy as it has been in recent years. In the past few seasons it was all about two men, Gerrard and Torres, but now the candidates stretch across the entire squad. Now when predicting our main man for next season, names such as Meireles, Suarez, Carroll, Kuyt, Lucas, Reina and even Charlie Adam can be thrown into the mix. Steven Gerrard will of course be up there due to the ridiculously high standards he’s set for himself while our brand new acquisition, Stewart Downing has the attributes to be Liverpool’s dark horse next year.
If I have to narrow down the list of potential stars for next season, I’d put it down to two players, Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez . Gerrard himself would admit that he hasn’t been at his absolute best in the past two seasons and after being out injured since March, he’ll be itching to be on the pitch again. I can see our skipper returning to something near his best form next season and if the rest of the squad can keep up with him, Liverpool can definitely surprise a few people during the 2011/2012 campaign.
If Gerrard doesn’t end up being our most influential player next season then I can see only one other man taking that title, Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan is simply mesmerising at times and I can’t imagine what he is capable of doing in a full season in the Premiership. His game intelligence, technique and acceleration are some of the main reasons why he is currently one of the best players in the league, and I believe that in a year’s time, he will have established himself as the best forward in England.
Thinking back to our 3-1 victory over Manchester United last season, I struggle to remember a better individual performance against them from one of our players. Suarez absolutely ripped United to shreds that day and effortlessly ran rings around their defence throughout the match. It was a real test of how effective the Uruguayan could be in a big game and he definitely put any doubts over him to bed with one of the best performances I’ve ever seen against Man United at Anfield.
Even though he was outstanding at times last season, there is still room to improve for Suarez. He did on occasion have ineffective games and I would like to see him in the box a bit more to finish off our attacking moves. Now that Suarez has had half a season to get settled in I would hope that next season proves to be the start of a prolific era for Liverpool. You only have to look at highlights of last season’s games from February onwards to see just how influential Suarez was in most matches. For a huge portion of Liverpool’s goals within this period, Suarez was directly involved with either the build up or by being the one to score them.
It’s fair to say that my hopes for Suarez next season are sky high, but if you look at the amount of quality players he will have supporting him, it really does point to a strong league campaign for the red men. If Kenny Dalglish can find the right system to accommodate our best players, then there’s no telling how high Liverpool could finish in the league table. For a very long time now, Liverpool have been regarded as one of Europe’s top clubs, and with the players we now have at our disposal, it is about time we played like it.
Read more of Mark Wilson’s articles at Live4Liverpool