Well, that was fun. By ‘fun', I mean ‘terrible'. By ‘was', I mean ‘is'. And by ‘that', I mean ‘everything'.
Excepting a decent few months in the middle of the season that led to a lot of wishful thinking and frantic, desperate math calculations that were all for naught, 2015 has not been the greatest of years for Liverpool fans. The campaign finally coming to an end on Sunday, while a relief, heralds the beginning of what will be a frustrating summer full of infighting and recriminations.
We have three long months to gnash our teeth and debate and deconstruct all that went wrong last season. This week, our own Trev gave us an ebullient love letter to fan favorite Kolo Toure. Today, I thought I'd try to lighten the mood a bit by summoning my inner Maria Von Trapp and talking about the things that the club has to be positive about. First a bit of mood music.
Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens
The silver lining of this whole season for most Liverpool fans has been discovering Emre Can, as well as the emergence of Jordon Ibe. Those two, along with the twenty-two year old Philippe Coutinho, represent a talented, young core of players that the team should build around in the future.
Can showed himself a versatile player, willing to commit to any position the manager asked him to play. Certain games saw him move from center back to defensive midfielder to attacking midfielder over the course of ninety minutes as the formation changed. We also learned his limitations and the positions for which he is not suitable. Since this season gave us nothing else, let's take it as a bedding in year for a young player that could potentially do big things for this team in the future. Hopefully whoever is at the helm next season learns from these growing pains and works to ensure that the team gets the most out of Can's considerable talents.
Jordon Ibe, on the other hand, is still very much a raw talent. For any negativity that can (rightly) be levied at Brendan Rodgers, he has shown with Raheem Sterling and now Ibe that he is willing to give young players a chance to prove themselves in important games. Ibe's injury curtailed much of his progress last season, which was a shame both for himself and the team. His emergence coincided with Liverpool's spell of good performances, and likewise his injury with the team's downturn of form. Ibe wasn't the only cause for either of those occurrences, but regardless, he will have gained considerable confidence from how well he embraced his opportunities.
When fans and pundits talk about the future of Liverpool Football Club, the first name on most of their lips is Philippe Coutinho. Over his several seasons with the club, his performances have been patchy, with genuinely world class performances followed the next week by total anonymity. This season was, in some ways, more of the same, but his brilliance seemed to last longer and shine brighter, while his poor spells lessened. It's still early in his development, though when he plays so well, it's easy to forget that. And with the player recently signing a new contract with the club, fans have years to watch him mature, hopefully into the kind of creative, consistent midfield maestro we need.
Bright Copper Kettles and Warm Woolen Mittens
The loss of Steven Gerrard has been a dark cloud over the club ever since it was made public on New Year's Day. It colored every game, every goal, every milestone that came after it. The season became about Steven Gerrard's farewell, and while that quickly became old, it was easy to understand the reasoning. Steven Gerrard is a Liverpool legend, and one of the last of a dying breed of loyal, one-club men. It will be extremely difficult for the club to fill the void he has left behind. There's no single player that will ever be Steven Gerrard, with the same combination of bravery, loyalty and sheer talent.
That being said, over the last season, current vice-captain and presumed future captain, Jordan Henderson, has proved himself adept at leading the team in Gerrard's absence. He's still learning and making missteps along the way, but even the initial naysayers would have to admit that he's gone a long way towards assuaging their doubts. The team's statistics when he started as captain were made even more impressive by the fact that victories seemed particularly hard to come by for this team.
Brown Paper Packages Tied Up with String
While Fenway Sports Group has yet to propel Liverpool Football Club back to a place where they're successfully winning trophies and putting in a strong battle for the Champion's League spots, they still appear to have a vision for the club. Time and again, they've showed that they'll invest money in the transfer market to try and strengthen the side. Their transfer record has been hit or miss so far, but I think that their willingness to splash the cash when necessary just needs to be coupled with a strong transfer committee who can pick the right targets to aggressively go after.
Since they've taken over, we've also seen demonstrative progress in the expansion of Anfield. They've significantly increased revenue for the club, and seem to be looking into creative avenues for raising money. Unlike the club's previous owners, they reinvest the money made in the transfer market into new players, as opposed to clearing their own debts and lining their pockets. Do I think that John Henry and co. feel the passionate kinship to the club and its fans the way that they do with the Red Sox? No, I don't. Do I think that's a requirement for them to make the club a success? I don't think that either. They don't need to bleed Liverpool Red in order to have a vested interest in seeing the club do well and regain its stature and profitability. To quote Bill Shankly, "At a football club, there's a holy trinity - the players, the manager and the supporters. Directors don't come into it. They are only there to sign the cheques."
Right now, Brendan Rodgers's Liverpool future is up in the air. We have no idea what the owners are thinking, but the worst thing that they could do right now is sack the manager without a suitable replacement. And if reports of them looking into Carlo Ancelotti are an indication, they seem to realize that as well. Rodgers has three years left on his contract, and that would require a huge payout from the owners, so it makes sense that they are exercising caution before making this serious decision.
These are a Few of My Favorite Things
And finally, a video exists of Steven Gerrard leading the team in a rendition of the Kolo song that looks straight out of West Side Story. Jose Enrique's love affair with Instagram is as passionate as ever. The Women's World Cup starts in less than two weeks. FIFA finally has to reap the consequences of decades of flagrant corruption. And this gif still exists to simultaneously represent us all.
So for today, cheer up, kid, because heaven knows you have all summer to be in the dumps.
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