In other, less obvious circumstances, the ominous prediction in the banner would be something to be proud of given how accurate it turned out to be. After a dull 0-0 draw with Hull City to close out the 2009-2010 season, though, it was generally accepted that things couldn't continue as they had during a disappointing follow-up to the second place finish a year before. We all sort of had our ideas about the whos and whats, and it seemed as though some of the changes had already been set in motion, which makes the above statement more lazy than anything else.
But I'm not sure any of us could have predicted the number, manner, or impact of the changes that this season saw, and with things relatively settled, at least for now, it's probably as good a time as any to take a look over our collective shoulder at all of the comings and goings to see just how the hell we ended up here.
In a season with so much turnover, this type of post was always bound to be long, so brace yourself for two-thousand words worth of things you've probably already read. But before you get into it and lose interest, I have to make mention of the tireless work of Noel in organizing our end of the season polling feature, and the help of the collaborating blogs---Oh You Beauty (nate), Paisley Gates (steven. and Nathan/Grubb), and Anfield Asylum (Sam)---as well as our guest editors, Amy from A Football Report, Gareth from Well Red, James from Unprofessional Foul, and Mike from Avoiding the Drop. If you somehow missed out on the festivities, go here for the final results post from Noel, which also has links to all the previous posts and polls.
And now, the year in changes and major turning points:
Rafa Benitez Leaving Liverpool
What I said then: "For all the ambivalence I’ve had about his tenure, especially this year, I got the worst sinking feeling in my stomach just now. Not sure what to make of it, but it’s tough to take."
What I say now: The situation was untenable, and it had little to do with Rafa. With different owners---hell, even the current owners---who knows what would have happened. And that sinking feeling mostly turned out to be a premonition that Liverpool were about to get a steaming Daily Mail special delivered on their doorstep with a side of hoofing and disappointment.
Liverpool Announce Roy Hodgson as Manager
What I said then: "So when Liverpool finally confirm what we’ve heard in the past few weeks about Hodgson’s appointment, I almost find myself manufacturing a reaction."
What I say now: Looking back, as we've used many times this season, there was only one acceptable reaction.
What I said then: "Chelsea fans will probably not be jumping out of their seat at the prospect of picking up the Israeli. But since he cracked the first team in the second half of last season, he’s been an integral on-field presence for both the measurable and the immeasurable."
What I say now: If we're talking about this thing as a swap, and it more or less turned out to be, Liverpool got hosed. He was injured most of the year, but Chelsea supporters jumped on the bandwagon (odd), and things on the Liverpool end were decidedly less successful.
What I said then: "Cole was always going to attract attention after leaving Chelsea, so Liverpool being able to sign him up gives hope that the club aren’t necessarily the pariah we’ve thought. "
What I say now: Right, it just turned out that Joe Cole was the pariah. I mean, he got a compilation video for his performance against Rabotnicki (and he's apparently very popular among the commenters there), but that's more like a stunning paradox in which he peaked while bottoming out. Also, this.
Fabio Aurelio Back at Liverpool
What I said then: "Yes, Aurelio’s struggled with injuries, but he at least temporarily fills the void at left back. I’m assuming the club aren’t done looking for a more permanent solution, but if he’s able to stay fit he could undoubtedly be battling for a spot in the starting eleven."
What I say now: He struggled with injuries, temporarily filled the void at left back, battled for a spot in the starting eleven when he was able to stay fit, and the club aren't done looking for a more permanent solution.
What I said then: "Well, shit."
What I say now: One of the things that didn't need changing, but now I'd prefer they correct it. Not sure if it's a possibility, although I can say I very much prefer him to Charlie Adam.
What I said then: "It’s just a bad time for all of this to go down, and whether it’s the media narrative or me just being butthurt, I’m not feeling too understanding at the present moment."
What I say now: Everything's better now that he dedicated the Champions League victory to Liverpool, yes? Really though, I can't say that Liverpool missed him, as Lucas alongside whothefuckever turned out to be more than enough in midfield this season.
What I said then: "I’m guessing he’s joined to provide some sort of forward fluidity to the midfield—not strictly defensive-minded, but not one to bomb forward completely, he’s probably unlike any of the midfielders currently in the squad."
What I say now: Had it not been for Kenny Dalglish or Luis Suarez, Meireles was the signing of the season. Once he settled and steeled himself for the English game, he was almost always reliable and regularly magnificent.
What Noel said then: "A yes man for the owners as they foolishly ship out Insuas and Aquilanis to replace them with Koncheskys and Poulsens in order to bleed the club a little more, or simply an old man set in his ways who doesn’t seem to really feel, deep down, what it means to be in charge of Liverpool Football Club?"
What I say now: Noel's Liverpool Offside bow in a guest starring role that turned into much, much more. And, to answer the question, the latter.
Board Agrees a Deal, Hicks Still a Bastard
What I said then: "Board agrees to sale of club to New England Sports Ventures—Broughton impressed, process been taking awhile, owners blocking. Shit has gotten real."
What I say now: Obviously a major turning point in the club's season and history, and subsequent interviews and, more importantly, actions have shown that the new owners' shit is, in fact, real.
What I said then: "Hopefully we’re in the middle of a giant step forward for the club, and the days of worrying about whether or not the owners actually have a vested interest in the club’s success are over. NESV aren’t going to walk into this as saviors, and they’ll rightfully have some convincing left to do."
What I say now: As I mentioned above, the January window proved that they're invested in the club's success, even if they magically changed their name to FSG at some point over the next few months.
What Noel said then: "In the end he came up with exactly the same thing we’ve seen week in and week out, and Everton was more than happy to take advantage of that. Moyes, apparently, isn’t a complete idiot: he knew what was coming. I think we all, when we weren’t trying to trick ourselves into feeling optimistic about it, knew what was coming, too."
What I say now: One of the moments that will stand out from Hodgson's Liverpool reign is earmarking the 0-2 result at Goodison as one of Liverpool's best. As Noel said, we were tricking ourselves, and this brought it to light.
Damien Comolli Joins Liverpool
What I said then: "It’s hard to get a read on what exactly this means beyond the role to which he’s appointed—hopefully this assuages some of the concern about Hodgson’s skill in selecting talent to bring in, as a gaggle of Christian Poulsen clones probably isn’t the type of big spending anyone’s looking for."
What I say now: Slowly but surely, Comolli's making a positive impact on the Liverpool squad. January was a start, and this summer apparently promises to be much more active. A new title in the months that have since passed, but still here to serve the same function---help make Liverpool great again.
Roy Hodgson Out, Kenny Dalglish In
What I said then: "Great news—this doesn’t immediately change things or fix the problems the squad has had, but I think it does quite a bit for changing the atmosphere around the club. The immediate response seems to be one of optimism and relief despite what’s sure to be a media indictment of supporters, but, you know, the media can fuck off."
What I say now: Saying that it "does quite a bit" in terms of changing the atmosphere around the club turned out to be a gross miscalculation. Even with the struggles of the last two weeks of the season, this Liverpool is not the same Liverpool we struggled with from September to the darkest days of early January.
What Noel said then: "Suarez is here, so let’s all get oiled up and dance to techno! Oh, wait, that’s just the obligatory soundtrack to his Youtube Top 50 Goals video. Well, that’s good, too."
What I say now: As it turns out, getting oiled up and dancing to techno is as close an experience to actually watching Luis Suarez as it gets. Twisting, turning, dancing, ecstasy, people getting taken advantage of, unbridled euphoria---it's all there when he's on form. Gamechanger.
What Noel said then: "We’re moving up again, and meanwhile Chelsea is slipping further away from the title. So while I won’t be wishing the striker any luck with his new club, and in fact hope he struggles for form and has trouble fitting into an over-crowded front line with Drogba–frankly, I hope he never wins a thing with them and goes on to watch Liverpool capture silverware in his absence as Owen did when he foolishly left–at the same time I don’t truly feel the rage of the betrayed. In fact I might even feel a little sorry for him, and for his short-sighted foolishness. For in the end, he will lose more from the events of the last few days than we will." Also, "Andy Carroll has officially signed on. Like Suarez it’s a five and a half year deal for our newest record signing, one who eclipsed Suarez as our record signing after his short time on top having topped Torres’ fee."
What I said now: So that turned out to be scary accurate, didn't it? Jury's still out on Carroll, and we've heard plenty about the transfer fee, but it was a nightmare finish to the season for Torres.
Kenny Dalglish, Permanent Manager
What Noel said then: "It’s great to have the King back for good, even if everybody was fairly certain it was only a matter of time. It’s also amazing how far not only Kenny Dalglish has taken the club on the pitch, but how far things have come in so little time on almost every level. It hardly seems fair to have to wait out a summer transfer window now to get to the next chapter."
What I say now: Aside from the promotions of Ian Ayre and Damien Comolli, it says loads about Liverpool's transformation that this was the only substantive change of the second half. As Noel mentioned at the time, the summer promises more, but for Liverpool to go from a tumultuous first half to a relatively benign, blasé, and welcomed finish to the year.
Two thousand words later, that's the story of the season in changes. And, depending on your perspective, the beauty or the horror of the thing is that it's all starting over again. Hopefully more focused, less dramatic, and, in the end, that it'll lead to us having something to celebrate.