Are Liverpool the Next Newcastle?
2008-09 was the darkest year in modern football for the city of Newcastle. Their beloved Magpies, the pride of the city, were relegated from the first division in England for only the fourth time since their league debut in 1892. To begin the 21st century Newcastle were one of the best teams in the Premier League. They made the Champions League two years in a row while reaching the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup. However, slowly but surely over the next couple of years that success and pride began to disintegrate. Slowly but surely a club considered amongst England’s finest began to drop closer and closer to the relegation zone.
Eventually in 2008-09 when the worst was realized plenty of signs could have been identified in the lead up. Four years later in 2012 Newcastle are now firmly entrenched back in the top flight. Yet another club who carried similar status as Newcastle may be in a similar state. This is referring to Liverpool. The Reds have started the 2012-2013 Premier League campaign in an inexplicably poor fashion. Since a 3-0 loss to West Bromwich Albion to start the season Liverpool have never really recovered. So could they be headed the same route as Newcastle?
If this campaign were a one off in Liverpool’s recent history this notion would be far harder to debate. Yet Liverpool have been trending downwards the last couple of years. Ironically the last time Liverpool had a decent season (2nd in the Premier League and Champions League Quarter-finalists) was in 2008-09 the same year Newcastle were relegated. Since then Liverpool has finished 7th,6th and then 8th in the Premier League.
It doesn’t seem to matter whether it is Kenny Dalglish or Brendan Rogers behind the bench the results are going to same direction and it is not positive. There is even a solid argument to make that Rogers is a better manager then Dalglish, he has made some decent decisions this campaign especially with his midfield who are the strong point of this team. Liverpool have had a tough time of evaluating talent recently and at the same time have not made the sort of big splashes that City, United, Chelsea and Arsenal made during the summer.
Meanwhile on the pitch decent effort seems to be going the wrong way for Liverpool. Against both halfs of Manchester, United and City, Liverpool should have won and deserved to do so. What they ended up achieving is a 2-2 draw and a 2-1 loss courtesy a Robin Van Persie penalty. The lack of finishing on decent chances killed Liverpool in both of these matches. They were able to work the ball into wide areas but for Liverpool, a squad without a striker known for heading goals this was somewhat unproductive.
Overall the main problem for Liverpool this season has been goalscoring. They have been able to create legitimate chances but continue to fail to finish them when they are needed most. Suarez has been far too isolated upfront as it is easy to shut down a team if they only have one scoring threat. It really is too bad that Liverpool failed to land Carlos Tevez as the Argentine would have been a huge asset for the Reds. To bring it back to Newcastle scoring was a big problem as well when they were relegated in 2008-09.
At the other end of the park things have not been going much better either. The backline has been poor and frustratingly inconsistent. Meanwhile Pepe Reina, possibly the most underrated goalkeeper in the world the last couple of years, has not been near his usual standards. It does not help that the Liverpool defense have made several poor decisions this year and created situations which make their keeper look poorer then actuality.
Does this mean that Liverpool will be relegated this season? Of course not. Liverpool will restore order when the face Norwich City this weekend and will probably finish somewhere around the bottom of the mid-table. But should a change not be made soon this downward spiral will continue. Liverpool are not a good enough side at the moment and if Suarez and/or Steven Gerrard left or where injured this team is nothing short of a disaster.
It is up to the owners of Liverpool to make a change. What this club needs is some legitimate big name players. Firstly a solid centreback who can play alongside Glen Johnson and provide some movement from the back. Secondly, and most importantly a striker who is proven at the Premier League level and can score at least 15 goals per campaign. Both of these will be hard to come by but as we have seen with Manchester City money can make all the difference.
Liverpool are not Newcastle circa 2009 just yet. But if they continue in their current pattern seeing them playing League Championship could be in the cards for the not so distant future.