1. Brendan Rodgers
Any manager that takes Liverpool within touching distance of their first Premier League title deserves to be acknowledged as a hero. The 41-year old Northern Irish man was instrumental in the Reds’ remarkable 2013/2014 campaign, which concluded with the Merseysiders still having a mathematical chance of clinching the title on the final day of the season, even if everyone knew it was a long shot in reality.
|Rodgers has done remarkably well at Liverpool|
Undoubtedly, Rodgers has areas requiring development. Most notably, he needs to work out how to improve his leaky defence. However, the astounding success that the club enjoyed under his guidance and inspired by his footballing philosophy entitles him to time to turn things around, and earns him a place among Liverpool’s heroes of 2014.
2. Luis Suarez
He could so easily be placed in the villain category as a result of his acrimonious departure from Anfield following bite gate 3.0. However, Suarez’s scoring record makes it impossible not to ultimately view him as one of the Reds’ heroes from 2014.
12 of his 31 League goals in the 2013/2014 season came in 2014, and there is no doubt that Liverpool would not have been challenging for the title in May had Suarez not been scoring like it was going out of
|It's still strange seeing Suarez in a Barcelona shirt|
3. Daniel Sturridge
Suarez’s sidekick, Sturridge matured into the exceptional striker he has always promised to be this year. Netting 14 times in 2014, the England forward revelled when given the opportunity to play centrally and formed a duo with Suarez so dynamic that it came to be affectionately known as the ‘SAS’.
|Sturridge likes his strange celebrations|
1. Liverpool’s defence
Put simply, Liverpool’s defence cost them the title in 2014. Shipping a grand total of 50 League goals in the 2013/2014 season, which was 13 more than main title rivals Manchester City conceded, the Reds’ back line relied on being bailed out by the brilliance of their teammates at the other end of the pitch.
Stoke City 3-5 Liverpool, Liverpool 4-3 Swansea, Cardiff City 3-6 Liverpool and Norwich City 2-3 Liverpool spring to mind as particularly embarrassing games for Liverpool’s defence. However, no shoddy defensive display was as costly as the one at Selhurst Park on the penultimate matchday of the 2013/2014 season, when the visitors somehow conceded three goals in nine minutes during the closing stages to throw away a three goal lead and all but end their title chances.
|Liverpool's distraught defence against Palace|
2. Simon Mignolet
One excuse that Liverpool’s defence might offer is that it is difficult to defend well when they have such an unconvincing goalkeeper behind them. They’d have a point too, since Simon Mignolet has been simply dreadful this year. Indecisive and hesitant at set pieces, the Belgian stopper looks like a mistake waiting to happen with the ball at his feet and has failed to redeem himself with his shot-stopping ability.
Surprisingly dropped against Manchester United, he sat out matches against Bournemouth and Arsenal before receiving an unexpected recall at Burnley on Boxing Day after his replacement Brad Jones picked up a thigh injury. His time out of the limelight on the sidelines did not seem to have the desired effect, though, as he produced another worryingly poor performance.
|Mignolet is not good enough to be Liverpool's first choice keeper|
3. Mario Balotelli
What can I say about Balotelli that hasn’t already been said?
The Italian has always been a liability and Rodgers himself admitted that he took a huge gamble when, in an act of desperation, he signed Super Mario from AC Milan for £16 million in the summer.
|It's more like Stupid Mario...|
Rodgers has recently warned Balotelli to expect a spell on the bench, and it might be a long time before he can win back the many supporters who justifiably see him as one of Liverpool’s villains of 2014.