With most pundits predicting a third consecutive Premier League title for Manchester City, and some Liverpool fans questioning whether the club have done enough in the transfer window, to overcome the disappointment of last season’s runners-up spot, Jurgen Klopp will no doubt be looking for a statement of intent, in the early Saturday kick-off at newly promoted Fulham. With both a Premier League and Champions League hangover still fresh in the minds of all at the club, the visit to Craven Cottage may provide all the evidence needed, that coming so close to an unprecedented quadruple last season, will push them over the line, in what will surely ultimately prove to be, yet another two-horse league title race.
In considering whether the club have shown sufficient ambition in the transfer market, we must first acknowledge the huge debt of gratitude to Sadio Mane. 120 club goals, and over 30 assists, was a remarkable return on a player bought from Southampton, as the Klopp revolution gathered pace. It should also not be forgotten, just how little genuine excitement there was amongst Kopites when the Senegalese star was plucked from the South coast; a lesson to all those who continue to call for a never-ending conveyor belt of marquee signings. However, It’s not just his goals and assists that could prove difficult for incoming Uruguayan star, Darwin Nunez, to replicate, but a work rate and ability to regain possession, that so often set the tone for the rest of the team. Of course, a pre-season hat-trick, along with the third and decisive goal, to ensure a Community Shield success, against Guardiola’s money-no-object City last Saturday, will surely help the former Benfica forward settle into his new surroundings. It does, however, remain to be seen whether he’ll one day deserve the legend status that Mane so richly deserves.
Nunez though is not the only new arrival. Fabio Carvalho certainly looks like an exciting prospect, yet whether he’ll grace his previous stomping ground in West London tomorrow (incidentally, the historic Craven Cottage is my favourite away ground), is doubtful, with Liverpool fans perhaps having fewer doubts about his ability to replicate the twinkle toes of Coutinho, the player the 19-year-old most resembles in poise and style. It’s also to be welcomed that Calvin Ramsay, a £6.5m transfer from Aberdeen, has been brought in to offer some competition at right-back, and with the club receiving almost three times that amount for Nottingham Forest-bound Neco Williams, the financial equation certainly looks yet another positive. What’s more, If Ramsey proves as able as the last Scottish full-back we bought for a similar fee, it will prove a very shrewd investment.
During the close season, we also bid farewell to the heroic Divock Origi, whose goals will forever be etched in the collective memories of us all. It’s frankly of no matter that he departed for AC Milan without a fee, his contribution to the trophy success of Liverpool is more than enough, as is the opportunity he’s given all of us, to forever remind the bitters across Stanley Park of Pickford’s ‘little arms’. The near £20m obtained from the sale of cup starlet Taki Minamino, and centre back Ben Davies, also all but balanced the books on the transfer front. Of course, the two most important signings of the close season, undoubtedly set the club back many millions of pounds more, but who would seriously argue that finally persuading Mo Salah to put pen to paper on a new contract won’t be worth every last penny, whilst there’s not a football fan on earth who’d not welcome Kop Kaiser Jurgen Klopp at their club, and whatever Liverpool promised him to persuade him to extend his contract, is just fine with me.
Ah yes, you’re no doubt saying to yourself, but we’re still light in midfield, and have we really replaced the creativity of Bayern-bound Mane? Maybe the ongoing rumours of an imminent deal with Borussia Dortmund for Jude Bellingham will bare fruit, though it would seem that the more likely scenario is that he’ll arrive at Anfield in 12 months’ time. I, no doubt like you, would welcome somebody of his obvious talent plying his trade for Liverpool, but I, also no doubt, like yourselves, trust Klopp implicitly, and if he believes he has the resources to ‘go again’ this season, who are we to question his judgement?
So, we do indeed ‘go again’. An all-out assault will surely be made once more, to be crowned European and Premier League Champions. Personally, I’d be more than satisfied to add a 20th League title. It would be more than fitting for this squad, this manager, and our club, to do just that. The football we’ve played in recent years, the relentless nature of this quite remarkable group of players, along with the excitement provided, and the wonderful goals we’ve scored, surely merit more than just one title under this truly great manager. That’s not to say, any other trophy would not also earn its place on the constantly evolving champions wall, but another league title would almost certainly mean that little bit more.
So enjoy the season ahead. Teams and managers like ours don’t last forever. Just witness the debacle playing out at Old Trafford. Whatever the next 9 months of club football bring, I’ll remain forever proud of our club, and forever looking forward to a successful future.
You’ll Never Walk Alone.