One word sums up the Liverpool we have seen over the last five years or more: mediocre.
Going into this weekend’s fixtures, however, the Reds are top of the pile and have come an incredibly long way under the leadership of Brendan Rodgers.
The Northern Irishman’s move to Anfield in June 2012 even raised a few eyebrows as to whether there was any point in leaving Swansea, a fellow mid-table club.
Rodgers, though, has taken a year to reshape his squad and, without wanting to be too harsh to Stewart Downing or Jay Spearing, sifted out the dead wood. Luis Suarez, on the other hand, has remained and in spite of his seemingly universal unpopularity among other fans, Liverpool pulled off one of the moves of the summer by deterring Arsenal from the Uruguayan.
Liverpool appear to have survived the loss of veteran defender Jamie Carragher, who retired at the end of last season after an illustrious career, and have brought in Kolo Toure, another experienced head and a leader in the dressing room.
At the same time, Daniel Sturridge has another year under his belt and his maturity this season has been plain for all to see, winning the early season golden boot if such a thing existed.
Perhaps the most crucial change has been between the sticks, where Pepe Reina had not looked at home for two years, with the signing of Simon Mignolet from Sunderland. Reina, albeit somewhat conspicuously, has been sent off to Napoli on loan rather in the manner of a boy being sent off to boarding school by parents tired of his antics. Mignolet, Sturridge and Coutinho have all won plaudits this season, particularly in the most vital of all victories, the 1-0 against Manchester United at Anfield.
Andy Carroll, Jonjo Shelvey and Fabio Borini have all departed Merseyside for other Premier League outfits.
The difference between this season and last appears to be that Rodgers has drawn a line between players worthy of the Premier League, and those that could ply their trade in the Champions League.
Rodgers has essentially done what Roy Hodgson wasn’t given time to do under the Fenway Sports Group. According to the man himself, Liverpool have no chance of making an unexpected title bid despite their promising start.
The Reds may have won a League Cup in 2012 under Kenny Dalglish (their first major trophy since 2006), but it gave the impression of simply papering over the cracks. It may be too early to talk of the titles, but a Champions League place this year would surely surpass that achievement considering where they have come from in the past few years.
Speaking about Liverpool Football Club, the winners of 18 league titles, in such terms may seem strange, but that has been the reality. Under Rodgers, however, Liverpool seem to have finally turned a corner.
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