While a lot of fans may (rightly or wrongly) blame Brendan Rodgers for Liverpool’s disastrous season last year, it is most definitely true that a lot of players under-performed and let their manager down. Not just the new signings either; some of Anfield’s long-serving members seem to forget how to play football for a time.
It’s something that cannot continue again, and certain players in particular need to get their heads down and work out how to improve ahead of next season.
Dejan Lovren is one such player. Personally I have given up on the player, and I suspect the only reason he’s not getting sold is because he cost us £20m only 12 months ago and FSG would have to take a significant loss in order to shift him. I get the sense that if Lovren had a partner capable of leading the line who would also cover him whenever he made mistakes, he would begin to improve and even make a decent centre back for us down the line.
But considering Rodgers will never let him play with Sakho (on account of them both being left-footed), Skrtel can barely be capable of having a decent game himself at times and Moreno still makes positional errors on the left, we’d have to rely on a brand new CB to come in and though we’ve already acquired Joe Gomez, I’d be surprised if he can just slot in and prove a good foil for Lovren, as great as his plaudits are from Charlton.
As it stands, Lovren needs a small miracle if he’s ever going to prove himself worthy of being one of the Reds’ first choice defenders.
Speaking of Moreno, he also has more to give. While he didn’t have a terrible season and scored a couple of good goals, he is still prone to making defensive errors and will often leave the left flank exposed upon making his forays up the field (though whether that’s his fault or his team mates for not covering him I’m not sure). On top of that, his delivery into the box is usually poor. Moreno almost always picks the wrong option for a cross, either floating the ball into someone or just messing it up completely and to the point where he ends up kicking out of play. If he can minimise his individual errors and improve his final ball, he could be a great asset for us next season.
Markovic could also be listed here, but unlike the others we knew that he would need time to develop. He was 20 when we bought him and despite looking impressive for Benfica, it was expected that it would take him a while to settle here and get used to the English football. The belief was always that he would be world class in 2-3 years, not immediately.
With 1 year gone though, Markovic needs to start moving quickly. He did impress a little in the middle of the season, but much more is needed if he’s to fully realise his potential in the next couple of years. Hopefully this year Rodgers will be able to utilise him to his full potential.
The main case though is Adam Lallana. At £25m, many thought he would be one of our main creative forces last season, capable of the same brilliance that led us to sign him from Southampton. However, injuries blighted his season and prevented him from playing his best football. Rodgers was always willing to give him games to get his fitness back and play him into form, but just when it looked like he might be on the cusp of something inspiring, he’d pick up another injury.
The general consensus seems to be that Lallana is not injury prone as he never had problems this often for his previous club, so hopefully he can stay clear of the treatment table next year. If he does, we might just see something special.
Of course, there are a few others in need of improvement. Balotelli, Lambert and Borini all need to step up if they want to play this season, but all the signs seem to say that Liverpool want to sell all three this summer. With Origi arriving following a season-long loan, Ings recently signed and the club looking to recruit one more top striker to replace the injured Daniel Sturridge, it would seem that time is up for our current three forwards.
If we can clear out some of last season’s deadwood and continue the good work done so far though, we could have a truly great squad for the time since Rafa.
Wouldn’t it be great to have the best midfield in the world again?