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Not since the days of Rafa Benitez managing Liverpool have the Anfield side managed to string a run of wins together. Liverpool came close to winning the Premiership during Rafa’s reign, but since he left the Anfield hot seat Liverpool have struggled to find the consistency needed to challenge for a Champions League place, never mind challenging for the League title.
So many times in recent years Liverpool supporters have saw improvement in their teams’ performances and results too often followed by a poor one to set the improvement process back again. Saturday’s loss to Southampton was another setback for Liverpool after encouraging signs in recent weeks, with the team scoring plenty of goals and last week beating a top four side in Tottenham Hotspur.
This season in particular has been very frustrating with inconsistent results under new manager Brendan Rodgers’ leadership, but his methods seemed to be paying off until Saturday as Liverpool were looking for their fifth consecutive win for the first time since the days of Rafa.
But once again Liverpool were brought crashing back down to earth with a thunderous bump as hopes of a top four finish in the league were finally dashed with Saturday’s defeat. The recurring problem of inconsistent results that Liverpool have needs to be sorted out soon or Liverpool will drift further away from the league’s elite as the gap widens.
Brendan Rodger’s Liverpool have played brilliantly in some games this season, but there has also been a few very poor performances which have set the team back this season. The first match of the season was a terrible start to the season as West Brom ran out 3-0 winners, then the defeat away to Stoke was a very poor performance, followed by the latest defeat to Southampton.
There seems to be a common theme in these defeats with Liverpool losing to big physical sides in each of these games. When Liverpool play teams that pressure the ball carrier and have a big striker to play up to with long ball tactics, they invariably struggle.
Liverpool have scored a lot of goals this season but they are conceding plenty too and they need to tighten up at the back to progress. The biggest problem in some games is the appearance that some players are not up for the fight and the defeats I mentioned earlier are prime examples of this. The pedestrian, lethargic attitude by the players is unacceptable for Liverpool Football Club and once again it occurred on Saturday with the inevitable result of another defeat.
There is never a problem to motivate players in the “big” games but a manager earns his corn by getting his players motivated for the games against the league’s “struggling” sides, and too often this season it seems Rodgers has been unable to do so. Good managers get their players motivated for every game and Rodgers needs to sort this out.
The team selection for Saturday was also a strange one, was Rodgers taking Southampton too lightly with Reina and Carragher not playing, although they did have injuries I think Rodgers was being too protective with them. Joe Allen playing in place of Lucas against a battling Southampton side was a major mistake by the Liverpool manager.
Lucas and Gerrard had been playing well together, so why did Rodgers change things ? Afterwards Rodgers said Lucas had a slight injury, but why put him on the bench if he has an injury, and Allen needs an operation on his shoulder, so it was crazy to play him, he could even have played Henderson if there were injury doubts about Allen and Lucas. The decision to play Allen instead of Lucas was a disaster and Rodgers realised that by bringing on Lucas for Allen at half-time, but the damage was done in the first half and Liverpool couldn’t recover.
The whole team lacked passion and the right attitude at Southampton and I don’t like to single out individuals but Allen, Skrtel and Glen Johnson were unbelievably poor.
I still back Rodgers and he needs more time to get things right, but he has to be careful when he changes personnel and tactics for certain games and he needs to get his players motivated for every game not just the games against the top teams.
Rodgers needs to get his team to finish the season strongly and give encouragement for next season, because next season will be very important for Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers to prove that progress is being made at Anfield.