From creators to converters: Who's going to step up for Liverpool FC?
Being at the Dortmund game on Sunday was truly the first time that I thought Liverpool were going to kick on from last season without Luis Suarez.
You hear all of the Twitter words of wisdom where people say that the world doesn’t end just because Suarez has left – which is true, but still doesn’t make you lose the “fear the worst” when you see clips of how many goals he scored last season.
It was said at the weekend that there is no replacing Luis Suarez. And however many rumours you hear about the marquee signings that are going to take his place straight away, it’s not very likely you can replace a Fernando Torres with a Luis Suarez.
What can happen though, is what I witnessed on Sunday, and what I only hope with continue as we start the new season.
Although watching all of the nocturnal pre-season games, it’s difficult to get a sense of what we were in for post-Suarez.
The starting 11 against Dortmund, was probably what you’d call our best at the current time. And although there are a lot of new faces, there were a few key players that everyone has got their eye on to step up.
Last season, it was easy for the midfield to get away with scoring 10+ goals a season, because Suarez and Sturridge were doing so well as a partnership, but also doing the job when the other was out.
The two most have selected to get more goals under their belts in the upcoming season are generally Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho. Both brilliant players in their own right, their all-round game would become more impressive if they were getting their names on the scoresheet more often.
Now it’s not necessarily that they weren’t trying to get the goals, but subconsciously and the way in which the system worked last year, Suarez could create so much on his own, that the majority of his goals came from his genius ways.
Coming towards the end of the season, and the set of straight wins, it started to seem that it wasn’t just a solo Suarez effort anymore, but a recognisable whole Liverpool set-up that was capturing everyone’s attention.
It was that time that Brendan Rodgers had finally got to grips on this side as as whole. The defence had to be worked on, but we were winning games, a winning formula.
This season, we have no Luis Suarez to pull the rabbit out of the hat when things are at 0-0 with 10 minutes to go.
Jordan Henderson has been praised for getting forward and making those lung-busting runs for the last couple of seasons, and a lot, including myself, back him to have the qualities for the next captain.
Although he does he job extremely well, there is a lack of goals coming from the midfield. The job can’t solely be on Daniel Sturridge, and the pressure mounts on him if there is no assistance from those behind him.
It’s something that has been brought up so many times, that Henderson will be working on it, considering that a lot of his opportunistic shooting was a little wild in the last couple of seasons. And although his progression since a young player so far has been brilliant, it’s now time for him to get the goals, and proclaim himself as even more of a senior player in the squad.
Watching against Dortmund on Sunday, the build-up play to Henderson’s goal was so exciting if that’s what we’re to expect in the coming season. One touch football and going past the opposition players as if they weren’t there – it’s so refreshing to see that there were so many options going forward.
Two who got themselves into these positions, were infact Henderson and Coutinho. With adequate cover at the back now, and so much creativity going forward, these midfielders can concentrate on getting themselves in to these positions.
That’s what it seemed like on Sunday. Like the end of last season, there is so much intensity and aggressiveness in attack, that we can now commit these types of players forward, getting them in the goal-scoring positions.
Coutinho outclasses most of the players on the pitch with his skills and overall talent. He impressed everyone last year, but he played the role of the creator, not the converter. He has the composure, of course, but now we’re somewhat down on the “natural goalscorer” players, pulling the weight and taking some pressure off Sturridge is crucial.
Because Torres hasn’t been much of a threat for Chelsea over the past few years, they’ve sometimes gone with the option of putting all of their eggs in one basket in terms of creative midfielders.
In the event we are without Sturridge or one of the new strikers we are being linked with, it can’t turn into a past Gerrard or Torres situation, where we are more or less stuck without their contribution.
Only time will tell whether the midfielders will get themselves within the 10 goals+ bracket, but if there are any pluses of Suarez’s departure, it’s for the door to open for these types of players to step up in terms of the scoring burden.