By Ernie Fox
This was to be the season that we discovered what a Brendan Rodgers team looked like, he has had the time to impose his philosophy on a squad that has been completely turned around from the one he inherited. So after all that is said and done, what do we have?
I’m afraid to say that it doesn’t look pretty. I’m not talking about results, this early in the season 7 points from 5 games isn’t horrendous but the type of football we have been forced to watch over those matches has been.
There were no excuses going into this season; we have signed attacking players, brought in world class talent in Roberto Firmino plus a proven Premier League goalscorer Benteke. We had an entire summer for the majority of the squad to gel with a number of early summer signings. Our new coaching staff includes one of the most technically gifted players I have ever seen wear the Liverpool shirt also and yet every game so far this season we have looked scared of the ball.
Brendan Rodgers has lost his bottle. I can’t accept that any previous success was solely down to Luis Suarez, there were too many other decent performers during that period of fantastic football. Suarez also didn’t manage anywhere near the same success under Dalglish. It was a season that rightly won Rodgers’ many plaudits, it was a style of football that went through the entire team and was worthy of all the praise that came Rodgers’ way. But those days are over and once again an opportunity for Rodgers to prove he still has what it takes has gone. Old Trafford was the perfect place for the team to go out and play good football, the occasion and location offers itself to quick quality passing, there was the opportunity to open up the game and exploit the weaknesses that Swansea have exposed on their last 3 league encounters – but we didn’t.
Rodgers seems to have got himself tactically lost. At one point he was arguably naive, maintaining a similar attacking philosophy no matter who we played, but at least we knew where we were; the situation now seems far worse. Rodgers adapts his side and tactics regularly, but in the last couple of matches (both resulting in defeat) his particular selections have been completely inappropriate when considering opposition and venue. He has taken into account past criticism, but failed to appreciate the context and resulted in feeble performances that have seen us comfortably beaten by fairly mediocre opposition.
What we are left with is a team who look completely disorganised; two of the three goals we have scored this season haven’t come down to good team work but rather a moment of technical brilliance from an individual. We can’t rely on these on a weekly basis, we need to have a team who make more of the ball, who threaten the opposing goal on a regular basis and possibly even provide a bit of entertainment to excite the fans and create the kind of atmospheres that Anfield is famous for.
Sadly it is further evidence that the issue isn’t with the squad, we have players who can score from nothing, who can change a game with a moment of brilliance. But overall the team is disjointed, performances are lacklustre, lacking cohesion in the middle of the park. As we arrive in season 4 of Rodgers’ reign things are not improving. In his début season, there was something about the Liverpool side that was exciting, something that made you think that Rodgers’ philosophy was slowly starting to make an impact. The following season we started to see the rewards that come with allowing a new manager time to implement his ideas.
Last season there were a number of reasons as to why we weren’t able to carry that high standard of football through to the following season, but none of those hold any sway today. The fact is we have lost that impetus and with every game that passes there is a realisation that Rodgers has lost that spark that lit up Anfield not so long ago. Unlike that first season, there are no signs in the current style of play that we are going to recapture those glorious moments at all.
Rodgers needs to throw caution to the wind, come out with all guns blazing, forget the results, Liverpool fans want to see their team playing with passion and attacking flair. If we played well, looked comfortable in possession, but were just unlucky with results I may have taken a different view, but the fact is that after 5 games in we don’t look to be a team that is progressing in any way and at this point I strongly doubt we ever will under Rodgers.
For the first time I have to confess that it is now time to look beyond the Northern Irishman, for me he isn’t the man who first took over at the helm and with so much water under the bridge I now don’t believe that the original version of our current manager is ever coming back.
I believe Rodgers deserved the entirety of last season to prove himself, and I am still gutted that he failed to do so. Many expected him to have gone after the humiliation at the hands of Stoke, but having side stepped that disaster I was hoping he was going to make the most of his chance by sending his team out to battle for his future with no holds barred. But quite the contrary, he seems to have become even more cautious, and the result is a pitiful excuse for a football team that are simply reliant on the opposition not taking advantage of our unwillingness to retain possession.
I have remained loyal in supporting the philosophy Brendan Rodgers so vehemently argued when he first came to Anfield, however at this point now I sadly don’t believe he is capable of seeing through that vision for the club – and to take it one step further, I don’t think that he genuinely believes in that philosophy any more. Whatever it was that changed Brendan Rodgers, I’m afraid it doesn’t look to be reversible and therefore it is time to part ways for the benefit of both club and manager, so that we can both rediscover our own identities before it is too late.
There is no going back, therefore it is time to move forward.
Written by Ernie Fox