THE Champions League ‘experiment’ didn’t work then, did it?
We unconvincingly won the opening game at home to the weakest team and went on to collect just two more points from the remaining five. In all honesty we were pretty lucky to head into the final game with the destiny of qualification in our own hands.
So this is the point where you hope you can look at a healthy position in your domestic league table and declare European elimination to be a learning curve. To be able to claim you’ll be a stronger proposition next time out. Er…
Hopefully Brendan Rodgers woke up today and took a long hard look in the mirror. I’m all for perseverance but there is also a stage where you go back to the drawing board. Not just because of how last night panned out, but because of how the entire season has panned out. Circumstances have conspired against the manager to a heavy degree but so have his own actions.
Rodgers isn’t the first Liverpool manager to select the wrong starting line-up on a big European night. There was this game I remember in Turkey, must be almost a decade ago now, when Rafael Benitez did something similar. Managers are expected to think on their feet in such circumstances and fair play to Rodgers for his half=time adjustments. We looked much more capable from around the 50th minute, Lazar Markovic had the aura of an unlikely hero about him, and it was a shame that his game ended 10 minutes later. I’d like him to play at Old Trafford on Sunday.
There’s an iconic black and white photograph of Anfield taken by Steve Hale just over 30 years ago that goes by the name ‘Storm over Anfield’. It’s quite possibly my all-time favourite Liverpool FC photograph. The rain is hammering it down and it seems to distort the beams of light that emanate from the floodlights on top of the Main Stand and the Kemlyn. On the pitch Craig Johnston, Ian Rush and Kenny Dalglish appear oblivious to the aquatic nature of the conditions. They go on to reach that season’s European Cup Final.
There was a storm over Anfield last night, and a rhetorical storm continues to rage over it today. At times I was caught by the movement of the rain that fell on Anfield last night. It was borderline hypnotic and it even blew in and soaked me as I sat in my usually dry vantage point towards the back of The Paddock. The rain twisted one way and then the other; it swirled around in a way that almost sent it back upwards from where it came. It was unpredictable and beautiful and it distorted artificial light.
It stopped when Markovic was sent off, and then started again after he made his way down the tunnel. It was almost ghostly; it could feasibly have been the spirits of last season hovering over the potential wreckage of this. We went on to play pretty well with 10 men and maybe an invisible force was at play. If only the Reds that made Champions League football a possibility this season had been able to take to the field over the last couple of months. Who knows what might have been.
It’s all a bit Bullseye at the minute. It’s all a bit “Ohhh, look what you could have won”. Conversely it also smacks of those contestants from land-locked towns that used to win the speedboat. We ended up winning something we couldn’t really do any justice to when we took to our six Champions League fields of play.
When we’ll get to try again is open to debate.
I’m not too arsed about the intricacies of what we did and didn’t do. I’ve no real stomach for the tactical analysis. We’ve been there and done that on a weekly basis since the first ball was kicked in anger on this campaign almost four months ago.
I’m not saying I’ve lost interest by any means, and I still don’t think this season has reached an irredeemable cul-de-sac, but I would say I can’t see the wood for the trees.
Someone can still put this season right and Brendan Rodgers can still be that man. More ugly turns of events are no doubt ahead and it remains to be seen how many more of these the owners, the fans, the players and the manager himself are willing to be part of.
Europa League football and the domestic cups were not considered sufficient reason for Kenny Dalglish to keep the manager’s job in 2012. Are FSG going to accept those same achievements three years later, especially with a big new Main Stand waiting to be funded?
Rodgers’ job is likely to hinge on achieving a top four finish. We don’t look capable of it now and it’s up to Rodgers to change that.
It’s a sharp contrast to making us dream.
The mirror or the portrait?
I made the mirror observation earlier today. The buck stops with him. Ahem.
Where to start? How about this….
Last season our passing in tight situations was joyous to behold. Little triangles, one touch pass and move. Fast forward to this season, not only do players have to stop and look up when they receive the ball, no-one other than Sterling and the skipper seems to want the ball. That’s down to the manager and confidence. The manager because he seems to want us to press one week and defend space the next, the manager because he keeps tinkering with the midfield and the team shape, the manager because he’d drained his players of confidence with his wretched tinkering. Last season we knew what we were about, we could change shape, but our game was fundamentally about pressing and attacking. This season were a shambles because the manager doesn’t know whether to stick or twist. Coutinho and Lambert’s mutual incomprehension is a microcosm of our season thus far.
We lost 4 in a row and we’re now unbeaten in 4. Not saying that makes everything alright, but I’m less worried about Old Trafford on Sunday than I was a couple of weeks ago. That’s progress. Limited and – currently at least – still not good enough to get us top 4, but there are signs that – if not quite travelling in the right direction – at least we haven’t got on the wrong bus.
Rodgers is like a kid at Xmas.
He has so many new toys he doesn’t know what to play with next and ends up messing about with the team and formation almost because he can.
He needs to go back to last season, select a league squad he has faith in and send those same lads out every week.
save the fannying about for the cup competitions.
Does anyone really see League Cup and Europe League as prestigious? Our sights are now higher.
The only saving grace about the Europa League is that it gives us a chance to play all the new signings and blood a few youngsters. We should have an ‘A’ team for the league, and a ‘B’ team for the Europa captained by Lovren.
So what will he do now? Sacrifice the EPL for the Europa? Sacrifice the Europa for the FA Cup? Sacrifice the FA Cup for the League Cup?
Domestic cups aren’t worth it from a business perspective. Why do you think the successful clubs tend to ignore them unless their fringe players scrape they way through to the semis? I suspect they’ll treat the Europa the same, as it’s pretty unlikely Rodgers will get anywhere near the final.
I read somewhere, once, that when Tommy Docherty managed Chelsea he completely lost the players, and for one game he lectured them on the plan for the day. As they walked out onto the field the captain – Terry Venables – said ‘Fuck that tosser, just play the way we want.’
I happen to believe that’s what happened to tikka takka last season, it was wrested from
him, and Rodgers just pretended he’d abandoned it. But then I believe all sorts of things about Brendan Rodgers.
Kevin, I have always viewed this as the reason.
Of all the mental anti-Rodgers theories this season that has got to be the most ludicrous by some distance. So last season Gerrard went “ignore him, just score loads of goals” and now we’re not he’s gone “no listen to the manager now, lads”. Not having that you believe that just because we were great last year and poor this. If so you’re not the full shilling and should seek help.
So you believe he waited for Suarez to go before he said ‘Righto, tikka takka here we come’? Because that’s what happened. Pointless passing back and forth across the box until finally giving it back to Mignolet (Jesus!! ) to waste it? I didn’t say it was a Gerrard diktat or even a conscious decision by the team – it just happened. But happen it did. It was still abandonment of Rodgers’ ‘death by possession’ philosophy and preference. If you look at the beloved stats for some of out most embarrassing gsmes you’ll see figured like 60/40 to us with no almost no attempts at goal.
The possession football he was brought in on evolved with the Sturridge and Coutinho signings halfway through his first season which I’ll admit irked me in spite of improved results because I was fine being patient but that’s an argument from 18 months ago. Would you say the players took it upon themselves to play their own way in the second half of 12/13 or only, specifically when we were nearly winning the league? Because Liverpool being good = ignoring the manager who you don’t like.
Skrtel and Mignolet had everyone having kittens passing it to each other when we won 11 league games on the bounce last season as well, by the way.
Pinning our faith in a man who takes off his only target man and sends on two wide providers is foolhardy at best. He is clueless. A narcissistic charlatan. His substitutions are baffling. He makes Kevin Keegan look like a chess master.
Keegan’s a much better manager than he’s given credit for. He was the first to man-make Makelele and he successfully transformed Michael Owen into an advanced midfielder late in his career. He’s also, of course, one of my favourite players ever: my first football hero. Those were the days…..
Agreed. But KK is usually seen as the benchmark for exciting and unsuccessful management. You always enjoyed the game when you played one of his teams, but he had no instinct for defence and it was his downfall. Football
is not a game, it’s business, and every aspect of a team is analysed and exploited. See Alonso’s interview with Carra a few weeks ago about how RM and Bayern analyse games beforehand and plan for them. A different plan ever game. We clearly don’t do that and keep reverting to the same old same old stuff. Certainly they have the squads to cope with any tactics and we don’t, but we should have and have spent almost a quarter of a billion pounds buying skilfull footballers – no argument – and overlooked what was REALLY needed. A goalkeeper who inspired confidence and some planning for Gerrard’s decline. I don’t blame Rodgers for the lack of recruitment of a quality striker (although plenty other clubs managed to find one) but to approach a ‘crucial’ CL match with one tired striker only in the squad smacks of negligence to put it mildly.
Blame Rodgers for the starting XI, blame him for Borini not even making the bench. But surely we can’t blame him for taking Lambert off?
Rickie was offering nothing and looked goosed. I wasn’t the only one on the kop pleased with the injection of pace, and movement, Markovic brought*
*or would have, had he stayed on the pitch longer than fifteen.
No, you can’t blame him for taking Lambert off. It is possible to argue that he shoild not even have started, given his number of starts in the last few weeks. But to not even have Borini on the bench was bordering on stupidity.
I think Markovic is going to be a great player. And Can. But not under Brendan Rodgers.
Yeah, that’s the problem. He’s making so many stupid and irrational decisions at the moment. Feels like he’s lost the plot, sadly.
The treatment of Borini is just bizarre. The lad is nowhere near good enough but we have no other alternative. If, as is being suggested, he’s being frozen ahead of a move in January I find it even stranger. We’re surely not going to get close to the 14m we accepted from Sunderland in the summer. Rodgers making it perfectly clear he wants him gone can only be detrimental to his value, I would have thought a hungry Borini, with something to play for, to come off the bench would be a positive.
Then again, the fact that we are bemoaning the lack of Borini in the squad just shows the paucity of attacking options. And just how poor our summer transfers were.
Rodgers had never managed a European game before he got the Liverpool job. He looked like a British manager from the 1990s being out-witted by mediocre European sides. It was a pitiful campaign because the manager hadn’t a clue how to win matches at that level. Even Moyes adapted better last season with Utd to the CL.
Given the caliber of opposition, I don’t think he did any worse than he’s done in the EPL this season. I don’t know that the manager’s lack of experience in Europe was particularly relevant. We just weren’t good enough.
Once upon a time…
Brendan Rodgers was sent to the transfer market to sell Luis Suarez. He was told to use the money to buy a new flock and make all the family happy. He hadn’t been gone long when Brendan met a funny looking old man who said to him “Hello, Brendan. You look the proper sort of chap to sell football players,” Brendan wondered how the old man knew his name but gave him a warm Northern Irish greeting anyway. “I wonder if you know how many beans make five.” Said the old man. “Two in each hand and one in your mouth,” said Brendan, as sharp as a needle. “Right you are,” said the old man, “and here they are, magic beans,” he pulled out of his pocket a number of strange looking beans. “As you are so sharp,” says he, “I don’t mind doing a swop with you. Your Luis Suarez for these beans. “Right,” says Brendan, and hands him over Suarez and pockets the beans.
Upon returning home, and feeling overly pleased with himself, Brendan tells Ian Ayre all about his meeting with the funny old man and shows him the beans.
“What!” says Ian, “have you been such a fool, such a dolt, such an idiot, as to give away Luis Suarez, the best Striker in the parish, and prime athlete to boot, for a set of paltry beans. Take that! Take that! Take that! And as for your precious beans here they go out of the window. And now off with you to bed. Not a sup shall you drink, and not a bit shall you swallow this very night.”
The next morning Brendan looked out of his bedroom window and saw that the beans were in fact magic after all. They had grown into four average football players and one shockingly bad defender. “I can work with this,” he said to himself “I’m a great motivator, and a real student of the game.”
I think I’ve reached the conclusion there are two narratives on any issue and probably an invisible third which is closer to where the truth lies. It just depends on what you wanna see. On FSG you can say they’ve spent a hell of a lot of money since they took over or you can say their transfer policy is holding us back. On Gerrard you can say his legs have gone and his persona’s too big or you can say he’s the only one who can drive us on and is the only leader we have on the pitch. The same polarised arguments still continue about Kenny and Rafa.
My view on Rodgers until about 2 hours ago was he’s someone I’d like to see be given time at Liverpool. He’s steadily improved the team half season on half season until this catastrophe but I’m a massive believer that most of our problems will be solved with 2 decent strikers. I don’t like the way he’s been judged on what pictures he hangs on his wall or what he’s had done at the dentist. To boot, I can’t think of any decent manager out there who is without doubt better. Not saying Rodgers is brilliant just that most managers seem average to me. Look through the Prem, a league where you’d expect some of the best managers in the world, and name me one who is guaranteed to bring us more success. For the record, I think Mourinho could but then I think Suarez and Messi up front could bring success for Rodgers Liverpool if we get them in the January window. People name up and coming continental managers but in reality it’s more uncertainty.
Like I say, there’s always 2 narratives and my view on last season was that we had Sturridge and Suarez up front trying to out do each other. Sterling suddenly became world class. So did Coutinho and with Henderson’s engine and Gerrards vision it was a no brainer. If they clicked there was enough there to make them one of the most formidable midfield / attack in the world. We can all speculate about Rodgers role depending on how you want to see it but I wonder if I could have managed that team to a similar level. Everything just came together. Maybe the manager can be included in that phenomenon. Who knows for sure?
The engine’s just gone on my car and I’m pissed off, angry, completely deflated and apprehensive about how I can possibly survive without a car and how I can get a new one with no money. Whilst sitting on the road side I couldn’t help thinking if Liverpool and particularly Rodgers hadn’t been doing so badly recently then I’m sure I’d have been less pre-occupied of late and may have remembered to put oil in the car. So, I’m now wondering if the anti-Rodgers brigade are right. Take away that one phenomenal half season or look at the reasons for it from the narrative described above and what are we actually defending here. Maybe someone else will come in and make us brilliant. I enjoy starting a new chapter. Like I say, the truth is probably in the middle and the reality may well be the grass wouldn’t be greener but one things for sure, I’m not arsed what happens. Whatever will be will be. I’m not even gonna think about it. It’ll all work out for the best. I suppose by the time the New Year comes we’ll know a lot more. Actually, we’d better start getting some results or I’ll probably have had the leccy cut off by then as well.
Robin, I used to think I took this footy lark seriously until I started reading your comments. The question is, is your life a mirror of LFC’s fortunes or the other way around? Either way, your car knackered at the side of the road works well as a metaphor for this season. Probably cost similar amounts to put right, too.
Hope your luck (and LFC’s) changes soon, mate.
Haha, cheers mate, appreciate that. Fuck it anyway, one thing I don’t worry about in life is material things. Definitely the former mate. I’ve wasted a fair few weekends recently because of our results.
i actually agree with almost all of what you say. I make no bones about my antipathy to Rodgers as a man – I don’t think he is an adornment to our club – but the club is all that concerns me. I had reservations about him very early on, prompted by his heartfelt undertaking to Swansea not to poach their players and then try to sign several of them. But my misgivings were masked by the obvious ditching of tikka takka, which I now think was not his decision but forced on him by a team that did not warrant any restraint.
The coughing up of 2-0 and 3-0 leads was a worry, particularly as he seemed unable to work out what to do about it. And I wondered how our clear lack of empathy between keeper and defense would be punished when we got into the CL, which we were certain to do.
The football we played was both beautiful and thrilling, and although Suarez was certain to go I thought we had enough nous to use the shitload we’d get for him to deepen the squad and strengthen the areas that needed immediate or medium term attention. GK and the inevitable fading of SG.
Our purchases in the summer were not poor, but misdirected. I wondered why we needed 20 year-old inexperienced fullbacks when we had Wisdom and Flanagan. and why we were constantly monitoring attacking midfielders and wingers when we conceded relegation-zone goal tallies in 2013/14.
None of the players bought are useless; even Lovren. But management of them has been dreadful. The club has been dreaming of getting its rightful status as a contender for 5 years, and losing badly at home to RM was a wake-up. But the return leg was the killer. It was spruiked that we were going to present a ‘reserve team’ on the off-chance that fresh legs might get a result against Chelsea. So you tell you squad they are shit but don’t lose too badly. Against Real Madrid. Jesus wept. Luckily one or two players with self-respect played as if they cared. Cast your minds back; did Shanky EVER suggest that a Liverpool team couldn’t win?? He actually excused a drubbing by saying ‘Ýe cannae play fitba’ against defensive teams!” And he meant it.
Finally, against Basel, he drags a striker and puts on players who you’d expect to feed a target man. Except there wasn’t a target man. Not even on the bench.
I think the squad can get top four, but not the way it’s being managed. And I don’t think Rodgers can manage it. Can, Manquillo, Lallana, Markovic are all fine players and will prove to be if allowed.
To extend Robin’s car analogy; three things may need to be addressed if its not going well. Repair the motor, change the fuel, or change the driver.
There’s a message there somewhere.
Haha, nice analogy! The car will be on the scrap heap come the weekend. I hope there’s not a message in that somewhere.
Did Rodgers allude to some personal issues recently?
I’m just thinking about the new hair,new teeth,new family?
Brendan’s personal life sounds like a train wreck, I sincerely hope it is not as complicated as the media make it out to be and it is his business and no others. However, the point I have tried to make is that as the ever increasing price of tickets marginalise the locals and seems ever more evidently pointed towards the “tourists” I get the feeling the owners regard the state of the team of less importance than the “product” Having spent way too much time trying to figure out just what is going on at the club, here is the crazy theory I have come up with. Tuesdays team; a shop window? Enrique, Johnson , Lucas and even Gerrard I believe are surplus to FSG’s requirements, are on more money than they deserve (according to them) and are to be replaced by the throng of youngsters brought in. Who hazards a guess at the wage bill once they are shipped out? I bet it is considerably less. Is Brendan trying to emulate Wenger? Ferguson was another who spent less and less time considering the long term quality of the team and basically left a threadbare squad for Moyes, though profits continued to soar, attendance stayed the same, and critically, funds from TV and Euro qualification, shirt and trinket sales rolled in. The ground improvements, and the funding are going to have to come from somewhere, and more often than not, and correct me if I am wrong, but investment firms such as FSG generally don’t use much if any of their own money. Balotelli was not, if we cast our minds back to Brendan’s statement, assuredly NOT going to be employed by LFC. However, why the sudden u turn? I imagine a board meeting along the lines of “hey, this guy is in Nike ads, with the guy who runs really fast, imagine the shirt sales!” or words to that effect. Otherwise, how after canning Carroll, was Brendan going to shape a team around another lump up front? So, Brendan has to compromise, his tikka takka in shreds and we are basically left with the shambles we see today. No director of football? the commitee, the fucking accountants, and to some extent Brendan are all on some quest to bring disneyland to Liverpool Four. It is a shame a working parent in Liverpool can no longer afford to take a child to Anfield more than once in a great while, and once in there have to put up with all the machiavellian bullshit that seems to be going on. Brownie, I have a lot of respect for your optimism, I want you to be proved right all along and BR drags us out of the quagmire and on to glory. I banged on about Borini, scratched my head concerning the players shipped out on loan, the lack of cohesion within the team etc. Thankfully, it is Friday and I am sure the podcast is going to shed a bright light on the gloom. KBarry and RobinC, I hope we are wrong, I certainly don’t mind eating humble pie if we beat the mancs Sunday and go on to grab fourth place.
Good and thoughtful post. Brendan Rodgers management has gathered more theories than points this season.
Everyone has a point of view, and all are valid. The only thing I don’t understand is the ‘my manager right or wrong’ attitude. The club is now as much in turmoil as it was under ‘Benson and Hedges’. I can appreciate a mid-term plan but would like Dalglish to have been given the benefit of one. I am saying Kenny was the answer – I wanted him to do what he did, restore pride and cohesion to the club. But I also thought the game had passed him by. Nonetheless, our CL qualification this year was largely achieved by his players, and maybe a bit of the patience Rodgers supporters are urging could have been applied through his tenure.
Right now I feel even more pessimistic than I did with Hodgson, and with more reason. Your closing comments go for me to – I would LOVE to say that I was wrong and we have unearthed a great manager, but signs are not promising.
There’s a few things I agree with there but a few I don’t so I’ll concentrate on them, haha.
I don’t believe Tuesday’s game was a shop window for the aforementioned players. Not saying it makes it right but I also wanted to see Johnson and Enrique. I thought the priority was to stop them scoring although admittedly my thinking was we’d have a more attacking line up in midfield and up front. In an attacking side I felt either of the Spanish full backs may have left us too exposed. You have to start Gerrard in a game like that and Lucas was in there as our best defensive midfielder. It was too cautious for me but probably the right personnel.
The money may have rolled in for Utd but it rolled out equally fast. Don’t forget the Glazers bought them in a leveraged buy out. They had to pay off a PIK loan at first which left no money to invest in the team then once that was payed off the interest on the other loan was and still is high. The reason they invested so heavily this summer was down to the shares crashing last season. It was simply a case of do or die and investors don’t choose to die. Ferguson had no choice but to do as they said.
The ground renovation is being financed by FSG (and any sponsorship they raise). It’s an interest free loan to the club payed off over 5 years. Without naming rights it would be around £23m a year but I’d expect it to be more in the region of £15m. They also borrowed the club £50m interest free when they bought the club. There model is simple, I’ve been saying on here since the site began – buy the club at a good price due to it’s current position, make the club sustainable by reducing the wage bill of players who don’t merit it and increase revenue largely through corporate sponsorship but also merchandising. Build stands for extra seats and pay it off sharpish so that when it’s payed off – the cost of it simply gets added to the sale price because of the annual extra seat revenue it generates when sold as a going concern, unlike when they bought it. I say all that for one reason, I think you’ve got your assessment of FSG wrong. I’d guess the plan is probably to sell the club for upward of £700m and make a nice profit for 10 years work. There is one key ingredient for it to work though and that’s success on the field. They know that’s the only way this can work. If they don’t restore Liverpool to their former glory then the deal’s off. They lose out and we lose out as fans. It’s a mutually beneficial situation.
Rodgers didn’t want Balotelli as Suarez’s replacement but it got to the point he was the best, or biggest name at least, available. Simple as that.
You’ve every right to include me in your camp after my comment above but I was bit dejected at the time. Thing is, I wanna go into Brownie’s camp. I feel more at home there. Sorry mate.
Rodgers job is safe I reckon, as I don’t believe FSG sacked KK for his achievements. KK was sacked because he drew a big salary. Rodgers is here because he is cost effective, both in terms in terms of personal salary and his willingness to accept FSG fee caps con transfers… Rodgers is under no pressure from Boston… They couldn’t care less about results. They were not even at the Basel game.
Am interesting perspective. While I don’t disagree with your assessment of our owners, I can’t accept your assertion that he was a cheap alternative to Kenny. And even if he was, he’s poked them in the eye big tine by spending a quarter of a billion pounds on players that he doesn’t use and ipso facto didn’t need. Are they so naive as to have bought a cheap car that uses a gallon a mile? Would they keep it? Would YOU keep it?
That was ‘I am NOT saying Kenny was the answer’
That was ‘I am NOT saying Kenny was the answer’. Typing on a mobile is difficult enough without the friggjng casino shite scrolling across the screen endlessly.
Thanks for that RC, makes me feel better. My dad tells me the work around Anfield has begun and he is impressed with the way it is shaping up. For too long, and I go back to the late sixties, the surrounding neighbourhood was in serious need of a facelift, though if I owned a home around the ground I would have behaved exactly as the occupiers did, I hope they are well compensated as that is how the world revolves these days. I am as far as you can get from Anfield these days, but intend to return in the new year and take the old feller to a game. Poor old Brendan is looking pretty beaten up these days, and is getting painfully honest regarding the state of things on the pitch. I made a comment after listening to the podcast, “apart from that, how did you like the play Mrs Lincoln.” That oldie sums up how I felt about Brendans post match comments. Good on you for wanting to be as optimistic as Brownie and co, and I consider myself an optimist generally. I am fiercely proud of my heritage and believe the club to be an essential part of the fabric of the town. It goes deeper than just footie as Shanks said, the town has a habit of rising from the ashes, and the team should reflect that spirit. I appreciate the more knowledgeable supporters telling it like it is, and I still believe something is rotten in Denmark. However, I am grasping at straws for an answer, and my opinion is swayed by a wee bit of home sickness. Thanks for the insight, I am retiring from commenting, though will follow the trials and tribulations with hope for the future. Onwards and upwards, off to listen to “gardeners question time” getting to that age! ain”t the internet somethin? By the way, good luck with the Danny!