Watching Brendan Rodgers this season for Liverpool echoes chimes of another dearly departed Premier League manager who promised more than he could ever deliver to a hungry supporters base, and this might not be a comparison Liverpudlians will want to see: this feels like Andre Villas-Boas’ second season with Spurs.
After another dour, drab and frankly embarrassing tussle with lower league opposition in Anfield’s purview, certainly the brand of soccer has crossed the red line? When Rodgers arrived at Anfield in 2012, he promised “death by football”. Three years on, he’s brought it, but in the exact opposite way he’s intended. Deluded Brendan couldn’t have dreamt up a statement like that.
With a surplus of attacking talent, talented players who were major hits elsewhere and a slightly renewed sense of optimism after Liverpool’s smashing 2013-14 season, there should have been a headlong charge to improve and consolidate their position among England’s elite. Even after selling two talismanic players in back-to-back summers, Liverpool should have been able to restock the cupboard many times over. Instead, the cupboard is filled with cobwebs and hope of what could have been.
Liverpool haven’t looked likely to score almost at all this season. Rather, they look hopeful, yearning and praying that someone will provide a moment of magic, a bolt of inspiration, instead of expecting it. “It’s just going to be a matter of time until they can get the results to be rewarded,” Rodgers said pre-match. Does that sound like a man that believes his team can save him, let alone believe in him?
When Andre Villas-Boas was on his last legs with Spurs two years ago, the quotes almost seem like they were copied verbatim. From claiming after Spurs drew United at White Hart Lane that there was an “agenda” against them, while also claiming finishing was the reason for their chronic lack of goals, to right before he was sacked saying that Spurs “were not far off” from success after being thrashed 5-0 at home to Rodgers’ Liverpool, Villas-Boas seemed like a defeated man trying to scrape to whatever little grip he had left before he fell off the cliff.
This season’s Liverpool squad seems to be scratching and clawing for what little grip they can find. Scoring only one against League Two Northampton Town and never nearly looking comfortable is criminal enough, but when it’s compared with Liverpool’s league and European performances nothing has changed. They lack for ideas, shape and mentality when the going gets rough, and there’s no faith that anyone in the squad can provide anything other than a random bolt from the sky as Christian Benteke did at Old Trafford.
Villas-Boas’ Spurs looked almost identical when their spiral downwards was accelerating with no brake in sight. And in a cruel, yet ironic twist, this is what Rodgers had to say after Villas-Boas was sacked at the hands of his Liverpool juggernaut:
“They are a great club and one of the things I looked at was the history. They’d had 11 managers in 18 years there so for someone like myself, I needed to create something.
I needed to go to a club that was going to give us that opportunity. I am more than happy with the choice I made to come here and hopefully in time it will prove to be the right one.”
With the chants of “you’re getting sacked in the morning” ringing through the ears of Anfield, his quotes from when he was the pick of the litter almost condemns him completely at his lowest point.
At his highest point, Brendan Rodgers was the apple of everyone’s eye, and looked like the man who could take Liverpool back to their storied and splendid heights.
At his lowest ebb, Rodgers looks almost identical to the manager he blasted on his way out the door after he pushed him over the edge.
The negative soccer, the signings played out of position or not at all, and the complete lack of verve, enthusiasm or energy.
Could we be describing the end of Villas-Boas’ Spurs, Rodgers’ Liverpool, or both?
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