2011/12: We’ll be coming down the road

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Buoyed by the presence of new owners and a remit to spend, the next two months resemble an opportunity to reseat the club at English football’s top table.

If managed correctly the likely squad overhaul could enable the reds to once again challenge for a coveted top four berth. With greater depth Kenny Dalglish’s side should be primed to capitalise on any ailing emanating from the Emirates or Stamford Bridge. Smelling blood, they can hunt their prey.

From the supporters perspective this period brings great anticipation. For too long Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez were forced to shop abroad and in the bargain bin, recruiting no-hopers on disturbingly high wages. Thankfully Dalglish has the chance to compete with the title chasers, albeit without the lure of Champions League football.

FSG do not hold the clout of a Sheikh Mansour but they do seem prepared to finance a rebuild job as daunting as Ryan Giggs’ family reunion. And those in their sights promise better things.

Jordan Henderson‘s capture was a clear statement of intent. A talented player, who impressed in fits and starts last term, was sure to attract interest at some point – perhaps after another full season in the top flight. But driven by their commitment to buy young, the owners slapped in a huge fee to get the ball rolling.

Immediately then next season promises far more, with Henderson lining-up alongside a fit (and sober) Andy Carroll and the returning Steven Gerrard. But his arrival is surely the first of many.

The likes of Gael Clichy, Stewart Downing and Charlie Adam appear in the crux of negotiations. In addition, the more reliable press sources claim bids are being prepared for Connor Wickham and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlian. Such prospects whet the appetite like an Abi Clancy bikini pic.

Starting business early too represents a refreshing change. Who will ever forget Benitez’ post Athens rant at the lethargic nature of doing deals at Anfield. The Spaniard lamented a tendency to delay transfers, haggling over the smallest of fees and ultimately missing out on top targets.

John W. Henry and his empire seem to have heeded that message and have put Damien Comolli to work instantly.

A host of signings will hopefully compliment the exciting style of play implemented by Dalglish since his return to the hot-seat. Fast, free-flowing and attacking football has come to the fore, evidenced best in displays against Manchester City and Fulham at the tail end of the campaign.

As opposed to an emphasis on containing the opposition, a hallmark of Roy Hodgson’s era in particular, Liverpool now press the issue themselves. In fairness Kenny could park the bus each and every game and we’d still hail him as our Messiah but a return to those traditional patterns of play are a sight to behold. Moreover, they bring greater rewards.

Certain games may be lost in this fashion but a damn sight more points will be won. Take those horrific home defeats to Blackpool and Wolves last season, or the dour draws away at Birmingham and Wigan. A team packing as much quality as Liverpool should be peppering those opponents rather than nervously hitting them on the counter-attack. Harry Redknapp and he of the whiskey nose always go for the jugular, their ambition regularly paying dividends.

Of course Henry and co. are not offering a blank chequebook and departures will fund some of their investment. David N’gog has already made-way and the likes of Paul Konchesky and Christian Poulsen will ultimately follow. And how about Milan Jovanovic? If he’s still a Liverpool player come August my faith in the human race will die a little. In many ways trimming the squad of such deadwood is as paramount as recruiting new talent.

As noted earlier the ensuing revamp is all geared towards breaking into that top four. Arsenal appear at a crossroads themselves, caught between their publics’ desperation to spend and their manager’s defiance not to. In addition, the futures of key personnel like Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri will fuel protracted summer discussions and leave them vulnerable.

Then of course there is Spurs, who will be forced to resist overtures for Luka Modric and the physical demands of a Europa League campaign.

Chelsea too face yet another managerial appointment, which may or may not initially bear fruit. While the Fernando Torres headache still plagues them and their shape, a player so bewildered in West London he resembles Gary Neville at a beauty contest.

All in all then there are openings Liverpool could exploit. Complete our business in a timely and impressive manner and we’ll be all-set for an assault on the top four, perhaps even Kenny’s old foe down the East Lancs.

Either way we’ll be coming down the road…

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