New Season Is Make or Break Time for Liverpool’s Brendan Rodgers

For four seasons on the bounce, Liverpool — England’s most successful club in Europe — has not qualified for the continent’s flagship competition, the UEFA Champions League. That means the club has finished below fourth place in the Premier League for
each of those seasons. On top of that, Liverpool have not won a top flight title in England for 23 years, while Manchester United have usurped their status as record holders for League title triumphs (twenty for United, 18 for the Reds).

Liverpool Football Club are revered and romanticized globally for their history, remarkable evolution, achievements, ability to overcome tragedies, and iconic players who have represented the club. Liverpool have turned to managers like Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness and Roy Evans; each of them were one of their own, men with deep roots in the club. Managers from the continent — Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez — had qualified levels of success in their respective reigns as Liverpool manager, but the Premier League title has still remained elusive.

After the dismissal of Rafa Benitez three years ago, the club has steadily fallen behind so much so that Spurs and even rivals Everton have surpassed Liverpool in the standings for the past two seasons. There’s no doubt that Liverpool are not the once great club they once were. But the question that fans are wondering is when will Liverpool turn the corner and break into the top four again? And is Brendan Rodgers the manager to do it?

Rodgers came across as affable in his first season at Liverpool. His signature move has been to change the team’s functional and tactical shape. He started out with the 4-2-1-3 formation before settling for a 4-3-3 in the second half of the season, and getting Suarez and Sturridge to take turns as the ghost number nine. That move created a lot more movement in attack, as well as passing angles from midfield.

There is no doubt Rodgers is a reformer, a young manager with a modern coaching and tactical ethos, initiating a major shift in Liverpool’s playing style after 12 years of the Houllier-Benitez steely, smash and grab axiom. He did not manage to get Liverpool to keep the ball in the distinctive fashion his Swansea team did in the 2011/12 season, but there are signs his philosophy and reforms would be adapted to in due course. Liverpool’s flourish towards the end of last season is a harbinger of good things to come.

If Rodgers had the goodwill of Liverpool fans and the neutrals last term, then the next season will be one by which he will be judged. The Northern Ireland born manager goes into the second of a three year contract without Liverpool having the distraction of playing in Europe, which offers him adequate room to further groom his players in his philosophy. The size of the task facing him this term is markedly more onerous than the last one. At this point, it’s not clear if they will have top scorer Luis Suarez at the club. And even if they retain his services, he will miss no less than the first six matches of the new season, serving his punishment for biting Branislav Ivanovic.

There will be no substitute to his all round play and goals. His absence has a potentially debilitating effect on the team. The close season signings of outfield players Kolo Toure, Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto crystalizes Liverpool’s drop in standards. It’s the culmination of not qualifying for the Champions League for four seasons. The positive side to signing average players if a club is not involved in the Champions League is that a jackpot potentially awaits, if the club does go on to qualify. There would be a dramatic rise in the sell-on value of these hitherto average players, thus giving the club a positive financial bounce. Brendan Rodgers does not have the luxury of such projections at this point. He is going to have to raise the standards of his new recruits to fire Liverpool into the top four next season, playing to the new design.

It is pretty clear the young manager is about to ascend into the rough clouds and head winds that managers at the top end of the English Premier League have to contend with. Sadly he will not be judged by his pedigree, or reforms, but by Champions League qualification. That immortal cliche “substance over style” comes to mind. The 2013-14 season promises to be make or break time for Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.

7 thoughts on “New Season Is Make or Break Time for Liverpool’s Brendan Rodgers”

  1. I believe in Rodgers!

    He’s gonna rock this season!

    Let the man build a dynasty and stop switching managers all the time…it’s ALWAYS taking several steps back…

  2. I totally agree with you m8! I too believe in what BR is trying to do at LFC and you are absolutely right about giving him the time he needs, to build a squad that can go on to challenge for trophies both at home and on the continent, not only for next season or the one after that but for the next 10 years and beyond!!!! I too hate this sack 1 guy and bring in another, give him 1 or 2 years then sack him too rubbish….. like you said it just puts you back to square 1 as the next guy in will just sell players on and bring in new ones and completely turn the club upside down again and who’s to say his method will be any better??? Rodgers has had limited money to play with than the other top clubs and I personally think he has made some very shrewd signings and for who ever it was that wrote the report above to say that…… they are average players is very insulting! If they come good next season and take the PL by storm you just wait and see the Voltures (Real, Barca, Chelsea and Man C ETC)come circling as usual and they won’t be saying they are average then!!! I trust Rogers and to say this is his make or break season is ridiculous, even if we don’t make the top four again next season so what……. if it takes 2 or 3 more years for him to build a solid foundation for a prolonged and successful future, then I am all for it, like Steve said give him the time and the support he needs!!!! LFC FOREVER!!!!

  3. He’s only in trouble if his name is 1 of the 3 in the envelope. What Rogers needs to do is less PR and more focus on the field. It can work but his own ego got in the way last year. He reminds me of a politician at times, spinning always spinning to keep himself above criticism. Most great managers (SAF, Morinho) are the other side of that coin and could care less what the press is saying-they do what they think needs to be done.

  4. Yep. BR for me. But we Do need more goals. And power. Pity about Andy. Not an amazing player but he was coming good. Lot of cash to lose.
    Come on Fenway Loosen the purse strings and get Henry! Dublin here we come! Cusacks Cronies.YNWA

  5. An admirable essay, but I fear that you will be waiting for a train that won’t come. Brendan Rodgers is an empty suit if ever I’ve seen one. A bag of hot air, too. I’m not saying this as a rival fan, but it’s amazing to me how he gets a pass from the media and critics when AVB for example gets thrashed. He tinkers and tinkers, almost like Claudio Ranieri, and without Suarez’s goals, where would Liverpool have finished last term? Next season is going to be really interesting to see if Rodgers still gets a pass. We might see a Top 4 shakeup for the first time in 4 years, but I don’t think Liverpool will pounce with that pontificator at the helm.

    1. To answer your question – without Suarez and his goals, Liverpool would have finished in the exact same position – 7th. So that whole notion of Suarez carrying the team is hot air in itself.

      I’m a Liverpool supporter but believe me, I’ve had enough to moan about over the years and I try to keep a level head and not get blinkered by a manager or anything to do with the club as best I can. I genuinely feel that Rodgers can, will and IS doing good for the club.

      This season will be one of the most interesting in the history of the Premier League. You’ve got new managers implement their own styles at Man Utd, Man City and Chelsea. You’ve got a new manager at Everton who will no doubt lose the likes of Baines so their stability under Moyes could be under threat. You’ve got a genuine contender for top 4 in the form of Tottenham… but if they end up losing a player like Bale, the door swings wide open again. It’s going to be a really interesting summer and an even more interesting season as a whole I think.

      We can take a stab in the dark and say that the top 3 positions have been filled already – Utd, City & Chelsea (the unknown being what order they go in). So that leaves Arsenal & Tottenham fighting for 4th, with Liverpool as the nearest rank outsider.

      We’ll just hold on to our seats and see what happens.

  6. this is only going to end in tear,his not going to be given time nor the financial backing needed to get the team into the champions league spot. the average teams of yesteryears like Spurs,Everton etc are getting stronger, i don’t think they can get into top four with these average players excluding Gerrard and Suarez besides there is uncertainty about there best player in luiz Suarez as the writer mentioned above.

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