In many ways, the match against Southampton was a perfect summary of Liverpool’s season. The Reds were exciting moving forwards but fairly woeful at the back, which sounds about right. The match was fun to watch at times, excruciating at others and ultimately meant very little. In the end, we couldn’t do enough to get top four but the fact that we got back into some sort of form towards the end of the campaign is at least a little something to get excited about. Ultimately, we have no real sense of how next year will look in terms of the Liverpool team, such is the extent to which the outgoings mean that the incomings will be numerous. Roberto Firmino scoring the equaliser against Aston Villa and then a perfect example of his sort of goal against Southampton was a delightful conclusion to the Brazilian’s time at the club. There will always be a sense that perhaps he should’ve signed on for one more year, but you should always leave them wanting more.
— The Anfield Talk (@TheAnfieldTalk) May 29, 2023
James Milner is in the same camp, having been a wonderful servant but calling it time with us whilst he still has miles on the clock. Let their legs fall off on someone else’s watch. There is also a solid suggestion that Kelleher is likely to be heading out of the door, with the performance against the Saints unlikely to have added much more money to his transfer fee. That being said, the ability that we’ve seen from him most of the time combined with his skill with his feet means that I think that he would be an excellent addition to pretty much any team in the top-flight. The news today that Fabio Carvalho is expected to leave, albeit probably on loan, means that the Reds have a lot of work to do and don’t necessarily have the right people in place to do it. That will hopefully change over the coming days, but it’s fair to say that it’s a toss of a coin in terms of how we might look when the new season gets underway. At least this one is well and truly over.
A Bad Start Made It Difficult To Recover
You only need to look back at my piece after the Community Shield to see that there was excitement about what the season might become. When Darwin Nüñez scored and looked every inch the thrilling prospect that we thought we were signing, it felt as though the campaign could be whatever we wanted it to be. Expecting us to go head-to-head with Manchester City, I thought our win would give us the mental advantage to get one over on them. Instead, an opening day draw with newly promoted Fulham was just the tip of the iceberg regarding how miserably we’d perform against the dregs of the league. It felt that we were very quickly out of any potential title race and the players very clearly struggled to enjoy themselves from that moment on. I’m not overly surprised. Imagine coming so close to completing football only to have the major trophies snatched away from you? The manager and his team will have had them believing they could go again, just as they did the last time they missed out on the league by a point.
Can't believe it's all over. Won't see Bobby in a Liverpool shirt again. This feeling sucks. But we love you and good luck with your future. Thank you for everything our number 9.
— FantasticFirmino9 (@MPBFirmino9) May 28, 2023
As soon as it became clear that they couldn’t, heads dropped and things fell apart. In amongst all of that, the manager did not do well for most of the campaign. We don’t like to admit that Jürgen Klopp has any frailties, but the German was poor in his approach to countless aspects of the season. He was not as pragmatic as he should’ve been, failing to adapt to what was actually taking place in front of him and instead hoping that things would change merely by wishing that to be the case. By the time everyone realised that the league was done and needed to adjust expectations, it was then a battle to get back on track enough to make it even vaguely successful as a season. The damage had been done early doors and that is something that the manager and his backroom team will need to have a think about in case it happens again in the future. When things go wrong early doors, adjust your aims quickly to at least salvage something.
If We Can Take The End Of The Season Form Into Next, We’ll Be OK
For Liverpool, next season has to be about challenging for the title once again. The Reds missed out two seasons ago in cruel circumstances and have been poor this season, but the expectation is there that we do what we can to stop 115 Charges FC. With Newcastle United now strengthening in the wake of their own sports-washing takeover and Manchester United likely to have been bought out by the time the new campaign gets underway, to say nothing of Jürgen Klopp not being around forever, our chances of winning the league aren’t going to be high forever. We can use the ability of not taking the Europa League seriously to effectively only have one competition that we need to focus on. That can play to our advantage, provided the manager is actually willing to go weak in Europe more often than not. If he can do that then there’s no reason why we can’t take the battle to Pep Guardiola’s men once more and win the league again.
Only man who could stop Bayern in the last 12 years
Only man who could stop Man City in the last 6 years.
— Liverpool Photos (@LiverpoolPhotox) May 27, 2023
The good news is that we finished the campaign in excellent form. Even if you include the draw against Southampton, which we would realistically have won if there had been anything riding on it, we took 23 points from a possible 27 at the end of the season. Start the next one like that and we’ll be very much in the mix of the conversation for the title, which is what we all want. Whilst the season overall is a massive disappointment, there are things that the manager and his backroom team can take from it. The new role for Trent Alexander-Arnold is one that has worked and can continue to do so, but they also need to acknowledge that there needs to be a plan for when he isn’t playing well. The manner in which Cody Gakpo performed in what is essentially something of a Bobby Firmino-lite role suggests that there is going to be life after the Brazilian. The sooner we forget all about the last ten months the better, but there are green shoots of optimism for me.