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#1: The Ring of Fire with Sweeting


TIA's Redkopi
Ad-free Member
Jul 7, 2007
The Ring of Fire with Sweeting

The Premier League Season finally comes to a close, first to be thrown into the 'Ring of Fire' will be TIA Forum Member @Sweeting to find out how can such progression be achieved next season on the pitch, considering the level reached this campaign...

TIA Username: Sweeting
Location : Widnes

Favourite Current LFC Player : Virgil Van Dijk
Favourite all-time LFC Player : Steven Gerrard
Favourite all time Reds match : Champions League Final 2005
Funniest moment following the Reds : The This Is Anfield football tournament in Ukraine 2010 – the whole thing was unreal and hard to explain just how funny that week was!
Favourite non-LFC Player : Luis Suarez
Favourite other clubs (if any) : Oakland Raiders, Toronto Raptors
Other sports/hobbies/past times : I am a runner and have multiple aims for the next year or two including ultra-marathons and Ironman
Non-footballing heroes : Eliud Kipchoge​

Sweeting, an easy question to begin with!! What three summer objectives must Jurgen Klopp pursue over the course of the Summer?

1. Youth player evaluation

Klopp has a pretty easy summer ahead of him, although of course it is also an important one. Traditionally this the summer where we take a huge step backwards, lose our best players and take five years to rebuild. This feels different now. Off the pitch the club is running like clockwork with well established backroom, medical and scouting departments. Even the fact the training location is staying the same (we will be at Melwood until 2020) means there is little upheaval expected this summer.

In terms of the playing squad there is clearly no overhaul required but rather some fine tuning to maintain the competitiveness in what will likely be another two team league in 19/20. Our rivals, outside of Man City, will struggle to be better next season – Chelsea have a transfer ban, Spurs have a new stadium to pay for, Arsenal have apparently only supplied Emery with a paltry £50m, and they are losing their best midfielder on a free. Man United have the worst manager in the league and no infrastructure to make sensible decisions to get better.

The likely turnover of the squad is already known; Sturridge, Moreno and perhaps the likes of Mignolet and Lallana will also leave. No mega churn and no valuable minutes will be expected to go through the door.

That fact should allow Klopp a bit of freedom to take an extended look this summer at various young prospects who are knocking on the door. I am talking about Harry Wilson, Ki-Jana Hoever, Rhian Brewster, Ben Woodburn, Adam Lewis, Nathaniel Phillips, Curtis Jones, Rafa Camacho, Marko Grujic and Kamil Grabara. Each of these players have individually shown some qualities that are interesting to Klopp but many of them are now at a point where a decision needs to be made about their future. I hope to see Wilson, who smashed his 15 goal season target set by the club, really take early pre-season opportunities with both hands and force his way into the first team picture.

2. Contract renewals

Possibly Klopp’s most important priority this year will be to keep the core of the squad together and so I expect to see a fair few renewals this summer. James Milner is currently listed as being out of contract this summer, although media reports have said he has another year to run, and if true then he should be handed another year.

Matip and Origi are both out of contract in 2020 and I would surprised if they are not both given lengthy extensions following excellent campaigns. Origi was stunning in his remarkable ability to consistently grab important goals whilst Matip was vital in our end of season run, and has clearly ousted Lovren in the pecking order.

Wijnaldum could also be in line for a new deal, he has two years’ to run and deserves a pay rise following his much improved form this year. Rafa Camacho is in slight contract dispute with the club as he seeks first team football, and Klopp was reluctant to use him even when the defence was down to the bear bones, but he may also receive a new deal if only to profit from his sale.

3. New signings and squad trimming

Knowing how Klopp and Edwards operate, we are probably already fairly advanced in our discussions for incomings. Clearly Robertson could do with some relief, Moreno is not a capable deputy. Lloyd Kelly and Ryan Sessegnon have been mooted as potential options to come in – I know nothing of Kelly but I like the idea of Sessegnon, although I don’t see him as a suitable wing back for this coming season.

Midfield will be strengthened by Oxlade-Chamberlain returning 100% and Keita, now that he has finally bedded in, taking up a starring role. Henderson’s move into a box-to-box role may also remove the need to reinforce the more advanced midfield roles although Julian Brandt has been mentioned as a potential target. Fabinho could end up being the guy who needs a back up brought in for the DM role but Klopp could equally be happy with Henderson and Wijnaldum filling in there for short periods (I think Klopp really likes Wijnaldum as a #6 but hasn’t had the opportunity to use him there).

Most importantly we need to sign another option for the attackers. Origi has come from nowhere to stake a claim as a genuine back up/different option for Firmino, whilst Shaqiri and Wilson can be perfectly useable options. I would like another attacker to come in who would be capable of playing right across the front line and has the raw pace that can be a substitute for Salah and Mane. I rate Wilfried Zaha higher than most and believe he would be an incredible player given six months to settle in.

As another thrilling football season draws to a close, highs and lows that included a title race which went down to the wire, VAR, spygate and dramatic European comebacks, Sweeting, what are your thoughts on the season as a whole?

Remarkable. We just witnessed one of the greatest seasons in top flight history and yet somehow we aren’t even champions! I’ve seen a lot of comments, particularly from media pundits, claiming that we won’t be able to maintain this level next year and logically you think they must be right (it is the easy bet to say a team won’t get 97 pts for two straight years). However, I am looking back at the season and I am encouraged that we can be better again next year.

We actually spent quite a long time figuring the starting XI out, which was part of the problem in our early season toils in the Champions League and I think it affected our style, although clearly our results remained impressive. Once we got Fabinho up to speed everything just clicked in terms of how we played.

Klopp was pragmatic in his treatment of the League Cup and FA Cup, we didn’t have the strength in depth to fight on four fronts but it is always disappointing to drop out at the first hurdle. It hardly feels worth mentioning since it is such nit picking but slightly longer runs next year would be welcomed.

All in all, this has been the greatest Liverpool season I’ve witnessed and I just hope we have a trophy for it in June.

Favourite moment: Pickford gifting Origi the winner in the derby. I “Klopp-ed” it myself - literally ran, screaming, out of my living room and up the stairs before I even realised I was doing it!

Which Liverpool player has improved the most this season?

Trent Alexander-Arnold

I actually found this one tough to answer as so many players have stepped up.

Mane, although he was already brilliant, really went to the next level this season. Henderson has reinvigorated himself from a middling DM to a great box to box midfielder. Wijnaldum was arguably Liverpool’s best player for extended periods. Gomez was a revelation at CB and then Matip replaced him to great effect. Origi failed to even get a serious offer for his services in August and stuck around as an after thought, he ends the season as a cult hero.

Alexander-Arnold though has turned himself into a world class wing back, arguably the best in the world right now, at just 20 years old. Culminating in the most outrageous act of pure cheek, that quick corner against Barcelona, he has really stepped up from promising defender to world class footballer. Yes, his defensive side could still improve further, although it is much better than it was a year ago, but Trent is an offensive weapon - a precision strike wing back – and the last few weeks of the season, when the pressure was really on he brought his best performances. Six assists in the final six games of the season.

A local lad who has really come good. He is set to be the benchmark of wing back play in world football for a long, long time.

For anybody who hasn't followed the U18's and U23's this season, could you give us a quick synopsis of how their seasons went.…


The U23s started out as a really poor campaign. The squad was, and largely still is, a collective of players who are clearly not going to make it at LFC and were/are just waiting for the right club to come along and offer them their next career move. The truly talented players were either in the first team squad, the U18s or out on loan. The exceptions to this were Rafa Camacho and Curtis Jones – although for Jones this was his first full season at U23 level.

Results reflected the lack of top end quality. At the end of October they had already lost four times, in nine games, including a 4-0 hammering at the hands of Arsenal.

However results did begin to improve and they lost just two games in the following thirteen. Liam Coyle came into the midfield and added much needed steel. Coyle established himself as a tough tackling, ferociously proud midfield general – he lacks size and, honestly, a bit of quality, but his mentality being introduced to the team did seem to coincide with an uptick in form.

Rhian Brewster returned to the fold late in the season and gave everyone a little boost. His form suggested he had never been away – grabbing a goal and an assist in his first game.

There were promotions from the U18s for Rhys Williams, Ki-Jana Hoever, Neco Williams, Yasser Larouci, Abdi Sharif, Paul Glatzel and Bobby Duncan.

In the end the U23s finished in a respectable 4th position with 34 pts from 22 games. Well clear of relegation – which was not a given at the start of the season.


The U18s season was incredibly impressive. They finished 2nd in the league, level on points with winners Derby County. They won the FA Youth Cup, beating Man City on penalties in the final. Derby were deserved winners, having beaten Liverpool home and away, but the Reds can rightly be proud to add another Youth Cup trophy to the cabinet.

The last time Liverpool won the youth cup the best player to emerge from the squad was Jay Spearing and so as always at this level, results are not the most important outcome, but the success also coincides with many of the squad being promoted to the U23s and replenished with U16s players. Fidel O’Rourke and Jack Bearne both impressed when they replaced Duncan and Glatzel late in the year. Vitezslav Jaros could be the best goalkeeping prospect at the club.

TIA's Jack Lusby also recently spoke of Vitezslav Jaros' impressive form: "While his shot-stopping ability, command of the penalty area and bright distribution are particularly impressive, Jaros has also caught the eye for his intelligence and willingness to learn off the field." Apart from Jaros, which 3 players have impressed you the most for the U18's this season?

1. Paul Glatzel – German born striker has scored a bucket load of goals but most importantly he has a rounded skill set that tends to translate better to the more senior versions of the game than poaching ability. Glatzel is a playmaker as well as a finisher. He lacks a touch of pace but has very intelligent movement.

2. Bobby Duncan – Glatzel’s strike partner is a more traditional centre forward, whether that can carry him to the first team will have to be seen, but Duncan steadily improved across the season (having not played in over a year due to a contract dispute with Man City). The 17 year old scored 25 goals in all competitions and, from mid season onwards, was able to display slightly more ability around the area – assisting six goals.

3. Yasser Larouci – A lot to like about Larouci. He came in as a right winger but has quickly switched position and found himself as a powerful left wing back. Unusually he is naturally right footed, which makes it doubtful if his first team future lies in this position, but Larouci has been a dynamo who demands attention from opposition defences even from full back. Incredibly fast, strong and technically superb – I have high hopes for him next season following his promotion to the U23 squad.

With the impeding loss of Moreno, will Adam Lewis be likely to deputize and develop under Robertson? Or is the expectation to win the Premier League a stifling effect necessitating a purchase?

Not sure I would consider Moreno leaving as a loss – but we will blow right past that!

Lewis a really good, talented footballer. He has excellent technique, can ping a pass as well as anyone in the squad and has a fiesty, competitive attitude. For me though, he simply is not ready to be thrown into the furnace of a title fight. If Robertson was to get injured for an extended period of time I cannot really imagine a scenario where he turns to Lewis in the 2019/20 season.

Holding Lewis back at the moment is inconsistent play, particularly defensively, in the U23s and a lack of physical presence. He is small with average pace. Too often this year we have seen wingers beat him on the outside with a simple knock and run – it is the kind of thing that your average Premier League winger would exploit easily. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing ruthlessly exposed Diego Dalot on the final day of the season during Man Utd’s loss at home to Cardiff and in my mind I see Lewis having similar experiences early in his Premier League career.

None of the above is to say that I don’t think Lewis will ever be good enough – he certainly has potential but I would expect him to need to gain significant experience on loan, ironing out these learning curves away from the Liverpool supporters, before Klopp will consider him as an option.

Liverpool could easily decide to roll with Milner and Gomez as primary Robertson back ups but I hope we bring in a new and more readily useable option to cover.

Ben Woodburn's name was on the lips of every football fan little more than a year ago, but this season his club career has stuttered of late.... Has he a future at Liverpool?

It is going to be tough for Woodburn. I think part of the problem is that he was massively overhyped as a 16 year old, making his Wales debut and scoring, making his Liverpool debut and scoring, scoring in a few pre-season games…

Strengths for Woodburn – clever footballer who makes the most of his ability, relaxed personality who rarely looks flustered, super versatile (I’ll come back to this). Weaknesses – doesn’t have much pace and is quite slight of frame.

Woodburn’s biggest problem however is that he simply hasn’t nailed down a position. He broke into the Liverpool team playing as an inverted left winger, Sheffield United wanted to bring him in as a striker and since returning to Liverpool U23s he has been deployed in a variety of roles including central midfield. Being versatile is a strength but Woodburn has a problem if he falls into “jack of all trades, master of none” territory which I suspect he currently does.

For him to have a future he is going to need to figure himself out and decide what kind of player he is going to be. For me, he is best placed to become a Firmino-style CF, one who can lead the line but prefers to drop into the attacking midfield roles and create opportunities.

Finally Sweeting, Describe in detail your first memories of supporting Liverpool?

My first memory is going to watch Liverpool Reserves vs Tranmere at the Halton Stadium in Widnes. I was probably about four years old and I am pretty sure we won 2-0 but my memory is hazy this far back! I also remember being sent to bed, crying, as we were losing to Blackburn Rovers - no idea what year that was though.

My first clear memory was sitting in the Anfield Road and watching us beat FC Haka 5-0.

The first edition of 'Ring of Fire' a new weekly feature on the This Is Anfield forums.

Many thanks to @Sweeting for taking part this week and for taking the time to answer the questions so indepth, thanks mate! I'm sure you all agree it made for a great nights reading! If anybody has any questions they'd like to be asked in next weeks edition make sure and send them on to me via PM!!
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TIA's Redkopi
Ad-free Member
Jul 7, 2007
Going to open this question to all forum members for ye to answer here... As Sweeting mentioned, so many players have stepped up this season it's tough to choose just one player so will be interesting to hear members opinions here...

Which Liverpool player has improved the most this season and why?


Ad-free Member
Jan 14, 2012
Which Liverpool player has improved the most this season and why?
Joel Matip.
Matip lacked confidence, he has gone from a weak in the tackle, poor in the air defender to a confident and reliable centre half.
His reading of the game has improved, he is confident on the ball and his positional awareness has improved significantly.

The reason?
Playing alongside the best centre half in the world has certainly helped.
But also the style we are playing in comparison to last season has changed.
We still play out from the back as much as possible, but there is a marked increase in the levels of patience with regards to eventually getting the ball forward.
This has had a knock on effect, seeing Matip with the ball at his feet more often which has in turn boosted his confidence.
A confident player will more often than not turn out a decent performance,


deeply superficial
Sep 18, 2007
Which Liverpool player has improved the most this season and why?
For me, it's between Gomez, Matip, Wijnaldum, and Henderson. I think it's no coincidence that two of the players that would be on most people's list played in a partnership with the best central defender in the world. I was speaking with my dad before the season started (he's a Barnsley fan and a bit smug sometimes in his old age) and I was telling him I had a special feeling about Liverpool this year. His response was- yeah but who will come in and play for big mouth? (referring to Lovren after he sell proclaimed himself one of the greatest for playing in champ league final and world cup final- I don't remember if it was because of Lovren's injury or because my dad doesn't rate him- probably the later) and I said the plan will be Joe Gomez eventually, but I have no idea if and when he'll be ready, but Klopp will give him a shot sometime this year. I didn't think that would come in the first half of the season. He was sensational until he went down injured. At some point he was being compared to Bobby Moore.

We got through Christmas with Fabinho (and Henderson for a game maybe? Not sure if I am remembering that correctly) filling in after a rash of injuries to Matip, Lovren, and Gomez (unfortunately not surprising), until Matip got back in the team. I was waiting for Matip to pick up a knock and be out of the team again, but he managed to stay fit through to the end of the season, and with regular playing time uninterrupted by injury, he showed his worth. I've always thought he was very composed, but he never had that run of games to really grow into the roll until this season. Instead of naming him most improved, I'll hand him the award of staying fit for half a season, and getting games under his belt finally. Confidence is a funny thing.

Henderson has reinvented himself, or rolled back the current model for the older version, after the emergence of Fabinho. I'm solidly in the 'Henderson is criminally underrated' camp, so it's not a surprise to me to see him roll back the years and be instrumental in our run in playing further forward. If you could mock up a player and choose attributes, I think everyone would design a player with a bit more natural creativity in his game than Henderson possesses, but his passing ability, pace, power, and mostly his desire and mentality make up for the lack of natural creativity that won't see him dribbling past defenders. I'll categorize his season as doing new (old) things at his same level. I've never had an issue with our captain. And god bless Fabinho, who allows Henderson to play further forward.

Wijnaldum for me has been the revelation of the season. So many times last year Gini would play to the level of the team. When Liverpool were struggling to assert control or were not playing at the best, he would seemingly disappear during games. When Liverpool were playing well, you could see him doing some nice things. He was never one to assert control in the middle and drive Liverpool forward. When Liverpool needed someone to step up and take control, he'd fade into the background. Not this year. He has the most minutes played by a midfielder by some 700 minutes so far this year in the league, and has been asked to perform a variety of different roles for the team. He filled in as a #6 early in the year and performed admirably. He has asserted control and stamped his authority on games as a #8, as seen when he came on against Barca. What a game changing performance. You can tell he really enjoys playing for Klopp and his performances this year have been consistent and indispensable.

So I'll give Wijnaldum my most improved this year, just shading Gomez. A lot of the improvement from Gomez (and TAA, which is why I didn't include him) is just them maturing a year and getting more comfortable in their respective roles in the team. TAA followed a natural progression as you would expect a young 19/20 yr old to do after a year of seasoning, and is on the path most Liverpool supporters would have been hoping to see before the season. Gomez added a bit more than that, as he got a run for the first time as a CB, but it's exciting to look at how he performed as a first time CB for Liverpool and project the same natural progression as TAA showed this year. He could be frighteningly good next to Van Djik. Wijnaldum seemingly added a bit of steel and a huge bit of 'f*@&ing mentality giant' to his game out of nowhere, and was the most unexpected player improvement for me this year.

And, just so he doesn't feel left out, Mane has been always fantastic. Scored a few more this year, but was f*$%ing tits last year too.

There really is no wrong answer to the question though after 97 points and another champions league final.
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Anything But Normal
Ad-free Member
Jan 6, 2011
Which Liverpool player has improved the most this season and why?
Henderson for me. In the final third of the season, he really upped his game. He has been influential and his game has improved multiffold.
Probably the key player to keep us in the title race till the end and not to forget, his superb performance against Barcelona.
To be honest, there are easily 4-5 players who can come under this category, but chose our skipper. His attitude and professionalism is something I'd like to see in all young players.


TIA Regular
Jan 14, 2007
Hard to pick one over another but it's impossible to ignore Trent. He's been on an upward curve since round 1 to the very end and established himself as a very reliable player at the highest level. His ability to assist goals has been truely remarkable and a joy to watch. His numbers according to Transfermarkt are 16 assist! in 39 games, and I can't recall when we had a right back with such high numbers before. He's without a doubt our young player of the season and imho also our most improved player aswell.

Players like Robertson, Matip and even Mane are upthere aswell I think. Andrew and Sadio already having great seasons last term but I think throughout this season they have both establish themself as perhaps the best in world in the respected position they hold, that's that next level step that very few players are able to take and they did it. Joel has without a doubt improved too to the point where I don't worry about his presence in the side anymore, @Dane already sums it up perfectly why he has improved and I can only agree. before this season I wasen't sure who was the better one, matip or Lovren but now I can comfortable say that Matip is the better one. The fact that Gomez is likely to replace him sooner rather than later just shows us how special talent we have in Joe, and may already be the best candidate for next years most improved player award if he just stays fit.

Fabinho also deserve a mention I think, as he's been improving a lot too from the start til the end but in his case and with regard to how much we payed for him and since he already played to the highest level at monaco it's hard to judge how much he actually has improved as a player since joining us. his imrpovement for us has more been a case of him finding his feets and playing to his best which he indeed managed in the end.
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Anfield rd Dreamer

Well-Known Member
Ad-free Member
Sep 25, 2012
For me "most improved" can be interpreted two ways. 1st who improved the most during last summer for this season compared to last season and 2nd who improved most during the season.

At the start of the season I think the 3 players who had (dramatically) improved the most compared to last season were (in no particular order);

Sadio Mane; A fantastic player since coming to us he was a great right winger who selflessly moved to the left and continued his epic performances last season. There really wasn't much improvement possible but for this whole season he's been that bit better than last season. He hasn't improved much just a small but important step up. It's easier for an average player to take a bigger step up in quality than the small one Mane took. He really is world class.

Gini Wijnaldum; For many (including me) he was the one most expected to miss out with the new CM recruits arriving. He took the challenge head on showing unbelievable professionalism and drive. He's quite often been our best midfielder throughout the season. If he was slightly more consistent it'd take him up another step and with Fabinho and Keita now settled and Ox coming back from injury I think he'll need to step up again this summer to continue playing as much as he does but I bet against him last summer I'm not doing it again this summer.

Joe Gomez; Always a fan and I think many of us expected him to develop from back up RB to, eventually, become a good CB. But..... wow! The start of this season up till he was injured I'd say he was performing as the best young CB anywhere. Colossal and his partnership with Van Dijk was like having a brick wall in front of our defence. A classy, technical, ball-playing brick wall.

Most improved this season over last season; Joe Gomez.

The three I think who improved the most during the season were;

Divock Origi; He was literally useless to us on day 1 of this season. After his disappointing loans it was clear we didn't want him and not many others did either. He usually didn't even make the bench. He still may not stay here much longer but he has done everything we could have reasonably asked of an impact sub and then some. Been great to have in our squad and essential at times.

Jordan Henderson; I have always rated him and think he's much more effective, in an understated way, at number 6 than many realise. But wow what happened at the end of the season? Final 8 games he was finally moved further forward and it's been a masterstroke. I legitimately believe we wouldn't have made it to 97 points or the final if it hadn't been for that move. He's played as an elite level CM during those games. Some of the games best attacking midfielders and playmakers don't make things happen as regularly as he has during those games and he's still an active member of the central midfield engine room, doing his fair share of the unglamorous work. It's been a small sample size so far but if he keeps up this level of performance for next season I think it'd finally persuade even his biggest critics that he's a great footballer.

Trent Alexander-Arnold; He progressed during last season to the stage where he was a real competent, top class, right back. A little shakey but generally decent defensively and really good offensively. He started this season at the same level but during the season he has gone from strength to strength. Still so young he's gone from being in the discussion for "best young RB in the league" to "best young right back in Europe" to "best right back in the league" to finally "best right back in Europe"! He could still be considered the "weak link" in our defence but only because our defence is world class. His defensive work has improved to the point now when he has to be considered a real solid defender. His creativity though is literally off the scale as proven by him setting a new record for assists from a defender. Something I suspect he'll do a few more times whilst playing for us. He is quite simply a world class RB now based on recent performances and hopefully he can consolidate that and stay at that level consistently for the next few years.

My pick for most improvement during the season; Trent Alexander-Arnold.