HAVING high expectations is important for a big club — but unrealistic expectations can be destructive for everyone, writes MIKE KENNEDY.
They create unhappy fans, affect players’ confidence and managers get sacked for not meeting them.
I don’t want that to happen to Brendan Rodgers (I think he’s doing a decent job), so with that in mind I’d like to highlight how slim the chances of Liverpool finishing in the top four this season appear to be:
It would be unprecedented in Premier League history for a team in Liverpool’s current situation to finish inside the top 4. At this stage, sixth place would be ‘success’. Finishing in fourth place is out of reach.
I hope that by highlighting this, you will have a more accurate view of what Liverpool can realistically achieve and your assessment of Rodgers’ performance will be more objective and you won’t be as disappointed when Liverpool finish outside the top four.
Like you, I want to believe that Liverpool can still make the top four this season. Sturridge will return. We’ll sign a brilliant player in January. We’ll go on a run. We can make it. After all, we’re only seven points away from fourth.
Seven points is a wider margin to overturn than many people realise, but like all football fans, my blind faith and optimism often distort reality. I was convinced Liverpool could overhaul Southampton in fourth place; it seemed a reasonable aim. I realise now that I was dead wrong.
I want to see beyond my footy-fan blinkers and perceive things in an unbiased and natural way; I wanted to see ‘reality’ instead of mirages fuelled more by hope than intelligence. But it’s bloody hard to be an objective football fan, isn’t it? (In fact, “objective football fan” might be the most oxymoronic phrase ever typed by human hand.)
So let’s focus on cold, hard facts. Facts are objective. Facts are reality.
AN OPPORTUNE TIME TO REASSESS
Each year, after the New Year’s Day fixtures are complete I reassess where we’re at. This is a great point in the season to pause and take stock because we’ve just passed the halfway point, the influential glut of festive fixtures are complete and the season’s run-in beckons like a siren, luring you and your false hopes onto the rocks.
I’ll allow myself to fantasise about an FA Cup win at this time of year, but as far as the league is concerned, I try to be as grounded and ‘real-world’ as possible. (As the great man said, the league is our bread and butter.)
So realistically what can we hope to see Liverpool achieve in this season’s Premier League?
A good way to predict future performance is to look at past results. It’s what bookmakers, insurance companies, economists and sophisticated investors do. (It’s what my wife does when she’s evaluating dubious promises to be home promptly from work/the pub.)
It’s not an infallible way to predict the future — you’re attempting to predict the future after all — but it’s a strong indicator and it’s more reliable than any other method I know of. It’s right more times than it’s wrong. And that’s as good as it gets, I think.
So I’ve calibrated my Reality Goggles based on what happened before, rather than on what might happen in the future. I sat down and looked at Liverpool’s past performance following the New Year’s Day fixtures. This is what I found.
LIVERPOOL’S PAST PERFORMANCE
Liverpool are currently eighth and Brendan Rodgers’ goal is to bridge a seven-point gap and reach fourth place. So Liverpool need to climb four places for their league campaign to be deemed a success. Only once in the Premier League’s 22-year history has Liverpool’s position improved by four places following New Year’s Day.
That was in 1993 when they went from 10th to sixth. On that occasion they were only six points behind and, crucially, they had a game in hand. (At that time sixth place, just like fourth place, was meaningless as English clubs didn’t unlock four Champions League slots until almost a decade later.)
Interestingly, 18 times out of the past 22 years Liverpool’s position varied no more than two places in either direction. So any post New Year’s Day swing is usually quite small.
Based on Liverpool’s positional performance over the last two decades there is an 80 per cent chance that they’ll finish between sixth and 10th. Looking at these stats alone, finishing in fourth place this season is a 20-1 shot.
But of course, we’ve only looked at Liverpool’s positional performance here, and though that’s very relevant, it’s quite a narrow pool to draw solid conclusions from. What about other teams?
OTHER EIGHTH-PLACED TEAMS’ PERFORMANCE
Q: How many Premier League teams who were in eighth place on January 2 finished the season higher than eighth?
A: Only four.
Q: How many of those four finished higher than sixth?
No Premier League team in eightth place at this point of the season has finished in the top four.
This fact clearly implies that Liverpool should forget about fourth place. In fact, sixth place is the most they can hope for. Even worse, there’s an 82 per cent chance that Liverpool won’t finish any higher than where they are right now — in eighth place.
It doesn’t look great does it? Those four teams above Liverpool suddenly appear a bigger obstacle than I’d originally imagined…
But so far we’ve only looked at Liverpool’s past performance and other eighth-placed teams’ performance. Let’s cast the net much wider and look at all the teams in Premier League history.
LEAGUE-WIDE POST-NEW YEAR’S DAY PERFORMANCE
The Premier League has existed for 22 years. In 21 of those years, the teams who finished in the top four positions were already inside the top six on January 2.
This fact tell us there is 95 per cent probability that Liverpool won’t finish in the top four this season.
Or put another way, let’s be clear, the chances of ANY team finishing in the top four if they’re outside of the top six after New Year’s Day are 20-1. (Which exactly mirrors our Liverpool-only positional analysis above.)
WE’VE LOOKED AT POSITIONS, NOW LET’S LOOK AT POINTS
I was surprised by this: Only five Premier League teams have ever finished in the top four who weren’t already in the top four by January 2.
I thought the Premier League was more changeable than that, but no. There’s lots of swapping of places within each ‘mini-league’, but the four teams who are in the top four at the turn of the year tend to be the four teams who finish in the top four. Overwhelmingly so, in fact.
It makes sense when you consider it fully. With half a season gone you’d expect the quality of the top teams to show, leaving the strongest teams safely ensconced at the top of the table.
Here’s some info on the five teams who were outside the top four at the turn of the year who did manage to finish inside the top four.
- Arsenal did it in 1997-1998. They were only three points from fourth place.
- Leeds did it in 2000-2001. They were a whopping 11 points from fourth place, but they had two games in hand. So the ‘mathematical gap’ from fourth place = five points.
- Liverpool did it in 2003-2004. They were four points off fourth place and had a game in hand. The mathematical gap from fourth place = one point.
- Arsenal did it in 2005-2006. They were four points behind fourth-placed Spurs, with a game in hand. The mathematical gap from fourth place = one point.
- Arsenal did it in 2012-2013. They were four points from fourth place. The mathematical gap from fourth place = four points.
Nobody has overcome a seven-point mathematical gap from this stage in a Premier League season.
WHAT ABOUT POINTS-PER-GAME?
Points-per-game stats are very dry and send a lot of people to sleep, but they are the fairest and most accurate measure of a team’s game-by-game performance, so let’s — quickly — check them out.
Liverpool have played 20 games and have 29 points, so their current points per game total is 1.45. Following the New Year’s Day fixtures, has any team with a lower points per game ever finished inside the top four?
Yes, two teams, but both teams faced a smaller mathematical points gap because they had games in hand.
Leeds in 2000-2001 (PPG = 1.30). As we saw above, they had a staggering 11-point gap to overhaul, but had two games in hand. (So the mathematical gap was just five points.)
Liverpool 03-04 (PPG = 1.44). Again, we saw this above, they had a four-point gap to overhaul and had a game in hand. (So the mathematical gap was just one point.)
THE LEEDS COMPARISON
This is the one that catches the eye. There’s an argument to be made here that a better comparison would be to extrapolate Leeds’ games in hand performance based on their 1.30 PPG, rather than ‘giving’ them 3.0 PPG (six points) to reduce the gap. If we did this it would appear Leeds faced an even bigger gap than Liverpool currently do.
But Leeds’ two games in hand weren’t played immediately and back-to-back. They were subsumed into Leeds’ 18 remaining fixtures and, crucially, things turned for Leeds in the second half of the season.
There’s no way perfect way to compare Liverpool’s situation to Leeds’. Metrics like League Position, Points Total and PPG are one thing, but games-played-vs-calendar-date is always nebulous and how on earth do you allow for more subtle variables like difficulty of opponent and fixture frequency?
(Incidentally, Leeds got four points from those two games in hand when they were finally played, beating Aston Villa and drawing with Everton. Of course by the time those games were played the landscape had changed, so it’s still not a perfect comparison.)
The point for me is this: After New Year’s Day Leeds didn’t continue with their 1.30 PPG. They pipped Ipswich to fourth place on the final day because in the second half of the season they went on an incredible run. And compared to the current Liverpool team, that Leeds side had more games to go on an incredible run with. Mathematically they had more leeway and margin to play around with than Liverpool currently do.
It would be unprecedented in Premier League history for a team in Liverpool’s current situation to finish inside the top four. At this stage, sixth place would be ‘success’. Finishing in fourth place is out of reach.
During the last 22 years there have been 378 Premier League teams that have found themselves outside the top four following the New Year’s Day fixtures. None of them have overcome a seven-point mathematical gap to finish inside the top four.
There have been teams with comparable point gaps to overcome, but they had one or two games in hand — a luxury that the current Liverpool team do not enjoy.
SO, ANOTHER YEAR WITHOUT CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FOOTBALL?
Don’t shoot the messenger. When I looked at the data, I was disappointed because it looks so definitive. There’s no way Liverpool are finishing inside the top four, just look at the facts. But it’s so easy to delude yourself. After all, it’s only a seven-point gap. I’m still doing it now. “We’re only seven points behind, of course we can do this!”
But of course, what about the other teams who are above Liverpool? They’re above Liverpool because they’ve been better over a long period (20 games). To claim fourth place Liverpool need to outperform four of those superior sides, by seven clear points for an entire half-season. That’s insanely hard. The facts tell us so and so do the maths.
IN CASE, FOR SOME UNFATHOMABLE REASON, YOU’RE STILL ON THE FENCE…
Southampton currently lie fourth and have a points per game average of 1.80.
The 22-year average points per game (PPG) total for fourth-placed teams is 1.79 but that has crept up steadily over the last four years. Arsenal finished fourth last year with a 2.08 PPG and 79 points — a massive total for a fourth-placed team.
This year it won’t be that high, but it’s safe to say Liverpool will need a minimum of 69 points to finish fourth this season (that’s based on 1.80 PPG), but they’ll probably need around 75 points to ensure they get the fourth slot (that’s based on 1.90 PPG).
Let’s focus on a 69-point total as a target, because that’s the minimum they will require to challenge for fourth.
WHAT LIVERPOOL NEED TO DO TO FINISH IN FOURTH PLACE
For Liverpool to get 69 points — the minimum they will need to challenge for fourth — they would need to deliver a points per game average between now and the end of the season of 2.22. That’s league-winning form, exactly. (The average PPG of all 22 Premier League winning teams, is exactly 2.22.)
So to finish fourth this season Liverpool need to deliver championship-winning form over the remaining 18 league games.
For a team in eighth place at the turn of the year that is unprecedented. (And I don’t know what you think, but Liverpool aren’t playing like a league-winning side in my eyes at the moment.)
I’ve accepted that the Champions League dream is over for another season. Sure, I’ll shout myself hoarse and fully support at the match, and I’ll put a brave face on to opposition fans, but deep down the truth is I’m already mentally planning for the next league campaign.
As a fanbase, we need to understand that fourth is no longer a reasonable aim. We can dream, of course, but it’s important we don’t harbour unrealistic and destructive expectations for what can be achieved this season. Sure, we can go for it (what else can we do?), but it’s extremely unlikely that we’ll achieve it. The damage to this season has already been done.
I’d love to see Rodgers strongly prioritise the cups, especially the Europa League, as that now represents an excellent chance to qualify for next year’s Champions League and would create a huge morale and confidence boost ahead of the Gerrard-less following season.
Not good enough. Spending 120 million in the summer demands a top 4 finish. Building new stadium for 160 mil. How will we pay for that without consistent CL? Not getting top 4 this season could put the club in a cycle of mediocrity. Next year’s CL group stage TV money effectively doubles and those who qualify will increase the financial gulf on us.
We will not be able to sign quality players because of no CL money. And we won’t get CL because we can’t sign top quality players. Another 5 year cycle of transition before the lucky 2nd placed finish.
It’s 2001 and 2009 all over again. In the PL era LFC get in a successful position to consolidate a competitive status but screw it all up in the transfer market.
Can’t see Rodgers here at the end of the season with no CL. FSG will replace Rodgers. He’s already failed on group stage qualification. Rafa is the man for the job.
I don’t totally agree with your comment that spending 120m ‘demands’ a top 4 finish.
If we stil had Suarez and the money had been spent on a Bale & Costa (or players of that ilk) then I would agree but we have sold Suarez, also sold Reina & Agger, lost Sturridge to injury and have bought ‘8’ new players that we then have to try to fit into the team.
It can be difficult for 1 player to instantly fit into the way a new team plays but 8 players is even more difficult. Remember how long it took for the team to get used to the new system when Rodgers took over? It didn’t happen overnight.
We need to be realistic and have faith that next season things will improve immensely as the current squad will be more used to each other, and the system, and we will only be bringing in 1 or 2 new players at a time.
OK good points and solid argument but I think there are a couple of factors in our favour. We have been hopelessly bad in the first half of the season. However, recent games have shown that we are beginning to find form again and a new system of playing. New players are beginning to settle in. A team with so many new players and the loss of a hugely influential player will always take time to find its feet again, I believe we have turned the corner and will start to scare teams again especially when Sturridge comes back and Sterling returns from his well-deserved break. So, I believe we could do it, sure it will be tough and record breaking but it think we have many positives going into the second half. And don’t forget at half time in Istanbul, people were saying no one had ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in a CL final…
Really well written and informative, obviously disappointed with the verdict but really enjoyed the article.
FSG have no idea what they are in. LFC needs serious money to cement top 4. After some years there we can start talking about processes. FSG don’t have the money, and no right thinking owner will trust Rodgers with the funds. Not that he is that poor, he’s just not that good enough. At his age, Mourinho had won the Champs league. At his age, Ferguson had broken the Rangers-Celtic hegemony. At his age Guardiola had won the Champs league. AVB is about 5 years his junior and is already an European champ. The fella is not just good enough for LFC. Most importantly, he just made the biggest mistake of his career, letting Gerrard go insuch a manner. AC Milan made same mistake with Pirlo, Chelsea with Lamps…Sheikh Al Thani should buy LFC and hire us Diego Simeone. Then we’ll be headed in the right direction.
Another interesting point you might want to take into account is the psychological factor of top 4 leading you to a place in the Champions League and all the financial benefits that brings the following season. The article mentions the 1992/1993 season when LFC finished 4 places higher than on New Year’s. It then mentions how the change in position didn’t really matter as European qualification wasn’t based on a top 4.
But now it clearly is and lots of clubs base their strategy around it. The fact of an ambitious club having a top 4 target when in the 90’s you didn’t really have one makes it more likely that players and coaches of ambitious clubs may be more motivated on their League finish for a longer number of games than in the 90’s and before.
Also ignoring PPG, is there a way of taking into account how poorly all the 4th place competing sides have started this season. Arsenal is a favourite for top 4 but I remember seeing Arsenal fans tweeting a stat of how this was their worst start to a season in terms of points gained since the early 1980’s. I think the total amount of points required to finish 4th ( whoever is the lucky soul that ends up there) could be a record low compared to previous seasons.
The Premier League has become very odd in recent years with the rise of Manchester City and destruction of the old Big 4 from the early 2000’s. Competition is more even with the increasing ambition of Tottenham, Everton and Southampton.
So it won’t be totally strange if some of these statistical records are broken despite how unlikely the case may be.
Excellent piece and very analytical….. however you know as well as I do and as they say …”football is a funny old game”. If Liverpool were to take maximum three points from the teams currently above them, the odds of making fourth will be realistic….?
Great article Mike! Thanks for putting all the data together, must’ve taken a while.
For the person commenting above me and any others who think Brendan should be replaced, and with Rafa, why?
Sure, this season hasn’t gone to plan, at all.
But if we thought a predominantly SASless Liverpool would be the fluid attack threat of the start of 2014, you need another reality check.
Whilst none of our transfers have really bedded in as well as we may have liked, I don’t look on the window as a total failure. Whilst we would’ve liked to have signed some proper world beaters, unfortunately, we tried and failed. Alexis Sanchez, Diego Costa etc etc.
Who do we blame for this? I am not entirely sure. But I certainly am not blaming the manager. Why? Because this has been happening since I started following the Reds just over 10 years ago. The club has a poor track record, poor stats, as this article was based on, in signing players for the immediate future.
There have been 3 for me that have done well from the start and have done so for most of their Liverpool career. Torres. Suarez. And Sturridge. We all know their stories.
Unfortunately we aren’t Chelsea who can buy world class players who walk into any side on the planet, ie; Costa, Fabregas, Schurle, Matic in more recent times.
But what we have done more recently to buck this trend is buy for the future. Frustrating for the present? Fucking oath. But as the saying goes – “The genius thinks in the future.”
Sure, we “could” buy proven quality now instead of spending 120million on future stars, but by the looks of it, we’ve been trying, and failing at that.
Therefore buying for the future for me is smart.
The young players we’ve got are brilliant.
Sturridge (albeit getting to that mid-age for a Footballer now) Coutinho and Sterling all have the potential to be world class.
Then the latest signings. Moreno looks a player. Markovic is starting to find his feet (and remember it took him 6-12 months to properly do so at his two prior clubs). Emre Can will be a beast for us if, as was said on the latest pod, he’s given a position. I hope it’s central midfield.
Lovren could come good? You don’t turn shit overnight and I know from playing (albeit not high at all) that Football is a confidence game, and when you’ve got none, you may as well pack it in until you can get the confidence back!
We have Origi to come in next season. A young, strong, quick international, whom whilst I don’t expect to set the world alight immediately, very well could.
Then we have Ibe, Teixeira, Ojo and a literal fuckload of talent in our academy.
Keep Brendan Rodgers. Let the man continue to work with these group of players and I don’t doubt he can return us to the heights we so desire.
Sacking the manager, whilst it’s doing something, isn’t the right thing. Thinking in futures is the way to go and Brendan Rodgers is our man. He’ll take us to glory!
What you’re not taking into account when you mention all those young players is if any of them fulfil their potential then the big CL clubs will simply swoop in and buy them or get them on a free. We won’t be able to keep hold of very good players if we are consistently out of the CL and if we don’t qualify this season then we won’t for quite some time unless the owners drastically change their recruitment policy.
Sorry mate but Lovren had 1 good year and Rodgers put all his reputation on the line by offloading Agger for this chump who cost us £20mill. He was utter useless at Lyon before Souhampton plucked him. Big question marks were raised about his ability in France and now he’s been shown out
Just a minute.It’s not about now and how difficult it is to get back to where we were.
It’s more about where we were and where we are now.
I knew Suarez was leaving last year.I knew that Sturridge struggled with injuries.I knew that the one constant was probably Gerrard.I knew that the whole defence was shaky.
So; £150 Million or so later………
What are you saying?
Totally right mate. It’s about the expectations at the pre-season. The waste of 120 million is criminal. Rodgers, Ayre and the committee deserve the sack for all their transfer failings. Rodgers doesn’t know how to rotate a squad so his team selection has been very naive this season. Also the failure to fix the defence is a big problem.
It’s and interesting article and, despite what I’m going to say, has left me feeling a bit gutted as in it’s half made me realise we’re not going to achieve top 4. That said, there’s no way I could rule it out in my head. I feel we’re going to get it.
Statistics do play an important role in life but it’s not the full story, especially in sport. I prefer to take a more holistic view, There will be instances in the not too distant future where those trends are broken. Why not us this year? I kinda think there’s mitigating circumstances that possibly benefit our claim more than others. Firstly, despite Utd not playing as well as their results suggest I can’t see us catching them. I think they’re out of sight. So, I look at it like a little mini-league between us, Arsenal, Spurs and Southampton. I refuse to believe West Ham are a threat, in the same way all the other pretenders still doing well by New Year in the past weren’t. Your stats would probably tell you that teams with much less expensive squads drop off before the business end. I’ve seen nothing from Arsenal to convince me they are favourites over us. They won’t be adding to their squad in January and I think this is the year they’ll miss out. Southampton play brilliant football but a key injury for them in any number of positions could effect them badly. I suppose deep down my reason for writing them off is down to stats so I’m going to contradict myself and use the same logic that I claim won’t apply to Liverpool but how often do a team out of the top 6 (as in 6 biggest teams in the Prem) qualify for the CL. Spurs would be my favourite if I had to bet on it but then again they’re nothing special. If we beat them at Anfield then that takes 3 off the gap.
What makes me confident is looking from our perspective. If the queen was describing our first half of the season she’d probably call it an annus horribilis. Yet, now we’re definitely coming out the other side. Everyone knows the stat we’ve only lost 1 in the last 11 or something but that’s not the full picture. We’ve had far too many draws. Earlier in the season though we were having far too many defeats. We’ve turned defeats into draws. I think we can go to the next level now. Draws are the silent killer. Obviously, 3 draws are almost no better than 2 defeats and 1 victory. We can definitely improve on our first half. How will the others improve so much? We’ll have strikers and possibly a keeper who stops shots being goals. We’ll have a captain who is twice as driven now. We WILL improve on our first half and I’d go as far as saying we can turn 2 of our defeats into a draw and a win and 3 of our draws into wins. There’s 10 points and if Spurs do turn out to be our competition then if we got 3 points at Anfield on top then………
All if and buts admittedly, but I’m definitely clinging to the hope we’ll really improve and other not so much. I think we can still be the best of the rest and by enough to bridge the gap. Remember Steve Cram when he broke the world record 3 times in 1980 for the 1500 metres. You couldn’t have predicted that.
P.s if anyone else believes or is as stupid as me then 7/1 is an amazing price. Be warned though, the bookies know what they’re doing and it’s that price for a reason.
Always enjoy what you have to say, Robin. Cheers mate.
That’s it Robin. 7/1 at the bookies tells use more than a load of somewhat dubious statistical analysis.
Personally, I cling to the hope we can make it, but I won’t be loosing my head if we don’t.
If you assessed our position dispassionately at the start of the season you would have probably predicted 5th for us. (Most of the bookies did!) We might want CL, but the fact is 5th would be a par result given that there are four teams with greater resources. 5th will now be a big challenge.
All the wailing here (to a lesser extent) and elsewhere about sacking manager, CEO, transfer committee etc. if we don’t make 4th is well off the mark. I would be truly amazed to see Rodgers lose his job this year, providing the direction of travel for the team between now and the end of the season is upwards.
I hope we get top 4, but if we don’t, I want to see us playing some good football and putting our rivals to the sword. A cup would be a nice bonus.
Well said mate. Everyone’s doing my head in on here
So we should just accept after Rodgers was talking about title challenges at the start of the season that he deserves to be in the hot seat. We are going nowhere with this clown
Mate get off the weed we can’t beat Leicester and a number of the bottom dwellers we’ve got no hope of making top 4
10th place at Christmas in 81/82 and won the league by 4 points. Granted not the Premiership, and 33 years ago, but still, i’m hanging on to that and 2005 for proof that miracles happen and May is red . ‘To live without hope is to cease to live’
“you look at tottenham, you spend over a 100 odd million you’d expect to be challenging for the league” -BR
note that spurs was 5th when they sold bale. Liverpool came 2nd and could spend from a position of strenght. Yes, the signings have been underwhelming, but I still believe this squad is much better than what the manager brings out of them.
Well since the manager said last season if you spend 100 mil+ (Spurs) you should be challenging for the title, I’d think his words would disagree with you
Although he is prone to change his tune when it suits him
Dumbing down expectation is very Hodgson like, and tbh with the resources available in the summer and the dire standard of the league this season, it makes it even more unacceptable to be where we are, to be frank
1. We really needed those two points we just dropped. This wouldn’t be nearly so dire an article.
2. At least two of those 4 teams have thin squads and will likely fade.
3. We’ve got 6-pointers against all of them.
4. With Sturridge back, new players can finally bed in and utilize the talents they were acquired for. Even Balo will benefit from a proper partner. Gerrard will have people to Hollywood to.
5. Mignolet is good for a clanger per game. Surely someone, anyone, brought in will improve things.
Just like we had 6 points against Leicester?
People said 7th to 2nd could be done. It was unprecedented. Sorry if I’m not ready to give up. Not dead yet.
No signings yet – 9th January. ‘Softlee softlee catchee monkey!’
That assumes there will be some left when we decide to ‘pounce’, and money available to buy them. Get us a goalkeeper, at least!!! That would just about solve our problems.
I remember when Kenny was under pressure in his full seasons of the 2nd stint. Like Rodgers now, he kept saying we won’t sign anyone in Jan. No one in the supporter base believed him, because we obviously needed strengthening, a striker in partcular (sounds familiar?). iAnd lo and behold, we really signed no one
You can’t blame FSG, if Rodgers just spent 120 mil in a window and this is where we are, would you give him anymore money?
Shaqiri costing Inter basically 15 mil yet we splashed 25 mil on Lallana (who is a good player but never gonna be great), I’m just dismayed by the incompetence of the club nowadays
Anyone that thinks that 7/1 is good odds for Liverpool finishing in the top 4 is deluding themselves. Given the OP that figure is way off value. Best to lay those odds!
Not impossible but never been achieved in PL history and who has confidence that our current squad can do it?
FWIW i don’t think all our transfer dealings were pants. However, the big cock up was buying Lambert and Balotelli in full knowledge that neither suited our style of play. We would have been better served to keep Jordan Ibe and to plumb the depths of the lower leagues for a prospect that could step in if needs be.
I’ll take that as aimed at me. I don’t think there’s anything to gain by having a positive outlook but equally I don’t think people can gain anything more with constant negativity. Agree our problems stem from the strikers we bought though Lambert was ok as a 4th choice and a plan B.
Yes we do have a problem with strikers, however it stems further back than that . We scored a bucket load of goals last year, however that only masked the amount of goals we shipped in ! The goalkeeper is not up to top standard, his decision making is poor , decent at shots but thats not enough. The defense was also poor which has not been improved . If we can’t keep a clean sheet then we will always struggle ,You can’t always score 2 and 3 goals a game .
This is a fair assessment of how badly things have gone so far this season, but surely there can be only one individual ultimately responsible for the situation – step forward Brendan …
It’s fine to suggest that, from this point, we shouldn’t expect to reach the Top 4 but that expectation was perfectly valid in August and it has been Rodgers’ purchases,team selection, man management and bizarre decisions that have helped put the team where it is … he shouldn’t be excused from that. Exactly how this manifests as “doing a good job” is beyond me, presumably it would have to be relegation places before he isn’t?
The failure to deal with the loss of Suarez, the goalkeeping situation, the barmy punt on Ballotelli when the squad needed consolidation and was already reliant on (a demonstrably injury-prone) Daniel Sturridge and the complete and utter inability to coach defensively, resulting in a kamikaze team as likely to concede as score are all weaknesses that show little sign of improvement – LFC were as vulnerable defensively against Leicester/Afc Wimbledon in January as they were in September.
I see it as straightforward, a significant improvement in all areas to push towards fourth or Brendan will be shown the door at the end of the season … and that may be “short-termist” but welcome to modern football …
How is it simply down to one man when clearly we run a transfer committee that makes buy off their own back??
Statements in recent weeks along the lines off “We need to buy established players” points to the fact that Rodgers believes we should be buying more experienced players to replace those leaving. It’s plead for the club to do it. By all accounts Rodgers wanted Bony and Krull in the summer but neither materialised. How can a club be run like this?!
RodDaGoth couldn’t have said it better myself
I’ll take empiricism over blind statistics any day, but you’re right; we won’t finish top 4.
5th or 6th.
Gutted really as this brilliant article sets it all out. Knew it would be difficult but didn’t realise what we are up against.
However, what do we have, if not hope! And most of the fun springs from hope.
We did an ‘impossible’ last season. We could do another.
Would anyone take winning the Europa League to qualify for CL again and a mediocre placing in Premier League, or a significantly better second half of Premier League but just miss out on 4th?
Winning the Europa league will be mighty difficult but if we did not only would we be back I to the CL but players around Europe and beyond would sit up and take notice of us which may make it easier to attract the requisite quality come summer.
I’m off the opinion that we should go all out for fourth through the league but by the time the Besiktas match comes around and if it’s looking very unlikely then I would go all out for the EL and try to qualify that way.
Qualifying for this season’s Champions’ League didn’t exactly help us attract quality players last summer – or even keep the quality player we already had. I think if we qualified for CL via EL, it would mostly be attributed to good luck / fluke and whatever issues currently inhibit us signing top players would still be there (whether it’s FSG, Rodgers, the transfer committee or all three).
I would prefer to see an improvement in our league performances and results, and finish as high as possible in the table giving renewed optimism for the future. That and the right transfer strategy should help us attract the quality we need to improve the team. Remember Suarez and Sturridge signed when we were 7th and 8th respectively in the league with little hope for top 4 finish.
2 yrs in the CL and a European competition win will put us in a better position to attract players. It will also heighten our profile around Europe that we mean business instead of wondering in the wilderness like we’ve been doing in recent years. The CL money basically doubles next yr too so that money will come in very helpful. It sure as hell won’t hurt us!
Would definitely take winning europa league and terrible league finish but just can’t see it happening. The way Rodgers sets up teams is not conducive to winning two legged cup ties.Can anyone imagine those CL semi finals we had with Chelsea going our way if Rodgers was in charge.
I’m not sure that Rodgers has been involved in too many two-legged cup ties to make that call just yet. I suppose we will find out more later this month.
I don’t think 4th is beyond us but it’s be very difficult. If we do not bring in reinforcements this month then we will defo not do it. You can be sure the teams above us will strengthen in the chase for fourth, not all but some of them will.
I just don’t understand the owners thinking here if they are not willing to strengthen this window. This has been a poor league this year with plenty of more points to be dropped but if we strengtened in the right areas then we could easily overtake these teams. I mean, the only reason Arsenal are ahead of us is because they got Sanchez and we didn’t. That’s it, nothing else. If we had got Sanchez we would easily be in the top 4. Surely that must prove to the owners that quality players help you reach your goals. The money spent on Sanchez would be recouped within one season after qualifying for the CL again which in turn would mean us being able to attract a better quality of player. Success begats success! Go out this window and buy someone that will make an immediate impact in the team.
Having played 20 games and not reached 30 points yet is not good enough at all.
FSG not spending money this January can only be one of 2 things.Either they are reviewing Rodgers position or there is no money.
If its was me i would tell Rodgers to show he is capable from this position to at least make challenge for top4 in the next few months.I think hes a decent attacking manager and that if Sturridge had been fit all season i am almost certain we would be in 4th or close.Last season was proof that goals will get you close to top but when you look at the squad you just don’t see many goals.No one last summer when Balotelli was bought would have said that he ‘d have zero league goals by january.Even if he failed you’d think he would get 3 – 5 goals by now.For me that is the biggest reason we have struggled this season i know the defence is criminal and can’t see Rodgers ever getting that right but attacking is Rodgers forte.
Ultimately though i can’t see us ever winning the major trophies (cl &pl) under BR.3 YEARS is plenty time to see what the manager is about.Decent football if right strikers are on the pitch but too much tactical naviety to get brig prizes.
“Brendan Rodgers (I think he’s doing a decent job), so with that in mind I’d like to highlight how slim the chances of Liverpool finishing in the top four this season appear to be”. Surely some contradiction there?
Two of our worst New Year positions in 20 years have been under Brendan Rodgers.
He has too much to learn to be at a club like Liverpool. Last season was wonderful, but it was a fluke like when Keegan nearly won the title.
We need a proven manager to attract better players.
What is a club like Liverpool and is Liverpool like that club anymore? Difficult truth to admit but the club does not have the prestige, finances, locale, etc. to draw in the top talent. History is nothing more than words to those not around to experience it, so the red tinted specs need to come off.
Yes but one thing we could do as a club is sign a world renowned manager who has actually won titles then maybe some of those players would sign knowing they are playing under a guy who knows what he’s doing. Now they see Rodgers and it’s like ‘ who the f..ck is this? ‘
For me winning the Europa Cup is now the number one highest priority, way way above the other cups and league position.
The alternative could be a nightmare scenario, Sturidge scores 20 goals in the next 5 months and Barcelona come calling with £50m,, Sterling joins AC Milan, Coutinho ships off to Sporting Lisbon and Gerrard flies West?
We could be dreaming of 8th by January 2016
hold the faith …..
Sobering reading…still we are assuming that the other’s won’t fuck up We’ve eaten into the ten point lead Utd had so I refuse to give up just yet …It’s a striker we have missed that’s top and bottom of it, As shit as we have been a decent option up top and we would be 6-8 pts better off.
Europa may yet be our saving grace.
Are you still sure we won’t Mike?
Good work on the analysis. However Liverpool won 14 of their last 16 last season. You say yourself this is the points per game ratio required. So one chooses which ever stats one wants to back up one’s case.
Well Mike kennedy I’m afriad that the unprecendented season may actually happen. 4 points behind and southampton next it looks like we can doesn’t it? Our points per game have increased and we are in 2 cups. Sturridge and Mario, others gaining confidence I would say keep believing as isn’t that what we watch the game for :)
just read all the comments. a lot of people are looking pretty stupid on this. are you man united fans in disquise?
Whilst it is amusing re-reading some of the negative posts….this article still makes me nervy about a top 4 spot.
From a positive standpoint, surely if we were to re-evaluate at this stage, would current form, opposition form and opposition run-ins suggest we are in a strong position to defy history?
Certainly not a 7-1 shot now…I suspect around 5/4 is closer to the mark!
Would be a great achievement.