Brendan Rodgers Must Transcend Liverpool’s Hubris by Curtailing His Own

As Liverpool started a new season with its fifth manager in five years, many Reds fans were hopeful that Brendan Rodgers would transform the club back to its former glory, with him imposing an overall footballing philosophy on the Club, something Liverpool hasn’t had in over 20 years. However, four matches in, some Liverpool fans may be nervously asking – has Rodgers allowed his grand, long term plans to undermine practical, short term thinking both on and off the pitch?

Rodgers’s Iberian influenced philosophy of short, ball to feet passing, has supposedly made Andy Carroll, with his “limitations,” redundant at  Liverpool but, regardless of what one thought about  Carroll’s talent or future at Anfield, until three weeks ago, he was Liverpool’s only recognized out and out center-forward.

Whilst clubs with managers who’ve actually won things — Ferguson/Mancini — usually get cover before off-loading surplus to requirements, Rodgers has actually done the opposite. Rodgers’s summer long obsession with getting rid of Carroll — together with letting Bellamy leave before the transfer deadline — has been a true head scratcher. It seems that bringing in a stop gap journeyman goal-scorer or promoting a striker from the academy wasn’t even considered as serious last minute options. As the Reds comprehensive lost against Arsenal painfully showed, Liverpool has no one of any size or presence to lead the line in the best of times outside the untested, hardly prolific Fabio Borini. Should Rodgers need to chase the game, (something I suspect the he will be doing a lot of this season) by grudgingly switching to a more direct route the last 20 minutes, Carroll, even in a limited bench-warming “plan B” role, would have been worth keeping for such a job, at least until January.

Another concern for Rodgers has to be his players at times struggling to adapt to his 4-3-3 formation. Without the likes of the recently departed Alberto Aquilani, Maxi Rodriguez, or inactive Joe Cole around to create any link-play, Liverpool seem to have trouble breaking sides down. Up front, the brilliant but often unfocused roaming of Suarez – coupled with the raw, semi-polished talent of Sterling, as exciting as it is, often lacks composure in finishing. Without Steve Clarke’s defensive organization, the Reds look extremely vulnerable to the counter-attack when possession is lost, as witnessed when Arsenal ran through the Reds’ midfield at will. One has to wonder if even a fit Lucas would have made a difference.

Rodgers must be careful not to be lured to the “El Dorado” of total football. It took the notable purveyors of Total Football’s current tiki-taka variant — Barcelona and Spain — literally generations to achieve tangible success with players whose technical ability exponentially exceeds any player Rodgers can only dream of bringing to Anfield.

Champagne football is a lofty goal in the best of times but once the ball turns from summer white to winter yellow, with freezing cup ties on god awful pitches, jet-lagged euro-trips, and bottle-necked holiday league matches coming as fast as the injuries and suspensions inevitably will, Rodgers must understand there is no shame in switching to “route one” if only for the necessity of getting a result on the day.  Spain may prefer to play with a “faux number 9” but they keep a real one in Torres on the bench, just in case.

Assuring as it is, after 20 years to see the return of the liverbird crest on the club’s shirts and red nets to Anfield’s goals, the modern game has little patience for sentiment as witnessed by Dalglish’s sacking.

Liverpool sadly, has been living off the rancid fat of its past glory for far too long, from the Souness-era policy of signing players that were simply not good enough, to Dalglish’s undignified, indignant handling of the Suarez/Evra incident last season – with the 20 odd futile, title-less years in between. Rodgers must transcend the club’s hubris, not get enslaved by it. Rodgers must be humble enough to acknowledge football’s gravitational pull affects all clubs, including Liverpool, that no club (or manager) is too big to follow simple, common sense caution, whether it is in tactics or transfers. Rodgers and Fenway Sports Group have no “director of football” to blame for their latest transfer-deadline fiasco.

With Benitez’s similar decision of getting rid of Robbie Keane, on principle, without bringing in cover a few years ago, arguably costing Liverpool the title – still stinging the Anfield faithful, the re-threaded “We are still in the process of reversing the errors of previous regimes” excuse in John Henry’s open letter, might as well have been written by Hicks and Gillett.

Liverpool fans understand that Rodgers, like his recent predecessors, will need time to turn the Club around. They simply hope that this time, it will actually happen.

13 thoughts on “Brendan Rodgers Must Transcend Liverpool’s Hubris by Curtailing His Own”

  1. It will take 3 to 4 years to return to compete for the top 4. But you wont give your Manager the chance to see it out. So, it will take even longer. By that time, you will be so far behind (like you are now) on every front. Not enough stadium revenue, no CL money, no CL attraction for Big players, etc. You will try and build a team, but you cannot build a team through youth alone. Ask Arsenal. Of course, the difference, is they have kept their Manager and have stayed in the CL. Hicks and Gillette did screw you over.

    1. And in 3-4 years time they will likely be without the heartbeat of the club in Steven Gerrerd. They are stuck in a cycle they may never escape from. The next 3.5 months are crucial for Liverpool. If the are still near the relegation zone around December it could get real ugly.

  2. Patience is the only course of action at this point. BR must be given time to get his players and style in place. We cannot survive swapping managers in the Chelsea model, our players aren’t good enough to make up for that type of instability.

  3. “Rodgers’s summer long obsession with getting rid of Carroll — together with letting Bellamy leave before the transfer deadline — has been a true head scratcher. ”

    I can understand you having a problem with getting rid of Bellamy but getting rid of Carroll was the right move. You people stupid obssession with plan “B”…Do you know that a plan “B” doesn’t have to be a 6″5 striker who the wide players will cross the ball to so he can head it in??? Plan “B” can be a tactical change in the way you play, it doesn’t have to be dependent on ONE PLAYER!

    Fact is, whether Carroll stayed at Liverpool or not It would not have matter as he is just not top 4 quality. Not only that the wages that Carroll is on doesn’t warrant him being on the bench for a club like Liverpool who’s aiming for top 4. They could use that money to strengthen other areas. If you are so obsessed with the tall striker, they could get a better player for a cheaper price.

    “Spain may prefer to play with a “faux number 9” but they keep a real one in Torres on the bench, just in case.”

    You do know that the so called Plan Bs that Spain keeps on the bench are way better than Carroll right? And they can also play in Spain’s system too.

    And it has only been 4 games!!! wait the whole year before judging a manager who’s trying to change things.

  4. I would say their bigger mistake was bringing in Dalglish. While he was a fantastic manager in the 80’s and 90’s the game has since passed him.

    In my opinion he often seemed lost and relied heavily on players like Gerrard. He decided to go out and blow millions of pounds on overrated expensive English players (no need to name them all again) that never worked out.

    Now Rodgers is stuck with several of these players still including an aging (not so gracefully) Gerrard.

    Don’t get me wrong Gerrard is still good, but his expectations are stuck in the ways of Steven Gerrard and the old Liverpool rather than working on making himself into the player that is needed for the present and future of Liverpool.

    Gerrard is not the type of player that fits into a controlling, possession and passing style game. He would much rather be surging forward and looking for that long pass up the wing and getting a return ball down the middle.

    With all of that said… What Liverpool really needs now is time and patience. Rodgers does need the time to settle himself in as well as settle the players (and supporters) into a new style of play. I agree with Sheldon though that he may be trying to rush things instead of thinking more pragmatically.

    Liverpool is not Swansea. They are not a club that is willing to wait a few years. Liverpool supporters (and more importantly owners) want to see results and don’t have the patience to wait a few years.

    Perhaps they will prove everyone wrong. It is certainly early, but that doesn’t always mean much when results aren’t coming.

  5. I do think if given enough time Rodgers will get it right but I am not sure he will be given that time. Even when they start winning games there will be very rough spots along the way.

    I think a lot of people got caught up in how great a job Rodgers did at Swansea, not just winning promotion and staying up but doing so playing attractive football without big name superstars, and forget about the context. They finished 12th last year and caught a couple of real beatings.

    Even if they aren’t a top 4 club anymore the curve he will be graded on at Liverpool is far less friendly.

  6. LFC have a tough game this weekend, even if they play a reserve squad in the europa league getting walloped will not lift the club. Young boys are no muppets. I heard AVB say he will play a strong team because it will give time and reps for them with the new system, which when you think about it makes sense, even if only 7 of the starting 11 play then it will give them a chance to gell. i wonder why Rodgers doesn’t see the value in it?

    LFC will be up for it this weekend because it is Man Utd so I would expect the best yet out of them. I still don’t think they have what it takes, and I can see it getting ugly. A loss to Man Utd ugly or close will just heap on more pressure, I know a new manager needs time, I really do, but how long will it be before even more LFC fans start calling for him to go?

    Man Utd (H) Norwich (A) Stoke (H) Michael Owen and Crouch could be clinical and charlie adam could send a few to the clinic. Those games are not going to be easy games, and then there is another bloody international break. LFC could be 7 games in and only 3 points, stranger things have happened.

  7. The bigger problem with liverpool is the fact that they have owners who know so little about soccer and making the right decisions for the club. It was total incompetence that they had no plan B when Dempsey wasn’t affordable. A club of the status of Liverpool should never make such a rookie mistake.

    Rodgers needs the right players to be able to fulfil his ambitions for the club. Not getting the right support from the owners doesn’t help.

  8. Guys, I agree that the “Rodgers Revolution” will take time – he probably needs at least two seasons just to get Liverpool in the top four, I’m willing to wait.

    My problem is with Rodgers having a whole summer to evaluate his striking options, either by bringing in a world-class striker or two, or promoting from the youth academy. The likes of Pacheco have been around forever, if they are not good enough to start blooding into the senior side, get rid of them. If those weren’t options, bringing in a temporary journey man, that knows how to put the ball in the back of the net should have been done – BEFORE letting Bellamy, Maxi, and Carroll go.

    Ferguson waited until the ink was dry on Van Persie’s contract before getting rid the hardly used Berbatov. Perhaps Rodgers can learn a thing or two from the Scotsman.

  9. Brendon Rodgers walked out of small time into the big time at Liverpool. Trying to get to grips with supporters illusions of glory, owners who have been burned by allowing a manager to spend money like a drunken sailor, and a team full of middle of the table talent. Rodgers has a huge ego but carries a giant albatross on his back. Overhauling the way a team plays takes time and good luck to him if he does it. But in the meantime you need to put a few victories on the board however ugly. That’s where Carroll would have come in. Yes he is limited and slow on the ground, but swallow your pride and play to his strengths by hoofing it up to his big head. It makes things happen.

    I see it all ending in snot and tears.

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