BRENDAN Rodgers was blamed for a lot last season. However, a new season is here with new hope, new players, new kit, new grass, new truss, new criticisms and…. the same old blame game. We’ve played two, won two, scored two, conceded not a sausage, but we’re not happy — and it’s *all* Brendan’s fault.
By now, I’m sure you will have read Andy Heaton’s cracking article on Rodgers and his ability to conduct criticism for a phenomenally wide-range of reasons, including winning. Well I’d like to build on it if I may.
Many of you reading this may already be fuming and assuming: “He’s a Rodgers sympathiser. Get him!” Well, not quite.
Those who remember my post-season articles on here will recall that I was one of you many, calling for the manager to go. Not with a simple ‘he needs to be sacked and have his whitened teeth removed by a one armed dentist with outstanding character!’ but more a ‘I wouldn’t mind him staying, but him staying means Jurgen Klopp not arriving, so sorry Brendan. Ta for everything.’
However, stay he did. I wasn’t enthralled with the news, but it was the decision taken and Rodgers was to remain as Liverpool manager for the time being.
One big thing I feared about the result of keeping Rodgers in his job at Anfield was that, well, this would happen. That he would struggle to win the fan base back, or at least a large section of it.
I can relate. Recently, Rodgers has been doing his absolute level best to goad me into not only disliking him, but perhaps something that would lead to me putting together some sort of mob.
Let’s see, for one he’s not Jurgen Klopp (the swine!) but he’s also not signed the players I wanted (barring Roberto Firmino), he’s benched Mamadou Sakho for Dejan Lovren, dropped Lucas Leiva for a youngster who isn’t a defensive midfielder, dropped Alberto Moreno for an even younger youngster who isn’t a left back and — on top of all that — all of these wrong decisions that I know are wrong and so does he but he’s just trying to wind me up because he’s a bastard like that… are working perfectly well! Now Liverpool have six points from two games, two clean sheets, five points ahead of Chelsea and… hmm.
Yes, sorry, I was being facetious, and in all seriousness, Rodgers remains in my bad books. His performance as manager last season, for me, was unacceptable. However, for the owners (who, as of writing, have a tad more power at Liverpool FC than I) decided it was acceptable and have backed him fully to turn it all around. That is happening, and we can’t change it, so let’s just hope that he does actually turn it around instead of hoping he doesn’t so we get our way. Him failing to turn it around might lead to his dismissal, it might not, but either way in that scenario Liverpool are losing games, which would be shit.
Football fans are unreasonable, all over the place. I regularly listen the the 606 phone-in to hear what the general football public thinks about their various teams (and to listen to the delightful Kelly Cates) and it’s often just flabbergasting. We’re not alone. A handful of Manchester United fans rang in after their own back-to-back 1-0 wins to complain. It’s not good enough apparently. Sound familiar? An Evertonian rang up after the 2-2 draw with Watford on the opening day to condemn his team and state that relegation was on the cards. Yes, these people really exist it seems.
Listening to the fantastic What We Call History shows on TAW Player about the 08-09 season has brought me right back to the centre of the insane levels of Rafa Benitez hatred from an alarming number of Reds fans, including during times when his side were top of the league and beating Real Madrid. It was weird, and highlighted how erratic and incomprehensible some footy fans can be.
This situation now with Rodgers is less weird admittedly. Benitez was largely criticised for not winning the league, while the ill-feeling about Rodgers stems mostly from an inability to even slightly worry the top four last season — though there are some odd folk out there who do blame him for not winning it in 13-14. How’s that half empty glass, lads?
It’s understandable to critique what he’s doing. If you disagree with his team selection, fine. If you think he’s misusing players, fine. If you think he’s playing the wrong tactics, also fine. I do it too (see above). It’s a good thing to look with a certain critical eye over the first two games. It comes from the mindset of not wanting to rest on one’s laurels and to ensure that this winning continues.
It’s not okay to say both wins were flukes and the manager is still a bellend.
In my end-of-season analysis of Rodgers and whether he should stay or go, I said this in my conclusion:
“If Rodgers is to stay, and as things stand it appears that he will, then he needs to be backed. He needs to be given players he can work with, and not some he has to put up with. The club must give him the best opportunity to succeed.”
This appears to have happened, and to a far greater extent than I expected. Not only has Rodgers had the chance to bring in his own players, he’s also been allowed to freeze out his unfavoured ones, bring in a new coaching team, spend a LOT of money (again) and as things stand the initial favourite in the ‘Which Premier League manager will be sacked first?’ betting market seems to be as solid in his job as anyone.
He’s staying, like it or not.
If he can put together a longer run of results that, say, has us in the top four at Christmas, and ideally, at the end of the season with some fantastic performances and results along the way, then step forward my redeemed son. I want that to happen. We should all want that to happen. We can all think it’s not likely to happen, I still think we’re bound for fifth and that won’t be enough, but I want us to do better, a lot.
Remember 13-14? Those unbelievable welcomes as the players arrived at the ground? We were all in. We were ALL all in. That, to me, is what Liverpool Football Club, and for that matter any self-respecting football club, should be about. Understandably it’ll take Rodgers winning a lot of football matches to get to that stage of fan euphoria, but until then, as the old saying goes, can’t we all just get along?
What’s that? He’s loaning out Lucas? *Rounds up mob* Burn him!
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo