Until Saturday, Liverpool’s season was going swimmingly. A strong start had garnered 10 points from a possible 12 with a victory over rivals Manchester United the pick of the bunch. This included three clean sheets and a great start to the season for Daniel Sturridge in front of goal. All of this is made even more impressive by the fact that star player Luis Suarez was still serving his suspension for biting Branislav Ivanovic last season.
With Suarez about to return, Liverpool are looking in a good place despite their surprisingly poor performance at home to Southampton in a match where Brendan Rodger’s footballing style of playing the ball out of from the back looked weak to say the least. Great pressure from Southampton forced Liverpool’s back line and goalkeeper into mistakes as they persisted with a risky approach rather than adding a bit of wisdom to their game and knowing when to hoof the ball into row Z. Nevertheless, the tenure of Rodgers needed time and if the first 4 games are anything to go by then Liverpool can have a successful season.
Crucial to Liverpool, like many clubs is stability. Rodgers has been given time to build a squad capable of making a successful run in the Premier League. The last four seasons, in relative terms have not been great for Liverpool by their standards. The last four seasons have mustered 7th, 6th, 8th and 7th position finishes respectively. Yet, the Liverpool hierarchy are displaying great wisdom in keeping with the philosophy of Rodgers despite setbacks like Saturday being a surprise rather than a shock with regards to Liverpool these days. In a way, this shows just how far Liverpool have fallen from the glory days of the 1980s. With Liverpool’s last title win coming in 1990, despite the figures from their finishes in the Premier League indicating that Liverpool are further away from them glory days than at any time in the last 20 years, there is a realisation that Rodgers needs to be kept with to have a chance of that success again.
This season, the Northern Irishman has added to the ranks of Liverpool in a style indicative of wisdom. The addition of Ivory Coast man Kolo Toure brings a wealth of experience to the club and his performances so far have displayed a player that is in the peak of his career rather than on the decline like many pundits assumed. He could have easily headed off to pastures new and relax for the last few years of his career but clearly Rodgers has convinced him to contribute to Liverpool’s cause. For Liverpool to have a successful season, experience at the back is vital.
Perhaps the most successful aspect of Liverpool’s season thus far has been the creativity of players like Phillipe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge in fashioning chance after chance. The quick, incisive play and threaded balls through in behind the defence mean that Liverpool getting on the score sheet looks inevitable in the matches when the duo clicks. However, their freedom of expression would not be as clear without the work of the still effective Steven Gerrard in a role reminiscent of a quarterback in American Football. Gerrard truly is one of the Premier League and Liverpool all time greats, and as with many of the greats as they reach the twilight of their career has successfully adapted his game to suit his attributes most. His role in the team is strikingly similar to that of Xabi Alonso in his last spell at the club- a partnership which involved Gerrard fulfilling the attacking role than the current era of tricky little players like Coutinho now play in the team.
Any move for Liverpool to bring Alonso back to the club would be a step backwards. Not only is he past his best, he is a man that will always be remembered as a player of the Benitez era of grinding out games rather than Rodgers’ passing style. Furthermore, players like Joe Allen who were brought in specifically to spread this philosophy to Liverpool’s players from that era would see their role in the team negated. Psychologically, it would not be a good signal to send to Liverpool’s youngsters. Bringing back Alonso would purely be for the sake of it, and Rodgers is surely too wise a manager to do this.