Liverpool decline embodied by crumbling Anfield fortress

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Brendan Rodgers’ team is struggling at their famed stadium and although fans’ expectations have lowered over the past couple of seasons, Liverpool have still not been able to put together a good run at home. During the seasons of 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11, the Merseyside giants enjoyed a success rate of over 63% at home but last season their win percentage dropped to 31% and, so far this season, it stands at a dismal 17%. Anfield was once regarded as an impenetrable fortress where even the top teams dreaded coming but it no longer intimidates and neither does its main occupant.

Anfield is a stadium which conjures up memories of how mighty Liverpool used to be. Both at home and abroad, the Kop and all that came with it stood proudly in L4 as England’s most intimidating prospect but now, with a side in transition to follow its decline, its air of invincibility is simply a distant memory.

Brendan Rodgers’ side were held to a 1-1 draw by Newcastle on Sunday afternoon, helping to preserve their 18-year unbeaten record over the Magpies on home soil. With records such as this one routinely broken during the club’s slump these past few years, it took a goal of truly world-class proportions from Luis Suarez to haul the hosts back into the game.

It was only in the aftermath of that superb equaliser that the famed atmosphere returned and had an impact on proceedings, with the terraces as flat as the display out on the pitch and the supporters have seemingly become conditioned not to expect anything whenever the team breaks forward now.

Expectations have been dampened to such an extent that hope has now given way to cynicism and with just three wins out of their last 15 home games, it is little wonder, with the crowd given very little to shout about.

In six home games this term, Rodgers’ outfit have picked up just six points and scored five goals. Of course, when a side is in transition like Liverpool currently are, there will be bumps in the road to negotiate as they continue to get to grips with the new style imposed on them from above, but progress has been slow, almost painfully so at times.

Defensive errors and poor form right through the spine of the team has dogged them in recent weeks and without a consistent stream of goals up front, there is no real way to mask the obvious and somewhat inherent flaws within the make-up of the side.

Last term under Kenny Dalglish, the team were often found to be incapable of capitalising on their dominance and when results do not match up to performances, confidence can dwindle and poor form sets in. Judging by the flat display against Alan Pardew’s side, the rot may have already begun to set in, in what is quickly becoming a depressingly familiar pattern.

For the people that line the terraces at Anfield each week, given how much they have already had to endure in recent times, they may struggle to find comfort in the realisation that despite a new era emerging, the same old problems are holding them back from matching their lofty aspirations. 

Anfield used to be a fortress, but the regularity with which it has been plundered by opposing forces over the past 18 months has seen them struggle to arrest what is quickly becoming a terminal decline into ‘sleeping giant’ territory and mid-table mediocrity. Arresting that slide is the single greatest challenge facing Rodgers and his charges in the coming months.

You can find the entire article at Goal.com here.

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