10 Reasons for Optimism Ahead of Liverpool’s 2015/16 Season

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While it all seems to be doom and gloom around Liverpool this summer, Jack Lusby finds 10 reasons for supporters to be optimistic in 2015/16.

BOLTON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 4, 2015: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia celebrates scoring the winning second goal in injury time against Bolton Wanderers during the FA Cup 4th Round Replay match at the Reebok Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After the finish that Liverpool supporters endured in 2014/15, there is a palpable feeling of pessimism around the club, but could it be a season to look forward to in 2015/16.

With Brendan Rodgers remaining as manager, owners FSG will be demanding an improvement on his achievements from last season.

But why should Liverpool supporters be optimistic ahead of 2015/16?

Here are 10 reasons why.

 

1. More Business to Come

10.12.2011, easy Credit Stadion, Nuernberg, GER, 1.FBL, 1. FC Nürnberg/ Nuernberg vs TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, im Bild:Timmy Simons (Nuernberg #2) im Zweikampf mit Roberto Firmino (Hoffenheim #22). // during the Match GER, 1.FBL, 1. FC Nürnberg/ Nuernberg vs TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on 2011/12/10, easy Credit Stadion, Nuernberg, Germany..EXPA Pictures © 2011, PhotoCredit: EXPA/ nph/ Will..***** ATTENTION - OUT OF GER, CRO *****

Getting the signings of James Milner, Danny Ings, Adam Bogdan and Joe Gomez across the line weeks before the transfer window opens should be commended.

With just £3.5 million spent on the quartet in terms of transfer fees, and a considerable portion of the wage bill freed up following the summer departures of Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson, it is safe to assume there is more business to come.

While the majority of these signings merely fleshed out Rodgers’ squad, recent reports suggesting Liverpool are interested in Roberto Firmino points to the Reds turning to first-team quality.

Firmino and another likely signing, Southampton‘s Nathaniel Clyne, are key reasons for optimism.

 

2. Nathaniel Clyne Could be the Solution at Right-Back

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 17, 2014: Southampton's Nathaniel Clyne celebrates scoring the first goal against Liverpool during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool have long suffered in the right-back position, with Rodgers flitting between Johnson, Emre Can and Javier Manquillo in the more defensive role last season, and Raheem Sterling, Jordon Ibe, Lazar Markovic and Adam Lallana at right wing-back, too.

The signing of Clyne could put an end to this.

Clyne, a well-rounded, ready-made right-back, can provide Rodgers’ Liverpool with defensive might on the right flank as well as great quality in attack; Clyne is a significant upgrade on Johnson.

The 24-year-old could finally solve Liverpool’s right-back woes.

 

3. Emre Can in Midfield

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 8, 2014: Liverpool's Emre Can in action against Chelsea's Nemanja Matic during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Can’s floundering at right-back towards the end of 2014/15 underlined one important factor ahead of this season: the German is not a defender, and deputising there will hamper his progress.

In 2015/16, Can should be deployed in midfield, and if he does Liverpool have a lot to be optimistic about.

Pairing his defensive talents with his unstoppable drive and great passing ability in midfield should see Can excel—as his performances for Germany U21s in this summer’s youth European Championship should highlight.

For Germany, Can has been a behemoth of power and creativity in midfield. He can be the same for Liverpool.

 

4. James Milner a Top-Level Signing

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 18, 2015: Manchester City's James Milner in action against Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez during the Premier League match at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Unlike Ings, Bogdan and Gomez, Milner is the one signing so far this summer that brings Liverpool genuine top-level pedigree.

Speaking to This is Anfield on the announcement of Milner’s signing, Manchester City reporter Rob Pollard lamented the Citizens’ loss of the 29-year-old midfielder: “There are very few players in recent seasons who have been so revered by the supporters here.

“He’s such a wonderful professional, freakishly fit, versatile and exceptionally good at almost every aspect of the game.”

Replacing the waning Gerrard, Milner can bring true quality to Liverpool in 2015/16.

 

5. Jordan Henderson Progressing as a Leader

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 1, 2015: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson in action against Manchester City during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Alongside Milner and Can in midfield, Jordan Henderson can look to continue his progression into a Liverpool leader in 2015/16.

Henderson picked up a lot of the creative slack in 2014/15, and drove the Reds towards victory in several key games, but the 25-year-old was guilty of drifting off on occasion, such as the FA Cup semi-final loss to Aston Villa.

Having recently declared his desire to “take more responsibility” in Rodgers’ squad, Henderson can do so in 2015/16.

This should be in making assists, scoring goals and putting in consistent, match-winning performances—signs of a true leader in his position.

 

6. A Fit and Firing Adam Lallana

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 1, 2015: Liverpool's Adam Lallana celebrates his side's 2-1 victory over Manchester City during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“There’s definitely more for me to give next season,” Adam Lallana promised towards the end of last season. “I’ll be looking to be out on the pitch more consistently because it’s been difficult for me to get 100 percent into my rhythm this year, from being on the pitch and then off it.”

Referencing the many fitness and injury issues that plagued him throughout 2014/15, Lallana is right to look forward with optimism. He showed brilliance at times, but lacked consistency.

Next season, Lallana will hopefully put his injury problems behind him.

If he can, Liverpool will have an important option to utilise in midfield; a player who can provide a touch of magic behind the strikers, and can contribute in front of goal, too.

 

7. More Magic from Philippe Coutinho

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 19, 2015: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia celebrates his goal against Aston Villa during the FA Cup Semi-Final match at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by Gareth Jones/Propaganda)

Philippe Coutinho was by far the standout performer of Liverpool’s 2014/15 season, but it wasn’t until the second half of the campaign that the Brazilian truly got going on Merseyside.

Shifting into a focal playmaking role following some necessary tactical tweaks from Rodgers, Coutinho shone.

The 23-year-old will be at the forefront of any Liverpool success in 2015/16, and although he desperately needs help and support from his team-mates, supporters can look forward to some more magic from the No. 10 this season. [td_ad_box spot_id=“custom_ad_3″]

 

8. Jordon Ibe, Lazar Markovic Continuing their Development

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 22, 2015: Liverpool's Jordon Ibe in action against Southampton during the FA Premier League match at St Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

One of the key reasons for pessimism ahead of the 2015/16 season is the likely departure of European Golden Boy and key forward Raheem Sterling.

If the 20-year-old is at Merseyside for next season, Liverpool will have done an astonishing job, although his presence may be toxic.

If Sterling goes, talk will turn to his replacement, and though he is an exceptional talent and on course to become one of the best players in Europe, Liverpool may already have two candidates in their ranks.

Jordon Ibe impressed following his return from loan in 2015, which could point to a like-for-like replacement, but the struggling Lazar Markovic also has the raw quality to compensate for the loss of Sterling.

Both will look to continue their development at Liverpool in 2015/16, and if they can fulfil their potential, Rodgers has two devastating players at his disposal.

 

9. More Academy Stars Breaking Through

SOFIA, BULGARIA - Wednesday, November 26, 2014: Liverpool's Oviemuno Ejaria Sheyi Ojo in action against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad during the UEFA Youth League Group B match at the Georgi Asparuhov Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ibe’s introduction to the first-team fold points to another success from the Liverpool academy—too often players are signed into the academy setup only to dissolve into mediocrity in Kirkby.

The 19-year-old follows Jon Flanagan in making it into Rodgers’ long-term plans after starring for the U21s, and this could continue in 2015/16.

Sheyi Ojo, Ryan Kent, Cameron Brannagan and Sergi Canos are all knocking on the door, with the former in particular very much ready for the step up to the higher demands of the Premier League, and the return of Jordan Rossiter from injury could see him included, too.

Liverpool have a host of bright, high-level talents in their academy—a key cause for optimism.

 

10. The Return of Daniel Sturridge

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, February 10, 2015: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge in action against Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

2014/15 was a write-off for Daniel Sturridge, and a big disappointment given Liverpool’s inability to score without him.

Having taken to Boston for hip surgery this summer, Sturridge is set to return to the first team around September, and although Rodgers lamented the striker’s absence, he expressed his hope back in May that this would see an end to his injury problems.

“Once he’s fully fit we know what he can produce and if he is at that level of fitness he can certainly be a key player for us,” Rodgers said.

The return of a fully-fit Daniel Sturridge will be a real lift for Liverpool.

Do Liverpool supporters have reason to be optimistic ahead of 2015/16? Let us know in the comments below.

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