Äntligen är landslagsuppehållet över och den riktiga fotbollen kan ta vid. För Liverpools del är det hemmamatch mot Newcastle som väntar på lördag och det är en motståndare som har en ganska turbulent sommar bakom sig. Rafa Benitez har lämnat tränarposten och ersatts av Steve Bruce. Nyckelspelare har lämnat, men man har också slagit transferrekord med ett köp av en ny anfallare. Det här, och mycket annat, berättar Jake Jackman(@Jakejackmann), från bland annat @EPLRoundtable, om i vår Q&A:
- Looking back, how do you remember last season?
The majority of last season was focused on off-field matters such as a potential takeover and the future of Rafa Benitez. Despite the uncertainty, Rafa built a good team and I think a lot of our players are underrated by many. That said, he probably took us far as he could under Ashley. I don’t blame him for going. On the field, we never looked likely to go down and had a few very good performances. The home matches against Manchester City and yourselves jump out. Even though we lost to you, it was one of the best games of the Premier League season, with goals and plenty of action at both ends. Your win kept the title race alive, but you couldn’t have complained had we taken a point or more.
- Youve replaced Rafa Benitez with Steve Bruce, what are your thoughts on the new manager?
The decision to replace Rafa with Bruce is a contender for one of the biggest downgrades in Premier League history. We had one of the best managers in the world and now we have arguably the worst manager in the league. That said, Bruce has some guts to take on the job knowing the task of winning the fans around and keeping this team up. There is some anger about the appointment of Bruce, but my attitude is one of apathy and the majority of supporters are the same. The defeat against Norwich didn’t hurt at all. I just don’t get affected by the club like I once did. Over a decade of Ashley does this to a supporter…
- How would you describe the way you play under Steve Bruce?
Bruce tried to implement a more offensive style with Jonjo Shelvey being the centrepiece of the team, but the defeat to Norwich showed the problems with that approach. He has since moved back to a 3-4-2-1 formation, similar to the one Rafa used with a hard-working pivot in midfield, with Longstaff and Hayden being the preferred options. It isn’t pretty, but we managed to get a win against Tottenham and showed a more attacking version of the formation against Watford, another game we should have won.
- You are currently 14th, with four points in four games, what do you think about your start of the season?
Given we have played two of the top six already, four points is about par for us. If we retain a record of a point per game, we will stay up. The annoying bit is that we didn’t beat Watford. It is a game that we really should have won, but no win is guaranteed for a team like us in this league.
- You made a record signing this summer in Joelinton, how has he been so far?
I’ve been really impressed by him. His hold up play and ability when running with the ball are excellent. It’ll take time to see the best from him, but it is easy to see why he is rated as a future Brazilian international. He needs to become a bigger threat in front of goal, but that will come. It is difficult to play the lone striker role in a defensive team like ours. Against Tottenham, he took his goal well and that will have given him a lot of confidence.
- What do expect from the team this season? What would be a good season for Newcastle?
I don’t think people expect a lot of Steve Bruce. Many are thinking relegation is more likely than not. I’m still undecided. If we manage to stay up, that has to be considered a success considering the absolutely awful summer that we had. We lost a world class manager and our two top scorers. Not many teams could suffer those losses and have a successful campaign. If you had lost Mane and Salah, you’d be nowhere near the title.
- What kind of game do you expect at Anfield?
I expect a similar game to many that we’ve had in recent history. We’ll look to sit deep as we did against Tottenham and try to do something on the counter-attack. I doubt you’ll be as poor as Tottenham were at the beginning of the season, but your defence has looked vulnerable. Hopefully, we give a good showing of ourselves, but a big defeat is more likely.