In the season just passed Liverpool were wonderful at times, but at other times they were simply woeful.
Some of the problems Liverpool faced this season might be addressed before the start of the new campaign – some of the new recruits needed time to gel and the squad needed time to adjust to the departure of Luis Suarez are problems that may not exist come August.
But Liverpool face some problems that they need to address over the summer if they’re to progress further next season, and here are three reasons why they might struggle next season…
Last season Liverpool settled on a diamond in midfield, but losing Suarez forced Rodgers to experiment a little. When Liverpool finally settled on a back three they played well – unbeaten from December to March – but at the start of the season they couldn’t find one that fit.
Then after the unbeaten run ended, Rodgers flip flopped between 433 and 343 in a desperate attempt to keep Liverpool’s season together as they lose out on Champions League football and crashed out of the FA Cup in the semi final.
That’s a problem that might be linked to the fact that new signings hadn’t yet gelled together, perhaps Rodgers was simply trying to find the best way to assemble his team. But if he can’t settle on a formation next season Liverpool may have a problem.
Although Milner and Ings are good players, they aren’t of the quality Liverpool need to add to the squad this summer.
They’re players that Liverpool would presumably want to add depth and quality to their squad, but they aren’t going to transform the side from a Europa League team to a Champions League team.
Liverpool have a young team full of good promising players and Ings will fit into that. But the marquee signing, like Balotelli was supposed to be last season, may not arrive given the club’s European status. In fact, they face a fight to keep one of their best players in Raheem Sterling.
James Milner is the established signing and definitely adds something to the team, but he’s not the missing link that makes Liverpool a force to be reckoned with.
This might not be so easily fixed. No Champions League football to tempt a marquee signing will probably mean no marquee signing. So Rodgers – or the transfer committee – are probably doing the right thing in adding to what they already have whilst fending off interest in Raheem Sterling.
It’s just a shame for Liverpool that they can’t add a player to take them to the next level. On the other hand, that progress can come from within – Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana are progressing nicely and big seasons from those two could negate the need for a big signing.
Last season, expectation weighed heavy at Anfield and after the departure of Suarez it was always going to be difficult for Liverpool to match their second place from the season before. Despite the disappointing finish to last season expectation will still be huge next time. Rodgers will instantly face pressure if results don’t go his way.
Add that to the fact that Liverpool will have less money and less chance of attracting big players to the club this summer and you might just get a recipe for disaster.
Liverpool have lots of promising players at the club, but we’ve seen they’re a momentum team: they win games when they continue to win games on the bounce, when they have a bad spell, the wheels can come off. Rodgers himself has to take a lot of the blame for that, but some players do too.
They need to be stronger in the face of a crisis, and the manager will need them to step up this season because his job is on the line – a bad season and Liverpool’s owners may start to look elsewhere. If the players can’t handle the pressure after a few bad results things could go from bad to worse very quickly.