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A look at Rodgers, the Season and the Future for LFC

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So much criticism has come from Liverpool fans this year given Brendan Rodgers’s relative in-experience in management; despite the Northern Irishman’s wealth of experience in coaching for over twenty years, Rodgers has only been the top man for five of those years.

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Brendan knew he was walking straight into the lions den that Anfield has become of late; his first press conference was impressive, yet in the background the club was in an internal shake up – new scouts, new coaches, and new transfer policies. The ‘operational issues’ he cited after the debacle that was the end to the summer transfer window, the early mistakes that saw Liverpool start the campaign in frustration, the open letter from John W Henry, the documentary all fans would soon learn to curse Being Liverpool – a hit in the US, an embarrassment for anyone Scouse or in the UK, didn’t give the Northern Irishman the best of starts.

And yet it would be fair to say, in my opinion anyway, he’s managed to get through the season and come out with some credit. Liverpool finish the campaign in the top 4 for goals scored in the league and we’ve conceded as many goals as the Champions of England. There’s a tactical pragmatism that’s crept into Rodgers’ side that none of us expected; the early on tika-taka has seemingly gone, yet we’re now one of the best passing sides in Europe (8th) and those above us include Bayern Munich, Manchester United, PSG, Milan and Barcelona.

The reality is, with all of that said, nobody gets any prizes for winning the passing. The stats tell a story of a side improving technically and tactically, but not being able to consistently deliver the performance level they needed to really push on this season. The cup runs have been, to say the least, woeful. The Luis Suarez show was not enough to put us through.

The problems in dealing with big, strong centre forwards have been continuing to hurt us all season. Benteke and Lukaku are still words that are not spoken of lightly by Liverpool fans and let’s not mention Stoke. The defensive mistakes that saw Liverpool throw away a grand total of 12 points (Everton A, Man City H/A, Arsenal A) that would have seen Liverpool knocking on the door of the top 4, if not marching in it; 4 Games, 4 big mistakes. It’s amazing when you look at it like that.

As we enter the summer we should take with us a renewed hope that with a few quality additions Liverpool can push on and make a challenge at the top of the table next season. There’s no way we’ll win the league, but a fifth or fourth place finish shouldn’t be out of our reach.

2012/13 saw impressive debut seasons from Raheem Sterling, Andre Wisdom and Suso. The revelation of the final day of the season saw a remarkable debut performance from Jordan Ibe who skipped past the QPR players with a confidence and skill which belies the fact he’s 17, never played in a senior game but looked for forty minutes like one of the most composed players on the park. With other notable debuts coming from the academy, Liverpool fans can once again believe that the Academy is brimming with talent and it’s starting to produce the goods which is players fit to wear the Red shirt and the Liverbird on their chest.

However complacency should not cloud our judgement, this is a squad in need of a massive injection of quality; mistakes come not just from bad luck but from players not good enough to compete at the top. All sides will improve next season and despite the confusion that new management will bring to City, Chelsea and United nobody should underestimate how soon hope can be turned into despair. Our very own fall from grace after 08/09 should be a memory that serves well for the fans as well as the club. Liverpool who were arguably one of the best sides in Europe that season through bad judgement well and truly fell of their perch. A promising end to a season counts for nothing if form cannot be continued into the next.

Another sign of encouragement for fans should be Rodgers statements of late; he’s come out and admitted he needed this experience and the ‘grace’ of a transition season. He said recently:
“This year has provided a great learning curve for me and I look back and see that it was learning that I needed. I knew the expectancy of the club but going into next season, I am a much better prepared manager for that. We want to make significant improvements next year in the points total because the reality is we are 30 points behind the leaders and 11 points behind the top four.

“But I’ve seen enough and if we improve our mentality in the summer – by signing players who have that consistent winning mentality – we can then improve again, like we have done in the second half of the season

That’s the job of the recruitment team and the club to identify those types of players.  They might not always be the best players but what we need in the second year of this project is to find a great level of consistency.  There is a process of getting into the top four and becoming champions and that is consistency.”

He also told talkSPORT recently that he felt Liverpool should be pushing for trophies next season which again as fans we should welcome. I don’t subscribe to the often touted phrase that Liverpool is all about winning trophies as it implies some sort of divine right to the fact that we should be champions regardless of what we do. Success can be bought, however more than often it is earned, just look at Manchester City this season.

However, I do feel that the club’s standards should always be to win, win more and keep winning but for that to happen we’ve got to earn the right to compete and to finish on top, not just because we are Liverpool, but because we’ve worked hard, grafted and earned our success on the pitch.

As a fan who loves the club as much as the next person, I feel the same anxiety and fears and most of you reading this. Every game I spent mostly biting my nails, cheering like a loon, holding my head in my hands in despair. The TV’s nearly taken a leap out of the window on more than once and I’ve nearly fallen off my seat in the stand in rage.

Yet on more than a few occasions this year I’ve been blown away by some of our play; our signings in Daniel Sturridge and Phillipe Coutinho have shown what shrewd investment can do for what seems on the face of it a fairly average side. And the quality of Luis Suarez has been a joy for all to see. Keep working on the mental side of his game, more importantly keep hold of him in the summer and we’ll be a force to be reckoned with, of that I’m sure.

So for once in a long, long time there’s positive signs coming from the club. Ian Ayre stating on the final day of the season that Liverpool were backing the manager and will back him in the summer once again.

The challenge the club have now is to keep moving in the right direction, not only in backing the manager but doing all it can not to isolate some of the support that’s been so crucial to our success over the years. The great man Carra said himself to the fans today ‘you’ve dragged us over the line more than once over the years’ – this is crucial if the club are to succeed going forward; football without fans really is nothing after all.

Now Rodgers must keep learning and adapting if he’s to be ultimately successful at his tenure in the hot seat at Anfield; having a philosophy is fine, but it’s only good if it achieves results… Take note Brendan the countless long balls from Gerrard, Enrique and even Wisdom setting up some great goals from Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge; the ability to retain the ball is ideal, but to split a midfield to break the deadlock can be the difference in any season.

If you don’t believe me just ask AVB who’s shaking his head realising that at Everton he was maybe just too predictable, too reliant on his star man to always do the job. Or even look back to what Graeme Sounness used to do back in the glory days! Sometimes the tried and tested methods work the best, the teams that play the football are the ones that will come out on top.

One last thing I would add to the above, as much as the target should be to push on next season we have to give the players and the manager the kind of support they need. Liverpool may well sign some quality in the summer, but if there’s one thing it’s clear we need to improve on his mental strength. Dr Steve Peters, the world renowned psychologist now employed by Liverpool said recently:

The goals should be ‘Let’s do the best we can, be prepared as individuals, be prepared as a team, make sure we get everything right.’ These are the goals because you can control these. At the end of the day you can’t do better than your best.” 

The thing is players to perform at their best need a mental freedom in order to deliver.It may take Liverpool some time to get back to the standards we all know, expect and want from our club, however we can’t control what other teams do and we can’t control the environment we find ourselves competing in. So let’s back our team, yes demand the highest standards, but allow for once the manager time to keep showing this improvement on the long road back to recovery. Hopefully that road  is one that also lead’s to glory.

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John Ritchie

A former season ticket holder who enjoys Liverpool FC, stats and more interestingly boats, booze and friends! Host of the Anfield Index podcast.
  • saraceninc

    A good report.

  • CriticalRealistLFC

    I don’t object to Rodgers per se but this idea we should accept we are a club that trains young managers AND with that comes the old line ‘we need to be patient’.

    I believe with Rodgers, this will be a permanent state of affairs, primarily as he enters another summer preparing to offload experience (Carra, Skrtel, Reina) he’ll plead for more time and then next summer we’ll offload Suarez and whoever else, and he’ll ask for more time to get things right.

    For me, he’s got off lightly this season. I’m still smarting at the Oldham result and so should he be. If we’re off the pace and out of the league cup by christmas, he’ll be gone.

    • Hellequin

      How many seasons didi it take fergie to win his first title? Patience is KEY to success mate…. the saying ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ comes to mind

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Vaughan/646441780 James Vaughan

        Cannot use Ferguson as an example that is totally different times. Brendan Rodgers should state that if Liverpool do not finish 5th at worst or win a cup he will resign. Think that is a fair challenge and if he is not up to that then leave at end of 2013/14 season.

        • Kutos

          Come on. Everton will probably be weaker next season but the other five team above us will strengthen and they have much more cash than us to spend (most likely), and they are more attractive to attractive footballers on the market. I don’t expect to see LFC in top four next season even if I’d like to, and even fifth would require a stroke of management genius..which I hope for!

        • http://www.facebook.com/anthonyd.gonsalves Anthony D Gonsalves

          How many managers should we go through, that does not make sense especially since that we don’t have the money like Chelsea and City to hire and fire managers and by superstar players

      • red-eye

        Ferguson before going to manchester united won the spl and uefa cup so i don’t understand the comparison, as breandan won only championship and i´m not sure about that becuase they might have qualified in playoffs. so comparing him to fergie doesn´t make sense

    • Gray

      We do need to be patient particularly this season. What did you honestly expect from the season? The whole club from top to bottom needed sorting out, after Kenny’s disasterous overspending. Scouting, player contracts, transfer negotiations PR, etc needed to be changed.

      I firmly believe we will see a much more stronger and dynamic Liverpool next season. It will of course be a difficult challenge to break back into being a top team, but it is certainly a good time for us as with the top 6 with the exception of Arsenal and Spuds will have new managers, top players like Bale might leave because of no CL. Liverpool will go into the season with a bit of continuity and a much better prepared team and manager, something which is key if we can get off to a flying start next season. We have also got a group of academy graduates who have gained valuable PL experience and did not look out of place, that should not be dismissed either.

      Im backing Brendan Rodgers all the way.

      • josek

        And the new home jersey is boss

        • Gray

          It is nice…but watching the game yesterday I didnt think it was any different. I dont like this 1 season shirt stuff. We should have bucked the trend and stuck with 2 seasons.

          • nik233

            But then you don’t generate the cash to buy new players.. It’s a real catch 22.. Every jersey we sell, brings in revenue which strengthens the club.. I live in Aus where they are $150!!

      • TanayLFC

        True. Brendan Rodgers has done a credible job, the start was disastrous but once his methods settled in we started playing good football. Coutinho and Sturridge have made us a very strong team offensively. i feel rodgers was trying to fix lfc rather than really work at cl. he did improve our standings like he said he would and overall youth development has also helped us. Cup runs were pretty dissapointing, except our game against Zenit at Anfield, thats what the Anfield fans need those big european nights.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Vaughan/646441780 James Vaughan

        Kenny Dalglish has set Liverpool back years with shocking transfers (only suarez successful) and proves you should never go back.

        • krisbei

          And Henderson, Enrique and Bellamy. He also gave Wisdom his début I believe.

    • junior galtieri

      I agree

      You do wonder just how bad things have become when finishing 7th in the league – behind miserly spending everton – and exiting both cups early to weaker teams is considered a success

      BR has got away with murder – yet I get the feeling he thinks he’s done really well and that 7th and 8th is where LFC rightfully belong

      • Rederik

        As if finishing 7th wasn,t bad enough but the points difference between us and man utd was embarrassing, the only thing encouraging this year was how quickly city, chelsea, and arsenal threw in the towel and allowed man utd to run away with title.

    • krisbei

      Dortmund have sold Götze, Kagawa, Sahin and Dede in the last few years, but have won the Bundesliga twice and are Champions League finalists. The average age of players they buy is under 21.5 and sell is 24.5. It is certainly better to try to copy them than Chelsea.

  • Josek

    Our biggest challenge in the future will be holding on to Brendan Rogers.

  • charlie doherty

    We all need to give Brendan time its only been a season and you can see towards the end that its coming together and if we as fans cant back him and the team time. As were supposed to be the forth line of defence how can we move forward as a club

  • EBo Rises

    I am feeling optimistic for next season ! Football has just become so f#cking nuts these days that I don’t even know how to equate success anymore ? So all I am looking for is to see L.F.C playing some good football and if we get Sturridge , Suarez and Coutinio on the same pitch I think we have half a chance at the top 4 ?

    • junior galtieri

      ‘if we get Sturridge , Suarez and Coutinio on the same pitch I think we
      have half a chance at the top 4 ?’

      We should do – and this is where BR has to show his worth. I still think he under-achieved last season – with the squad at his disposal – and i do worry about how many more Joe Allen/Fabio Brorini-type signings we’re going to see (ie: players who have a hgoistory of playing for Rodgers at lower-levelk clubs) rather than the Sturridge/Coutinho types BR pulled out in January

      Red Erik is essntially right – we still don’t know enough about BR to describe him as either a good or bad manager – all we know is that his Liverpool team have underperformed in his first season and that next season he simply has to deliver

      Like any Red I hope and pray he does it – but wouldn’t be surprised if he fails. For a club that so desperately neewds success I still feel that apppinting Rodgers this time last year was too big a gamble

  • Rederik

    I wouldn,t say BR is a bad manager nor would I say he is a great manager but I do say that any manager in the premiership would have at least done as well as BR this season with the Liverpool squad, the truth is big improvements in the teams overall performance will be expected next year, the time for excuses is over.

  • hooks

    I agree we have to give rogers time but his two big signings at the beginning of the season joe allen and borini have been terrible. I worry about his scouting system and who he buys. His team selections as well have been suspect. We need quality signings to progress. I would question if fenway have the capacity to bring liverpool to the next level

    • The Fox

      Try your luck at baseball my job seeking scouse friend. You may find you got more chance of wining if you play rounders. Up the Chelse.

      • http://www.thisisanfield.com This Is Anfield

        Bored of The Fox. Banned.

        • Gray

          Finally!!

      • hooks

        Only for a corrupt mafia gangster your club would not exist. The end you call the shed would be full of cows now and the pitch as fodder. Keep waving your plastic flags and ripping of real fans.

  • cayceejoel

    Apologies mate,Lots of issues with LFC.lets ask ourselves what kind of club should Liverpool FC be,from who we are in History?A world class club(Champions League team,Europa League Team,Regular Top 4 Club) or a middle table team,with a middle table manager? Come on Guys lets get real,Brenda Rogers is a good Manager but Liverpool Fc is too big a club for him to handle,yeah, with patience in 3-4years we can break the top 4,its a probability, other teams are getting top manager and signing top young players, and in 3-4years they will do better,wont they ?For the past 4years ,non of the managers after Rafa Benitez had done better,they had more funds compared to Rafa Benitez in a season and non could break the top 4 .Why is Chelsea taking Mourhinho back? because of proven record,then lets get Rafa back or get someone better than Rafa.I pray am wrong but We’ll never break the top 4 these way we are heading.Its annoying.YNWA

  • http://www.facebook.com/anthonyd.gonsalves Anthony D Gonsalves

    Good report, I am on the other hand more optimistic Rodgers deserves at least 4 years take into account he has not received the same budget that Kenny received and wasted
    However players we should be looking at replacing again is Downing and Henderson as per this report written we need consistency and these players lack that one good game 3 terrible performances
    I believe with the arrival of Cautinho we finally have a game changer and Shelvey should be introduced ahead of Henderson
    The transition has begun and Rodgers who again I say needs atleast 4 years to turn this club around will be successful, Top 4 minimum and 2 titles atleast
    YNWA!!

  • Bunny

    @Anthony D Gonsalves u say shelvey is better than hendo…… I totaly disagree with u…… Hendo is far better than shelvey…. under 21 skipper cant be bad than a player who just got promoted from the youth…….

  • krisbei

    Our points totals over the last few years tell a story. 2008/9 86
    2010 63
    2011 58
    2012 52
    2013 61

    He has cleared out older players and brought in younger technically better players and turned around four years of decline. We have lost, in Alonso, Torres and Mascherano, some of the best players in the world and replaced them with Cole, Adam, Downing etc. In the last window Sturridge and Coutinho have raised our hopes for next season and for the window which will be opening soon.

    I am not sure he is going to take us back to the top, but for now he is taking us in the right direction.

    • David_M

      Agreed

  • http://twitter.com/seanyw11 seanyw

    BR needs more time. It is a rebuilding process for the team that would take a lot of resources and faith. Changing manager every two seasons is not going to help unless we got some sugar daddy like man city does. Trust in BR. Just look at jurgen klopp, he did not become a top manager overnight. He relegated with Mainz and he didn’t win the league with Dortmund right away. Give BR the same patience and he will show his top coach potential and bring us trophies

  • majeed

    nowadays rome can be built in one day only.you can win everything in one year.look at guardiola he won all major trophies in one season.rodgers will win next century.

  • Franco De Jeffs

    should have let Rafa come back

  • You’ll Never Walk Alone

    No matter what happens, I’m always proud to be a Liverpool fan.