Liverpool FC: Review of the Year, 2015

31.12.2015


It has been a long and arduous 2015 for Liverpool FC, with the club seeing plenty of changes on and off the field throughout the year. Here’s our review of the year.

Year in Review 2015 Header

After a 1-0 away to Sunderland in the final game of 2015, Liverpool sit seventh in the Premier League table, with restored hopes of a top-four finish and an opportunity to secure silverware in three competitions.

This caps a hit-and-miss year for the Reds, who have endured managerial turmoil and significant changes on the field of play—in what was yet another transitional 12 months on Merseyside.

Supporters find themselves in an optimistic position at this point, but it has been a testing year to reach a positive plateau.

Here’s how 2015 unfolded, and what we can take from its highs and lows.

 

A Strong Start

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, February 10, 2015: Liverpool's Mario Balotelli [hidden] celebrates scoring the third goal against Tottenham Hotspur with team-mates during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Perhaps undermining the enduring portrayal of Brendan Rodgers as a jester, out of his depth on the Anfield throne, 2015 kicked off in style under the Ulsterman.

Ending 2014’s league endeavours on a three-game unbeaten streak after a 2-2 draw with Arsenal and victories over Burnley and Swansea City, Liverpool embark on a lengthy run, securing a further eight wins and two draws in their 10 games between New Year’s Day and mid-March.

This encompassed victories over Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton and Manchester City, with Philippe Coutinho in shining form after being installed in his natural No. 10 role in Rodgers’ 3-4-2-1.

Rodgers’ switch to this unorthodox tactical structure was the platform for which Liverpool built this successful run of form.

Emre Can, Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho found consistency as the Reds’ back three, while Coutinho’s creativity behind Raheem Sterling as Rodgers’ regular starting centre-forward saw Liverpool strike a fine balance in attack.

This stretch also saw Daniel Sturridge‘s return from injury, with the No. 15 scoring just 12 minutes after being reintroduced in January’s 2-0 win over West Ham United.

Liverpool also continued their push in the FA Cup and took Chelsea to the wire over two legs in the League semi-final, though defeat at the first time of asking against Besiktas in the Europa League round of 32 foreshadowed the misery that was to come for Rodgers’ side.


 

The Inevitable Downfall

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 24, 2015: Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard walk off dejected as his side are losing 5-0 to lowly Stoke City during the Premier League match at the Britannia Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Rounding off that 13-game unbeaten league run with a 1-0 win away to Swansea in March, Liverpool would then go on to endure a torrid stream of misfortune from then until the end of the season.

With hope of a top-four finish mounting ahead of a home clash with Manchester United, this representing a must-win game, with a trip to the Emirates Stadium to take on Arsenal to follow.

A goal down at half-time against United, Rodgers turned to Steven Gerrard on the substitutes’ bench, with the captain taking Adam Lallana‘s place in midfield.

But less than a minute after Martin Atkinson blew the whistle for the second half, Gerrard had seen a straight red card.

Just over two months after announcing his decision to leave the club at the end of the season, Gerrard had consigned Liverpool to defeat against their bitter rivals, and this kicked off a turbulent run-in that saw his side lose five and win only two of their last nine league games.

Gerrard’s final game at Anfield saw Liverpool overrun by Yannick Bolasie as Crystal Palace romped to a 3-1 win, with the midfielder’s lap of honour soured by this morale-sapping loss.

A week later, Stoke City piled on the misery, hitting Liverpool for six and ending all hope of Champions League qualification.

It was far from the fitting end for Gerrard, as the Reds finished sixth, and Rodgers had lost the backing of the supporters—though, surprisingly, not that of the owners, with the loss of Sturridge through another injury serving as a key saving grace.


 

An End and a Beginning

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 4, 2015: Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers walks dejectedly off the touchline during his last hame as Liverpool manager during the Premier League match against Everton at Goodison Park, the 225th Merseyside Derby. (Pic by Lexie Lin/Propaganda)

Despite having seen significant investment on Mario Balotelli, Lazar Markovic, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren, among others, offer little in return in 2014/15, Fenway Sports Group provided Rodgers with another vast sum to spend in the summer transfer market.

This saw the arrivals of Christian Benteke, Nathaniel Clyne, Danny Ings, James Milner, Adam Bogdan, Joe Gomez and Roberto Firmino, for an initial outlay of £77 million.

Buoyed by this promising, and well-researched, summer of spending, supporters headed into 2015/16 with a renewed sense of optimism—despite the continue absence of Sturridge.

This, however, quickly dissolved as results continued to stutter.

Without their captain, Jordan Henderson, who suffered a foot injury in August’s 1-0 win at home to Bournemouth, Liverpool won just one in their next six games.

A 1-1 draw away to Everton brought Rodgers’ death knell, with FSG delivering swift justice hours after the final whistle, thanking the former Swansea manager for his services, with one eye on the future.

It took Liverpool just four days to appoint a successor, and supporters’ wishes were granted as the lofty frame of Jurgen Klopp burst onto Merseyside in the second week of October.

Anfield’s messiah, this was the arrival that supporters had dreamed of.

While it has taken time for the German to settle into life in English football, with nine wins in his first 17 games, Liverpool’s 2015 ends on an unavoidably positive note.


 

Hope For the Future?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 21, 2015: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp after the 4-1 victory over Manchester City during the Premier League match at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Arriving at Liverpool with considerable pedigree after seven years of success and genuine, long-term development at Borussia Dortmund, Klopp looks set to spend 2016 stamping his authority on the squad he inherited from Rodgers.

This could see changes in his first transfer window in January, though his comments on the nature of the winter market suggest that an overhaul is not on the cards.

Major personnel work can be implemented over the summer, and Klopp will be hoping to draw targets to the club not only with his reputation and Liverpool’s storied history, but also the realistic prospect of silverware.

Klopp can look to 2016 to secure his first trophy in English football, and continue his push for a top-four finish in the Premier League.

Big wins over Chelsea, Manchester City and Southampton in his first months in charge showed the real Liverpool under Klopp.

The German will be hoping for more to come in 2016, when his ideals can truly come to fruition.

LFC 2015 YEAR IN REVIEW

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