As the 2014-15 season winds down, it has become evident that Liverpool will not manage to make top 4. With the remaining fixtures for both Liverpool and Manchester United, the Merseyside club has a mere 2.42% chance of finishing top 4 (so you’re telling me there’s a chance!?). What went wrong?
At the end of 2014, Brendan Rodgers made a tactical decision to switch to a back 3 and Liverpool hit a blistering run of form. Nearly every major media outlet praised Brendan’s tactical prowess, and it was hard to disagree at the time. But eventually, the rest of the league caught up to what Rodgers was doing and he failed to adapt further. The evidence was there before Liverpool were beaten by Manchester United and completely dismantled by Arsenal. Just 1 goal across 2 legs against Chelsea (not terrible), two FA Cup replays against vastly weaker squads, and many other 1-goal performances showed symptoms of Liverpool’s imminent demise. As soon as Liverpool’s defense failed to play lights out, the losses would start coming. And they did.
April saw Liverpool lose embarrassingly to Arsenal, barely scrape by Blackburn, lose to Villa in FA, draw goalless with West Brom, and lose 1-0 to Hull City. In 4 league matches in the month of April, Liverpool collected 4 points. Truly appalling. It is especially infuriating considering Manchester United have done everything they can to help us make top 4, and we have failed to make the most of it.
So, who is to blame? Does this fall on the manager’s tactics or does it fall on the players for not playing hard enough? Unfortunately, I think both speak volumes about the state of the club and its manager.
Brendan Rodgers had over £100m to spend on a new squad following the departure of Luis Suarez to Barcelona. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not ignorant to what Suarez meant to the Liverpool squad. He made every player on the pitch better. I don’t think anyone was expecting the same sort of run Liverpool enjoyed last season. But £100m is a lot of money to spend for a club to just sort of peter out and die at the end of the season. If not for an amazing run of form by the defense, we may be looking at a Liverpool squad sitting at 8th in the table.
In 2013/14 Liverpool scored 101 goals over the course of the Premier League season. In 2014/15 Liverpool have managed a mere 49. Truly an unacceptable figure, especially considering BR’s target was 3 goals/per game (the true figure being 1.4 goals per game).
So, if we decide that the manager is actually to blame, what went wrong? Talent evaluation? Inefficient spending? Tactical ineptitude? Unmotivated players?
To me, I feel it is all of the above. All of these factors have contributed to LFC’s sharp decline from last season and all of these factors fall squarely on the shoulders of Brendan Rodgers. And even so, we sit a mere 4 points out of the final UCL qualification spot. That shows that there is a good talent-base on the roster. There are players in the squad who can win.
Brendan Rodgers needs to abandon his frugal mindset when it comes to transfer windows. We don’t need 5-6 bang average players to carry into next year. We need 2-3 high-quality, proven players who can come in and make an immediate impact and vault Liverpool back to where it belongs: The Champions League.