Liverpool were signing the likes of Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana to add to the existing squad, which was good news. The plan was presumed to be bolster a thin squad that finished second, scored over one hundred goals, and thrilled many a neutral with exciting, attacking football. Then Luis Suárez left to join Barcelona and it was a new frontier for Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool's players, and fans across the world.
What any squad needs when it's best player has left is a hunger of success within the squad to push on, especially on the back of a successful season. Daniel Sturridge has spoken of the need for the players and himself to step up in terms of goalscoring. Sturridge scored 21 league goals last season and players like Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling made significant contributions. Brendan Rodgers has already spoken of the need to "push on" and not "settle on" the players who brought the club to a runners up spot last season. The central idea is more is needed, more will be brought to the table in terms of personnel and ability, and more will be provided over the course of next season.
This is the Liverpool Way. Be proud of what the club has achieved, know that the name and reputation of the club has been upheld, and seek to move to the next level in representing the famous red shirt. It's a privilege to play for the club and that fact never changes. Excellence is demanded from those fortunate to represent on of football's grandest clubs and there are those who are both ready and capable to fill in if those standards are not maintained. This kind of environment is not one where every player can thrive in and being committed to young players naturally means that patience should be part of Liverpool's modus operandi. It is a fine balance but one that can be and has been successfully struck by this great club.
The collective will always triumph over the individual yet better individuals will build a stronger unit. Liverpool have undoubtedly lost a player whose individualist talents made the team stronger by fighting for every minute, producing award-winning excellence in the final third, and never failing to passionately celebrate the goals of his comrades. The oft-discussed misdemeanours detracted from the excellent work being carried out and sometimes deprived the club of a talented presence on the field. When one or more components of a group departs or suffers the misfortune of deliberate exile, a new collective must be formed.
Brendan Rodgers is the figurehead and commander of shaping the composition of the playing squad. Indeed, he has assistance in the arbiter of fashion known commonly as Colin Pascoe along with the shadowy figures in charge of the acquisition of player registrations, the Transfer Committee. FSG and the motorcycle riding Ian Ayre run the club but the man on the touchline is Brendan Rodgers. He will be the first to be adorned with praise from the stands, the easiest target for ridicule by opposing fans, and the only person with pressure of concocting winning in-game plans.
When questioned about how Liverpool will fare in the absence of one of the world's greatest players, Liverpool's manager looked to what remained of his disciples and bullishly provided his answer. "What do I see when I look at the team?" said Liverpool's young commander. "I see players who scored 70 goals last season. It's fairly simple. Luis Suarez is not a Liverpool player any more, so we don't need to talk about him. When we didn't have Luis, we scored goals. That won't be an issue. You look at young Marković and Raheem, the pace of Daniel. We have great variety in our attack, full of pace and trickery. We have got people, like Marković, who can beat defenders. I hope it will be another stand-out season for quality and entertainment."
Brendan Rodgers is not Fowler. He is barely out of his forties and is still inexperienced in many ways. This will be his first campaign in the land of milk and honey while last season was his first in a fight for the title. Every manager will possess their own particular tendencies and traits that propel them towards glory along with leading them to intermittent (sometimes prolonged) despair. Rodgers is no different but he is young and learning at quite a rapid rate. The change in his rhetoric from his arrival to the eve of his third season has been dramatic. He is not afraid to speak plainly and sometimes, quite dismissively if a discussion requires such an approach.
Last season was Liverpool's biggest charge and nearest miss at a title in nearly a quarter of a century. The wait for league glory continues but Liverpool have a leader who has confidence in the young attacking players at the club. If goals "won't be an issue" then perhaps the defence will be but it is hoped that the leadership brought by Dejan Lovren that has been needed since, according to Rodgers, the retirement of Jamie Carragher. When a manager can rely on the attacking pace of Lazar Marković, Raheem Sterling, and Daniel Sturridge then the lightning counters that characterised many of Liverpool's most stunning victories last season should continue to be a profitable source of goals.
It is natural that Rodgers looks to Sturridge as the sharpest edge of this restructured squad and the Antrim man seems to have confidence that this group is deeper, more experienced, and offers greater variety than last season's vintage. One cannot know exactly how well this new Liverpool squad will fare but Brendan Rodgers' confidence in his Liverpool cooperative should imbue followers of the Liverbird with a similar, if yet a slightly more cautious, belief. No one can be sure of the future yet Brendan Rodgers knows what he is doing and is ambitious enough to seek players who can enable Liverpool to make further progress next season.
There are many at the club who have done enough last season to have earned at least some confidence in their abilities to provide what is necessary on the pitch and the character to take the next step forward in their development as professional football players.