OpinionJohn Aldridge

Rodgers is facing his biggest task

Depay (left) is in big demand all over Europe
Depay (left) is in big demand all over Europe

Manager Brendan Rodgers will need to piece together a complex jigsaw this summer if he is to steer Liverpool back on course after what can only be described as a desperately disappointing season.

The scale of the task Rodgers is facing up to now is bigger than anything he confronted last summer following the sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona and he will go about it knowing that he dare not get it wrong again.

Rodgers and Liverpool need to sit back and consider where they need to go from here if they are to get the club back where it belongs I believe there is a five point plan that he needs to follow if he is to defy his critics and get a new-look team winning matches consistently again.

Each and every one of these areas need to be revamped successfully if Liverpool are to get back into the mix for a return to the Champions League and the task needs to start right now as there will no time for a break this summer.

THE FORMATION
Before any players are identified and signed, Rodgers needs to come up with a definitive plan of how he wants his team to play and then he can look to sign the players to make that system work.

He enjoyed plenty of success with a 4-3-3 formation last season, but it now looks like that was fuelled by the goals of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.

Without those two, Liverpool’s entire set-up looked second rate until he switched to a 3-4-3 set-up that worked for a few weeks.

Personally, I think the 3-4-3 set-up suits the kind of players Liverpool have in their squad and Rodgers may be wise to put his faith in and while he can switch to a back four if needed, he needs to give his team a clear identity once more.

Danny (left) would be a fine addition

THE TRANSFER COMMITTEE
There has been a lot of talk about the process Liverpool go through before they sign a player and in my eyes, the idea of having a panel of people deciding which players the club should be targeting has not worked.

Chief executive Ian Ayre, director Mike Gordon, head of analysis Michael Edwards, head of recruitment Dave Fallows and chief scout Barry Hunter all have a say on transfer targets before they are rubber stamped by Rodgers, but some of the buys sanctioned by that group have been flops.

Liverpool’s American owner have to sit down and consider whether that process is working and maybe the time has come to say to Rodgers; this is your problem and you have to try and sort it out. 

That way, the manager can live or die by his own decision and not end up with players like Mario Balotelli, who has flopped horribly at Anfield.

REPLACING EXPERIENCE
Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson, Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert are among the experienced (and high earning) players who will be leaving

Liverpool this summer, so the club needs to change its recent policy and sign proven performers in their place.

The transfer committee has been focused on signing youngsters who are potentially going to inflate in value during their time at Liverpool and while that is a sound model for a business looking to maximize profits, it is not necessarily the right way to go if you want to win trophies in the competition Premier League.

Recruiting youthful players with promise is fine so long as it goes hand in hand with building a winning team and to do that, you need to sign players who have a certificate of authenticity to confirm they are top class performers.

I look at Chelsea signing Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas last summer and Liverpool need to follow that lead by trying to sign a couple of top players in key positions. Getting them to Anfield may not be easy, but that’s what is needed.

Liverpool should pay whatever it takes to lure Benteke to Anfield

THE FORWARD LINE
The key area that has let Liverpool down this season is up front and while getting Daniel Sturridge fit and capable of playing for more than a few games before he breaks down is a priority, it’s clear that more strength is needed up front.

Fabio Borini, Balotelli and Lambert will probably all go and I think at least two new strikers need to be signed to go with the imminent arrival of Belgian international Divock Origi, who is already signed up for next season.

I’d say give Aston Villa whatever they want for Christian Benteke because he is a proven performer in the Premier League and can be a real handful leading the line. He might not be a typical Rodgers type of player, but I think he would be great for Liverpool.

They should also do all they can to get PSV Eindhoven’s Memphis Depay – who is also attracting interest from Man Utd and Paris Saint-Germain – and I’d also get Danny Ings in from Burnley. Attacking strength is needed if Liverpool are to get back on track because it has been sadly lacking this season.

LEARNING FROM MISTAKES
Rodgers and everyone at Liverpool need to look at what went wrong in the transfer market last summer and learn from those mistakes.

Too many average players were signed with the Luis Suarez money and I can’t work out why the manager is persisting with playing someone like Balotelli even though it has been clear to all of us for months that the lad is not going to be a success at Liverpool.

Let’s get players in who will have an instant impact in the Premier League and not guys who need a few months or years to develop and find their feet because we don’t have time for that any more. 

The rest of the Premier League will move even ahead of Liverpool unless they halt their slide quickly this summer and all involved in what will be a massive overhaul in the next few months need to make sure they get it right this time.