With 3rd new manager in three years, and from a UCL spot to the 8th rank in 2011-12 season, the story of Liverpool has been a roller coaster ride till now. Currently in the bottom half of the table, where do Liverpool want to see themselves from here?
Liverpool started the season with another new manager Brendan Rodgers, who has a vision of his own. Rodgers wants to bring back the glorious days of Liverpool with a new playing style. He is trying to implement the Tika-taka in the Liverpool FC which he somehow successfully implemented in Swansea last season.
So after nearly six weeks, how is the current Liverpool looking like.
Story of Liverpool can be summed in the following way – Liverpool FC: Clumsy in front, beautiful in middle and shaky at the back.
Some things are going totally wrong for Liverpool and some aspects are showing bright signs of improvement.
I’ll start with the defence, which was so impressive last season. Agger and Skrtel formed a great partnership together which was not easy to penetrate. Reina was also in great shape. But this year the scenario is totally reversed. Liverpool’s defence is already facing a lot of trouble with many lapses and many goals allowed.
After last year’s great performances at the back, this summer was full of transfer rumours. Both Skrtel and Agger were heavily linked with clubs like Manchester City and Madrid. Top clubs showed heavy interests in both the defenders. Agger was not willing to leave the club but the pressure of heavy pay was not easy to handle as Manchester City offered nearly a £20 million to Liverpool. But still Agger was determined to stay and finally Liverpool decided not to sell him.
But after the start of the season, clean sheets for Liverpool are hard to come by. In each match we have seen disastrous defending, as well as very ordinary goalkeeping from Reina. Pepe Reina has been one of the best goalkeepers in EPL last season, but this season it seems like his age is catching up, slowing his reflexes. He has failed to keep the ball in his hand on numerous occasions. The partnership of Agger-Skrtel also hasn’t been good so far. With many lapses, wrong back passes and missing the right tackles have been the reasons for all that. Johnson and Kelly are doing good job. Johnson does provide more flair to Liverpool, but his main job is defending and in some cases he is not looking sharp. But more importantly, they are lacking concentration. Every player is working hard but a momentary lapse in concentration is costing Liverpool dearly.
Liverpool’s midfield has been very good from the start of the season and has been the focus point of Liverpool’s tactics. Brendan Rodgers successfully signed Joe Allen from Swansea and Nuri Sahin (on loan) from Real Madrid. Both signings are proving important for Liverpool. Joe Allen is commanding the midfield with over 90% pass completion. Nuri Sahin is also showing signs of improvement with the recent games. With the presence of Steven Gerrard, Joe Allen and Nuri Sahin in midfield, Liverpool are looking sharp and commanding in the area. They nearly dominated all the games from midfield, even against the Manchester City and Manchester United.
What Liverpool is lacking in midfield is the ability to score goals. Today’s EPL teams don’t rely only on strikers for scoring; each top team has some players who does the job for them in midfield. Liverpool midfielders need to get more in the box and grab the opportunities to score. Jonjo Shelvey is doing a good job for Liverpool, and this season could be the rise of another gem for Liverpool in midfield. When Lucas will come back from injury, Liverpool is definitely going to be stronger in midfield.
For winning games, you need to score the goals. It is as simple as that. Problem for Liverpool is that they are not scoring enough goals to win. With only two strikers upfront (one of them is still learning the hard life of EPL), Liverpool are very short of options up front. Sterling and Suso are trying to fill the void exceptionally well but still their main strikers need to rise to the occasion. Suarez is trying his best, but he is not getting enough support from Borini. Finishing of Suarez is also not very good. We have seen recently many times, him missing simple one on one opportunities but scoring from nearly impossible angles. He needs to be more clinical in front of the goal. With only two strikers available, it is definitely going to be tough for a team which is competing in 4 competitions.
With rise of youngsters like Sterling, Suso and Pacheco, Liverpool is showing good signs of progress in the team. Now they are in the building phase, but all and all looking good for the future. But for a promising future, you need to be in the top flight. Finishing 8th will not help the squad, because then other teams will dig into the Liverpool squad and try to lure these youngsters out of the club. If Liverpool wants to achieve something at the end of the season, they need a lot of improvement. Liverpool needs to be mentally strong as well. This is the team which has won the Champions League after trailing by 3 goals in the final. This is the team which has won the FA cup final after trailing three times in the finals. Nowadays, only a single goal against them also looks enough to beat them as the moral is very down in the team. Liverpool needs to change that.
I might have got it wrong. But in my opinion, Liverpool has great chances to overcome the early setbacks and rise to the occasion. The team is building good, the manager have the support of the owners. And a great fan base is always there to support the team. So hope Liverpool will be back on track very soon.