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Why have Liverpool slumped this season?

sports Updated: Jan 15, 2010 15:46 IST

AFP
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Liverpool's season went from bad to worse on Thursday when club captain Steven Gerrard, star striker Fernando Torres and playmaker Yossi Benayoun were all ruled out through injury, just a day after the club's FA Cup defeat at home to second-tier Reading.

This season Liverpool had been tipped to win their first English title since 1990 but now find themselves 12 points behind leaders Chelsea, having already exited the Champions League at the group stage.

So how has it come to this for the Merseysiders? Below AFP Sport looks at a few factors that may have contributed to Liverpool's poor run.

Transfers

Manager Rafael Benitez has spent some 225 million pounds on signing players since arriving at Anfield in 2004 and while the likes of Torres and Benayoun have been successes, too many, such as Josemi and Antonio Nunez, have failed to make much of an impact.

Meanwhile striker Robbie Keane was sold back to Tottenham just months after arriving at Anfield.

And selling Xabi Alonso, one of his best buys, to Real Madrid in pre-season, appears to have left a hole in Liverpool's midfield that has yet to be filled.

Tactics

Benitez has often been accused of excessive caution in the way he sets his teams up for Premier League matches, with critics alleging this puts too much of a burden upon Torres and Gerrard to score goals. They cite December's 2-0 defeat away to bottom of the table Portsmouth as a case in point.

Boardroom rows

Few clubs have managed to be successful on the field against a backdrop of boardroom strife. The fractious relationship between American co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks has destabilised a club looking for finance and the duo were unpopular with supporters before Tom Hicks junior's foul-mouthed e-mail rant at a supporter.