When the signing of Adam Lallana was announced early last summer, it seemed easy to see where he fit in the Liverpool squad Brendan Rodgers had molded. Lallana, fresh off a season that saw him in the Premier League Team of the Season, thrived on quick interplay and one-touch football in attacking areas, a player that excelled in tight spaces and worked relentlessly to break down opposition defenses. Rodgers' Liverpool seemed to need just one or two more of those players in attack to supplement the work rate of Luis Suarez, the goalscoring prowess of Daniel Sturridge, and the talented young supporting pieces in Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson, and Philippe Coutinho.
A year later and Rodgers only barely escaped the sack and Lallana is coming off a first season on Merseyside in which his role was never truly defined, a product of unprecedented problems with fitness and strange handling early in the season by a manager for whom his playing style seemed tailor-made. When fit and on a regular run of starts--which really only happened once during Liverpool's best run of form all season--the 27-year-old impressed, but he never quite made the impact that was expected.
He managed to maintain a positive, upbeat outlook throughout the campaign despite its setbacks, and now that it appears as though Rodgers will make it to his fourth year in charge, Lallana has asserted that there's few managers he'd rather play for in what he hopes will be a more successful sophomore season:
"Of course I am delighted he's still here. In my eyes, there wasn't really any doubt in him being here for next season. It's been an up and down season. We reached two semi-finals and we were disappointed that we couldn't get to the final. At one point we were closing in on the top four but missed out there. We've got a lot of new players and, off the back of such a promising year last year, when they nearly won the league, the expectation was always going to be really high. He's a great coach. He's very good tactically and I am always going to learn - players are always going to get better when he is coaching."
Assuming he makes it to the start of next season, Rodgers will need more than just Lallana to start clicking. He'll need to start with his own decisions as manager and work down from there, and find a way to get the best out of his squad over the course of an entire season, starting on day one. If that doesn't happen, it's likely he won't get the chance to make good on the confidence afforded him by Lallana here.
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