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Why Can’t Liverpool Get Over The Hump?

 Posted by on February 5, 2014 at 7:54 pm  Blogs/Media, England, EPL, Liverpool
Feb 052014

Two steps forward and one step back.

Seems like that’s the way the 2013-14 season has unfolded for Liverpool so far. Kolo Toure’s momentary lapse in judgment (or possibly ability) cost Liverpool a crucial two points just days after the Reds stomped cross town rivals Everton. Liverpool have also fallen to Hull City and loss massive fixtures against Manchester City and Chelsea right before the January transfer window opened. And speaking of said window, Brendan Rodgers And Co. missed out on another high profile target at the deadline.

So why can’t this team seem to get over the “hump”?

The first place you might look is at the medical report. Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge, Lucas, and Glen Johnson have all missed significant time at various points this season. However, the team has still managed to perform well in their respective absences. It’s hard to blame it on a lack of talent given the level Luis Suarez and Sturridge are at right now, not to mention how Steven Gerrard has reinvented himself as a holding midfielder and Mamadou Sakho has revealed himself to be the team’s best defender. Despite missing out on Ukraine’s Yevhen Konoplyanka, this team is still good enough to comfortably secure a Top 4 position.

That takes us to the manager: Brendan Rodgers.

When everything has gone right this season, Reds fans have been happy to point to Rodgers. We praise Fenway Sports Group for having the patient to stick with him and giving him enough time to bring in players who fit his specific system. And to Rodgers’ credit, he has produced the most exciting team to watch in all of England. Liverpool are playing attractive football and, despite the draw against West Brom, still find themselves in fourth place heading into their match this weekend against Arsenal.

On Tuesday, Swansea fired manager Michael Laudrup despite an impressive record given the club’s status/resources. The Dane took the Swans to their best ever finish in the top flight and a Europa League Round of 32 appearance. He also did so with a keen eye for talent and a very thin checkbook. But clearly the club felt the team could do better and that Laudrup has perhaps taken this current team as far as it can go; Swansea have suffered some pretty poor results this season.

With his dismissal many have quickly pointed out that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has now been in charge of the Gunners longer than the rest of the current EPL managers’ combined tenures. In the world of “modern football” it’s all about “what have you done for me lately?”. This got me thinking about Rodgers and Liverpool. What if the Reds should finish outside the Top 4 after having such an incredible first half of the season? What if more results like Hull and West Brom trickle in throughout the second half of the season? What if Arsenal are able to soundly defeat Liverpool again with the latter struggling mightily to hold onto the last coveted Champions League place?

Is it fair to blame Brendan Rodgers?

Some managers do in fact have a shelf life and can only take a team so far. If every manager was Sir Alex Ferguson, there would be a different Top 4 every season. It takes a special person to consistently take their team to Europe. What if Brendan Rodgers isn’t that kind of manager? What he isn’t able to will his teams over the hump? Would Liverpool be right to sack him at the end of this season if they finish outside the Top 4?

It’s too early to speculate and ask those questions, but it is worth considering. I’ve written in the past about how Liverpool cannot continue to fall behind their direct rivals when it comes to attracting the top talent necessary for consistent European success. Time will tell whether or not Rodgers can take that step with this team and restore them to glory.

Adam Uthe

VP of Content Development for GFT and proud supporter of Columbus Crew (MLS) and Liverpool FC (EPL). @AUtheGFT

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