Liverpool Season Review
From the vertigo-inducing highs of 2013-2014 to the stomach-aching lows of the recently concluded one; Liverpool have plummeted from the almost crowned Champions to Europa League qualification hopefuls in a single season. With performances that can only be explained by Brendan Rodgers himself, the Reds played the season in 3 different patches each a paradox to the other.
At the end of the season, Liverpool fans are left with a gut-wrenching feeling of disappointment bordering on disgust as they couldn’t even muster a couple of decent results to give their Captain, Leader, Legend – Steven Gerrard a decent send-off.
History repeating itself…
Never more vulnerable than when we’ve just finished second; history repeated itself and how at Anfield. Another season of disappointment in which the promise and optimism generated by finishing second to Manchester City in 2014 rapidly petered. Luis Suarez left for Barcelona, Steven Gerrard announced mid-season he was heading to the USA, and more recently and most damagingly – the Raheem Sterling affair has polluted the air in the last few months. It’s almost déjà vu for Liverpool fans. – the same happened in 2002 when Gerard Houllier’s reign disintegrated after finishing runner-up to Arsenal on the back of dismal signings and failure to stage a title bid and again in 2009 when Rafa Benitez never recovered from the sale of Xabi Alonso and lost the plot game by game. It has reached a point where Liverpool’s encouraging Premier League seasons will almost certainly be followed by dismal ones resembling blips as most campaigns end before.
A Few Good Men
There were barely a few bright spots this campaign but the credit’s due where credit’s deserved. No player has been more heavily criticised than Simon Mignolet and things looked grim for the Belgian December. An alarming dip in form meant he was dropped for the dreadful Brad Jones and it was all but presumed that Liverpool would buy a new goalkeeper in January. Instead, Mignolet returned to be voted the club’s Player of the Year by club legends. A turnaround of epic proportions that even ended with him finishing behind Joe Hart for the Golden Glove. Another bright spark in the Liverpool defence was Mamadou Sakho dispelling the myth of being a clumsy centre back. The Frenchman when fit, was technically the best defender in Red. Powerful in the air, assured in possession of the ball with criminally under-rated distribution skills; Sakho proved he is more than just a hard man. Last and most importantly, Liverpool’s Player of the Season and the only representative in the Team of the Year – Phillipe Coutinho showed just why the that there is life post-Suarez. It would be stretching it to say that he was consistent through the year, but he produced the most enjoyable moments of play and scored some superb goals from mid-November onwards. A lot will rest on his shoulders next year.
Highlights of the season:-
- September 27, 2014 – Everton inflict late misery to cap off a wretched start
Liverpool make an awful start to the new season, losing three of their opening five games and six of their opening twelve. Phil Jagielka scores a last-minute wonder goal to deny Liverpool victory in the first Merseyside derby of the season. 12th on the table.
- December 9, 2014 – European dream down the drain
Liverpool concede early in their vital final Champions League group game against Basle. Gerrard strikes late on to offer hope, but his side fail to seal the victory they require and drop into the Europa League. A Champions League return than will be remembered for the second-string side at the Bernabeu, the loss to Basle and failure to qualify.
- January 27, 2015 – Costa stamps out Reds
A chance to win some silverware for the first time since Carling Cup – 2012 is snuffed out as Chelsea prevail in an ill-tempered Capital One Cup semi-final. Liverpool lose the second leg in extra time and are made to regret their lack of ruthlessness in front of goal, although headlines revolved around a stamp by Diego Costa on Emre Can.
- February 10, 2015 – Fortunes turning?
Regarded by many as one of the best games of the season, a late – and rare – Mario Balotelli goal sealed a second victory for Liverpool over Spurs this season. Balotelli’s first goal in 13 league appearances earns a 3-2 win.
- March 1, 2015 – A big scalp
Liverpool hit a good run of form in the new year, unbeaten in the league from mid-December until late March. Their 2-1 victory against Manchester City marked their first victory against a top four club and moves them right back into the race for top-four
- February 26, 2015 – Euro woes continue
Liverpool’s nightmare return to European football continues when they are knocked out of the Europa League by Besiktas after failing to defend their slender 1-0 win from Anfield and are eliminated after a penalty shoot-out.
- April 4, 2015 – Revenge for last season’s 5-1?
In the match that followed their 3 month-long unbeaten run being ended by Manchester United, Arsenal ran riot at the Emirates in a 4-1 victory. Dreams of a top-four finish are soured.
- April 19, 2015 – Cup dreams crashed
The biggest disappointment of them all – Liverpool fail to turn up for the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley as Tim Sherwood’s team dump the Reds on their way to FA Cup final against Arsenal.
- May 5, 2015 – Sturridge’s season that never began comes to an end.
Liverpool’s underwhelming season has a lot to do with the lack of firepower up front. Daniel Sturridge suffered an injury plagued campaign and at the beginning of May he travels to America for specialist hip surgery to sort his fitness issues.
- May 16, 2015 – Gerrard’s party falters
- Steven Gerrard plays his last game at Anfield against Crystal Palace, prior to joining LA Galaxy on a free transfer. He parades around the pitch before and after the game, but Palace play party spoilers with goals from Jason Puncheon, Wilfried Zaha and Glenn Murray doing little to dull an already wretched looking campaign.
- May 24, 2015 – The thrashing at Stoke
Liverpool suffer their biggest League defeat in over 50 years as Stoke hammer 6 past Mignolet. Steven Gerrard caps off his Premier League career with a consolation goal but the writing is on the wall for Rodgers.
It’s a sort of paradox that the same team who couldn’t defend to save their lives against the like of City at Etihad, West Ham at Upton Park, Palace at Selhurst Park and Newcastle at St. James’ Park at the start of the campaign went on to smash a 30+ year old defensive record of most number of clean sheets during their magical run-of form from mid-December to March. Such has been the contrasting fortunes of Liverpool’s season that the fans themselves have had no place to hide with their beloved team dragging the legacy of the club through the dust. Even the most optimistic of Liverpool fans would find it hard to look deep within himself to search for something to look forward to come August. Whether there needs to be a change in management or players – major reconstruction work needs to be done both at the Anfield and in the team.