The 2014-15 season was disappointing by any yardstick for Liverpool with a cloud of negativity descending over Anfield. The resurgence came too late in the campaign but any positives were quickly washed away by a dismal end to the campaign. The fixtures have dealt Liverpool a difficult start to the upcoming season. However, this represents an opportunity rather than a problem for Brendan Rodgers, argues Aakriti Mehrotra.
Liverpool endured a horrible campaign last season. There was however, a 13 game unbeaten run which makes many wonder if the season was as terrible as is being suggested in various articles and on social media platforms. The short answer is yes, it was. Liverpool failed to meet any of their intended goals from the season and more importantly, did so in a horrible fashion. In the last month, there was absolutely no identity left in their game and the players were playing without any purpose. The last game of the season ended in an embarrassing 6-1 defeat for Liverpool, a game which was Steven Gerrard’s last in the Red jersey. This game could be cast off as dead rubber but it would be incredibly naïve to do so.
There was considerable doubt on the position of Brendan Rodgers at the end of the season and needless to say, most Liverpool fans were vocal in their wish of wanting the Northern Irishman sacked, which was only made more intense by the availability of a certain charismatic German. FSG however, thought that a lot of factors worked against Rodgers, of which he didn’t have much control and decided to give the former Swansea boss another season.
Liverpool’s opening run of fixtures in the league have given the fans a big scare. How can a team that started so poorly in relatively easier fixtures (last season) come back after the lows of last time and get more points in tougher circumstances? Moreover, how can Brendan Rodgers do the same? These are sincere disquiets. Trips to Stoke City (on the opening weekend), Arsenal, Manchester United, Everton, Spurs and Chelsea don’t make for a kind reading. The list is bettered, only slightly, with some home games against Bournemouth, West Ham United, Norwich in between, but who can disprove that overall, Liverpool have been dealt with a daunting list. There is a general consensus that the Reds have the most difficult start to the season.
I would like to argue that while a kinder fixture list would have helped Rodgers in another way (five wins in the first five games would certainly help exorcise last season’s demons), a tougher start might help the Northern Irishman more. What better way is there to pacify the disgruntled and sullen Liverpool fan base, majority of whom are waiting for him to still be sacked, than by managing Liverpool to some convincing performances, wins and points in these tough (away) games? Emphasis has to be on performance as this is what the supporters grew extremely tired of. Only Philippe Coutinho and Simon Mignolet were “performing” well in the last few games, only the two seemed to care. Rodgers needs to instil positivity in the dressing room and ensure every player is pumped to start off well and give the Liverpool supporters something to cheer about. Life will be made difficult mid-September when the club have to start playing on Thursday nights which makes it all the more necessary to have decent number of points and position in the league table by then.
The fixture list also makes it all the more necessary for Liverpool owners to go and add quality players to ensure Liverpool are not left in an embarrassing position in the start to the season. Rodgers helped Liverpool get out of a hapless mess once he introduced the 3-4-2-1 formation but that resurgence, the 13 game unbeaten streak proved to be too little too late. Liverpool have plenty of talent for the future. Surely it is time FSG back some signings which can go on and make an immediate impact. “We’ve enough potential and players we can develop and improve. But I think it is definitely starters we [now] need and we have to be really forceful to get them”, Rodgers said quite rightly back in April.
Landing tomorrow’s winners is all good, but who is going to do the job today? The money from what looks like the inevitable sale of Raheem Sterling must be used wisely, especially for a single most significant acquisition – a quality striker.
Rodgers has got the green light from FSG to continue as the Reds boss, a second chance the likes of Houllier and Benitez never got. It is time for him to win over the disaffected fans. The “Rodgers Out” banners might have been a work of a mischievous rival fan base, but most Liverpool fans were happy that their message got across. Fans who have sympathized with the 44 year-old, thinking whatever could go wrong, did go wrong for him last season, are also running out of patience. These fans and their genuine concern shouldn’t be dismissed away as the work of keyboard warriors. These are people who invest a lot of heart into the club and deserve something favourable simply for the amount of emotion they put into the team. Not to mention the fans who come to watch the team play and spend their hard earned cash travelling home and away.
And it would be a massive winning statement on his part to use the tough start to the season as the perfect opportunity to placate these fans, by winning them over with points and performances instead of using it as an excuse for an embarrassing position in the table.
Written by Aakriti Mehrotra