Wow what a roller coaster ride we have been given as Liverpool fans this season.Rather than diving straight in as soon as the last game was over I have taken some time to reflect on what was and what could have been before spouting forth in the Net. I know an unusual approach for me.
So lets look at the stats first:
We finished 2nd with 84 points, our largest Premier League haul.
We missed out on being Champions by 3 points.
We scored over 100 League Goals! Amazing.
We scored 3 or more goals in a total of 21 of our League matches. Unbelievable.
Sturridge and Suarez scored more than 50 goals in the League together not done since Toshack and St John!
Suarez won the Golden Boot,Premier League Player of the Year and Football Writer's award.
Suarez,Sturridge and Gerrard were all picked in the Premier League Team of the year.
Based on the above we have clearly been amazing and over achieved. We have a relatively small squad which in relation to our peers has been 'cheaply' assembled.
6 Defenders used with 15 or more appearances.
6 Midfielders used with 20 or more appearances (4 of those with over 30).
Just the SAS up front.
Its really not a lot. The other amazing factor Brendan Rogers consistently tinkered with the formation without really changing the personnel. Most weeks it was really only who was playing with Skrtel that was up for grabs otherwise it was Mignolet, Johnson, Skrtel, Flanagan, Gerrard, Henderson, Sterling, Countinho,Sturridge Suarez. Towards the end of the season Lucas' return and Joe Allen got a bit more game time but really consistent selection.
A lot was made of our not playing in Europe being an assisting factor in us being able to recover and have 4 or 5 days every week to prepare for the next match. That being said the the players still have to focus and produce. For that they deserve a lot of credit, especially as other than Johnson, Suarez and Sturridge none of them have been involved in a title race in a Major European League before.
I have been ultimately amazed by what we have done this season. Yes we didn't win anything and in the end came up short and were naive at times but wow if this is what we are in for under Rogers then long may it continue, shredded nerves and all.
On the negative side, we really need to sort out our woeful defending. 50 League goals conceded, that is bottom half of the table defending. Only 10 clean sheets. We conceded 2 or more goals 16 times. Worryingly, 4 of those in the last 5 matches as we pushed to win it and ultimately what cost us.
Last season was the same but we lacked the cutting edge. We can't continue to have to score 3 or 4 goals every week to win this is not a console game. We will not have the same impressive run of results against the other top 7 sides. We beat all comers except Chelski and lost to Arsenal and City at their grounds. That was amazing, can we do it again surely not..
Our defensive frailty is down to several factors which Brendan Rogers
must address. Last season was the same but we lacked the cutting edge up front resulting in a poor overall finish. We cant go back there.
Consistent back 4 - We haven't had one. This was down to several factors, injury (Agger and Sakho),lack of form (Toure,Agger,Cisskho and Sakho). No other options - Glen Johnson - we play him every week even though he is completely useless. Bizarrely Skrtel, who in the last week of the transfer window in August looked to be on the way out, has become a defensive stalwart.
Individual Errors - Far too many individual errors at the back. Toure,Johnson,Sakho,Mignolet and even Skrtel make too many poor decisions and errors. Week in week out.
Positioning - The way we play demands the fullbacks push on, fair enough. Glen Johnson however does it all the time, regardless of where the ball is or if possession is secure or not. That's not right. Flanagan on the other side only goes once he knows we have secure possession and he is 19 and playing on the wrong side as he is right footed.....
When is Johnson is 'defending' he doesn't jockey, show player the line, stay goal side, tackle with his right foot, block crosses, mark space, cover, anticipate danger etc. Basically he cant defend. In the centre we are equally as poor.
Defensive Line - We defend too deep in and around our box. The 18 yard line is your Alamo as a defender. The penalty spot is your last stand in the Armoury. All defenders at every level of the game know this but we don't seem to grasp it. We don't push out and pressure space.
Lack of Leadership - None of our defenders is a talker or a leader and I include Mignolet in that. If the centrebacks aren't talkers then the Keeper must be. End of.
Lets hope the lessons of falling short will stand them in good stead for
next season. Not that I think we will be mounting a title tilt again. I
think we should be sticking to the 5 year plan which is Top 4 for a
couple and then have dart at it.
I know that appears pessimistic but I would say its realistic. City will
buy heavily as always both in financial and quality terms.Chelski with
have a Moaninho clear out and will actually sign a striker. Martin
Skrtel and Jordan Henderson scored more League goals between them than
all 3 of Chelski's misfiring miscreants.
So for me that leaves us on the next tier with Arsenal who must surely start spending now that their Stadium is paid for. In this era of 'Financial Fairplay' they must surely be financial heavyweights. Their unwillingness to loosen the purse strings cant go on for much longer, even under Wenger.
ManUre will come again but even under Van Gaal I cant see them being a Top 4 team next season. Their whole defence is poor, their central midfield is mediocre at best (Carrick and Cleverly will not win you a bean or get in the Fulham team). In attack they have impressive weapons in Shrek,RVP, Janouzai and Mata but harnessing them in co-ordinated way is the challenge. Big changes required and will take more than 1 summer to fix especially with a World Cup and the over inflated transfer market.
Everton, like us, have punched above their weight under Martinez. He has basically taken Moyes squad made a few shrewd additions and they have been excellent. Lukaku,Barry and Delafeau are 3 of the best loan signings of the season. Can they repeat it next season dont think so. Spurs have underperformed but that always seems to be their issue. Buying 6 players almost exactly the same with Gareth Bale money was insane. Most of them haven't turned up and don't look likely to thankfully.
So to individual performances and my traditional scores on the doors.
Mignolet - 6/10 - Started well with a pen save against Stoke and 4 clean-sheets. A great shot stopper but atrocious with his feet. A vampire at crosses. Doesn't dominate his 6 yard box which for someone his height that is shocking. Doesn't talk. He must work on these. I still think he is a better option than Reina. If Vorm is coming I would say his position is under threat.
Glen Johnson - 2/10. I have said more than enough about this over-rated clown. If he was providing assists and scoring you might give him a break but he hasn't delivered there either. He has been rinsed by the likes of Gouffran, Bolasie, Dejegah. England's best right back... REALLY?? He gets 2/10 because he seems to wear the right kit every week and his boots tend to match and look like they are on the right feet! Transfer list for me. Bacary Sagna is available.. just saying.....
Martin Skrtel - 6/10. A warrior who always puts his body on the line but not a leader. Not great with the ball at his feet and likes to dive in. He needs to sort that out. He would have scored higher as with 6 goals he has been awesome at set-pieces but he has scored almost as many O-G's.
Dan Agger - 5/10. Constantly injured, weak in the air against physically strong opponents. Doesn't lead when he plays which is Vice Club Captain he should at the back. Not sure if he will be here next season. No great loss.
Jon Flanagan - 7/10. Just 19 playing as a right footed left back, rarely out of position, rarely gets skinned, loves a tackle and scored a rasper against Spurs! Well done young man, great 1st full season. next season's 1st choice right back for me.
Mamadu Sakho - 4/10. £18 million defender, French International. REALLY??? He looks like a more awkward than Djimi Traore if that is even possible. Looks completely out of his depth with the pace of the English game. Doesn't look great on the ball, drops too deep. Only positive he has pace. Hopefully he will be better next season otherwise this goes down as another Rogers/Ayre transfer disaster.
Ally Cissokho - 1/10. Thankfully only on loan.Makes Glen Johnson look good. As unco-ordinated as Sakho if that's possible. USELESS!
Kolo Toure - 3/10. Brought in as emergency cover played reasonably well in the early games and was taking responsibility. Once he lost his place he never looked the same. Fulham away and West Brom clangers were his legacy for the season.
Stevie G - 7/10. Adapted to his new role really well. His crosses from wide free-kicks were awesome and he has even improved his corners which have been woeful for years, hence we have scored more goals from corners than most this season. At 34, can he give us 1 more season? With Champions League commitments we need proper cover here.Not sure Lucas is the answer.
Jordan Henderson - 7/10. I have and am still eating humble pie on this one. Finally starting to deliver on the promise he showed at Sunderland. He has added goals, killer passes and channelling his headless chicken running into intelligent closing down. Hopefully more to come for the lad.
Joe Allen - 5/10. Still not convinced that this is an £18Mill player or indeed a 1.8Mill player. A late season flurry showed some of what he can do but don't see him as a regular starter. Needs to do more or transfer list for me.
Phillippe Coutinho - 7/10. Not as spectacular as his half season last year but still effective. Probably needs more goals for the chances and shoots he has. Still 5 goals and 7 assists is pretty decent for the pint-sized player.
Raheem Sterling - 8.5/10. Breakthrough season for Raheem. After being over used last season and having too many off field distractions he has certainly blossomed. 9 goals and 7 assists is a good return, like Coutinho could probably get a few more goals. I have scored him higher because he has sometimes single-handedly destroyed teams. For me he should be a starter for England's World Cup games. Dont think the Itailians or Uraguayians want to see this guy running at them.
Lucas Lieva - 6/10. Ronseal player, does what it says on the tin. Lacks pace and goals but does a good job.Not sure if he will be at Anfield next season.
Victor Moses - 0/10. Another completely useless loanee. £10Mill to Chelsea, not making it there, get a chance with another big club and proceeds to do absolutely nothing. Needs to look himself in the mirror and across the training ground at Lukaku. Thats how a loanee should play....
Daniel Sturridge - 9/10. What a player. I have always been a fan since he burst on to the scene at Man City. Together with Suarez they are not far off the deadliest duo in Europe. Long may it continue.
Luiz Suarez - 9.999/10. Well you have to leave some room for improvement! What can you say. I donty like or agree with a lot of his behaviour on or off the pitch but what a player. Ronaldo,Messi,Suarez, That's where he is for me. We are very lucky to have him. If we don't win League or Champs League next season (both unlikely) he will be off. But £200 million will be a nice transfer fee!
All in all an amazing season for a relatively young and inexperienced squad. Brendan Rogers has said he wants to add quality IE players who will improve/contribute to starting 11. That seems to have started with the addition of Rickie Lambert ( not convinced other than as cover). Fabio Borini had a great loan season at Sunderland and certainly deserves more game time.
£25Mill bid on the table for Adam Lallana. A bit steep but that's what you pay for English players. A possible bids for Sevilla left back Moreno also looks promising.
I will post soon re transfers etc and my ins and out for the squad.
- I have been a Red since I was about 6 or 7. My boyhood hero was Kenny Dalglish and I have an autograph from him while he was still at Celtic. Thanks Gran! As such I gravitated towards the team he played for. So I have been Scottish-South African- Scoucer for about 30 years now! I am extremely passionate about our club, and have felt the need to start this blog in the face of the abject nature of our performaces under Benitez and the Hicks/Gillett ownership.