Football

Liverpool face tough challenge in quest for Champions League return

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Most people would agree that Liverpool's 2014-15 season was a huge disappointment. The club struggled following the departure of talisman Luis Suarez and a failed transfer policy; one which left them with a squad that wasn't prepared to mount a serious challenge for the top four.

It appears that manager Brendan Rodgers will be given another chance to bring the club back to Europe's main stage, but what does he have to do in order to accomplish such a feat?

Transfers

Liverpool's American ownership desperately need to invest some capital if they are serious about their ambitions for the club. Throughout last season, Rodgers' thin squad struggled with the added strains of Champions League group games and a long run in the FA Cup, while the players also seemed to lack a cutting edge against the top teams in the league.

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Undoubtedly, both Rodgers and managing director Ian Ayre will have to work very hard this summer in order to improve their squad sufficiently. The clubs who have secured a spot in the top four have the advantage of extra cash, and crucially the ability to attract the best talent from around the world with the promise of Champions League football. But only the very best will do right now for Liverpool.

It is no secret that the main ingredient to Liverpool's success in the previous season was the remarkable performance of Luis Suarez, and the first priority on Liverpool's list must be to find a suitable replacement for the Uruguayan. There is no point in continuing to gamble on young players with future potential; Liverpool need a goalscorer with proven quality. Aston Villa's Belgian forward Christian Benteke is an option

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The Reds will also need to work on their leaky defence if they want to challenge for the top four. Last season, they conceded 48 goals in the league, 16 more than champions Chelsea. Liverpool have already tabled a £10 million bid for Southampton's Nathaniel Clyne, and have been linked with a number of centre-backs to try and pair up with the solid Martin Skrtel.

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Tactics

At times during his tenure at the club, Rodgers has pioneered some masterful tactics and a clear philosophy, a commendable achievement. However, his failings have come in his inability to adapt, and Liverpool's lack of versatility. For a period in the middle of last season, Liverpool played some scintillating football that resulted in an impressive unbeaten streak, but once they were found out, the performance level came crashing back to earth.

As well as establishing a Plan B, Rodgers must seek to convert stylish attacking football into goals. Liverpool's forwards combined for just eight league goals last season, with the club relying on goals from midfield contributors such as departing skipper Steven Gerrard. The addition of Danny Ings and possibly another goalmouth threat should help with this, but the Reds must also find a way to blow teams away in a fashion similar to that of the 2013-14 season.

The Road Ahead

Liverpool face a critical point in their future in the upcoming year. A lot must be done to avoid being frozen out of the European elite for the next few seasons. The odds are stacked against them, but Liverpool's players need to respond to the challenge if their fans are going to experience another electrifying European night at Anfield in the near future.

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
UEFA Champions League
Liverpool
Brendan Rodgers

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