Brendan Rodgers has been handed a new four year deal as a reward for leading Liverpool back to the Champions League. Whilst many are predicting a difficult season for them next year, in contrast I feel as though there are reasons for their fans to be hopeful.
1. Young talent still waiting to come through
Raheem Sterling’s emergence this season has demonstrated the ability of Liverpool’s manager to get the best out of players with potential, but John Flanagan’s form in the latter stages of the season shows he’s also able to improve unfancied talents.
Liverpool have a handful of players who could still break through the ranks, including Fabio Borini, who returns after a very successful loan spell at Sunderland. A season at Anfield where he is not necessarily the “main man” could be to his benefit.
The talent with the most hype behind him in the academy is definitely Jordon Ibe, a pacey youngster cut from a similar mould to Sterling. Ibe has more in the way of raw pace and could offer a good alternative next season. He scored 3 goals at the weekend against Montenegro for England’s Under 19s. Where Sterling has impressed through the middle, Ibe is a classic winger.
He could be afforded opportunities to impress in the League Cup and FA Cup, given Liverpool’s new challenge in Europe.
2. The ability to attract better talent
Watching Man Utd’s recent struggles in the transfer market shows that the best in the world are still primarily attracted by the idea of Champions League football.
With Liverpool’s qualification, and guaranteed qualification at that, they will be able to get more for every pound they spend. Their signings last summer were symbolic of the problem with not being in the Champions League – often a manager has to take a punt on a player because he is out of favour at his club, with mixed results.
Mamadou Sakho played well at times, but Liverpool could probably now replace him with a better player for less money, given the raw attraction of Europe, and the desire from players to be a part of any future success.
Success, after all, begets success.
3. Brendan Rodgers himself
What is Brendan Rodgers if not a modern manager? His ability to alter Liverpool’s game plan over the course of a game and for each individual game demonstrates his intelligence.
Much like his fellow former Swansea manager Roberto Martinez, he can get more out of a whole than the sum of their parts. He knows why a player might succeed in a certain position against a certain man, and often exploits it for the best.
Whilst the last four games showed his relative naivety, he will probably learn from the experience, as all good managers do. After all, Alex Ferguson’s Man Utd fell apart in 1992 when challenging for the title before he won their first title in many-a-year the following season.