It's already been an inordinately eventful off-season and after the apocalyptic combination punches of first, losing one of the world's finest footballers in Luis Suárez, and then missing out on a rapaciously coveted replacement in Alexis Sanchez, one can understand that the debit column in the Liverpool fan's happiness ledger has a couple of hefty and concerning entries. A degree of wary anxiety is certainly understandable, given the magnitude of such twin disappointments.
In reality, the mood is a disquieting amalgam of panic and outrage and even a cursory trawl of message boards, social media and phone-in shows reveals a disproportionately disgruntled bunch, bemoaning not only the two aforementioned deals but also lamenting the standard of the players the club have actually recruited. Now frankly, your scribbler is given to the occasional bout of gloomy introspection and, owing to a delightful cocktail of recent misfortunes, is currently possessed of a markedly jaundiced world-view. However, even a prickly curmudgeon like me is dismayed by the level of rancour currently found amongst some supporters.
There are few things as inherently awful as knee-jerk reactions. Please do not misconstrue a single syllable of these scribbles as such. As already declared, your scribbler can be a miserable malcontent by times and the loss of Suárez has been a particularly poisonous pill to swallow. I loved him as a footballer. Exciting, belligerent, spontaneous, passionate, and simply a virtuoso -- the best of Suárez is the best of football. A team cannot simply absorb the loss of such a talent without a remarkable amount of rebuilding and a hefty dollop of good fortune.
There are, however, some precedents to consider from Liverpool's own history. Kevin Keegan was thought irreplaceable. Kenny Dalglish, in 1977/78, proved he was not. Ian Rush was considered a one-off on whom Liverpool's remarkable trophy haul was founded. In 1987/88 John Barnes, Peter Beardsley and John Aldridge arrived and showed such thinking was flawed. More recently, the very player over whom there has been such hand-wringing and rending of garments, Ol' Bitey himself, was thought to be the fulcrum of all that was good at Ajax. It was only when he moved on that the Dutch giants got back to winning league titles. You can see where I'm going with this.
Of course, in each of the above instances the replacements have been of the higest calibre and it is here that we begin to run into some problems with the current scenario around Anfield and environs. Thus far, a summary of the general mood surrounding the arrivals of Liverpool's new boys would be as follows. Rickie Lambert? Great story! Hope he does really well! Aw, look at his smile. Bargain really, you know. Adam Lallana? Well, I mean, I'm sure he's fine, but TWENTY FIVE MILLION POUNDS?! We could have bought (insert the name of young Bundesliga talent) for half of that! He's TWENTY SIX, you know! Emre Can? Never really seen the lad but I suppose under ten million for a highly rated young...wait, is that a picture of him? Oh mama...SO worth it! Great business!
Only yesterday, amidst unconfirmed rumours of inept bungling, Lazar Markovic's medical was delayed, preventing him, temporarily, from being the fourth arrival of the window. A deal seems to be almost in place too, for young Belgian sensation, Divock Origi, with the heaviest of links to Dejan Lovren and Wilfried Bony only strengthening as the days elapse. Neither of these last two names, in particular, is inspiring much excitement amongst the careworn Anfield faithful but are they forgetting the lessons of the past?
It was always a fallacy to suggest that a solitary player could replace the Uruguayan genius. Could it be possible that Brendan Rodgers has selected the correct combination of talents to do that considerable job? Shouldn't we hold off on judgement until that final group has been assembled? Granted, it is disappointing to see a superstar leave and be unable to entice (or unwilling to court) the really top talent in the opposite direction. Pursuits of Sanchez and Xherdan Shaqiri petered out and instead the club has been looking at less inspiring British-based players that could have been signed at a fraction of the price only a year ago. Names like Ben Davies, Steven Caulker and Ryan Bertrand, whilst no doubt solid footballers, do not inspire thoughts of glory in May. Hence, the dawn chorus of griping and bleating we mentioned earlier.
One man whose positivity about the new season is admirably infectious, is the aforementioned Emre Can, Liverpool's new PR guru and aspirant midfield supremo. Can, who will take to the field resplendent in the famous number 23 jersey, is a ball of energetic enthusiasm as he contemplates the season to come and he is almost touchingly excited about the upcoming tour of the United States.
"I have never been to the US before, so I am looking forward to making my first appearance with Liverpool in the States," gushed the tonsorially magnificent youngster. "We are playing against great opposition with a lot of international quality and I am very much looking forward to being part of the pre-season tour. It will be very important to me. It is very important to spend time with my new teammates in order to get to know them. But this generally is very easy in football.
"Playing the first couple of games in the Liverpool jersey against such opponents makes me even happier. I am very excited already and I will give it my best and hope to have a great start in the lead up to the new season. I am looking forward to see the support and am sure the fans will be amazing. Liverpool Football Club obviously has fans all over the world, which is something I am really looking forward to seeing for myself."
No matter how irked or irascible you find yourself today, and you probably will, pause for a moment and consider the effusive zeal of our new midfield Adonis and remember the days when you too had that kind of passionate exhilaration about Brendan Rodgers' boys. What do you mean it was only last season? Well then, perhaps not all is lost, eh?