Brendan Rodgers has caused a little bit of a stir by saying Liverpool can challenge for the Premier League title next season.
Former Liverpool midfielder Jan Molby has suggested that Rodgers is getting a tad carried away on the back of the impressive performance against Chelsea in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final.
But is Rodgers really getting carried away?
by Bernard C.
Okay, we might only be eighth in the table right now, but it’s not just the Premier League betting which suggests we’ll finish higher.
A nine-match unbeaten run in all competitions has lifted morale considerably. We showed last season that a long unbeaten run is within our compass. Fourteen wins in 16 league games brought us close to a first title since 1990.
And that was on the back of finishing seventh the previous season. So there is certainly form from Rodgers in being able to get a major improvement out of his team from one season to the next.
Let’s not forget that Rodgers has essentially been without both Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge this season. Suarez went to Barcelona and Sturridge has not played for us since August.
They scored 51 goals between them in the league last season. Steven Gerrard is our current top scorer in the league with five. Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini have mustered just three between them.
But imagine if Chelsea were deprived of Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa for a long period of time. Or Eden Hazard. Between them, those three players have missed just four league games for Chelsea this season.
The imminent return of Sturridge from injury will prove timely. Hopefully he can have a clear run to the end of the season. If he does, you wouldn’t back against him reaching double figures.
He will add an extra dollop of pace to the attack that’s been missing this season and lift some of that speed burden off Raheem Sterling.
There are also signs that some of Rodgers’ signings last summer are starting to grow in stature and impact.
Playing three at the back has also helped our form to improve. And the more the players become accustomed to the system, the better the results and the performances are going to be.
Rodgers certainly isn’t far off having a squad capable of challenging for the title. Signing a new keeper is obviously a priority at the end of the season.
Replacing Gerrard is naturally going to be difficult. But it also presents an opportunity for other players to take on the mantle of leader. If Rodgers has got the right characters and personalities in the dressing room, then it can be done, especially if he can also sign a proven, top-class midfielder.
Throw in a striker to replace the maddeningly frustrating Balotelli, in addition to keeping Sturridge fit, and there are the makings of a title-winning team and squad.
Rodgers just needs to make sure we have a strong core of players who will stay fit and make a difference, as Chelsea have shown this season.
If he can do that, then his claims about challenging for the title next season aren’t as fanciful as some would have you believe.