Brendan Rodgers first season in charge at anfield can be summed up in one word. Ok. It didn't offer anything spectacular, but did offer some very small signs of progress being made. The early season form of Raheem Sterling was extremely encouraging, as was Rodgers' decision to pull him out of the firing line at the latter stages of the season to give his young protege some much needed rest. The signings of both sturridge and Coutinho puts liverpools style of play firmly in the direction the ulster man wants it too go and The slight redemption of both Downing and Henderson is something the manager should take some credit for also.
Yet next season will be very different for the former Swansea manager. The departures of Sir Alex Ferguson, Roberto Mancini and David moyes at Everton to replace the Anfield clubs boogey man at Old Trafford means their supporters will require the rate of progress to move quicker if they are to take advantage of the uncertainty surrounding these clubs, who knows when the fallen kings of English football will get a better chance?
So what needs to be done to ensure that the rate of progress the supporters want to see is achieved? Well a new centre back is obviously needed to replace Jamie Carraghers departure, Asmir Begovic it would seem will replace Pepe Reina in goal and maybe a new full back or two.
The main task though, is to ensure Luis Suarez plays in a Liverpool shirt for the whole of next season. The footballing phrase of " no one player is bigger than a club" is true but surely in some instances certain players of genuine world class talent can transcend this? I believe this player does. In the same way Cantona did, Maradona did, Henry did and Messi still does. Now the latter two are very much the golden boys who can do no wrong in the eyes of the press and and the footballing authorities.
But what about the first two? They were the outcasts, the cheats, the tormented souls who played the game to try and discover happiness but the more joy they gave, the less joy they appeared to feel. In other words they was pure theatre because you never knew what you was going too see from them next. A moment of pure genius? Or a moment of self-indulged petulance? You just never knew. It's exactly the same when you watch the diminutive Uruguayan. His goal against Newcastle and the bite on Ivanovic are this seasons two instances of going from the sublime to the ridiculous, both got the same reaction from many 'oh my god, did he really just do that?' Unfortunately the ridiculous got an awful lot more attention than the sublime and it landed him with a 10 game ban and the feeling of victimisation.
The fact Liverpool will once again be out of the champions league next season always meant Suarez's future would be up for debate this summer but you get the impression that after he hit the headlines for his latest on field misdemeanour, that the Boston based hierarchy won't be putting up much of a fight to keep him if an offer of 35-40 million comes there way. The thinking behind this is that Suarez reputation is doing more damage to the clubs persona with foreign supporters in particular. Now I don't know who is offering this advice too them but they need to stop and go away because this is the biggest falsehood of a situation imaginable. Suarez is despised by millions of people who don't support or care for Liverpool in the slightest but how's about the actual Liverpool fans? The ones who actually buy the club merchandise? They love him! And not in the way they loved Torres either, it's very much in the way of their adulation for Steven Gerrard and the outgoing Carragher. From a pure business point of view then all Liverpool's board need to do is look too Old Trafford to see the potential profits to be made from success being achieved with a footballing outcast as the main attraction, I'm sure there are many still buying Cantona memorabilia too this day.
So for Rodgers this summer could decide his entire reign at Anfield. For me the biggest job on his hands is convincing the board that keeping Suarez at all costs will be the most beneficial route to take for the club. If he does that and adds more young, hungry and talented players to his embryonic squad then the top four is a very real possibility with a very real title challenge within two years. If he doesn't and Suarez leaves then things become an awful lot more difficult, there will be no challenge within two years and the top four will start to become the obsession rather than the title. Sure some will point out it's not impossible without Suarez "no one player is bigger than his club" but things will become harder for them and any future title won without him won't be half as much fun with him at the forefront, the national hate figure. Liverpool legend.