When this season has drawn to a close and all the dust has settled on yet another year of underachievement for Liverpool FC, I’m sure the fans will look back and wonder where all the early-season optimism went. This was supposed to be the year when the team clawed their back into the Champions League, and the year that they make a triumphant return to the mantle of title challengers.
Unfortunately, all the early fervor evaporated throughout the season with losses to West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa and Southampton, followed by draws with Arsenal and Manchester City that Liverpool really should have won.
Now I could rant on about what went wrong this year at Liverpool and the awe-inspiring management failures that have led to the club languishing in seventh place, but that would be remiss of me. So instead, I’ll attempt to look for some positives among all the negativity.
Seeing as there is nothing left to play for apart from sixth place, it seems glaringly obvious to everyone, except Brendan Rodgers that is, that Liverpool should at least be trying do something constructive with what’s left with the remainder of the season.
One avenue to explore that could have the potential to be very productive is one of youth development. I am aware that Liverpool are blessed with one of the best youth academies certainly in English soccer, possibly even the world, but nothing increases a youngster’s development like a blood and thunder Premier League game.
It’s all well and good having youth players facing each other in practice matches, but nothing can prepare them for the intensity of a real game in front of 50,000 yelling spectators where every touch and pass will be scrutinized.
Rather than exacerbating the problem, Rodger’s should be using some of these last games to replace the dross that gets selected every week and promote some of the young players, thereby preparing them for next year as potential replacements.
Not only is this method more cost-effective as it means you already have replacement players without having to buy any, it’s also a way for the club to see if the young player himself is potentially good enough for the first team.
Sebastian Coates needs game time so he could easily replace the retiring Jamie Carragher. Krisztian Adorjan is a potential No. 10 waiting in the wings, and Joao Teixeira was so impressive at former club Sporting Lisbon that he was invited to train with the first team there.
These players don’t even get on the bench and really deserve a chance to prove their worth, but the only question is will Rodgers see that before it’s too late?
James Hilton is a soccer writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @jameshilton1980, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.