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78 games in and it’s time for me to take a look at the job Brendan Rodgers has done at Liverpool Football Club.
He wasn’t my first choice, perhaps not even my second. His CV didn’t stand out, despite how much his football did, I thought he was good, but I wasn’t sure he had the potential to be great. Although bit by bit, game by game, he’s proving not only to me, but the Liverpool family that he might just have the ability to create something special at Anfield sooner rather than later.
I think back first to the friendly games against Toronto and AS Roma in last year’s pre season. You could see early on that Brendan Rodgers was changing the way that Liverpool’s current crop thought about the game, not just how he wanted them to play it. It was clear that he wanted the ball on the ground and he wanted it to be held onto. The aim of those games wasn’t to score, it was simple ball retention that hadn’t been as noticeable under King Kenny. At times it looked like we were playing on ice; panicked, worried we weren’t doing what was required to win games, it was still early days, but some Liverpool fans didn’t feel we had the time to ‘start over’.
It was a struggle, I think even Brendan would agree with that. Joe Allen was brought in to aid the transition and to help Rodgers convey his message to the players, it’s Brendan’s way or it’s the wrong way, although he’ll never put it that way publicly I’m sure, he certainly suggested that after being given the clearance to let Andy Carroll go out on loan, and eventually be sold for a heavy loss. This isn’t something that was picked up on much, sure we’d lost money but what Brendan gained was much more than transfer funds, it showed that after a year in charge he was trusted by the owners enough to make big decisions that would directly influence off the field dealings. Rodgers had made his mark in year one, he’d learnt a lot about how expectations need to be fulfilled but managed correctly to ensure that the board, players and supporters were on the same page. For a man who’d previously only had 1 year of Premier League football management on his CV I thought he did remarkably well.
I’ve heard a lot over the last few years that Liverpool have always passed the ball, that it’s built into the clubs genetics, which is true, but, the way we passed the ball last season wasn’t like it was under Kenny, Hodgson(obviously), Rafa or Houllier. On occasion we looked like a team that’d been doing it for the time span of the managers mentioned but in reality it took time for Rodgers to make it a viable option to us in game when it was needed, but not long.
That brings us to this season, it began with a Luis Suarez saga that was handled by everyone in authority expertly, it’s the way I want things done. Promises made to fans and that were kept! You look at the form of Suarez this season and realise just how important he is. In the summer I was all for letting him go, he didn’t want to be here, and clubs were interested, I thought we should just cash in, his head wasn’t at the club any more. Brendan Rodgers had to convince a world class Champions League standard player to stick around at a club that wasn’t even competing in Europe. Boy did he.
This season has been built around Luis Suarez, despite missing the first 6 games because of his petulance and in the process making the club look pretty daft, Rodgers knew that if Liverpool were to succeed this year that everything needed to be put in place for Suarez to be the focal point of that. 22 goals in 16 games, worth a bit more than £40 million don’t ya think?
Despite putting his passing game in the minds of Liverpool’s players and supporters Rodgers has needed to be far more pragmatic this year, retaining the balance of attack and defence while controlling games enough to grab a goal or see them out. It’s not always easy on the heart rate but it’s going well enough to see us in 4th and with it all still to play for.
We shouldn’t think that Brendan Rodgers is without his faults, because nobody can be, but right now after all that’s gone on in the last 5 years we should remain positive that we have the right man in charge, because to me, and excuse the expletive, he gives a shit as much as we do and on some levels, that’s all I want from the manager of the team I love.
– As ever, if you’d like to share your opinions on how Rodgers is doing leave a comment or tweet me @DoctorBenjy