Brendan Rodgers is in a bit of a pickle. Losing successive games to Manchester United and Arsenal are disappointing, but they're heavyweights in the English Premier League. Pushing Chelsea hard over two legs in a semi-final makes defeat frustrating, especially with the tactical and personnel tweaks that could have led to victory, but reconcilable. Losing semi-finals to Tim Sherwood and Aston Villa along with one point from six against West Bromwich Albion and Hull City are not. Still, the manager has a job to do in steering the side as high as he can with only four games left and Champions League football almost certainly out of reach.
The energy and application of the players is a concern after uninspiring displays and freezing in big games. Turning to youth may be the answer, especially in preparation for pre-season, along with focusing on players who are likely to be around next season. Brendan Rodgers has his supporters and detractors in the fanbase, but his fourth season will be crucial. Rodgers, however, firmly believes that his players' recent struggles are not down to a lack of effort or professionalism in a season that is ending without any discernible plan or spark on the field.
"I must stress the players, like in the Hull game the other night, are giving absolutely everything," Rodgers said in defence of his players. "It's not a team lacking commitment or attitude. In the game the other night they were giving everything, we just lacked a bit of belief and confidence around vital areas of the field. We had a great run, we won 10 out of 13 games, but maybe losing a couple of the bigger games can dent your confidence levels. It's my job to regroup the players. Our season won't finish until the final whistle at Stoke. There can always be things that happen, twists can take place in the final few games. The next game is very important for us. We'll keep working to the end and see where it takes us."
Liverpool fans just want results with some good performances to finish the season. Whatever Rodgers says before or after games will have little effect without worthwhile displays. He needs to work better with some talented players in the squad by playing them in the right positions along with prioritising the future of the club. It's a thankless task at the moment as he probably is determined to make sure he has the right players in the summer, but losing more games against modest opposition would make matters far worse.
Rodgers also pointed out that Liverpool registered nine out of twenty shots on target against West Brom, and to be fair to the manager, Liverpool rank highly in shots on goal for the 2014/15 season. Whether the shots are from the right area of the field or possess the necessary quality to be cited in defence of the team is questionable. He did look at the collective responsibility of his team in scoring goals, but one can't help but feel that his mind is still focused on strikers, strikers, and more strikers in the summer. Divock Origi's summer arrival is well-timed as he won't be tasked to improve goalscoring numbers of any particular quality. As for the structure of the club, Rodgers was clear on his commitment to it.
"When I came to Liverpool, I knew 100% the model of how the club worked," confirmed Rodgers when questioned on the recruitment structure of the club. "On top of that we've got a good team of people here who all work well together. We understand the model here and how it functions. We have to look at it and work out in the summer what will improve the squad so we can put up a better challenge, a more consistent challenge next season. As a club we will look to strengthen the squad."
Wins, performances, and players. Nothing more and nothing less.