by Kieran Davies
So with a week to go until the curtain raises on another Premiership season, new Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is starting to put his stamp on his new Liverpool team. Rather admirably agreeing a termination of Craig Bellamy’s contract for personal reasons, something Cardiff fans should be very appreciative of, Joe Allen is announced as Liverpool’s latest signing. Gauging the opinions of many Liverpool fans it has thrown up a lot of issues for me. Some are questioning the appointment of Brendan Rodgers, however you will find that 90% of these people are the same crowd that wanted Rafa Benitez appointed to the role. Personally I think Brendan Rodgers was the right man for the job as FSG have impressed me with their ethos of operating Liverpool more like a business than a football team thus securing the club’s long term stability and Rodgers fits right in with this. Jose Mourinho appointed him as a youth coach in his setup so he obviously rated Rodgers ability to mould young players, something they are currently doing well at Melwood but having Rodgers as manager will allow the transition from youth to senior football more viable than under Dalglish.
It was evident on the senior debut of Raheem Sterling in the post match interview that Dalglish was not going to allow opportunity for the club’s hot prospects to try and prosper in first team football. Considering the comments made regularly about the talent in the Liverpool academy it was imperative that they start giving opportunities to these youngsters, something I believe Rodgers will do and has shown signs of this already by giving Adam Morgan chance to score his first senior goal on the recent tour of America. Raheem Sterling also saw a lot of game time too. The acquisitions of Fabio Borini and Joe Allen for me are shrewd moves. Borini has already scored on home debut, but adding Allen to the heart of midfield three of Lucas, Gerrard and Allen really excites me. He has the ability to pull the strings and be Liverpool’s midfield schemer while Lucas breaks up the opponents midfield play and Gerrard strives forward to offer attacking options. You cannot ignore the stats alone for Allen last season in terms of passes and completed passes which put him up there with Europe’s elite, quite an accolade of a player playing in a newly promoted team. He has the ability to thread balls through for Gerrard, Downing, Borini, Suarez and the likes something Liverpool have missed since the days of Xabi Alonso.
As for the choice of manager Liverpool fans need to start showing confidence in the decisions made by messers Henry and Werner. For me fans who wanted Benitez back show small mindedness and need to stop living in the past. He had his positives in terms of trophy haul and can be commended for his work with the Hillsborough families but he was removed for a reason. He spent a lot of money at Liverpool and for me did not represent value for money. He also cost the club a lot of money in his sacking and I am sure he would not have offered to give the club that back had he been offered the job. He is accountable for Liverpool’s failed title bid in their highest finish in the Premier League when they finished second. Now fans cling on to this like it’s a positive, this is not the Liverpool way. Liverpool do not celebrate second place. As I said I feel Rafa was culpable for that failing in negative tactics and not breaking down teams on the pitch despite chasing Crouch and Keane out of the club. His mental stability was also questionable during the famous tirade with Alex Ferguson…….FACT! As far as I can see so far, FSG have acted impressively in their tenure at Anfield. They removed Hodgson as soon as they came in, a manager never up to the Liverpool job, and gave the fans what they wanted in appointing kop idol Dalglish. He was the right man at the right time and served a purpose to the club which he can be thanked for during a turbulent time. However, he wasn’t the right man to take the club forward and in my eyes had spent too much time out of the game and some of his thoughts were dated like the not wanting to play youth prospects where as I am strong believer in the phrase ‘if he’s good enough, he’s old enough’. Acting as swiftly as they did in this situation I think will be pivotal to the club, some fans thinking Dalglish should have been given until January. This would be suicide. This would allow another season to be written off. So FSG acted quickly and appointed a forward thinking, young, driven manager.
Comolli was removed also and although this will never be confirmed, lateral thinking says both his and Dalglish’s departures had a lot to thank Jordan Henderson, Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing for. Liverpool still need additions to the current squad before the transfer window closes as their current squad will need to stay injury free for the season if they hope to finish in a Champions League place. It will be interesting to see what he gets out of the existing underperforming players also. This was his skill at Swansea to take average players and get them to play as unit with the pass and move ethos and received such graces as comparisons to Barcelona’s style of play. Liverpool fans need a manager to reinstall this ethos at their illustrious club and Rodgers could be the man to do this. The fans need to get behind him and look to the future rather than dwelling on the past. He has offloaded players who were a big strain on the finances at the club i.e Aquillani and Rodriguez and no doubt has targets he wishes to pursue still. The fact that he is not willing to be taken advantage of in the transfer market is good for the club also. Apparently he didn’t think Gylfi Sigurdsson was worth the money it would take the club to secure his services and if this is the case it’s about time clubs took a stance on these players and stopped allowing themselves to be held to ransom. After all Gylfi was happy with his approx £30k per week at Swansea until the L word was mentioned and then it was suddenly £70k. He must’ve learnt some skills in those two weeks to justify this double in salary.
It is going to be a very interesting season at Anfield this year but all the vibes coming from their new manager are very encouraging. He said he wanted Liverpool to play like Spain, an easy comment to make but then contacted Vicente Del Bosque and went and watched Spain train, very impressive. He has spoke out about the values of the club and that they haven’t been as prominent of late and how he is going to work to bring this back to the club. He is realistic that this will take time and that if we are honest finishing in top 4 this season would be as good as a title win in perspective of where the club has been of recent years. The players are impressed and regularly comment on how happy they are in training as he does so much ball work and Luis Suarez has reiterated how happy the players are by signing a new long term deal. Media speculation over Carroll and Agger is still rife but I think both want to stay at the club with Agger reaffirming this by having YNWA tattooed on his knuckles. This could be a pivotal season for Liverpool, their fans and their owners but by the end of it FSG will know whether Brendan Rodgers is the man to implement their visions.