When I joined Liverpool, I obviously had lots of tasks to complete, mostly relating to the squad. Following the evaluation of the squads(first team,under 21’s and under 18’s)I then had to promote/demote players to the appropriate squad and then look for replacements and players to fill vacant positions. One of the other things I did early on when I joined the club was to cancel all the friendlies scheduled by the board/previous manager, as I felt the schedule was ridiculous and would absolutely drain the players prior to the season starting.
Due to a training camp in China for a couple of weeks, this meant I was unable to organise any friendlies outwith China for a while, I felt I really needed at least one friendly early on so I decided to play Tianjin. The game ended in a 4-1 victory for us which came as no surprise, as I started with a pretty strong team. Despite starting with a strong team, a youngster I gave a chance was Daniel Trickett-Smith, the youngster was excellent and was actually one of my best players, getting himself two assists during the game.
Next was a short trip to Southport, this would give me a chance to look at the youngster I had at my disposal. I started with just 3 first teamers, and the rest of the team made up of under 21’s and a couple of under 18’s. Although I started with a reserve team, we came out the match as 4-0 victors, Samed Yesil in particular impressing, grabbing himself a brace in a dominating performance.
After giving my youngsters a chance, I then faced a more challenging match against Celtic, my first at Anfield. In this game, I started with a pretty strong team again, running out as 3-1 winners, Stevie G scoring a trademark free-kick on the way. Another tough match at Anfield was on the horizon, this time against Schalke. This was a match which I was a really looking forward to, largely down to my excitement at seeing Schalke’s young talents on show, Max Meyer and Leroy Sane were two I was intrigued by and even looking at purchasing in the next couple of transfer windows, if not this window. In the end, it was a 0-0 bore draw and Meyer had a quiet game, while Sane didn’t feature. Disappointing.
The last pre-season game would see us travel north to face recently relegated Hearts. Hearts aren’t actually too bad a side and will probably be a top 4 side in the Premier League in the next few seasons, so it had potential to be a decent test. I used a mixture of youngsters and first teamers, not wanting to risk too many players ahead of next week’s opener. A 2-1 victory left me satisfied, as did Fabio Borini’s terrific performance. Despite being transfer listed, Borini really impressed me, planting a little seed in my head.
Overall, pre-season had been really successful as I’d had a chance to analyse my first team squad and a good amount of my youngsters. I picked up some nice results as well as seeing good individual and more importantly, team performances. Although the matches went really well, there was a downside. Daniel Sturridge picked up yet another knee injury. This one would leave him out of action for 4-5 weeks, no doubt ruling him out of the first couple of Premier League matches. This was a huge blow as Daniel was going to key be a player in my season, however he would likely have to do another pre-season of his own, at a later date, in order to match the fitness of the squad.
Following my analysis of the squad, it was pretty obvious that I would be needing a new first choice right-back, so that was my priority for the summer. I needed the player to be a wing-back style player, as he would be playing as a lone player on the flank a lot. Key attributes I would be looking for would be crossing dribbling, pace, positioning and maybe tackling. Initially I wanted a player under 25 but when Dani Alves came up for a fee of just £4.5million I couldn’t say no. One of the best right-back of the last 10 years and still playing at a very good level, Alves was a player I was more than delighted to bring into my squad. The real fee in this deal is not the fee Barcelona but in fact Alves’ wages, at £200k a week, Alves’ wages over the course contract will be well more than the transfer fee. Alves will probably be a short-term solution as at the age of 31, he is past his peak. He will probably be released after the 3 years run out, and Ryan McLaughlin will possibly get his chance as first choice right-back.
Following Sturridge’s injury, it really dawned upon me that Balotelli, Borini and Yesil won’t be enough to see me through the season. As back-up striker, I brought in another Barça player…no don’t be silly, I wasn’t able to coax Luis Suarez back to Anfield. Sandro Ramirez joined us on a 6 month loan, with a possible 6 month extension following that. He is an average player but I’m confident he is good enough to put in a shift when called upon.
Promotions from Under 21’s
After a long hard look at the under 21’s, I realised as much as I didn’t want to rush too many players in their development, I really wanted to promote the best talents to at least train with the first team. The 8 players I was considering promoting were as follows:
In the end I decided on this:
Jordon Ibe- Promoted to the first team for good and will remain a part of the first team squad this season
Daniel Tricket-Smith- Promoted to the first team for training, however will play matches with the under 21’s to keep him getting regular game time, might feature in Capital One Cup
Cameron Brannagan- Will remain with under 21’s for at least one more season, needs to develop physically
Ryan McLaughlin- Will remain with under 21’s for at least one more season, may leave on loan, might feature in Capital One Cup
Lloyd Jones- Promoted to the first team for training, however will play matches with the under 21’s to keep him getting regular game time, may leave on loan, might feature in Capital One Cup
Daniel Ward- Promoted to first team for training and as 3rd choice GK, however will play matches with the under 21’s to keep him getting regular game time, might feature in Capital One Cup
Pedro Chivirella- Will remain with under 21’s for at least one more season, needs to develop physically
Harry Wilson- Promoted to the first team for training, however will play matches with the under 21’s to keep him getting regular game time as isn’t physically ready for first team football however he is technically superb
So Jordon Ibe is the only player who will be fast tracked the full way on his development plan. With Tricket-Smith, Wilson, Ward and Jones not too far behind him. Some might be surprised to see the absence of Jordan Rossiter, however his attributes were quite underwhelming and to be honest, I’m not convinced Rossiter will ever become a first team regular at the club.
So again, I find myself surpassing the 1,000 word Mark when I really didn’t expect, or need to! So thanks very much if you made it this far, glad to see you are taking an interest in my FM work. Please comment/mention me on Twitter or email me any suggestions relating to this FM work!