Following last season's heroics, supporters of Brendan Rodgers will find this article harsh. However, last season's spectacular showing could have been even better had Rodgers got the following categories correct:
Poor transfer record
Cannot organise a defence
Playing favourites with players
Now without his two best players, Rodgers' failings in the aforementioned categories have become more pronounced and the result is a drop from second to 11th.
Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho have been bonafide successes that have improved the first 11, whilst Kolo Toure has impressed whenever has played; however, they are only 3 of 24.
Players like Joe Allen, Mamadou Sakho and Simon Mignolet are still no closer to solidifying their place in the first 11 than when they first joined, suggesting they are either rotational players, or simply not top four standard.
Taking aside this season's transfer signings, the rest of the players signed by Brendan Rodgers have been unmitigated failures with no future at the club. Fabio Borini, Oussama Assaidi, Samed Yesil, Nuri Sahin, Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto, Tiago Ilori, Aly Cissokho and Victor Moses were all brought in for various figures on permanent or loan deals, and aside from Yesil, they are all no longer with the club.
Of course this only tells half of the story. Rodgers and his transfer committee targeted Gylfi Sigurdsson, Clint Dempsey, Willian, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Diego Costa, Mohamed Salah, Yevhen Konoplyanka, Alexis Sanchez and Loic Remy long before their current clubs did, yet with the exception of Remy - who Liverpool turned down as a result of a failed medical - Liverpool were indecisive and failed to see out the deals, allowing another club to gazump them.
Here I have sympathize with Rodgers simply because he has lost a series of his number one targets through no fault of his own. Where I do pin blame on him is the failure to secure a suitable second choice, after all, there is more than one world class or top class player for every position in world football. Rodgers' failure to secure such a player on 21 attempts out of 24 is truly appalling and speaks volumes of the lack of ambition the Liverpool board has, but also of Rodgers ability or lack of ability to entice the best to come to Anfield.
This season alone, Glen Johnson, Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson have been overused despite being out of form or simply ill-suited to the role assigned to them. For example, Johnson has been regularly switched from right back, to left back and even played as a centre back in the last Premier League game - all this despite Liverpool having Moreno, Manquillo and Enrique fit for large periods of the season.
As for Gerrard, he has not played any better than Liverpool's midfielders this season and was in fact their worst player against both West Ham and Crystal Palace. Furthermore, with Liverpool not featuring an out-ball in the form of a pacey forward, Gerrard's position as a deep-lying playmaker simply makes little sense. Though, perhaps benefiting from the perks of being club captain, Gerrard has been an ever present in the league.
Henderson has been simply anonymous for the majority of Liverpool's games this season. Not particularly fast, creative, defensive minded or powerful, Henderson's only purpose to the team is his work rate. That in itself is not a terrible thing but in a side crying out for more, Henderson simply doesn't give enough. Though like Gerrard, he is perhaps benefitting from vice-captain privileges.
Rodgers' hesitancy to switch players has also seen him freeze out players who haven't been given a fair chance. Assaidi barely had a place on the bench in his first and only season at the club, which is extremely strange as Liverpool were forced to play the likes of Jose Enrique, Jonjo Shelvey and Joe Cole as wingers during Rodgers' first season - a time when the club were horribly short on depth. Since then Assaidi has gone on to have a successful spell with Stoke, whilst Rodgers has employed Victor Moses and Lazar Markovic with little success.
Iago Aspas and Fabio Borini also fall into this category of players brought for a sizeable fee and the inexplicably not given a chance; the result has been signing new players in their position for much bigger fees.
The most baffling however, has been the signing of youngsters for big fees such as Tiago Ilori and Luis Alberto; players who were never given a chance and then loaned out never to be seen again. Could Emre Can and Lazar Markovic be on the same path?
For whatever reason, Rodgers has alienated several players after spending a lot of money on them and it simply represents bad value for money. Meanwhile, the first team is hardly improving and players are being forced to play out of position, or simply when they are out of form because there isn't enough pressure on them.
In his first season they conceded 43 goals, last season 50 and so far after just 16 games, 22 - at this rate they'll concede far more than they did last season.
A lot has been made of Rodgers' transfer record in this article, but what has been left out is that unlike the forward positions, Rodgers has not been gazumped in signing a defensive player - in others words, who he has brought has been his first target. As you have gathered, Liverpool's defence has been getting worse year upon year. In essence, every time Rodgers has tried to improve the defence, he has made it worse.
His record with Swansea in the Premier League was equally as bad too, conceding 51 goals in 38 games. Likewise, with Reading he conceded 33 in 23 games and with Watford, 48 in 32 games. In all four of his jobs in his short career as a manager, Rodgers has failed to create a cohesive defence. This is an alarming trend that shows no sign of stopping. Arsene Wenger, Kevin Keegan and Harry Redknapp were famed for bringing some of the most exciting football the Premier League has ever seen, though they were all seen as tactically naive. What all three also have in common is that they failed to bring any form of continental success to their clubs; in the form of Keegan and Redknapp, they hardly ever got their clubs in those positions despite having the teams and the resources to do so.
Football is a team game, not an individual's game. Skilled players and solo efforts do not win trophies, 11 players working hard to create a unit in each part of field do. Brendan Rodgers has so far shown he is incapable of doing that, after three years it is beginning to be apparent he never will.