How happy are you with the season? What would you give it out of ten?
I'd give it a convoluted 6/10. The cold hard facts are we've equaled our worst League finish in decades and ended without a trophy so when judging by some of our better seasons it can't compare. However that does only tell a fraction of the story: the optimism of Klopp's arrival, some brilliant performances against some of our biggest rivals, a couple of exhilarating cup runs that sadly fell just short, a growing sense of belief (until Basle anyway!). Put it this way, it's a season that will live longer in the memory than the one that went before, or any number in recent seasons where we finished slight;y higher but with far less long term grounds for optimism.Reflecting on our summer business last year, how would you judge it now?
Given the obligatory wailing and gnashing of teeth that followed most transfer sagas last summer and the interminable debates around the Transfer Committee then by sheer weight of numbers most transfers can be deemed a success at this relatively early stage with one rather obvious exception (take a bow Adam Bogdan
Looking at them on a case by case basis:
Joe Gomez - looked remarkably composed on his debut and for the next few games. Gradually became more uncomfortable at Left Back but that's entirely understandable. Looked a really good prospect until his unfortunate injury. Hopefully he'll be fully recuperated and ready to rumble again in August. HIT
James Milner - probably not the answer in central midfield as Brendan had hoped but still had an effective season for us. An intelligent player and best crosser in the team. Scored some important goals and created some vital ones. Good man to have around the place. HIT
Danny Ings - pretty harsh to judge based on such little playing time and none of it under Klopp. Was just finding his feet and looking very decent for us when injury ended his season cruelly early. If he can get back to full fitness he looks tailor made for a Klopp side and hoping he can push on next season. WILL BE A HIT
Adam Bogdan - he came, he saw, he dropped corners at Nathan Ake's feet. Kudos for his penalty saves against Carlisle but let's be honest, if we see him play for us again something's gone badly wrong somewhere! MISS
Roberto Firmino - where does he fit in? What's his best position? What does he do? Buggered if I know but he scores and assists a lot and that's enough for me. First season in a new League, took a little while to adapt but like the team as a whole really kicked on after Christmas and saved his best for Villareal. Couldn't realistically have expected much more. HIT
Nathaniel Clyne - arguably our most consistent player of the season. Had a handful of bad games, just a very good defender who gets forward well. Not the flashiest of full backs but chipped in with a couple of goals and more than capable of putting a decent ball in as we saw in the Europa Final. Solved a problem position and no worries over him at all. HIT
Christian Benteke - hard to conclude anything other than a disappointment. Did chip in with goals and more often than not when he scored they were important goals (winners v Bournemouth, Leicester and Sunderland off the top of my head, point saver vs Chelsea). However for such a big money signing you'd expect them to be come a lynchpin of the side and it was clear from early on that he didn't quite fit. If he moves elsewhere I've no doubt he'll score goals. I'm not averse to keeping him as a useful sub option but not sure that's best for him or the club. Will have to see what transpires. MISSThe appointment of Klopp was greeted with a fair amount of delirium round these parts. Now this has passed (has it? ), have you been impressed? Do you think there are things he could work on?
Delirium and rightly so! Signing of the season in so many ways and it hasn't passed for me. Inconsistency of performance remained through the season, often in mitigating circumstances but the signs of what he can achieve were there for all of us to see in the two cup runs and League performances against most of the bigger sides. Solve the cheap goals we concede and the sloppy dropped points against dross and we can achieve great things.
I'm not going to tell him what he can work on, I'm sure he and his team no already what needs to be done. File me under "absolute faith".Most enjoyable game of the season?
It would have to be a game that we won easily rather than a nailbiter like certain Europa League Quarter Finals and we're not spoiled for choice here. Honourable mentions for Southampton in the League Cup, Villa away, Chelsea away and Everton at home but for me the most enjoyable was the first 45 minutes away at Man City. No strikers to work with, at a team with the best home record in the League where we had a poor recent record and we just took them apart. Some great team goals and a real early statement of what a Klopp side can do in the League.Worst performance of the season? (What did we learn from it, if anything?)
Sadly, there's a fair few options to choose from here too! Too many poor defeats to bottom half teams. I think most disappointing was that defeat at Newcastle, coming I think off the back of 4 straight wins and the battering of Southampton. At that point we felt invincible and I think that game provided quite the reality check for our inconsistent team.Player of the season?
A tough one this. The fact there wasn't one outstanding candidate but plenty in with a shout shows how we've evolved from the days of star quality like Suarez or Torres but now have a squad where everyone has an important role to play. I don't think anyone shone all the way through the season, if I had to pick one I'd actually go for Lovren. To go from that West Ham game to becoming a real front foot, aggressive, dominating centre back for the most part of the season was a real credit to him (and Klopp and his team I guess)Most improved player?
Again there are plenty of contenders here which can only be a good sign. Lovren again deserves a mention, as does Emre Can who grew into our most important midfielder. Lallana also became a vital member of Klopp's first choice team. However I'm going to go for Divock Origi. He arrived with a few question marks (mainly from outside the club?) and started tentatively. If in October you'd said that he would become our first choice striker for huge games in Europe you'd have been laughed at yet the progress he's made has been startling. Looks a real, powerful handful and looking forward to seeing him in the Euros and then back at full tilt for us in August.Looking at our squad at the time of writing, what are the three key positions we need to improve?
I'm going to pretend I wrote this about a week ago...
Goalkeeper - Migs had his moments but too many cheap goals conceded, often with a first shot on target. We can definitely improve here
Left Back - as above really. Moreno can still play a part but a Left sided Clyne type would give us more security in the big games
Central Midfield - not sure if we need a Masch destroyer type, or a Xabi playmaker type (or both!) but just having one of these would make us a more balanced side I thinkWhich three players do you think are surplus to requirements?
Given no Europe next year there's going to be a few fringe players who just won't get much game time next season, especially with expected signings to come. So I'd say Joe Allen (reluctantly, think he really was useful for us), Benteke and...ah yes, Mario Balotelli!Leicester City are champions. Honestly, how does that make you feel in regard to our pursuit of number 19? Has an opportunity been missed or does it signal a time for renewed optimism?
I thought it would make me feel a bit annoyed but actually I found it very refreshing in the end. I'd have been more pissed off watching City or Chelsea celebrating. Saying "if they can do it, so can anyone" will get tired very quickly but it does show that a settled squad with no European distractions, fully focussed on every League game can punch above their weight. I'm not sure this year was an opportunity missed in that no one was expecting a challenge. It is annoying that we only seem to get our act together when there's another side at their peak but who knows, maybe next year will be our y...Off the pitch…
It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions. Not least our most important victory of the season in Warrington. The families, survivors and campaigners can, hopefully, at last find some peace in knowing that the injustice of the previous 27 years was corrected. There are many seasoned campaigners who deserve so much credit and respect for their patience, perseverance, undying love for their families and unwavering strength in the face many years of adversity from the establishment, the press and many of the wider public. It wasn’t always like it is now. Accountability comes next. As ever, we stand with them.
Also off the field, we had:
• The arrival of a manager who is keen on connecting with the fans in the ground on a match day.
• Ticket protests becoming a national headline.
Taking all of the above into account, do you think it has had a significant impact on the fan base? If so, how?
I'm fully armchair these days so I'm not going to comment or criticise the fanbase much. You'd hope that the events of the inquest can make see people see the bigger picture. What the Families fought for and achieved was truly remarkable.
The ticket protest was a great moment. The following weekend I was out with friends and had a Celtic and a Sunderland fan telling me how impressed they were with the stand we took (or was that United away in the Europa?). As for connecting with Klopp, it's hard not to get carried away with his infectious attitude. I really hope the match going support in particular stays right behind him next season. It was remarkable given his status at the time and our predicament that we got him and it would be crazy to not give him our full backing and support at this time.