By Bill Wellins
When the great Bill Shankly became manager of Liverpool, the club had been languishing in the upper reaches of the old Second Division. Shankly quickly understood that to restore Liverpool to their rightful place, major surgery would be required to remove the dead wood and introduce players who would accept his methods.
The appointment of Shankly and the working relationship that he built with Bob Paisley helped make Liverpool into the team that went on to dominate English and European football for more than 15 years.
It is now twenty two long years since Liverpool last won the league title and despite the club’s obvious decline, it has continued to win a number of major trophies, including that famous Champions League victory over Milan in 2005.
But while the elusive 19th league title has been close on a couple of occasions, Liverpool still has some way to go until it catches up and passes the leading clubs.
Just as Shankly’s arrival heralded a complete football revolution at Anfield, the appointment of Rodgers and the policies he is implementing, suggest something very similar.
With three losses from the first five league matches and only a couple of victories in eleven games, Liverpool are closer to the relegation zone than to a place in the top four; but with the unbeaten run now extended to six games, there are some very positive signs which suggest that Rodgers’s methods are beginning to bear fruit.
Andy Carroll was never likely to fit into the Rodgers style, so it was no real surprise when the former Newcastle striker was loaned to West Ham. That this move was allowed to happen before a replacement striker was brought in was a serious error of judgement by someone at the club; however it merely emphasized that Rodgers was determined to implement his policies.
The loss of Fabio Borini to injury has meant an almost total reliance on the world class talent of Luis Suarez; but the introduction of a number of very exciting young players and the manager’s total faith in these players has been the most significant and positive development in the early months of the season.
Raheem Sterling’s immediate impact has grabbed most of the headlines, but the exciting Spanish midfielder Suso and young right back Andre Wisdom have also impressed, typifying the direction that Rodgers is taking the club.
Rodgers’s influence has also had a positive effect on the other players, with the outstanding performance from the much maligned Jose Enrique against Chelsea being a prime example.
The match against Chelsea showed why Brendan Rodgers is the correct choice for Liverpool and it also showed why he needs time and resources to implement his revolution.
Liverpool dominated possession for most of the first half, without ever threatening the Chelsea goal and but for some wayward finishing by the home team, Liverpool might well have been trailing by three goals at half time.
Realising the need for change, Rodgers tweaked his formation and during the second half introduced Suso for the ineffective Sahin. He changed from 3-5-1-1 to 4-4-1-1 and with that he changed the whole dynamic of the game. Almost immediately Liverpool posed an attacking threat to the home team, which was eventually rewarded by Luis Suarez’s deserved equalizer seventeen minutes from time.
By the end of the game Chelsea were hanging on for the point with only one team looking likely to score the winner and but for Cech, the three points would have gone to Liverpool.
Rodgers will undoubtedly strengthen his squad in January, by adding a striker and tightening up the defence. This should ensure that many of the draws will be converted into victories and instead of languishing in the lower half of the table, Liverpool will move closer to the European places.
Patience is the key. Rodgers is building solid foundations and it is vital that the Liverpool board and supporters give Rogers their total support, even if the process takes time.
Remember that Bill Shankly became manager of Liverpool in December 1959 and it wasn’t until 1964 that he finally delivered the First Division title. If Rodgers is given time his revolution will take Liverpool to their rightful place at the top table of English and European football.
Bill Wellins is a professional writer and amateur footballer with a passion for the Reds. He blogs about his sporting and gambling travails at intertops casino. On the weekend he can be found on the Kop.