Liverpool after ending the previous campaign on a high with an astonishing second place finish, fans were expecting them to go one better this season. However, things have not gone according to the plan. The Reds of Merseyside started the season poorly and not long ago they where sitting just four points above the relegation zone following the 3-0 drubbing at Old Trafford against Manchester United.
Then Liverpool looked like a ghost of their former selves. They were struggling to match last season form and were struggling to score goals. Their defending neither improved and they were leaking goals from everywhere.
Hence, many were calling to sack Rodgers, but thankfully the board believed in his abilities and stuck by their manager. And rightly so as Liverpool have managed a late revival. Since the trashing at Old Trafford, Liverpool are on a six match unbeaten league run. In that period they have won four and drawn just the two.
Switching to a back-three has been successful
After Liverpool where leaking goals at the back, out went the back four and in came the back three. Three at the back has worked reasonably well for Liverpool atleast in defence since they have conceded just the three goals in their last five league games.
Also fitting the new signing Emre Can in the back three has helped Liverpool’s cause in many ways. Apart from his reliable defensive shifts, Can is also good at initiating attacks from the back. Now the pairing of Skrtel of Sakho along with him at the back looks a lot settled. Another player who has enjoyed the benefits of the back three is Lazar Markovic.
The hard working Serbian was switched to the wing-back position since the introduction of back three. The attacker has thrived so far in the make shift position. As always, the Serb does a reliable job in helping his defenders. Also now he looks more threatening in attack when coming deep from his own half. He got his first and only league goal against Sunderland when playing as a wing-back.
Midfield engine room
When Gerrard was dropped from the starting eleven, many questioned Rodgers decision. As few results went against him, fans were understandably unhappy with the move. However, Rodgers to his credit did not abandon his idea and stuck with the same philosophy which has yield good results lately.
Henderson after temporarily being asked to play in the right wing-back position was finally asked to fill his old central position. His return to the midfield has helped Liverpool a lot, as the Reds have gained more energy in the middle of the park.
Also the return of the little Brazilian Lucas Leiva to the starting eleven has helped the team improve their defensive orgaisation. The Brazilain is never known for his passing abilities and in the new system Rodgers is not asking too much of him but to sit in front of his back three and protect the defence, disrupt the opposition and keep the ball moving to more talented colleagues.
With captain fantastic Steven Gerrard moving in the summer, Liverpool need to find a perfect balance in that area of the midfield. Late signs have shown that Rodgers has somehow managed to keep things ticking without their captain having a huge influence in the game. Though its unlikely he will start the 2015-16 season with the same midfield pair without adding another in the January or summer window. Nonetheless, the recent signs have shown that Liverpool can cope life without Gerrard.
Rodgers has definitely improved Liverpool in his time in-charge
When Rodgers took over from Kenny Daglsih, Liverpool finished the 2011-12 season on eight position after falling below their fierce rivals Everton, who finished seventh. They also lost a bizarre 14 matches in the league that campaign. Their football was neither good, as lower half teams such as Swansea City and the present championship side Wigan Athletic played better football than the Reds.
Rodgers did not turn their fortunes straight away after taking on as he too struggled to improve their position in the league table in his first season. Liverpool finished just a position high on the seventh that season. However, there were promising signs which kept many believing in him and that belief did not go in vein as Liverpool produced an unlikely title challenge last season by finishing second.
Though they failed to maintain the high hopes of producing another title challenge this season around, Liverpool have definitely shown signs latley of improving under their manager. With Suarez sold, Sturridge injured and Mario Balotelli a big mistake, Liverpool have somehow managed to stay in touching distance of the coveted top four spots.
Its unclear whether Liverpool will finish in one of those top four positions, nonetheless late signs such as the spirited 1-1 draw against Chelsea show that Rodgers is somehow managing to get the best out of his available players. Return of Sturridge from injury will definitely be a welcome sign for the manager. So after all the disappoints Liverpool have faced so far, Liverpool fans may yet see the light at the end of the tunnel.
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