Liverpool again look destined to miss out on Champions League football this season after becoming extremely inconsistent throughout the campaign.
Here are 10 steps Liverpool must take to return to Europe’s elite:
1. Replace Glen Johnson
Glen Johnson’s recent performances for Liverpool have left something to be desired. The full-back used to be praised for his defensive work rate and his ability to bomb down the flanks when needed, but lately he is a shadow of the player we seen at Portsmouth and his early days at Anfield.
The England international doesn’t contribute as much to the team like he used to. Replace him with Manchester City’s Micah Richards and this problem would be solved.
2. Sign another star Striker to help Luis Suarez
This season we have started to see the same Luis Suarez that we did at Ajax, contributing 22 goals in the Premier League and topping the scoring charts in just 29 games.
He is arguably the best player in Britain, but if Liverpool fail to qualify for the Champions League this season, which is likely, he may want to move to a team where his talent can be used on the biggest stage.
But if Liverpool show some ambition and sign him a strike partner as good as he is, it may persuade him to stay, and with another star in the squad, Liverpool’s push for Champions League would be made easier. Sevilla’s Alvaro Negredo should prove sufficient.
3. Give Brendan Rodgers time
The Northern Irishman had an incredible season at Swansea in 2011/12, and as everyone thought, a bigger team came knocking.
After a shaky first half of the season, Rodger’s work has become evident, as not only are Liverpool making their way back up the Premier League ladder, they have also become one of the best sides to watch with their slick passing style.
4. Sign a new goalkeeper
Pepe Reina is a talented shot-stopper, and go back to 2008, and he could have been listed in the top 10 keepers in world football.
But as time has passed, his confidence seems to have diminished, and he is not the same player that he was. In-fact, Brad Jones who's a keeper that would be more suited to a relegation battling team has even been preferred on some occasions. There is nothing saying that he will not return to his best, but there is no evidence that he will.
5. Find Steven Gerrard’s replacement
There’s no doubting that Gerrard was once a world-class midfielder, but as time has gone on he has deteriorated, and can no longer be considered one of the best in his position.
If you look at the teams ruling Europe at the moment, Juventus have the peerless Andrea Pirlo, Bayern Munich have possibly the best box to box midfielder in Europe in the form of Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Barcelona have the little maestro, Xavi Hernandez.
Gerrard’s leadership qualities are still important for the merseyside club, but what Liverpool really need is a player that has the same qualities as those mentioned earlier. Although it would be hard to pull off, Paris Saint Germain’s Marco Verratti would be perfect.
6. Sign a world-class winger
Oussama Assaidi is reaching the most important part of his career at 24-years-old and has shown flashes of brilliance this season. Therefore, if Liverpool were to sign a world-class winger, then this may increase his development - the same goes for Raheem Sterling. Sterling will no doubt be first choice for England one day, and with his main attribute being his blistering pace, his control must be mastered before he can be considered a real threat to other teams.
Brendan Rodgers should then consider the signing of Catania’s Alejandro Gomez or Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez
7. Find a plan B
We all remember Chelsea’s less than inspiring run to win the Champions League last season. When their chips were down after a 3-1 loss at the San Paolo, in the return leg at Stamford Bridge, they put Napoli into aerial submission and used their strengths.
It wasn’t pretty, but it worked, and they did the same against Benfica, before being outclassed but found their way past Barcelona and then Bayern Munich.
With Andy Carroll due to return and already having tall powerful players like Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel, Liverpool can, on occasions, look to play the long ball as it could be a valuable advantage in tough games.
8. Use money wisely
Liverpool lately have been a laughing stock for wasting money, no doubt the biggest mistake was wasting a whopping £35 million on Andy Carroll. They also spent £15 million on Joe Allen and £20 million on Jordan Henderson. Three players that have failed to make an impact at Liverpool.
Everyone else could see that it was a disaster before it even happened. A combined £70 million spent on three players who weren’t even considered to be three of the best in the Premier League, never mind Europe.
With £70 million now, they could put it into places it is needed, like a new Goalkeeper, full-back, centre-midfielder, winger and a striker. If they sold the three of them now, they would be lucky to make a combined £25 million.
Liverpool need to make the summer transfer window count, or they will have to face another disappointing season outside of the Champions League places.
9. Use Lucas Leiva as the midfield anchor
When Lucas first burst onto the scene at Liverpool, he was often criticised for not trying hard enough and not covering enough of the pitch.
He didn’t play as a box to box midfielder simply because it isn’t his strong point. He can however sit back and protect the back-line and pick out passes to launch a new attack, and this is what he should be told to do.
He may not be as dynamic as Arturo Vidal, Yaya Toure or Daniele De Rossi, but that doesn’t mean he can’t contribute as much to his team as they do. Lucas also has a venomous right foot and the ability to shoot from distance, if you all remember his thunderous drive against Steaua Bucharest in the Europa League in 2011, and his surging run and exquisite finish against Benfica in the same cup run shows that he is no slouch either.
10. Steadily integrate Suso into the first-team
Suso has shown this season that in the future for Liverpool, he could be something special. He has a great shot, vision and outstanding passing ability for someone who is only 19.
With a mentor like Steven Gerrard, he could become as important to the club as Gerrard once was. It is true that when he starts to show real promise he could be on his way to Barcelona or Real Madrid, but if Liverpool can establish themselves as a club that is worthy of five Champions League triumphs once again, he may want to stay, and with Brendan Rodgers integrating a passing style of play into his players, a player with the vision and ability of Suso will be just what Liverpool need, and in a few years, he could be the ace up their sleeve.
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