Date: 22nd August 2014 at 2:18pm
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VMC caught up with Vital Liverpool Ed and Anfield Roar columnist Gavin Kelley-Day ahead of monday night’s clash at The Etihad Stadium…

1. What’s the vibe at Anfield as the shadows begin to lengthen and the new season gathers pace?

‘Very positive. Losing Luis Suarez was of course a blow, albeit a somewhat inevitable one, but we’ve invested well and strengthened key areas of the squad. Under Brendan Rodgers there is a sense that we have the right man at the helm and everyone is excited by the prospect of Champions League football returning to Anfield.’

2. Last season, City registered 57 games across 4 competitions to Liverpool’s 43 across 3. Do you think your squad is capable of sustaining a similar output in this campaign to that of City’s?

‘I do now, yes. Last season’s squad wouldn’t have but we’ve spent around £100m on eight new faces and still expect to add at least another striker before the window closes. Amongst the new signings there’s also a good mix of youth and experience, so I’m quietly confident we’ll be able to cope with the additional games.’

3. Bitegate. Luis Suarez. Where do you stand on the myriad issues that surrounded a brilliant yet ultimately self destructive career in England?

‘I think enough was enough, although to be honest it seems he was set to join Barcelona this summer regardless of his latest misdemeanour and subsequent ban. Probably the most naturally gifted player we’ve ever had but there comes a point when the team and the image of the club must be put first. £75m represents a good fee in the circumstances.’

4. Brendan Rodgers. Some surprise and scepticism greeted the Northern Irishman’s appointment on Merseyside in 2012. Surely he’s now answered any initial concerns or does he need to secure silverware soonest to truly make his mark? How far can he take you?

‘Yep, there were some doubters when Brendan Rodgers was first appointed, primarily because of his lack of experience, but almost all have been won over now. After periods of struggle under Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish, Brendan has united the club and impressed fans with his amiable character and exciting, attacking style of play. We appear well set to sustain last season’s performance and regularly challenge for silverware once more.’

5. As a footballing empire continues to crumble in Stretford, criticism of foreign ownership of English football clubs has heightened somewhat as disgruntled ex-Ferguson arslikhan media types, stunned at their favourite club’s demise go after the Glazers who’ve factually thrown a club record amount of money at their squad in recent years. Following the Hicks-Gillett nightmare, how do the Scousers feel about the Fenway Sports Group’s handling of Anfield?

‘As with Brendan, there was initially scepticism around FSG but they have proved themselves to be very astute owners. John Henry and co. go about their business quietly and don’t crave the limelight or make bold claims, unlike their predecessors. Perhaps the key difference when compared to both Hicks and Gillett and the Glazers is that they’ve not loaded the club with a mountain of debt which allows us to operate in a much more flexible and sustainable manner. They may not be the sugardaddy’s enjoyed by you guys or Chelsea but as long as the Financial Fair Play rules are enforced correctly that shouldn’t matter as much going forward, especially given the amount of money our ‘brand’ generates around the world when compared to such clubs.’

6. The circus is coming to town? Hacks and pundits alike fuelled a relentlessly obsessed storm of criticism towards Mario Balotelli when he was employed by Manchester City to an extent that was often all consuming. The campaign to kick him out of English football from Match of The Day to the Sky Sports Centre was startling and City fans held their breath every time Balotelli took the field. He finally revealed he was desperate to return to Italy. Do Liverpool really want to run with this signing?

‘After Suarez, how bad can it be!?!? In all seriousness though, Balotelli does represent a massive gamble but at £16m it’s probably one worth taking in my eyes. There is no doubting his ability and one of the best facets of Rodgers is his man-management skills. In a football sense, I’m pretty sure he can control Balotelli better than Roberto Mancini managed, although heaven knows how you control him once training finishes each day etc. Currently we only really have Daniel Sturridge and Rickie Lambert so we definitely needed another striking option.’

7. Outside of Suarez, how do you rate Liverpool’s transfer business this summer?

‘Fantastic. We’ve strengthened in all areas and the squad now has the look of one that can challenge on multiple fronts. A lot will be made of Adam Lallana, Lazar Markovic and of course Balotelli, should his deal go through, but the defensive additions could prove to be the difference. Last season we let in too many goals and hopefully Dejan Lovren and the two new full-backs will help to correct that.’

8. Who do you see as Liverpool’s biggest threat in Manchester on Monday night?

‘The current front three – Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho – look incredibly dangerous and all carry a differing threat. Defend deep and Coutinho will have the time and space to pick a pass, defend high and Sterling will get in behind with his pace. Either way, if the ball then ends up at Sturridge it will be in the back of the net.’

9. 1-2-3-4. Which clubs will win The Champions League, The Premier League, The FA Cup and League Cup next year?

‘Real Madrid / Chelsea / Liverpool / Southampton.’

10. Your prediction for this early doors six pointer?

‘I’d certainly take a draw and that’s probably the safe bet at this stage of the season without much form to go on. Both games last season were entertaining and could have gone either way so hopefully this will be more of the same. 2-2.’

– Very many thanks to Gavin and the Vital Liverpool team!

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