Still suffering a hangover from Liverpool’s 3-1 capitulation at the hands of West Ham, I’ve found myself reading many tweets about where things have gone wrong. Fingers are being pointed at individual players and even at a manager who was so correctly lauded last season. To make things worse, the Super Sunday game has started with Manchester United’s ‘Van Gaalacticos’ looking like a top class team again. How have things turned so bad, so quickly?
The answer is simple really, it starts with the sale of Luis Suarez and ends with the current squad. Losing Suarez was a catastrophic blow to the Reds and many fans brushed it off as if it wouldn’t matter. ‘We managed without Owen, Torres etc.’ Maybe that was the case in some respects, but the reality is we have never had a player as gifted as Suarez in the Premier League era.
What has become crystal clear to me is we aren’t just missing his goals, but his ability to keep the opposition occupied for an entire 90 minutes. Forget about the bans, how often was Suarez injured? Never. He was vital to our success and we were naive to think we could replace his influence with a deeper squad.
The theory was that we couldn’t necessarily replace his goals, so we will strengthen our defence to compensate a little. So far it’s not working. There isn’t a single member of our defensive unit that inspires confidence defensively and the time it takes for them to improve is going to cost us dearly. In the meantime, we haven’t got the firepower available to out score opponents like we did last season.
I’m not here to criticise Rodgers in any way, I feel sorry for him, because fans are already getting on his back. I’m also not pointing out individual players because at this stage I feel that is unfair. Replacing Suarez is an impossible job, but I would have preferred to see the likes of Di Maria, Falcao or Sanchez come in as a direct replacement. Again, the reality is Liverpool have never been able to sign players of that proven quality.
The flip side of all this is we do have a deeper squad full of potential, but that means that we as fans have got to settle for a battle to get back into the top 4 rather than a title challenge. Anything else will be a bonus. A Suarez inspired Liverpool overachieved last season and this has distorted the expectations of many Liverpool fans. We have to accept we are still building. Our financial position doesn’t allow us to go head to head with United, City, Chelsea and Arsenal. It is something we are working towards and our stadium development will help towards that goal. What we must not do is lose patience with Rodgers and start abusing individual players. We need to stick together because we are in for a bumpy ride.