Liverpool FC have cast a forlorn figure since the halcyon days of messers Shankly, Fagan and Paisley, the demise of any football club is often met with denial and a consequence of delusions of grandeur. The latter is the more recent tonic of Liverpool fans, we believe that we should have nothing but sky above and a litany of haters grimacing beneath.
Admittedly, we all like the romance of a British manager arriving and raising a fallen giant back to where they once were. Brendan Rodgers certainly came in and delivered the spiel as well as return some semblance of history. However it has proved to be all a little too opaque, because though we are proud of our history we need to create it, too.
When Rodgers arrived, he instilled a game plan and ethic to pass the ball, “death by passing/possession” he may have called it. With the abundance of possession we had in many games, we failed to kill games off or we hit the woodwork! Brendan changed that formula and we reaped some success in the latter part of the first season. Having plied that into the following season, with minor alterations occasionally the club came as close as they ever have to lifting the Premier League. From a formation and tactic that functioned adequately: to outscore your opponent we decided to change?
Our near triumphant season of 2013/14 started in admiration of how Rodgers handled Suarez’ transfer in the media: Retaining him provided a fillip for our entire season, and where we failed to maintain the momentum could have been prevented from lessons learned in the past. Even Tottenham’s failures provided adequate proof that a multitude of signings do not provide a solution. Not replacing Suarez was a disaster, and if indeed Sanchez was our primary target, not having sufficient contingencies has proved our undoing. Willian and Salah came from clubs that, despite playing in European competition, are not considered as high-profile if our fan-base is anything to go by. Yes they went to Chelsea, but even after negotiations that we are not all privy to, calculating the risks on exceptional players is rarely folly.
BR’s success in the transfer market makes for dire reading, many fans have little confidence in his defensive signings who have not justified their inflated transfer fees. I read recently that we have spent £770m since we last won the title, which represents a failed investment of success.
Even Benitez’ transfer successes overcame those quandaries that were implications of finance and availability rather than preference. A team of Reina, Torres, Xabi Alonso, Mascherano, Gerrard and one of the most consistently frugal defences in the league meant that teams feared that a result against Liverpool would never be easy. We heard stories that we were often shy of consolidating transfers by figures that would or could have given us an incredible first team: Ferdinand, Silva, Villa, Mata, Simao, Alves, Aguero.. and the list continues. Rafa complained that his transfer preferences were not met at Valencia and it seemed the same circus haunted him again. Fans are convinced that Robbie Keane and Aquilani were not his signings. It’s frightening to think what he could have achieved with adequate support.
Rafa was a man who knew and understood Europe, he continued to prove that at Chelsea and even now at Napoli. Where we were once formidable we have a man at the helm who’s play does not reflect the understanding that Rafa had. Rodgers’ inexperience in such competition may be a reason but he inherited a team in Europe and even this season European football has not been a highlight, on the contrary it was quite embarrassing.
BR’s over-confidence in his method, in his bravado and spin does not paper over the deficiencies to all other spectators. Possession of the football does not mean we are superior. A laymen like myself can tell you that we need to be clinical in the last third, but repeating that sentiment or assessment just proves that the staff are not providing the solutions to that problem.
- IN any other high profile position, incessant tinkering of your method of play would demonstrate that there is too much indecisiveness in an approach. (See Villa)
- Changing formation through the season, trying new things shows no tactical nous, it simply means that you’re wishing on a prayer.
- Failing to replace one of the greatest players we’ve ever had is vocational suicide.
- Not having a contingency is amateurish.
- And trying to tell the world that the team did amazingly well is insulting.
With hope in my heart.