AFTER the heroic but ultimately disappointing defeat to Zenit St Petersburg, our season is over. We don’t have a chance to emulate the cup success of last season and must instead look towards the end of the season and how we can end it on a high note.
And I do firmly believe that we can still do that. After a shaky start we have rapidly been improving with an aberration here and an aberration there.
We can’t win anything but we can get a run of good form going, something we can’t seem to do. Here are a few ways I think we can use the remaining ten games in a positive fashion to leave us in good stead.
We just need to end the season with a bang. The pressure is off, we have very little to play for other than an outside chance of European football, we just need to demonstrate how we’re going to size up next season. We need to show ourselves what we’re capable of more than anything. There is some serious talent in this team that needs to develop some mental strength. The remainder of the season should be used to see who is tough and who isn’t.
My first target is to win three league games in a row. We haven’t done that since 2010. It’s criminal, and it’s infuriating to watch teams come within reach only to escape again because we can’t go on a run. After drubbing Swansea and Wigan in consecutive games, the acid test is against Spurs. If we win that we’re suddenly three wins on the spin.
With the run of fixtures being easier than most teams, we really should be looking at winning at least 9 of the 11 games. We probably won’t – and that’s the problem. If we do, 3 needs to become 4, 4 needs to become 5 etc etc; we need to have a high quality run without poor results punctuating the fixtures. We haven’t won three league games on the spin since 2010. That has to change.
We also need to establish what is going to happen at centre-half. After the way Skrtel was (rightly) bombed out after his embarrassing “performance” at Oldham and his bizarre comments this week about not believing Rodgers’ reasons for dropping him, questions have to be asked about his long term future. I like him but there is significant room for doubt that he’s going to be sticking around.
The truth is that he has not been as good as last season and has made some horrendous individual errors. If he’s off, so be it, use the rest of the season to give either Kelly or Wisdom some time in their natural position at centre-half. So Agger and A.N. Other. At the moment, Carragher, also Coates is a possibility but after his displays against Mansfield and Oldham you’d also guess his days are numbered and he doesn’t feature long term.
With us seemingly heading in the right direction, especially since our January dealings which so far look excellent, we should, providing they are fit, get Daniel Sturridge and Coutinho to play every minute we possibly can. They both need games and fitness. Sturridge in particular needs game time under his belt as he is essential to our new found lease of life. I want them both fit and ready to go and to know their team-mates’ games inside out by the end of the season to take into next.
Ultimately whatever we do now isn’t going to be enough and a lack of silverware is going to be used as a yardstick. I can’t say we’ve gone backwards because I don’t see evidence of that on the pitch by and large. What I do see is a young team growing with a young manager taking them in the right direction. However, we won a trophy last year and lost in a final, we’ve not got even close to that this season and that is how football works – trophies.
So it’s a season of disappointment ultimately, but I think it’s a season of short-term pain for long-term gain. I think the green shoots of recovery from the Hicks and Gillett era are growing.
We need to make sure they grow in the right direction for the rest of the season and give the fans some cause for optimism, because that feeling has been scarce since Athens.
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