by Kieran Davies
We stick by our managers. We support the team through thick and thin. Win, lose or draw YNWA. These are the tones of a deluded fan. Modern football doesn’t allow for managers to be given four or five years to settle in, not at the big clubs anyway. If you’ve had two seasons to prove your worth you’re a lucky man nowadays. Many Liverpool fans will disagree with my next comment, but they will also reminisce about Rafa Benitez and Kenny Dalglish and how they wish they had been given longer spells at the helm. Some may even still think Woy Hodgson could have taken us to the heights of a Carling Cup Final.
Brendan Rodgers is not the man to give the success the clubs needs and craves. I too last season thought he was the answer to all our prayers; could we dream this was the second coming, the new Shankly? We all salivated at the prospect. However, in the cold light of day it seems well into the new season that Luis Suarez had the same effect on that squad last season as Cristiano Ronaldo had on that Man Utd team. He had inspired the players around him to want to be better players and gave it their all and played above their station trying to keep up with their world beater. Add to that the effect of the individual player themselves, scoring goals, setting up goals, scaring the opposition into submission before a ball is even kicked. Liverpool took massive strides forwards back to the ‘top four’ but have this season taken several steps backwards.
Resting players in a game versus Real Madrid in the pinnacle of European football, the Champions League is unforgivable. A trophy which is richly associated with a club like Liverpool, it goes against every tradition the club stands for to do such a thing. The spine of the first team is the same as last season yet none of those players have played anywhere near that standard. There seems to be a curse on the Liverpool defence that whoever plays in that back four irrelevant to actual ability, will always plays like Djimi Traore after getting off a roundabout, week in week out. They’ve added quality in Lovren and Moreno, but as the curse outlines ‘he who don the shirt of Liverpool defence will play like man with no football sense’ and fans can be forgiven for feeling like a goal is coming everytime an opponent attacks. Here lies the other problem. The number one is only good enough to be a number two, while the number two isn’t good enough to be Everton’s number three. Yet Brendan seems oblivious. After constant grilling over defensive duties he claimed ‘it’s not a defensive coach we need, it’s more time with players coaching them’. So just over two years isn’t quite enough time then I assume? Problems at the back were what cost the team a title, yet those same frailties still stand out like a sore thumb.
The players themselves showed they are good enough with last season’s efforts but they are not performing to that level this season, almost confirming the effect Suarez had on other player’s games. New signings have really failed to even match their abilities when given opportunities in the first team. A lot will tell you the new signings need time to bed in. Reality check, these are professional footballers, they should be able to perform in any side. Imagine you start a new office job, do you think your employers would put up with you acting like Frank Spencer for six months while you ‘settle in’? I doubt it very much but this is the alternate reality of the world of football. When you look at the squad as a whole there is a lot of quality so if they are not performing who is to blame? You can’t get rid of a whole squad so in this situation you have to blame the coaching staff and management. Primarily the way it works is if the manager is not going to lay blame at the door of the coaching team, he will take the dagger for them. Maybe this job is just too much for him.
Rumours circulate that the owners have given him an ultimatum already………’knockout phase of Champions League or job centre’ by all accounts. With the fixture list the way it is, this could mean the search for a new manager starts on December 10th. What excites me at the moment is that there is a manager who currently would consider such an offer out there who I wanted to get the job ahead of Brendan in the first place……Jurgen Klopp. He can be excused for being disillusioned where he is currently with Dortmund as despite bringing numerous successes to the club they still seem to sell their best player every season and do not invest so heavily on the first team squad. Klopp for me has many attributes; firstly he can ‘out-Mourinho’ Mourinho when it comes to mind games and press conferences mixed with humour on a par with Ian Holloway press conferences. He has taken a team from mediocrity and the occasional UEFA cup final to Bundesliga champions and made them a force in the Champions League. He plays attacking football but all based on a solid foundation of a good defence and he is all about entertaining a passionate crowd. Dortmund have one of the best fan bases currently around and their home is a cauldron so Anfield should appeal to the German. He has pedigree and should be able to entice big name signings to the club whilst still having an ethic for nurturing the academy players into big names.
Any business has to have a DR (Disaster Recovery) plan nowadays so the owners could be forgiven for sounding out potential replacements between now and then. The hard part is keeping this from the media as you certainly don’t want to put your existing manager under the guillotines blade prematurely. If the ultimatum has been given to Rodgers it’s a shrewd plan of the owners as it eliminates any embarrassment about no money being made available to Rodgers in January. Whether a replacement would have funds to play with after the summer spending only time will tell. Liverpool needs a big name manager who can hit the ground running as the fans deserve more than the poor excuses churned out every week by the current manager.
No fan needs to hear a manager saying how unlucky they were when they are outclassed by Basel or humbled by Villa or West Ham. The owners have had success in baseball with a sound business model which they look to apply on Liverpool. They realise the players are their assets and staff come and go until you find that right combination. Rodgers has been victim of his own inability to persuade Suarez to stay and some less than aspiring transfer activity. Much in the way AVB was expected to achieve success given heavy investment that will be the main reason if the manager is replaced. While fans will voice discontent and disappointment if the manager is sacked, for me this would be a very positive move by the owners as it would be all too easy to let the club stagnate and Champions League football to come and go as quickly as a winner of the X-Factor! Lacklustre performances and lack of creativity reminds me all too much of those periods under Benitez, Hodgson and Dalglish where all parties knew this wasn’t working but neither had the heart to break up with the other. Whatever the outcome, it will be interesting to see where we are come December 10th. Personally I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that nobody snaps up Jurgen Klopp in the meantime.