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It's been a while I have been wondering about why Liverpool's been lagging behind the other big clubs in the EPL. I went back and checked stats from the last 10 years. They have four top-3 finishes and no titles within this period. Particularly the last three years, they finished 7th, 6th and 8th respectively (8th being last year).

This is of course arguable but I don't think people see Liverpool as a title-contender anymore, and they are still living off their long and glorious past. I have been trying to put my finger on what might have caused their lack of success in the EPL. It can't really be the finances as they have been spending serious sums of money, third after Man City and Chelsea in the total money spent on transfers.

One could argue the choice of players/coaches, or the effect of the new club owners. But I was wondering if anyone has more stats/info on Liverpool's seemingly deteriorating performance in the EPL.


NOTE: I realize that this is a rather argumentative question, but it's also a good test for the community to practice good-subjectivity vs bad-subjectivity. If you are not sure, please check the following meta questions:

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I know that my answer is rather late and I like Orangecrush's answer as well. However, I don't think all of the factors of their descent in power has been in their control. To complete the suggestions of Orangecrush's answer, one has to go back a couple of years:

Start & End of the Rafa Benitez Era

Rafa Benitez took over control of LFC at the end of the 03-04 season. He is a tactical mind and has a systematic reign over any club that he chooses to train. I am quite fond of his tactics, especially when it comes to creating deep squads and having a player circulation with the extensive football fixtures out there. After taking control of LFC, he had the infamous AC Milan victory in Istanbul, finished third in the Premier League, became runners-up for the Champions League in 2007 and then followed this all with a 2nd place finish in 08-09. The last year of Rafa's tenure was the following season, when LFC failed and finished 7th in the EPL (source).

Change of Ownership: The Gillet Era

While Rafa Benitez was in control of the football team, Gillet and Hicks became owners of the club to the somewhat dissatisfaction of the loyal Liverpool KOP (Gillet family also own the majority of the Canadiens here in Montreal and that team has not seen any success in decades, either). Only a single season when Rafa Benitez was not successful was enough for the American owners to part ways with him, whereas Rafa's approach (as Arsene Wenger's and Sir Alex Ferguson's) has always been systematic and required patience and stability.

Financial Challenges and loss of Key Players

In 10-11 LFC was very close to bankruptcy and in dire need of cash. The club has already lost key players like Xabi Alonso to the likes of Real Madrid, a key opponent in the European competition. More and more players have parted ways with LFC, while the club struggled to keep hold of even their infamous captain, Steven Gerard. Finally, the club let go of the indispensable Fernando Torres and in a yet undefined, stupid move purchased mediocre players like Andy Carroll.

The coming of the Manchester City FC and Chelsea FC

Last but not least, Manchester City and Chelsea, both regular mid-table performers have been purchased by oil-rich owners and had their bank accounts flooded with money. The teams purchased top talent into the EPL that the likes of which could only competed with Manchester United. With all the money and the following success, it has been very, very difficult for LFC to bring in top talent into the situation.

All the instability caused by the number of departures (especially post-Rafa Benitez era) and the change of power in the EPL have signalled the difficult days ahead for LFC. Arsenal have faced the same situation as well, and are struggling with adapting to the situation. The bringing of Brendan Rogers to lead the team has been a brilliant move, especially after his success at Swansea City. Yet, his challenges are huge; just take a look at the situation created by King Kenny Dalglish and the star forward Luis Suárez.

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Xabi Alonso leaving was a lot to do with Benitez trying to replace him with Gareth Barry the year before. Also, when Torres left, he was not 'indispensable', he had started his rapid decline long previous to his transfer and pretty much carried over his form to Chelsea. –  jumpingcode May 27 at 11:34

It could be a lot of factors.

  • The players that Liverpool have bought in the recent past (apart from Suarez) haven't exactly clicked for them.
  • They have been very unlucky (especially this season) with some refereeing decisions, which if it had gone their way, they could be in the top 7.
  • Top players missing out because of injury/suspension.
  • Tactics, especially in the later Dalglish regime were questionable.
  • They are not as formidable at Anfield as they once were. Anfield is not a fortress that it was once upon a time.

Brendan Rodgers has got some stability to the team and is in the process of rebuilding the team. They have promising youngsters coming through their ranks. Like it was mentioned in the question, there is no dearth of funds for the manager to spend. IMO, they should be a consistent top 4 side in 2-3 seasons if they can keep their key players and bring in proper talent during the transfer market.

Winning the title, hmm, like they say, next year is their year ;-) (Forgive me, but I am a Man United fan)

P.S: The answer is framed on my opinion only. It can be totally off the mark. However, there isn't any definite answer to the question and is only subjective. If there was, LFC would not have been in the position that it is in.

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As a Liverpool fan and a big supporter of whoever played for the reds, I must agree with you. There was a way too small percentage of players that really integrated at Liverpool and played at their best. Torres, Suarez, Garcia were excellent; Jovanovic, Adam and another midfielders didn't get close to their normal rates at Liverpool. This is just to give examples to sustain your arguments. I would also add the Higgs/Gillete period - it was strange and in the late period of their reign on Anfield everything went mad. –  Marius Balaban Dec 21 '12 at 9:03

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