Kieran Davies looks at the man who is slowly renevating the mansion that Shankley built.

He walked through the famed Shankly Gates into his new dawn as manager of Liverpool football club in the summer of 2012. The markers set of what is expected by imposing reminders of Paisley and Shankly looking down on the new man as he approaches the stadium. Opinions were divided amongst fans as to whether he was the right man to take the club forward. Everyone wants a Jose Mourinho appointment in this situation. He did well with Swansea City but you could debate for hours as to who laid the groundwork at that club for the rise they enjoyed. The potential was there, a young forward thinking manager with forward thinking owners.

Two years on and towards the end of January his side sit in the last Champions League spot, the realistic ambition of the club before the start of the season. A gap has started to emerge between fourth spot and the top three and from Liverpool’s perspective, that is the result of some substandard performances and dropping of points against Villa, Hull, Man City and Chelsea. All of those games could have been won on reflection. They need to address this if they really harbour any small ambition of staying in the title mix. All the top sides have to go to Anfield in the second half of the season and if Liverpool step up to the plate they can take real advantage of this. There has been big improvements this season but the sparkling form of Suarez has propelled the side up the table. Ridiculously the Liverpool number 7, despite missing 8 games through suspension, is 8 goals ahead of his nearest competition in the goalscoring charts and double all of the others.

There is no doubting the attacking prowess of Brendan’s side when he has his strongest eleven out. More worryingly at the moment is how Liverpool’s games resemble a basketball game where when they attack they look like scoring and when the opponents attack the same can be said. Defensively they look a mess at times. Players playing out of position and the ones playing their natural positions look like they’ve won a competition to be there. Currently the goalkeeper doesn’t inspire confidence in the back four and vice versa.

The only way to address this issue is consistency. Brendan needs to try and put the same back five out and let them bed together. I know injuries have made this more difficult but I think considering the time bomb that is Martin Skrtel I think it’s time to give Martin Kelly a chance at his preferred position. Sakho is still settling in but looks a far more accomplished centre back than the Slovakian. Kolo Toure was brought in as a replacement for Carragher and his experience but was never intended to be first choice and neither should he be. Both mentally and physically he is constantly a couple of yards off the pace. Aly Cissokho must inspire every Frenchman into thinking he may still get the nod for a chance playing left back for ‘Les Bleus’. It’s been a while since a defender has managed to worry me more whenever the ball is in his vicinity. Surely amongst 45,000 people there must be a more competent left back.

Lucas Leiva. So key to Liverpool’s resurgence and a huge miss at present.

Probably the most underrated player in this side is Lucas Leiva. The game against Aston Villa recently showed how much they miss the Brazilian. Gerrard and Henderson were overrun in midfield by Lambert’s men and before they knew it they were two goals behind. With him out injured and a Merseyside derby coming up this is a worry. So much rubbish is spouted during the January window that you don’t know if your team is doing any sort of activity whatsoever. Considering the start the side have made to the season it is surprising that FSG are investing heavily to push on and secure that top 4 finish. If you believe what is being put out in the media world the Anfield outfit are being very marginally outmuscled by other clubs in transfers. This shows business naivety if there is any truth in this. The preferred first team is a match for any side in this league as has been shown even in defeats to Man City and Chelsea. Depth and quality of that depth is not good enough though. More creativity is needed in midfield to relieve the pressure on Gerrard/Coutinho/Suarez.

It frustrates me to see quality players available right now who are looking to impress selectors of World Cup squads and Liverpool making no motions towards these players. Surely the owners know the importance of adding quality to compliment Suarez and try to make this team something he wants to stay a part of. The club’s scouts do watch a lot of talent across the globe but surely unless they start signing some of them these scouts are more likely to be nicked for grooming. Fans would love nothing more than another striker to come in as they’ve been left wanting with such additions as Borini, Aspas and Alberto of late. Take Suarez and Sturridge out of the equation and the attack seems to have the cutting edge of a rolling pin. Why the club haven’t cancelled the loan of Victor Moses begs belief. The lacklustre performances we have seen from him in a Liverpool shirt would struggle to command a starting place in charity celebrity XI (even if he were the patron of that charity!). Brendan Rodgers seems very happy with the season’s work so far and so he should but now is not the time for consolidation and make the strides forward the club need to make, they need to kick on from here. That means adding personnel in key areas and in depth of the squad and give the fans a season more accustom to what we should be seeing from the Anfield outfit.