Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Why Liverpool could struggle in the UCL next season:

Now don’t get me wrong – this is definitely not a hate campaign against Liverpool, who were one of the best sides to watch in football last season. Their counter attacking speed and clinical nature helped them to their best finish since the 2008-09 season, and within touching distance of their first Barclays Premier League trophy since it began back in 1992.

I personally like the majority of their players aswell, the likes of Coutinho, Sturridge and Sterling all have different qualities which link-up together perfectly to create a healthy balance in an up and coming team under Brendan Rodgers; who has done well to steady the ship and deliver Champions League football back to Anfield once again.

But, there are major doubts currently as to whether or not Liverpool have what it takes to be able to multi-task efficiently and still finish in a respectable place next campaign. They have a new competition to worry about, as well as trying to cement themselves as a true top four team again instead of the “one season wonder” tag that haunted the likes of Tottenham and Everton a few years ago.

The UEFA Champions League itself carries a high level of prestige and honour, which can be a real factor when it comes to signing world-class players who want to be on centre stage every week; but the real question is whether the teams involved can actually stay consistent and be able to compete with the best in Europe every year.

A lot of Liverpool’s current crop of players do not have any real UCL experience, which is not exactly an encouraging sight. Plus, the sale of talisman striker Luis Suárez to Barcelona (for £75million pounds) is not exactly going to help the cause, especially as the Uruguayan (as much as he is criticized for his bad behaviour) was an integral part of their team going forward alongside Sturridge last season.

Suárez is one of, if not the best striker in the world and his sale will be sorely missed from all at LFC, whether they will admit that to you or not. What I am saying is there are doubts over whether the current crop will be able to deliver at the top level of football under pressure from the best of the best, those teams who know how to get the job done no matter how they do it.

To prove my point, I am going to look at each and every one of Liverpool’s players currently playing for the first-team in an objective manner -

Simon Mignolet – A solid goalkeeper all-round, but has a tendency to make mistakes.

Pepe Reina – Out on-loan at Napoli last season, and he was impressive. Will he stay at LFC?  Experience is vital for them regardless.

Brad Jones – Third string keeper, and that is all. Not really challenging for top dog either.

Glen Johnson – Experienced, but has been quiet for the majority of the season and has notably decreased his performances as he has got older. Hopefully he can stay fit next season, struggling with injuries and such.

Jose Enrique – Not much UCL experience, and he has been struggling with injuries over the past season or so. Would be a shame to see him out of action, but he is a solid full-back.

Kolo Touré – Experienced, but at 33 he has a tendency to make mistakes which are simply not justifiable in the centre of defence.

Daniel Agger – Very reliable centre-back who still has a few years left in him at age 29, the vice captain of the team and a tactically aware player which is a good quality to have.

Mamadou Sakho – Let’s just say you wouldn’t want him marking you as a striker. Powerful, pacy and a brick wall in defence who has the tendency to give away fouls occasionally and make the odd mistake. PSG are missing out though.

Martin Skrtel – Scores at both ends of the pitch, he is a powerful centre-back who unfortunately is leaky under pressure.

Jon Flanagan – He proved himself in the few matches that he played last season, but he is too young to be placed under media spotlight and expectation already. Expect a few cameo appearances though.

Steven Gerrard (c) – The captain, the most experienced player in the team. Look at him to lead the team, not just in the dressing room but on the pitch. Natural born leader with the most assists last season, he’s clearly still got “it”.

Phillipe Coutinho – How and why Inter Milan sold this Brazilian youngster I will never know, but Liverpool don’t mind! One of their key creative attacking forces, he will be hoping that he can do the same again starting in August.

Jordan Henderson – Last season, he silenced the critics and proved to everyone that he is worth £20million pounds. Quiet during the World Cup, but he will hope he can show himself on the big stage.

Lucas Leiva – When he’s not injured, he is a class midfielder. But, his injury problems have halted his career.

Emre Can – An interesting deal to sign Can from LFC, £10million for a youngster who has potential. To be fulfilled, but needs game time.

Joe Allen – In my opinion, he should have stayed at Swansea. Doesn’t get played very often, and when he does he looks uncomfortable.

Raheem Sterling – Attacking flair, blistering pace and good dribbling; Raheem is one of the best young players in Europe. Is he ready?

Lazar Markovic – A new signing for The Reds, £20million spent on Benfica’s golden boy. He’ll get his chance, but doesn’t have much experience.

Rickie Lambert – A bargain at £4million pounds from Southampton, but not exactly the first name on the team sheet. Consistent performer, but not UCL material.

Daniel Sturridge – Their best attacking option, Dani has proved his worth in the past two seasons and it will be good to see him in the UCL next season. Clinical, selfish at times but worth it.

Fabio Borini – No experience, but he’s decent. Rumours running rampant that he’s off to Sunderland for £15m though.

So what do you guys think, can Liverpool do well this season or will they struggle under pressure? I hope I’m wrong, but looking at it from a neutral perspective the odds are not exactly in their favour. The new season is under a month to go now!