The Metro have reported that Brendan Rodgers is under real pressure and that Liverpool’s owners are looking to potentially replace him at the end of the season. This article looks at some of the reasons why that may be the case and asks – is it fair?
I need to be straight up and say that I am a Rodgers fan – he gave us our belief back and was very close to that 19th league title we so desperately want last year. But, saying that, things aren’t perfect and here are some reasons why he may be under pressure.
Rodgers’ Record So Far This Season
When Brendan Rodgers came in as manager let’s face it – we were in a bit of disarray. Kenny Dalglish had steadied the ship after Roy Hodgson’s disastrous reign but it was time for change and Rodgers was a breath of fresh air.
His first season was always going to be one that allowed for a transitional period and a finish of 7th was seen as progress and something to build on. Not getting into the Europa League turned into something of a blessing too as the following year Liverpool shocked the media and fans by challenging for the title.
The thing is, this season, after the Luis Suarez money has been re-invested into several players that were brought in to strengthen the squad, things haven’t gone completely to plan.
Indeed it has been well documented that this year , after our defeat by Chelsea, that Rodgers’ record is actually worse than the record of Roy Hodgson in 2010-11 – the season that he was sacked.
By this date Hodgson had 15 points from 9 games, whilst Rodgers has 14 points from 11 matches. We all know that Liverpool aren’t actually too far off fourth place but at the same time if this keeps up it might give the owners of Liverpool all the stats and ammunition they need to make changes. They have invested a lot of money into this ‘project’ after all (I hate that phrase!).
Let’s face it – we still have the Champions League group stage qualification in our own hands. That could be huge.
Was He Lucky Last Season?
That’s the question that a lot of Liverpool fans are asking on social media.
Was he lucky last season having a world-class striker available to him to score hat-tricks against the sides we struggled against previously? And is he now unlucky as key players get injuries or go out of form at the wrong times?
Last season the three strikers that we had up front frightened the life out of everyone they came up against, with Sterling and Sturridge supporting the amazing Suarez. With Luis gone we now rely on Sturridge (injured) and Sterling (fading slightly after a good start) and two newly signed strikers that are really not firing as yet.
As we continue to struggle to score goals we have to ask ourselves whether Suarez was the catalyst for every good performance and whether his appearances allowed his supporting cast to have the opportunities they took with aplomb. I guess we will see when Sturridge gets back whether we can start knocking them in again.
Let’s not pretend that Rodgers saw a huge amount of potential in Jordan Henderson either. He tried to sell him to West Ham for £5m for goodness sakes.
That Henderson decided to stay and fight for his place is fantastic for us and him, and he will be a Liverpool great for years to come. But Rodgers might have got a bit lucky as opposed to developing him as some fans would let you believe.
Transfers – Targets and Spend
Now this is the thing that has been targeted at Rodgers in the last few weeks as one of his faults.
Rodgers has spent £215m on his squad since he took over, spending £14m on Borini for example as his first signing.
Over the Summer £117m was spent on new signings (I’m ignoring the net spend argument for now), with nearly £50m given to Southampton for example. I’ll also ignore the fact that they have not exactly missed the three players we signed from the Saints.
Players such as Lallana, Can, Lovren and Markovic have played okay in patches but nowhere near the level we’d expect when looking at how much they cost. Balotelli is also a player that is frustrating all Liverpool fans as he continues to struggle and not really fit into the side whenever he plays.
The fact that Rodgers has admitted that he didn’t really fancy Balotelli and that he was ‘available’ makes you wonder why we spent £16m on him when a loan deal or investing in someone else might have been a wiser deal.
Do we trust Rodgers to spend our money going forwards? The rumours coming out of Anfield suggest that the owners don’t want to spend much in January, so that might be your answer.
Last season everyone knew what the problems were with Liverpool – they could score goals for fun but could not keep a clean sheet to save their lives. This brought some fantastically open games that we normally won, but was unfortunately our undoing at the death.
The game against Chelsea was one that we had to simply ‘not lose’ but Rodgers was out-thought in that game, and the match against Palace is something we would all like to forget. Simply put, we did not need to keep scoring that night. Winning was enough to put the pressure back onto City.
This season, and after a lot of money was spent on defenders to strengthen that area, the same issues are still there. Lovren and Sakho have been expensive acquisitions but are struggling to settle in.
Unfortunately we have stopped scoring goals too as Sturridge has been out for a couple of months and we don’t seem to be able to switch back to the way we pressured and harassed teams last year.
The game at Real Madrid was also something that was seen as strange. Dropping your big-game players for the match was seen as throwing in the towel, and even more weird was, after they played well defensively, to drop those who performed well.
Let’s face it, Gerrard might not have too many more chances to play in the Bernabeu, and was it fair to drop Toure for the Chelsea game after his great display? Especially for Skrtel, who has been all over the place at times this year.
And was it fair to drop Borini who showed far more effort than Balotelli had all year in his European cameo?
Has Brendan got the know-how to take us to the next level and compete with those at the top and in Europe?
Image and Potential
I was never sure about Rodgers when I saw him in the Being: Liverpool documentary talking about envelopes, but he turned me round with his managerial displays last season. Less talking and more actions seemed to be the way he was going and I liked it.
This season though a few speeches seem to have crept in which were there in his first season – does he do these things when he’s under pressure? Does he think he’s distracting attention away from the team like Mourinho does and Ferguson and Clough did in their prime?
Anyway, looking forward does Rodgers have the potential to become a legend and win a major trophy such as the Champions League or the League Title?
Evidence so far is inconclusive and I think it will come down to how much money he is entrusted with and whether he can attract world-class players to Anfield to take us to the next level.
The way we played last year was fantastic, and it showed us that he can play great football and get results in an entertaining fashion – in a way that we would expect from previous great Liverpool sides.
Is there anyone else who I would think would come in and take Liverpool on and do any better? I personally think that he is signing players, has a style he wants to impress on the squad, and with us still in Europe and very much in the chase for 4th place and a continued Champions League presence that we deserve he can, and will be, given a chance.
It’s a long term ‘project’ isn’t it after all?