When Brendan Rodgers debuted his change in tactics this season, it was met with criticism.
This came when Liverpool had just been rammed out of the Champions League by the round of 16 by FC Basel. In the midst of a poor run of form supporters began to say that Rodgers was “too stubborn to change anything.” So change he did.
Supporters shifted into a not so elegant Pirouette and claimed he was changing too much, too fast. Rodgers could do no right at the time in the eye of some and enduring a painful 3-0 defeat to bitter rivals Manchester United certainly didn't help his cause.
At Liverpool Football Club, you cannot succeed on “moral victories.” But during a period in which there were no actual victories to be had, moral victories were all to be clung too other than videos of Luis Suarez’s 69 goals in red.
Had makeshift striker Raheem Sterling buried his first chance that ungraciously fell to his left foot, the game would have been much different. Even if he had at least forced a corner, the game would have been different. Manchester United would go forward and score within a minute later, for those who either don’t remember or simply choose not to.
This system had gotten more out of Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana while the team as a whole played on the front foot, which was a welcoming sight.
Lazar Markovic entered the fray as well fresh off his red card for wiping someone’s nose and looked bright. The formation was beginning to get the most out of Liverpool’s most important attacking options. Not to mention German bulldozer Emre Can was thrown to unfamiliar center back and responded brilliantly.
With Daniel Sturridge finally on the horizon to return, Rodgers doesn’t need to change the system. Sturridge slots up top, Sterling is pushed back to playing underneath the forward next to Lallana, Coutinho is shifted next to Steven Gerrard or Lucas Leiva provided he defends enough. Back three remains intact, Markovic and Moreno remain on the wings.
A slight change to the team could flip the 3-4-2-1 to a 3-4-1-2 and push Sterling next to Sturridge or bring in enigmatic forward Mario Balotelli.
When Sturridge finally returns from injury, unless he fatally succumbs to yet another setback just before restoration to the team, options will be aplenty. Jordan Ibe has been recalled from his successful loan spell at Derby and will be apart of the first team, able to play on the wing or behind the forwards.
Also, Liverpool and Lille are in talks to bring Divock Origi to Merseyside. If a player falls out of form just about anywhere on the team, they can be replaced.
Though a quick axing is not always successful - as seen from the first few months with a lot of turn over game to game - at least Rodgers won’t need to persist with players if they perform poorly. Plus being in two cup competitions and the Europa League, depth will be important over the next few months.
In a perfect world, Dejan Lovren gets his head out of his rear end and remembers how to defend like he did at Southampton, forming a consistent back three with Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho. This would allow Can to move back into the midfield where he belongs.
If it doesn’t work, Rodgers has shown he’s not afraid to shake things up and could rip it up again if it proves to be unsuccessful in the long run. For now, it’ll only improve when number 15 starts dancing at Anfield again.