Liverpool’s Combination of Youth and Established Veterans Will Pull Them Through

“If you are good enough, you are old enough.” This adage can be heard around the halls of Liverpool’s training ground, Melwood. Along with an inclusion of youth, the Liverpool squad of 2012/13 has already seen drastic changes for the better.

Departing to Boston on Liverpool’s North American tour, Rodgers surprised many by allowing a lot of academy kids to come along and train with the senior players. Last week, Liverpool fielded their youngest starting XI on average since 2003, a very refreshing change and a potentially risky move. This injection of youth solves several issues that were plaguing Liverpool last season. Sentimentality and favoritism saw players receiving starting positions over other potentially more deserving players. With Europa League, two domestic cups, and the league causing a congested playing calendar, Liverpool needs players in all positions. FSG isn’t supplying the same amount of cash for transfers as previous windows, vetting the youth is a way to increase the squad without breaking the bank.

Maxi Rodriguez could score goals, and it was frustrating seeing him benched week-in and week-out under the old regime. In some corners, Liverpool supporters were furious when he was sold, but he was on one of the larger wage packets in the squad. Lowering the wage structure is crucial to help balance the books at Anfield. Seeing some senior players leave for very cheap or free was very difficult, but it allowed for new players to come in and improve contracts for those who fit into the new manager’s vision. With those players exits, Rodgers could offer improved contracts to the likes of Suarez and Skrtel. The news of these contracts gave the same feeling as a new signing.

The playing style of Brendan Rodgers is no mystery. He openly speaks about it and it was on display every week last season with his impressive Swansea side. This style has forced changes to take place in the squad that in the long run will pay dividends. Short passing will weed out the players that rely on the Hollywood ball and with a front three, the target man is forced to be more versatile. This didn’t bode well for Charlie Adam and Andy Carroll, both players who have moved away from Merseyside. A free-flowing style can be the prettiest to watch but if you can’t convert your chances then you are sunk. Possession without penetration is meaningless; coming up against a staunch defense could see a lack of goals akin of last season. Personally I believe the goals will come, but it’s going to take time for everything to click.

Now there is one caveat to all of these plaudits, the growing pains. Boasting the third best defense in the league, with no departures in the back four, Liverpool should have that part of their game down. Unfortunately, with all of the changes in tactics, the defense is asked to play out of the back constantly, and adds a large risk element (as could be seen during the Manchester City and Arsenal games).

As supporters we’ve been told for years that Liverpool is in a transitional period, but for the first time, I actually believe it. We may or may not qualify for Champions League, but considering the direction we are heading, this season will be better than the last.

12 thoughts on “Liverpool’s Combination of Youth and Established Veterans Will Pull Them Through”

  1. Possession without penetration is meaningless – sums up our game against Swansea at home last year.

    As for resorting to youth I think financially they have no other choice. In the grand scheme of things it might focus the club on bringing through local talent as the neighbors have done so successfully and as they used to.

    1. “Sentimentality and favoritism saw players receiving starting positions over other potentially more deserving players.”

      Like whom? This is a sentence that offers nothing in terms of insight. Who should’ve started last year and who didn’t merit a start? Are you referring to Gerrard? Reina?

      Liverpool gave too much money to Dalglish and not enough of it to Rodgers. The haggling over Dempsey proves this as Spurs came right in and took him at the last minute. Liverpool had this in the bag since July and couldn’t do it. All over a few million pounds.

      It’s up to Suarez for Liverpool. He scores regularly and they probably finish in the top 6.

  2. “Possession without penetration is meaningless;”

    I think the author forgets with this statement is that Liverpool were rather good with possession last year. But they continually turned 1-0 wins or 1-1 ties into 1-1 ties and 1-2 losses. Liverpool’s problem has been getting the ball into the net when they should be scoring. They couldn’t put a game away and it almost always came back to haunt them. They would have the moral victory, having outplayed their opponent but walk away with only a point.

    It is way too early to tell where this side will go to this year. Let’s not forget the shape Arsenal was in last season. And Liverpool do have a great talent at the striking position, though Suarez shouldn’t be put in RVP’s category. But the goal scoring attempts have to come forward and be seized upon.

  3. Great article. The one thing Brendan Rodgers has is one which Liverpool have needed for too long. That is the beautiful game built around young players without overspending for average players. His decision to give Raheem Sterling full playing time against Man.City(champions!) and Arsenal makes it clear that he believes in young squad which would be vital to pressing. Under BR, LFC can dominate the EPL without excessive transfer fees and wages.

  4. Brendon Rodgers came in and immediately froze out Carroll without giving him a chance. The owners have come as close as they can in their open letter by seeming to shift the blame to Rodgers for having no other established strikers than Suarez. I’ve never been a fan of Carroll’s but he did improve towards the end of last season and at the Euros and more importantly began to win over the Liverpool faithful. Against Arsenal this past weekend Liverpool were hopeless in front of goal and now the faithful are complaining. At West Ham Carroll was more than handful for Fulham so perhaps Rodgers should have given him a chance and help the team through this difficult bedding in period.

    If things don’t improve by Christmas it will be interesting to see how Rodgers handles the pressure of a underachieving team and overly expectant supporters. Alienate the supporters and he’ll be in trouble. We may well see him having to climb down and seek the return of Andy Carroll.

  5. Rodgers is making the same mistakes AVB is doing at Tottenham and did at Chelsea. He’s making up his mind about the players too quickly. He wanted Carroll out before he’d even had a chance to look at him. Same thing with Adam, Henderson and Enrique. Told Downing he might have to switch to left-back to get in the team. While he might be proved right in the long term, it can only hurt morale in the short run. Better to phase the dead wood out over a season or two, rather than go for revolution on day 1. Liverpool today is in disarray, a bit like Man Utd was in 1986 when Ferguson showed up. Rodgers needs to slow down, build some bridges, butter some egos and get the best out of what he has available. If that means not being able to play like Swansea for a season or two then so be it. It took Fergie 5 years to build a winning team at Man Utd. It’s going to get worse before it gets better at Liverpool.

    1. You still compare the 1980s with modern era, you are totallt wrong. Remember those days how many times where challenging fopr the title? Hown many teams wher up for Champions league spot?
      I am a Liverpool fans but realy we will remain the same if we dont wake up? If you think you will be a big teams with championship squad you are a day dreamer.

  6. Smokey, i see no issue with anything he’s done so far. Chelsea players were talented enough to warrant a second look from AVB. Rodgers’ castoffs are just embarrassments.

    You talk about slowng down, but he was hired for his system and the fact he represented a clean break from dalglish’s run of senility. Give him ample room to work or fire him now so a deserving club can benefit from his management skills.

  7. The problem with Liverpool is that they want to institute a system of play that the players they have are not well suited for. Exhibit A is that Gerard seems to struggle in this system that Rodgers wants the team to play. In order to play possession soccer you must have pateience and players like Gerard immediately want to get rid of the ball when they get it. The other player that is also struggling is Suarez because when you play in this new system you have to make sure you don’t lose the ball easily and Suarez has been guilty of this too many times.

    It’s much easier to mould young players to fit into this new system that Liverpool is trying to play but the veterans are the ones that aren’t able to adapt easily. Swansea were successful under Rodgers because he had youth willing to learn and adapt but many of the Liverpool players are struggling to adapt. Who would have thought Allen would stand out in midfield in a team that has Gerard in it.

    For Liverpool to succeed they will have to play more of the younger players and phase out the veterans. It may be heresy to suggest this but players like Gerard should be phased out this season for the team to succeed in the long term. Some are even suggesting that Gerard should be benched based on his performancers so far this season. I would support such a move. Another player that needs replacing now is Reina. He has been very poor this season after 2 average seasons.

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