by Ernie Fox
Common sense tells me to delay in writing this week’s article, it’s always a risky business to write straight after a bad result; like attempting a heart to heart when your emotions are bubbling, there’s always a risk of saying something you might regret. Sometimes the frustration of a poor performance can override one’s more pragmatic side, can cause you to draw unreasonable conclusions. But this was not just another poor display – it was a massive turning point for a lot of us fans in how we view the future of the club.
I write this because I have stood by Brendan Rodgers in recent weeks, I still live in hope of Liverpool returning to those glory days when we didn’t just win games and trophies but we dominated them and made them ours to lose. Rodgers’ philosophy when he first joined the club made me believe that was possible, but maybe I was simply being naive.
I was in firmly in the Rodgers In Campaign, and perhaps tomorrow in the light of day I may return there, but I have to confess that today’s result has shaken my trust in the current regime. There are no excuses for today’s performance I’m not going to pretend that it is all part of Rodgers’ bigger plan or an unfortunate necessity in blooding the team for next season. The truth of the matter is that over the last few weeks we have shown a distinct lack of ambition both on and off the field.
I suggested some weeks ago that the season wasn’t over until the last game and I stand by that, it was a great opportunity for the side to play freely without shackles, without the need to pick up 3 points each game and so could perform in a way that would set up the side for a title assault next season. That didn’t happen, it’s not the fact we picked up so few points in the last few games of the season, but the way in which we performed so miserably in each one of those matches. We didn’t capitalise on those remaining games to demonstrate our intentions for next season but rather feebly stumbled through the fixtures as if we were just happy not to get pulverised – and sadly in the final game we weren’t even able to prevent that.
The summer’s transfer policy was to clear out the dead wood and create a foundation on which to grow for next year, but from the latest performances I have to confess that I don’t see that there has been any improvements on the squad set up. When we dip into the transfer market this summer, just a couple of marquee signings are highly unlikely to transform us back into title challengers because the current squad has shown a clear lack of technical ability and strength of character.
It does bring us to the question, is Rodgers worth one more season? I can already hear a number of Liverpool fans angrily answer this question with the annoyance of not just one result but a whole season of dismal performances. For me I understand and still believe in Rodgers’ philosophy of attacking, possession football but I’m really no longer sure if Rodgers is the man to do it. He talks a good game but these past games have made me question whether he is capable of implementing his plans. It is one thing to have such a positive vision for the future of the club, but it is another to have the necessary skills to make those visions a reality.
Having had an entire season with this new look squad, there is no way we should be getting beaten so comprehensively. It doesn’t necessarily bring into question his vision but his ability to install those views onto the players. No matter how many players are out of position, if his ideas of controlling possession had been implemented correctly over the course of the season there should be no way that any team is able to create sufficient chances to score five goals in a single half. Therefore it does lead me to wonder whether Rodgers is the right man for the job; is he able to coach the players to develop their technical abilities? Is he able to motivate each one in a way that gets the best out of them?
What I am fearful of is not learning from the past. Bringing in a new manager who will spend big in order to gain short term success but effectively leave us battling from season to season just to break away from the mid table, creating a legacy of inconsistency and mediocrity. If we remove Brendan Rodgers we effectively start from scratch again, with another manager stating that he needs another three to four years to implement his plans. And that is what worries me the most as every year we find ourselves slipping further and further behind the top four spots.
But Klopp is available, whether he would join Liverpool is purely academic at the moment, but he is one of Europe’s top managers at present and he is available. It would take a very strong argument from Rodgers to retain his position; Klopp will have many suitors across Europe, he won’t be around for long so maybe it is the time to act.
Klopp did a remarkable job with Dortmund despite the limited finances and playing beneath the shadow of the mighty Bayern Munich. It’s incredibly tempting to wonder about the possibilities of such a manager with the lure of the Premier League behind him and the kind of cash that the majority of Europe could only dream of.
But there is no guarantee of Klopp moving to Anfield. Make no mistake, today’s performance was one of the worse I have ever had the misfortune to witness. There was plenty of time to prepare for the game, and as the final match of the season we should have looked to go out with a bang! I can not accept any excuses of fatigue or lacking motivation, this was a game with no pressure but at the same time was one that would define how we moved into the summer. And sadly, rather than with a confident stride forward, it is much more like a sorry whimper. But is it enough to depose of Rodgers? Is it worth the risk?
I still believe that what Rodgers achieved last year was impressive. It wasn’t just Suarez; Kenny Dalglish had failed to retain his position as manager despite having the services of Suarez, and then there is Sturridge who thrived under Rodgers and scored 21 league goals. Last season the entire side played exceptional football at times, it wasn’t just a one man effort, Rodgers deserves a lot of credit for that, but there have to be question marks now as to whether he now has enough belief from the players to replicate that success.
Only time will tell whether Brendan Rodgers still has a future with the club, or if Klopp is willing to sit in the hot seat which is becoming increasingly more difficult every year; however I can categorically confirm that either way I will be whole heatedly supporting the club come the beginning of the new season. If FSG choose to stick with Rodgers, no matter what happened at the end of this season I hope the fans will offer the team the same enthusiasm and support for his forth year in charge as they did for his first. That is what makes this club great, not the owners, the management or the players – each will come and go – but the fans and the unwavering support they offer the club through good times as well as bad. Of all the uncertainties of the future, I hope this is one thing that we can continually rely on.
Written by Ernie Fox