Liverpool FC: Reds Need More Than Just 1 Player for Top 4 Competition
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All summer long, there have been many fans and writers attempting to explain how one player or another is the answer to Liverpool's Champions League aspirations.
Here's the bitter truth: No one player is going to do that for Liverpool. Not Adam Johnson. Not Cristian Tello. Not Gaston Ramirez. Not Clint Dempsey. Not any single one.
Granted, bringing in new talent that will acquiesce to the way Brendan Rodgers wants to play will be crucial to his success at Anfield, but there are a lot more pressing questions that need to be answered in order for Liverpool to get back on top, and Rodgers seems to realize this.
In order for the once-proud Reds of Merseyside to achieve that level of success again, there needs to be a drastic paradigm shift and a realization that the club can no longer skate on the achievements of decades past—both from fans and from the organization.
The hiring of Rodgers is the most recent attempt from Fenway Sports Group to bring Liverpool back to prominence.
Rodgers had a season to remember with Swansea, finishing mid-table after only just being promoted to the EPL the season before. This type of quick success in a short span of time likely endeared Rodgers to FSG as a prospect to replace King Kenny Dalglish.
What Rodgers is trying to bring to Liverpool is a more disciplined style of football. There is no more room for Hollywood passes or self-promotion in his squad.
He doesn't appear to be of the mindset to overspend on local talent as many of his predecessors have in the past. The "Liverpool Tax" associated with teams trying to squeeze a few extra million out of the club is a very real thing indeed.
How necessary is it for players and fans to buy into Brendan Rodgers' system?
The Northern Irishman also has no problem leaving 10s of millions of dollars riding the pine. After all, he didn't invest all of that money into the many underachievers who have migrated to Anfield in the past couple seasons.
At age 39, Rodgers seems to understand that what Liverpool needs to get back to prominence is strict discipline. So far, he hasn't succumbed to the pressures of playing high-dollar players or making big splash signings.
A £35 million Andy Carroll can attest to that, as can a £3 million Oussama Assaidi, who has yet to make his debut as a Red.
This shift in mentality, this giving one's self for the cause, has to start with team leaders on all phases of the pitch.
First and foremost, captain Steven Gerrard must embrace Rodgers' philosophy and adapt his play style to suit. There's no reason to believe that Stevie G won't be able to that, but these next few weeks will prove crucial to the Reds' success this season.
At the top, Luis Suarez needs to start playing more team ball. The often controversial Uruguayan has been blessed with worldly talent, but his selfishness is often all too evident on the pitch. It certainly was in the 3-0 thrashing from West Bromwich Albion in the season opener, but even then, Suarez had chances to get his side on the score sheet.
If a player is selfish and is scoring in abundance, then don't ruin a good thing. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case with any player—let alone Suarez.
At the back, Daniel Agger has to become the leader that he is for his national team. He needs to set the bar for his defenders and then lead by example.
The most recent red card he received was actually a blessing in disguise. The young Dane displayed poise and class in accepting the harsh penalty and leaving the field with minimal fuss. Following the match, he appealed to media and ESPN reported that he forgave the referee, saying mistakes happen.
That type of self awareness on and off the pitch will bode well for Liverpool's already stingy defense, a unit that finished third in the Premier League last season.
If players and fans, who are equally important to the club's success, can buy into Rodgers' style of managing and his strict 4-3-3 tiki-taka style of play, then there is no reason that the Liver Bird can't soar once more.
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