LIVERPOOL — Kenny Dalglish believes his £44 million outlay on Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson can spark a new era for Liverpool after seeing Manchester United claim a record 19th title last season.
Dalglish guided the Anfield giants to sixth place last time out after replacing Roy Hodgson and is looking to his new imports to lead a formidable and sustained challenge this season.
Liverpool begin their Premier League campaign today at home to Sunderland — Henderson’s former club — but they will be without inspirational skipper Steven Gerrard who is out until next month because of a groin infection. His absence will mean greater expectations heaped on the team’s new boys from fans frustrated by two seasons of under-achievement.
“We wanted to improve the squad this summer and we think we’ve done that by bringing in the individuals we have,” said Dalglish. “We want to compete at the highest level possible and we feel those players can help us do that.”
Dalglish will also be looking to England striker Andy Carroll to form a deadly partnership with Uruguayan Luis Suarez after the former Newcastle man was dogged by injuries late last season.
Carroll looked sharp in pre-season, scoring three goals in six appearances.
“Andy’s injury meant he was only able to train at 100% on rare occasions last season. He even played in some games when we knew he wasn’t going to be at his best,” said Dalglish. “Now he is fully over that knock and has been able to do a lot more on the training field in pre-season. That’s showed in the games he has played over the last few weeks.”
As well as Gerrard, Liverpool will also be without Glen Johnson and Martin Skrtel who are injured while Suarez is expected to be rested after helping Uruguay to the Copa America title.
Sunderland manager Steve Bruce, who took his side to 10th last season, was also busy in the transfer market, bringing in experienced defensive pair John O’Shea and Wes Brown for a combined fee of £6 million from Manchester United.
Big things are also expected from young English striker Connor Wickham, signed from Championship side Ipswich for £8 million.
O’Shea will miss today’s match with a hamstring strain, allowing Anton Ferdinand to probably play alongside Brown.