Five things that Liverpool need to become a top four club once again
It can’t be easy being a Liverpool fan at the moment. You’ve just seen your much more expensively assembled team finish behind your local rivals, your £35m striker has gone out on loan and you’re yet to pick up your first league win. Heck, you even struggled to beat a SCOTTISH team!
September 4th, 2012
Brendan Rodgers has a tough task ahead of him. Brought in from Swansea, he has to turn a mismatched and, let’s be honest, pretty average set of players, into Champions League material. And he has to do it quickly – you don’t get long to make an impression at Anfield.
But how does he do that? Here are five things that desperately need to change for Rodgers.
Pepe Reina is a mainstay in this Liverpool side, despite some obvious flaws in his performances in recent years. Since Rafa Benetiz took goalkeeping coach Xavi Valero with him, Reina seems to have struggled to the point where it seems that the only thing keeping him in the side is a lack of options elsewhere. At only 30 years of age, Reina isn’t yet at the point in his career where his talents should be waning, yet the goalkeeping clangers are becoming an all-too-common occurrence.
A revamp in midfield
Whisper it quietly, but Steven Gerrard had a stinker against Arsenal and, whilst we’re not calling for the darling of the Kop to be culled just yet, we’d suggest that he can’t be expected to carry the side in the way that he has in recent years. He was struggled to keep the ball under pressure and gave the ball away far too often. His poor showing against Hearts suggests that two games a week for Gerrard isn’t a long-term option.
Joe Allen, in the meantime, has been fantastic in his opening games at Anfield and Nuri Sahin, on loan from Real Madrid, will add some quality but one of these options add what could be considered to be real attacking flair in the middle of the park.
If Gerrard can no longer be the one charging up the field to support Suarez, then somebody else needs to take on that role – and that someone is neither Stewart Downing nor Jordan Henderson.
The elephant in the room. The case of Andy Carroll is one that intrigued for much of the summer. Rodgers made no secret of the fact that Carroll’s long-term future may not lie in any team managed by him, before then lamenting his departure without any hastily-signed replacement on deadline day.
Brendan Rodgers cannot rely on Luis Suarez to get the goals that Liverpool need. Raheem Sterling and Fabio Borini look like talents but they are raw at this level. Borini was largely anonymous against Arsenal as he took on a wide role whilst Suarez struggled to cope with the level of responsibility laid at his feet and the attention from Per Metersacker and Thomas Vermaelen.
There is a lot of talent at Liverpool that simply has no place at a top four club. Unfortunately for Rodgers, much of this talent was signed under the Dalglish era where big money and long-term contracts are involved. Downing, Henderson and Joe Cole, it seems, are only on the pay-roll to meet UEFA ‘home grown’ regulations. Sebastian Coates doesn’t fill anyone with real confidence and neither do many of the youth prospects.
The other elephant in the room. Roy Hodgson didn’t get it. Kenny Dalglish didn’t get it (although we can forgive the club for that one) and Rodgers, in all likelihood, won’t get much either. Patience is a rare commodity in football and, in the age where it is literally Champions League or bust, Liverpool have to fix these problems sooner rather than later.