This season has been a case of one step forward and two steps back for Liverpool, writes Patrick Norrie.
Such inconsistency can make it difficult for one to make a firm judgement on Brendan Rodgers. However, it may help to contextualise Rodgers’ season with what has happened at the club in the last few years.
The last time Liverpool finished in the top four was in 2008-09, when the club finished second, narrowly missing out on the title. Yet in February 2007, Liverpool were bought by two profiteering Americans in a deal which would lead to one of the most tumultuous periods in the club’s history.
Liverpool were saddled with debt after being purchased via a leverage buyout. Despite their promise to act as ‘custodians’ of the club, the owners instead performed the role of leeches, effectively sucking the life out of the club to such an extent that in 2010, Liverpool were only a day away from administration.
With debts spiralling out of control off the pitch and Roy Hodgson’s lifeless tactics on the pitch, a deep-set malaise infected the club. By the time he was was sacked in January 2011, the club were four points above the relegation zone after 20 games.
Kenny Dalglish did a fantastic job in revitalising the club and providing much-needed stability. Yet a lack of a clearly-defined philosophy on the pitch and in the club’s transfer dealings hampered his initial good work and led to his dismissal, despite the Reds winning the League Cup.
One cannot underestimate how far Liverpool have regressed since the highs of the Rafa Benitez era. Consequently, it was unrealistic to expect Rodgers to lead Liverpool to fourth spot in his first season. After all, it was not long ago Liverpool were in serious danger of becoming the next ‘Leeds’.
Currently Liverpool are seventh, their average position over the past three seasons. Rodgers is therefore doing a decent job, particularly as he is on track to improve on last season’s points tally.
Also, he has presided over a remarkable transformation whereby Liverpool are now second highest scorers in the league - despite having only one fit striker for half a season.
At times Liverpool have played some very attractive football under Rodgers, which is impressive considering it is a transitional season. There are enough grounds for optimism to suggest Liverpool fans can start to look forward rather than backwards.
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