This season has been one of mixed emotions for Liverpool. Whilst they have already won the League Cup and are set for a third trip to Wembley for the FA Cup Final against Chelsea in less than two weeks, their league form has been simply awful.
The club currently lie in eighth in the table and with only four games to go, are in danger of finishing in their lowest position for eighteen years.
But what has happened to the club Bill Shankly once built into a bastion of invincibility? Where did it all wrong?
Last season saw their bitter rivals, Manchester United, claim their 19th league title, surpassing Liverpool’s tally of eighteen and truly establishing themselves as the most successful English team in league history.
Since the return of King Kenny to Anfield some fifteen months ago, Liverpool might have won their first piece of silverware for six years but even with another Wembley final to look forward to, the fans have yet again seen their club get absolutely nowhere near the one they want the most - The Premier League trophy.
The gap between first place and Liverpool currently reads as THIRTY-SEVEN points, a stat to make the toughest of any Reds fan weep. When did this gap get so big and who or what is to blame?
Much has been made of the big-money signings failing to deliver and earlier this month, the club sacked Director of Football, Damien Comolli after he spent a staggering £114.2m on seven players. Surely one man alone cannot be to blame for these decisions?
If you ask me, I think Mr Comolli can count himself unlucky as I feel he was chosen as the sacrificial lamb. Liverpool owner John Henry must see that Kenny Dalglish was just as responsible for the club's inflated summer spending spree which saw the Merseyside club spend over £50 million on "Championship talent".
Away from the problems on the field and with personnel, is the on-going stadium saga. This has now been an issue ever since initial plans to build a new stadium in Stanley Park were announced way back in 2002.
A proposed 55,000 all-seater stadium was originally set to open in 2006 – the same year Arsenal moved into their new home, The Emirates – but after six years and several re-designs later, the club are no closer to knowing when or IF this will ever happen. The reason I mention Arsenal there is because this is the model Liverpool should follow.
The North London club were not scared of moving forward, nor scared of turning their back on history, something Liverpool are guilty of; instead they embraced the chance to start a new chapter and create some more.
Arsenal realised that by moving from Highbury, which had a capacity of less than 40,000 to a brand new stadium with a capacity of nearly double, that they would stand much more of a chance of financially keeping up with the big boys and in hindsight, this has proved to be a master stroke after Chelsea and then Manchester City have had billions pumped into them over the last few years.
Arsenal might not have won anything since leaving Highbury but year after year, they have qualified for the Champions League, a huge financial bonus, something Liverpool haven’t done since 2009.
The stadium issue cannot be solved at the click of a finger, however a management issue can be and this is an issue I think the club need to act on.
John W Henry has admitted Liverpool need to increase capacity, and their preference would be to stay and Anfield, he is aware that may not be possible. This needs to be sped up as quickly as possible, and the local authority in Liverpool needs to make the planning process as simple as possible to boost the club and city.
Whilst Monday’s Sport Pages focused on the Title Race and how we had our first relegation casualty of the season in Wolves but it was Liverpool’s result at Anfield which caught my attention and why? Because for the second time in a year, Roy Hodgson had got the better of the man who replaced him in the Anfield Hot seat.
The club's financial income could suffer the same way as their league form if they do not increase their gate receipts to maximise profit, and they should look to do it as soon as possible, it can only boost their chances of sustained success on the pitch.
image: © Sanjiva