Brendan Rodgers will manage Liverpool next season after coming through the club’s end of season review with his job intact.
The Reds manager had met chairman Tom Werner on Tuesday as part of the club’s inquest into a moderate 2014/15, with the pair agreeing a “comprehensive plan” to improve things ahead of the next campaign.
Details of said roadmap remain scarce and new signings are sure to feature, but here are four things that the the Northern Irishman can do to start the season on a better footing, without recourse to budget-caning talent infusion.
Decide upon a default formation
Rodgers used no fewer than six different setups in the Premier League alone according to stats gurus whoscored.com last term – a level of inconsistency sure to undermine his squad’s understanding of their respective roles.
The switch to a 3-4-3 was widely credited with their mid-term hot-streak, but in terms of wins, draws, losses, goals for and against, 4-2-3-1 yielded the best results, with five wins and just one loss from nine outings and a positive goal difference of +5.
Play to your strikers’ strengths
In 2013/14 only Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez managed more assists than Rickie Lambert, with the then Southampton target man falling a mere four behind Wayne Rooney when it came to combined goals and setups.
Whether or not he will be at Anfield next season, the lifelong Livepool fan’s plight last term (and that of Mario Balotelli) was indicative of a side who weren’t set up to get the best out of their available strikers.
As Tim Sherwood recently pointed out in his attempts to dissuade Christian Benteke from joining the club, no Premier League side played less crosses last term, despite the seemingly-constant marauding of Alberto Moreno.
Bring Emre Can into midfield
It was difficult not to be reminded of Yaya Toure’s 2011/12 campaign in those rare moments when, late in the game, Rodgers would push the German out of central defence, where his ability to break through the lines was evident.
Now is the time to place trust in those who were employed to be centre-halves so that Can can operate further up the pitch, with all the extra training-ground drilling that may inevitably require.
Display a greater degree of pragmatism against the best opposition and in clutch situations
This lesson really should have been learned after the results against Chelsea and Crystal Palace that thwarted the 2012/13 title bid.
Yet it seems, despite cutting his coaching teeth under Jose Mourinho, that Rodgers has failed to grasp the idea that not losing is the most important thing in key fixtures.
The consecutive losses against Manchester United and Arsenal that killed Liverpool’s momentum just as they seemed to be making a late bid for the Champions League spots were a case in point.