Think back to this time last year and things were looking almightily rosy for Liverpool. They finally looked like they could end their agonising wait for a first Premier League crown and they were blowing teams away with an exciting brand of attacking football with Luis Suarez at the forefront. Things really were on the up for the Reds.
But after a costly slip from Gerrard, the departure of Luis Suarez soon followed and despite putting together an impressive winning run midway through this season, it looks like Liverpool could be back to square one after a whirlwind couple of seasons.
Two hugely disappointing defeats to Manchester United and Arsenal has left their top-four hopes in tatters, and it looks increasingly unlikely that they will make it back into the Champions League next season with effectively an eight-point gap to overturn given their goal difference.
This has to be considered as a significant failure given just how close they came to winning the title last season. It was always going to be hard after losing Suarez, but in order to move the club forward they had to maintain a top four position in order to attract the best players to Anfield.
Given the disappointment of this season, including a dreadful showing in Europe where they failed to make it out of the group stages, it’s hard to see things changing in the long term and Liverpool being able to consistently challenge at the top end of the league.
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Recent years have shown just how difficult it is to break into the top four on a consistent basis and the struggles that come with that. And it’s not just a problem of attracting new players, but keeping hold of their better ones that are also damaged.
Raheem Sterling is the latest to be linked with a move away from Anfield after turning down a new deal, and it appears he could be on his way in the near future as he feels he will have a greater opportunity to win trophies elsewhere. People may think it’s all about the money, but you only have to look back at the last few years to see he has a valid point.
Liverpool look like they could be on course for another spell in the doldrums like the four years they spent between 2009 and 2013 where they finished 7th, 6th, 8th and 7th again.
It took a brilliant one off season with a world class player at the helm to finally break that sequence, but with fifth place looking like the best they can hope for now, it looks like they could be back in the vicious circle once again.
You only have to look at the signings they made last summer to see the writing is on the wall. With £80m to spend from the sale of Suarez, they had all the ammunition to go out and replace him with some world-class players now they could offer them Champions League football at last. But they still couldn’t do it.
Big names such as Alexis Sanchez and Angel Di Maria joined rival teams and they could only manage to bring in the likes of Adam Lallana, Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert, who have hardly set Anfield alight. No disrespect to them but they were not anywhere near the standard required to help them compete for the league once again, as it has been proved.
And if that’s the best they could manage last year then the signs aren’t good heading into the next transfer window.
It’s hard to see just how Liverpool can break the mould and finish in the top four on a regular basis given their current situation. They face a struggle just to keep hold of their better players, and unless they can improve the quality of player arriving at Anfield they look set for another few years in the Europa League; if they can even make that.