I like big buts and I also lie.
There is no point ignoring it anymore, it has to be said: Brendan Rodgers is putting his own spin on the Sir Mix-A-Lot song.
“The ability to attract top players is great. It’s a huge indication of the progress of the club, a really good symbol of where the club is at. We have made huge strides in the last couple of years. Dejan Lovren was a really good player for Lyon. He was a guy sought after by a number of clubs but for him to say he wanted to come only to Liverpool was great. If you’re a football player in Europe watching how we played last season and saw our supporters, your reaction would be that you’d want to play in that environment”. Brendan Rodgers, 13th August 2014.
“We were in a great position at the end of last season, with Champions League football and a way of working, but we just have to work harder and smarter to convince these players to come. As I said the club has done everything it could over the course of the summer to get the players who are going to improve us. But players look for more than just football terms. They look at where they want to live, they look at all these social factors and that’s something we can’t control. If someone gets offered say more money to come here but they want to go elsewhere, they want to go to London, there’s not much you can do”. Brendan Rodgers, 10th November 2014.
Both could very well be true, but would Rodgers be making up excuses about social factors had Liverpool had a good start to the season? In August, riding the wave of success from last season, Rodgers may have believed Liverpool were an attractive proposition to players, if he did then he’s well and truly got caught up with the media hype. One good season coupled with the success from 30 years ago won’t make Europe’s elite players want to join your club.
It was a bold statement to make in August when the likes of Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana and Lazar Markovic were your big signings. Markovic will be world class in a few years, but sounding out the Dejan Lovren signing as a way to back up the appeal your club possesses is baffling.
Social factors do play a part in players’ decisions, no doubt about it, but could that be an excuse for something else? Could Rodgers be saving face? We know Rodgers is confident, some say arrogant, if a player rejects him because he’s not done enough in Football when compared to Mourinho, Van Gaal and Wenger could he use the social element excuse? Liverpool Football Club should have plans to attract players, even if clubs from ‘better’ cities come in for them.
Is this a manager that’s sobered up after last season, realising he’s not walking on water anymore. There’s discussion in the media about him losing his job, rumours of him getting sacked, or having no budget in January to improve the mess that was made in the summer. If he were to get no money in January could you blame the club? It’d be a botch job to save the season, and how are you supposed to sell the city to a foreign star in the rain in January when your club sits outside of the top 4? If we couldn’t attract them after finishing second with a budget we’d not seen before, we have very little chance in January.
An animal is most dangerous when cornered and wounded.
Could what got Liverpool into this ‘mess’ of a season be the same thing that saves it. Brendan Rodgers’ stubbornness. Some fans have Rodgers cornered, no doubt his ego is wounded.
His tactical stiffness this season has meant Liverpool have rarely performed to the standard we know they can. Some fans are saying he’s using the current system to accommodate the poor defence and to make the team harder to break down. To an extent it’s worked having conceded few goals, but in the process he’s blunted our once fluid and deadly attack.
Oscar Wilde once said “We are each our own devil and we make this world our own hell”. This applies to Rodgers. His stubbornness is his downfall and he’s cranking the pressure up on himself by persistently playing Gerrard as the deepest midfielder and Balotelli as a lone forward. These decisions would be easier to swallow if his hand was forced, but Liverpool do have options to change it up.
My own personal frustration came against Chelsea when I seen Johnson was tasked with following Hazard in field. Having watched Chelsea for a previous article I knew Hazard would do this and Azpi would offer the width on the outside. You have to ask yourself two things:
- Why was Coutinho selected as a wide player tasked with tracking Azpi back? We had better equipped players for that role and it would have freed Phil up from defensive duties.
- Why didn’t we select a deeper midfielder who was mobile enough to either cover the space Johnson had vacated, or alternatively have that midfielder pick Hazard up when he drifted infield?
This tactical stubbornness could soon change. Daniel Sturridge is set to return for the next Premier League game, barring any injuries picked up in training that is. No, he won’t improve the teams defensive problems and no, he isn’t Superman. However, he could well be the key that unlocks the real Liverpool once again.
As I stated earlier, Rodgers is wounded and cornered. What has he got to lose? It’s surely only a matter of time before he lets Liverpool off their leash once again and fields a line up that includes Sturridge, Balotelli, Sterling and Coutinho and just lets us attack teams. Yes, we’re probably going to concede and yes, fielding that team probably means Gerrard and Lallana will be on the bench. The potency that quartet could have is worth the risk, once again could the Liverpool attack outscore the opposition and fire us back into the top four.
Potential Line up 1
This line up allows Liverpool to play two upfront, Sterling in his best position and still maintain midfield superiority. Henderson and Can can rotate throughout the game. I believe they have the power and physicality to dominate for Liverpool.
Potential Line up 2
This formation allows Sterling and Coutinho the freedom to roam and rotate their positions. Can and Henderson would have to do alot of midfield running to make up for it but against the lesser teams this could be a possibility.
Potential Line up 3 (My Personal Favourite)
This formation starts off with Balotelli as the focal point, yet when he inevitably drops off, like he does to collect the ball, Sterling and Sturridge would then fill the space vacated. This trio would drag defenders here, there and everywhere.
It’s also worth noting that like Rodgers has his favoured players, fans have their favoured managers. The people calling for Rodgers to be sacked and replaced by Rafa or Kenny need to remember Rafa was hounded out for poor transfers and a negative style of play, he’s not doing that well with Napoli either. Then there’s Kenny, a club legend. Just because he’s a legend doesn’t mean hes immune to criticism. His second spell in charge was horrible. Yes he gave the fans two cup finals, but the style of play, the players he bought, it was all just horrible.
It’s worth remembering that Rodgers is still a young coach, he is going to tell fibs from time to time. With experience he will improve, and after winning Liverpool the title we will all look back at this rocky start to the 14/15 season and laugh. It’s a learning curve for him and the team so rough patches will happen.