As we enter November, Liverpool are in seventh place – an ominous feeling for the Kop. We look at what’s gone wrong from last season.

“..progress for progress’s sake must be discouraged..”. At the risk of jibes, understandably resulting fromAi??quoting DoloresAi??UmbridgeAi??fromAi??Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, it must be implored that any geek, who happens to haunt the faithful Kop end atAi??AnfieldAi??onAi??Matchday, whisper these words to the person next to them, in the hope that they become a chant directed at manager Brendan Rodgers.Ai??Having won just 2 of their last 7 Premier League games, Liverpool have undoubtedly taken more than a couple of steps back in the aftermath of Luis Suarez’s carefully crafted move to Barcelona.

After losing their star forward, whom Rodgers would perhaps now admit to being a one-man army albeit in the secret confines of his office atAi??MelwoodAi??after two glasses of red wine, Liverpool have struggled to find any sort of fluency, potency or verve in their play that could make them relatable to the side that last season almost wrested the Premier League title from Manchester’s ever tightening iron grip. The football last season that made the purists of the game purr and smile in a satiated way has become a shadow of its bright self. Liverpool’s star is fading again.

Unless changes are made this season that ensure the good work done from last season is not lost. But first we must analyze what has gone wrong. Hidden behind the obviously glaring travesty of being “forced” to let Suarez leave for Spain are the many mistakes that invite fingers pointed in the direction of Rodgers. The Irishman has succumbed to mistakes made byAi??TottenhamAi??last season – the logic of acquiring many useful talents at the price of selling one masterpiece. Suarez’s 75 millionAi??poundAi??sale paved the way for the Southampton trio ofAi??DejanAi??Lovren, Adam Lallana and boyhood Liverpool fan Rickie Lambert, along with Premier League new boysAi??EmreAi??Can, LazarAi??Markovic, Alberto Moreno, JavierAi??ManquilloAi??on loan andAi??DivockAi??OrigiAi??whoAi??wasAi??immediatelyAi??loanedAi??back to Lille.Ai??The sum of these parts certainly has not matched the whole of the players who leftAi??Anfield, which include home grown talents Martin Kelly and Jack Robinson (more on them later).

Balotelli has failed to fire on any cylinders.

The disappointing Balotelli has failed to fire on any cylinders.

The biggest mistake Rodgers has made is signing the disappointinglyAi??off-colourAi??Italian forward Mario Balotelli, who looks like he is about to sulk at any moment on the pitch. The 16 million pound man was expected to bring that creative spark and a bit of the flair they lost with Suarez’s departure, but so far Balotelli has looked Championship material. Balotelli has a fair reputation in the game, but a bit more research should have gone into the decision to bring him to replace Suarez. Of the 30 goals Balotelli has scored in close to twoAi??SerieAi??A seasons with AC Milan prior to his move, 15 have come from dead ball situations – 10 penalties and 5 direct free kicks. While this fact enhances his reputation as a useful dead ball option, it glosses over the fact that only 15 of his goals in 54 matches came from open play – almost a goal every four matches. Replacing a prolific goal a game striker with such a record is appalling.

Balotelli didn’t even bring much to the table in terms of work rate. Rarely did he ever run around, closing down opposition midfielders or helping out inAi??defence. And he is not expected to do so now, forcing his new Liverpool team-mates to run around much more to compensate for the Italian’s lack of mobility. By not replacing Suarez with a reliable quality striker, Rodgers has made the biggest mistake of his Liverpool career so far. Balotelli is a short fuse, likely to stop dancing to Rodgers’s tune at any moment. He is a troubled player easy to fall out with team-mates or sulk in a corner when things are not going his way. In short, he is hardly a team player. Which begets the argument thatAi??ArseneAi??Wenger must be appreciated for his foresight as the Arsenal manager passed up the opportunity to bring Balotelli to North London.

While Balotelli’s inability to cover the ground is down to stubborn choice, Steven Gerrard’s is due to age. The Liverpool captain has slowed down a bit more over the year and does not have the legs to carry on the fight in the deep lying midfield role – something of a concern for Liverpool defensively.Ai??Indeed it was the captain who failed to keep up with Newcastle’sAi??SissokoAi??on Saturday that could have potentially resulted in a conceded penalty. Even though Gerrard’s ability to pick out a team-mate is a joy to behold, his frailties have probably forced Rodgers to employ a double pivot inAi??centreAi??midfield this season and not the diamond midfield shape Liverpool played with so well last season. Gerrard’s defensive inabilities imply that he needs a midfield partner to help him out, which leaves Liverpool short on men up front, resulting in a lonely and forlorn Balotelli up in front all by himself. The 4-2-3-1, instead of the 4-1-2-1-2 aims to cover for the ageing Gerrard and the shockingly abject combination ofAi??LovrenAi??andAi??Skrtel.

Liverpool’s most expensive defender has done absolutely nothing to justify his tag so far, being partner in crime with MartinAi??SkrtelAi??for helping ship 13Ai??goals this season. The defensive pair is woefully uncommunicative at the back and is in no means the right pairing at theAi??centreAi??ofAi??defence. They are flanked byAi??ManquilloAi??and Moreno, new to the Premier League and still getting used to the pace andAi??intesityAi??of the English game. The casualties of these moves are two home grown products – Jack Robinson and Martin Kelly, promising local lads who the Kop would be heartbroken to see the backs of. Rodgers has not only changed too much, he has gotten rid of the youth of Liverpool, something the club prides itself in.

Brendan Rodgers has some contemplating to do.

Brendan Rodgers must show he can build on from last season.

The new signings have been massively ineffectual with the exception of Adam Lallana who is not starting as many games as he should. The change in Liverpool’s formation has not only not improved their defensive troubles, it has also resulted in a more blunted attack. True they have missed the untimely injury to Daniel Sturridge, but theAi??licenceAi??to attack that Raheem Sterling andAi??CoutinhoAi??enjoyed in a diamond 4-1-2-1-2 or a 4-3-3 have been lost in a 4-2-3-1 that does not suit these quick touch pass and move players, especially Sterling who would prefer to be playing higher up the pitch.

It is still not too late and maybe Rodgers is right when he says Liverpool are still a work in progress with 9Ai??new signings, but he has lost the plot a bit by not replacing Suarez with 2 excellent proven talents. Instead he has brought in 9Ai??new faces who by no means have stardust that comes anywhere close to the Uruguayan. Perhaps his reliance on Sturridge has increased. Whatever be the case, Rodgers must take the blame for not replacing Suarez with quality and falling for the idea of a Balotelli playing up to his potential. It’s a risk to expect Balotelli to give all and trusting him too much could be a problem – Rodgers has already criticized the Italian, maybe to his own detriment.

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