Liverpool Focus – Rodgers facing critical summer at Anfield

Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool finished below Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton in the Premier League this season, yet the Reds arguably have something of an advantage over four of those clubs going into the summer.

Sir Alex Ferguson, Roberto Mancini, Rafael Benitez and David Moyes will all have left their respective top-flight clubs by the end of next month and chairmen of three of these elite football establishments will be scouring the market for adequate replacements. As a result of this upheaval, a period of unpredictability may emerge within the above-named clubs and Liverpool, who aspire to challenge some of these teams for a place in the top four next season, could – at least in theory – capitalise on these significant managerial changes.

The activity over the summer at a football club is crucial across all levels of the game, but some summers are more important than others. For Liverpool, who – despite showing some signs of progress under Rodgers this term – continue to underachieve by failing to qualify for the Champions League, this could be the summer which helps to propel them into the top four once again, or see them drop further into mid-table mediocrity.

In recent weeks, some supporters have, somewhat predictably, argued that Liverpool are only a couple of quality players away from challenging for those top positions. With that suggestion in mind, and with the changes taking place at clubs placed above the Anfield outfit in the table, there is a hope that Liverpool could enjoy one of their very best summers if things go to plan.

But despite all of the optimism, there is always the risk that things may not go to plan. While Liverpool fans will be desperately hoping that Everton’s new manager flops on Merseyside, they will be equally hopeful that star forward Luis Suarez does not abandon the club over the coming weeks and months. However, it is not just Suarez’s possible departure which could dent the Reds’ plans. There has been speculation that other key players, including Jose Reina and Glen Johnson, could be set for the Anfield exit door.

With Rodgers hoping to fix his defence this summer, he could do without the additional problem of trying to replace a popular goalkeeper or restructuring his strike-force. Should the likes of Reina, Suarez and Andy Carroll leave Liverpool, then it could be difficult for the Reds to take advantage of the managerial changes taking place at other clubs near them in the table.

For all the optimism surrounding Liverpool at present following a reasonably strong second half of the 2012/2013 season, it would not take a lot to set the club back should key players decide to leave this summer. Those are backward steps the club cannot really afford to take. Trying to fix just the defensive area of the squad is manageable over one summer. Being forced to restructure all departments due to key departures is not. This is a crucial summer for Liverpool.

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