During their post-match interview after the Champions League life-saving draw against Ludogorets, Jordan Henderson and Rickie Lambert said Liverpool’s season had in effect just begun.
‘The season starts here’ is among the most well-visited clichés when any desperately struggling team records a positive result, no matter how deep they’ve ploughed into said season.
And you can hardly blame the under-pressure Liverpool players for wheeling it out, having saved their Euro skins in Bulgaria, just days after sinking to a third straight Premier League defeat at Crystal Palace.
It could however be argued that losing their matchday six showdown against Basel at Anfield, would be the true beginning to Liverpool’s season, in turn proving the catalyst for an upward shift in fortunes.
Rodgers’ misfiring mob have sunk to unforeseen depths in the Premier League, where they currently languish in 12th and out at 3/1 simply to make the top four, when last season the title was all-but theirs with three games remaining.
Although Luis Suarez’s exit is rightly cited among the chief reasons for the 2014/15 campaign flat-lining, it is no coincidence that European commitments have diluted their focus and stretched resources.
Even if Liverpool do scrape through to the knockout stages of the Champions League, rated at 1/2, their deep-seated defensive troubles are sure to be exposed sooner rather than later.
Liverpool would benefit greatly from recalibrating their focus on climbing up the league table, rather than wasting energy on a competition they realistically have so little chance of winning.
At least if they drop to the Europa League, Liverpool could treat it as a genuine opportunity to rotate and assess the fringe players, while going out of that competition wouldn’t be too damaging on morale.
If Liverpool are to truly benefit from last season’s sterling efforts, then remaining a top-four club is imperative.
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