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Return of the Decline at Liverpool

Prateek
Steven Gerrard
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has not been in the best of form

UCL: Match Day 3 – Liverpool vs Real Madrid at Anfield

Let's start with the pre-match discussions regarding the 'recent' meetings between the two European giants which would have given all Liverpool fans more than just a glimmer of hope for this very important clash. Even I was pretty optimistic - after all, the last meeting was a comfortable rout for the home side (4-0 to Liverpool) and this was Anfield - our home, our territory. The sacred ground where we had quashed most of our opponents last season. With Luis Suarez in our ranks.

The match began quite well, both sides attacking with pace - which both had in abundance. This was until the brilliant Real Madrid drew first blood. And in outstanding fashion. The defending, though not too great (as usual), didn't really matter as the goal was all down to the excellence of James Rodriguez and the perfection of Cristiano Ronaldo. LFC 0 - RMA 1.

What followed was something Liverpool fans need to get accustomed to for at least the 2014/15 season. Dejan Lovern and Martin Skrtel must start playing like seasoned pros instead of playing like young prospects who are expected to make the usual error or two. Also, Brendan Rodgers' knack for refusing to accept the fact that Balotelli is no good playing the lone striker is just astonishing. The season is well underway and his stats prove my point. The guy needs a strike partner, be it Borini or Sterling or Ibe (the kid shouldn;t have been loaned out in the first place).

The absence of Rickie Lambert's name here might be surprising to some but that's because Lambert and Balotelli are in the same league for me - both of them are too static, lazy and unimaginative for a modern day striker. You may exclude Lambert, given his age. But Balotelli just seems uninterested most of the times! (I'm not even starting with the half-time shirt exchange fiasco. It’s a taboo!)

Taking a look at the various departments in rather compact detail :

Attack: If Balotelli is given so many chances, why is Borini being ignored ? I cannot say for sure that Borini will get us goals and be an instant hit; but isn't it better to try a new combination rather than go about the same old system which has failed you so far? (Read 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3)

Midfield: Steven Gerrard will never be the enigma he once was as an attacking player. As a DM, it hurts me to say this, but he isn't good enough. A DM doesn't just pass the ball sideways or attempt ambitious diagonal passes. He does what Yaya Toure Yaya did for Manchester City in the seasons prior to this or at least excel at defending and distributing the ball. Joe Allen is a waste of money and his lack of vision in front of goal is well-known.

Defence: Why would Rodgers pay such a huge sum of money for Lovern, keep an erratic Kolo Toure and sell Daniel Agger is beyond me. Sure, football is played with skill, but skill alone does not guarantee a good performance. Passion plays a vital role. If you've seen Dirk Kuyt play, you'll understand my point.

Paying such a sum for a 'veteran', if I may call him so, was ridiculous, especially if you look at his Liverpool career so far. Skrtel is inconsistent, Kolo is a liability and Sakho is currently injured, though I'm not a big fan of his either. Selling one of your most experienced and loyal players (Agger) wasn't very smart.

Goalkeeper: Yes, Simon Mignolet hasn't been at his best. He isn't exactly turning out to be an ideal replacement to the legendary Pepe Reina. But is it all really his fault ? A keeper is only as good as his defence and our goalkeeper has suffered largely because of the amateur standard of defending in front of him.

Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli’s form is a major concern for Liverpool

The departure of Luis Suarez left a huge void and keeping Sturridge's injury woes in mind, Rodgers made a mistake in going for Super Mario (not so 'Super' now, is he?). His inconsistency was well-known and after being linked with the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain, Ezequiel Lavezzi and even Radamel Falcao, we ended up with Balotelli and Lazar Markovic.

Needless to say, the money we received after the Suarez transfer could have been used a little more wisely. It should have been a plan to build for now instead of getting a bunch of youngsters (to build for the future) who may or may not live up to their hefty price tags. A seasoned, consistent and sane replacement should have been brought in instead of someone who doesn't respect the shirt he's playing in. And more importantly, a player on whom many others (more successful and experienced teams) had given up hope.

As much as fans would like to disagree, the sad truth, is that Liverpool indeed have pulled off a Spurs. And I hope I'm proved wrong by the end of the season!

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Edited by Staff Editor
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