This afternoon marks the start of the new season with the Reds travelling to Deepdale to play League 1 side, Preston North End.
The former First Division winners have gone through a bit of turmoil over the past few years and will be looking to return to the Championship this year under the guidance of former Leeds and Blackpool boss Simon Grayson. They will also be looking to new signing, and former England international, Kevin Davies to steer them to the top as well as former Reds midfielder John Welsh.
Welsh, though, is not the only link between Liverpool and Preston with arguably our greatest ever manager, Bill Shankly, being a legend for the Lily Whites as well where he played well over 300 games and won the FA Cup in 1938. The great man from Glenbuck also has a stand named after him at Deepdale, fittingly the Bill Shankly Kop, where different coloured seats depict Shanks’ face. Another little fun fact about the two clubs is the last time Preston won the old First Division was 1900, the year after would see Liverpool lift the League Title for the first time in our history.
The most intriguing part of the match for the Reds fans will surely be seeing our new summer recruits in a Liverpool shirt for the first time. Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto, Kolo Toure and Belgian goalkeeper Simon Mignolet will all be under the watchful eye of the Anfield faithful as well as Brendan Rodgers.
Along with the new players, there will also be a keen interest in the youngsters who get a run out, not only today but throughout the pre-season friendlies. Last season saw us having to play one or two more youngsters than we would have liked and maybe playing them a bit too much in some cases. This season, however, I would imagine that’s not going to be as much of a problem given the relatively healthy sized squad that Brendan is putting together now.
One player who isn’t expected to be a member of that squad for too much longer though is our number 7, Luis Suarez. And the uncertainty surrounding Suarez’s future leaves a cloud of pessimism among some of our fans. The Uruguayan’s involvement at this Summer’s Confederations Cup has given him an extended break so naturally he will not be involved. It will also be the first season Liverpool do not have Jamie Carragher in their ranks following his retirement at the end of last season.
Speculation as to who replaces Carra as our vice-captain are rampant at the minute while the manager has admitted that he hasn’t chosen anybody for the role as of yet but will have done by the end of pre-season. According to the boss, there’s “a few people” he’s considering. Pepe Reina, whose own future at the club is unclear at the moment, would be my bet given he’s worn the armband many times in the past.
The season ahead is a big one for all involved with Liverpool Football Club and it’d be good to actually get a good pre-season under our belts. While results are secondary to fitness to many fans during the pre-season period, I would still like to see us go out and win comfortably. Winning breeds confidence no matter what part of the season the wins come in.
But whatever the result, it’s just great to finally be back watching Liverpool in action.