Liverpool have always managed to serve up regular talking points, whether they be good or bad. Over the past number of years, inconsistency has probably been Anfield’s biggest problem.
So many times would Liverpool go on a winning streak, only for it to get torn apart by a team scathing around in the lower end of table. We only have to look as far as last season.
Understandably so, teams in the bottom half are fighting for their lives, but if Liverpool want to reach the heights they once soared upon years ago, they will need to find that level of consistency in achieving results, but more importantly, in the team selection.
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Brendan Rodgers’ season was full of inconsistent performances and unique team combinations. Ironically, the one thing he consistently managed to do, was change the starting lineup every week.
Compared to the that of Mourinho’s Chelsea, who found a settled group of eight or nine players that formed the core of every line-up, Rodgers found himself chopping and changing on a weekly basis.
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The proof of achieving successful results by playing a similar team week in week out is so blatantly obvious. Rodgers managed to decide on the now famous 3-4-2-1 formation around Christmas time, and Liverpool respectively went on a 13 game unbeaten streak.
Whereas the constant formation change and line-up adjustment in the first few months yielded a woeful four wins from the opening 12 weeks.
One of Rodgers’ biggest problems was who to play in midfield. Steven Gerrard found himself injured for a number of weeks and was visibly losing his pace and energy as the season went on. Emre Can was playing as a defender, while the likes of Raheem Sterling and Lazar Markovic were being used as wing backs.
Liverpool’s squad was imbalanced, just like Manchester United, which more often than not leads to players asked to play where they don’t feel comfortable. However, I think Rodgers played some part in his teams bad form, failing to start the correct players when needed.
Liverpool stocked up heavily in midfield over the summer, splashing the cash from the sale of Luis Suarez.
In the previous campaign, we saw a settled midfield of Phillipe Coutinho, Sterling, Gerrard and Jordan Henderson play behind Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez, working so well. Rodgers brought in Markovic and Adam Lallana, players who weren’t necessarily vitally important.
So far, he has brought in James Milner and Roberto Firmino for the upcoming 2015/16 season, once again flooding that midfield birth with a host of internationals. Let’s take a look at who makes up the bulk of the Kops midfield.
Liverpool have at least ten midfield players, all capable of putting in reliable performance, where Rodgers has to settle on choosing possibly four, maybe five, to begin each match.
Having signed four of them in the previous 18 months, with those four all expecting to play regular football, how much pressure does it put on the manager to keep all his players happy? Having stocked up so heavily in midfield, has Rodgers looked straight past the real problem which lies in that of defence and attack?
Being a Premier League manager is a tough job, but it comes with criticism. Many believe Rodgers has had a seriously questionable season in terms of tactics and team choice.
Would it not have made more sense to sign a world class striker who can replace Suarez instead of buying numerous players in positions that were filled so well by the already existing squad members.
Christian Benteke has been purchased, but fans are aware of the injury problems the Belgian has faced in his Premier League years. It remains to be seen whether he can perform at a top club where he is expected to net more than 20 goals in a season. His talent however, is undeniable.
Having started this summer purchasing seven players already, one should really fear for Liverpool. They may have missed their chance to solidify their position in the top four of the Premier League, and it will take something special from this squad to finish in the top four in the season approaching.