Liverpool FC: Players Who Must Step Their Game Up

Mary O'ConnorCorrespondent ISeptember 13, 2012

Liverpool FC: Players Who Must Step Their Game Up

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    It is difficult to watch your favorite team switch managers three times within a two-year span, and then still question the club’s motives.

    Unfortunately, this is the case with Liverpool.

    Brendan Rodgers seems like the right choice for Liverpool. He established himself at Swansea, saving the Swans from relegation, and was recognized for his efforts as he was named Premier League manager of the year.

    Hopefully, he will transform Liverpool back to the old Shankley era, where they were consistently a major force in English Football.

    Rodgers has the right ideas, but his plan is contingent upon the players’ performances.

    Right now, there are a handful of players looking rusty on the field. They need to improve, or else Liverpool will be pushed into the danger zone again.

    Here are three players who need to step up their game.

Steven Gerrard

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    Gerrard’s heyday is over.

    Not only is he is no longer a key ingredient to Liverpool’s success on the field, but in fact his impact can be detrimental on the pitch.

    Last season, Gerrard proved a number of times why he is a liability on the pitch. Statistically, he can be a heavy load for his teammates to carry, as The Guardian documented these numbers and they speak quite loudly:

    In the 11 games Gerrard has started, Liverpool have scored an average of 1.00 goal per game while conceding 1.36; without him it is goals for 1.24, goals against 0.90. They have taken 1.67 points per game without him, just 0.73 with. Project that over a season: without Gerrard, Liverpool would get 63 points, which last season would have seen them finish fifth; with Gerrard, they would get 28, certain relegation form.

    Gerrard is 32 years of age and does not have a full tank of gas to get around like he used to, which makes him unable to fill in the gaps in midfield and even leads to the creation of holes in the lineup.

    His status as Liverpool’s legend blinds our ability to see flaws in the fan favorite, but there definitely comes a time to reveal his current form.

    He can be seen floating around in non-threatening positions when the opposition is attacking and can hang back too much when Liverpool are on offense.

    I don’t think it’s because he doesn’t care, but maybe he doesn’t have the drive or it’s because he is Steven Gerrard and he doesn’t have to prove himself anymore.

    Either way, he is getting in the way on the pitch and reducing his teammates’ chances of success.

Pepe Reina

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    Pepe Reina desperately needs to pull up his socks. So far this season, Reina has made rookie mistakes in front of the net, first against Hearts and then again against Arsenal.

    Against Hearts, Reina allowed David Templeton’s 84th minute shot on goal to deflect off his body on its way to the net. Against Arsenal, Reina gifted the Gunners with one point when he scored his own goal.

    There is talk that Rodgers has given Reina until January to prove he is an adequate keeper under Rodger’s new regime. If not, according to Mirror UK, Rodgers is rumored to be looking to snap up either Swansea’s Michel Vorm or young German keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

    Reina has been playing with the Reds since 2005, and has another four years left on his contract. His agent assured The Daily Mail that Reina had his feet firmly planted in Anfield when he said, “'But this will end when he returns to form. He still has four years to run on his contract and rumours of leaving Liverpool are just that - rumours.'

Glen Johnson

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    Glen Johnson’s disappointing performance against Arsenal proved that the English international needs to reevaluate his skills defensively.

    Both goals, which led to the Gunners’ latest triumph against the Pool were scored on Johnson’s side, as he allowed both Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla to clinch goals.

    Johnson loves to get into the opposition’s half, supporting the attack and creating chances. These attributes are only worthy if his main job as a defender is tackled effectively, which was not the case against Arsenal.

    Liverpool have earned only one point out of a possible nine for their efforts, making this the worst start to a season in over half a century.

    Johnson commented on Liverpool’s snail-paced start to the season when he told the LiverpoolEcho, “Anything new is going to take time to mould, but the lads are working hard every day to try and make the success come together.”