Ahead of today’s must-win derby Kieran Davies looks at a man on the point of no return.
‘I always say a good squad is like a good meal. I’m not a great cook, but a good meal takes a wee bit of time. But also, to offer a good meal, you need good ingredients.’ I really don’t know what to do with that information but he was definitely right that he is not a good cook! No these aren’t the ramblings of Ricky Gervais character David Brent but someone who you wonder if he has styled himself on the Gervais character, Brendan Rodgers. Liverpool fans seem to have had enough of his post-match drivel and want to see the Irishman removed from his position. ‘I thought we were excellent. We didn’t get the win but our overall game was outstanding!’ I can fully understand why. In the midst of defeat or poor performance, fans want someone who will hold their hands up and realise that the performance was not acceptable and to do something about it. The scary thing with Rodgers is that he seems to believe the tripe that comes from his own mouth! This is has got me thinking, is Brendan Rodgers really anywhere near a decent manager?
When you look at his managerial career, there is not a lot to back up Brendan’s plight. He was mediocre at best at Watford, left Reading by mutual consent after six months with the side just above the relegation zone and then we have Swansea City. Now I personally think Swansea City is a club which has a very good business model and an owner who knows players and managers will come and go but the club’s ethos must be a concrete foundation. As a result of this, any manager who takes the role will look like a good manager as the fundamentals are still the same. Roberto Martinez, Paulo Sousa, Brendan Rodgers, Michael Laudrup and Gary Monk have all held this position and seen some success. Some may argue that Martinez laid the groundwork but I think it’s more the owner who takes credit for the way the club has been run. So are these individuals good managers or has the way that club is run made them look like good managers? Over the last few years we have seen the manager change often in South Wales but the club has still flourished. Monk for example has never held such a position before this current assignment but plaudits laud him as a good manager, linking him to bigger jobs. So bearing this in mind, is Brendan Rodgers a good manager or someone who has used the Swansea City job as a catalyst to get a job he could never have dreamed of?
‘I’ve always worked along the statistic that if you can dominate the game with the ball you have a 79 percent chance of winning a game of football.’ No this is not the inane muttering of the resident drunk in your local pub, this is the Liverpool manager, but you can be forgiven for confusing the two. Without going into stats to show what a ridiculous statement that is, let’s just use one. The final game of last season Liverpool over the course of the game had 55% possession. This a game Liverpool lost 6-1 at Stoke City. The beauty of the game of football is that you can be under the cosh for 89 minutes of the game and all it takes is one counter attack and you can take all of the spoils. Liverpool in fact under Rodgers have had two games where they have even had 65% and 75% of the possession but still lost both of those games. Where were your foolproof formulas then Brendan? ‘Fool’ being the operative word here I think.
‘I have always said that you can live without water for many days, but you cannot live a second without hope!’ (do not try this at home, he is not medically trained). If that were truly the case there would be Liverpool fans dropping like flies left, right and centre as under Brendan Rodgers this is truly a club without hope. I now start to wonder whether the club cut short the cringeworthy documentary ‘Being Liverpool’ due to the ramblings coming from their manager which would have made it look like they employed a complete fruit as manager of one of the biggest names in football. Say what you want about Liverpool’s current situation but they have earnt their place as one of Europe’s BIG names and having not won a league trophy for a while will not undo that. Let’s not forget this club won the Champions League only ten years ago in one of the greatest European finals we will ever see. To their passionate fans, this will seem an aeon ago with what they have had to endure since.
When asked probing questions about his failings which he is not comfortable with, Rodgers’ go to place is to talk about when ‘his’ Liverpool side finished in second place in the Premier League. Okay well let’s examine that season in a bit more depth. Rodgers’ pièce de résistance. Firstly he inherited a squad with a certain Luis Suarez in it. There were plenty of other gifted players also. Gerrard, Sterling, Sturridge and Suarez all had massive seasons. Like when Cristiano Ronaldo had his best season for United and could easily be included in the top three players in the world, the players around him will up their game trying to be on the same wavelength as their prize asset. The same was true of this monumental season for Liverpool where Luis Suarez clearly was on a level par with Messi and Ronaldo. Despite Rodgers thinking this was his swansong, firstly finishing second means nothing unless you use this as a springboard to better things, Liverpool didn’t. If anything Rodgers cost Liverpool their chance of a title with some of his poor decision making tactically. Even Steven Gerrard, the club’s talisman for so many years, recently commented the same in his autobiography. It was evident as the season went on that Rodgers had no plan B. Secondly, his side conceded 50 goals that season yet in his reign he has never addressed this synonymous leaky defence.
The fact of the matter is that from the day he first walked into Anfield, the underlying problems that were evident then, are still there now. He has done something which no other manager has come close to doing, he has seen off Steven Gerrard. Add to this losing such prize assets such as Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling. While some may argue they have gone on to bigger and better things, but if Liverpool were better managed and achieving, would they have left? He sticks by incompetent defenders and goalkeepers and his tactics are not good to watch. In ‘that’ season where the club finished second the side played with a high intensity and took the game to sides from the off and even finished games off within 20 minutes or so. The current side could not look further away from that approach in style. The players don’t seem to have the time for Rodgers or want to buy into his project. He brings players in from other clubs who look international class at their former clubs but once they don that Liverpool shirt they look a shadow of their former self. I know this can happen but specifically with the defence this seems too common an occurrence. One or two players you can maybe accept the transfer has not worked out, but all of them? At some point the manager has to be culpable. He picks his coaches and backroom staff and instils the formations and tactics they will play. He has spent £300m in his time there and is still playing £20m+ players out of position.
Change is needed, his time is up, he has been found out.
The club needs a big name and one such manager who is currently on sabbatical is Jurgen Klopp. What will it take for FSG to put Rodgers out of his misery and most of the fans? Defeat to Everton? It seems at the moment that every week fans hope this will be the straw to break the camel’s back yet still he remains in charge. Come on FSG, listen to the real asset in your club, your fans! David Brent, pack up your desk, take your not so inspirational quotes and get back to your level, the Championship……….your time is up!