After a hot start to the '07-'08 season, Liverpool FC had many fans believing that the EPL title might finally be headed back to Anfield.
A recent stutter, however, has roused the doom-and-gloom merchants—who've been quick to find fault with Rafael Benitez's rotation policy.
But is that really the whole story?
Rotations are certainly at least part of the problem. You can't argue with the fact that Fernando Torres should be on the field as much as possible. His talent, work ethic, and physical play make him a welcome addition to the club.
Still, Rafa sees fit to leave Torres on the bench against teams like Birmingham, where surely his presence would have been felt.
Injuries—especially to Steven Gerrard—have been another strike against Liverpool. In years past, it was Gerrard who pulled Liverpool through when his teammates faltered. This year, though, health woes have limited his effectiveness.
Beyond rotations and injuries, chemistry is a major factor in any club's success. Whilst game experience helps in this department, it's on the training pitch that a team really finds it identity.
And that brings me Pako Ayesteran.
Ayesteran left the Liverpool coaching staff before this season. In his time at Anfield, Pako wasn't just Rafa's right-hand man on game day—he was in charge of training sessions as well.
Is it a coincidence that the club have struggled without him?
Possibly...but Pako's departure certainly couldn't have helped the Reds.
My point here is that you can't blame Rafa's rotation policy for everything. Given Liverpool's talent, even a second 11 should be able to beat teams like Birmingham and Portsmouth.
If the players don't perform, it may well be nobody's fault but their own.