This is Brendan Rodgers’s fourth season at the helm of Liverpool FC. The fans were patient for the first season as every manager needs some time to settle in. 2013/14, Liverpool fell just short of winning the ever-elusive Premier League crown. 2014/15 saw the departure of Suarez and a large influx of players who mostly under-performed or were under-utilised as Liverpool scraped through to finish sixth, despite being self-destructive in crucial matches.
2015/16 saw Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling, two key members of the squad, leave and once again there was a large influx of players which seemed much better signings on paper. The results on the pitch, however, tell a different story.
Across all competitions in 2015/16, Liverpool played 9 games, winning 3, drawing 4 and losing 2. Their defeats have been heavy, the draws saw them waste many chances to seal the game and each of their wins have been narrow through a one goal margin. Given the investment Rodgers has made over 4 seasons, a whopping 277 million quid. And 184.3 of that came in the last couple of seasons.
What does Rodgers really have to show for that?
Becoming the only Liverpool manager since the 1950s not to win a single trophy in his first 3 years in charge (managers who don’t stay for more than 2 years don’t count) is an unfortunate fact. Is he the only one to blame?
I won’t say he is the only one to blame, but he does need to take most of it. The fault currently lies in the overall set up with the club under Fenway Sports Group.
Firstly, the transfer committee. This is the only place Rodgers really deserves some sort of sympathy. Every manager has a style and they feel certain players could fit it in. Owners may another view on the players needed. Thus, there is that conflict of interest. The Transfer Committee at Liverpool has the final say on the players to be signed, and not the manager. So, Rodgers cannot sign the players he really wants all the time, and might end up with someone the committee wants. That was the case in his pursuit of Ashley Williams and also ending up with Mario Balotelli whom he did not want. If he were the sole decision maker on transfers, the blame and merit of each transfer would then be solely on him.
Now, talking about the place where the blame cannot be transferred.
Rodgers just seems unable to really settle on tactics and he has an affinity for playing people out of their preferred position. While staying with the same constant formation and tactical approach to a game doesn’t work in the most crucial of matches where adaptability is key, playing a similar formation and approach helps players settle down and work on their internal chemistry. His success was a front two with a diamond midfield with fullbacks who love to come forward.
2014/15 with injuries to his squad, he naturally needed to find a new formation but failed to do during the pre-season friendlies and chose to experiment during the season! Also for some reason known only to him, he prefers to play players out of their natural position. Giving Firminio and Couthinio a wing role when they are players that just thrive in the centre, or making Danny Inngs operate as a full back, he is a striker for God’s sake!
He also isn’t capable of really inspiring his squad when the need comes. Yeah sure that’s the captain’s job but in a match where everyone is under-performing, he needs to find the motivation. Judging by the often demoralized style of play from the Liverpool players, its obvious he does not have the entire dressing room backing him up. The likes of Jose Mourhinio, Sir Alex Ferguson or Pep Guardiola tend to praise their teams heavily before the match boosting the morale. Some managers, Rodgers is one of them who tends to rather praise the opposition more than his own players at times, even if it’s a League cup match.
That being said, Rodgers is no longer the man needed to lead Liverpool. The likes of Klopp who can make a team of Dortmund a German and European powerhouse, can do the same at Liverpool, especially with more financial power (if they scrap the transfer committee as he has said). The current Liverpool line up, while it’s not one that can win the title but it’s a squad that can really put up a challenge for the Champions League spots, if they are utilised properly.