Five really annoying things about this season

5) One up front

If you’re struggling to score goals would it not make sense to get as many goalscorers into your team as possible? You don’t have a 30 goal a season man anymore but you have two or three who are capable of getting 15 given enough playing time in a favourable system. None can play as a lone forward, but by playing two up front you’d be playing to the strengths of the players you have, while also potentially doubling your chances of a goal.

Yet how many times did we see Balotelli up on his own in a 4-2-3-1 early in the season and then again near the end? When Lambert played it was the same system, while Borini spent almost the entire season in the doghouse after refusing a move to Sunderland. It was obvious after a few games that Mario couldn’t play as a lone striker and as for Lambert, it was evident as early as pre-season that he didn’t look comfortable in the role. So why did Rodgers persist with it?

Belatedly he switched to Sterling up top and while the results improved, that was in large part down to the extra centre back allowing us to finally stop leaking goals. We still didn’t score many, although the balance of the side did look better with a mobile forward who could press from the front and wanted to run in behind. When you consider how many formation changes Rodgers made throughout the season, it’s puzzling that we didn’t see two up front more often than we did.

There’s nothing wrong with playing 4-2-3-1 when you have the right forward to lead the line on his own, but if you don’t have that player then find another solution. If we could replay the season and go with two up front in every game – be it any combination of Balotelli, Sterling, Lambert and Borini – it’s a fairly safe bet we’d score more goals (albeit still nowhere near enough) and who knows, we might have even made the top four.

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