Last season, Liverpool targeted the top four and silverware. Having just lost their star striker, though, for many that was an ambitious target, and just a top four challenge was more reasonable. Either way, the club fell short. This time around, what do you see as the minimum to count the season a success?
In the Premier League, for as far back as I can remember, somebody always slips up. Often more than one somebody. But there’s always at least one side that ends the year in the top four largely by default; because the side or sides immediately below them made even worse mistakes. Arsenal, for all that they deservedly get credit for making the top four year after year, have counted on the generosity of Spurs regularly enough in recent seasons. Last year, United had no right to call themselves a top four side—but Liverpool managed to look as though they had even less right to a Champions League spot and gifted it to them.
Somebody always slips up. Always. And with the squad investment Liverpool have seen this summer—with the strong backing given to Brendan Rodgers by FSG—there are no excuses this time around for them not to be the side that doesn’t slip up even if on paper they may be fifth in line. If they can manage that, though—manage to be the side that doesn’t slip up—they can absolutely make the top four, and that along with a piece of silverware has to be the minimum for the season to be considered a success.
At the end of the day, mostly what I’m looking for is for us to look coherent. To at least look like a side that can accumulate two points per game over the course of the season. If we can do that and it somehow doesn’t get us into the CL, at that point it will be by virtue of other teams being really, really good, which is something we really have no control over.
A big scalp or two during a deep cup run, preferably ending with a nail-biter of a final that goes Liverpool’s way, would be a nice bonus. But the league is our bread and butter and achieving 76 points with an attractive, defined playing style is going to be how I measure success.
Fourth place and silverware. I don’t even care what cup they win, really, but Liverpool need to do something that lifts spirits and brings a bit of cheer to the club. That’s it. I’m not fussy. Find a way to stay consistent in the league, and do something fun in one of the cups.
I think a lot can be written about league position and silverware, but the most important thing to me is how we play, not where we finish. If this squad comes out and looks like a Top 4 team, accumulates 70+ points, maintains a consistent level of quality play week-to-week, but ultimately comes up shy of the big money teams, I think we can call 2015-16 a success. A lot of fans won’t see it that way, but not everything is within our control. A few bad draws could see us make early exits from otherwise winnable tournaments, and a stronger-than-average Top 4 could ultimately torpedo our hopes of hearing the Champions League anthem at Anfield again any time soon. This doesn’t have to mean progress has not been made—it could just mean the breaks didn’t go our way.
Obviously I want more. I think this club is capable of more. But we’re always going to be at a disadvantage in the current economic climate, and qualifying for the Champions League will sadly often be the result of other teams’ struggles, not our own high-calibre play. The best—indeed only—thing we can do is focus on ourselves, play consistently good football, and hope at the end of the season we’ll find ourselves in an excellent position, be it for a cup final or Champions League spot.
Fourth in the Premier League; semi-final and final in League Cup and FA Cup (and I’m not really fussed which is which); and Round of 16 Europa League. That may not look like much of an improvement compared to last season, but it’s an increase of two places in the league, one in the cups, and one in Europa League, which feels significant to me.
I’m big on the Arsenal model of qualifying for Champions League forever—just not their “never win the league” model—and until we get to that point, I think anything more than a successful top four challenge is a tough ask. Meanwhile, at least getting to the Round of 16 in the Europa League would mean possibly having beaten a team that dropped down from Champions League for the Round of 32, and I think there would be merit in getting that far for this young team.
Just agreeing with Eliz here. Every word of it.
Top four and winning the Europa League would make for a tremendous recovery from last season. Just imagine Liverpool qualifying for the land of milk and honey via two routes. Finishing in the top four alone would be decent at least, but without silverware to go with it I’m not sure it would be a truly successful year.
Still, even if Liverpool were knocked out of every cup competition early, finishing in the top four would mean that a rival has been pushed aside. That’s not an easy feat, and no matter what else happened it couldn’t be considered a failure, especially considering how Liverpool ended last season. With that in mind, even though I might like more, qualifying for the Champions League would probably be enough for me. That would put Liverpool in a position to add a few top quality players and hopefully kick on.
Either silver while being within touching distance of 4th, or the monetary/reputational equivalence that is securing Champions League football and Arsenal’s fourth-place trophy. Silver, though, would probably make me happier, because just think about how putrid Dejan’s stink-eye would be after being left out of the cup-winning matchday squad? Classic Dejan.
On second thought, one more season without CL football and we may not be able to do better than him—and would probably also have to go shopping for a new unicorn to replace Philippe Coutinho with. So maybe lets go ahead and just give that guy the competition he deserves, yeah?
Either top four or win the Europa League. The bottom line is simple: Liverpool need to get back to the promised land.
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