The start of the season is nearly upon us all. Liverpool fans' last experience of supporting the club in competitive action was against a Stoke City side that humiliated Merseyside's finest. It felt like the final entry in the Brendan Rodgers era, but after a summer of restructuring, cautious optimism has replaced despondency and fury. The staff has been refreshed by the promotion of the young, highly-rated Academy young coach Pepijn Ljinders as well as the arrivals of Sean O'Driscoll and former Red Gary McAllister. The first-team squad also possesses a fresher appearance with the arrivals of Christian Benteke, Roberto Firmino, James Milner, Nathaniel Clyne, Danny Ings, Divock Origi, Joe Gomez, and Adam Bogdan.
However, one Liverpool legend is wary of the difficult start Liverpool have in what will be a vital season for the Brendan Rodgers' era. A fourth season after various disappointments last season could be described as overtly generous in the modern era for clubs desirous of regular Champions League football, but here we are. Brendan Rodgers has been given a chance to right wrongs in the style of the protagonist of CW's Arrow, but will he be as fervent in his quest as Oliver Queen? Jamie Carragher thinks this weekend and the next few fixtures will be crucial.
"It is vital for everyone, but I think there will be a lot of eyes on Liverpool this season, because there have been a lot of new players coming in, there have been changes to the coaching staff and people know Liverpool have a tough start," Carragher said in his capacity as a pundit for Sky Sports. "We know that Liverpool did not have a great season last season and all eyes will be on Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool, so it is vital that they get off to a good start because the fixtures they have got are very difficult.
"Now if they could navigate them and have a good start, then they will have got a lot of tough fixtures, especially away from home, out of the way, which would bode well for the rest of the season. But it is certainly a difficult start for them on paper and it is vital that they start well at Stoke and certainly do not come away with a defeat on the opening day."
For Rodgers, there is a sense that he is only a defeat or two away from a crisis. The media and fans will seize any opportunity to present defeats as confirmation of the manager's inadequacy and dismiss wins as a stay of execution for a manager who is simply out of his depth. This time last year, the former Swansea City manager was heralded as one of the continent's most talented managers after a rousing second-placed finish with exhilarating football that hadn't been witnessed on the Red half of Merseyside for decades. The scars of last season remain, however, but Carragher believes Liverpool must forget them to move forward.
"I think it is important for Liverpool to look at this game as a great chance to put to bed what happened at the end of last season," the Liverpool legend continued. "Of course it is a new season, so you forget about that, but in the back of your mind it was an embarrassing day for everyone involved with Liverpool Football Club - to go to Stoke and lose 6-1 was embarrassing and I think it had an effect over the summer, as you saw how quickly Liverpool did their transfer business.
"I think it was important they brought good news into the club as soon as possible by getting new players over the line. But hopefully Liverpool will not be going into this game thinking about what happened a few months ago. Most of the same players are still there and hopefully the players and the staff see it as an opportunity to avenge what happened."
Let's hope Brendan Rodgers can register some early victories in a similar manner to 2013/14 as Liverpool have struggled early on in two out of three league campaigns under a manager who cannot afford another sluggish start.