Can we really judge Brendan Rodgers?
Not since the days of Roy Hodgson have I felt such disillusionment with the powers that be at Liverpool. For obvious reasons, Hodgson was never an ideal or seemingly capable manager and therefore his position at Anfield was short-lived. The now-England boss never seemed to have an underlying philosophy that ran through everything he did. His team didn’t play with a noticeably unique style of play that could be clearly seen as being his own. Presently, however, Liverpool has Brendan Rodgers, who despite having a philosophy that runs throughout the club, from the changing rooms to the kitchen, you cannot help but feel that his position as Liverpool manager is slipping between his fingers.
Liverpool started the 2014/2015 season dismally and it took them until November to turn things around. Liverpool started the season with a diamond in midfield and two up-front with Sterling and Sturridge spearheading the formation that had brought Liverpool close enough to the Premier League to see their reflections in it. Then Sturridge got injured, again. Then people realized Balotelli was nothing more than a gamble that didn’t quite pay off. Then Liverpool struggled through two months of what can only be called frustrating football. Liverpool had very few chances to put away and very few players capable of doing so.
The turnaround in form came with Rodgers’ stroke of genius to change the system he had been using without any success. He switched the shape to a risky 3-4-2-1. I must admit that I don’t think the likes of Mourinho or Van Gaal would have the bottle to admit their system wasn’t working and then still change to such an ambitious and ultimately risky system. The drastic change in form was admirable. Taking a 17 points form a possible 21 since the turn of the year and going unbeaten for thirteen games meant Liverpool was sitting pretty two points off United before the fixture which saw everything unravel.
Since that fixture Liverpool has essentially seen any hopes of Champions League dashed and to further worsen that the team seemed destined to have a spot in the beloved Europa League tidied up. The only way Liverpool could avoid the competition would be if Aston Villa won the FA Cup; yet another competition the Reds have exited this term. The record stands at being knocked out of the Champions League and then the Europa League, a semi-final exit at the hands of Chelsea, FA Cup sorrow and most recently the bleakness of knowing that a top four spot is basically impossible.
Typically two semi-finals would be a great accomplishment but that would only be the case if it went hand in hand with a top four finish. The fact that this was not the case coupled with the fact that it never seems like Rodgers quite wants to burden the responsibility of a poor campaign. In his first season as manger the Reds finished seventh and it was accepted and cited as being all part of the transition period but when you have had three seasons and spent £212 380 000 on players that very few can be called a success. Seven of his 27 signings in the last three years aren’t even at the club anymore. 3 of his signings from last season arguably should be on their way out as well namely Dejan Lovren, Mario Balotelli and Javier Manquillo. Only 2 of his signings being Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho can be called outright successes despite the former’s well documented injury plight. Only 2 of his signings have come good on this policy of seeking out potentially world class players.
It could be argued that Rodgers has been constrained by the FSG’s policy of buying young players who are showing potential of being world class and the notorious transfer committee of Liverpool Football Club. Not to mention the legendary Ian Ayre. All these are indications of a lack of cohesion between the manager and the staff surrounding him. Brendan Rodgers hasn’t been granted the full extension of his buying opportunities. Liverpool has, for the last several been in a transition period that desperately needed for quality proven players to be brought in. It is difficult to pass judgement upon a man who is forced to coax the quality out of greedy teenagers and to nurture talent rather than to accept a ready-made and proven player.
You wouldn’t get away with saying that the owner’s lack ambition. I think having spent £116 million last summer demonstrates a very definite amount of eagerness for success but the scope with which their money is being used to access talent isn’t great enough. Rather than being unambitious there is a naivety to the transfer dealings where FSG is concerned. This is doubly important if their ambition is genuine. Liverpool is being seriously outplayed in the transfer market by the likes of Chelsea and the Manchester clubs all because they are prepared to sign proven players. Manchester United’s post Ferguson slump wasn’t as prolonged as Liverpool’s current slightly interrupted hiatus from Europe’s elite competition, due to the simple fact that they are capable and un-hindered by club policy to sign ready-made quality players. Di Maria, Falcao and Juan Mata are the type of signings Liverpool just isn’t prepared to make and it is ruling the club out of contention for any sort of prestigious competition.
The owners need to come to the realization that if Liverpool is going to be successful they need to be prepared to invest the money they are currently spending on players that will come straight into the squad and put the fear of God in teams in the way that Liverpool did last season. Luis Suarez, a world class player, took Liverpool as close to the Premier League title as you can get without actually winning it. The ‘Suarez Money’ that was generated from the sale of the controversial Uruguayan to Barcelona was dismally squandered on players that are mediocre when the club desperately needed to reinvest that same money into a player who would lead the club with a similar brilliance.
The season is nearing a close and it is imperative for Brendan Rodgers, despite FSG’s assurance that his job is safe, gets as much out of the upcoming fixtures. Otherwise, not only will there be awkward question marks surrounding his future, fans will have more than the disappointment of the poor season going into the summer transfer window. If FSG really want Rodgers as the manager of Liverpool Football Club and for him to succeed he needs to be granted more freedom to sign who he likes without the pandering of a nonsensical transfer committee. If Liverpool are indeed to succeed, the club’s policy of signing only young potentially great players needs to be abolished.