Frustration. Pain. Torment. Despair. Dread. Watching Liverpool FC so far this season feels like a hangover from the extreme highs of last season. Have we crashed back down to reality after the endless thrills and excitement and absolute delight last season brought? Liverpool FC are now back in the much coveted Champion’s League competition but are they out of their depth? Have expectations surpassed reality?
Holding on to Assets
Liverpool sold a football genius and lost their main striker to injury, creating a 52 goal deficit in the process. A quarter of the way through the season they look a skeleton of the 2013/14 team that stole all the headlines. Liverpool are 9 points behind where they were in the league this time last season. Was selling Suarez the right thing to do without a firm back up plan? My gut feeling at the time was no; my feeling now is no. A club has a responsibility to look after the team. Suarez was always going to have a buyer. As a club, a firm replacement was vital before the deal was done. Who was expected to take Liverpool FC from second to first in such a circumstance? After coming second in the league the team needed tweaking, not 9 new players to integrate into the first team. Liverpool showed naivety in this case.
Defenceless in more ways than one
Liverpool’s obvious weakness was their defence and a solid experienced defender was needed to lead the line in the absence of Carragher. Lovren looked to be the ideal man but has not lived up to expectation. We have seen glimmers of his abilities, however the overall picture is not convincing. In fact, unconvincing is a word to describe Liverpool’s defensive performances so far, looking far worse than last season. Two clean sheets in sixteen games speaks for itself- last season’s problem has not been sorted.
Liverpool Football Club has always nurtured young talent but I wonder at the choices made in midfield. Can, Markovic and Lallana have been added to the squad. The goals scored between them so far is a grand total of one. In the absence of Sturridge goals are needed from midfield and so far Markovic looks completely out of his depth, while Can’s injury has halted his contribution to the team. Both need more experience and game time but in such dire need for results time is not on Liverpool’s side. Rodgers’ signings have so far been disappointing- questions have arisen about his ability to take the club forward without a star man. Was it not him who questioned how Tottenham could have spent £100m and not progressed? Surely these words have come back to haunt him. So far Lallana has been a saving grace as presence on the pitch continues to be energetic and attack-minded, but goals are lacking. More often than not passes are defensive, positioning is static and there is no creativity in movement. Liverpool’s midfield may keep the ball, but what comes of it? They lack vision and movement and these attributes were key in last season’s triumphs.
A Good Rodgering
Brendan Rodgers has stuck by his decision to play Balotelli as a lone striker, despite the fact that it has failed to yield results time after time. My disappointment is not in Balotelli. At what point does a manager admit defeat and change his systems? Five games on? Ten? Half a season? Rodgers is 12 points behind leading man Mourinho. As Opta have found, making a substitution at half time when you are one goal down increases your chances of winning from 24% to 40%. How often do we see Rodgers making that type of decision? Why wait until the dying minutes of a game to make vital substitutions? Liverpool FC has long been associated with their ‘attack attack attack!’ style of play and this was epitomised last season. Now spectators struggle to see a forward pass amid the choices to either pass to the side or pass back. Frustrating is putting it mildly. Was the expectation on Rodgers too much in taking Liverpool Football club to the forefront of domination at the highest level? Has he run out of ideas amid poor acquisitions in the summer transfer window? Perhaps an increase in backroom staff support is needed, an experienced member who has dragged teams back from the defensive abyss? A radical shake up is needed to save Liverpool’s season.
For Liverpool fans across the country the 2014/15 campaign was going to cement the glory, the summer wait was full of sweet anticipation. Champion’s league qualification should have brought proven experience, Liverpool should have shown greater ambition in the transfer market. The summer was the time. Instead, money was invested in unproven young talent that look as if they need a couple of seasons to grow into natural Liverpool players. Fans believed the wait was over, but the weight of this season’s expectation has proved too much to deliver.
There is no doubt that potential is there in a squad that smashed everyone’s expectations last year. A team full of capped international players has an abundance of talent to call upon. Can this talent be rejuvenated and released after morale is at its lowest a quarter of the way through this campaign? Can Liverpool Football club find a way to dazzle again? I have my fingers crossed.