WATCHING Liverpool this season, it’s clear to see the team – and the club – has got its mojo back.
WATCHING Liverpool FC this season, it’s clear to see the team – and the club – has got its mojo back.
People had started to become disaffected under the old ownership regime, particularly during the end of Rafael Benitez’s reign and that of Roy Hodgson.
Supporters were maybe a little bit apathetic. Why should they have cared?
Now they most certainly do. There is an energy about the place, which is being transferred to the field with increasingly impressive performances.
It seems an eternity ago that only 35,000 turned up at Anfield to watch Liverpool beat Bolton Wanderers in January as Fenway Sports Group prepared to give Hodgson the boot.
On Saturday, there were almost 10,000 more fans in attendance. And they were rewarded by one of the best all-round Liverpool displays since they were challenging for the title under Benitez in 2009.
There are quite a few in the team now that are playing to stay in there from week to week. And that’s what every successful team needs, a real competition for places.
Kenny Dalglish changed things around against Exeter City last week, he left Andy Carroll out against Bolton, and it’s clear everyone is striving to be involved.
The shape of the team and the balance are both good, and they are creating chances.
There is quality to bring on from the bench. Look at Martin Skrtel, his coming off the bench to score was equivalent to knocking on the manager’s door to be back in the team.
It was important for Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam to get their first goals, especially at home. All new players are under some pressure, and that will be relieved somewhat.
But it was one of the now old guard that impressed on Saturday. Lucas Leiva has made huge steps during the last two years, and clearly feels part of the furniture.
I really feel he has stepped up to the plate since Javier Mashcerano left. Lucas was inevitably playing second fiddle to Mascherano and now he is one of the first names on the team-sheet.
When he first arrived, people wondered whether he really was Brazilian, but he has now become the player Benitez always claimed he could be.
Liverpool have another new arrival imminent in Sebastian Coates. At 6ft5ins, my only concern would be if he has the pace to recover against some of the smaller, nippier strikers. That’s always an issue with very tall centre-backs. I’m sure we won’t see much of Coates for a few months, but if he does appear in that time then he’ll have made a good impression on Dalglish.
There have also been rumours that Craig Bellamy and Yossi Benayoun could be returning to Anfield.
It’s easy to forget that Benayoun has not played much football in a long time, and I’d be inclined to pass on the opportunity to sign the Israeli.
Bellamy, though, is different, and would offer an alternative if Luis Suarez isn’t playing. Bellamy can play wide right or left as well as up the middle, and his pace troubles people.
You’d have to deal with his knee injury and his strong personality, although I don’t think he could throw his weight around in the current Liverpool dressing room. But for a free transfer, it does seem a bit of a no-brainer.