Last week, Liverpool suffered a shock 3-1 defeat at the hands of Southampton virtually ruling ruled out their top-four hopes.
The Merseyside club went into the match against the Saints high on confidence, riding on a four-match unbeaten streak but were undone at St Mary’s. As a result, any hope they harboured of securing a Champions League berth were dashed.
With just eight more games to be played, the Reds are facing a daunting 9-point gap from fourth-ranked Tottenham Hotspur. It can be said with an amount of certainty that Brendan Rodgers’ troops will end up well short of their aim.
But was the top four always out of their reach?
Early on in the season, the Merseyside club were able to overcome a stuttering start and went on a notable unbeaten run, rekindling their top-four aspirations.
Seeing his team play some beautiful football and notch up a couple of impressive wins, Rodgers became a bit over optimistic, urging his side to target Manchester City’s second spot.
Luckily for him, he conceded that his side were not good enough to compete for the title yet. Liverpool were bludgeoned 3-1 in their next match by relegation-battlers Aston Villa, that too at their own backyard, leaving the Anfield boss into making more realistic assessment about the amount of work that still needed to be done before his side can re-establish themselves as a top four side.
Later in the campaign, a fine run of form brought the Reds back in the Champions League hunt. This time they were to be thwarted by West Bromwich Albion, and again at Anfield. Rodgers, like before, had warned his top-four opponents before the game that any slip-ups could allow them to wrestle away the CL berth. Alas, it was his own team that slipped up, forcing the Ulsterman once again to switching to his more realistic post-setback statements.
And that is what Liverpool need to do here; be realistic with their targets. When Rodgers took over the management of Anfield in June last year, not many had expected that the Reds would be able to mount a sustained challenge for Champions League places, given what had transpired in the previous term. The 2012/13 season was always going to be one of reparation for the club.
It is also essential to keep in mind that Liverpool are not very far from where they were in the table last season. In fact, it was roughly this time of the campaign when their performances fell into a downward spiral eventually capping an overall dismal season with an eight-place finish.
The Reds currently rest seventh in the table and are just a point ahead of West Bromwich Albion. The focus for the team now should be to avoid repeating the calamities of the past and ensure that they conclude the term on a high in order to set a solid platform for the next season.
The last thing the Liverpool fans want is a disastrous finish and the subsequent discussions on how to kick-start a new Anfield revolution.
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