A Big Week For Rodgers Reds

Well we are halfway through what will ultimately prove to be a defining week for The Reds. Two games and two wins behind us with a big game and the end of the transfer window ahead of us. To be honest I’m still have some doubts about our owners, our manager and this team at the moment but I expect, one way or another, we’ll get some answers in the coming days.

Last weekend we continued our great start to the season with a very useful 1-0 win at Villa Park which was especially sweet considering we only played for 30 minutes. Some people say it’s a good sign when you can win while playing badly but it’s an even better sign when you win without playing at all! Strange the way football works sometimes. At the start of last season we played very well but the results didn’t come, this season we’ve got the results but haven’t really got going yet in terms of performance. Last weekend only Mignolet, Toure, Gerrard and Sturridge emerged from that game with any credit in my opinion, the rest of the team was in the OK to Poor range, and yes I’m talking to you Dagger and Lucas!

I actually enjoyed our performance for the first 30 minutes. While it lasted It was an excellent away display as we took control, played some really good football and capped it all off with a brilliant finish by Sturridge, who is slicker than dog shit on linoleum at the moment. Unfortunately things started to go downhill from there and we gradually got worse and worse as the game went on but thankfully we hung on and took the points.

Not to worry though because afterwards Rodgers said it was all part of his tactical plan. Apparently playing shite and constantly giving the ball back to the opposition for an hour was in fact a tactical move according to our Brendan, so it’s all good. In my opinion, we over compensated defensively once we got our noses in front and handed the initiative back to the opposition, but hey what would I know. Anyway, we’ve got our 6 points on the board and that’s better than a kick in the nuts with a frozen cowboy boot.

Then we moved on to our Capitol One Cup game at home to Notts County on Tuesday that saw us almost top Miley Cyrus for the most embarrassing performance of the week! Rodgers put out a strong side which I believe was the correct decision, firstly because without European football this season we might as well have a good go at the cup competitions and secondly because I think you’ve got to play the younger players alongside the experienced ones to really see how they fit in.

In fairness the team played well for most of the game, scored two goals, wasted a whole host of other chances and hit the bar more often than Paul Gascoigne! But in football you can never give a sucker an even break and to their credit Notts County hung in there and somehow managed to pull two goals back and push the game to extra time, when we finally managed to kill them off with goals from Dan the Man and Hendo.

It turned out to be an expensive victory for us though as Cissokho, Allen and the very impressive Toure all picked up injuries. Their injuries will perhaps keep them side-lined for the coming weeks, and our already thin squad is now looking practically anorexic!

Our Cup struggles against Notts County yielded us an unkind draw away to the Mancs in the next round but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, for now we’ve got to focus on them coming to Anfield on Sunday. I will be at the game and I’m going with neither confidence nor dread because the truth is I just don’t know how it will go. We could win 3-0 or lose 4-0, I just haven’t seen enough of either side to form an opinion.

But this is definitely a big game for Rodgers. Our games against the top six sides last season yielded just one victory against Spurs and that’s just not good enough regardless of the circumstances. A victory on Sunday and we’ll be flying but a defeat will totally change the mood and see us go into the international break on a real downer. Questions and doubts will be raised about the manager even at this early stage in the season, I’m not suggesting that is fair but it is the reality. Rodgers needs to get this particular monkey off his back as soon as possible. He needs to mastermind some victories against the top sides this season, particularly at Anfield and Sunday’s game would be an excellent place to start.

It definitely will not be easy though partially as we may be without Kolo at the centre of our defence. I said in the last blog that I thought Skrtel had been harshly frozen out by the manager and it seems that particularly chicken may come home to roost. Now Rodgers might need him and Skrtel will have to go in to the game cold and knowing the manager does not have confidence in him. This can go one of two ways, either Skrtel’s head will be down or he’ll go into the game feeling he has a point to prove, let us hope it is the latter!

The mancs will know all about cutting off the supply line to Coutinho and Sturridge, keeping our full backs pressed back etc, but sometimes in these games it’s the lesser hyped players that can travel under the radar, get a little extra space and make a name for themselves. So someone like Aspas or maybe even Hendo could emerge as the hero for us in this game.

As for the Mancs, we know they have a lot of attacking threat and the team will just have to remain focused and cope with it. A key man for us will be Lucas but since returning from his injury you just never know which Lucas will turn up. Sometimes he looks back to his old self but other times he looks about as much use as a soap salesman in Newcastle! We will badly need the good version of Lucas on Sunday to help snuff out the manc threat. If we get the bad version, the version that gets booked after 5 minutes, gives away lots of needless free-kicks in dangerous areas, gets caught in possession while dwelling too long on the ball, we could be in big trouble.

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier I just don’t know how this one will go. I desperately hope we can win it but with both managers under pressure not to lose, it could turn out to be a draw. So I’ll put my money on a 1-1 draw but I’ll be keeping fingers, legs, toes and just about everything else crossed that we can nick a win and go into the international break with the massive boost of having 9 points and a 100% record.

But perhaps even more important than the game on Sunday is the transfer window closing on Monday. We simply must get more bodies in before that window slams shut. The transfer business we do, assuming we do any, will ultimately determine our possibilities and the ambition of the club for this season. For me it’s a simple one to one proposition, no business – no chance, a little business – a little chance, big business – big chance, you get the gist.

I can understand the owners want to be careful with the purse strings given the money that has been wasted on transfers in the past and I agree that it is wise to be prudent, but they’ve also got to be careful they don’t overdo it. There is no doubt they were badly advised in paying way over the odds for the mediocre players recruited when Dalglish was in charge, but they hired those advisors and must accept at least partial responsibility for that debacle.

It certainly wasn’t the fault of Brendan Rodgers or his team and they shouldn’t have to suffer because of other peoples past mistakes. At the end of the day Rodgers is their appointment and I think he could be a good one but they’ve got to give the guy a chance by backing him as much as possible in the transfer market.

I said at the beginning that I still had some doubts about the manager but that comes from the fact that I don’t think he has had the opportunity to fully implement his plans yet. In his short time at the club he has had to oversee the offloading of a lot of over-priced/over paid players that didn’t fit the profile and make space for the recruitment of players that do in the transfer windows that have followed.

So there has been a lot of necessary squad transition going on and he has managed that quite well. Almost all of the deadwood has now been moved on but our squad is now a little too light and a few more bodies are required before this transfer window closes. I like Rodgers and think he could be the right manager for us but we can’t really make a fair judgement on him until he has been given the right tools to do the job.

I believe we need to bring in another three or four decent quality players in the remainder of this transfer window to give him the squad he needs to fully implement his ideas and it is only then that we will truly know if he is the man that can lead us to the Promised Land. Thankfully recent reports suggest this is happening with Sakho and Illori reportedly on their way to us. I’d be well pleased with those two quality signings added to our defence.

There is also talk of a loan signing of Moses for our left wing and as we’ve already had God, Jesus and a Saint, he should fit right in at our place! I’d also like to see another good quality central midfielder recruited but we’ll see what happens.

So I’ve got my fingers crossed and may even sacrifice a chicken or two in the hope that we can get a good result on Sunday and an even better result on Monday to successfully complete what could prove to be a season defining week for the club.

Keep the Faith