Liverpool supporters will look back on the 2016/17 campaign in the years to come and wonder if there was an opportunity missed to end their league title hiatus.
The Reds are currently in the midst of the longest stretch of their history without being crowned English top flight champions and, after going excruciatingly close during the 2013/14 season, saw another chance fall by the wayside after a streak of shockingly bad results after the turn of the year.
As the dust settles on this term, attentions will turn to what areas of Jurgen Klopp’s first-team squad will need strengthening for another push next season – though it’s no surprise to see where Liverpool fans are desperate for the German to add genuine quality to.
If any indication was required, fans of the Anfield-based side want their club to focus on overhauling a defence which has consistently leaked goals this season.
Surprisingly given their defensively haphazard ways, Liverpool boast the joint-sixth best ‘goals-against’ column in the Premier League this season – but it is those 42 goals conceded that have certainly cost them a run at the title alongside current top two Chelsea and Tottenham.
Klopp’s men have particularly been vulnerable to conceding at set pieces, but the ex-Borussia Dortmund manager has admitted that he has been left at a loss to explain why the Merseysiders have shipped so many goals in all areas in his first full season at the helm.
For his part, Klopp has been unable to put out a regular back four due to injuries and suspensions at the back, while he has had to play veteran midfielder James Milner at left-back to the dearth of options available to him, and will be eyeing defensive reinforcements as a priority come the close season.
In a set of results that will pique some Liverpool fans’ intrigue, the club’s attacking options is next on the list of highest priorities when the summer window opens on 1st July.
Given Liverpool’s sparkling record in front of goal – only Chelsea have scored more in the Premier League this term – some may be amazed by this, especially given that the Reds have only failed to score in seven of their 44 matches in 16/17.
However, no player in their first-team squad has notched 15+ goals – Sadio Mane being the highest scorer with 13 – with Divock Origi just managing to net 10 strikes and Daniel Sturridge’s struggles this season neatly packaged in his paltry six-goal haul.
If Liverpool have any hopes of pushing for the league trophy next term, they need a striker who can bag 20+ goals to fire them into contention.
With Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius both being on the end of criticism from pundits and fans alike, it’s also slightly baffling to see only 10% of Reds supporters want a new number one to arrive at Anfield.
Mignolet drew negativity from Klopp for his displays earlier in the season, while Karius is still settling in after only joining the club last summer. However, the pair haven’t been helped by those protecting them in the area, so the duo may concede less in 2017/18 if Liverpool’s rearguard is sorted out.
A plethora of strong midfield options – including club captain Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Emre Can – means Liverpool fans can rest easy that this area of Klopp’s squad is well equipped to deal with four competitions next season, and will only be strengthened if all other areas are suitably added to by the 49-year-old as soon as possible.