After sacking Kenny Dalglish in the summer and appointing Brendan Rodgers as the new manager, Liverpool enjoyed a woeful start to the season. Liverpool played well against Manchester City and almost beat the Premier League Champions, but for a defending blunder by Martin Skrtl in the last few minutes of the game, that gifted a goal to Carlos Tevez. The game ended a 2 - 2 draw.
Since then, Liverpool's performances have yo-yo'd like a newly promoted team struggling to stay in the top flight, rather than a club with 5 European Cups and 18 English League titles in their trophy cabinet.
Rodgers has financial constraints, and cannot throw cash at the problem. Dalglish spent £115 million on players last season, with a poor return on his massive investment. Just one of the reasons he was shown the exit door.
Rodgers has worked hard at reshaping his squad and getting the team to embrace his philosophy of passing, pressing, possession football. Though, for Liverpool, this is nothing new. Historically, Liverpool always played the passing game. It was the foundation of their success in England and Europe. Over the last 10 to 15 years, amnesia set in and their game-play changed.
Rediscovering the passing game, has been a painful experience for Liverpool, with mixed results. Some good, some poor. At times the football has been beautiful, fast flowing, one-touch. Other times, shaky, nervous, filled with self-doubt.
Liverpool have struggled to win at home, even under Dalglish's tenure. Once known as fortress Anfield, teams no longer fear playing in front of the Kop. Things are turning round, as they won their last three home games. In the last 10, Liverpool have won 7, lost 3; scoring 24 goals and conceding 11. Slowly their home and away form improved. Their tails were up.
On December 14, Rodgers had the temerity to suggest Liverpool could finish in the top two of the Premiership. Confidence is a fickle quality. Too much, you are inflated. Too little, you become deflated. The right balance is vital.
Next day, Aston Villa beat Liverpool 3-1 at home, a big set-back for the team; their confidence dented. The following week they played Fulham, again at Anfield and caned them 4-0. A week later Liverpool travelled to Stoke with expectations high, after beating Fulham so emphatically. Stoke 3 - Liverpool 1. Another disappointment.
Liverpool won their next three Premier League games followed by an away game at Man United, where Liverpool capitulated to a 2 - 1 loss. Consistency has been a problem for Liverpool. In the game today, they were back to winnings way, thumping Norwich 5 - 0 at Anfield.
At the beginning of the season Liverpool were hovering just above the relegation zone. Slowly, incrementally they have climbed the table. They now sit 7th on 34 points, 6 points behind Tottenham in 4th. I'm confident Liverpool will finish in the top 6. Its also conceivable they can land a top 4 spot and play Champions League football next season. Results hinge on their consistency and confidence levels.
Liverpool have not beaten a top 6 team this term. Their next Premiership game is away at Arsenal. They must beat Arsenal at the Emirates and show their true colours. One week later, they play Manchester City away. The next two Premiership games will decide their fate.
Brendan Rodgers is the right man for the job. He shares the same footballing philosophy as many of the great Liverpool managers of the past. Liverpool have played lovely football at times, but lovely football is not enough. A killer instinct and a strong determination to win are indispensable. It may take another season or two, before Liverpool regain a reputation as all-conquering.
We must wait and see.