LONG before kick off, long before the warm-up, you could feel it. The inevitability. It swirled and settled in the air. The cliff and its edge circled the atmosphere. At 5pm, Anfield was silent and gloomy. It was full of emptiness, and even when everyone took their seats three hours later, it was still vacant. There was no real hope, no faith, no positivity, no belief. Only the inevitability, thick and thorough.
Brendan Rodgers looked like a man who woke up in the morning and read that his job was offered to Carlo Ancelotti. Like a man who also read his club’s denial, but is smart enough to read between the lines. The players looked like they turned off their alarms, rolled out of bed, turned on the news and rolled head first into ‘The Pressure’. Supporters knew the numbers, knew the score, knew it was back in April when the hosts last had a clean sheet and scored two goals at Anfield. So, in the shadow of the new stand, everyone sat in the shadow of their fears.
Whatever names were on the teamsheet, Liverpool had to come out swinging. Had to swagger. Had to smack the fears away — if only temporarily. The starting 11 consisted of talent worth over £130million against a side positioned 65 places below the Reds. A side, who as their manager admitted, had been “conceding goals for fun” in League Two. But a strong selection did little to shift the mood. After 34 minutes, most on the pitch did little but frustrate and falter. It all seemed as hopeless as the stream of wayward shots from distance. Anfield was uncomfortable and restless. After penalties, after the win, it remained as such.
Draws and victories now wear a mask of defeat. It’s not fun for anyone, anymore.
Something has got to change. Something has got to give.
The manager and his coaching staff are backed into a corner, and the players can’t even take the damn things. The owners are quiet, and the fans are loudly miserable. There was a treble of boos at Anfield on Wednesday night, not the kind of hat-trick you’d associate with Liverpool, but one that could seemingly get more pronounced.
Supporters deserve better than the stench of despair and desperation. The players deserve better than to have uncertainty clouding over them. Rodgers deserves better than to stand in his technical area, get pelted with personal abuse, and have two fingers furiously stuck out towards him.
It’s not fun for anyone, anymore. Over to you, FSG.
If the owners are still determined to stick by the 42-year-old, they need to state it — and state it strongly. If they are seeking a replacement, they need to swiftly and tactfully wave ta ra to Rodgers and get their new man in. If they’re unsure of their next move, then they can’t be surprised when the club are equally as indecisive on the pitch.
The silence heightens restlessness. It continues to confuse those inside and outside Melwood. It is only good for the endless clicks on the endless stories about how much pressure the manager is under and who will replace him. Great for the rumour mill. And even better for those who will assess the situation, and view Liverpool’s predicament as the perfect platform to promote the interests of their clients. In cases such as these, managers get linked with the club much like players during silly season: some are genuinely interested, and others use it as bait to bring in the offer they really want, to stay relevant or to create a demand.
The links to Ancelotti cannot be accidental. Neither is the timing of sources today claiming Jurgen Klopp is willing to cut short his sabbatical to work in the Premier League. More names will drop in, but just remember to have your pinch of salt ready as you do during the transfer window. Hell, in times like these, throw in a few tequilas and slices of lemon.
Where does all this leave Brendan? Exactly where he is — game to game, in survival mode. Consumed by worries and doubts. Reading about his future, hearing about his potential successors, fielding abuse. He may win matches, but he won’t be able to win back the majority of the fanbase.
He’ll know it. He’ll feel it.
The air of inevitability is thick and thorough.
Pic: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo