By Justin Fitzgerald
#1 Build a time machine for Steven Gerrard
When fit, Steven Gerrard has been the most dominant box to box midfielder in the Premier League for the past ten years. Period. He is unquestionably the driving force, the talismanic captain, and the heart of Liverpool. But make no mistake about it, Gerrard turns 31 this May and is physically on the decline. Quickly approaching the twilight of his career, the skipper’s fitness is closely monitored by Liverpool physios and his playing time must now be managed.
While King Kenny might not have the 1.21 Jiggawats necessary to bring 2005 Gerrard back from Istanbul, he does have a deeper bench including Charlie Adam to spell him with.
But for me this has to be the extent of Adam’s role, Stevie is simply on another level and when Lucas comes back next year he has to be relegated to the bench. Charlie Adam dreams of the sublime finishing and crossfield passes Gerrard played over the top, perfectly weighted to Downing. This will certainly be a difficult role for a player who was so successful at Blackpool to accept, yet it’s necessary for Liverpool to move forward next season.
#2 Gerrard, Suarez, and Carroll must play together more from the start.
The stats for this argument simply speak for themselves – Liverpool have scored 11 goals in the 3 games that Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, and Andy Carroll have started together this season. Why pay £35m for a player you’re not going to use? Kenny should have taken more chances, been more aggressive, and employed a 4-4-2 formation more frequently, especially at home. Liverpool have dropped far too many points and had far too many draws at Anfield to finish in the top four this season. Suarez demonstrated he is more than capable of unselfish play, setting up multiple goals in the derby, as Gerrard said “Luis put them on a plate.” The feisty Uruguayan is clearly more effective when he’s not left isolated and played as the lone striker upfront. In those situations he often tries to do too much and Liverpool are left relying solely on his creativity. I’m not advocating to start 2 strikers upfront every game, but I would like to see Luis put in situations where he’s given the opportunity to succeed more often than not.
#3 Martin Kelly starts at right back, Glen Johnson plays on the wing and Jordan Henderson rides the pine.
Jordan Henderson simply has not been good enough this season. He’s clearly uncomfortable on the wing and prefers the middle but with Liverpool’s midfield as crowded as it is those chances will be few and far between. Martin Kelly has more than proven his worth as a credible right back and is arguably more sound defensively than Johnson. I love when Glen gets forward, making overlapping runs, charging into the box, and taking people on so why not give him the chance to do it from the midfield? Henderson can’t seem to put a cross over the head of the first defender to save his life. If he misses I’d rather have him miss high and at least give Carroll a chance, more often than not he turns the ball over and the opposition immediately counter. Just look at his collective body of work against Everton.
He plays countless errant passes, turns the ball over on multiple occasions, and is almost singlehandedly responsible for 3 over Everton’s best chances. Constantly drifting in and caught out of position, not providing cover for the right back, and sloppy distribution describe his inconsistent play almost all season. I don’t care how many times he can juggle a tennis ball, he’s had enough chances, it’s time to try something else.
#4 Raheem Sterling needs to get first team action sooner rather than later before he gets poached.
Liverpool need to give the “Black Messi” a chance. Regardless of what Enrique says, a fourth place finish this season is virtually unattainable at this point, so why not give some of the youngsters a first team run? Rumors have swirled that Tottenham plan on making a shock summer move for one of Liverpool’s brightest prospects. This simply can’t be allowed to happen. Having witnessed John Flanagan, Jack Robinson, Martin Kelly, Jay Spearing and Jonjo Shelvey all see first team action, Sterling is obviously feeling a bit left out. It’s not surprising that the 17 year old hasn’t had a look-in yet with Liverpool focused on cup competitions and fighting for Champions League qualification. At this point in the season though why not see what he’s got? He might just galvanize the squad and provide the spark Liverpool need to move forward. Just look at what Ox has done for Arsenal, who’s to say that Sterling won’t do the same.
#5 Long Live The King