The Reds have made an emphatic start to the 2016-17 Premier League campaign and the new Main Stand will play an important part in the club’s future success.
Jürgen Klopp’s men have won five out of their first seven league fixtures so far this season, including victories over Arsenal, Chelsea and Leicester City. They managed to secure a draw at White Hart Lane too and topped off an impressive start with a second home victory against Hull City when they netted five past their opponents.
Liverpool have become an attacking threat under Klopp and pundits are now describing them as a side to be feared and it’s easy to see why. In their first seven Premier league clashes, the Reds have netted 18 times, including an astonishing nine goals at Anfield in just two games. It’s still early days of course, but there’s been plenty for fans to get excited about and enough attacking talent on display to spread fear amongst rival teams.
It’s taken 17 years of turmoil; broken promises, on-going discussions and disappointments; but almost a decade since Tom Hicks and George Gillet promised a brand new stadium, Anfield has undergone one of the biggest stadium developments in the English top flight. And the Liverpool players seem to have embraced their new Main Stand emphatically.
John W Henry and FSG unveiled their £115m Main Stand expansion in August and an extra 8,500 fans in the 54,000 capacity stadium watched the Reds demolish the Premier League champions days later. The new stand seats over 20,000 spectators which eclipses the famous Kop and it could be the catalyst to a serious increase in match day revenue.
Liverpool haven’t been able to get a foothold on European competition since the highs under Rafa Benitez’s reign but the stadium expansion shows intent to compete with Europe’s elite. Anfield has only hosted two league games so far this season but already Liverpool have been bolstered by the club’s demonstration of ambition.
Since taking over six years ago, FSG have been under pressure from fans as protests for Liverpool’s rising ticket prices reached an all-time low. Business battles have always continued off the pitch for the club but on-field progress has softened their ownership. A second place league finish under Brendan Rodgers and the club put back on the world stage in the Champions League during the 2014-15 season was the highlight of an otherwise poor period for the Reds.
The club have had one of the most progressive 12 months in its history when they appointed Jurgen Klopp as the manager. He quickly showed why he’s regarded as one of the world’s best and Liverpool were back in a Europa League final just months after his reign began. An active transfer window showed further promise, as it was clear the board and the committee stood fully behind their manager. A negative net spend was irrelevant given the players brought in by Klopp and the fact the manager was offered a contract extension without completing a full season, demonstrated the club’s complete trust in him.
The stadium expansion is just the tip of the iceberg and though financial progression played a key part in FSG’s decision to invest, it’s on the pitch where Liverpool hope to make further improvements.
Anfield has always been a fortress for Liverpool but by increasing its capacity, the club has not only demonstrated ambitious intent but have refused to back down. They’ve spent too many seasons in recent years chasing the success of their rivals but there’s a resounding feeling that the club is now holding out for a new era. With an improved stadium, one of the world’s best managers and some of the best attacking players in the league, it’s no wonder Anfield is ringing out with optimism.
In the first home game of the season, Liverpool produced four goals and they followed it up with five against Hull City. Will there be six when they host Manchester United on 17th October? Let’s hope so.