The King is dead. Long live the King.
With the ink now dry on the reign of Kenny Dalglish, there is a new man on Merseyside desperate to achieve the same legendary status. Brendan Rodgers has established himself as the latest partisan of the tiki-taka movement but if he’s going to talk the talk, he must prove he can walk the walk.
The collective exhale of relief that emanated from Anfield after Saturday’s win over Reading was plain to see. Rodgers would have been uncomfortable with the repeated mention of his failed stint with The Royals but he emerged victorious in a 1-0 win that sealed his belated first league victory at home. However, the scoreline was perhaps still somewhat disappointing in the wake of yet another dominant performance.
The arrival of the Rodgers at Liverpool was always going to attract a bright and unyielding media spotlight but the screening of documentary series Being: Liverpool has served only to magnify the attention. It was perhaps unfair to expect Rodgers to portray himself in a manner that didn’t invite ridicule and yet the confidence levels emitted by the man flick constantly between the notions of arrogance and ignorance.
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Former Liverpool stalwart Mark Lawrenson pulled no punches in his analysis of Rodger’s ‘performance’ and even went as far too suggest, “Shankly would be turning in his grave”. Lawrenson’s sensationalised verdict aside, there is an eerie feeling that Rodgers is attempting to align his own philosophies and beliefs with the club’s illustrious history.
Lawrenson does go on to make the valid point that “If you are a new manager in that situation, you come in and you get your head down.” Rodgers has invited an unnecessary amount of pressure by creating the feeling of an overdue revolution, which has yet to yield any real positives on the pitch. Despite a promising start to his career, has he really earned the right to act with such self-assurance in the Liverpool hot seat?
The underlying murmurs of discontent surrounding a lack of attacking options in the current squad, has been justified in light of the news that Fabio Borini will be sidelined until January. To make matters worse Rodgers openly admitted that he hasn’t even considered recalling on loan striker Andy Carroll, despite his positive impact at West Ham. The dependence on young starlets Raheem Sterling and Jonjo Shelvey could prove costly, especially with the notoriously difficult winter fixture pile up lying in wait.
The rumour mill has been churning out a series of high-profile names that look set to decorate Liverpool’s transfer shortlist come January, but I remain unconvinced that sufficient funds will be in place. The combined £26m needed to acquire the familiar faces of Borini and Joe Allen still carries a faint whiff of inflation, which could make it difficult for Rodgers to pry John W. Henry’s checkbook open. It was only on Friday that Rodgers insisted he was well aware of the financial restrictions in place at his new club.
“The game is about getting results. There’s no great problem in that for me,”
“You’ve got two ways. You can invest an astronomical amount of money and that will take you there very quickly or you have to grow, build and cultivate your own. That is where we are at, that is the reality and there is no quick fix.” (Guardian)
There is a current misconception surrounding the fact that results will be easier to come by now that Liverpool have played the majority of the ‘big teams’ and while the performances against both Manchester clubs were encouraging, they were hardly in stark contrast to Kenny Dalglish, who was also capable of motivating his side to rise to the occasion.
The upcoming Europa League fixture against FC Anzhi Makhachkala should provide an interesting spectacle, with the Russian side undergoing their own transformation thanks to the influence of billionaire owner Suleyman Kerimov. Everton await Liverpool at Goodison Park after their encounter with Eto’o and co, which perhaps marks the first occasion in recent history where the Toffees will be considered favourites. In fact the only ‘banker’ in the foreseeable future will be at home against Wigan next month and that will depend solely on the unpredictable nature of Roberto Martinez’s men.
Rodgers’ case has hardly been helped by the words of Glenn Driscoll – the ‘head of performance’ at Anfield – who offered comparisons with the managerial styles of Carlo Ancelotti, Guus Hiddink and even Jose Mourinho. Regardless of whether you think such words carry any credibility, it’s going to take something ‘special’ for Liverpool to achieve their dream of breaking back into the top four.
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