Why this season will be more successful for Liverpool than last

After pushing Manchester City so hard for the Premier League title last year, few at Anfield thought it'd get any better this season - but it just might.

It is almost exactly three months since Brendan Rodgers admitted that he wasn’t safe from the sack, despite guiding a scintillating Liverpool side to a brilliant second place the previous season.

For all the glory of that marauding run, which surely deserved to result in a league title – and had a hint of the Kevin Keegans about their all-out attacking style – a slow start to the new campaign left the usually assured Northern Irishman feeling the heat.

So much so that, on November 23rd, after a 3-1 defeat at Crystal Palace – Selhurst Park again filling the role of bogey ground to his side’s hopes, after ending their title chase last term – he conceded as much.

For a man that normally oozes self-belief, and generally lavishes his players in praise, publically at least, it was seen by some as an admission of defeat. 

Instead, it was simply a rare airing of Rodgers the pragmatist. What else could he say? It was his team’s fourth loss on the bounce.

He’d dismantled and overhauled his squad with more than £100million of investment, with none of his signings seeming sound.

Though it was far from all-out unrest at Anfield, there were murmurings of discontent. Dejan Lovren hadn’t made the step up, Lazar Markovic had done little to warrant his £20 million asking price, and Mario Balotelli was a gamble the club didn’t need.

Liverpool were well off the pace, and even club icon Jamie Carragher was moved to criticise proceedings – saying it wasn’t just a blip, but that something was seriously wrong.

Fast-forward three months and things are far rosier.

The club have just, finally, laid their Selhurst Park ghosts to rest, by beating Crystal Palace to reach the FA Cup quarter finals, where they will meet Championship outfit Blackburn, a draw which has made the Reds tournament favourites.

Tonight they face Beskitas in the Europa League, again knowing that they would be among the strongest teams in the hat for the next round should they progress.

Rodgers is determined to get his hands on silverware this season, and it’d be tough to bet against them doing that.

Likewise, the odds of them snaring a lucrative spot in the top four of the Premier League are shortening by the week.

Rodgers’ men sit just four points behind fourth-placed Southampton, who they visit on Sunday. Key face-offs against rival contenders Manchester United and Arsenal await in the next six weeks.

Rodgers, for so many an enigma – is he a genius or just garrulous? – has found a way to make things click again.

Namely, managing the fitness of Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling, while finally integrating most of his summer signings into the team.

Now, most will be described as sound investments. Even Balotelli has started to come good.

After such a difficult start to the season – compounded by the announcement that Steven Gerrard will leave in May – a top four finish and a cup will feel even better than the heights of 2013-14.

And Rodgers will finally get the open-top bus ride he’d hoped for.

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