FSG’s silence is unsettling but not necessarily a bad sign. Since their takeover of Liverpool in October 2010, is the club any closer to glory? Amid Liverpool’s worst start since 1992/93, the owners will be assessing the steps made at a time where expectations have been higher than ever. What is obvious is that the team is struggling. Let’s look at the implications of this start to the season on FSG’s options for the progress of Liverpool Football Club.
Should they sack the manager?
It is easy to point the finger. Brendan Rodgers fits the profile of the manager FSG were looking for- young, visionary and dedicated to the long term. Rodgers was part of a massive rebuilding process and it cannot be overlooked that he gave the fans and the city a much needed uplift last season. He was responsible for signing Sturridge and Coutinho who have been vital to the club’s improvement. He oversaw Liverpool surpassing expectations in moving from 7th to 2nd in the Premiership- achieving UCL qualification. We cannot wipe away these achievement and it would be wrong to take this away from him. However, it takes a different kind of manager to deal with the overwhelming sense of disappointment and psychological block that comes after the euphoria of hope. Expectations have been wildly raised and the reality is a harsh wake up call for fans and manager alike. It is fair that Rodgers is given the 4 week run up to January to continue the work he has begun and to show the owners whether he has what it takes to lead a team at the highest level no matter what the results are.
Give the manager more time and money?
According to Rodgers, the backing of the owners and a healthy transparent relationship remains. However the results cannot be ignored and pressure builds daily when you are without a win since the 28th October. If more time is given the risk increases. Rodgers must find a winning formula with the players he has. If more time is given and no winning formula is found the damage is irreversible and the gap between Liverpool and the top 4 teams widens beyond this season’s reach. After spending over 100m Liverpool should be winning; they are not. Money is clearly not the problem and I’m not convinced throwing money at the situation will resolve the issues. FSG are showing patience and trust in Rodgers so far- after spending so much of their money and getting nothing back this is a big gamble from the owners. In January it may be too late to expect a new manager to change Liverpool’s fortunes for the season, however it may be the point at which FSG see that Rodgers is no longer the man to take Liverpool Football Club onto the next platform. Time must be invested in order to make no mistakes.
FSG’s Long Term Strategy
Throughout the four years since their takeover 2 managers have finished 8th, 7th and 2nd in the Premier League respectively. Perhaps last season was the spark FSG were waiting for to light the ongoing fire of Liverpool’s future. The end, however, left many fans feeling as if they were stuck in perpetual darkness, along with the team captain Steven Gerrard admitting those summer months were the most difficult of his entire career. The mental strain of coming within a whisker of the most elusive of all trophies in Liverpool’s recent cabinet cannot be underestimated. Fatigue is not just physical. The question is what are FSG going to do to move forward, and how are they going to adapt their strategy to cope with the current hardship Liverpool face? This point in the club’s history is crucial, whatever comes next must be the right choice if another dip into the murky waters of mid-table status is to be avoided. It is no longer about one game, it is about learning what the club needs from top to bottom. Do they need a Director of Football? Does the CEO need to be replaced? Do they need a more experienced assistant manager to aid Rodgers who excels more in his position of coach? Answers must be found.
Rebuilding of the Stadium
Revenue is high on FSG’s list of priorities and the rebuilding of Anfield is due to start in 2015. The owners know that Liverpool must be able to compete financially with the top clubs and this starts with ticket sales. Financial gain will ease pressures and give more flexibility and options to the owners. Decisions will not be made depending on finances and this will be welcome news, unlike the Hodgson era where money was tight and unworthy players were on extortionate wage packages. The rebuilding of Anfield is independent of results and the sooner this happens the better.
Rodgers bought players over the summer with depth in mind. He was not mistaken in his thinking- more competitions require more players and rotation is crucial. The problem is that Liverpool now have the numbers but not the quality. The answer is not buying in bulk in January but that sought after marquee signing who will lift the club. Liverpool need a star man; a game changer. The team has lost pace going forward and have had to change their whole style of play. This is why they are not firing. Liverpool need to show the same ambition as Manchester United and Chelsea in hunting down star players and making sure they get a signature whatever it takes. Liverpool must show this ruthless desire and belief in their ‘top team’ ambition.
When FSG bought the club Liverpool fans knew that it was going to be a gradual ascent to success. It could be said that last season elevated Liverpool to a position it was not ready for. Brendan Rodgers should not be punished for surpassing all expectations. Coming runners up in the Premiership should not be seen as a curse. What Liverpool need to do is make sure that by the time the stadium’s development is complete, Liverpool’s team is also complete and ready to conquer. A team is never the finished article and perfection in football is unattainable. FSG’s dilemma at the moment is whether their plan of action has deviated too far, or whether they are still on course to steer Liverpool back to glory.