HomeViews and OpinionsPlayers We'll Remember In A Season To Forget

Players We’ll Remember In A Season To Forget

Liverpool played 52 competitive matches this season and won exactly half of them, with 26 wins, 12 draws and 14 defeats. That up-and-down, back-and-forth record just about sums up the season, especially the post-World Cup winter stretch where they fell for good out of the Top 4 and despite rallying back, could never quite get there. A 4-4 draw to close out the campaign had all the highlights and low moments that the fanbase has watched throughout the year. To end up 5th is actually a bit of a miracle considering the number of miles on the squad and the desperate need to strengthen and rebuild in the coming weeks. Now comes the real work, as Liverpool tend to like to get their business done early. Some transfers already sound nearing completion but these next few weeks will be the typical silly season all windows are and with a lot riding on the outcoming, it’s both exciting and anxious times for the Reds.

Though they technically did get a trophy this year, with the Community Shield victory over Man City (which feels like a lifetime ago), the standards that Jurgen and the team have set meant this season is the lowest period the team have felt for a while. It very much is the end of an era cycle as I can count on only 3 or 4 players who will remain ever-present must-starts of the current team. Everything else, with added depth coming, could make for a very new-look team by the time a ball is kicked with anger again in three short months’ time.

So much will depend on who comes into the team next, as both the midfield and the defence are screaming out for a refresh. Players who have been wonderful servants are moving on as are enigmas that never quite put it all together in the way they or we had hoped they would. The late season Trent expansion into the midfield really worked wonders as it put by far our best passer and one of our purest playmakers period, much more on the ball. However, allowing him to go further forward means the rest of the midfield and defence must cover that much harder and that is frankly where the team most needs to strengthen. A player like Ugarte of Sporting or Tyler Adams of the now-relegated Leeds would be a great addition to step in for Fabinho and perhaps succeed him as he ages out of his prime. Other dynamic playmakers in the middle, with energy to burn and ground to cover will go a long way to keeping the counter-pressing style at top level. Brighton’s Mac Allister seems destined to join up within days and he could very well be the first of several new faces to bring the grit, graft and steel that the best Liverpool teams of the last few years had in spades.

Up front, though we are losing an absolute legend and my favourite Red of this cycle in Bobby, the team remains stocked for attack, with Mo, Jota, Diaz, Gakpo and Nunez all most likely returning to bang in the goals. Despite the up and down forms of almost everyone listed, Liverpool still scored over 100 goals across all competitions again this season, a sign that the attack is not the issue, but it is shielding the ball, recovering it and holding up the fort in the back that needs work. The away form needs addressing too as so many of our worst performances came away from Anfield and with the Premier League only growing more top-heavy, it is imperative that Liverpool rediscover their magic as they hit the road next season.

Quick grades for the team and then player of the season thoughts:

The goalkeeping was by far Liverpool’s greatest strength as Alisson was immense at the back with so much more work to do than usual. He single-handedly saved at least 15 points for the Reds with his ability to sniff out danger as a sweeper keeper and his one-on-one stopping abilities remain just about the best in the world. A lesser goaltender for Liverpool would have probably meant a Chelsea-like finishing spot in the table but thanks to Alisson Becker, Europa awaits next season. Giving him more support and less work to do is vitally important come next campaign if Liverpool hope to reclaim their standing.


The defence was erratic throughout the entire season. None of the players had their best seasons and it really does speak to Trent’s long-term ability that he became much more effective as a player when he was given more freedom from the right-back position. Liverpool might decide that a proper RB deputy or even a full-time three-headed CB formation next season could be the way to go. Losing the versatility of Milner means that is a very real probability. None of the CB’s commanded the pitch as they have in years past and it will be on Virgil most of all to rebuild his reputation as a world-class player. He still has it in him but his reading of the game was mediocre this season and the man-marking overall must, must, must improve.


The area most crying out for fresh legs and ideas is in the midfield. Adding Trent to the mix certainly helps with playmaking but Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool demands that the midfield is actually where most games are won or lost. This season, almost every loss can be chalked up to the midfield being a step slow or overwhelmed by their opposition. Part of that is due to injury or loss of form sure but it also is about age and mileage. The team as built all hit their prime about 2 or 3 years ago which culminated in dominant, title and trophy-winning seasons. Now, several years on, the players are all on the downside of that cycle. Hendo and Thiago are still willing players and contributors but gone are the days when they are first on the team sheets. Fabinho had by far his most erratic season acting as the shield and reinforcements must be brought in to supplement and complement what he is capable of. The departing Ox and Naby both held so much promise but could never find the form or fitness to put it together. Hopefully, their next destination will bring greater consistency.

The youngsters that are in the squad: Elliot, Jones and Bajcetic all had their moments but none yet look ready to fully take the heavy mantle that is required of them. They could still grow into the roles laid out for them but in the meanwhile, with 4 midfielders leaving, Liverpool and FSG must respond in kind to keep the engine room ready to rev at full throttle.


Attack, as mentioned, more or less held their own, though some of the final numbers were the results of a few lopsided victories, such as the devastation against both United and Bournemouth as well as Rangers and Leeds. They remain capable of brilliant attacking and counter-attacking play but still had strange patches where they were frustrated by teams that stacked the midfield and defense, begging Liverpool to run through them and not around or over. Both Gakpo and Nunez have all the potential in the world and all things considered, neither had awful first seasons. The problem of course is they came into the league the same time as the cyborg that is Haaland at City and are also being tasked with replacing what had been an absurdly successful attacking trio of Mane-Bobby-Salah. All good things take time and having seen what they can do, as well as the recovered health of both Jota and Diaz, the attack still can grow and continue to flourish. More on our man Mo in a moment as well.


Finally, to Jurgen, who can still be counted on to conjure his magic. The fans who were calling for him to resign or step down as the season wore on can take a long seat and stay there until they come up with any semblance of an idea of a manager who could come in and change the culture for the better. What Jurgen has brought to Liverpool is nearly impossible to find elsewhere, it is an ethos, a belief structure and a way of building up a team that few managers in the world are capable of. Look no further than the disasters at both Chelsea and Spurs the next time you demand that Liverpool bring in a new leader. Having moved past the so-called 7-year curse that was being bandied about, I fully expect a hungry Klopp to have the team, if probably rebuild and strengthened, back ready to do battle with the top of the league. What this season has shown is how herculean a task it is to keep up with the well-coached, world-class (and yes, well-funded) machine that it City. That Liverpool kept pace and actually defeated them for the league gives Klopp the chance to call time on his tenure on his terms and not sooner.

OVERALL GRADE: B- (verging on C but finishing 5th bumps it up)

And now to players of the season:

5. James Milner, who at 37 remains a remarkable pro and heartbeat for any club. Should he end up a Brighton, they will be getting a leader to follow and learn from. My wish is that he plays an entire healthy season and breaks the all-time Premier League appearances record, which would forever etch his name about his reliability, health, fitness and enduring ability to do a job. He was always a willing deputy, ready with a tackle and took the young players under his wing. For what he represents more than what he perhaps did on the field this season, thank you, Millie. Long may you dominate the fitness tests and there is a place on the coaching bench for you at Anfield as soon as you hang your boots up.

4. Trent, a player reborn in his new role. With an offseason to really figure out how to tactically play an inverted wingback/midfield/defender whatever hybrid term, I fully expect him to continue to blossom as one of the most devastating attacking players in the world. When the ball goes through him, like an elite point guard in the NBA, the offence is flowing and good things happen. Still needs to stay switched on in defence when he’s tasked with that responsibility and can sometimes be a little too passive at times but he remains the fulcrum for the team.

3. Mo Salah, who had a supposedly “poor” season which only speaks to how elite he is. Mo failed to get to 20 league goals for only the second time during his tenure and yet still got 30 goals and 16 assists in a season! Numbers that only the best playmakers in the world can even achieve. Mo is as consistent and persistent as they come and showed in this campaign that he is a willing playmaker as much as a finisher. With so many new, dynamic partners in the attack, I fully expect his combination work to grow and the goals to return to their previous levels. A dip in penalties was all that kept him from his consistent level. To make another analogy, Mo Salah is becoming like Mo Rivera of the Yankees: so dominant that he needs to be remarkable for him to not be taken for granted year in and year out. He hardly ever misses a game, puts up world-class numbers and despite the shifting personnel around him, makes it work. One more “poor” Mo season and he’ll have over 200 Liverpool goals, just let that sink in.


I could devote 10,000 words to Bobby Firmino and what he has meant to the team but simply put: He is a magician who will dazzle you with his feet as well as his smile. His willingness and unselfish play as a number 9 are what made Liverpool sing these last 8 years. Even in a season when he was being replaced, he still found a way to matter when it counted most. Cody Gakpo has shown signs that he might be the heir to the linkup/holdup throne but we all know that it was built brick by brick by Bobby and it will always be his first. Best of luck to you Bobby wherever you end up next. So long as his opponents aren’t the Reds, I’ll be rooting hard for him.

1. Alisson, who as mentioned showed why he might be the best goalkeeper in the world. On his shot-stopping ability alone he is elite but when mixed in with his ball distribution, it’s almost an unfair combination. This season he was required to do a lot and hopefully some of those problems will be addressed but it is of tremendous comfort knowing he is back there, prowling his spot and ready to save the day again and again.

So, there we go. 10 months on from what was an epic season of almost (2 trophies and 4 finals) this season seemed destined to be a letdown and it certainly was. Such is the way of things but it only makes the next adventure that much more fun. As our one-time captain, Stevie G said: We go again.

Enjoy the off-season, everyone!