After a positive pre-season, Liverpool began their competitive campaign with two wins over FC Gomel of Belarus in Europa League qualifying before losing their Premier League opener 3-0 at the Hawthorns against West Bromwich Albion.
After securing their place in the Europa League group stage with an aggregate victory over Hearts, Liverpool have gone on to win only one league game (5-2 against Norwich) with defeats against Arsenal and Manchester United coupled with disappointing draws against Stoke City and Sunderland leaving Liverpool in 14th place in the league.
The cup competitions have offered a glimmer of hope for silverware with the Reds avenging their opening day defeat by beating West Brom in the Capital One Cup third round. Liverpool also beat Young Boys in their first Europa League group game, but were defeated at Anfield recently by Udinese.
It is difficult to distinguish who exactly is to blame for Liverpool’s poor start to the season but the performance of some of the players so far this season has to be brought into questioning. The four players that we at Live4Liverpool think need to step up their efforts and improve their performances, or risk being moved on in the next transfer window, are:
The England international has fell out of favour recently and failed to even make the bench for the recent Premier League game against Stoke City. His attitude since losing his place in the team has been nothing short of a disgrace and, with Downing being one of the senior players at the club, the example he is showing the younger players is not a commendable one. Who can blame Rodgers for dropping the left winger? Downing has yet to score a single goal or even claim an assist in the Premier League since his arrival in the summer of 2011. The midfielder must improve his attitude and work rate if he is to regain his place in the first team and when given a chance by Rodgers, Downing has to grab it with both hands and impress the staff and the fans in the process.
The full-back began his Liverpool career with so much promise that the left-back problem that had presented itself at Liverpool, since John-Arne Riise dropped that clanger in the Champions League semi-final against Chelsea in 2008, appeared to be a thing of the past. However, after a superb first half to the season the Spaniard’s form dipped in the latter months and almost became a liability at the back. Enrique has continued his poor form going into this season and has also picked up a few niggling injuries along the way which hasn’t helped his cause.
For me, the fact that Liverpool haven’t brought in adequate cover at left-back and have often been employing Glen Johnson in what is an unfamiliar position for the right-sided player has proved to be the downfall for Enrique. The ex-Newcastle man has probably had the attitude that he will earn a place in the team regardless of his efforts in training or his current form, and his level of performances has subsequently suffered because of this. Of course, Jack Robinson is held in high regard at Anfield but whether he is currently ready to step up to the plate of first-team player has yet to be decided. If Rodgers can secure the signature of a left-back in January then the fans can see exactly how Enrique reacts but between now and then, the Spaniard must make huge strides towards maximising his potential or run the risk of leaving the club he worked hard to earn a move to.
The disappointing tale of Joe Cole is one that has baffled the majority of Liverpool fans since he put pen to paper on a contract following his release from Chelsea in the summer of 2010. Despite having an illustrious career in the capital and earning himself a reputation of a feared attacking midfielder, Cole has yet to impress on a consistent basis in a red shirt. In his first season he managed 32 appearances for Liverpool, but scored just three goals and put in a lot of below-par performances. When Kenny Dalglish took over he decided to send Joe Cole out on loan to French side Lille for the season, and the England international took to Ligue 1 particularly well and had a largely effective season.
Since returning to Merseyside though, Cole has struggled with his fitness and has played just three games so far this season; however it is his work rate and attitude that has seen Liverpool fans questioning his commitment from day one. Now that he has regained fitness, Cole has an opportunity to impress but unless he makes a massive improvement it is widely expected that Rodgers will look to let him go in January, especially with his mammoth wages taking up a large chunk of Liverpool’s wage budget.
It was no secret that Liverpool used Jordan Henderson as a negotiation tactic in an attempt to finalise a deal for Clint Dempsey on transfer deadline day. It was only his reluctance to move that stopped the midfielder from transferring to Fulham in a swap deal. This, coupled with the fact that Henderson has not been involved a great deal this season, suggests that Henderson may not be thought of highly by the staff at Melwood, and could be considered close to the list of players Rodgers would be willing to sacrifice in order to gather funds together ready for an assault on the transfer window.
The manager has previously described Henderson as a great talent and believes the England international will one day become a great player, but with Liverpool’s current financial situation not a positive one, and with the Reds currently housing a small squad, the club may look to sell the likes of Henderson. With this thought quite possibly in the back of the mind of the young lad, he must take every opportunity he gets between now and January in a red shirt and show the fans and the staff that he is the real deal.
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