Brendan Rodgers has finished his first season in charge of Liverpool after replacing club icon Kenny Dalglish last summer. Pete O'Rourke looks at how Liverpool have performed over the season...
Last Updated: 22/05/13 9:48am
It was always going to be a season of transition for Liverpool under a new manager who was looking to implement his own style of football.
There have been signs of promise this term, but just when it looked like Liverpool were taking a step forward under Rodgers the next week it would be two steps back, and again consistency is what has been missing at Anfield this season.
Seventh place is a slight improvement on last season, but Liverpool still find themselves well adrift of the top four. After a difficult start to the season when Rodgers was forced to turn to a number of the club's youngsters, things have improved in 2013 with the addition of players in January and the fans will be expecting a top-four challenge next season.
Player of the Year
Despite Luiz Suarez seeing his season cut short by his ten-game ban for his infamous bite on Branislav Ivanovic, the Uruguayan is a deserving winner. Suarez has enjoyed his best scoring season for Liverpool by netting 23 goals in the Premier League and, for most of the campaign, he carried Brendan Rodgers' side with some stellar showings. The former Ajax man was rewarded for his fine form by being named in the PFA Team of the Year as well as finishing second to Gareth Bale in the Player of the Year running.
Ratings Player of the Year
Suarez has come out on top of our experts' player ratings for Liverpool. Suarez takes the honour in our ratings, but midfielder Lucas Leiva just edged out his fellow South American at the top of the fans' ratings.
Breakthrough Player of the Year
It is hard to overlook the impact of Raheem Sterling in the first half of the season. Sterling has been tipped for big things at Anfield and, at just 17, he established himself as a regular in Brendan Rodgers' starting XI. The winger has shown a great deal of maturity with how he has dealt with being thrown in at the deep end this season with Liverpool short of attacking options. Sterling's impressive form was rewarded with a new long-term deal at Anfield and his performances also earned him his first England cap against Sweden in November. The skilful wide-man is set to become a permanent fixture for club and country over the next few years, and he is set to continue to be a menace for Premier League defences for some time to come.
Signing of the Year
This is a tough one as Liverpool's form has been transformed by the January arrivals of Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge, but the nod goes to the Brazilian schemer. There had been doubts as to whether or not the diminutive attacker would be able to cope with the physical demands of the Premier League, but Coutinho has taken to it like a fish to water. Since he made his debut on February 11th, no player has assisted more goals than Coutinho and the former Inter Milan man has five assists to his name, and he has also chipped in with three goals in 13 appearances. Coutinho joined Liverpool for a reported £8.5million in January and that is beginning to look like a bargain. Special mention also goes to Sturridge who has scored 11 goals in all competitions since his arrival from Chelsea.
Could do better
Although he has missed part of the season through injury, Fabio Borini still has a lot to prove to the Liverpool fans. The Italian arrived in a big-money deal from Roma with expectations high, but he has struggled for form and season all term. Pepe Reina will also feel he could have done better this season as he made a number of uncharacteristic high-profile errors in the early stages of the campaign. Full-backs Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique still remain a concern defensively, with both players probably better going forward than they are defending.
The jury remains out on Brendan Rodgers after his first season at Anfield. The Northern Irishman has pleaded for time to try and get things right, and the majority of Liverpool fans have been encouraged by what he has done so far. Rodgers put his faith in the club's youngsters early on in the campaign and that will only stand them in good stead, and the side have played a more attractive, attacking style of football. Liverpool's big problem this season has been to beat any of their top-six rivals with their only success against a team higher in the Premier League table than themselves coming against Tottenham. The Reds have also drawn far too many games this season and, if Rodgers can turn those draws into wins, they might be able to make a concerted push for the top four.
Jamie Redknapp's view
It's difficult to judge this side's season. Last year they go to two cup finals and, although they've finished one place higher in the league, it is hard to say they're better now than they were. There have been signs in games where they have played nice football and I reckon they're only one or two players short of having a real go at the top four next season - but next year will be a big one for Brendan Rodgers. What they do with Luis Suarez is also important; they can't afford to keep on losing a key player for eight or nine matches every season because of his disciplinary record.
Fan's view (Richard Garnett)
Brendan Rodgers' inaugural season has been dogged by inconsistency but he finishes the campaign with some clear positives to carry forward. The January acquisitions of Phillip Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge have been hugely successful and brought an improved attacking dynamic to the team. Luis Suarez's contribution throughout the campaign was nothing short of exceptional, so it is a real shame that he undermined his admirable efforts with the biting incident. Overall, a fairly unspectacular campaign, but there are enough signs to suggest that Liverpool can kick on from here next season and make a serious push for the top four.