After a barnstorming month of June, the revolving doors at Anfield has slowed, with more movement behind the scenes and internally at the club. The long-awaited and much expected captaincy news was announced, with two more additions to the vacant coaching personnel, some intriguing insights with the pre-season tour squad, as well as a surprising rejection at the Etihad showing a certain wantaway winger the perils of an Englishman leaving too early.
A New Era
To be fair, last season was the transition era for the Reds, with ex-Sunderland man Jordan Henderson stepping up to the mantle on countless occasions and captaining the Reds in Steven Gerrard’s absence. There were many doubters about Henderson’s abilities, but the facts are there for all to see. In the 15 games that Henderson skippered, Liverpool won 9, drew 3 and lost 3 – which is a pretty good record.
Further, Henderson has improved considerably since almost being used as a bargaining chip for a certain Clint Dempsey early in Brendan Rodgers’ reign. The English international has been amongst the most productive midfielders in recent seasons, with only the likes of Yaya Toure and maybe Cesc Fabregas surpassing him. Henderson is only 25, and has taken the captaincy a year older than Gerrard did over a decade ago.
Reds fans will hope that the permanent captaincy can do to Henderson what it did for Gerrard all those years ago – bring his game to the next level. In his four full seasons before October 2003, Gerrard scored around 1 in 8 in all competitions. In the next six seasons, Gerrard improved his goalscoring ratio to around 1 goal every 3 games, despite playing in different positions every other season. For Henderson, he has also been in the first-team for the past four full seasons, scoring slightly less than 1 goal in 9 games.
Rodgers and fellow fans will be hoping Henderson can continue on his upward trajectory and in a manner similar to Gerrard’s early years as captain, and improve his goalscoring haul for next season. Henderson will be looking to hit double figures as Rodgers look to his midfielders to up their productivity in the final third.
The addition of former England U-19 manager Sean O’Driscoll as Rodgers’ no.2 hasn’t excited many fans at Anfield, but the recent announcement of former Reds midfielder Gary McAllister joining as first-team coach has set most pulses racing. The former Scottish international will be remembered for his many vital goals during a short two year stint at the club at the end of his career.
similar to gerrard, mcallister will guide henderson to the next level
Along with the addition of James Milner, Rodgers will probably be looking to McAllister to guide Henderson along from the sidelines and on the training pitch – much like the Scot did for Gerrard during that short time they played together. Milner will add his big-game experience and knowhow alongside Henderson, and Reds fans will hope this English midfield engine pairing will provide the legs and industry needed to dominate most midfield battles.
Many had hoped for the likes of Sami Hyypia or Pako Ayesteran to return to the club in some major capacity, but the mix of a veteran coach, Anfield great and a young promising coach (Dutchman Pep Ljinders) from the academy will hopefully provide more for Rodgers more than his yes-men Colin Pascoe and Mike Marsh did.
Pre-Season Tour Squad Announcement
The recent announcement of the pre-season squad to Asia presents interesting reading. Rickie Lambert is on it, meaning he might just have one more shot as Liverpool’s plan B, while Mario Balotelli and Fabio Borini are off it. Balotelli’s absence is probably due to his recent compassionate leave, but Borini is almost as good as out of the door.
Jose Enrique is the other notable absentee, with Rodgers looking to move him on. Another full-back, this time on the left, could be recruited to provide cover for Alberto Moreno. The other absentees in Tiago Ilori, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Emre Can will join up later in pre-season. This will give promising youth players Jordan Rossiter, Joao Texeira and more importantly Andre Wisdom and Joe Gomez the chances to stake a claim for first-team spots.
With Raheem Sterling leaving the club, his absence would likely see Jordon Ibe replace him, and give wingers Sheyi Ojo, Ryan Kent and Harry Wilson a chance to stake their claim to replace the void from Ibe’s promotion.