Sunday, 30 September 2012

Getting Rodgered

Brendan Rodgers is Liverpool Football Club’s newest scapegoat. My apologies- newest manager (Don’t know where that came from!). His first four months have been about as arduous as one would expect a Liverpool manager’s first four months to be.  He was unveiled on the 1st of June this year as a manager whose “appointment today as manager of Liverpool Football Club is one of the most important steps in building the kind of club on and off the pitch supporters can be excited about”. Being in a relegation battle would be exciting I suppose?

Innocuous mockery aside, I have no intention of bludgeoning Liverpool Football Club or Brendan Rodgers. This is not a critique of Liverpool’s start to the League this season. Quite the contrary- this is an optimistic look at what has been an optimistic (though fairly unsuccessful) start for them this season.

Right- now that the Liverpool fans are reading again I shall proceed. Liverpool’s start (and consequently Brendan’s) has been marred by poor results- not poor performances. Even the staunchest of Manchester United supporters (read me) would have to agree that the better team did not win this weekend. The home side were better in most areas of the pitch and, in fact, seemed to be controlling the game even with ten men.  Sir Alex said after the game that it’s the result that matters and the performance (good as it may be) is inconsequential if you lose. Of course a winning manager would say that but there were many positives for the weekend’s losers to take out of that game.

It wasn’t a one-off performance either. Manchester City were given a fantastic match at Anfield and were probably (some would say) lucky to come away with a point. Having also watched Liverpool in the Europa League, I can say their mid-field play at times this season has been exceptional. Joe Allen, Steven Gerrard and Jonjo Shlevey have been dominant in possession in the middle of the park. And Raheem Sterling has been a live-wire down the right flank. The back four have also looked decent enough- though injuries to Agger and Kelly will expectedly weaken them. They also lost an integral cog in their mid-field machine in Lucas and have coped reasonably well. Nuri Sahin looks a quality loan signing and consistent under-performers like Downing and Henderson have been rightfully exiled to the Elba of the bench. Charlie Adam was exiled beyond Elba. To Stoke.

The Achilles’ heel rather evidently is the attack. A really good attack can win you the League and a really poor one can get you relegated. Just look at Wolves last season. Luis Suarez with his cleverness and his dribbling ability is a fantastic player but has a woeful conversion ratio for a man who is supposed to be a goal-scorer. His partner, Borini, is a highly rated twenty-one year old who Rodgers worked with both when he was at Chelsea (as the youth team coach) and also for a brief period at Swansea City (Borini was on loan). He will need some time, though, to re-adjust to the speed of the Premier League given his stint in Italy with Roma. To make matters bleaker, Liverpool had a calamitous culmination to the transfer window as they sent Carroll off on loan and ended up caught between the Devil and the deep blue Dempsey.

When one takes all these circumstances into account, it really puts Liverpool’s start into a lot more perspective. It hasn’t been atrocious by any stretch of the imagination. The answer is not to start raising questions about Brendan Rodgers’ aptitude and certainly not to start questioning his ethos. The answer is not to target the easy scapegoat. The answer, quite simply, is to give him some time. The football his side are playing offers a lot of promise and when the philosophy is right, it’s only a matter of time before the results start falling in place as well. In an era when Chairmen are changing managers faster than tooth-brushes, I for one certainly hope that John Henry gives Brendan a tight hug and says- “You’ll never walk alone”. On an unrelated note I also hope he brings his wife to more matches.

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