Liverpool FC: 5 Players Who Need to Deliver If Liverpool Are to Finish in Fourth
If individual players fail to perform, the team as a collective unit falls apart. Liverpool underachieved greatly last season and part of the season-long failure was due to individuals not playing anywhere near their expected levels.
If Brendan Rodgers is to achieve Champions League football in the allotted time frame, he must motivate some key players to perform to their respective best levels week in, week out.
Here are five players who are key to Liverpool's success—should they play to their full potential.
It's best to start off with the obvious: Steven Gerrard is pivotal to Liverpool success.
Last season, Gerrard struggled with a persistent groin injury that stopped him gaining any kind of momentum, and Liverpool felt the absence of their best player in midfield.
Ask AC Milan, Everton or Chelsea.... If Gerrard plays to his full breathtaking ability, Liverpool usually win. This driving force will be key if Liverpool are to take next seasons fight for fourth seriously.
That being said, expect Gerrard to be taken off or rested as a precaution often—his legs have seen over a decade of football and inevitably, he is getting on.
However, if Gerrard does deliver, Liverpool will reap the benefits.
Andy Carroll endured a nightmare start to his Liverpool career. A hefty price tag for a relatively unproven forward who looked lazy and clumsy.
One year on, Carroll is showing signs of becoming the forward he had the potential to be. His work rate has tripled. He looks eager to work, and his touch is delicate at times. He has improved in leaps and bounds from the striker who looked for all the world to be a panic buy.
If Carroll can continue—yes, continue—his good form, Liverpool will score more goals, and goals win football matches.
Put two and two together, Carroll's form equals points.
It's pictures like these that seem to unfortunately captivate Charlie Adam's dreadful first season in a Liverpool shirt.
Liverpool fans were once begging for Adam to pull on a Liverpool shirt, but now, some are saying he's not fit to wear it.
For all his "failures," Adam made the most assists for Liverpool last season, and did so missing a large chunk of the run-in.
Adam may not deserve a stating place just yet, but better late than never—ask this man....
I am convinced that part of Liverpool's failure last season was the long-term absence of Lucas Leiva. Lucas may not be the most exciting player going forward, but he acts as an anchor for a somewhat vulnerable—and we are vulnerable—Liverpool side.
Spearing tried to take up the Lucas-shaped hole, and at times looked magnificent, but a bulldog attitude can only take you so far.
Lucas backs up a bulldog-style determination with considerable technical ability, and if he stays fit, he and Gerrard can provide a solid foundation to base the team around.
Essentially, Gerrard and Lucas will be the HUB of the team. Last season, they rarely played together due to injury. No HUB, no team.
Here's hoping the pair stay injury free.
At this moment in time, where Brendan Rodgers, Luis Suarez is the only player likely to start that provides a bit of flair and unpredictability. Joe Cole is a similar player, but is unlikely to feature as much as Liverpol's second-best player.
Suarez needs to deliver. By deliver, I mean the following:
Finishing. Suarez's movement leaves nothing to be desired. His determination too, is second to none. However, his finishing is so often left wanting. The woodwork, goalkeeper or desire to do the incredible have too often got in the way of goals for the Uruguayan.
Too often the chip has been favoured to the old "putting your lace through it". Sometimes it pays off. Sometimes, "it" being one wonder goal in 38 games.
Secondly, and maybe more importantly, his antics.
There's nothing wrong with enthusiasm. In fact, it's a comendable attribute that can't be taught. Suarez takes enthusiasm to a new level, a level where instead of applause, you get eight match bans.
The incident mentioned above is open to debate, but even the most die-hard Liverpool fan (like myself) must admit that Suarez must improve his handling of himself.
Let the football do the talking.
Aside from that, Suarez remains a top-class footballer and will be instrumental to Liverpool next season, and hopefully a couple after that.
Liverpool need a lot more than the mentioned players playing at the top of their game to once again be English champions, but sustained positive performances from Suarez, Gerrard and Lucas in particular would definitely help.
Downing, Henderson and Cole all need to improve greatly from disappointing debut seasons in red, but they will most likely be impact players and for that reason alone are hardly pivotal.
What do you think?
Thanks for reading.