Here’s our full write-up from Friday’s meeting between fans groups and manager Brendan Rodgers at Melwood.
How Rodgers thinks we are doing:
“Our confidence was so high [before the Villa game], but what we lost last week, for me, was what has made us chip away over these last couple of months, which was graft! Just sheer, hard graft!”
Brendan Rodgers could not have stressed any stronger just how frustrated and disappointed he was with the Villa loss, saying there was no worse feeling than the following morning after the game. And telling the players at full time that to give the fans so little hope that many started leaving before full time was unacceptable. He explained how much that sight hurt him to know that was the magnitude of the failure that day.
However, despite admitting the team aren’t doing as well as he thought they would be in terms of points and league position, Rodgers stressed that with everything that has gone on this season, the Friday before the Aston Villa game he was reasonably pleased with how we had got going again. He said how that week was the first clear week when the team had had the full week to prepare since the start of the season.
He was scathing of the lack of effort and put the disappointing result down to the complacency of a largely inexperienced team but stated this would not be expected to be repeated. Rodgers is still focused on challenging for the top 4 places and believes that this is still a realistic aim for the team.
“It’s like with everything in life, there’s good and bad.”
When quizzed over the roles of agents and whether they are just leeches or a necessary evil he explained that many players, especially younger players, need that guidance and some agents are needed for these roles. However, he said how important it is to control and monitor agents and issues within a squad as disruption over such matters can indirectly affect the dressing room. He also stated how, since he came in this summer, he has tried to be pro-active with regards to dealing with agent costs as that was an area that needed addressing.
The Northern Irishman spent a lot of the talk discussing transfer plans. He was open about the problems the team are experiencing in front of goal and although it is something he is working on at training with the players he is focused on recruiting some goal scorers in January.
If everything goes perfectly to plan he will look to add 2 or 3 attackers to the squad.
These attackers must be hungry for goals and have mobility within their arsenal. Rodgers stressed several times how important it was to recruit natural goal scorers with hunger in front of goal. He stressed that this January with the funds he has available he will be concentrating on bringing in these players for the forward line.
Rodgers was asked about the need for a traditional number ten within the squad and whilst he was very complimentary of Suso and confident of his future in that role he was very adamant that a creative goal scoring number 10 would be required although he did say it would have to wait till this summer.
“I wouldn’t read everything that’s in the tabloids! I’ve seen quite a few names and quite a few people linked to coming here it’s astonishing really, I think what it is and I’ve said it before at other clubs but what I’ve understood even more so here is by virtue of the association with Liverpool, a club, a player, linked with Liverpool that then sparks off interest elsewhere!”
When asked over transfer policies Rodgers said age was not an issue and that he was committed to bringing in the very best players available. He stressed how young players were great acquisitions, not for resale value as Liverpool are not a selling club however for the long term benefit they provide.
He also was open to the benefits of more established and proven players pointing out the impact Santi Cazorla at 27 was having at Arsenal and agreeing when Robin Van Persie was mentioned as another example. He was quite adamant that he will do everything he can to bring in the best possible players for us fans.
When asked if we could expect any transfers that were more for the short term benefit of the team in January Rodgers was hesitant. Whilst being open to the idea he seemed unconvinced that the correct type of player would be available for us but only said if available he would look at the option.
“You can’t be so blinded really, the principles of your game are based on the players that you have!”
When asked if he would look to change his tactics to fit his personnel or adapt his personnel to fit his tactics, Rodgers stated he is not dogmatic with his views over formation and player positioning. He explained that to be a player at a club such as Liverpool there was of course a requirement to have a certain level of ability in all matters so adaptability should not be an issue. He said it would be a bit of both adapting his tactics as well as personnel.
On Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez:
Inevitably, two of our key players were discussed during the afternoon. Rodgers conceded that captain Steven Gerrard may not have the same dynamism to his play that he once had but does not believe that Gerrard is being played further back. He attributes many problems Gerrard is facing at the moment with what is an increased responsibility, simply that Gerrard is not playing as he once was because the team around him is not as good as it once was so does not interact with him in the same way and the chemistry is not there yet.
With regards to Luis Suarez he perhaps surprised most by saying he would like Suarez to be one of the creators in the attack, from one of the sides or maybe even the number 10 role. Although he mainly focused on how Suarez had the perfect skill set for wriggling his way through tight spaces before playing balls back to a natural finisher around the penalty spot, something he admits to not having available at the moment. Suarez seems destined to be the creative focal point for Rodgers team going forward not the main centralised goal scorer.
Educating Enrique and the wide players getting in each other’s way:
The talk took an interesting turn to Jose Enrique a few times and Rodgers admits that he pushed the player further up the pitch to increase his confidence in the attack. He states Enrique is now back to his natural left back role but with the experience of how to be more involved in the attack.
He clarified that Enrique at left back with Downing at left wing is not something that works within the system as two wide players down the flank get in each other’s way. He said with wide attacking wing backs such as Enrique and Glen Johnson what was required in front of them were inside forwards that would move more central out of the way of the wing backs and come in field attacking the box. He explained this was the way in which he had used Shelvey recently (although nobody asked him at the time this could explain why we have seen so little of Assaidi if Rodgers believes he is an out and out winger).
Rodgers conceded that left back was a position he did not have great strength in depth in. He said it was not ideal playing Johnson or Downing out of position in that area. On the subject of Jack Robinson he enthused on how good a young talent he is and how impressive he has been for the club already but confessed the young player needed to develop further by playing week in week out. Therefore, do not be surprised to see young Robinson going out on a developmental loan shortly.
Reintroducing priorities not rewriting the rulebook:
“When you are listening to Shankly you could be listening to the Barca manager!”
Rodgers was adamant that what he is trying to do here is nothing new – comparing Shankly and his philosophies to those of the modern day Barcelona, stating nothing has changed and that ‘football is football’.
All he says he is trying to do is use what he knows to help us once again be like we were in the 70s and 80s. He said he was happy at Swansea and he could have stayed there – but that the challenge facing him here, to put himself under the pressure was what appealed to him. He says he is fully committed to making this club great again.
Rodgers said he could feel the fans behind him at games wanting to cheer him and the team on and wanting to believe in him but he understood the frustrations the crowd have over not fully believing in him yet and how that holds the crowd back but he wants to give us that belief in him.