The last time that Liverpool finished eighth in the league, 'Wet Wet Wet,' were topping the charts with 'Love is all around.' It seems that both Liverpool fans and music lovers were suffering in 2003.

I do hope that I have not put that sickeningly catchy tune back inside your heads.

As you 'feel it in your fingers,' consider that you have to go back to 1963 for an equally poor finish but on the plus side, juke boxes across the world were bulging with 'From me to You,' by a band you probably don't remember.

In spite of Cup glory, 8th place was not enough to keep King Kenny at Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers is the new face at the helm. Column feet have been generated to discuss the rights and wrongs of the decisions taken but at least one cannot accuse the board of cowardice.

Swansea City were easy on the eye in the last campaign. The team eschewed a crisp, fluid style built around passing and movement. Using the word continental sounds like something my mum would say but Swansea did not give the ball away and humiliated many of the big guns without a household name in sight.

What can the new manager do to put the Anfield outfit back in with a shout of league glory?

A business will often produce a SWOT analysis to help plan future actions.

So what are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats faced by Rodgers?


Current players: A number are world class, with Reina, Suarez and Gerrard jumping out of the page. They can and will turn a game on its head with a pass or a save.

The manager: The Kenny Dalglish era is over and the understandable emotional baggage can now be shed. What better replacement could there be than a young man who is driven, successful and forward thinking? He is the natural choice for Liverpool Football Club and it is hard to imagine a better candidate to bring about a return to the style of football so cherished by the fans.

The fans: Liverpool is fanatically well supported. It only needs a cursory glance over the fanzines and forums to realise that football intelligence is far from a contradiction in terms. Any fan base can be considered a pretty broad church but in this neck of the woods they are slow to turn against the club as long as decisions taken can be interpreted as being in the Liverpool tradition. Anfield could yet become the fortress of old but the team will have to meet the faithful halfway.

The Owners: Fenway Sports Group may not be in the same league as Manchester City or Chelsea but they do have the financial wherewithal to invest in the club. This is a welcome change from the previous regime.


Previous big money signings cast something of a shadow but perhaps it helps to separate the money from the player. Andy Carroll was too expensive at £36 million but he is a good player. He, more than most of the recent signings has shown heart and has steadfastly refused to hide when things haven't gone his way. The bigger question may well be whether he fits into the Rodgers' system of play or can be accommodated. His cracking header against Sweden in the Euros demonstrates the additional dimension he can bring to a side. Now who did supply that cross?

Stewart Downing performed well for Villa in 2010/11 but did not look comfortable in red last year. He made 68 interceptions and scored 7 goals for Villa in his last season but only 24 interceptions with not a single goal for Liverpool, albeit with fewer starts. His confidence is at rock bottom.

Charlie Adam looked all at sea without Lucas alongside him and Henderson has at times showed promise but at least time is on his side.

The problem for Rodgers is that £80 million was spent on the fab four and of course that is just the tip of the iceberg, the wage bill will be astronomical and slows down further signings.


New signings: Allen and Borini will breathe new life into the side, with more fresh troops rumoured to be on the way.  Liverpool fans will be licking their lips at the prospect of Allen reproducing the form he showed for Swansea and he is only 22 years old.

It would also be fair to add the fab four as opportunities. They may fare better with the increased clarity of their roles that the new manager brings.


Time and expectation are the biggest threat to the recent and current signings. In football, patience has become a rare commodity and it doesn't take long to be branded a flop. Players are expected to hit the ground running, rather than grow into their positions. The new blood must be afforded the opportunity to become accustomed to their surroundings.

I doubt that you expected Steven Gerrard to figure in the threat column but the problem is that he is so very, very, ridiculously good. He has been the one figure as reliable as a metronome, a once in a generation talisman, with a talent that eclipses most who have ever played in the Premiership.

Who can boast the longevity, quality and service of Gerrard? In the 2008/9 season he started 31 times and 33 times the following year but was restricted to 21 appearances in 2010/11 and 18 last year, with 6 of those from the substitutes' bench. He has dragged Liverpool through some tough times but at 32, he will at some point need replacing. He is to Liverpool what Shane Warne was to Australia but clearly with a much better fitness regime.

UEFA Fair Play regulations are beginning to bite and the Liverpool management team will be only too aware that they cannot afford to have highly paid passengers on their books. If you have put off reading the regulations, I have tried to explain their implications, click on my name and the article will magically appear. Best not read it around bedtime. If you want to read the entire regulations, invest in a dictionary, a financial adviser and a gallon of coffee.

Perhaps the remaining threat is the challenging landscape of the Premier League itself. With Manchester City and Chelsea having a seemingly bottomless pit of money and QPR looking emulate their spending, rarely has the title been open to so many with such deep pockets. Manchester United and Arsenal also want a piece of the action and have been hard at work strengthening their squads over the closed season.

So where will Liverpool finish come May? A top six finish would be a good first step and put them among the kind of company they want to keep but the reason we all love the game, is that we don't get to read the end of the chapter until May.