As Liverpool’s season winds down to a miserable end, it is time for Brendan Rodgers and his staff to do some damage control.

Liverpool’s 2014-15 season has been full of missed opportunities – failure to build on an unlikely title challenge that they were a big of part one year ago, failure to supplement their squad with signings who could improve the first team and failure to win big games in the Cups as well as in the League. At the risk of sounding cliched, there is always next season. But given that this season can officially be written off, it is time to plan for next season to make sure Liverpool are i a better position to challenge for honours in future.

Protect young players’ confidence

Liverpool’s terrible form for most part of the season has resulted in constant talk of a summer clearout that would feature 10 players or more. Yes, Liverpool have bought a number of players over the past two summers who have not improved the first team at all. However, despite calls to completely ignore those who have not made as much of a positive impact as previously hoped, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers should resist the temptation to thrown in younger players into the starting lineup at this stage of the season for 3 reasons.

Liverpool

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First, it reeks of desperation. Rumours of Samed Yesil making a comeback into the Liverpool starting lineup after nearly 30 months have remained rumours so far. However, throwing in a 20 year old (albeit talented) German purchased for a million pounds with nothing to play for is not going to be of much help for the Reds. Secondly, an injury to a talented young player from Liverpool’s academy who is capable of making a step up to the first team next season can potentially be career damaging. Jon Flanagan’s recurrence of a knee injury that took him completely out of Liverpool’s 2014-15 season may even cost him a new contract, or potentially result in Glen Johnson being offered a new one at this stage. Samed Yesil, too, has only recently started playing after 2 years of horrible luck with injuries and cannot risk another one at this time. Third, throwing in the likes of Cameron Brannagan off the bench for the last 4 games of the season will be too little, too late. Playing for a team bereft of confidence will hurt them, not help them. Let them be used during pre season for Rodgers (or a new manager) to assess if they’re capable of a bigger role during the season.

Give Steven Gerrard a worthy sendoff

Liverpool vs Aston Villa

Steven Gerrard will not be playing for Liverpool next season. What has made matters is the fact that he is currently going through a run of poor form that has made Liverpool look worse with him on the field. Supporters prefer players leaving or retiring when they no longer have anything to offer, as against on high (like in the case of Jamie Carragher). Gerrard’s weaknesses have been exposed this season, but on his day, is still better than many players who have played at Anfield and stunk up the place even on a good day.

Steven Gerrard will not finish his Liverpool career at home, unlike Sami Hyypia or Jamie Carragher. The fact that he does not fit into the current Liverpool squad is a good thing as it gives supporters more confidence of a future without Gerrard, but an ideal send off for the captain is a few substitute appearances with the team best set up to make full use of his qualities.

Settle on a core group for the future

The current Liverpool squad really should have the basis of a team that will eventually be fantastic, but an unsuccessful season ensures that some players are a few steps behind being world class. However, Simon Mignolet is the front runner for the Golden Glove (who would’ve thought that 6 months ago), while Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho have been solid in defence for a big part of the season. Alberto Moreno can go far once he wipes out the inconsistency that troubles him, while Emre Can will flourish once he plays in the position he was originally bought for. Jordan Henderson is not flashy or neat, but can be more influential once he adds more goals to his game, while Philippe Coutinho, Jordan Ibe, and Raheem Sterling are capable of causing damage to any defence in the final third. Except for Martin Skrtel who is obviously much older, the aforementioned players can form part of a core group of players who will stay at Liverpool, and around whom the rest of the team can be built in future seasons.