Dan Pettit reviews a drawn-out crisis at Anfield that seemingly has no end in sight.
Liverpool have endured a tough start to the season with Sunday’s 1-1 draw at home to Norwich leaving them in 13th position, with 8 points coming from their opening six fixtures. After winning their opening two matches against Stoke and Bournemouth, Liverpool have secured only two points in four matches with two losses and two draws and they have only scored four goals this season.
Is it time for Liverpool to part company with Rodgers?
At the end of last season there was plenty of speculation surrounding Rodgers after they had followed up a second place finish in the Premier League with a sixth place finish and their Champions League adventures had come to an end at the group stage.
Admittedly the strikers that had got them to second place had been in Suarez’ case been sold for a huge sum to Barcelona and in Sturridge’s case been injured throughout most of the season, which has also run into the start of this season as well. The owners despite selling their best players have backed the manager throughout his tenure so has he done the best with the resources he has been given?
Given the availability of managers such as Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti it was easy to see why Liverpool may have been tempted with a change of manager and indeed a change of styles as well.
Ancelotti was wrongly sacked at both Real and Chelsea and he would have brought a wealth of experience and class to Anfield and his record at Chelsea was very good.
Klopp earned a lot of plaudits for his work at Borussia Dortmund, particularly in his last season where despite the shock start he managed to guide them to a place in Europe, he is the type of character that Liverpool fans would certainly take to.
Both of these managers would have been fine additions but their desires for a break from management after tough seasons was a deciding factor in the Anfield Chiefs resisted sacking Rodgers in the summer, despite their public backing of the manager.
But the lack of goals and performances may well have swayed the Anfield hierarchy into changing their stance and with plenty of tough away fixtures against Everton, Spurs and Chelsea today’s result takes on so much more prominence.
They backed Rodgers in the summer transfer market and have brought in some very good players with Benteke, Ings and Firmino and with Daniel Sturridge playing an hour today there is plenty of room for optimism.
There has at times been criticism from pundits and fans alike over Rodgers tactics, particularly against United when he opted to play a 4-3-3 with no out and out wingers selected in the first eleven. It meant that players like Firminho and Ings were playing out of position and were unable to contribute anything going forward.
Liverpool’s defence under Rodgers has always been poor and they have failed to find a suitable defensive partner for Skrtel, they have tried Lovren and Sakho but neither have fully nailed down that position. It also adds to the frustration that they sold Agger for a nominal fee when he was more than capable of playing with Skrtel and is a far better defender than those already on the Anfield books.
Gerrards departure at the start of this season is another vital cog from the second placed finish two seasons ago that has not really been replaced. With Coutinho they have a world class number ten but has there been a direct replacement for Gerrard? Milner has been brought in but he is nowhere near the class of Gerrard and they are both very different types of players.
With club captain Jordan Henderson another lengthy injury absentee Rodgers isn’t enjoying the best of luck with squad availability but the results and manner of performances are something that Liverpool cannot tolerate for too long. Their main ambition has to be to firstly get back into the top four and then progress and build a squad capable of winning the league and challenging in Europe as well.
With Rodgers signings and his lengthy list of injuries it remains to be seen if he is the man to build a team that is capable of achieving those lofty ambitions.
Gary Neville claimed today that Liverpool do not have the same pull as the Manchester clubs, Chelsea and Arsenal when it comes to signing players. The same can be said of United given the majority of their failed pursuits this summer but it is true that Liverpool have lost their pull in the transfer market and given how competitive the market in world football is for players that is a huge problem if Liverpool want to return to the pinnacle of domestic and european football.
The Liverpool owners have spent plenty of money but it does appear that the top players do not consider Liverpool to be an attractive destination whether a change of manager will do the trick only time will tell.
One thing is for certain though, Rodgers results will have to improve by Christmas or the owner’s patience may finally have run out.