1FITG mid-season review: Liverpool
With less than a third of the season left to run, we’re reaching a key period for a number of clubs that still harbour some sort of ambition for the end of the season. In the first of a series of pieces where we’ve asked some of our writers for their thoughts on their team’s season so far, Trebor A gives us his reaction to Brendan Rodgers’s first season at Anfield.
1. So what are your thoughts on Liverpool’s season so far?
The season has been ok so far, in truth. An unconvincing tricky start in the league set off some alarm bells. The team looked unsure, of how to play under Rodgers. That has now changed, and the players are playing with greater fluidity, and composure. You can see that the team is evolving. The cup performances could have been better. I still can’t believe we lost to Oldham. However, doing well in cup competitions didn’t exactly help Kenny much last season.
2. How are you feeling about your chances in the Europa League this season – is it a cup Liverpool should be actively trying to win and will Rodgers prioritise it?
I’m feeling fairly optimistic about the Europa League. We have progressed well, whilst managing to give young players like Suso, Wisdom and Sterling some much-needed European experience. Liverpool have never won the Europa League – so I would like to see us make history this season. There are some big clubs still left in it i.e. Ajax, Tottenham, Napoli, Chelsea and Benfica. Which will certainly make winning it tough. Will Rodgers prioritise it? I don’t think he has much choice – put simply, this is the only competition Liverpool can now win this season.
3. Would you agree that Gerrard has been below par this season?
No, I couldn’t disagree more. Gerrard, like the whole team, started the season slowly. He looked a bit lethargic. This was understandable, considering his involvement in last summer Euros. He has been excellent for a couple of months now though. What people do not seem to understand is that Gerrard is 32 years of age. He can’t run for 90 minutes from box to box anymore. Gerrard is a different player now – more reserved, but still able to produce moments of brilliance. 7 goals and 9 assists in the Premier League testifies to that. He’s the only premier league midfielder to have played every minute of every game this season as well. That is a remarkable feat, taking his age, and past injury record, into consideration.
4. Has Rodgers fundamentally changed the style of play at Liverpool. Do you feel you can progress into the top 4 in the future playing the brand of football that Rodgers is trying to play?
Rodgers and his love of buzz words, calls his football ideals a ‘philosophy’. When in truth it is fundamentally ‘passing football’. Not exactly re-inventing the wheel, is it? However, in fairness to Rodgers, there has been some change. A lot this has been off the pitch i.e. backroom staff, training methods, scouting network etc. Even the formation has changed from last season. Due to this, the teams results have somewhat fluctuated. The football hasn’t always been sparkling or scintillating, and I still can’t help but fret every time the ball is passed around in our own defence. Rodgers is militant about the constant need to keep possession and controlling the game. It can appear to be counter-productive at times. Yet I can sense the players are starting to become more and more comfortable with this. Overall, the style of play has been progressive. Will this brand of football get Liverpool back into the top 4? Hopefully the results will start to match the quality of football. Only then can progress be achieved. I know it might seem a bit cliché, but I can’t help thinking of this team as a ‘work in progress’.
5. Predicted finish in the Premier League this season?
Last summer, before the season started, I said finishing 5th in the Premier League and winning the Europa League should be Liverpool’s target. Nothing in that regard has changed. Obviously, I would love to see Liverpool finish 4th. While that is not improbable, it is possibly a tad unrealistic. So, 5th and winning a European competition – that’ll do for me.