Liverpool will find themselves sat ninth in the Barclays Premier League table come Christmas morning - a disappointing position given how open and competitive the top-flight has been so far this year.
They sit only five points adrift from fourth spot with league leaders Leicester City to play on Boxing Day and one wonders how the rest of the season will pan out for the Reds, given the hectic 10 weeks or so of the club we've already seen under Jürgen Klopp.
Come the end of the campaign, it is likely Klopp will have guided his side to a finish in the familiar 5th-7th region of the table, with some of the players heading into the European Championships for their national sides. So how does the summer break look for Liverpool?
The summer break means the opening of the transfer window, and the opening of the transfer window means fans expecting the club to go all out spending £100 million on fresh faces to replenish the side, although this summer things may go slightly differently.
Klopp has already made it public that he wants to give the current players the rest of the season to prove their worth to him, therefore there may not be the same squad overhaul that we've seen in recent years, and even then the club is urged to spend even more money six months later when those signings haven't worked out.
The German boss is known for building players rather than splashing a fortune on already world-class talents, so why would he change his ways at Liverpool?
Klopp should incorporate returning loanees into squad unlike his predecessor
It’s clear to see the current squad does need a mighty lot of work, with some of the players simply not performing or not right for the style of play Klopp is trying to implement, so of course Klopp having a full summer, including pre-season, with the squad could have a massive impact on the forthcoming season.
With the Euros taking place this summer, the squad for pre-season will be rather small with the majority of their first-team missing. However, this could actually work fantastically for the boss as he continues to evalute the up-and-coming youngsters in the side - such as Joao Carlos Teixeira, Jordan Rossiter, Sergi Canos and Pedro Chirivella, who could all get a lot of much-needed minutes under their belt.
Klopp will be able to have a reshuffle with his squad in the summer where he can bring in some much needed class and experience. A commanding goalkeeper and defensive midfielder should be topping the list unless anyone is brought through the doors at Melwood next month.
Klopp will have five first-team quality strikers at his fingertips when Mario Balotelli comes back from loan, although not one of these strikers can be thoroughly relied upon by the coach which remains a worry. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Balotelli out the door as quickly as he comes back in, as it is unlikely his future remains at the club.
Elsewhere, Christian Benteke has not quite settled in to the fast tempo style of play could be another big name to leave the club. Liverpool's Serbian hotshot Lazar Markovic will be back with the club in the summer after a loan period in Turkey and could be a useful player under Klopp so it will be interesting to see where his future lies. Ryan Kent, Harry Wilson and maybe even Luis Alberto should also find themselves involved.
Reds must keep a hold of best players unlike recent summers
In terms of other players leaving, Liverpool will be hoping to veer away interest from elite clubs such as Barcelona for prized possession Phillippe Coutinho who would be key in any success Liverpool should have next season. Fellow Brazilian Roberto Firmino, who hasn’t exactly hit the ground running in England, will be another player Klopp will be desperate to keep a hold of despite his current poor form.
Adam Lallana's quality is undeniable, but he has a huge task to get the majority of fans on his side if he is to have a key part in Klopp's reign at the club. Players such as Jordan Ibe and Joao Texirea will be good back-up to the names above, but possibly a goal scoring winger is another priory for the club, names such as Lucas Moura, Julian Draxler or Iker Muniain could be great signings for the club.
Captain Jordan Henderson is highly likely to be involved in England's Euro squad so will not be involved in the early pre-season. The same must go for James Milner, Joe Allen and Emre Can, who has been called up to the last three Germany squads.
This leaves just Lucas Leiva as the senior midfielder whilst the likes of Rossiter and Chirivella should have a lot of involvement in the summer. Rossiter has just six months left on his contract and has attracted interest from Manchester City and Spurs, so it will be important the club tie the midfielder down with a new contract.
Possible new signing Marko Grujić would also join up with the squad in the summer after spending the rest of this season back on loan at Red Star Belgrade. This area is where most fans agree the club are lacking quality. A world-class defensive midfielder would be sure to improve the side and Klopp should take a look at possible incomings for this area. Names such as Rubin Neves and Granit Xhaka have been mentioned by numerous sources, with their quality undeniable at the minute but the potential only to improve.
Liverpool need to overcome defensive woes with smart summer spending
And then we come to the defence. The area that theRreds need to improve upon the most, although I do not believe it needs to be improved with new faces. Nathaniel Clyne and Alberto Moreno are both bright young full-backs who haven’t hit their peaks yet. Indeed, there has already been a clear improvement with Moreno's performances since Klopp walked through the door, and Clyne has shown consistency throughout the season, finding himself in the Europa League team of the group stages.
I believe that both of these full-backs have long-term futures at the club. Dejan Lovren was nominated in the league's 'Player of the Month' award last month and has hardly put a foot wrong under the new boss, so why should he have to leave the club if he is recently putting in back to back quality performances?
Mamadou Sakho doesn’t need much of introdiction, adored by Liverpool fans, his form and fitness could be the answer to the Reds' defensive woes. Martin Skrtel has been one of the longest servants at Liverpool out of the current squad but should his time be up? Skrtel can be a solid centre half but his clumsiness tends to let him down time and time again and he just doesn’t have the star quality we need at this time.
Elsewhere - Kolo Toure, Joe Gomez, Connor Randall, Jon Flanagan and Brad Smith's futures will all be determined in the summer period. Another classy pre-season for Joe Gomez could make him an exceptional squad player and with time on his side he can become a fantastic player for Liverpool. Randall and Smith are likely to find themselves subject to loan deals to lower league English sides unless they can cement their places in the first-team.
Flanagan is another player who has just six months remaining on his contract and has received interest from a number of other clubs. A local lad, full-back Flanagan showed his class in the remarkable 2013/14 season and should therefore extend his existing deal sooner rather than later. Then there are the returning, somewhat forgotten, members of the side, Andre Wisdom, Tiago Illori and Lloyd Jones will all be back with the club and available for the summer.
Reds need to bolster back-line to progress
So how could Klopp improve the defence? Tying down Flanagan to a new contract would be a good start, with the insurance of the 22-year-old, the Reds will have four full-backs at the club. A new centre half however is needed, Joel Matip a player who has been recently mentioned. Mats Hummels, Aymeric Laporte, Marc Barta and Jeison Murillo would all be fantastic fits for the club.
Lastly, it’s of no secret neither Simon Mignolet or Adam Bogdan are deemed good enough for the club, therefore topping the boss' list of priorities in the summer, or even January, should be a better first-choice shot-stopper.
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, the German 'keeper currently playing second-fiddle for Catalan giants Barcelona should be topping the list of any potential successors to Mignolet.
Ter Stegen has been out of touch since his move to Spain, starting just four league games in 18 months. The young all-rounded keeper would be a marquee signing for Liverpool and could make all the difference to the team, who need to ensure they use the summer to bridge the gap to their top-four rivals - otherwise it could end up being another frustrating season, regardless of having such a superb manager.