Our Liverpool FC corespondent, David Owens, thinks that Rodgers could be two games away from getting the push
Hours after Liverpool’s humiliating FA Cup exit at the hands of Oldham, it is easy to go route one and call for the head of the manager… after all that’s what modern football is all about isn’t it? Time was when managers had what was called time – amazing to think Slur Alex Ferguson went 4 years before winning a trophy and gave the United faithful the delights of Ralph Milne to enjoy…. Will his successor be given such a luxury (time not Ralph Milne!). Liverpool fans have always given managers time – but that all changed last season when our owners decided that a trophy, and a cup final were not enough compared to a poor league finish in 8th and so our manager was sacked, giving in my eyes carte blanche for fans to expect the same treatment to all managers – I mean, they were the ones mentioning progress, Champions League etc etc not us!
In truth the time to properly assess Rodgers is at the end of the season. He has the benefit, if you could call it as such, that for half the season he was working with one hand behind his back only having one striker, a situation for which he was not wholly responsible. That said, this defeat will heap a whole cart load of pressure on him and sadly all now of his own making.
Liverpool of late have been playing well, scoring goals and looking slick in terms of passing and tempo. However, all of the good work done is being destroyed, and then some, by some absolutely disastrous team selections – selections which in terms of their regularity and awfulness ask serious questions of Rodgers’s suitability as Liverpool manager. Many of Liverpool’s recent defeats come back to selection. Now you could say that most defeats do, but it is the lack of sense or thought in some of these selections which ask questions, and don’t get me started on the tactics.
For example, Stoke City away, no place for the likes of Suso or Stewart Downing – but both started and were ineffective. Liverpool spent far too much time tippy tapping the ball around their own penalty area and allowed Stoke to hassle them down. Sadly Stoke away is a game for men, and a team willing to put a shift in, you play a bit more direct and play them at their own game.
The game at Old Trafford, Liverpool were not at the races for 55 minutes – when Manchester United are clearly struggling at the back and any team attacking them have half a chance, what does Brendan do, sets up his team to sit back and soak up pressure…. Granted he did change things at half time but too late.
And so to today, cold wet Lancashire day, a big tough limited Oldham side – and what does Brendan do… include slight slender players not used to this sort of pressure bowl – Coates, Allen, Sterling, Borini, Robinson… just totally ludicrous selections, handing on a plate to Oldham a massive slice of initiative.
Add in some serious questions of the buys Rodgers has authorised – £15m for Joe Allen looks worse value than £14m for the improving Henderson, £12m for Borini looks laughable not to mention the waste of time that was Sahin, and Rodgers has some crawling to the fans to do… it is OK for some to say we must back him and trust him – but first of all you need to earn the right, and every time he buys a packet of trust, he washes it all away with poor decisions.
This is where the equation at year end really takes a strange turn. In my eyes, and I think 95% of fans eyes – even Arsenal fans, the most important decider on a season’s success is silverware. Liverpool won a cup last season and were arguably a whisker from a second ( I still think Carroll’s header was over the line in the FA Cup final). However by finishing a poor 8th in the league, our owners said it was not enough – even for a legend of the club, and Kenny Dalglish was sacked…. So what is Brendan’s minimum requirement from the owners? … and, what is it from Liverpool fans, keen to cut him some slack but desperate to see progress.
Brendan’s only hope of a cup is now the Uefa Cup, but with potentially 2 awkward trips to Eastern Europe ahead, and his habit of playing a few younger lads, it seems to indicate it is not priority number 1 – he may have to change that now as now as a lack of silverware will place a very sharp focus on league form. Liverpool fans overlooked 8th last season because we won a trophy… no trophy means a European place is a must in terms of a league finish. This may still yet be 6th place if the FA Cup is won by Arsenal / Man U / Man C or Chelsea as all 4 are likely to be top 6… if you include Everton and Tottenham in that list, Liverpool are at the moment fighting West Brom for 7th… unacceptable. So what can Brendan do to get into that top 6, can he break into the top 4?
Much will depend on the next 2 fixtures – Arsenal and Man City away. 2 defeats and I would say Liverpool fans ire will be palpable… if we are still in touching distance then slack will continue to be cut.
Given though no one really knows what is going on in our owners mind’s as they do not seem to say much, we can only go on their actions at the end of last season – and the dreaded Champions League word was mentioned – so with potentially no trophy this season and 4th possibly a pipedream come Sunday of results are poor… I’d say Brendan could well be inundated with offers of getting his coat for him.