Date: 6th March 2013 at 6:11pm
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WHEN you move to a new job it’s always surprising how many Reds you meet by chance.

Maybe one making a coffee has a Liverpool FC mug and the other has some LFC cuff-links.

Either way it’s always a pleasant surprise and an even better excuse to stop working for half an hour and discuss the team we all love.

I sat down with new colleagues, Ed and Dan, to discuss the season so far and what their hopes and fears for next season will be.

John: This season’s been a funny one; at times the team has looked awesome and at times we’ve been woeful – what are your thoughts on the season so far?

Ed: To be fair I’ve thought Liverpool have played some really good football. The difference between this season and last, is that under Kenny, we were more direct and at times we destroyed teams, tore them apart even, and still didn’t get a result.

This season, we’ve done the same but in a different way, often played amazingly well and haven’t taken our chances and then either drawn or got beaten.

Dan: I completely agree. It’s been frustrating in the sense where we’ve looked mouth-wateringly good on the ball, such as United at home, then we go to Tottenham and in the first twenty minutes we basically look like a team that’s never passed the ball. What’s good about this season is Rodgers seems to get the best out of the players he’s had which is maybe why Hendo had such a shocker last year – he was often played out of position and looked like a rabbit in the headlights, this season he’s added a dynamism to the team which didn’t exist a year ago.

To be fair to Kenny, it’s a shame really as defensively we were so good yet Suarez having that suspension really hurt him (although he was rightfully suspended for what happened) and then he would be sensational, but he’d be too eager, to rash. This season he seems to be so comfortable in any role. You can almost say he’s got more of a freedom to play these days.

John: I’d say Rodgers has done good things with a bit of an impossible mission on his hands this season. Losing all the experience of Kuyt, Maxi, Bellamy, and Carroll demanding first team football and then wanting to go, and FSG’s transfer committee. Do you feel this is a Liverpool season zero in terms of rebuilding the squad for the future?

Ed: Look mate, I’m a Scouser, I’ve been around long enough and seen enough Liverpool players and managers to know one thing; at Liverpool you have to win every game otherwise it’s a disaster. Can you honestly tell me that there’s such a thing as a season zero? No, Rodgers has to finish in the mix of 5th or 6th this season and if he doesn’t the fans will put him under pressure, rightly or wrongly.

One thing I will say is that whilst Allen’s season has been indifferent with some outstanding performances and some poor one’s too, Borini who’s struggled but you can see why Rodgers rates him with his movement and vision, his overall transfer acumen is good. Look at Sturridge and Coutinho who’ve both struggled at top clubs. They have come to Liverpool and look at home in a Red shirt. Rodgers clearly has an eye for a player and we’ll see more of that in the summer. I’m fed up of us swapping managers in and out of the club – I want us to build something and from what I’ve seen so far this season I think he’s the right man to go about it.

Dan: Ok, here’s the thing. The squad is young, Rodgers is young in managerial terms; but, and here’s the but…we are Liverpool for Christ’s sake. Should we be settling for a manager proven in the Championship and keeping a Swansea team in the Premier League? No, absolutely not. However on the other hand 3 years ago, Liverpool nearly went down. We nearly, very nearly went bankrupt. We had lost a host of amazing players and never replaced them such as Mascherano, Alonso and Hyypia to name but a few. We lost a talisman leader in Rafa, as well as Torres and you expect us to do the same as we did? No, absolutely not.

Rodgers appointment shows two things, 1) it shows balls 2) it shows the owners have a philosophy of building a successful club, not just in the Chelsea sense but in the right way.

John: I think there’s something to be said for finishing strong this year. As I fan I need to believe there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I think even if we are to get two or three good quality signings in the summer, we’ll be hard pressed to get top 4 with the likes of Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal all set to improve this summer (although Spurs’ situation depends on where Bale will be after the summer). Realistically who would you want to see at Liverpool?

Ed: For me, I can’t see past Christian Eriksen at Ajax. We need more attacking options in midfield in order to cope with a heavy fixture list. Allen, Henderson and Lucas are all showing good promise this season, but Gerrard won’t go on forever. I’d like to see a quality centre-back and I wouldn’t mind seeing someone to bolster the attack.

John: Any names in mind for centre-back and striker?

Ed: Well it’s looking like Williams is on his way from Swansea. As far as strikers are concerned I think we could look to Ince as let’s face it, we have Sturridge, Suarez, Coutinho, Sterling, Borini, so you could see Ince fitting in as good cover.

Dan: I wish people would stop going on about Eriksen. Personally, I’d like us to sign Mario Gotze (but can’t see that happening), so in his place I’d look at Kevin Strootman. As for centre-back I agree with Ashley Williams, but as a squad player, Dejan Lovern would be good, as would Isaac Vorash who could cover as a defensive midfielder as well as a centre-back. What about you?

John: Well for me I think there’s an issue in the fact that if Gerrard is injured, we’re in trouble – likewise with Lucas, so I’d like us to look at Leonardo Bittencourt as an attacking option as well as Ince. I’d also like us to look at Georginio Wijnaldum from PSV – he would be a quality option. However we need at least two centre-backs so I’d like Williams and Lovern.

As for midfield I wouldn’t say no to Gotze, Strootman or Eriksen, but I think Strootman’s the more likely signing. He’s more versatile than Eriksen and we’d never be able to land Gotze unless he really wanted to come to Liverpool. He’d command a massive fee too. Nobody talks about midfield so I’d like us to look at Fredy Gaurin too. He’s experienced and movement, passing and technique is top rated. He’s also older which is something we lack as a group.

We also need a right-back and a left-back therefore I’d hope for someone like Filipe from Atletico Madrid who’s a good back up. Once Kelly is back I’d like to see him given a run at centre-back so maybe someone like Nathaniel Clyne who I can see develop under Rodgers. He’ll never be world class but I think he’d be a good squad edition which is what you need – he’s quick, strong and is always fit therefore I can see him being a big player for us over the years.

Let’s not forget our youth too, so I can see Joao Carolos Teixeira getting a shot in the first team as well as Mclaughlin. I think personally if you can get Jonjo out on loan to a Fulham or someone like that, as well as Suso, then you’re building well for the future. Hopefully Robinson can get a Premier League loan deal too and that’ll be massive for their development.

Ed: No Draxler?

John: Of course, but let’s face it, there’ll be a host of clubs looking for his signature and I think the reality of where we are just now is that we’ll not be at the top of his list.

Dan: Yeah, I think these are all good shouts but none of you have mentioned the keeper? What about Pepe?

Ed: Oh come on, who’s out there now that we can both afford, attract and who’s been properly blooded? Ter Stegan?

Dan: Pepe’s been pretty woeful though. And Jones is hardly the wonder back up is he?

John: Maybe you’re all ignoring the fact that Rodgers needs a defensive coach as well as a goalkeeping coach next year. Pepe still has it in the locker, and you don’t lose defensive talent over a season. It depends how you’re drilled and one thing we’ve not done well this season is keep clean sheets or defend well at all as opposed to having Clarke who drilled the back 4 well.

For me, an issue Liverpool have never addressed in the last 5 years is a top drawer goalkeeping coach and if Rodgers is big enough to admit he needs a good defensive coaching unit he’ll address that in the summer. Pepe needs competition, as do the centre-back’s. Get that and you’ll see improvement.

Follow me on Twitter @johnritchie84

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