Liverpool failed to follow their domestic cup success from 2011-2012 with an encore, slipping out of the League Cup in the fourth round and the FA Cup with a loss at Oldham. In the League Cup loss to Swansea, Joe Allen was one of the only first-team regulars to get a start, with names like Samed Yesil and Oussama Assaidi getting one of their only starts of the season, while in the FA Cup lapse at Oldham Rodgers opted for a top-heavy lineup and saw his midfield of Allen and Jordan Henderson get overrun and his back line turn in one of the worst performances of the season.
Ahead of the official start of the transfer window Rodgers has identified these failings as an area in which Liverpool can do better during the coming season, strengthened by added depth and quality that the club didn't have for most of the season's first few months:
"This time, we'll certainly give the League Cup and the FA Cup a proper go - we have a much better squad to do that. We had a paper-thin squad last year, we had kids all the way through. Obviously those players who have come in have added quality and it's no coincidence that we have kicked on when we've had quality in the group. We need to improve the group and the depth but that's what gives me great hope for the summer. If we can add that, we can make a real start and then we're ready to challenge."
His comments make sense, though I don't know that many will be concerned about whether or not Liverpool can replicate their run to the finals of the League and FA Cup from the last season of Kenny Dalglish's most recent tenure. Those were nice and exciting and fun, but as the club slid further down the league table, proved to be mini-vacations from reality rather than some sign that Liverpool were well and truly back.
And it's not as though depth is the only culprit; as noted, Rodgers got it all wrong at Oldham, opting for ATTACK!!!1! rather than setting his side up for an away test against a side that he had to have known would be physical and aggressive. For all their good qualities, a midfield of Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen isn't going to inspire much fear in anybody, and the mental fragility of the central defensive pairing of Sebastian Coates and Martin Skrtel was glaring.
Adding quality in the summer window will likely help Liverpool in all competitions, as more quality simply allows for more quality to be available on a regular basis. That's not something specific to cup competition or league, it's just a basic fact. How Brendan Rodgers uses that quality will ultimately be the deciding factor.
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