Liverpool’s worst start to a season in 22 years has put Brendan Rodgers under real pressure, but it’s somewhere he has been before.
I’ve read so many articles over the weeks on who’s to blame at Liverpool and what the reasons are for their decline, but it’s very easy to start pointing the blame at certain people within the club.
Over the season, Balotelli has been the scapegoat along with Gerrard and the problems in hand are bigger than both of them.
Losing a world class striker like Suarez would be a blow to any team but all over social media this week I have seen such things as ‘shows how much Liverpool relied on Suarez’.
To say Liverpool relied on Suarez last season is an easy statement to make, however he didn’t carry Liverpool in the way Gareth Bale did for Spurs when they finished 5th under AVB and narrowly missed out on 4th on the last day of the season.
Suarez netted 31 goals with Sturridge tallying 24, Skrtel got 7 goals, Gerrard hit 14 and Sterling 10 in all competitions – so where is this ‘over-reliance’ on Suarez all of a sudden coming from?
The answer is that it’s easy for neutrals to point at an under performing team and say it’s because ‘Suarez isn’t there anymore’, but if you take your two best players out of the picture, Suarez and Sturridge, then the problem is much greater.
Suarez was suspended for the first few games of last season but the Reds had Daniel Sturridge at their disposal and didn’t look out of sorts at all, winning games and scoring goals. But the Reds don’t have that luxury this time around with the England international picking up two injuries, the second of which will now keep him out until the New Year.
Rodgers has tinkered and changed his starting 11 so many times this season that most fans probably don’t know who’s going to start, especially in the full back positions. Glen Johnson has been in and out, along with Javi Manquillo and Alberto Moreno who has been our only positive from what is so far, a dismal season.
Some will say that Rodgers has had to change things up because of injuries but I think he is a manager who is trying new ideas but unfortunately it is unsettling the team – how are they meant to get any rhythm?
Back to basics
It’s very clear for everyone to see that it’s back to basics for the Liverpool players. Rodgers needs to address the defense by picking his strongest back four and sticking to it. I think Liverpool would benefit from employing a defensive coach because there’s no shame in sitting back sometimes in a game and digesting the pressure collectively as a team and being hard to beat.
The woes of Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard must be partnered with someone in midfield beside him but he can’t be the last man in front of the back four. Without Sturridge in the team, he can’t play the holding role because Lambert of Borini don’t run the channels like Sturridge does so he isn’t able to ping them passes he is more than capable of making, forward.
Teams have targeted Gerrard as the weak spot in the team and pressed him all over the pitch because they know without Sturridge in the team, his options are limited when on the ball.
This is where Liverpool would benefit from leaving a defensive midfielder in there to clean up Gerrard’s mistakes he is forced into making by the opposition. He is so isolated in midfield and he needs that cover and that support by either Lucas or Emre Can.
The part of Liverpool’s decline I have found most frustrating is Rodgers selection of Balotelli upfront. Balotelli is selected as the lone striker time and time again when it’s clear it’s not working and then late on in the game, Rodgers brings on another striker when things aren’t going to plan and we are chasing the game.
Did Ballotelli look out of place at White Hart Lane alongside Sturridge?
Ballotelli was monstrous at White Hart Lane next to Sturridge, his strength and touch on the ball gave the Spurs back four so many problems, especially when this left space for Sturridge and Sterling to run in to and cause problems all afternoon.
Ballotelli needs a striker beside him to flourish, with Sturridge out, it has to be Borini. I’ve ruled Lambert out because he’s quite similar to Mario, his game isn’t pressing the ball, but it’s something Fabio Borini does well and he works extremely hard for the team.
Borini can be Liverpool’s new Dirk Kuyt – not a mind blowing player to watch but a player that is capable of scoring a goal and running his socks off and best of all, he can score goals when it matters – as he demonstrated at Sunderland last season.
It’s time that the manager put in players that are two things:
1. His best players
2. The hardest workers
With Liverpool’s game against Ludogorets in the Champions League tonight, it’s time they pulled together and big changes must be made. It’s not about playing good football anymore (which Brendan Rodgers seems to think is more important than winning), it’s about being a team again and finding that team that finished second in the league last season and rn Manchester City so close to the title.
So to all of those worried Liverpool fans, just remember…. Brendan Rodgers never said it was going to be ‘easy’ and we are still on that long hard journey.
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