Liverpool Need Mental Strength and a Goalscoring Midfielder to Be Top-4 Regulars

Dietmar Hamann@@DietmarhamannGuest ColumnistJanuary 13, 2014

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Liverpool have shown big improvement this season. Brendan Rodgers' team are in the hunt for a Champions League spot, and there's a buzz at Anfield I have not felt for years.

Keeping Luis Suarez was a major coup. He's playing better than ever, and he's been scoring goals and at the heart of everything. There's a partnership forming with Daniel Sturridge and it's also great to have Steven Gerrard back.

Liverpool's spine has been strong and they have a core of really good players. Martin Skrtel has done well at centre-back, as has Simon Mignolet in goal. Probably the most impressive player recently, however, has been Raheem Sterling, who has taken his chance and performed.

I think Liverpool have a good chance of finishing fourth but no higher than that, as the top three have spent big money. That said, they are still two or three players short of being an established top-four team. And they still need to prove they have the mentality needed to occasionally grind out results.

In midfield, they're a player light. At the moment Liverpool are leaning heavily on Suarez for goals, but eventually he'll go cold or get injured. When he does, they need a midfielder who can step up and deliver eight or 10 goals a season. I don't think they have that player right now.

A playmaker in the mould of Luka Modric might work, though he's playing regularly at Real Madrid and won't be available. Schalke's Julian Draxler is a more realistic target, and has been linked with Liverpool, as per Neil Ashton of The Daily Mail.

Schalke's Julian Draxler
Schalke's Julian DraxlerLars Baron/Getty Images

With Gerrard dropping deeper into the holding role, Liverpool need a player to offer what he used to going forward. A Draxler type could be the answer there.

In terms of mentality, my concern is the number of points Liverpool have dropped from winning positions. Chelsea, meanwhile, have proved themselves very good at taking points from losing positions. That's all about the attitude of the players and knowing how to get a result when you've not played well.

Liverpool need to show they can get a big result when they need to and also that they can scrap when the going gets tough. The season has gone really well so far, but they're still only fourth. They will be measured on what happens between here and May.

Should they fail to make the Champions League, you might argue it's another year wasted. You just can't afford to not be playing in the competition. That said, if they don't finish fourth this season, they will next season.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26:  Raheem Sterling of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool at Etihad Stadium on December 26, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

It's never fair to compare teams from different eras, but I think the 2005 Liverpool side I played in showed we had the right mentality and strong desire. It remains to be seen whether the current Liverpool team have the same.

We will find out over the next four months. Liverpool have teams breathing down their neck, and the real test of this team will be in whether they can complete the job and secure a spot in the Champions League next season.


Dietmar Hamann was talking to B/R's Will Tidey.