For me, where we finish and how fast we progress next year depends on how quickly Brendan and his coaching/back office team can implement his philosophy and playing style into the team. I think it will go in one of two ways:
1. If he has the full backing from those above to sell the players this summer he decides donít fit his philosophy, (even if we crystalise a loss) and can buy the ones that he thinks will, then the transition should be smoother and faster. The players that he keeps should by default be more able to adopt his ideas and style quickly and effectively.
In this scenario there may be some surprises by who is sold, To illustrate a point, letís say he concludes Andy Carroll wonít fit and is sold, this will significantly boost our budget (15-25m?) and I would be comfortable to know that the decision is based on fitting into a philosophy, granted you have to trust and buy into Mr Rodgers. So the benefit of this scenario is that this would add further firepower to the existing transfer budget and align the squad with players who fit his style.
There will always be some players that are difficult to move on, but thatís life. For example Jamie has a year left and doesnít fit into the philosophy because of his age and style, but then he is useful to have as a backup and maybe Brendan can assess whether he has the potential to step up into a coaching role.
2. If he has to move gradually in the transfer market, and must essentially first try and implement the style and play with the existing squad, the transition will be slower and imo less effective. However at least there will be continuity in the squad, and as most people have said, an improvement from last season shouldnít be too hard because of all the hopefully one off incidents and statistical outliers (Suarez affair, goal posts, penalties, refereeing, finishing, home form, injuries).
Also we can hope for improvements from players that have underperformed, perhaps because of confidence issues that can be resolved or because they may thrive in a new system, Downing for instance?
It will also be interesting for either scenario to see which players from the academy and fringes of the squad are promoted.
Summary, quietly confident that given backing, authority from the board and if the players are prepared to work and believe in the manager, we can challenge for the top 4, and then take stock at season end.