Liverpool have been riding high of late. A club that look finally set to re-emerge from the ignominy of Premier League mid-table mediocrity and return to the upper echelons of European football where they surely belong. Indeed the Roger’s revolution has been gathering pace, with many tipping the Anfield club to finally end their exile from the Champions League.
Last weekend though threw a major spanner in the works. Defeat to newly promoted Hull City was one thing, but to be largely outplayed and deserving of a humbling 3-1 reverse is surely of more concern to Rodgers. As good as Hull City were, Liverpool seemed intent on giving their Humberside opponents the impetus to win.
The worry is that there is a gulf emerging between Rodgers’ squad players and the smattering of star studded quality that they currently possess. A Liverpool side with the likes of Suarez, Sturridge and Gerrard in their ranks is a team that could give anyone a match, but without them they seem to be largely devoid of genuine quality.
Going into the busy and often decisive festive period, Rodgers is now increasingly concerned about the depth of his new-look squad. Daniel Sturridge already looks set to miss up to 8 weeks of action with ankle ligament damage, a huge blow for a side that have been dependent on his 11 goals so far this season and who without him lack a genuine out and out frontman. Liverpool were also nursing an injury to Coutinho, who was only able to complete just over 20 minutes for the Reds. Rodgers knows about the fragility of his squad, another injury could put an unbearable strain on his resources and undermine the success of the clubs Champions League charge.
Al this from a side that spent over £50m on players this summer, is Rodgers really being serious?
I think the frailties of the Liverpool squad are there for all to see, Rodgers may well have spent big but for me the problems still run deep. The Northern Irishman inherited a squad that contained a lot of overrated and overhyped footballers, re-addressing the balance was always going to take time. In order to buy he has had to sell, and his purchases have all been with a view to the future. The likes of Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas are not the sort of players to provide genuine quality in reserve just yet, maybe in a few years time.
Liverpool are in a position where they have a few world class players and a large amount of capable players that could possibly develop into something a little better. Most people in and around the club realise that injuries to top players could well destabilise the clubs position and until the side can call upon a greater wealth of talents this situation won’t change.
Many may criticise Rodgers for not spending on proven world-class talents, and I would agree if he had the club may well be better placed going in Christmas. The reality though is that football is a balancing act, the difference between a wafer thin squad and an overburdened one is smaller than you might imagine. Take a club like Spurs that have spent even bigger than Liverpool, and who are now dealing with the ramifications of a mass squad overhaul. Few would doubt that the North Londoners don’t possess quality in abundance, but most would accept that their transition will take time and that a large squad may well pose considerable problems for the manager going forward.
Liverpool never had the chance to make such changes. No big money sale of Suarez and owners that look to be taking a more prudent stance going forward, Rodgers has had to settle for second best with an eye firmly on the future.
The Anfield club look set to challenge this season, but key to these ambitions is maintaining the fitness of some of their key players. Unlike many of their rivals Liverpool simply don’t have the squad to call upon when they need it, and therefore negotiating the rigours of the winter months may well be telling for the Merseyside club.
A squad too small or one that is perfectly streamlined? Rodgers has a tough task on his hands and those in and around the club will have the fingers firmly crossed for the next few months.