Brendan Rodgers and his decision to field a highly chopped and changed side against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu is officially the hottest topic in English football right now. The Northern Irishman chose to make seven changes to the team that were well beaten by Newcastle United last Saturday. Bigger names such as Steven Gerard, Mario Balotelli, Jordan Henderson, Philppe Coutinho, Glen Johnson, Raheem Sterling and Dejan Lovren were all dropped in favour of their lesser known compatriots. This move to replace almost the whole starting eleven with seemingly lesser players was certainly a very bold statement from Rodgers, but also one that divided the opinion of football fans up and down the country.
Rodgers himself defended his team selection by saying that he chose to give these players an opportunity to perform so that they could do justice to the exorbitant amounts that were spent to bring them to Anfield. This one line sent out a clear indication to all those new signings who started on Tuesday that they would have to up their game sooner rather than later. On the other hand, this move can also be taken as a stern reminder to those who started against Newcastle that they could not take their places in the first eleven for granted. This is the way Rodgers is putting it, but it’s certainly not the way most of the football world are interpreting his decision to rest his best players for a must win game at the Bernabeu. Brendan Rodgers’ critics are taking it as a sign that the former Swansea boss threw in the towel even before the game kicked off. Some are even saying that he prioritized Chelsea at home on the weekend over the Real game, which is no more of a doubt really because he did admit to this in his pre Real press conference. Most of the media seem to have taken this issue from the second perspective rather than the first one and I will also have to honestly admit that I was left fairly disappointed at the team that he chose to put out against Real Madrid. It certainly did come off as a rather dispiriting sign before what was a must win game for us. Fans and football pundits can choose to dissect the situation to their heart’s content and offer as many inferences of this one decision as they want but what matters at the end of the day is that Rodgers is in a position to do what he feels is in the best interest of the club, and we Kopites need to trust him to do it.
The point of this article was not to tell you exactly why Rodgers did what he did, but to implore all my fellow Reds to keep faith in the man who made us dream just the last season. The media can paint it as a red letter day in the history of the club as much as they want, and they are welcome to say that fielding a weakened team against Real Madrid was an act that disrespected the values that Liverpool Football Club have stood for through all these years. On the flipside, the point that Rodgers made is a very good one too, and some of the world’s best managers have been known to axe even their best players when they weren’t playing well. Lastly, the result that we got on Tuesday night was certainly no surprise and if truth be told, then nothing better could have been expected. Yes, Real did have a hatful of chances that they squandered but the performance that our players put in, regardless of whether they were our first choice players our last choice players, was truly valiant and their commitment could not have been questioned.
Liverpool Football Club are certainly nowhere near the form they were in last season and this season will definitely be tough, but what we fans need to do is trust the man who is in the Anfield hotseat right now because he managed to make us unplayable once, and he certainly can repeat that achievement once again.