This time last year everything was looking pretty rosy for Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers. The Reds were well and truly finding their feet in the Premier League, and team spirit simply couldn’t have been in a better place at Anfield.
After the pain and heartbreak of losing out on the title due to a self-imposed fall at the last hurdle however, 2014/15 has so far been a season to forget for Liverpool. Rodgers’ side currently languish in the bottom half of the Premier League with 16 games played.
As this current Liverpool squad look a complete shadow of the team that had their opponents dreading every fixture against Rodgers’ side last year, what has gone so un-resoundingly wrong for the Reds this season?
First and foremost, Daniel Sturridge has been pretty much a bystander for the whole of this campaign due to a series of testing long-term injuries. It is unfair to truly judge Brendan Rodgers or Liverpool without one of their key men being able to play a role in the club’s struggles. Sturridge scored an impressive 22 goals in last season’s Premier League, and would surely put an end to their problems in front of goal in 2014/15.
That said, the problems Liverpool have faced in the wake of Sturridge’s absence have shown a clear weakness in the team. If the Reds are on the brink of capitulation after losing just one star man, what would happen if Rodgers’ was to lose more to injury during the dreaded Christmas period?
Perhaps this all points towards what happened over the summer, and how the Reds boss failed to spend his money wisely. The rinsing of Southampton was a plan that clearly backfired. Rickie Lambert sadly doesn’t look Liverpool quality at the grand old age of 32, Adam Lallana’s £25 million price tag looks a tad steep when the likes of Toni Kroos went for less, and it seems that selling Daniel Agger in order to blow vast sums cash on Dejan Lovren was another step in the wrong direction.
The rest of Rodgers’ signings have since suffered due to their lack of Premier League experience, whilst the ever unpredictable Mario Balotelli has simply failed to get going this year, despite his obvious potential.
In light of all the new faces to arrive at Anfield over the summer, Liverpool’s under pressure boss just hasn’t discovered his best starting XI as of yet. Rodgers’ seems unclear whether to start a recognised striker, play three at the back instead of a more traditional defensive set-up, or even keep Steven Gerrard in the side. All of this has led to a significantly slower build up play, in comparison with last season’s aggressive approach, and a complete lack of consistency in each player’s individual performances.
Whilst Liverpool’s struggles this season are not all exclusively down to the manager, Rodgers has to take responsibility for the fact that the fans are growing increasingly anxious with every poor result the Reds produce this season. Mistakes in key areas of the pitch, namely the complete reverse in form of Simon Mingnolet, have subsequently developed as a result of the tense atmosphere that now lingers around Anfield.
Clearly, when a side such as Liverpool lose a player of Luis Suarez’ quality, continuing the great results and even better performances in his absence becomes a task easier said than done. The Reds are doing very little to appease claims that they were a ‘one man team’ with Suarez on board, and Brendan Rodgers’ reputation has taken a hit resounding as a result.
Ultimately 2014/15 was always going to be tough after coming so near, but yet oh so far, in last campaign’s end of season heroics. This is now a true test of Brendan Rodgers’ managerial qualities, and as of yet, it seems as if the Northern Irish boss may have jumped a little too far into the unforgiving deep-end of Premier League football management.