The right man to take Liverpool forward?
Liverpool FC‘s summer appointment of Brendan Rodgers came to me as a surprise. For a club that is regarded as one of the most successful in England, the former Swansea manager would have been one of the last names on the list of managers I would have expected to see tasked with getting Liverpool back into the top four of the Premier League and keeping them there.
Since the 2008/2009 season we have seen Liverpool only competing for a Europa League spot in the Premier League, something no one ever really felt possible only five or six years ago. They may have finished fifth a couple of times during the big top-four era, but they were always competing for a Champions League spot and have even mounted a title challenge on a couple of occasions.
So bringing in a manager who had just one season’s experience in the Premier League to re-ignite the fortunes of the Anfield club, in my eyes, seemed a strange move from the club’s owners.
Currently sitting 11th in the top-flight after 15 games is not where Liverpool should be, especially having won just four of those opening games and drawing as much as seven of them. It is the position that they are in now that has got me questioning whether Rodgers really is the right man for Liverpool. With the club in decline, why was an inexperienced manager employed to turn things around?
Although Liverpool have not been playing bad football throughout the early stages of this season, they are failing to show us all why they have the right to continue being top-four contenders. The reason why Rodgers was appointed was because the football his Swansea side played in the Premier League last season. He shows promise as a young manager and his footballing philosophy is one that would excite most clubs, but his lack of management experience at top-flight level should have been enough to rule him out of the vacant manager’s position. What a club of Liverpool’s stature should be looking for in a manager is one of experience and someone who has been there, seen it and done it at football’s highest level.
Firstly, his decision to allow Andy Carroll to leave on a season-long loan to West Ham appears to be a serious lack of judgement. With just one striker in Luis Suarez left at the club who is an experienced Premier League player, Rodgers made a big mistake in not bringing in a replacement for the former Newcastle man before allowing him to leave. It remains to be seen whether a more experienced manager would have allowed that to happen, but my guess is that he wouldn’t have been so hasty in allowing Carroll to go until his replacement had signed on the dotted line.
The decision to allow Dirk Kuyt, Maxi Rodriquez and Craig Bellamy to leave the club are two more reasons to question Rodgers’ thinking in the transfer market, although his argument would be that he was refused funding from the owners for the replacements he had lined up. But that’s where the inexperience comes in to play. Many experienced managers would have waited to see who was definitely coming in before allowing the club’s best assets to leave.
However, the £16million he spent on Joe Allen, who he had at Swansea, is still to be justified, while £11million signing Fabio Borini is currently sidelined with a broken foot. The players he allowed to leave compared to the players he brought in have not exactly evened themselves out and that has been reflected in Liverpool’s below-par start to the season. This, I believe, is a result of him being a little out of his depth at Liverpool. Expectations are a lot higher at Anfield than they are the Liberty Stadium, especially with Liverpool being in transition.
One promising factor under Rodgers is his willingness to give the academy players the opportunity of first team football, a decision that has reaped rewards with the likes of Andre Wisdom and Raheem Sterling emerging as Premier League regulars and consistent performers. But their inexperience will not propel Liverpool into the top four over night and it will take a good two or three years of development for them to thrive at that kind of level.
Liverpool’s season will no doubt end in another top eight finish, but they will ultimately have to wait for the return of Champions League football at Anfield. If Rodgers sticks to his word and brings in an array of exciting talent in January, then we may see the Reds climb back into the top-half of the table, but failure to do so will see them slip further into mid-table mediocrity, especially with the likes of Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Pepe Reina all coming to the end of their careers.
If that happens, then Rodgers will no doubt be searching for another job and ruing his decisions in the transfer market, unless the Liverpool hierarchy decide to stick with him and give the man time to properly stamp his own authority on the club, although the departure of Kenny Dalglish shows they may not be so patient.
We will see Liverpool return to Champions League action but, sadly, I don’t think it will be under Brendan Rodgers. His lack of experience and decision making in the transfer window will eventually cost him his job, which is something the Liverpool owners possibly should have taken into account before appointing him.
As a result of Liverpool failing to go with experience and instead for promise could see them spending more money and more time in rebuilding them to what they once were.
It takes experience for a club to compete at that level and, as much as Brendan Rodgers is a good manager, it may have been a big job too soon for him to give the Liverpool fans what they want and, ultimately, what they deserve.
What do you think? Is Brendan Rodgers the man to take Liverpool back into the top four, or will his lack of managerial experience at that level prevent him from taking them further than just a Europa League spot? Should a club like Liverpool have gone for experience instead of promise?